Some of my more diligent readers might remember that I started off the new year with horrendous skin that was on a constant outbreak. It was so bad I got little flutters of panic about it.
It stopped me from writing about the brilliant organic essential oil-based beauty brand Votary because not even a brilliant organic beauty range can help when spots are waging war on your social life. AGED THIRTY SIX.
I self-diagnosed the problem as hormones and went along to the London Hormone clinic. I saw Dr Annaradnam, who was a dynamo of ideas and suggestions, (which you don’t often see in the medical profession), and sent me off for a blood test. She also gave me a topical cream called Duac to slap on the affected area (chin left-hand side) in the meantime.
The results came back inconclusive – although I have to lowest Vitamin D levels Dr Annaradnam had seen in someone actually alive – but she put me on the blessed progesterone cream anyway. You apply one pump to the inside of your forearm every evening, rub in and leave.
That was a month ago. Six months after my skin went totally haywire, it has now calmed down. It’s not perfect, though I never strive for perfect, I only ever strive for not completely awful. It’s very hard to say exactly what has helped. It wasn’t a very scientific experiment, in that I didn’t try just one thing consistently. I have also now stopped with the progesterone cream because my friend Sarah told me that it might clear up your spots but it gives you a belly (“Progesterone,” she said gravely, “is not your friend.”) and my face continues on an even keel.
So what I would say about the London Hormone Clinic is – they are good people who will try their best for you. But don’t go unless you are absolutely convinced beyond all reasonable doubt that hormones are the problem because it is fucking expensive. I haven’t really added up all the numbers because I’m too scared but I reckon all in it was about £400.
Leah Reynolds says
I feel your pain, turned 36 last week and for the first time since I was 11 I actually have clear skin right now, not one spot – I almost can’t believe it. Started using inexpensive Nip + Fab Glycolic acid products from superdrug but I don’t know if that’s what did it or the birthday fairy finally came through x
Aww man. Spots are the worst, the very worst. I didn’t know progesterone gives you a belly, though! *mental note not to try progesterone, even if face becomes like a toad’s arse*
For vitamin D I can recommend this:
You just spray it under your tongue and it’s pleasantly minty. Nicer than swallowing a handful of dusty pills.
I nearly suggested it could be Vitamin D on your original post, but there were so many other ideas mooted I held back.
Having always had pretty decent skin, I get terrible, terrible skin problems in the winter here in the UK (I am a kiwi originally). Volcanic eruptions that feel like my brain itself is spewing out and continually peeling sore lips. Pre-kids, I used to head back from London to NZ every January – summer there – and they would clear up completely within a few days of returning and getting some sun. Ah ha! I thought after this happened several years running (slow learner).
Now with kids I never head back to NZ (still trying to acclimatise to “overwintering”!) so I take a mega-dose of Vitamin D to keep the problems at bay instead. It works. (I have also tried sun-beds for very short bursts – not long enough to get a tan or hopefully skin cancer. That also worked, but was a bit of a phaff and even in short doses is probably not really good for one’s health.)
Hi Esther, thanks for this update – interesting stuff. I too very much sympathise – I am 42 this year and since stopping breastfeeding son number 2 about 18 months ago my skin when totally nuts – awful acne around the chin/jawline – the kind that really hurts beneath the skin. Everyone (you know, literally EVERYONE) said this is a typical hormonal pattern of spots. I have tried many things topically (including laser treatment – unbelievably expensive and very little lasting effect) with no success. It’s a major bummer. However, time has helped things even out a bit now (over the last 6 months) and I have discovered some new topicals which have GENUINELY made a difference. I am always hesitant to offer suggestions for topicals because so many are frankly useless. But I really think the following might be worth a try – they’ve truly helped me and with no nasty side effects. They are the 12.5% AHA serum (to be used nightly) and the 25% AHA/BHA mask from Drunk Elephant. Provided your skin can tolerate acids, these products are genuinely effective and extremely well formulated. I have not suffered any sensitivities as a result of using them – and you can always build up to using them if your skin prefers this. Only problem: not yet available in the U.K. – you have to order through the US Sephora website – but I have done this without major problems. Obviously these products are not treating any hormonal causes of the acne, but they sure do sort out the symptoms!! Check out the website for the founder’s story, and how she went about formulating these products. Good luck, hope things continue to improve for you xx
Sorry, something else (following on from some of the other comments from other readers) – I have also been taking 22mg of zinc picolinate, 1000mg of pure evening primrose oil and 2000 iUs of liquid vitamin D3 (with bit K2) daily – hope that’s useful x
I’m currently 4 months postpartum and have some super underskin red lumps/spots. Still breastfeeding so probably something hormonal (stupid hormones). I’m using The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% and the Hyaluronic Acid 2% which seems to be helping. Getting out in the sun has been good even if I get a “Pram Hands” tan.
When I was looking up the brand I really wanted to find a review from you. Have you tried anything from the brand?
The glass bottles and pipettes make me feel like a mad scientist as opposed to a bedraggled sleep deprived subject of a baby dictator.
I’ve never tried anything from this range! Though I’ve heard so much about it. I did try something very hyped from Niod, and although it didn’t do anything bad, it didn’t do anything miraculous either…
Was that the Copper serum, Esther? Sorry to ask a completely tangental question but I’m about to buy it and would be interested in your thoughts… anyway, as you were.
Yes exactly, the copper amino sulphate – I bought it because India Knight was so evangelical about it. Like I said, it did no harm but I didn’t notice amazing results xxx
but I do trust India Knight, I think it works amazingly well on some people
Ahhh thanks. I might invest when payday comes around. (Also definitely try The Ordinary. I like the Buffet and the Hyaluronic acid. Oh and the AHA/BHA peel.) x
Good news on the skin! I can’t remember if I commented on your previous post or not but nearly 20 years ago *internal scream* I had horrific acne and got given 10 days worth of progesterone tablets. They worked a treat and cleared it right up so hopefully this cream will be the same for you!
Oh thanks for the update, I’m glad things are going better. I’m not entirely certain about hormone stuff just because I’m so sensitive to them (ask my husband) and my middle doesn’t need any encouragement, but it’s so useful to know about these things, and vit d. My skin has been a lot better since I went to the GP for tiredness and joint pain and discovered I was very anemic (are you always this pale? Er…yes?). Since I’ve been on the iron it’s been a lot better, I have much more energy and my hair is staying in my head again. If you’re lacking something simple it can cause all sorts of add-on problems.
Catherine Holliman says
With respect, I think your comment about a dynamo of ideas being something you don’t see very often in the medical profession is a bit uncalled for. You paid a lot of money for someone to take a lot of unnecessary tests to ultimately give you Duac. Your own GP would have prescribed exactly this and charged you nothing! They might not have spent an hour discussing it all with you but that’s not the service the NHS foots. Believe me there are lots of ideas and options running through their head ten to the dozen in the 10 minutes you get. And the vitamin d is unlikely to have played a big part in the acne – public health guidelines already suggest we should all be taking a vitamin d supplement over the winter. I imagine they check it on everyone as nice to feel all those tests generated at least one positive result…!
Catherine my local NHS GPs would not have prescribed me exactly this, they would have, as they always have, told me that they couldn’t see anything wrong with my skin suggested I try going back on the pill, maybe a really cheap one like Dianette? Or perhaps it’s my diet, it’s probably my diet, do I eat a lot of sugar? Maybe get some more exercise and fresh air. I have seen SO MANY doctors about my skin over the years and only when I have paid for advice and prescriptions and treatments has anything actually worked. I’m sure you’re a great doctor, or know a lot of great doctors but my local GPs are not great and they don’t have time for people with mid-life zits. Why should they?
I stand corrected. Sorry your local GP experience hasn’t been great – I’m glad you got it sorted despite this!
I do sympathise with the doctor saying ‘can’t see anything wrong with your skin’! So frustrating when you have a face full of very visible, painful acne. Also, why are they still prescribing the pill for acne when we know it the terrible damage it does to the environment and that it is not formulated for the purpose of clearing spots and so is at best an uneven treatment?! Maddening.
Ok. Rant over.
I can’t help with the zits but recommend you don’t lose Dr Annaradnam’s business card – you might want to dig it out when you hit the menopause which in my experience has been absolutely hellish – she has been fantastic.
Imogen we are of one mind. I HAVE lost her business card, but it’s alright because I’ve got her email x
WELL when you last wrote, I was about to go on Zoladex which is a chemical menopause. And within days, my skin! My god, I look 14 years old, all huge fat spots. And I’ve never had spots, always had the skin of an elf. So I went on hrt AND BOOM, spots gone. So I can recommend synthetic testosterone.
dex that is hardcore
Differin Gel and the Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid good for rosacea too.