Friday, 24 October 2014

Goodbye Acne, Hello Confidence

Friday, 24 October 2014
Ever since I can remember, I was kicking about school in questionable outfits, trying to detract attention from my acne prone skin.

I think as soon as I hit puberty, spots were out to get me. Not just your average whiteheads or zits, but those of the raw, painful variety. I definitely wore the wrong kind of coloured foundation to cover it up and looking back at photos of me at around 14 years old, I cringe at how much it actually bothered me.

I probably shouldn't have been plastering my face with make-up from such a young age in the first place, but now I realise that it was only a small factor in how bad my skin got.

Skin is a very personal thing to each individual and affects both genders physically and mentally. I know as a teenage girl, that the way I looked to others was very important, which I think is something I now realise I've let go of since becoming an adult.

These tips and my skincare story may not apply to everyone, or even anyone and shouldn't be taken for absolute fact, but I thought I'd just share a few things I find helpful and give some background info on dealing with acne.

There are sort of three parts to this blog post. The first, is how I used to deal with having really bad acne. 

It used to be the end of the world as I knew it should I get a small spot on my chin or near my nose. Little did I know, that it was only the beginning and my skin would become much worse over the years.

No amount of make-up would cover my skin up, no amount of face-masks and so-called wonder products would work the miracles I had been promised.

You always get that one really awful spot when you're going out or doing something special eh? Well I had about ten of them and what was worse, was that I would totally go straight to the mirror and pop them. (Disgusting, I know!)

If there's one piece of advice I could give my younger self or any fellow acne sufferer, it would be to leave them be. Sport that whitehead proudly, with the knowledge that you won't end up with reddish-purple scars for life.

Today, though I've learned to accept the odd spot here and there, the scars are the things I find most difficult to cover up.

After years of feeling rubbish about my face and losing a lot of the self-confidence I'd always had, I was put on the controversial drug 'Roaccutane' for some time during 2013/14, both for my acne and another skin condition.

I would advise against it.

Before going on the drug, which I believe is banned in the US, I watched tonnes of YouTuber stories and read a billion blog posts of people's experiences on the drug. All of them seemed pretty positive, so I had no worries about going on it.

In Scotland, GP's aren't allowed to prescribe the drug. You would have to be assessed by a dermatologist first and then pick your prescription up from the hospital each month, also attending regular check-ups and if you are female, taking monthly pregnancy tests.

I was made extremely aware of the possible side effects (you have to sign an agreement that you have understood the risks) - which I thought wouldn't apply to me.

The drug is partly so controversial because of the side-effects, which include deformity in infants, should you get pregnant whilst taking it, and it has often been linked to depression.

The documentary below is definitely worth a watch if you want to learn more or have ever thought about taking Roaccutane.

I found myself starting to become depressed fairly quickly after starting my course of Roaccutane. 

I, of course, neglected to tell the dermatologist this, because I was striving to clear my skin. (I can't stress enough how idiotic of me this was!) 

Because I was feeling worse about myself, I began isolating myself, becoming angry about the smallest things for no reason and having bouts of laziness where I would want to stay in my bed and do nothing all day.

My joints got very sore and my back would ache so much that after sitting or lying down at the end of the day, that was me. I wouldn't be able to get back up and sometimes needed help to stand up to go to the bathroom.

Dry skin was another thing. I constantly found myself wondering about how my skin was supposed to clear up when my skin was crusty as all hell. My lips were so chapped, they split often and the fact that it was mid-winter was not helping! I would constantly carry around an emergency moisturiser and lip balm.

Lastly, a continuing issue I had, was the weakness of my skin. Any small cut or graze would bruise and then scar. Even now I have tonnes of marks on my arms and legs from the tiniest of things - even paper cuts (not even kidding.)

So, was it worth it?

Absolutely not. Yes, my skin got 10% better (mostly reduced redness) after 8 months of treatment, but I felt crap, I have continuing side effects and I still get spots anyway, so what was the point really?

My skin is in no way perfect to this day, but I've literally tried every tip or trick in the book and found loads of helpful products, treatments and every day things that can help control the scarring from previous spots and prevent new ones from appearing.

Having done the medication thing, I can honestly say, my skin looks better now with the proper care I've given it, instead of when it was being medicated. Below, you'll find my holy trinity of products. Moisturiser, Cleanser and a base - hopefully you'll find one of them just as useful to you!

#1 La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo [+]

Literally my favourite product in the entire world. I'm not sponsored by La Roche-Posay but I feel I should be just for the amount of recommendations I've given to people and the million tubes of this thing I've bought for myself and as presents for others.

I use it as a substitute for moisturiser as my skin is mostly oily and using both tends to give me a shiny hue. It's about £15 but Boots always have it on some offer and for Christmas I know I'm getting a new one in a set with the moisturiser and toner because let's not break the bank.

Give it a go for yourself, but this is my ultimate skincare product.  No break-outs, no oily residue, soft skin. Perfect.  Plus, I own a lot of La Roche-Posay stuff and I haven't yet found a product my skin doesn't agree with.

#2 REN Rosa Centifolia Cleansing Gel 

Unfortunately, most cleansers break me out and I just wanted to find one that didn't agitate my skin and left it looking somewhat less rosy. It's ironic that I should find REN's Rosa Centifolia range the best then.

I previously mentioned this cleanser in my Autumn Monthly Favourites and it really is my favourite every day 'need to get my face looking nice' product.

#3 Liz Earle Sheer Skin Tint

Never in my life would I have imagined using any kind of foundation-like product with the word 'tint' in it, but there you go. I use the lightest shade 'bare', because let's face it, I'm from Scotland.

This is something I got in a Liz Earle set as a freebie and then repurchased three times since.

A lot of YouTubers and bloggers will go on about great foundations like Rimmel Wake Me Up and NARS Sheer Glow - which are both good - but this is a seriously underrated product. It gives a lot more coverage than the name suggests, especially if you use a bit of concealer under the eyes (that internet famous Collection Lasting Perfection one works a treat) and a bit of powder to set it - Rimmel Stay Matte works perfectly.

Yes, I still complain about the odd spot, but that's life. Everyone has different experiences and unfortunately a large number of us do have gripes about our skin.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed the post!
(I have got to stop rambling on with these!)

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