Recently I’ve had a couple of comments on my social media pages asking about the secret to my clear skin. And to be completely frank, the idea that people think my skin is perfect causes me a lot of stress because it’s really been such a battle and I feel like I’m hiding this secret- even though I have been fairly open about it!
However, the last few months I’ve finally seen some improvement and want to share with you a few things that helped me along the way. There’s no secret, no magic product but if you too are struggling, one of these things might just help.
Before I get into that though, I think it’s important to talk about the history of my skin and where it all went wrong last year. When puberty hit me at about age 12, it hit me HARD. One of the many things that affected me was pimples. Luckily I didn’t have the kind of acne that scarred and needed intense medication, but it was pretty bad at times. It had started to calm down somewhat by the time I was 17 and went on the contraceptive pill and because I have polycystic ovaries, the type of pill I was put on was GREAT for my skin.
Fast forward 10 years and in June 2017 I decided 10 years on the pill was enough and I wanted to see what it was like to be without a daily hormone dose. I knew I’d potentially have some skin troubles but hoped I had grown out of it by then. But I was no expecting it to get as bad as it did. I don’t have any photos to show you because it really did knock my confidence around, however I did post this pic in December.
#realtalk I've talked in the last few months about my skin troubles since deciding to go off the pill. I don't use any editing software on any of my photos apart from a filter, so makeup makes it look better than it actually is most of the time. I'm not going to lie, it's knocked my confidence around a bit and brought back some major teenage angst memories. I think the most frustrating part has been that with everything I've tried, some things have helped but not enough for really clear it up properly and I still have random bad weeks despite doing everything 'right'. I went back on the pill last week after having more PCOS symptoms make themselves known which all became a bit too much to handle. I am a little disappointed in myself that after all this, I'm back on it, I had really hoped to not have all the terrible chemicals in the pill in my body but there were more reasons than just my skin to get back on it. I'm not looking for advice, I've tried many different things, I'm just simply trying to show that behind the gloss of social media, things aren't always 'perfect'.
I tried everything. I got a shower filter, concerned that the hard water in London was also affecting it. I gave up dairy. I got monthly facials and bought expensive products. I tried taking supplements. And I felt like whatever I did, it might feel like it improved for a week or two but then I’d just have another breakout even though I’d been so diligent.
This is going to sound dramatic especially with all the people who are far worse off than I am but it was really soul destroying. I love food, especially sweet things and so to give up dairy was a huge deal for me. I was willing to do it if it made a difference but after a while I got fed up and I just felt like I was missing out on life. See, totally dramatic but hear me out for a moment. The turning point for this was when I was in Prague for a holiday in December with Matt and my Mum.
It was the start of the Christmas season and our first winter Christmas. I was ridiculously excited about being at the Christmas Market and had always had this dream about walking around a Christmas Market in a beautiful coat drinking hot chocolate. I talked myself down from the hot chocolate for the first two nights but by night three, I was over it. I was in the middle of another big breakout so felt like it was all for nothing anything and why miss out on life experiences? I know, it’s just a hot chocolate Ella but HOLY HECK, it was like one of the best hot chocolates of my life. It was those proper thick, true melted chocolate ones that was all kinda of divine. And I walked around that beautiful market, sipping on my glorious drink without a ounce of regret. It was also then that I decided that enough was enough. I’d tried for 6 months but it was no longer worth it and I would go to the Doctor the following week to go back on the pill.
Sure, I was a little disappointed in myself that I had essentially given up and I know that my body was probably still in hormonal overdrive and needed another 6-12 months to readjust but I just couldn’t help but think – “what if I go through all of this and in a year or even 2 years it’s just exactly the same?”
It took about 3 months after starting the pill again to start seeing a improvement and now 6 months later, it’s 90% better. I still get pimples but not nearly the same amount and they are mostly focussed around my chin, not up on my cheeks and forehead too.
Here’s a no makeup, no filter picture of where my skin is at now. It’s still healing, there’s a small amount of scarring left around my chin area but it’s a million times better!
Now while nothing quite solved my acne like the pill did, there are definitely some things that helped that I thought I’d share as well as my favourite products which I still use now even though my skin as vastly improved.
These became a ritual for me very early on and were a great help. My skin was always a lot less inflamed in the week after a facial and I also found it helped with how my makeup went on. Having a expert to give me advice and recommend products was important to me, even if my bank account didn’t appreciate it. Even with my skin improving as much as it has, I still plan to keep going monthly. I see a lady local to me and get a facial called the Hydrodermie using Guinot products. The facial is described as this –
The complete deep cleansing facial using Galvanic and High Frequency, leaving your skin re-hydrated and regenerated. Suitable for all skin types and ages15 and over. An excellent treatment to treat spots and acne prone.
There were a few products I’ve bought from her that were duds and some that I really love and that brings me to my next subject…
Before my skin changed, I used a mix of Antipodes Skincare and LUSH. Once things started to get bad however, I knew I probably needed something a little more specific to my skins issues.
So what did I love?
I started using this very early on to swipe over my face after cleansing and before moisturizing. It’s cheap and helps to remove any impurities that weren’t washed away from cleansing. It also is great for those of you that live in areas with hard water (extra minerals) as it allows you to remove this from your face.
Guinot Microbiotic Mousse
My beautician stocks and uses Guinot and recommended this cleanser as it’s for oily skin and helps to control breakouts. It’s a nice cleanser, very foamy and great for travelling because it can’t leak at all! About a month ago I ran out for a few days and had to use a different cleanser and had a bit of a breakout so definitely think it does a good job! This cleanser is £23.75 and lasts me about 2 months. I could probably stretch it out a little longer but I’m pretty generous with how much I use!
Murad Age-Balancing Moisture
A friend of mine and fellow blogger Rachel recommended this moisturizer to me and said that it had greatly helped her with hormonal breakouts. It’s not specific to acne prone or oily skin but it did actually perform really well! A little goes a long way and I did have to allow it to soak into my skin for 5-10 minutes before starting my makeup but I really loved this moisturizer. The only downside was that it was quite expensive – £59.50 (50ml) – so when I finished that tube and with my skin feeling better in general, I thought I’d try the moisturizer from Guinot as it’s nearly half the price-
Guinot Pure Balance Cream
Another Guinot product and in the same family as the Microbiotic Mousse so again, targeted at oily skin. It absorbs quickly and leaves a no shine which is perfect for under makeup. It’s significantly cheaper than the Murad one above at just £36 (50ml) BUT I probably have to use a smidge more as it absorbs so quickly and doesn’t spread as much. But so far the results have been good! I’m undecided if I will go back to the Murad or stay with Guinot- if cost wasn’t a factor I think I would choose Murad because it is SPF30 and also makes my skin feel more moisturized in general.
LUSH Dark Angels
With my new cleanser not being a exfoliating one, I needed something to help clear away dead skin. Charcoal is really deep cleansing so I use this every 2 days or so before cleansing with the Microbiotic Mousse to exfoliate. It’s only £7.25 and lasts me months and months!
I try to remember to do a weekly mask as these are great for keeping the skin fresh. My favourites are either Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask for it’s moisturizing and anti bacterial properties or Manuka Doctor Purifying Facial Peel.
And what DIDN’T I love?
Guinot Sebum Control Serum
My beautician had really been wanting me to try this for a few appointments and I finally caved. I gave it a go for 2 weeks but felt like my skin got worse not better! It could have been a coincidence and it not be related to the Serum but I stopped using it and have been too scared to give it another try.
This is a supplementary Collagen drink that is meant to increase hydration and improve blemishes along with other benefits. It’s not that I didn’t like this as such as I did feel at times that it was helping but the cost of it was pretty high and not something I felt I could maintain. It was at the point of needing to choose between Skinade and skincare products and I felt like it would be more beneficial for me to spend the money on the products.
Evening Primrose Oil
Not really a skincare product but I thought I’d add it in here anyway. I saw a lot of recommendations for taking Evening Primrose Oil for acne but my skin got a whole lot worse! It seems it’s either one way or the other depending on the individual.
I won’t try and pretend, the biggest thing to improve my skin has been the pill. And I’m not saying this to promote it as a magical skin fixer, especially since not all contraceptive pills have this effect but because I literally reply to people when they ask me how I have nice skin with “the pill”. I wish it wasn’t the case and I could have felt like I could have got some improvement another way but c’est la vie.
- Drink lots of water! A hydrated body means healthier and more hydrated skin!
- Wash your makeup brushes FREQUENTLY to avoid bacteria growth.
- Don’t squeeze pimples! It can be so tempting but most of the time it will go away quicker if you just leave it. Blackheads can be removed by a beautician to help keep the skin smooth.
Sorry for such a long post but there was a lot to cover! If you are battling with acne right now, I extend my sympathies and support, I know how hard it can be. I do highly recommend finding a good beautician for monthly facials and ensuring you are using the right skincare.