Almost half of Brits have experienced adult acne, according to new report

Published 24th May 2024 by Ellen Cummings

Almost half of Brits have experienced adult acne and 57% admit they feel self-conscious about breakouts, according to a new study by acne skincare brand 47 Skin and market research company Onepoll.

The study involved a nationwide survey of 2,000 18-65-year-olds to understand the UK’s perception of acne, and how this perception may affect sufferers of the condition. 

This study was inspired by market intelligence company Mintel’s 2023 UK Facial Skincare Market Report, which reported that 50% of people in the UK suffer from skin concerns, of which spots and blemishes were the top concern. 
The Mintel report also showed that 38% of UK dermatologist appointments are acne or acne-symptom-related.

Some of the 47 Skin survey findings include:

Common conceptions about acne

  • Breakouts are in the top three skin concerns in the UK, with 27% of respondents reporting this, alongside dryness and wrinkles.
  • 21% thought that they would only experience breakouts as a teen when growing up, with 46% of those surveyed having experienced acne later in life too.
  • 50% of respondents believed that eating greasy food causes breakouts, with 41% believing that chocolate is a main culprit and blemishes and acne. 
  • Interestingly, 39% believed that poor hygiene is to blame for acne – highlighting the misconceptions of acne and how this perpetuates the negativity surrounding it.
  • 57% of those surveyed shared that they are self-conscious when in public if they have breakouts, with just under 50% admitting to hiding breakouts with make-up.
  • Over a quarter of respondents worried about SPF causing breakouts, making them less likely to wear it.

How does acne affect wellbeing?

  • 48% of those surveyed feel self-conscious when they have breakouts, 37% of those surveyed feel unattractive when experiencing breakouts, and 27% of those surveyed feel embarrassed when experiencing breakouts.
  • 35% admit to breakouts impacting their mood and overall wellbeing, with 21% worrying about the long-term effects of breakouts on their skin, while 27% admitted to comparing their skin to others and feeling inadequate.
  • Over 50% admitted to consciously covering breakouts with strategic clothing during sunny weather, and 54% of respondents’ biggest concerns on their body are spots, blemishes and scarring. 

How social media impacts self-esteem

  • 74% of respondents agreed that social media creates unrealistic expectations about having perfect skin.
  • 46% of 18-34-year-olds believed that social media has made them feel conscious towards their breakouts.
  • 61% of 18-34-year-olds get skincare advice from Instagram, whilst 64% find it via TikTok.
  • 66% of 18-34-year-olds compare their skin to others and feel inadequate. 

How acne affects different genders

  • Women are more likely to get skincare advice from search engines (32%), whereas men are more likely to consult a friend or family member (34%).
  • Women linked hormones to the cause of their breakouts (59%), whereas men shared that they think sweat causes their breakouts the most (36%).
  • 39% of women reported that breakouts have had an impact on their self-esteem or confidence, whilst 30% of men agreed.
  • Men are more likely to cancel social plans as a result of their breakouts compared to women (18% vs 11%).

Does acne affect your career?

  • 28% of respondents admitted to breakouts affecting their confidence negatively while at work.
  • Just under a quarter of respondents between 18-34 years old shared that breakouts having made them feel a lack of confidence during a job interview, resulting in not getting the job.
  • 13% admit to turning off their camera on a work call due to breakouts, whilst 7% admit to skipping work because of it at times. 

How location affects acne

  • Londoners are the most concerned about breakouts in the UK (41%), followed by Yorkshire (30%).
  • Those living in London are most likely to cover their breakouts with make-up (41%), followed by the West Midlands (32%).
  • Londoners are the most likely to cover up during the summer with clothing if they have breakouts (50%), with 34% sharing that the spots and blemishes are the biggest concern for the skin on the body.
  • Wales and Yorkshire (both 37%) are even more concerned about breakouts on the body.
  • 40% of Londoners admit to being paranoid when meeting new people due to breakouts and 39% shared their confidence is negatively impacted during social gatherings.
  • Yorkshire (24%), followed by Northern Ireland (23%) and South East/East Midlands (both 21%) admitted to knowing the least about skincare. 

Nic Taylor, founder of 47 Skin, commented, “The results of this survey underscore the critical need for increased awareness and support for individuals struggling with acne.

“I know first-hand the physical and mental struggle it can have on your confidence and daily life, having struggled myself for many years.

“As a society, it is imperative that we foster a more empathetic and inclusive attitude towards acne and provide accessible resources for those in need.”

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Ellen Cummings

Ellen Cummings

Published 24th May 2024

Ellen Cummings is the senior content writer at Professional Beauty, working across the magazine and online. Contact her at [email protected]

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