An acne update

15th May 2017

It’s been three years since I last wrote a post about my acne, and considering my acne posts are some of my read posts I thought it was worth giving you an update.

So yes, I still have acne. No shock there. I’ve now been suffering with the condition for over a decade.

But I feel like I’m starting to get to grips with it. I’ve started to understand what upsets my skin and what it needs to recover. I’m probably going to jinx it but in the last couple of months or so my skin has been the best it’s been in years, although I’m not completely sure why this is exactly.

I’ve made a lot of lifestyle changes recently which I will share with you in this post. As always, I know that what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another person, and that what may work for someone for the first couple of months, might not work for them in the future.

Here are two pictures of my skin on a good day versus my skin on a bad day:

An acne update

Since my last acne post…

Firstly, what has changed since my last acne post?

Well, in my last acne update post I mentioned that I was trying out many different tropical acne treatments prescribed to me by GP, with my favourite being Epiduo. I carried on using Epiduo for a few years but I ran out of it about 12 months ago and haven’t bothered going back to my GP for more.

And quite honestly, I’ve not missed it, hence why I haven’t gone back for more. I’ve discovered better, less toxic ways of helping my skin during a breakout.

I’m still in the progestogen only contraceptive pill because I had such bad side effect from the combined pill (oestrogen and progesterone), and I completely gave up on the Cidal soap because it wasn’t making any difference.

In my last acne post I also talked a little about my skin care routine, and this is something that has changed massively in the last 3 years.

My morning skin care routine…

As I say, my skin care routine has changed a lot over the last couple of years and at the moment I feel it’s the simplest it’s ever been.

In the mornings I just wash my face with water, or wipe it over with a baby wipe, just to create a clean base. Previously I would cleanse and tone in the mornings, but I felt like I was overdoing it so I stopped.

Once my skin is clean I apply my oil-free moisturiser (Neutrogena Visible Clear oil-free moisturiser), and my primer (Soap and Glory One Heck of a Blot) if I’m wearing makeup that particular day, but I don’t bother with primer if I’m not wearing makeup, obviously.

I used to have a horrendous habit of not washing my makeup sponges frequently enough, so I invest in loads so that I have no excuse to be using a dirty one to apply my foundation.

An acne update

Taking off my makeup…

When it comes to the evenings and removing my makeup, I use the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish hot cloth cleanser. I tend to remove my makeup as soon as I get in the house.

If my skin is having a break out, or is particularly oily, I will use the Seaweed Oil Balancing face mask from The Body Shop. Alternatively, if my skin is dry I’ll use either my Santuary Spa exfoliator or my Liz Earle exfoliator.

Just before bed I’ll wipe my face over with the Pixi Glow Tonic, and depending on the condition of my skin I might use my Aloe Vera night cream from The Body Shop.

Right, lets stop here for a second because I need to talk about the Pixi Glow Tonic! Since I’ve started using this there has been a dramatic change in my skin. If I do have a breakout, my spots tend to clear up a lot quicker when I use this toner, and it leaves my skin feeling soft and refreshed.

I consider it to be expensive at £18 for a 250ml bottle, but for me it is absolutely worth every penny.

What else?

There are so many things other than keep on top of my skin care routine that I do to help with my acne.

Firstly, I try to be cautious about what touches my face, whether that be my hands, makeup sponges, muslin cloths, towels, pillowcases, etc. It is so hard to monitor what comes in to contact with my face, but I try to avoid touching my face as much as possible, and I always carry a little bottle of hand sanitiser with me so I can clean up my hands on the go if they do get dirty.

I also try to think about what I’m putting inside my body; what I’m eating. I’ve started eating more fruit and vegetables, drinking green tea, and taking vitamin supplements, all in hope of helping my skin. I also try to cut out dairy when possible, as this can be a trigger for acne, but this is incredibly difficult for someone who loves cheese as much as I do!

Another slightly weird thing that I think might be helping my acne is swimming. Yep, swimming. I find that the chlorine in the water really dries out my very oily skin which seems to help clear up my acne. I know, this is a strange one! But if it’s helping me then I’m happy!

I feel like I’ve used the word “try” so much in these last few paragraphs, but that’s just it, I’m trying! I don’t know what makes my acne better, and I don’t really know what makes it worst, but I’m experimenting and learning through trial and error.

An acne update

What’s next for my acne?

I don’t know if I will ever grow out of my acne. Sometimes, when my acne has been under control for a prolonged period of time, like now, I start to wonder if this battle is finally coming to an end. But it’s best not to get my hopes up. I’ve been suffering for over 10 years, and there’s nothing to say it will continue for the next 10 years.

All I can do is continue to learn from it.

I hope that I can get to a stage where I can start looking at ways of improving the appearance of my acne scars, which probably effect my confidence more than the spots themselves, but I don’t want to invest in treating the scars until the acne itself is under control.

Finally…some advice

I always like to end my acne posts with some advice, so here goes:

  • If your acne gets out of control and starts to impact on your mental health (this happened to me) talk to a doctor.
  • Ignore the gimmicks. There’s plenty of products on the market that promise to clear up your acne but most of them are bullsh*t.
  • Ignore the airbrushed photos of model who look like they have perfect skin. Nobody has perfect skin!
  • Try simplifying your skin routine. Go back to basics.
  • Try switching up your diet. Take an allergy test to see if you are allergic to anything.
  • Stop touching your face!
  • Keep persevering. Keep trying new avenues.

Do you have any skin problems? How do you take care of your skin?

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  1. Elise L.

    whenever i see people who suffer from long term, i feel grateful that i don’t have to have acne prone skin. when i break out, however, i tend to have this big red zit that’s sort of like a cyst and it’s painfully huge, making my nose looks like rudolph. likewise, i have acne rosacea around my nose and a sensitive normal-combination skin so maintaining balance isn’t quite easy either. the other day when i went to seek a dermatologist for the eczema spots on my body, she also prescribed me roaccutane. the first 1-2 weeks of using roaccutane, i broke out – not all over my face, just around my mouth and nose but still, it’s more than my usual breakout (i never have pimples on my cheeks or forehead, only mostly around nose and on my chin so this was a surprising side effect) before finally my skin starts getting better. i know accutane is such a controversial prescription because it is said to be dangerous for people with depression and it can disturb the hormone (i heard some people say it can lead to difficulty in pregnancy or something? not that i care though. tbh, i care more bout my skin and face than my percentage of getting preggo in the future)

    but anyway, i’ve been taking accutane once a month for 2-3 months, i think and while i think i see improvements, my nose still has that persistent rosacea redness and sometimes i find that i have to incorporate a moisturizing cleanser once a day because i also think accutane causes my skin to turn slightly drier – dehydrated? i don’t know.

    tbh, i was never one who’d seek a dermatologist. i hate them and i’m scared of them. once, i went a dermatologist and she insisted on popping my cyst and now i have scarring on my nose with traces of veins showing up if you were to zoom in my bare face. the experience traumatized me, lol. but yeah, what i do so far is just do my own trial and error – which sounds bad to some people, i know but in my defense, i don’t have insanely acne prone skin. and if a product breaks me out, it’s a sign i need to stop using it. as simple as that.

    my morning skincare routine consists of using the hada labo foaming cleanser which is safe for sensitive skin, keeps my skin supple and moist and is pH balanced too. and then i proceed to use my japanese hatomugi skin conditioner (which i’m trying out now and so far, i like it) or the hada labo lotion (because it’s water based, safe for sensitive skin and keeps it hydrated). my day moisturizers vary from the skinaqua uv moisture gel with spf 30 (if i wanna go out) or the innisfree green tea balancing lotion. sometimes, i switch it with innisfree aloe vera soothing gel because aloe vera is always good for the skin. in the evening, i use a cleanser meant to cleanse pores and for combo skin (e.g. the garnier matcha foam cleanser with 96% salicylic acid or the clean & clear deep pore cleanser), the same toner and then the aloe vera gel. sometimes i add the innisfree green tea balancing cream on top of the aloe vera gel if i feel like it’s getting quite tight and dry around my mouth. i mostly rely on aloe vera gel as both treatment and moisturizer though.

    i know people say exercising helps reduce acne or something like that but ugh, exercising or going to the gym just doesn’t fit my life. and even though i have light allergies towards crab / prawns, sometimes idgaf and still eat those fake crab stick HAHAHAHA then again, they’re imitation right? i’m fortunate that i don’t like the real crab and prawns. i don’t think i break out if i eat like cheese or drink milk tbh (or maybe i just don’t pay enough attention, who knows) but i do feel disgusting inside out when i eat greasy, junk food so i try to keep em minimal.

    speaking of mask, i love the body shop’s blue corn mask. like the seaweed one, the blue corn is also a clay mask that exfoliates and pulls out all the impurities of my skin. i haven’t tried the seaweed one though (funny because i’m using their seaweed exfoliator and day cream – which is great for normal combination skin)

    as for the body shop’s aloe cream, it’s too thick for me so i can’t use it. it’s such a bummer when your skin cannot decide between wanting to be sensitive or oily ugh!

    Nobody has perfect skin! – SO TRUE. well, some koreans do have blemish-free skin like for realzies but seriously though, most of us will have one or two skin problems. i also find it confusing and too much when i see people have like 10-20 steps in their skincare regime. i don’t think i can handle that! kudos to those people, really :))

    • Holly

      Yes, my doctor prescribed me Accutane but I did some research before taking it and I found that there was a chance it could make my contraceptive pills less effective. Now, I don’t want acne, but I definitely don’t want to get pregnant! So yes, I decided not to take it. I’m not sure how it affects pregnancy in the long run.

      I went to see a dermatologist once (on the NHS, so probably not the best!) and he only suggested washing with anti-bacterial soap. That was it! I thought he wouldn’t have been more helpful.

      I’ve not heard about exercise helping acne but I have been exercising more frequently lately so that might be one of the reasons my acne has improved. Hmmm…interesting!

      I will have to give the blue corn face mask a try. I love The Body Shop’s products.

  2. I was lucky and I had some acne when I was a teenager, now I have acne once in a while, I’m not too bothered by it. As you, I discovered that my skin looks and feels better if I eat healthy and I exercise regularly.
    This morning I was thinking if it’s ok to wash my face only with water and nothing else. I just started doing this from time to time, so I have to see how it is and I can always go back to using the sponge.

    • Holly

      I think everything feels better when we eat healthy and exercise, right?! I know it helps my mental health as well.

      I used to use foaming facial washes with an electric exfoliating brush but I felt like I was overdoing it. In the mornings, water or a baby wipe seems to do the job nicely. 🙂

  3. Acne is the pits. Mine weren’t so bad as a teenager, but they became very bad in my 20s. Now that I have a regular skincare regime going on, I think my acnes are doing better compared to before, but I still breakout here and there, especially when my period is nearby. Can’t say I love that time of the month!

    I especially have a hard time keeping my hands off my face, but when I do make the effort to not touch my face, my skin’s definitely clearer. I also find that exfoliating seems to help my face, so that’s been a thing I try to do regularly.

    • Holly

      I think a lot of people presume acne is just something that teenagers have to deal with but no.

      I know what you mean about breakouts at that time of the month!

  4. I’ve had a few breakouts, but I’ve never really experienced acne. Knock on wood, I guess I got lucky. I actually broke out the worst in my 20s compared to my teen years, which seems to be backward.

    • Holly

      It’s strange isn’t it! But not uncommon. I think acne can be related to stress as well, which would explain why my acne has got worse as I’ve got older!

  5. I just read your old acne post and can totally relate. I know a lot of people who see me in real life or just online, comment on how clear my skin is but this is really far from it. My skin is not clear at all! Lighting, filters and makeup do wonders.

    Compared to my teenage years, my skin has really calmed down. I sometimes get huge cystic acne spots but compared to before, it has gotten A LOT better. I remember breaking down a lot at school because I’d wake up with another huge red bump on my face. I went to the GP too and got prescribed a shit ton of treatments, including BP (benzyl peroxide?) which burnt my skin SO MUCH. I know that it was expected but it kept getting worse with time. And I was tired of going to school with a red, peeling, swollen face so I stopped that. When I started taking the pill for birth control, my skin cleared up massively but as soon as I stopped (because of all the other side effects I had from it) it came back and since then I’ve just been dealing with the scars. I know how much of an impact acne has on confidence and all, but as I’ve grown up, I’ve realised how the marks on my face don’t define who I am at all or reflect how I should feel about myself. Gah, all I want to do now is talk to you about everything about my skin ahha. Maybe over a coffee soon? 😉

    It’s great that you’re being mindful of what goes into your body. As soon as I started this last year, I noticed a reduction in the amount of acne and redness. Fruit and tea and water DO WONDERS to the redness in my skin. And of course exercise – gets rid of all the toxins! 😀 OMG @ swimming. I HAD THE SAME HAPPEN TO ME. When I was like 17(?) I started swimming regularly again and that was a period when my skin was SO calm. What I noticed was how effective salt water is. When I went to Barcelona I swam every day and didnt wear makeup at all. After the 7 days, I came back and all the spots on my shoulders and back that I’d had for SUCH A LONG FREAKING TIME had disappeared? The scars and spots on my face was so stubborn though and still persisted but significantly reduced! Ever since BCN I’ve been super confident wearing off-the-shoulder tops! So give that a go next time you’re by the sea! Otherwise, you can make it yourself! I’ve seen people on YT do it but haven’t tried it myself!

    • Holly

      I totally get this. There have been many occasions when I’ve cried myself to sleep because my acne has been so bad, and I’ve covered my skin in strong creams that burn.

      I really need to try getting more fruit in my diet! I’ve started drinking green tea on a daily basis. I wonder if this is helping? I wouldn’t be surprised if salt water is good for acne. When I used to go to Portugal every summer, my skin would clear up so much. Maybe it was because I spent so much time in the sea?!

      I think an acne chat over coffee is needed!!

  6. I get acne badly on my face from my father’s line. He had it baad on his back and now if I didn’t pick them, they would be better but with these new fake nails, they will heal and go away. This happens and I have tried so many things including straight up rubbing alcohol to kill that acne. I just have a bad habit of picking the pimples so bad that it gets worse. Oh well, I understand the frustration of having a bad vs a good day.

    • Holly

      I don’t think I’ve inherited my acne because everyone else in my family has good skin (so unfair!). Maybe I should get some fake nails to stop me picking at my spots!

  7. Cristina Cocioaba

    I never had problems with my face. Of course it isn’t perfect, but if I try to put myself in your shoes I totally understand how you must feel. It’s good that you’re trying your best and you are being careful with your face.

    Those are really good advises. I totally recommend to people with skin problems to consult a doctor and figure out together a way of treatment. Also I recognize I am always touching my face. It’s such a bad habit, and I am trying to change it. Whenever I catch myself touching my face I instantly stop it.

    • Holly

      Yes, speaking to a doctor was really reassuring for me, and I would recommend that any one who thinks they have acne go and see a dermatologist.