In honor of the launch of Vital Proteins new Collagen Water™, we’re kicking off a weekly series on Lively called “How I Uncap My Potential,” where we feature amazing women doing incredible things in their field. Today, we’re spotlighting Kali Kushner, a self-proclaimed “skincare junkie” who is normalizing “problem skin” through her candid captions and bare-faced selfies on Instagram.
We got to chat with Kushner, who recently partnered up with Sephora, about her skincare journey and what prompted her to create the safe space that is her social account.
Interview with Acne-Positive Influencer Kali Kushner
Lively: What made you want to share your story on Instagram? What has the reception been like?
Kali Kushner: I began sharing my story on Instagram a few years ago when I started struggling with adult acne. It seemed like as everyone was growing out of their acne, I began growing into mine. I was in university and felt so alone with my condition. There were virtually no other people my age who I saw or knew about that had severe acne like mine. I remember scrolling through Instagram and seeing all of these overly-edited Photoshopped pictures and thinking, “I want to see something real.” So, I started my own account – no filters, no Photoshop – I would just take out my phone, snap a photo, post it, and that was it. In a way, this kind of started as a rebellion to the current standards of beauty and social media trends.
I originally began my account on Instagram to track my progress using a prescription acne medication, but over time, it became a place to meet other acne sufferers, swap skincare tips, and find a supportive community. The reception was not great in the beginning; there was a lot of judgement from acne sufferers and non-acne sufferers alike. However, over time, the conversation completely changed. It’s clear to me that we’ve been able to start breaking down some of these stereotypes as people have become more educated about skin. It’s also influenced a huge skin-positivity community that continues to inspire people to be confident in their own skin.
L: How has your mindset changed, from the moment you started breaking out to present day?
KK: My mindset has completely changed from the moment I started breaking out to today. I used to feel embarrassed and ashamed over my skin but now I feel confident and at peace with my skin. I began to accept my acne, scars, and everything else because it’s something that I might not ever be able to permanently change. I think there is more peace in finding acceptance in who you are than constantly trying to change yourself to fit a mold. I’ve learned that for some, including yours truly, acne is normal. It doesn’t make you any less worthy of life, love, or any of the things you want in this world. It just makes you human.
L: Do you have any skincare must-haves you can't live without?
KK: Anything with salicylic acid is a must-have that I, and most acne sufferers, can’t live without. To be honest, I am a bit of a skincare junkie, so I do tend to test out new products and swap out old ones quite frequently. Ones that have stuck with me though are definitely the Banishacnescars and Cocokind skincare lines. Their ingredients are natural and still very effective.
L: Is there a quote you live by when the going gets tough?
KK: “Everything happens for a reason” is one I always come back to. Even if you can’t see that reason at first, every experience you go through will change and shape you as a person. If I wouldn’t have gotten acne, I never would have created my Instagram account and without my account I wouldn’t have met so many amazing people or had the opportunity to work with some of my favorite skincare brands.
L: How do you "Uncap Your Potential"?
KK: I uncap my potential by believing in myself. When it comes to reaching your goals, it’s important to stay motivated and not lose sight of what you’re trying to accomplish, but I think believing in yourself is a huge factor that can sometimes be overlooked. You must have the confidence to know that you can do anything you set your mind to. Continue to advance and learn all there is to know so that you become an unstoppable force. Because if you don’t believe in yourself, who else will?
L: Do you have a favorite Vital Proteins product?
KK: My favorite Vital Proteins product is the Lavender Lemon Collagen Beauty Glow. I like to add it to water and drink it after a workout. It’s also really yummy mixed into a cocktail!