Monday, 17 February 2014

Oily skin drama and Cystic spots

If you watch Pixiwoo tutorials you will probably know that Sam and Nic both naturally have amazing skin. Regardless of skin care routine they do just have great skin. Their mum does too, so do their aunties and grandmother, it's in their genes. They also have normal/dry skin so they never really suffer too much from blemishes.
 I (this is Stacey by the way) on the other hand have a combination skin type which is also extremely hormonal.
 Generally my skin behaves but at certain times of the month I get hideous cystic spots that come up, usually on the chin and jawline. If you have experienced these you will know how horrid they are. Solid, swollen lumps under the skin that never really come to a head. They just sit there distorting your face shape and hurting so much it's impossible to forget about them.
 Now I know that you HAVE to leave these alone. They take weeks sometimes to go down but if you leave them they will eventually go. I know this...however as gross as this sounds I always have to fiddle about with it and try and extract fluid from it to see if it will help the swelling go down. Well guess what, it never does. It just swells up more, goes red, forms a massive scab, looks worse than ever and just to show you who is boss it leaves you with a red scar that takes weeks and weeks to fade.

 Here at Pixiwoo I am so fortunate that I am able to try lots of amazing skin care products. I eat a healthy balanced diet (I do cheat now and again), avoid sugar, changed the type of milk I drink (I'll talk further about this), have a 2 litre bottle of water on my desk which I pretty much nail every day, I have the odd glass of red wine at the weekend and I go to the gym 3 times a week. Lord give me strength, I can do no more.

I have accepted that my skin is hormonal and each month there will be a point that I will have a breakout. I think if I ever got married I would have to plan the date arount my skin breakout time!!
 I have also learnt that certain things help it and certain thing seem to make it worse.
 I often feel like a total drama queen when moaning about my skin. I'm well aware there are tons of people out there dealing with illness, scarring and disabilities and here I am thinking strategically where I can sit in a restaurant to avoid the light hitting my face. Believe me I feel pathetic but I also know I'm not alone for feeling this way and I receive tons of emails each day from ladies and gents feeling the same so that is why I wanted to share my experiences.

What annoys my skin?
Milk. I learnt this from Ruth Crilly (A model recommends). You can read Ruth's article on milk and spots here..
 After reading this I decided to change my milk to Almond Milk. It tastes quite nice really and my breakouts definitely became less frequent. After a few weeks of drinking this I became complacent and decided I would rather drink soya for some reason!
 I seemed fine at the start but then I began to make fruit smoothies in the morning with the soya and after two weeks of drinking more than normal amounts of soya I had the worst breakout. I counted seven huge cystic lumps all along my jaw line right on the bone just to ensure they hurt a little bit more. I don't know if the soya had done this and there is a lot of conflicting information out there about soya milk but for me I have decided to go back to my Almond Milk for now.
Chocolate is another no no for my skin. I know that chocolate upsets my skin because I hardly ever eat chocolate. I'm not really into it, never have been and can go weeks without eating it but when I do have some boy do I know it. My skin freaks out.
Coca Cola. We went through a stage here at Pixiwoo of drinking a can of Diet Coke with our lunch every day and my skin was not great for this period of time. I don't touch the stuff now.

What my skin likes
The girls recently did a Body Talk video with Caroline Hirons who is a skin care goddess and I took lots advice from this video all of which has helped my skin enormously. You can watch this video here.

Two things I learnt..
A balm cleanser and flannel are my best friends. I always thought a balm cleanser would make my skin feel greasy and cause it to be more oily. It doesn't and after learning about the various types of cleanser available I wouldn't use anything other than a balm cleanser.
 My absolute favourite at the moment is balance me Cleanse and Smooth face balm.
It smells lovely, it's 100% natural and the balm lifts off all of my makeup including mascara with ease. Tiny pieces of oatmeal inside help to gently exfoliate also. Targeted at a more dryer skin but is definitely not too rich for a combination skin.
This is £20 for 125ml

My second favourite product is Biologique Resercher P50V phew what a mouthful.

This is an acid toner. Sounds scary but it's all designed for the skin and is perfectly safe. I'm not going to lie, this stinks like vinegar. Nic couldn't use it because she said she could smell the vinegary scent on her skin all day. Initially for a few days I could smell it too but you get used to it and now I don't notice it. To be honest I would still use it even if I could smell it anyway.
 Also this stings big time. I wipe it all over my face and it stings me but you are actually meant to pat it on which lessens the sting.
 I actually love the sting because it generally stings in the areas where I can feel a lump deep down in the skin waiting to errupt. I find after application 9/10 times the spot never comes up and on the odd occasion that it does it quickly heals and goes away again.
 After prolonged use it makes my skin appear smoother, even and generally amazing. It balances my skin out so much that I don't even need to powder my T-zone anymore during the day.
 I've had two bottles of P50v both inherited from Nic and Sam. It wasn't for them because they already have a dry skin and found it dried them out more and also because of the smell.
 They both got theirs from Liberty in London however Liberty no longer stock it so after mine ran out I couldn't get hold of another and my skin went pants again!

I emailed Biologique Resercher to their French site and UK site asking if I could buy direct from them or if they could tell me stockists but I never received an email back. I called them in desperation and left a voicemail but they never returned my call. I had resigned myself to thinking I'll never get one again unless I go to France however Caroline Hiros came up trumps again and told me where I could get one Hurrah!

A few salons in the UK do stock it and I got mine from Zen Spa in Notting hill, London. I called and spoke to a lovely therapist who happily took my payment over the phone and popped it in next day delivery for me.
 Zen spa looks particularly lovely and somewhere we will be definitely stopping by.

Ok so P50V isn't cheap. It's £52 a bottle for 150ml but it is worth every penny. I wouldn't think twice about going into TopShop and spending that on an outfit for a Saturday night and to be honest I would rather spend it on this product because when my skin is bad it doesn't matter if I was wearing a Vivian Westwood gown, I would still feel grumpy if my skin was having a meltdown.

This product is strong so it may not be for everyone but it works so well for me that I wanted to share with you.

Anyway sorry for the long rambling post and I hope it has helped some of you.
 We would love to hear your comments on your favourite products for your skin type below.


  1. I suffer with skin similar to yours and definitely think I'm going to try than toner - despite the price!!


  2. Sam and Nikki are just TOO lucky with their skin- I wish my skin was amazing as theirs :-(

    Sharlotte //

  3. Great post. I always used to have brilliant skin and my whole family does, but due to messed up hormones I now get those spots you were talking about - so nasty and they never go away.
    Origins Blemish gel stuff works - it didn't get rid of the spots but definitely calmed them down.

    I'll have to try that balm cleanser, especially as I have drier skin.

    Great post, thankyou very much!

    Amelia Rose | Beauty Blogger

    Makeup GIVEAWAY

  4. LOVE this post! My skin is pretty clear, but when I get a spot it is one like you're describing. I've googled it many times but never really found how to deal with them. Like you I was always obsessed with squeezing them, convinced they would come to a head, but like you I would just end up sore, scabbed and scarred! My new year's resolution this year was to leave them alone, and thankfully so far I have only had one such spot. I dutifully left it alone, ensuring I cleansed thoroughly and I applied a littel tea tree oil to the spot at night. After a couple of days, it disappeared. I'm so glad I stuck to my guns and now I kick myself for not learning this sooner! I still have a red mark on my chin from one of these spots which came out just before Christmas; I like to think it's there as a reminder not to meddle in future! Xx

    1. Yes Siobhan, I too will make this my 2014 resolution!x

  5. I have a massive problem with milk too! I had to switch to almond milk a couple of years ago because my skin was just breaking out so badly :(

    alex @

  6. Brilliant post! I share your pain, the only products that helped me after going gluten free (already dairy free) were La Roche-Posay Efficlar Duo (morning and night, daily) and Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel Mask twice a week. X

  7. Great post! I have oily skin and a lot of natural redness in my skin so this post will come in handy! Thanks! :)

  8. Great blog post. Thanks for sharing. I recently wrote a post about the effects of diary on the skin. You can check it out over on

    I also wrote a post on what to eat and what to avoid to complete cure eczema -

    Check out my DIY evening cleanser in my February Flake-Away theme.


  9. Hi Stacey! I also suffer from hormonal acne and as much as I've tried everything topical, nothing really works in preventing them. Recently I've tried taking DIM supplements and seriously, they're the only thing that's keeping my hormonal acne at bay. You might want to consult your doctor about it because I think it's worth a shot. Best of luck!

  10. I have the same issue with cystic acne along my jawline. I switched to Burt's Bees Deep Cleansing cream with soap bark and chamomile which really seemed to help. I also treat with Tee Tree oil right on the spot and it soothes and seems to make it go away much more quickly. I don't know if the products you spoke of are available here in the US but I will check them out. Thanks for this post!

  11. soy milk helps you produce more estrogen (that is why it is only recommended in large amounts for women in their menopause) therefore your hormones might be also a triggerer of ur acne and that's why you are also breaking out from soy milk. Stick to almond, coconut or rice milk :)

  12. Thank you for your tips! I've had these hideous carbuncles since my teens. I modelled for years and used to dread arriving on set with mt Olympus glowing on my face. Even two rounds of Roaccutane did'nt help. This is what worked for me...

  13. Hi Stacey! I must say I've been a little too obsessed with Caroline's blog ever since I saw her Body Talk video with Nick and Sam. I always had combo skin but NEVER had problems with Cysts (even during my most hormonal teens) until I reached 30 (which wasn't that long ago... :). I've been using Pixi Glow Toner, simply because it's more accessible to get than the P50V. It worked wonders for the first week or so, and the my skin started to dry out a bit around my cheeks (riddle me this...?) making my foundation look horrid. So I thought, hey Caroline does says we can have dehydrated oily/combo (which is against everything I ever believed about skin care). So I gathered the courage to buy skin care from Ebay (the seller sounded legit!) and got myself a bottle of Seronzinc (this product is not available in the UK). And God, does that fella pull your skincare together! That and a few drops of the new Vitamin E night serum-in-oil from the body shop make my skin fell like new, no word of a lie!

  14. Hi Stacey, the best thing to prevent the cysts for me is massaging. get one of those face massagers fro th ebody shop. You will notice a huge difference! Just massage from the centre of you face towards your neck and ears.
    I had the same problem, but it's all gone now!

    1. I was thinking about this last night, will hot foot it to Body Shop now.x

  15. Sam and Nikki, you both are lucky to have such a glowing and healthy skin. Loved it very much. Article is very good and beneficial for people having oily skin. But mine is of dry and would like to know tips to take care of it.

    River Veda

  16. Great post, thanks for that, I've been obsessed with CH since that vid she did with Sam & Nic.
    I'm sorry to hear that Biologique Recherche has been kinda rude to you, but if you ever need to buy some, I can buy it for you if you want. I live around Paris and I go more than regularly near the Biologique Recherche store (blame my shopping addiction :p). I'll be more than happy to send it to you after.
    But I saw that you forgot to mention that there is different P50 lotions, the P50V is for oily skin, P50 is for normal skin and P50W is for sensitive skin, if I recall correctly (I'm only sure about the P50W, since it's the one I'm using)


  17. I always attributed my cystic acne to hormones, it got worse when i'd go off birth control. I never had an issue with acne in general until I went on birth control in the first place. But somewhere in my early 20s I developed cystic acne, and I spent years trying to figure out the cause. I cut out so many things from my diet (corn, coffee, etc) to see if it was a food allergy. The only thing I could trace it back to was almond milk. I had switched to almond milk years ago, but since giving it up for about a year, I haven't had one cyst. I drink a coconut milk substitute now, and try to avoid most varieties of nuts .My skin has been fairly clear since then. I miss the taste of almond milk but I care for my skin too much to give it another go.

    1. Jeez Amanda it's a milk based nightmare isn't it! Thanks for sharing

  18. Perhaps you could try a dermatologist skin care range such as Dermaquest? I have just switched from cosmetic ranges such as Elemis and Rodial and noticed a big difference in my skin

  19. Perhaps you could try a dermatologist skin care range such as Dermaquest? I have just switched from cosmetic ranges such as Elemis and Rodial and noticed a big difference in my skin

  20. I drink a lot of milk and didn't realise this could be linked to acne. As a 27 year old, I still suffer from mild acne along my jawline, but only on the left hand side (I am unsure whether this could be linked to endometriosis on my left ovary though). I might try cutting out milk for a while and drinking almond milk instead. I too have heard mixed things about soya and that it can also make my endo worse, so will stay away from that.
    Thank you for a great and informative post.
    Laura x | Life and Lipstick

  21. Thank you for your post Stacey!! Like Amanda, my skin problems started with birth control and since then I have had medication, many cleansers, came off birth control and recently have been diagnosed as lactose intolerant *sigh*. I have wondered if soya also contributes to my breakouts so slowly but surely I am on a mission to cut out as much of the possible contributors. I have had a big ol cyst in some form or other smack bang in the middle of my face, right in between my eyebrows, for over a month! Even though it has taken me years and many scars later I have finally trained myself not to touch my spots (unless its to get rid of a white head because no one wants to see them!) my boyfriend will also tell me to stop touching my face when I am absent mindedly touching (mostly when stressed or tired) or I will just find a hand will come out of no where and take my hand away...bless. Mrs Hirons' is indeed a saviour and her no nonsense advice has helped a lot! I am always on the lookout for other people's opinions/hints/tips/advice who have a similar skin type to myself so thank you :) x

  22. I have exactly the same type of spots as you Stacey and like you I get them on or just under my chin which means that some weeks I look like Popeye the Sailor (but without the pipe!). One appeared on Valentines Day (!) and this time I've been a good girl and not squeezed it (like you I know it's pointless to do so but still can't help it!). It's only just disappeared today so it's taken nearly two weeks for it to vanish but it's gone without leaving a mark. All I've done this time was to carry on using my hot cloth cleanser being especially gentle around the inflamed area and then using a clean cloth with hot water on it, made a compress on the spot for a minute or so. Then some rose water toner followed by moisturiser and Burt's Bees Herbal Blemish stick before applying foundation and concealer. At night I used Clinique's Anti Blemish Gel after cleansing. And that's it. I've just ignored it and resisted the temptation and feel quite proud as I've not ended up with yet another after spot mark on my chin. I did watch Caroline Hiron's video when it was first released and have followed her advice by banning the coarse face scrub I used to use and which only used to make things worst! I know my attacks are pretty much always based on hormonal changes but I will try and keep track of what I eat to see if any foods trigger the dreaded Cystic Spot Attacks!
    Thanks for this post! It's always good to know you're not alone and good to find out what might help! :)


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