As one of the youngest Kardashian-Jenners, Kendall Jenner spent much of her youth in the public eye. When her bout with hormonal acne kicked in during high school, so did insecurity. She did what most younger siblings would do—seek advice from her much older, experienced sisters. “Don’t ever touch your face. Your hands are very dirty,” Jenner recalls her siblings saying. The incessant scolding from her sisters was enough to scare the self-proclaimed “hypochondriac,” but not enough to keep her acne at bay.
“When I started breaking out, I was kind of crazy about it. I would go to a pharmacy, buy everything that treats acne, and put it on. I just wanted to be clean at all times,” she tells ELLE.com, as we sit with her on an an oversized couch in a Brooklyn hotel room a recent Thursday morning. “If I ever have make-up on, I get every inch of it off. I’ve always been super clean. My friends make fun of me because I cannot go to bed without washing my face. I’m also a hypochondriac so I felt like if I touched my face I’d die. I was so bad.”
But, she’s better now. For years, Jenner kept her acne under control by using birth control, giving her clear skin and the confidence to walk out in the world—and runways—with her head held high. Her once-unwavering confidence was tested when she was forced to stop using birth control in 2018, when the model’s career was skyrocketing, and her acne came back in full swing.
“I think it had a lot to do with my stress level—it was really high—and I was really overwhelmed. I don’t think I was eating right,” she said. “I had never had acne that bad, even when I was younger.”
That’s when Proactiv came in. In January, Kendall Jenner joined the Proactiv team as its brand ambassador. She may have gotten roasted by Twitter for overly hyping up her partnership announcement (Kris Jenner called it her “most raw story” and applauded her for being “brave” and “vulnerable”), but her mission is earnest: to encourage dialogue on “skin positivity.” She has been using the products herself for about a year.
“When I wake up, because I don’t have any make-up on, it’ll just be my cleanser and then probably the moisturizer with SPF in it. If I feel like I’m just chilling that day, I’ll just do the green tea moisturizer because the green tea moisturizer feels like cool and airy,” she explained. Jenner is a huge fan of laser facials as well. “I’m really into laser facials and microneedling right now to kind help with my scarring because that’s what they don’t warn you about with acne. You get over the acne, but now it’s like, why do I have to suffer with these scars?”
Her secret weapon for combating acne breakouts and scarring is the Proactiv Adapalene Gel. “At night time, it’s the same routine, but I’ll add in Proactiv’s Adapalene Gel. If I have a pimple and I put that on at night before I go to bed, I swear to God, I wake up in the morning and it’s gone. It pulls it all out. I put the gel on one more night, and then it’s completely gone the next day.”
It’s this “simple, straightforward” routine that has proven effective for the skincare skeptic. Earlier this month, Kendall faced backlash after posting a video in which she washed her face for about 10 seconds, which fans believed was far too quick of a wash (her sister Kylie was similarly dragged for her own face-washing video). But is there really a time limit on cleansing your skin? Kendall doesn’t think so.
“I didn’t know there was a time limit. That’s actually new information to me,” she said with a chuckle. “But, no, I just wash my face until I feel clean. Sometimes I’ll use my cleanser, rinse my face off, and if I feel like I’m still not clean enough, I’ll just do the cleanser again just to get any extras off my face.”
For Kendall, skin positivity is about silencing the naysayers and focusing on what works for your skin. “I’d be lying if I said I haven’t fallen victim to insecurities because of the negativity. As corny as it might sound, my acne journey helped me find myself in the process; it made me realize my worth and pushed me to be even more confident,” she explained. “I learned so much about myself to the point where It made me glad it came back worse than ever. I needed my path to be shifted to end up where I am today.”