I have acne. Spots, pimples, marks – whatever you want to call them, I have them all. A lot.
Dealing with acne has been a huge journey for me, but it has drastically changed over the past two years specifically, so I wanted to journey for those who may be struggling with acne like me and what helped me.
My acne started on the brink of puberty: I went through weight gain and started getting spots. My weight gain went down a bit but my spots remained, and I was left thinking, “why do I have so many more spots than my friends?” Most, if not all of my friends had next to no spots, or had the occasional spot here and there. When I first got acne, it started on my chin and on my forehead. I had a fringe at the time, so after I grew out my fringe (around age 14 maybe?), I didn’t have as many forehead spots at all.
I discovered makeup at around 13-14, which was comparatively late compared to most people I knew by that time, where I tried to cover my spots. Trying to cover spots was a whole other story, but that was a long process in which I struggled (and sometimes still do) with trying to not make them look so big and red.
The first picture in the vertical row was taken in the summer of 2016. I had gotten so many spots around my chin and mouth, it left a bunch of spot marks/scarring. At this time, I was also tanned so it didn’t show as vividly.
From around 13 to late 2018, I have been on quite the journey when trying to find skincare that works specifically for me. If you’ve seen my skincare routine post from a few months ago, you will know that I have sensitive, combination (more towards the dry side) skin. My skin in particular I have found very difficult, and here’s a big lesson I learnt: just because your friend or that influencer shares the fact you have spots, it doesn’t mean that product is right for you! It’s all about trialling and testing, and you may have to take some time to figure out what really works for you (unfortunately for my face and my/my parents money – I’ll forever be grateful that they tried to help the best they could!)
The second vertical picture is from 2017: I really had a lot of marks here. Something I really didn’t realise till later and something I’m so glad happened (that I know unfortunately a lot of people won’t share), is the fact that I didn’t really see a massive problem with going out bare faced. I wasn’t very good at makeup (I’m still not, but I’m better now) and definitely preferred going out without makeup, so I did. I honestly think that I was so used to having marks that I started ignoring them – as long as I had no spots, I was content. I think it also massively helped that I went to an all-girls secondary school as I wasn’t as bothered if my friends and other girls saw what I looked like. I knew they would understand.
Looking back at that photo, I’m actually shocked at how bad my acne and acne scarring got and surprised I didn’t take more notice of it, as I was extremely self-conscious at the time (and I am still a little bit now, but definitely not as much). I’m so glad it never got to that stage of self-hate though, as I know a lot of people have had that when it comes to acne. But it’s honestly okay. I actually think they kind of look like freckles, just in the wrong place. For people that struggle with self-consciousness because of acne, just remember that it’s completely normal and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Some people have it worse than others, and that’s okay too. There are solutions and it will get better. Even if you have adult acne, you’re not the only one! According to the NHS website, 95% of people aged 11-30 will experience acne in some sense and 3% will get it aged 35+ (although a small amount, it’s not just you!).
It’s also important to note here that in my early acne stages, I used to pop my spots, which I learnt over the first few years causes acne scarring (so stop that!) and I used to have loads of blackheads, which did go away over time (I honestly don’t know exactly what stopped that). At around 16-17, I was prescribed spot cream from the doctors which did help a lot, so I would recommend going to the doctors for help – it was a game-changer for me to help reduce spots (but didn’t get rid of scarring).
In the third picture, I was around 18 (so 2018-early 2019). Here you can see that my chin scarring is starting to fade. I believe my chin scarring started to fade here just over time and because I stopped popping my spots and because I started going on the combined pill (this can make you get spots too along with other side effects, so please consult with your doctor beforehand and have a discussion about this, however, this was a huge game-changer for me). However, here you can see an example of one of my large spots. These I do get every now and again (especially now in quarantine!) and are probably the spots that make me feel the most self-conscious: they’re hard to cover and take over my face. Honestly, the best thing to do is just to leave them. Don’t touch them. Do try spot cream (I will go into my favourites at the end).
The last vertical picture was taken mid-2019. I never got spots on my cheeks ever really, so this was quite a shock. So were the spots on my temples – they were tiny but I never got them before there either. My chin marks were less visible at the time, but I don’t really know what exactly caused this change. Now, they’re mostly gone due to regular skincare routines and finding the right products.
The main picture on the left was taken at the beginning of this year. This is the best my skin has ever looked. During quarantine, I’ve gone back to having the randomly placed massive spot, but that’s slowly going and was partially to do with this SPF moisturiser I started using that caused my skin to break out (the Simple product in my skincare routine post). But now, I know how to control my skin, and what works for my skin. It’s been quite a journey (we’re still going through it!), but I will finish this post with my top tips and products that really saved my skin.
- Don’t touch your face often (very relevant now) or pop your spots!
- Speak to your doctor about medication that could help (creams, antibiotics, pills etc.)
- Keep a consistent skincare routine and don’t miss any steps out
- ALWAYS wash your face (even on a night out, I never don’t wash my face because I know I’ll break out – I do my full skincare routine, no matter how annoying it may be at 4am)
- Use spot creams: I used Sudocrem a lot in my mid to late teenage years on spots, and have recently been recommended Alba Bontanica Acnedote oil control lotion and it’s already getting rid of my scars despite purchasing it about a week ago (thanks Niamh!)
- Revolution CBD nourishing oil – gets rid of scars after constant use (thanks Caroline!) but is better for my skin type rather than completely dry/eczema-prone skin or oily skin.
- The Clinique Anti-Blemish range: I finally found a range that suited me! After trialling nearly every drugstore brand, Dr Murad products and other high-end products, this is the one that works best for me, but again, it’s about trialling and testing.
- Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm – the best makeup remover known to man with the addition of the Garnier Micellar Water.
- Once you know your skin, consult with friends about what’s working for them and you may learn something knew! Take everything with a pinch of salt, because everyone’s different, but recommendations can go a long way (as seen with 5 and 6), but it was only recently when having conversations like these that I found that too much SPF can break your skin out, hence what made me realise that this Simple SPF moisturiser I was using was breaking my skin out (thanks again, Caroline!) and now my skins improving.
I know this was long, but I hope this post was useful for someone or just a good read. If you have any acne suggestions or recommendations, do leave it in the comments below!