Guest List: Adult Acne Uncovered.


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Jemma Thomas AKA @jemmas_health_hub best known for offering fitness tips that can fit around being a parent.

But for me the most notable and brave thing she has done on social media is share these pictures of her face during a outbreak of acne. The photos (taken by @sarahakwisombe) speak for themselves; Jemma looks as stunning as ever, but not covering-up the lumps means she helping normalise a relatively common condition that is almost entirely un-talked about and often dismissed.

Here she uncovers, in more detail, what life is like with Adult Acne:

  • I have to start the list by saying, acne is not just spots. At it’s worst; it has the power to affected every facet of your life.

  • Mine started out in my teens, I assumed it was normal, hormonal, I tried every crappy, drying, cheap ‘spot’ remedy and cream that superdrug sold, to no avail.

  • Then my 20’s came and the skin of people around me started to calm down and become beautifully clear, but most of the time my skin had something on it that bothered me, a lump here or a cluster of something there..  I don’t have any recollection of it being completely clear.  Something wasn’t right.

  • By my mid 20’s it had started to affect me more and more psychologically, I worked in advertising and had to face so many people each day, loads of different departments, clients and a person who was to become my husband.

  • I called in sick on day I couldn’t face people.

  • Once I’d started going out with my now husband, I’d set my alarm for 30 mins before I knew he’d get up, go to the bathroom and put as much ‘natural’ looking make up on then crawl back into bed and pretend I ‘ just woke up like this’

  • At it’s worst I felt ugly and insecure enough to question my relationship ‘why the hell is he with me, he could be with her, she’s much prettier??’

  • I can’t tell you how much make-up I went through. I once even bought the MAC make-up that was especially for stage and screen it was that thick, just to cover up. I think my entire face was continually covered in makeup during my 20’s.

  • I started having tests, something definitely it wasn’t right.

  • I was tested for PCOS – I had it, cysts on my ovaries, quite a lot. The technical definition is this. ‘In women with PCOS, androgen levels are often elevated and testosterone rises then acne occurs when the oil and skin cells get trapped in the skin’s pores.’

  • So, I had too much testosterone, therefore quite severe acne.

  • You’ll go though stages where it’s not so bad and people will say – ‘Oh your skins great, it’s not bad at all.’ This is annoying because you have no idea how long this ‘good’ spell will last.

  • It’s kind of similar to having a new born, people will give you unsolicited advice, ‘oh have you tried xxxx’  I appreciate everyone’s suggestions, but also there is generally nothing that someone has told me I haven’t already goggled / tried – if something claimed to help with skin.. I’ve tried it:

  • Those Proactiv ad’s with the celeb who’s skin is crystal clear now.. (yup -didn’t work)

  • Cutting out diary (yep – didn’t work)

  • Changing the pill (yep – didn’t work)

  • Wearing no make-up (yeah right !!!! was my reaction back then)

  • Changing diet (yep – didn’t work )

  • Cutting out booze (yup – didn’t work)

  • Using antibiotics (worked very briefly)

  • Using a drying bleaching cream (yup, dried out my skin, work a tiny bit)

  • I once spent £250 in SpaceNK  as I was sold a miracle peel face mask and cream..(none of them worked)

  • Special creams ordered directly from America as they’re allowed to put tons more of the good stuff in their creams over there (didn’t work)

  • Every facial available (made my skin soft and smooth, didn’t cure the acne)

  • Natural creams and potions (yup – didn’t work).Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 11.14.02 AM

  • When I was 27 the doctors give me a last resort Roacutane…it’s side affects included severe dryness…. every pore in my body drying up to the point that I had to put Vaseline around my nostrils and ears. BUT it seemed to be doing the trick. My skin was drying up and the lumps and spots were going, and staying gone. I think I had about a year of clear skin after taking it. But it’s a very strong drug and has other side affects too, which can in some cases affect mental health, so I decided not to do another course.

  • Plus there’s no way you can get pregnant or even try whilst on it as is can severely affect an unborn feotus. So it was also out of the question for that reason as I knew after we married when I was 28 we’d try for kids.

  • Before I got married I spent months and months worrying that I would have one of my bad breakouts, and that the pictures would forever show the lumps (which you can’t cover up!) I was so lucky that on the day it was lump free.

  • At 35 I still get regular bouts of acne, at sporadic intervals.

  • I look longingly at peoples skin, wishing to have the same smooth texture, I sometimes get a bit obsessed.

  • I hardly see anyone in the public eye with blemishes so I assumed acne was a very uncommon thing. I have since realised it’s so much more common that I thought, we just all cover it up pretty well!

  • I know this is going to sound unkind.. but when someone say’s ‘oh I’m so spotty and they have 1 hormonal period spot I want to slap them (sorry!)

  • The work I do now involves being face to face with people a lot so I have simply HAD to let some of the insecurity go, or I would not be able to carry on working, but on bad bad days I have cancelled things.

  • Sometimes I take pain killers because it hurts so much that I can’t sleep.

  • Recently, during a bad bout, en route to a BBQ with friends I’ve know for over 25 years, I couldn’t apply make up as they were so sore, but I still felt the need to text the whole group before I arrived and say ‘ Ignore how ugly and red and I look, having a breakout’ of course none of them noticed, but I felt the need to pre-warn them of my face!

  • It has ruled me more than I left myself believe – BUT recently I decided enough is enough. I wanted some pictures of me looking happy and confident right in the middle of one of my bad breakouts. I wanted to say sod you acne.. you don’t own, me. I texted someone I know is hugely creative, Sarah Akwisombe, who I knew would ‘get’ what I wanted to do and she just perfectly captured what was in my head, so I thank her for that!

  • I went out everyday following these pictures with no make-up on with huge spots and lumps and tried my very very best not to care – and it kind of worked.

  • And following posting these pictures on my own page and reading everyones amazing comments – knowing I’m not alone has also helped me, and I hope it helps you too.Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 11.13.45 AM

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  • Reply fudgedblog December 12, 2017 at 11:12 am

    Amazing!!! Thank you so much for sharing your story Jemma! I can totally relate having had acne since I was about 12, I’m now 33. I always thought it would eventually clear up naturally but this hasn’t been my experience. Thank you for being so honest about how it makes you feel, most people trivialise how demoralising having bad skin is, but it has really affected my confidence and self esteem.

  • Reply Sara December 12, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    I couldn’t have read this at a better time! I had severe acne as a teen and was on roaccutance when I was 17. Thankfully it worked wonders for a long time but having recently come off the pill (I was on it for 10yrs and the GP wants me to try alternatives) my acne is returning along with the embarrassment- who has acne at 34?! I’ve just booked another GP appt as it’s really getting me down but this post has reminded me that there are a lot of us out there and that a few spots (ok-loads!!) shouldn’t stop us!!
    Thanks Gemma!
    Sara xx

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