By Nora Hakramaj
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Videographer: Nathan W. Armes
Producer: Nora Hakramaj, Ruby Coote
Editor: Grant Hanson-Vaux
Since the age of 11, Hailey Wait, from Buena Vista, Colorado has been dealing with cystic acne – a skin condition that occurs when hair follicles become clogged underneath the skin leaving behind painful bumps.
The 17-year-old decided she didn’t need to say sorry for how she looked and wanted to fight back by helping other young people struggling with their skin by posing pictures barefaced to “take one for the team.”
Haley told Barcroft TV: “I was overwhelmed when I first saw my acne spread. It started with my cheeks and then it went to my chin and then my forehead and then it kind of went all over the place.
“It’s difficult because you can't get rid of it right away and it always feels like there is a little monster egg in your face but you can't get rid of it. Every time you bump into it or barely touch it or something it feels like your face is on fire.
“It was too painful. I remember one night crying in my bed because I was just in so much pain.
“When my acne was at its worst I just felt like I was gross. It was red and splotchy and I just felt like a garbage can. I felt disgusting. I felt like I wasn’t pretty. I didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere, which is silly because everybody or at least more people get acne.
"I had a lot of people at school, kind of, just give me dirty looks. They’d call me 'pizza face’ - you know, those generic acne terms."
But over the last months, Hailey decided to let her face breathe and stopped wearing foundation to show that anyone can be beautiful – whether you have acne or not.
She said: “I felt so insecure about myself that I couldn’t leave the house without without foundation. Sometimes I would even not go anywhere but still put on make-up just so I didn’t feel gross and that’s definitely changed now.
"I stopped wearing it because I just noticed it wasn’t doing anything for me. It was only hiding me and I felt like every time I walked out of the door I wasn’t being myself.
“I feel like I have embraced my acne by not hiding it anymore and just kind of be real with myself and real with other people."
Hailey’s friend, Emma Baroni said: “Before Hailey started feeling more confident about her acne, you could tell she was more shut in.
“You could really tell the difference now that she has accepted her acne. All of her Instagram pictures are very open and honest with no makeup, no filters.
“She doesn’t wear foundation anymore and you can tell she is just comfortable with herself.”
Her father Lance Wait added: "I think sometimes I do feel she is sometimes insecure but still she is working on.
"I mean young adults have all gone through that. It takes time and she is in a good place now. She is really been embracing that.
"It’s huge for me to see her confidence level come up and her embracing the acne and even putting a picture on Instagram like who does that, so that’s to me a lot of confidence."
With over 87,000 followers on Instagram, the artist uses her account to show off her natural face - even if she gets negative comments in a bid to inspire her followers to love the skin they’re in.
Haley said: "I had a lot of people at school give me dirty looks. People would call me pizza face and generic acne terms.
“People treated me a lot differently when I have foundation, I feel like people treated me amazing. I think I put a lot of pressure on myself to look amazing.
“When I started posting more with my real face and without any foundation I definitely got a lot of hate at first because people weren’t used to that.
“I would get a lot of comments telling me to clean my face, as if I wasn’t already doing that and I would get loads and loads of acne advise, even though I never asked."
She added: “I feel like I have influenced a lot of people that have insecurities in general by setting an example and showing that it’s not the end of the world if you don’t have the perfect skin. For me acne just represents humanity because it’s something that a lot of us have.
"Even if somebody doesn’t have acne, chances are that they know somebody with acne it doesn’t make them a bad person. It doesn’t make me a bad person. It doesn’t make me gross. It just means that I have acne and it will go away."
The acne blogger says she plans to continue abandoning her daily face make-up and only wearing it on special occasions.
She said: “I think I will stop wearing foundation for the most part unless I am doing like some special event. Even then I feel like I really do want to just embrace my face and just go without it.
“I hope my story regarding acne really helps people to realise that just because you have these imperfections doesn’t mean you are not amazing.
It doesn’t mean you can’t be successful, it doesn’t mean you can’t be glamorous. Beauty is so much more than your face.”