Blemish freedom

Blemishes, spots, zits, pimples. No matter what you call them, we can all agree that they are evil and need to eliminated!

If you’ve been unfortunate enough to suffer from a rogue bump to a full-blown outbreak, you might have tried everything under the sun in an attempt to put an end to your plight. The hard facts are that there is no one fix-all cure for everyone. What might work for you might not work for the next person.

The prescription-only drug Roaccutane and the topical gel Retin-A require a trip to your GP. Whilst these alternatives work well, these medications are also only for people afflicted with severe acne. So if you’re looking for a sure thing for an occasional bump, or if you have a light breakout during “that time of the month”, you probably won’t qualify for those types of treatment.

As a lifelong acne sufferer myself, I’m here to show you what over-the-counter treatments are available to you and where you can get them!


Proactiv is a group of four core topical treatment products that work in tandem to target acne-prone areas with a twice-a-day skincare regimen. With the Proactiv cleanser, toner, day and night lotions in your arsenal, most users see a difference in their skin within a matter of weeks. The Proactiv offered in the U.S. (the version I’ve used) differs from the version offered in the U.K. The U.S. version contains 10% benzoyl peroxide as its active ingredient, whilst the U.K. Proactiv utilises salicylic acid.

In the past, I’ve found that my level of acne never responded as well to the salicylic acid as it did to benzoyl peroxide. My very oily skin responds well to the drying effects of benzoyl peroxide. But at higher concentrations, you may find benzoyl peroxide too harsh. If your skin is sensitive, you may fare better with the U.K./salicylic version of Proactiv.

Now, where does that leave those who think they might prefer the benzoyl peroxide version? You can find unused kits from the U.S. sold on eBay. You can also find the cheaper version of Proactiv called Acne Free, an almost exact match to the U.S. Proactiv version.

The U.K. Proactiv system is based on a subscription service and a new 4-piece kit will be sent to your home every 60 days at a cost of £39.95 plus P&P. U.S. Proactiv products can be found on eBay for around £35-45. AcneFree kits on eBay go for around £25-£30.

For targeted spot treatments that pop up seemingly overnight, I can’t boast enough about the refining mask from Proactiv and the sulfur mask from AcneFree. Both masks look, feel and act the same. The creamy, white substance has the consistency of a traditional clay mask and works WONDERS when you apply it to a spot and then go to bed. For me, it has performed absolute magic on a pimple in a very short time and is worth every penny.

If you’re looking for a more long term solution that doesn’t require needles, surgery or potentially harmful drugs, I would certainly recommend a chemical peel. Yes, it does sound more scary than it really is. Done right with a qualified dermatologist or skin clinic, you should only see something to the equivalent to a medium sunburn for about five days afterwards. The skin peels off a bit and then you’re done!

Chemical peels typically treat such things as scarring, pitting and deep pores associated with long-term acne. Chemical peels can also lessen breakouts by removing the top layer of skin to reveal the fresh, new, supple skin that lies underneath! To maximise the positive effects of a chemical peel, it’s recommended that you have them done in a series, one treatment every 3-4 months with around 2-6 treatments occurring in total.

Sk:n Clinics offer chemical peels with an initial consultation to decide what course of treatment is right for you. They have clinics located all over the U.K. Whilst this is the most pricey option we’ve mentioned, we also think you get the most value for money with the results. If you’re short on cash, you can always see about having that treatment abroad. I had mine done in the States for $125-$150 a pop. Who could say no to that?

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