As anyone that has had acne for their entire life will tell you, trying to find a range of skincare products that treat the skin effectively can be a nightmare. Purely because the majority of spot-busting products on the market do treat the spots - only what tends to happen is, the rest of the surrounding skin is left in tatters.
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The spots, lumps and bumps might be shrinking but if this comes at having your entire face, dry, flaky, red and painful, it's not a thrilling prospect. For years, I chopped and changed; X product to treat the spots, Y product to moisturise and Z product to remove the excess oil from said moisturiser - nothing seemed to help.
Treating acne while you age
And then, what of treating other skin concerns -as well as the spots - as you hit your thirties and over? Fine lines? Skin elasticity? I wanted products which could treat both; target the spots and give the rest of my skin the care I knew it needed as I moved into a new decade. It seemed like a pipe dream.
But anything else had to be forgotten as I cried in front of the mirror because a cluster of painful bumps had made my nose double in size. And then I remember the time I had an outbreak so bad, I refused to leave the house and called in sick to work. I couldn't look at myself; every morning I'd wake with a sense of dread and despair twisting in my stomach - how long will it take me to try to cover them today? Having problem skin can seem small in the grand scheme of worldly problems, but it knocked every bit of confidence I had out of me.
That's when I discovered Image Skincare.
I usually never would advocate one brand, but many have asked me what products I use to treat mine and I always stay the same - their stuff is made of magic. I could scarcely believe using a combination of their products could keep my skin under control and in great condition - but they have.
Choosing the right products
The downside is that the products aren't cheap (though look out for the special times during the year the range will be discounted).
But I kid you not if you find what works for you across their product ranges, you'll never look back. None of their products blocks pores or aggravates conditions (so long as you're using the right ones) and you'll see visible results the longer you use them.
The range is extremely varied; you can get products for anti-age, spot concerns, sun damage - pretty much anything. But because of the stronger amounts of ingredients in some - glycolic acid etc - I recommend never just purchasing off the shelf or online, go to a salon, where a dedicated therapist will examine your skin and ensure you're buying the right product for a successful treatment plan.
Meanwhile, here are the products that work for me - and gave me my confidence back to boot:
Ormedic Balancing Facial Cleanser, €35
This gentle cleanser works by balancing out the PH in the skin, hence eliminating the excess oil that blocks pores leading to an outbreak. A trifold action cleanses, exfoliates, and tones the skin, removing dirt, debris, oil, and makeup while its herbal extracts soothe irritated skin and relieve redness. And one bottle should last months.
Vital C Hydrating Anti-Ageing Serum, €71
This multi-award winning serum is a cult buy for a reason. This light and hydrating formula with its key ingredient, Vitamin C, helps boost the production of collagen, which gives the skin a plumping effect and thus makes it firmer. The increased firmness smoothens out wrinkles, lines, and other major signs of ageing and it really soothes any spots or excessive redness. I also found that this was the only serum that didn't block my pores and it successfully treated my mild acne scars too. One pump will do the whole face and one tub should last 4-6 months.
Clear Cell Clarifying Masque, €35
I use this once every two weeks only as I have super-sensitive skin, but I need its blend of Salicylic and Glycolic acid to draw out impurities and treat my spots. It also contains a blend of green tea, mallow and manuka to soothe inflamed areas and really painful, cystic spots. You can also use it as a direct spot treatment. Don't get this without that all-important skin consultation first as its salicylic acid can be very harsh unless used correctly.
Vital C Hydrating Repair Creme, €77
This is my night cream, which I use every second night, after my serum. This ultra-hydrating, Vitamin C and antioxidant-rich emollient formula mean this gives you an extra dose of hydration, again without blocking pores or adding irritation to existing pores. A little goes a long way, and it's extremely soothing, as well as being ideal when targeting those fine lines and wrinkles.