I Post About Acne, So Why Have I Never Shown My Face On My Blog Or Instagram?

It’s not because I’m ashamed of my skin although I used to be. Admittedly this was when my acne was at its worst and I would now, fortunately, only class my skin as acne prone. I say fortunately because I spent years dealing with a lot of both physical and mental hurt as a result of my skin and not because there’s anything wrong with having acne. I still get spots, I still break out but I’m no longer filled with that deep rooted desperation to clear my skin thinking it’s something that needs fixing or is fundamentally wrong because I’m in my mid-to-late twenties.

So if it isn’t shame stopping me from putting a face to the name of Forever Saving For A Rainy Day what is it?

One of my biggest bug bears is invalidation and people lacking the decency to respect another’s journey without knowing their full story. If I were to share a photo of my skin online now I’d forgive you for thinking I had no write to bang on as much as I do about the topic of acne because of how I look at the present. My jawline is no longer a pointillism picture of whiteheads and cysts which it was when I first took comfort in writing about my lengthy 5+ year journey online early on in 2020. The old saying goes that a picture sums up a thousand words but I feel that in this case it would do the opposite for me. A photo of my few spots, the odd bit of hyperpigmentation and some enlarged dark pores doesn’t even begin to touch the surface of what my skin and I have been through together. It wouldn’t summarise the past few years’ attempts to reach a better place with my face including trialling Zineryt, Duac, Adapalene, Microgynon, Lucette, Norethisterone, almost a year of the antibiotics Lymecycline and Oxytetracycline and those are just the “solutions” I tried that require a GP prescription. It wouldn’t cover the emotional rollercoaster, the tears wishing I looked like anything but myself in that moment and the slow, but sure, journey I’ve been on since starting this account which has helped me to accept my skin for exactly as it is. I am not “flawless” but I am real and no longer hiding behind the coverage of foundation to face the day. Understandably when my skin first broke out almost 7 years ago I didn’t take any form of progress pictures because at this point the sight of my reflection was often enough to reduce me to tears.

When I first started to write about my skin I was on a journey to clear it, turning to prescriptions for the second time in my twenties. I wasn’t as resilient as I am now when it comes to my skin. I was wary of unsolicited advice and negative responses. It wasn’t the idea of insults regarding my appearance that bothered me because I used to think so badly of my skin that I doubt anyone could have come up with something I hadn’t already thought of. It was being branded as attention seeking, this was a real fear of mine.

The idea of losing my anonymity and being discovered by someone I know was terrifying for me when I first created my accompanying Instagram account. Now I am really proud of Forever Saving For A Rainy Day’s little corner of the internet and the wonderful journey I’ve been on with it. Having FSFARD has had, and continues to have, a positive effect on my life. I feel like we’ve come a long way together. I didn’t know where it would take me when I first started writing. I definitely experienced some sort of Imposter Syndrome. It was only last month, after almost 18 months of consistently publishing content online I felt comfortable to change my Instagram bio to describe me as a blogger and I’ve been churning out content bi-weekly or more. I don’t care for the numbers, stats or insights, I care about the connections I’ve made with people who have responded to say they relate and understand because that always makes my day. It never occurred to me when I started putting my stories out there that brands would consider gifting me products. The first message I got about this left me unsure whether to cry happy tears or jump and and down with excitement, I quadruple-checked it wasn’t a scam as I couldn’t believe it was happening.

I’m endlessly grateful for the opportunities that have come my way because of putting my face-less self out there as FSARD. I haven’t ruled out the idea of revealing the face behind Forever Saving For A Rainy Day but for the time being, know that I’m not held back by shame of my appearance.

Sensitive Comments Welcome

Acnecide, Cerave & La Roche Posay Made The Shortlist – The 3 Best Budget Friendly Cleansers I’ve Ever Used For My Acne Prone Combination Skin

I’ve used a LOT of cleansers since developing adult acne around 6-7 years ago. I went through virtually everything my local Boots and Superdrug stores had to offer like Garnier, Clearasil, Clean And Clear, Simple etc before transitioning to several ranges from The Body Shop. These led me to Clinique’s Anti Blemish Solutions and beyond. I used to think the higher the price tag on a product the better it would be for my skin after nuking my skin barrier with cheap drying formulas that were just too strong for my face. I thought it might be helpful to pop together a list of the best cleansers I’ve tried to date for specific reasons. All of which I’d naturally buy again or have already bought several times over.

Acnecide Gel Wash – £9.99 for 50g – For Tackling Breakouts

I’ve previously used prescription treatments with Benzoyl Peroxide and my skin hated them. They caused my skin to become red, swollen, puffy and very sore but I can use this product with no negative side effects. I’ve only ever bought one bottle of this and I’ll admit it took me a while to work through because it was too much for daily usage for my skin but I can’t deny how effective this is at taking the aggression out of spots. Whenever breaking out I’ve reached for this as the first port of call to calm any painful spots as it does such a good job without ever hurting. It is low cost, reliable and when used sensibly doesn’t cause dryness or irritation. If washed off really thoroughly it is possible to avoid bleaching towels too. My skin is in a position now where I don’t feel the need to rush out and buy another bottle immediately whilst I work through my stash of products but I would happily buy this again in the future if I felt I needed it.

Cerave Cream To Foam Hydrating Cleanser – £12.50 for 236ml – For Non Stripping Cleansing When Using Acne Treating Actives

I tried the original hydrating formula but just preferred the texture of this very lightly foaming product as I’m so used to gel cleansers, this felt like the perfect hybrid. It has never caused irritation even when my skin has been incredibly sensitised from easing in topical acne treatments like retinoids. It’s affordable, easily accessible, doesn’t leave skin feeling overly stripped, tight or dry. It feels soothing and caring whilst leaving my skin feeling clean. I see it as a no nonsense product that works perfectly for me so that I can use other actives to treat my skin like BHA exfoliants etc. I can’t comment on how good it is as a stand alone to treat acne as I’ve always used this in a routine with actives.

La Roche Posay Effaclar Purifying Gel Cleanser – £ 18.50 for 400ml or £12.50 for 200ml – For Being The Best Gel Cleanser I’ve Tried

I bought the giant bottle of this cleanser whenever it was on offer for the better part of at least 4 years. Prior to this lots of products I used aimed at acne prone skin I found far too harsh and aggressive whilst the gentler formulas did absolutely nothing for my spots. I used this prior to discovering exfoliant toners, retinoids etc. When used morning and day because a little went a long way it would last me 11-12 months making it the most cost effective cleanser I’ve ever used. I’ve even seen the 400ml bottle featured on Boots £10 Tuesday before so at this price it would end up costing less than £1 a month to use. It is gentle, non stripping, non drying and leaves skin feeling clean but not overly squeaky. The only reason I stopped using this was because I was prescribed a topical retinoid and required a hydrating cleanser as a result. I significantly prefer this to the Avene Cleanance gel cleanser and find it more gentle than La Roche Posay’s Effaclar Peeling Gel. Although I haven’t used this now in nearly 2 years it will always hold a special place in my heart for being the first cleanser I ever found that I felt was making a positive difference to my skin without causing any negative side effects that needed balancing out.

The Best Contraception For Adult Acne – My Feminist Frustrations About Negative Side Effects & The Unfairness Of Many Options Available.

I am a firm believer in gender equality but have never preached about feminism on my blog or how unfair it can be to be a woman. That is until it comes to contraception and being someone incredibly acne prone I feel doubly entitled to rant. I find it insanely unfair how one sided the business of contraception can be despite, as the old saying goes, that it takes two to tango. Most of the options’ side effects bother me enough as it is but at the start of last year I became increasingly frustrated given that I was also really struggling with frequent regular breakouts and didn’t want to chance anything which could worsen the situation.

Acne + Contraception

I’m not currently in a position where I want to risk getting pregnant, nor was I when I first began compiling this post early last year but chickened out of publishing. After seeing Izzie Rogers‘ highly relatable stories about contraception and acne I decided to rethink this and be brave because it’s a topic that drives me up the wall and I certainly have plenty to say.

If I’d never struggled with painful acne that caused me great discomfort, stress and upset in my early 20s leading to a long journey to accept my skin I definitely wouldn’t be complaining as passionately as I’m about to. I once spent hours trawling through Google searching for the best contraception for acne, which pill was best, comparing the side effects of those mentioned, weighing up which hormone combinations were likely to be most successful and so much more. The reason for this being many methods of contraception, if you’re naturally acne prone, are typically ruled out as the hormone cocktails found in the contraceptive implant, injection, IUD and mini progesterone-only pill all, according to the NHS website and various GPs I’ve seen, have a high risk of worsening acne. If I set aside the acne factor for a second and think about having a small piece of plastic inserted into my arm and cut out to remove that’s enough to give me the shivers let alone the prospect of worsening skin. This doesn’t come from a point of vanity, this is from the perspective of someone who years ago lost nights of sleep due to being unable to rest on sides of her face thanks to sore jawline cysts. Equally the idea of a T shaped piece of metal being inserted without pain relief that can cause heavier more painful periods is just foul.

Then we have the combined pill. I’ve tried several as well as having breaks as I’ve been through periods of time feeling uncomfortable about the lengthy list of side effects and wondering what they’re really doing to my body. Don’t get me wrong, in my early teens the pill saved me from months of agonising pain so I am not wholly against it’s existence. However; recent headlines about the rate of Covid vaccines causing blood clots VS the amount caused by the pill which blew it out of the water certainly was food for thought.

In January 2020 I was desperate to address my acne to improve it and upon telling GPs I didn’t want to take a 9 month length course of antibiotics for a second time many pushed me straight towards the pill. The ones typically considered to be good for acne prone skin, however; seem to come with even scarier risks than the norm which are bad enough. I was twice nonchalantly offered Dianette but told I could only take it for 6 months due to higher than average blood clot risk and negative side effects to mental health. This particular pill is actually banned in several countries as a result of this. One GP told me the NHS no longer prescribe it as general contraception but as short term treatment for acne or PCOS symptoms. Online research led to discovering it comes with the warning that it can cause “depression leading to suicidal thoughts” as opposed to most which simply say “mood swings”. The first GP didn’t make me aware of this, I declined at the idea of taking the stronger-than-average male hormones and after doing some online research I’m so glad I did. It’s advised against prescribing for those with personal or family history of mental health issues. My mental or physical health is not something I’m willing to experiment with simply because I don’t want acne or to be pregnant which I think is completely justified.

Dianette – offered to me twice as an acne treatment offering contraceptive cover for short term use only due to worrying side effects

Other forays into contraceptive cover didn’t end well despite declining Dianette. Being prescribed Lucette resulted in me spending 2 weeks with black spots in my vision, extreme dizziness, nausea and the worst period pain I’ve felt leaving me to crawl around my house in fear of fainting. This happened 3 weeks in and took me 2 months to fully get over. Within 2 weeks Brevinor caused my cheeks, forehead and neck to gain deep, large painful spots under the surface and a huge amount of stress as a result. These experiences were frightening, even more so given how quickly the side effects hit me and took to recover from.

I took 3 varieties of anti biotics back in 2016 to clear my skin as I was the most desperate I’ve ever been with it during that time. 3 months of Lymecycline followed by 9 months of Oxytetracycline and within 6 months of stopping the tablets I began breaking out again so this wasn’t a long term solution. Anti biotics are another really commonly prescribed medication for acne treatment. They also lessen the effect of the pill leaving you at risk of pregnancy unless taking other precautions.

The Unfairness Of Contraception

This is where my feminist streak kicks in. Men don’t have to make decisions about their bodies quite like this or weigh up which nasty side effect they’d rather have because they don’t want to be a parent at present. It’s like a sick version of the silly game “would you rather?”. The potential of poorer mental health with possibly clearer skin that no one can guarantee or likely heavier periods with no chance of worsening your skin but at least you’ll dodge conception?! I realised just how much I hated the one sidedness of this when I first made the decision to break up with my pill after doing some reading about their potential side effects, controversy surrounding acne and after hearing so many friends say they simply felt better without it. Upon explaining all of the above to a partner at the time I was met with the 4 word response “I don’t like condoms”.

I mean who does? But it made me want to scream and that was well before I became fully aware of how many things I was advised against taking as a result of my skin. Contraception should be a joint, equal responsibility yet male led options are painfully lacking. The worst men have to go through in terms of contraceptive side effects as far as I’m aware is temporary minor discomfort caused by basic condoms whereas we are faced with multiple complex options from coils with unpleasant applications causing heavier periods to injections that can damage bone density to implants and pills potentially wrecking havoc. Acne, depression, higher cancer risks, blot clots, lack of sex-drive… the list of side effects goes on. I’ve read rumours of a male pill or injection being tested as safe for human use but dismissed due to potential side effects involving weight gain, acne, erectile dysfunction or loss of libido. If it’s deemed not good enough for them then why are these options deemed good enough for us? On a personal level in 2020 I started to wonder if it was really too much to ask for contraceptive cover that wouldn’t cause my acne to worsen without experiencing almost black outs or risking suicidal thoughts?!

Female pleasure is largely not discussed and our orgasms, despite often being more elusive, are 100% safe with none causing pregnancy. In comparison, 100% of their male counterparts pose a high risk of causing conception in the vast majority of cases. With this being the case why, oh why, is it virtually all left to women often with such hideous compromises to make?!

I drafted this post early 2020 and out of desperation was close to taking up my GP’s offer of Dianette. I’d actually ended the post asking for readers to share their experiences with this pill which I don’t think I should have ever been offered. I’m increasingly glad I decided against playing the horrible game of “would you rather” or putting anything in my body which the idea of scared me. That’s the note I wish to end this post on.

Sensitive Comments Welcome

La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo VS Avene Cleanance Expert – A Comparison Review Of Moisturisers For Acne Prone Skin {Including Avene Cleanance Comedomed}

I’ve previously reviewed an Avene Cleanance moisturiser by comparing and critiquing it against my go-to favourite La Roche Posay’s Effaclar Duo+. It was the first comparison blog post I published and remains my most read so writing this brings back happy memories for me. VS posts are my absolute favourite to write and after I picked up the Avene Cleanance Expert on clearance in Boots I thought it would be rude not to write this!

Here’s a quick comparison of the products – for ease I decided to include the first Avene product I tried too.

La Roche Posay – Effaclar Duo+Avene Cleanance ExpertAvene Cleanance Comedomed
Price (according to product’s website or as best I can find!)£17 for 40ml
(La Roche Posay’s site)
£15.99 for 40ml
(Superdrug)
£18.50 for 30ml
(Boots)
Product Claims
(as per their websites)
Formulated for oily acne prone sensitive skin in teens and adults
Minimises the appearance of blackheads and spots
Noticeably reduces spots
Controls shine
Hydrates for 24 hours
Helps reduce pigmentation from blemishes
Specifically formulated for blemish-prone skin to help reduce oil and the appearance of blemishes while soothing and hydrating.
Also suitable for people who may be prone to acne.
Skin texture feels refined and smoother.
Suitable for sensitive skin.
Can be used alongside topical acne treatments.
For daily use
Suitable for teens and adults with acne prone skin
Hydrates / mattifies
Helps reduce blemishes and their reappearance
For sensitive skin
Results Within
(as per their websites)
Clearer skin within 4 weeksDoesn’t specifyProven efficacy in 7 days
Any Extra Notes (mentioned on their websites)Strong smell that fades quickly

I chose to include the Avene Cleanance Comedomed in this table to help people see a direct comparison of the two Avene products as I was starting to wonder the differences myself! For anyone wanting a full nitty gritty breakdown of the La Roche Posay VS Avene Cleanance Comedomed show down please check out my first comparison post:

La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo+ & Avene Cleanance Comedomed – from my original blog post comparing these two

Avene Cleanance Expert Review

Price

I bought this on clearance in Boots for £3.60 for a 40ml bottle. Had it been full price I wouldn’t have bought it and instead stuck with the Effaclar Duo+ which I know works really well for me. However; I was tempted by a bargain and recalled that when I tried the Avene Cleanance Comedomed overall I liked the product but felt it was just a bit pricey. I remember the Comedomed having a strong smell that went away quickly and it being noted online in the product description. I wasn’t mad about this but ultimately if it has delivered the results it promised I wouldn’t have cared.

Scent

The Expert smells. It reminds me of hospitals, something medical or like a disinfectant cleaning product. The Cleanance Comedomed’s smell isn’t the same, that is a little more like a nail varnish scent mixed with this this. I felt as though the smell of the Expert lingered on my face 10 mins after applying. For anyone wondering if my obscene reaction to this could be Covid related – I tested negative that evening! A friend sent me a 5ml sample of this bottle which I tried before opening my £3.60 purchase. I was close to digging out my receipt and seeing if I could get a refund but in the end decided to stick with it out of curiosity, in time I was really glad I did. This product claimed to address texture thanks to the ingredient X-Pressin which is a gentler alternative to acids with 1% being more effective than 6% glycolic acid. It wasn’t something I’d previously heard of.

First Week Of Use

Given the strong smell I thought my semi sensitive skin might react badly but one week in all was well. Over the course of using it for 7 days I fell in love with the texture. It’s a beautiful lightweight but hydrating formula that is more liquid than the Effaclar Duo I’ve become accustomed to. It absorbed within seconds. I was sceptical about it not packing enough hydration but even using alongside Acnecide Gel Wash 3 times a week I experienced no dryness. In the first few uses I thought I was experiencing some tingling when applying but this lasted seconds and never amounted to a negative reaction. It still smelt and I didn’t like this but got used to it. I couldn’t smell it on my face throughout the day which was my first concern when I initially opened it.

Whenever I write new product reviews I tend to add my thoughts to blog posts on a weekly basis. Looking back I’m faintly amused by just how much I seemed to loathe the smell when first using as I very quickly grew accustomed to this and by week 2 or so forgot it even had this unusual scent!

Weeks 2, 3 & Beyond

Halfway through week 2 I noticed some drier skin around the edges of my nose and my mouth. This never happens with La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo+. I had a few small whiteheads break out on areas I don’t usually get spots around my cheek bones. This was the only new product in my routine. By week 3 my skin had totally calmed down, there were no dry patches at all or strange unexpected breakouts. I was still absolutely loving the glorious texture of the product. Still noticed no changed in texture. By week 4 I was totally in love with the texture and found this product a joy to apply and will be sad when the bottle runs out.

Packaging

I hated the pump bottle of the Comedomed as it was impossible to tell when it was running out. This tube is basically identical to the Effaclar Duo+ which I cut open whenever “empty” and always get 4-7 days worth of uses out of still so I much preferred this.

The Final Word

Likes: beautiful milky texture, packaging, the price I paid and admittedly price per ml works out cheaper than the Effaclar product even when not clearance price.

Dislikes: strong unusual smell (which I will say I did get used to pretty quickly after getting over the initial shock!), doesn’t do anything to address hyperpigmentation.

La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo+ Mini Review

If you’d like a full review I’ve previously posted several so am only covering the highlights in this post. I think it says a lot that I’ve been buying this consistently for almost 6 years. Full breakdowns can be found amongst these posts:

Likes: texture, helps fade pigmentation, regularly on offer so I’ve been able to not pay full price for years, gentle formula that packs enough hydration whilst treating break outs.

Dislikes: … this is me being incredibly picky but it can sometimes cause my SPF to pill which I can totally live with.

The Final Word

In ranked order:

  1. La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo+
  2. Avene Cleanance Expert
  3. Avene Cleanance Comedomed
Products marked with *** were winners for each categoryLa Roche Posay Effaclar DuoAvene Cleanance ExpertAvene Cleanance Comedomed
Texturewhite lightweight gel cream texture***
lightweight, milky, thin, absorbs in seconds – dreamy
thick, semi transparent gel like formula
Smell***
no scent
fairly strong cleaning product smell strongest smell of them all reminding me of nail products or disinfectant
Would I Use Again?***
Yes always
Close second No – I much prefer the other two and they’re cheaper per ml
Best For Hyperpigmentation***

Would I use Avene Cleanance Expert again? Yes, I happily would as I adore the texture. However; I’d prioritise purchasing La Roche Posay’s Effaclar Duo every time. I’d venture into the Avene Expert again for the bargain price of £3.60 but if both were a similar price point I’d always choose LRP.

Comments Welcome

How To Use Differin / Adapalene. Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting A Prescription Retinoid For Acne.

January marked my 1 year anniversary of using Differin (also known as Adapalene) to manage my very acne prone skin. It has been the only topical prescription medication to ever be effective for me and I’m very glad I found it. However; there are so many things I wish I knew before I started using this medication as the Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) which I read from cover to cover had very little in it. I’ve also picked up tubes of this which honestly just say “apply sparingly at night” with no further details or they didn’t even come with a PIL which prompted me to write this post.

Please remember I am not a pharmacist, beautician or dermatologist and am only sharing what I’ve learnt from my personal experience of using this brilliant product. I had great success with consulting pharmacists for advice when struggling with using this product initially.

Break It In Gently

The Patient Information Leaflet which came with my first tube of this mentioned applying a thin layer to affected areas at night and stopping if irritation occurred. When using off the shelf retinol ingredients they typically advise starting with the weakest product and introducing this gradually and working up from there. As I’d never used off the shelf retinol products I had no idea of this so just followed the PIL advise for retinoids which are far stronger than the beauty products which don’t require a prescription. I wish I’d known to introduce this strong medication slowly such as 2 nights a week then build up from there as my skin learnt to tolerate it. This would have saved me a lot of painful soreness that happened in the first month of use. Nowadays I don’t use this every single night and never have, I will typically use it 5 times a week for maintenance now that my skin is much clearer although still spot prone.

Don’t Use Other Active Ingredients

I consulted with a pharmacist towards the end of my first month of use as the medication was proving really effective for me in a short space of time at stopping spots but my skin had begun cracking and was almost weeping in places. Along with seeking their advice I looked online and even called Clinique in desperation for some answers after thinking their toner might be the culprit. I learnt that retinoids could react with certain ingredients or irritation that could be increased if used alongside salicylic acid for example which my toner at the time contained. A couple of days after stopping other actives my skin made a big turnaround and the dryness began easing.

Use Hydrating Products

When introducing Differin I wish I’d pared my routine right back to just hydrating products and left the blemish fighting ones to one side to give my skin a chance to adjust. This would have seriously helped to keep dryness at bay and keep my skin barrier healthy. I swapped to the Cerave Hydrating Cleanser and was recommended the Cetaphil Rich Night Cream from a pharmacist as it works very quickly to ease dryness without clogging pores. This is one product I simply cannot be without now and it’s great value for money.

Protect Your Skin From Sun Exposure

It was the 2nd tube of this medication that I picked up which made me aware of “avoiding direct sunlight or sun beds” as retinoids make the skin more sensitive to sun damage. Upon learning this I started wearing SPF every day regardless of the weather or if I was leaving the house or not to ensure my skin was protected. My favourite SPF that I’ve tried so far is Eucerin’s Oil Control SPF 50 which I’ve been able to buy on offer twice for around £12-13 and lasts me 3 months.

The Moisturiser Sandwich

Again through personal trial and error and discussions with a pharmacist I discovered there were a few ways to use Adapalene to minimise irritation. I use it in a couple of different ways. The first being applied directly to cleansed skin before waiting about 20 mins and then applying my night cream. The second being to apply my night cream to act as a barrier for irritation and then the Adapalene once this has soaked in. I have heard some people using retinoids with a “moisturiser sandwich” approach of applying moisturiser, then retinoid, then further moisturiser. If I think my skin needs a little more of a gentle touch I apply Adapalene over my Cetaphil Rich Night cream.

Listen To The Instructions

I strongly recommend not applying it close to the corners of your nose or lips as the PIL, if included, says. If in doubt I’ve found pharmacists to be very knowledgeable and helpful.

How Long To Use It For?

To my knowledge this will ultimately be governed by your GP. I first posted this in February 2021 and wanted to provide an update now that we are in July. I used Differin for around 14 months before gradually reducing my usage. I haven’t used Differin in around 3-4 months now and whilst I still have breakouts I’ve found these to be easily managed with shop bought skincare like Acnecide Gel Wash, pimple patches, The Ordinary Niacinamide serum and La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo+.

Comments Welcome