my epiduo journey

I started using Epiduo (0.1% adapalene, 2.5% benzoyl peroxide gel) around three months ago after my GP prescribed it for my mild but persistent acne. I never really suffered with teenage acne, but my skin did start to deteriorate around the age of 18 and only got worse when I started taking the pill. I would never have described it as anything but mild, but I was fed up of feeling like a spotty teenager rather than the 23 year old woman that I am. My journey with Epiduo has been a really positive one for the most part, and I wanted to share some tips for others who might be about to start treatment as I know that reading stories from other people really helped to prepare me for what to expect. I apologise in advance for the state of the photos.

Here are my five rules to stick to throughout your Epiduo journey:

My GP recommended that I start by applying the gel every third day for two weeks, then increase it to every other day for two weeks, before starting to use it every day. I definitely think that this made a huge difference to how my skin reacted. This stuff is pretty heavy duty - the morning after my first application my skin was really sore and dry and it really needed the next couple of days to rest before I applied again. You really don't need to apply a lot, either - a minimal amount goes a long way! And only ever apply it once a day, at night. Don't think that applying a lot, or doing it more than once a day, will make it work faster. It will only damage your skin!

One thing I learned from reading about the experiences of others was that Epiduo causes something known as "the purge". It took maybe three weeks for this to really start happening, but it did continue for quite a while. As I previously mentioned, I only ever had what I would consider mild acne, but this showed just how much was lurking under my skin and that actually I needed to do something about it! While it was really difficult to see my skin looking worse, I knew that it was because the treatment was doing its job and was clearing out all of the crap.

When I collected my prescription I also spent a small fortune on Cetaphil products, as I had come across these when looking into the best skincare regime to use with Epiduo. I realised when I got them home that they are both made by the same pharmaceutical company, Galderma, and so that was probably the reason for the recommendation, but that I would give them the benefit of the doubt and hope that they complemented each other. I used the Gentle Skin Cleanser in the morning and the evening (it removed my make up fine, and then I would cleanse again after this), the Daily Defence Moisturiser in the morning (I always used an SPF moisturiser anyway due to my pale skin, but it is so important when using Epiduo!), and the Rich Night Cream before bed (Epiduo is so drying to your skin, it is super important to use moisturiser during treatment). This worked absolutely fine until maybe about 6 weeks into my journey, when moisturising became really uncomfortable as it would sting a lot, particularly around my eyes - this was an area where I wasn't even applying the Epiduo. After a little while I ended up with what looked a bit like chemical burns around my eyes (you can see this in the 5 weeks photo above) which then developed into very dry skin, so I decided that I needed to change my skin routine. I did a bit of research and decided to continue with my Cetaphil cleanser, but to start using La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Comfort Cream SPF 50+ in the morning, and 100% Pure Argan Oil as a moisturiser both day and night. I was a little worried that changing my skincare routine would make things worse again, but the stinging stopped almost immediately and the dry skin disappeared. Don't be afraid to change something if it's not working for you!

This was so important for me! I found it really difficult to look in the mirror and see that my skin was getting worse, not better. Taking a photo of my skin every day (I actually took three - one from the front and one of each side of my face) helped me to see that I was making progress, even if it was very slowly. It is amazing now to look back on the photos and see how much of a difference the Epiduo has made, and what my poor skin went through before it got better! The day that I didn't even think about taking a photo of my face was the day that I realised I didn't care about my skin any more.

I am still using Epiduo to keep the spots at bay and to clear up the last bits of scarring that I have, but it has probably been about a month since I stopped taking the photos every day and I could count on one hand the number of times that I have worn a full face of make up. I used to hate leaving the house without it on, but I now love that my skin can breathe! It still isn't perfect - my skin has been bleached a little and there's still a bit of scarring left - but I definitely feel far more confident than I ever did. 
If you're debating whether to start using Epiduo then I would wholeheartedly recommend it, as long as you look after your skin while you're using it. It has completely changed how I feel about myself when I look in the mirror and I am so grateful to my GP for prescribing it. I really hope that it works as well for you as it has for me!

unseen: reggie yates in conversation

Just short of a year ago I set foot in the publishing world for the first time, visiting the glorious offices of Hachette UK at their Inside Story event. The atmosphere was amazing, and it was there that I realised publishing was definitely the right thing for me. I also met a lovely young lady named Megan on that day; we sat next to each other and got on pretty well, found each other on Facebook, and the rest, as they say, is history. We may only have met up a handful of times since then, but it feels as though we have been friends for years. We have been able to support each other in our mission to work in publishing, and a month or so ago we both made those first steps - she started her first 'proper' publishing job, and I started my MA in publishing. When the opportunity to attend a book event together came up, we couldn't say no - even if it was just to pretend like we were there as publishers. The book event in question was Reggie Yates in conversation with Clara Amfo about his new book, Unseen. It was hosted by Penguin Live at the absolutely beautiful Round Chapel in Hackney as part of Black History Month.

I have grown up with Reggie being a part of my life. He was on the telly when I was a kid (The Crust, anyone?), and I always loved listening to him on the radio. In recent years he has turned his hand to making documentaries. I wouldn't say that I'm a particularly big documentary watcher, but there is something about this man's programmes that draws me in and keeps me there. He has always felt like an incredibly genuine person to me and it's something that really comes across on screen - he deals with difficult subjects in a very sensitive way.

I don't really know what I was expecting from the evening, other than I knew it would be interesting. But hearing Reggie speak about his success, some of his most difficult experiences, and how being 'Mr Saturday Night' wasn't for him made me respect him so much more than I already did. He has this drive to do the best that he can, and I don't think that anyone will get in his way - he says he's only at number two on his ten-point-plan, which is pretty remarkable. You really get the sense that he puts his all into whatever he does, and that it can be draining at times, but he does it because he loves it and because he believes it is important. He does not make these programmes because he cares about himself, or his position - as he says, you don't make documentaries for the money - but because he feels these stories need to be shared.

I am sure that I could write for hours about the words that were said and the laughs that were had, but I will not do that to you. Instead I will just say thank you to Penguin Live for organising the event, Clara Amfo for conducting such a wonderful interview, and Reggie Yates for being so open and, to be quite frank, one of the loveliest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting (yes, ten year old me - you better believe it). Oh, and one other thing: go and buy his book. You won't be disappointed.

nick mulvey at shepherd's bush empire

If there is one thing that I miss about my time in Birmingham it is the live music scene. More to the point, it's the fact that I never had to walk more than 20 minutes to get to a gig - something I always took for granted. At the start of my second year of uni, I saw Nick Mulvey play in what is still my favourite venue, Birmingham's Institute. Fast forward just short of three years and I'm in an entirely different venue (the still very beautiful Shepherd's Bush Empire) but feeling just as enchanted by this man's guitar playing as I was back in Brum. I may also add that I appreciate a Birmingham crowd much more than I do a London one. It's the old lady in me, I know, but London crowds have far less respect - a Nick Mulvey gig is not one where loud, drunken heckling is appreciated (though, to be fair, is it appreciated anywhere?) and his lack of acknowledgement to it was proof that he wasn't keen either.

Wake up Now is an album which definitely sees Mulvey develop musically. While First Mind was all about his incredible, layered guitar sounds, this album is a lot bigger - there was certainly a lot more dancing at this gig than there was the last time I saw him! He seems to find so much joy in performing, and you get the sense that it rubs off on the audience. It most definitely had that effect on me; I had the most wonderful evening and came away appreciating the new album a whole lot more.