Doorstop Dermatologist 🧖🏽‍♀️

I feel like skin in general is having a big moment on social media. Even some of our favourite make up brands are dipping their toes into the world of skincare (although not necessarily doing it well). I feel like the reason behind this is the idea that a good base for make up always starts with the quality of your skin – and even if you don’t care for make up, going bare faced can sometimes feel scary if you have acne, scars, and pigmentation.

My skin went from near perfect to a complete shambles around October/ November 2018. I have a couple of theories as to why it all started going wrong; I’d naughtily been trying more than one new product at a time which I already knew was a big no-no, secondly, I also tried to extract some closed comedones with a comedone extractor on my cheek. Closed comedones are the small flesh coloured bumps on your skin that don’t have a head; no blackhead and no whitehead, just a bump. I woke up one day and the extraction site was a little irritated but nothing i couldn’t handle, but the day after that brought me hugely swollen and inflamed bumps. They still didn’t have whiteheads but this time were incredibly painful. I could feel them on my face without touching them! I thought attacking them with acids like salicylic and glycolic would help, but it only made them worse. I’d also travelled in October, and the flight and water in Berlin seemed to not treat my skin kindly at all. Covering them in make up was a huge fail because it just looked like caked up craters and hills instead. After a few weeks, once I’d realised they weren’t going away no matter what I used – I started looking at an online Dermatology subscription service called Dermatica. A blogger I follow had spoken about them before with positive review, and at only around £20 a month – I had nothing left to lose (except my skin getting worse, I guess?!).

So how does it work?
It’s not a matter of clicking on a product, putting it in your basket and waiting for it to be delivered – you have to have a consultation that is reviewed by a professional, and a medication is suggested for you. They request pictures before so that they can double check the treatment is appropriate for your condition, and also to compare against photos towards the end of your treatment. I started in December and finished in March.

I started treatment as soon as it arrived. I was billed on a certain date every month (you can stop whenever), and I was sent a new tube of treatment a few days before my next one ran out/ was due to expire. I stopped using any other actives in my routine in order to minimalise sensitvity and over exfoliation. My routine ended up being very simple for a few months – which my bank account was definitely thankful for. The redness and swelling decreased significantly within a few days, and the “bumps” began to show whiteheads, and eventually once they had burst started to disappear. It didn’t resolve completely within a month or two; sometimes the spots would come back but at least they weren’t as bad as before, and due to my skin now having faster cell turnover, they would also disappear relatively quickly leaving behind minimal scarring. I noticed it also addressed other closed comedones on my face, although this took at least a couple of months of treatment for this particular issue.

I didn’t personally experience any adverse reactions to the medication, although Dermatica are very helpful with any questions you may have generally and as their treatments are authorised by a Dermatology team, they can advise on alternative treatments too. The only issue I had with this particular treatment, is that it stained some items of clothing – so if you have this medication, be careful about what it comes into contact with. Although it bleaches clothing, it didn’t have any effect on my face.
Over the months, I started feeling more comfortable with adding some other products into my regime, as long as they weren’t products that could be irritating or increase cell turnover, so that meant no other retinol products, and no acids.

AM:

Cleansing: generally I don’t use a cleanser in the morning, just warm water but on mornings when my skin felt dry, I would use the Like A Virgin solid cleansing balm (£4.95)f rom Lush. This is a beautifully soothing cleansing balm that I’ve repurchased since it was first gifted to me by Lush a couple of months ago.

Toner: At first I would tone with rosewater, nothing special or fancy, just a cheap but simple one from Amazon. Towards the end of my treatment, I started using Eau Roma Water (£5.95) by Lush instead. This is a nice gentle toner, and works similarly to the rosewater, but with added Lavender water that has soothing properties, as my face can get quite red after cleansing (reminder: always cleanse with warm water NOT hot).

Hydrating: I had recently purchased it before starting with Dermatica, so I continued using The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid; (£4.99). Hyaluronic acid draws moisture in from it’s environment, and as keeping your skin hydrated and moisturised when using the medication is important, I made sure to apply plenty as soon as possible after cleansing. I bought this after the Deciem drama, and I would say it’s on par with their own Hyaluronic acids – although I would like to see an improvement in packaging, it feels quite cheap to handle/look at.

Treatments: Vitamin E Moisture Boost Facial Serum (£3.99) by Superdrug. I think i’ve bought this serum at least 5 times now, it fits so perfectly in the middle of my routine both morning and evening, and is so cheap that I can use a lot at once if my skin really needs it. It’s a lovely silky texture, and naturally high in fruit acids – but gentle enough that it wouldn’t cause over exfoliation as if I had used direct Salicylic or Glycolic acid for example. Vitamin E is a natural antioxidant that helps to shield skin against free radicals caused by the environment. It also has Horse Chestnut extract which is good for combatting dry skin; something I suffer from greatly.

I would actually combine the Vitamin E serum with The Ordinary 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder (£4.95) aka vitamin C powder. This is some powerful stuff and I didn’t use it until I was almost off my medicated treatment due to how strong it is. It’s very strong and you will more than likely feel a tingling feeling after application – I managed to combat this by giving my self an extra pump of the vitamin E serum to change the ratio. I’ve continued to use this after stopping my Dermatica treatment to address the scarring that was inevitably left behind, it’s been doing it’s job and it’s been doing it relatively well. Although i’ve not been using it for that long, I still feel like i would definitely repurchase this.

I would also sometimes use Aloe Vera gel (£7.49) on days my skin was really red – it was very soothing but I did find it would cause my make up to be a bit tacky so I then swapped it to the evening or skipped it out altogether.

Eyes: I like to apply Skyn Iceland’s Brightening Eye Serum (£30) in the morning, and ideally I keep it in the fridge so that it’s nice and cool. Unfortunately I don’t have a skincare fridge like the one’s I keep seeing on Instagram; i’m very jealous. It means sometimes I forget to take it downstairs and may use it at room temperature; it still does it’s job of course. I would also follow up with Superdrug’s Vitamin E Nourshing Eye Cream (£2.99) to secure the hydrating qualities of the eye serum.

Moisturising: I swapped between two moisturisers; Celestial (£16.95) by Lush or Natural Moisturising Factors (£6.80) by The Ordianary. Both of these moisturisers are very simple and straightforward ingredients but they’re also very nourshing and worked well with my dry skin. I would also add in Vegetable Glycerin (£3.49) from Naissance to boost the hydration – it’s a natural humectant and great to mix into your serums. This brand generally is great, and i’ll be writing another post on some of their other products I use.

Oil: I would use Indie Lee Squalane facial oil (£14) as my second to last skincare step, this is just an extra step. Squalane is a great oil for people who don’t like oils or have oily skin and don’t want oily oils, if that makes sense? It’s an exact replica of your skin’s natural sebum – basically all of you need to be putting this on your skin. It keeps skin hydrated and I find that as it’s not greasy, it’s a great prep for make up.

Spf: I recently finished one of my spf’s but I do love it and it’s a great for super dry skin: Soleil Toujours Mineral Sunscreen Glow  (£36) (which now reading back, doesn’t look like it’s intended for the face but damn it was good for me!). I haven’t seen it on my usual sites for a while, so decided to use that opportunity to buy something new. I’d been eyeing Glossier’s Invisible Shield (£20) for a long time. It’s a clear, thick-ish serum type of spf, and melts into the skin without leaving a white cast – very black girl friendly. It doesn’t dispense too much from the pump at once, but it is a little pricey for the amount you get in it. Neither of these sunscreen’s affected my make up application.

This seems like a complex routine, but it truly only takes me 5 mintues, I promise!

Missing a few products in this image as I either run out and haven’t replaced them yet or couldn’t find them!

My evening routine is very similar with only a few changes.

Cleansing: After a day of wearing make up (even if minimal), and spf; double cleansing is a must. My first cleanse would either be Farmacy Green Clean (£32), Aesop Oil cleanser (£40), Niod Sanskrit Saponins  (£21)- all of these are great at initially removing dirt, oil based make up and spf. I would then use Glossier Milky Jelly cleanser (£15) as my second cleanse to completely remove all traces of dirt. On both cleanses, I would massage them into my skin for at least 60 seconds.

Toning: Same as above

Treatments: This is when I would apply my Benzoyl Peroxide and Adapalene from Dermatica. It’s important its applied to dry skin – and I would leave it to absorb for a good 10 minutes before continuing with the rest of my routine. This meant that I would start my routine as soon as I got home to allow time for this; it’s probably a good thing, because there’s no need to sit around with make up on at the end of the day is there? The treatment is a white serum that applied very easily, but is very very drying – so if you end up on this particular medication, be sure to keep that skin hydrated and moisturised. The first month I applied it once every other day, and after that month it was every evening.

After letting the medication absorb, I would apply The Inkey List Collagen Serum (£8.99) on my skin, I…don’t feel like this did anything to my skin over the months. It felt nice on my skin but that was it, it didn’t make my skin look more plump – I wouldn’t bother buying it again. i would also apply the Superdrug Vitamin E Serum, and my eye treatments. My moisturisers also were the same. At the end, instead of Squalane, I would apply Sweet Almond Oil (£3.49) which is heavier, but perfect to go to bed with.

As i mentioned before, my skin had a few ups and downs whilst on treatment, some days it looked amazing; minimised pores and other days I would have a spot on my chin and in between my eyebrows. However, they would go as fast as they came and were never to the same level as my acne was prior to starting treatment. The dryness was no joke, and when I finished treatment, I was lucky to be gifted more intense moisturisers which I wish I had whilst I was in the middle of treatment too. As much as I hated having such a simple routine at first and cried looking at my lovely potions on the shelf that were collecting dust, I definitely learned a lot about my skin – what it likes and what it doesn’t like. Reducing my routine right down meant I could see the effects of the products I was using even more clearly, which made me feel happier about my purchases and regretful of some. I definitely don’t think I would have achieved the results I did without the help of Dermatica. I think if anyone is struggling with their skin and hasn’t already seen a Dermatologist then you need to hit them up. So here’s some reminders

My skin before treatment and after. Most of my acne was concentrated on one part of my face. It would also come up on my forehead, eyebrow, and chin – it just wasn’t as bad in those places on that day. My skin is general brighter and the texture is smoother than before.

  1. SPF!!!!!!!
  2. Moisturise. Even if you think you’ve moisturised enough, you haven’t – go put more on.
  3. Simplify your routine to basic steps and basic products – less is more.
  4. Wash off spf and make up as soon as you get home.
  5. Try to wear little make up where possible, i.e give your skin air on the weekends if you can.
  6. Diet is important still; i reduced my sugar and coffee intake for a while, and tried to drink lots of water and took probiotics (not sure if they did anything but a bitch was trying everything).
  7. It may take longer than my treatment, 4 months after starting my skin was still not *perfect* – i have pigmentation, texture issues and slight uneveness in my skin tone. They probably would have recommended I continue for a bit longer, but I was happy with the results and felt like my other products could take the wheel.

If you have any questions on something that you want me to elaborate on or i haven’t covered, please email me! All in all, I’m so grateful that Dermatica exists – it took the fear and high cost out of physically going to a Dermatologist without compromising on communication and effectiveness.

This picture was taken a couple of weeks ago, my routine has changed from this simple one as i’ve stopped treatment. I’ve been using products to address hyperpigmentation and texture – update soon come! Although I am wearing blush here, i’m also only wearing Glossier skin tint (which is sheer) and not even on the level of low coverage foundation.

Until next time,

Demi – Colleen x