My Skincare Journey
Updated: Nov 20, 2018
My love of skincare started when I was 18 and I used my mum’s Liz Earle cleanse, tone and moisturise kit. I loved the smell so much and it was a million times better than the cheap face wipes I had been using to take my makeup off. I looked forward to using it every night and it ended up being a ritual for me. I got the kit for every birthday and Christmas throughout university and I have been completely hooked on skincare ever since.
Since then my skin has been through a lot, I think mainly due to my hormones being disrupted by changing birth control methods. When I was 22, I came off the pill (which had kept my skin pretty perfect from the age of 17) and got the implant before I went travelling for nine months with my ex-boyfriend. My god, the side effects were terrible. One of them was that I ended up with a face full of spots. I got the implant taken out after a year and my skin then got even worse and I had deep painful cysts. I had acne on every area of my face.
I went to the doctor and they prescribed Retin-A (I didn’t know then that Tretinoin is a miracle product or how to use it properly and it’s now extremely difficult to get hold of, dammit.) I slapped it all over my face a few nights in a row and my skin peeled so badly I couldn’t go in to work for two days. I swiftly gave up on that and started reading everything I could about acne and skincare on the internet. I made the mistake of trying far too many different products - salicylic acid, tee tree oil, witch hazel and benzoyl peroxide to name a few. I was moving from product to product without giving them anywhere near enough time to properly work.
My skin was sensitive and dehydrated alongside the acne so a lot of products I was using were too harsh and full of drying alcohols. I was too self-conscious to go out without any make up on so I started wearing foundation and concealer to the gym and when I was training for a half marathon, which blocked my pores even more.
Having acne affected my mental health in a huge way. I started making excuses so that I didn’t have to go anywhere apart from work and I cried frustrated tears many times when I woke up in the morning and looked at a fresh batch of spots on my face in the mirror. It’s a horrible thing to go through, particularly as the world became increasingly full of perfect, airbrushed images on social media.
I then decided to go back on the pill to see if that would return my skin to its former clear glory. It did clear my skin up around 80% after a few months, which I was so thankful for but I then developed a huge patch of eczema on my forehead and between my eyebrows. It was so sore, itchy and very difficult to cover up. I got a greasy ointment from the doctor, which didn’t help at all. I had this patch of eczema for around six months before I went back to trusty Liz Earle. I don’t know what particular ingredient in the moisturiser worked its magic but the patch literally disappeared after a couple of days of using it.
I then found Caroline Hirons’ blog when I was around 25 and I was obsessed. It was written in such a clear, concise and humorous way and I learnt so much. I got rid of all my acne scarring relatively quickly thanks to her advice. I wish I had read her blog when I was really struggling with the acne. She has helped so many people now which is amazing and I want to do the same.
I went to the doctor over six months ago to talk about anxiety and about my terrible PMS and he suggested that I come off the pill. My immediate thought was absolutely not, I can’t risk having acne again. But I thought about it and realised that I know so much about looking after my skin now so I decided to go for it. It was actually around the same time that I started this blog! I feel so so much better mentally since coming off the pill and I have been very careful with what products I use on my face. My skin has definitely changed from normal to more oily/combination over the past six months but I have had very few breakouts.
The main things I think that have prevented the acne from coming back this time round are:
o Keeping my skin very well exfoliated with AHAs and retinol. I don’t go more than a couple of nights without using a glycolic acid or retinol product, which increases the skin’s cell turnover and prevents my pores from becoming blocked.
o Taking a high dose of evening primrose oil every day to keep my hormones balanced.
o Avoiding products containing fragrance, essential oils and drying alcohols.
o Using a light moisturiser containing ceramides, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide every day to keep the skin barrier happy.
o I stopped taking the daily high dose of biotin that I was using for my hair, which causes spots in a lot of people.
o I have cut down on using vitamin C serums as these seem to irritate my skin now.
o I am making sure to keep my stress levels in check through exercise and mindfulness.
o I am now using Differin (0.1% Adapalene) to help get rid of some of the under the skin bumps and blackheads that I got during my facialist course and it’s working well so far.
I’m so excited that I am going to be focusing on being a facialist and skincare full time from next year and I hope I can help lots of you that are struggling with your skin.