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Dealing with Flare Ups

0 Posted by - October 23, 2014 - Face Skincare, Skincare

Since hitting 25 I’ve noticed two things: Facebook has become a feed of engagement announcements and several ladies (myself included) are suddenly dealing with problem skin. I should add the two are not mutually exclusive – but pointing out a new breakout is most definitely dumpable offence.

Hot on the heels of a brief period of probably-the-best-skin-I’ve-ever-had followed the last 6 months; changes in texture, angry breakouts and extensive, stubborn scarring. After three months of trying to control my skin with products, I sought advice from a dermatologist. He suggested antibiotics (which I’d already been taking for 9 weeks with no positive effect) and alluded to taking them for up to a year. If these didn’t work, he told me my options were an oral contraceptive pill or Roaccutane. I’m not adverse to conventional medicine, but it simply didn’t seem like a solution after years of generally good skin. Confident that none of the products I was using were contributing, and after a lot of reading (I found Liz Earle’s Skin Secrets book and the Pai Skincare blog particularly helpful), I decided to take myself off the antibiotics and try supplements.

My diet is pretty good; I cook everything from scratch, eat plenty of vegetables and avoid the foods I know cause me dryness/eczema (gluten) and inflammation/acne (dairy). However there are so many variables, for example depletions of certain vitamins and minerals caused by stress, that I think there’s sometimes a case for supplementation.

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I’m not a doctor or nutritionist; this is simply what I’m taking and I’m staggered at how it has turned months of frustration around in just two weeks. After three days of taking the supplements, I realised I was waking up without bizarre rashes and new breakouts for the first time in months, and the strange flare ups that sometimes happened during the day had stopped. I haven’t had a new blemish for two weeks, my skin feels smoother and calmer, and existing marks continue to heal more quickly. My daily stash is currently at 10 tablets, spaced throughout the day (taken in the order below), but as my skin continues to improve I’ll be looking to reduce or cut out some of the tablets.

  • Omega 3
    Omega 3 is fantastic for reducing inflammation and keeping the skin healthy. Bare Biology are undeniably pricey (I bought in bulk to get 25% off which meant an outlay of about £120…gulp) but are great quality and the tiny size makes taking them a lot more pleasant. I keep the open tub in the fridge to ensure freshness.
    Bare Biology Lion Heart High Strength Capsules
  • Probiotics
    Skin is often said to be a reflection of the gut, so I’m doing what I can to keep my digestive system healthy. Good quality probiotics can help with nutrient absorption so, fingers crossed, everything else I’m taking should work more effectively too. I’ve been using BioKult for three years and get fewer colds and bugs since taking them.
    Bio-Kult Probiotic Capsules
  • Vitamin D3
    Everyone knows Vitamin D as the sunshine vitamin, but it’s not so easy to keep levels topped up when you work indoors and live in a not-so-sunny climate. It can help to reduce inflammation and improve mood (less cortisol=fewer flare ups).
    Doctor’s Best Vitamin D3 5000iu
  • Zinc
    One of the best tips from Liz Earle’s Skin Secrets book suggested supplementing with Vitamin A and Zinc to help speed healing and balance hormones. Zinc picolinate is the form most easily absorbed by the body.
    Solgar Zinc Picolinate 22mg
  • Vitamin A
    As both Accutane and Retin-A contain forms of Vitamin A, it’s a bit of a no-brainer that it can have a positive effect on acne; it can help suppress androgens, reduce excess oil and reduce inflammation (can you see a theme emerging here?!).
    Solgar Dry Vitamin A 5000iu
  • Agnus castus
    This is the one supplement I’m dubious about as it is a herbal remedy with not a lot of scientific basis behind it. However, I actually used to feed this (and magnesium!) to my horse years ago to help balance his hormones and keep him on an even keel and it always seemed to work. The theory is Agnus Castus can hamper the androgens which can exacerbate adult acne. So far I haven’t noticed any effects that could be directly related to this, but I’ll keep it up for a month or two.
    Bio Health Periagna Agnus Castus 400mg
  • Magnesium
    Magnesium has a calming effect on the nervous system which can help improve sleep…and better sleep = better skin. It also helps to regulate cortisol, which I’ve found really helps where the main culprit of flare ups is stress. As an added bonus, I think this may have played a role in bringing an end to a cycle of nasty migraines.
    Viridian Magnesium Citrate with B6

I should mention that on the same day I started the supplements, I introduced Pai’s awesome new Perfect Balance Copaiba and Zinc Blemish Serum*. I’m using this twice a day, often mixed with two to three drops of Trilogy Rosehip Oil, and it seems to be really helping to rapidly heal and calm the breakouts that are still around. It can be dotted on as a spot treatment overnight and has none of the associated dryness, irritation or stinging of other anti-blemish treatments.

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*PR sample

16 Comments

  • A Girl and a Beauty Blog October 23, 2014 - 2:37 pm Reply

    Is it wrong to say that I’m glad I’m not the only one to be suffering with bad skin? After thinking I had well and truly banished the blemish they have come back in full force and just won’t budge! I’m back on the Cod Liver Oil tablets in a bid to help them out xx

  • Kathrine October 23, 2014 - 3:27 pm Reply

    Great post; I’m also a devotee of supplements. If you want a slightly cheaper Omega 3 alternative I swear by these (3 per night): http://www.hollandandbarrett.com/shop/product/holland-barrett-omega-3-fish-oil-concentrate-capsules-1000mg-60003832

    I also had great results using Evening Primose Oil direct on breakouts, squeezed from the capsule, although only on those really awful cystic lumps. xxx

  • Lucy Birchall October 23, 2014 - 4:40 pm Reply

    I won’t lie, I haven’t taken any supplements for quite a while and it’s been on my to-do list to investigate which will be the best.
    FeelUnique is great for finding supplements, though I’ve just opened the links of the supplements you links and BodyKind seems like a great place for them too.
    Omega 3, Probiotics, Zinc, Vitamin A and Magnesium are all on my list, thank you for sharing which products are the best ones you’ve found.

    She’s So Lucy

  • Annabel October 23, 2014 - 10:33 pm Reply

    I have always wondered about supplements, but I have just never bothered. But I guess when you have a break out you’ll do anything to get rid!

    Annabel ♥
    Mascara & Maltesers

  • Jenn October 23, 2014 - 11:28 pm Reply

    This post was very helpful! and Amen to the facebook engagement thing. FB and breakout’s get real old, real fast;)

    neonjenn

  • DreamInLace October 24, 2014 - 12:35 am Reply

    I’ve turned myself on to some supplements lately, but never considered them as a skincare regime. It’s probably a very good idea! Great post :)

    xoxo
    Kelly
    http://www.dreaminlace.com

  • Ana Almeida October 24, 2014 - 2:35 pm Reply

    I have loved your blog for a while and I must admit you were my biggest inspiration for starting my own.
    I was really surprised to read about your recent skin problems, only because since I’ve turned 25 I’ve had the exact same problem. I could have written the same words as you.
    I’ve always had the odd spot here and there but everything has changed now, I’ve started to get under the skin bumps, uneven skin with bizarre rashes and spots. It has made me mad, searching for a solution.
    I’ve ignored the dermatologist who wanted me to do same treatments you mentioned, what I’ve done was change my routine and start taking Viviscal, magnesium+vitC. It has gotten a little better now but I’m still struggling with stange flare ups on my cheeks… I’m def. going to try Biokult next.

    Thank you so much for your tips and sorry for the long text. Keep us informed as how your skin improves!

    Lots of love from Portugal xox
    afinedayto.blogspot.com

  • Sasha A October 24, 2014 - 2:54 pm Reply

    Wow! Super helpful post! I will definitely research more. I have the same problem and my derm forbid me to use cleanser to rebalance my sebum and start taking 6 capsules of fish oil, while also using Copper Peptide and Vitamin Serums to heal up my scars and active acne. And its been working! I definitely agree – a lot of acne problems come from within! Thanks for the post!

    x Sasha
    http://www.saltandcoffee.com

  • Vicky Nolan October 25, 2014 - 1:22 pm Reply

    thanks so much for this post Meg. I’ve had terrible eczema flare ups and chapped skin for the past year and I’ve tried almost everything (which sometimes doesn’t help either). I’ve started taking Omega 3 supplements and keeping my fingers crossed that they help! xx

  • Vicky M October 26, 2014 - 12:23 am Reply

    That was such an informative article. I think these tips could really help my older sister and my mom.

  • Alison October 26, 2014 - 3:34 am Reply

    Yep, hear that! But my skin changed when I was 22. 2 years later, still struggling. About a year ago I managed to significiantly reduce the breakouts and longevity but still not perfect! Roacctane scares me because high sucide risk. It is a serious medication.

  • silverkis October 29, 2014 - 8:52 am Reply

    Awesome read, thank you so much for sharing. I have been dealing with random flare-ups of dry itchy patches for months now… it’s always the same spot, goes away but comes back again. I’ve been on antibiotics on and off too, it works for a couple of weeks, once i’m off those antibiotics it comes back. So, i’m going to check out some of those supplements that you mentioned! xx

  • Joyce (bronzer bunny) November 13, 2014 - 6:37 am Reply

    seriously, my skin was so good when i was 23ish and it all went downhill from there. Not long after i hit 25, i started breaking out, and it has been nearly two years of that with dryness (and possibly eczema as the latest fun thing), random itchy patches, etc. Will definitely be checking out those supplements and reading those links!

  • Ana Margarida Guilherme March 22, 2015 - 2:31 pm Reply

    I’ve been taking the Oskia Pure MSM tablets for about a month now (it was suggested by a friend as it’s supposed to help with skin tone, rosacea and a few more things) but i still haven’t seen any improvements. I was wondering what’s your personal opinion on MSM supplements? Thank you and thank you for this post.

    • Meg March 22, 2015 - 6:57 pm Reply

      I’m only familiar with MSM in relation to joint problems (and to be more precise, joint problems in horses)…sorry! Not sure what there is in terms of research for skin, although I guess it’s all connective tissue?

      • Ana Margarida Guilherme March 23, 2015 - 2:05 pm Reply

        Thank you Meg!! I’m definitely going to try some of the supplements you mentioned.

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