Problem skin is not just for teenagers, thousands of adults are now presenting with acne each year. According to a survey by Whatclinic.com, a combination of hormones, stress, poor diets and pollution is contributing to a more than 200pc rise across the UK and Ireland in the number of adults seeking specialist treatment for acne. So why are we not talking more about it more?
Two years ago, Irish beauty guru Melanie Murphy (26) became a YouTube sensation when her video teaching followers how to expertly cover up their acne also went viral. The video quickly clocked up over four-million hits and today, Melanie’s YouTube channel has 339,379 subscribers.
Despite a few initial jitters, Melanie is glad she went public about her skin troubles and would like to see more people opening up about the subject and facing what has become a widespread and common fear of flaws, particularly when it comes to social media.
“I actually had acne from age 12 and it continued into adulthood,” Melanie explains. “It would become extremely cystic sometimes and I had no idea why, and after trying every product and medication under the sun, I discovered what worked for me through chance and an intolerance test.
“I learned that milk and processed food containing whey powder was giving me my breakouts and I started up a skincare routine that healed existing breakouts. I also learned to manage my stress, which was – and still is – a massive trigger.”
“Simply talking about something that nobody likes to talk about makes you fear it less and realise how normal it actually is,” Melanie adds. “Now, the whole world has seen that insecurity, so I’m not so insecure about it anymore. There is nothing left to hide, but initially, I was terrified.”
For fashion presenter, stylist and blogger at Styleisle.ie, Lorna Weightman, hiding her acne, which appeared in her late teens and continued into adulthood, became a time-consuming affair.
“I never had very severe acne, fortunately, but what I had was a consistent mild form which never cleared up,” Lorna explains. “An imbalance of hormones, coupled with the daily stress of work was the main cause, but my mum had turbulent skin when she was younger so genes played a part too. It really became an issue when I was modelling professionally and I missed out on some great jobs due to unreliable skin.
“I used to look at the pore-free, flawless faces of some of the girls I worked with and couldn’t understand why I had been landed with the unwelcome gift of pimples. It really affected my self-confidence.”
“I hid behind make-up and used my fringe to mask my forehead for so long,” Lorna adds. “I tried to avoid anyone noticing it. I was so paranoid that my skin was all people saw when they looked at me. It was a horrible feeling, but one I didn’t want to live with, so I started on the journey to remedy it.”
Beauty therapist Elaine Butler Doolin suggested a course of treatments to decongest and hydrate Lorna’s skin with a very light microdermabrasion and subsequently taught Lorna how to manage her skin.
“I attribute how my skin looks now to Elaine’s expertise,” Lorna says. “She taught me what to use to keep it that way and the routine I needed to keep. My skin will never be perfectly clear or pore-free, but I can work to maintain it.”
Now in her 30s, Lorna has found a treatment that suits her skin, but warns that there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
“I did go to a dermatologist when I was younger for advice, but all they wanted to do was put me on medication which I really didn’t want to do,” Lorna explains. “There are some amazing alternative remedies and I love natural products, so my advice to others is to explore all of your options.”
“Acne ranges in severity, so what works for my mild form may not be suitable for someone else. Regular facials help a lot to rehydrate your skin and give it a deep clean, but the main thing is to look after your skin and invest time in its care,” Lorna adds.
“Most recently, I have found Sunday Riley skin products to be amazing and a great serum from New York dermatologist Patricia Wexler, which I have just started to try at night-time. If I am having an angry skin day, a good exfoliating masque really helps, but just once a week – I think Glam Glo make the best one – and I also have a Clarisonic, which is a worthy investment.”