Posts Tagged ‘ acne ’

5 Simple Skincare Cheats To Improve Your Rosacea

Red faceYou’re red, you’re bumpy and you’re fed-up. Especially now we’re in the throes of winter. You get off the overheated tube into the stinging, cold wind and then back into a centrally-heated office. Your face is tingling and you know without even looking that your cheeks and nose rival those of Santa.

 

You’ve tried lots of anti-redness creams but they sting and burn when you put them on, they don’t seem to do much ….and as for green colour-corrective make-up…forget it.

 

How to get your complexion more compliant? Prescription products are a big part of the story; but I think that the bit that doctors often don’t spend enough time on is the support system. Here are some ways to calm troubled waters with good skincare choices.

 

  • Cleanse with care.

82% of rosacea sufferers complain of sensitivity to skincare products. This is due to a defect in skin barrier function, a part of the disease often forgotten but practically, this is a huge issue for women. “Everything burns” patients frequently say, when it comes to skincare.

So do use gentle non-foaming cleansers containing synthetic detergents, which are labelled fragrance-free (as opposed to unscented). Pat skin dry – don’t rub.

 

  • Ditch counter-productive habits.

This means physical exfoliation is to be avoided. Like, totally avoided. I even recommend skipping using a face cloth. Also skip products with questionable benefit that frequently do harm, like astringent toners – avoid anything with alcohol or witch hazel in it. The one exception to the exfoliation rule is the use of salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid, which is useful in those with oily skin and also prone to acne blemishes and comedones, as its anti-inflammatory.

 

  • Moisturise but don’t antagonize.

The right moisturiser will improve skin texture (so often those with rosacea have skin that’s rough to the touch) and boost skin tolerance. I think that moisurising flexibly is a good idea – I talk to patients about good days’ (lighter) and bad days’ ( a little more oomph) moisturiser. Skin is a dynamic organ and it will be oilier in the week before your period and at certain times of year – we should adapt to our environment accordingly. Water-based moisturisers work best and f you’re also prone to acne blemishes (common conditions commonly overlap) stick to non-comedogenic products, from brands like Cetaphil and Avene.

 

  • Don’t skip on UV protection

Physical sunscreen tends to be better tolerated and less irritating than chemical sunscreens; applying moisturiser beforehand facilitates smooth application without annoying pilling, where little white bits come off…and allow time for it to dry before putting on make-up. I think that it is very much worth investing a little more in this product to find one that’s cosmetically elegant to ensure you apply it properly. Not only is sunlight the commonest rosacea trigger, rosacea plus sunlight is a potent way to degrade your dermis and age prematurely. Brrrrr.

 

  • Avoid heavy cosmetics that require a Brillo pad to remove.

 

Keep base light and low risk for irritation (Bioderma and La Roche Posay both do great sensitive skin-friendly products) and use a more high coverage product just where its needed; for this Vichy Dermablend Liquid Foundation works well. Apply with a damp Beauty Blender to gentle build coverage just where its needed.

 

If there any specific questions relating to rosacea I’ve not answered (it’s a big topic, and one of the most searched for on my blog) drop me a line below.

4 Sobering Skin-related Reasons To Moderate Your Alcohol Intake

Alcohol consumption in women is a topic that keeps cropping up in the press – especially since NICE approved the drug nalmefene for ‘mild alcoholics’ who failed to cut down on drinking 2 glasses a wine a night after a 2 week trial period. Sober October lends itself to a self-imposed trial of abstinence – but it may be worth considering the negative impact alcohol has on the skin in order to harness the extra motivation that beauty benefits deliver. There’s no doubt in my mind that smokers may often find that extra bit of will-power to say no when the ‘carrot’ is probable improvement in acne and wrinkles. So lets consider the possible fall-out from too much booze:

1) Flaming cheeks

Alcohol vasodilates, meaning that blood vessels on the surface of the skin widen, increasing our natural ‘blush’. In certain individuals, this can lead to a debilitating prolonged ‘flush’, causing embarrassment and self-conciousness. This is a sign of alcohol intolerance, as it represents low levels of an enzyme called acetaldehyde dehydrogenase that breaks down one of the alcohol byproducts. Result? Major hangover the next day.

In terms of appearances, the situation is even worse for those with rosacea – alcohol is a known provocateur, with as little as one drink causing problems in as many as 2 out of 3 sufferers. Redness is a hard thing to conceal cosmetically, as many who have tried (and failed) with green-tinged camouflage make-up will attest.

2)Parched pillow face

Yes, alcohol is a diuretic and the accompanying dehydration and disturbance in sleep quality will take its toll on your complexion the morning after. Dry, dull skin is likely to be accompanied by puffiness, especially around the eyes (not a particularly attractive combination), as a consequence of the added salt in many alcoholic beverages like margaritas, beer and white wine.

And the symptoms of a hangover will be much worse if you drink dark spirits like rum and whisky – they contain congeners, chemicals produced during alcohol fermentation that give the drink its flavor.

3) Blemish booster

The sugar in many alcoholic drinks (take a mojito, for instance) causes insulin levels to spike – this creates a pro-inflammatory milieu that can trigger an acne flare.

4) Flaky follicles

Regular guzzling of alcoholic beverages can also drive a number of common dry skin disorders, namely psoriasis and seborrhoeic dermatitis – one of the commonest manifestations of these 2 disorders is a scaly, dry scalp.  As if that wasn’t enough, increased alcohol intake makes you more likely to develop psoriasis in the first place.

So there you have it – beaucoup booze can make turn you into a spotty, ruddy, flaky, crispy-skinned person. So how to drink safe and preserve your looks at the same time? Aim for moderate drinking, ensure you have 2 nights off a week to give your body time to recover and choose your beverage with care. Skip sugary mixers + dark liquors, try to eat at the same time as drinking and alternate an alcoholic beverage with a glass of water – your skin will say thank-you.

Is Your Make-up Bag Ruining Your Skin?

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A woman’s make-up bag is the cornerstone of handling the ‘no-time’ trend – whether its about finishing lipstick application ‘dans la tube’ or transitioning from a day-to-nighttime look in the office loos.  However its important to manage this vital toolkit wisely, especially if prone to problem skin. Think about an item like a compact foundation – incredibly convenient for touch-ups, but that applicator is in constant contact with both hands (which may, or may not be clean) and face (oily t-zone, anyone?), so will rapidly become dirty and a breeding ground for bacteria.

 

There are some key steps to avoiding skin issues due to the murky depths of your make-up bag:

1)    Wash brushes once a week in gentle shampoo to avoid the harbouring of acne-promoting bacteria.

2)    If using a compact foundation, be scrupulous about sponge hygiene. There is nothing ickier than a sponge in need of a bath.These are breeding grounds for bugs, so wash regularly, allow to dry thoroughly and replace frequently.

3)    Choose products that are non-comedogenic, especially if looking for longlasting products to survive the full work day. I see a lot of patients with a condition called perioral dermatitis – red bumps around the mouth that look like acne – and their cosmetics almost invariably play a role in this annoying and frequently recurrent disease.

Besides: if your make-up promotes blemishes, you will end up spending more and more time covering up your skin in the morning – a rather futile spiral.

4)    Avoid putting fingers into a jar of cream, however indulgent that might feel. Use a clean spatula to decant product hygienically.

5)    NEVER use saliva to wet make-up brushes or correct make-up mishaps. The mouth is a dirty, dirty cavity.

6)    Don’t borrow or lend make-up, especially eye products. Conjunctivitis is highly contagious and leads to a red, sticky eye (not attractive).

7)    Finally, pay attention to the physical properties of your make-up. Unfortunately many cosmetics don’t have an expiry date. Liquid foundations and mascara have the shortest shelf-life – they should be replaced after as little as 3 months. If a foundation changes texture or a mascara acquires an unusual odour, it’s time to bin it. Bacteria can colonise products and the preservatives might not be work quite as well as they did when you first opened it – so to reduce this risk by seeking out products in a pump, rather than in a pot or open-necked bottle.

How To Not End Up A Hot Mess + Care For Your Skin After Hot Exercise

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Keeping fit has become a sticky business of late –  it makes sense, as you are bendier and less likely to hurt yourself when everything’s warm’n’limber. But staying beautiful (especially if you’re headed back to the office after a reviving mid-day work-out) becomes a challenge. Especially, if you suffer from acne. This is clearly a recurring phenomenon – in my recent visit to Psycle (THE place to get your groove on whilst having a massive endorphin hit) I overheard exactly 3 women bemoaning blemishes during the time it took me to go to the loo. Girlfriends who do Bikram say the same thing. Here’s my plan for keeping it together:

BEFORE CLASS:

1)   Keep make-up light on work-out days – use a non-comedogenic, light-textured tinted moisturiser (love Nars). Conceal where needed (Vichy Dermablend Foundation Stick won’t block pores and can mask Vesuvius – a must-have in your kit). Skip powder + use blotting papers if 11 o’clock shine is a problem (love MAC ones)– you can work with base that isn’t powdered; you can’t when it is. And of course, keep eye make-up to a minimum – curl lashes and use only waterproof mascara, obv.

DURING CLASS:

2)   Hair up – loose topknot works best. Bobble water for hydration. Forget face.

AFTER CLASS:

3)   Blot face. Inspect the damage. If you’ve kept it light, you should just be able to touch up your base/concealer where needed. Blusher should be unnecessary. A bit of lip-colour and you should be all set. For body, I think wipes are acceptable. If breakouts are an issue, use a medicated one like Murad Clarifying Wipes or get Stridex Acne Pads from the US. For hair, spritz volumising spray on roots (I like PhytoVolume Actif Volumizing Spray) and use dryer and round brush to get a bit of root lift and restyle front sections of hair. Blast it underneath near the nape of the neck.

LATER:

4)   Work on your complexion – don’t acquiesce to breakouts; get a plan. This will save you so much time in the long-run, not to mention free up valuable headspace for much more important things (like what colour to get Lexie workout gear in). Get a kit together consisting of something like: La Roche Posay Physiological Cleansing Gel and Effaclar Duo and Effaclar H (for day). Swap Effaclar Duo for Avene Triacneal at night. And of course a broad-spectrum sunscreen that works like primer (MUST be non-comedogenic). If that isn’t improving things, go see a derm.

How To Stay Away From Your Acne Breakout Threshold

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I’ve had a rash (collective noun for a group of dermatologically-challenged individuals) of female patients presenting in the post-Xmas period with more spots than usual. “Why, why, why?” they ask me. What’s changed? Why has their previously tamed complexion suddenly decided to misbehave and throw its  toys out of the pram?

There’s no single explanation for this that fits all. But the reality is that anyone can breakout; even the most genetically blessed will get the odd acneic blip if they throw the right (wrong?) elements into the mix.

So here’s a list of practices which might influence the status quo; and when combined in a genetically-susceptible individual may just shift the balance towards Breakout City.

1)   Changing contraceptive pill. Alas, they are not all equal, when it comes to the skin. Whilst the general trend with most combined  pills (ones that contain an oestrogen and progestagen ) will be to reduce acne, certain ones have more complexion-clearing progestagens than others. Those which are most skin-friendly are: Yasmin, Femidene and Cilest. Avoid progestagen-only contraceptive methods (including the Mirena coil) like the plague.

2)   Other medications can also push you towards your breakout threshold. Commonly prescribed agents like SSRIs, anticonvulsants and even certain supplements (like Vitamin B6 and B12) may promote acne in some, through poorly-understood mechanisms.

That’s not to say you should ever stop treatment without exploring the pros and cons or indeed alternatives with your prescribing physician. But it’s worth keeping in mind.

3)   Stress. Research and my personal experience tells me that a fast-paced life undoubtedly contributes to higher levels of acne. Stress hormones behave like androgens, which increase sebaceous gland misbehavour. Ask any student approaching exam period – in fact one study from Stanford University did just that and guess what? Breakouts were more common and more severe in students during exam term.

4)   Beauty experimentation. Certain trends do not favour the acne-prone. When a new patient comes to see me, I ask them to list what they’re currently using. And that list often encompasses a chaotic collection of more than a dozen products.

Elaborate cleansing rituals are a common culprit; facial oils, double cleansing, muslin cloths, over-used cleansing brushes…..  all can be detrimental, aggravating acne by irritating the skin. Long-wear foundations can also be hazardous, as these can be extremely difficult to remove and are rarely non-comedogenic.

The bottom-line is acne is a fluctuant condition with good days and bad. Correct treatment and good beauty practices can minimize these ups and downs, but every so often the balance is disturbed; this shouldn’t cause despair. Stepping up treatment and banishing any provocateurs in order to regain control for a defined period of time usually re-establishes stability  ….and pulls you back from the brink of your breakout threshold. 

Winter and retinoids – how to survive

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Dry skin and winter go hand in hand – so getting along with our best anti-ageing ally can be harder than usual. Lizard skin doesn’t look so hot. The retinoid family includes over-the-counter products like retinol and retinaldehyde (find these in Medik8, La Roche Posay Retriderm and Avene Ystheal lines); and it also includes prescription products like Differin, Retin-A and Isotrex. These are a godsend for acne-prone and sun-damaged skin, but they can be a challenge to use for the uninitiated and winter makes it even harder to build them into your routine – certainly, retinoid queries are the commonest reason for patients emailing me at the moment. Red eyelids, rashy necks and dry cracked lips are all signs that you may need to modify your routine. Here are some insider tricks to get you through ‘til spring.

1)   Switch up your routine. Make sure you’ve banished all foaming cleansers and that you’re using a richer moisturiser formulation at night. You may also want to ditch your exfoliator – or at the very least, cut back.

2)   Apply retinoids to completely dry skin. Try cleansing, then moisturising generously straight away, to lock in water to your skin. Occlusive moisturisers work best like this. Wait 15 minutes, so skin is completely dry. Then apply a pea-sized amount of your chosen retinoid.

3)   Reduce the retinoid strength. Little and often is better than blitzing your skin once every 5 days, because of common side effects like redness and burning. So dilute it with moisturizer to buffer its effect. This will reduce penetration, making it easier to tolerate.

4)   Start slow. Never attempt to use any retinoid daily from the outset. This is a rookie error. Begin with applying every 3rd day and escalate to alternate day application after 2 weeks. Then try daily use or 2 days on/1 day off after another fortnight. Remember the changes you are trying to effect in your skin occur over the course of months, not weeks. Slow and steady wins the race.

5)   Try short-contact therapy. This approach has worked for many of my thin-skinned sensitive patients who struggle with retinoids. Think of it like a mask – so apply to clean skin for 5 minutes initially and then rinse it off off; build up to leaving on for up to 30 minutes over time.

6)   Protect vulnerable areas. Redness around the eyes and cracked lips are common occurrences if you’re applying your retinoid with too little precision. I suggest using moisturiser as a barrier around the eyes and lip balm on the lips before retinoid application, if these issues are occurring.

7)   Don’t skip on sunscreen. Remember, that sunscreen is the yin to the retinoid’s yang. Even in winter. By all means choose a more moisturing formulation, but don’t skip it. UVA rays age and are the only UV rays of significance in cold climes in winter (unless skiing/at altitude) so use proper sunscreen with at least 5% zinc oxide for a complete anti-ageing effect.

5 Things You Must Know Before Using a Facial Cleansing Brush

Home-use devices are a huge growth area in beauty right now.  And rightly so. They represent a brilliant stepping stone on the path to great skin, providing a little more oomph for women who’ve been disappointed by too many over-the-counter cosmetics but aren’t quite ready yet for the dermatologist’s office.

The cleansing brush is one of thImagee easiest to use and the benefits are immediately obvious – they provide thorough make-up removal without the need for double-cleansing and provide better penetration of serums and moisturiser used afterwards. They also look and feel …. well, fun. A little bit like high-end sex-toys. BUT they can also completely wreck your skin if used wrongly.

So here are some simple tips to help make sure you get the most out of your gismo.

1)   Let it do all the work. Now I’ve listened to many disillusioned women who come into clinic bemoaning the fact that they’ve spent serious cash on one of these devices and then wonder why they’re all red/irritated/broken-out. So I asked one of them to bring it in with her and show me how she used it. Answer: like a Brillo pad. We girls just love a good old scrub. Wrong. It does the heavy lifting so we don’t have to. Literally just hold it in contact with your skin, and let it whirr away as you gently pass it over the various zones of the face.

2)   Now, speaking of red/irritated…. I really don’t think anyone needs to use these devices twice a day. Start off using 3 times a week at night. See how you get on. Thick, oily skin with big pores may well tolerate up to nightly use, but it’s rarely necessary, unless you are wearing industrial-strength make-up every day (in which case we need to talk about make-up!). Sensitive skin needs a brush with a sensitive head, and 3 times a week, like physical exfoliants, is more than enough. Be especially cautious coming into winter.

3)   Which brings me to the cleanser that comes with many of these brushes. It should be gentle and non-foaming. Otherwise the combination of manual cleansing plus surfactants will demolish your skin’s barrier function, leaving you…yes, that’s right. Red/irritated/broken-out. Good ones include Cetaphil Cleanser, La Roche Posay Physiological Cleansing Gel and Avene Extremely Gentle Cleanser. All are non-comedogenic, which is how I like my cleansers.

4)   Avoid if you have active acne or rosacea. These may well be suitable at a later point, when the battlefield is calm and you have the active inflammatory ‘fire’ under control. But do this first with topical actives and keep everything else gentle. Introduce your brush only when stability has kicked in and all your comedones (i.e. spot precursors) have been sorted with a retinoid.

5)   Recognise that the cleansing brush is only one part of a comprehensive skincare regime – alone, it won’t anti-age anyone but what it does do is make useful things you leave on the skin work more effectively and give you the feel-good factor that comes with a senses-pleasing ritual.