Why the Beauty Industry Will Never Fully Embrace Spots, Scars and Pimples


- No acne, scars or blemishes

In general, people with visible facial differences, such as acne, are rarely represented and when they are represented in media they are often villified. Just think of Scar from The Lion King, Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter and more recently Dr Poison from Wonder Woman - these are all characters with prominent facial scarring who represent the “baddies”.

Acne also faces stigma. The NHS has tried to break this stigma by rebutting the persistent myths surrounding acne: that it is caused by a bad diet or how clean your face is. It’s not.

Blemished skin isn’t the only under represented skin type. Older skin and darker skin is also seen less often in popular culture. Such is the poor representation of darker skin and there are twice as many lighter skinned Black women featured than darker skinned Black women, even in Black women’s magazines.

- Extreme airbrushing

The poor representation of all skin types is especially true for many cosmetic companies. In 2009, Proctor & Gamble’s Olay announced they were using fashion model Twiggy to head up one of their adverts. Twiggy had a skin “type” rarely featured in advertising - one that had some evidence of ageing - she was 59 at the time. So how did Olay celebrate this skin type? They got rid of it.

Someone like beauty vlogger Kadeeja Khan, is an antidote to this and the plethora of images of women and men in the media that have flawless skin. So while, yes, she posts makeup tips, she is also “acne positive”. She regularly posts pictures of herself without makeup, with acne, showing her 146,000 Instagram followers that “looks are not everything” and that “beauty is self confidence applied directly to the face”. And in that sense, by today’s standards of beauty, she is pretty radical.