PARENTING ACNE

With 85% of teens experiencing acne as early as eleven, what can you do as a parent to help your child’s suffering? 

When I first started breaking out, my body was rapidly changing. I was developing into an adult before I was mentally ready. And the transition from being a carefree child to a paranoid teenager was abrupt to say the least. Even now, I look back at this time as being the worst years of my life.

The way my skin looked made me feel miserable and as one of the first people in my school year to have braces I didn’t feel like I was exactly blossoming into womanhood. Between spots, menstrual cramps and teeth straightening – growing up was painful.

For the first time in my life I found myself comparing my body, clothes, hair and skin to my friends. And while some “friends” laughed at me for the way I looked, others were jealous and asked me for beauty tips. Even back then it was hard to define beauty!

If you have a child with acne it’s likely they’re feeling overwhelmed. And if they are anything like I was as a teenager, they probably don’t want to talk about it. How you speak to your child about their skin condition will really depend on their age and your relationship but I hope this post will give you some helpful insights of how to approach it in the best possible way.

TALKING ABOUT ACNE WITH YOUR CHILD

It might seem like you’re treading on eggshells at the moment and you are right to approach this topic with caution. I remember any conversation with my parents about my skin ending in tears. But don’t let the daunting task of trying to navigate conversations around the ever changing mood swings of your child put you off from speaking to them all together! 

Firstly you need to create the right environment for your chat – not for example, in the cosmetics aisle of a supermarket! Your child probably feels safest in their bedroom, so providing they don’t share with another sibling, this is likely your best option. If you are reading this blog, you’re already helping! You’re trying to understand acne and how it is affecting your child. At this point it could be worth considering if you are the best person to be having this conversation with them. Is there anyone else in the family with personal acne experience or someone who you child typically opens up to? The first step is to get them to talk – it doesn’t matter who to. Once there is an open dialog it’s important that acne doesn’t dominate all conversations. Your child is reminded of their skin condition every time they look in the mirror, sometimes the best thing you can do is keep them laughing and show them a life beyond acne.

FINDING THE RIGHT SKINCARE ROUTINE

Once you are able to talk to your child about their skin you will be able to discuss skincare options. And don’t worry if skincare is new to you too! There’s plenty of information on my website or my social pages to help you. I also offer an online skincare consultation service which I will link here.

At this stage you want to start by slowly introducing a very basic routine. The mistake most people make (myself included) is to strip the skin of its natural oils or overload the skin with several products/treatments all at once. A basic skincare routine should look like this: cleanse, tone, spot application treatment, moisturise. If you’re not sure how to cleanse acne-prone skin without spreading bacteria, I’ve linked a basiccleansing tutorial here. You can either watch this first before you demonstrate cleansing to your child or you can watch the video together. Depending on the age of your child, their twice daily skincare routine might be down to you apply but I would recommend encouraging your child to take responsibility.

SEEKING PROFESSIONAL HELP

There may come a time where professional invention is necessary. The cause of your child’s acne is likely due to the surge of hormones in their body. In my opinion it is better to understand how you can help balance these quickly through diet and exercise before resorting to medication. In this case, I would recommend seeking the help of a nutritionalist or a naturopathic doctor. If you do decide conventional medication is the best option for your child, I would recommend seeking help from a dermatologist and not your local general practitioner. Remember that your child will feel anxious about explaining their condition to a professional, so you may have to step in and ask questions on their behalf. You may also want to consider psychological support as social anxiety and depression are a common side-effect of acne.

LONGTERM SUPPORT

Once your child has established a good routine, the best way you can support them in their acne struggle is from a distance. You can always let them know you are there for them but ultimately they need to understand they are in the driving seat. This is a hard lesson to learn. It took me many years to realise that I was the one actually in control. And this is where I think psychodermatology is so important.

If your child gets to the point where medication and skincare doesn’t help, they may become demotivated and genuinely believe they’re helpless. And if they feel like nothing works, why bother? After that, it won’t take long before acne starts dictating their life. More than ever they will need to regain control! And I found the best way to do this is by writing a journal and taking pictures to measure my progress. Most people with acne are just looking for the cure but unfortunately there is no ONE thing that works. Skin conditions like acne need to be targeted at the root. And to understand their skin they need to listen and identify patterns between their breakouts. Writing a journal is one of the ways I was able to breakdown some of my psychological barriers that had been preventing me from making progress. Within a few short months I had discovered the cause of my breakouts and the best way to combat it. Unfortunately it took me over a decade to realise I hand’t tried EVERYTHING!

QUICK DO’S AND DON’T’S

  • Don’t invite their friends round as a surprise to cheer them up
  • Do suggest that they go out more spend time with their friends
  • Do suggest fun activities that you would like to do with them
  • Don’t comment on their skin, even if it’s to say “your skin looks better today”
  • Don’t draw attention to new breakouts – they know
  • Do ask if they are experiencing any side-effects from medication they are taking
  • Do let them know you are there to support them in all things – not just acne
  • Do speak to other family members and request their discretion in advance
  • Do check that they aren’t having any issues at school
  • Don’t talk to your child’s friends or friends parents about their skin
  • Do compliment your child so they know acne does not define their beauty
  • Do remind your child not to touch their face
  • Do offer plenty of hugs!

ARE FILTERS STOPPING YOU FROM SOCIALISING?

Love it or hate it – social media is here to stay.

But, is it really social in the true sense of the word? I’m not sure. Am I connected with more people by using Facebook and Instagram? Yes. Would I have been able to maintain as many relationships; staying connected with people all over the world without using these apps? Not as easily. So on that basis, I guess I am more sociable.

Right now, we are being told not to socialise. To stay in doors. Which makes these apps a lifeline for so many people. They are filling the social distancing gap and stopping vulnerable people from feeling so alone. For Chris and I not much has changed. Living in the Caribbean, we relied on social apps to stay apart of our friends and families daily lives. So after a few years, socialising this way became our new normal.


If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s appreciation for seeing our friends and family in person. It’s made us question if social media had been stopping us from practising the skills necessary for real human interaction.

Another very unsocial aspect of social media is the obtrusive notifications that distract us from actual conversation. We’ve all done it – lost our train of thought because of something we’ve seen pop up on our screen. Are notifications healthy? A few years ago I turned off all beeps and banners because I started to feel like a slave to my phone. Is there such a thing as over communicating? I think so, I hated the way I was so accessible to everyone all of the time! I turned off features that could show what time I was last online because my friends were getting agitated that I had read a message but not responded. When did socialising get so stressful?

As a woman of thirty, I think I can say this next bit without sounding ancient! Everyone is looking down at their phones and missing real life! Whether it be when walking down the street or talking to a friend. No one is present anymore! And I think that is where the psychological dangers lie. A lot of people are living through their social media. They compare the quality of life after viewing a small glimpse of someone else’s (usually a strangers). Something we all forget from time to time – what people post online is 1% of their day. Most of us just show the good bits online because people turn to social media for light-hearted, uplifting content. We don’t put on the boring stuff because well, it’s boring. We all know this but it doesn’t stop us questioning if we are living as well as our virtual friends. Maybe that’s a good thing? Maybe it inspires and motivates people to live their best lives? But I know for some it can make them stop sharing all together – feeling unable to ‘compete’.

My last observation of ‘unsocial media’ is how we all feel like we already know everything that has happened to our friends or family – because we’ve been following their social media. It gives us a false impression of how they are doing, so we feel less inclined to reach out and check that they are OK. And similarly to this when we do see our loved ones in person there can sometimes be a lack of something to say to one another. Or just as you start to tell them something they say: “Oh yeah I saw it on your social media”. End of conversation.

Hello filters!

By the time social media was part of our daily lives, picture quality on our devices was no longer comfortably pixilated. Instead we found ourselves FaceTiming in high definition! (Quick! Where’s my selfie stick?) Are you ready for your close up? No? Me either! No one was! So it’s really no surprise that with dual-lens camera systems, 12-megapixel wide-angle lenses and 26mm focal length we were all feeling slightly self conscious!

Today, using a filter is considered normal and a big part of our social media experience. We don’t need to worry about high-definition cameras anymore because we can use a filter to smooth our skin and even give us a sun kissed glow if we’re feeling fancaay. Once, this type of digital enhancement was only available to marketing or photography professionals. Now it’s accessible to everyone at the touch of a button.

Last year, I lost my iPhone X to the Caribbean Sea and got stung by a jelly fish whilst hopelessly searching for it. (Not my best moment!) Luckily a friend of mine said I could borrow their old phone – a Samsung. I’ve always loved the picture quality on Samsung devices, so I was looking forward to taking some high definition skin-positive selfies. What I didn’t realise was Samsung has shooting features that you don’t get with iPhone – Beauty mode. But even more upsetting for me is that it activates by default when using the front facing camera, including options to make your face look slimmer and your eyes look bigger. How did I not know this?! And more importantly are there any parental restrictions on this feature?

After my disappointing Samsung discovery, I was horrified to learn during isolation, that Zoom also uses a beauty enhancement setting by default. How many other applications are filtering the way we look without us even realising? Knowing the affect this has on our mental health, do we still want it?

Admittedly I find filters fun – especially Instagram’s dog filter! But using this filter as an example, why does the skin need to be smoothed? Can’t we have fun filters without our ‘imperfections’ being erased? Apart from skin being misrepresented in this filter, it can be used without psychological harm. No one is going to use this filter so much that they believe they are actually a dog. But can the same be said for beauty enhancement filters? With the average person spending around two and a half hours on social media each day, over-exposure to this type of filter has given us a very warped perception of what beauty is, creating an extremely self-critical generation.

So in this new filtered world, how do we define beauty? Well, to answer that we need to look to where this all started and that’s back to magazine culture. Beauty = thin, airbrushed, pore-less models/celebrities. It’s seems crazy to me that the media is still dictating the definition of beauty! If you follow me on my social channels, you will know that I created the hashtag #poresnotflaws to raise awareness of filtered, airbrushed images and represent real skin. Because in spite of us being filter aware, it doesn’t stop us from questioning our beauty.

More recently social media apps have tried to make filtered content more transparent by displaying the name of the filter in use. It’s not clear whether this is in effort to help users be more filter aware from a psychological perspective, or to make it easier to use and share the filters that they see.

In August 2019 the Facebook-owned platform Spark AR studio was made available to the public. What’s that? That is where Facebook and Instagram filters are born! Now anyone can create and upload their own filter. So I created my own unfiltered filter called ‘Real Skin’ for anyone who wants to destigmatize flawed skin! (Yep it’s just your regular camera mode!)

There are some that argue that feeling insecure is just part of growing up. But I would say that the psychological repercussions of social filters are far more damaging than your average teenage insecurities. Where once we might of compared ourselves to someone else, now we are able to compare ourselves to the perfect, pore-less, virtual version of ourself.

Do filters stop social media being social?

For some social media can be a very toxic environment – whether it be because of online trolls or from obsessing over the amount of likes you get on every post. In truth, it’s not just filters that make us feel disconnected from society. But ironically we turn to filters to stop cyber bullies and to increase the popularity of our posts.

But what happens when you can’t achieve the same filtered look in real life? For some it stops them from socialising in person, embarrassed by the way they misrepresented themselves online. For others it causes panic attacks and social anxiety. And it convinces a lot of us to buy into the latest pore-less beauty trends in the hope that one day we will achieve the same airbrushed result as the model in the advertisement. For that reason alone, I ask the question whether misleading advertising like this should be legal and if cosmetic companies should be banned from digitally enhancing skin to promote their product.

As a network, social media is home to some of the most influential advertising. With 928.5 million people reached by ads on Instagram alone. Has your social experience been diluted because of advertising on social media? As annoying as it is, I am probably one of those 928.5 million people. I get most of my vacation inspiration from social media. And I’m definitely part of the 27% that finds new products/brands through paid social ads! But imagine talking to one of your friends over a cup of coffee and then they suddenly start trying to sell you something. WTF? So is it advertising taking the social out of social media?

Filtered content

OK! I know I’ve spoken a lot about filters but this time I don’t mean beauty edits. I want to talk about censored content. I’m not sure of the extent of parental controls where social media is concerned. But I know that the apps themselves have certain measures in place to safeguard us all against unwanted images or language. The problem is that these filters aren’t bullet proof! And what else are they censoring? Who gets to decided what we can and can’t see? What do they class as inappropriate?

Last year it became evident that some social apps were censoring acne – deeming it as undesirable content. And although the movement #undesirablesofinstagram went viral, images like these are still being censored today. So now, not only do we have to question what we see, we also have to question what we are not seeing.

But it’s not just the app creators that can censor content. With the use of hashtags, the ‘follow’, ‘unfollow’, ‘block’ and ‘restrict’ buttons we also have the ability to control what we see.

In the interest of my mental health, my personal social media guidelines are:

Unfollow anything that doesn’t make you feel inspired, happy, thankful or connected!

MY PSYCHOLOGICAL ACNE SCARS

Like so many others, when I first developed acne as a teenager I sought the advice of a doctor. And I think it would be fair to say that we all received a very similar treatment for our skin condition – topical solutions, followed by antibiotics, oral contraception and when all else fails Isotretinoin.

Can you remember the amount of appointments you’ve had concerning your acne? I’ve lost count! But what I do remember is that the state of my mental health was never addressed. Professionals expected me to be depressed and anxious. It was normal to feel that way living with acne. Understandable even. They pitied me but it was nothing to worry about because I would feel better when my acne cleared.

For thirteen years I told myself that I would be happy when I had clear skin. Thirteen years…

I first started getting pimples when I was in high school and although it was humiliating AF when I was teased, I knew I wasn’t alone. It was just part of growing up. But that feeling changed when I started beauty college and was the only one that still had adolescent skin. First semester – facials and makeup. Great. Guess who was the guinea pig for acne prone/problem skin type?! I arrived to college each day immaculately concealed but by lunch time I’d already had a least three practice facials! My face was so sore and inflamed I was afraid to even walk across campus to buy a sandwich at the cafeteria.

Things didn’t get any easier when I started my first job as a beauty therapist. I thought the humiliating days of having to expose my acne in class were over but the training continued – thankfully this time it was with experienced professionals and not a bunch of teenagers who had no real interest in pursuing a career in beauty therapy. But whenever my mask of makeup was removed during a demonstration I waited nervously for the audible gasps that inevitably followed.

Despite having access to free treatments and an unlimited supply of skincare as a beauty therapist, the overwhelming pressure to look like a vision of health and beauty prevented me from making any real progress. People looked to me for skincare advice but my inability to sort my own skin out made me feel like a fraud. I couldn’t help feeling that I didn’t belong in that perfectly polished world.

At home things weren’t any easier. At nineteen I was living with my boyfriend Ciaran, trying desperately to keep my skin concealed from him 24/7. It was exhausting. And it was around this time that I experienced hysterical paranoia – at school, I always assumed that people were laughing at me as I walked by, or that I was the subject of their whispers but this was something else. I was having panic attacks. And it didn’t take long for my irrational behaviour to start affecting our relationship. I couldn’t explain to Ciaran why I couldn’t just come out of the bathroom when he asked, why he HAD to keep the light off or why I didn’t want to go out with his friends. He wouldn’t of understood. Or would he? I regret not giving him the chance…

I felt ashamed about the way acne dictated my life. It was a burden and it took all of my energy to put on makeup and pretend that I was OK just to get through each working day. I literally don’t think I would have been able to function had it not been for good makeup! It allowed me to feel normal, pretty and temporarily happy. So whenever someone suggested to me that it was makeup that was making my acne worse, it hurt. Makeup was my lifeline.

I was reassured that by the time I reached my twenties I would have grown out of acne. So with each birthday I clung to the hope that by the time the next one came around I would have clear skin. When that didn’t happen and I had tried all acne medication, I really believed that nothing could help me. Looking back it was probably the lowest I’d ever felt about myself and rather than loving and accepting myself, I just gave up trying.

As an early teen, I had been bullied about the way I looked. Although it hurt, I also knew it was untrue, so their words didn’t stay with me for long. But in my twenties I wasn’t so lucky. I was being bullied so badly that it was affecting everything I did. But strangely I didn’t realise I was being bullied at the time because I was the bully. I was constantly telling myself I wasn’t good enough, that I was ugly and unloveable. And this time, I believed it. Even now I have no idea why I was so cruel to myself. But I think that says a lot about my state of mind at the time. Since then I’ve learnt that what you say to yourself matters and nothing good can come from hate.

It wasn’t until my mid-late twenties that I actively tried being kinder to myself. At this point I had met my husband Chris and felt loved unconditionally. The only thing that had been getting in the way was the sporadic attack of acne anxiety. Before I met Chris I had had three years alone working on myself, accepting and loving myself completely. Well almost… I had stopped trying to “fix” my skin and accepted that it was part of me. For the first two years of our relationship I concealed my skin from Chris adopting the same tricks I had used to hide away from Ciaran. He had no idea… To Chris I was the most beautiful woman in the world. Cute – but a lot of pressure to live up to! After two years the same acne insecurity shaped cracks started to show in our relationship. It was make or break. Be honest with Chris and show him all of me, or let acne ruin another relationship.

I chose Chris.

Throughout this blog you may have noticed I describe acne as “dictating my life”. But something I have realised quite recently is that it was never a skin condition that held me back. It was a mental health condition. Acne didn’t stop me from socialising, anxiety did. Acne didn’t stop me from answering a knock at the door, anxiety did. Acne didn’t make me cry into my pillow every night, depression did. Happiness was not absent in my life because of acne, I had mental health condition.

Today I can see how much my mental health prevented me from making physical progress with my skin. Now I question why psychological support isn’t offered automatically alongside traditional acne treatment. But then I do wonder if I would have accepted it if I was offered help. Would I have realised at the time that I needed it? I’m not sure…

I really believe that my skin started improving when my mindset changed. Two years ago for the first time in thirteen years, I took control of my acne struggle. I shared my insecurities with Chris and the world on social media. I needed everyone to know that I wasn’t perfect and THIS was the real me! That was the beginning of Beautiful by Breakfast which in turn put me in the right frame of mind to clear my skin once and for all. Suddenly I saw clearly. I needed to understand why I was breaking out and tackle acne logically – at the root.

I’m often asked about how I became confident in my skin – and the truth is, good mental health is at the core of my success. A change in perspective meant that I no longer measured myself up to unrealistic beauty standards. I accepted myself completely. But this didn’t happen overnight – it took work. But I don’t think I’ve ever done something so worthwhile that will continue to serve me for the rest of my life.

If you are struggling with psychological acne scars here are a few things you can do to start healing today.

  1. Talk kindly to yourself always! Speak to yourself as you would a friend.
  2. Change your language. Replace sentences like “my skin isn’t so bad today” with “my skin is glowing today” OR “I’ve tried everything and nothing works” to “I’m dedicated to my skin but haven’t found what works for me yet”.
  3. Speak to someone. Whether it be a friend, a professional or a stranger on an online support group.
  4. Create time each day dedicated completely to you, no matter how short it is!
  5. Manage your screen-time and unfollow accounts that don’t make you feel inspired, happy, thankful or connected.

HORMONE-FREE BIRTH CONTROL

From 2005 – 2013, I tried various contraceptive pills to combat my acne. Starting with Norethisterone and later Dianette, Microgynon, & Yasmin. At the time, taking birth control seemed like the best and only option. While I hoped that it would have a positive affect on my skin, I also used it for its original purpose – to prevent pregnancy. Unfortunately for me during those eight years I saw no improvement in my skin. But who knows? Perhaps it did prevent my acne from getting worse…

By my mid-twenties I was done with synthetic hormones and the unwanted side-effects. For the first time in my life I was actually conscious of what I was putting in my body. I’d just broken up with my boyfriend of six years and was ready for some time alone! I realised that I’d only continued taking oral contraception because it was convenient for our relationship and not because it was the best choice for my body. As sad as it was to breakup, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to allow my body do it’s own thing!

What happens when you stop?

It’s time for me to insert a little disclaimer here! If you’re thinking of stopping birth control it’s important to speak to your doctor first to make sure you’re doing what’s right for you.

Depending on what type of birth control your’e on, it can take from two to six months for your cycles to return to ‘normal for you’. I didn’t measure my periods at all when I first stopped taking oral contraception and in hindsight I wish I did. It seems like second nature to me now but back then it didn’t seem important. What I do remember is that my periods were always unexpected. Looking back I don’t know whether that was just me forgetting when it was due or if I didn’t see the signs my body gave me.

My doctor warned me that I might experience an acne flare up after coming off the pill but to be honest my skin was so bad at this point, I don’t think I would have noticed a few extra spots! The one thing that was significantly different though was my period pains. Oh hey! Even now, the first day of my cycle is the worst and if I could, I would definitely stay in bed!

What surprised me the most was the change in duration and flow. I went from having week long periods to just four short days. And after just two days of heavy flow the rest of the time it’s light and pretty forgettable.

Now, this next part I’m sure you’re going to raise one eyebrow as if to say “really?!” But these days I can actually feel my ovaries cramping (depending on which side is releasing an egg). Say what?! This realisation was an absolute game changer for me and finally got me listening and respecting my body. I’m so in awe of how incredible a woman’s body really is!

My final observation may sound obvious and verging on patronising but if you stop taking birth control you might get pregnant! Sorry but I had to say it! It’s never something I had to worry about because when I stopped taking it I wasn’t having sex. But five years ago I met my husband Chris, so naturally I started looking for alternative methods of contraception. Taking hormones again wasn’t an option for me. I was in sync with my body and I didn’t want to give that up – and why should I?

Hormone-Free Birth Control

I didn’t have to look too far to find Natural Cycles – the only birth control app cleared by the FDA in the United States and marked CE in Europe. What I found even more reassuring was that there were already a million registered users. So how does it work? By this point I was pretty sure magic must be involved but then I started reading about its special algorithm. Naturally I was still worried about its effectiveness until I saw this on their website.

Later that evening I spoke to Chris about it, explaining that all I had to do was measure my temperature each morning. After telling him about the ‘green days’ (non-fertile days) he didn’t need much more persuading and recommended I try it for one month to see how we got on.

So, all I needed to get started was internet and a basal thermometer. And today, twenty-eight cycles later I still only need internet and a basal thermometer!

What I’ve learnt using Natural Cycles

While I’m so happy that I’ve found a hormone-free method of contraception, I’m most grateful for everything that the app has taught me about my body. By using Natural Cycles to measure my periods, I’ve realised that my cycles are regular – indicating my hormones are balanced. So when I started journaling to identify the cause of my breakouts, I was able to rule out the possibility of hormonal imbalance.

The app sends me reminders of when my period is due and when I might start experiencing PMS symptoms. This has been great for when I get a bit overly sensitive and emotional, (who me?!) I get a notification and I’m like ‘oooh that’s why…’

Something else I’ve found really valuable about using the app is the ‘monthly predictions’. Although you can’t use these as actual results, it gives me a good idea at a glance of when I’m due to start a new cycle which is great for planning vacations!

But something I know you’ll love cysters, is that the app has taught me when I might experience breakouts due to hormonal changes depending on what phase of my cycle I’m on. How did I not know this stuff before?!

If you want to try hormone-free birth control, click here for my affiliate, discount link.

WHY GUA SHA?

If you follow me on social media you will know that I love Gua Sha facial massage. And it’s not just me! Gua Sha is a traditional Chinese Medicine practice that has more recently become a world-wide beauty trend. My favourite thing about Gua Sha is that it’s a simple but effective addition to any skincare routine. And once you’ve learned a few basic techniques you can get professional results at home.

What is Gua Sha?

I’ll be honest with you cysters, it’s taken me a while just to be able to say this word properly! So for anyone else who is struggling, it’s pronounced – gwahshah. And for some reason whenever I say it I picture Hermione Granger explaining this to Ronald Weasley:

“It’s leviOsa, not levioSA!”

The most traditional Gua Sha tools are made from Jade, horn or metal but you can also find facial ones made from Rose Quartz. And Semi precious stones like Jade and Quartz have unique skin benefits all of their own. But it’s the shape of the Gua Sha tool that makes it so easy to use. And it’s smooth edges and cool surface means that is safe to use even on my acne prone skin!

As a massage therapist I started using Gua Sha on the body several years ago to aid chronic areas of muscular stress, helping to relieve pain and tension. But more recently I have started using Gua Sha techniques at home a few times a week as part of my facial routine. Although the principle is the same, I wanted to use Gua Sha to remove toxins from my skin and help to break down old scar tissue that I’ve been left with after some of my more stubborn cysts.

Benefits of Gua Sha

Although Gua Sha was traditionally used to balance the body by relieving energy blockages known as qi, it has become popular within the beauty industry for dramatically improving circulation within the skin.

Championed by Katie Brindle (founder of the Hayo’u Method), studies show Gua Sha is proven to increase micro-circulation by 400%. This means your skins surface layers will be visibly nourished. In turn, this creates more receptive skin cells that allow your skincare to absorb more efficiently.

One of my favourite ways to describe Gua Sha is as an exercise for the face, toning and firming the skin with regular use. While many have dubbed Gun Sha as ‘the natural face lift’, I use mine to help reduce inflammation. However, I’ve had to adapt the more commonly used massage techniques found on YouTube tutorials to accommodate my often tender spots.

How to Gua Sha

Translated in Chinese, Gua Sha means scraping. And once your start getting to grips with this massage technique you will understand why. The shape of the Gua Sha makes it extremely versatile. So as your skin needs change, you can adapt how to utilise this tool.

For a smooth massage, it is recommenced to use a facial oil so that the Gua Sha can glide over your face. As I predominately use my Gua Sha for acne scarring I use Pai’s Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil to help reduce my hyper pigmentation. If you are avoiding oil, you can still use your Gua Sha for static pressure point work.

When my skin is particularly inflamed I refrigerate my Gua Sha and use the flat cool surface to gently sweep across my face avoiding any tender cysts. I then use the point to relieve muscular tension, finishing with light lymphatic drainage movements to remove toxins. While these techniques won’t be stimulating micro-circulation they will help sooth stressed skin.

My Gua Sha

Hayo’u Method
Odacité

BE THE CHANGE

Right now it’s hard to imagine that any good can come out of COVID-19. But I am confident that positive change is already in motion. And as always if you can’t see the change – be the change.

In September 2017 I lived through the chaos that was hurricane Irma. It was the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history. A Category 5 with winds at the speed of 185 miles per hour for 37 hours. Our little island home and all neighbouring islands were destroyed. For some time it felt like there was no end in sight. And we would have been completely cut off from the world if not for one temperamental satellite phone.

As the months slowly passed and bathing in the sea became normal, new leaves sprang to life on the trees. All around us nature was giving one final burst of life. As exhaustion faded, people started laughing again. We took each day as it came and no longer felt the pressures of emails and social media. The stress of ops reviews and budget meetings had all been replaced with the primal instinct to just survive.

Two years on we are faced with a different type of storm. Our physical isolation from the rest of the world protected us for a time but now, like everyone else we are social distancing and more recently self isolating. If you have experienced life with acne, you are no stranger to either of these tactics to stay away from other people. In fact I would go as far to say as I am a bit of an island myself! While I know some people are really struggling with the concept of not being sociable, that aspect of my life hasn’t really changed. Don’t get me wrong, this virus has completely changed the future that I had planned for myself but I can handle the social distancing bit!

In the same way that this virus is keeping us from living our normal lives, acne has the same affect on people world-wide. They don’t choose to self isolate. They usually believe that no other option is available to them. Acne is not contagious? No. But it is deemed socially unacceptable. (This is changing with the acne positivity movement on social media). And the only way to fit into society, get a job, make friends and live a normal life is to conceal that skin condition.

The last time I was isolated like this because of another reason other than my acne was hurricane Irma. I found myself without a job and the future I had planned for myself was ruined. But what I did have was time. And wasn’t I always saying how little time I had to do things for myself? If you follow my social media account, have a LYS journal or find my blogs helpful, you don’t know it but you have hurricane Irma to thank for it. It was during this really unsettling period of my life that I created Beautiful by Breakfast. I couldn’t see a positive change in my future. I was looking around at the devastation of Irma and felt only despair. So… I decided I would have to be the change.

Of course it is only natural that we should all be worried about the aftermath of this current storm. Life as we know it will be different. But as I said at the beginning – it doesn’t necessarily mean the change has to be all bad. It is not the virus that is shaping our future. But our response to crisis will.

If isolation means you are at home obsessing over your skin, squeezing more than usual or shaming yourself more often because of more mirror time – be the change.

FIND THE CAUSE OF YOUR BREAKOUTS

It was after hurricane Irma when I realised it was the perfect time to understand why I had acne. I spent my days researching about the skin condition itself, joining forums and learning how to eat well for my skin. I was learning so much and with all this new information buzzing around my head I knew I needed to document what I was doing. That’s when I decided to write a blog and use journaling to measure my progress. You might not have considered this yet but the positive of all this social distancing right now, is that you can dedicate this time to yourself. And if nothing else actually use those face masks that you bought with good intentions but never got round to using!

START YOUR IDEAL ROUTINE TODAY

Creating positive change isn’t easy if you don’t have time. I’m always saying that I would love to do something but can’t see where I would fit it into my current day-to-day. But what about now? For example if you’ve always wanted to start your day with yoga or meditation… do it now! If you’ve always wanted to be barefaced… do it now!

If you start implementing these changes today, you will find that your old life will have to fit into your new life and not the other way around. Use this time to ease yourself into a new routine at your own pace in your own home with all this energy that you don’t usually have after a long day at work!

KEEP WORKING ON YOUR CONFIDENCE

You might think because you’re at home you don’t need to work on your confidence. You’re not seeing anyone – no need for social anxiety. But hopefully, sooner rather than later we will be able to see our colleagues, friends and family again! And during this isolation period your skin may of stayed the same, got better or got worse. Or, during this isolation period your mental health may of stayed the same, got better or got worse. Either way at the end of isolation you might feel anxious about seeing people again if the way you feel about your skin hasn’t improved.

GO BARE FACED

Is there a better time to work towards going barefaced? Granted you may still live with people who you don’t feel comfortable exposing your acne to… but take it one step at a time! If you can master feeling comfortable in your own skin at home you will be better prepared going barefaced outside the house! This is not to say that makeup is wrong. It’s about having the choice to cover up rather than feeling like you have to. That being said, some of you might benefit from applying makeup during isolation. Whether it be to prevent you from squeezing or to help you feel more yourself at this unsettling time.

START JOURNALING

Journaling completely changed my history with acne. I had been struggling with it for thirteen years before I finally found the time and motivation to journal. I’d been told for years about the benefits by professionals yet always dismissed it as a waste of time. But with this new purpose to discover the cause of my breakouts on my own, I finally valued the practicalities of writing things down. Before I had always convinced myself that a new product wasn’t working and gave up before really giving it a chance. I was also going from one thing to another without being able to measure which product/treatment was giving me results. Now when I’m reviewing my progress I can flick through months of data and find patterns that I had never been able to track before.

If you’re thinking of giving journaling a try, take a look at my non-profit acne journal for help getting started.

SHARE YOUR STORY

Part of my acne healing was psycological. And sharing my story kick started the process. It sounds terrifying. And it was initially. But it was also the single most liberating thing I have ever done. I decided to share my story online first. I posted a picture of myself half concealed and half exposing my acne. For some reason I was more comfortable sharing my skin insecurities with the world all at once rather than individuals face to face. I think the main reason is because it spared me their shocked expressions. And the few people that I did see after my post felt able to bring it up in conversation and commend me on my bravery. It felt good. It also didn’t feel like a big deal or the drama that I had built up in my head. People were kind. And it gave them the opportunity to share with me their own insecurities. (A conversation that would never of happened if I hadn’t shared my story first.) I can’t think of a better time to reinvent your online presence – if you want to show the real you.

HOW TO USE YOUR LYS JOURNAL

Whatever your goal, believing YOU CAN means you’re already halfway there! But it’s not easy to stay optimistic when you feel like you’ve tried everything, and nothing works.

The first few weeks of the LYS journal is a fresh start and the beginning of achieving the results you want. It’s time to put aside your doubts and your past failures to achieve clear skin. Let that shit go! OK, so doctors and dermatologists haven’t been able to help you. And you’ve tried an array of antibiotics and contraceptives. Isotretinion isn’t for you? Or perhaps your taking it now and need to measure your results.

Wherever you are on your skin journey, your goal isn’t to clear your skin. Your goal is to LOVE YOUR SKIN.

… maybe this is the one thing you HAVEN’T tried…

Remember why you started

If you have bought the LYS journal, it’s because you are tired of saying no to life on account of your breakouts. You are ready to let go of your acne anxiety and make the changes necessary to get results. Whenever you are feeling like giving up, remember:

The road to happiness is bumpy but your skin doesn’t have to be!

Measure your progress

Remember speed doesn’t matter. Forward is forward. As results are often gradual, it can be demotivating to think you are not making progress. Keep track of any subtle changes to your breakouts by referring back to previous entries and taking daily pictures of your skin for comparison. If you find yourself becoming anxious to see results, remind yourself that skin cells take approximately twenty-eight days to regenerate from the base to the surface layer.

Lastly, never measure yourself using someone else’s ruler!

How to use the LYS journal

The LYS journal is designed to inspire and guide you through the next three-hundred and sixty-five days. Use the beautifully illustrated writing and colouring pages to help free your mind of negative thoughts and enjoy some much needed digital downtime.

Understanding your breakouts takes strength and determination. While tackling acne from every angle is essential to achieve long-lasting results, it can make pinpointing the cause of breakouts more difficult. With the LYS journal you will write a declaration every four weeks to help you focus on one possible cause of acne at a time. This will keep you motivated each month to try something new and help you determine whether it actually works. If you experience good results at the end of the four weeks you can add it to your core routine.

Declaration examples:

  • Increasing water intake to encourage healthy cell function
  • Substituting sugar to minimise sugar spikes and inflammation
  • Using a clean face cloth every night and washing them at 60°C to kill bacteria
  • Getting 8hrs minimum of sleep every night to aid cell renewal
  • Eating probiotic rich foods to improve gut health
  • Substituting dairy to minimise sugar spikes and inflammation and possible hormonal imbalance
  • Minimising screen time, unfollowing accounts that make me feel unworthy
  • Morning affirmations to start the day positively
  • Making a conscious effort to socialise more with friends without acne holding me back
  • Talking openly about my skin to friends and strangers to help rebuild my confidence
  • Reducing the amount of makeup I wear and washing my makeup brushes after every use
  • Minimising the amount of time I spend squeezing my spots to prevent spreading infection
  • Including facial massage into my routine every night to promote cell renewal
  • Using a L.E.D light mask four times per week to kill acne bacteria

Once you’ve decided what to focus on for the next four weeks, you can then think of ways of how you are going to achieve it. For example, if you declare to keep hydrated, your plan to achieve this goal might look like this:

“I’m going to measure what I’m drinking by using a one litre vessel which I intend to consume and replenish every four hours. I will set a timer on my phone every four hours as a reminder. I’m going to carry my water with me everywhere and make sure it’s always within easy reach. I’m going to add lemon slices to my water and keep it chilled to make it more appealing. “

Identifying patterns

It won’t take long before the cause of your breakouts is written somewhere among the pages of your journal. If you need help identifying patterns and analyzing your results you could take your journal entries to your doctor or dermatologist for their expert opinion.

At the end of every four weeks, there is a space dedicated for you to review your progress.

Here’s some tips of what to look for:

  • Look back at pictures of your skin. What do you notice about the texture? Do you have any scarring or pigmentation? Do you have any new breakouts? If so, where are they located? What kind of acne is it? [blackhead, pustule, whitehead, cyst]
  • Look back at your cycle entries. How does your cycle affect your ‘skin mood’?At what stage of your cycle did you experience new breakouts? Is this the same every cycle or does it change?
  • Look back at your food entries. Is there a link between what you eat and your breakouts? Is there anything you eat more of than you realised? Are you eating a variety of food? How was your digestion during this period?
  • What cosmetics gave you the most noticeable results? What products gave no results or made your acne worse?
  • Did you notice a difference between the days you wore makeup and the days you didn’t?
  • Did you notice your skin improve on the days you had more ‘me time’? Does your skin improve when you are less stressed?
  • Look back at your sleep entries, do you notice your ‘skin mood’ is better the day after a good night’s sleep?

When to journal

The beauty of journaling is that it can be done anywhere. Whether you journal with a camomile tea before bed or during your evening commute, set aside five minutes each day for your daily entries. If you find it hard getting into a routine, plan to journal at a set time each day until it becomes second nature.

SUNSCREEN FOR ACNE-PRONE SKIN

Just when you get into a good skincare routine, the weather changes and so does your acne. Yes, learning how to love your skin in the summer months is hard when you have spots!

This is especially true if you are trying to conceal your breakouts in the heat. Oh what you would give to simply splash your face with water! But instead you wipe away the sweat and reapply another layer of foundation. The cocktail of sweat and pore clogging sunscreens are responsible for most of us experiencing flare-ups in the summer months. So much so that it can often lead to some of us opting to wear no sun protection at all! (Guilty!)

As much as I love the sunshine, in 2015 I considered not moving to the Caribbean in fear of how my skin would react. Thankfully, I was well on the way to loving my skin and decided not to let acne dictate such a life changing decision. Living in constant sunshine did mean one thing though. Neglecting sunscreen was no longer an option! Four years later and I have a few favourites which don’t make me breakout.

This blog was written for mybest.

My Top 10 Suncreens

CeraVe Face Moisturizer with SPF 30

I usually find it’s the creams that smell like holiday in a bottle that irritate my skin the most! That’s why I decided to try CeraVe – it’s fragrance free! When I started using their Face Moisturiser with SPF 30 I was particularly surpsied by its light texture. I can apply this moisturiser worry free, knowing that I’m not only protected but also keeping my skin hydrated with its added benefits of Hyaluronic Acid.

COOLA Mineral Face Matte Tinted Moisturizer

Something I’m really passionate at the moment is using products that are safe for not only for humans but the planet too. Ultimately all our favourite skincare products end up being washed off into the ocean one way or another but something that is noticably destroying marine life is suncream. So when I found COOLA reef safe SPF I was so excited I could finally buy SPF that would both protect my skin and our oceans! As a compnay that specialises in sun protection COOLA has a large selection to choose from making it easy to find one to suit your skin type. I fell in love with the Mineral Face Matte because it keeps my face shine free!

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen

In 2015 I moved to the Caribbean and the one thing that was niggling at the back of my mind was how was the heat and humidity was going to affect my acne. And like any oily skin type will tell you, I hate the feeling of greasy textures. And the most annoying thing about living in a hot country is the labourous task of applying SPF regulary throughout the day. Greasy hands touching everything! That’s why I really enjoyed using Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen – it helps absorb excess oil and is dry to the touch! YES!

Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Lotion Sunscreen with SPF 55

If you’re anything like me you have quite the skincare collection at home! And while I am always scrutinising the ingredient lists of all my new purchases I’m also concious of the price tag too! And it’s not easy finding high performing skincare on a budget! That’s where Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Lotion stands out from the crowd! This sunscreen can boast of a light texture and both oil and fragrance free ingredients. For anyone with acne who is new to using suncreen, this is a great place to start!

Dermalogica Light Sheer Tint Moisture SPF 20 Face Moisturiser

When it comes to skincare, there are some brands that I just know I can trust. Dermalogica is one of those brands well respected in the industry for its ingredient intergrity. So when it comes to using their Light Sheer Tint Moisture, it feels more like using one of my favourite moisturisers rather than using SPF. The reason I love this one so much is because the tint is perfect for helping me find the confidence to go barefaced. Concealing in the hot weather is such a chore but I’ve found this gives me just the acne coverage and sun protection I need!

Clinique Moisture Surge All Skin Types CC SPF 30

Although my acne has mostly cleared up I do still have patches of hyper pigmentation and uneven skin tone. And for me, that’s what zaps my confidence the most! I find Clinique’s Moisture Surge CC cream concealed my redness just as well as my most durable foundations. In fact it’s the same consitency as most of my liquid foundations so I’ve found applying it with a beauty blender works really well! For anyone who doesn’t believe that a tinted mosituriser is ENOUGH to conceal your breakouts, I would recommned starting here to help the transition from foundation to moisturiser.

Paula’s Choice CLEAR Ultra-Light Hydrating Oil Free Moisturizer SPF 30

One thing that acne has taught me is that less is most definitely more! Where I used to have a million and one things open at once and now I try to have a maximum of ten things open at one time. Streamlining my routine has meant that I demand more out of each product. And using less products shouldn’t have to mean less results! What makes Paula’s Choice CLEAR unique is that it is a clear fluid! And unlike other products containing SPF it can boast in it’s ability to reduce acne marks and protect your skin from sun damage. Ok so extra benefits does sometimes come with a larger price tag but in my opinion it’s worth every cent!

Murad Essential-C Day Moisture

This antioxidant rich broad-spectrum suncream from Murad thinks well beyond harmful sunrays! This SPF also works on protecting our skin from other types of enviormental damage with its clever use of powerful antioxidants to reduce inflammation within the skin. Another ingredient that I’m always on the look out for is Vitamin C. In the past I’ve found this the most effective ingredient at improving my acne scarring. But it’s not just what is inside this SPF that’s impressive! What isn’t included is also a big plus for me! Murad contains none of the nasty, irritating, pore clogging ingredients like Sulphates and Phthalates!

Lancome Renergie Multi-Lift Redefining Lifting Cream SPF 15

I’ve had acne in varying degrees for fifteen years. So naturally what I need out of my skincare has changed over time. Acne isn’t just for teenagers! My skin is ageing! So recently I’ve been drawn to products with anti-ageing benefits. Lancome Renergie Multi-Lift Redefining Lifting Cream feels more like a moisturiser with the benefits of SPF 15 protection. And after just one week of using this poduct daily I noticed my skin was visibly firmer. So for those of you whos teenage years seem like a distant memory, you’ll love the anti-ageing benefits of this product!

Jane Iredale Dream Tint Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15

Another tinted moisturiser? Yes cyster! They are my new obession after dismissing their effectiveness for so long! Jane Iredale’s Dream Tint Tinted Moisturizer is my new favourite though! Because the downside to most tintied moisturisers is often their poor colour match. But with seven colours to choose from Jane Iredale is so confident you’ll find the perfect one for you – they offer a 100% colour match guarentee. But better than that, what this company stands for is what impresses me the most. This brand contains no nasty ingredients, is reef safe and water resistant for up to 40 minutes. Sorry but is that not everything I search for all in in ONE product?!

What I’m using now

Dermaquest Sheer Zinc 30

This is the first SPF I used that didn’t breakout me out. And now I use it as a bench mark for everything else that I try. And now, in between trialling other things this SPF is what I always go back to. If you are worried about SPF making your acne worse, this product can restore your faith in using sun protection.

FDA Recommendations

  • Limit time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun’s rays are most intense.
  • Wear clothing to cover skin exposed to the sun, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, sunglasses, and broad-brimmed hats.
  • Use broad spectrum sunscreens with SPF values of 15 or higher regularly and as directed.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, and more often if you’re sweating or jumping in and out of the water.

The Best Way to Apply Sunscreen

Unaffiliated advice

Beautiful by Breakfast is home to authentic, unaffiliated advice. The links I have provided are for your convenience only. If you have used any of the products listed, please share your opinion in the comments below.

FOUNDATIONS TO CONCEAL ACNE

When my acne was at its worst, foundation ranked highly in a list of items that I could not live without.

You could say that over the years I’ve established a very unhealthy relationship with makeup! Like other blemished beauties experience; there are times when I can’t leave the house or even answer the door without wearing foundation. And hiding away is preferable to watching the horror unfold on someone’s face when they see my acne for the first time! But there are some days where hiding away isn’t an option and I have to mentally prepare myself for that dreaded question:

“What’s happened to your face?”

Foundation has given me the freedom to escape those horrified expressions and spared me the ordeal of having to explain my appearance. Although makeup isn’t a permanent solution to the way I feel about my skin, it has allowed me to temporarily forget that I have acne and live ‘normally’. There are even times I need to hide acne from myself! Sometimes I find that concealing my breakouts prevents me from obsessing over my skin.

Over the last fourteen years I have used a lot of different types of foundation depending on the severity of my acne. In this blog I explain the difference between the foundations available and what skin type they are best suited to.

For build-able coverage

For those of you with rosacea, or sensitive skin types, using a mineral foundation will conceal your skin minimising the risk of further aggravation. What I love about this type of foundation is that it is build-able – so as you grow more confident in your skin, you can reduce how much you apply!

Depending on the brand, mineral makeups are free of the usual skin irritants, like mineral oil, colours and fragrances. My absolute favourite has to be YoungBlood – Natural Mineral Loose Foundation! This covers my blemishes perfectly without drying or clogging my pores which means I can conceal my breakouts GUILT FREE! If you are unsure how to decipher the ingredients of your preferred foundation, check out this amazing app – Think Dirty.

My top tip for applying mineral foundation is to use a soft brush with light dabbing and circular motions. If your brush is too coarse or you apply too much pressure you will remove previously applied layers and cause unwanted friction on the skin.

For full, long-lasting coverage

Foundations that boast durability and maximum coverage usually mean that they don’t allow your skin to breathe in the same way a mineral foundation will. While these foundations have concealed my breakouts flawlessly in the past, I now use them sparingly for special occasions.

In my experience these foundations have a thick consistency best suited for dry skin, so don’t worry if it takes a few attempts to create an even finish. For beginners I would recommend using a beauty blender to help reduce aggravating your skin during application.

The best thing about using a liquid foundation is their hygienic packaging, unlike mineral foundations that require you to dispense some of the product into the lid. With a liquid you can pump or pour these straight onto your hand minimising the risk of contamination and spreading acne bacteria.

For light coverage

If you are opting for a tinted moisturiser, you are well on your way to feeling confident in your own skin! YES CYSTER!!!

After fourteen years of concealing my breakouts with a full coverage foundation, I never believed that a tinted moisturiser would ever be enough to confidently cover my acne. But in recent weeks my skin has improved so much that a tinted moisturiser is the only security blanket I need.

As these are 2 in 1 products, it is worth investing the time to find one that suits your skin type. You can set this in the same way a foundation, using your normal finishing powder to prevent a shiny complexion.

Unaffiliated advice

Beautiful by Breakfast is home to authentic, unaffiliated advice. The links I have provided are for your convenience only. If you have used any of the products listed, please share your opinion in the comments below.

HAVE YOU TRIED WASHING YOUR FACE?

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I have been asked that question. And like so many others I grew up believing that only people with dirty faces got acne. While this is simply NOT true; establishing a good cleansing routine will help prevent further infection.

When I first started getting spots in my early teens I never thought the skincare I used could actually do more harm than good. Whether you are new to breakouts or a long standing member of the cysterhood; this post tells you everything you need to know about cleansing.

Choosing your cleanser

Your skin type will determine what kind of cleanser works best for you. After years of using alcoholic cleansers and toners, my skin became dry, sensitive and oily which made for one hell of a combination! If your skin is as confused as my skin was, I would try treating one condition at a time.

Sensitive skin types

Understanding the cause of your sensitivity will allow you to prevent your skin from becoming irritated in the future. In my experience it is usually the combination of oral and topical medication that cause instant sensitivity. It is also important to consider how you remove your cleanser. Avoid scrubbing your skin to reduce redness and further aggravation. Instead you can find instant relief from using a clean, damp muslin cloth straight out of your refrigerator.

Remember, it probably wasn’t that long ago that you used nothing on your skin. Could your skin be overwhelmed by all the new changes? Once you have got your sensitivity under control you will be able to switch to a cleanser to combat your acne.

My top 3 cleansers for sensitive acne prone skin

Oily skin types

This is the most common skin type associated with acne. While you will thank your overactive sebaceous glands in the future for keeping your skin youthful, right now it is providing the perfect environment for acne bacteria to grow.

Choosing a cleanser for this skin type is where most of us go wrong. Understandably a lot of people fall into the trap of buying alcoholic based cleansers for that squeaky clean finish. Unfortunately this encourages our skin to produce more oil to compensate for the sudden dryness. A much more effective way to cleanse this skin type is with a BHA based product. Beta Hydroxy Acids naturally dissolve oil deep within the follicle helping to reduce infection and neutralise acne bacteria.

To avoid damaging your skin, use your BHA cleanser as directed by the manufacturer. As most BHA cleansers can only be used up to three times a week; for in between uses I recommend a cleanser from my top 3 for sensitive acne prone skin.

My top 3 cleansers for oily acne prone skin

Dry skin types

In the same way an oily skin breakouts because of oil buildup within the follicle, a dry skin is prone to dead skin cells blocking the pores. In both cases the follicle can become easily irritated and inflamed providing the perfect environment for acne.

For this skin type I would recommend using a cleanser with Alpha Hydroxy Acids. AHA’s are naturally occurring acids that help exfoliate the skin’s surface whilst promoting collagen production and reducing pigmentation.

To avoid damaging your skin, use your AHA cleanser as directed by the manufacturer. As most AHA cleansers can only be used up to three times a week; for in between uses I recommend a cleanser from my top 3 for sensitive acne prone skin.

My top 3 cleansers for dry acne prone skin

Using your cleanser

Before you can begin to apply acne fighting gels and serums, you need a clean, fresh surface to layer them onto. If like me you wear makeup to conceal your breakouts your first cleanse will always be superficial. It may seem excessive to wash your face twice but to keep your pores clean; that second cleanse is essential. No matter what your skin type, I would always recommend cleansing your face as soon as you wake up, just before bed and immediately after exercise.

When it comes to cleansing my skin I’m always in a bit of a hurry! One of my own personal goals at the moment is to take more time massaging my face as I cleanse; focusing on the areas where I suffer most with blocked pores. If this is something you are going to try to do more of I would love to hear about your results in the the comments below.

Removing your cleanser

How you remove your cleanser is as important as the cleansing itself. For the most effective removal, use a fresh, clean cloth or applicator each time to avoid adding more bacteria to your face. Take care wiping over pustules and broken skin to avoid spreading infection.

My top 3 removal methods

Unaffiliated Advice

Beautiful by Breakfast is home to authentic, unaffiliated advice. The links I have provided are for your convenience only. If you have used any of the products listed, please share your opinion in the comments below.

FINDING SKINCARE THAT WORKS FOR YOU

An essential part to clearing your acne is finding skincare that works for you.

With so many skincare options to choose from, it isn’t easy knowing which way to invest your money. So many of us fall into the trap of buying the product that has the best television commercial or our favourite celebrity endorsing it. And once you’re done trialing a million different products only to realise you wasted your money, you’ll strip back your routine so much you end up deciding to use nothing at all.

Salons & Clinics

As a skincare professional, I would say that you could save yourself a lot of time, money and disappointment if you take the plunge and seek professional advice as soon as you can. You might think that this is another way for your acne to make other people money but I always feel much better about parting with my hard earned cash after I’ve received some free advice! 

The best thing about buying from a professional is that you both want the same thing. Results. They want to see you reach your desired goal because selling one product doesn’t make them much money. You being a happy client, telling all of your friends about how much they’ve helped you will bring them lots of money.  So your good results and happiness is what they will be striving for.

Don’t be afraid to walk into a few salons and ask lots of questions about their skincare. You don’t have to buy anything! Your gut will tell you which place is thinking of your best interests and not just a quick sale. If you have no idea what to look out for, establishments that offer free consultations or ask you lots of questions about your skin will have a lot more to offer.

The best way to buy new skincare is to have a facial first before committing to anything. That way the therapist has had a good look at your skin and knows exactly what you need. You can also talk in depth about routines and how your lifestyle can also impact the results of your skincare.

Buying Online

Buying cosmetics at drugstores, department stores or online is definitely the biggest way that companies make money off your acne. Their business depends on one off sales because their customer base is so much larger. The skincare stocked is usually mass-market brands sold at a lower price due to the volume they buy.

If you are buying online, there is no one to offer you advice or help with the transaction; which is why internet shopping is so much cheaper. But without professional help, we can either buy too much or too little or the wrong thing entirely; which inevitably leads to no results and more shopping! 

Buying online does have it’s place, as long as you have done your research and know you are buying from a reputable source as some brands have a lot of trouble with brand imitation.

Before buying anything, ask yourself…

What is your main concern?

You may have several things that you would like to change. But for now, concentrate on the one that zaps the most of your confidence.

What could have caused your concern?

There are many factors to consider when trying to pin point the cause of your problem skin. Lack of sleep, hormonal imbalance, diet, water intake, environment and sun exposure are a few to look at before changing your whole skincare routine. 

Does your current skincare target this problem?

How long have you been using your current skincare? Have you been using it morning and evening as directed or have you been applying it just when you remember? To get the results advertised you must use the product as recommended by the manufacturer. 

Have your current cosmetics expired?

All cosmetics have an expiry date or use before six, twelve or eighteen months after opening. Check the labels. If they smell bad, they have probably expired and it will be very unlikely you will get the promised result. 

Are you storing your skincare properly?

Most skincare needs to be stored away from direct sunlight to prolong the life of the product. In hotter climates you may want to store any natural skincare with less preservatives in the refrigerator. 

After answering those questions, you may have some ideas of how to adapt your current skincare routine to get the most out of your future skincare investments.

Give it a chance…

When I started using a new brand recently, I saw results within the same week but if you haven’t seen any improvement after four weeks of using a new product; it is either not working for you, or part of your regime is blocking it’s performance.

CLEAR SKIN GOALS

It is not uncommon for most of us to grow up with a ‘life plan’, anticipating where we will be professionally and personally by certain milestones. Most of my friends planned to be married by the time they reached twenty-five and others mentally scheduled the date when they would start a family. We all know that having dreams and something to work towards is healthy but we should also prepare ourselves for some unexpected bumps in the road.  And in my case – bumps in the skin.

Admittedly I never anticipated still having acne at twenty-nine; so when I first started my blog Beautiful by Breakfast, I set myself a goal to be free of acne before I turned thirty. I had given myself eighteen months to clear my skin. I intentionally allowed plenty of time to ensure I succeeded but six months into my clear skin mission my boyfriend proposed! So now, understandably, I find myself adjusting my deadline so that I can be free of acne before I get married in August! That has taken me from one year to only two months remaining! It is no wonder that I am feeling completely overwhelmed and demotivated at the moment!

For the last six months I have worked so hard to be sure that I am doing everything humanly possible to clear my skin and now I feel like I have single handedly set myself up to fail. That is why it is so important to set yourself realistic and achievable goals. We’ve all been there a hundred times, when we start a new product or a new course of medication and say, “This is it! This is what’s going to clear my skin.”

And every time something doesn’t work, we get up, dust ourselves off and try again. It’s exhausting, but our dream of clear skin keeps us going.

HOW TO PLAN FOR SUCCESS

Specific

What is your goal? Is it to be breakout free or completely blemish free? What do you expect your skin to look and feel like? Remember, once you have cleared your skin of acne you may still have scarring or enlarged pores. If you have more than one goal in mind, you might find separating them into more manageable pieces less overwhelming.

Measurable

To see results you need to measure your progress. The best way to do this is by writing a journal and taking regular photos of your acne so that each week you can compare your results. It is only in the recent months that I have started doing this; that I actually appreciate how far I’ve come and that the hard work was worth it!

Accountable

The hardest lesson for me to learn was that the only person that could help me was me! Relying on doctors and dermatologists wasn’t enough, it was down to me to put in the hard work. Of course it would have been great if all my skin problems had been fixed by taking a pill but my acne persisted and it was down to me to find out why.  I had been recommended countless times by my doctor to write a food diary and each time I dismissed the idea thinking it would be a waste of time. Over a decade later, I finally took their advice which lead me to discover the cause of my breakouts!

Realistic

Our skin cells take twenty-eight days to regenerate from the base to the surface layer. With acne skin types in particular, expecting a product or treatment to give noticeable results before this time; is unrealistic. It is also worth mentioning that everyone’s skin is different, so just because a product or treatment worked for someone else doesn’t necessarily guarantee that it will work for you. It is easy to watch a television commercial and expect your skin to look as flawless as the person selling the product.

Time-related

Working towards a deadline will help to keep you focused. Set yourself alerts and reminders for when you reach quarterly milestones to motivate you through the process. While you should avoid pressuring yourself with unrealistic deadlines (like me!) you should also be careful not to give yourself too much time to work towards your goal… tomorrow never comes.

To help you on your way…

Start. Measuring. Acne. Relative. To.

YOU.

DOES SUGAR & DAIRY MAKE ACNE WORSE?

Dairy

When it was first suggested by a colleague over ten years ago that I stop drinking milk, I said no straight away. I loved milk and was not prepared to give it up. They say dairy (like sugar) is addictive and like any addiction; you have to want to give it up. At that time of my life I was unhappy and sought comfort in what I ate.

Over the years I have reduced my sugar in-take and stopped drinking milk but continued to eat cheese. To try and identify what was causing my flare ups I recently started a food journal and I was shocked to see how much dairy I was still consuming despite giving up milk. I realised I was eating cheese with most meals and was always over generous with butter.

Recently it was confirmed by Dr Nigma Talib (my naturopathic doctor) that I was severely intolerant to cow, sheep and goats milk. I stopped eating dairy immediately; interested to see if my allergy to dairy was the cause of my breakouts.

Of course not all acne sufferers are allergic to dairy but many say that going dairy free helped clear their skin. So what is it about dairy that causes us to breakout? This is quite a hot topic among nutritionalists, dermatologists and conventional doctors; so it is up to you to decide what you believe.

Over the last few weeks I have been reading various articles that claim the hormones present in dairy disturb key functions within the body. This can impact our health in a number of ways but the main and most relevant to acne; is it’s link to inflammation and hormonal imbalance.

If you buy your milk from organic dairy farms who do not medicate their cows then this may not be applicable to you; as independent farmers take much better care of their animals. So if you are not ready to give up dairy just yet, you could start with researching where your milk comes from.

With the abundance of alternative, nutritious nut milks available; you could also start by making that swap first working towards eliminating cheese and butter when you are ready. Remember to always check the labels of your milk first as some are loaded with sugar and flavourings which can lead to another cause of inflammation!

Sugar

We probably all know that sugar is bad for us. We deem it as a treat food and naturally try to limit the amount we consume to prevent gaining weight. But what you might not know is how much sugar can be found in everyday food items.

When I first started cutting sugar out of my diet a few months ago; I was shocked to find it hidden in food that I deemed healthy. I’ve never wanted to be that person that reads the back of a food label to check the calories and ingredients. But when you are intentionally trying to cut something out of your diet, you have to check.

It was at this point I started to find it everywhere. It was in healthy snack bars, bliss balls, my favourite granola and even my savory snacks. More worryingly I discovered sugar was frequently the largest ingredient.

By reading food labels I began to feel more in control of what I was eating. I was proud to know that I was nourishing my body instead of mindlessly putting food in my mouth. Of course there is always room for treat days once in a while but to be honest, once I cut sugar from my diet it no longer had the same hold over me like it once did. I didn’t crave it anymore and I didn’t feel like I was going without.

Naturally, this new sense of control was starting to have a positive impact on my mental health and I started to feel really positive about the direction I was headed.

So how does sugar increase our chances of breakouts?

You might already know that when we eat our favourite sweet treats, our body has a very clever way to stabilise our blood sugar levels. Every time we eat something sugary our body produces the hormone insulin and when produced in large volume it causes inflammation. In addition sugar also has the ability to unbalance our hormones. This is also largely due to the over production of insulin which leads to an increased production of testosterone.

In addition to cutting out the white, refined sugar I have also stopped eating white, refined carbohydrates; which once digested turn into glucose.

Although fruit contains a lot of fructose, I’m still keeping a variety of fruit in my diet as it is natural sugar providing vitamins and antioxidants to nourish and protect my skin.

Changing my diet was one of the hardest things I have ever had to commit to. But if changing the way I eat could stop my thirteen year struggle with acne; then it is worth trying!

If you are thinking about changing your diet, always seek the advice of a professional first.

ACNE LIGHT THERAPY

A real turning point in my journey to clear skin was when I first discovered the effectiveness of LED lights for acne. I was invited to try it by EF MEDI SPA in London and like most things, I was sceptical with no expectations to see results. The lamp that they used was called DermaLux and by all appearances seemed to be the daddy of all LED lights.

This wasn’t the first time I had tried light to cure my acne. Oh yes! In a desperate attempt to clear my skin several years ago; I started using sun beds regularly. I know, I know – big mistake!  But unlike ultraviolet rays, LED lights are both eco and skin friendly.

The DermaLux lamp used during my course of treatments was a combination of blue, white and red light. When used together they target not only the infection itself but also promote healthy cell  growth, reduction of pore size and stabilise oil production.

When I woke up the next day I was in absolute disbelief.  The overwhelming redness, angry and inflamed skin; was calm for the first time in a long time.

I had only been visiting London for a short while, so going to a clinic regularly wasn’t an option for me and I was pretty sure there wouldn’t been any DermLux machines kicking around The British Virgin Islands, so I needed to find an equally effective alternative.

The first thing that caught my eye was the Neutrogena LED Pen. It is really reasonably priced and according to the reviews it is an effective way to get rid of a stubborn spot. The main reason I didn’t buy this was purely because I have multiple breakouts and I needed something that was going to target them all at the same time.

After a bit more scrolling through Amazon I found the Neutrogena Face Mask -complete with blue and red light. Now this is what I’m talking about! What I liked about the Neutrogena mask was the security of buying from a recognised brand. Moments before adding it to my basket I read that it only comes with thirty applications and once used you need to buy more activators. In hindsight this isn’t so terrible. Let’s face it, (no pun intended!) we all have good intentions when we buy things like this but the reality is thirty applications is probably plenty until you get bored of using it! And hey, if it works you won’t mind buying more activators.

After much deliberation I found what I was looking for. Since having the professional treatment, I had pretty good idea of what I thought a home LED mask should look like and was more than prepared to spend a bit of extra money if I thought it would give me a better result.

When buying anything for my skin; I try to think of it as an investment. And in this case I rationalised that if I continued to have this treatment in a professional environment, it could cost between £75-£200 each time.

I ended up buying the Norlanya LED Mask which cost $99.99 so even if I do only use it twice a week for a year, that means it will cost me less than $1 each time I use it.

7 STEPS TO PREVENT YOUR ACNE SPREADING

When you have spots, the last thing you want is MORE SPOTS. Every time I think my skin is improving, another flareup is waiting just around the corner. There are several EASY ways to prevent your acne from spreading, helping you to get a few more ‘good skin days’.

1. CLEANSING

When you wash your face, I would always recommend using a muslin cloth or a facial cleansing brush; like a Clarisonic to remove product, makeup and dead skin cells. However, how you maintain your cloth or brush is incredibly important and will prevent spreading bacteria around your face. When cleansing my skin, I prefer to use a fresh cloth each time and when I do use a Clarisonic, I replace the brush pad regularly.

Some people prefer to get a couple of uses from a single cloth, which is fine; so long as you are cleaning it thoroughly after use with antibacterial wash. You will also need to ensure you leave the cloth somewhere to dry out. If it stays wet bacteria will grow, similarly to when a kitchen sponge is left in the sink. If you have a facial cleansing brush you will need to leave it propped up to dry out.

Never use a brush over broken skin or on pustules that will easily burst under the pressure of the bristles. This will spread the infection around your face as you cleanse. When using a cloth; take care not to rub excessively; as this will cause inflammation which can lead to more breakouts.

If like me, you live in a hot climate and become a sweaty betty throughout the day, cleansing your face or splashing it with water will reduce your chances of blocked pores.

2. EXFOLIATION

Avoid using granule exfoliators. Instead use active enzyme products that eat at the dead skin cells giving you a wonderful glow. Using a physical exfoliant can spread the bacteria by piercing the infected areas.

3. TOUCHING & SQUEEZING

We all know we shouldn’t do this, right? But it’s so hard! I’m not going to pretend that I don’t pick and squeeze my spots, but when I do occasionally listen to my own advice, I notice a massive difference in my complexion. Squeezing our spots at home, is one of the quickest ways to spread infection.

If you feel your skin won’t heal without an intervention, then I would highly recommend seeing a skin specialist who can extract them for you in a sterile environment.

Limit the amount of time you allow yourself look in the mirror analysing your skin, this inevitably leads to touching and squeezing. GUILTY! (Absolute mirror hog!)

4. HAIR

When my skin is really bad, I like to wear my hair down to cover up the lumps and bumps of my acne. Unfortunately this is one of the worst things you can do as the oils and products in your hair come into contact with your highly sensitised skin.

When you shampoo and condition your hair, be sure to rinse it thoroughly off your body. If you suffer with back acne, hair products will aggravate your skin and lead to more blockages.

If you can, the best way to wash your hair is over the bath to ensure none of the perfumes and chemicals in your hair products touch your face/back. If you don’t have the luxury of a bath, I always cleanse my face and body after I have washed my hair; to be sure it is free from conditioner.

Using shampoos and body washes without SLS (Sodium Laureth Sulphate) will also go a long way in reducing inflammation and stress to your skin. SLS is a very stripping chemical used to emulsify products, which leads to skin sensitivity in most people.

5. MAKEUP

I have spoken before in a previous blog about having a ‘Makeup Detox‘. Check your products and make sure they are not contaminated. If you have cosmetics with a pump or pipette, they will be likely be unaffected unless you brought them into direct contact with your skin.

Avoid putting your fingers directly into your concealers or foundation pots. Instead use a cotton bud or spatula to dispense the product. If you have a stick or brush concealer, apply it to your hand first. This will prevent you from applying bacteria to your face everyday as you conceal.

Avoid getting your makeup brushes in direct contact with your products unless you have a clean makeup brush.

If you have acne, I would recommend washing your makeup brushes after each use. Like with your cleansing cloths, you need to ensure they are dried correctly to avoid growth of bacteria.

6. CLOTHES

For those of us who are trying to save the planet by washing our clothes at 30 degrees, washing at low temperatures doesn’t remove all bacteria. If you have acne on your body, it might be worth using a cleaning fluid in your wash cycle which kills 99.9%.

In colder months, wearing hats and scarfs can also lead to aggravating acne. Ensure you wash them regularly and avoid any fabrics that can irritate your skin.

7. SLEEPING

If your acne is very inflamed and painful, it is possible that your spots will burst during your sleep. Therefore, changing your pillow case regularly will prevent sleeping on bacteria breeding  grounds. If you have acne on your body, I would recommend extending this to all of your bed linen and not just your pillow case.

In recent weeks I’ve been introduced to a company called Silvon – ‘bedding for better skin.’ There sheets are woven with pure silver which naturally eliminates acne causing bacteria. And of course I bought the whole set!

Getting the right amount of sleep is as equally important to ensure you are giving your skin a chance to heal itself overnight. If you have trouble sleeping, take a look at my blog Beauty Sleep to catch a few more zzzzs.

ENVIRON FACIAL FOR ACNE SCARRING

Today I treated my skin to an Environ Facial. There is nothing quite like being pampered on a heated bed whilst it is cold and raining outside!

When it comes to having facials, I am very particular about which skincare brand is used. If I don’t like the products or the treatment hasn’t come recommended to me then I generally don’t like trying new things in the event it might cause my acne to flare up.

Many years ago when my acne was more active, I was introduced to Environ Skincare. I added their Retinol, 1,2 & 3 into my routine at home and it worked wonders on my breakouts.

One of the things that impresses me most about this brand is it’s dedication to RESULTS. Despite the competitive nature of the skincare industry, they stay committed to maintaining their PROFESSIONAL status.

Some of their products like the Retinol that I used to use, are so active that they need to be recommended to you by a skincare professional. For this reason you will find it hard to buy authentic Environ products online and instead you need to visit your local stockist.

In addition to their professional approach, I love their philosophy ‘FEED, FORTIFY, FINISH’ treating the skin in its entirety; with supplements, skincare and makeup.

As with all skincare, I recommend having a facial first to establish if you like the smell and the feel of the products. It gives you the opportunity to ask your therapist for advice on how to use the products and what results you can expect to achieve.

The facial I had today was called the ACTIVE VITAMIN TREATMENT which worked on three of my target areas.

Combining the power of the most active forms of vitamin A and C, the facial uses sound waves and small electrical pulses to drive the products deeper into the skin, maximising hydration and stimulating collagen production. This is particularly beneficial for people like me who have ACNE SCARRING.

Nearly all of the products have no odour, which is perfect for anyone who’s skin tends to be more on the sensitive side.

After a thorough cleanse, the Sonophoresis began.

Sonophoresis uses ultrasound waves that stimulate micro-vibrations within the skins epidermis which increases the absorption of topical products, giving you plump, hydrated, radiant skin.

This is quite an unusual sensation and can differ from person to person. For me it created the sensation of the feeling you get when you ears need to pop. There was a high pitched noise but no real physical sensation on my skin.

After more layering of antioxidant rich products, it was time for the face mask. This was my favourite part of the treatment! The mask is so thick it is applied over your eyes and mouth leaving only your nostrils uncovered. (You can choose to keep areas uncovered if you prefer).

The mask was then attached to the machine by small clips which enabled the Iontopherisis to take place. Similar to Sonophoresis, the current pushes product DEEPER into the skin and restores the skins natural barrier.

Gentle rollers glided over my face, giving concentrated current to my TARGET areas which was incredibly hypnotic and relaxing.

Unfortunately, it all had to come to an end and once unattached from the machine, the mask was lifted from my face which I can only describe as a ‘Mrs Doubtfire’ type of moment. But what a way to finish a facial, I felt REBORN! Ahhhh, now the their slogan makes sense….

   your skin reborn beautiful.

IT’S NOT MAKEUP, IT’S WAR PAINT

For those of us with acne, applying makeup is like preparing our face for the onslaught of mental battles we face every with our skin.

When I discovered War Paint I was immediately attracted to the packaging and thought; this is the perfect brand for any man wishing to cover up their insecurities.

It was created by Daniel Gray, who as a child grew up self conscious about the way he looked. Twelve years ago, Daniel would either borrow his sisters concealer or go into a shop and buy makeup ‘for someone else’.

      This is how War Paint was born; a men’s makeup brand, designed by men, for men.

When War Paint was in it’s infancy, I had the pleasure of meeting Daniel in London’s Covent Garden to find out more about men using makeup.

War Paint was founded because of your experience with breakouts. Can you describe how this affected your confidence?

At a young age I had a lot of confidence issues, due to being bullied by my facial features, then I was more focused on my looks and breakouts were a big factor toward this. The breakouts made me feel like I was not able to go out the house, socialise with friends because I didn’t have the confidence to do so. The worse my skin condition was, the worse I felt within myself. Comments from other people left me feeling really insecure about my appearance. This grew into a serious issue with body confidence that has greatly affected me since.

My boyfriend is keen to see if his friends would notice if he was wearing makeup. Did your friends notice when you first started concealing your breakouts?

 I was very subtle when I first started wearing makeup, so no one noticed. I have many people now compliment my skin, then when I mention that I wear makeup it is always very well received as they are surprised because it looks so natural.

Daniel Gray | Founder of War Paint

What is the best way to shave blemished skin without causing irritation and further infection?

 The two main things I concentrate on are always shaving after I shower as the heat helps loosen the pores for less friction. The second, is always shaving the same way, whether it is against the grain or with the grain, making sure you’re consistent with this is important as shaving the opposite will cause inflammation for a few days and can cause ingrown hairs.

If you have spot-prone skin I would say to steer clear of soap-based shaving foam or gel. Those with soap in can cause your skin to be more oily and increase irritation when shaving. I would recommend a soap-free shaving foam with emollients. For example glycerin, as the softening agents help the blade glide over your face, reducing any irritation or inflammation. To prevent further infection, I would recommend something as simple as an anti-bacterial gel or anti-bacterial face wash as this will not only purify your skin but get rid of the dead cells that block up your skin and create more blemishes, blackheads or ingrown hairs. An oil free sensitive moisturiser or post shave balm can also help if you have any dryness or tightness of your skin after shaving.

What are your essential products for concealing your breakouts?

 For concealing bad breakouts I would recommend our Men’s concealer stick and, it can also be used as a foundation all over the face. It is very high coverage to the point in which it can cover tattoos, however still leaves the skin with a natural look rather than caked in makeup. In the future we are also looking to release colour correcting concealers to help with imperfections. For all over cover I would recommend using our Men’s foundation as a base and then using concealer to cover the bigger blemishes on top.

Something to also note is the aftercare of your skin is just as important as the makeup you put on, always make sure that you take your makeup off properly otherwise this can worsen your skin. Also make sure to use an oil free toner or cleanser and a face wash to keep on top of day to day imperfections.

What advice would you give to a man who is thinking about trying makeup for the first time?

Do not be afraid! Start with something simple, a foundation, BB cream, concealer or a bronzer. Nowadays a lot of men compare themselves to other men they see on the TV and in the media however everyone on television; down to presenters and news readers all get their makeup done beforehand. If you’re not sure where to start watch some video tutorials online so you can get an understanding of how to use products and what products would suit you. Also making sure you get the right colour is important to ensure a natural look, as you don’t want your face to look a different colour to the rest of your body. Just remember not to be afraid, more men wear makeup than you would believe and you wouldn’t even be able to tell. You’re not the only one!

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HOW TO USE

  • Men’s Bronzer: Use with Men’s Powder Brush dipped generously in the Men’s Bronzer and blow or tap of the excess powder. Lightly sweep the brush along the outer sides of your upper forehead and along your hairline. Then underneath your cheekbones and across your jawline. You can also apply a light layer to the rest of your face and neck so your face doesn’t look to dark compared to your neck.
  • Men’s Face Sponge: The sponge can be used with the Men’s Foundation, Men’s Concealer and other cream or liquid products. Before using the sponge, run it under a tap so it expands and squeeze out the excess water to make it damp. Dab the sponge on to your face pushing the product into your face to create a blend.
  • Men’s Concealer: This is best applied with our Men’s Face Sponge or using your finger. Apply a small amount of concealer to the desired area, such as a spot you would like to conceal. Use the sponge or your finger to dab the concealer into the desired area and blending around. Use more product or a second layer if you require more coverage.

If you are using makeup for the first time, check out the War Paint website for video tutorials. Click here for some male inspiration. 

MAKEUP TIPS FOR MEN

Applying makeup for the first time can be a daunting prospect; no mater what gender you are. Follow my basic steps to help get you started and you’ll be a pro in no time!

The basics

Start small

Choose a maximum of four products and once you become comfortable you can build from there. If you are trying to wear makeup discreetly; less is definitely more!

How to find the right colour foundation

I would always recommend that where possible you go in-store to get a professional to match you up with the correct shade but if you’re not ready for that; buy the two closest shades to your natural skin colour. You will inevitably use them both throughout the year as the seasons change.

Light is your new best friend

The best place to apply makeup is somewhere with an abundance of natural light to avoid streaky application or harsh lines. I have always found bathrooms a good place to apply makeup. But if your bathroom doesn’t have a window, it might be worth investing in a small magnifying mirror light.

Find an applicator that you can work with

Before you go straight in with your fingers, the key to a discreet application is blending. Much the same as when you have your hair cut; you don’t want any obvious lines. I prefer to blend with brushes, but for beginners I would recommend using a sponge. It’s easily concealable in a wash bag and dries quickly after cleaning.

Applying foundation

For best results, always apply over a moisturised face. Makeup likes to cling to any areas of dry skin with can make your foundation patchy. Use your sponge in a light dabbing motion to achieve fuller coverage. Depending on the foundation you should be able to build up layers.

In addition to dry areas, makeup will be attracted to anywhere with hair making it the most obvious sign that someone is wearing makeup. Sometimes when I am a bit heavy handed, I wipe these areas (minus the beard!) with a tissue or cloth to remove any excess. If you keep your face clean shaven, I would recommend giving your skin a little breathing period before applying a tinted moisturiser or foundation. If you are short on time, keep a few damp cloths in your fridge so that you can do a cold compress after you shave. The cold temperature will help to constrict the pores and reduce sensitivity. If you have applied your makeup before donning your clothes, you will need to be mindful of getting makeup on the neck lining. Unfortunately, applying makeup when you are already dressed isn’t without it’s problems either. With the mineral makeups I recommend, the loose powders can sometimes find their way onto your clothes, so when you are applying your makeup, I find applying it whilst leaning over a sink prevents me getting foundation on my clothes.

While you’re still perfecting your application, allow plenty of time in the morning to get ready. Once you are feeling confident with your technique; it won’t add more than five minutes onto your day.

When I first started concealing my acne, there wasn’t the abundance of makeup tutorials that there are now on YouTube. This is a great way to learn tips and build your confidence with makeup.

Removal

This is just as important as application. A lot of people ask me if wearing makeup can make acne worse. I always say that it depends on the brand of makeup, but in addition to  that not removing your makeup properly can lead to breakouts. Put your face wash in the shower and clean your face as part of your usual shower routine. Use a flannel or muslin cloth to remove the product and exfoliate 2-3 times per week for a deeper pore cleanse.

Support

You got this! If wearing make up is going to help you be the best version of yourself, do it! You are not alone… there a hundreds of men and women out there that feel self conscious about their skin. If you have more questions on skincare or makeup advice, comment below or join my acne support group.

Click here to join.

MAKEUP DESIGNED BY MEN

MMUK MAN

In my opinion this is the most established brand of male makeup. More than just makeup; it is a movement dedicated to empowering men all over the world to feel more confident in their own skin.

Not only do they have a one-stop website; where you can buy all the cosmetics you could possibly desire, there is also an abundance of helpful pages to inspire, comfort and support you through the process.

Any man who is considering wearing makeup for the first time, is probably going to need a little reassurance that wearing makeup is OK! If you head over to their website you can read testimonials from some of the men who are already using the brand.

My favourite part of their website is ‘Ask the ladies’. They have really thought of everything! This is a platform for men to write in and ask for the opinion of a group of ladies on anything; ranging from application techniques to sexual appeal.

If all of that wasn’t enough they also have their own blog which tackles their most frequently asked questions.

When it comes to selecting products online that are best suited to you, MMUK Man has got you completely covered. All you have to do is send them in a recent photograph of either your face or back of your hand and they will get back to you within four working hours advising you on what products will work best for you.

But how will you know what shade to pick?

Don’t worry they’ve thought of that too and created a MAN PALETTE to make it easier to choose the best colour match for you.

Utterly impressed, I had to speak to the founder of MMUK Man to find out more about this growing brand.

How important is it for men to feel confident to wear makeup?

It’s absolutely imperative!  Half of pulling off makeup naturally and to
feel comfortable whilst wearing it is confidence.  It might not be
something you can switch on, especially as a newbie, but as long as you’re
on a journey towards growing confidence then there’s no way you should
avoid wearing cosmetics.

 Which products from MMUK Man are best suited to treat and conceal acne?

Aside from our anti-acne skincare line, most guys tend to use our mineral
matte foundation and mineral matifying powder and combine it with our
concealer stick to achieve natural flawless looks that cover up acne and
acne scaring.

What does the future look like for men’s makeup?

This year we’re launching our first high street store in Brighton.  We’re also planning
to expand our offering within Europe and set up distribution centers in
France, Spain and Germany in order to get MMUK in people’s hands
quicker.  We’ll also be expanding our retailer portfolio to get MMUK on
every high street.

3 WAYS TO PREVENT ACNE SCARRING

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is: “How do you get rid of ACNE SCARRING?”

Those red and pitted marks effect my confidence nearly as much as the spots they stemmed from. Though my skin has recently just broken out, these days I am mostly covering up scarring.

Every time I look in the mirror, I am reminded of my thirteen year struggle with acne.

I get sick of looking at myself. It seems incredibly unfair that acne sufferers are robbed of the happiness of being blemish free, because once your acne is gone, you have a different kind of blemish to deal with. Scarring.

Never be ashamed of a scar. It simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you.

SKINCARE

For those of us who suffer with acne, we need to prevent scarring at the same time as treating our spots.

This can be quite a challenge because some cosmetics for treating acne can deplete the skins moisture content needed to help repair the skin. And some products to help with scarring can clog up your skin and cause more breakouts!

This means, your choice of skincare is really important if you want to PREVENT acne scarring. And that is the key point to emphasise here… you need to treat your skin BEFORE any deep acne scarring can take place. The skincare I use enables you to target BOTH problems at the same time.

Click here for my skincare suggestions.

HEALING FROM WITHIN

If you have read my blog before, you will know I am all about healing my skin from eating foods with acne fighting properties.

This awesome smoothie recipe by CLEAN, LEAN, FIGHTING machine Heather Cox is one example of how to heal your acne scars from the inside out.

CILANTRO & SPINACH contains vitamin C which activates our skin natural healing powers, protecting us from SCARRING.

AVOCADO is rich in vitamin E strengthening capillary walls by improving the elasticity and moisture within the skin.

MANGO contains vitamin A (sometimes referred to as RETINOL), speeds up the renewal of skin cells, stimulates collagen production and hydrates the skin. In my opinion it is the most effective vitamin for improving ACNE and SCARRING.

GINGER is a powerful ANTIOXIDANT to help fight free radical damage and reduce inflammation in the skin which can lead to breakouts.

Click here for Heather’s recipe and here to learn more about which foods help fight acne.

RESIST THE URGE TO PICK

Anyone who has spots knows that WE ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO PICK!

I will hold my hands up and say that sometimes I cannot resist the urge!

There are pros and cons for popping spots. If you really want to get rid of your blocked pores, the best way to do it is by having extraction facials regularly with a skincare professional.

Picking your spots is going to end in one of two results. You are either going to reduce the healing time, by ridding the skin of the infection OR you are going to make the area more inflamed and infected which results in a bigger scar.

Some of the worst scars I have; come from the spots that I could not resist which lead to them getting incredibly infected and angry. I was left with deep pitted pores, the perfect home for black heads.

So how do you resit the urge?

OUT OF SIGHT OUT OF MIND – If I can’t see my blemishes I am much less likely to pick them. Sometimes, the best way to stop me from picking my skin is by concealing it.

Click here for my makeup essentials.

HANDS OFF– Keep your hands away from your face. Touching your face increases the risk of infecting it further with bacteria. If I run my hand over my skin and feel a blackhead or inflamed, painful spot, I want to rush to the mirror to squeeze it out.

TOO GLAM TO GIVE A DAMN– I don’t know about you but I spend hours a week analysing and fussing over my skin at night. But when I am busy, I am either too tired or have no time to spend squeezing my spots. By keeping yourself busy, you may just be able to distract yourself enough to resist that urge to pick!

DOES MAKEUP MAKE ACNE WORSE?

Quite possibly one of the most frequently asked questions in the acne community! There are many ways makeup can make your skin worse but if you are removing it properly each day and following my tips below; you should be able to wear it guilt free! Before you go scrolling off, I want you to grab your makeup bag…

Get everything out and organise your cosmetics into three groups:

  1. Makeup you wear everyday
  2. Makeup you wear for special occasions
  3. Makeup you haven’t worn for over a year

When was the last time you washed your cosmetic bag? Makeup bags can harbor a lot of bacteria; especially if you take it everywhere. Once it is washed and dried, pop everything from group one back inside. For groups two and three, I want you to read the rest of this blog and then decide whether they deserve a place back in the bag!

Read the labels

Over the years I’ve invested a lot of money in makeup. I use the word invested because it was an investment. An investment in myself. Makeup gave me the confidence to socialise, to go to work and feel normal. I can’t put a price on that. It was a life-line at one point. So you should never be shamed into thinking that makeup is the problem and acne will disappear when you stop using it. What is important is that you take responsibility for what you are putting on your face. And that means understanding what’s inside the products!

First up, you need to check whether the products are non-comedogenic or non-acnegenic. This means they do not contain pore clogging ingredients.

Another ingredient that can aggravate acne is synthetic fragrance. If you see the word ‘fragrance’ in your list of ingredients, it’s worth knowing that legally this is a deemed as a ‘trade secret’ which means companies can hide thousands of chemicals under that one listed ingredient. A scary thought!

So when I said earlier about taking responsibility over what you put on your face, this is what I mean… we naturally assume that if a product is available to buy it’s because it’s been tested and deemed safe. But worryingly that isn’t always the case.

If you need help understanding what’s inside your cosmetics, check out websites like Think Dirty or EWG’s Skin Deep. If you want to learn more about harmful fragrances there is an interesting documentary on Netflix called ‘Stink‘. And if podcasts are more your thing I loved listening to this episode featuring Tara Follain.

Check the expiry dates

Over the years of trialling various brands, we tend to get an accumulation of products that we don’t use anymore. This means there will inevitably be some liquid foundations or tinted moisturisers that are out of date and need throwing away.

By having a makeup detox, you will be ridding yourself of makeup that could be harbouring years of bacteria. Is it possible that your makeup is contaminated? Did you use a blusher or bronzer with a dirty makeup brush. Have your powders developed a hard oil like residue on the top? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this product could be making your breakouts worse.

Try before you buy

Some makeup brands provide small samples of their products, this is a great way for you to assess it’s durability, coverage and whether it has caused you any further breakouts or sensitivity.

Not all brands offer samples but if you go into their store, it is likely they will have a makeup artist on hand to apply it for you. I always prefer this option because I learn more about the product and discover helpful ways to enhance the application.

It took me years to work up the courage to have my makeup done in-store! So I know this might not feel like a viable option to you right now…

Application

When concealing your acne, I would always recommend using makeup brushes. No matter how clean we think we are, our fingertips with their bacteria infested fingernails can sometimes spread infection around our face. So keep your fingers out of your cosmetics and away from your skin!

If you like to keep your makeup looking fresh, you may want to touch up your makeup during/after work. This means your lovely clean brushes come into contact with a days worth of sweat and bacteria. To avoid this, clean your brushes after use or cleanse, tone and moisturise your face first and then re-apply.

It’s important to keep your makeup brushes clean by washing them in warm/hot soapy water, leaving them to dry flat. To begin with you might want to try doing this after every application to see how much your skin improves.

Removal

After you’ve followed everything I’ve mentioned above, you should be in pretty good shape. But none of it matters if you’re not removing your makeup properly at the end of each day. Two cleanses followed by a tone should be sufficient. But if you’re cleanser isn’t working for you, this could be another reason why makeup is making your acne worse.

I’ve recently been experiencing more breakouts because the konjac sponge I was using wasn’t quite removing my makeup properly. I discovered this after I dried my face on a towel and left loads of makeup behind. I was horrified. But it did explain why I was experiencing a flare-up of those pesky little whiteheads!