How Being Diagnosed With PCOS Led to My Own Sun-Care Business
I was in my final year of law school when I started to notice the symptoms.
I had put on eight kilos in three months, my hair was thinning, my stress and anxiety were at an all-time high, light hairs started appearing on my jawline, and I was constantly breaking out — just what every single, 25-year-old woman needs.
When I was diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), I felt completely out of control of my own body.
PCOS is an endocrine disorder that affects 8-13% of reproductive aged women in Australia. It causes an imbalance in hormones, which in turn creates cysts on your ovaries and wreaks havoc on your skin, reproductive system, and mental health.
I quickly went about trying to get a handle on my symptoms. I played around with a lot of weird and whacky diets to find what could “fix” my hormonal breakouts and weight gain. However, none of them were sustainable, and frankly, not a lot of fun — replacing a good old-fashioned brownie with a flax seed carob slice topped with avocado icing was just joyless; I’ll take a fudgy brownie any day please!
These days, I eat good wholesome meals when I can and the accept the consequences when I indulge. For example, I recently went to Greece and spent 10 glorious days consuming all the cheese a girl could want. Now I know cheese makes me break out in the worst way and by the end of the trip I had a constellation of angry red pimples between my eyes (see photo below). #Worthit
PCOS is also linked to anxiety and affects your energy, so you can sometimes burn out if you don’t look after yourself. I’m pretty in tune with what triggers my anxiety, but I still do visit a counsellor if I ever need to check-in on my mental health. Another thing I like to do is listen to meditation recordings at night if I ever need to quiet my mind and ensure I get a rested night’s sleep.
I also went through an obsessive period of trying to capture that illusive “flawless glowy skin” with prescribed drugs and harsh exfoliants. But all I ended up with was retinol purges and acid burns (see photo below).
Any moisturiser I used to counter-balance the damaged skin, seemed to only cause more pimples, and as for sunscreen, I had to kiss it goodbye. I stopped wearing SPF entirely due to breakouts, despite knowing the benefits in preventing skin ageing and melanomas. It all seemed so hopeless.
The penny dropped only when I stopped trying to control my body, and started to listen to it.
I tackled the excess weight with healthy diet and exercise. The excess hair I just pluck out (and still do — I carry my tweezers everywhere).
After much trial and error and countless half-used skincare products, I finally found a skincare routine that wouldn’t lead to irritation or total skin disaster. I started exfoliating daily with a gentle rice enzyme exfoliant and using vitamin C oil, along with a heavy moisturiser (who would’ve thought).
But, there was still one thing left, an SPF that wouldn’t undermine all my other skin efforts, I tried a few brands, but I wasn’t entirely happy with any of the SPFs on the market.
This, triggered the desire to start up my sun-care brand, Sonny & Felix.
My sister and business partner, Maddy, wore sunscreen every single day (and still does) and by the time we were both pushing 30, the differences were remarkable.
I started to notice sunspots and wrinkles, whereas my sister’s skin was flawless and youthful. Starting a business was a no-brainer; we decided to create a sun-care brand that would prioritise products for all different skin types.
With PCOS women in mind, we brought Nude-E to market. It was important for both my sister and I to ensure our sunscreen formula was non-comedogenic so that women with PCOS could enjoy wearing sunscreen, daily.
I’m incredibly proud of our Nude-E product, but by far the most satisfying part of our journey has been the positive feedback we continue to recieve from men and women alike who have finally found a sunscreen they enjoy wearing every day.
It’s really nice to look back on our journey, and see that it all stems from my PCOS diagnosis. Neither one of us would’ve guessed a difficult set of ovaries could lead to us launching a sun-care brand…but here we are!
Sunscreen aside, I’m going to end on a personal note — to all the women out there who have PCOS, please be kind to yourself.
Your body is complex and probably at times confusing, but don’t beat yourself up over the little things that you can’t control. Consult with a medical professional, listen to your body, find your routine and who knows, maybe one day your PCOS will lead you to something amazing.