FOR over a decade she had tried to hide her bad skin using potions, creams and even prescription drugs.
She says: “For the first time viewers could see my real skin and social media was savage.
“People do write really venomous things – ‘pizza face’, ‘big craters on the side of your face’. I remember looking in the mirror and thinking everything that they said is true.”
Like millions of sufferers the former Made In Chelsea star put her faith in the beauty industry to come up with cures that are safe and effective.
But while making a documentary – In Search of Perfect Skin, which airs tonight on ITV2 – to find a cure for her condition, Georgia, 28, discovered parts of the £13billion-a-year skincare industry are like “the Wild West”.
During her investigation Georgia created a new cream called By Toff, and sent it off for approval by a private company, which assesses claims about skincare products.
Her new ‘wonder cream’ was deliberately designed so that it would be would of no benefit to anyone with spots or bad skin.
But Georgia was stunned when an agency that substantiates the claims of skincare manufacturers concluded her cream DID work.
She says: “I was really shocked as I am an advocate of the skincare industry but lots of us are incredibly trusting.”
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The fake skincare cream, created by cosmetic chemist Anthonia Ademuyiwa, contained retinol palmitate and rosehip oil, which are used in skin creams, but they were in such small quantities that they would not help bad skin in any way.
Georgia adds: “I wanted to make sure the cream would not hurt anyone’s face but at the same time it would not benefit anyone at all. There was zero chance this cream would help spots.”
She approached an agency which substantiates claims made by the skincare industry and told them how she had been testing it on herself and had “seen great results”.
The agency suggested running tests on a panel of just 10 people, who would use her cream for five days while the company ran three tests.
They would take ‘before and after’ photos, plus take temperature readings of the panel’s spots at the start and again at the end to measure the ‘redness’ of pimples.
Finally, the test group would complete a survey on how the product made them feel.
Georgia says: “The results were, quite frankly, shocking. According to the survey, our product was a huge success.
“Even stranger – my cream passed its lab tests too. The report said differences in the before and after photos, plus a drop in the temperature readings, meant my product works!
“The report feeds back that the trial was a thumping success and that the product worked wholeheartedly when actually there is no evidence to back that up.
“We all have to have faith in the cosmetics industry but there are elements of it, particularly with the independent brands, that are like the Wild West. It’s scary and I really want people to know that.
I could sell my cream like it’s a wonder product – even though I know it doesn’t work. What else is out there doing the exact same thing?
“They can use claim substantiation companies, like I did in the documentary, where testing is unreliable.
“The rules are so open to being malleable. They are only guidelines and they are not very specific.
“I could sell my cream like it’s a wonder product – even though I know it doesn’t work. What else is out there doing the exact same thing?”
Chemist Anthonia tells Toff: “A lot of companies out there are making big bold claims but the research doesn’t really support that.
“A lot of it does tend to come from the smaller brands which can give false hope to the consumer.”
The claims substantiation company said their “conclusion that there was some positive effect was justified”, testing “10 subjects was sufficient”, and differences in the photos was a “subjective evaluation”.
The subjects who perceived that “the product had improved their skin” may have been the result of a “placebo effect”.
Drastic steps to combat acne
Georgia has suffered from acne since she was 13.
She says: “When you have acne, you’ll try anything to clear it – even risk your health.
“Acne is not a condition that can just be got rid of by using a cream. As a child growing up I used to obsess over, if I buy this product it will be a miracle… You will never get rid of acne by using a cream. That is a fact.
“When I was growing up I genuinely thought that if I put toothpaste on my spots I would wake up the next morning and they would be gone.
“That’s what people used to say, and toothpaste is full of acids. It won’t get rid of the spots but make it worse.”
Georgia is concerned that today’s teenagers are turning to social media – particularly TikTok or Instagram – for advice on how to tackle spots and acne.
I do love social media but it has a dark side. I just hope that when people see TikTok hacks they realise they should be avoided at all costs
In the documentary Georgia meets a group of young women who suffer from acne.
One, Maia, revealed she had even tried paint thinner to cure her skin condition.
She says: “I thought it would dry out the skin. I put it all round my face and within an hour an ambulance had to be called because I couldn’t breathe.”
Georgia says: “When you suffer as badly as I have it really makes you think about the depths people will go to get rid of acne.
“That young girl who tried paint thinner and had to call an ambulance shows how people could end up with lifelong scars for using stuff like that.
“I do love social media but it has a dark side. I just hope that when people see TikTok hacks they realise they should be avoided at all costs.”
‘I couldn’t look in the mirror’
Georgia admits her confidence became so low she thought about switching careers.
She says: “I couldn’t bear to look in the mirror never mind go on TV.”
In the programme she considers going back on the drug.
During her research Georgia met Helen Wright, whose daughter Annabel, 15, committed suicide while taking Roaccutane in 2019.
An inquest ruled that her death was not directly linked to the acne drug and the treatment options were fully discussed, but her family disagree.
Georgia says: “According to Helen, they were told Roaccutane might cause depression or low mood but were never told about psychosis.
“Helen says her daughter didn’t show any signs of depression and she was in a really good mood before her death.
“What really upset me was when I saw photographs of Annabel before she started on Roaccutane. Her skin seemed very clear.
“According to Helen, Annabel was on antibiotics that had worked for her, yet she was put on Roaccutane.
“Roaccutane helped me personally but that doesn’t mean it is right for everyone. It should be prescribed with such caution.
“Now my skin is no way as bad as it was and I’m very grateful I can continue with my work and still be confident enough to do so.
“But my ideal is not to go near that drug ever again.”
Georgia Toffolo: In Search of Perfect Skin is on ITV2 on Wednesday November 30 at 9pm.