Those of you who follow me on Instagram may remember a day last month when I was worried that my horrendous jawline acne was a sign that I was slowly turning into a grotesque sea monster of Greek myth.
Then suddenly it cleared up and I stopped moaning about it. What happened?
It was my friend Madeleine who is a beauty person. Both beautiful and into beauty. In fact, it always makes me laugh, these beauty editors who are about 25 and shimmer like dew-covered roses, winking in the summer dawn even after a night on the espresso martinis and fags until 2am. What do they know?! (They do, though.)
Mads stepped in, like Athena but less scary, and recommended a few changes to my skin “routine” – not so much a routine as a desperate scramble for anything to stop my skin from behaving like Patrick Melrose on a bender.
The advice: change absolutely everything you’re using. Instead cleanse with Exuviance Gentle Cleansing Creme and use this quartet of skin serums from Alpha H. No moisturiser. Don’t forget your sunscreen!
I completely do.
And, I’m not joking, within 48 hours, my skin was getting better. And over the next week it improved beyond measure.
But I am the sort of person who doesn’t believe that topical treatments can help spots. I assumed the improvement was due to a hormonal shift, because I think all skin things are just hormones and that’s that.
So I didn’t want to write about it until the next period was due, (I mean I say period, with the coil it’s sort of academic, but that’s a story for another time), to see for myself whether it could possibly be the case that a topical treatment had worked.
And anyway my period is supposed to be roughly now and yes, okay, I have a few small breakouts but it’s nothing – NOTHING – compared with what I was dealing with before.
I have never heard of Exuviance nor of Alpha H. Ever. But they are both marvels.
Exuviance is a non-foaming cream that you put on, slop around a bit and then take off with a hot flannel. The serums come in four little bottles. The Vitamin E serum goes on every morning and then at night you rotate Vitamins C, A and B (the Vitamin A, to my delight, really does smell like carrots).
This recommendation rather lends credibility to all those people who go round claiming that magazines and newspapers are not to be trusted when it comes to beauty products.
It goes like this: in the current debate about the trustworthy-ness or not of Instagrammers who are gifted left right and centre and moreover paid to promote certain things, online punters say “I prefer magazines and newspapers, at least adverts are clearly marked.”
Well, actually, say industry people, they’re not.
Because every so often the editors will have a meeting with the advertisers and the advertisers will say “On your beauty shopping page you need 1 product from Lancome, 1 product from Clarins, 1 product from St Tropez and you can choose 1 for yourself.”
They are duly presented as the beauty editor’s personal favourites, but they have been chosen because Lancome and Clarins and St Tropez have just bought £500,000 worth of ad space each. Whereas Exuviance? Hasn’t.
I mean, I don’t know if that’s exactly how it goes and I’m sure it’s not all bogus – there are plenty of independent, opinionated beauty writers who don’t look to me like they are strong-armed into anything – but it has the stink of truth about it, don’t you think? It doesn’t sound like it’s never happened.
Anyway, like all skin miracle solutions, my dream team of Exuviance and Alpha H will, too, stop working in a bit.
Fighting against bad skin is a little bit like being in the Intelligence Corps during wartime – every time you come up with a new code to fool Jerry you know he will eventually crack it and you will have to come up with a new one.
Interesting Esther. I also suffer from spots/acne especially in the lead up to my period, like you. However, as well as areas on my face, I also get them on my upper back. I assumed this was from exercise, but think it could be a hormone-related issue instead. I am currently tackling mine from the inside, taking Viridian’s Clear Skin Oil and capsules. I have been taking these for at least three months now, and I still have the same problem. I get to the point where I feel there isn’t a solution and I just have to put up with it. The skin on my face is ultra sensitive, I react to most products, so always hesitate when new products are suggested. Anyhow, you are not alone, but that doesn’t take away the frustration.
Hmm Rebecca, is it time to see a dermatologist?
Karyn Tonkin says
For the first time in my life I got annoyingly bad skin after following the complicated and multi layeted routines of a very popular and prominent Beauty blogger/YouTuber and facialist. In the end, through sheer frustration that I couldn’t get my skin to behave, I decided that rather than spend all the money on trying new products that I would put the money to better use and go and see Dr Sam Bunting. I have not looked back, she pared down my routine considerably and prescribed no nonsense products, mostly available in Boots. My skin has never looked better, no more annoying skin issues and it really does look 10 years younger and costs much less than my previous routine. Also the new routine is far quicker. I love my skin now. Good luck with yours! x
Karyn yes Dr B has had glowing reviews from lots of Spikers, I’m glad she worked out for you x
I have battled with acne and breakouts for most of my life now (since I was 11) and I totally get the thing of having to reorganise the troops every so often when a current regime just stops keeping things at bay.
But the past few months I do feel like I have been given a new skin since starting with The Ordinary products – the main one I use is the Niacinamde + Zinc and it has changed my life. No more breakouts, even before my period and much smoother texture generally etc. It’s given me confidence to go out without fear of suddenly having a spot appear on the side of my nose or something that is massively visible to everyone but me, until I see my reflection and am mortified.
I also do the cream cleanser thing with hot cloth, I just use the cheapo Superdrug version, but I love that hot cloth…!
thanks Isabelle… another proponent of the mysterious Ordinary regime! yes I love a hot cloth too – it really feels like IT WORKS
How is the coil? Which type do you have? Recommended?
I am writing a full review to be posted later this week! x
Fantastic news. Just had baby number two and the GP has talked my husband out of getting a vasectomy by telling him it would be better if I got a coil. Obviously after two emergency c sections this news is thrilling.
yeah it’s not a big deal. certainly not as scarily irreversible as a vasectomy…
Excellent. I want no more babies but I have never found a form of contraception I like…
Elena – I’ve just had the copper coil fitted after #2 and want to shout about it to everyone. 10 min procedure and totally fine. I was so unkeen on going back onto hormonal contraception (so, in fact, snip or bravely attempting The New Modern Apps aside, this is the only option). It’s great.
I reckon totally true on the magazine recommendations. You rarely ever see small, niche products being featured as favourites. It’s all Clarins or Lancôme, which is, plainly, bollocks.
I use the Alpha H paint stripper stuff on my face every other night, with no other products as apparently that gives the product a chance to work without being sunk under 6 other serums and creams, which sort of makes sense when I think about it. Anyway, a very good facialist told me less is more with skin, which has stuck with me, although it’s hard to adhere to in a world that is saturated with beauty & skincare products. I always want to put everything on as I don’t want to miss out the ‘wonder’ product that’s going to zap my pigmentation and restore my collagen and make me look 22 again. This is the point at which my mother would pop up and bang on about how she only ever used a bar of soap and a pot of Nivea, which is back to that less is more thing.
I did read about this new skincare line, Lixirskin, which seemed credible and low fuss, but was quite expensive (around £40 for creams, etc). This isn’t bad compared to Creme de la Mer or Sisley and their zillion pound face creams in thick-bottomed, trick pots, but still seems a bit of a cheek when you compare to The Ordinary. In the end, we’re paying for the same performance chemicals. The expensive ones might dick around with advertising and oils to make the creams smell good but they don’t contain powdered albino mermaid tail or anything. But maybe I’m wrong and this stuff is better and maybe the beauty editors do have a bathroom filled with Sisley and Clarins.
LOL “trick pots”
I use water and Nivea. I worry all the time I don’t do enough. I get really nervous when people talk about all the skin hocus pocus they do that one day I will look like Mother Gothel at the end of Tangled, whilst they will all have complexions like teenagers and it will be TOO LATE!! But it’s all just too confusing for me.
Cindy if I didn’t get zits I wouldn’t bother to do anything other than water and nivea either
Abi P says
Hats off to you for sticking out the coil – I had an IUD fitted some years ago and absolutely couldn’t bear it! I’ve never had periods quite like it before or since! Hormones, periods, skin, contraception – the whole grim circus is utterly tedious! After years and years of being prescribed an exhausting medley of prescription medications – various antibiotics (prescribed by the GP in my early teens until my mid-20s, various tummy issues for which I think I now have them to thank…), topical gels etc I was put on co-cyprindiol which worked like an absolute dream for a few years. But then I got married, and it seems that you are not allowed to have lovely fresh skin clear of hormonal acne if you also want to start a family… Currently taking a 6-month course of roaccutane prescribed by a dermatologist over at the Cadogan Clinic (she’s very nice!) in the hope of achieving a temporary abatement if not a long-term one, and thus not allowed to use anything remotely exciting on my skin, but very grateful to you Esther for reviewing helpful skin stuff to try in the months and years post-medication when I fear I will still need all the help I can get. From memory, I think Caroline Hirons raves about the Alpha H Liquid Gold on her blog – it’s a bit like the Pixi Glow Tonic. (I didn’t find either especially helped me but I suspect that might simply be because my skin is beyond help!!)
Abi I so feel your pain. It’s all a nightmare.
Abi P says
I came across Recipe Rifle at a particularly dark time in the only-a-paper-bag-over-head-will-do pre-co-cyprindiol era and I can’t remember precisely what the blog post was about (something to do with skin or mood or something) and it was so refreshingly honest and frank and funny that I’ve been reading your blogs ever since. My husband used to get so sick of me giggling away at your posts and wondering what was so funny, I ended up saving them and reading them aloud for our shared pleasure 🙂
Men usually hate me I am super impressed that he agreed to that
skin issues are *such* a downer. I had acne on my back as a teenager. Even at nearly 40 I can’t quite believe I can wear a scoop back dress!
I have recently tackled my rosacea. Although not as angry and aggressive as some sufferers, it’s pretty miserable when hot, sore red cheeks melt makeup at work, in an important meeting. Good look :-/
I saw a specialist at Kate Kerr on Southbank. I was apparently doing everything wrong! Told me to chuck everything in my bathroom cabinet and no moisturiser, which was interesting as I was trying more and more fancy hydrating serums etc. She was alarmingly expensive, and the cost of (some of) the products would turn your hair white. BUT three months on, wow! I cannot believe how good my skin feels! It looks so, so much better.
It was totally worth it.
I have also suffered on and off with acne since the age of 12. A course of Roaccutane nipped it in the bud aged 18 but the effect only lasted a few years until I had children. Current favourites for keeping things in check are Paula’s Choice BHA 2% liquid (which is salicylic acid – supposedly the best for tricky skins) and La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo. I know I should really stop drinking and eating cheese but really we have to draw the line somewhere!
I don’t think people in the public eye are open enough about their struggles with their skin, so encouraging to see you own it Esther.
Me too Jodie, it’s amazing and I am very smug about no periods/saving money on tampax!! Same level of uncomfortable-ness as a smear and annoying few weeks of adjustment bleeding but now it’s all good. Never that worry of being on a period on hols. Yes!