Let it be light!

A while ago I appeared on Instagram bobbing along looking like something out of a sci-fi movie. remember that?

Well, I’ll refresh your memory. It turns out I had just started to try the revolutionary Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask, a device that bring the dermatologist LED therapy into your home, safely and at a fraction of the cost.

But what does it all mean? Basically, the futuristic looking mask emits therapeutic blue and red lights that penetrate intro the skin to kill the bacteria responsible for acne breakouts.

The blue light kills the bacteria while the red light reduces inflammation (is it just me our it feels should be the other way round? Hehe).

After using for about a month, I noticed my skin is calmer. Usage overlapped with my pre-menstrual period, when my breakouts are more active. Although I still have some, I feel they disappeared much quicker.

I did notice some changes pretty early on. Small breakouts seem to be zapped, larger ones subdued quicker, skin tone, texture and general condition seem to have improved. I feel it is a bit addictive.

Using it is very easy: wash your face, attach the activator device, make sure the metal pin is all the way in, pop the mask on like sunglasses and hit the button.

The daily treatment lasts 10 minutes and the mask turns off automatically. In the activator, you have a display with a count of how many treatments you have left.

And that is the catch and what people have been feeling uncertain about: the mask itself costs £59.99 and can be re-used. Now the activator, which is a necessity for it to work, costs £14.99 and deliver 30 treatments of 10 minutes, enough for a month.

Some find it is unfair that such a revolutionary treatment is made available to the masses but has an ongoing cost. As someone suffering from acne for 20 years, I will put it out there: this has always been the way.

And a lot of what is now readily available, wasn’t when I was a teenager that could not afford expensive treatments. And what was available was extremely costly.

Again, making your skin a priority might require some compromise on other areas and back up from your parents. This is how I went through countless treatments when young.

Also worth bearing in mind that this product is not suitable for severe acne, which I did have for a few periods of my life. In those cases, seeing a doctor and seeking a dermatology referral is always the way forward.

However, if you suffer from mild to moderate acne, which seem to be the case for me nowadays, this products is great and I highly recommended.

Furthermore, I’d say that after a while month I will get extra activators and not do it every day. Maybe every other or even every three, just as maintenance.

Also, the depleted activators can be recycled and Neutrogena offers information on it, so they can be disposed responsibly.

The Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask costs £59.99  and comes with one activator for the first month. Additional activators cost £14.99 each, and multipacks are available. The recommended initial treatment is 3 months.

You know the drill, but I’ll say anyway: this post contains PR samples. This review, however, is based on my experience with the product and reflects my honest opinion on them.

Fighting acne

woman with hands on face - credit: www.amhc.org

image credit: amhc.org

First, apologies for the long post. This is not an easy post for me. I don’t use my blog to vent, or to moan. I have hung on to this unpublished post for almost three months now and although the situation has improved since I wrote it, I am far from happy. My blog is beauty related, and there you go, I don’t really feel beautiful sometimes because of this. I don’t think I ever spoke this openly and in-depth about this issue that has accompanied me for about 18 years now. To me, it is always visible,  its scars are ever so present, as a painful reminder of everything I had to work through all these years.

I started suffering from acne at around 15. There were just pimples in the beginning but soon they became huge painful boils under my skin, which was always red and swollen. My face was always the only place where they would appear.

When I was 17, I had my first treatment with Roaccutane, a powerful retinoid from the vitamin A family. I took it for six months and the side effects were horrendous: body aches, soft tissue extreme dryness, cracked and bleeding lips. It was awful, but I came off the other side with great skin, and thought I had won.

However, six years on, when I moved to London my skin reached a state it had never been before; the boils were back, bigger, deeper and more painful than ever. So much so that the GP suggested I saw a dermatologist. And they told me what I really dreaded: Roaccutane was the only way out. Terrified of the side effects, I said I didn’t want to go through all that again. Once is enough and I would rather live with the acne. I was lying. nothing is as bad as living with it. So I entered another course, this time during a whole year on a lower dosage, so cut down the side effects. Once again, the medication worked its magic and I had a spot-free face.

But the two violent bouts of acne cost me dearly, I was left with the scars to remember, everyday, all the pain it had inflicted on me during the best years of my life. I am not saying I lost my confidence; although there were lows, I have always been an outspoken, extrovert, confident woman who never let the acne define me. It could’ve been much worse in that respect – but I remain sensitive about it.

One good thing it gave me is my love of make up, which stems from the need to hide myself for years. I had a long fringe that would conveniently cover my cheeks most of the time. I think most of my acne trauma is in fact, due to the incessant treatments, and the physical pain of the boils. As only the scars were left, I decided it was time to face the world, however ugly I believe they are. And I did. I left all those feelings in the past and embraced a pull back do.

But recently my skin hasn’t been happy and the breakouts are re-occurring. Not the monthly ones, which I learnt to ignore. They are cystic again, they are growing on top of each other, a classic sign of when things are going bad…. you wouldn’t probably be able to see them, but I know they are there. Hurting.

So I went to the doctor and I was told I could get a referral to a dermatologist, who would probably put me on Roaccutane, I broke down in tears. I cannot do that to myself again. So I went on antibiotics for a while – and improvement is pathetic for me to be pumping myself up with drugs everyday. I hate my scars. I always hated them so much, but now it’s serious. I had enough.

The final low was this bright red, sore spot bang on my cheek.Why won’t it just leave me alone? I should be worrying about wrinkles at this age… not freaking acne!

This time it is really affecting me. I want it to go away, I want the scars to go away and I never want to remember this was part of me for all this time. It is more than half my life. And I got myself thinking about taking Roaccutane again… and that makes me really sad. It looks like acne cornered me again…

I tried everything. Products do help, recently Skinetica and the Elemis range have been helping to control it without being too aggressive (yeah, I am also tired of slapping things on that make me red, flaky, horrible). However, it is always there and suddenly, I have an awful bout and it gets much worse. Medical advice that is not Roaccutane seem to be useless.

This is haunting me and I thought it was finally time to put it out there. I cannot keep this to myself anymore. Lots of stuff now cross my mind. Could Roaccutane be the way, again? Being such a strong medication, is it safe for me to have it for the third time? If I decide to get pregnant in the next couple of years (I am no spring chicken, I really need to decide soon if I am to), could it affect my baby? I know the textbook answer to those questions, as I read extensively on the drug. But the questions will always be in the back of my head. “Am I giving myself a bigger risk of liver disease?” “Am I jeopardising my fertility?” . Also, is there something I have not found yet that can help me?

I have decided I will not take it again. There *must* be another way.  But the biggest question of all still remains: “Will I ever be free from it?”.


ps. I’d like to thank Grace from All that Slap, who has talked openly on her blog about a highly sensitive issue she faces – it inspired me to talk seconda and she encouraged me to do the same. Thank you for the support! x