I Developed Acne in My Late 20s—This Is Everything My Dermatologist Taught Me
As a beauty editor who spends every single day consuming information and learning about skin from some of the top experts in the world, it’s safe to say that I know a thing or two about what we should and shouldn’t be doing in our quest for healthy skin. However, my years of experience in this job have also taught me that this does not mean I have the know-how on how to treat a medical skin condition.
You see, as like every other organ in our bodies, the skin and the way in which it functions is different for every individual. The advice that I give through my work is very much targeted at those that would like to give their already relatively healthy skin a helping hand. When it comes to skin conditions, whether it be eczema, rosacea, psoriasis or acne, there is little a beauty editor, friend, family member or influencer on Instagram can help with.
After a half an hour consultation, Dr Maruthappu had diagnosed me with acne vulgaris on my jawline and prescribed me a couple of prescription-only creams and a tablet to take every day for the next eight weeks. And while she explained that treating acne is a process that sometimes includes trial and error (meaning this might not be an immediate cure for me), she gave me some valuable insights on adult acne that I think are really important to share. This is everything Dr Maruthappu taught me…
One of the first questions that Dr Maruthappu asked me was if I was stressed. My initial answer was no more than normal, however it turns out what many of us deem to be ‘normal’ is often too high. Over the past few months, I have been juggling a house move with an exceptionally busy time at work, meaning I have been averaging roughly five hours of sleep a night. “Five hours is less than optimal,” warned Dr Maruthappu. She explained how high stress levels can exacerbate acne due to an increase in cortisol levels.
To help me get a grip on my stress (and maybe my acne), she recommended I invest some time in meditation. In a bid to help reduce my cortisol levels, I have been setting the time aside for 10 minutes of guided meditation on YouTube every evening.
I like to pop this diffuser on with a mind-calming essential oil as soon as I finish work.
This pillow mist is unlike any other I have tried. With notes of fresh bergamot, it has really helped me zone out before bed.
I have never used a balm as effective as this one. I simply rub it into my wrists, do three deep breaths and enter a blissful state of zen.
I swear by this body relaxing bath soak to help unwind after a long, stressful day.
This cooling tool helps to release facial tension and reminds me to take a few moments for myself every week.
One thing that Dr Maruthappu was very keen to get across is that the aggressive diet culture around acne and skin conditions needs to stop. “I have patients that have gone to extremes to cut out certain foods from their diets,” she admits. But the truth is, it can be really damaging for your mental health, and often isn’t founded in science.
She told me that, providing you’re getting a relatively balanced diet, rich in fatty acids, it’s likely not food causing your issues. With that being said, she did warn me that excessive dairy, sugar and protein powder consumption can risk exacerbating acne, so try to enjoy them in moderation.
While my diet is mostly balanced and very rich in fatty acids, I do know that my diet could be more nutrient rich, so I also take daily supplements to give me a helping hand.
Marshall, my aesthetician, recommended Wild Nutrition supplements to me a couple of years ago, and I have never looked back. This Multi-Nutrient is aimed to help fight tiredness, fatigue and brain fog.
This Biotic supplement is aimed at aiding gut health and digestion.
It’s important to remember that the skincare we buy in shops can only do so much for our skin. Sure, it can do a really great job at giving our skin what it needs to work at its best, but if there is something going on at a deeper level, medicated products are often required.
When I told Dr Maruthappu that I came off my pill, she asked if I had been experiencing any hair loss (I had). “Hair loss can often be a side effect from coming off certain pills as estrogen creates a good growing environment for hair. When you come off the pill, those estrogen levels can drop,” she explains.
She also revealed that acne along the jawline can sometimes (but not always, I would like to highlight) point to the sort of hormonal irregularities that come with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). “However, with PCOS, acne is commonly accompanied by hirsutism (excessive hair growth on the face) and irregular periods,” she adds. She advised that if I have any concerns, to visit my GP for blood tests.
I was prescribed spironolactone to help limit hormonal fluctuations, a tretinoin gel (retinoid) to increase cell turnover and an azelaic acid cream to minimise breakouts, bacteria and scarring. Although, please remember that this prescription is individual to me and might not be suitable for every individual’s wants and needs.
When using a topical retinoid such as the one I have been prescribed, it’s absolutely imperative that you don’t use any other acids or exfoliants in your skincare routine if you want to avoid damage to your skin barrier. Dr Maruthappu advised it was important I use a moisturiser free from acid exfoliants and one that I already know doesn’t worsen by acne.
I swear by this face cream for giving my skin the level of hydration it needs. Dr Maruthappu did warm me that there are a couple of comedogenic (pore-clogging) ingredients in there at low levels but that if I haven’t noticed any breakouts as a result of using it then to carry on using it.
This moisturiser doesn’t contain any high-tech, fancy ingredients, but it just seems to deliver everything my skin requires to stay balanced.
A truly wonderful moisturiser for when skin is feeling a little sensitised from actives, this stuff is fuss-free and gets the job done.
Another great no-frills moisturiser, this cream gives your skin barrier everything it needs to keep functioning at its optimum.
The key, when using any retinoid treatment (prescription or otherwise) is in being vigilant with your daily SPF application. Not only can retinoids made your skin more sensitive to sunlight, but applying SPF every day will also help protect skin against long-term scarring. And with so many great facial SPF products out there now, we really have no excuse.
This stuff is lightweight and doesn’t leave skin looking unnaturally shiny.
Yes, it’s expensive, but this SPF from Murad is one of the best I have ever used in terms of protection and comfort.
This SPF protects skin from burning and contains antioxidants to promote the skin’s natural defence against ageing aggressors.
If you want a truly invisible sunscreen, this one is for you.
For when I want to look a little bit glowier, this is my reach-for. Plus, it contains ingredients to help diminish the appearance of dark spots.
Next up, basically every celeb swears by this one skincare brand.
- Explore More: