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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How cruelty-free is my skincare routine?

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So if you know me, you’ll know I like trying my best to be eco-friendly and cruelty free – a lot of my old blog posts discuss ways and products that are better for nature and better for animals and a year or so on, I thought I’d look at my recent skincare routine and see what items are cruelty-free, eco-friendly and if they are good or not!

I’d reckon my skin type is combination/oily and extremely acne-prone. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have at least one pimple on my face and even if I didn’t I have unfortunate scarring from years of skin picking and breakouts. I’ve also tried to get into a habit of doing a full-blown, some may say high maintenance, skin-care routine each night after watching YouTube videos where people discuss practising¬†the ‘Korean 10-step skincare routine‘, which involves a lot of products but apparently is the secret to getting your face in good condition. However I don’t have the money or motivation to get every part of this 10 step yet, so my routine at the moment is inspired by the routine but not quite!

  1. Cleansing

For cleansing, I am currently using the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser. I was extremely lucky to receive a Liz Earle gift set for Christmas from my mum with a full bottle of the highly rated cleanser. The formula is enriched with cocoa butter which helps make my skin super smooth and the chamomile and eucalyptus in it is such a lovely smell and using it right before bed is extremely soothing and comforting. In terms of cruelty-free rating, Liz Earle has recently been given the BUAV seal of approval so it has the ‘cruelty-free’ rabbit attached to it, meaning it has not been tested on animals!

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2. Cleansing Part 2

According to the 10 step routine on SokoGlam, they say it’s important to do a double cleanse to ensure you get rid of all the residue of makeup or built up dirt that the first cleanse might not have got. They recommend a water-based cleanser for this so currently, I am using Botanics by Boot’s All Bright Micellar 3 in 1 Cleansing Solution. I’ve quite enjoyed using this as it leaves my skin feeling quite refreshed and isn’t drying and there isn’t much of a fragrance either so it’s not overwhelming. In terms of cruelty-free, the entire Botanics range is advertised as being mostly organic and natural, however maybe I’m not looking far enough, but there aren’t any definite claims online from the company that they are cruelty-free but a lot of websites saying they are classed as cruelty-free skincare and they are vegetarian friendly¬†but not vegan friendly since some Botanics products contain beeswax!

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3. Exfoliator

I’ve only recently purchased (literally bought it this morning) my facial scrub, but I can definitely confirm I bought it due to it being cruelty-free, microbead free, vegan-friendly and paraben free! The Sukin Revitalising Facial Scrub is from the Australian brand Sukin Organics which aim to be Australia’s number one natural skincare brand. All products are made with ingredients that are naturally derived, vegan-friendly and cruelty-free which is amazing and I am very grateful I came across this scrub in Boots. I’ve only used it once but it was very soothing, not at all harsh or rough on the skin and smelt lovely!

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4. Toner

Another Liz Earle product makes its way in here! (Can you tell I’m a fan?) For toning, I have been using the Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic which also has a gorgeous scent to it, which makes me excited to use it because I feel it leaves my skin feeling fresh, awake and smelling lovely! It contains calendula, chamomile, aloe vera and Vitamin E all to hydrate and refresh your skin. Like I mentioned before, Liz Earle has been given the Cruelty-Free bunny sticker so it’s a great CF addition to my routine! Another little thing I love about it is the lid which has a little opening can be screwed open and close so you don’t find yourself wasting large drops of the liquid when applying it to a cotton pad! Compared to a bottle top that you have to try to be careful with when tipping.

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5. Essence/Serums

Now this is where the routine got confusing to me, a mere lazy girl who spent most of her adolescence with a skincare routine of just splashing hot water on her face before school and using pound shop makeup wipes each night to remove makeup and¬†maybe¬†using a face scrub in the shower if she could be bothered. The SokoGlam website describes an essence as ‘toner/serum hybrid made for hydrating and aiding skin repair’. However I haven’t really got any of these, and the one product I have that says ‘serum’ on it, I’ve been using as a moisturiser! Maybe this is where I’m going wrong! So instead of them, I have been using an oil on my face maybe once or twice a week to try to aid my skin and get rid of my acne scars! The one I have been using is the Yes To: Miracle Oil Evening Primrose Oil. My first few tries with this oil I thought I had made a bad choice since I’d find myself getting it all over my pillow and my hair sticking to my face, but then I chose to spend more time massaging my face with it and doing it a bit earlier each night to let it set in and I can definitely feel in the morning that it has made my skin softer!

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In terms of cruelty-free, the Yes To brand is known for being a brand that is ‘free of nasties and filled with goodies’, with a lot of their skincare products having fruits and essential oils in them to benefit the skin. Their website claims most of their products are vegan (some have beeswax/honey), contain no phthalates and they do not animal test and that they are part of the Leaping Bunny Program which is awesome!

6. Skipping Treatments, Sheet Masks and Eye cream and straight to Moisturiser and SPF!

So like I mentioned before, my skincare routine isn’t completely 10 steps so unfortunately, I have to skip doing treatments, sheet masks and eye cream as I don’t really own any! So my next step is straight to moisturising and during the day SPF cream! For moisturiser, I have been using the Superdrug Calm Skin Hydrating 2-in-1 Serum and Moisturiser.¬†¬†I bought this mostly because I love any products with chamomile in as they normally smell very soothing and do good for my skin, however I feel like I’m yet to see any major effects of using this product – it claims to improve skin clarity after 4 weeks of use however my skin hasn’t changed much and it doesn’t really reduce any stress or redness. It is lightweight like it says though and smells very nice! Like most Superdrug own products it is also definitely cruelty-free and vegan-friendly!

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For SPF, although I can’t claim to be good at remembering to put on SPF every day, I have been using the Superdrug Solait Anti-Aging Fluid in SPF 50 since I picked it up last summer. I really enjoy this SPF cream as it doesn’t have that overpowering suncream smell and doesn’t leave white streaks if applied minimally. Again this is a Superdrug own product so it is cruelty-free and vegan friendly!

So as you can see, I’m really proud of myself and happy to know most of my skincare is cruelty-free! In the past I have also dabbled with using Soap and Glory’s Vitamin C Facial Wash that although is cruelty-free, actually contains microbeads so I threw it out, I have also used Superdrug’s Vitamin E toner which was cruelty-free and very refreshing to use in the summer but I have also used the Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit scrub which isn’t cruelty-free at all, so don’t worry if one or two of your products right now isn’t cruelty-free because when you have emptied them there is plenty of cruelty-free brands out there to switch too!

What products are you using at the moment? Any cruelty-free recommendations you’d like to share?

Thanks for reading!

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I disappeared again (ft. elizavecca hell pore clean up mask review)

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It’s been too long, I wonder if you guys can even remember my name?! I’m so sorry for disappearing¬†again.¬†Life is still being hectic for me or I’m avoiding every responsibility by lying in bed or playing Overwatch (I may have a slight obsession with it). It’s T-Minus 13 days until I go and get the keys to my university accommodation and around 3 weeks until I actually start I believe. As well as that I got a notification off WordPress yesterday saying it’s my 1 year anniversary of starting this blog?! How time flies.

So I decided to return with a silly little cosmetic product review because A) I bought a cute Korean product off Amazon that I wanted to share and B) the packaging is TOO cute not to share widely on the internet. The product is ‘Elizavecca: Hell-Pore Clean Up Mask’ and is a face mask that eventually firms on your skin and you peel off to deep clean pores and remove impurities. One of the biggest things that annoys me about my face is the fact my pores are the most open/obvious thing ever. Especially on my nose and chin area; a lot of the time makeup never really sets well on some areas of my skin and throughout the day it’ll become oily and the pores will be obvious. I’m yet to find a cruelty free primer that makes my skin look almost pore-free but I guess that’s life ey? Everybody has pores and I think me and probably a lot of others forget there’s a softener tool on social media so people can SEEM like they have flawless pore-free skin…

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I purchased it here!

So this is the box it came in! I’m absolutely in love with the design, the colours are so bright and the illustration on the box is so cute and funny. I love the little devil pig that looks like it’s going ‘huff huff!’ in annoyance of the blackheads! As I said this product is Korean so a lot of the text on the box is not in English aside from this one side, which was quite helpful!

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This side of the box basically explains what the product is meant to do and the warnings just in case of allergic reactions! This product is basically a face mask that dries on your skin and when you peel it off it should remove impurities such as blackheads and whiteheads from your pores. I instantly thought of those nose peel masks you can get to try and individually cleanse the pores on your nose or of the clay masks that help firm your skin and remove dead skin. So let’s go through the application and my outcome!

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My silly face up there is how my skin looks when I’ve taken off my makeup and prepped my skin for this face mask! If you look closely you can see I have quite a few blemishes on my cheeks and chin, as well as that my nose and the patch of skin in between my eyebrows have quite open pores or tiny, tiny blackheads. Has anybody else got those tiny blackheads in their nose, that have seemed to be there since forever but are yet to find a way to get them out without making your nose break out?

The dark grey face mask is contained in a tube so you can use the amount you require and easily seal it back up afterwards which is really useful! So I applied a thin layer to my face making sure all the nooks and crannies such as around my nostrils and under my chin were covered so I can catch them tiny blackheads and I left the mask on for around 20-30 minutes. Definitely make sure you do not accidentally put the mask on your eyebrows because that will hurt when it comes to taking the mask off.facemaskselfie

After a lovely little session on Snapchat pulling stupid faces and trying to sing songs whilst my face was basically feeling like cement (the face mask dries very firmly) I decided to start peeling off the mask – let me warn you, I completely forgot about the practically invisible tiny hairs on the bottoms of my cheek but instantly remembered them when I peeled this mask off! I swear it may have plucked a couple out cause it stung a bit, but after I got past that it was very easy to peel off!

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I did notice my skin felt a lot firmer when I peeled the mask off and the pores on my nose were dramatically smaller. I tried to inspect some of the mask I had peeled off but I’m not sure I could see much aside one or two bits of dry, dead skin. To conclude, I think this mask definitely worked in a small way. Perhaps I may have expected a bit much of a face mask cause I was expecting to see all my blackheads suddenly pulled out but I think that was me dreaming too much. Although I am super happy to see my pores reduced and think I will keep using this mask, maybe even just around my nose area instead of the whole face to help keep my pores minimized and tight!

I hope this was a good read guys and I hope it helps anyone planning to buy this product or looking for something new to try in their skincare!

Thanks for reading,

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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