Workplace acne shaming is alive and well.

After many years of communication with acne, certified nursing assistant Hailey Wester decided to forgo makeup at work to “let her skin breathe.” After showing up at her office in Denver, Colorado, she was in for a rude awakening. The personal decision prompted unsolicited acne advice from her colleagues and invasive questions, including, “Have you tried vitamin C?” and “Have you tried washing your face?” or “Have you tried drinking water?

At one point, she was even dragged into a meeting with a supervisor about others’ “concerns” about the condition of her skin. “While makeup is not a requirement to work as a CNA, it can just be a little uncomfortable for patients,” she recalls her supervisor telling her.

“I remember asking him, ‘So you’re telling me I have to wear makeup when I come to work?’ And he said, “It’s up to you, but we just got a couple of comments… [wondering] if you are fine, or if you want to see a dermatologist and get your skin under control, or [if you will consider] covering some of the redness. He tried to be nice about it, but I don’t think you can be nice about something like that.’

Wester says the conversation was “very awkward,” but she agreed to wear some Makeup. She quit her job after less than a week without ever finding another.

“I couldn’t imagine continuing to work for a company that would drag me into their office because of a skin condition that was clearly out of my control,” Wester says, adding that the conversation made her feel even more upset because she doesn’t know who caused the concern. “You walk around feeling even more insecure than before because you’re like, ‘Well, shoot, it could be this person, it could be that person.’ It adds so much stress on top of an already stressful job.”

Peer opinions about acne cause social isolation and mental health problems for staff at the receiving end

Studies have shown that people instinctively perceive people with acne as less successful in their careers. one research in the journal Dermatology and Therapy found that when respondents from around the world looked at photos of the same person with digital acne scars or with clear skin, those with facial acne scars were rated as less successful, confident, healthy, happier, and more likely to everything to be insecure and shy. Respondents said that people pictured with acne scars were less likely to have a promising future (78% vs. 84%) and less likely to be hired (78% vs. 82%) than those without scars.

Shannon Garcia, psychotherapist Health counseling states in Illinois and Wisconsin saw how adult acne can make her patients more socially isolated and less confident at work.

“When it comes to work, they worry about not looking ‘grown up’ or ‘mature enough’, as acne is more commonly known as a teenage problem. This has affected their confidence when it comes to interviews, meetings and presenting to clients and/or colleagues,” says Garcia. “During particularly severe flare-ups, their anxiety may make them want to avoid attending professional events, preferring to stay at home until the flare-up subsides.”

Wester placed on it Instagram account, myuglyacne, where she documents her window journey: “Nobody talks about how stressful it is to have acne and start a new career. It’s a strange thing and topic because we’ve been made to feel ashamed of it and hide it for the sake of “professionalism”.

In 2014 survey of more than 200 working women aged 25 to 45, nearly half reported that they found it difficult to concentrate at work “some” or “all of the time” because of their acne, and 12.3% went even further, saying that they missed work or school last month because of acne breakouts.

Toni, a mental health professional in the San Francisco Bay Area who asked not to be named, says, “There’s a stigma that acne means you’re unclean, lazy, don’t take care of your skin, etc. which is further from the truth. These perceptions can certainly have a negative impact on how a person is perceived in the workplace.”

Tony has an Instagram account is about acne positivity and skin care, and she told HuffPost that she’s faced that stigma.

“I felt judged by others at work because of my acne,” she says. “Even though I’ve never been approached directly with comments, I’ve noticed the stares that come from having a pimple on my face.”

People with acne can face pressure to cover acne with makeup while at work, said Lavinia Rusanda, a chemical engineering intern from Canada.

“I’ve seen this come from a lot of people who think acne is unsanitary. “You don’t take care of yourself,” she says.

Rusanda talked about not hiding acne on her TikTok account. She said that people should wear makeup for themselves, not for other people.


Sometimes you just need to wear an acne patch to work when your hormonal acne is bleeding! ❤️ #acnepositive#acneproblems#acneskin#acne treatment#acnenormal#skinpositive#skincare#skin care tips#skincaretip#beautyhack#beautyparadis#skincarehack

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“I definitely encourage people not to wear makeup out of necessity, because wearing it is so much better than waking up in the morning and feeling like a nuisance,” says Rusanda.

Rusanda adds that she hasn’t received any negative feedback about working without make-up, which she attributes to being public about her acne on her social media accounts. Let’s say you’re thinking about giving up makeup on acne at work. In that case, she recommends doing things that make you feel confident, like wearing your favorite outfit or doing your hair your favorite way.

Wester believes that the stigma of acne in the workplace will gradually disappear as more young people enter the workforce.

“I see a lot of the younger generations who refuse to wear makeup, refuse to cover their tattoos, their ‘no, this is who I am.’ You either hire me or you don’t [attitude]”, she says. “It’s a really good attitude for workplaces because nothing is going to change unless people start accepting others for who they are, and I feel like that really includes skin conditions.”

It can also help to realize that you’re not the only person dealing with body image issues at work.

“While you may feel alone with acne, you’re not alone in your body image struggles,” says Garcia. “You may be sitting in that work meeting afraid of how people will look at your acne. Your colleagues are focused on their own insecurities. They think about their hair, clothes, weight, teeth, nose; you name it. As a therapist, I’ve heard everything.”

What to do if you’ve received unsolicited advice about acne

When you get comments from friends and family members about your acne flare-ups, Rusanda recommends taking a step back and reminding yourself that this person isn’t in your head. “Understand that they may be ignorant and educate them,” she says.

Rusanda advises using phrases like, “I’d appreciate it if you might not point this out in the future, because I already know what’s going on with my skin. I’m also very knowledgeable about what products I should be using and I’m working on it, so I don’t really need that advice, but I appreciate your concern.”

Wester says she used to swallow her discomfort and pretend to listen when people shared unsolicited opinions with her about acne at work. Now she calls him and turns him off.

“I’ll say, ‘You know this is my skin condition, which is between me and my health care provider, my dermatologist, who is helping me with this. I’ve tried everything you have to offer, so I’d really rather not discuss my skin.’ It turns her off right away,” she said. “I know it’s definitely made some people feel really uncomfortable because they’re going to start apologizing… I’m fine with saying that if it means they’re not going to ask other people about the condition their skin.”