From a young age I batted with acne. I was the stereotypical ‘spotty teenager’ from the age of around 12-18. I can remember trips to the doctors and trying various antibiotics and creams, but nothing really worked until I started using Benzoyl Peroxide. This kept the mountains under my skin at bay for a few years, and also stained all of my bedding and towels - a small price to pay for clear skin!
When I was 22 I headed off to travel around Asia and New Zealand. I left the UK full of confidence and spot free, but unfortunately I returned 4 months later with some really deep cystic acne. This was just the beginning of what was about to get a lot worse.
"All I could think about was people staring at my skin"
After returning from my travels, I got a job as a Manager in a gym. I have always been a very fit, active and healthy person, so my passion for fitness lead to me becoming a Personal Trainer at the age of 18. As my skin gradually worsened, it started to chip away at my confidence. Things I once enjoyed like teaching fitness classes to a room filled with people started to make me anxious. All I could think about was people staring at my skin. This became very stressful, leading to more and more spots appearing in my face, chest and back. I didn’t know what was causing it and why it wouldn’t go away.
After visiting the doctors a few times, I got diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) at the beginning of 2018. PCOS can cause acne due to it being a hormonal condition, so that explained things a little bit. From that point on, I started doing what I could to manage the symptoms of PCOS: eating well, exercising, managing stress levels, etc... I even decided to leave my very busy and stressful job. But even after all of this, nothing seemed to be clearing up my skin.
In September 2018 things got even worse, my skin erupted like it never had before and that really knocked my self esteem.
Everything I was doing seemed to make it worse. In the past year I tried going gluten free, dairy free, eating less sugar. I’ve had chemical peels, IPL, LED treatment and used countless products and supplements to help fight the acne, but nothing has truly worked.
I noticed how much my mood had declined throughout the year, especially when I broke out badly in September. There were (and still are) days that I don’t want to leave the house. I have shed many tears about my skin and I have battled with bouts of depression. In a world that is so focused on superficial beauty, I started to feel like I wasn’t good enough.
A couple of months ago I started posting photos of my skin on Instagram and Facebook. I was so fed up of seeing perfect pictures online, I wanted to show something real. Acne is such a confusing and individual problem. Everyone's bodies are unique and react differently to things, so I wanted to highlight that. I have tried to be honest and open about my skin journey as I want to help others that are going through something similar. The response I have had has been amazing! I have has hundreds of messages from people struggling with similar issues.
"In the past year I tried going gluten free, dairy free, eating less sugar. I’ve had chemical peels, IPL, LED treatment and used countless products and supplements to help fight the acne, but nothing has truly worked."
Having acne can completely take over your life. It's physically and mentally painful, breaks down your confidence and affects your mood - but it also helps you learn an awful lot about yourself. There are so many different treatments out there, but you truly have to find what works for YOUR body.
I started accutane at the end of January, something I opposed for such a long time but I am now actually really excited about it! I know I will probably never be clear of spots, but I know that I will eventually learn not to let them bother me.