Bullies called me ‘ugly’ and ‘pizza face’ because of my acne

ACNE can leave many of us feeling insecure and struggling to find ways to cover it up. But influencer Kadeeja Khan is proof that you don’t need perfect skin to look good.

Here, 24-year-old Fabulous Beauty Panel member Kadeeja reveals how she’s learned to love her skin, spots and all.

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Kadeeja Khan has suffered from acne since the age of 11Credit: Thea Baddiley


A LOT of people think of acne as a phase or rite of passage that you go through in puberty, but at this point, I have lived with acne more than I have experienced.

I had my first place at 11, and it quickly multiplied. After a visit to the GP for advice on how to treat them, the official diagnosis came: I had acne.

I had just started high school and was already anxious, but now there were a host of other questions in my mind.

What is acne? How can I get rid of it? What is wrong with me? Why can’t my skin be normal? Why can’t I be like all the other girls in school?

She's tried everything to get rid of her spots, from Roaccutane to spending thousands on products

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She’s tried everything to get rid of her spots, from Roaccutane to spending thousands on productsCredit: Instagram / Emeraldxbeauty

I spent hours dreaming about what my life would be like with perfect skin, but it was not my reality.

Instead, I was called “ugly,” “disgusting,” “a gait disease,” and the classic teenage insult, “pizza face,” all for something I couldn’t change.

Would my life be easier if I didn’t have a skin condition? Would people treat me better? The constant bullying destroyed the soul, as did the questions in my mind.

I became depressed and felt like acne was ruining my life, reducing me to tears almost every day.

Kadeeja says her mental health was struggling and she often photoshoped her photos to hide her acne

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Kadeeja says her mental health was struggling and she often photoshoped her photos to hide her acneCredit: Instagram / Emeraldxbeauty

For the rest of my school life, I was a regular in my doctor’s office, constantly trying new drugs – from topical creams to antibiotics.

Some birth control pills can help with acne, but after reading about the possible side effects, I didn’t want to take any chances.

After seeing a dermatologist, I tried Roaccutane, an anti-inflammatory drug prescribed only in severe cases to reduce oil production and bacteria – all with no real success.

The now high profile side effects of taking Roaccutane took over my life – I was crying, getting bored, angry and sad for no reason.

At the age of 20, she decided to drop the filters and embrace her acne

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At the age of 20, she decided to drop the filters and embrace her acneCredit: Instagram

So by the time I left school, I had quit the meds and turned to Main Street, spending thousands of pounds over the years on skin care.

Whenever I saw an advertisement for a product claiming to fight acne, I would run right away to buy it.

As my bank balance plummeted, so did my sanity. I felt ugly all the time, worthless, sad, depressed and stressed. But I was too scared of judgment to tell anyone about the consequences it had on me.

After my experience at school, I swore that no one would have the chance to harass me again, even if I still had severe acne.

Kadeeja says: `` I want to give people a different kind of model than the retouched images in the ads ''

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Kadeeja says: “ I want to give people a different kind of model than the retouched images in the ads ”Credit: Instagram

So when I first started posting on social media, I turned to Photoshop – and I’m not the only one. A recent Dove study found that by the age of 13, 80% of girls distort their appearance online.

Heavily editing my images, to the point that I didn’t even recognize myself, became the norm, and I enjoyed the praise these retouched images got: “Stunning”, “Flawless”, “Beautiful”.

I had never received so many compliments. It felt good, but I knew they were based on a lie. I saw myself under all the makeup and Photoshop, and the reality was far from perfect. I felt like a fraud.

I didn’t want to contribute to the false standards of beauty that we see online and in some advertisements. I wanted to show the world who I am, so people can see someone real on social media.

Breaking the myths about breakouts

YOUR DIET CAUSES YOUR EXHAUST

Whether it’s fast food, chocolate, or dairy, there is limited scientific evidence that food causes acne. I have been a vegan and have been for a year, but I still have spots.

ACNE IS CAUSED BY POOR HYGIENE

While it’s important to wash your face, towels, and pillow cases regularly, it won’t solve the problem, and acne doesn’t mean you’re dirty.

MAKEUP IS WORSE

Most cosmetics go through rigorous testing, but if you’re worried about blocking pores, opt for non-comedogenic products and always be sure to remove makeup before bed.

ACNE IS INFECTIOUS

Despite what bullies say, you are not a gait disease. While picking dots can cause closer to the original breakout, they don’t spread from person to person.

So at 20, I dropped the filters on my Instagram page @Emeraldxbeauty and kissed my acne. I loved the positive response from people, but the honesty also came from cyberbullying.

I couldn’t believe how much someone’s appearance could provoke such hateful comments, especially from strangers. Fortunately, I get twice the support for it.

Dropping filters has changed me as a person and I want to give people a different kind of role model than the edited images in ads. You don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful – you are beautiful no matter what.

Growing up, I never thought I could love myself and my skin like I do today. Although nothing so far has cured my acne, I have found things that help me …

My skin-saving routine

Nip + Fab's cleansing pads keep oil at bay and prevent it from clogging pores, thanks to detoxifying charcoal and witch hazel, and gently exfoliating AHAs

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Nip + Fab’s cleansing pads keep oil at bay and prevent it from clogging pores, thanks to detoxifying charcoal and witch hazel, and gently exfoliating AHAs
  • Nip + Fab Charcoal + Mandelic Fix Cleansing Pads, £ 14.95 for 60
Murad InvisiScar heals acne scars, even those I've had for over a decade

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Murad InvisiScar heals acne scars, even those I’ve had for over a decade
  • Murad InvisiScar Resurfacing Treatment, £ 35,
The Foreo Luna is ideal for deep cleansing and leaves the skin soft and supple

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The Foreo Luna is ideal for deep cleansing and leaves the skin soft and supple
Murad MultiCleanse removes makeup and dirt without drying out the skin

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Murad MultiCleanse removes makeup and dirt without drying out the skin
  • Murad Prebiotic 4-in-1 MultiCleanse, £ 38

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