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My Story: Growing up with Acne

This isn’t my own story, but the story of a very close friend of mine who I asked to share his experiences with you guys. He’s dealt with acne all his life and although has great skin and a solid skincare regime now (through his own dedication and a little of my own intervention) he didn’t have the easiest of times; maybe this relates to you or someone you know…

Acne runs in my family. My parents had it and one of my cousins was prescribed two high-dose courses of Roaccutane, that nasty drug that’s been linked to depression and even people committing suicide. She had all the side effects you can imagine and I was determined to avoid that.

At thirteen my face became a mountain range until I was seventeen. I had massive breakouts everywhere. Even on my eyebrows, eyelids, scalp, as well as the inside of my nose and ears. I religiously used well-known brands for years, slowly rejecting all the empty promises of Clearasil and OXY. They left my face shiny and tight, and didn’t stop or calm breakouts (have you noticed how the ‘miracle-cured’ guys in adverts are actually in their twenties and covered in makeup?).

My GP prescribed Stiemycin, a foul-smelling lotion you dab on the acne daily. It dried out my skin and stung like sin. I was referred to a dermatologist for Roaccutane but never went. Then began a long course of antibiotic tablets that didn’t help the acne, but instead turned my hair to straw and made everything taste metallic.

I eventually tried the Clean & Clear range and Freederm. After a year I had fewer breakouts and the ones I did have looked calmer.  When I turned seventeen the worst had passed, and I was happy to stick with just a light facial wash.

So what would I say to the acne-covered fifteen year old me?

  1. Be patient and don’t apply everything hoping it will work overnight. It won’t, and it will hurt.
  2. Greasy doesn’t mean dirty and dry doesn’t mean clean [N.B. from Thom: wash your face twice a day, max.]
  3. Moisturise! Even you, younger-me with the oily skin [N.B from Thom: Use moisturisers that are oil-free; this is known as hydration – acne prone skin is often hugely dehydrated/lacking in water.]

Finally, I really wish someone had told me that simply using the right products for my skin type would have stopped nearly everything I had to experience right at the start. The ‘posh’ products (Clinique, Murad, Lush etc) are not just for women and aren’t actually that expensive because they last SO much longer than products you can grab from a supermarket shelf.  Plus the staff are wonderful and really want to help you sort your skin out.  If I could do this all again, I’d just head to my local Clinique counter, point and my face, and say “help!”

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