Acne Can Present at Any Age
As a teen I managed to avoid pimples and acne. But as a 26 year-old mum, I suffered had an onset of uncontrollable acne that spread from my jawline to my cheeks. This persistently stubborn breakout got me questioning everything from what I ate, to the purification of the air in my office. It took me two years to eliminate it for good.
Acne outbreaks aren’t nice at any age. In our teenage years are body produces such a surge of hormones during puberty. Some teens get lucky and avoid the awkward pimple phase, but others are left with acne so severe that it leaves behind pitting, scarring and discolouration. It’s common for a lot of teenagers, of both genders, to be placed on a prescription topical and oral anti-biotic to kill the bacteria. I will explore this further along in my tale of acne defeat.
As an adult, an unexpected outbreak can be frustratingly difficult to treat as our collagen turnover isn’t as regenerative and our skin elasticity not so quick to bounce back. This too can create hyperpigmentation and scarring from an acne cluster. So what can we do if we find ourselves in the midst of a uncontrollable hormonal acne outbreak?
Here’s everything I did (and still do) and the products I use to cure myself of onset adult acne for good!:
What the Hell Is This?
At 26 I got acne. Bad. Not just the occasional cluster during PMS, but clogged, angry pores spreading from my chin, jawline and to my cheeks. I pride myself in my skin care knowledge; ingredients, brands, when to apply and how. Seriously, I know my shit and I knew that this situation wasn’t going to be resolved by topical remedies alone.
The first thing I did was check my hormone status. I got my GP to order a blood test to check my oestrogen, androgen and testosterone profiles. As I suspected, my androgen levels were raging.
Androgen‘s simplified, is a hormone secreted from the adrenal gland and plays an important role in the homeostasis of our reproductive system. Androgen excess is the most common endocrine disorder in women of reproductive age. When our body goes into an anxious state, our adrenal glands place the body in a ‘fight-or-flight’ stasis. Could it be that my overly anxious self was to blame for my clogged pores? At the time of my outbreak I was not on any contraceptive but was training hard for a half marathon. Was the surge of testosterone raging through my body playing havoc on my skin? My acne was becoming cystic in nature and leaving behind faded discolouration to my once flawless face. Desperate, I immediately jumped into a prescription facewash – Clindamycin – but the topical solution was unable to kill the bacteria and instead it broke open my pores, spread the bacteria and made my skin more inflamed and angry than ever.
Giving up on the Clindamycin, For an entire year I spent half of each pay-check on fortnightly chemical peels and monthly micro-dermabrasions, with the occasional LED light therapy. Now, I hate to say this, but a good skin aesthetician will know when a chemical peel is wrong for you. In my case, I was duped.
Chemical peels are glorious IF your skin is equipped to handle them. The purpose of a chemical peel is to remove old skin cells from the outer layer of the epidermis and from some portion of the upper part of your middle layer of skin (the dermis) They are used to treat wrinkles, acne scars and uneven skin tone.
My skin at this point was not suitable for chemical peels as it was far too active. Rather than stimulating new cell turnover and rejuvenation, my acne was angry, spreading and bacteria was breaking the surface, thus causing further damage to my skin.
Spending a third of my wage on chemical peels was an epic fail. Defeated, I returned to the GP for a script for Roaccutane. Reluctant, my GP explained why he wanted to hold off on the script, for reasons I was already aware of. The effects of Roaccutane can be permanently damaging if not used with caution and if the skin is not prepared to take its strength.
Instead, I was placed on a three monthly dosage of Akamin – an oral antibiotic that belongs to a group of medicines called tetracyclines. These medicines work by stopping the growth of bacteria which causes acne infections to worsen. See, that’s a really crucial lesson we forget: Our skin is purging what we put into our body. My body had an internal bacterial infection that was purging through my skin, along with a surge of unexplained androgens.
By month two, my acne was gone. That is with no exaggeration.
So How Do I Maintain My Glow-Up?
Every day. Every month.
I am mindful of everything I consume. How my body will metabolise it, and how my skin will purge it. Face-mapping is a great way to understand what toxins effect the skin and where. I don’t eat dairy, I keep to low carbs and I restrict sugar. I am also a vegetarian. Taking me on a date is a lot of fun.
My skincare routine is the most regimented part of my Gemini being.
I have a strict skincare routine that is interchangeable for AM and PM and will see me rotate products every few days. It is advised to have a skincare routine that is tailored for your skin needs. But, essential skincare products that are a must for every women are:
A morning routine that includes:
- Gently washing your face with a luke-warm face washer.
- Applying a vitamin C serum or cushioning moisturiser to brighten the skin and promote a healthy turnover of collagen.
- SPF applied before make-up
- Non-comegenic make-up (including a mattifying primer, specifically designed for the age and texture of your skin)
- Lactic Acid anti-foaming face cleanser
- Glycolic Acid face scrub
- Lactic Acid serum
- Niacinmide serum
- Rosehip Oil serum
- Witch Hazel
- Perricone MD – Cold Plasma Plus+
- Perricone MD – No Rinse Exfoliating Peel
- Balense Retinol
- Dr Dennis Gross – Vitamin C Collagen Deep Face Cream
Skin Care Treatments:
Fractional RF has been a lifesaver for my surface scarring. Penetrating 1.5mm deep, a grid of 16×16 needles are patched across the entire face to stimulate new cell turnover, thus promoting the fading of hyperpigmentation and helping to lift surface scaring.
Now, at 33 my skin is looking the best it has ever looked.
Along with our diet and skin care routine, Gynaecology plays an important role in our skin. The wrong contraception or conditions such as PCOS can also cause debilitating acne. Even pregnancy will wreak havoc on untainted skin! Melasma, hyperpigmentation and pimples can arise from the surge in hormones.
If your suffering from stubborn acne and want to check if your hormones may be to blame, request your GP to perform basic hormone profiles. We strongly suggest being referred to a gynaecologist if your hormones are abnormal. Our team are here to get your skin and reproductive health glowing again!