My struggle with Acne + going on Roaccutane

I’ve been hesitating about doing this post for a while.
Social media is a massive part of my life and my career, be it my blog / Facebook / YouTube and I often question where to drawn the line on exposing myself.
If I wrote blog posts every time I had a bad mood or wanted to give up on music then you’d get bored pretty easily, so I have to be selective with content I share and also photos.
For the last year I have suffered with Acne. When i tell people this, they don’t believe me and think I’m exaggerating about getting ‘a spot or two’.
And that’s mainly down to the fact that social media portrays a false or heightened image of people. I know people always say that… but it’s so true. Unless you knew me personally, I doubt you would have known I had acne and that I cried endlessly about my skin?
I remember the night before I did my first shoot with Jones & Jones (look at these photos) back in Feb ’14 – I was a second away from cancelling it and saying I was ill. Purely because I didn’t want them to see my skin, I was SO embarrassed.
But I couldn’t hide away and simply let these opportunities slip by me so I forced myself to get on with it.
The photo below was taken that day – at this point my skin was PRETTY bad. Can you tell?
No – you can’t. Proof that photos aren’t a genuine representation of someones appearance.
Capture the right light, the right colours, the right angle, slap on a smile and bob’s your uncle – you can cover almost anything up.
I was actually fortunate that I was mainly affected on the cheek area / upper neck, an area that was maybe one of the easier areas to disguise.
You still think I’m exaggerating about the whole acne thing though, right?
Okay, so…
I started getting bumps under my skin for about 6 months, but it never broke out horrendously or caused major concern.
It then slowly started getting worse until I faced the fact I had acne and I needed to do something about it because beloved sudocream was doing NOTHING.
I’ve never really been into wearing alot of make up so when I suddenly couldn’t leave the house without a face full of it started to really get me down.
I had to go to MAC to get higher coverage products and each time I went to get new products they would take off my make up to test the colours on my skin and I would cry in utter embarassment.
Sounds silly, but I was gutted. I HATED my skin and my reflection so much. I would see people i knew out and about, and literally run and hide. I couldn’t even look people in the eye when i was talking to them. When the subject of my skin was bought up anywhere I would cry, I honestly couldn’t control it.

My journey in products and avenues taken…

 I begun with Sudocream, Duac gel and roll on ointment from the doctors. Didn’t help at all.
  • I had a couple of sunbeds (swear it’s a myth). Gave me a tan which evened out the redness on my skin but otherwise didn’t help at all.
  • I then made sure I had removed all perfumed cleansers from my skincare routine, i.e. any cheap facial washes etc.
  •  I bought Cetaphil Cleanser and Moisturiser. (Great neutral products)
  • I tried Lymecycline anti-biotics from the doctors, for 4 months. Didn’t help at all.
  • I saw a nutritionist to see if it was diet related. Although I lead a pretty healthy lifestyle it could be an intolerance to something. Didn’t see the effects quick enough. (Admittedly, i should have given my prescribed diet more time, but I lost patience cutting everything out and was SO FED UP but this point.)
  • I had 5/6 sessions of laser treatment. Helped existing spots heal but not erase the underlying problem creating them.
  • I considered going private and paying a fortune to see a dermatologist because the hospital still hadn’t got an appointment for me after 6 months waiting.
  • BUT after 6 months of trying all of the above, I FINALLY got an appointment at the hospital with a dermatologist and was recommended either a contraceptive pill aimed at skin problems (Dynatol) or Roaccutane.

Now, from day 1 I was warned off Roaccutane because of its bad press linking to depression and suicide. To be honest I’m not a big fan of putting tablets inside of my body anyway, i’d much prefer a natural remedy. But I was at the point that I just wanted it gone. I was willing to try anything. I guess I could have tried the pill for 6 months, but it was January by this point and I had my first music video shoot, photoshoots, schools tour and numerous events in the next few months and I felt like I didn’t have time.

 So I begun a 6 month course of Roaccutane prescribed monthly by the hospital.
Despite many side effects, it was the best decision I EVER made.
Here’s before and after photos a week (left) into the treatment and 5 months (right) into the treatment.
Although my skin was consistently getting better – there were many annoying and irritating side effects.
Honestly though – I didn’t care – it was so worth it.

Side effects of Roaccutane:

Roaccutane (I believe) works by scarring / suppressing the sebaceous glands, stopping the production of sebum / oil from blocking your pores. In doing so it deprives your skin of some of the natural oils.
  • Dry Skin / Eczema
My skin dried out A LOT. This is a very common side effect. I pretty much had a facial-peel on my face! My skin was dry everywhere and I had to invest in a LOT of moisturiser.
As my dosage went up it got worse and I got some bad patches of eczema.
What I recommend – Aveeno creams & washes (Skin relief collection), Elocon (get from the doctor) for the patches of exzema.
  •  Dry hair
The oil production was hindered not only on my Skin but on my hair and it became a bit of a frizz ball. I have never used straighteners or curlers on a regular basis but my hair looked abused!
What I recommend – Kerastase products (shop here for cheapest prices) & Kerastase treatments.
I had the strengthening and conditioning ‘Fusio-dose’ treatment every 3 weeks.
My hair recovered completely. I cannot recommend this treatment enough and even though my hair has recovered I’m going to continue the treatments to maintain my hair fully.
I had my treatment at Zappas in Crowthorne, they aren’t a massive chain of hairdressers so if you don’t have one near you click here to find your nearest Kerastase salon.
  •  Sensitive skin (face)
My face became very dry and fragile. The whole experience with acne made me appreciate my skin SO so much, and I wanted to treat my skin to some products that were going to be kind and gentle.
Update March 2016:
– On top of your 8 recommended glasses of water a day. Try and drink 4 glasses for every cup of tea / coffee you have, to ensure your skin stays hydrated.
– A lot of highstreet skincare products contains parabens and petrol derivatives which block your pores and can cause skin problems and irritations. If you have some budget, invest in a skin consultation and start using cosmoceuticals, e.g. Medik8 (I absolutely LOVE)
– Another brand recommended and sworn by Lauren Pope in this chat I had with her is Dr.Lancer!
– Ensure your hands are kept clean at all times to avoid bacteria being transferred to your face
– Wash your pillow cases often to remove any dirt / sweat
– Don’t wash your face TOO much, washing your face too much can be just as bad as not washing it at all!

Conclusion…

It was a LONG ASS journey. But one thing I did learn and will emphasise to you is that everyone’s journey is different.
What works for one, won’t promise to work for another.
I was told SO many times ‘this will work i promise’, ‘it got rid of my spots’, ‘i swear by this stuff’, yet after a million prescriptions, creams, appointments and a fully emptied purse I was still left hiding my face from the world with a scarf.
Today I still have scars and my skin is by no means clear, but I’m okay with that because when i look in the mirror i don’t get upset anymore.
I don’t hide anymore when i see people i know out and about.
I don’t have to worry about taking my make up off when i stay at a friends.
And so my scars suddenly become easy to accept.
This whole experience has really made me value my skin and the way I treat it. It was an experience I am finally starting to be able to look back on and wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.
Whatever the reason may be, completely losing your self esteem / confidence / happiness is really really tough and not something you can just snap out of, as artificial as the problem may seem.

Have you suffered with Acne?

Do you have any tips? I’d love to know! ?

Thank YOU guys for reading <3

Love as always + happy adventuring,

Mollie x

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