When the actual fuck is pre-pubescent skin going remove itself from my fucking face? Can someone tell me? I'm twenty-seven years old. TWENTY-SEVEN. I shouldn't even remember what zits look like on my skin.
When, oh when, OH WHEN, will acne be a thing of the past?! Breath in, breath out. Okay, look. I'm writing this on the edge of a UTI and I've been rewatching old episodes of Girls and that always ramps my whinging up like 400%. But for real, that's always been the deal.
You have shitty skin when you're younger because it's just something you have to live with - a right of passage. You put up with that, and the weird guys, and hormonal fluctuations, and nipples that look funny; you put up with it, and then when you get to, say, TWENTY-SEVEN, your skin - much like your life - sorts its shit out as a reparation. That was the deal, ffs. But, no. Here I am, two weeks into my (very) late twenties, and my left cheek is nursing the remnants of a bad-ass, cystic muthatrucka. Perfect.
And I'm not alone (thank god). The Telegraph called it an 'epidemic'. That seems a little extreme considering there were major breakouts of several actual epidemics at the time of writing, but we get the point. Where is all the adult acne coming from? Are the capitalist, lizard overlords sprinkling occlusive ingredients into our water to fuel the beauty industry? MAYBE. More likely the culprits are stress and a poor diet. That seems like a fairly straightforward solution, then, right? Just reduce your stress and eat well.
To which I'd reply, as I'm sure many of us would, I'M FUCKING TRYING. Who are these stress-free goddesses who can juggle a fulfilling career, a reciprocal and exciting love life, meaningful friendships, a regret-proof relationship with family, good diet and frequent exercise, while simultaneously being an active participant in pop culture, having a hobby, and stoically facing the crushing existential baggage of mortal life without stress, huh? WHERE are they, mister!?
Honestly, life as a hermit is looking more and more attractive every year - literally. But what do you do if you can't run away from your Whatsapp inbox and go sell seashells on the sea shore? What if your life requires you to have a job that isn't a position you can take up in a monastery? What if stress is as much a part of your life as masticating? Babe. You medicate. Topically, internally - it's not always pretty, it's hardly ever gentle, and it's not very chic tbh.
Spiractin, evening primrose oil, sulfur ointment, squalane, resurfacing tonics, clay masks, facial massage, and sheer dumb luck. These are my ingredients for good(ish) skin. 'Good(ish)' as in, one active pimple at most times. A few more over my period. That's a big step up from where I would be without these things, but I'm not modeling for Glossier any time soon, let me tell ya. The best of these, and possibly the most dangerous, is the Spiractin. Scroll for more.
Spiractin is a very bitter white pill that works by suppressing 'male' hormones (testosterone) in your body, dulling the effects of hormonal acne. That means it's not going to give two craps about bacterial zits, so watch out for that. There's also the small issue of potassium build-up. You see, Spiractin also acts on a hormone called 'aldosterone'.
Aldosterone helps your body get rid of excess potassium. People take Spiractin when they produce too much aldosterone (when their body is chasing out too much potassium), so Spiractin acts as a potassium-saving medication. Obviously when your body is making an okay-amount of potassium, anything on top could be too much. It follows that taking Spiractin can lead to harmful levels of potassium in your hot bod. Which is super, duper dangerous.
You shouldn't even consider this option if you have:
- high potassium levels in your blood (hyperkalaemia)
- severe kidney disease or problems passing urine
- Addison's disease, a condition where the adrenal glands do not work properly.
It's also a diuretic, if you haven't worked it out yet. So, you'll be peeing, like, a lot. A lot, a lot. Now, you're probably wondering why anyone would take anything so harmful just for better skin. And you'd be right to wonder. It's a little vain, a little frivolous, a little silly. I don't have a hyper-intelligent answer. I'd just like to have good skin for once in my life - at almost any cost. I would take the pill if my doctor didn't make me physically promise not to because of a history of migraines and early strokes in the family.
If you're just about as sick of acne as I am, maybe Spiractin is for you. OBVIOUSLY speak to your doctor first, and make sure that they test your potassium levels before you give it a go. Otherwise, give the other treatments I mentioned a try. Who knows? Maybe fart-smelling skincare is your ticket out of acne hell?! Now that's a story for the grandkids, eh? All jokes aside, facial massage has also supported a big improvement in my skin, and clay masks are awesome for deep-cleans.
You can also try balancing your hormones naturally, like vegan babe, Francesca. Then there's always the strip-bare-and-simplify method, starting from scratch with an all-natural beauty routine - I'm a big fan of SKOON's White Cloud Manuka, for a luxury problem-skin solution. There are some medication-free options for anyone who's keen. (I feel like there were too many hyphens in that paragraph but moving on to forgetti the regretti).
Remember, everyone's skin is different. Everyone says it. I used to think it was just an easy answer - like how different can skin really be? It's not like we all have different bones. You wouldn't be like, 'When I broke my arm I used a cast to heal, but everyone's different.' But skin really is very varied. What works for me might mess your face all the way up and vice versa. Explore. Explore the muddied, yo-yo traverse of self-esteem in a beauty-obsessed world. Hopefully we'll look back one day and laugh at all of this. Either cause we've got fantastic skin, and it was all worth it, or because we've stopped giving a fuck and we no longer associate clear skin with self-worth. Either or.
Hit up the comments below with your skincare tips. God knows, we could use them.