[ARC] Book Review – Acne: Just Another Four-Letter Word (Aarti Patel)


Dear reader,

I lately got the opportunity to write reviews on the platform Booksirens.com and  the first book I chose to review was Acne: Just Another Four-Letter Word by Aarti Patel. I found the concept of this self-help book, written by a naturopathic doctor (and, obviously, author) extremely interesting insofar as she does not recommend medicines nor lotions but states that we should rather work from the “inside out” than from the “outside in.”

First, I would like to share with you the review I posted on Goodreads. Then, I will go a little more in depth in the study of this book.

The review

It had been while since I had read a self-help book but when I came across this one, I felt like it was meant for me. I used to suffer from acne very badly and managed, after ten years, to go over it (not without numerous lifestyle changes and medication). When I read the summary of this book, I thought that the author’s approach was very innovative and interesting: what if we believed in our body’s natural ability to heal and stopped overthinking too much ? « In summary, the skin is a living, breathing, and sensing surface, not just one that we put makeup and acne products on. » (taken from the book)

It seems easy, right? We all know it is not, but it might be worth trying! After all, if the products we put on our skin and the products we digest do not work, why not betting on nature… and on us?

The authors uses a lot of examples she draws from her own experience and the ones of her patients. In chapter 3, for instance, she refers to the idea that we tend to feel like children when we suffer from acne; it is as if we were always fragile, we feel like the teenagers we were when it all started. As it does not go away, we keep thinking we are doing something wrong, which is terrible for self-esteem.

I found the personification of acne very relevant: the author sees it as a « bully ». However, it can be very hard for someone who still suffers from acne as it is so true and « hits home ». We realize, through the author’s words, that our perfectionism and our will to get rid of acne tends to break us: « Do you want to look and feel perfect, or do you want to look and feel like yourself? » Perfectionism goes hand in hand with acne, and it might be one of the factors preventing us from healing. Maybe we could « just » learn to get rid of perfectionism and see where it leads us.

I hope reading the book will help you guys as much as it helped me. I had already gotten rid of acne when I started my reading, but I sincerely think that if I had not, it would have helped me heal faster.

– I received an advance copy for free and I am leaving this review voluntarily –

Deeper study of the author’s theory and how it helped me cure acne

The author: a non-dermatologist covering the topic of “acne”

I found the point of view of a non-dermatologist author very interesting as she is a professional but has not followed the “regular” courses other “advice-givers” do. She is a naturopathic doctor, which means her approach will be far more “natural” than the regular ones. I find it very relevant to have her point of view as if we are here, reading this book, it is probably because we are sick and tired of not finding a solution in order to get rid of our acne. If you we keep talking to the same “category” of specialists (= dermatologists), chances are that we will keep getting (almost) the same answers: they have studied the same things in similar ways, after all.

The personification of acne: a weapon against acne

Usually, doctors tell us to ignore the pimples that appear one by one on our face, right? I think the author’s approach to be far bolder: it seems logical that facing a “personified” enemy will help getting rid of it. Let me explain. Usually, doctors tell us to hide acne, not to think about it too much and to take harsh medicines that will “kill it”. But who is this “it”? Obviously, the goal is to stop overthinking when it comes to acne, but I think having a faceless enemy is not the right way to do so. When acne does have a face, things become “easier” as we know exactly “who” (and not simply “what”) we are fighting against. 

Trust rather than hate

The author emphasizes the fact that we tend to hate ourselves for having acne: we feel like WE have done something wrong. Maybe we have applied the wrong lotions, maybe we have eaten too much gluten &c. but none of these things are true. We are perfectly imperfect human beings, and we have done nothing worse than other people who are not prone to acne. Acne may be a physical reaction to our insecurities or we simply might have “crazier” hormones than most people but NO, we are not a “giant problem”.

I loved that Aarti Patel put the focus on trust. Maybe, rather than hating our skin for what is is, we could trust its very own ability to heal and get rid of this bully (acne). Maybe we could put our focus on living our lives as fully as possible while letting our skin do from the inside what we have tried to do so many times from the outside (through lotions, face masks &c.) What if our skin knew the answer? What if, by stressing less and putting our time and energy into enjoying more, we could see drastic changes in the quality of our skin?

I think this idea to be genius as I know, from my personal experience, that it is only a few months after Accutane (a really harsh treatment that is supposed to help you get rid of your acne but comes with a very bitter price to pay; I could make an entire blogpost on that topic if you are interested in knowing how I got rid of my acne after ten years) that I started seeing true changes. Do you know what happened in this time interval? I moved in with my boyfriend, focused on sport, reading and enjoying my life. Maybe this is the answer we are all looking for: let’s try to forget about acne (as much as possible, we all know it is a very tough task) and focus on living our life to its fullest potential.

Hoping this honest review will make  those of you who suffer (or not) from acne  want to read this really helpful and innovative book. 

Lots of Love,

TABOULOT Camille

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