How I Manage The Surprise Skin Problems That Started in My Twenties


When it comes to my skin, I’ve always been lucky. Instead of my teenage years being blighted by acne, I had baby-smooth skin that happily endured all manner of products packed with irritants. Ok, I was super pale and often streaked with orange after fake tan mishaps, but for the most part my complexion was pretty good. I can probably count the number of really bad spots I’ve had as a teenager on one hand and that’s no lie.

But this isn’t a post about my great skin as a teenager, it’s about my skin now. As soon as I hit 25 my skin went crazy. It was dry, hormonal breakouts hit me every week, new spots surfaced every day and I had dark purple bags under my eyes. I tried everything to fix all my skin problems but honestly, I didn’t know much about skincare and I was looking for help in all the wrong places. It was around this time that beauty bloggers were really on the up so I looked to a mix of skincare enthusiasts and blogs by dermatologists and beauty editors for a little guidance.

These days I sometimes wish I’d had terrible skin in my teens so I didn’t have to worry about my face now but I’ve been lucky enough to find a few treatments and tonics that have really helped me out in my twenties. The first is collagen-boosting treatments. As well as taking a collagen supplement from Potion London every day, I use a vibrating facial massager and use a line-up of facial oils while stimulating my skin. I do this every morning after washing my face. I also use a Foreo exfoliating tool twice a week before going to bed which is always super effective.

Washing my face is actually a big one too. I have to admit I used facewipes loaded with fragrance and irritants for years, thinking a quick once over with one of these would be enough to remove my make up and clean off all the dirt clinging to my face after a day spent walking around London. Gross, right?

Now I use a gentle micellar water from bioderma, followed by an oil-based cleanser. Then I wash my face with the age defying face wash by Paula’s Choice and sometimes with the Jelly Cleanser by Drunk Elephant or a dreamy oil-based cleanser by Votary. Now, my skin is pretty delicate and what I didn’t realise was that by scrubbing it with harsh exfoliants in an effort to keep it clear and reduce breakouts, I was actually making things worse.

I stopped using scrubs and exfoliators – some people love them but I’ve never gotten on with them – and switched to AHA products instead. AHA stands for alpha hydroxy acids. Don’t let the scary name fool you because these babies are a godsend. They work to gently exfoliate the skin in the same fashion as a chemical peel but much less radically. I use the Framboos Serum by Drunk Elephant, the 2% AHA by Paula’s Choice, the whole Ordinary skincare range and occasionally the glycolic acid Glow Tonic by Pixi. I’ve like the Niacinamide Serum by Glossier for topical use on problem areas.

Maintaining the perfect balance between dry skin and greasy areas that break out is a daily struggle so I have to be tactical about my moisturising routine. I use a drop of hyaluronic acid by the Ordinary to plump up my skin followed by a Vitamin C-loaded serum. Then I liberally apply a moisturiser that contains a strong SPF.

One of the main game-changers for me has been topping up throughout the day. If I don’t have anywhere to be that evening I’ll usually wash and rehydrate my face at lunch time or straight after work – this isn’t too much hassle for me because I don’t wear a ton of make up but it’s not an everyday occurrence. On top of this I had to learn to kick habits like touching my face and going to bed in my make up. Lastly, adding retinoid products to my before-bed routine has had such a positive impact on my overall skin health and appearance. I love the thick Paula’s Choice retinol cream especially.

So, it’s no secret that I’m a little obsessive about my routine now. You know those memes that say girls who come home after a night out and manage to take their make up off and wash their faces are magical creatures and are probably also capable of getting away with calculated murder? I hold my hands up, that’s me, honeys.

I also try to do a mask a few times a week and these range from collagen sheet masks to overnight masks like the Facial Soufflé by Elemental Herbology, the Wake Up Wonderful mask by Ren Skincare, Detox Dust by Bybi Beauty and of course, everyone’s favourite the clay Goddess mask by Charlotte Tilbury.

Sometimes I’m appalled at how badly I used to treat my skin but honestly, we’re pretty blessed that so much information on how to treat our own skin problems is available to us. Being able to directly speak to beauty experts on social media and discover products beyond the aisles your local chemist is something I’m very grateful that I’m able to do because I’m more or less able to keep my skin in check these days.

I can’t recommend the products I’ve mentioned enough but remember, everyone’s skin is different so always do your research, read the label and do a patch test before applying a new product to your face. If you’re really struggling with your skin, consult a dermatologist.

*Some products gifted.

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