Don’t know about you but during this period of lockdown, I am finding myself zoning in on my appearance. More often than not when I feel anxious about something out of my control it tends to show- up in me being overly critical of my body. The other trigger is Zoom. It’s so distracting having a conversation or meeting with someone and seeing your face through-out: it’s hard not to pick holes in what you are seeing.

Following that theme, Jade Tomlin talks about her complex relationship with her skin. 


  • I actually can’t believe I am writing this. Writing this just highlights how far I have grown physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. 

  • Growing up I had pretty good skin. I mean yeah, I might have got the odd spot here and there if it was my time of the month, but that’s about it.

  • 2016 was a tough year. I had just completed my second masters and was about to start my first job as a qualified psychiatric nurse. 

  • I remember feeling excited but nervous as although I had always worked and studied at the same time. I had never worked without studying!

  • I started to develop hundreds of under the skin spots. The spots were the same colour as my skin and ran along my jawline and cheeks.

  • I knew that these weren’t ordinary spots as they were completely different to anything I had ever had in the past.

  • I started becoming quite self-conscious and wouldn’t let my then-boyfriend see me without makeup.

  • I became tearful and started to withdraw from friends and family.

  • I have lost count of how many times I went to my GP to seek help and advice, however each time they downplayed my skin and how it was making me feel, until I went back again after several failed attempts.

  • The GP commenced me on a steroid cream and tablets and also anti-depressants and finally sent a referral to the dermatologist. 

  • I collected my prescription of the cream and tablets as I was diagnosed with ‘under the skin acne’ but I choose not to collect the anti-depressants due to my own personal reasons. 

  • After months of testing and trying out different steroid creams and tablets I then made the choice to seek private medical advice as the prescriptions, the GP were prescribing weren’t making a visual difference after months of using them consistently.

  • Unfortunately, private medical attention only left me with bleached bed sheets where the acid in the creams reacted (you can only imagine what it was doing to my face).

  • My face began to become redder and inflamed and the spots were now oozing and becoming very painful physically.

  • I remember looking in the mirror and no longer recognising the person staring back at me.

  • I hated myself for the way I looked and the way my physical appearance made me feel.

  • It became so bad that I stopped going to work as I was embarrassed by the constant questions and statements, ‘What have you done to your face’?, ‘What has happened to your face, you were so pretty’?

  • Things then went from bad to worse. I went from being a very confident, sociable and outgoing person to being withdrawn, lacking self-confidence and no longer wanting to go out to socialise.

  • I downloaded apps to smooth out my face so that my followers on social media wouldn’t be able to see my real truth as I was ashamed of myself.

  • After days of self-isolating I remember calling my mum in floods of tears telling her that I didn’t want to wake up the next day, that I would rather be dead than feel the mental and physical torture I was going through each day.

  • After a year of battling with the most painful physical, emotional and mental journey I have had in my life the referral the GP had made for me to get a consultation with a dermatologist to commence Roaccutane came in the post.

  • At long last I felt that there was hope as I had heard that this was the best line of treatment for acne despite all the awful side effects. However, once I had been given a date for my appointment I had also found that I was pregnant. Which meant after a year of waiting for this appointment I could now not go ahead with it as Roaccutane is harmful to an unborn foetus.

  • My heart-sank as although I was over the moon to be pregnant, I desperately wanted my face to heal but my baby came first, which was the start of my self-love journey.

  • Although my skin didn’t heal straight away, each month I was pregnant slowly but surely my skin started to heal itself. Which makes me now believe I was experiencing hormonal acne.

  • Being pregnant made me realise that there is so much more I have to offer than my skin. I was becoming a mother and I now hard a whole other person to live for, my skin was no longer my first priority.

  • I had always been spiritual but in my darkest moments I had lost my faith, however, being pregnant gave me a new lease of life and spiritual awakening. I slowly restored my faith and began to put my trust in the Universe and the most high.

  • Although my acne was still there, I began to get my spark back and people were now commenting on how happy I looked and the focus was now no longer on my face but on the new life I was carrying.

  • My battle with active acne was the worst skincare journey I have ever been on and although it is no longer with me the physical scarring and indentation on my face remains as well as the mental scars.

  • I do still get the odd few spots when I am on my period and the little voice in my head comes back every month to haunt me by saying ‘here it comes again’, ‘this could be it returning’.

  • Thus the fear does remain, but I can say with a smile on my face that I no longer wear makeup daily and have begun a simple and consistent skincare regime using only natural products which has slowly reduced the redness of my scarring and my skin is responding well to it. 

  • There may be some people reading this who may think that wishing I was dead and wanting to take my own life because of acne is dramatic or over the top but no-one can mentally prepare you for such a change in your outer appearance especially when your face is the first thing anyone sees. 

  • At that time I found that it was easier to hide how I was feeling and cover up my face with makeup however no amount of makeup hid my raised lumps and bumps and that was hard to accept. I even put myself in debt by using credit cards to pay for private treatment.

  • If I had to go back and speak to my 2016 self I would reassure her that she is beautiful no matter what, she is more than her skin. Beauty starts from within and this needs to be taught from an early age.

  • Unfortunately so many people like me fall victim to that inner voice that doesn’t serve them well. We get caught up on the negativity and trying to live up to other peoples false realities. If you didn’t know me in 2016 but followed me on social media you would never know what I was dealing with because filter apps made it so easy for me to hide behind.

  • Luckily when I did eventually open up to friends and family they were supportive and non-judgemental and helped me on my self love journey by helping me find reasons to love myself.

  • From encouraging me to write gratitude lists daily, to taking part in 100 happy days challenge, and for daily supportive text messages and and phone calls I was able to see that there can be joy in every day no matter what you look like.

  • If you are currently struggling with a skin condition and would like further advice or support there are many support networks that are readily available as well as your GP and/or you can refer yourself to IAPTS (talking therapies).

  • If you would like to get in touch with me just to speak to someone who has gone through it and understands the internal torment you can always reach out to me.

  • I have made a promise to myself to be more honest and transparent on my social media platforms as I want to be able to offer other people the support that at the time I couldn’t find myself. I can only share what I have been through and my advise is from my own personal experiences. You may find steroid creams and tablets work well for you unfortunately for me my skin just didn’t react to them. We can only tell our own truths. 

  • I am still not 100% happy with how my skin looks due to the scaring, but I have decided to not allow the acne or my scars to define me. I am not perfect, and that’s ok. I am starting to accept my skin for what it is and no longer cry or wince when I see my reflection. My faith has become stronger and each day I thank God that I choose to live. 


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