The Great Big Skincare Post {Life After Problem Skin}

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I’d never claim to be much of an expert on beauty, and until very recently I stuck pretty religiously to a tried and tested range of products. I’ve suffered with acne and problem skin for about ten years now, and have had two major courses of treatment for it in the past year. Because of it, and its sensitivity to anything fragranced or silicone based, I had wheedled down my regime to the bare bones of safe and assured products.

I’ve been chatting this past week, over on Snapchat, about my skin issues in the past, and have been overwhelmed by the amount of women getting in touch to sympathise, and share their own stories. A year ago I definitely wouldn’t have talked about this type of thing – I was incredibly self-conscious and reclusive, and all my energy was taken up in worrying about it – but I’m doing so much better now and I figure it’s definitely an issue worth sharing, as it’s one that so many women face.

The great myth of course, is that acne is something that you grow out of after your teens. Actually, I had beautiful skin right through my teenage years, and my issues only began after my first pregnancy ten years ago. I realise now that it was more than likely hormonal, and that the next six years of having babies and the recovery process after, was just going to take its toll. Between pregnancies I tried a range of antibiotics – in both tablet and lotion form – recommended to me by my GP. These worked for periods, but nothing really helped in the long term and I took the decision to try Roaccutane as a last resort.

It’s not a drug that is prescribed lightly, and it is hospital monitored on a monthly basis. There’s significant risk to the foetus should you get pregnant whilst on it (and for a month after) and a myriad of unpleasant side effects. But, for me, nothing was worse than dealing with the stress of my skin each day, and with no more babies on the horizon, I felt like it was definitely worth a try.

I’ll not go into why I have had two courses, but I’m confident that I’ve got on top of it now. The success rate is high with Roaccutane and I can’t tell you what a weight is lifted when you wake up each morning and don’t dread the bathroom mirror. The emotional effects of problem skin shouldn’t be underestimated – women in their thirties, forties (even fifties!) are suffering in silence – and I really firmly believe that cosmetic companies are cashing in with quick fixes that potentially agitate the problem even more. (This coming from the girl who has tried them all!)

I’m not saying that drugs are the only way to solve it, and there are definitely a variety of other issues to take into consideration – allergies, diet and lifestyle to name but a few – but I think if you have tried everything and are at the end of your tether, then it’s definitely worth speaking to someone about it. Life is too short to waste precious days on worry.

I’m at the end of my course of medication now and am so happy with my skin. It’s so bizarre to me when people actually compliment me on it now, because I’ve hated it for so many years. I’m still coming to terms with the psychological side of it all, and still can’t bear quite yet to be seen without makeup, even though it is pretty perfect underneath. It’s amazing the scars that develop on the inside after years of struggles like this. It’s just something that will take time I think. The day I can go for a facial, or post an early morning selfie – that’ll be the day I know it has gone for good I think!

ANYWAY! That was a ramble, wasn’t it?!

What this post was really intended for was to share some products that I have loved and been loving lately too. My skin has done a full circle from incredibly oily to incredibly dry in this past twelve months, and so I feel fully equipped to talk about my favourite products for a range of skin concerns!

 

OILY

I pretty much tried everything made for oily skin, but my favourite by far was the Origins Zero Oil range. All origins products are plant based and natural, and these just left my skin really nourished and calmed. I double cleansed – first with a Micellar water, and then washed my face using the Deep Pore Cleanser , then moisturised with their Oil Free Lotion. A special shout out also to their Blemish Treatment Gel (the tiniest little bottle for the price, but a little goes a long way, and it was the best by far at calming inflamed areas) And the Out of Trouble mask was amazing too!

Caroline Hirons has great articles on her blog about dealing with various skin issues, and I referred to them constantly throughout.

 

DRY

When you’ve come to terms with a routine designed to mattify your skin, it does feel really odd to start buying products that do the opposite. I’ve spent the past six months now trying to nourish it again, and put back some of the oils that I previously was trying to get rid of (the great Roaccutane paradox!)

I have been loving Clarins products recently (and loving that they don’t flare me up too! I had a real problem with anything French, even those designed for problem skin. La Roche Posay, lookin’ at you!) I currently cleanse, firstly with Garnier Micellar water and Fresh eye makeup remover, followed by Clarins Foaming Cleanser. Then I use their HydraQuench Serum (I got this as a free sample but am really liking it!) and finish off with Santal Face Treatment oil (a total game changer.)

I also still use the Origins Charcoal Clay mask once a week (and this one too!), and exfoliate with their Modern Friction as well.

 

I hope that answers a few of your questions surrounding my skin care. Let me know if you’d like a makeup post too, with my favourite oily and dry skin picks. I feel like I could maybe write a book on this you know! 😉

As ever, thanks so much for all your lovely feedback and kind words. It’s so amazing to be part of a community of women who just get these types of insecurities, and the impact that they have. I think that in talking about them and sharing our own experiences, we break down a little of this notion of perfection that’s so often promoted these days. No one is perfect, we all have our secret struggles, and in coming together to chat about them, we’re only more real and more relatable.

 

Hope you guys are all well!

 

E x

20 Comments

  1. June 8, 2016 / 3:08 pm

    Oh gosh Emma, you’d never know looking at your beautiful photos!
    I’ve had acne since I hit puberty (I’m now 33!) and the last 18 months following my father’s death, lumps in my breast, stress within the family and more really took it’s toll on my skin – it was the worst it’s ever been. I was cancelling work and not wanting to leave the house. I’d tried all the topical creams and nothing worked, so I eventually went to my GP and am now 4 months into a course of antibiotics. The difference is unbelievable – like you said, I don’t dread waking up in the morning any more and am happy to have photos taken with my girls now (that was bothering me so much – I wanted to have memories of actually being with them!). I don’t want to take antibiotics forever of course, but for now they’re doing what’s needed and I feel soooo much better.
    Thank you for sharing your story – I felt so alone and so jealous of all my friends and other blogger’s perfectly unblemished skin. I’m glad you found what works for you and that you’ve got your confidence back 🙂

    • Emma Martin
      June 8, 2016 / 8:51 pm

      Chloe, so much of what you’ve described here strikes a chord with me too. I know just what it’s like to have that anxiety about facing people. I suffered from awful panic attacks and was afraid to eat anything, lest it flared my skin up more. It’s no way to live at all. I’m so glad that you found a solution. The antibiotics did the trick for me for a good few years, so I hope you continue to have lots of success with them too.
      Thank you so much for sharing lovely! Xx

  2. Katy in Abu Dhabi
    June 8, 2016 / 4:55 pm

    What a beautiful piece of writing. I thoroughly agree with the idea of sharing our stories as a response to the idea of perfection. You put it so well!
    I had forgotten how good Origins products are, I’ll be putting an order in for my trip back in the summer.
    Take care of yourself, you look fab and so happy 🙂

    • Emma Martin
      June 8, 2016 / 8:52 pm

      Thank you Katy! And yes, definitely love the Origins! Xx

  3. Mary Baxter
    June 8, 2016 / 5:52 pm

    Wondering could you recommend a sun protection for Acne while on a course of antibiotics? Love all your articles- they are beautifully honest and so interesting

    • Emma Martin
      June 8, 2016 / 8:56 pm

      While I was on the antibiotics and things were good, I could use almost any sun cream Mary (not Nivea though – I found it very highly scented!) I’m a big fan of Piz Buin, but I’ve heard that the Green People one is amazing for sensitive skin too. It’s formulated for people with eczema and psoriasis so I’d imagine would be super gentle. I hope that helps you! Xx

  4. Jane
    June 8, 2016 / 6:54 pm

    Emma, you’d never know to look at your gorgeous photos. Your story is pretty much mine too, I also had acne during my last 2 pregnancies, (it’s terrible what our hormones do to us!) and after many years of antibiotics reluctantly had a course of roaccutane. It was the best thing I ever did and wish I’d taken the dermalogist up on the offer of it long before the acne scarred my skin. I’ve also had Fraxel Laser courses in my skin which helped with the scarring.
    As for the products that are sold for acne, they didn’t help me at all and often made things worse.
    I’m using a lovely range called YonKa which is great as it has an Anti-aging for oily skin which is few and far between to find.
    I’ll look forward to meeting you again, we should arrange a wee catch up with Mags again. Thanks for sharing, you look fab.
    Jane.x

    • Emma Martin
      June 8, 2016 / 8:59 pm

      You see Jane, I’d never have known with you either! I totally know what you mean – I wish I’d just taken the plunge with Roaccutane straight after Annie was born. I often think how many years of my life I’d have got back!
      Would be so lovely to meet you again at some stage. We’ll definitely get that organised! Xx

  5. Tori
    June 8, 2016 / 7:28 pm

    Thankyou so much for sharing this Emma. I’m 22 and have suffered with acne for 7 years, Rouaccutane is the next step but I’m just worried about the side effects, did it really dry your skin out?
    Thankyou! Love your blog 🙂 x

    • Emma Martin
      June 8, 2016 / 9:05 pm

      Thank you so much Tori! Yes, it definitely does completely dry up your skin (also your hair which means less washing but lots more conditioner!) It will depend on your dose, how intense the dryness will be. I was on a fairly low dose of 40mg per day, so my skin was OK but I had awful trouble with my lips, the corners of my mouth and up my nose! You can get emollient cream from your GP for any flaky patches and I swore by Lanolips 101 for my lips. It takes about 6 weeks to start to kick in, but it’s amazing the difference it makes. I so hope that you get on well with it Tori. Do keep me posted, won’t you? Xx

  6. Kerri
    June 8, 2016 / 9:20 pm

    Lovely read. Glad the roaccutane has worked well for you. I had two courses a few years apart pre baby and although my skin improved short term, it can flare up so badly at times. I do think about asking for another referral in the future once we have completed our family as perhaps hormonal changes will make a difference to my response. My dream is to be able to walk out the door without make up on and not give it a second thought….I have resigned myself to the fact that this will never be likely to happen . Always looking for recommended products to try..so may try some of your suggestions xx

  7. June 8, 2016 / 9:28 pm

    I am so glad you even have the confidence to post now! Your skin is totally flawless and is now skin goals!! I hope soon you can get passed the emotional scaring… I am sure a whole lot of ladies feel a little less alone reading this Emma

  8. Rosie
    June 8, 2016 / 10:41 pm

    I too have had two courses of roaccutaine and it was the best thing I ever did! My skin isn’t perfect now – I get the odd blemish – but it’s so much better than how it was as a teenager/young adult.
    Like you I like clarins foaming cleanser, but Liz Earle hot cloth polish is great too (it’s like an at home spa) and her skin tonic is super soothing and calming for afterwards. I also discovered the Belfast soap company’s tea tree and mint facial soap and am loving it – totally natural but really moisturising too. All the best on you post-roaccutaine skin journey – it’s a tough but to crack!

  9. Claire
    June 8, 2016 / 11:00 pm

    Hi Emma. Many thanks for this post. I’m 34 and have suffered from acne most of my life. When I was around 17 I went onto the pill and it cleared it up. When I came off it after getting married it flared up again. I’m not a mum to 3 young children and would just love clear beautiful skin. And not have to put make up on every day. It’s upsetting when your 5 year old asks why you have spots on your face.

    I’ve never tried Rouctane and I’ve heard a lot of negatives mainly people can suffer from depression. Although I’m now on diannette it has stopped new spots appearing but I have been left with scarring. Does Rouctane help with that? Grateful for any advice.

  10. June 9, 2016 / 11:31 am

    Skin is such a touchy thing to deal with so many have so many different types of skin and sensitivities and challenges. Glad you have found things that help you out and it seems your amazing tips and advice have/are help others in the same boat out. Loving your snapchat all the time babes. You rock at it. I am still learning so much about it and getting comfortable just talking to it.

  11. June 10, 2016 / 12:13 am

    Bookmarking this Emma! Love these reference posts! One I will certainly revisit! Pregnancy does crazy things to you, doesn’t it?! Since I had the kids, my skin sometimes reacts to touch. I just stroke my arm, and it looks like someone’s scraped sharp nails down it. Weird… Guessing you’ve no top tips for that kind of skin issue!? Lol. In all seriousness, Roaccutane is good stuff. Dave was on it when we were students and it totally sorted him out. Like you say, strong, and not without risks, but makes such a difference…
    On another note… Are you going to Britmums this year?!
    Cx

  12. Jenna
    June 12, 2016 / 10:42 pm

    Hi Just wondering what foundation you found best to use!i have suffered spots for years and find it hard to get makeup to agree with my skin to!Is there anyone u would recommend xx

  13. June 29, 2016 / 1:31 pm

    I’m another one who never really suffered from spots as a teenager, but post-children have had horrendous acne all month long – it never lets up! Have recently been enjoying a break from the breakouts as it completely clears up during pregnancy, but I know it will rear it’s head again in about 6 months time. I think for me it’s definitely part of a hormone imbalance. I’m dreading it returning as it has knocked my confidence so much, but plan to to look into it properly this time rather than sit back and not do anything about it!

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