How far along you are will be determined by how tolerant or not your skin is. Think about it- you’ll make progress quicker if your skin is very easygoing + oily (so you can escalate your application frequency and quantity more frequently) than if you’re dry and sensitive. It’s all ok, it just means managing your expectations. And it may mean you face challenges at different times.
The good news is that if you’re established on a routine and you’ve been consistent that towards the end of your first skin cycle you’ll start to see some benefits:
- Fewer new spots
- Blemishes of shorter duration
- Better skin quality overall
On the other hand, you may well be facing some challenges. The commonest ones I see are:
Purging is very common - as many as 25% will experience some degree of purging. If you think about it, that makes sense. You’re pushing out clogged up pores in a speeded-up fashion under the influence of your Preventor, so instead of getting those spots over the next 3 months, you get them over the next 3 weeks. This is particularly common in those with lots of comedones at the beginning so this pattern of acne can often look a lot worse before it’s better. Don’t fret, this is part of the process. If it’s too much, reduce the frequency of your Preventor to make things a little less intense. It will get easier so don’t give up.
Instead of fearing irritancy, I want you to think of this as being a useful guide whilst you’re on your acne journey. Tip-toeing around just under your irritancy threshold is the key to max’ing out your Actives.So invariably you’ll step over a trip-wire occasionally. That’s ok, provided you know how to handle it. And know that the areas most likely to cause issue are around your eyes and around your mouth - we talk, eat and kiss (!) so this area gets tugged at a lot in the course of the average day. Plus the skin here is quite thin. So be prepared to buffer, lower frequency of use and even to use your retinoid diluted to lessen the oopmh a little. Starting ACtives one a time and being truly patient is also an option. And do use Niacinamide where possible, as it’s a dreamy barrier-booster and anti-inflammatory all-in-one so the perfect partner to retinoids (which is why we put it in Nightly Serum, Flawless Moisturiser and Daily Sunscreen!)
So, if you’ve had to respond to either of these two hurdles, you might well be experiencing a dip in morale due to slow response. This is where you need your cheerleader squad to help you stay on track. Our Facebook group is an amazing resource in the regard - there’s a wealth of experience in there to help you stay committed through the Tough Love phase and people are incredibly generous with sharing their stories and positivity. Remember those key metrics for improvement - 30% improvement at 3 months and 60% at 6 months - and measure your progress objectively. It’s so easy to see flat red marks and think they represent active acne, when in fact they’re simply the marker of what’s gone before.
The Bottom Line
Keep on keeping on! You’re building a valuable habit that will not only treat new spots but prevent new ones. Any habit takes a good 60 days to build. Think about going to the gym - making the habit feel 2nd nature takes time; even though you know it’s good for you, there’s initial resistance. There’ll be some discomfort, days when you don’t feel like moving or your experience sore muscles and feel discouraged. But you know it’s important to keep doing it. Your skin habits are exactly the same!!! I’ll be with you as you move forward so commit the time and effort to this most worthwhile of journeys. A Grown-Up Glow is closer than you think.
Dr Sam xo