Three Lessons I’ve Learned From My Experience With Acne

Hi, loves! I’ve talked several times about my journey with acne on my blog, and today I want to talk about what I’ve learned from the experience. I first thought about writing this post months ago but I wanted to wait until my skin was ‘good’ so I was able to discuss it in more detail. Honestly, my skin has good days and bad days; I’m still experiencing acne and if I want to talk about what I’ve learned so far in my journey there’s not ever going to be a specific right time. It’s scary and I feel super vulnerable putting this post out there but I’m hoping if it can bring others comfort and reassurance it’s worth it, right?!

Here’s a little background for those of you who aren’t familiar: as a teenager I had near perfect skin, and it wasn’t until I turned 19 that I began getting any spots at all. As I moved into my early twenties I began to experience cystic acne that felt overwhelming and horrendous; I hated it with every part of me, and honestly hated the way I looked for YEARS. My skin became something I worried about all day every day and I’ve carried that with me for so long it’s probably always going to be part of me. I was very emotional about my skin, and I unfortunately still am. When someone mentions a breakout or really bad spot – even if they mean well – my defense mechanism is to ignore the conversation because it makes me feel SO uncomfortable. Honestly it’s so rude to point out something ‘wrong’ with someone else’s skin and I’ve no idea why people think it’s okay to do so.

I feel very very lucky that my skin has calmed down a lot over the years and the acne I experience now is much more manageable in terms of treatment and also pain level. I’ve no idea if that is down to a change in hormones, finally settling into a tried and tested skincare routine, a bit of both or something else entirely but I’m so grateful to have clearer skin. I no longer suffer from consistent acne, although I do have breakouts pretty much every week that sometimes can be cystic there’s a huge difference. At one point my cheeks and jaw line were covered in breakouts, and they were so bad I couldn’t hide them with makeup which made them seem even worse to me. Every time one breakout began to clear up another would appear and it was a constant cycle I couldn’t do anything about. Now I’m thankful that I generally have one or two small (by comparison to what I used to experience) breakouts at a time, which is easier to manage and doesn’t cause me as much anxiety or stress.

I think other than the ocassional cystic acne, the most irritating breakouts I get now are those under-the-skin-bumps that feel like my whole face is pulsing as they last for days or sometimes a week. The really frustrating thing is that there isn’t a way to draw them out or help them heal quicker which stresses me out a little. I don’t mean to sound negative about having acne, and I hope it doesn’t come across that way, I just really want to be transparent and help you to get the full perspective on how my skin has been (and still is). Don’t get me wrong; there are MUCH worse things in the world than having acne! But when it’s something that you deal with day to day and you can’t get a break from it can feel so overwhelming and almost debilitating at times. I lost so much confidence when I first started experiencing acne a few years back and I’m so grateful that I now feel so much better about myself. Matt tells me I’m beautiful every single day – even when I most definitely DO NOT look beautiful, hah! – and little things like that truly mean the world to me.

I’m sure I’ve got so much more to learn regarding acne but today I’m so excited to share a few things I’ve learned so far from my acne journey with you all. If you have suffered or are still suffering with acne of any form please know that I get how you feel, so many people experience varying forms of acne and it’s something I really think we should talk about more openly.

There is no such thing as a miracle cure. Oh how I wish there was. I’ve lost count of how many creams, oils, serums etc I’ve tried over the years – lots of them even on prescription or doctors’ recommendations – and not one of them has magically cleared my acne. Funny, huh?! I think in the beginning I was very naive and just assumed that one product would come along and make my skin smooth, even and acne free. I definitely assumed that expensive meant better when it came to skincare (and makeup, haircare, body care etc) but that is categorically not true. Some of my most used, very favourite products are from the drugstore – albeit some at slightly more premium prices – but you do NOT need to use an £80.00 serum to see results!

Something that is so important however is finding a good skincare routine for morning and night that helps your skin. This can be a frustrating and costly experiment, because not every product you try will work for your skin, your skin may change and something that worked for a while may not any more and you may have other skin concerns that you want to address along the way. I love skincare and I’m so invested in learning about it so for the most part I quite enjoy the trial and error of finding new products, but I’m so happy that right now I truly enjoy every single part of my skincare routine. I have introduced two new products fairly recently and after I’ve used them for a few more weeks I’ll for sure share my current AM and PM skincare routines with you!

One thing I’d like to mention as it’s something I’ve experienced several times is that people – especially those who don’t have any specific skin concerns themselves – may criticize the products (or amount of products) you use. Take this with a pinch of salt; once you find the products that work for you, you’ll be so pleased you took time to figure it out! What happened to “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything” anyway?! Following a curated skincare routine is essential and any dermatologist or aesthetician will tell you that it is vital. Obviously, there are some things that products cannot help with too much; for example I have some pretty bad acne scarring that would need laser treatment to minimize, but that’s okay with me and I’ve just gotten used to it. Caroline Hirons is a wealth of knowledge for all types of skin concerns, and if you’re feeling a little lost for what to do to help yourself I would really advise checking out her blog and YouTube channel.

Hormones plays a huge part in how your skin looks/feels. I was put on the pill by my doctor at a very young age – I had just barely turned thirteen – because I had horrendously painful periods. Side note: I’m experiencing them again right now at the age of 25 after changing my pill not so long ago… I just love being a girl. :). HAH. As my hormones were altered by a tablet from such a young age, I’m not sure if this might have changed the way my skin was or not, but it’s so normal to experience more spots or actual acne because of hormonal changes.

It’s very common around the time of your period to break out, pregnancy and breastfeeding throws off your hormones and causes all kinds of skin issues, and sometimes just generally if you’re feeling tired, anxious, stressed or just a bit run down your skin often has a reaction too. If you know you’re breaking out due to hormonal reasons there is still so many options of treatments for this, I’d really recommend speaking to your doctor. One tip I’d love to share with you regarding hormonal acne; from my experience these spots are usually angry, red, raised, and not always ones that have a whitehead. If this is the case and you’re looking for immediate relief, take an anti-histamine! Breakouts are literally an inflammation, so anti-histamines help to lessen the redness and swelling, and makes day-to-day life with spots just that little bit easier. I wish I knew this YEARS ago!

Your skin is nothing to be embarrassed about. How many times have you told your partner or friend that you just can’t believe the size of the spot on your chin? Maybe you’re calling it your ‘second head’? And how many times have you been met with the response “where?! I can’t even see it?” … we can all relate, right?! I truly believe that your skin looks and feels worse to you because it’s often a very personal and emotional thing, but like with most areas of life being kind to yourself is such an important factor in helping things to be easier. When he was a teenager Matt also suffered from cystic acne and I’m so grateful he understands exactly how I feel when I have a particularly bad breakout now – whether it’s cystic or not. I think it’s often really hard for people with ‘good’ skin to understand just how much skin issues can affect others, but just by being honest and opening the conversation up it helps to break down the taboo.

In my early twenties I spent countless social occasions making my excuses for why I couldn’t go and literally hiding away because I was so embarrassed of my skin, and it’s really sad because I never should have felt that way. I definitely think my acne linked to my anxiety, as when my skin was especially bad my anxiety was most definitely heightened. Even now when I have a particularly ‘bad’ breakout (I realise this is subjective) I still feel like I don’t want to be social, how silly is that? It’s something I can’t explain to people who don’t ‘get it’ but I’m working on changing my thought process slowly but surely. We’ve all heard this before but plastering foundations and concealers over any bout of acne, spots or blemishes is not necessarily the answer, we just need to find comfort in embracing our skin! *Makes note to self*

Thank you so much from reading! I hope you enjoyed this post, and if acne is something that still affects you on a daily basis I hope you found a little comfort in it. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to a time in my life where my skin is completely breakout free but I hope I do, one day! Have you dealt with acne as a teenager or adult? What have you learned from your experience?

-G x

Weekend In My Life

Happy Sunday, loves! Today is… by popular demand… another Weekend In My Life! My last WIML post was uploaded just a few weeks ago, but I seriously get the cutest comments on these posts and you guys really seem to enjoy reading them! I might make this a regular thing, where every month I share just one weekend with you all? Maybe in place of a Feelin’ It Friday as I’ve just recently cut way back on them? Please let me know your thoughts on this as I really just want to make content you guys want to read, too!

This was a rare weekend Matt and I had a full 48 hours off work together to do whatever the heck we wanted, and we we were SO happy about it. We had lots of ideas for things to do but we were also very kind to ourselves as we’d had a super busy week and were feeling kinda exhausted. We still got so much done, had a ton of fun and enjoyed spending our time together so much! For the first time maybe ever we didn’t really plan our weekend out, and just went with the flow. I’m so thankful for a fun and relaxing weekend 🙂 Matthew, I love you so much!

Friday 20th September

I was awake from 5am on Friday as I had horrendous period cramps that were making me feel physically sick! I stayed in bed and just cuddled into Matt (who was flat out, jammy bugger!) for what seemed like hours, then I was just drifting off to sleep before our alarm went off… does this ever happen to anyone else? It’s the worst feeling! I really struggled getting ready for work, especially as Matt got to stay curled up in bed. I kissed him goodbye and headed to work for a busy Friday, although my co-worker Keli and I did get to share Domino’s for lunch which was the best surprise treat 🙂

I definitely should have taken a photo before we dived in. HAHA

The day was over in a flash, and after a crazy busy week I was so happy to see 5pm! I drove home listening to Small Town Murder – I was obsessed with this podcast for the longest time then stopped listening as much, now I can’t get enough! I really recommend if you like comedy and/or true crime podcasts – then caught up on some of my YouTube subscriptions whilst I cleaned our bedroom and put fresh sheets on. Fresh bedding is one of Matt and I’s favourite ever things; we just love the feeling of getting into a nice comfy bed after a long day! I re-organised my underwear drawer and had another mini clearout which was much needed, and I got to put in my pretty new underwear that had just arrived. Keli and I made an order on Boux Avenue from their sale and seriously, the deals were SO good. I love the two new sets I bought, they’re just so pretty (and comfy)!

I still had cramps and all I could think about was relaxing in a nice hot bath. Matt was working late so I took the time for a little pamper night; exfoliating, shaving (pretty much) every inch of my body and doing a hair mask! I lay in the bath for so long reading my magazines and it was bliss, I really enjoy when I have the time to relax in the bath for a long time. I took my time doing my skincare routine (spoiler: a post is coming on my routine next month!), putting oil in my hair and covering myself in my favourite body cream, then as I still had over an hour until Matt was home I began to re-organise our wardrobes. Again. I’m kinda obsessed with doing it, I can never decide how I want things to be!

The jury is still out on this hair towel wrap… they’re supposed to make your hair super soft and help it to dry before you have to blow dry it, but I’ve been using it for around two months now and haven’t seen much of a difference. I got a two pack and I kinda think one makes a difference but one doesn’t. Do you use these? Do you love them?! Maybe I’m using them wrong!

Matt got home work around 9.30pm and we snuggled in to eat chicken tenders and watch The Office, then we remembered we had Halo Top in the freezer. Guys. The salted caramel Halo Top is THE BEST ice cream in the entire world. Seriously!! We had a super early night (I was exhausted from being awake from 5am) so we played thunderstorm sounds on Alexa and snuggled in for the night. Do you use Sleep Sounds? What’s your favourite? I am obsessed with the thunderstorm sounds and Matt loves the ocean sounds, so we alternate pretty much every night!

Saturday 21st September

We woke up pretty early on Saturday and it was so nice to feel rested! I had a much better sleep and was so excited to get up and moving for the day. After taking our time to wake up a little we got ready and popped in to Matt’s parents house. His mum was at work so we saw his dad for a little while then headed straight to the Metro Centre. I really appreciate shopping days where we just eat, wander around, browse the shops and pick up a few goodies, and this was exactly what we did. We got there right at 12pm so went for lunch at Wagamama, it was delish! Matt and I shared duck pancakes to start, and he finally caved to order what I always get – a number 45; teriyaki soba noodles with sirloin steak (I get with no onion/coriander) – and we were so happy with our choice. The service at the Gateshead branch is always fantastic and we really love going there for lunch, it’s just so relaxed and not super busy.

We did a lot of browsing but not a lot of shopping which was a little disappointing to be honest! I bought a few new makeup items at MAC which will literally last me a whole year (an on-the-go powder, my old favourite Fall/Winter blush in Desert Rose and a pretty new lipstick in the shade Jubilee). I was so disappointed to be told that MAC are discontinuing the Next To Nothing powder, it is my favourite for touch ups! If they had more than one in my shade (Light Plus) I would have bought them all as back ups. This one will last so long, but please let me know what your favourite compact powder is! My skin is oily and acne prone so makeup slides off my face throughout the day. It’s wonderful 🙂 Matt really wanted to pick up a Ted Baker sweater he’d seen online but it wasn’t available in store. Luckily he managed to snag it for a really good discounted price online. It arrived in the mail this week and it’s so nice! We bought some of my dad’s birthday presents and I also used my Boots points to purchase Clinique’s Bare Pop lipstick, it’s the perfect Fall shade and I already love it so much.

After shopping Matt had to pop into work for twenty minutes so I got cosy in the car and watched my YouTube subscriptions while he was gone. I’m still obsessed with Jade Billington’s videos, obviously. We then headed to Costco which is quite honestly one of our favourite places! We seem to end up visiting every time we have a weekend with no specific plans. The samples were SO GOOD this time! We ate spicy sausages, Chinese noodles, avocado on sourdough, and our ultimate favourite… red velvet cake. Basically we had a second lunch. We also found our dream Christmas Tree for our Dream Mansion. We can always hope for a lottery win!

We headed back to Matt’s parents house to relax and watch the beginning of the NUFC game, then got showered and freshened up for the evening. We went for dinner at Fratelli’s in Ponteland with Matt’s parents and his grandma (we really love this place!) and had the most amazing meals. I’m so obsessed with their Pinot Grigio blush, it’s delicious!! Tip: wine tastes better with ice cubes. Always. Matt thinks his mum and I are so weird for liking it like that, hahaha. We had the most perfect night, I love love love nights with Matt’s family, they’re so good to us! We left kinda early and snuggled in at home with more wine. We slept like freaking babies this night, hahaha.

The BEST seafood linguine (I ordered without mussels because I’m weird)

I love you! 🙂

My second family 🙂 I just love them.

Sunday 22nd September

Sunday we slept in a little (like I said, we slept like BABIES). Snuggly mornings at home are some of our favourites, and we really don’t get chance to have them very often! We drank cups of tea and watched the news with Matt’s parents – I wish we hadn’t, the news is literally ALL doom and gloom! – before getting ready for the day. I watched a little more of my YouTube subscriptions whilst doing my makeup, I swear I’m forever playing catch up because there’s just not enough hours in the day to watch my favourite vlogs!

My favourite ever mug… I love Winnie The Pooh (and all things Disney)!

How freaking CUTE is he?! I just seriously love him so much. We jumped in the car and headed to one of our favourite Sunday morning locations… Tynemouth market. We hadn’t been for a while but it was nice to just wander round, look at all the cool things for sale (some of it is complete tat, I can’t lie!) and grab some food. It was almost lunch time so we went for Greek food; we got chips, chicken and a whole load of sauces/spices, it was so yummy. Afterwards, Matt suggested we go for a little wander around Tynemouth’s town and we took some blog photos which you may have seen in this post from Wednesday. I’m so grateful my sweet boyfriend is always so happy to take photos and take the time to get some I actually like. He’s so so good to me and I appreciate him so much!

This is one of the photos we took! I really am trying to be more confident infront of the camera, it’s really hard for me.

We jumped back in the car and drove the coastal route home. All the way along the drive we could see St. Mary’s Lighthouse ahead of us, and decided to just pop in for a little look around. We haven’t been since we were kids and it was just nice to go somewhere a little bit different! It was pretty chilly and I was so thankful I had threw my cosy cardigan in the car, haha. We wandered a little on the rocks, went all the way up to the lighthouse then walked back to the car. I was a little nervous because the thought of the tide coming in and stranding us there is not my idea of fun!

It was so. freaking. windy.

It was forecast for really bad rainstorms for the afternoon and (although these photos don’t really show it) it was starting to get super hazy and dark out to sea, so we decided it was best to leave before the rain came. We visited with my grandma which was so nice, we haven’t seen her for a few weeks and she was really happy to see us. We headed home to catch some of the Man U game with my parents, then Matt got fixed up to head out for a few drinks with the boys. They mainly went to watch the football so he was only gone a couple of hours, and I took the time to write a little for the blog and get ahead for the week, and of course to have a Lush bath which was SO needed. I was half way through catching up on Strictly Come Dancing and editing blog posts when he came home so we snuggled in to watch the rest of the show whilst dinner cooked. We ate burritos, watched a few episodes of The Office and then watched Mamma Mia (definitely not Matt’s choice. LOL) before getting an early night in ready for the work week to roll back around.

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post and coming along with us during our weekend. Matt and I are really trying to amke the most of our time together because he is working every single weekend during October, both Saturday and Sunday! We do have a day off mid-week together during the month which I’m super excited about, and we’ll for sure make the most of our mornings and evenings. What have your weekends looked like recently? What’s your favourite way to spend a weekend?!

-G x