As I live in Singapore and have yet to make it back to Malaysia for a proper gathering with the fellow beauty bloggerettes, my photo isn’t exactly floating around the circuit… so, this is me.
Now, on to the skin profile 🙂
My skin condition is finicky at best, going combination on good days, oily on bad days, extremely oily on ugly days. My skin reacts quite significantly to hormonal cycles, changes in climate and/or humidity, and heavily fragranced products. My skin also hates if my makeup brushes are not washed on a regular basis. No prizes for guessing how it expresses its displeasure when this happens.
Like dom, hit puberty at the awkward age of eleven and acne vulgaris followed in a major way. This was amplified by the fact that acne is hereditary on my paternal side of the family. My acne was fierce and very painful, and we tried many methods to get it under control over the years.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of all the acne treatments I tried between the ages of 11 and 20. Be warned, it’s a long one, and none of this is exaggeration.
- Tea tree oil: both in pure oil form and product derivations
- Proactiv Solution: worked like a charm for about two months before my skin took a nosedive and became scaly and dry from all the alcohol and acidic content
- Benzoyl peroxide: Benzac AC, Brevoxyl
- Adapalene: Differin
- Erythromycin: Eryderm, Erygel, Staticin
- Salicylic acid: Johnson and Johnson’s Clean and Clear range, Clearasil products
- Over-the-counter anti-acne ranges: Neutrogena, Garnier, Olay, among others
- Tretinoin: Retin-A, Retin-A Micro
- Oral antibiotics: various, repeated three-month cycles of Doxycyline or Tetracycline – made me extremely, uncomfortably sensitive to sun exposure
- Regular facials and extractions
- Two years of Leonard Drake facials, where extractions are done with fingers and a significant measure of force by their facialists has resulted in pretty appalling scars all over both my cheeks. True story: I fainted from the pain of one particularly difficult facial at the age of 14, and my parents never let me return to them again.
- Less regular facials over the course of the coming years, for fear of repeated trauma. I went to one facialist in Subang Jaya who I really liked for a few years – she used gentle products and the appropriate tools for extraction, was very gentle, was extremely hygienic in all her procedures, and did not hawk products. I felt very comfortable putting the welfare of my skin in her hands. She was also the first person to teach me how to properly pluck my eyebrows, incidentally 🙂
At 21, I finally gave in and took a chance on oral Isotretinoin, known to many as Ro-Accutane (as per marketed by French pharmaceutical company La Roche). My parents had hesitated to allow me to take Ro-Accutane at a younger age because of its well-known side effects, which include depression and suicidal tendencies, particularly manifest in teenagers taking the medication. However, under the incredible care of my Levi’s wearing, white coat-shunning French dermatologist, my skin underwent a miraculous transformation from zero to hero with no major side effects apart from peeling lips and dry eyes every once in a while.
I (and I’m sure dom would agree here) would strongly recommend the consideration of Ro-Accutane as a way to treat and manage severe acne. Here are a few tips for all of you ladies considering taking Ro-Acc. Note that this is based on my experience alone, and should not be taken as gospel, but as precaution and advice 🙂
- Talk to your doctor and make sure you know pretty much everything there is to know about Ro-Accutane before committing yourself to it. It is a long-term treatment and will not show results overnight, so patience is absolutely key. Do some research beforehand (Google is your friend – and really, all you need to know is right here) and go to the doctor ready with questions and concerns you may have. There are many benefits to being an informed patient – knowing your options before choosing your treatment is one of them. Your doctor is your medical consultant, not your miracle-working decisionmaker 🙂
- Make sure your doctor starts you off on a small dose and then gradually moves up. You are only supposed to be prescribed 1mg of Isotretinoin per day for every kg you weigh, with very minor leeway if your skin (and your brain) reacts well to it after several months of treatment. For example, I weight 55kg and my doctor started me on 20mg per day for two months to see how I reacted to the treatment before amping it up. I reacted extremely well to the medication and by the end of my six-month treatment cycle, the doc had me on 60 mg a day, but even then only for the final month. On the contrary, a dear friend of mine who took Ro-Accutane for his cystic acne was started on 80mg a day for his 70kg frame, and two months into treatment he spiraled into a difficult depressive state. His doctor dropped his dose from 80mg a day to 40mg a day for the next six months, and by the end of it his acne had completely vanished and he was back to his cheerful self.
- Be prepared for side effects. Not necessarily depression and suicidal tendencies mind you (but if you start to feel a bit funny, don’t hesitate – go see your doctor and tell them something is wrong, pronto), but dryness of eyes, joints, lips, anything that secretes mucus or fluid. Isotretinoin dries you up in a major way so stock up on moisturiser, lip balm, eyedrops (and be prepared for the occasional nosebleed on a dry day)! As with all side effects, not everyone is affected the same way, so pay attention to your body and what it needs, and respond accordingly 🙂
- Do not be surprised or disappointed if one to two years after your first cycle of Ro-Accutane, your acne comes back. Mine did, but it was only about half as severe as it once was. This occurs in about 40 to 45 per cent of all Ro-Acc patients, particularly those with a family history of acne vulgaris. To combat this resurgence, last year, I went on a second cycle of Ro-Accutane to help. It worked just as well, if not better and quicker, the second time around – and these days, I only get a smattering of fiery pustules and cystic acne just before my menses.
My skin abhors anything too oily, creamy or drying. Simple as that. No product formulated for “normal to dry skin” has ever worked for me.
Avene Cleanance Soap-Free Gel Cleanser + The Body Shop Vitamin E Hydrating Serum + Bobbi Brown Hydrating Gel Creme
Breakout Buster Routine
- Foundation: Bobbi Brown Oil-Free Tinted Moisturiser SPF15 in Light Tint (does this count as foundation?)
- Setting powder: Clinique Blended Face Powder in 08 Transparency Neutral
- Eyes: Sleek Makeup Divine Mineral Based Eyeshadow Palette in Storm (review upcoming), any mascara I can find in my stash, Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Eyeliner in Black Ink or Sepia Ink/Rimmel Exaggerate Waterproof Eye Definer in Noir or Perfect Plum
- Brows: Shu Uemura Hard Formula Eyebrow Pencil in Hard 9
- Blush: Yves Rocher Couleurs Nature Powder Blush in Teint Clair Rosé (listed as “pinky light complexion” on the website)
- Bronzer/Highlighter: don’t use bronzer (but should probably try it sometime), Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in Nectar
- Lips: where do I begin? *small voice* I have too many lipsticks and glosses…
I think that’s all I have for now. This profile will be updated as and when new discoveries are made and routines change 🙂 Hope you find this useful!