Thursday, 28 April 2016

How I improved my acne prone skin (finally!)

This month's post is of a slightly different nature. I am a firm believer in the fact that we are all beautiful exactly as we are; however from my own personal experience I know this can often feel impossible to see from an insider's perspective when we have "imperfections" that make us unhappy and unconfident. For me my top two "imperfections" have always been my weight and my skin. Let's leave the weight alone for today...that's another issue for another day...however, let's get down and dirty to talk bare naked skin...

It all started, as it does for many of us, in my very early teens. As soon as I hit 13 I'm sure my face blew up over night! And I have suffered with acne prone skin from thence on! Looking back I know it could have been worse - I was never quite bad enough to be prescribed roaccutane (although this was probably avoided mainly because of my recurring depression and anxiety, but again, another topic for another day!), but it was bad enough that it hugely dented my confidence growing up, and sometimes still does to this day. 

At any one time I would have anywhere between 10-4 big red blemishes on my face, and this is how it was until I was around 21. It did calm down after that, with an average of 6-1 big blemishes at any one time, however even up until last summer (when I turned 25) I was still having confidence-crippling issues thanks to my pesky spot prone skin. Thanks to clever make up and Instagram filters I managed to damage-control what others saw, however it was an issue that I was becoming increasinginly depressed about and frustrated with. Even though my condition had improved slightly with age, I was having constant thoughts of "But I'm in my mid-twenties, I'm no longer a teenager, I'm not supposed to have spots!" 

Over the years I have tried many, many things. Constantly seeking advice from doctors, taking the pill (one prescribed specifically to help with skin problems), investing in serious skin-care products, trying less invasive pills such as sulphur (a doctor once told me it would help, but it wasn't much use to me), spending money I didn't have on facials etc. But somehow, in the last year I seem to have stumbled across a formula that works for me. My skin still isn't (and probably never will be) perfect, however even if just some of this advice helps anyone else with skin issues then I will be super happy. 

Now - with zero make up on (#nofilter !!!)

Aged 18 (not a very clear photo, but you can see some spots along my jaw-line and chin. I didn't much like photos then, so couldn't find many others to show you!)

1. Milk Thistle

For about a year I have been taking one milk thistle capsule every morning and I am convinced this has had a huge part to play in helping my skin to clear up. I am so lucky to have stumbled across an article via Pinterest that suggested milk thistle could help (I just wish I could remember where that article was!). It explained how more often than not, adult acne is a result of an imbalance of hormones. Our liver is responsible for keeping our hormones in check, and milk thistle is the best supplement for supporting the functioning of the liver. It isn't too expensive, I get mine from Holland & Barrett, and I can honestly say it has done wonders for my skin. 

2. La Roche Posay skincare

Talking to friends about your issues can really help to find solutions! (Who wouldda thunk it?!). And after complaining to a friend about how I was spending so much money on my Clinique skincare (supposedly a range for spot prone skin, but it never helped mine), she suggested I try La Roche Posay as it had really improved her skin and was that little bit cheaper. I have always been religious about my skin care routine, and as my Clinique products just didn't seem to be helping, I thought "why not, it's worth a shot!"...I think I've been using these three products twice a day for around 9-months now and I'm certain they've really helped to improve my skin. I would like to find some natural products to try too though, so if you have any suggestions please do share! 

3. Diet tweaks

For years I've been making tiny tweaks to my diet as I've had various digestive issues. But the changes I've made in the last year have been a) most successful in improving my digestion and b) I'm almost certain they've helped my skin. The main one has been giving up meat (I'm sorry meat lovers, I love bacon as much as the next girl, but my tummy is so much happier without it!). Of course when your digestive system is working efficiently it's getting rid of toxins as it should, which helps to keep skin clear. But another reason why I believe giving up meat has helped is that I no longer unwittingly eat the hormones that are unfortunately pumped into so much of the meat we consume in the Western world. I would never tell anyone what to eat, but always try to be informed about where your food comes from and what exactly is in it. What we put into our bodies can clearly be seen on the outside.

4. Matcha Green Tea powder

Last June I started drinking matcha green tea powder every morning to replace my morning coffee. (I loved it so much that I dedicated a whole blog post to it back in July!). And not only has it become my main source of caffeine, but I think it's also helped me to lose a little bit of weight and helped my skin to be clearer. Matcha has a very high level of antioxidants which are proven to improve the appearance of skin, making it look more radiant and clearer. I would highly recommend matcha as a staple supplement to a healthy diet for feeling and looking healthier. 

5. Bare minerals

For years I spent a tonne of money on high end make up designed to help spot prone skin. But I'm almost certain it made my skin worse. About a year ago I'd been reading about how what we put on our skin is as important as what we put into our bodies. I'd heard of Bare Minerals before and loved how all of their products are made with natural ingredients. I decided to give it a go, and haven't looked back since! My top 3 products are the concealer, the tinted primer and the finishing powder - they are all totally gorgeous and I wouldn't put anything else on my skin now. 

6. Sleep! 

I'm not sure if it's just because I'm getting older, but I've got really good at sleeping! I seriously enjoy going to bed on time and getting my full 8 hours almost every night! This one is most certainly a pleasure and not a chore (and a no-brainer! Sleep is scientifically proven to help improve skin - your cells rejuvenate in your sleep and after a good night's sleep you wake up with noticeably fresher, glowing skin). 

So if you're also someone who struggles with spot prone skin I'd highly recommend trying at least one or more of these ideas. Of course everyone is different, and different things will help different people, but as someone who suffered for so many years with bad skin I know that it's always worth trying new things. You never know what might work for you.

It's so important that you feel confident and beautiful, and you are worth investing in both inside and out, so never be afraid to do things to make you feel gorgeous!

My skin is still not perfect, and it probably never will be, but I am feeling so much better in my bare naked skin than I ever have. One thing I still need to get better at is drinking more water...I don't know why I find it so hard!

What are your top skin secrets? I'd really love to hear. 

Love Lucy x

P.S. I'm not medically, nutritionally or dermatologically trained, and this advice is simply from my own personal struggles, testing and experiences.