Archive for the ‘ Skin Cancer ’ Category

Oscars 2015 – How to Approach Beauty for THE Event of The Year

rosamund pike BAFTASAttending the Oscars:for a nominee, this may well be the pinnacle of  their career and the world is watching. Its also the perfect opportunity for an emerging talent to showcase themselves so putting their best face forward is vital. At the BAFTAS earlier this month, I got to see the nominees firsthand, where Rosamund Pike was a real standout for me. Her skin looked extraordinary, her presence was both commanding and womanly; she completely owned her beauty. Subtle and deft make-up was of course in evidence, but you could tell the ‘canvas’ was in tip-top form.  Getting skin into impeccable condition is a beauty fundamental for every actress – this is not the time for blemishes. So here’s my 12-week timeline to getting the kind of skin that light loves and you can’t take your eyes off. This is a great approach for brides approaching their big day – their own personal red carpet experience.

  • Take a light-handed approach to injectables. This is not the time to try something new. If you get regular treatments, do them well in advance. Many patients like the results of Botox right at the end of their treatment period because they have all the smoothness without any restriction in facial movement. So plan anything like this with military precision, and communicate your timetable clearly with your doctor! We like to know.

  • Peace of mind comes from planning in advance. Most effective skincare ingredients take 2 skin cycles to really make an impact so start radiance- delivering products containing retinoids and niacinamide (an amazing combination that work in synergy, making retinoids easier to tolerate) a minimum of 2 months beforehand.

  • Get problem skin under control. You will undoubtedly start to feel stressed as you enter the last few weeks when pressing issues like dress fittings start to infiltrate every waking thought so ensure your skin stays calm under pressure with gentle but effective azelaic acid – a fantastic multi-tasker that calms blemishes, but also works on clogged pores, dark marks and redness.

  • As the big night approaches focus on hydration. Skin acts like a mirror, reflecting light, when its water content is optimal; so this is key. One of the best ways to do this is with an occlusive paper face mask, one of my favourite quick fixes for lackluster skin. They feel like a proper treatment but with much less risk than a facial. This is ideal for the last 3 nights, as it makes sense to discontinue any more potent actives at this point to avoid any pesky dry patches from irritation.

  • On the day, keep it simple. The hard work is over. Use a non-foaming cleanser and a hydrating moisturiser and that’s it; no scrubs, brushes or other possible irritants. Your skin likes it calm. Keep make-up textures sheer, glossy and allow the beauty of your skin in its best possible natural state to be displayed – skin looks its best when it looks like skin. Then go forth and shine like the star you are, remembering to actually enjoy your moment in the spotlight.


Skin Cancer Awareness Month – Time For a Safe Sun Behaviour Refresher Course #SSB

pig-no-sunscreen-baconAs a cosmetic dermatologist, my day-to-day focus on sun exposure relates most commonly to the ageing consequences of ultra-violet rays. But let us not forget that an altogether more serious reason for Safe Sun Behaviour is prevention of skin cancer. May is a good time to refresh the facts.


1)   Malignant melanoma is the commonest form of cancer in young adults age 25-29 and the 2nd commonest in 15-29 year–olds.

2)   Frequency of melanoma in women has increased 8-fold since the 70s and likely reflects the increased use of tanning beds and intense sun exposure, such as severe sunburn in childhood.

3)   Regular tanning bed users have a 74% increased chance of developing melanoma.

4)    A person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns at any age. 

5)   One or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than double a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life.

6)   But with early detection, cure rates can be as high as 98% – so it’s never too late to start making changes and developing Safe Sun Behaviour.


So with these sobering facts in mind, let’s review the basics.


1)   There is no such thing as a safe tan (she says, banging her drum). But it’s true. A tan means UV rays are messing with your skin’s DNA, creating mutations which trigger a melanin defense response. Thinking this is a good thing is insanity.

2)   With this simple fact in mind, think about protecting yourself with the holy trinity of shade/clothing/sunscreen – in that order of importance. Especially important for peak hours of UV, between 11am and 3pm.

3)   Remember that sunscreen is only effective when you put it on right. When applied incorrectly, it leaves you vulnerable to sunburn ( a very bad thing – see above) because you are under the illusion you’re protected. PUT IT ON GENEROUSLY AND FREQUENTLY.

4)   Think of sunscreen like a medicine – you wouldn’t decide to take a ¼ of the dose of antibiotic your doctor prescribes, but this is a common occurrence when it comes to applying sunscreen. You need 30ml (a shotglass-sized amount) to cover an average adult top-to-toe and you need to put it on at least every 2 hrs. Watch out for bits that often get missed, like sides of the neck, ears hairline and scalp.

5)   Examine yourself regularly for changes on your skin, such as new moles or changes to old moles, and talk to your doctor if you’re concerned.

Image: courtesy of

Talking live on Channel 4 News on the dangers of the ‘Barbie doll’ drug Melanotan

Bank-Holiday Break? Remember, A Safe Tan Is An Urban Myth


This summer, I’ve been asked an exceptional number of times for my tips on safe-tanning. And every-time someone asks me this, I have to search for ways to sugar-coat the fact that, well, there simply isn’t one and that the mere expression causes me consternation.

A (real) tan means you’ve caused enough damage to your skin’s DNA to activate the fire alarm and start up the hose-your skin’s melanin factory.  And in some this will prove an effective defense mechanism (but know that your skin is like an elephant and will not forget this insult); others (fellow Casper-like Celts, you know who you are) will see their somewhat impotent melanocytes  gasp and splutter to produce a bit of extra protection, but ultimately they will fail  them-and the inevitable sting and soreness of sunburn will ensue.

Why go through this ritual of burn-then-tan (badly) when your skin is simply not designed for this function very well? Take the following steps and  your lovely white epidermis will thank-you for decades to come:

1)   Apply lashings of Xen-Tan Gradual Self Tan after exfoliating-and use one of those nice, velour mits for a streak-free finish. See, you too can look good in a white Heidi Klein bikini.

2)   Develop a vacation ritual of late nights, lunch-for-breakfast and enjoy the beach from 3pm onwards (Mykonos and Ibiza lend themselves very well to this custom). This minimises sun exposure at the peak hours, without killing your buzz from the great weather.

3)   Find a broad-spectrum sunscreen that you like, minimum SPF30 and USE IT PROPERLY.  Use a shot-glass full amount to cover the average adult, let it dry before going outside to avoid it rubbing off and reapply at least every 2 hours, or after sweating/towelling.

4)   Get a sunscreen for the face that’s non-comedogenic, so you don’t have the excuse that it ‘makes you break out’ for under-applying. A generous teaspoon here please. And don’t miss bits, commonly along the hairline, nose and ears.

5) A good-quality antioxidant facial serum will give you a ‘belt-and-braces’ type extra layer of protection against any pesky UV that does get through your sun-screen, neutralising ageing free radicals-try Obagi Professional C serum or Skinceuticals CE Ferulic.

5)   Finally, please do not ask me for Botox whilst lobster-red from yesterday’s sunbed in preparation for going on holiday (this really happened) …..I don’t have words…..