Ask Facegoop: how to deal with acne

E: What are we up to today, oh bossy one?

M: Well, E, we are playing Facegoop to the Rescue.

E: I LOVE that game! Please can I be Lassie this time? I’m sick of being Flipper.

M: No, E. We are going to help Reader Laura with this question she has sent in. Her question goes like this:

I’m begging you guys to help me please? My skin is in meltdown. I’ve had really bad acne since I was like 12 and I’ve been on Roaccutane twice, and a bunch of other crap…so all the zits went away, but now it looks like they’re coming back, and I’m not allowed Roaccutane again. So I am desperate, and decided to contact you guys and ask for any products/hints/ANYTHING that could help and keep my skin decent enough to have a social life…bearing in mind I’m still in school, my part-time work is minimum wage and I consider £40 a cream top-end? Anything would be appreciated muchly! And keep adding new reviews to Facegoop, I love it!! Thankyou

E: Poor Laura. The Angry Monkey Skin SUCKS. We both know.

M: Yes. I have considerable experience in this particular domain, what with my KAPOK BARK SKIN.

E: When I google ‘kapok bark’ I get a picture of a scary black bird with red eyes. Is that you, M?

M: You are laughing, E, but it’s no fun when even your mother keeps on complaining about your skin.

E: I don’t know what Kapok bark looks like, but I’m guessing it’s not a compliment.

M: It’s the bark behind that bird. Craggy. Uneven. Gross. Did you have Kapok bark skin?

E: Actually, mine is worse than ever now, cruelly. I am out kapoking kapok. Small children recoil from me in the streets. I had to cover my craggy grossness with powder today and my brush moulted so I look like a mexican wolf child, but the beard is a good distraction from the blemishes. Apart from a beard, what do you suggest for Laura?

M: Well, I have tried everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. I did Roaccutane too when I was at school. It just made me look dry and desiccated, like a mummy.

E: Always a good look, the Ramses-chic.

M: A mummy with a constant bleeding nose, because that’s what Roaccutane does to you. Frankly, I think it’s evil. EVIL, I tell you.

E: Legal Note: Roaccutane is not in league with the devil. Other satanists are available.

M: I also don’t believe in dermatologists. They either give you a crap ton of antibiotics, or cover your face in benzoid peroxide . Mum-Ra had nothing on me.

E: The only time I went to a derm, he put me on steroids for 2 years to no effect.

M: Were you surprisingly muscular though?

E: I was quite angry and moonfaced. Like a cute, squidgy Hulk.

M: Green, yet cuddly? I saw a couple of French dermatologists when I was at uni. The first one was actually quite helpful. Maybe because she worked in one of those state-sanctioned student health centres, so she obviously had some experience with acne. She made me use this Aderma Gel Moussant face & body wash, made from oats. That shit is good for you. Calms your face right down. Boots have it for £7.50.

E: Oats. People tell me good things about oats

M: Yeah. Horses eat them. They are soft and gentle, like a horse’s mane.
She also gave me a gel called Erythrogel which was quite good. More of an on-the-spot antibiotic sort of thing. My sister the actress slash moddle still uses it.


M: Then I went to see another dermato, in my 20s. Another recommendation from my sister. And do you know what she put me on?

E: Erm. I am frightened

M: You should be. A hormone treatment. You take the normal contraceptive pill, and then you take a quarter of this thing called “Androcur”. Which I believe is an androgen suppressant. I think it’s basically chemical castration. “It’s great”, she said, “You’ll have no hair on your legs, you’ll lose weight, your skin will be fantastic”.

E: Ok, scary French dermato lady, that doesn’t sound terrifying at ALL. Did it work?

M: It worked. My sex drive was also that of an obsese marmot eating a cracker. You know the one I mean.

E: I do. So what’s your actual advice, based on all this dermo-war?

M: Well. I think it’s really about a hormonal imbalance, isn’t it? And your skin being irritated and angry, like a tiny little nazi on your face.

E: Angry monkey nazi.

M: So my advice is really fucking boring I’m afraid. Take lots of Omegas, like evening primrose oil or flax seed oil. Lots of probiotics too. I once went to a crazy indian homeopathist who swore that problems in the gut had an effect on the skin. And he was, like 146 and his skin was as smooth as a baby’s, so.

E: Probiotics worked miracles with my son’s angry monkey back. Sorted that shit right out.

M: And then, GENTLENESS. I’ve noticed my skin has been much better behaved since I stopped using anything with SLS or parabens in it. I really like the Good Things cleanser, as you know, which is sweet smelling and cheap as chips.

E: Legal note: Good Things does not smell of chips. It is supposedly available at Boots, Superdrug and Sainsburys, although neither of us can actually FIND it there. Boots online has it in stock though.

M: I’ve also been using the FAB cleanser and FAB facial cream lately, and I would recommend both for their superior ability to not give me angry monkey face.

E: Another cheap product win, there.

M: There is one other thing, E, but it is very very very dear.

E: Is it ‘stealing the skin of a Russian oligarch’?

M: No, it’s the SKII facial treatment essence. A.k.a. “miracle water”. I have not a clue what is in it. By the smell of it, I would say vinegar and donkey sweat.

E: Sake, surely. And unicorn tears?

M: If unicorns cried diamonds, perhaps. I have no idea what it’s actually supposed to do, but it really did transform my skin. Calmed it right down, and rebalanced the mad sweaty oiliness I was suffering from. I’ve stopped using it now, and my face it still fine, so maybe some wealthy grandmother could bestow a bottle upon Laura instead of an inheritance, to help her through a rough patch.

E: May the force be with you Laura!

Love, your two old kapok bark aunties.

Any other suggestions for poor Laura? 

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M likes bright powders in tiny pots and anything that will make her hair more Jen Brill and less Shaun the Sheep.


  • March 24, 2012

    Sue Low

    I love the Green People: Gentle Cleanse,a wash off and wipe off with cotton wool cleanser, and Vit A Min Fix and Fruitful Nights (moisturisers) have also helped my rosacea ridden skin no end. I also adored their Rejuvenating Cleansing Balm, but they have discontinued it, curses! Vita A Min Fix can be a bit heavy in in Summer so Neals Yard Rehydrating Rose moisturiser is great, and it is FREE with Marie Claire (UK) at the moment. And there’s a voucher for 10?% off Neals Yard too. And all this stuff is paraben etc… free.

  • March 25, 2012


    The only thing I can offer Laura is my sympathies. I don’t know what happened, but since moving back home after uni, my skin is hellbent on RUINING MY LIFE. Dry, oily, spotty, rough patches, super-sensitive AND a rubbish complexion. All at once.

    Actually, there are a few tips I can give her. Because so far all cleansing products I’ve used have either done nothing, or made my face RAGE AND TAKE SWEET, SWEET REVENGE, I’ve instead researched and spent my money on make-up capable of covering that shit up, without i) costing a fortune, ii) being too cakey. (major problem of most full-coverage foundation) So, months of experimentation; I’ll try to be brief.

    1) Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation. I use the gel. It’s got a nice shine to it, so you don’t get that matt ‘dead’ look. Needs powder to last, most sheer coverage on this list. Mostly yellow-toned.
    2) Revlon PhotoReady Foundation. Great staying power. Weirdly glittery in direct sunlight, but otherwise bril coverage, texture and looks natural. Bit pink-toned (I mix two shades)
    3. Chanel Perfection Lumiere. Most expensive. Good coverage. Very orange. Quite matt, personally I feel not worth the price, especially when compared to the rest on this list. Smells nice though.
    4. Bourjois Flower Perfection. Quite full coverage, with natural finish. Great yellow-pink tone.

    Crap this is long – two extra tips! Step away from the MAC foundation counter. Trust me. Been there, done that; cakeface. Buy their Studio Finish concealer, it’s good and lasts forever and ever. And, there are no powders on this list because when your skin is not good and you use full-coverage foundations, powder is your worst enemy. Focus on getting a good base that only needs touching up in emergencies.

  • March 25, 2012


    I think the gentler the skincare, the better. That’s true for most people, but for skin that’s in a reactive state it’s especially important. I’d recommend a creamy cleanser – Pai is a good one, or a gentle facial wash – I’ve just reviewed the Mu London Rose one.

    I swear by La Roche Posay Effaclar A I as an individual spot treatment too. I don’t get spots very often, but when I get one of the angry nasty red ones, this takes it down.

  • March 26, 2012


    I truly feel your pain, having had ropey, spotty skin since being a child. Recently my skin has been the best it has for my entire adult life. My current routine is thus; cetaphil cleanser twice a day, I am religious about this. At night I moisturise with a few drops of jojoba oil, then in the morning use a serum. At the start of this new routine I used Panoxyl on my skin before moisturising it is quite harsh and seems to have the nasty side effects common to most spot treatments of redness dryness etc; however I feel it is worth it as it has really kicked my skin into touch. I now only use the panoxyl when I feel like my skin is deteriorating.
    I find most foundations make my skin breakout, including loads that people really rate; laura Mercier, Chanel etc. The only thing that seems to work for me is a mineral powder foundation such as bare minerals.

  • March 27, 2012


    Thank you all guys! I’ll try a few of these things and see :)

  • May 14, 2012


    Psst, Laura. Just in case you ever read this again: in April I clocked the one major difference between uni-me and home-me. Uni me had a boyfriend and -ta-da!- a prescription to the combined contraceptive pill. Have since returned to it, and skin is miles better. Hello artificial hormones, in your FACE slightly increased risk of blood clots! Totes worth it.

  • February 2, 2013


    I will second LondonMakeUpGirl’s suggestion – La Roche Posay’s Effaklar K does it for me. Overnight resurfacer – I swear that stiff actually melts zits away while I sleep. (I get those ‘sudden evil shits’ that appear on my neck and it zaps them overnight.) Anyway, Effaklar K is seriously good stuff.
    Oh – I also rate the Alpha H range. It’s simple and gentle enough not to make everything red and sore, but that Liquid Gold is bloody good.

  • March 10, 2013


    I know this post is a while back, but I want to chip in a bit… Thankfully I never suffered from acne but having grown up with very sensitive skin I turned into an angry monkey face just as often. As many have already suggested great products, I’d like to talk about lifestyle. My skin is mostly okay now, I hope the below will contribute a little…

    Diet is an important factor. Try cutting out the usual suspects: dairy especially hard cheese, red meat, caffeine fried foods, high salt/sugar, spicy food, wheat/gluten, any processed food with ingredients you can’t pronounce. It sucks, I know, but you’d be surprised how many people react to these common foods and food sensitivity doesn’t always manifest in digestive problems, inflammation can often show on the skin. Cut them for a couple of weeks then slowly re-introduce one by one, chances are you’ll discover that you’re sensitive to something, as most people are. It’s worth a try for your skin to restore its rightful beauty, you may find you lose a few Christmas pounds too!

    Drink plenty of water too, it’s cliche but it works wonder on skin. Cut down on sugary drinks and soda, see if you can ease into herbal teas and juices instead. Soft drinks like diet coke can affect hormones, also stay away from sweeteners which can also affect hormones, go for good old sugar instead. Herbs that have liver detox properties can be helpful, red clover is a good one, try Dr. Stuart Skin Purify or Pukka Detox tea or Cleanse tea for a cheap and easy fix, sweeten with honey to make it easier on the palate.

    With angry acne it’s easy to forget the skin still needs moisture and protection. Rose water with aloe can be a good toner to help soothe the skin. Calendula (marigold) is great for reducing inflammation (redness) too. Rosehip seed oil is clinically proven to reduce scar tissues, it’s a dry oil so isn’t greasy, good one to help heal the face. Use the right amount of product for your face, not too much, not too little.

    Proper beauty sleep really is a miracle worker. Exercise can help flush out excess hormones and toxins, just make sure you cleanse your skin lovingly afterwards. Contraceptive pills can help, although you’ll have to find the right one for you or it could make your skin worse.

    My skin got much better since I switched to natural products. In general, go with your feelings, if it doesn’t feel right, if it at all makes your skin feel tight or stingy, stop using it. The Australian brand A’kin is a good medium-budget choice, Liz Earle isn’t completely natural but many English roses love it, Nuxe is another gentle brand; going up the budget ladder Elemental Herbology is pretty amazing, Nude is made with probiotic technology, pricy but their creams last for several months.

    Try to let your skin breathe as much as possible, go bare face when you don’t have to be seen. Mineral makeup is good for blemish skin with some practice it can give great coverage. Also go through your makeup bag – clean brushes regularly, throw away makeup after 18 months, or sooner if they’re natural, to prevent slathering bacteria on your face! Finally, avoid touching your face, your hands come into contact with many things and it’s never good to fiddle with wounds anyway. Let your face breathe and heal.

    Wow that’s quite a babble. Hope it helps. :)

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