Acne Awareness Month - Our Founder's Acne Journey
My Acne Journey
June is acne awareness month, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to tell you about my own acne journey. There are a lot of myths surrounding acne, which we will touch on in another blog post later this month, and believe me, I have fallen for many of them! So I want to tell you my story and the various treatments and products I have tried myself, to hopefully avoid you making the same mistakes.
Acne is an incredibly frustrating skin condition that is still hugely misunderstood and solutions differ from person to person. Some people cut out dairy and manage to cure their acne. Some people have used one particular skincare product and it worked wonders to manage their breakouts. Some people only wash their face with water and never suffer a blemish in their life.
This is my journey, to hopefully help those of you suffering with acne feel a little less lost and confused, wherever you are on your path to clearer skin.
Acne during my teenage years
I was always a spotty teenager. I had very, very oily skin and hair, a forehead covered in pimples and blackheads covering my nose and chin. Like most teenagers, I went onto birth control at age 16. My doctor suggested the contraceptive pill called Microgynon which I took for a few years. My acne proceeded to get worse so I went back to the doctor and was prescribed Benzoyl Peroxide, a cream that attacks the bacteria on your skin to prevent acne from forming. The problem with this is that it dries your skin out so much that it can become flakey, red and raw. So the result was no acne, but extremely dry, irritated, sore skin.
Over many months of using this cream, my skin seemed to start to become resistant to it. The acne came back with a vengeance. So back to the doctor I go…
The doctor then suggested we try a different contraceptive pill, as there were some that can reduce the amount of sebum your skin produces, therefore reducing the risk of pores getting clogged and acne forming. So I switched to Yasmin and was amazed when after a few months of taking this, my acne was starting to clear up again!
Acne in my late teens to early 20's
Ironically, it was when my diet was at its worst (hello Dominoes pizza, kebab’s and LOTS of booze) when my skin was at its clearest. I managed to sail through uni with just a few pimples before my period, and relatively clear skin the rest of the time. I don’t remember acne ever really bothering me, even though my lifestyle was at its un-healthiest.
Acne in my mid 20's to early 30's
This is when my acne made its very unwelcome reappearance, and boy did it RETURN. It came back with a vengeance and made up for those years I managed to get away with relatively clear skin. When I was around 25, I started to get cystic acne on my chin and neck. Those big, painful, under the skin spots that hurt even when you aren't touching them. Then it spread to my forehead, sometimes cheeks and I remember getting a few whoppers on my nose too. I was never without some sort of acne, before a spot had cleared up, another 3 would make an appearance. It was a constant battle.
So back to the doctor I go again….
This time, they suggested antibiotics alongside changing my contraceptive pill. So we tried Lymecycline alongside Dianette. It worked for a short time to calm the big, red, angry spots, but I still had acne. The Lymecycline also gave me thrush, which is pretty common as it can destroy the Candida bacteria. So I stopped taking this and just stuck with the Dianette. The doctor gave me a few creams and skin cleansing treatments to try, which didn’t work at all and just left me with really dry, irritated skin that was still covered in acne.
It was at this point I remember getting so frustrated, embarrassed and emotional about my skin. I would cry in the mornings as my skin would be so painful. Makeup would never look good over acne as you can only cover the redness, not the raised bumps, so it was still obvious I had acne. I remember not wanting to go to a friends birthday and crying in the toilet looking at my skin thinking I looked disgusting because my skin was so bumpy, red and sore.
So I decided to start tackling the problem myself. I first tried changing my diet. I cut out dairy and drank lots and lots of water. I felt much healthier but my acne was unfortunately still there. It was at this point that I started to use only natural skincare and makeup on my skin. This definitely helped my skin to calm down as I was avoiding some of the synthetic ingredients in beauty products that can irritate skin. I stripped my routine back to just using the Living Libations - Best Skin Ever Seabuckthorn, (just read the reviews on this product to see how much it has helped other acne sufferers!) as my makeup remover, cleanser and moisturiser. Simplifying my whole routine improved my skin a lot, it had the chance to settle and not be in a constant cycle of drying out, therefore needing to overproduce oil to overcompensate, which in turn caused the acne. It felt balanced and calm, but I still had the occasional bout of acne.
It was at this point where I made the decision to go back to the doctor and see if they had any other suggestions for me. Whilst my holistic approach improved my skin and I wasn't getting the same cystic acne I had before, I still wasn't happy with how my skin looked. Due to my long history with acne, the doctor suggested Isotretinoin as a final solution. I was aware of this drug and how strong it was, and also how effective it was at treating acne long term. I did a lot of research and eventually came to the conclusion that whilst I am a huge advocate for natural remedies and trying these first and foremost. I am also a huge advocate for science.
I went on the treatment for 6 months and it has finally given me the skin I have always dreamt of having. The picture below is my skin now with no makeup on. I now have a level of confidence in myself and my skin that I have not experienced before. I can confidently leave the house without a scrap of makeup on. The side effects whilst taking this drug are extreme and it should always be taken with the guidance of a doctor.
I am and always will continue to be a huge advocate for trying natural solutions to skin issues first. For some people it will cure their acne, for others it won’t. Finding a solution to your acne will always be a trial and error process. When hormones come into play, sometimes no matter what you put on your skin topically, it might not have the effect you desire.
If you are suffering with acne on your skin and looking for solutions. I would urge you to first switch your products to gentle, irritant free, natural, clean formulations. This is going to ensure you are starting with more balanced skin and help your sebum production to regulate itself. This may just solve the issue for you, but if not, there is no harm in turning to proven medication if it means improving your mental health.
I would also like to remind you that having acne is also perfectly NORMAL and if you choose to wear your acne with pride, GO FOR IT. There is no shame in having this skin condition and choosing to not cover it up if you don’t want to. Societal beauty standards have told us for decades that it’s more attractive to have clear skin, so embracing your acne, accepting it is a part of you and even learning to love it can feel so empowering.
This is another topic I will discuss later this month, so stay tuned for this. The important thing I want you to take away from this article is to do what feels right for you. Acne can have long term physical damage in the form of scarring if not treated, but also long term psychological damage due to deteriorating mental health, so please explore the option that feels most right for you.