Isn’t it crazy how different things can look in just a few months? Time really is the key word for me here and it’s pretty much the only thing that got me through the dark days of my skin at the start of the year.
As I talked about in my quitting sugar for 30 days post, towards the end of last year my skin started to get really congested on my forehead and chin. I KNEW or thought at least that a lot of it had to do with diet and the further we got into Christmas and as the sugar content of my diet increased double fold my skin looked worse and worse.
Some people are lucky to never experience acne, but for me this was unfortunately my second experience of it. I had 2 sorts of acne going on as well. I had comedones all over my forehead which are basically blocked pores. You’re actually better off not wearing any makeup with this sort of problem because the makeup only exacerbates the problem.
Then I had my right jawline, I had cystic acne here for about 3 years but it increasingly got worse from summer 2018 onwards. It was itchy, red, inflamed and SO sore. Then my chin started to become home to at least a new cystic spot every day or so, I thought it either had to be hormonal or food related.
Because I was dealing with 2 types of acne it has been incredibly hard to get it under control. Let’s split it down into the 2 types of changes I’ve had to make to get rid of my acne.
As we moved into the New Year I was going to attempt something I’d never done before. I quit sugar. AND dairy just for January. I’d initially only set out to give up dairy so I’m SO glad I made the last minute decision to quit sugar too.
I did so much research on the correlation between sugar and acne and because I have underlying issues with my pancreas I always knew I couldn’t tolerate certain levels of sugar so I was convinced it was coming out in my skin. The main reason I ditched it was to do with my pancreas and stomach pains, because of this I still haven’t touched processed sugar almost 6 months on. Say what?
Dairy doesn’t actually have confirmed studies backing up this link between hormonal acne and dairy, however, there is a LOT of speculation that it can cause problematic skin due to the amount of hormones that gets passed across from the woman/pregnant cow (is that the word for it lol) into the dairy products we consume. How did I not even know until age 26 male cows don’t produce milk, just me?
So, what actually happened? Did these drastic dietary changes attribute to getting rid of my acne?
Dairy, definitely not. As for sugar, what happened during the first 4 months of not eating it was quite extraordinary. My skin got worse than EVER. I have literally never experienced anything like it in my life, every time I woke up I had new eruptions on my face. I could have been doing a 20 step skincare routine everyday and it would not have made an ounce of difference.
We see so many people pushing expensive skincare products and double cleanses, but this is NOT the answer for everyone. Most of the time if you’ve had a long standing history with acne you need to try and source the route of the problem and fix that first. For me it was definitely an internal issue, not external.
I pretty much had no difference in my skin until March time. I truly believe the link between sugar and acne for me has been huge. If you constantly eat a lot of sugar you end up having a constant sugar spike throughout the day. I think when I suddenly ditched it completely I was having a detox reaction. I actually ended up having spots come up on my face in places that I never usually had them. It seems like a perfectly normal thing for your skin to suddenly react like this when you’re used to being on a constant sugar high to then being deprived of it.
TIME. I literally knew however painful this process was I had to wait it out. I’m now in a position where I can never see myself going back to that place with eating excess amounts of sugar again. Quitting sugar has improved the overall appearance of my skin and attributed to clearing my cystic acne on my jaw and chin for sure, however, as we got to the end of February I HAD to consult my GP for something to truly get rid of my acne for good.
Towards the end of February I had literally had enough, nothing was working, my jawline was worse than EVER as you’ll see from the photos that I’ve dated. I don’t know why I put it off for so long, but I felt like going to a doctor was accepting the fact I in fact did have acne, and that’s a hard pill to swallow because you feel like you’re gonna have it for the rest of your life.
I had got to my wits end with skincare as I was using 4 different creams on my face at one stage to try and combat different problems. I’d used a steroid cream for insect bites on my jawline as a last ditch attempt and it truly was the only thing that calmed the itching and redness down, albeit something you shouldn’t try at home!
Anyway, that day the doctor really did change my life. He prescribed me a cream called Duac Once Daily Gel. It contains two active medicines called Clindamycin and Benzoyl Peroxide which belongs to a group of medicine known as anti acne preparations. The Clindamycin is an antibiotic which stops the bacteria involved in the acne from reproducing whilst the Benzoyl peroxide reduces blackheads and whiteheads and also kills the bacteria involved in acne.
It honestly sounded exactly what I needed as blocked skin was exactly what I had and I couldn’t wait to get started with it.
The first 4 weeks of using the cream were horrible, my skin has never stung or itched so much in my LIFE. It was painfully itchy and again, I just felty like giving up, not doing it on the daily, but I resisted and boy am I glad I did.
After 6 weeks of using it, my forehead comedones had completely gone. I can’t even remember a time I had a completely smooth forehead. Had I ever? The cream works to unclog the pores and gradually over time the pores closed up and the bumps went away. As if by MAGIC.
I then continued to use the cream for the whole 12 weeks which is the longest they recommend using it for. Although, I have sneakily used it on a few areas every now and then. CALL THE POLICE.
For the first time in 4 years I have no acne, no itching, no redness on my right jawline, my makeup goes on smoothly, I no longer have a combination of dry and oily skin. I feel like it has helped to stabilise my skin PH levels as I felt it was truly out of whack before.
Whilst I think 80% of the hard work was down to the cream, I think the other changes I made to my skincare are also quite notable.
-Alongside using Duac, because it dried my skin out so much I used Epaderm cream in the mornings as I needed something really nourishing and something that wouldn’t sting my skin. I still use this in the evenings now, but I’m thinking of switching back to the Simple light moisturiser soon.
-I started using a separate towel for my face and washing regularly, as I did with my pillow cases.
-I stopped using perfumed shampoo and conditioners and switched to using Simple Shampoo & Conditioner.
-I chucked all my old makeup away and bought non comedogenic makeup (I use Nars Sheer Glow foundation), apparently you’re not meant to wear 4 year old bronzer, who knew? I also religiously try and remember to wash my brushes every week now, not just when new spots start to appear.
-At the swimming pool, my skin used to be the worst afterwards because of the chlorine, I started bringing a small towel that I use on my face separately and it helped SO much. Making sure your skin is fully dry before putting a cream on is everything.
-I only wash my face in the mornings with warm water now. No cleansers, no face washes, nothing. There really is a thing called over working your skin and just because someone claims you should be doing a 10 step skincare routine, you don’t. You just need to do what works for you.
-I stopped using all my expensive skincare products almost immediately. I have spent £100’s of pounds on miracle products that bloggers have recommended and honestly, I think skincare is a GREY area. What works for someone does no work for someone else. I was sick of people saying ‘this works really well for me you should try it’ do you not think we’ve already tried everything? So the facial oils, £50+ moisturiser and oil based cleanser have gone in the bin and I couldn’t feel any better about it.
-Now that the treatment has finished I have gone back to using a Simple SPF30 facial moisturiser every morning before I apply my makeup. Part of the issue with blocking my pores was caused by using a facial SPF on my face last year, a total NO NO. It is a skincare sin and something I will never do again. It’s a lovely light moisturiser that is not greasy like a normal SPF and whilst using Duac you do have to be careful because it makes your skin more susceptible to sunburn so I’m really investing in protecting my face this summer.
The long and short of it is that there is no quick fix for acne. There is no supplement, high end or drugstore piece of skincare that will solve the puzzle for you. It’s often a combination of products, TIME & CONSISTENCY and seeking actual help that will guide you in the right direction to clear skin. Let my before & afters speak for themselves!
My top tips are literally to go back to basics, I have returned to Simple products so many times yet I’m always on this quest for high end miracle products. Just stick with what you know works for your skin. Secondly, whilst I think diet plays a role in my skin it definitely isn’t as big a factor for people as they think. If you’re really struggling to get it under control I can’t stress enough to just book that appointment with the GP. It’s something I wish I had done sooner.
Just remember to be kind to yourself and give it time, because it WILL get better! I really hope my story, experience and pictures help someone out that is going through something similar, as I know from personal experience how isolating it can feel. My DM’s, comments, emails are always open to anyone who wants to chat.