The Saboteurs To Serene Skin


Six months ago I started a series on my pursuit for blemish free skin. If you were following it you’d know that this post was meant to be about best products but given my progress to date a more apt subject matter would be the one mentioned in the title to this post and here’s why…

After six months of various tests and trials I have discovered that this is a slow and painstaking progress. Not quite one step forward two steps back but more five steps back and six steps forward. My progress is incremental but I guess at least it’s progress, especially once I’ve discovered what’s causing the set backs.

The skin care saboteurs

On this steep uphill journey to clear skin I discovered some key things that were hampering my progress; the hidden saboteurs to skin scare serenity, some of which surprised the life out of me.


First on my hit list. Vitamins B12 and B6! I am not kidding!

Up until now I was all but certain that B vitamins were in the fairy dust that got Cinderella all glammed up and ready for the ball. They feature so heavily in supplements to promote hair and skin beauty but alas for me these two apparently gift-laden vitamins were a trojan horse.

I first noticed it many moons ago when my mum gave me B12 drops. Given my anaemia at the time I took it with joy only to end up with a face like ostrich leather. Soon as I stopped taking them the symptoms disappeared. Fast forward several years and a memory lapse later I was in a health shop about to re-live the whole experience.

I had purchased some potent hair, skin and nail supplements mostly for their blend of helpful things like dandelion, burdock, horsetail, lycopene etc only to end up with the same skin reaction. It took a few months before my memory recalled the B12 incident and I spotted one of the products contained over 36000% the daily allowance of B12.  *face palm*.

I did some further reading and discovered B12 has been known to cause acne. B6 was a little less clear so I left several months before trying B6 alone and am currently recovering from the symptoms of that joyous experiment.

I also discovered, the other holy grail of hair growth, MSM was another known trigger. Despite reading and trialling various tweaks regarding balancing out the effects of MSM with lower doses, more water, more vitamin c or more time, I just couldn’t deal with the havoc it was wreaking all over my face. So in the end it had to be shelved. Disappointed but at least a little wiser.


At the beginning of this process I invested in a Clarisonic Mia which I’ve been using for a year with the sensitive brush. This has by no means been the answer to my blemish prone skin but it has helped. The first time I used it my skin looked plump and radiant liked I’d refreshed it with a drink from the spring of life. Over time though the effect wore off.

It recommended that I use it twice a day but I soon found my skin got quite angry with that idea. So I switched to evenings only and my skin seemed to recover a bit but even then was pretty sulky. Now I use it 2-3 evenings a week and am seeing how that goes.

So what’s next?


I’m still not completely happy with my current products and regime. A combination of my own suspicions and a very interesting article on AcneEinstein have prompted a new plan of attack. For my next phase I plan to look at:


It’s strange that AcneEinstein highlighted the key role sebum oxidation and antioxidants play in acne. For some time I felt like I wasn’t fully comprehending the role of antioxidants in skin care and to discover sebum oxidation may be the root cause of it all gave me a real lightbulb moment.

So I’m going to check my product selection and diet to see where I might be missing a trick in this area.


I suspect hormones are the final frontier in this battle for blemish free skin and I’ve yet to get a proper handle on it. I already suffer from an estrogen-dominant condition called endometriosis (or as I like to call it the Endomonster) and  if I could kill two birds with one stone by balancing it all out that would be more than awesome.


Also I’ve super slacked on exercising. Had an energy dip late last year and stopped running so I want to get that started again which should also help with hormones and circulation.


I have issues with both and too much of one and too little of the other can really mess up the skin.  Thankfully, I’m improving in both areas which I’ll share in separate post as this one’s already gone a bit beyond.

Current product selection

Last but not least I should quickly mention what I’m currently using in terms of skin care.

  • FIRST AID BEAUTY DAILY CLEANSE. I like how gentle this cleanser is, does not aggravate or strip my skin at all. Also means I only need a light moisturiser afterwards otherwise my skin becomes easily congested.
  • MD FORMULATIONS HYDRATING GEL. Great in the summer but very drying in the winter.
  • FIRST AID BEAUTY DAILY FACE MOISTURISER. I started using this as winter approached and my skin got a lot more thirsty. So far so gently moisturising.
  • APPLE CIDER VINEGAR TONER. Homemade using 1 part Biona Organic Unpasteurised Apple Cider Vinegar to 3 parts  filtered water. Helps to minimise break outs but have to be careful not to use too much or skin gets too dry.

So that’s it for now. If you made it all the way to the end of this post I offer you a massive virtual hug and a Harlem Loves salute.

I’ll update on this in a few months or so whilst I give some of these new ideas a thorough testing.

Disclaimer: I’m not a dermatologist or a beauty professional. I’m only writing this series to share my experience of tackling the frustration of having blemish prone skin and hope it’ll be helpful to others who have the same issue. Feel free to share your experiences, recommendations, tips and such x

Amongst many other things, I'm a 30-something contemplative Londoner making the daily commute between contentment and ambition.When not blogging, I'm using my talents for good as communications director at Gingerland and co-founder of Love Harlem.

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