Lena Dunham Pens Deeply Honest Article About Getting Rosacea & Acne At 31

Lena Dunham isn’t the world’s most-loved celeb, but you’d be lying if you said she wasn’t consistent in her brutal honesty.

The co-founder of Lenny Letter has taken to her site/e-newsletter once again, this time covering her recent experience with skin issues.

As Lena writes, she’s known to have a strong level of self-esteem when it comes to body confidence – especially since she comes under attack by the media and wider internet pretty much daily for everything from her hair, to her body, to her style choices.

Despite the vitriol and regularly fluctuating 30 pounds, I enjoyed a bright, beaming sense of self-love. Some of it came from the women who told me what I was doing mattered to them, women I’ll always feel grateful and connected to. But more of it came from looking in the mirror and being like “Damn, son.” As a member of a public couple, I laughed when I read comments like “He’s a rock star. Doesn’t he know he could date a model?” Because they didn’t know my secret: I AM a model. As Jenni so elegantly puts it, I am Rihanna to myself.


However, her recent issues with chronic illness – and the resulting medications Lena was put on to treat her issues – led to rosacea. Really, really bad rosacea. FYI, in case you’re not across it – rosacea is a skin condition that shows as a red ‘flush’ on the face, usually across the cheeks.

Then, after a long, sweaty night shoot in which I was covered in strange makeup, I washed my face to reveal that the rosacea had become hundreds of tiny pimple-blisters that covered me from forehead to neck. The sound that came from that hair and makeup trailer was similar to when the bitch in the Craft starts losing her hair in the locker room. 

The skin condition can also be pretty painful, with stinging and burning sensations during flare-ups, and Lena seemed to react pretty hectically – bad rosacea can result in loads of tiny pimple-like spots that hurt like hell.

I found myself 31 and hysterical, in the dermatologist’s chair as she extracted infected areas, applied an antibiotic cream, and explained that rosacea is another chronic condition: once the cat’s out of the bag, there’s no guarantee she’s headed back in. The acne on my shoulders and back was also steroid induced, she explained. (I hadn’t even noticed the bacne yet. FML.)

The experience led to Lena questioning her amazing self-esteem, which was… apparently not so amazing. See, the one thing she had no issues with was her skin. And losing that perfect skin meant coming to terms with the deeper levels of insecurity she had all along.

I had finally found my vanity. Seven years of being treated in the public eye like a punch line about female imperfection may not have felt like it was wearing me down, but it had actually forced me to rely emotionally on my one area of fully conventional beauty: my perfect fucking skin. 

Lena goes on to acknowledge that she, as a major celeb, has access to primo skincare specialists that others don’t.

I’m starting to believe that speaking this pain aloud isn’t just good for my own healing: it allows any young woman who might be watching to understand that nobody is immune from feeling bad about hateful attention.

Say what you want about Lena, but bringing some much-needed realness to the celeb beauty conversation is pretty awesome IMO. Just because they look ***flawless on red carpets and your TV screens doesn’t mean they don’t go through the same shit at home that we do.

Read the entire article on Lenny Letter here.