Everyone has their time in the sun. And these days, everybody else knows about it too. It's painfully apparent to me now when one of my friends (or friends of friends, one-time acquaintances or people I haven't seen since sixth form) is sunning themselves in a beautiful location, #nofilter, #sundowners, #humblebrag, #deletefromnewsfeeduntiltheyrebackintheoffice.
But now - well - it's my time in the sun. I've slogged it out at work for six months, saved all my holiday 'till September, and now I'm that person - sunset snapping, rosé sipping, island hopping Instagram pest. Acne and all.
There was a time earlier this year when, confused about how to deal with my newly acquired skin condition, that I couldn't imagine happily snapping a full-facial holiday selfie. And whilst my attitude to my skin still isn't carefree (and I'm not sure it should, or will be, again), my progress with my treatment means I can enjoy my late summer holidays without being preoccupied with acne.
Since, as you'll have gleaned by now, this whole process has been something of a learning curve for me, while I have time to sit back and reflect, I thought I'd share five things I've learnt about happy holidaying with difficult skin:
1. You can actually take a surprising amount of liquids in your hand luggage on planes. I'm not testing national security here, just trying to transport the miniature pharmacy that is now necessary to maintain my healthy skin. Helpfully, all the creams I need, potent though they may be, come in small, airport-friendly sub-100ml formats. And unlike a huge bottle of generic sun cream or shower gel, I felt my A-team of superhero skin products couldn't risk the hold and the baggage carousel - they needed to be travelling right up there with me and my hand luggage. Apart from feeling mildly embarrassed about the fact I now push the little plastic freezer bag they give you to the absolute limits of its engineering, the process went surprisingly smoothly. Shame something in my seemingly harmless sandals always seems to inexplicably set all their alarms blaring.
2. You need more time to get ready than 90% of other people you're likely to be on holiday with. Fact. My friends and I always run out of time for getting ready for dinner on holidays. Something about the gap between the sun going down and wanting a pre-dinner Aperol Spritz not being quite big enough. Fine when I had to just throw on some mascara - now, I need a little more planning for disciplined cream and foundation application. I would advise conceding this from day one and skipping the aperitif bit. You'll make more of an entrance, anyway.
3. Apply your new, skin-friendly suncream rule to your body, as well as your face. I've spent countless holidays over the last ten years getting frustrated about getting (what I assumed to be) "heat rash" on my chest - small, pimply spots - having been sunbathing. This year I decided to try one of my new suncare suite, Bioderma Photoderm AKN Matifying Fluid (a less drastic 30 vs the 50 I use for my face). Just like magic, I don't have any "heat rash" now, just a healthily bronzed look. Hello, lovely sundresses!
4. A hat is your friend. I know many people don't like a hat, but I really think, worn with confidence, the right hat does wonders for any outfit and - a rare quality in most of our holiday accessories, let's be honest - it's functional too. A lovely wide-brimmed number not only adds a bit of riviera glamour to beach style (which can otherwise quickly deteriorate into a hot, slathery, salty suncream melt), but it also gives your sensitive face the portable shade it needs. I know, I know, another deeply unoriginal discovery; I appreciate humankind has been wearing hats for centuries. But, a pleasant discovery to make nonetheless.
5. Important one, this: having a holiday at all, of any kind, and being relaxed and happy, does wonders for your skin. Things that usually aggravate my skin, like dairy, don't seem to have such an effect when you're getting eight hours sleep a night and breathing in the fresh sea air. Which is handy, as I have a soft spot for ice creams. They do say you should never return from a holiday without your next one booked - a piece of advice I think your skin - and health in general - would probably thank you for following.