State of Skin: The mental impact of adult acne

Acne is an incredibly common skin issue, yet for many, it can lead to feelings of low self-esteem.

Written by
Carolina Mateus
Medically reviewed by
min read
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Acne vulgaris is an incredibly common skin disease, yet for many people, it can lead to feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem. This can be especially true for adults, as acne is often seen as a condition most people struggle with during their teenage years, but eventually overcome.

And it's not just acne that affects people's well-being — it's skin health, in general.

In our recent 2023 State of Skin survey, we asked Australians how the way their skin looks and feels impacts their mental health. Here's what we found.

The link between acne and mental health

Our State of Skin survey revealed that as a result of their skin health:

  • 1 in 6 Australians have experienced emotional distress
  • Over 1 in 3 have felt their confidence was affected
  • Nearly 1 in 4 have gone as far as avoiding photos
  • 1 in 9 have skipped social events altogether

Looking at adult acne in particular (which affects more than 1 in 4 Australians), we found that:

  • 1 in 3 adults acne sufferers have experienced emotional distress at the hands of their skin
  • Young Australians are hit hardest, with 28% of 18 to 34-year-olds experiencing emotional distress
  • 61% of adults with acne have felt their confidence was affected by it
  • 1 in 4 skip social events because of the condition

At first sight, there seems to be an obvious solution to this problem: treating acne with the right skincare routine and products. But it's not all that simple.

The challenge: Lack of knowledge about skincare

One interesting thing our 2023 State of Skin survey showed is that a lot of Australians aren't quite sure how skincare works. Though they want a routine specific to their skin concerns, they don't know how to go about creating it:

Additionally, only 23% look to their doctor for skincare information.

But the reality is, if you're unsure about your current skincare routine and feel like it isn't working, there's no one like a skin health expert to show you exactly what tweaks you need to make and what ingredients and products you should be using — especially if you're struggling with severe acne.

Treating adult acne

We'll start by saying that treating your acne won't necessarily make your mental health problems disappear, but it is a step in the right direction.

As we mentioned before, getting the support of a skin expert can make your battle against acne a lot easier, and that's exactly what you get with Software's acne treatment.

Here's how it works:

  • First, you complete an online consult with one of our Australian practitioners
  • Then, they create a formula personalised for your skin type and concerns
  • Your formula is then compounded and delivered straight to your door — simple as that

Plus, you get ongoing support from your practitioner and the ability to contact them whenever you have any questions or need to discuss your treatment.

If you're looking for over-the-counter treatments, we recommend looking for products that contain salicylic acid and azelaic acid. The first has anti-inflammatory properties, is an excellent exfoliant and helps regulate oil production, while the latter reduces active breakouts, and helps clear up the redness, scars and hyperpigmentation that acne can cause.

If you don't know where to start, our Acne Kit is an easy 4-step routine that features both salicylic and azelaic acid (plus, many more blemish-fighting ingredients) and is designed to target acne at all stages.

Managing your mental health

The first thing you should know is that mental illness is common. In Australia, 44% of adults aged 18-85 have experienced a mental health disorder at some point [1]. In other words, you're not alone.

If acne is your main emotional trigger, you may see your well-being improve as you treat it and see it clear up.

But there's more you can do to support your mental health:

  • Eat healthy foods that will make you feel good (bonus points if they nourish your skin)
  • Exercise (whether it's a gentle walk or a full-on HIIT session)
  • Meditate and try breathing exercises when you're feeling overwhelmed
  • Try journaling
  • Open up to a friend or family member

For those experiencing severe or prolonged symptoms of psychological distress, we recommend seeking mental health support. Find a therapist, counsellor or psychologist who you trust and feel comfortable with, and they can help you identify negative thought patterns and give you practical tips for dealing with your emotions.

If you want more information on how to manage your mental health, give this article a read. For more resources on mental health services in Australia, visit:

Mental illness doesn't have to last forever, and neither does acne. Find the support you need and become your most confident, radiant self.

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Real people, incredible transformations

woman with acnewoman without acne
woman with acne
5 rating stars
Wish I bought this sooner
So I’m currently one month into this skincare and it has made such a difference. My acne has reduced significantly as well as my pigmentation. The instructions are clear to use and their other skincare products work great with the custom made solution.
5 rating stars
Only thing that’s worked!
I have tried everything under the sun to fix my skin, noticed a difference straight away with software and was able to get off the medication I was given by my GP, super grateful!!
fine lines
woman with acnewoman without acne
5 rating stars
Life changing!!! Not exaggerating.
I had horrible pigmentation all over my face and after 4 weeks it had reduced so much, and I’m only half way through the treatment! I can finally look in the mirror without disgust. It has made me feel so much better about myself!

The initial process of Software was so easy and straight forward. Got exactly what I wanted. And I LOVE that you can upload photos of your progress. I recommend software to my friends with pigmentation (melasma) too :)
5 rating stars
Saved my skin
Helped improve texture and pigmentation!! Gone from being too scared to leave the house without makeup, to not even thinking about how my skin looks! Couldn’t be happier.
Loved by patients,
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91% of patients see improvements in skin texture & brightness*
* Software lifestyle survey of 116 patients who were using
Software for ageing concerns, June 2022
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* Software lifestyle survey of 116 patients who were using
Software for ageing concerns, June 2022