As if to play its part in supporting current figurative purges of multitude of issues that are taking place all over the world, a week ago my skin broke out in the worst acne ever. And this “ever” includes my puberty. I initially thought it could be Twitter-related because I’m keen to blame social media for all the ills of the world, but accepted after some reflection that it might actually be hormonal.
The silver-lining, of course, is that I don’t necessarily have to leave my apartment or meet people. The absolute gold is that should I need to go outside, I can do this while wearing a face mask that covers the bottom half of my face, which is exactly where hormonal acne exhibits itself.
I’ve never had bad skin, literally ever (I’m annoying like that). Not because I’ve dedicated my life to 18-step skincare routines since I could walk, but mostly because of genes and probably just winning big in the epidermic lottery. Suddenly having everything between my cheekbones and chest red, itchy, swollen and very greasy – all at the same time if you can imagine – and covered in pimples, pustules, whiteheads and what have you, every pore on my face pushing out a 43-year accumulation of shit, was a peculiar feeling, to put things extremely mildly.
Whence did this pizza-like situation emerge from? I went through everything I had eaten and drunk lately, trying to be as honest about the intake of fizzy drinks, rosé, emergency Negronis and super-emergency, non-frequent cigarettes as I possibly could. In particular I listed products high on dairy and sugar, and the list became a very short one, containing exactly one pandemic-related habit of eating shitloads of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
I had not changed anything in the hormones-department: I have endometriosis, a chronic illness that I’ve had operated, and which has been treated by hormonal medication since about 9 years now. During my acne-investigation I did realise that I had slacked out on the vitamins and supplements side, though. Especially as regards vitamin D and Omega 3. I had also fooled myself into thinking that because Coke Zero is liquid, it replaces water.
Whatever it was, something had put my hormone balance greatly out of whack.
(Hormonal acne appears in the U-area of your face: cheeks, chin, jawline and if you’re very fortunate like me, also neck and décolleté.)
I wanted my actions to yield immediate effects, as one does. Attacking acne with anything that spells aggressively deep-cleansing seems the perfect solution, but alas, it is not thus. Infected skin does not need a Clorox-rinse, it still needs to be properly cared for.
I continued to use my regular (non-foaming, non-drying) cleansers, but introduced Paula’s Choice Soothing Toner, which is developed in particular for calming rosacea. For the U-section I used, every evening, Kate Somerville’s Liquid ExfoliKate, a triple acid treatment. I didn’t use it for the whole face daily, because it contains sun-sensitising AHAs, and I did not need the whole face to freak out – I had more than enough in containing the U-situation.
Then I had to check what was going in internally, and upped the intake of Omega 3 oil. This is interesting. I went up to 9 caplets a day – three times a day, for 5 days. After 3 days my chin started to cool down. The puffiness and angry redness subsided.
I drank water like a maniac, and took Vitamin D, for which I have a long-standing, notorious deficiency.
I don’t know what it was: a sum of the parts or the aggressive Omega 3 intake, but situation is noticeably improved. There are red marks and minor scarring left from the zits, but my skin is clearer and calmer as opposed to being physically, pulsatingly enraged.
Again, this is what worked for me, and is not to be taken as a universal advise. But there is a lot of literature (I read the whole internet on this topic while nursing the acne at home) about the role of Omega 3 especially as concerns treating women’s hormonal imbalances. I even stumbled upon the hormonal/perimenopausal acne and Omega 3 -combination on Caroline Hirons’ website, where she wrote about dosing up during acne attacks.
And while a face mask of course is a lovely camouflage for acne, it obviously does not improve the situation, as it’s like having a mini steam-room for the lower face, and combined with any makeup a total disaster. So remember to wash your masks with fervour and don’t do like I do, ie. have several of them dumped in various handbags collecting all kinds of shit.
I used Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Skinstick liberally for spackling the bottom half of my face when I had to leave the building and the situation was untenable, and can now make do with occasional dabs of Glossier Stretch Concealer.
I continue to be on Twitter and take Omega 3.