With their vast medical knowledge and access to the most innovative, effective skin care, dermatologists are probably the first people you'd expect to have clear skin. One London-based dermatologist, however, decided to bare her adult acne on Instagram to show that nobody is immune to pimples — and that's totally OK.
In an Instagram first spotted by Allure, Dr. Anjali Mahto recently opened up about suffering from cystic breakouts since 1992. "Psychologically accepting that I am never going to 'grow out of it' has been a battle through most of my 20s and 30s," she wrote. She is now closer to 40 and has accepted her skin has ups and downs and that she could turn to medication to reduce scarring. "I am not a perfect dermatologist with perfect skin — and nor do I aspire to be," she said.
"I am not a perfect dermatologist with perfect skin — and nor do I aspire to be"
Mahto was refreshingly candid about how acne affects her on an emotional level as well. "Acne gets me down in the same way it affects any adult sufferer but learning to accept treatment when I need it and enjoying the periods my skin is good has become key for good mental health," she shared.
The derm then took issue with the idea that there are one-size-fits-all solutions — like watching what you eat, not sleeping enough, or wearing makeup — for acne. "It is just the luck of the DNA draw in terms of our unique combination of hormones and genetics," she explained.
She also shared that she's tried a lengthy number of solutions over 25 years: topical creams, laser, antibiotics, birth control pills, chemical peels, spironolactone, metformin, and nine courses of Accutane. But, she promised," If you are suffering with your skin there are always solutions."
Mahto's struggle is extremely relatable and, as someone who suffers from adult acne, I find it really uplifting. While I'm not a dermatologist, I am a beauty editor, and I feel like there are similar expectations for me to have smooth skin ("Who would want to read skincare advice from someone who can't get her own zits under control?" I tell myself).
I've felt a lot of guilt and shame about acne. I've agonized in front of the mirror, bashing myself with inner criticisms. So, seeing a dermatologist be so honest and post a photo of her pimples on Instagram — a platform where FaceTune and filters are the norm — was encouraging. It made me feel less isolated.
Apparently, I'm not alone. There are countless comments on Mahto's post from people who also suffer from adult acne. One user, agnella888, shared that she is 33 years old and has been struggling with cystic acne for the past 15 years. "There are days when I wanna put a paper bag over my head before I step out," she wrote. "But then there are days when I wake up to posts like yours, and these little things honestly keep me going. They make me feel like somebody understands, somebody cares."
Thank you, Dr. Anjali Mahto, for fighting the adult acne stigma.