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Me, My Spots and I

After her own ten year battle with acne, YouTuber Katie Snooks investigates how other people cope with the skin condition and looks at the psychological impact it can have.


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Transcript


LineFromTo

Hey, everyone. So, I am Katie Snooks and you can normally find me here.

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I've suffered with acne for the last decade,

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and honestly, it has controlled every single aspect of my life,

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from my social life, dating, and also my self-confidence.

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I don't feel beautiful at all.

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My confidence is really low today.

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I tried five different antibiotics,

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I even tried light therapy. None of them worked.

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Until recently, I finally had success.

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I have spent the last eight months vlogging my journey

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taking the sometimes controversial drug isotretinoin,

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more commonly known as Roaccutane.

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The success rate is high, but it's also hard to get.

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You can't get it from your GP,

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and it took me a couple of years to get referred to a dermatologist.

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I recently finished my treatment,

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and I just uploaded my last skin update on my YouTube channel.

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And the transformation in my skin has just been amazing.

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So I finally found a drug that cleared my skin,

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but I want to know how other people deal with their acne.

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Not just the treatments, but how they deal with the emotional side -

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the self-confidence, and the way you feel about being you.

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Time to catch a train. I'm off to Edinburgh.

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Libby and Lauren are taking me on a night out.

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Libby's tried Roaccutane three times without success

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so now she's trying something different.

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So the first time I went on it,

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it totally cleared up and it was really good.

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Cleared up for about a year,

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and then it just came back, all of it,

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and I feel like it came back even worse than the first time.

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So you lived with perfect skin for a whole year?

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I wouldn't say perfect, cos I still had scarring from, like...

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obviously the spots before,

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but I was happy with my skin,

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and that's, like, the only time in about eight years

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that I have actually been happy with my skin.

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You're trying a new treatment now. Can you tell me a bit about that?

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So it's a suction and laser treatment,

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and they just go around your skin

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and they suck, like, the bacteria out, and then they

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zap it with the laser to basically kill any leftover bacteria.

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So what is the first step in your make-up regime?

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So I always start with, like, covering the majority of the redness

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-with just some really high coverage concealer.

-OK.

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MUSIC PLAYS

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-That looks like an amazing product.

-It's so good. I love it.

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'This is BBC Radio 1, Saturday night.

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'This is Danny Howard, and a big shout

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'to the girls getting ready for a massive night out in Edinburgh.'

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Taxi's here.

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-Let's go.

-Enjoy your night out.

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Libby's training to be a beauty therapist,

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and she says nights out like this

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are some of the times she feels most self-conscious about her skin.

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You feel like the odd one out, like you stick out like a sore thumb.

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Also I feel like...sort of through the night, your make-up comes off,

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like, it's not as nice as it is at the start of the night,

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so, like...

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Do you feel like you completely let go on a night out?

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Regardless of how you're feeling about yourself

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at that particular time?

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If I drink enough!

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If I've had enough drink, then yeah, but if I've not, then...

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Yeah, I'd say I do let go. Like, I'm with my friends,

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and I'm trying to enjoy myself, so...

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When I ever have a problem about anything I can always go to them

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-and they're so nice about it.

-Yeah.

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-I love them.

-Do you feel like Libby at any point

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gets jealous of you and the friends that don't have acne

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and have never really suffered with it?

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I wouldn't say so. Libby's not, like, a jealous person.

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But I do see that she is, like, you know, not confident in herself,

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and it is a real shame.

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She'd never be jealous of anyone.

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Do you think her acne has held her back

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kind of with dating and her self-confidence?

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As far as I've known Lauren -

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it's been since, like, high school, since we started there -

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she's never... I've never known her to have a boyfriend.

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Which is a real shame, cos she's not...

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There's so many girls that aren't as pretty as her.

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She's had acne the whole time you've known her?

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Never known her without,

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and I just hope something does happen for her

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that she can gain her confidence back.

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She's not really dated many guys

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since I've been friends with her, but...

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-Do you think that could be because of that?

-Yeah, definitely.

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If Libby never looked good before she went out, she wouldn't go.

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She'd just be like, "I'm not going out."

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Do you think her confidence has been affected by having acne?

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Like, sometimes we have to come in in the morning

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without any make-up on, and... I think Libby

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is quite self-conscious coming out into college

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with absolutely no make-up on.

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Like, if you are giving someone a facial that's got great skin

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but you've not got great skin. So yeah, definitely.

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Cheers!

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So it has been lovely to spend the evening with you,

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and after spending the last couple of hours with you and your friends,

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I've been thinking... Are you kind of pinning all your hopes

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-on this current treatment that you're on?

-Yeah, I'd say I am,

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just because of the amount of money I've paid towards it.

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It's like my own savings and things like that.

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But if it doesn't work, it doesn't work, and I'll try something new.

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Hopefully not as expensive!

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But I have noticed a difference in my skin, like,

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and I've only had two treatments of it, so fingers crossed.

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MUSIC PLAYS

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It was lovely to meet Libby,

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but after meeting her, it really dawned on me

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how much she's spending on this acne treatment.

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It's costing her £600,

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and that's on top of all the make-up she's buying as well.

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I can relate to her so much, and I really know how it feels

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to pin all of your hopes on one acne treatment.

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Day 1 of Roaccutane.

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This is my skin. I've taken one pill, so it's kind of the first day,

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but nothing's really happened yet.

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I've woken up and my lips feel weird.

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I'm very worried about these big ones all coming at the same time.

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Cos that'll be very painful and very unattractive.

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Day 18. I wasn't going to film today because, er...

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..I didn't...feel like it,

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but I thought I would be completely honest

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and show you guys today's really hard.

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My skin hasn't been this bad in a really long time.

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I put so much hope and so much faith into every single thing I tried,

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er, for acne, and when things didn't work,

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it just crushed me even more.

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I'm wondering, what are the other solutions available

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for people like Libby?

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So I've come to meet one of the UK's leading dermatologists.

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-Have a seat. Nice to see you.

-Lovely to meet you.

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I met Libby a few days ago, and she's tried Roaccutane three times,

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and it hasn't worked for her,

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and now she's paying her own money for a new light-therapy treatment

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that she's kind of pinning all of her last hopes on.

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I was wondering if there are any other treatments left

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available for her or people like her.

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I wouldn't say there's anything imminent

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that's going to topple Roaccutane off its perch,

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but there are...particularly light-based treatments now

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that seem to be

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gaining more evidence to suggest they may help.

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For Libby, I think getting support from consultant dermatologists,

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privately, if it's not possible because the NHS is so burdened,

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would probably at least make her feel more empowered and enabled.

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So I've just finished my course of Roaccutane after eight months

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and before I started I was googling it and researching it

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an awful lot. There are a lot of

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kind of controversial things about Roaccutane on the internet.

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Is it really that controversial?

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Well, Roaccutane is an extremely strong medication for acne

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and acne is not a life-threatening disease,

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so it's always a matter of balancing up the pros and the cons,

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but it doesn't come without risks,

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and it's understanding the risks, informing the patients of the risks

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so they can make their own decision.

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But it can be extremely effective

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for people who have severe and/or stubborn acne.

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It's understanding what the risks are.

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Someone who knows all about those risks is Jessica.

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I'm off to third-wheel her date night with boyfriend Brendan.

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Jess hasn't used Roaccutane cos she's been diagnosed with anxiety.

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Dermatologists say the side effects range from dry lips

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to, much more rarely, kidney damage and even mental health problems.

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-So how did you two meet?

-We met at my dad and my stepmum's wedding.

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-Do you want to show us your moves?

-Why not?

-Your skills?

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-Backflips?

-No, I don't think so!

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-How long have you had acne?

-Round about ten years now.

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I'm 22 now, so it kind of all started when I was about 12.

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I'd get, like, really bad whiteheads on my face

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and my friends were like, "Let's pop your spot!"

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And I'm like, "No, no, that's horrible!"

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I think you forget the physical side of it as well.

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Kind of worse on my shoulders, but it does go down my back as well,

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and I like to call it "backne".

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Can we see that as well? Do you mind?

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Let's have a look.

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See, they don't look too inflamed at the moment.

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They just look a little bit... It looks like scarring.

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-Yeah, I think...

-But it has been worse in the past?

-Yeah, definitely.

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How about when you first met? Was that kind of awkward?

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I think I was a bit embarrassed,

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and especially because of my shoulders -

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I kind of like made a joke out of it,

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but I think it was... It's hard.

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And do you have any ways in particular

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to make yourself feel better whilst you're like,

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really suffering with acne?

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Just, like, having somebody, and having your friends and family,

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and then just know that they're always there.

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None of my friends and family,

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my boyfriend, they don't care about my skin.

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So spending time with them,

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-and I just make sure that I use, like, a moisturiser.

-Hiya.

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-You're exhausted!

-Yeah, I'm a bit tired after that.

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-Now it's your turn. Show us your moves.

-OK!

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Brendan... I'll join you in a minute!

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Er, so, I just wanted to talk a little bit about how kind of

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Jessica's acne has affected your relationship at all.

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She does have a bit of low confidence sometimes,

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especially when wearing tops where her back's revealed,

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because she feels quite conscious about that.

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Has it ever, like, caused any friction in your relationship,

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her low self-confidence because of her skin?

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I've always been able to notice

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when Jess is being quite down about things

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so when she's being quite quiet or quite upset

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I've kind of approached her and spoke to her about it.

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You sound like a great boyfriend!

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Shall we go back in? Let's go join Jess.

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It was really lovely to meet Jessica last night,

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and although she's feeling confident and happy at the moment,

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I am concerned, because I know from experience

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that if you have acne, it's always there in the back of your mind,

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no matter how many kind of smiles you can put on for other people.

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I'm supposed to be going out tonight.

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SNIFFS

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Supposed to be going out tonight.

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Er...and now I really don't want to.

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Not only is it breaking out, it's also so itchy.

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Er...

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And it hurts, it's painful as well.

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It becomes really infuriating and frustrating

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when girls with clear skin on social media,

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especially some of the ones I follow on Twitter and Snapchat,

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they're, like, "Oh, I've got a spot! Everything's ruined!"

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And they've got the tiniest, tiniest little spot you can't even see.

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I've got something going on with my eyes.

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I've got some kind of eye infection. Never really had one before.

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It makes me want to gouge my eyes out, so I'm just...

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..really frustrated.

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Today, I'm going to meet Sarah. She got in touch with us about her acne.

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She suffered with it for an awful long time.

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And we're also going to be meeting her son George.

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He also has acne.

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I'm unsure about how much he's going to talk to us about it,

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but let's go and have a chat.

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-I'm Katie.

-Hiya.

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So your mum got in touch with us about her acne.

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-How did you feel when you found out?

-Not too bad, really.

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I think it's quite good that you're doing a documentary,

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because then people understand what it's like.

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Almost everyone has or suffers from acne at some point in their lives.

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But when you're going through it,

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-it kind of always feels like you're the only one.

-Yeah.

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I mean, I look at myself in a mirror and think,

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yeah, this is worse than everybody else.

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I don't really see...like, look at other people specifically.

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I kind of just criticise myself for it.

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You sometimes wear make-up to cover your acne.

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Can you tell me a bit about that?

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Of course it was a bit of a shock at first,

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everyone's like, "Ooh, you're wearing make-up."

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But then everyone suddenly realised, like, what's the difference?

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Because...all the girls in my year would slather themselves in make-up

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as soon as they got a spot, and then...at the stage I was,

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I think that everyone could empathise with me

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and see why I was doing this,

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cos I was at such a bad point.

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-And it made you feel better about yourself?

-It did.

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I mean, it covered it up. When I looked at myself in a mirror,

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I didn't look atrocious, I just looked...normal.

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Do you have any pictures, and do you mind me having a look?

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You can have a look, yeah.

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'George is 15, and it takes him real guts to show me these pictures.'

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So these are ones back on my holiday,

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and as you can see, I look pretty bad.

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-It's not at my worst, though.

-That's not at your worst?

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'He's now on Roaccutane,

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'but showing the camera photos of when he wasn't is a step too far.'

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It looks really painful.

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Cos it's not only kind of... your T zone,

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-it is your entire face...

-Mmm.

-..that is covered with quite big...

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Yeah. Yeah, it was quite bad. And it wasn't just on my face,

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it was on my back and my neck

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and getting to sleep was a struggle.

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I mean, it was kind of as though I had to feel my face in the day

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-and my back at night.

-Mmm.

-But, er...yeah.

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Cos it... I'm sorry to say this,

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but it also... It almost makes you look like a different person,

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because the kind of cysts are so big

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-they kind of distort your face...

-Yeah, it did.

-..and that's so...

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I was quite swollen as well, so...

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Thank you so much for showing me these pictures

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and thank you for talking to me today. You're super inspiring.

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I thought we had a unique story, me and George,

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because we've both got acne, we're both on Roaccutane -

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I can't imagine

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-many people are in that situation.

-OK.

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'If showing the world his acne at its worst

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'is too much for George, his mum has had decades to grow in confidence.'

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-Here we go.

-Oh, my gosh!

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That was pretty much rock bottom.

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That was horrendous.

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How did... Like... What did... Like, when you woke up every day,

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-what did you...?

-Ugh. Literally every time I looked in the mirror,

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it changed.

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It was like it was moving around, it was getting worse and worse.

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When George was kind of nearing the age that you started getting...

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Were you kind of like worried about that?

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I always said as soon as they got spots, they'd go to the doctors.

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Did it make you feel guilty at all?

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No, it just makes me feel a bit sad.

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I can't feel guilty cos it's nothing I've done wrong, you know.

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But it makes me a little bit sad, and I feel for George,

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that he's had to go through this,

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and he's dealt with it really, really well.

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You know, he's... He's a very resilient kid.

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Seeing acne that bad has really touched a nerve.

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I can remember exactly how I used to feel when mine was that bad,

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and it just isn't... It isn't fair.

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You just want someone that you feel like you can turn to

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and who will have answers for you, but...

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obviously, that doesn't happen for everyone.

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I was lucky enough to have found a dermatologist I could connect with.

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This has also got me thinking about Jessica.

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She hasn't really nailed any solutions yet,

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despite putting on a brave face.

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So I've decided to put her in contact with Dr Tamara.

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PHONE RINGS

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-Hello, Dr Tamara!

-Hi, Jess.

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So I thought I'd just tell you a bit about myself.

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I'm 22, I've had acne for about ten years now.

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I did see a dermatologist,

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er, and I was offered Roaccutane,

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but we kind of decided it wasn't the best thing for me.

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Er, so I was just wondering if there was any alternatives.

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Well, I would say every patient is different,

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and again, I'm meeting you for the first time,

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but Roaccutane may be a treatment option

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for someone with your skin type, but it's not just your skin,

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it's the emotional side of things, and anxiety.

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There are a lot of different options for the treatment of acne.

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So I have a few questions for you.

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Er, do you think there will ever be a cure for acne?

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In many patients, Roaccutane, or isotretinoin, can cure the acne -

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in other words, turn it off and it doesn't come back.

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But it's not all patients. We always live in hope of a cure.

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I've heard lots of things, that your diet, your skincare,

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er, affects your acne.

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Is there any truth behind that?

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Well...whether or not one develops acne

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is pretty much genetically determined,

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but there are other outside factors.

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Stress can trigger it. You really need effective strategies

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to help you manage it, so you feel happy

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that it's acceptable and that you're coping with the condition

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rather than the condition is ruining your life.

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-Thanks so much for talking to me. Bye!

-All the best!

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And that's really what it's all about, isn't it?

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You finding ways to deal and cope with the acne

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rather than letting it control every aspect of your life.

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Somehow, you have to find a way to stay positive.

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Everything is looking...so good!

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I'm really, really happy with how my skin's looking.

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What is this, though?

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For the first time in a really long time,

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I'm just using, like, a stick concealer foundation,

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which I've never been able to do before

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because my skin's always been so blemished.

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Day 205. This is my skin.

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Still really happy with it, apart from this,

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but apart from that, perfect. Loving it.

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Today is my last-ever day of Roaccutane.

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I...am the happiest I've ever been within myself

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for a really, really long time. Like ten years since I've had acne,

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and I couldn't be happier.

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Yeah. This is my skin! How good is it, guys?!

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I've been lucky so far, but the one thing I've learned

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is that your skin doesn't define who you are.

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So whatever stage of your acne journey you're on,

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you've got to find a way to feel good.

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MUSIC PLAYS

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MUSIC PLAYS

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I'm a keen photographer. It's what my degree's in.

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So I wanted to do something to make all the people I've met feel better.

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So what were your thoughts after chatting to Dr Tamara?

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I do feel a little bit more confident

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about going to talk to my doctor about seeing a dermatologist.

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She definitely put my mind at rest,

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and I'm a bit more open now to going on Roaccutane.

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It's good that you actually spoke to her,

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because you haven't spoken to anyone about your acne for a while.

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No, it's been about four years now.

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So it was, er, nice for her to put my mind at rest.

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-Cute!

-Aww!

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Big smile!

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Do you guys have one thing

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that you would say to someone suffering from acne?

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Go to the doctors.

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And if the doctor doesn't give you the answer you want,

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go to another doctor, and keep asking for it.

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And ask for a referral to a dermatologist

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if the medication's not working.

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Yeah, I'd just say that you're never alone.

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There's always somebody else out there who's suffering as well.

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Try and find someone to talk to.

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Even if they haven't got acne, they'll always want to talk to you.

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Yeah, nice.

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Don't pick your spots, because it leaves you with so many scars.

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And...every time I get a new spot now, I just don't touch it.

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Look how beautiful that is.

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-Do you like it?

-Yeah.

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It's been absolutely amazing to meet so many inspiring people

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along this acne journey

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who all have great ways of dealing with their acne

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to make themselves feel better. You can go and talk to your doctor

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and see what treatments are readily available.

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You can also visit a dermatologist.

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Listen to their advice and take it in,

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because they are the experts.

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So whatever stage of your acne journey you're on,

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there are still ways to feel great about yourself.

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