This is something I've wanted to post about for a while. I'm going to write about it in a more serious tone than what I normally would, but only because it's something that was a crappy part of my life for nine years. It caused me to have some fairly bad self-confidence issues, and I thought I would share my story with you kind people. Please know that I'm not writing about this in an effort to gain your sympathy, but rather to let you know how I feel about this afflication in case some of you have gone, or are going through, similar things. I also wanted to let you know how I fixed this problem for good (or so I hope!).
I am talking about acne. Acne is nobody's friend. I had it from the age of 13 to 22, and I am hoping that it never returns. I thought it was one of those things that stop when you reach adulthood, but nooooo, mine just stayed put. I realise that my acne was nowhere near as bad as some people have it, and I am thankful for that, but at the time I felt like the ugliest person in the world. I had incredibly oily skin and hair, and found these things were quite difficult to disguise, regardless of how much makeup or dry shampoo I used.
I assumed that my acne would go away at the end of my teenage years, but when it didn't I sought help from a general practitioner in 2008. What a waste of time and money that was. It makes me sad to think about it even now. At the time I was working for Apple as a technical support advisor, and I came to think of doctors as having a similar role. That sounds stupid, I know, but hear me out. Customers used to call Apple when they were having problems with their iPhone - say their phone had screwed up while trying to update their software through iTunes, for example. I would advise them to perform a number of steps to try and fix the problem, and to call back if they didn't work. If nothing solved the problem, the customer would then be referred to different person or place. This process is very similar to the way doctors work, in my opinion. I was prescribed a number of creams, gels, facewashes and pills, and always told to come back in a few weeks if they didn't work. It seemed like they had a few stages of "troubleshooting" your problem, and if none of them worked you just get sent away to somebody else - which is what eventually happened.
There have been three things that have helped my acne. All of them are in pill form, two of which had uncomfortable side effects, and one that I still take now. There is also a particular skin care brand that has helped my acne a great deal, which I will tell you about later on.
1: The Pill
At the start of 2009 I went on the pill. I had taken it in my teenage years and remembered that it cleared my skin up a considerable amount, so I decided to start again when I was 20. My skin was quite good during that year - still quite oily but with hardly any breakouts. However - and I didn't realise at the time that it was the pill causing this - but during this year I was constantly sick. I was tested for hyperthyroidism, coeliac disease and ulcerative collitis. One time I even had a camera shoved down my throat to see what was wrong with me. I felt anxious all the time and had frequent panic attacks, my throat would get lumpy and feel as though it was closing up, I had terrible stomach pains all the time ... yuck yuck yuck. It wasn't until October 2009 when one day I decided to read the side effects for the pill that I realised it was making me sick. It makes me so sad to think about it now because it seems so obvious to me now. I can't believe that none of the doctors I saw picked up on it either.
Of course when I stopped taking the pill, I started to feel better about a week later. Six weeks after that my acne flared up again. I had horrible cystic acne along my right jawline, of which I still have scarring from. Unfortunately the breakouts started happening just before my 21st birthday and my six month trip to Europe, both of which were very photographed occasions. I didn't think too much of it at the time because I figured that it would clear up in about a week. But nooooooooo, it stayed put. My acne was at its worst between November 2010 - January 2011.
I didn't take anything else for my skin until January 2011. I was on an antibiotic called Minocycline, which was great for about three weeks. After that I got giant itchy bites everywhere. Again, I didn't realise at the time that the antibiotics were giving me these hives. So I stopped taking them, and once my acne returned I tried a skincare brand called Dermalogica instead. I got the Medibac Clearing Kit for Adult Acne. I'm not going to link this product because I do not recommend it at all, and I will show you the results of using Dermalogica at the end of this section. But suffice to say, I think this was the final straw. The first thing I used to do in the morning after I'd woken up was run my hands over my jawline to see if my acne had disappeared overnight. Usually they felt smaller, so I'd go "yay!" and then run into the bathroom, and look in the mirror. They were always there, always just as ugly, which in turn made me feel ugly. This is what my skin was like before and after Dermalogica.
In April 2011 I saw a dermatologist, who prescibed Oratane to me (I think it is called Accutane in some countries). He explained to me what the side effects would be, so I knew what to expect. Side effects of Oratane include extremely dry skin and sensitivity to the sun. The dermatologist also told me to expect my skin to get worse before it got better. Honestly, I only experienced side effects for the first week, but they were very manageable and soon got better anyway. Since April 2011 I have only had a handful of pimples, and my skin and hair are no longer oily. I could go a week without washing my hair if I wanted to, and it would still look clean. I've had to wear sunscreen more than I used to, but this is something I should be doing anyway with my pale skin. I still have a bit of acne scarring on my cheek and jawline, but it is very slight and is easily covered by makeup. At the risk of sounding like a Clearasil ad, I feel confident enough to let people other than my boyfriend see me without makeup, and this is something I would not have been able to say a year ago.
I strongly believe that another thing that contributed to my acne disappearing has been a skincare brand called Liz Earle. I first tried it in April 2011 after reading Zoella's post about it. I'm sure the main contributor to my acne being cured has been the Oratane, but the Liz Earle products seem to really work for my skin. When I went to Canberra in July, I didn't bring the Liz Earle stuff with me, and so I bought some Cetaphil cleanser and a Vaseline moisturiser while I was there. After a few uses my skin became dry, scaly and very red. As soon as I got home I ordered more Liz Earle products and have used nothing else since. In case you're interested, I use the Hot Cloth Cleanser and buy three 100ml bottles at a time. It lasts about four to five months, which to me seems worth paying the $65AUD to have them shipped to Australia. I have the Dry/Sensitive Skin Repair Moisturiser as well, which is quite good but I find it leaves an oily residue on my skin. When I was in Canberra I bought the Innoxa Super Sensitive Gentle Day & Night Creme, and it was excellent. It is the only moisturiser I have ever used a whole tub of. I'll be buying it again once I run out of the Liz Earle moisturiser.
If you have read this far, I commend you. You have just read 1,446 words! Well done, you. Again, I'm sorry about the serious tone of this post, and the gross photos of my face, but it is something I wanted to share with you fine people. I'd love to know if anybody else can relate to anything I've written about. Thank you for reading, and I promise I'll be back to my normal silly self the next time I post. Bye!