So, as I have described in florid detail in previous posts, I have suffered from pretty bad cystic acne for yonks now - 10 years to be specific. When it was really at its worst and I was getting at least one new red, painful lump every day without fail, I was in so much distress about it that the only thing I could think was that I wanted it gone right now and didn't feel too concerned with the future because I was so preoccupied with its severity. And it wasn't for quite a long time, on a ultra bright summer's day, that I caught sight of my reflection in a window and was horrified to discover big, deep scars on the fleshy parts of my cheeks. I was so, so upset, and it really felt like a worse kick in the gut than even the acne itself. I hadn't noticed the scars before because I only really look at my face in a magnifying mirror and they aren't very apparent at all in that, silly as it sounds. So yes, this acne has left behind a greasy, red, pockmarked hide I struggle to recognise as my own. Nowadays I look back at my childhood photos in awe at the smooth, creamy skin that used to be mine.
Anyway, I started obsessing about what, if anything, I could do about these awful scars. There is no useful info in the UK media about this sort of thing - try Bio Oil and eat more zinc is the usual advice - and the internet can be such a minefield of misinformation when it comes to anything medical. I perused tons of rubbish about lemon juice, honey, vitamin E capsules... Then one day I was on iTunes looking up random podcasts and that's how I first heard of Paula Begoun and her brand Paula's Choice. I know she has her detractors who think it's ridiculous to review products while selling her own, but she still gives way better skincare information than anything here in the UK. Her podcasts that I found that day are really good and I've listened to so many of them. If you like an honest take on make-up and skincare, they are for you. Someone called in and asked the exact question I wanted to, what could they do about their terrible acne scars. And Paula said there is nothing available on the shelf that will help, the best thing is to save up for a Fraxel treatment. But she added that the only thing you can try is to use a BHA or salicylic acid product. Being a poor urchin, I decided to do just that and thank God, after just over a year of using one, my skin has improved so much, I doubt most people would even notice that there are scars. There is still a bit of an indent but when I have my make-up on it looks very smooth. The salicylic acid works wonders to smooth away the tough outer layer of skin so the soft under layer is revealed. If I stop using my BHA product for a few days the scars do start to become noticeable again, so it is something I will probably have to keep using for the rest of my days. No bad thing, because it makes my skin look very youthful and healthy anyway as a bonus to improving the acne scars. The BHA product I have been using all this time is one I mentioned in another post, the Neutrogena Visibly Clear Spot Stress Control Hydrating Spot Treatment as it is known in the UK, and at only £3-4 it is a very economical buy. Sadly it seems to have been discontinued in the US and I think it's going to be here so grab 'em while you can :( That is about the only cheap, readily available BHA I have found in the shops - when or if I can no longer get hold of it, I will probably buy a Paula's Choice one online, but they are quite expensive, in the £20-30 region plus p+p. Ouch. I expect they last for ages and are meant to be so good, with no fragrance or nasties, so I will stretch to that price when the time comes. The improvement in my very scarred and angry skin makes me never want to be without this miracle ingredient ever again and I want to personally thank Paula for such an invaluable piece of advice.