This post contains TMI: Too Much Information. (It's also very long; sorry about that).
I'm not kidding; those of you who're only here for the nails, and anyone with a squeamish constitution? Look away now, while you still can... because this is the first in a new series here at Glitter Mountain: TMI Thursday. These are the posts where I'll be documenting my journey towards clear skin. I have adult acne; it's embarrassing, often painful, and usually rather unattractive to look at, but since 50% of women and 25% of men suffer from acne at some point in their adult lives, I'm not alone: that's an awful lot of other people out there who, just like me, have been staring in the mirror and wondering why the heck puberty seems to have come around a second time and what on earth they're supposed to do about it now. When we were teenagers, we could at least rest easy in the knowledge that the chaos on our faces would go away eventually. Not so now, when there's no obvious end in sight; it seems we're stuck with it and that's a very disheartening feeling. It's because of those people that I've decided to do this series; I'll be reviewing the products I use to help me, and documenting my progress with photographs, and hopefully it will be useful to fellow sufferers as well as to me.
There are various types of acne lesion which vary in severity; I'll save the descriptions for another day and for now, just say that my particular selection box of fun includes pretty much all of them at one time or another. There's lots of reasons why someone might get adult acne, and although I've always been a bit prone to this sort of thing, the reason it's got so bad in recent times is because of this:
The contraceptive injection.
It stops you having babies. It also stops your periods (for most people). And more importantly for me, it stops me from having 14 week mega-periods that leave me crippled with pain, anaemia and exhaustion. It's a sad fact that my hormones are not very well behaved and need to be forcibly controlled by the GP. I've tried a whole ton of other treatments and this is the only thing that works; it's either this or let them microwave the inside of my womb until it stops working completely. I figure a few spots are a fair price to pay in this particular exchange.
Except, well, it's more than a few spots. I'm going to show you a few pictures; they're hidden behind links so that you only have to see them if you really want to. Be gentle with me, I'm really having to be rather brave here... NOBODY sees my skin without at least a layer of concealer, you know?
This is kind of an 'after' shot. I had a whole lot of really bad spots about two weeks earlier than this because when my shot is due to run out, my skin has a party. (Even I'm not brave enough to show you that particular monstrosity). Normally I have the shot two weeks early to try and stop this, but clever me thought perhaps it'd be alright to leave it the full 12 weeks over Xmas. Wrong. Anyway, this shot shows where the spots used to be before a new shot of hormones and something sharp and pointy (more on that later) showed them who's boss.
The previous shot doesn't really show the extent of my blackheads, so I took this picture under downwards lighting and with lots of make up to make them more obvious to the camera. As you can see, there's a lot of them. Plus, you know how they always say you can steam these things and then squeeze them out? Doesn't work for me. The GP reckons it's because I have Psoriasis: my skin renews itself 7 times faster than normal and this means it's 7 times as blocked. I suspect even a sandblaster would struggle here.
As well as my forehead, I also get acne on my jawline. It's worse on my right hand side for some reason. There's lots of blackheads here too, but my camera was too busy focusing on the zits to see them. Just imagine my forehead, only lower down.
Not many actual zits here, but plenty of blackheads. Nice.
Okay I'm done with the scary stuff. You can come out from behind the sofa now. Here's something cute to make up for the trauma.
As you can probably guess, I don't much enjoy having this condition. I'm aware that there's a lot of people out there who are WAY worse off than I am, and my sympathies go out to every one of them. You probably won't be that surprised, either, that I've decided to stop just covering things up with make up and hoping they'll go away.
But guess what? There's a whole lot of products out there for skin problems like mine. A lot like anti ageing skincare, it's easy to stand there bedazzled by all the clinical looking packaging and wild claims and not have a clue where to start. Here's what I chose.
I'll be reviewing each of these separately, alongside my weekly progress updates, but for now, meet my twin weapons in this new fight: Benzoyl Peroxide (the blue tube on the bottom right) and Salicylic Acid (everything else). Also meet The Torture Kit From the Dark Ages:
Watch this space for a review of this scary looking piece of kit, too.
Well I think that's probably enough for now; I'll report back in a week's time to let you know how things are going. If you've made it this far, thank you for reading. I'll put up something pretty for my next post, I promise!