I’ve had spots since a very young age. As soon as the earliest signs of puberty started, along came the blemishes on my face. Now, at 34 years of age, it’s wearing thin.
At age 30 I said “enough is enough”. The spots were particularly bad along my jawline and they never went away. As soon as one crop started to heal, another lot appeared. I went to my GP and told him I was sick to death of it. I eat plenty of fruit and veg, drink lots of water, wear minimal make-up, don’t smoke, rarely drink. It’s just not fair!
He prescribed Duac gel. It’s a mild antibiotic face cream. It has to be kept in the fridge and applied sparingly at night. I used it for a year. It’s the only thing that actually worked. I had wonderfully clear skin and smaller pores. The drawback? It bleached my pyjamas and pillowcases. That’s fairly annoying in myself but it also made me aware that I was essentially putting bleach on my face. Plus if I stopped using it, the spots came back. It wasn’t a cure. And I really didn’t want to have to put this stuff onto my skin forever. I said all this to my GP. He said my acne was relatively mild and he wasn’t really forthcoming with any other advice or options. It felt as if I’d have to suck it up and get on with it.
After the birth of my second baby, I noticed that my facial hair seemed to be taking on a life of its own. It’s most noticeable on my top lip and along my jawline. I’ve started plucking the odd hair that appears under my chin. This really is rock bottom. It’s affecting my confidence and making me feel crap about myself. It took years of counselling for me to feel happy and content with myself. I can feel this chipping away at all that hard work.
My gut feeling is that it’s something hormonal or hereditary. I can remember my mum having spots in her 30s, when I was young. Maybe I just got unlucky and inherited it from her? I always seem to break out after a stressful day or when I’m worried about something. But my first thought was PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). The symptoms certainly seemed to point that way. I had blood tests and an ultrasound scan. All clear. Another dead end and still no solution.
Lotions and potions
I’ve tried all sorts of high street lotions and potions. Cleansers, serums, moisturisers. Tea tree oil, witch hazel, oil free. Day creams, night creams, Sudocrem, TCP. Been there, done that. A friend suggested using gentler cosmetic products and sent me a tube of Aveeno moisturiser. I also switched to Cetaphil cleanser. I’ve been using those for nearly a year. I like them. They don’t sting like some astringent products do. But there’s been no improvement to my skin that I can see. These are the only products I use on my skin now:
Last year I cut out caffeine and fizzy pop. It hasn’t made any difference but I stick to it because I know it’s healthier. Next on my list is to find a decent breakfast cereal with less sugar in it. Fewer biscuits wouldn’t hurt too.
So FOUR YEARS after first going to my doctor about my skin, I am no better off. Brace yourself. I’m going to show you my face. First thing in the morning. No make-up.
I haven’t even brushed my hair! You can’t really see my bushy moustache in these pictures. The lighting was wrong. But it’s definitely there. But this is nearly a week after finishing my period and I’m looking pretty scabby. This morning I’ve woken up with a new spot on my jawline and a big one on my cheekbone. This is fairly average for me. You get the idea…
Out of sheer frustration I tweeted about it yesterday. A couple of people mentioned an improvement with their skin after going dairy free. Hmm. I was immediately sceptical. Dairy is a vital food group, especially for women. Too little calcium and other vitamins can cause osteoporosis later in life. I don’t eat huge amounts dairy anyway – cows’ milk on my breakfast cereal is my main source, a splash in one or two decaf coffees each day, butter on my toast, the occasional bit of cheese. I’m not hugely keen on yoghurt and only eat one now and then.
Having had problems with disordered eating in the past, I’m always very wary of cutting out any food groups. It can be a huge trigger and a slippery slope for people like me. But I need to do something. I can’t carry on like this.
The kind Twitter peeps explained about cows’ milk alternatives – soya, almond, coconut, oat and rice milk; dairy free spreads. They’re fortified with all the nutrients I’d get from ‘normal’ dairy. I was handed a sample shot of soya milk in a supermarket once. It was like drinking liquid grass. Blurgh. So soya was definitely out. I had a trip to the supermarket and stared at the dairy alternatives aisle for a while. These are the products I picked to try:
And an olive-based dairy free spread too:
So I’m going dairy free. Admittedly I won’t be checking ready made convenience foods for dairy. I just can’t be bothered. But hopefully by drastically reducing my dairy intake, I’ll get an idea of whether it’s likely to make any difference.
Honestly? I’m still sceptical. Nothing has worked so far in the last 25 years of having spots. Why will this be any different? But I’m throwing this out there so that I can keep you updated and compare my ‘before’ photos with some ‘after’ shots later on. Watch this space!