How I got rid of my acne (and why I got it in the first place).


I have been wanting to write this blog post for so long but the idea of sharing these photos was slightly scary so I have been putting it off. As I have managed to get my acne under control and I am trying out treatments to fade my scarring I thought it would be a good time to bite the bullet and publish this post.

All of the photos are from my iPhone so the quality is not the best but you should be able to get an idea of what it looked like. I know it's not that bad in the grand scheme of things and people suffer with it a lot more than I did, but I would cry myself to sleep sometimes and it really affected my confidence so at the time it felt like the end of the world.

Growing up, all through my teens and into my early 20s I had no skin problems whatsoever. At school I rarely wore makeup and would often get comments on how nice my skin was. It has always been on the oily side which is probably why I look so dang young, but it never caused me problems until I was around 26.

Let's rewind to the end of 2010 / the beginning of 2011. I decided to take a break from my birth control pill because I had been taking it for quite a while. A couple of months later I started to get red, hard lumps under my skin which were really sore. They were usually on my jawline or cheek area. I ignored them at first, thinking they would go away. But unfortunately they would settle down only for new lumps to appear in a different place.

I visited the doctor who gave me cream to put on them, which (surprise surprise) didn't work. I went back and was given gel to put on them which (you guessed it) didn't work.

I eventually gave up on the doctor and tried to tackle them a different way. I drank bucket loads of water, my diet was as healthy as it could possibly be. The only thing I could put it down to was stress. I convinced myself that the spots were a result of being busy at work and resigned myself to the fact I would have the spots forever.

Being a girl it was easy to cover them up with my beloved Double Wear foundation but my confidence was at its absolute rock bottom. I didn't want to go out or meet new people. When I talked to people all I could think was that they were staring at my skin.

Over the years I must have spent hundreds and hundreds of pounds on skincare and facials. I even tried an expensive course of LED light therapy which did absolutely bugger all.

In September of 2013 I went back to the doctors and saw someone new. He immediately said he thought it was PCOS related and sent me for an internal ultrasound scan at the hospital which confirmed I do indeed have polycystic ovaries.

Whilst it was a relief to know what was causing the acne I was advised that a good diet and exercise was the best way to control it. This was so frustrating as I already exercise regularly and have a really healthy diet. I didn't know what more I could do!

I went back to the drawing board and now I can share the 3 things that have made me acne-free for several months and hopefully, forever!

1) Cutting out yoghurt and cutting down on other dairy

This is the main one which I think, if I didn't do the other two things, would still make a difference. I wish I had tried this years ago! When I would research acne the one thing that would come up over and over again was dairy which I ignored because I loved yoghurt and milk and cheese too much.

Then I realised that I was having a yoghurt every single day, having milk in my tea and having cheese a couple of times a week and if I could cut down a little maybe my acne would go away. I cut out my daily yoghurt completely, have almond milk in my cereal and tea, and only have cheese every now and again. It worked!

I haven't had a single new acne spot since I did this.

2) Dermaquest cleanser and Clearasil pads

When it comes to serums and moisturisers I swap and change but the skincare I couldn't live without are the Dermaquest Beta Hydroxy cleanser and the Clearasil Superfruits pads.

The Dermaquest product was recommended to me by a skin specialist and it can be bought online. Salicylic acid is great for my oily skin so this cleanser and the Clearasil wipes are a godsend. I pray that Clearasil don't discontinue these wipes because they are seriously amazing. I think I can credit them, over the cleanser, to keeping my skin under control.

3) Acupuncture

This is the one that I am slightly on the fence about but I have to include it as I stopped getting acne shortly after I started acupuncture. The acupuncturist I saw targeted my stomach area (due to the PCOS) and generally tried to address my inability to relax and not worry. The sessions made me feel more relaxed and hopefully the needle placements did what they were meant to do.

I haven't been for about a month now but I would go back again if my skin caused me any more problems.

So there you have it! I hope this has been helpful to some of you and you have stuck with my waffling. I plan to do another post on "how I have helped reduce my acne scarring" but I'm still in the process of trying different things so bear with me on that one.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to share your skincare stories below and any tips you have that may help me and others!

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  1. Thanks for posting this Victoria; at 24, my skin is worse than it's ever been.

    I'd not done much research because I'd just sort of accepted that I just have bad skin! I have milk on my cereal, a yoghurt and lots of tea with milk throughout the day. I'd also introduced a a glass of milk after the gym and hadn't made the link between this and my skin suddenly getting MUCH worse. I'll cut down on my dairy and see if it makes a difference!

    Miss Tea :)xx

  2. Thank you for sharing this! I too only started to get spots after I came off the pill last January, I'd get the occasional little one or two before but now I get quite a few bigger ones that seem to last forever & I'm starting to get scars from them. I don't wear makeup so I feel very conscious that everyone I talk to is staring at them :-(

    I hadn't thought about seeing my Doctor, and my skin routine has always been very basic, but after reading this I may have to take on some of your suggestions! I quite like the sound of those fruity pads :-) And maybe I'll even try out acupuncture!

    Thanks again! :-)

    Victoria x

  3. Great article and honest review , good 4 u sweetie ,,


    - A Little retail therapy goes a long way , come comment on my new post

    P.S. Follow me on insta & i will instantly follow back @nanyslife

  4. Thank you for such an honest post. I developed Acne at 21 and have only just clicked that it ties in with the time I came off the pill. Lots of lovely tips too, thank you :) Nicola Xx

  5. Totally agree about the dairy as I'm sure it flares up my psoriasis and skin problems! I haven't cut it out completely but I'm trying to slowly! Acupuncture is the best thing I ever did for other health issues and stress, has helped me so much x

  6. This is really interesting. I changed my pill this cycle and I had what I thought was a rash down one side of my face, but a lad at work said it looked more like acne, and until this post I still didn't believe I could develop spotty skin so old! I'm 25 this year. I'll be trying the almond milk in my cereal I think!

  7. I just came across your blog and am so happy I found this! Acne is so difficult to deal with-- especially as an adult when you think your skin should be past the difficult stage! I'm actually really glad I read this because just in the past two weeks I've realized (or suspected) that dairy is what causes my skin to go a bit crazy! Thank you for sharing your experiences!

  8. What a thoughtful and helpful post. I'm quite lucky that I don't get spots often these days but funnily enough I have a big outbreak at the moment! At least 4 on my cheek! I had awful spots when I was a teenager (still remember the moment I got called 'pizzaface' as school) and I ended up going on the pill which cleared it up forever. It's a tough thing to deal with though.

    Caroline x

  9. I applaud your courage to post your story! PCOS is a very common cause of acne for women and was probably being treated and kept under wraps by the contraceptive pill while you were still on it. I'm glad you found a cause for your acne and that now its under control x

  10. This was a really useful post, thank you! I don't suffer with any real skin problems, but it's interesting to hear some of the causes/possible solutions for any issues!

    - Lorna at Scared Toast x

  11. I agree with the comments above - such a useful post. I had really good skin all through my teens but started getting the sort of acne you've described here when I came off the pill a few years ago. For me going back on the pill and cutting out dairy made such a difference. I thought that I might have PCOS and had tests done - turns out I don't have it but reassuring to know all the same. I'll definitely keep accupuncture in mind for if I decide to come off the pill in the future, as well as trying to keep stress levels down as much as possible! x

  12. I find myself to be in the same position. I started suffering from acne at the age of 21, kept that in control with birth control, but i have recently gotten fed up with it, so I stopped taking it back in June.
    By September, my skin was a hot mess.
    I have some products which help me drastically, but the skin's surface is always irregular and I have breakouts on my chin and lower cheek areas.

    I'd be curious to try cutting off dairy products, but my biggest concern is the assuption of the daily calcium ratios. Any thoughts on that?

    Loved the post, by the way.

  13. I have suffered with acne since the age of 11. The only prescribed thing from my doctor that worked was antibiotics but this was not curative and I still got spots. I know the feeling of getting prescribed medication after medication from the doctor with no result.

    I'm so grateful for you sharing your story!
    I'm interested in the dairy part as I have just started and am trying out a vegan diet. It's only been a week but my skin looks naturally clearer and I haven't even taken my antibiotics! I'm going to continue to limit if not stop my dairy intake and see how it goes.

    Top post! Thanks again. Xx

  14. I always assume I'll grow out of it, but adult acne seems to be getting more and more common.
    I've seen so many recommendations to cut down or completely give up on dairy, I need to try the alternatives and give this a go.

    Absolutely loved the post!

    North of London - Beauty Blog

  15. Such a good post,thanks for sharing. my skin has the odd breakout of what i'd prob call small acne bumps. I recently started using the clearasil pads but just the normal ones never seen the super fruits. Whenever I use them I feel them really cleaning my skin deeply :-) xx

  16. I love this post. I have had acne too, but I rarely get them now. I use so many products, but only Avene products help me very well, such as Bioderma products. Check my blog

  17. Thank you for sharing this. Soy (along with dairy) also turned out to be a total deal breaker for me, which sucks because it is in everything these days! x