Skin stories: A conversation with Yoella Nygren

Welcome to Skin Stories. In this series, we are spotlighting real-life women with real-life skin.


So many of us have insecurities around our complexion and, chances are, it doesn’t live up to the beauty industry’s unrealistic goals (shock). Isn’t it time we start talking about what real skin looks like? Today we are speaking to model and skinfluencer Yoella Nygren. Here’s her skin story.


What does beauty mean to you?

For me, beauty means expressing your most true self, and being completely yourself in every way possible.


Can you describe your skin to us? 

My skin was pretty much clear and flawless until my twenties. I was going through a lot in my life, distress caused my skin to break out and that was a really tough time for me. Getting acne as an adult might be even more difficult than getting it in your teens.


What has your skin healing journey been like?

At first, I thought that acne was something external and easily treatable. But it didn't happen. Once I got into this whole healing journey, I understood that a lot of it was due to what's happening internally. I was going through a rough time. I was stressed. I didn't sleep well, and the whole stress of acne made it ten times worse. I was in a negative loop which was difficult to get out of. Healing my skin took me on this whole bigger healing journey, and I feel that is an ongoing thing that never stops. Every single day we learn something new about ourselves and we need to be open and accepting of what is now.

How has your skin impacted your confidence? 

Cystic acne is physically painful, but also creates insecurity within. Every time I was meeting new people, or I was in a new setting, I felt like my skin was all they could see. And that became my personality. I was so insecure that I stopped going out and doing the things I wanted to do. Then one day, I just grew really tired of being so insecure and I decided to start living for myself.


What was the turning point for you?

When I started my Instagram account. That was kind of a promise to myself to be 100% Yoella, which meant showing up as myself in every situation. It was difficult at first. I remember posting the first picture of me without any makeup at all. I was super scared but the reactions were really positive. Everybody was really supportive and some of them could relate. That made me want to do it more and more. And now we're here.


Looking back, what would you want your younger self to know?

I don't have a lot of photos of me without filters before I changed my mindset, this whole acne situation happened when my son was quite young and not having photos of us together

where I'm not wearing a filter is something I regret. But we can only change our future. So, I'm trying not to focus too much on the past.


How has your skin influenced your relationships?

I try to have a really open relationship with my son and talk about the things that are difficult for me too. I remember when he was small, he didn't care a lot about my acne, but once he grew bigger and older, he started to ask questions. At one point he didn't want to touch my face, which was quite hard for me. I think it affects relationships in many kinds of ways. Dating was also really difficult, I focused so much on my skin that I forgot to actually focus on how I felt in the moment.


What gives you confidence now?

Walking into a room and being 100% pure Yoella gives me a lot of confidence. Before, I used to see confidence as something that I should have, or something that is easy to learn. But I've understood that confidence is something that you do. My skin is a part of me, and I love myself.


You share a lot of bold makeup looks on Instagram, what inspires you?

Before, I never wore bold colours because I thought, who am I to wear bold colours? I was so scared that it would draw attention to my acne. On this journey, I started to be more confident in myself, and at one point I was like, ‘Yeah, I want to wear orange eyeshadow’. Sometimes having fun with things is all we need to find our way back to our positive and optimistic selves.


Do you have skin goals?

I have dropped the idea of ‘ideal skin’. Obviously, I still try to heal it and get it to be as healthy as possible. But I don't have this goal of clear skin that I'm chasing. To me, perfect skin means healthy skin that doesn't take over your whole life. You don't always have to be positive, but your skin will follow you wherever you go, so you might as well accept it the way it is and do your best to heal it.