How Do I Look? Kali On Her Acne

I can’t remember how I discovered Kali on Instagram, but she is such a joy in my timeline. Whether she’s talking about her acne and giving advice to her followers, showcasing amazing make up looks, or dancing with her adorable dogs, I love everything she posts.

As soon as I started doing my How Do I Look? series I knew I wanted to interview Kali, because she has such a positive and open attitude. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did.

Read my interview with Kali (@myfacestory ), acne and skin positivity advocate. She talks about representing acne skin as part of the Sephora Squad, how she says positive, and why acne doesn't define her. #talontedlex #skinpositivity #acnepositivity

Please introduce yourself and tell me about your acne (e.g. when you first noticed it, how you felt…)

My name is Kali, I’m 25 years old and I developed acne around 19/20 years old when I had a sudden onset of nodular cystic adult acne. My acne happened so quickly – I never had cystic acne before this so I felt embarrassed and ashamed of my skin. It was extremely painful and confusing. I tried everything to get rid of it, visited multiple dermatologists and skin experts before deciding that accutane was the best option for me. That was years ago and my acne came back shortly after. Now I’ve learned to manage it through skincare, but I still get flare ups from time to time. I’ve come to realize that its a normal part of having a skin condition! Sometimes my acne is in “remission” other times I’m having a huge flare up. I no longer search for this eternal cure that doesn’t exist. Instead, I’ve learned to be happy in my skin and be thankful for everything that I have.

What are the common misconceptions, comments, or questions about acne? What do you wish people knew about acne?

There are SO many misconceptions when it comes to acne – mostly that you’re unhygienic, have a poor diet, are lazy with your skincare, etc. I could go on and on about the stereotypes surrounding acne but its important to know where most of them come from: acne’s portrayal in the media! Most of the time it’s due to how acne is shown on television, in movies, or even in skincare commercials: that it is something to be embarrassed of and that you should want it to go away quickly. 

I wish people knew that this simply isn’t the case! You don’t have to be embarrassed of your skin, you deserve to be loved and feel comfortable in your skin no matter what it looks like. Acne is normal, it’s something that so many people deal with. You’re not alone and you don’t need to ‘fix’ yourself to be happy. I used to think ‘okay, once I have clear skin THEN I’ll be happy’. But that certainly isn’t the case! You can start being happy right now, today!

When did you decide to start talking publicly about your acne? What sparked this decision? 

I decided to start talking publicly about my acne after I visited the dermatologist and started taking medication for my acne. I then started giving weekly updates that showed my skin on my account ‘MyFaceStory‘. At first I thought once I had clear skin I would be happy, but overtime I realized that I deserved to be happy regardless of what my skin looked like. And that my skin had no correlation to my worth. 

How does your skin make you feel on a day to day basis?

This is a hard question for me because I don’t think about my skin as much as I used to. I used to obsess over my skin and feel completely defeated. But I realized that mindset wasn’t doing much for me. My acne was going to come and go whether I showed it love or hate. Now I try not to give it too much thought, I don’t LOVE having acne but I do love that I’m able to look at my situation much more optimistically now. 

What are your thoughts on the media visibility of acne? How do you think social media has impacted the visibility of different skin conditions?

Social media has definitely impacted the visibility of skin conditions. Before the skin positivity movement, which has come by a huge social media push back following the extreme editing of skin and photoshop years prior, many people felt alone in their conditions. Because most of us felt ashamed or were unable to speak up on our conditions, we thought that we were alone. Social media has made it extremely obvious that we aren’t alone, and I think many people have grown more confident because of that. We are beginning to feel seen and heard, by each other and by major companies. I’ve noticed more skincare companies casting people with acne, more people being shown on television that have acne, and in general representation online of acne sufferers. In the end, representation equals normalization so that should always be the goal. 

Can you tell us a little bit about the work you’ve been doing with Sephora and how that came about?

I applied for the Sephora Squad at the end of 2019, worked with them last year, and had the opportunity to renew my contract for 2020. They were looking for people who had a unique voice in the beauty community, those who had a story to share and I felt I would be a good fit. Being someone who has struggled with acne for a long time, I’ve tried both tons of makeup and skincare, so I thought I would be able to give a unique point of view with this collaboration. I am so thrilled that a major beauty company would be interested in working with someone who 1. doesn’t edit their photos, 2. doesn’t do their makeup like a typical beauty influencer and 3. talks quite a bit about skin positivity and self love! This is a huge win for the skin positivity community and one step closer towards normalization! 

How do you deal with bad days?

I don’t have them as much anymore because I know my skin ebbs and flows. When I do have a bad day I let myself feel my emotions, process through them with journaling or chatting on the phone with my mom, and then I move on with my day. Life is hard but we have to pick up the pieces and move on, if I sat around and wallowed in my skin that wouldn’t be good for anyone! I remind myself that it’s okay to feel what I’m feeling, it’s okay to be upset, but that my skin doesn’t change me. It doesn’t define me, and at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter what my skin looks like – acne or not, I’m still the same person.

If you have consulted the medical community for your acne, how were those experiences?

I definitely have! Usually those experiences have been very cold, medical to say the least. Many times I was looked at for a split second, given a prescription, and sent on my way. I never really felt like my emotional needs were fulfilled, which is important when dealing with a physical ailment that effects you SO emotionally. I found that overall I prefer estheticians over dermatologists because I feel more valid in my feelings, like I am being heard.

In the past few years there have been more conversations around the link between skin and mental health, what are your thoughts?

Acne can have a massive effect on your mental health. Even with a good support system it has a way of making you feel defeated, depressed, anxious, and so much more. I’m glad people are opening up about their experiences with acne and mental health so they know they’re not alone in their struggles, that their feelings are valid and real. 

Have any positives come out of your acne?

Yes! I’ve found that I’m more resilient, I’ve found a community online of like-minded acne babes, I’ve become so much stronger for dealing with acne, I’ve even been able to build a career that helps others feel good in their skin! I have had much more good come out of my skin than bad, and that really comes down to having an optimistic mindset. 

What are your top tips for living with acne?

  1. Acne is normal! Remember that literally everyone gets acne at some point in their life.
  2. It’s okay to feel upset about your skin. Feel those feelings in the moment and then move on.
  3. Don’t let anyone shame you for having acne. Your face = your business!
  4. Realize that you are NEVER alone in how you are feeling, so many others are going through the same thing

Want to hear more from Kali? Follow her on Instagram.

Read the other posts in the How Do I Look? series here: 

  • MICHELLE talking about her scars; 
  • SOFIA talking about her acne; 
  • NATALIE talking about vitiligo; 
  • SUSIE on her Telogen Effluvium (hair loss); 
  • AMY on her port wine stain birthmark; 
  • GEMMA on psoriasis; 
  • AMARA on eczema; 
  • GRACE on her scars;
  • JUDY on her sensitive skin;
  • SHANKAR on his Vitiligo;
  • P. on their Acne Conglobata;
  • and SOPHIE on her Trichotillomania.


Read my interview with Kali (@myfacestory ), acne and skin positivity advocate. She talks about representing acne skin as part of the Sephora Squad, how she says positive, and why acne doesn't define her. #talontedlex #skinpositivity #acnepositivity

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