My Skincare Journey and Routine
Since I shared a photo of my skin in 2016 vs. 2018 with you all on my Instagram story, I've had a crazy amount of DMs asking what I did to improve it so much. So, here's my blog post on my skincare journey.
However I'd like to talk about acne, my view of it and my journey with it a little bit first.
I struggled a lot with breakouts. And I don't mean with getting rid of them (although that was a problem), I mean the mental struggles I had with them especially when they were at their worst. I never viewed other people's acne or breakouts as a bad thing, I just accepted it and often thought 'I wish I had the confidence that they have'. I was absolutely terrified of leaving the house without make-up on and was extremely self conscious of my face even when I did wear make-up.
Just as I'd done with my body, I tried learning to accept my skin in the same way I accepted others' but for some reason it just wasn't happening when it came to my skin. I'm sure that the daily analysing in front of the mirror didn't help.
After a while I decided that actually, if something was getting me down so much that I was scared to leave the house, then it was time to try to improve my skin in the most healthy and caring way that I could. It was time to scrap the negative thoughts and the self-hatred. This became a journey for both my skin and my self-confidence, and I hope that if you reading this are really struggling to cope with acne then it helps you at least a little.
I know it won't make much of a difference (because it didn't to me at the time), but honestly: people aren't analysing your skin as much as you are. People aren't noticing things as easily as you are. And you are still so worthy of being loved by both others and yourself. You don't have to have perfect skin (despite society's idea of how looking 'perfect' means being 'flawless') but if it's affecting your everyday life and your mental health, and you've already tried to just accept it, then do something to change it. As long as it's in a healthy and self-care-filled way.
So, let's get into my skincare routine!
As mentioned already, I was not at all happy with my skin in 2016. It took me a year to figure out that my acne was hormonal. This meant that the spots were a lot deeper in my skin, took much longer to come out fully than ordinary spots, they were quite painful which meant that I could always feel them (which obviously did not help my confidence!), and the breakouts were mostly on my chin as well as on my back and occasionally above or between my eyebrows too.
I tried e v e r y t h i n g that I could find. I don't even want to think about how much I spent! These are some of the creams that helped temporarily. They were almost like quick (ish) fixes for spots, but didn't get rid of my acne. So if you're struggling with just a few spots but you don't have acne, these may help you: Acnecide (gets rid of spots), Bioderma Global (gets rid of spots), Bioderma Pore Refiner (tightens pores), Eau Thermale Avène Cleanance Expert (gets rid of spots and blackheads), Eau Thermale Avène Skin Recovery Cream (reduces redness and soothes skin) and lastly the slightly more well-known Sudocrem (kind of for everything to do with spots to be honest!). Note: I have no idea if any of these are vegan, because I wasn't vegan when I was using them.
January 2018: 'Duac'
After a while I'd totally had enough of trying one cream after another after another only to realise that they were never going to cure my acne completely. Please note now that the following is written about my personal experience and I have no qualifications in skincare - follow the advice of a specialist, like I did.
In January 2018 I took a huge step out of my comfort zone and decided to go and see a doctor. I guess I was worried that they wouldn't care because I thought that 'people have bigger problems than acne so why would they want to help me, I'll just be wasting their time'. And not to mention the even bigger fear of mine; having to go outside without make-up on so that the doctor could actually see my skin fully and be as helpful as possible!
I cannot recommend this enough. Go and see your local GP about it. I'd thought about seeing a skincare specialist privately (at a cost of about £300 per session !!) but honestly, see a GP first. That's what I did and I believe that it's half of the reason as to why my skin is the way it is now.
I was told I had 'mild acne' and was prescribed a gel called 'Duac'. This is what happened over time using the gel:
January: 'Great, another cream that probably won't work' I thought. It's a gel that you leave on overnight, every night, and not just covering any active spots but the whole area where you tend to get them. After 5 minutes of my first night trying it it kind of felt like one of those peel-off face masks, apart from the fact that it didn't peel off (it isn't supposed to so all's good!). I started to see a small change over the next two weeks but nothing major.
February: Then came the skin peeling that the doctor had warned me about. Not fun. It didn't hurt at all but it made me quite self-conscious of my face and meant that make-up didn't always stay on very easily. If you try Duac and get to this stage, it means that the gel is working and, as my doctor told me, you just have to push through it and not give up!
March: Just wow. You can see how much better my skin is in the photos above and below. I do have acne scars but over the past two years I've gotten a lot better at just accepting them and don't feel the need to get rid of them now.
Sometimes the Duac gel dried my skin out a lot and, as advised by my doctor, I moisturised my face about 15 minutes after applying the gel in the evening to balance out the dryness. And this leads me onto my last section of this post - my skincare routine in full today.
My Skincare Routine Today
A quick note: I always wash my hands thoroughly before doing any of the below, and try not to touch my face for any longer than about 10 seconds. All products listed here are photographed below.
Wash my face with warm water (only because I hate cold water on my face, for some reason!). If I'm using a flannel I just make sure that it goes in the wash after being used up to about five times max. Otherwise I just let the water from my shower wash my face without needing to use anything else.
Every couple of days I also cleanse my face in the morning using the Angels On Bare Skin cleanser from Lush. I only really use it in the morning if I feel like it (so totally not strict about it) or if I had a particularly busy day previously.
Take one time-release vitamin C capsule with breakfast. I got this brilliant idea from Wendy Rowe's book 'Eat Beautiful'.
If I've worn make-up, I take it off using Garnier's Micellar Water (the green one, which I think is the combination/sensitive skin one) using cotton pads.
I then wash my face with water, again using cotton pads.
If I don't have any make-up to take off then I cleanse my face using the Angels On Bare Skin cleanser from Lush, which I mentioned previously.
Then after removing make-up/cleansing, I pour some rose water onto a cotton pad and dab that on my skin - mainly on the areas where I get breakouts (or used to).
Once my face has dried from the rose water, I apply the 'Duac' gel in a thin layer over the entire areas where I would normally get breakouts.
If my face is particularly dry or peeling badly, I occasionally skip the Duac for one night and use E45 cream to moisturise my face instead (remember this is my own personal experience with 'Duac' gel and you should only follow instructions given to you by your doctor).
Before my acne got better/disappeared, the spots would sometimes become quite sore and seem more like cuts than spots - if this was the case, I covered the spot in a thin layer of aloe vera gel (I literally bought an aloe vera leaf, cut it open and rubbed it onto my face) and left it on overnight. It acted as a protecting/healing barrier and the spot/cut was reduced in redness and healed more quickly.
So. My skincare essentials in short, if you want something to screenshot, are as follows: Angels On Bare Skin (AOBS) cleanser from Lush, Micellar Water (with the green label) from Garnier, Duac gel (prescribed to me by my doctor), rose water, original E45 cream and an aloe vera leaf.
Where to buy them: AOBS cleanser from Lush, Garnier Micellar Water from Boots (local drugstore), Duac gel from my doctor, rose water from my local health foods store, time-release ('ester') vitamin C capsules from Amazon (company name: Veridian), E45 cream again from my local drugstore (Boots) and an aloe vera leaf from my local health foods store.
Extras to note: I avoid, where possible, products that contain parabens or perfume and try to only get products that are hypoallergenic (like E45 cream). On the perfume side of things, it also might help you to get rid of any diffusers you have, because they contaminate the air with perfume which obviously then comes into contact with your skin. I'd also advise from my personal experience that you go without make-up as often as you can, always remove make-up before going to bed, drink lots of water (approx. 2-3L per day) and get those green veggies and antioxidants into your meals! I like to start my day with a glass of lemon water (one lemon, juiced, mixed with water).
And lastly as some of you have asked: going vegan (i.e. ditching dairy) helped get rid of the breakouts I used to get on my back, but made no difference to my face. I know it's worked for some people but unfortunately it doesn't for everyone, so give it a try anyway if you haven't already and see what happens for you!
I hope this blog helps you if you're struggling with acne at the moment. I completely understand the stress and low self-confidence that it can cause, so if you ever want to chat to me about it then just drop me a DM over on Instagram.
Sending you all of the love in the world, Ally x