My name’s Natalie and I still get spots. Yup, that’s a sentence I never thought I’d say at the ripe old age of 28. But, sadly, if the little bumps nestled between my brows are anything to go by, it’s a pretty solid reality. 

And I’m not alone. Almost 55% of adults  suffer with blemishes, bumps and oily skin. Why? Well, there are lots of causes. Hormones (yup, being a girl sucks at times), diet, stress and anxiety can all contribute to painful pustules.

And if, like me, you’ve tried the skin-stripping face washes designed for teens and sworn to stop touching your skin (only to find yourself guiltily sloping off to the bathroom, when you feel a spot, for a good squeezing session), you’ll know the trials and tribulations of finding skincare that really speaks to you and your skin.

Having finally mastered the art of clear-ish skin – I’ve accepted I’m always going to suffer to some degree – I want to share what I’ve learnt. A sort of budget-friendly rule book for the pimple-prone. Because we can’t all afford an A-list derm, and, frankly, when there’s a Zara full of clothes to buy, why would we want to? Here’s what I rely on to save my skin, especially when it’s behaving badly. I hope it helps.

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Swerve the skin-stripping face washes

Yes, your skin’s oilier than a burger wrapper, but if you’re going straight for the medical-grade face washes, you might just be exacerbating the issue. Although it can be tempting to get that squeaky-clean feeling, it might just pay to be a little kinder to your skin. In fact, a skincare expert once told me that, despite suffering from spots, my skin’s quite sensitive. What do I recommend to my spot-prone friends? Makeup removed with Simple Kind To Skin Micellar Cleansing Water, followed by Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, a regime that makes sure the day’s dirt is gone but doesn’t dry out or strip skin of sebum. I use it morning and night.

Simple Simple Micellar Water 200ml £2.39 Buy Now
Cetaphil Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser 236ml £8.99 Buy Now

Always use a dark spot serum

If it’s not blemishes I’m battling, it’s the pesky marks that are left behind. Known as hyperpigmentation, these red or brown marks tend to stick around for a few months and make it a little tricky to go foundation-free. The thing I’ve found works? A dark spot-correcting serum, applied twice a day. La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Anti Dark Spot Serum helps fade them fast. The other thing I have. To. Have. A super-high-strength SPF, and my fave is Avene Emulsion Very High Sun Protection Cream SPF50. Why? The sun exacerbates hyperpigmentation massively.

La Roche-Posay La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Anti Dark Spot Serum 30ml £22.09 Buy Now
Avene Avène Cleanance Suncare Very High Protection SPF50+ 50ml £11.95 Buy Now

Whatever you do, don’t pick

I know, I know, there’s nothing more satisfying than squeezing a spot. But the best advice I’ve ever had (thank you, Mum!) is not to touch my face. And while I spent many years not listening, now that I’ve finally taken heed I find a) spots vanish faster than a box of doughnuts in the office and b) I don’t have as many post breakout dark marks. What I do use, though, is a spot-busting treatment. My top picks? Burt’s Bees Anti Blemish Spot or Superdrug 100% Pure Tea Tree Oil – because sometimes nature does best.

Burt's Bees Burt's Bees Anti Blemish Spot 7.5ml £11.49 Buy Now
Superdrug Superdrug 100% Pure Tea Tree Oil 10ml £2.99 Buy Now

So, listen up, my spot-prone sister. There is hope. And it’s all about the back-to-basic cleanser, a little SPF and some good old-fashioned spot cream.