Skincare Saviours

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I’ve been toying with whether to write this post or not, as I don’t want to jinx my current good fortune in the complexion department. But then I thought that was stupid, and nothing I write here will actually impact my actual face, so here we are… I wanted to write a frank and detailed post on these products, as when I was desperately scouring Google for hope that something would solve my skincare woes, nothing I found really made me feel like something would truly work. So I hope that this helps at least one of you!

I’ve never been a spotty person; in fact, my complexion was much closer to dry/normal than anything ever resembling oily skin. If I ever did get a spot they were small and slightly inconvenient, but nothing to really worry about. But then a couple of years ago, I switched my Pill and all hell broke loose – on my face. I didn’t put two and two together for months, and walked around with a very sore, very sad, very bumpy face. Once I eventually twigged, I switched my Pill again and almost overnight, the spots disappeared. I was living a happy, blemish-free life again, until my Pill was discontinued and I was put onto one that “is basically exactly the same”, according to every doctor and pharmacist I asked. Let me tell you, it is not exactly the same.

For the last year or so, I’ve been struggling for the first time in my life with cystic acne; that is, large, painful spots that sit under the skin. They never come to a head, so they can’t be squeezed (trust me, I’ve tried and I have the scars to prove it) – they just sit there, as hard lumps that ache and are sore and tender to the touch. It is no fun. Nothing seemed to be clearing them; I swapped out dairy for a while, tried every kind of mask and cleansing regime… nothing worked. Yes, I know I could change my Pill (again), but this one really works for me – aside from the face situation.

With my brother’s wedding and a million and one photographs of my face looming, I decided I really needed to find a cure. So I decided to try the much-famed Effaclar Duo+, from French skincare brand La Roche-Posay.

Here’s where things get interesting. There is literally NO INFO on the La Roche-Posay website (or any of their stockists) beyond the basics with this product. Is it a moisturiser? A topical treatment? God only knows. In blog reviews, the info is blurry and the outcomes wildly differ – from miracle cure to total nightmare. It just goes to show that skincare really isn’t one-size-fits-all.

So I’m going to try and be really clear about how I use Effaclar Duo+, seeing as I found next to no helpful info about it at all. I decided to take drastic action and use it morning and evening, as a moisturiser. It’s a fresh, gel-cream texture that lends itself really well to a quick skincare routine; I apply a small amount in the morning (avoiding the eye area) and massage in, apply my eye cream, and then leave five minutes before applying primer and my makeup – if you apply anything directly on top straight away, it tends to ball up. In the evening, I swing between applying a facial oil or a new moisturiser (more on that later) on top of the Effaclar, but quite often I just use that and an eye serum.

I started using Effaclar Duo+ on a Friday night at the very end of February. I had two very hard cystic spots on my chin and a few others brewing along my jawline – the cystic ones had probably been there for two or three weeks already. I applied it, and in the morning, I was presented with – sorry if this is super gross – two large spots on my chin that were ready to be dealt with, where the cystic ones once stood. So I dealt with them, and it was almost shamefully satisfying.

Effaclar Duo+ promises that you’ll see results in 24 hours, then more dramatic ones in eight days, but it should take around four weeks for “unclogged” skin. I’ve been using it for just over six weeks now, and I think it takes around this amount of time to really see results. My skin did almost instantly look better, but it has taken weeks for the spots to stop appearing. Apparently this is due to spots being created really deep down in the skin, so it takes a few weeks to “unclog” them and bring them to the surface. I will say that I haven’t had a single new cystic spot since starting to use this, which is incredible – I have definitely had quite a few large spots (more than I would have liked, and enough to induce pure panic that it wasn’t working for me!) but all of them were resolvable.

I’ve really stripped back my entire skincare routine too; face washes and oils are all out, it’s back to basics for me. One session with a cleansing oil brought on a fair few blemishes the next day, so they’re off the shelf for me currently. Instead, I use the super-gentle Garnier Micellar Water to cleanse, then a warm flannel to make sure everything is off and my face is squeaky clean. I use the Boots Botanics Triple Age Renewal Hydrating Serum under my eyes in the morning, and in the evening Pure Spa Eye Serum, and if I do choose to apply a facial oil in the evening, it’s always my trusty Vitamin E Overnight Serum In Oil. Three times a week, I’ll use a Nip+Fab Extreme Glycolic Fix pad to decongest and exfoliate the skin ‘s surface too.

I’m now six weeks deep into this routine, and for the first time ever, I have been confident enough to forgo foundation – in fact, I have done so five times in the last week! Concealer and a touch of powder is enough at the moment, and that feels amazing. My skin looks clear and glowing, and while there’s still one or two (admittedly tiny) spots that pop up and scars that need to fade, I don’t know if my skin has ever looked better.

To deal with the last few spots that have been cropping up, I decided to up the ante and purchase a few more La Roche-Posay products – namely, the Effaclar AI and the Cicaplast Baume B5 SPF50. The Effaclar AI is a topical gel cream that you apply directly to brewing spots, to calm them and stop them in their tracks, and so far, it’s pretty damn good. It sits really well under makeup too, so you can use it before you get ready in the morning with no fear of it peeling away.

The Cicaplast Baume isn’t strictly a facial moisturiser (actually, who knows if it is, the website says it’s everything and nothing all at the same time!) but can be used all over the body. I’d heard that this was a bit of a wonder product, so I decided to give it a go to make sure I wasn’t drying my face out with all of these acids. I’ve used it a few times as a night cream over the Effaclar Duo+, and it’s really something else; light and absorbent, but incredibly nourishing and hydrating to the skin, without being greasy.

So there we have it – the products that have literally saved my skin! If you’re struggling with something similar, my advice is this: PERSEVERE*. One night last week I was convinced that Effaclar Duo+ wasn’t working for me and that I’d always be red and spotty; I read a million blog posts where people were saying it didn’t work for them and being super vague about why. And then just like that – a few days later I woke up and I could finally be totally sure that I knew what all the fuss was about.

The only (minor) downside to all of this is that I am now too worried about introducing anything else new into my skincare routine – that isn’t La Roche-Posay, apparently they will have my money for life! So for the time being at least, I’m keeping things super simple and stripped back – if it works, there’s no need to change it, and I’m certainly not looking to go back to those painful red spots anytime soon!

I really hope you find this helpful – problem skin is such a downer and really can affect your confidence, so I hope at least some of my experience is useful or gives you a little bit of hope that something will work for you.

*Unless you have some kind of bad reaction – in which case, for the love of God do not persevere.

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