Did you know that people who suffer with acne are 63% more likely to suffer from depression within their first year of experiencing symptoms? (British Journal of Dermatology). 

There is a clear link between skin conditions and the quality of a person’s mental health. 

Knowing how to get through your flare ups emotionally is just as important as knowing how to deal with the physical aspects of them. 

As part of our New Year, Same You campaign we wanted to talk about skin positivity, and who better to chat to then the queen herself, Maddie Edwards! 

For those of you who may not be familiar with Maddie, she goes by the handle @madeleineedwards on Instagram and is the 27 year old Aussie bombshell normalising skin conditions like acne and eczema on our newsfeeds. 

Here are some of the questions we asked Maddie on our podcast, After 20, and this is what she had to say…

What led you to building the following on social media that you have now?

I am an acne sufferer and eczema sufferer and I just honestly started posting about my skin on my instagram. I didn’t initially have any goals or intent with the page, it was more just about sharing my skin for what it is and that just started to grow my audience. I think people just really like to see real and natural skin.

Is your skin something you started to battle with more recently in your 20s, or has it been more of a longstanding thing? What kind of a relationship have you had with your skin growing up over the years?

With eczema, I have had it for as long as I can remember. Acne though actually did only enter my life in my early twenties. It honestly just appeared without warning. It was cystic and it was painful and it was so new to me, I had no idea how to deal with it mentally or physically and I have been dealing with it ever since, for about 8 years now. 

I definitely had an unhealthy relationship with my skin when I first started suffering from acne. I was so embarrassed and upset. I was also really annoyed at myself because I felt like I had taken my clear skin for granted whilst I had it. Most of my friends who had acne, had it when they were teenagers and now they all have clear skin. I was dealing with it later on and it is just the worst feeling when you go out, you feel like you have to hide. I am so glad that my relationship with my skin is a lot healthier now. 

You mentioned feeling like you wanted to hide and being embarrassed about your skin. How did you go from being in that place mentally with your skin to where you are now? 

The only way I can describe it is feeling tired of hiding. I felt exhausted. I felt sorry for myself, I felt like I was only damaging myself and my relationship with who I am and what I look like. Like why am I covering myself up? And who am I doing it for? And what does it bring? 

When I say my relationship with my skin was unhealthy, I mean when I was posting photos to instagram I would Facetune them and I would Facetune my blemishes out of it. I just was so tired of faking it. It also got to the point where I was embarrassed to see my friends in real life because I knew that I looked different on social media to how I looked in real life. It would make me just want to stay at home all the time.

I just knew that the only way out of it was to accept myself for who I am and for what I looked like and I just ripped the band-aid off with social media. I basically said, “this is what I look like and this is who I am”. As soon as I did that it was like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I just felt free. That was the first step that I took in improving my relationship with my skin.

What is your advice to people as to how you can suggest they take small steps to being more comfortable in their skin?

I think sometimes doing the physical things helps you mentally. For me, even on the days when I hated my skin, I still did my AM and PM skincare routine. I made it a ritual and I am not saying do a 10 step skincare routine… sometimes it is not even about the skincare, it is just building a relationship with your skin. Giving it the love that it does deserve. Build a relationship with your skin and get comfortable with the way you look. 

Secondly, I would try to find one thing on your face that you like, or one thing that you don’t hate. And I think from there you can start to really push yourself out of your comfort zone. For me that was a big thing, it was like stretching an elastic band. The more you stretch it, the more free you feel. For me sometimes I would have major congestion on my chin and I would really want to cover it up but I would force myself out of the house without covering it up even if it was for just 10 minutes. And in my head it was the biggest deal, I was like “oh my god get me back home everyone is looking at me” and it felt like such a big deal but when I got home I knew that I had done it and even if I felt anxious and scared I was really proud of myself. You definitely need to celebrate the small things. 

Lastly, I have friends and family that are so great and they really support me. I can talk about my skin to them. So I think surround yourself with people who are going to support you and make you feel good. Do not hang out with people who make you feel unworthy or make you explain things or point out your insecurities. Surround yourself with positive, warm and supportive people. 

What is your advice to other people when it comes to dealing with someone who might be struggling with their skin?

Firstly, if you are not close with someone just don’t mention their skin. But if it is a close friend or family member just allow yourself to be available to that person. Make that person feel comfortable. The sufferer may try to start the conversation about their skin with you, and you don’t want to shut it down. It is a super vulnerable thing to talk about. The biggest thing I would say is that most of the time it is not about offering advice. Sometimes that person just wants an ear and they just want to know that they can come to you and complain about it and then move on. They don’t need you to try and fix it. 

If you want to hear more from Maddie make sure you check out our interview with her here on After 20.

And don’t forget, for the entire month of January, tbh Skincare is donating 10% of all revenue to ReachOut Australia to support the mental health of young Australians.