In the clear
What a difference a few months makes. After about eight weeks on Differin I thought (and hoped) that I was starting to see results, but nothing dramatic. I wondered whether to keep going or to head back to the doctor, but was encouraged to stick it out by others, who said that it can take a while to really come into full effect. My skin must have kept improving gradually, but at the beginning of November I suddenly became aware of just how clear it had become! Softer to the touch, no new spots and scars significantly faded.
After a good month of completely clear skin, I have started to get the odd spot again. Each time, I panic that the acne is returning. I realise this sounds a little neurotic, but I am desperate never to let my skin return to the state that it was once in. For now, it seems to be under control. I have to remind myself of just how far it has come - the photos speak for themselves. These are some snaps of my skin over the last ~12 months. No filters, just dodgy bathroom lighting and a phone camera.
I feel like I have finally nailed my skincare as well. Obviously the Differin is the game-changer here, but I have fine-tuned my routine so that I am now sticking to basic things that work, rather than throwing everything under the sun at my in the hope that it would go away. Hydration has been the key for me, rather than lots of drying, anti-spot ingredients. I opt for multiple light layers, to keep my skin soft rather than overloading it with greasy creams. Here is what I use:
Cleanse: The Body Shop Drops of Light Brightening Cleansing Foam
Essence: B. Refreshed Essence Lotion
Vitamin C: Garden of Wisdom for Victoria Health Vitamin C Serum 23% + Ferulic Acid
Eye cream: Superdrug Vitamin E Nourishing Eye Cream
Hyalauronic acid: The Inkey List Hyalauronic Acid
Serum: Superdrug Simply Pure Hydrating Serum
Moisturiser: Garden of Wisdom for Victoria Health Daily Hydrator
SPF: The Body Shop Skin Defence Multi-Protection Essence
First cleanse: The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil
Second cleanse: Himalaya Herbals Purifying Neem Face Wash
Acid tone: Nip + Fab Teen Skin Fix Salicylic Acid
Toner/essence: Natures Aid Triple Strength Rose Water or B. Refreshed Essence Lotion
Serum: Garden of Wisdom for Victoria Health Niacinamide Serum
Moisturiser: The Body Shop Aloe Soothing Night Cream
I also try to do a facial twice a week, which usually involves a clay/mud mask followed by something super hydrating. The masks I use are:
I am well aware that my acne was not the worst case in the world, and for that I am grateful. I also know that having spots does not make you ugly or worthless, or in any way less respected by others. But boy, does it make you feel all of those things at times. My skin was really getting me down, to the point where I avoided looking in the mirror as much as possible. Although acne certainly doesn't define you, I don't think it's unreasonable to want to do something about it.
If you are struggling with spots, my advice is this: be gentle to your skin, and don't panic-buy lots of strong, drying products. Keep your skin hydrated and don't overload it with treatments. Most importantly, what works for some people may not work for everyone. It is frustrating, but be patient and try different things until you find what helps you. It may be a change in skincare, a prescription cream, antibiotics or Accutane. Don't be afraid to seek medical help to explore all of your options.
Perfect skin doesn't exist, but for now Differin seems to be keeping mine fairly calm and that's good enough for me.