redness

DEALING WITH HORMONAL BREAKOUTS : PART I

Firstly I'll make it clear that what we're discussing here is not the likes of a single nasty blemish which pops up at a certain time of the month and lingers in pain for a few days before disappearing for three weeks. Although by all means any of the products below would be ideal for said blemish, the topic on the table today is of a slightly more long-term variety...

Hormonal acne typically consists of incredibly sore, inflamed cystic blemishes. These can mostly be found on the cheeks, jawline, chin, temples, and around the mouth; and rather than disappearing completely, they tend to fade into pink marks which can scar incredibly easily. Like many women, when I hit my twenties my skin made a complete turnaround; my highly blemish prone T-zone cleared up, and my previously flawless cheeks and jaw were beset with such a swarm of angry red blemishes... Not ideal!

I'd curated a fantastic lineup of skincare to cater for my skin prior to this turnaround, but as the cause of hormonal acne is [as the name suggests!] based upon hormones, my failsafe blemish busters were no longer having the desired effect. I soon realised that no matter what I was using, the breakouts on my cheeks continued to appear. If I did happen to use an unsuitable product, then a tell-tale sign of its incompatibility with my skin would be a breakout on my T-zone.

Over the past few months I've made considerable changes to my what's going into my body [this can really effect hormone balance], and have seen considerable changes in my complexion. Making a conscious effort to drink more water, swapping out coffee for green tea, and cutting back on my dairy and sugar intakes have done the world of good [I'll speak more about this next week]. Whilst skincare may not be able to prevent hormonal breakouts, certain ingredients can certainly help to calm the redness, reduce inflammation, and heal scarred skin. Below I've shared the products which through cleansing, exfoliating, and treating, have proven successful in dealing with the aftermath of my hormonal breakouts.

CLEANSE La Roche-Posay Physiological Cleansing Gel : Finding a simple, hydrating cleanser which purifies and nourishes the skin without causing irritation is key to managing hormonal breakouts, and this French pharmacy favourite is a bona fide crowd-pleaser. Since blemish-prone skin can also be dry and dehydrated, harsh cleansers can easily aggravate the condition, but this gentle gel cleanses thoroughly, and without compromising on hydration levels. Dead Sea Spa Magik Black Mud Soap : Whether or not you believe in the healing benefits of Dead Sea mud, this soap is rich in minerals and sulphates which are well known for having a purifying and calming effect upon acne-prone skin [and is free of all nasties!]. Since using this I've found inflammation has been massively reduced [thanks for the recommendation Bridie!].

EXFOLIATE Radical Exfoliating Pads* : Rich in AHA and BHA exfoliants [acids which gently exfoliate skin cells and encourage cell turnover], these pads are your queue-jump ticket to clearer, brighter skin. The red marks left by blemishes are usually only a few layers deep, so with each use you're one step closer to fading the pigmentation. PIXI Glow Tonic : In much the same way as the above, this toner smoothens, exfoliates, and brightens the skin. The formula is alcohol-free and a little less concentrated than Radical pads, so is ideal for those with dry or especially sensitive skin types. Raccine Ultimate Hydra Gentle Refining Scrub* : Typically, manual exfoliants are not quite as deeply penetrating or effective as their chemical counterparts, but this gentle scrub contains AHAs, BHAs, and a finely-milled formula which gently buffs away dead skin cells [the best of both worlds]. Ideal for bi-weekly pre-mask exfoliation.

TREAT Eve Lom Rescue Mask : This deep cleansing clay mask does a little bit of everything, including working a treat in instantly fading redness and reducing the size of blemishes. It heats up upon application with a slight tingling sensation and leaves my skin noticeably clearer, calmer, and brighter upon removal. Literally the only mask I used when my skin was at its worse as nothing else has quite the same calming effect. Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion : Mario Badescu has something of a cult following in the States, where the brand is a favourite of anyone who is serious about outting congested and blemish-prone skin. This astringent lotion is best used upon targeted areas, as it is drying. Dotted onto blemishes however it reduces pain, swelling, and redness in a matter of hours. In comparison to other targeted spot treatments I've found this to be the most effective when dealing with cystic acne.

Stay tuned for Part II next week, in which I discuss dietary tweaks and the products which have helped to repair, protect, and hydrate my skin during hormonal breakouts.

If you have any product suggestions I'd love to hear them, so do share below!

G

*PR SAMPLE

**As always, I am not a dermatologist and I speak only from what experience I have gained either in dealing with my own skin, during my training as a beauty advisor, and in assisting friends and family with similar issues.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo

DSCN1533 I'm pretty sure every blogger and their dog has done a 'La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo' post by now, and raved about how amazing/terrible it is, so here I am to add my three cents.

To see my review of the updated formula (Effaclar Duo [+]) click here

The reviews do seem to swing either way, but as someone who has suffered from problem skin since their early teens, I couldn't pass up the chance of testing this out. I purchased via escentual.com as they have 15% off La Roche Posay products, but it normally retails at £13 and is available in most Boots stores.

The function of this product is a little elusive, I've read some posts saying it's a moisturiser and others a targeted spot treatment. The packaging is little help (certainly in terms of application), so I took to applying it everyday (morning and night) to the spot-prone areas of my face, my forehead, chin and nose. Aware of the price, I am a little frugal with the amount I use, but a little does go a long way. The product has a mild but pleasant scent, kind of chemically but in a clean, expensive way. I love the way this product made my skin feel after applying, it feels much smoother and silkier with a kind of matte touch. I definitely wouldn't apply this as a moisturiser as it really isn't rich enough, and found it didn't work wonders as a primer/make-up base either.

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Now onto the important part, will this work? The answer is yes. IF YOU PERSEVERE. I used this day and night for two weeks with no effects whatsoever, however I had read some reviews saying it takes some time to kick in so I carried on applying. Then, in the third and fourth weeks I suffered MASSIVE breakouts. Seriously, I haven't had anything so bad for a looong time, it literally brought up all the spots that I like to call lurkers (ones that reappear on a regular basis, disappear for a month or so and then reappear again in the same place). But all at the SAME TIME. It was a nightmare. However, the little voice in the back of my head said "Persevere!", which I did, and I am SO GLAD I did. After two weeks of suffering horrendous breakouts my skin finally began to clear up and I've had no such breakouts since. Within a few more weeks my skin was looking noticeably clearer and brighter. My spots have gone and rarely reappear, patches of redness have definitely begun to fade, and my skin looks to be improving further still.

Therefore, I can say that you will find success with Effaclar Duo if you persevere! I'm certain that any negative reviews of this stuff will have been written by those who gave up in the 'spot stage'. It is worth suffering a week or two of bad skin for the lovely results!

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A note as of 27/6/13. I am STILL loving this product. Definitely the best thing I have ever bought for my skin, the results just keep getting better and better. My spots are cleared up and I am quite certain that this beauty is working its magic on my scars and red patches, both of which are hugely reduced. My only gripe with this product is that if I apply this a little too thickly (bound to happen if you're particularly keen to see the effects) my skin can go a little red in places. I'm not sure why this is but would definitely say that 'less is more' in the case of Effaclar Duo. As much as I have pictured above is enough for my forehead, nose, and chin. It's also impossible to tell how much of this product is left in the tube. I am still on my first one and getting a bit paranoid that I'll wake up one morning and find it empty, so yesterday I caved and ordered two more from escentual.com (1/3 off French skincare in June).

I have also mentioned this product in my May beauty favourites post, so please check that out if you want further information and of course do not hesitate to ask me if you have any questions! Follow me on Bloglovin or subscribe for more skincare related posts and reviews.