sk:n, my acne and me. By Louisa Northcote
24th January 2019
Britain’s Next Top Model finalist, blogger and founder of the #FreeThePimple campaign, Louisa Northcote was determined to find an effective solution to her acne. After years of research and trying different solutions, she discovered sk:n’s team of acne experts. Here she shares her story…
My name is Louisa Northcote. I am 21 years old and I have suffered with acne since I was a teenager.
I started getting acne at the age 13, however it got really bad when I was 16. It still sounds weird to say I “suffer” with acne, because it sounds like I have a disease. But that is precisely how I feel. I know very well how acne can consume you and make you feel ugly, especially as many popular media outlets put the image of clear skin everywhere. Just look at Facetune on Instagram and Photoshop on magazines and billboards.
I have been to see many doctors over the years and tried many products to help my acne. I have been on antibiotics three times and, due to a family history of breast cancer, I cannot take the contraceptive pill, which is sometimes prescribed to help with acne. I even changed my diet and became a vegan for seven months to see if that would help. It didn’t.
Under the spotlight
In 2017, I entered Britain’s Next Top Model. Modelling is all about your looks: great skin, good body, good hair. Therefore, on the first day of filming when the first challenge was to go makeup free, it meant I had to expose my biggest insecurity: my acne. In addition, throughout the rest of the time of filming, my acne got worse and worse, and increasingly painful. When I came out of the competition, I was lost, upset and in serious need of help to clear my acne.
To me, the last option seemed to be Isotretinoin (Roaccutane). That is, until I came across sk:n when I was researching online acne treatments (something I have been doing basically every night since I can remember, as I was desperate to find a ‘cure’ and educate myself). I decided to search ‘laser treatments for acne in the UK,’ as I had seen Kendall Jenner had used laser to help her acne.
Before treatment started
I did some more research and found sk:n has over 50 clinics nationwide and 28 years of expertise, in addition to having an amazing choice of treatments for acne. I was sold. I had my first initial consultation with a nurse called Alice, who sat me down and asked about my history. This included what I had used: medications, skincare etc, and she then took a look at my acne and talked me through my options. She explained that I could go on Roaccutane, however, as I had never tried any professional treatments, I should give them a try. We decided to start with a course of chemical peels.
The treatment: what to expect
The next week when it came round to my first chemical peel appointment, I of course felt apprehensive, as I was going into the unknown. However, I also felt excited as I was starting a new journey to help clear my acne. When I got to the clinic, I felt so welcomed and at ease by my nurse Alice, who explained everything she was going to do and let me ask as many questions as possible.
I lay down on the bed and had patches put over my eyes to protect them. Alice gave me a heads up beforehand and then ‘painted’ the chemicals onto my face, asking every few minutes how it felt. It seriously was not bad; it just tingled a bit. Only a few minutes later it was done. She took the chemicals off, again asking if areas still tingled etc, then she put this amazing smelling moisturiser on my face and the treatment was complete. I was then taken over to the skincare products that sk:n stock and my nurse recommended a few to me. These were by Dermaquest, one to apply in the morning, one to apply at night and also a moisturiser by Aknicare. I went over to the desk to make an appointment for my next salicylic acid peel in a few months and that was it - my journey with sk:n had begun.
Midway through treatment
Hardly any downtime
In the following days, I had this idea in my head that my skin would peel like a snake and would be so red that I wouldn’t be able to wear makeup. Instead, the next morning my skin seemed calmer already, the breakouts had started to dry out and I could put makeup on. I needed hardly any downtime.
I was so excited to go back for my next chemical peel. When it came around again, it was the same process and I saw a difference in my skin. Over the next few months, I underwent six salicylic acid peels on my face, continued to use the products recommended and saw a huge improvement in my skin. Clearing acne is not a five-minute job, it takes time and patience. I got so excited every time my appointment at sk:n came around and every time my nurse said she was happy with my results and that it was getting better.
The next step: laser for acne
After we finished the course of chemical peels, I then met Dr Firas Al-Niaimi, who is a dermatologist and laser surgeon as well as an international speaker and trainer in everything skin and acne. I had a consultation and he said I was the perfect candidate for laser, which would get rid of the last bit of inflammation on my skin and reduce scarring. He made me feel so comfortable and at ease and let me ask as many questions as I wanted.
Dr Firas Al-Niaimi
Going into the laser appointment, I was a little apprehensive again as it was something I had never experienced before. I lay down and put these funky goggles on and I couldn’t see anything. He warned me before he did the first laser application. The feeling was not painful or particularly uncomfortable - as strange as it sounds, it felt like an elastic band pinging against your skin repeatedly; a tiny discomfort, but that was it. Again, it was over fast and all I was left with was a rosy face.
I had four vascular laser (595 wavelength) treatments with Dr Firas Al-Niaimi over the course of a few months - and my skin looks amazing. My acne has calmed down so much and the redness has gone. I barely get any breakouts, except for one or two when it’s my time of the month.
Brand new treatment..
As an acne suffer its always interesting to find out more about new acne treatments on the market and I was delighted to be given the opportunity to try a brand new treatment at sk:n - Kleresca for acne. Exclusive to sk:n Kleresca is a fluorescent light energy treatment which helps heal and renew the skin and also kill bacteria from acne breakouts. I have recently started a course of Kleresca and look forward to sharing the results and when I have completed my treatment plan.
This hasn’t been a quick journey; it has taken months to get where I am now, but it has all been worth it so far. I would highly recommend sk:n and the treatments I had to anyone suffering with acne and low self-esteem. I will forever rave about them to anyone I meet!
Follow Louisa on Instagram via @lounorthcote and @freethepimple_