Victoria Gamage shares the story of how she regained her skin confidence, by banishing her acne.
“I didn’t get acne until much later in life than many others I know. When I was a teenager I didn’t have any acne. My skin was clear, except for one or two spots on rare occasions. It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my son at age 23 that acne started to show up, and even then only as little spots around my nose, mouth and chin. As I went through pregnancy and birth with the hormonal rollercoaster of changes that are part and parcel of motherhood, the acne got worse, but I felt like I could mostly manage it.
“After I had my second, a baby girl, things got much worse. From 2014, when she was one, my skin was just out of control. Acne started popping up everywhere: all around my chin, mouth and neck like an ever-growing rash of acne.
“It’s hard to describe how this made me feel. It really was simply awful and had a huge impact on how I saw myself and acted in public. It also meant I was trying to hide how I looked to avoid my acne being spotted. As a wife and young mum to two kids, I lost all my confidence. If I went out I’d always ensure I was wearing a large amount of makeup, even if I was just going down to the local dairy. When I wasn’t wearing any makeup I’d walk around with sunglasses and caps on during summer, and would walk with my head dipped downwards to ensure as little as possible of my face could be seen. In winter I’d wear hoodies and scarves folded up around my neck and chin.
“It became quite a big issue for me, and of course, stressing about it made it much worse. Around family and friends, I plastered on my big smile and would just pretend nothing was wrong. But of course they all knew how low I felt about myself. Unfortunately I turned into a squeezer and picker of spots. Since they hurt it felt better to scratch, and I didn’t realise how much damage I was doing and the lasting scaring I was causing on my face. During these years, I wouldn’t let people take my photo because I didn’t want to have pictures with my skin looking so bad. This impacted all kinds of things including photos of special events and family times. I have no photos of my skin when it was at the absolute worst point as I was too ashamed to be in photos.
“I’m not really someone who tries lots of different products. I’d always used an everyday Nivea face cream which seemed okay. From memory, I tried two other acne products, but they didn’t work. One fed the acne, making it even worse! The other brought no relief.
“In terms of diet, it didn’t really seem to matter what I did. If I ate lots of junk food the acne got much worse, but I could be eating well for months and it would perhaps just slightly improve, but the acne was still very much there. I was a bit of a stresser: I worried what I looked like to others and so this became a vicious cycle. Honestly, I just gave up on my skin during these years and resigned myself to the idea of having incurably bad skin.
“I actually heard about Atopis through my father! About three years ago he rang me and said one of his colleagues was working with a client who wanted some people to volunteer to test a new product that was supposed to help with skin issues. Dad wondered if I would like to try it for myself, as he knew how terrible I had been feeling about my skin and myself for years. I said yes, as I didn’t have anything to lose. I didn’t expect anything to happen, being the sceptic that I was.
“When the Atopis team sent me a small sample pot of their base skin cream, what has today become known as Atopis Radiant Balance Cream, I had absolutely zero hope and expectations. I thought the cream smelt nice, and realised it felt really good on my face when I applied it, but that was it. About three days later I actually looked in the mirror properly. I took notice of the fact that my skin wasn’t as red or sore, and my acne wasn’t itchy. By the end of that first week, my face felt the best it had done in years! The cracked dry acne was healing so well, and I couldn’t believe I’d had no new blemishes at all since starting to use the cream. The difference really was incredible.
“After that game-changing base cream trial, I tried the acne cream. Both made even more of a difference to my face, smoothing out my skin tone and keeping acne under control. One or two small spots came out, but since using Atopis I’ve never had anything like what I had for those terrible years, with acne all over my mouth, chin and neck. A couple of years down the track, I tried the radiant balance cream. My skin was incredibly at a point where I was happy with it!
“Although I have some scaring around my chin and mouth, I felt like a massive weight had been lifted. I could walk around with my head up, I’d look people in the eye again, and I’d smile genuinely without worrying what people would think. My confidence was back, and for me that was huge.
“This gift even gave me the confidence to apply for a new job. Working in customer service, your face is of course the first thing that people see. It was such a big shift for me to even contemplate working in a customer-facing role. Now, I’m a sales assistant at a fashion store, it’s such a rewarding job to help women to choose outfits for their daily life or a special occasion, and see the smiles on their faces when we find what they need. I’d never have thought about a job like this a few years ago, and I certainly wouldn’t have had the confidence to say “Yes” when it was offered to me!
“When my acne started getting better, so did my sleep and overall health, because my skin was less of a worry to me. My acne was and still is stress and hormone activated, and worse during my time of the month. But I can still say to this day I have not had a major acne flare up since using Atopis.
“For those suffering from acne, I’d like to emphasise that these products really have changed my life. It’s taken a HUGE anxiety and stress issue away. No matter how small or big your acne issue is, I really urge you to try Atopis: order a sample pot and just try it! For the relief it gave my skin, I’m sure one of their multiple products will be able to help you too. You’ve got everything to gain, and only bad skin to lose!
“I want to thank Dr Iona Weir and her team for creating such a wonderful effective product and continuing to improve and create skincare solutions, keeping people like me with problem skin in mind. You’ve changed my life, and I’m forever grateful.”
When colour makes a huge difference
At Atopis we are often asked about the colour of our skin creams. Why are they not white, or a standardised colour like other creams?
Many ‘natural’ skin creams are bleached white or have colour added for a uniform appearance so that they look ‘nice and clean’, but the reality is, bleaching kills any bioactives or natural benefits the cream may have once contained.
Our creams are typically yellow to beige, because our scientific process does not harm our natural ingredients. (In fact, we enhance the natural bioactive super powers of our ingredients!)
Additionally, if you’re wondering why your newest tube of Atopis skin cream is a different colour from the last one, it’s because of seasonal variation in our natural ingredients.
Depending on the time of year, the finished skin care product will appear more yellow or beige simply because our ingredients are sourced from nature.We don’t add any colouring, the colour you see is exactly what nature gave us.When choosing your skin cream, the benefits of using a powerful cream that becomes bioactive on contact with your skin far outweigh the ‘benefits’ of the cream looking white or looking exactly the same colour inside every tube you buy.
Part Two: Why are some people more prone to acne?
Acne vulgaris is a skin condition that involves lots of pimples and redness. It’s usually seen on the face, but can also occur on the back, chest, and neck. Acne can have a serious negative impact on self-esteem and self-confidence.
We typically associate acne with teenagers, but it can also occur in adults, either persisting from adolescence or beginning later. This is called adult-onset acne, and it can be very frustrating because there is a perception that acne is a problem exclusively for teenagers.
What causes acne?
The causes of acne are not well understood, but we do know a few things. From twin studies and family studies, we know that there is at least some genetic component to acne.
Unsurprisingly, however, genetics cannot take all the blame. Environmental factors like lifestyle and diet also have an effect. You may have noticed this in your own life – certain foods or even stress may trigger break-outs.
Think of it like this: there are certain genetic factors that can make you more or less resilient to acne-causing environmental factors. Someone who is very resilient might be able to eat whatever they like without getting any acne, while someone who is very prone to acne will have acne no matter what foods they cut out.
This graph illustrates how one person might have a lot of genetic factors that predispose them to acne and only have a small amount of control over environmental factors (Person A), while Person C has lots of room to change their environment before they will trigger an acne breakout.
A short version of how acne pimples work is that your pilosebaceous unit (what you might think of as the hair follicle) becomes clogged by over-produced keratinocytes (skin cells), forming a plug in the shaft of the pilosebaceous unit. This leads to a build-up of sebum and dead skin cells in the pore, which in turn feeds some “bad” bacteria. This is a whitehead or black head. When the build-up leaks out of the hair follicle into the lower layers of skin, this triggers an immune response to the bacteria, which causes inflammation and redness. For more information, see Part One: Understanding Acne
The speed at which keratinocytes (skin cells) in the pilosebaceous unit grow is determined by hormones. Androgens, including testosterone, stimulate faster production of these cells, and affects the way they develop and die, which is what leads to the aforementioned “plugs.”
Hormones are funny things, though – because they interact with cells through a signalling system, many different factors within the body and the cells’ environments can influence the “strength” of their signalling, and even the content of the message.
Think of the cell (the keratinocyte) as a pond which a pebble (hormone) is dropped into to make ripples (the message). If the pebble is big, it will make bigger waves. If the pebble is a large, flat square, it will make a different pattern to a small, round pebble. The conditions in the pond will also affect the ripples – if there are lots of other ripples, the message will interact with them. So even the effects of the same hormone can vary from person to person and day to day.
Many things in our life can affect our hormones and the effects of our hormones on our body.
Stress is a big one. Of course, puberty affects hormone production, which is why acne is associated with teenagers. But for adults, starting or stopping hormonal contraception, pregnancy, perimenopause and menopause can all change hormone production – so it’s no surprise that some adults get hormonal acne.
Our diet can also influence hormone production – the things that our body converts to hormones usually come from our diet, and sometimes molecules that we ingest are analogous to hormones and can simulate them in our body. One dermatologist suggests that dairy can sometimes simulate an androgen, which is why cutting out dairy can improve acne symptoms for some people.
Maybe acne seems like an insurmountable problem – but it doesn’t have to be. By using skincare products and making small lifestyle changes, we can control acne and reduce the symptoms.
As acne is triggered by hormonal changes, trying to reduce these hormone fluctuations in your life can help reduce the symptoms. Reducing stress will influence hormone production, and by eliminating common inflammatory foods to test whether they influence your acne, you may be able to pinpoint some specific triggers.
As mentioned above, dairy is a common culprit. Some other hypotheses relating to diet suggest that increasing consumption of omega-3 fats to balance the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio can improve acne, because it may trigger a change in sebum composition, which can help control acne. It has also been suggested that eating a low glycaemic index diet may help, as it reduces insulin resistance and insulin, as a hormone, affects the way that other hormones function in the body.
But of course, for whatever reason, many people can’t change their diet drastically, so addressing acne directly on the skin is a great option.
That’s where Atopis comes in. Instead of killing all the bacteria, Atopis’s Acne Treatment Cream introduces beneficial bacteria (probiotics) to the skin to help regain the necessary balance in the microbiome. It also contains prebiotics, which are food for these bacteria, to help them establish themselves in the microbiome.
Additionally, Dr. Iona Weir’s patented myriphytase extract is a potent mixture of plant botanicals that helps to regulate the immune response and reduce redness and inflammation. All this goodness is suspended in a rich, moisturizing cream that will leave your skin feeling clear and fresh.
When used in combination with Atopis’s Thoroughly Gentle Cleanser, which gently clears comedones and allows them to restore to their natural processes, and our Revitalizing Toner, which stimulates the skin to repair itself and helps to rebalance the skin microbiome, our acne treatment cream can help to control nasty acne outbreaks and help your skin return to a naturally healthy state.
For more information, please visit
Part One: How does an acne pimple work?
Understanding how acne pimples form will be key to understanding the best treatments for acne.
Pimples form in something called the pilosebaceous unit, which includes the hair follicle and the sebaceous gland.
The sebaceous glands are filled with sebocytes, cells that make sebum. Sebum is an oily lubricant that helps cells move around and contributes to the protective acid mantle of the skin. These sebocytes are made in the sebaceous gland, and then travel up to the hair follicle, where they release the sebum to lubricate the movement of keratinocytes (skin cells) and growth of the hair follicle.
Keratinocytes make up the internal shaft, forming a roughly cylindrical shape through which the hair grows. Normally, these keratinocytes simply flatten and become hard as they move through their “life cycle.”
When they become flat and hard at the end of their life cycle, they break off and move up the shaft to release onto the skin surface, lubricated by the sebum. However, when the keratinocytes grow too fast, they can “stick together” and not be removed to the skin surface properly. This can create a “plug” in the shaft, which means that sebum and dead keratinocytes will build up in the shaft. This is what causes a whitehead or blackhead pimple.
When all this gunk builds up under the surface, it creates anaerobic conditions – conditions where there is no oxygen. This is really good for some opportunistic bacteria that are found on the skin, called Cutibacterium acnes. They multiply rapidly in the pimple, which causes an immune response – i.e. inflammation.
Acne can affect anyone
All people have a community of bacteria and other microbes inhabiting their skin and gut. These communities are called the “microbiome”, and they are composed of organisms that are commensal – they don’t have any negative effects on us. In fact, many of them have beneficial effects, such as producing antimicrobials that act to kill pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria. When the microbiome is balanced, many different species of bacteria successfully live on the skin’s surface and contribute to healthy skin.
Of particular interest in acne cases are the three bacterial species Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), Cutibacterium acnes (C. acnes), and Staphylococcus epidermis (S. epidermis). Each of these bacteria is a commensal organism that usually has no negative impact on us, but when they grow in excess they can become pathogenic (bad for us).
For example, S. aureus is the species responsible for most impetigo (school sores) infections, while C. acnes is the bacteria found in acne lesions. S. epidermis is a bacteria that is also found on all skin, and it seems to live alongside C. acnes and keep its population in check through producing a particular acid (succinic acid).
In turn, C. acnes and S. epidermis together control S. aureus. There is also some evidence suggesting that particular strains of C. acnes are especially inflammatory, as they are often found in acne patients but not in the skin of unaffected people.
However, there is no evidence that C. acnes infection is the cause of acne; significantly larger populations of the bacteria are not found in acne sufferers – it’s just that an excess population of C. acnes, attributed to the build-up of sebum in an oxygenless environment, stimulates an immune response (inflammation).
C.acnes has specific effects on the immune system. Molecules produced by C. acnes, and the bacteria itself stimulates production of inflammatory molecules by the keratinocytes, which causes a disproportionate immune response and inflammation (redness).
This is bad enough when the effects are confined to the pilosebaceous unit, but when the pressure builds up and the bacteria-filled sebum leaks into the epidermis, it triggers an even harsher immune response, causing pain and redness. This is what causes papules or pustules.
This picture shows the different types of pimple mentioned.
To find out why some people are affected by acne while others aren’t, watch our for our next post: Why are some people more prone to acne?
For more information, please visit:
In the week before your menstrual cycle begins, the hormonal activity begins to fluctuate causing intense food cravings, breakouts, and mood swings.
When we experience food cravings, it is actually a sign that the body is telling you it needs nutrients. During the hormones fluctuating these food cravings spike due to a hormonal imbalance occurring. Progesterone and Estrogen levels decrease, and this increases hunger.
So why is it that most women get a craving for chocolate?
We crave chocolate just before our periods because at this time our bodies want zinc, and the easiest source of zinc is chocolate.
Of course, you can get zinc from fresh vegetables and especially lettuce, but it’s actually easier for our bodies to get it from chocolate. If you add some salads to your diet a couple of days before period is due, this will help provide the extra zinc your body needs.
Or just eat chocolate!
Chocolate itself is a prebiotic and promotes the growth of probiotic bacteria in your gut way better than any lettuce leaf ever will.
Moderation is the key and darker, low sugar chocolates contain the most health benefits.
Our hormone levels change throughout the month, and just before our period is when our “feel-good” hormone, serotonin, takes a sudden dip, whilst our stress hormone, cortisol, spikes.
Higher stress levels caused by the cortisol spike in our bodies can be soothed by reaching for chocolate, making the start of the menstrual cycle feel more comfortable.
However, while the stress level cortisol is high, this starts affecting the skin’s oil glands.
Cortisol essentially affects the sebum gland, which is responsible for maintaining oil levels on the skin. The rise in cortisol leads to an increase in oil production which is why just before, or during your period the skin can breakout. For most women, pimples can appear a week before or during your period.
There are some foods which can have an almost immediate affect on skin. These include probiotics and greasy foods. If you eat either of these right now, within 2 hours your skin will feel the effects.
Probiotics give your skin a healthy glow and greasy foods can lead to breakouts.
For other foods, it’s all about balance. Soy and green tea are good examples of this.
Soy can actually help your hormones if you eat a little most days. Soy boosts our estrogen levels, meaning that a little at a time can make us feel great and keep our hormones and skin balanced and healthy.
On the contrary eating no soy for weeks and then indulging in a feast of soy protein in one meal can throw our hormones wildly out of balance.
Drinking green tea regularly is really good for your skin. But if you’re not a regular drinker, and then sit down to a full teapot, the green tea will draw out toxins from your body into your skin, resulting in breakouts.
The key thing is keeping the ratio of your hormones in balance.
Dairy products can affect hormones as they boost estrogen. This can throw the whole estrogen progesterone ratio out, resulting in mood swings, pimples, and inflamed skin.
Anything containing sugar can alter your hormonal balance and your skin health.
The worst thing you could do is to not have eaten any soy, then go to a restaurant and eat soy, drink green tea or sugary drinks. This then stresses out your hormones and results in hormonal acne.
Your skin responds to and shows what you eat; include lots of fresh vegetables in your diet and keep a diary of what you eat and how your skin responds to really get to know which foods show in your skin the most.
Where possible avoid foods detrimental to skin health – sugars, processed foods and alcohol. These are all inflammatory foods, that work against your skin health as well as your gut.
Your skin is a living organism with its own unique microflora, so to support the health of it you can help it out by drinking plenty of water, eating fermented foods like kefir, exercising the lymph system, and cleansing, toning and moisturizing properly morning and night.
If you have a genetic pre-disposition to acne or eczema, having a healthy diet will help but will not ever solve the problem. Don’t beat yourself up if you eat something that causes your skin condition to flare up – we’re all human.
Including prebiotics such as yoghurts, kombucha or chocolate in your diet is great for gut and skin health.
Your skincare routine is also really important for managing skin conditions – choose products that calm and soothe and are suitable for your individual skin type.
Learn more about our skin care products here.