It’s no secret that today’s beauty standards are hard to live up to.
Cardi B recently took to Twitter to reveal one of her recent beauty struggles: her battle with adult acne. On Wednesday, the “Bodak Yellow” rapper shared a close-up photo of her “uncomfortable” break-outs on her cheek, and even asked her followers for some skincare tips.
“I been breaking out lately and my face is extremely dry.I don’t think these products are working. I think it’s the water out here,” she wrote. “What are some good products for little black heads break outs and dry skin on your face ?”
Though acne is more prevalent in teenagers due to hormonal changes and increased oil production during puberty, adult acne is more common than some people think.Dr. Muneeb Shah, a dermatology resident physician with over 3 million TikTok followers, says an array of factors can influence one’s acne regardless of age, such as elevated stress, bacteria on your skin, and genetics.
The inflamed zits and dry patches can cause physical pain, but these imperfections can pose an even greater toll emotionally. LeAnn Rimes described struggling to feel “worthy without the makeup and the artifice” when going public about her psoriasis diagnosis — a chronic skin conditioning causing “red, itchy scaly patches” — and Keke Palmer spread awareness about Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome — a condition affecting hormone balance — with a bare-faced selfie and deeply personal confession on Instagram in December.
It’s not uncommon for people struggling to feel comfortable in their skin to feel this way. Cassandra Bankson, a medical esthetician with over 1 million YouTube subscribers,recalls the mental health struggles she faced when dealing with cystic acne, describing the experience as “emotionally draining.”
“Yes, it hurt to put my face down on a pillow or lay down on my back, but the emotional turmoil of feeling like, ‘I’m not worthy of looking someone in the eyes if I don’t have makeup on,’ was really hard,” she admitted.
That’s why Cardi B’s decision to publicly admit to and be vulnerable about her adult acne is admirable and inspiring.
Bankson says the rapper’s confession is not only “empowering,” but also a “humbling reminder that we’re all human.”
“I think that celebrities usually seem perfect, untouchable and idealistic, and what Cardi B has done has ripped off that veil,” she says. “She’s saying, ‘yeah, I’m a celebrity. I look amazing in my ‘WAP’ music video, but this is exactly what I’m struggling with.’ For me personally, it almost validates the experience of having acne or breakouts or hyperpigmentation. It’s like ‘OK, somebody who I thought was perfect goes through this too.”
Dr. Andrea Suarez, a licensed dermatologist known as Dr. Dray to her fans, adds that social media can perpetuate unrealistic beauty expectations.
“So much of what we see on social media these days is a ‘highlight reel’ that creates a false reality of what real human skin looks like,” she says. “Thanks to filters and FaceTune, I worry that social media has amplified negative emotions around skin disease, and I’m glad to see that celebrities are providing a realistic view of their skin. I think it can help people feel more confident in their skin overall.”
In his own experience as a dermatologist, Shah says he’s witnessed the toll that seemingly innocuous blemishes can take.
“Your perception of your skin can determine whether or not you’re willing to get into a relationship, to hang out with friends, since some people don’t want to leave their house if they’re breaking out,” Shah says of his patients.
“It’s important to remember that even if you have access to everything, all the right resources, someone like Cardi B can still break out even if she’s doing everything right.”
When celebrities such as Cardi B decide to share bare-faced photos, it reinforces how hard it can be to achieve clear complexion.
“Remind yourself that there is no such thing as perfect skin, only beauty standards which change with time,” Suarez says.