Having a bright, glowing complexion is something everybody wants. The truth is that you never realise how much your self-confidence relies on it when you’ve sailed through your teens without a spot of hormonal acne – no pun intended! This is definitely true in my case. For years I’ve taken my fresh-faced skin for granted. I’ve used the wrong products, sometimes too many at once. I have carelessly forgot to remove my makeup (don’t we all). I’m also ashamed to admit that in the past I’ve skipped the all- important SPF step in my daily life. Being very real, until joining the City Skin Clinic team I didn’t even have a regime!
When I started suffering with terrible breakouts almost two years ago, I began to realise not only how important it is to look after your skin, but also how much having hormonal acne can affect all aspects of your life. In this blog I want to share my skincare journey. As hormonal acne is on the rise for many people my age, I hope that reading my story can offer some comfort for those in a similar position. You are not alone and there are things that can help.
‘Before hormonal acne, I never felt the need to hide my skin with makeup.’
Throughout school, my skin was pretty much clear. Sure, I didn’t escape the hormones completely. I went through stages with the odd breakout which for me usually meant one angry spot in the middle of my forehead – resembling what can only be described as a third eye! The type which no amount of colour correction and concealing could hide. My teenage angst usually came from wanting to keep up with the latest trends despite my low budget. For 14-year-old Abi, this usually meant experimenting with makeup and other beauty products defiantly against our schools no makeup policy.
I didn’t wear makeup to cover up, in fact I hated foundation or anything too heavy on my face. My daily staples consisted of the Boots Collection 2000 range – always a stick concealer, mascara, and a basic blush. If I was feeling a little flirtatious then jet black pencil eyeliner. Most importantly I never felt the need to hide my skin with makeup. The irony is that at the age of 21 it suddenly was my savior. Wearing makeup became less about experimentation and more about hiding my skin out of shame. I hadn’t comprehended the idea that acne breakouts could occur well into your 20s, even older for some.
‘I blamed myself’
When they first started, I was so confused. I blamed myself for my inability to stick to a consistent skincare regime and bad eating habits. My initial detective work pointed to stress. I was in my last year of University, had very little sleep; I relied on convenient (usually high sugar) snacks to see me through long nights in the library. I had many a tedious and embarrassing trip to the doctors where we went back and forth on the topic of contraceptives. I had been taking the pill from the age of 16 to help with excruciating cramps and other PMS symptoms. I thought maybe that could be affecting my skin issues.
Living With Hormonal Acne
I found that the more I worried about my skin the worse it got. I would get painful, cystic spots all in my T-zone, and the worse area was my jawline; it was covered in bumps. My skin for the first time looked tired and drab. As someone who is usually very confident, my skin made me feel ugly, embarrassed and helpless. The worst is the lack of control. I could go to sleep with practically clear skin and be greeted with an angry cluster of red spots all over my chin and jawline in the morning. I felt like I had tried everything.
It honestly affected my mental health more than I ever thought it could. At times it got in the way of my ability to socialise and my personal relationships. Even a simple meal out with friends or my boyfriend became stressful. I knew that I would have to wear more products just to feel confident enough to leave the house. Sometimes no amount of foundation or layering techniques did the trick. Hence, I developed a love-hate relationship with makeup – I knew that wearing more would my skin irritated, but I relied on it!
I obsessed over the reasons why and possible solutions to the point where my anxiety worsened. I asked every shop assistant for their professional opinion, scouring the high- street to find a magical cure that would fit my student budget. It was impossible! There’s so many products available on the market that it’s hard to know whose advice to trust, which products where really going to help, and plain and simple…what my skin problem actually was.
City Skin Clinic to the rescue!
It wasn’t until I started working with Amel at the clinic that I started to have confidence in a solution. Maybe not an overnight remedy, but we are slowly implementing steps that will get the ball rolling towards preventing and minimising my breakouts. The first step was sitting down together and working out a good skincare routine that would address my problems, work towards my targets but also fitted in with my hectic life. We then selected the active ingredients which would most help me achieve this in the fastest way possible without irritating my skin (or maxing my budget). In my case, I started with the essentials of a skincare routine for acne prone skin: Retinol, Vitamin C, salicylic and lactic acid exfoliants and charcoal as well as clay-based masks. We also discussed little rescue steps like pimple patches and spot treatments. Amel then designed a professional chemical peel protocol which involved a modified Jessner’s peel to resurface and clarify my skin followed by a course of treatments every 6-8 weeks tailored to me till my skin cleared up.