Search online for ‘acne’ and you’ll find countless ‘help articles’ on the subject, though nothing can compare to our own How to guide…(…obviously!). But, there’s very little written about life ‘post acne’ and how to deal with the scaring that comes from it, so with that in mind I thought l’d share some of my experience……
Four in five teenagers get some form of acne and for some, it continues (or even starts) in later life. Though l suffered the odd spot or two during my teenage years, it didn’t really peak until l was 18/19, when it really began to knock my confidence at a time when l was supposed to be leading quite an innocent and fun life at University!
At this time, the spots became incredibly raw and l remember my pillow resembling a dot to dot pattern, as they used to uncontrollably burst overnight. It wasn’t very pleasant and it was at that stage l decided to see a consultant dermatologist at my local hospital.
Up until that point l had been using all sorts of different on-the-shelf supermarket and pharmacy based solutions (of the benzoyl peroxide sort), but it became clear that l needed something stronger, something which went beneath the skins surface. She recommended roaccutane. This is a form of vitamin A that works to reduce the amount of oil released by the skin’s oil glands and in the process, helping the skin to renew itself more quickly.
I was a bit nervous about taking this, as it comes with severe after effects, such as birth defects, feelings of depression and thoughts of suicide. I can’t say l experienced any of this, but it did make my skin incredibly dry and nose bleeds where frequent (…along with headaches)! I also couldn’t expose my skin to any direct sun during (3/4months) and after treatment (6-12months) without applying at least a factor 15 sun lotion.
Post treatment, l found that my skin became perfect, and that isn’t an exaggeration. But now l was left with all unsightly acne scars across my face. What to do…! After looking around the internet l could see two clear options – laser resurfacing or a chemical peel. After looking at the pros and cons for each, l set my sight on the chemical peel at a centre in Birmingham.
A chemical peel works by removing the outer layer of the skin to encourage the formation of a new, smoother layer of skin which is much fresher. I remember the treatment taking around half an hour and l had two treatments, spread across a few months. It really was painless and l was able to return to work quite quickly, with just a slightly red face. I remember we had quite a sunny spell at the time, so l pretended it was sunburn to anybody that asked! I did need to be careful with the sun though, wearing sun protection at all times – but l was well rehearsed in doing this following the earlier Roaccutane treatment!
Today, all of this is now behind me *phew*, but it was a very difficult time, especially emotionally. I really do sympathise with anybody who suffers from acne, especially in the severe form like l did.
Looking back, l could have probably avoided the severe roaccutane treatment (and later on, the chemical peel) had l have chosen more effective and targeted acne solutions in the early stages. You can buy these products individually, or as part of a single, easy to manage kit. Acne specialists, Murad, provide an excellent and convenient Acne Complex Clear Skin Kit, which has some truly excellent customer reviews.
If you’d rather by these products individually- then you’ll want to start by buying a targeted and gentle facial cleaner to clean the surface of the skin from excess oil. The Korres White Tea Cleanser or Anthony Acne Cleanser are two great products for this, which aren’t too harsh for the face. You’ll also want to use a good facial scrub, one or twice a week, which will really help to remove any dead skin cells and brighten your appearance. New brand, Dr Hauschka and their clay face mask is worth a try . It has natural extracts of nasturtium and witch haze, both great for drawing out any in ground dirt, which may otherwise stop your skin from breathing! To attack specific spots, then give this Phytomer Oligopur Anti-Belemish Target Gel a try.
Regardless of whether you have acne or not, a good moisturiser is essential! Those with acne wrongly assume that a moisturiser can add to the problem, rather than help it. A moisturiser provides the skin with a much needed drink, which we all need when we’re feeling dry (which is what most acne products leave the skin feeling). This REN ClearCalm 3 is a nice, light moisturiser for acne skin and it’s packed with some really good ingredients, such as Liquorice and mayblossom extract, along with Salicilin – to really help your skin shine (and not the oily sort! ). Other suitable moisturisers can be found here >>
Although my acne has passed, it taught me some good lessons about how to look after my skin, which will last a life time.
I welcome any comments to this article, either by adding a comment below, or writing on our forum. Maybe you’d like to share your experience- maybe you suffer from acne at the moment. What’s working (…or did do) for you?
Darren | Mankind