Dot to Dot

So, as promised…the Liz Earle post. I couldn’t have a blog, that potentially no one reads, without dedicating an entry to this line of skin care. The title, ‘Dot to Dot’, well that’s a wee visual as to what my skin used to look like and unfortunately the picture at the end wasn’t one I liked looking at.

You know the way people say that all teenagers are inflicted with spotty skin? That’s a down right lie to make those of us who are plagued feel a little bit better. When I looked around my peers in school I was one of a very small number who, at the dawn of age 13…BAM! Covered in spots. It was like there was a switch in my hormonal hub that was timed to initiate as soon as my age contained ‘-teen’. Very soon after these spots, and they were just spots at this stage, started to appear my Mum would comfort me with the aforementioned statement that it happens to everyone. Perhaps my Mum believed it, perhaps it used to be true but I soon deduced that it wasn’t applicable to my year group at school. Not everyone had spots, in fact a fair majority never had a single blemish from I met them. Unfair? Yes, but what can you do?

Now, FOREWARNING- if you are of a nervous disposition or have a tendency to dry heave then stop reading now.

Still with me? Okay then. It became clear to me that my spots weren’t just normal teenage acne flare ups, so off to the doctor I went. What use were they? None. They would stick me on medicated creams, washes that smelt like bleach (and if you know me well, you know I cannot stand the smell of bleach) and prescribe countless courses of any spot fighting medication they had access to. What did all of that do? Make my skin sore and quite frankly, worse than it was before.

About three years into this pointless charade the words ‘cystic acne’ were used. Knowing my spots weren’t going to be treated with run of the mill, over the counter remedies I was nearly glad to give whatever it was I had, a name. This probably sounds a little melodramatic but in all seriousness…walk a day!

Cystic acne isn’t spots and blemishes on the skin that can have a wee cream slapped on to cure it. Cystic acne is angry, red, enflamed, firey lumps that never come to the surface. They lurk under the skin but make themselves known to the world by creating these huge bumps along your jaw line, over your chin, in the creases of your nose, on the bridge of your nose, down your chest and all over your back. It favours the spinal area so that when you go to bed at night you can’t lie on your back because it just hurts too damn much. Cystic acne causes so much pressure in all these areas that you are constantly reminded of the placement of each and every lump when you talk, eat, blow your nose or scratch your face. The pressure gets so bad that you feel like you have no choice but to squeeze the worst offenders to find some form of relief and all you’ll get is pus, more pain and a scar that will take years to disappear. Cystic acne cannot be disguised with foundations and concealers but you still apply that mask two inches thick to feel like, somehow, you’re hiding behind it. This was my experience and I would tell any doctor that would listen in the hope they would refer me to a dermatologist. They never did.
So I took matters into my own hands. First in the form of zinc supplements. You know what? They worked! I was elated! My skin started to clear up and I could see light at the end of the tunnel! Then I started losing weight. A lot of weight, at a scary pace. I would take a couple of bites of my dinner and feel full, like my throat wouldn’t let me swallow. I would be sick several times a day so that any food I did manage to eat came back up again. I wasn’t doing any of this on purpose and I was afraid. I didn’t know why this was happening. Size 6 clothes were starting to hang on me and all people would say was I looked ill. They were right, I looked dreadful and I felt every bit the same. Back to the doctors I went and several appointments and a Barium Swallow test later it was discovered that those zinc tablets that were working wonders for my complexion had completely stripped the lining of my stomach. No more zinc. Back to square one.

By this time I was 20. Seven years of cystic acne and my skin was as bad as ever. But wait. Hold on. I’m not a teenager at age 20 but I still have “teenage skin”. What’s the deal?!? Back to the doctor and to a regime of tablets and medicated washes.

I graduated from university in July 2010 at the age of 22. Nine years of cystic acne and still as bad as ever. By this time my now husband and I had been dating for two years and my thoughts turned to weddings. Not to how excited I would be when Russell proposed or what my wedding day would be like, no no. My first thought at that time, was sheer panic. What the hell would my wedding photos look like with this dot to dot face of mine? Boy, that thought never left my mind and it got me down.

Just over a month after gaining those letters after my name, Russell got down on one knee, we got engaged and set our date for two years later.  Soon after I remember sitting in tears whilst trolling the internet trying to pick a photographer. I was looking at all these glowing brides with beautiful skin and flawless make up and thinking I would never be one of those brides. I would never have that confidence on my wedding day to allow the photographer to snap away. No, I thought that I was going to be the bride who won’t want to be in a single photograph, who will hide behind her groom, her bridesmaids, her veil and not feel like a bride at all. At this point, I broke down. I was so down that organising my one and only wedding day didn’t seem so exciting anymore. Sure I bought the magazines every month and I went through the motions but, in all honesty, at the back of my mind all I could think was…I’m going to look like crap.

A few months down the road my mum, God bless her, comes into my room holding a tube of something or other.

“Jule, I ordered this from QVC, maybe you could try it.”

Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish.

“Mum what is this?”

“It’s a face wash Jule.”

“No mum I’m not trying any more face washes. None of them have worked and they sting.”

“This one won’t sting Julie. It’s meant to be amazing. Just try it. It won’t make your skin any worse.”

Long story short, I did try it. It didn’t do much to begin with but I did find it soothing to know I was cleaning my skin but not doing any harm. I started to use the toner, Instant Boost Skin Tonic, and the moisturiser, Daily Skin Repair. Then I introduced the exfoliator and some of the masks from the range.

Images from

A few months in and…wait…what’s this????? Is my skin starting to clear? Hold on…yes…I do believe I can see a difference! I probably heard the Hallelujah Chorus at this point!

For the two years that Russell and I planned our big day I kept going with a rigorous regime of cleanse, tone, moisturise, cleanse, tone, moisturise until Friday 30th November arrived. As soon as I woke up, I kid you not, I went straight to the mirror. I nearly hadn’t dared look during our engagement and, the angels were singing once more! Just one spot, yes spot, not cyst, on my chin. I have to be honest, I shed a little tear of joy and I left my mum and dad’s house at 7am to go to the hairdressers with not a stitch of make up on for the first time in…wait for it…11 years! I even managed to smile and look somewhat comfortable!

If my skin had been even a tenth as bad as it used to be, this photo would never have happened.

There certainly wouldn’t have been any individual shots.

Liz Earle was my skin saviour. Invest in your skin people. Look after it. It’s not vanity, it’s healthy and let me tell you something, when I felt my skin was on point after 11 years of self-consciousness, embarrassment and pain I held my head a little higher.

From that day forth my obsession with skin care and make up began. I could enjoy products and cosmetics, not hide behind them. Pure joy!

The obsession continues.

J. x

Current thoughts…

  • I miss wedding dress shopping the most.
  • A photo of my face at its worst would have been good but that photo doesn’t exist.
  • I need to paint the fence.

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