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

How I Find Time To Read & My Current Picks

Hi, loves! Today’s post is one I’ve teased on the blog for a little while, and I’m so happy to be writing about BOOKS. *Warning: it’s a long one, and perfect if you want to carve out a little self care time this bank holiday weekend. I’d recommend you grab a cuppa and settle in!* I love love love reading and it’s something I really wish more people were passionate about. Don’t get me wrong, I know lots of people love to read, but I really don’t know that many people who do! I have loved reading since I was a child; my parents and grandparents always read to me whenever they had time to, and I learned to read so quickly myself. I read my beloved Jacqueline Wilson books so many times I swear I knew the stories off by heart! When I was around 10 or 11, I was helping my granddad clear out a bunch of stuff, and discovered all of my mum and auntie’s old books by Enid Blyton. He kindly gave them to me, and I spent the rest of my summer engrossed in those books! The Secret Seven and Famous Five series ignited a serious love of reading (and dogs – I wanted my own Timmy SO BAD) and I’m forever grateful. I literally spent so many nights in my lilac groovy chick themed bedroom, curled up with a blanket and a book thinking I was so grown up. Ha!

In the years since then, I’ve never lost the joy in browsing book stores, talking about books and of course, reading them. I literally can’t walk past a bookstore without dragging Matt in ‘for a look’ – although, if you’re on a budget (aren’t we all?) have a perusal in store and check the prices on Amazon whilst you’re there; I can pretty much guarantee you’ll always get a better deal on Amazon! No, this post isn’t sponsored by Amazon, I just really love it.

Whenever I talk about my love of reading I am often met with “I wish I had time to read”. News flash: everyone has time to read. Let’s be honest; if Michelle Obama can find time to read, so can you. I have time to read so often because I literally set time aside to do so; making reading a priority is really important to me and it makes the world of difference to my mental health. It’s the perfect self care treat for me (along with a pamper evening and a cuddle from Matt, of course) and it truly opens your mind to SO much you may otherwise not know. Books can cover all different topics, issues and situations, and it’s crazy how much you can learn from a book. My mum and Matt’s mum share my love of reading, and we’re always swapping our current reads, like an unofficial book club! So, how do I find time to read? What are my top tips to help you make reading a priority?

Keep your book on your bedside table
Possibly the most obvious tip, but it makes sense guys. I always keep my current book on our bedside table, and take a little time to read most evenings/mornings. Matt often has to send a few work emails just before we settle in for the night so I take those twenty or so minutes to read a few chapters and get my reading fix. Similarly, he starts work early several times per week (which means a 6am alarm for us both) and I also take a little time once he’s left for work, before I blog or get ready for my work day, to read too. It’s a lovely way to begin or end your day, and if you’re struggling to fit reading time in, this will make a huge difference.

Set goals
Like with anything else, setting goals to read X amount each day/week, will make you hold yourself accountable, and make reading a priority. I love to set goals and have things to work towards, so of course this is no exception! I really think being able to tick a goal off a list helps to visualise it; of course this is a very niche goal but if you want to read more you need to treat it seriously. Maybe you could set out a week Monday to Sunday in the Notes app on your phone, using the bullet point system you can tick off, and then you can see how many days out of seven you read each week. Doing this week by week until it becomes a habit (which it should within two months, as scientists say on average it takes 66 days to create a habit) means that within a really short space of time reading would just become part of your everyday life!

Incorporate reading into your day-to-day life
Similarly to reading before bed or first thing in the morning, it’s amazing where you can fit time in to read. If you spend hours scrolling mindlessly on social media (your phone literally tells you how much time you spend now so you can’t avoid it) you could easily spend at least some of that with a book in your hand instead. I love to read in the bath, I seriously take super long baths just to be able to read for longer, and it’s the ultimate self care time for me. Matt sometimes spends a little time in the evenings working or playing on the playstation, which gives me a good chunk of time to read and not feel guilty about it! I also will spend a little time reading whilst sitting in the garden when it’s warm, or on a cold day I love to curl up with a cuppa and a book. I really should take my lunch break at work away from my desk, as that would be the perfect time to rack up some reading time.

Read digitally on your iPad/Kindle/phone
If you find reading a struggle or would just like to switch things up, I’d really recommend downloading a book onto your tablet or phone. I have been really enjoying reading on the Kindle app on my iPad recently; it’s so convenient as I always have my iPad with me anyway, and it’s very accessible no matter where I am. Downloading books onto a tablet is so handy when travelling too; it limits the weight/bulkiness of books (although I do think you can’t beat a ‘real’ book!) and it allows you to take several options, not to mention ebooks are way less money than a physical book. I am still so mad at myself for not picking up a Kindle Paperwhite during the Prime Day(s) sale, and it’s very high on my wishlist right now.

Carry a book with you day-to-day
If reading on a tablet is not for you I totally get that, but you need to carry your book with you if you want to make the most of reading time as and when you can. If you take public transport to work I’d really recommend making the most of your journey time and lose yourself in a book (just make sure not to miss your stop). Side note: I drive to work each day, and spend lots of time during the week in my car; I’m tempted to try Audible but it’s just not something that’s crossed my mind before. Please let me know if you would recommend! If you’re going somewhere where you may be waiting around, hospital appointments spring to mind right away, pack a book and the wait definitely won’t seem so bad.

Find authors and genres you find interesting
Another thing people tell me, is that they have the time to read, but they can never find a book they actually want to read. This is a little trial and error, but if you put the effort in to finding what makes your heart sing, you’ll see the benefit of it. Personally, I love fiction stories that feel like you’re right in with the characters but as you’ll see from my current picks below, I do like varied content. I really want to read more mystery books as I’ve borrowed a few from my mum that I’ve enjoyed, so that’s something I need to explore more in the coming months. It’s the best feeling finding an author you love, as you are drawn to their writing style and therefore can find so many books. Amazon’s ‘Recommended for you’ section pretty much always brings up amazing options, and I’ve found so many books I love that way!

My current favourite author is hands down Taylor Jenkins Reid. Two books I’ve read (and loved) recently are Forever, Interrupted and After I Do; both books are filled with love, heartbreak, sadness and happiness, and you truly feel like you’re experiencing the emotions of the lead characters. Zoe Folbigg is an amazing author and I’ve loved every book of hers I’ve read! I just finished The Postcard, which was the sequel to The Note, and it left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside. Two books that changed my life (in different ways) are Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton and How To Be A Grown Up by Daisy Buchanan. I’ve read both several times; they’re incredible and would make for brilliant presents for the gals in your life!

Michelle Obama’s Becoming is a must read for everyone, everywhere; she is, in my opinion, the most inspirational woman of our generation and I’m so happy she shared her story. The best non-fiction book I’ve ever read was This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay; I don’t know anyone who disliked this book, it’s filled with so much emotion – I’d literally be laughing one page and sobbing the next – it’s a must read. If you like books that let you escape from every day life, I’d suggest anything by Elin Hilderband. She writes about Nantucket (and Martha’s Vineyard) in so much depth I feel like I’ve been there myself; it’s a book that takes you on holiday from real life, and her stories are always so enticing. My favourite book of hers is hands down The Identicals. I’ve just downloaded a new Elin Hilderbrand book called The Perfect Couple (and One Minute Later by Susan Lewis) onto my Kindle app for literally 99p each! Order while you can! Shoutout to the lovely Savannah for originally recommending Elin Hilderbrand books to me!

Some of my current ‘to read’ list include the last in a wonderful series by Louise Pentland; Wilde Women. Louise is someone I’ve loved and admired for years, from way back to her Sprinkle of Glitter days, and I’m so happy that she’s began to write. She writes from the heart, her characters are lovable and I’m so excited to see what is happening with Robin, Lyla and Kath in the final installment! Queenie is a book I saw in Anna‘s reading pile and immediately purchased (the girl just knows her books, and also wrote a cracking book herself, An Edited Life) and I’m so excited to read; the book talks all about love, life and race issues and has rave reviews. Another author I’m very interested in is Jane Fallon, I often see her books featured on Instagram and I need to order one soon!

Thank you so so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post and found my tips and tricks helpful in some way. Can you believe my boyfriend (who is perfect in every other way, if I do say so myself) doesn’t like to read?! He’s literally been ‘reading’ the same book since Christmas 2017… maybe you take a few pointers from this post, Matthew?! Ha. So, are you a bookworm like me? Where’s your favourite way to make time to read? I’d love to share my favourite books every few months if that’s something you’d be interested in? Please leave me all your book recommendations below, I love to hear what other people are reading!

-G x

Spring Style Wishlist

Hi, loves!

Today’s post is a little different for me; instead of making list upon list in the Notes app on my phone of the items I’d like to pick up for the current season, I’m sharing them on my blog instead. I have talked about my strong opinions on fast fashion a lot in recent months – there’s a little more context in this post and this post – but I still love shopping, and it’s not something I’m going to ever completely quit. It’s unrealistic to think that to be sustainable I can never shop the high street – there’s actually some great quality times for great prices, you just have to be mindful. For me, the main points I’m looking at when it comes to purchasing new clothes, accessories or shoes, is to buy better, buy less, and buy sensibly.

Over the past few years I’ve found it SO hard to dress for Spring and Summer. I’m comfortable wearing shorts, skirts or dresses on holiday in a hot country, but the thought of wearing them in England filled me with dread. I’ve always been conscious that I look bigger in Summer clothes (my own insecurity, not something anyone else should ever think!) and as a result I’ve spent too many hot days covered up. Wearing unflattering baggy clothing during the hotter weather is absolutely something I refuse to do this year! I’m so excited to embrace a little change with my wardrobe, and enjoy the weather and fun days with my boyfriend and our friends, whilst wearing weather appropriate clothing.

I’m obsessed with all things leopard print, cute floaty blouses and tan sandals (I got the cutest pair yesterday, thanks to my friend Jessy encouraging me to buy them!) but I’m wanting a few new bits and pieces to update my wardrobe. All of the items featured in this post are things I think I’m missing currently, and additions I hope to make over the next few months that will easily fit with items I already own. Everything featured in this post will transition perfectly into the Summer months too, and be items I can hopefully get wear out of for years to come.

New York Print Top – £20, Brandy Melville
This would be perfect with Mom jeans (my new style love), skinny jeans, a fun maxi or pretty much any pair of shorts I own. The bright colours make me so happy, it’s such a simple and cute style. I love that it’s a fun twist on what would typically be a band tee, and Brandy Melville clothing is so soft! I’m just waiting for their Aspen sweatshirt to come back into stock so I can place an order.

Denim Paperbag Waist Shorts – £32, River Island
I don’t actually need to ‘wish’ for these because when we were shopping last week Matt picked them up as part of my birthday present. They fit perfectly; they’re a Mom style so they’re fitted on the waist (although loose enough that I can eat whatever I want on our upcoming all inclusive holiday…) and not at all tight around the thigh. They’re literally my perfect pair of shorts, I’m so happy and grateful Matt bought them for me!

Veja Trainers – £94.99, Office
I have had my eyes on these since before Christmas, but as I knew I’d be living in boots throughout the Winter, I held off on purchasing. I really need to replace my Converse as they’re almost worn through, it’s kind of embarrassing to wear them at this point! Veja are an amazing sustainable brand and their quality is outstanding, I am so excited to purchase these to wear for years to come. I also really want to pick up these Superga trainers, they are so cute and simple, and will come in so handy for the Spring and Summer!

Tortoiseshell Ring Cami – £12, Topshop
I tried this cami on whilst we were shopping too, and wish I had bought it, it’s so cute! Paired with pretty much anything, it would be perfect for those warm Spring days and super hot Summer days, and it reminds me a lot of a swimming costume Emma Hill wore in her Kos holiday vlog last year, that I loved. It’s super inexpensive and looks so pretty, I think it would be great with shorts or jeans, or over a bikini during the day on holiday.

‘Mumbai’ Backpack in ‘Koala’ – £115, Matt & Nat
Around three years ago I purchased a mini Whistles backpack and I still use it now, but I would just love a neutral colour backpack that’s a little more appropriate for the warmer weather. Matt & Nat are a great sustainable brand, and all of their products are made from vegan leather. I always gravitate towards black accessories, but I’m determined to buy more beiges, browns and neutrals this year. This could be worn with anything in my wardrobe and it’s more than big enough to keep my essentials in for the day, including a water bottle, as well as anything Matt ends up throwing in! (Does anyone else’s boyfriend use your bag as their own?!) I’m really tired of switching between a larger bag for work, and a crossbody for weekends, so having a bag I can use all the time would be great!

Halter Neck Sundress – £22 @ ASOS
This dress looks so light and beautiful, and I know it will be perfect for an evening in Croatia with Matthew. I love the colour, the length, the gorgeous wooden effect buckle and the open back! I’m all about not wearing a bra, especially in the warmer months. I think this would be such an easy dress to throw on for an afternoon at the Quayside, BBQ’s with our friends and hot Summer days, paired with a pair of cute flat sandals or even those Veja or Superga trainers for a casual look.

Silver Bar Necklace – £99, Missoma
I’m a little obsessed with Missoma, dainty silver jewellery, and layered necklaces, and this little beauty ticks every one of those boxes. My wishlist on Missoma is actually a little crazy, there’s so many beautiful jewellery pieces I love and I’m forever adding to my growing collection. I’m planning to treat myself with birthday money from my grandma (she’s always super generous on our birthdays!) and I know this will fit perfectly with my current pieces.

Blue Floral Midi Skirt – £28, ASOS
I have just started getting into the midi skirt trend in the past few months, and I’m absolutely loving trying new styles. I’m hoping to wear midi skirts in place of jeans A LOT this Spring/Summer, they’re effortless and relaxed, and just make a simple t-shirt look 10 x better. I think this would look so cute paired with a plain white tee, flat tan sandals and the silver bar necklace from Missoma. *insert all the heart eyes emoji here*

Thank you so much for reading! I hope this gave you a little inspiration if you’re looking for a few new pieces to update your Spring/Summer wardrobe. What is your favourite piece I shared? What’s on your wishlist for the upcoming warm months?

-G x