Keke Palmer is getting refreshingly real about her cystic acne journey

We’re not crying, you’re crying

BEAUTYcrew Beauty Editor / August 15 2022

Keke Palmer has had a long and tumultuous battle with persistent cystic acne since her teens. The actress has tried everything from skin care to specialised clinical treatments to prescription drug Accutane, all to no avail. But recently, she discovered the cause for her skin woes is actually as a result of undiagnosed PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS for short.

Palmer shared the revelation with fans via an Instagram post where she showed up close and personal shots of the scars she has had to live with as well as a touching and lengthy account of her acne journey:

“Hey you guys, for some of you this may be TMI, but for me my platform has always been used for things much greater than me. PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome has been attacking me from the inside out my entire life and I had no idea. My acne has been so bad that people in my field offered to pay for me to get it fixed. I tried EVERYTHING. I did Accutane TWICE. People say drink water, have a better diet, but I did all that, I ate all the “right” things, my blood tests were fine. But it took ME taking a personal look into my family that has a history of diabetes and obesity, to understand what was ACTUALLY happening with me. And unfortunately doctors are people and if you don’t “look the part” they may not think that’s your problem. They may not even suggest it if you “look healthy” whatever that means! I came to a doctor in tears once and all they offered was a measles vaccine... Exactly.”

“I’m posting this to say that it’s okay and we can help ourselves. My skin has made me sad many nights but I do not give up on myself. I know this is not me and my body has been looking for help. I do not have a medical degree but I did the research and took what I learned to a doctor and that led them to a proper diagnosis. I’m not saying trust web md for everything haha but what I am saying is no one can help us like we can help ourselves.”

“This especially makes me sad because my family struggled for years and no doctor could help them, they actually mislead them and just took their money. It’s only because of what my family sacrificed that allows me to even have the resources to share the information I’m sharing with you! Their fight out of poverty gave me a better life and I just want to share what I learn 🙏🏾”

“The least harmful thing PCOS can bring is acne. To all the people struggling with this please know you’re not alone and that you are still so fucking fine! MY ACNE AINT NEVER STOPPED ME. But we don’t have accept this. Now I can really help KEKE! And I love her so it’s ON.”

“Pray for me on this journey and I will pray for you too. I’m not afraid to show myself to the world and you shouldn’t be either ❤️”

The journey seems to be showing signs of an upward trajectory since then, too. In fact, Palmer just returned to Instagram to share an update, four months on from her original post: "Whew chile! It’s taken me quite some time to get here. In my Virgo eyes there is still much more to be done, but I can’t tell you how much this progress has meant to me. I am still doing more research on my skin. Give me a little more time and I promise to share what has worked for ME."

But while we're looking forward to hearing from her re: the skin care solutions she found success with, we're totally on board with her personally tailored approach. 
Everyone's skin is different, after all.

"I emphasise me, because if there was anything I’ve learned it’s that only can we ourselves discover the best ways in which we can help ourselves. No one can do that for us! Not a doctor, not a pastor not a anybody! Yes, some of these outside resources can help guide us in the right direction if that’s what we seek. We can hear a message and not totally “follow” the messenger, but take what makes sense to US and follow our own discernment," Palmer wrote. "I spent time and time and time again using myself as a test dummy pretty much, talking to people who have helped others, but not everything they told me helped ME. It wasn’t until I started taking what I heard and paying attention to how it affected me, that I really started to see progress."

"What works for someone else may not work for you and that’s okay. So no matter what information I give you, sure try it out if you want, just know the only person that will know if it’s working is you. Don’t psyche yourself out just say “Hey, is this working for ME?” and if it’s not move on to the next! Don’t give up on yourself because even if it doesn’t work it taught you to look in another direction. Whatever is working for you, look at the ingredients on the back and identify the common denominator."

But because Palmer's a living legend, she had some jokes on hand, too: "Plastic surgeons are amazing," she said in an Instagram video. "All of these years and all of these inventions; boob jobs, above the muscle, under the muscle, tummy tuck, BBL, even implanted muscles; but you can't figure out how to take the beautiful skin from my ass and put it on my face? I'm tired of it, I'm done with it, people out here with adult acne are struggling and you ain't figured out that cure?" Preach!

Keke's not the only celeb battling skin struggles. These models have been vocal about their acne experiences, too.

Main image credit: @ann_joneshair

Briar Clark got her start in the media industry in 2017, as an intern for Marie Claire and InStyle. Since then, her keen interest in fashion and beauty has landed her gigs as a Digital Content Producer and Beauty Editor with titles like Girlfriend, Refinery29, BEAUTYcrew and beautyheaven. She loves the way seemingly innocuous topics like skin care and style have the ability to put a smile on people’s faces or make them think about themselves a little differently. A big believer in self love and experimentation, Briar has made a point of becoming the Australian beauty industry’s unofficial guinea pig for unusual treatments and daring hair trends. When she’s not testing out the latest beauty launches, Briar is big on broadening her horizons, mostly in the form of food but she’s also partial to travelling to new destinations both near and far (and of course, allocating an extra bag to bring their best beauty offerings home with her).