MY SKIN STORY | PT 2
BY MARIA THATTIL
Welcome back! I’ve had countless messages from you all explaining that you were on the edge of your seat waiting for Part Two of My Skin Story Series and I really can’t thank you enough for your interest and support. Telling this story is liberating. It is honest, it is raw, and it gives me the chance to tell you the things that the world of social media influencing doesn’t always allow you to know. So where did we finish up last time? Mayra sliding into my DM’s and singing the praises of a skincare line based in Australia that she had sampled. It’s amazing what the internet and social media can do. Here I am learning about a supposedly revolutionary brand based in my own backyard, and it took a conversation with an aesthetician from Chicago for that to happen.
Roccoco Botanicals. The name was intriguing. What was then absolutely shocking in the most pleasant of ways was to hear from Jacine Greenwood, the founder and CEO of the brand. Jacine emailed me telling me she would love to assist me in getting clear and introduced me to Belinda Hughes – one of her top skin therapists and clinics in Australia. Belinda then invited me to consult with her at her South Yarra clinic. A natural beauty expert and owner of Belinda Hughes Skin, Belinda prides herself on building healthy, sustainable skin for life. Her extensive understanding of skin enables her to provide a highly customised approach to each individual client, where she combines traditional beauty treatments with cutting edge technology. I booked in a consult and with both trepidation and a glimmer of hope, in I went on the 28th of September 2018.
Tucked away on Davis Street, I found the clinic and made my way up a narrow staircase to reach a door with her name on it. Initially nervous, I walked in and was met with Belinda’s big smile. What I first noticed was her glowing skin. We sat down and I began to divulge my skin concerns – namely, that I didn’t know what was going on with my skin but whatever it was, it was progressively getting worse. She looked at my skin as I discussed how I went from a blemish-free canvas to a bumpy, angry visage and detailed that I couldn’t seem to rid myself of those red blemishes and chin pimples. As Belinda began to explain her experience in treating acne, I worriedly interrupted her. “Oh no, I don’t have acne.” Uninformed, uneducated me then went on to assure her why I did not have acne. After all, there were no cystic bumps on my face. It was just irritated, smaller textural issues.
What happened next was brilliant. It was my first encounter with a skin therapist who had had no issue in giving me the no-bullsh*t truth. “Maria, you do have acne.” Come again? The words rang in my head like I had been knocked on the head with a mallet. But as it sank in, I grew hungrier to know more. I thought acne looked different to this? How did I develop acne? There is more than one kind of acne? Why has no one told me this before? What type of acne is this? How do I heal it?
“You have comedonal acne.” My comedonal acne is a type of acne where most lesions are comedones. A comedone is a hair follicle/pore in the skin that is clogged with dead skin cells and excess sebum (the natural oil your skin produces). Closed comedones look like under-the-skin pimples that don’t break through to a head. They can present as small and hard, or can be larger, forming deep under the skin. I was suffering from an abundance of these frustrating bumps, in addition to breakouts along my chin and jawline resulting from a hormone imbalance. I breathed a sigh of relief, but that was quickly short-lived as anxiety set in over how I would go about clearing the congestion under my skin. This congestion has been years in the making. Years of using makeup that was irritating, unsafe and a trigger for sensitive skin, years of using skincare products that didn’t cleanse or soothe my skin, years of eating food that caused inflammation from the inside. But Belinda was confident, calm and assured me we would clear it together. You have to understand why I listened with an underlying sense of scepticism. I had tried many brands and failed to rectify my skin issues. I had been told by many beauty therapists that various treatments would be the fix I’ve needed all along - microdermabrasion, peels, needling. So why would this time be any different?
Well, it was different because I was dealing with a professional beauty therapist with decades of experience in professional grade organic and natural skin care, who believes in high quality professional products packed full of potent antioxidants rather than traditional cosmeceuticals. So, I trusted her to commence with a facial and to then put me on a strict skincare regimen.
We commenced with a facial. Belinda’s facial process tailored to my needs was as follows:
STEP 1 - Double cleanse thoroughly with the Pore Cleansing Oil by Roccoco Botanicals.
STEP 2 - Exfoliate with a professional enzyme peel. The peel gently unclogs and decongests pores without aggressively stripping the skin.
STEP 3 - Apply a Sulfur mask to continue the decongesting. When treating acne, sulfur is a topical treatment that dries out the surface of the skin to absorb excess sebum contributing to breakouts.
STEP 4 - Feed the skin with a serum infusion to treat the acne. To suit my needs, the Clarifying C Serum by Roccoco Botanicals was used..
STEP 5 - Finish with the Pomegranate Eye Balm by Roccoco Botanicals to hydrate the eye area, and the Decongesting Porefection Moisturiser to lightly moisturise and add a protective barrier to the skin.
Throughout the facial, Belinda added a unique touch leveraging her experience in day spa, utilising hot towels and massage as the products were being absorbed into my skin. It was a touch of luxe, indulgent and enabled me to physically and mentally relax throughout the process. Following the facial, I was prescribed a new skincare regimen consisting of 4 Roccoco Botanicals products for me to follow.
This final photo is me directly after my first facial with Belinda. Naturally, the application of the topical products to my skin and massaging brought the comedones and breakouts to the surface of my skin. This is not an easy photo for me to share. I am bare. I am raw. I am ‘imperfect’ relative to the standards imposed on us by media and what we see everyday on socials. I don’t have makeup on, my skin is inflamed. But truthfully, what I feel most vulnerable about when sharing this image is how I felt in this photo - it shows on my face and in my eyes. I felt defeated, I felt insecure, I felt hopeless. I felt upset, confused and uncertain. Mostly, I felt fear. I felt fear that if this didn’t work, the condition of my skin would worsen, and that made me incredibly sad. Please know that I am not in any way shaming people who too struggle with skin issues. I know that I have a mild-moderate case, and there are people who suffer from more aggravated, cystic conditions.
However, this is my story and this is my experience. Acne affects different people in different ways. It is not something to be ashamed of, it is something that many people suffer from - from teens right into adulthood. Acne has many faces. For that reason, no matter how mild or serious your case is, it is important to firstly learn and understand what you are dealing with. Then, accept it and do not shame yourself or see yourself as any less for dealing with it. Finally, seek out information to further educate yourself and if you can, be open about your experience. I have a small platform, and on that platform, I want to share my story because I didn’t even know I had acne due to incorrect, misconceptions I had about the condition. Previously, I mistakenly believed that it had to be red, angry, and cystic to be true. I am sharing my story in the hope that if you too are confused about similar symptoms on your skin, this might enlighten you as to what you could be dealing with and encourage you to seek out a professional to help you on your journey. If you are Melbourne based, I highly recommend Belinda Hughes.
In Part Three of my Skin Story, I explore my exact Skincare Regimen and the brand I swear by. By talking about our experiences with acne, we are contributing to a growing conversation that is building education, enlightening masses and changing perceptions everywhere. Until then, thank you for your love and interest.
All my love,