Lo and behold, the HIGHLY anticipated blog post that took me forever to write. You would think I am used to showing my bare (horrifying) skin even after being on social media for a good year or two. Turns out, immortalising the scary acne-filled predicament of my skin is probably one of the toughest decision I have ever done. Y'all know, acne is literally the bane of my existence and I am constantly so embarrassed by the state of my skin that I would NEVER leave the house without concealing my blemishes. Someone even referred to my face as a Magnum. If you do not understand, here's why:
Yup, tell me about it. Coincidentally, this is my favourite Magnum flavour too so props to a good reminder on how sad my skin was every time I take a bite out of this delicious goodness! Acne definitely packed a punch against my self-confidence. I did EVERYTHING to solve my acne problem and today, I will be sharing with you what works, and the other methods you should never waste your time on. Even till now, I still catch myself being overly critical about my physical appearance. Hence, writing this post not only serves as a reminder to myself, but to let you guys know that you should take a breather & be kinder to yourself! ♥
Before I begin, I just want to highlight that acne is YOUR BODY telling you that it has enough. Enough of all the stress you put it through, enough of all the junk you ingest & enough of self-inflicted emotional/physical harm to yourself. There are many causes of acne, be it diet, stress, skincare etc; YOU need to find your cause and work towards solving that issue. Throughout the recent 2 years, I have discovered different causes of my acne and I will be sharing my journey along the way.
Easy as it sounds, it is practically free! Sleep is SO important and should be your number 1 priority if you are aiming to get crystal clear skin! Your body repairs itself & boosts blood circulation to the skin while you are snoozing. Ever woken up to glowing skin after a good 8 hours of sleep? Yup, now you know why! It is called beauty sleep for a reason.
If you have breakouts along your chin/jaw, you are most likely getting not enough sleep or are subjecting yourself in a high stress environment. Try to make it a habit to catch at least 7-8 hours of sleep. Don't forget to switch out your pillow cases to prevent any acne breakouts on your cheeks. I had immense breakouts from sleeping in nasty hotel sheets as well as catching only 3-4 hours of rest everyday. When I finally put a firm feet into bettering my sleeping habits, my skin gradually cleared up as well.
I never knew the importance of skincare until I started visiting my favourite clinic. They were recommended by my dear friend Aggy and I will always be grateful to them for saving my skin! Both Aggy & I faced acne but of course, her skin was already crystal clear when I met her. During my first visit to my favourite clinic, I was prescribed ONLY what my skin needed, which is something that I really respect. Previously, I have been to a fair share of dermatologists and was forced to buy their ENTIRE range of skincare that never worked for my skin. I was literally shelling thousands of dollars down the drain for people who cared more about earning money than curing my skin.
With IDS, I am always assured that no matter how tragic my skin is, they will always do their best to treat it and restore it back to its crystal clear glory. Don't believe me? Let the pictures below do the talking. That is the vast improvement of my skin in just 3 months of using ONLY IDS Skincare with no oral medications whatsoever.
As I have emphasised earlier, there are many causes of acne. When I first visited my favourite clinic, I was a clueless beauty junkie that only knew about salicylic acid. My doctor was so patient and understanding, she only left me with 2 key products and it miraculously saved my skin. From then on, IDS Skincare became a permanent in my life and I NEVER go a day without using it. It is extremely effective for me and guess what, Salicylic Acid is not the only thing that cures acne. ;)
Here are the products that I am currently using & loving. I honestly have no idea how many bottles I have went through but ever since I started in 2016, I have NEVER stopped.
1. Pore Formula (PF): Helps to refine & reduce clogged pores. The new formula smells strongly of tea tree which I love & apparently it is much more effective than the original. This is my ride-or-die in my entire skincare and I would literally panic if I run out of it.
2. Blemish Clear (BC): I started this only this year when my skin was acting up again due to increased stress & lack of sleep. It definitely helps in calming active breakouts (especially cystic acne) and prevent further inflammation on my skin. The only thing is, it smells like french fries so if you ever apply this in the middle of the night, please don't blame me for craving McDonalds.
3. C-Plus Serum: If you are looking for a Vitamin C serum, trust me, this is the BEST in the market. Being in this beauty industry for basically half my life, this is the ONLY Vitamin C serum that effectively fades out discolouration on the skin without "thinning" the layers of your skin. I have used many great serums that worked but alongside with them, you will need to compensate with a high-performance sunblock to protect your skin. This on the other hand, I have never had any extra dark spots forming and only saw brighter & clearer skin throughout my use of it. It is apparently one of the bestsellers as well so I guess you need not only hear from me!
Of course, I have tried a good number of other products that were exceptional as well but the above three are my holy grails that worked magic for my skin. If you are facing any skin problems, just call & pay them a visit. Consultation is complimentary (amazing!) and at least you will have some answers to your skin woes before making a decision on your next step.
If you are interested in purchasing any of IDS Skincare or visiting my favourite clinic, here are some readers' tidbits that the team has kindly offered. Mind you, I do not gain any commissions etc; because I never treated this platform as my job but I just wanted to share the goodness without breaking your bank. I wish I had this opportunity before throwing thousands of dollars at some fancy clinic in Orchard Road (no shade, just really disappointed!)
"winter5" for $5 off orders $80 and above
"winter25" for $25 off orders $250 and above
All orders above $80 includes free local delivery.
If you are visiting my favourite clinic, simply quote my name "Winter Chee" as a referral for possible readers' benefits. I honestly have no idea what you can expect because like I said, I never treated this as an income so whatever goodwill that they wish to offer for you, please accept it with grace.
PS: There used to be promotional rates for the Venus Viva Laser that I did to reduce my scars but you can always check if there are other ongoing benefits just to save a couple of bucks to splurge on your next getaway!
3. Eat well, Be Well
Your diet plays an important role in curbing any existing acne. Cut down on processed food and unhealthy midnight snacks. They are oily, high in carbs & sugar which will lead to insulin spikes that will aggravate your existing acne. Personally, I also find that abstaining from dairy also helped in reducing a bulk of my acne. Dairy can cause inflammation and may increase sebum production which is definitely a no-no for people suffering from acne-prone skin!
One thing I would love to stress about is the NEED to drink at least 1.5 litres of water a day. I used to hate drinking water with a passion. Trust me, I can even go the entire day with just a sip of it. Most of the time, I think my body is probably dehydrated, which let to the overcompensation of sebum production just to ensure that my skin isn't drying up. When I started to force myself to drink water, my skin miraculously cleared up and I felt so much more rejuvenated. I no longer feel sluggish and my skin looks plump and refreshed. If you dislike the taste of water, try it sparkling, or fruits infused water just for a little kick. I promise, you will see the difference in no time.
4. Regular Facials
I know, this coming from Winter Chee, the girl who NEVER goes to facials. Well, until I discovered IDS Aesthetics Advanced Acne Treatment Plus (AAT+) Facial that is specially designed for people with acne prone skin. Previously, I steered clear from facials due to the fear of worsening my skin condition under improper care. I was also suffering from deep, painful cystic acne therefore constant pressure on them was actually more aggravating than helpful.
The trick is, to know what kind of acne you are suffering from. If you have deep, cystic acne, please consult a good dermatologist. If you have clogged pores or pimples with "heads", then this AAT+ Facial by IDS Aesthetics will be a god-sent for you. Here is a short video of my experience previously:
I try to go for a session of AAT+ Facial at least once a month because it helps to deeply cleanse my pores and refine my skin texture. After every session, my skin feels so soft & smooth and I can literally see how CLEAN my pores are. You know the bumpy feeling whenever you run your fingers on your face, especially if you are a frequent wearer of foundation? It disappears EVERY TIME after each session and that is what I love about it. The extractions are painful, I have to admit, but it is highly effective.
To finish everything off, the light therapy at the end kills off any acne-causing bacteria and you will be left with glowing, clean skin. Clogged pores are a free-pass for acne to sprout so do not forget to clean your skin once in awhile. Your skin will definitely thank you for that! I prefer facials at IDS Aesthetics as they are more treatment-based, which means that they utilise advance technology & machines to curb your skin's woes. Ultra relaxing facials with the use of masks and serums are great, but it is not exactly what my skin needs at the moment. I need a high impact, clarifying facial to keep those pesky zits at bay.
"winterAAT+" for Advanced Acne Treatment Plus Facial at $99 (U.P. $250)
Price is before GST and for first timers to AAT+ Facial at IDS Aesthetics
5. Oral Medications
When all else fails, seek the help of a doctor. That was what I did since I was 14. Yup, I tried my fair share of drugs, ranging from dubious Chinese herbs to antibiotics and the highly controversial Accutane which I am currently on right now. Below are my experiences with the following drugs (now I sound like a druggie) which I have tried and where to get them.
Chinese Herbs & Accupuncture
Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures of this as I tried it when I was merely 14 and struggling with my self-image. However, the main point about Traditional Chinese Medication is to regulate your body's blood circulation and curb whatever that is out of balance. Y'know, those "Mind, Body & Spirit" thing. I was prescribed a monthly dosage and I tried it for a good four months before giving up. I even did acupuncture to regulate my blood circulation. The effects were slow, but I did feel healthier after the course. There were little changes in my skin and I still had horrifying cystic acne. My acne was more hormonal-based back then hence Chinese medication is of no help for me.
Very honest/brutal opinion: SKIP IT. If you are a cystic acne sufferer like me, you WILL NOT see the light with this treatment. Or at least, you gotta wait a couple of years but ain't nobody got time for that. Those volcanic acne may disappear in time but trust me, the scars they leave behind is not one you want to trifle with. Been there, done that. Much regrets, defo a no-go for me!
After my failed attempt at TCM, I went to consult my GP for antibiotics to curb my cystic acne. Lo' & behold, this was actually one of the best decisions in my life! I was prescribed a course of 6 months and it massively controlled my break-outs. Nope, I did not have crystal clear skin, but at least I no longer looked like a volcanic monster.
Doxycycline helps to stop the growth of acne-causing bacteria and is prescribed to be taken before food. I have tried taking it after and it resulted in a vomiting episode which is totally not cute! You shouldn't take it with milk too as it may cause a reaction. I tried Doxycycline twice, once at 14 which worked miracles and the second time just last year with my favourite clinic. Unfortunately, due to the changes in my body, I became allergic to Doxycycline and couldn't stop throwing up whenever I ate the medication. I promptly stopped Doxycycline and switched to my miracle drug.
If you are suffering from hormonal acne or acne caused by improper care, antibiotics might be of use. I will also recommend starting on antibiotics FIRST before heading straight to Accutane as it is less damaging to your body.
Cost: Depending on clinics, avg. $60-100/month
MY MIRACLE DRUG, period.
The holy grail of all acne-sufferers. Accutane is the most highly controversial drug but it is probably my life saviour. Accutane, also know as Isotretinoin, works by decreasing the sebum production thus reducing clogged pores and severe cystic acne. There are many severe side effects that comes alongside with this drug so be sure to be aware of them before starting on this drug. You can’t get pregnant when you are on Accutane as the drug causes severe birth defects. Make sure your doctor does a blood test prior to starting on your Accutane journey to ensure your liver is healthy to withstand this drug.
Accutane, was my miracle drug that successfully cleared up my Acne. I have taken it a couple of times, with my first course starting when I was 20. I will be talking more about my Accutane journey in another post but for a tldr version, Accutane gave me crystal clear skin and I am forever grateful for it. I did face some pretty bad side effects but everything was worth it. My skin had never been clearer. I always thought I would never stop taking Accutane until I've tried a supplement that is less damaging to your liver & ACTUALLY WORKS! Nonetheless, Accutane is a miracle drug and I would highly recommend it as a pre-treatment to regulate the breakouts before switching it out to the supplements (mentioned below) for maintenance. My prescription is from IDS after we found out about my allergy towards Doxycycline.
Cost: $150-$200/month (Depends on your clinic)
Efficacy: 10/5, THE BEST!!!
I really didn't expect to include this. Previously, as I was penning down this post months ago, Halo Beauty never existed. Just in case you are unaware, Halo Beauty is a power-pack supplement formulated by beauty guru Tati Westbrook and is currently the ONLY THING that rivals for my love for Accutane.
Being on Accutane for so long, I am well aware of its side effects. I tried many different skin supplements, hoping to find one that actually works so that I can stop this crazy good but crazy harmful drug. Halo Beauty is probably THE BEST hair, skin & nail supplement in the market and I am officially OFF ACCUTANE (claps!!!) and on a 24/7 exclusive relationship with Halo Beauty. My skin has never been clearer, brighter, bouncier and all kinds of better ever since I have started on this. The only meh is that my skin promptly resumed to being its oily self once I stopped Accutane. It wasn't as bad as before, but I sure do miss having a super dry & matte face 24/7!
Cost: $54.80/month (Without International Shipping)
Efficacy: 15/5, THE ULTIMATE BEST!!! (as of September 2018)
That is all folks! Hope this post is helpful and may your acne clear up in no time. I have been facing acne ever since I was a teen and it definitely wasn't the most exciting thing about my childhood. Imagine having the whole world telling you that you need to eat this, go here, see a doctor, wash your face etc. I can never forget the aunty who told me not to leave my house cuz' my face is such a mess. I know how you feel darlings, you are not alone but there is always a solution to everything. People can be mean, but nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.
Just a disclaimer before I end off as I want to be completely transparent with you guys - My treatments & products from my favourite clinic are sponsored but I am not paid nor asked to write this post. They are one of the most genuine team of people who strive to clear up my skin. I am truly grateful for all that they have done to treat my horrifying acne issues. I feel completely safe & reassured with them, therefore I am recommending their services for those of you who face the same issues as me. Trust me, I get 10000 requests from different clinics, some who even pay me a large sum of money for advertorials, but I know that I can only trust IDS with my skin.
If you ever happen to try out any of the few key points that I have mentioned, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments box down below. This is what worked for my skin (clearly!) and I hope it does for you too. (Psst, trust me, Halo Beauty is da bomb!)
Have a good one loves!