Saturday, 7 June 2014

Dealing with Spots & Acne

Spots & acne: the story of my life eh. I suffer from hormonal breakouts (self-diagnosis), not the more serious 'acne' of Roaccutane adverts. Adequate sleep, Oil of Evening Primrose supplements, simple dietary changes and a decent skincare routine have helped keep my face free of breakouts. Over on the sidebar is a link to my regime: a run-down of the twelve different products I use daily and was confident that they worked. ‘WAS’ confident. That sentiment has changed (I think I cursed myself by claiming spot-free skin for four months) because in the fifth month of May my skin was the worst I'd ever seen it. Red, inflammed and sore-looking - the sorta thing you can't even conceal with five pounds of make-up. But enough of that ~ I thought I'd share what I did to get it back to normal :)

What Changed?
This is obvious but easy to overlook when you're too frustrated about the little volcanoes erupting all over your face. Be honest: did you go on a near suicidal Haribo binge? Stress? Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune hit you in the knee? New products? In my case I think stress + new make-up was the cause. Theres not much you can do about stress, but exercise and sleep helps. (I did little of either.) I stopped using my new foundation but that didn’t solve the problem. So I swapped my usual moisturisers for DHC’s CoEnzyme Q10 Cream, thinking it might be a good idea to avoid shea butter but that didn’t help either. It just got worse, and come end of May, it was so bad that I went to my GP for a prescription for Benzoyl Peroxide and changed a few of my skincare products.
Nothing 'unnecessary' (masks, different serums), no potentially irritating products, no aggressive products (like acid exfoliants) and nothing containing alcohol (particularly important if you're using Benzoyl Peroxide creams). I switched my cleansing oil for a gentle micellaire water and rosehip oil for ylang ylang. I know fragrant essential oils are potentially irritating and all that jazz but my Decleor routine worked wonders for me a few years back so I’m happy to use it again.

New Routine:

So in the morning I used Bioderma > Toner > Eye creams > Ylang Ylang oil > Hydraluron > Moisturiser > Suncream. In the evening: Bioderma > Neroli cleanser > Toner > Eye creams > Moisturiser on non spot infested areas.

Within days the redness had noticeably subsided - probably because I stopped using cleansing oils. I’d been using DHC’s Deep Cleansing Oil since the beginning of May, which coincided with the time I broke out like crazy. It didn’t even occur to me that a fruit I eat so happily could wreak havoc on my skin -.-'

My prescription for Duac (containing 5% Benzoyl Peroxide / 1% Clindamycin) came though a few days later and after four days of use the spots have completely cleared and my skin has smoothed out. Super effective stuff - but not without its side-effects!* If you've been struggling with spots, consult your GP instead of faffing with remedies that don’t work. I’ve tried them all, believe me!

Theres no reason to change your skincare products if they’re well formulated. (Unless they're whats breaking you out.) Try making a few small (and inexpensive) changes when your routine doesn’t cut it anymore. My Elemis creams cost me £200 - there is no frickin way I’m going to stop using them before they run out!

If you're struggling with spots/acne, you're probably struggling with hyperpigmentation too. GET A SUNCREAM!! I’ve looked up dozens of them and of the ones I’ve tried myself I’d recommend Skinceuticals Sheer Mineral UV Defence SPF 50. The white cast settles quickly, theres no greasy or heavy feeling so it’s suitable for all skin types and make-up applies ok afterwards. It also comes in a tinted version (Mineral Radiance UV Defence SPF 50) but I haven’t tried it. Skinceuticals is sold in these places. I went to John Bell & Croyden on Wigmore Street, which is also where I discovered Bioderma - right next to the Skinceuticals section :p

Products not to bother with:
  • Quick fixes. Maybe these work for people who get the odd spot. I haven’t found them to be at all useful when you have a persistent problem. You need a good routine to keep spots under control.
  • Tea Tree Oil is an effective disinfectant but undiluted tea tree oil can cause skin irritation so it should be bought diluted. It’s frequently sold in 1% concentrations - which is not high enough to be of benefit. Plus it stings like hell. 
  • Sudocrem. What post on acne would be complete without a mention of Sudocrem? Don’t buy a cream designed for baby butts. Do buy something designed for adults + your face.
A Heavenly light shines upon them
  • Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions.  Maybe it's because of the brand's 'professional clinical' image, I find a lot of people recommend Clinique. I used the entire range (Cleansing Foam, Cleansing Bar, Clarifying Lotion, Moisturiser and Cleansing Mask) and it didn’t make a difference. And the Lotion gave me a chemical burn. I don’t bother with products specifically targeted for spots/acne anymore because too many like to equate the drying effect of alcohol to treating your skin. Take the Origins Super Spot Remover. So it’s going to ‘remove’ a spot like Febreeze lifts a stain is it? *Eyeroll* On the other hand, the alcohol content would probably work to remove fabric stains so maybe it’s a double entendre.

Any other suggestions for dealing with outbreaks?

Bisous! Celine

*Some warnings & side-effects of Benzoyl Peroxide:
Increased sensitivity to sunlight - hence why you must use a sun-cream
Redness and dryness of the skin - have you seen this post?
Can bleach fabric and hair. I sometimes get it in my eyebrows and they haven’t gone white like Bak Mei

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