Recently, an acne commercial for Differin, an acne gel, has been popping up before almost every YouTube video I watch, which might be the result of the algorithm on my phone that tracks my every search for “at home facemask” or the FBI agent watching me that can’t handle to look at me anymore, but this ad is everywhere.
In the ad, a girl with barely any acne is too repulsed by her face to leave her house. Honestly, we’ve all been there, but this idea does not need to be perpetuated throughout the beauty industry. There are other commercials just as bad. One, in particular, comes to mind, Onexton for adult acne, which recommends wearing hoodies to cover your face and finding a hairstyle that hides your face.
These ads convince you that you’re unlovable, unlikable and have no reason to leave the house. They make it seem as if you have acne you were born ugly and there’s no hope you’ll look mildly presentable without their “life-changing” skin treatment. This is one of the only industries where you can tell your customers they’re ugly and they’ll buy your product.
Ads such as these feed into the stereotypes involving traditional ideals of beauty. These ads say things such as “I hate how unpredictable breakouts are,” when the skin is still puffy and red even when you’re not mid-breakout.
These products are being advertised by people who clearly do not seem to be suffering from horrible acne when they claim to have breakouts. The brand Neutrogena is advertising with a girl who has clear, photoshopped skin who was apparently born without pores.
I’ve tried every acne regimen, skin care routine and medication under the sun since I was 11. Here I am, graduating college in December still dealing with acne. On top of all the products I’ve tried over the years, I’ve even changed my diet and only allowed myself to drink water to try to make my skin look like the pretty poreless girl.
And, at no point did my skin look any better than the before picture of a Proactiv commercial.
People with acne are already self conscious enough about the way they look, and these companies use this mindset as their way to sell products. This method is additionally used to sell weight loss products. Sono Bello, a laser lipo and body contouring company, start commercials with catchphrases such as, “You can cover up, or you can feel sexy.”
Many brands have embraced the body positivity movement such as Dove, which advertises soap in an all-inclusive, empowering manner. Acne companies could do the same by showing that caring for your skin is an act of self-love not something you do because you hate yourself and want to change your life.
The difference between these two ads is that one teaches you to embrace who you are, where you’re at and the other teaches you to hate yourself. If somebody would’ve told me years ago that even the before and after girl doesn’t look like the girl in the after picture, I probably wouldn’t have fallen down this rabbit hole of hundred dollar face creams and diet changes.
This beauty industry has done their job by capitalizing off of naive young people's insecurities and then turning them into insecure adults. It’s time to end the cycle. It’s time to show the world my pores and my red puffy skin.