It’s hard to talk about acne. It’s not an attractive subject like mindfulness or fitness but it effects so many people that it should be spoken about in order to spread accurate information on how to deal with it.
I suffered with it from the age of thirteen and only last year at twenty six was I able to say I’ve learned how to manage it. That’s a long time, and anyone with it understands it truly does feel like suffering sometimes. It may come across as a superficial subject but the impact of it usually runs much deeper than appearances which is why it’s important to discuss. I was largely able to tackle mine by reading a rather handy Reddit r/acne article of the ultimate skincare guide and following the basic information set out in that guide. Fair warning, it’s a very long read but if you’re having trouble with your skin it’s worth it.
I by no means have had the worst case scenario, but I have felt the horrible feelings that come with it. I’ve been caught in public with dried blood on my face from a squeezed pimple. I’ve felt shame over the amount of spots I had on my face and tried to hide behind my hair. I always thought it was just to do with how much oil and sebum was on my face. I would scrub and scrub trying as hard as I could to clean my face and wishing I could just wash the spots off. I was given advice by friends and family, I even visited a GP who told me to wash my face some more. I took antibiotics and tried high street cleansers and treatments and even high end designer treatments, paying as little as £3 for a cleanser to £30, I went through a phase of using all natural products and on the complete opposite side of the spectrum even researching Accutane treatments and considering it. I was always trying to tackle the problem and not realising that there might be a different cause and different solution to the one presented on the adverts on TV and in magazines.
Truth be told, there is no full on cure to it, and not everything that works for one person will work for another. We all have different skin. There are lots of different elements in your life that can bring it about so the causes and solutions can be different for everyone; ranging from what you put on your face, your skin type, the type of acne you have, what you put in your body, to your lifestyle, your hormones and the way your body and skin react to having acne. To tackle it is an experiment but there are some really great places to start looking for your solution.
From a personal point of view I’ve always had moderate cystic acne. I spent two days reading that article and taking in all the information. Everything in it seems important, but my biggest take aways have been the following:
- Acne products can really bother your skin, sometimes on purpose. It’s best to use sensitive skincare products and treat your skin gently and with kindness.
- You really need to nail the basic skincare regime first, consisting of a gentle cleanser, a moisturiser and a sun screen. From here you add in what could be helpful.
- If you have an uneven skin tone leave on exfoliants are a great thing, look for products with AHA or BHA in them. If you can’t use those look for Salicylic acid. Occasionally a good exfoliant product might be all that you need to help treat acne.
- Try and find fragrance free products as fragrances are one of the biggest causes of reactions.
- There are products that help with hyper pigmentation, so if you have red marks on your skin for months after a spot has gone these kinds of products can be super helpful.
- Don’t listen to buzzwords like ‘natural’ or ‘non-comedogenic’, these terms aren’t strictly defined or regulated and are quite often marketing masquerading as science.
- Dairy and sugar can really effect your skin from the diet perspective. As soon as I eliminated sugar my skin cleared up. I still eat it but I try to eat less of it. Food that has a steady release of sugar into the blood stream can really help.
- Water, water, water. Sleep, sleep, sleep.
- Anti inflammatory foods and drinks may help, like ginger, turmeric and green tea.
- You should wash your face with lukewarm water. Again gentleness is key.
- Stress also impacts on your acne, it alters your hormones which in turn affects your sebum production.
- Tea tree essential oil diluted with water is great when you need a little extra help.
Skincare wise I’ve taken to using Paula’s Choice products twice a day, they’re 100% fragrance free and don’t animal test which makes me happy. My favourite products have been the skin balancing oil-reducing cleanser, skin perfecting 2% BHA gel with salicylic acid for my exfoliant. Resist skin transforming multi-correction treatment with Azeliac acid and BHA to treat red marks. I’ve also been using their Redness relief SPF 30 Mineral Moisturiser but I’m not sure how this one is effecting my skin yet.
It’s important to remember it’s a very personal journey, skin and bodies change and different things may work over time. Acne can be treated though, and a myriad of things will effect your skin and make you break out - so look into each of those things if this is something you want to tackle yourself. It can be done through trial and error without having to go to extremes. I still get the odd breakout, I don’t think it’ll ever go fully, but I no longer feel depressed about it and it’s manageable now. It no longer consumes my thoughts which is a really freeing thing. All thanks to the internet. Thank you Reddit.
Image: Me with all my blemishes shot by Kari Orvik