My skin isn’t horrible – I’ve constantly got anywhere from one to five pimples on my face – but, and call me naive, I thought there might be a bit of breathing room between the acne and when the ageing started to appear. I really thought my late 20s and early 30s would equal fresh-faced days where, if I felt like it, I could maybe embrace a few moments where I, personally, was comfortable enough to go makeup-free.
So, a few months after turning the big 3-0, I decided I wanted to try Software skin treatment – an online doctor-to-patient skin prescription service – as I’d been seeing some realistic before-and-after shots floating around Instagram.
What I liked about these transformation shots and videos, is that the patient’s face’s didn’t wind up looking like a magazine cover or baby’s bottom. It’s what some would call ‘improvements’, those which actually seemed attainable and applicable to my own rollercoaster skin.
I put it off for a while, until I was having a particularly bad skin week. I guess one could call this my “before” shot, but I also want to be super clear that it’s worse than what it would be normally.
To answer your question, yes, it was painful.
Creating your Software skin treatment formula
Creating the formula was fairly easy. Set aside 5-10 minutes and do it while you don’t have any makeup on, as it will ask you for photos of your skin during the online assessment. It also asks you things like what your skincare concerns are (acne, scarring, brightness etc). A GP then reviews your answers and photos, a doctor is assigned to you, and a personalised prescription is emailed to you – for me, this all happened within 24 hours.
The good thing here is, you’re not obliged to buy the treatment just because you had an online consultation. That’s completely up to you and whether or not you want to move forward. I obviously moved forward and bought the first batch of treatment ($88) with free express shipping. I received the treatment around a fortnight later.
The Software treatment
My 30ml cream treatment consisted of 0.025% Tretinoin, 5% Niacinamide and 1% Hyaluronic Acid. It also arrived with very detailed week-by-week instructions to mitigate any room for error.
The first week was interesting – I’d never had prescription skincare but I had tried the usual suspects like Proactiv and Doxycycline (taken orally).
First application? Great, feeling good.
Second application? Woke up with a peeling face, which I’ve learned is a side effect of Tretinoin.
Third application? Sending photos and videos of my new-and-improved face to others.
The three stages above is what I would experience on repeat for the next three months. It was difficult in the sense that some days I was relentlessly moisturising trying to rid the flaking, but on the other days was receiving comments about how great my skin was looking.
Software recommends La Roche Posay products to use alongside your treatment – a non-comedogenic moisturiser for before and after applying, as well as a cleanser for morning and night.
A couple of weeks in, I started using these three products which helped greatly:
- CeraVe Cream to Foam Cleanser, $22.39 (morning and night)
- Cerave AM Facial Moisturising Lotion with SPF, $18.39 (Every morning, your skin will be sensitive to sunlight)
- CeraVe PM Facial Moisturising Lotion , $17.39 (20 minutes before and after Software as a “buffer”)
What I did find, however, is that the flaking became more prominent with makeup. If you’re someone who likes going bare-faced, then you’d simply slap a moisturiser on and be laughing throughout your skincare journey with Software. For me, I began my journey around the same time work increased the days to be coming back to the office. So no, I wasn’t doing myself any favours.
Three months later
You can get a refund after 90 days if you’re not satisfied. I’d recommend waiting out the full three months, because that 8-12 week period was when I really started getting the hang of my new routine and begun seeing results. Here’s me, mid-June, three months into the process, without makeup.
Here I am, below, that same day with only Mac Studio Fix powder (no foundation), Bronzer and mascara. Before the treatment, I wouldn’t have gone without foundation as another layer, but in at least the last month, I haven’t felt the need for it.
Do I still get pimples? Yes. Do I still peel? Sometimes, but it’s definitely become less frequent as time has gone on. The biggest difference for me personally is that my face feels brighter all-round. My skin is regenerating constantly and feels fresher – cleaner, actually – even if there still is a rogue pimple (my Software doctor told me this is called “purging”, which happens when you’re regenerating skin).