'I didn't want to show my face': Social media star, 20, opens up about adult acne

"At the end of the day, how you look isn't everything."
Summer Mckeen/ Youtube

Get the latest from TODAY

Sign up for our newsletter
SUBSCRIBE
By Madeline Merinuk

Acne: The dreaded four-letter word of any preadolescent, teen or young adult. Dealing with painful pimples and trying to find the right medication is tough for anyone, but it has been particularly stressful for Summer McKeen. The 20-year-old YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat star has millions of people looking at her face every day. Would they really want to see her inflamed, painful breakouts?

“It caused a lot of anxiety, I didn’t want to show my face anywhere," McKeen told TODAY, reflecting on when she first started experiencing acne in August 2019. The onset made her extremely insecure, and came with lots of tears and even some “emotional breakdowns.”

McKeen said that even little things that would typically fill her days, like FaceTime calls, taking pictures with friends and even leaving the house, became events that caused anxiety rather than joy.

She used her YouTube channel as a way to spread positivity and happiness to her viewers, but the pressure to present a perfect appearance weighed on her. She considered hiding her issues from her followers, but ultimately decided that this was something worth addressing. She told TODAY it was one of the best decisions she’s ever made.

"I was worried that people's perception of me would change," she explained, but her followers were more supportive than ever. They thanked her for her honesty and openness.

"Just wanna say I really think you are the most genuine soul I have ever seen on the internet," one of her followers commented on Instagram. "You honestly make me feel so much more comfortable and just proud to be in my own skin and that’s a beautiful thing."

Her acne progressively got worse so McKeen saw multiple dermatologists, and ultimately decided that Accutane was the best option to heal it. Accutane, otherwise known as isotretinoin, is a prescription drug used to treat severe acne that causes deep, painful cysts.

Some of McKeen's most recent videos address her acne struggles, like what her skin care routine is like while on Accutane or visiting Kendall Jenner’s dermatologist to get a consultation.

“There are so many people who are giving me advice and are worried about me, and I didn’t expect that. It’s been awesome,” McKeen said.

A message that she has been trying to convey to her audience is that she isn’t perfect, and she faces the same struggles other 20-year-old girls face. McKeen used to compare herself to her friends, wishing she had “perfect skin” like them. Today, she's trying to kick that bad habit and focus on her reality.

“There’s not much I can do immediately to get rid of it, I'm doing all I can. Yes, it’s a bummer, but it’s fine and I’m going to get over it," she said.

McKeen has now been on Accutane for about two months and reported her skin seems to be improving slowly.

Even though she has received some negative criticism about her skin, the influx of positive messages has outweighed any degrading comments she’s received. More than anything, McKeen just wants her audience to watch her videos and be reminded they are perfect as they are, and if they are struggling with anything difficult in their lives, it will pass and they’ll find happiness again.

“At the end of the day, how you look isn’t everything … We’re always worried about looking perfect, but as long as you’re happy with who you are … Shouldn’t that be all that matters?”