Hormonal Breakouts: How to Fight, Tackle & Eliminate

Ever wondered why you get a spot on your chin every month? Or that a spot on your forehead means something different to a pimple on your cheek? In the last few years, my battle with hormonal breakouts has hit a new, infuriating high and here are my (now sworn by) tried and tested blemish solutions.

During my teenage years I was fortunate to have mostly avoided the evil force of puberty’s pimples, except for the odd one, so rare that I bestowed a name upon him each time 'Dave' appeared. Whilst many of my classmates were enduring train-track braces and ferocious pubescent skin, I had been one of the 'lucky ones' in the complexion stakes. I made up for it with a dodgy fringe I had cut in around my 14th birthday party but, luckily, it grew out just as my friends emerged from that phase into clear-skin, straight-teethed young women. So, aged 26, it was my turn for a chin-full of sore, large spots each month that has become a regular battle of the hormonal breakout.

Working in the skincare industry by day, I asked one of the trained skincare therapists about these spots and this is when I learnt something fascinating: our skin is, in fact, the largest organ of the body and it reflects on the outside what is happening on the inside! Like Reflexology, where the foot is a map of the human body, areas of the face represent what is going on within. I have to admit it’s rather clever when you think about it... 

Forehead? A map of hydration so expect boozy nights to show up like a beacon. Throughout university, the alcohol spot needed its own seat in the lecture theatre!

Cheeks? You are what you eat...especially if that’s fatty, dairy things! Damn that Brie. Overindulgence rules the roost here and whilst they are generally easier to conceal (hallelujah makeup) they don’t half hang around for a while!

Jawline? That’s your large intestine's activity personified.

Chin? Hormones...hello ovaries of my chinny chin chin.

Whilst you might be glad to read that the solution could so easily be clean eating, higher water intake and sensible lifestyle tweaks to put most of those blemishes to bed, there's one area which Mother Nature retains control and that is where I struggle the most. Given the whereabouts of the breakouts along my jawline, I can tell which ovary is in production that month based on its activity upon my chin! I’ve also tuned into the fact that every other month is worse - oh, the joys of womanhood! The aftermath of the havoc my hormones have wreaked is a graveyard of scars (yes I, like the rest of us, could not resist a squeeze/pop/burst!). Now it’s time to share the cavalry I call upon to help defend against the hormonal war raging upon my skin.
La Roche-Posay’s Weapons of Puss Destruction
Known as one of the laboratory brands, this French cosmetic company make blemishes quiver in the face of its topical treatments. 'Effaclar Duo' is one of the most talked about spot solution products in the market and for good reason - I can't be without it! I’ve added it into my routine twice a day as a serum, applied after cleansing and toning, before I apply my day or night cream. It could be used as your primary moisturiser, but I choose to layer it so I get added anti-ageing benefits from my day and night moisturisers (nearly 30 after all)! It’s such a lightweight formulation that you don’t feel like you’re clogging up your pores or that it’s heavy upon your skin, instead my skin drinks it up without knowing it will be keeping those vicious outbreaks at bay.

Whilst my breakouts revolve around my menstrual cycle, my biggest insecurity is the scarring that is left behind - something which this product is proven to reduce in just four weeks.

"Specifically formulated for oily and acne-prone skin in both ADULTS and teenagers. A DUAL ACTION gel moisturiser for every day that MINIMISES the appearance of SPOTS and blackheads, CONTROLS SHINE and helps PROTECTS the skin from the CAUSES OF REDNESS and brown coloured marks that are often left behind by spots. Keep skin hydrated for 24 hours. Suitable for even sensitive skin." - Extract from product description on boots.com

It gets even better that La Roche Posay have taken this magic recipe and developed different variations for our other skincare requirements: for example, with SPF30 protection mixed in - perfect for this hot summer we've had or for taking on holiday - or, with a tint for colour correction which lives in my make-up bag. 

The original formular for day or night - Effaclar Duo+, 40ml £16.00
For extra SPF protection - Effaclar Duo+ SPF30, 40ml £16.00
For makeup bag - Effaclar Duo+ Unifant Tinted Moisturiser Light (also available in Medium), 40ml £16.50 

It works. Whether there's a placibo effect going on here, I can't be sure, but both my skin and I have been calmer since this was added to my skincare routine. I still get the odd spot but I think it would be unrealistic to expect them to cease altogether. However, what I have noticed is that it has become isolated incidents whereas before there would be a couple of Dave's mates coming along to the party. The recovery time is also significantly reduced to a couple of days when I’ve been treating any outbreaks with Effaclar A.I applied topically. This is a “targeted imperfection corrector” delivering a strengthened dose of blemish-be-gone. This is one small but mighty product and in the six months I’ve been using it, I’m not even halfway through the 15ml tube despite using most days.
These are without a doubt my knight’s in shining armour when it comes to spot solution skincare. However there are a few other tricks I’ve come to live by...

Professional Facials
The difference it makes to be in the hands of a professional is the difference between the car wash and a bucket and sponge. Sometimes you do need to treat yourself as I found the benefit whilst I was on my skincare journey to my wedding day. I get that this isn’t an option for everyone’s budget but there are some great 4 for 3 deals out there and 30 minutes in the middle of a shopping session is the perfect amount of time for a deep cleansing, circulation boosting and skin-treating facial. Check out Elemis at Debenhams or John Lewis for their blemish solution 30 min facial. 

Double Cleansing
This isn’t a “fad” this is a fact that skin needs every ounce of makeup and dirt removed from your face before you go to sleep. I think most of you reading this will know that nighttime is when your skin gets to work recovering from the day, replenishing and rejuvenating.  If it’s suffocating under leftover makeup and pollution from the day, it’s going to do a half-arsed job under those circumstances. In fact, I wouldn’t blame it if it went on strike altogether! Don’t see double cleansing as a chore, see it as a moment of reprieve from the day, peace and quiet to treat yourself and your skin to a relaxing facial massage and a hot cloth to melt the day away. My favourite combinations are:

ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm + ELEMIS Dynamic Resurfacing Facial Wash


OMOROVICZA Cleansing Foam + CLARINS One-Step Exfoliator

Make-Up Free Days 
I’ll be the first to admit this isn’t always possible but where you can embrace the #SundayScaries approach, do! I find it so liberating to have a bare face of a weekend, when I’m popping to the shops or the gym. I’ll admit, I’d never practice this at the office - if only my confidence levels in my own skin were that high - but to have even half a day off from the makeup bag will make all the difference. Besides, it truly feels like my skin is breathing.

Good Hygiene
Make sure you’re regularly cleaning your beauty tools, such as foundation brushes and beauty blender sponges. At least once a week, minimum. I tend to do this on a Sunday morning when I know I’m going makeup free that day and they can air dry and be ready for Monday’s game-face. 

Breathable Bases
Whilst it feels natural to reach for a heavy coverage foundation, make sure this isn’t at the expense of your skin getting worse. I’ve found that whilst heavier textures achieve that more air-brushed finish, particularly erasing those red marks, my overall skin health seems to suffer. It’s like it can’t breath and as a result more spots pop up! I’ve been loving It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream for a lightweight formulation that gives you colour correction without over-clogging. Add a powder to help it set and you’re good to go! Read my full review of this product here  I can’t wait to try their new matte formulation that’s just launched!

I hope you have found this blog post helpful. Spots aren’t really something I felt comfortable talking about even though they’ve been an issue for me for a few years now, but I hope this helps you or maybe a friend/sister/cousin to equip themselves against the hormonal horrors we face as women!


Why I Hate Instagram

Instagram and I have had a troubled relationship of late #hatersdonthate. My urge to curate photographs and write captions has fallen to an all time low and, instead, I’ve become a sitting tenant not paying my dues and just free-loading off the Instagram Stories for entertainment’s sake.

I’m sure I’m not alone in saying the pressure to churn out beautifully crafted flatlay after flatlay, look #nofilter-beautiful in every selfie and be all #housegoals with the perfect Farrow & Ball painted walls, natural light, and rose gold props of dreams, just gets TOO MUCH. The reality is somewhat different 'unfiltered', to say the least.

Despite completely falling out of love with Instagram over the last few months, I've just spent about 8 hours and 100% of my iPhone battery organising, archiving and planning the way forward for my @MrsAtoB_ account. Those are 3 things I love to do, so, when combined, I am hoping the tables can be turned.
Star shirt, Marks & Spencer, Rose necklace, Beaverbrooks
But first I think I should explain my main reason for going off the boil with Instagram in the first place…

Feed Envy
Despite being told by @EvaChen212 herself at an Instagram-hosted event in New York last year, that having a beautifully crafted, dare-I-say colour-coded, feed does not deliver higher engagement (generally speaking).

SIDE NOTE: Eva Chen is basically Mrs Instagram – the mother of the ‘gram past, present and future working at HQ.

Account visits, and what I mean by that is clicking onto a person’s account to scroll through all their previous posts, is not a popular behaviour as most of us digest our content through the homefeed. But! Try finding a perfectionist that will listen to that! (Plus, those perfectly curated, tonally beautiful, consistently lit accounts are the ones I like admire the most!)

Like me, like me!
Flashbacks to my school days when being ‘liked’ was the currency of the playground, IG has become in my eyes *that* kid who makes the popular kids more popular and those below the radar just don't exist. That’s quite a melodramatic metaphor for saying that the statistics became an obsession of mine and like weighing scales for someone trying to lose a few pounds, the results never quite pay off for the effort involved. In short, the algorithm that everyone loves to moan about (even when they have +10k followers) wore me down. 

Not enough time Рthat old clich̩.
Living back in London has generally left me time-poorer than I was in NYC and I do miss that Sunday focus of writing, editing and blogging when we were living in Manhattan. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so much happier being back in London but I am less inclined to carry my camera with me than I was in NYC where everything was a novelty (and as much as I’ve gone on about the novelty of supermarkets, I don’t think a pic of a Tesco Metro will cut it!).

If you want it so bad, make time!

It feels like a cop-out of an excuse when I write it down, but even the Bloggers of Class 2010 (@lilypebbles @theannaedit @icovetthee) have spoken about how much time things take to produce. Which takes me back to the point above… after all the time and energy put into a post, if you don’t get the likes, where’s the satisfaction in that? With the likes of @mariajblogs who is storming the Insta-game over the last year or so, there is hope that you can make a success of it.

Of course, there’s always an excuse for those of us who don’t have IG running through our veins…

Total game-changer. Despite not posting on IG for months, I still interact everyday sharing Beagle pics with the husband and watching (hours of) Instagram Stories. I take my hat off to anyone who can be normal / entertaining about their lives in front of a video camera. It’s a hurdle I’ve yet to jump over (or, more likely, run at the hurdle, get winded, fall over and curl up in a ball). Favourite people to watch: @carlyrowena @mrsgifletcher and @lindseykelk

Q: What’s the Plan?
A: Playing to my strengths.
My ‘a-ha’ moment yesterday was literally just a case of identifying my strengths – so simple, it’s embarrassing really. What do I love to do that I can utilise here to make my Instagram account less tumbleweed and more #goals? Firstly, I love to plan. I love to be efficient. Combine these two traits and I’ll never have to feel the guilt of not posting in a while thanks to the help from Mosaic – an Instagram planner with the (apt) tagline ‘Plan, Perfect & Schedule’. It’s like being 27-steps ahead in a chess game. #Winning

Secondly, I must deal with the fact I’m a perfectionist and whilst striving for ‘perfect’ is so old Instagram, it doesn’t have to be a negative for me here and now. Let’s face it, until I own a mansion with several marble bathrooms, White Company styled bedrooms, a mirrored walk-in-wardrobe, sweeping staircase and @lydiaemillen style kitchen, who am I kidding? Perfection just ain’t gonna happen!

‘Spontaneity’ isn’t a word you would use to describe me...

As the saying goes, ‘good things come in threes’ so that’s what you’ll be seeing from me going forward in the horizontal form should you be one of the minority who click through to my page. It may not mean you get ‘off-the-cuff’ updates in photo-form but, a bit like blogging, I’d rather put my effort into the captions and writing than being behind (or worst, in front of) the camera on a daily basis. Any of that ‘of-the-moment’ stuff will live on stories as and when I feel the urge!

Let’s see where this #adventure goes but, for now, I’m three steps forward.
© Rose Tinted Spectacles

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