Jessica Harris is a freelance health and beauty writer for titles such as Glamour, Tatler, YOU magazine, Brides and Byrdie.com and content creator at TwentySixStyle.com. You can find her on Instagram @twenty6style Here she tells us about how she overcame hormonal acne once and for all
I was always exceptionally lucky with my skin as a teenager. While my peers were stocking up on Clearasil and concealer, banishing blemishes never made it on to my daily to-do’s. I’d wash my face with a bar of soap (oh, the horror!) and slather Nivea on my face at night without a second thought. Yet, little did I know that while I was enjoying my adolescent ignorance, my skin had other ideas later on in life – 2017 to be exact, in San Francisco. This was when I decided that I’d had enough of playing Russian Roulette with my hormones and bin my contraceptive pill altogether. My husband and I weren’t planning for a family but I had grown tired of the irregular periods, mood swings and, above all, the dramatic dryness that had emerged on my skin.
studies have revealed that there’s been a 200% rise in adult acne over the last three years
While my hormones went into panic mode as they settled into a new routine, my skin woes went from bad to worse. The dry patches around my chin had been replaced by angry, red acne that refused to budge regardless of the time of month. My once-smooth complexion was flushed with cystic spots, a rough texture and a swelling I’d never seen before. Suddenly, my diligent and reliable skincare routine recommended by some of the world’s best beauty experts had become obsolete. No amount of clean eating or water-chugging was making a difference and I’d never felt more frustrated. I’d spend my days shying away from exciting events and my evenings examining my skin – were there any new pimples? Was the texture better or worse than yesterday? I was a woman obsessed. And I wasn’t alone, as studies have revealed that there’s been a 200% rise in adult acne over the last three years as more women have gone in search of a more natural alternative to the pill.
With an arsenal of beauty products and knowledge at my disposal, I got to work in targeting the bacteria in my skin. With my wedding just a few months away, the stress and worry of being a blemished bride weighed heavy on my mind and did nothing to calm the problem that had now spread to my jawline and neck. My main MO was to keep the skin as clean as possible with a regular cell turnover at the hands of non-aggressive AHA and BHA’s such as Alpha H’s liquid Gold and Murad’s Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream. I then balanced this with a gentle cleanser (Liz Earle’s Hot Cloth Cleanser) that wouldn’t strip the skin, had regular extraction treatments at the Debbie Thomas Clinic and overhauled my stress management to keep cortisol levels low with daily meditation and yoga.
I’ve regained my confidence to leave the house sans make-up
And it worked. To an extent. The redness dispersed, the texture improved and, although I was left with some topical scarring (which later disappeared thanks to nightly retinol) and rogue spots, it was clear enough for my wedding day. Although under control, the acne still lingered almost a year after coming off the pill, so I decided to adopt a two-prong approach to my treatment once and for all by treating the cause, not just the symptom – my hormones. Through regular Chinese acupuncture sessions twice monthly, I’ve finally regained the balance I’d lost through 15 years of taking the contraceptive pill. As a result, my skin is softer, clearer and completely acne-free. I’ve regained my confidence to leave the house sans make-up and my Instagram DM’s fill up with lovely messages and questions about products and treatments that I’ve used to achieve such a clear complexion. But on thing’s for sure – I’ll never take it for granted again.