Part 1 – The Cost Of 6 Years Of Adult Acne: The Physical Price Of All The Things I’ve Tried

I recently saw a video from Lou Northcote, the creator of the “free the pimple” hashtag promoting acne acceptance, about the expense of acne. This, along with a clear-skinned friend recently advising against antibiotic treatment without realising the extent of my journey prompted me to put together this list of all the things I’ve tried over the years to clear my acne. I can’t bear to do actual calculations and see how much this has financially cost me. This post also serves to prove just how complex acne can be to try and clear for those who don’t understand the condition and wonder why we don’t “just fix it” or choose as a last resort to take medication with scary side effects.

I dread to think how much I’ve spent on skincare and all the un-exempt prescriptions costing around £9 each. Many of which were quickly unsuitable, ineffective or had short shelf lives requiring frequent replacement. Good supplements aren’t cheap. Diet changes often involved more expensive product swaps than my norms, I tried these in 2015 before free-from products were as accessible which made it even harder. Within the lists I’ve put into bold italics the things that made any noticeable difference but appreciate acne is such a personal journey. Obviously the physical cost is only one side of the story – the other being the emotional roller coaster that acne brings which I’ll cover in another post.


  • Drug store brands including but not limited to: Garnier, Clearasil, Clean and Clear, Neutrogena, Simple, Avon, Cetaphil & Avene.
  • Pricier brands including: Tropic, Clarins, Mario Badescu, Clinique & Estee Lauder.
  • The Body Shop Tea Tree & Seaweed ranges
  • Clinique Anti Blemish solutions 3 step system
  • La Roche Posay Effaclar range – designed for acne prone sensitive skin.

Diet / Lifestyle Changes:

  • Caffeine free for 2 months
  • Lactose / partially dairy free for 4 months in 2016
  • Unprocessed junk food severely limited for 3 months
  • Giving up alcohol for 6 months
  • Washing towels, pillowcases, flannels etc. weekly on 60 degrees with organic non-bio products
  • Dairy free from August 2020

Vitamins / Supplements

  • HRI Clear Complexion Tablets
  • Hair, skin and nails multivitamins – own brand drug store products
  • Nature’s Best B5 supplements (too early to tell results)
  • Nature’s Best Maxi Hair (high strength multi vitamins minus vitamin A as I am using topical retinoids derived from vitamin A at time of writing – again too early to tell results)

Topical Medication:

  • Zineryt
  • Duac
  • At least 3 others I can’t remember the names of as it was 5 years ago.
  • Adapalene (helped make my acne better with minimal side effects – Jan 20 start)

Contraceptive Pills:

  • Microgynon 30 – COC
  • Norethisterone – POP
  • Lucette – COC
  • Brevinor – COC (actually caused breakouts to spread)
  • Marvelon – COC

Oral Medication:

  • Lymecycline – Oral Anti Biotics 3-4 weeks
  • Oxytetracycline – Oral Anti Biotics 6-8 months (cleared my skin for 12-14 months in 2016 but I began breaking out again 6 months after stopping my course)

Make Up To Help Me Cope With Acne:

  • Drug store concealer and powders. Brands including GOSH, Revlon, Rimmel, The Body Shop
  • High end foundations: Clinique Anti Blemish, Clinique Beyond Perfecting and Estee Lauder Double Wear – loved so much I dedicated a whole post to it (these 3 alone total over £100)
  • American imports like Hard Candy tattoo concealer
  • La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo+ Tinted (sadly too dark for my fair skin – I love the un-tinted Effaclar Duo+)

I realise in the UK we are so lucky to have the NHS meaning GP appointments and dermatology referrals are free, albeit hard to come by and often with very long waiting lists. A quick search online resulted in some private clinic quotes of between £200-250 for 30 mins in my local area with tests needing further payment.

Seeing this list shocked me as I knew I’d tried a lot over the years but have never seen the full extent like this before. In conversation with a clear-skinned friend this week I mentioned I was at my wits end for the 2nd time in my life with acne and considering antibiotic treatment again this year. I was instantly told she thought it was a bad idea and whilst I appreciated the concern I felt very misunderstood as I’ve been trying so many alternatives to avoid this. After putting together this list I showed her and instantly had more support so perhaps if you are in a similar boat with friends or relatives something like this could help.

This list also explains why I dislike being given unsolicited advice, especially from non-acne sufferers, hence writing all the things not to say to someone with adult acne. .

Sensitive comments welcome!

Things Not To Say To Someone With Adult Acne

I read and related to a brilliant article in Elle magazine in 2014 called “My Skin But Better” by Katie Mulloy. It covered how adult acne can affect a person’s life, things not to say to someone struggling with it and how all encompassing the journey to clear skin can be. The article, which sadly… More

16 thoughts on “Part 1 – The Cost Of 6 Years Of Adult Acne: The Physical Price Of All The Things I’ve Tried

    1. Thanks for commenting – nice to know it isn’t just me! I honestly didn’t notice any difference from any of them personally… I’ve heard many people rave about dairy / junk food free being helpful though but my skin stayed the same.

      Liked by 1 person

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