Your Skin is an Amazing Organ

Our skin is an extremely remarkable, complex and resilient organ. Our skin is intelligent, Let’s pay Homage to our skin and all that it does for us:

  • Our skin is a waterproof barrier that protects us and keeps out harmful bacteria, chemicals, water, insects, heat and cold, dirt and gases.
  • It retains fluids like blood and water and holds safe, minerals, vitamins, Hormones, proteins and heat.
  • Our skin has an incredible self-renewing system that provides a replacement of the outer cells lost to the environment.
  • It provides protection from UV damage and deflects harmful rays (providing we don’t exfoliate it away!)
  • It protects our inner organs and keeps us alive, without skin we would perish.
  • Allows sensory feelings of pleasure and pain
  • Keeps our body at a comfortable temperature by controlling sweat evaporation
  • Our skin is a waste disposal system, ridding the body of many toxic substances, which often manifests as unsightly things that we blame our skin for not behaving, but in-fact it is just doing it’s job!
  • Our skin synthesises  Vitamin D
  • Our skin is part of our immune system and the first line of defence against damage and germs

When your skin reacts to something with irritation, your skin is simply adjusting to a chemical or physical imbalance and is trying to compensate. Your skin does not create an eczema flare up or huge acne cyst because it is out of control. It is exactly the opposite, your skin knows exactly what it is doing: It is simply trying to control a localised problem that occurs as a result of an internal condition.  Your skin makes every effort to restore itself to a full dermal density as it gets older, but we need to give it the right tools for the job.

When we see skin issues on the surface, we must first look at treating the problem inside and the root cause

We must respect our skin and realise that our skin is a reflection of what is going on inside of us.  Our skin takes the brunt of our bad habits, sugar, smoking, bad food, toxic overload. This clearly affects the skin’s ability to heal and control inflammation. Some of this can be fixed with nutrition, lifestyle and supplements, some skin conditions are genetic but can be controlled.

Let’s stop abusing our skin and build a Healthy Skin that lasts a lifetime.

Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis Pilaris is the medical term for the genetic condition that appears as rough, red bumps on the skin – this resembles red goosebumps and chicken skin. It is most commonly found on the back of the tops of arms, but can also affect tops of thighs and buttocks. This condition can be  irritating and scratching seems to make it worse, this can cause scabs that result in scarring in extreme cases.

This affects 40% of the population – 50 – 80% will affect adolescents and often appears in individuals when they are children, it is more common in women than men.

Read more

Dry and Dehydrated Skin

Dermalogica MoisturisersDry skin and dehydration can be a temporary problem for most people – for example, in the winter. But for some, dry skin is a lifelong concern – they have genetically lipid dry skin (Allipoid).

Dry skin, also known as Xerosis, effects many people of all ages, even infants. As we get older there is a significant drop in the Stratum Corneum Lipids – fats that are essential for the structure and function of living cells, as well as Ceramides (one of the important components that make up the skin’s Lipid Barrier).

By the time we reach our 40’s, our skin will most likely be dry as well as dehydrated.

Lifestyle can also contribute to a dry or dehydrated skin – stress, continued exposure to the sun, wind, and chemicals in the environment will all weaken your skin’s barrier and vital moisture is lost.

Also the products you choose can sometimes irritate and artificially dry your skin out, avoid S.D Alcohol (specially denatured- also known as Alcohol Denat) Any toners that feel like they are burning are a no no! they most likely contain S.D Alcohol or some other form of barrier solvent, you really want to strengthen your skin’s barrier and keep it as intact as you can.

Dry skin, or Allipoid skin, generally refers to a skin that is lacking in oil, whereas dehydrated skin is defined by the lack of water in the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the epidermis. Typically, skin cells that make up the deepest layers of the epidermis have around 80% water content, while cells of the stratum corneum are about 10% water. Anything below 10% is perceived as dehydrated.

Oily skin can still be dehydrated, it has enough levels of sebum (your skin’s oil) but that doesn’t help maintain water levels in the skin. A true dry skin will lack oil and also be dehydrated, due to a poor barrier that is leaking vital moisture.

Both dry and dehydrated skin is often irritated, inflamed and itchy, and it is worse in areas with very few sebaceous glands – such as arms, torso and legs as well as cheeks and eyes.

Other symptoms of dry skin can include a feeling of tightness or tautness, especially after bathing (having a bath is actually the worst thing for dry skin!), skin can flake and dry skin is more prone to fine lines and wrinkles. Dry skin will not have visible pores, the follicles will be quite tight.

Dry Skin Genes

Scientists at the University of Dundee have discovered the gene that causes dry skin. The Dundee research team says that its work has discovered the gene that produces “Filaggrin“, which helps the skin form a protective barrier, isn’t producing Filaggrin in a true Dry Skin. Filaggrin is normally found in large quantities in the outermost layers of the skin and is an essential part of the skin Barrier Function, helping to retain water and has moisturising properties, as well as keeping foreign organisms and bacteria out. They may have found the genetic reason for dry skin, but no cure! all I can say is moisturise, moisturise and then moisturise a bit more!

Winter Xerosis

This is also known as Chicago winter skin. It occurs when people live in a climate that goes from humid to very dry. This can be very uncomfortable for your skin, the reason is the low humidity which causes a decrease in the water content of the Stratum Corneum.

Lifestyle facors to avoid!

  • Over Cleansing – Yes! you can wash your skin too much! – avoid soap, it’s too alkaline and will strip your skin’s barrier. Use acid balanced cleansers, in a cream or cream/gel formulation. Also avoid very Hot water.
  • Over exfoliation – too much is definitely bad for your skin, dry skin needs a certain amount of exfoliation, but keep it light and less frequent, I like Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, it’s a super gentle polisher that leaves skin really smooth and glowing.
  • Avoid products with artificial colours or fragrance.
  • Smoking can also have a drying and dehydrating effect on the skin, as smoking inhibits the body’s ability to provide oxygen, nutrients and water to the skin. Smoking also drains the skin (and your body) of Vitamins A and C, and restricts blood vessels. You suffocate your skin from the inside.
  • The Sun can also contribute to dry skin, constant exposure to the sun causes water to evaporate from the skin, tanned or burned skin requires a lot more moisturising for this reason. Always wear an SPF at all times!
  • A Fat Free diet is definitely a trouble! and will put you on the path to dry skin and premature ageing! Skin friendly Essential Fatty Acids are the “good” fats and will provide your body the ingredients to support your skin’s barrier. I like Viridian’s Organic Beauty Oil or Udo’s Choice Oil blend  and take a tablespoon every day! It is also thought that taking “Hyaluronic Acid” supplements can plump cells and hydrate skin from within.
  • Excess Alcohol, and certain medications (such as decongestants) can also contribute to dry skin and cause dehydration.

What can you do?

There are many steps you can take to lessen the discomfort of dry and dehydrated skin. The right lifestyle choices are a great start, as well as a Professional Skin Treatment and effective home-care products.

Contrary to popular belief drinking water does not directly hydrate and impact your skin! your better off topically applying products to combat the moisture loss.

We need our bodies to be hydrated in order for our cells to get the water they need, but we are only as good as our circulation and lymphatic system! If they are not great, the blood vessels will not be carrying all the nutrients, water and oxygen to our skin! So the key is to do enough exercise (regularly) to get the blood flowing and you sweating! and your face nice and rosy!

It is true our body loses around 2 litres a day through sweat, urine etc, and we do need to put that back in, but we get water from our food as well as drinking, I try to drink about 1 litre of water a day as well as other drinks, and I eat lots of fruit and veg.  The signs of dehydration are –  lethargy, headaches and thirst – don’t let your body get to this point, so always keep some water handy!

The use of a humidifier will also help add moisture to surrounding air – central heating is terrible for our skin, warm dry air acts like a giant sponge, soaking up moisture from everything it touches. Dry-it-out  has a wide range of affordable humidifiers, or you can place some bowls of water around the house, house plants will also help.

Topical Solutions For Dry Skin

Effective skin-care for dry skin will include the use of emollients and hydrators to replenish skin, and antioxidant vitamins and peptides to stimulate collagen production and increase the skin’s barrier protection. Make sunscreen as much a part of your routine as cleansing and moisturising, apply at least a teaspoon to get the correct SPF.

Cleansers For Dry Skin

Avoid stripping the skin with one of these creamy, hydrating cleansers, if your skin is too dry to use water then simply tissue off.

Toners For Dry Skin

Spritz toners are great for dry or dehydrated skin, apply your moisturiser onto freshly spritzed, damp skin and you will seal in and trap extra moisture.

Moisturisers For Dry Skin

Treatment Masks for Dry Skin

Use a mask 2-3 times a week as a super hydrating and nourishing fix, especially in the winter or on holidays.

Products To Combat Dehydration

Some of the products above will be too emollient for skin’s that are dehydrated and not genetically dry, some of them though are still fine to use, even on oily skin. If in doubt, please ask me. The products below will tackle dehydration, even on oily, easily congested skin.

Skin Treatments For Dry And Dehydrated Skin

Sometimes your skin needs an extra boost, regardless of what products you are using – that’s the time to get a skin treatment. Treatments are tailored to your skin, as I am sure you may have other skin concerns apart from dryness or dehydration. Using Professional strength products and equipment that give real results. In a treatment we can use higher strength exfoliants, enhance the penetration of active ingredients with electricals, and enhance circulation and the lymphatic system.


The A B C D E of Moles

It is important to know the difference between an ordinary mole and melanoma, since moles may develop into melanoma or indicate an increased risk for melanoma. An ordinary mole is normally an even colour and can be light brown, tan or a black spot on the skin. They can be raised or flat, oval or round. Moles are normally smaller than a quarter of an inch in diameter and can be present at birth or just appear during your childhood or adulthood. Moles can appear on areas of your skin that have had more sun-exposure than others.

Once a mole develops, it normally stays the same size, colour and shape for many years. Most people have moles that are almost always harmless, however it is vital to recognise the changes in your moles that may suggest melanoma is developing.

The following ABCDE system can help you tell a normal mole from one that could be melanoma, check your self and your family at least once a year and anything suspicious should be seen by your doctor immediately.

Asymmetry – Melanoma lesions are typically asymmetrical, whereas benign moles are typically round and symmetrical.

Border – Melanoma lesions frequently have uneven or irregular borders (e.g, ragged or notched edges), and benign moles have smooth, even borders.

Colour – Melanoma lesions often contain multiple shades of brown or black, whereas benign moles are usually a single shade of brown.

Diameter – Early melanoma lesions are often more than 6mm in diameter, whereas benign moles are usually less than 6mm in diameter.

Elevations or Enlargement – look out for moles that seem much bigger or more raised.

Some melanomas do not conform to the A-B-C-D-E criteria, so any supsicious ones should be examined by a Doctor/Dermatologist.

Prevent the damage with the use of a broad spectrum sun-screen at all times whilst in the sun, and do not allow your skin to burn, 3 burns in your lifetime increases you risk of skin-cancer! Slip, slap and slop it on, as the Australians say! A teaspoon of sun-screen for your face and a shot glass for your body and re-apply regularly.

For more information visit the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Dark Circles Revealed

Dark Circles under your eyes will most likely appear at some point in your life. The skin around our eyes is much thinner and more delicate than anywhere else on our body.

The Biology of Dark Circles Under eye darkness begins in your capillaries, which are very tiny blood vessels that surround the thin skin around your eyes. These capillaries are so small that Red Blood Cells have to line up to get through –  they freqently wander into the surrounding skin and our bodies have a mechanism to mop up these stray blood cells. Enzymes in your body will break down the red blood cells (including their Hemoglobin that gives them a Red colour). When Hemoglobin is broken down, the remaining components leave a dark bluish, black colour – just like a bruise, it’s the same mechanism. So leaky capillaries are responsible for the formation of dark circles, but other things can also impact this.

I actually feel more tired when I look in the mirror and see those shadows beneath my eyes, even if I am not! Surprisingly, the most common cause isn’t lack of sleep (although it definitely does have an affect) but Sinus Congestion. When your nose is blocked, the veins that usually drain from your eyes into your nose become dilated and darker, you can especially see this on someone with a very pale skin tone.

Dark circles can also be a sign of dehydration which will decrease the flow of nutrients to the capillaries, so evaluate your fluid intake. In Chinese Face Diagnosis the under eye area represents the Kidney area – they say darkness with a bluish colour is due to an imbalance in Kidney energy.

Unfortunately for some, dark circles can be hereditary and part of their natural genetic pigment. Pigmentation caused by sun-damage can be a cause for some people, so always make sure you wear an adequate SPF around the eyes and wear some BIG sunglasses. The skin around our eyes is far more sensitive to the sun as it is very thin with less oil glands, also sun-damage will degrade Collagen and Elastin and cause premature wrinkles and loose skin.

Ageing will make the appearance of Dark Circles worse, this is because the skin becomes much thinner and our skin becomes more translucent as we get older due to the decrease in Melanin Pigment, this makes the blood vessels show up more. Conditions that cause fluid retention (Kidney, Liver, Heart and Thyroid diseases) or certain medications that cause blood vessel dilation may be a factor – check with your doctor.

Allergies can make your eyes itchy and rubbing the delicate skin around your eyes can cause dark circles. Smoking will also have an impact as it restricts oxygen flow to the capillaries.

What Can We Do?

Changes to your lifestyle can have a positive effect on non-hereditory dark circles, here’s my tips….

  • Be sure to get plenty of sleep and STOP smoking!
  • Supplements containing Vitamin C, Pycnogenol, Grapeseed extract all contain antioxidant compounds that may help strengthen blood vessels, this may also help prevent broken capillaries.
  • Topical ingredients containing Horse Chestnut, Vitamin K, Gingko, Witch Hazel and Green Tea may also strengthen the delicate eye tissue.
  • A cold compress is a quick fix that helps constrict blood vessels and normalise tissue colour. Only Temporary, but makes you feel better! I like chilled plain teabags or Cucumber slices. I also use a Yuroll Eye Roller – the cooling Jade feels lovely and it will boost circulation and Lymph Drainage.
  • Feast on the wonderful varieties of  Super Berries – Cranberries, Blueberries, Blackcurrants – wash down with a large pot of Green or Black Tea. The Antioxidants they contain may help fortify blood vessels, also drink plenty of water and cut down on Salt, which can make dilated blood vessels worse.
  • A good concealer is worth its weight in gold! I like “Anti Fatigue Concealer” By Terry – this is brilliant at disguising dark circles without looking heavy, it also contains Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate the delicate skin.
  • Dermalogica Total Eye Care  is also a good treatment – it has a slight Pink colour that disguises darkness. It also has an essential SPF 15 to protect against sun-damage.
Omega 3

Eczema and Dermatitis

The name Eczema comes from the Greek word meaning “to boil”. This best describes the inflamed itchy red rash which many suffer from. In more severe cases, the skin is broken and becomes weepy and scabbed.

Also known as Dermatitis, eczema comes in several forms – Atopic, contact, seborrhoeic and others less common. Dermatitis usually refers to a skin condition brought on by a reaction to something like an external irritant, i.e – detergents and metals.

The most common form of eczema is atopic eczema. It is thought to be triggered by allergies, and most prevalent in families where there is a history of asthma and hay fever. Atopic eczema is due to a faulty immune system, which leads to the body being unable to distinguish invading bacteria and viruses from harmless environmental substances such as pollen, house dust and mite droppings.

Many sufferers are driven to distraction by the overwhelming urge to scratch, which inevitably leads to severe scaling, bleeding and weeping of blisters under the skin. Not only is eczema unsightly, it is also extremely uncomfortable and frustratingly difficult to cure. Although eczema is very common (atopic eczema is now the most common childhood disorder in the western world), conventional medicine has yet to find a drug that effectively treats the condition without damaging side-effects.

Drugs from the doctor’s surgery include steroids and antihistamines, which can work for some people but they do have side effects and are often disappointingly ineffective.

A recent study by Dr Mike Cork (Head of Dermatology at the University of Sheffield) has shown the importance of avoiding the synthetic detergent Sodium Lauryl Sulphate and also the milder Laureth Sulphate, especially on sensitive skin and if you are eczema prone. He has published academic papers on the subject and is aiming to increase awareness of the fact that one of the most commonly prescribed treatments for both Psoriasis and Eczema, “Aqueous cream”, actually contains high quantities of Sodium Lauryl Sulphate. This ingredient is totally inappropriate for those with eczema and may even aggravate the skin, making the condition worse.

Eat Yourself Beautiful and Face the FATS!


Children who develop atopic eczema do so between the ages of three and six months, at the time when most are weaned. One clue that the Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) in Evening Primrose Oil could be a factor in controlling eczema, was found when breast-fed babies who switched to solids developed eczema. Human breast milk is a rich source of GLA and breast-fed babies receive the same amount of GLA found in two-three capsules of evening primrose oil every day.


Although the makers of formula feeds claim their products are as close in composition as possible to human breast milk, it is surprising that they rarely contain any GLA at all. British formula milks contain Linolenic Acid, which should be converted by the body into GLA, however studies show that some babies do not carry out this conversion properly. Even purely breast fed babies may not receive enough GLA to protect them from eczema if their mother’s blood has low levels of this important fatty acid. This suggests that it might be sensible for women who are breastfeeding to supplement their diet with evening primrose oil or a special pregnancy Omega Blend.

Treating Eczema

Salmon Omega 3A key factor in controlling eczema is maintaining good moisture in the skin. For this, it is essential to have adeqate amounts of essential fats in your cell membranes. This means treating eczema from a nutritional angle and also topically with products that can strenghten the skin’s barrier and protect it.

Oily fish like Wild Sockeye Salmon contains anti-inflammatory omega 3 and will help keep skin hydrated and firm.

Evening Primrose Oil taken as a nutritional supplement has shown to improve itching by 36%, scaling by 33%, and redness by 29%. Similar trials at the Dermatology clinic at the University of Bologna in Italy, reported substantial improvements in the clinical symptoms of atopic eczema after just four weeks of Evening Primrose Oil therapy.

The two main ways in which Evening Primrose can help improve dry skin and eczema is by preventing trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) and regulating the inflammatory processes that lead to skin scaling and itching. The key ingredient in the recipe for controlling eczema is Prostaglandin E1, a substance that has a number of important actions within the body. Prostaglandin E1 can dilate blood vessels, lower blood pressure, regulate the immune system in response to allergens and have an anti-inflammatory action. Anyone looking to improve atopic eczema should therefore look closely at ways to improve their levels of Prostaglandin E1, and Evening Primrose is an obvious choice as it is a rich source of GLA.

What about the other sources of GLA, such as Borage (Starflower Oil) and Blackcurrant Seed Oils?. Although these are a great source of GLA and will be great for your skin, they do not appear to be as good at stimulating the production of Prostaglandin E1. The reason is unclear, so although both Borage and Blackcurrant Seed Oils are useful supplements for general skin health, they are probably not the best option for specifically treating atopic eczema.

Evening Primrose Oil is the only oil to have been granted a medical licence to help treat eczema. It is available on prescription for the relief of atopic eczema in a standardised form called “Epogam”.

It is also a good idea to eat more polyunsaturated oils in nuts and seeds, and oilier varieties of fish. A general improvement in diet that is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods, always has a great benefit for your skin.

The Topical Treatment of Eczema

Many people with eczema soon discover which products aggravate their condition such as soaps or certain creams, washing detergents or types of wool. With these, it is mainly a case of detecting which are the worst offenders and avoiding them. There may also be a link with the hardness of your water you wash in.

Ingredients to look out for in skin care products are: Evening Primrose Oil, Borage, Rosehip Seed Oil, Neem Oil, anti-inflammatory herbs e.g. Calendula, Echinacea, Chamomile, Comfrey, and barrier repair products.

Dermanova  cream is also very good.
The essential fatty acids help the skin in many ways, by keeping its softness and suppleness. The Hydrolipid balance and barrier fuctions of the skin are reliant on essential fatty acids.

Eczema Advice

  • Avoid any form of exfoliation!
  • Never rub your skin, pat dry.
  • Avoid extremes of temperature
  • Use less irritating mineral sunscreens, e.g, Zinc Oxide, Titanium Oxide.
  • Avoid soap, it is far too alkaline.
  • Stress can be a trigger! try some stress reduction techniqus like Yoga, Meditation, Massage and Reflexology.
  • Try rubbing the contents of an Evening Primrose capsule into badly effected areas of your skin.

For more information and support visit –


What is a Skin Type

The first sort of skin typing emerged in the 1970’s, from beauty guru Helena Rubenstein. The following categories were used to describe the differences in skin.

  • Normal
  • Oily
  • Dry (Allipoid)
  • Combination
  • Sensitive
  • Acneic

Dermalogica Face MappingTo put it simply a skin type is a description of how and why your skin looks, and behaves the way it does.

The problem is – these categories are all very neat and tidy! but your skin is a little bit more complex, and your skin condition is never static, and over time your skin type can change.

The variations of what is happening on your skin can not only change season to season, but month to month, even on a weekly or daily basis. Your skin type is the the most important factor that influences the decisions you make about your skin.

Skin Type vs Skin Condition

A common mistake made by both client and therapists is not knowing the difference between skin type and skin condition. These are two different things and will play a big part in which skin-care products you choose. Generally your skin type is genetic, and skin conditions are effected by internal and external influences.

Skin Conditions

  • Dehydrated
  • Sensitised
  • Ageing/Prematurely
  • Pigmentation
  • Congestion/breakouts

As you can see, this can lead to confusion and an elusive search for the right products! The typical categories of normal, dry etc are a good start point, but they will not address every change and fluctuation of your skin. You definitely need to tweak your skin care regimen, with the ever changing needs of your skin.

You need to recognise all the changes that happen to your skin, and really get to know your skin and how it reacts to different seasons, stress, hormonal changes.

This is important, as different skin types require different product formulations. Even though we all require some of the same active ingredients such as, Sunscreens, antioxidants, peptides and vitamins, it depends on the base they are in (lotion, gel, serum, cream etc).

So be careful before you put yourself in a skin type category, as sometimes the very products you thought would help, can make your skin worse!

Internal Influences

  • Hormonal changes (pregnancy, menopause, menstrual cycle)
  • Stress
  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Smoking
  • Medications
  • Diet
  • Poor health

External influences

  • Climate/weather (humidity, hot, cold etc)
  • Your skin regimen, (over exfoliating, using pore-clogging ingredients or irritating products)
  • The sun and external pollutants

The Skin Type Solution – by Dr Baummen, is a brilliant book, and has a questionnaire that really points you in the right direction.


This is such a huge subject, and I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, remember that your born with a genetic skin type, your skin condition can change frequently. So I would definitely advise you to use products that don’t create of reinforce your skin problems. Among the offending products are bars of soaps (too alkaline, and barrier stripping, can artificially make your skin dry and irritated), occlusive moisturisers can clog pores and make breakouts worse. Avoid irritating ingredients, and astringents, that can strip your skin’s barrier, and make your skin sensitised.

And remember skin-care varies from person to person, what your best friend likes may wreak havoc on your skin! Pay attention to what is taking place on your skin, and tweak your products accordingly. Don’t get swept away with misleading advertising, and unrealistic claims!

For better skin – see an experienced skin professional!

The Management of Oily Skin

Oily skin produces excessive amounts of Sebum (the opposite of dry skin), which is produced from your sebaceous glands. Sebum is a lipid rich protective substance that helps form the skin barrier. Sebum is made up of – Squalene, Sterols, Wax Esters, Sterol Esters, Triglycerides – these are the most abundant.

The reason that the sebaceous glands are over active is down to Testosterone. This hormone is secreted by the male sexual organs, and in women it comes from the ovaries and adrenal glands.

In excess the sebum makes skin look shiny and have open pores and tends to be easily congested – make-up doesn’t seem to stay on that well. Oily skin is genetic and you cannot stop the excess oil, but their are many products and lifestyle choices that can control it. Eventually as you get older and go through hormonal changes your oil secretion should calm down.

I have a genetically oily skin type that I have inherited from my mum (thanks mum!) Oily skin tends to age better than a dry skin – as long as you protect against the sun and don’t smoke etc. Although my skin is very oily, I only experience breakouts before my period, but I have to be careful to avoid Pore Clogging Ingredients (Comedogenic) as my skin gets clogged very easily. Don’t forget Oily skin can still get dehydrated, as it can lose water in the upper layers.

Oily Skin And Acne

So even if your skin is oily, it is not the direct cause of Acne, you would have a genetic predisposition to Acne, or hormone imbalance is triggered by stress and can cause a low grade persistent Acne.

Free flowing sebum is not a problem in regards to acne, It is the sebum that is not released, that builds up and gets inflamed, that results in acne breakouts.

 What is Combination Skin?

Identifying your skin type is made even more difficult by the “term” Combination Skin. Strictly speaking it is not a true skin type, but almost everyone at some time has combination skin. I tend to go with the majority rules theory – if your skin is mostly oily – then you have an oily skin type, If your skin is mostly dry – then you have a dry skin type. It is the formulation of the product that is important, cream or lotion, water or oil based.

Physiologically, the nose, chin, center of forehead, and the center of cheeks all have more oil glands than other parts of the face. Problems occur when you buy products for oily skin that are not appropriate for the areas that are not oily, or vice-versa. You may need separate products to deal with the different skin conditions on your face.


Tips For Oily Skin

  • Avoid Harsh stripping of the skin – products with Alcohol will actually cause your skin to pump out more Sebum, to make up for what has been lost!
  • Avoid baking your face in the sun! while it may seem to temporary dry your skin out – the sebaceous glands will go into overdrive to replace the lost oil! not to mention the Sun Damage!
  • High Humidity will make your skin feel even oilier! you need a scrupulous skin-care routine, and avoid pore clogging ingredients.

Don’t give up, it is a manageable skin type and a blessing in disguise! Here are my skin-care must haves for oily skin.

  • Scrupulous double cleansing that breaks down oils and stubborn make-up, so your second cleanse can actually clean your skin and pores – I like Dermalogica Precleanse  for the first cleanse
  • Use a clay based or a foaming cleanser to thoroughly cleanse your skin, Dermalogica Dermal Clay Cleanser or Dermalogica Special Cleansing gel are very effective.
  • Exfoliation can help control oil production, improve skin texture and help prevent clogged pores that lead to spots. Salicylic Acid is an effective ingredient to look for in exfoliants or other products for oily skin, as it can actually get inside the follicle and break down sebum. I like Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant or Dermalogica Daily Resurfacer.
  • Once or twice a week, apply a deep cleansing clay based mask to help control sebum and clean pores. Try Dermalogica Sebum Clearing Masque or Dermalogica Skin Refining Masque.
  • Even if you think your skin doesn’t need it, apply a light moisturiser like Dermalogica Oil Control Lotion, Dermalogica Active Moist or Crystal Clear No Shine Serum, even oily skin gets dehydrated.
  • For make up, go for oil free formulations, I love Dermalogica Treatment Foundation and Mineralogie Matte Finishing Powder
  • Sunscreen formulations have improved so much as they used to feel too greasy and clog the skin. I like Dermalogica Oil Free Matte Block SPF25 and Mineralogie Face And Body Block SPF30, a unique mineral powder you just dust over skin.

Skin Treatments for Oily Skin

  • By receiving a regular facial every 4 – 6 weeks, you can keep your skin clear and healthy. Professional extractions and exfoliation will help with the ongoing skin concerns of an oily skin, and also tackle any other concerns you may have with your skin.

Red Alert For Rosacea

RosaceaRosacea is actually quite a common skin problem. One in twenty people suffer from it to varying degrees, though many never realise they have it. About three times as many women have it as men. Multiple factors contribute to an alarming rise in this progressive neurovascular disorder which generally affects the facial skin. The bad news is there is currently no cure, the good news, is that with information and diligence, Rosacea now may be effectively managed and contained to prevent irreversible damage.

In spite of the fact that this condition has been around for centuries, there is still much that we do not know. Rosacea is primarily a disorder of the facial blood vessels. It can start as intense blushing, the blood vessels seem hyper-responsive to a wide range of stimuli. These stimuli may include physical exertion, sun, stress, hormonal/adrenal changes, chocolate, tomatoes, spicy foods, smoking and alcohol to name but a few. In response the blood vessels dilate and engorge with blood more frequently than is normal, and in the end often stay that way.

The constant dilation and engorgement finally damages the blood vessels to the point where they no longer function properly. In some people, the skin swells and thickens: if this happens around the nose, it may become bulbous and is known as Rhinophyma (as in some people with alcoholism) Some sufferers also find that their eyes sting and feel gritty. This can be accompanied by papules and pustules which can be confused with Acne. It can cause discomfort and effect the persons self confidence.

Rosacea generally affects the face, and is most common in people between the ages of 30 – 50. Women are most affected in the cheek, and chin areas, while men seem to manifest the condition around the nose.

It all begins with the blushing, of course everyone blushes at some point!, but for Rosacea sufferers rosy cheeks are the first sign of their condition.

The challenge is recognizing Rosacea for what it truly is. This skin disorder can often produce pustules and pimples as it advances, and can be misdiagnosed as Acne Vulgaris (common Acne). Correct diagnosis is critical as some of the ingredients used to treat acne (Salicylic acid, Benzoyl peroxide) may actually make matters much worse!

The very early stages of Rosacea, the pink flush may appear 30-60 minutes after a trigger, and sometimes takes hours or days to disappear. If this flush is accompanied by itchiness, sensitivity, and sometimes a reaction to your skin care products, then stage 1 of Rosacea may be showing itself.

Stage 2 is indicated by more intense and frequent facial flushing, to the point where it is almost a constant state and the affected areas can look swollen and a dark pink/purple colour. This long term engorgement of the blood vessels often results in vascular damage, followed by inflammatory papules and pustules (leading to the confusion with acne, although typically Rosacea does not produce blackheads)

As Rosacea advances, the veins begin weak and begin to leak, leading to stage 3, where the impaired blood vessels cannot remove lymph through the system in a normal way. As a result, the sebaceous glands of the cheeks and nose become enlarged and all affected tissues begin to swell.

The Treatment of Rosacea

The usual medical treatment is antibiotics, either taken orally or in the form of topical creams or gels e.g – Tetracycline and Metronidazole. This does appear to help control blushing as well as reduce the inflammation in the veins. However long term use may disturb beneficial bacteria in the gut. laser treatments are very effective at diminishing the broken blood vessels that are visible on the skin – seek advice from a Dermatologist

In addition to drugs, treatment by a professional skin therapist offers some relief in many holistic ways.

  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage – a specialised, advanced massage technique which doesn’t stimulate blood flow and works to prevent the swelling around the facial features caused by the impaired blood vessels.
  • Anti-inflammatory essential oils and ingredients – Aloe, Allantoin, Arnica, Chamomile, Calendula, Oatmeal, Comfrey, Burdock and Coneflower. Look for these in your skin care formulations.
  • Reflexology, Pressure point massage, and stress relief treatments – may bring some relief to the mind and body.
  • Nutrition for skin – tackle Rosacea from the inside as well, good nutrition is the key to treating any skin disorder and a diet rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods is always going to have skin benefits.

Definitely avoid conventional exfoliation and products with Alpha Hydroxy Acids, non invasive particles such as rice bran are more appropriate to Rosacea prone skin, Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant  is ideal – but don’t use it everyday, once or twice a week if at all. Also waxing must be approached with caution as well as extremes of temperature, especially when washing the face, this must be avoided to minimize capillary expansion.

Beware of harsh cleansers and toners with alcohol, these will strip the skin of its lipids which in turn compromise the skin’s protective barrier. Avoid the classic irritants Lanolin, S.D Alcohol, artificial fragrance, artificial colour, and mineral oil.

Try to reduce the number of products you use (less is definitely more with Rosacea), a good moisturiser, especially during severe weather and when travelling by air, along with a good sun protection product are essential! Also a good sun protection product is vital, look for Mineral sun blocks that include Zinc Oxide.

Mineral make up can provide full coverage for the redness, with sun protection and has less ingredients than conventional make up, so is much less irritating.

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Udo's Choice Omega BlendPsoriasis is a distressing skin condition in which the skin cells renew too quickly, leading to scaliness and flaking, in other words abnormal skin growth. Usually the outer cells (Stratum Corneum) are shed so slowly that we barely notice, but in people with psoriasis, new cells are formed about a thousand times more quickly than usual, due to a disturbance in the body’s cell replication control mechanisms.

Some women find that their psoriasis improves during pregnancy or when they reach menopause, so there may be some hormonal link but this is not yet understood. In fact the reason why psoriasis happens at all is not known but there are many ways in which it can be helped.

Psoriasis is a common skin complaint, in the UK about 2% of the population suffers from it. It affects women and men equally and it can come on at any age. There appears to be a family link to Psoriasis as about one third of sufferers have relatives with the condition. If you smoke, then you are 3 times more likely to develop Psoriasis.

Psoriasis is mostly treated with steroid creams and lotions designed to help slow down the rate of cell formation. But as many sufferers will tell you, these are not always effective. Psoriasis has been linked to problems with metabolism of essential fatty acids. A study of 80 patients who were given omega 3 fish oil supplements showed significantly reduced lesions within 4 – 6 weeks. Itching was the first to decrease, followed by scaling, then redness. Essential fatty acids may help when applied topically to the skin and some natural treatment creams contain specialised EFA’s and other helpful oils.

In addition to dietary supplements, it is important for psoriasis patients to avoid all damaged, trans fats and to focus on a “clean food” diet. It may also help to cut back on saturated fats found in red meats, dairy foods and eggs, as well as refined sugars and wheat gluten. Some practitioners also suggest milk thistle and artichoke extracts to help improve liver function. Sufferers from psoriasis also seem to benefit from taking evening primrose oil and clinical trials have reported moderate improvements in 60% of patients given 2000mg supplements over an 8 week period. The dosage for omega – 3 supplements recommended for treating psoriasis is around 2000mg of fish oils a day, try eating more oily fish as well.

Treating Psoriasis

A key factor in dealing with psoriasis does appear to be managing the way you react to stress. Stress seems to be a huge trigger in psoriasis. Unless the person with psoriasis is first willing to confront and deal with stress or unresolved emotional issues then your treatment results may not be very successful. Find out what works for you in terms of stress management and try different techniques – excercise, meditation, massage, reflexology and aromatherapy all help with stress reduction and coping techniques.

Prescription emollients are normally given to sufferers to moisturise the skin, or coal tar preparations which are messy and smelly. Harsher chemicals are also prescribed and are relatively effective but not without side effects. Ultraviolet light therapy can be a useful treatment, but be aware of the ageing effect and the risk of skin cancer, always consult your doctor first.

Dead sea salts can be helpful and there are many bathing products available in your health food shop, you could also try Epsom Salts , 500g in a warm bath. Look in your local health food shop for an alternative to cortisone creams such as Glycyrrhetinic acid, this is made from Licorice and has anti-inflammarory properties. Neem oil is also used for psoriasis and eczema and is used in Indian medicine to help treat skin disorders. Studies have shown Neem to be both anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory. One study has even showed Neem oil to be four times more effective than hydrocortisone.

Skin care advice

  • Gentle, non irritating products can help minimise the discomfort of psoriasis.
  • Avoid soap, bubble bath and perfumed shower gel.
  • Frequently apply an emmolient moisturiser.

Dermanova Cream is a specific moisturising cream containing Neem and other oils to help treat psoriasis, available from select health food shops or try – for the full range. (this is an option if steroid creams have not worked or if you would rather avoid them).

Providing support for psoriasis sufferers as well as raising awareness to the condition.