It’s been almost a year since beauty editor Lucy Partington went for her first dermatology appointment. Here’s the impact it’s had on her skin.
But, until last year, I’d never actually had a personal appointment with a consultant dermatologist about my skin. It’s always something I’ve suffered with – acne throughout my teenage years and in my twenties (I still get spots now but they tend to only happen on the lead up to my period), and redness that won’t go away no matter what I try.
So when I was invited to Harley Street last year to see Dr Justine Kluk, I jumped at the chance. Immediately she diagnosed me with both acne and rosacea, which to be honest just felt like a weight off my shoulders. Knowing I had proper conditions that I could treat was a relief, and knowing I was in the right hands to get proper product recommendations was exciting,
To my surprise, Dr Kluk only officially prescribed me three things: Skinoren, Duac gel and Lymecycline, an oral antibiotic. Skinoren is a 20% azelaic acid cream which works to kill spot-causing bacteria and it can help reduce redness, too. Duac gel is a benzyl peroxide-based product that I was told to apply directly to spots to help dry them out, while Lymecycline also works to help kill off bacteria and in turn prevent inflammation.
The other products I was advised to incorporate into my routine were La Roche Posay Toleraine Dermo-cleanser, £12.50, SkinCeuticals Ultra Facial UV Defense SPF50, £37, SkinCeuticals Serum 10, £80, and SkinCeuticals Redness Neutralizer, £79.
For transparency’s sake, I did pay for the prescription products (which came to around £70 from a central London pharmacy) but my job means I didn’t have to pay for any of the other bits Dr Kluk suggested I use.
I followed my new routine with military precision for the first three months. My skin cleared up, it looked so much brighter and healthier, and it had an insane natural glow – the sort of glow that I’d longed to have for so long.
Then things started to slip: I didn’t renew my prescription for Lymecycline but that didn’t seem to make much difference. Instead, it was when I ran out of Skinoren that I started to see a change. The breakouts returned and the glow disappeared, so I made it my mission to get my hands on a tube from somewhere that wouldn’t require a dermatology appointment.
I discovered The Independent Pharmacy, an online doctor that can prescribe medication – so after sending a few pictures of my skin, filling in a questionnaire and paying £15.99 for a tube, I got a dispatch note saying there was more on the way to me.
Since then my routine has stayed the same: each morning I cleanse, apply Vitamin C serum followed by SPF (always a minimum of 30). At night, I remove my make-up and apply Skinoren onto damp skin (it helps it spread better) and I follow with a basic moisturiser if my skin feels tight (usually La Roche Posay Toleraine Sensitive Rich Moisturiser, £16.50).
I’ve dabbled in retinols, had peels and expensive facials but nothing seems to make a difference to my skin like azelaic acid does. While I’ve used cheaper and more expensive Vitamin C serums and different SPF formulas (these are the best that I’ve found to wear under make-up), a multitude of different cleansers (this £12 CeraVe one is my favourite), all things that I know will be having a long-term positive impact on the general health of my skin and how it ages, it really is the Skinoren that’s made the most visible difference.
It’s the one thing I miss when I don’t have it (there is currently a nationwide shortage and God, don’t I know about it) and my skin does genuinely seem to go into meltdown when I run out.
In an ideal world I would have gone back for three, six, nine month check-ups with Dr Kluk, but life – and bank balances – get in the way. Even just that one consultation and being more mindful with the products I try has improved my skin so much more than I ever thought possible, though.
I know it’s still red, but I’m more in tune with rosacea triggers than ever (hot showers, champagne, white wine) and I think it’s probably something that a laser treatment could fix in future, but for now it’s not a huge issue for me.
The other thing it’s taught me is just how important and effective having a consistent routine is, and really, that’s the reason why I love learning about skincare so much.
Images: Lucy Partington