My Acne(lan) Journey


That 4 letter word that insights more upset in sufferers than almost anything else.

So why am I even talking about it then? Especially when this part of my life is something I very rarely give air time too, and / or have spoken a great deal about – as I DO manage it remarkably well with my diet and lifestyle , but I know for giving you a proper and thorough read from my experience of the incredible treatment I recently had, Acnelan, at the MOST divine clinic in Perth, YouthLab, this is the part where I need to formally introduce THIS part of my life.

So here goes.

Hey you. I’m Anna and I have been dealing with Adult Cystic acne for 9 years (aka ALL of my 20’s).

Those that know or have suffered from Acne of ANY kind, at any age know how frustrating, upsetting and rage inducing it can be – which in itself is frustrating as I think all of those emotions only trigger it more.

But there I was, at age 22, with flawless, perfect, rarely even had 1 pimple during my teenage years skin – when my cystic acne started.

Granted, and very luckily, it wasn’t severe, as in debilitating and feeling like I can’t leave the house, like I have heard from so many other Acne sufferers – but infuriating and upsetting and painful nonetheless.

I won’t bore you with every tiny detail (although if you know me you know I LOVE a good chat) but below is a good quick important little surmise of the following years.

From the ages of 22 – 25 I just dealt with it with every topical cream and pill the Dr’s would throw at me and every “acne be gone” potion and lotion beauticians and stores sold me. And I mean e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. There isn’t the highest level Vitamin A cream (compounded personally by a specific chemist with a special license in Perth) I didn’t try, an antibiotic I didn’t swallow and a Treatment I didn’t have to try to get rid of my Acne.

Almost every trip to the Dr’s resulted in the Dr trying to coerce me on to roaccutane, which full admission I have never done, but I personally just didn’t want to go down that road if I absolutely didn’t have to, as having to pee on a stick to confirm I wasn’t pregnant before they even consider you as it can “deform unborn babies” just always admittedly freaked me out and didn’t sit well. I want you to know though that if it was any worse – the debilitating kind I know so many sufferers deal with, I would have gone down that route. I’m no hero and I mean it when I say good on you if you have used it to treat your acne I so freaking get it!!

At 25 I found a system of products (my Isagenix products) which I purely just wanted for energy and wellbeing, cleansing and natural supplementation made sense to me, but within 2 weeks of being on the products my skin health had never ever been better. I remember Mum coming over and grabbing my face demanding to know what skin care or pill I had recently changed to to help my skin health so much and I just pointed to where the products were shrugging my shoulders saying they’re to ‘blame’. And p.s once I understood more of the natural ingredients and Science I now know why!)

HERE IS THE THING THOUGH and a big Disclaimer – although it has been THE best thing hands down to help manage my very long term Cystic Acne – it’s not a cure and so I still have always had bouts of breakouts I have just dealt with.

Fast forward to around September / October 2017 and l.i.t.e.r.a.l.l.y out of NOWHERE my Cystic Acne flared up the worst it had ever, ever been.

I was almost 30 at that stage, and had already been on an 8 year self love journey so it wasn’t a case of hiding in the house or shying away from social media, it was actually showing UP on social media that allowed me to find YouthLab and the divine treating skin specialist Alison and Acnelan treatment!!

HOWEVER – being *almost* 30 years of age, the absolute healthiest I had EVER been it just didn’t make sense. I was off booze at this stage in a 16 week challenge (something that can trigger it), I consume almost no dairy (another trigger), eat an extremely healthy diet of fresh vegetables and organic sources of protein, and of course had been cleansing and avidly using the Isa products for 5 years. And yet – here I was with uncontrollable acne that was literally taking over my entire jaw line, neck and encroaching up my cheek.

Thinking this time SURELY something must be wrong, I went straight back to the Dr’s, who again put me on the strongest topical cream (two actually) they had AND a round of antibiotics – I begrudgingly agreed to do the 4 week round and he convinced me this would absolutely knock it on it’s head.

He also wrote me a referral to see the leading Dermatologist in Perth who had a 2 month wait list that I booked an appt with.

4 weeks later, by the end of October, it was still aggressive and there. It had showed ZERO signs of improvement.

So off I went to the Naturopath (all usual things I had done over the years prior to finding Isa which had always then managed it). She ran hormonal tests – blood tests – the works, and EVERYTHING came back PERFECT. I actually DID burst in to tears at that stage because I was like WHAT is wrong with me?? I knew that they were going to come back perfect too as my period is clock work, my periods are ‘perfect’ and so hormonally I knew I wasn’t ‘off’.

The Dr tried a different set of antibiotics – whilst I waited to see the Dermatologist – which again, didn’t work. So at that stage I just stopped everything again because I didn’t want to / like pumping my body full of crap that wasn’t even working anyway.

The day came where I finally got my 30 minutes of glory with this ‘incredible’ Dermatologist early January who was going to ‘fix’ my skin which was worst than ever.

He spent 10 minutes explaining what acne was (yeah mate know what it is, managed it for 8 years, just tell me why you think I get it) – went over my face with a magnifying glass, went through my FULL list of everything I have ever done, sat back in his chair … and told me it was… genetics – even though I had told him my ENTIRE family have flawless skin, and prescribed me the 1 thing I said I still wasn’t ready for. Roaccutane.

I actually DID burst in to tears again at this stage because I was just so done.

And THIS is where the breakthrough occurred and my journey with YouthLab & Alison and Acne Lan begins.

I went home and did what any normal sensible woman suffering with the WORST cystic acne in her life does – I went on social media and talked about it 😉 (No hiding away here – no siree.

I explained I was suffering a really bad flare up at the moment, even being a HUGE ambassador of health and wellness – hashtag human, but never being one to shy away I talked about just accepting it and loving myself regardless of it and that it was just going to be a part of my face until it came back under control again.

{ My Actual IG Story talking about the “elephant in the room” with my flare up I just couldn’t get back under control }

And then, as fate would have it, a few incredible Perth babes contacted me, saying they know I had just talked about Self-Love and acceptance BUT if I wanted to take a look at YouthLab they had *JUST* posted about needing to trial out their new Acne Treatment “AcneLan” and I should contact them to be the babe to try it.

And with nothing to lose – and LITERALLY everything to gain – I emailed YouthLab.

Cue the start of YouthLab and Alison (the remarkable Skin Science Expert) and Acne lan.

When I used to look for different treatments to help / manage / cure (the dream!) my acne I just wanted photos (which is why that is the first thing I wanted you to see as I remember what it was like wanting to just know) and then blow by blow break down – which I am going to now give below.

I wanted to give the whole experience context though, as any acne sufferer out there almost NEEDS to know the other stuff – well what HAVE I done before, DID I really try everything, and how bad was my actual skin. I hope that’s all been addressed for you – and I really DID just want to share this knowing how much Alison, YouthLab and the Acne Lan treatments changed my freaking life.

What did I have? And Why?

If you want to know WHY Acnelan – or what it is essentially, go and read what the babes at YouthLab themselves say about it as its how I learned a brief enough overview to know that it was going to be a hopeful solution for me – read that here.

I ended up having 3 Acnelan peels including 3 Crystal Fiber masks, AND got the take home care products for the duration of my treatment – and can I absolutely say here, and I know I probably will repeat this, I truly believe my impeccability with my at home care was fundamental to my amazing results as well.

The first treatment

My first treatment was in February 2018 – and I will NEVER forget how lovely and welcoming and professional all the ladies were who I dealt with at YouthLab – from their gorgeous receptionist through to the Owner Dr Kate, and then my own Dermal Specialist Alison. Alison warned me very accurately that it IS going to sting, potentially quite a lot, but that she would make sure she’d put a cooling mask on as soon as she was done with the treatment so it was all going to be ok.

Did it sting? YES, for sure. It was hot, and stingy but was incredibly fast as each area of your face is done separate and the entire ‘peel’ was done in I would say less than 3 minutes. I still laughed and chatted with Alison the whole time.

The post peel crystal fiber mask felt INCREDIBLE and it did cool it all down so I walked out feeling absolutely fine.

After the first treatment

I definitely had peeling (which I LOVED because I was like YES peel away and reveal that new skin puh-lease) and I was red and had some sore areas – these photos below are 2 days after (first day there wasn’t really much of anything) – and within 4-5 days this was all clearing up.

After the second & third treatment …

My 2nd treatment was 5-6 weeks later and I would be lying if I said that it got easier – The 2nd peel was hands down the most painful and by painful I mean absolutely still bearable BUT I did have tears in my eyes and I couldn’t talk through this one, but as soon as that crystal crystal fiber mask was on I was my usual chatty self.

VERY sadly I don’t have photos from this one as we were also vlogging this (but Mr Richards lost the footage on a thumb drive in our move across Australia) but I did absolutely peel quite heavily and IF I didn’t work from home like I do, and I was at an office, I would have actually taken a day or 2 off just at my skins ‘peak’ healing as it was quite scabby from the peeling and sore.

The at home care was phenomenal though and I felt safe and comfortable the entire time knowing this was exactly how it was meant to be and progressing well.

The 3rd treatment was then 4 weeks after that, and in fact the easiest!! It was the most ‘pain’ free (I put pain in ‘ as pain to me is so subjective!) and I really was laughing and smiling and ok the entire way through. By that stage, Alison was explaining, my skin had alkalised – as the peel had been doing its job and moving my skin from it’s more acidic state to an alkalise one. Happy days.

I will say as well, after every single peel, my skin was returning more and more to normal and as I walked in for my 3rd treatment I was actually quite emotional and grateful as NEVER did I think anything was going to work as well and powerful as Acnelan had.

I think I even hugged Alison (sorry not sorry Alison!) and repeatedly told her how life changing it was to have my skin back!

Where am I now?

{Left: Completely make up free – how I always LOVE to be a few months ago // Right: Sitting at my computer TONIGHT writing this very blog post with make up on – but as you can tell, make up less or make up on – my skin remains clear, healthy and flare up free }

It’s been almost an entire year since I had my 3 acnelan peels / treatments at YouthLab (so you could say me sharing this with you has been a long time coming), but I also believe that everything is divinely timed so a year on is a PERFECT time to show that my skin health all this time later is still thriving.

NOW – have I never gotten another pimple or break out again? I would love to say No I haven’t, but that’s not my reality – I do still have some breakouts but they’re just that, a breakout, I haven’t had another cystic acne flair up since my very first peel (and of course any good skin specialist will tell you skin health and health comes from the inside out so my usual healthy diet and lifestyle play an incredibly important role as well).

Once I had finished all my treatments and my skin was the absolute best it had been in years I also treated myself to a session of Skin Needling by Alison too so I could start dealing with the scars I have always been left with, and THAT is also when I found my skin just went that next glow-ey level again.

I have moved across Australia now which was hard after just finding what I believe to be the best clinic (for everything skin & beauty) in Aus but credit where credit is always due and being treated by Alison, getting to know Dr Kate on my visits, and just being around the Youth Lab clinic was an incredible experience and one I am eternally grateful for – healthy radiant glowing skin gives me FAR more confidence than any make up could and my treatments with YouthLab gave me that gift back.

After investing THOUSANDS (and thousands and thousands) over the year in Acne related ‘cures’ and management I honestly had given up hope that I could ever get it as under control as I had it after Acnelan (and still today) and I remember saying on my very first consult, if this DID work, I would scream it from the rooftops for other Acne sufferers knowing myself what I have gone through. So this is for YOU – the person who has also spent thousands, does everything by the book in terms of acne management, but still can’t get their skin or a flair up under control – It was the BEST thing I could have ever done at the exact moment when I needed it most.

So thank you YouthLab – Dr Kate, for having the vision to start such a divine clinic and have world class services and products, and thank you to Alison, you appointment by appointment – allowed me to step even MORE in to the confident woman that I know I was born to be!

p.s I’ll pop YouthLab’s details below for you in case you are ever interested in checking them out or booking them in, just like those social media angels lead me to them all that time ago.

1 Richardson Street, West Perth
Perth, WA 6005



PHONE: (08) 9324 1604

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