"The weird thing is, I never had particularly bad skin at school. Other girls did, especially around 13 to 15, but I thought that I'd just struck lucky with genetics.
It was when I first moved to London for an internship that suddenly my skin changed, and I started getting acne all around my chin and at the top of my forehead. I tried changing my hairstyle to cover the spots at the top, but couldn't hide the lower part of my face. It was awful, especially at a new job where I had to - literally - put my best face forward. Instead, I felt self-conscious, embarrassed, even dirty, which I know is wrong. Whenever I got stressed, which is normal in a new environment, it felt like my skin became even worse.
After a couple of years, despite trying a series of different beauty routines, and buying every acne ‘cure’ under the planet, my skin was still red and bumpy. My mum recommended I visit a dermatologist, and I wish I had done sooner. I was diagnosed with severe nodular adult acne and was given accutane after trying a few other medications.
While I was on the medication, I started getting dry, uncomfortable skin (just to add to my concerns!) but research said this was one of the side effects. I read a lot of beauty forums and decided to try la Roche-Posay's Effaclar H moisturiser which is specially formulated to "compensate for the side effects, either visible or experienced, of over-drying treatments." The moisturiser is non-greasy and my skin felt soothed straight away.
Once I was over the treatment - and it did help my skin condition - I didn't want to risk going back to the products I'd been using before, because my skin seemed to respond well to the range, so I bought the foaming gel and the targeted breakout corrector. The gel I now use every morning and evening, and the corrector is when I can feel a red lump popping up, which is much rarer than before, but can still happen from time to time.
These days, with a regular skincare routine that doesn't aggravate my sensitive skin, I feel so much more confident. I've gone back to wearing my hair as I like - no more heavy fringe - and I've even had compliments at work about my increased self-assurance. If I were to give people in my situation three pieces of advice, it would be: go and see a dermatologist as early as possible, don't believe in the ‘cure all’ hype of certain products, and treat your skin to a regular, quality skincare routine."