Emma Chamberlain Talks Acne, Bad Habits, and Changing the Beauty Industry
Bad beauty habits: we've all got 'em. Whether it's sleeping in makeup, skipping out on washing our hair one too many days in a row, or picking at pimples. Most of us just aren't as open to discussing them in a public forum as Emma Chamberlain, but that's kind of her area of expertise. If there's one thing Chamberlain is, it's unapologetically herself, in real life and on social media in front of her millions of followers.
While for most of us, the idea of being completely candid on the internet sounds scary, that's where Chamberlain feels most at home as a 19-year-old content creator. "I've always been really open about acne, and period problems, and my mental health, and all of that," Chamberlain told POPSUGAR. "That's always been really easy for me to talk about. I don't exactly know why, [it] probably leads back to something with my childhood that went right." Her openness and willingness to share have landed Chamberlain many opportunities — most recently as the global brand ambassador and creative director for the new, clean, Gen Z-focused skin-care brand Bad Habit.
Ahead, Chamberlain keeps that same candid energy as she talks about the ups and downs of her skin-care journey thus far, where the beauty industry needs to improve, and her advice to someone struggling with acne.
On Being Open About Her Skin-Care Journey — Good and Bad
If Chamberlain is experiencing a bad breakout or just having a particularly stressful week, she tells her followers about it. That's something they've always known they can count on her for, but the reason she does it goes much deeper. "I have always felt really comfortable sharing those things because I feel really good when somebody else can relate and when they connect, and that's something that helps keep me going," said Chamberlain.
So, when she started isotretinoin (sold under the brand name Accutane and others) at the start of 2020 to cure her acne, sharing the ups and downs of that journey was a no-brainer. Isotretinoin is one of the strongest oral medications used to treat severe acne and needs to be prescribed by a doctor. While it can be very effective, there are quite a few side effects associated with it.
"It's actually good to shed light on it, because as a kid, you'd see celebrities that you look up to and you'd be like, 'God, they have such perfect skin. How is that possible?'" said Chamberlain. "You don't realize that so many celebrities have been on Accutane." She wants to make good skin feel "attainable" for everyone, because growing up, it didn't feel that way for her: "[I'm] sharing the truth, like, yes, I went on a medication for seven months to get the skin that I have. I was not born with this."
On Her Bad Beauty Habits
Now that her skin is clear (save for the occasional breakout here or there), she's gotten down her beauty routine, but that doesn't mean she's not guilty of a few bad skin-care habits. In the past, her biggest mistake was not doing anything to her skin because she naively thought that would help with her acne. Now, her "bad" beauty habits include occasionally skipping sunscreen even though she knows she shouldn't and not hydrating enough.
"I literally drink one glass of water a day, and for the remainder of the day I drink coffee and maybe a LaCroix," said Chamberlain. "I just recently started wearing sunscreen and I hate it, but it's important. I went my whole life without sunscreen; I'm surprised that I don't have wrinkles yet, to be honest."
On Her Favorite Skin-Care Product From Bad Habit
Chamberlain refers to Bad Habit as "me in a skin-care brand," so it should come as no surprise that she has trouble picking her favorite product from its lineup. When the brand was still in development, it sent her samples of everything without any context to what the brand is. "It was kind of like going on a blind date with everything," said Chamberlain. "There's no packaging or anything." But after they clued her in to the details of this new, judgment-free brand, she couldn't have been more on board. "It's honest. It's unapologetic. It is open about the fact that life is very, very far from perfect. That's something that I really connected with."
Her favorite product is the Dewd Hemp Nourishing Facial Oil ($29), which contains hemp seed oil to moisturize and adaptogens to calm stressed skin, because "you look like you just were born out of your mother," said Chamberlain. "That's gross, but it's genuinely true. It makes you look like a newborn baby."
On What She Wants Someone Struggling With Acne to Know
As someone who has now come out on the other side of her acne journey, Chamberlain has an important word of advice to anyone still struggling with it: "I fully understand that no matter what anybody says it's really, really tough and there's nothing that anybody can say or do to make it any easier," said Chamberlain. "It would be, in a way, punching my younger self in the face to be like, 'Oh, having acne, well, it goes away one day. You'll be OK.' No, it's one of the most difficult things I've personally ever dealt with self-esteem-wise and just in general, in life."
"Once you either grow out of your acne or you find a way to remedy it, no matter what your journey ends up being, there's something so empowering about coming out the other side."
But she does want people to know that it gets better, and you just have to find what works for your skin. "Looking back on my acne journey, it really makes me appreciate my own skin and the body that I'm in," said Chamberlain. "That journey was so important because it taught me how to feel comfortable within myself with good or bad skin. Once you either grow out of your acne or you find a way to remedy it, no matter what your journey ends up being, there's something so empowering about coming out the other side. People who have dealt with acne can f*cking do anything."
On What Needs to Change in the Beauty Industry
Her role as a creative director is unlike any she's ever had before, and with it, she feels a great responsibility to help change the beauty industry for the better.
"My biggest priority with working with Bad Habit — and I know Bad Habit shares this priority — is making skin care feel honest and making skin care feel attainable and comforting," she said. "I think most of the skin-care world tends to have such an emphasis on perfection and anti-aging and all of these toxic words — stuff that's so upsetting and makes you feel bad about yourself, and that's why it sells."