Rachel Singer Clark is our Contributing Beauty Editor.

Clear, healthy looking skin is a goal that I can easily talk about with most any day of the week. It's something, in myself and in my work, that I always want to create and have as a base to layer make-up on, but sadly it's something so many of us naturally don’t have. And so my story begins.

It started early in my teenage years, when I went through puberty and noticed my skin breaking out. Having no access to the correct information, I was prescribed the Contraceptive pill, which helped level out my hormones and reduced my spots. Unfortunately, when I decided to come off this pill years later, it seemed (literally) overnight that the adult acne reared its ugly head and within days my wonderfully skin had deteriorated.

There aren't any pictures of me when my skin was that bad. At the best of times I hate having my picture taken, but when my skin was covered in spots, I would just hide it. I could barely look at myself in the mirror – which is tricky when I work in front of one on a daily basis – as I couldn't bare to look at was reflecting back at me.

How Rachel's skin looks now after taking Roaccutane.

Thankfully, due to my beauty expertise I knew that I should wait till the pill fully leaves my system before I sought professional help. So after a few months, I consulted with a GP who told me that I will be referred to a dermatologist, but that this could take up to six months for an appointment to be scheduled. I patiently waited, but my mental health was declining and I was fed up of having to cover my skin on the daily, so I made the sacrifice and decided to go private, which was a decision I did not take lightly.

I went to Eudelo Skin Clinic and met with Dr. Stefanie Williams, a dermatologist and the clinic's Medical Director. We started with topical treatment, where I used a topical antibiotic lotion in the morning and a topical retinoid cream at night, and Duac gel (a mix of topical antibiotic and benzoyl peroxide) as a 'spot emergency' measure. After 2-3 months, we added an oral acne antibiotic called Lymecycline, which changed to another antibiotic, Oxytetracycline, after another 2-3 months. At that point, my topical prescription regime was tweaked to include Finacea gel (Azelaic Acid) and later Treclin gel (a mix of topical antibiotic and retinoid).

Each round – the medication and the prescribed skincare – was costly, but I kept thinking, if I can sort my skin, think what it will save me in the long run of make up purchases. Each medication I tried had different outcomes. Some were slightly positive, but it wasn’t doing the trick, so I booked to see Dr. Stefanie and we discussed the option of me trying  a course of oral Isotretinoin: in other words, Roaccutane.

Products Rachel used to help clear her skin.

Dr Stephanie didn’t prescribe it willingly and we spoke a lot about the side effects, costs and the documents and tests needed before I would be allowed to try the medication. I truly was at my wits end with my skin and I was ready to try the most intense form of help. So I signed the documents and began my first months medication.

My daily Isotretinoin doses started with just 5mg per day, which is very low. Every month I would go for a blood test, pregnancy test and be given my prescription if it all looked ok. We then went up to 10mg per day and later to 20mg per day. To put this daily dose into perspective you can, in principle, take the same amount of Isotretinoin per day as your bodyweight in kg – i.e. if you weigh 60kg, your doctor could prescribe up to 60mg of Isotretinoin per day.  Every single daily dose is added up in your medical notes, so your doctor can monitor your cumulative dose and make sure you don't go over a certain cumulative amount. It has been a long journey on Roaccutane but I took my final pill last week, and my skin is looking the best it has in years.

Products Rachel used to help repair the damage Roaccutane had caused.

There were a few pitfalls to this medication. Firstly, my skin has significantly drier. My lips were sore constantly and my nostrils were forever bleeding or with open wounds, which made breathing (especially during the winter months) unbearable. It can also take a toll on you mentally, but as I was suffering because of my skin initially, I figured that this would be an end to the depressive cycle. Your immune system takes a blow, I found I was a lot more susceptible to cold and chest infections. I travel on planes a lot for work, so I made a considered effort to cover my nose and mouth (even pre-pandemic) to stop catching any unwanted germs. My hair became brittle and dry and overnight it completely lost its finesse. One huge change I had to also make, was to massively cut down on sugar. Sugar being one of skin's nemeses, I had to actively replace my intake of sugar with green vegetables. Now, it's a rare treat to have a dessert but boy, is it worth it. This, along with every other step on my journey, has all been worth it for the happiness my clear skin gives me

Shop some of the products Rachel used below:

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