The road to clearer skin and a bigger smile

Get clearer skin with the right treatment for you, and watch that smile grow.
Written by Jo Cunliffe

One of the struggles in the life of a teenager can be spots. Bad skin, or acne, is a condition that is one of the most common in the United States, and is said to affect approximately eighty-five percent of teenagers and young adults worldwide between the ages of 12 and 24 at some point in their teenage years.

A recent survey found that teenagers suffering from acne experience feelings of low self-confidence, embarrassment or difficulty with social interactions. Explaining how to best treat acne is a crucial but difficult step in providing some help for those suffering.

Too much chocolate?

When I first started high school at the age of 11, my skin was soft, healthy and there were no blemishes in sight. There is no standout reason for being more prone to blemishes than others, but as I carried on through to the ages of 13 and 14, I started to notice some small spots and began to wear makeup as a result. At first, the initial reaction to this sudden bad skin was am I wearing the wrong makeup? Am I eating too much chocolate? Well the answer to that one is no, chocolate does not have an impact on your chances of spots.

I began trying different brands of foundation, but none of them were improving my skin. Following this I decided to speak to a doctor, and since then have been on a number of different medications to try and improve it. I was first prescribed Lymecycline, an antibiotic that is used for treating acne, but can also result in dry skin on your face and lips. This was then followed by the dreaded Roaccutane.

By the time I was 17 my skin was at its worst. They weren’t just a few spots anymore. I would wake up in the morning with my face stinging and my self-confidence had gone right down. I felt embarrassed by the fact I had friends with good skin, and I was trying my hardest to cover mine up, which was in fact making them worse. It had spread onto my back and chest and so I had to carefully choose everything I wore, which was hard as I love fashion and choosing outfits.

Prescription medicine

I was trying a variety of skin and health products but could not find any that made a significant difference, and now I had been prescribed a tablet that was known to be an effective product, however with sometimes serious side effects.

The longer I was on Roaccutane, the better my skin became. However, no matter how much my skin was changing for the better, nothing was making me happy and I began to become upset and sometimes angry by the smallest things. It was not nice for family and friends as well as myself so it was time to come off them, as having good skin may be great but it was not worth the upset and mood swings which were taking over.

Roaccutane is a serious medication and could only be prescribed by a dermatologist after a series of blood tests. It has been linked with depression and even suicide, so I was nervous from the start. It was perfect for getting rid of my acne and may have started off well, but your mental health is a lot more important.

From then on, my skin was much better than before, but I began to get cyst-like spots again which would be extremely sore and hard to cover with makeup. This was when I heard about Clinique’s Anti-Blemish range. Not only did I discover the best foundation for coverage, but also their products are allergy tested and 100% fragrance free.

Clinique Anti-Blemish Foundation      

Image: Clinique    

As well as their makeup range, I began to use their Anti-Blemish Solutions 3-Step System. It consists of a cleansing foam, followed by an exfoliating clarifying lotion and then finished with a clearing oil-free moisturiser.

Image: Clinique

This has been the most successful part of my acne treatment. The feeling of my skin is soft and healthily refreshed after I do the three steps as part of my night-time regime. I would recommend it to anyone suffering from acne. It is slightly more expensive than other makeup brands but is most definitely worth the money and their products do last a while (they are also extremely generous with their samples and gifts).

Alongside the Clinique treatment, I now take antibiotics called Trimethoprim, which don’t have any side effects and still keep my skin clear. Don’t underestimate the power of Sudocrem either, because as well as curing nappy rash as a baby, it is great for bringing down an inflamed spot overnight.

My skin before treatment, halfway through treatment and now.

My skin before treatment, halfway through treatment and now.

My advice for anyone with acne: don’t overthink it. It is easier said than done, but it can always be treated. I have learnt throughout my journey that there is a treatment for everyone, it is just finding the right one to suit your skin.

It also about the little things to keep your skin healthy. Always check your products to see if they are oil free and fragrance free. I have found this to be one of the most important factors in finding the right makeup, even with small products such as lip liners.

Change your bedding regularly as this is when your pores are most open after doing your night-time makeup removal and skin cleanse. It is also important if you do wear makeup to keep your brushes clean, so wash them whenever you can. To do this I use baby shampoo with water to make sure everything, including any dirt or bacteria, is removed.

Finally, don’t stress. Teenagers come across some of the most challenging times of their life with education and growing up and it is easy to get stressed with it, however try and keep calm and organised before it becomes overwhelming. Look for an effective way to deal with your stresses, get enough sleep, drink plenty of water and most of all focus on the things that make you happy.

I am now at my happiest because I am learning to be comfortable in my own skin, spots or not. I have learnt how to deal with them and most importantly how best to treat them and I advise anyone who is on an acne journey of their own to keep trying, because you will find the right treatment for you.