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How it really feels to live with acne when you’re in your twenties

From eating 5 bulbs of raw garlic to using tweezers on my bacne, here is one girl's account of how she desperately tried to banish problem skin...

Whilst we all get pimples from time to time, (downing several cocktails with your girlfriends or that dreaded time of the month will do it) acne can hugely affect your life and confidence. In a world where society places so much importance on our #selfie game and social media accounts, it can be hard facing the world everyday when your skin is red, sore and receives more looks on the commute to work than you bargained for.

From the age of 14, I knew the chances of having clear skin were slim. My mum had chronic acne in her teens and my older sister had episodes of painful breakouts throughout school. Sure as hell, by the age of 15 my T-zone became so oily you could see your reflection in it and my chin was congested and sore. Big up genetics.


After visiting my local GP for help, I was prescribed a topical acne treatment containing zinc, but it made my skin so dry I resembled a lizard. After experimenting with gels, creams and peels my skin looked no clearer and I felt less and less confident about the way I looked. So, I started four-timing different GP’s in the hopes that one of them would have the answer I was seeking so desperately.

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Antibiotics became the next bane of my life. I tried every cycline going. Oxytetracycline, tetracycline, doxycycline and lymecycline.

The medication came with T&C’s (like taking them two hours before food, so I would religiously set alarms for 5am on school days to not disturb my toast eating at 7am). Needless to say, my quest for clear skin started to affect my life in more ways than I had realised.

I waved good-bye to antibiotics when they started wreaking havoc on my insides. I just didn’t have the, well, stomach, for it.

I’ve tried every trick in the book. My finest moment includes eating gag-inducing, raw bulbs of garlic during Uni after I read an article that said it helped balance your gut health. I’ve also used hand sanitizer on my skin to kill spots (I know!).  I even cut out carbs (for lower GI) and embraced a dairy-free life. PS: cutting out dairy really helped.


I’m now in my twenties and still spotty. And when I reflect on the rollercoaster journey I’ve had with my skin over the past six years it still shocks me how much control it’s had over my life. If I wake up with a breakout – I will consider cancelling plans because I feel too self conscious. People will tell you you’re overreacting and to get over it, but its easier said than done when you have acne.

I’ve stopped with the extreme techniques and started to learn how to love my skin and myself in turn. I’ve realised that if you obsess over something, you lose touch with reality. Even if a breakout is all you see when you look in the mirror, chances are strangers that pass you on the street won’t even notice. Family, friends and partners love you no matter how your skin looks when you wake up.

My top 4 skincare heroes are still Duac cream (prescription only) to apply to the problem area, La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo [+], £15.49 as an all over serum twice a day, Tata Harper Purifying Cleanser, £49 as a daily face wash and First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads, £22 to keep breakouts at bay – salicylic acid helps breakdown the glue that bonds dead skin cells together and clog pores.

The approach to skincare that has worked for me is keeping my routine simple and consistent. Staying loyal to products for a few months makes all the difference. So, use what works for you, not what works for someone else.


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