Personal Posts

The {In}Visible Scars of Acne | From Adolescence to Adulthood | My Testimony

I'm Natalie. No matter where you are on your makeup journey or hustle, I'm so glad you're here! I truly believe that makeup, when applied well, it can transform us in so many ways. My page is a space for inspiration, education, and advice. Thanks for being here & I'd love to connect with you!

HELLO beautiful!

Ask Me

Do you have a beauty or makeup question? Tap the button below and get advice from a pro. Your question may even become a future blog post!

Sign up to receive an email when new content hits the blog!  (And nothing else, I promise!)

you have questions. I have answers.


Inside the brand

beauty tips

personal posts

ask setareh

education & business

Never miss a post!

You deserve to know how to wear makeup!

order now!


The {In}Visible Scars of Acne | From Adolescence to Adulthood | My Testimony

About a week ago, I tossed and turned all night because I felt compelled to share my journey and struggle with acne. Although I do not struggle with acne to the extent I did in my youth, my pregnancy has discolored my skin and all my old acne scars have become visible, which has taken me to a dark place I haven’t been to in a really long time. (Add pregnancy hormones, weight gain, and the growing pains that come with pregnancy and you’ve got one hot mess!). During my pregnancy, I’ve also had several breakouts that just won’t go away ::ahem, acne:: Instead of hiding behind my hair, and loads of makeup, and staying inside, I’m coming out and sharing this with you. Nobody sees your imperfections like you see your imperfections.

Everyone is more worried about you noticing theirs! So breathe easy! I wish I had known an “acne survivor” when I battled acne as a high school teen but I didn’t. Fortunately for me, I know this is a phase – it’s not going to last forever. I also know that hormones go a little crazy in adulthood and skin changes! I’ve been there and I’ve overcome. When I was younger, I didn’t have that wisdom. That insight. So that’s what I’m hoping to provide with this post to my younger readers. This will NOT last forever… It took me several takes to get through this video as I recalled exactly how traumatic it was for me (and my brother) during that time in our lives.

I’m in no way a medical doctor or dermatologist but like others who battle acne, I experimented with and found products that would disguise my acne as much as possible. I am always happy to offer advice based on my experiences and the experiences of those close to me confided in me. It was never 100% covered up and only pictures with tons of flash were able to smooth out the imperfections. My heart really goes out to the guys who struggle with acne because most aren’t going to experiment with makeup or grow their hair long to cover up their face.

Three Little Bits of Wisdom To Help You Get Through This Season In Life

1) You aren’t alone in this struggle.

This one is a tough one because in my experience at least, I was the only one in my immediate group of friends during high school (and parts of college) who had acne. They were supportive friends and loved me with or without makeup but they didn’t really know how I felt on the inside. Find someone around you who seems to also be battling acne. Make conversation.

It doesn’t have to be like, “Hello, I noticed you have acne too! Want to be depressed together?” No. Please don’t do that. Form a relationship, go out to coffee or sit at the lunch table together. Ask them how they cope. How they feel. Just having someone alongside you who knows how you feel and what insecurities you are struggling with is invaluable. Let me tell you, acne in adolescence is almost expected… acne in adulthood is taboo.

Acne is not gender specific — fortunately, women have a community (and industry) of support–in the form of new skin care products, concealers, foundations, spa treatments, you name it! Let’s face it, most men are not interested at all in cosmetics but I guarantee you they are interested in skin care, spa treatments, etc..the industry just needs to become more gender neutral. I see that changing a lot. If you are too shy to spark a new conversation, that’s okay. Remember, celebrities have acne too! They just also happen to have entourages of makeup artists, photographers/videographers, and photo/video editors to make them look flawless. But alas, they are human too. Just google “celebrities with acne” and so many sites pop up.

Paparazzi loves capturing celebrities without makeup or disguises just to show the world what they really look like. Isn’t that terrible!? I mean, at least I can control to a certain extent what pictures of me are being broadcast to the world but celebrities don’t always have that luxury. That’s a disgrace! I especially admire the celebrities actually step out and show the world their acne or acne remind the little guy, you and me, that’s it’s okay. Remember, you are not alone even on the grandest of levels.

2) Every picture is edited.

10 years ago, I would say every marketing picture was edited and that’s what you saw. But now there are so many more images promoting anything and everything, and it’s borderline creepy how fake everything looks! Celebrity selfies are edited. Instagram celebs generally post edited selfies. YouTubers invest so much in lighting to blur out imperfections in the skin (look for the lighting reflections in their eyes, it’s normally a dead giveaway). Let’s not even get started on how much money beauty companies spend on their advertising campaigns! I could write an entire post on the superficiality of online images, especially those in the beauty industry. However, once you accept the fact the images we see as consumers that are constantly being fed to us are edited and not realistic representations of the individual, then it’s really not a big deal! Consider it art 🙂 This recent post from @gossmakeupartist totally addresses this phenoman on the micro level! Thanks for doing this!”/

Follow hashtag #gossuntouched to see real selifes & edited selfies here. Like I said in my video, physical perfection is unattainable. I just love it! Here’s my before and after — would you have known it was edited had you not seen the before picture? And I did barely ANYTHING to my picture. I could’ve slimmed my face, widened my smiled, added blush & lashes, a dab of lip color, and it would’ve look realistic. I just got done with a Zumba class when I snapped this pic. Natalie Setareh Unedited Selfie FaceTune Selfie Acne Scars Adulthood Bottom Line: Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. If you can’t beat them, join them! Edit your pictures if that’s going to make you feel better and DON’T FEEL BAD that you are editing your picture. Everyone else is doing it. Just be real with yourself… And just FYI — for my before and after, I used the Perfect365 App.

3) Take a good, hard look with your diet.

No, really, I mean it. I look back at my time with acne, when I was in high school & an underclassman in college and to be really honest, I really don’t think my diet was super healthy. I would grab McDonald’s with friends after school sometimes, drink sugary Starbucks beverages, and eat out at restaurants on the weekends because that’s what we did. Keep in mind however that I there are plenty of super healthy people who still suffer from acne. It’s not JUST diet. Please remember that!

I’ve never seen my parents or grandparents for that matter with a pimple. Ever. So genetics isn’t always the reason either. In my opinion, it’s mostly hormones + stress. Add other factors like diet & exercise, genetics & predisposition, then you start building a case.

Grocery Shopping: Take a look at your grocery shopping habits (or your parents). Are you grocery shopping in the perimeter of the grocery store or in the aisles? Stay in the perimeter! Are you eating a lot of processed foods or cooking fresh meals? If freshly delivered produce boxes are in your budget & you don’t have time to pick out the perfect produce at the grocery store, consider meal services like Blue Apron or Plated (our family favorite). Or see if there’s a local farm that delivers boxes in your area.

Detox: I love the Whole30 challenge because it’s a detox of all processed foods, refined sugars and grains, and well, forces you to get creative. My sister swears that veganism is the best for her skin with the occasional cheat every now and then. I’m not telling you which to do, I’m just saying to make you are conscious of what is going into your body. Your skin is part of that body. I’ve personally settled into the “everything in moderation” diet and to me, that’s the best way to be!

Activity Levels: Make sure you are exercising regularly. And by exercise, I don’t mean being a member at a Crossfit gym or marathon training. By exercise, I mean spending at least 30 minutes a day in rigorous activity. Things that count are: cleaning the house, folding/putting laundry away, checking your mail everyday (yes, that means walking to your mailbox, wherever that is), running after kiddos, walking to/from class, parking far from your destination, etc. Exercise does not require an expensive gym membership or equipment. Now, if you are trying to lose weight — that is a different blog post on its own! Hormones are going to ebb and flow, stress is always going to be there, pressure to look a certain way never goes away… You can’t naturally control your hormones… you also can’t naturally control your stress. But youcancontrol your outlook on this season in life. You can control your diet and your activity levels.

You can control how you manage the stressors of acne. You can get through this. If you are battling acne and found this helpful or have questions, please do not hesitate to write me at I’m also happy to arrange a Skype call to go over your skincare routine and/or different cosmetics products you use (guy/girl, doesn’t matter!). Shoot, I’ll even help you learn how to edit your images if you want! Like I said before, I am not a doctor or trained professional… I only speak from a place of empathy. This post has been heavy on my heart and I just want you to know that I am here for you.


Natalie Setareh

  1. […] on their skin with makeup. I have acne scarring that I wish I could erase some days, too! (You can click here to read my blog post all about the visible and invisible scars I have from that period in my life). However, changing […]

  2. […] actually on Accutane or awhile) I know it can be a bit of a sensitive subject (read/watch my vlog here). Breakouts, hormones, and other issues can make us feel hopeless. A good professional photographer […]

Leave a Reply

114 gorgeous full color pages for visual learners

Self-funded aka no sponsorships or brand bias

Age / Gender / Race / Brand neutral because makeup is for everyone

Available in hardcover and paperback

Be Your Own Makeup Artist, THE Book

required reading

shop now!

Also offered at these retailers:



Beauty is about perception, not about make-up. I think the beginning of all beauty is knowing and liking oneself. You can't put on make-up, or dress yourself, or do you hair with any sort of fun or joy if you're doing it from a position of correction.

kevyn aucoin

%d bloggers like this: