My (Ongoing) Skincare & Acne Journey

I’ve struggled with rubbish skin since I hit puberty – on and off acne on both my face and back, always getting what felt like massive crater-like monsters on my nose or my cheeks, blackheads, random patches of oily skin, random patches of dry skin, red patches – my skin has changed so much through puberty I still don’t feel I could define what kind of skin I have aside maybe just calling it ‘a mess’.

Growing up, and I believe I’ve made a blog post about it before, I had a really tough time with skin-picking and scratching at my face and it took me a few years to realise I mostly did it when I was anxious or stressed. If you want to read the post I’ll link it here.

So obviously because of the cycle of getting acne or spots, picking at them and causing scars and more spots (I’d be really gross and pick a spot and sometimes forget to wipe it or clean my hands), I’ve ended up with very scarred and red cheeks naturally (that’s where all my acne/spots seem to go) and last year due to many things my acne flared up again and I decided this year I wanted to try to improve my skincare and hopefully make my skin look nicer. I do tell myself a lot that completely flawless, natural skin isn’t a thing because at the end of the day it isn’t. Everyone has pores, everyone gets wrinkles and scars, everyone gets those pesky blackheads and build up of sebum on their nose. It’s completely natural to have flaws but I am glad this year I managed to figure out what stuff benefits my skin and has helped it heal and I thought I’d share it to obviously remind myself down the line and maybe help other people!

DISCLAIMER: Everybody’s skin is different. Acne can occur for plenty of different reasons and can react differently to different products. Some of the things I mention in this were recommended by my doctor so I always recommend going to your GP for advice. I am not fully educated in skincare and health, I am just someone who struggled with skin picking, acne, acne scarring and found stuff that’s helped my face. ūüôā

What I think caused my recent acne flare up

Like I said, I’m not a skin expert and the assumptions I make towards my skin could be false! But based on the habits I had and what is usually said as being bad for your skin, the main causes of my skin flaring up so bad, I believe, could have been from:

  • Skin picking
  • University stress and anxiety (Goes hand in hand with skin picking)
  • Fizzy drink consumption
  • Winter/Christmas eating
  • More alcohol consumption than usual
  • Hormones

Comparison Photos

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January I started taking photos because I had just been to the doctors about how upset I was with my skin and as of this she changed the birth control pill I was on and gave me a cream (I will talk about what they were in a bit), I was also in the midst of most of my first semester deadlines and a lot of university related anxiety. From then on I started using different products and such that I will talk about in a bit. Around April time I started occasional microdermabrasion appointments and finally July is where we are now and how my skin looks now! (As you can see not completely perfect, I still have a couple of spots and acne marks remaining).

Changes I made and what I believe has helped my skin

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Water
First of all, the most clich√© change I made – and I’m sure everyone is sick of hearing it but it really makes a difference – is drinking more water. I have drinking way more water recently than I ever did last year and not just because of the ungodly heatwave we’ve had recently in the UK, but because it has so many benefits and I can feel the change it’s made. It helps my skin feel a lot more calm, less dry in places, less oily and just a lot more regulated, I’m seeing barely any spots and I’ve noticed tiny spots are more likely to pop up after days where I’ve been drinking just soda/caffeinated drinks instead of water. I’m not perfect I still drink coca cola and I have a current obsession with iced coffees but getting in at least two or three glasses of water a day really helps.

Vitamins and supplements
My mum originally bought the Vitabiotics Perfectil Tablets for me to try when I was teetering on the anemic side back early last year and was constantly fatigued and in general my nails and skin were in really poor condition cause of it however I started taking them again this year because for me they are really benefiting my skin – I’ve found my skin’s started to clear up when taking them and feels a lot more supple. I also recommend if you are a skin picker like me, taking vitamin C tablets when your skin is going through a phase of healing and scabbing from the picking or whatever. It really helps speed up the healing process.

Cleanser
This cleanser has been a life-saver for helping any scarring on my face! Obviously, it can’t get rid of the marks and scars that are quite settled in my face however I’ve noticed nice changes to my skin as I started using the Palmer’s Ultra Gentle Facial Cleanser,¬†my skin feels a lot softer and after spots have gone from my face they aren’t leaving marks as much as they used to. The cleanser is great for removing makeup as well, which goes hand in hand with trying to prevent breakouts since leaving makeup on or not removing it properly can lead to getting spots. Also during the past few months I’ve started to not exfoliate as much as I used to (back in January I was probably exfoliating my skin everyday), and I feel it may have been a gentle benefit to my skin and helped the healing process better as over-exfoliating can damage your skin!

Gels
Instead of moisturizer the past month or two (mainly cause I ran out of moisturizer and keep procrastinating buying a new one), I’ve been applying Aloe Vera Gel to my cheeks and where there is spots because of the obvious benefits of both aloe vera and tea tree oil. The tube I got was very reasonably priced and I feel was a better choice for my skin than getting a fancy branded moisturizer that only has a tiny portion of aloe vera in. It’s also been very good for calming any red or stressed bits of my skin because of its cooling feel!

Duac Once Daily gel was prescribed to me by doctor when I originally saw her in January – it is a gel you apply once a day (I normally did it before bed), and it helps to try and unblock the pores but also target any bacteria or spots on your face. It has anti-bacterial properties and has benzoyl peroxide in it. When I used it I definitely felt a change in my skin in the morning after (make sure to wash it off when you wake up) and I felt it dried out any spots on my face quicker than most spot treatments.

SPF/Sun Cream
Enough said really. I’m a firm believer in trying to apply spf on your face everyday because it prevents the skin from aging and wrinkling and it also helps protect your skin from sunburn and just in general benefits the gentle skin on your face. Here is my favourite from superdrug.

Microdermabrasion
Finally, I was recommended microdermabrasion by a lady at work for getting rid of acne scarring and I decided whilst my skin was in quite a calm state (I was having less flare ups and picking less, the only thing troubling me was how red and scarred my cheeks were, to the point I didn’t even like applying blusher because it just felt like I was making my face look ridiculous). Microdermabrasion is a facial treatment where they exfoliate your face to take off all the dead skin cells on the outer layer of your skin. The lady who did mine was very friendly and we sat down beforehand I explained to her where I felt the problem areas on my skin was so she knew where to focus on the most. She would also cleanse and moisturize my face as well as putting a hot cloth on it to help open the pores. It was all a very relaxing experience with a great outcome! The first treatment doesn’t instantly give you the exact result you want and it is a thing where if you want to focus on clearing up deeper scars in your skin you’d have to go back but even after two treatments I can tell a lot of my scars have faded and become less apparent. My explanation is not the greatest of ones, but I definitely recommend it! If your favourite beauty salon or such nearby does the treatment definitely ask for a consultation and talk to them beforehand so you understand what will happen and how it works!

 

Sorry that was such a ramble and a lot to take in! Of course, I have not mentioned the birth control tablets and changes I made or individual little face masks or moisturizer I tried in the past few months or makeup I’ve used because I didn’t want to write a dissertation on the topic! If you managed to read this whole thing reward yourself with a piece of cake or a face mask because you deserve it! I hope some of the things on this helped or gave you an idea of changes you could make in your routine!

Thank you for reading,

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Cruelty-free beauty products under ¬£10!

Recently I followed a useful twitter account that provides cruelty-free ‘dupes’ of popular makeup and beauty products. You can check their account out here! The account got me thinking of what cruelty-free products I own already and which ones I would love to try next time I need to purchase new makeup. However some of the ‘dupes’ are still quite expensive and make it hard for people who cannot afford say the eye palette from Too Faced or import Kat Von D’s makeup so I thought I’d put together a little list of cheap, under ¬£15 cruelty-free makeup items you may enjoy!

#1 Superdrug’s ‘B.’ Brush Cleanser Spray

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Have I owned?: YES Price: £4.99 

When I was growing up, throughout high school and college, I struggled a lot with acne and skin picking, so makeup was an easy way of making my skin feel a bit cleaner and less gross but I never really thought about the importance of keeping my makeup brushes clean until the past year or so. Superdrug have their own brand ‘B.’ which is all cruelty-free and vegan so when I noticed they had a makeup brush cleanser I thought it’d be a sensible purchase to make and it was! This cleanser works by spraying a pump of the cleanser onto your makeup brush and massaging the brush into a tissue to remove residue. Since I started regularly cleaning my makeup brushes with this I have seen an improvement in my skin, obviously my diet and lifestyle also effect my skin/acne but keeping my brushes clean with this cheap, cruelty-free cleanser probably also helped a lot!

#2 Boots Natural Collection Pressed Powder

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Have I owned?: YES Price: £1.99

The Natural Collection at Boots are a wonderful, good for price, makeup brand that imply they do not animal test and are cruelty free. I can’t find any evidence about if they are vegan or not so if anybody could provide me more background on the brand that would be extremely helpful! I recently purchased their pressed powder as sometimes my concealer and face makeup easily wipes off over the course of the day and this one was extremely cheap and works fine for the price it is! A definite cheaper and better dupe to use compared to brands such as Rimmel or Max Factor.

#3 Superdrug Naturally Radiant Hot Cloth Cleanser

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Have I owned?: YES Price: £5.99

If you’re a fan of hot cloth cleansers you would of probably heard of the lovely Liz Earle hot cloth cleansers, which are very heavenly and I have to agree when I once got a little tester tube – made my skin feel so soft. Luckily for us cruelty-free fans Liz Earle claim on their website they do not test their ingredients or products on animals and do it on human volunteers! They also have the Leaping Bunny stamp of approval and point out on their FAQ which products are not vegan (e.g products with manuka honey/beeswax). Hooray! However Liz Earle’s products can be quite pricey for some of us and a fabulous, cheap dupe is Superdrug’s hot cloth cleanser! Only recently buying this (like literally yesterday), I have not yet tried and tested this product but it is suitable for vegans and cruelty free and has a lot of amazing reviews on their website so I cannot wait to introduce it into my skincare routine!

#4 Barry M Gelly Hi Shine Lips

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Have I owned? NO Price: £4.99

Red lips are very much back in recently.  Loads of different shades suit loads of different people and I can definitely agree I am on the bandwagon and love having red lips and would love to own a quick, cheap cruelty free one I can keep in my bag to apply whenever. Barry M is cruelty free and have marked this cheap, convenient lip pencil as vegan! It comes in a couple of colours including a dark, plum-like red or an orange-tinted pink. This is an amazing dupe to the Bourjois lip crayon range.

#5 Cruelty-free shower gels

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IMPORTANT EDIT: I have been told unfortunately Original Source’s parent company is known for testing their¬†ingredients¬†on animals which means these aren’t completely cruelty-free products unfortunately – alas they are still vegan if you are looking for a good vegan cheap shower gel however some *definite* cruelty-free shower gels could include Superdrug’s own shower gels! These carry the leaping bunny logo and are only a brilliant 99p!!! They come in a wide variety of lovely scents including my beloved coconut scent.¬†

 

#6 e.l.f Studio Eyeshadow Primer

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Have I owned? NO Price: £4.50

A lot of makeup reviewers/artists swear by the ‘Urban Decay’ eyeshadow primer and I am sure, considering it’s hype, it is a very trustworthy product however I am never sure of Urban Decay’s cruelty-free stance as some days I’ll hear people say it is cruelty free and other days people claim they’re lying. It’s all a bit of a fuss and personally the price is quite peak and not really made for a broke consumer either! E.L.F is a company that have the cruelty-free bunny stamp and do not test on animals and their products are extremely cheap so why not try their eyeshadow primer!

So yeah there are some cheap, cruelty-free alternatives you may want to check out next time you treat yourself on the beauty isle! Is there any cruelty-free products you stand by and love that you’d recommend to me? Feel free to comment!

 

Thanks for reading,

Helena x

Skin Picking

So my disclaimer to this post is that it might gross people out a bit. It’s a habit I’ve had for a good few years now that people always give me disgusted looks for or even get impatient with me when they catch me doing it.

Since puberty my skin was obviously cursed with the despicable teenage acne. I used to get really bad crowds of whiteheads on my back, chest and face. My nose and upper lip has always had blackheads and my face would always get those annoying under-the-skin, throbbing pimples at least every other week. I am thankful my acne is not as bad as it was when I was in high school or college, however every often I still get bad spots. Makes it even worse that I pick. I scratch and squeeze at spots that I get and if I don’t do that, I spend the day stroking and touching the bit of skin that has the blemish on it. At first when growing up, I used to pick and scratch at acne because I wanted it gone, part of me thought if I picked out the gross pus or dirt underneath the spot, I would help get rid of it quicker.

However now in recent years, I’ve noticed I do it when I’m stressed or anxious. If I’m anxious about going out and getting ready I find myself scratching at spots. When I’ve had a bad day, going up to a mirror and squeezing and roughly picking any blemish I can find on my face – even a blackhead not even someone with perfect vision would probably notice – distracts my mind and calms me down. Doing my own research, the skin picking seems very relevant to my anxiety and possibly ‘BDD’. When I am anxious or stressed, I become preoccupied with my skin and picking and scratching feels like I am getting rid of dirt or bad stuff on my skin. It is almost relaxing to me but at the end of the day I really damage my skin and end up with scabs and wounds that last longer than a spot would or even acne scars that last months.

I write this post today because, although the past few months I’ve gotten way better at not picking at my skin, I am having a regression week where two spots on my face I ¬†can’t stop picking and the day after they heal with yellow scabs and I end up picking them off again. I hope maybe admitting to my problem on ‘paper’ might kickstart me not doing it again. But I also wanted to share some tips I have, in case anybody else believes they might have a problem with acne/skin picking.

  1. Putting plasters on pimples or blemishes when at home/in private to prevent picking.
  2. Face masks! Not only do they help cleanse and soothe your face but also prevent mindless picking.
  3. Always clean your makeup brushes and take makeup off before sleeping. This prevents any blemishes from dirty makeup. Which then prevents picking.
  4. If you do unfortunately scratch, wash your face and then finish washing with cold water. Cold water helps close open pores preventing further dirt entering.
  5. Gloves – admittedly I don’t do this often, but I’ve heard on other blog posts that people with compulsive skin picking have written, gloves can create a barrier.
  6. When you feel like picking, paint your nails. This gives you a reason to keep your hands still.
  7. Continuing the painted nails – if you feel like picking your skin, pick at the varnish on your nails instead.
  8. If you can, stroke a pet when you feel like picking. This is a numbing situation in which you can zone out whilst stroking your pet, much like you might zone out and relax when picking or after squeezing a spot. Plus your pet will love you!

If anybody else can share any other tips – believe me I’d appreciate them!

Thanks for reading,

Helena x