Let’s talk about acne..

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I did a video a while ago on my skin but since then (and over Vlogmas) I’ve received hateful comments about the state of my skin – funnily enough what upsets me most about them is that someone with skin as bad or worse than mine might see them and feel bad about themselves, I’ve never properly addressed how I feel about my skin on here in a dedicated post so here goes…

My skin has never been perfect, it started acting up when I was 14 in the form of oiliness and black heads around my nose, it cleared up and between the ages of 15-18 I had pretty clear skin.

When I was 18 a diet coke habit resulted in a horrific flare up of acne specifically around my forehead. I cut out my diet coke addiction, went on a Skinceuticals skincare regime and started taking the controversial Dianette birth control pill at the age of 19. Within 6 months I had normal skin, it wasn’t super clear but you would never say that I had acne, it was just regular run of the mill skin. I ditched dianette after 18 months as one day whilst at work on a political election campaign (bored out of my mind doing the banal research on a liberal democrat candidate) I started googling Dianette and was truly horrified by what I was reading. I immediately switched to a more “normal” pill, after another 10 months or so I then wanted to try Yasmin to see if I had any better results, I had heard that Yasmin supposedly gave you supermodel worthy skin. Sure enough three months after starting Yasmin my skin was crystal clear – so clear that the odd blackhead would upset me. I stayed on Yasmin for a year when once again google got the better of me and I read that French doctors advise women to take a break from the pill every three years, I had just turned 22 which meant that my three years were up.

February 2013 was when I gave up the pill for good and I thought I’d got off scot free when my periods returned promptly and totally normally and my skin stayed looking pretty good…that was until 7 months later when it all went wrong. My skin went horrifically bad, I had cysts on my cheeks that were painful to the touch and would bleed when I cleansed. I saw a dermatologist who put me on super harsh creams that made my skin ache even more. It took two months for my mum to do some research and buy me La Roche Posay Toleriane cleanser and ultra fluide and told me to use nothing but that- I dutifully did and 2 months later my skin was looking ok again – it was much muchΒ calmer and the damage from the Isotrexin gel that the derm had put me on was gone as well as the painful cysts. Fast forward to February 2014 and newly engaged I started having environ facials and using their products, my skin was feeling amazing, I totally gave up dairy in the bid for better skin and was reaping the rewards.

Then last Spring (April 2015) my skin started troubling me again, I went to see a dermatologist who told me to go on roaccutane. I had sleepless nights debating on whether to take the drug or not, I did hour upon hour of research. For me the risk was just too great, my husband had never had a problem with my skin, I was comfortable enough to go makeup free, and if it didn’t bother me to the point where I was truly distressed then I didn’t see why I should poison my body with a drug that might work but also might leave the rest of my bodily functions in tatters – dry lips, dry eyes, nose bleeds, the likelihood of depression, insomnia, muscle ache and exhaustion just didn’t seem to be a worthy sacrifice for perfect skin.

When I get comments on my videos where people tell me my skin is disgusting, or that I should see a dermatologist I want to scream in frustration. Clear skin is not that simple or easy, and if it were do you not think I’d have already done that? I chose my health above my skin and my approach to my skin is more circumspect now.

I’ve struggled with IBS for nearly 6 years now – something I’ve never actually written on here. I feel like my stomach issues and skin are 100% linked. Starting from New Years Day I’m going to go on a sugar free diet for a month, if that doesn’t help my skin I’m also going to minimise gluten. I hope to start seeing a genuine change in my skin, but you know what? Even if I don’t I’m happy in my own skin now, my scars are worse than my blemishes – I only have two or three small spots at a time but I’m aware it looks worse than it is – I don’t feel self conscious when speaking to people, my husband continues to tell me that he thinks my skin is good (he was also severely against my use of roaccutane) and the only people that ever criticise it are internet trolls that can only see it via a camera.

Acne and problematic skin isn’t something that can be fixed overnight, when people who are lucky enough to not have to worry about their skin act as though you’re negligent to your skin and that’s why it’s bad just take a deep breath and stay calm – they have no idea what you’ve been through, and my favourite thing to do after a mean comment about my skin is to go out totally makeup free, I get no odd looks from strangers and feel weirdly liberated – don’t ever let anyone get you down and learn to be comfortable in the skin you’re in! I hope this mini essay will be able to help anyone with similar struggles!



  1. mary rose
    December 29, 2015 / 2:00 pm

    Firstly-happy holidays!!!
    Your skin is not disgusting. Too bad people are mean and actually post comments like these. Ignore them, confident every blogger gets their share. You get many nice comments too.
    I have IBS too. I discovered the cause is stress (for me anyway)
    Take care x

    • December 30, 2015 / 9:40 pm

      Thank you Mary Rose!

      Happy New Year x

  2. Ana
    December 29, 2015 / 4:27 pm

    Hi Tijan! I’m sorry do hear about those cruel comments!
    Just wanted to give you my two cents on this topic! I feel like after watching your videos and reading this post we have quite a similar skin type: problematic, combination-oily, scars easily etc. I also have IBS and foods such as gluten and lactose make my digestive system break down (not literally but you get what I mean)

    I’m only 19 but I have struggled with how to deal with my acne for years and I know its difficult. But what I have seen that reaaaaaally helps me is quitting sugar totally. In the end of last summer I reduced my sugar intake to maybe one fruit per day (no pasta, rice, potatoes or bread aswell) and my skin behaved wonderfully. Even the clogges porws disappeared. I also avoid dairy at all costs.

    Having said that I havent been following that for a month and my skin is back to looking the worst it has ever looked… So hopefully my experience can help you

    I’m also going to go back already to a cleaner diet to take care of my skin, body and mental health (because who wants to be thinking about acne and what youre eating all the time?)

    And also, read Amelia freer’s book
    Ever so helpful with IBS and acne problems

    Have a nice end of year!

    • December 30, 2015 / 9:40 pm

      I’ll add Amelia Freer to my reading collection. It’s amazing to hear your wonderful results on a sugar free diet – I’m excited to start now!

      Happy New Year xx

  3. Edel
    December 29, 2015 / 5:46 pm

    Looking forward to your sugar-free detox review Tijan!

    You’re stunning, I can’t believe you’ve received such criticism. So rude! And I think you’re so right to steer clear of the Roaccutane route – I’m a pharmacist and really view it as the last resort – and for people with skin far more problematic than yours. The psych side effects are rarely worth it!

    Happy New Year xo


    • December 30, 2015 / 9:38 pm

      Thank you Edel for your comment. The depression element really struck a chord with me, I’ve had friends diagnosed with it and that numbness isn’t something I would ever want to invite in.

      Happy New Year x

  4. Helen
    December 29, 2015 / 6:02 pm

    Happy Christmas Tijan

    Thanks for this post.
    I had pretty good skin as a teenager but now aged 29 it has been very up and down in the last 4 years. At times its affected my confidence a lot but I realise I am worrying about it a lot more than people around me are noticing it!

    Different factors seem to affect my skin and there are times is more well behaved than others. I really enjoyed your vlogmas and am delighted you choose not to focus on negative comments as I would suggest they stem from a very negative place…you are absolutely radiant!

    Love x

    • December 30, 2015 / 9:37 pm

      Thank you Helen – that’s such a huge complement.

      I think that stressing about something that’s out of your control only causes the problem to be worse!

      Happy New Year x

  5. Pamela
    December 30, 2015 / 2:40 pm

    I can’t believe that somebody would actually take the time to write a nasty comment about something which on the whole you have no control over.

    As somebody who also suffers with problematic skin & IBS, I know how frustrating it can be when you have tried every skin product going to calm your spots when others seem to do so little and have beautiful skin. It’s nice to see that somebody in the public eye can actually be honest and admit they don’t have the ‘flawless’ skin that seems to be all over social media nowadays.

    Thank you for reminding me in this post that nobody is prefect and ignore those people who are jealous enough to make time to hate on you X x

    • December 30, 2015 / 9:35 pm

      Pamela, I’m so glad to hear that I may have helped you in some way. It’s important to be honest and transparent especially in this online world! It’s so frustrating when you see people who drink diet coke and eat so much chocolate and wake up with perfect skin but that is the way of the world!

      Happy new year πŸ™‚

  6. Gaya
    December 30, 2015 / 3:38 pm

    I love that post Tijan. Of course, you don’t have disgusting skin but you know that. I think it speaks more about the person who writes such comments’ personality or state of mind than anything to do with your appearance. I too struggle with my skin. I think I have it under control for a time and then I have a blemished skin period. That’s how it is.
    I think diet changes have the most dramatic effect on skin health. I take omega 3 supplements everyday because they’re anti-inflamatory and I can see a big difference when I don’t take them. Also, I’m reading a great book about nutrition at the moment explaining how the digestion process works and it’s been a revelation. The author doesn’t just talk about the beauty aspect but also the result of what/how you eat on you energy levels and general health. It’s “The Beauty detox solution” by Kimberly Snyder. She talks about what you eat of course but, more interestingly, about food combination and how it can affect your digestion and ultimately your energy levels and skin/hair health. It’s like taking back control on your health simply by understanding how your body works.
    Anyway, I hope your spending great holidays with all your family Tijan! XX

    • December 30, 2015 / 9:33 pm

      I need to get on the Omega 3 supplements! I need that book – it’s on my birthday wish list. Happy New Year πŸ™‚

  7. Marie
    December 30, 2015 / 3:49 pm

    Hi Tijan,
    I loved this so honest blog post and I can really real eye to you when it comes to this issue! What changed everything for me for the better is a whole food plant based diet. Great ressources are Dr Greger from NutritionFacts.org, Forks over Knives, Annie Jaffrey and Bananablobdie108 on YouTube!
    As you are also interested in politics, all the issues that come with our food choices will also interest you as a social justice issue!
    Very best whishes for the new year, Marie πŸ™‚

    • December 30, 2015 / 9:26 pm

      Oh wow this sounds amazing – I’ll definitely check it out!

      Happy New Year! x

  8. December 30, 2015 / 4:30 pm

    Tijan, thank you for taking your time to write this “essay”. I really hope that those comments don’t get to you. I watch all your videos and yes, i’ve noticed you dont have flawless victoria secret looking skin, so what? You clearly have tried to solve your problem throughout the years, and let me tell you i wish all problems were are small as this one. But seriously now, its not even that bad, its actually normal skin with normal imperfections. Whatever your skin is looking like atm, i can tell you, i give more importance to your delicate and exquisite taste in clothes and lifestyle. I dont know you personally but just by watching your recent vlogs I can tell we are very alike. Keep up the good stuff, keep posting as much as you can, try out those new diet plans you’ve thought about to hopefully make a change in your skin without any drugs, and dont let people who take no time into thinking twice about their vague comments bother you. Happy holidays! xxx

    • December 30, 2015 / 9:25 pm

      Thank you Marta, that’s a really sweet message and I massively appreciate you taking the time to write it πŸ™‚

  9. Jenna
    December 30, 2015 / 8:59 pm

    Beautiful post Tijan,
    I have had similar struggle with skin and IBS and I’m now a 34yr old mother of two. The best thing I did was a strict sugar free diet with no gluten or dairy and I even limited fruit in the beginning. It changed my life and made me much more in tune to how I feel when I eat something.
    Stay strong. I hope your post helps others.

    • December 30, 2015 / 9:24 pm

      Thank you Jenna for your comment. I’m looking forward to it now actually – thanks for the support! x

  10. yasmine
    December 30, 2015 / 9:22 pm

    Ive seen a lot of people clear out their skin by cuting out animal products as well like the youtubers nina and randa for example. anyways happy new year Tijan

  11. a
    December 31, 2015 / 3:42 am

    Thanks for writing this πŸ™‚ I’ve had similar struggles with my skin. First acne throughout my teenage years and then redness which I suspect may be rosacea from when I was 20 (I’m 24 now). I wonder if an anti inflammatory diet may help your skin,I am going to try this in the new year. Really looking forward to watching your vlogmas! I have been away all december and haven’t had the chance.

  12. December 31, 2015 / 12:07 pm

    It truly makes me sad that people are so quick to both judge and to be straight up cruel. I never struggled with my skin during my teenage years, I was perfect. Then I moved to Australia for a year and after that – my skin changed. It became both super dry, oily and blemishes and blackheads were frequent on my face. Not until then I truly understood all the different emotions running trough a person’s mind when their skin is acting up. I’m 24 now and have come in to yet another bad period of bad skin and sudden eczema.

    I’m desperately trying to cut down on my sugar and also dairy. I’m not a huge dairy person though, but I truly think that after cutting down on it has made a change. Also, I find that eating more vegetarian food and fish makes my tummy feel and work better, also as you said – your tummy, body and all that has an affect on your skin too.

    Glad you wrote this post, because somehow it made me feel better when hearing other people struggle with skin as adults. Hope you have a happy new year! Love, Frida

  13. December 31, 2015 / 12:09 pm

    Haha, “I was perfect” is NOT what I meant. It’s supposed to say, IT was perfect – as in my skin. Haha, sorry.

  14. December 31, 2015 / 4:24 pm

    What is wrong with people that they think it is okay to leave such horrible & personal comments?! Are they really so perfect themselves? I actually loved that you went make-up free in some of your vlogs – it made them more real!

    Have you tried taking zinc & fish oils? I find that they really help when my skin is suffering.

    I mentioned you as my favourite youtuber of December in my favourites post today! xx


  15. Sabine
    January 1, 2016 / 8:34 pm

    You should check out the ‘beauty care articles’ on the website of ‘livinglibations’. The founder Nadine wrote an article calles ‘Skin Type Hype’. She truly understands the whole science and mechanism behind clear and healthy skin. She also discribes the effect a healthy gut has on the whole body including your skin. After translating some of her advice into action my skin appears much clearer and healthier. I wish I discoverd that article earlier. I hope that article helps you or one of your readers to solve their skin problems.

  16. January 3, 2016 / 3:46 am

    Hi Tijan,

    Happy New Year! I hope we all have an amazing and memorable 2016!
    I want to tell you that I watch your videos and read your blog consistently. I find you very inspiring and really enjoy the content that you create. I’m very sorry you have to deal with negative comments on the Internet. You are a beautiful person inside and out. I feel very sorry for the people leaving those comments as I think they’re probably very troubled individuals.
    I too have struggled with skin issues similar to what you describe. In my early twenties as I was still struggling with acne, my stepmom suggested I stop washing my face every day. She is a medical doctor, she’s an ENT so not a dermatologist though, but she said she felt all those cleansers were messing up the PH level of my face (even those that advertised to balance your PH). So I took her advice and only used a cleanser once or twice a week typically in the shower when I wash my hair. I use the Caudalie makeup remover first, then the Ole Henriksen wipes, then I follow with the Caudalie toner. Once my skin is cleansed in this manner I apply a serum (in the morning I alternate between the Kiehls Vitamin C serum or the Sunday Riley Good Genes; at night either the Kiehls Midnight Recovery serum or the Sunday Riley Luna oil) and follow with a moisturizer (Kate Sommerville Goat Milk day cream or Kare Sommerville Retasphere retinol night cream). I typically don’t use a scrub but once a month. I have been on this skincare regimen for about 7 years now and I’ve never had major issues with my skin ever since I stopped washing it with a cleanser and water. I also tried different diets, gave up dairy and sugar for a while, different oral medication and topical creams. Nothing really worked for me but my stepmom’s suggestion. Hope this helps. Stay strong Tijan and please keep us posted! All the best ~ Cat L.

  17. Besiana
    January 3, 2016 / 10:38 pm

    Thank you for this amazing post! I really needed to read this. It is so important to be reminded of these things. I think you are a beautiful person no matter what and I loved watching vlogmas. Have a Happy New Year.

  18. Tori lee
    January 4, 2016 / 3:33 pm

    You are so beautiful and inspiring I don’t think you truly understand the affect you have on people. Thank you for sharing your problems with your skin, it makes me feel more confident knowing someone as stunning as you can go through the same issues as me. I’ve literally tried everything to fix my dark marks and scars every pimple causes! I’m 22 and still finding a cure. I find when I take apple cider vinegar every morning with water it kills the candida in my stomach and miraculously keeps my skin from breaking out, you should definitely try it as I also agree that your stomach is linked to your skin. I just bought the Clarins Blue Orchid oil to try and fix my uneven skin tone, do you still use is it? Do you find it works? Looking forward to all your posts this year xxxx

    • January 4, 2016 / 4:16 pm

      Hi Tori,

      This comment is so lovely – it has honestly made my day!

      I do still use the Clarins Blue Orchid – I use it maybe only once or twice a week though as I found it made my skin too greasy with every day use. The apple cider vinegar sounds intriguing! I have heard good things about it – I’d love to try.

      The Sunday Riley Good Genes is pricey but really helps with scarring – I used it religiously in the run up to my wedding and it really helped πŸ™‚

  19. Jessica
    January 13, 2016 / 1:59 pm


    Please can you do a video on what your currently use for skincare morning and night?

    • January 13, 2016 / 2:09 pm

      Hi Jessica,

      I definitely will film and get it up towards end of the month or early February!

      T xx

      • Jessica
        January 13, 2016 / 2:41 pm

        Thank you, I very much look forward to watching it xx

  20. Hannah
    January 29, 2016 / 8:20 am

    Hi Tijan!

    Thank you so much for writing this post. I’m sure that it took a lot of courage to write it, and its so refreshing for someone on the internet to be so honest about their skin, and also to hear someone accept that the quality of their skin is not the be all and end all of their life. Also, for what its worth, you are beautiful, and the banal hatred of those internet trolls is far uglier than you could ever be!

    For me I found that my diet has a huge effect on my skin – I really recommend reading Eat Pretty by Jolene Hart for a simple overview of nutrition with regards to skincare. However, the thing that I think affects my skin most is taking a probiotic supplement. It honestly has made a huge different to my skin and just my general feeling of health – I hugely reccomend it, especially if you also suffer with IBS!

    P.S. I love your blog & channel πŸ™‚

  21. March 30, 2017 / 7:17 am

    Hi Tijan,
    You are beautiful, that’s for sure! No matter what we do or how much we spend on making ourselves look good to get everyone’s approval, someone somewhere will find the most useless thing to ridicule us with. Crazy but it’s reality. I say good job to your husband for supporting you all the way and for being there for you all the time. Thanks for sharing your story!

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