Resolving to sort out her acne scars once and for all, Amanda Kavanagh takes a whole new approach, with unexpected results.
Every year under firework-lit skies – okay fine, toasting Jools Holland on TV – I, like millions of others, say “This is the year”. In recent times, for me, it’s been about dealing with my acne scars, something I’d been perpetually promising myself since 2013, when I finished up a course of Roaccutane for adult acne. “It’s the best thing you’ll ever do for yourself,” enthused a colleague, in the same way I gush about laser eye surgery. I knew giving my acne scars some TLC would immeasurably help my confidence, so why didn’t I do anything?
Well, reader, I tried. I started attending a very reputable clinic for microneedling. It was so reputable, in fact, that you had to book your appointment very far in advance to get a coveted evening slot, or take time off work for an appointment. I wasn’t nearly that organised, or cheeky.
Secondly, the downtime was two to three days. Sure, I was given thick make-up to hide my raw redness, but it wasn’t pleasant or hidden, which had a double whammy effect that all attending nine-to-fivers of the clinic wanted a Friday evening appointment and needed a free weekend afterwards to lay low. Few people are organised enough to pull this off, and for most of us, weekends without obligation are few and far between, so it all fell by the wayside.
This all led me to last year, when another colleague started raving about a series of microneedling treatments she’d had with a skincare specialist called Ciara Darcy. Here were effective treatments, with a downtime of just one evening, and as a nice bonus, Ciara didn’t judge you for what products you use on your face or how often you had treatments, and she didn’t try to sell you lots of skincare steps.
It seemed to tick a lot of boxes, so armed with an Instagram handle, I scrolled through previous clients’ before and afters, and made an appointment. Ciara’s warm and sunny personality immediately put me at ease. We talked through my skin history and I explained my current Frankenstein’s monster assortment of skincare products from various brands. Without judgement, she first recommended I cut back on the number of products I use, and recommended just three AlumierMD products – Purifying Gel Cleanser, Ultimate Boost Serum, and Clear Shield SPF 42 with hyaluronic acid.
After a few days, I started seeing a difference, and over the weeks, noticed I was spending less time dabbing concealer around my face.
I went home and reluctantly packed away my beloved hyaluronics, retinols and masks, and started with my new stripped-back regime, which I was to try for three weeks before my first Rejuvapen microneedling session. Something didn’t agree with my skin at all, and after a week and some back-and-forth texting with Ciara, we deduced the serum was the culprit, and once I stopped using that, all was calm.
I knew what to expect from the microneedling – slight discomfort and redness, but neither was ever enough to stop me walking through town and getting the bus home. After a few days, and careful examination of my own “before” picture, I started seeing a difference, and over the weeks, noticed I was spending less time dabbing concealer around my face.
I went on to have two more microneedling sessions, which Ciara reckoned would make my most visible scars on my cheeks fade almost entirely. It wasn’t quite achieved in three, so I was to come back for a fourth and final session. What I hadn’t expected or even considered was the general improvement in my skin. The marks were more faded, yes, but also my skin’s texture was better, lines were less visible, and my skin was definitely brighter.
My final session was thwarted by a PMS-related break-out, so Ciara gave me a chemical peel that day instead, after which I was given a little pack of mini products to use for the following five days. The results of this were instant and addictive; the deep furrow between my eyebrows temporarily disappeared, and my skin was fresher and smoother than it had been in years.
While I don’t think I’ll ever reach the glowing skin heights of the many influencers who also see Ciara – and share their luminous post-peel selfies on Instagram – my interest in hyaluronic injectables has gone out the window, and I’m urging all my pals who are on the cusp of starting Botox to give these non-invasive treatments a try first.
Digital illustration by Laura Kenny. This article originally appeared in the Volume 1 (January/February) 2020 issue of IMAGE Magazine.