What acne in your twenties is really like, from treatments to selfies

From eating 5 bulbs of raw garlic to using tweezers on my bacne, here's how I desperately tried to banish my problem skin

acne in your twenties
(Image credit: Startraks Photo/REX/Shutterstock)

From eating 5 bulbs of raw garlic to using tweezers on my bacne, here's how I desperately tried to banish my problem skin

Whilst we all get pimples from time to time, (downing cocktails with your girlfriends or that dreaded time of the month will do it) having acne in your twenties 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.

Why you get acne in your twenties

There is a range of factors that can contribute to clogged pores, from pollution, make-up, some medications and smoking (to name but a few), but a lot of it comes down to our hormones.

Acne is genetic, so if your parents have had (or still have) acne, the likelihood of you getting it is high. So 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 GPs in the hopes that one of them would have the answers I was seeking so desperately. Antibiotics became the next bane of my life; I've 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 was affecting 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.

Since then, I’ve tried every trick in the book. My finest moment involves eating gag-inducing, raw bulbs of garlic during my time at uni, after I read an article that said it helped balance your gut health.

I’ve even used hand sanitiser on my face to kill acne (I know!), and I tried cutting down my carb intake (for lower GI) and embraced a dairy-free life. PS: cutting out dairy really helped.


I'm still living with acne in my twenties, even after all my attempts to get rid of it. And when I reflect on the roller coaster 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 in your twenties.

How do you treat acne in your twenties?

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 that you're struggling with your acne in your twenties. 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 problem areas, La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo [+] as an all over serum twice a day, and Tata Harper Purifying Cleanser as a daily face wash.

Shop now: Tata Harper Purifying Gel Cleanser for £56 from Selfridges

Salicylic acid helps break down the glue that bonds dead skin cells together and clog pores, and is your need-to-know ingredient when shopping for skincare.

Meanwhile First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads are another great product to keep breakouts at bay.

Shop now: First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads for £19 from Amazon

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 when you have acne in your twenties.

The main thing to do is make sure you use what works for you, not someone else.

Want to find your perfect cleanser? Take this quiz to find out!