Monday, 20 October 2014

ACNE: What worked for me... Products & Habits...

First of all, I know your pain. I've been you, searching the internet day and night, pleading with the doctor to help, feeling an idiot for being so embarrassed and down over something as shallow as your skin being spotty....

Yes, there are people in the world with much bigger problems, much worse off than you are and yes we are very lucky to have access to medicines that help but unless you have suffered from acne you cannot understand the effect it has on every area of your life. Relationships, work/school, your self esteem takes a beating.

I can tell you this because I was the confident girl, the teenager without a blemish, who thought "It's only a few spots, they'll clear up!" when I looked at my peers with teenage, acne prone skin. I didn't understand why people would become so painfully shy and I had a general 'get over yourself attitude'.

But all of that came back to haunt me the minute I turned 18. It started as just a few blemishes, not even zits but just a tender spot on my face that was slightly pink. Over the course of the next few months I developed painful red and purple lumps all over the right side of my face, much worse than I had seen on any of my friends. I was so embarrassed, I didn't want to leave the house. I'd always been quite a 'get on with it' type of person so I hid my unhappiness from friends and family, but as soon as I was alone I'd just stare in the mirror and cry. (That's the sad bit out of the way!)

A trip to the GP told me I had 'moderate' acne and she gave me a topical anti-biotic for a few months, this did not work. Maybe it will for you but I was later told by another Doctor that had I been offered a hormonal treatment (e.g.contraceptive pill Dianette) at that stage I would not be left with the facial scarring I have now! And so the moral of that story is push to see a dermatologist as early as possible! I cannot stress enough the importance of getting medical help early on, waiting to see if you can get rid of it yourself could leave you with permanent damage to your skin.

Long story short, it took me a year's worth of time wasting face washes and waiting to get to see my dermatologist. He suggested that my acne looked like it may be hormonal and prescribed me, as you may have guessed, Dianette (disclaimer).

The change certainly wasn't immediate but with my skin as bad as it was, I noticed each tiny, slow improvement. I don't have a 'before' picture, as I hid from every camera when it was bad, so I chose an image from Google that looked similar to mine. In 6months I went from:

slightly lower on the jaw and redder than this..

To this (6 months after Dianette)

Not completely clear skin but absolutely a life changing improvement, make up could cover this! I was absolutely over the moon but of course.... we're never satisfied are we?

Along with my clearer skin came dryness and dehydration. I started drinking a lot more water which definitely helped plump out the look of my scarring (which you can mainly see when I'm dehydrated) but 'oil free' products were making my skin feel tight and uncomfortable and moisturising products were making me break out.

While watching an ad one night I heard of Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish. A creamy rich cleanser that can be used on ANY SKIN. Any skin?? Really?? So a product that moisturises dry skin can also reduce the oil in mine? Whatever! I did like the look of it though and the ingredients it used. The idea of exfoliating gently while cleansing was appealing and the whole ad was very persuasive, but I decided I didn't have the money to waste on another false promise. What a mistake that was! 

A few months later, (lucky for me), my mum's friend bought her a full Liz Earle set for her birthday. Of course, I immediately stole some of the cleanse and polish :) . The result was immediate and (to me) miraculous!! My skin felt so soft and it was actually glowing! I'd forgotten what it was like to have good feeling skin. It felt squeaky clean yet soft and moisturised. A few weeks later and my skin looked great too! Those last few niggling spots cleared up and I was getting compliments all the time.
After Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish

I may do a full review and explanation of the Cleanse and Polish as I just love it and want to spread the word but there isn't time here.

Of course, these treatments are great and I am so thankful to have found them, a great way to manage the problem... but they don't solve the problem. Every now and then, like anyone else, I get lazy. I don't drink as much water as I should, I stop taking Dianette for a while (I was told I should take a break from it every so often as it can cause problems) or I run out of my cleanse and polish. It's only a day or two until the breakout creeps back on to my face!

So... I have decided to try to get to the root cause of acne and I'm enlisting you! They say everyone's skin reacts differently, which is absolutely true... with topical treatments, but I believe that the root cause has to be something similar for all of us? Do we just manage it? Wait it out? It could be so many things, maybe diet? Many Doctors have said that diet is not linked to acne but online you can find lots of video diary etc where people have something out and had success. So is it a symptom of allergies? I don't know but I would like to get closer to finding out...

Starting on the 11th August 2013, I am going to follow a theory every two weeks, starting with dairy. If after 2 weeks I feel it is helping, I will extend it to 30 days and then review. If I feel it has no effect I'll try the next thing... You can help by sending me your stories, photos and suggestions/theories that you think may help in permanently getting rid of acne.

In summary

  • See your dermatologist as soon as possible after you first notice the signs of acne, you could prevent scarring.
  • The things that worked for me were Dianette (disclaimer) and Liz Earle cleanse and polish.
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Make a conscious effort to stay calm and try and keep stress levels down
  • Distract yourself with fun activites, laugh whenever you can.
  • Try not to focus on your acne. The more you think about it the more stressed you'll become and just exacerbate the problem.

I hope you find some of this helpful and if you want to join on #TarasClearSkinQuest please tweet me @frostedplanet , comment below or post on my facebook page (frosted planet beauty) your Day 1 photo's and ideas for things we can all try whether that be great vitamins, foods or whatever you've heard of.

See you all soon,

The boring bit:
I am NOT a medical professional. All opinions in this post are my own. If you are under 18 please seek permission from your parent/guardian before following any of my advice. Please see my DISCLAIMER . Dianette has side effects and possible negative reactions laid out in the manufacturers instructions they should only be prescribed by a MEDICAL DOCTOR.
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