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Hating the Skin You’re In: My Ongoing Acne Battle

Having acne is painful – both physically and emotionally – especially when you’re an adult. Sound relatable? Here’s what you need to hear.

Written by Casey Milano

“Why don’t you wash your face more?”

“Why don’t you just exfoliate?”

“Just don’t wear make-up”

“Wear sunscreen!”

“Don’t drink caffeine, cut down on sugar, and make sure you drink loads of water!”

These are just a handful of comments people have made to me about my acne, as if my skin is a free pass for them to make comments and ‘suggestions.’ Let me say now – for the thousandth time – that I drink over 2 litres of water a day; I wash my face twice a day; I exfoliate 1-2 times a week; I wear sun protection every day; I drink no more than 2 coffees per day, and I rarely overdose on sugar.

So why is my skin still invaded with acne? Because diet and face wash have nothing to do with acne!

With around 80% of adult acne affecting women, I know a lot of readers will be able to relate to the horror that is acne. As a woman in her mid-twenties, still waking up to whiteheads, boils and hypersensitive skin not only affects what products I can use, but also how I feel about myself. I was told it would be over by now; the doctors said that, by the time I got to my late teens, it would have cleared up. They lied. It didn’t.

Only after countless courses of antibiotics (go on, name one… I’ve tried them all) – and numerous topical gels that made my skin hypersensitive, red-raw and dry to the point that my face looked like a snake shedding its skin – did my skin start to clear up, but after 16 years my skin still flares up far too often… and usually over nothing at all. It seems like a never-ending road and, at times, it’s very painful both physically and mentally.

I often find myself still feeling like that 14-year-old girl standing in front of the mirror, trying to blend endless layers of Rimmel foundation onto my skin. Indeed, some days (or weeks!) it feels like nothing much had changed since my teens apart from my foundation choice. Thankfully, my knowledge of skincare had improved with age and, after much trial and error, I’ve picked up a few tips along the way.

My top tips for acne

  1. Just like us when we’re in a mood, sometimes your acne-prone skin just needs to be left alone! No make-up, no creams, lotions or unnecessary expensive potions required.
  2. Simple, targeted skincare don’t necessarily have to come at a ridiculous cost. I’ve tried every product and brand that promised to give me selfie-perfect skin at whatever cost. And what I’ve found is the expensive brands aren’t always the best and pretty packaging means nothing. I’ve found products that my skin actually likes and it’s so much calmer as a result.
  3. Make-up will always be a minefield. Some days my skin will be OK, and my make-up will just go on effortlessly, but other days it will flare up with no product change. Trial and error, ladies.
  4. Medication is (sometimes) the best cure. Although my skincare routine plays a big part in controlling my acne, I’m still on medication and probably will be for years to come. The good news is, in a lot of cases, medication clears acne up the first time round and you won’t have to take it again.
  5. Do what works for YOUR skin! Treating acne isn’t a one-size-fits-all process; what works for me might not work for you. The key is to take care of your skin in the best way you can. If that means not wearing make-up for a couple of days? Or changing from your highly perfumed moisturiser? Do it! Your skin will be grateful!
  6. Forget the haters! Ignorant people will always have an opinion – or what they call ‘advice’ – especially on subjects that they know nothing about. Send them a link to a dermatologist manual, give them a middle finger and walk with your head held high!

My favourite acne-blitzing products

Avène Cleanance Cleansing Gel, £11

Avène Cleanance MAT Mattifying Toner, £10.50

Indeed Labs Hydraluron Moisture Jelly, £24.99

Indeed Labs Collagen Booster Serum, £16.99

Garnier Moisture Bomb Face Mist, £9.99

Garnier Ambre Solaire Sensitive Dry Mist SPF*, £6
*this and the Moisture Bomb Face Mist have been my saviours! No more greasy, pore-blocking SPF creams, and a lovely spray for those days when your skin doesn’t want to be touched!

Read more of Casey’s articles here

Header image via My Pale Skin

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