The Journey Begins…
My journey into skincare began in high school. Of course I left primary school thinking that washing my face with warm water and a flannel was enough. Actually I didn’t think it was enough, I didn’t think about it all. I just did it because I was told too. As I progressed through high school I began dipping my toe into the realm of makeup; lip gloss, blusher, foundation (Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse – you were my bae!) and of course GLITTER! It was everywhere on me (trust me!) and of course applied in a roll on fashion! It was probably at this point that my mum thought I should be washing my face a bit more thoroughly. So, of we went to Boots to purchase some pre-teen friendly products.
13 & Spotty
Armed with my new products, I was ready to fight the good fight of removing my make-up each night. Honestly, I didn’t give my routine another thought until I turned 13. Of course, practically the day of my 13th birthday, I was greeted with spots. Much to my dismay they started appearing on my nose, chin and forehead.
Within months of reaching the ever-wished-for age of 13, I had a classic teenage forehead full of whiteheads. It was at this point that I was given my first spot treatment. That same night I very excitedly applied the benzoyl peroxide treatment liberally, not just on the spots but all over. Inevitably, I woke up the next morning with a very dry and angry red face – classic! I quietly popped the spot cream to the very back of the cupboard. Dream matte mousse came back out and I just accepted that spots were going to happen. I was a teen right?
That was my first lesson in appreciating that miracles don’t happen overnight. And… that I should probably test patch before applying liberally!
One Year Later
I was having periods from hell. Cramps that made me faint and throw up and so off my mum and I went to the doctor. They suggested that I begin the combined pill. It would help regulate my periods and make them lighter and less painful. The pill would also help with my (still bad) skin. And it worked for a while actually. Along with stripping down my routine to a very basic cleanser and light moisturiser.
I lived in harmony with this routine. I only adjusted it by bringing in targeted products as I got older, like a blackhead cleanser. Or by adding whatever antibiotic/cream the doctor recommended for my skin. I was totally terrified of screwing my skin up so I stuck to the routine out of fear. Makeup became my priority!
University & Face Wipes!
Move over Dream Matte Mousse, I have a new bae and she is so convenient! Most nights I would stroll in at 4am with a face full of makeup and a little worse for wear. I would reach for the face wipes and head to bed. Of course, more times than I can count I fell asleep with said face wipe in my hand. Thankfully my pillow did the rest of the job of removing my makeup for me…
Well that was university and surprisingly, my face wipes, blackhead cleanser and my trusty light moisturiser saw me through! I didn’t love my skin but I didn’t care because I covered it up daily and that was my attitude.
Underlying it all, I didn’t think I would ever be in a position to have beautiful skin or to be confident without makeup. My mum had warned me my relationship with my skin would be complicated. Hers was and we assumed mine would be too. So that’s how I dealt with the worry of bad skin… by relying on makeup first and skincare last. As long as i could cover it up I’d be fine, right? Wrong!
“You’re now a qualified midwife – congratulations!”
This attitude stayed with me into the early days as a newly qualified midwife. The long working hours and the night shifts wreaked havoc with my skin. But I continued on with the same routine from uni, terrified of changing it up and making it worse.
I did this until I got to 24. Then I had an almighty breakout- probably thanks to years and years of poor skincare. I had blackheads, white heads and big, cystic, painful spots that made me cry when I touched my face. I was taking pain relief daily and slathering on my prescription cream every night. Then my skin became exceptionally irritated from the amount of spot cream I was putting on. This was when my boyfriend (now husband!) sat me down and suggested I saw a doctor.
All Makeup, No Chill
I was physically in pain every day. Mentally, the breakout had taken a massive toll on my self confidence. I was waking up 2 HOURS before a 12 hour hospital shift to cover my face in makeup. Once home, I wouldn’t remove it until the very last moment, before going to bed. My days became waaay longer than necessary this way.
I became obsessive. We couldn’t just get up on a day off and go for a coffee and a walk. I had to do a full face of makeup first. It often meant that by the time I was done applying, faffing and applying more, it was lunchtime. It got ridiculous and I had to do something about it.
So I dragged myself to the doctors and the doctor I saw was just great. She was so kind and understanding and obviously could see the effect it was having on my mental health. She referred me to a dermatologist and that’s where the second chapter of my skincare journey began.
“We just need you to do a pregnancy test before we can release this prescription to you…”.
Yes, you heard right, my prescription for Isotretinoin tablets was being held hostage by the nurse holding a pregnancy test! I did the test, waited to hear it was negative and off I popped to pick up my Isotretinoin medication. I was so excited to start taking it. Research told me of the side effects of taking Isotretinoin but I came to the conclusion that for my mental health, it was worth trying.
*You have to do regular pregnancy tests during the course of Isotretinoin in the UK*
The Isotretinoin worked. I stayed on a low dose for nearly a year. My skin was clear and I barely suffered any nasty side effects! Of course I had the dry skin, lips and eyes (attractive) but that was it. It all cleared up within a couple of months of finishing it.
But What Does Skincare Look Like?
After completing my course of Accutane, I realised that I was left with the same fundamental problem. I still didn’t have a clue what real skincare looked like.
So I did what I thought I should do. I took myself off to the most expensive counter in a beauty department store. A beautiful salesperson convinced me that I needed every product in the range I was looking at. Being the uneducated skincare virgin that I was, I paid for it all without a second thought! Then off I went home to try out my new goodies!
Around this time I was deep into wedding planning. So I just got on with the routine and prayed it kept my skin beautiful and glowing post-Accutane! And it did to a degree but to be honest I didn’t have much time to think about it. I was in full planning mode!
On reflection of all these situations, I realised that no one actually asked me what I was currently doing with my skin. I simply was advised what to try next. I’m not blaming here. I understand that doctors simply don’t have enough time to go through skincare routines. Even if mine was an embarrassingly short one! But it’s the truth, no one asked me even how I was taking off my make up each night.
The person I do blame is myself. I should have spent more time reading and researching skincare to help educate and empower myself. Truth is skincare wasn’t important to me. Makeup was. My focus was in the completely wrong place.
The next part of my skincare journey began on my birthday. I found myself turning 27 and realised I knew nothing about acids? Vitamin C? Retinol? WHAT?! I was clueless. I felt embarrassed by that, I wanted to know more. And for once, I wanted to put skincare first, not makeup.
Perhaps blame being married but I was so content and happy! I didn’t feel like I had to drown myself in makeup anymore. My husband loved me for who I was and I wanted to feel the same way about myself. To do this, I knew I had to start addressing my relationship with my skin. I couldn’t go on hating it and expecting it to screw me over all the time. I needed to spend the time getting to know my skin better.
Starting At The Beginning
And so it was a slow process but I began in January of 2020. I started reviewing what sort of products our skin can benefit from. Then I looked at what ingredients are not so great for us. Next came the planning of what products I was going to start using.
My first step was changing up my expensive and not so great cleanser. This was a big step for me! As I’ve mentioned, I’m terrified of changing my routine up. But I read LOADS of reviews, did my research and just went for it!
And do you know what, the change paid off. The cleanser worked actual wonders! My redness and irritation decreased and breakouts reduced to just monthly hormonal breakouts. I could not believe it! This really gave me the confidence to experiment more!
It was around this time that the UK lock-down came into place. This forced me even more to make peace with my skin. I gladly packed up my makeup bag and put it at the back of the cupboard. I was NOT going to be glamming up at home everyday! The makeup detox was nice to be honest and it definitely helped my skin. Plus, the enforced reduction in socialising was perfect timing to put my new found bravery to the test by experimenting!
UK Lock-down: Day 1
During lock-down I began reading about skincare even more. Learning lots but realising just how confusing the realm of skincare was. That’s how Skin Acid Trip was created. I thought if I have a healthcare background and I find all this information confusing, then how is everyone else feeling? Maybe you’re all fine but this blog has helped me so much for sure. I’ve felt like a scientist conducting my own skincare experiments! I’ve taught myself about what our skin needs, skin anatomy and how to figure out your skin type. Then I’ve gone ahead and researched products and trialled them out!
Some products have worked, some haven’t and I’ve documented my journey. So even if you guys are much more skincare savvy than me, maybe you’ll just enjoy reading my reviews and experiences! Or maybe like I once was, you are skincare clueless and wanting to dip a toe into the realm of skincare. If that’s the case, then I hope this blog helps you to better decide what your skin needs and how to listen to what it’s telling you. I truly believe our knowledge is our power to help us make better decisions. This might be for the better of our skin, our mental health, our lives.
To simply put it, when my skin is good, my mental health is better. That is why skincare is so important to me.
So, I hope you enjoy what I write each week and I’d love to hear from you. Whenever you read this article, message me, tell me about your skincare journey, say hi. I’d really love to hear from you.
Love & Knowledge,
S A M A N T H A