In support of Acne Awareness Month, we spoke to one of our expert Consultant Dermatologists, Dr Firas Al-Niaimi, to better understand the common skin condition. Dr Firas explains everything from common causes to different types and severity and the all important treatments and solutions to help combat acne and achieve better skin.
What is acne?
Acne is a skin condition that stems from the pilosebaceous gland. This is the oil gland that is attached to a hair follicle and appears at the opening in the skin. When the sebaceous gland is overactive or there is an overgrowth of one commensal type of bacteria, it can lead to inflammation and blockage of pores due to an increase in cell turnover which in turn results in the clinical manifestations of acne.
What causes acne?
There is no one single cause of acne and as explained above it involves several factors. In some cases, hormones can be the root of the cause by triggering the sebaceous glands to be more active than usual. However, there are a number of triggers that can cause this to happen and very much depend on each individual.
- Diet: A high intake of milk and dairy, or an increase in calories, can encourage certain growth hormones to stimulate the grease gland to become more active which will then in turn cause acne to form. Try to avoid ‘binge’ eating high calorie foods and reduce your dairy intake or consider switching to non-dairy alternatives such as almond and soy products.
- A poor diet can also cause low level gut inflammation which leads to a build of toxins that can worsen the skin and in particular acne. Therefore, maintaining a healthy gut that is free from toxins and introducing foods that are rich in fibres and Omega-3 will help and be beneficial for not just the gut but also the skin.
- Hormones: These can trigger the grease gland to overproduce and increase the cell turnover at the pore openings leading to clogging which typically presents with white and blackheads. In women, will often happen in the days building up to your period. A helpful tip to manage this is to consider using a cleanser twice daily that contains Salicylic Acid (BHA) as this will help to ensure the removal of grease on the skin surface and clear the blocked pores.
- Overactive grease gland: In some cases, people just have an overactive grease glad. When combined with the presence of bacteria, acne will appear. Using skincare for grease-prone skin and maintaining a healthy diet will help to minimise the over-production of grease and oil.
- Bad habits: A habit that is particularly bad for our skin is touching and picking spots. By tampering with the skin, we are allowing more bacteria, dirt and oil to make its way into the pore and effectively making it worse than it was before. What’s more, by doing this it can lead to permanent scarring on the skin’s surface which is even more challenging than acne to get rid of.
What are the different types of acne and how can they be managed?
Acne can occur on various parts of the body including the back, chest and face. It also appears in numerous different forms.
- Blackheads: these are small black or yellow bumps that develop on the surface of the skin. Contrary to what many people think, these aren’t filled with dirt, but are black because the inner lining of the hair follicle has produced this colour.
- Whiteheads: they can have a similar appearance to blackheads but instead may be firmer and will not empty if squeezed.
- Papules: these appear as small red bumps that can often feel tender and sore.
- Pustules: often confused with papules as they are similar, however their difference is that they form a white tip in the centre that is caused by a build-up of pus.
- Nodules: large hard lumps that have built up beneath the surface of the skin and can often become quite painful.
- Cysts: this is the most severe type of spot caused by acne. They’re appearance is large pus-filled lumps that look similar to boils and can carry the greatest risk of causing permanent scarring.
Managing your acne will very much depend on not just the type but also the size of the spot and the surface of skin it is covering which will determine whether it is mild, moderate or severe.
Mild acne: This includes mostly small areas of black and white heads, as well as a very small number of papules and pustules. The main indication that you have mild acne will be that it covers only a very small area on the surface of the skin. A cleanser that contains glycolic or salicylic acid to keep the pores open and break down the oil is a must and may be all that is required. Topical nicotinamide (also called niacinamide) cream can be very helpful in addition. Chemical peels or HydraFacial are very effective maintenance treatments.
Moderate acne: Similar to mild acne, it includes blackheads, whiteheads, papules and pustules, but with moderate acne, it also covers a greater area of the skin. Moderate acne will require treatments such as tablets, prescriptive creams, chemical peels or in some cases, lasers. Typically, cases of moderate acne require dermatology diagnosis and treatment.
Severe acne: This is when papules, pustules, nodules and cysts will appear a lot larger, more painful and will cover the skin on a larger scale. It is recommended to seek advice from a dermatologist as severe acne requires treatment with prescriptions.
To make an appointment with one of our Consultant Dermatologists, please register online and one of our friendly advisers will be in touch.
One of the benefits of lockdown is that many of us have used the extra time to get fit! From home HIIT workouts to running 5 and donating 5 or taking advantage of the sunny weather by going for a bike ride, there has been a surge in people working out. With Government guidelines now allowing unlimited exercise, some of us might look to ramp up our fitness even more.
There’s no doubting that exercise is good for us mentally and physically, but sweat, elongated sun exposure and even the associated weight loss will all have an impact on our skin. As with any training session, our skin needs the appropriate care pre, during and post workout.
With this in mind, we asked one of our leading Consultant Dermatologists, Dr Firas Al-Niaimi to share his tips on what we should be doing to our skin pre and post workout as well as the effect exercise has on it.
“If you can, try skipping makeup all together before you exercise. It is important for your skin to be able to breath, especially when you are exercising, all make up does is prevent that from happening by creating a barrier on its surface. As you work out and your body heats up, your pores will also open up and what you don’t want to happen is for your makeup to settle back into your pores. This often results in blemishes, in particular whiteheads and blackheads from where oil, bacteria and makeup have become trapped.
“If you can, try using a micellar water facial cleanser before working out to try and remove any stubborn makeup before applying a light moisturiser. If you are exercising outside, remember to wear an SPF that is non-comedogenic such as the sk:n Sunscreen SPF 30 as this will also help to prevent any blockages within the pores whilst providing protection.”
“When we exercise our heart rate increases, this in turn increases our blood circulation, delivering much needed oxygen as well as essential vitamins and nutrients to tired skin cells. Over time as you start to work out on a regular basis this will promote efficient circulation to the skin and improve its overall health. It will also extend your glow to long after your workout finishes.
“Sweat is also far more important than you think – believe it or not it does wonders for your skin. It is the most natural way we can detox as it helps to clear pores of any dirt or pollutants whilst also providing a way for your body to flush out any toxins. When we sweat our pores open, and as this happens any blockages we may have become released.”
“Regular exercise can have a real benefit to our skin. Not only can it help to prolong the ageing process by increasing a particular organelle in our cells called the mitochondria which plays an important protective role in cellular ageing, but it also has almost-immediate positive effects on our skin’s thickness and elasticity – regardless of whether you’re an exercise novice or it has been part of your daily routine for years.
“Maintaining good elasticity in the skin allows it to return spontaneously back into its original place after being stretched. An example of this is when we make facial expressions – which we do countless times a day such as smiling and talking. Overtime, like most things our skin changes and as we age the elasticity will lose its durability, however exercise helps to maintain firmness.
“To allow this natural process to fully work, it is really important to make sure that you cleanse your skin after your work out, simply wiping your face with a towel just won’t cut it. If you don’t do this, the dirt that has been released from your pores will still be sitting on the skin’s surface and will simply settle back into your pores again. Try using the sk:n Vitamin Rich Gel Cleanser for Oily Skin as it is a great product to not only reduce oil and bacteria but it is also designed with rich vitamins and antioxidants.”
Here are Dr Firas Al-Niaimi top tips for skincare post workout:
- It’s helpful to try and cool off the skin to help prevent the breaking of blood vessels and return skin temperature to a normal level quickly. A simple quick splash of water on the face can help to do it which will also help to reduce any redness.
- Next, use a gentle cleanser as this will help to wash away oil, dirt and dead skin cells. It’s important to use a gentle product as your skin can often be more sensitive right after a workout.
- Another great way to get rid of excess dirt and oil is with toning pads. These often come in cotton pads that are already soaked with ingredients such as salicylic acid or glycolic acid. They are particularly good at removing that layer of sweat and any stubborn makeup with both ingredients acting as a chemical peeling agent.
- The next important step it to moisturise, the moisture in your skin will need to be replenished as it will be quite dehydrated. A product that is rich in hyaluronic acid and restorative ingredients is good for doing this. sk:n’s CU3 intensive moisture cream is great for as it will replenish the most dehydrated of skin.
We all know that moisturising our skin is important, but do we know why? Not only does regular moisturising keep your skin hydrated, but when you apply a moisturiser it also provides a physical barrier for environmental irritants, helping to lock in serums and treatments, reducing the risk of premature skin ageing.
We’ve asked one of our consultant dermatologists, Dr Jinah Yoo, to explain what moisturisers are, why they’re so important and what ingredients to look out for based on your skin type.
First things first, we need to understand the structure of our skin…
Skin is the largest organ in our body. The top layer of the skin, called stratum corneum, is made up of skin cells (keratinocytes) and lipids.
Try to imagine these skin cells as ‘bricks’ and the lipids as ‘mortar’ holding bricks together. This creates a waxy coating or protective barrier which helps to prevent water loss through the skin as well as protects against the environment – such as UV, injuries and infections.
So, why does our skin become dry?
Humans lose about 300 to 400 ml of water through the skin every day. This water loss into the atmosphere increases when the skin’s protective barrier is damaged or impaired, making skin become dehydrated.
Whereas dehydrated skin is caused by the lack of water, dry skin is due to the lack of lipids (sebum) in this top layer of the skin. That said, dehydrated skin can appear as dry skin, as well as causing other skin issues such as sunken eyes and a dull skin tone.
How can moisturiser help dry skin?
Moisturiser helps to restore the skin barrier to prevent the water loss from our skin. This is via occlusives such as petrolatum, lanolin or mineral oils, or by attracting moisture from surrounding humid environment with ingredients such as glycerin, urea and hyaluronic acid. Ceramides, which are natural lipids present in our skin, are also available as an ingredient in some moisturisers to help replenish the lipids in dry skin.
What’s the difference between day moisturisers versus night moisturisers?
The main differences between day and night moisturisers are the additional ingredients each contain.
During the daytime, our skin is exposed to UV and pollutants which are well-known factors contributing to skin cancer or skin ageing. Extra properties are often added to day moisturisers such as UVA/UVB filters and antioxidants. These additional ingredients help to protect against damage from the sun exposure and pollutants. Also, day moisturisers are lighter than night moisturisers which make it easier to apply before make-up.
In general, night moisturisers are thicker and greasier. It has been shown in research studies that skin cells have their own clock (Circadian rhythm) and repair of skin cells from damage caused by UV during the day peaks at night. The skin also becomes leakier at night leading to increased water loss through the skin. Considering these mechanisms, you can achieve extra benefits from a night moisturiser containing large concentration of anti-ageing ingredients such as retinol or peptides.
What should I look out for based on my skin type?
Firstly, the consistency of the moisturiser is important – thicker ointments are good for dry itchy skin, creams work well for normal skin and lotions for oily skin, but it is important to tailor your moisturiser to your skin type:
Sensitive skin: choose a fragrance-free and hypoallergenic moisturiser to reduce the irritation. Moisturisers containing niacinamide (Vitamin B3) or natural ingredient such as aloe vera can help to soothe sensitive skin. I recommend the Avène Skin Recovery Cream, which is a calming cream for skin that is fair, thin or prone to redness or skin that has become sensitised.
Acne-prone skin: use an oil-free, non-comedogenic lightweight moisturiser. This will reduce the risk of pores being blocked. Those containing alpha-hydroxy acids or niacinamide can also help with acne-prone skin. I recommend the sk:n Hydrator for Oily/Blemish Prone Skin for both day and night time as it provides 24-hour hydration and protection without causing congestion and has anti-inflammatory properties to soothe the skin and help reduce redness.
Dehydrated skin: it is important to replenish any lost water to dehydrated skin. Ingredients such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid can help to attract water to the skin from the surrounding environment. I recommend the Avène Hydrance Optimale Rich which is a rich hydrating moisturiser suitable for dehydrated or dry skin.
Combination skin: Use a lightweight moisturiser but apply additional amount of the same moisturiser or even a different thicker moisturiser to dry part of your skin. Avène Hydrance Optimale Light is a light moisturiser which is suitable for most skin types and you can reapply another thicker layer for dry parts of your skin.
Doctor Jinah Yoo is a Consultant Dermatologist at sk:n. Find out more about Jinah and her work here.
Summer is on the horizon! However, before you start soaking up the rays it’s important to remember that with a change in season, you really should be switching up your skincare routine too. To ensure you’re glowing in the right way this summer, Dr Shaaira Nasir, one of our Consultant Dermatologists, has shared her top tips on how you can protect your skin from dryness, sun damage and premature ageing.
First things first – Get your skin prepared
Being outside means your skin will collect additional dirt throughout the day so even if you forgo make-up in the warmer months your skin still needs a good clean in the evening. I would also recommend exfoliating once or twice a week. This will not only keep your pores in top tip condition but will also remove the dead skin cells that can prevent your skin from getting a uniform glow. Exfoliating cleansers or creams containing salicylic acid (which is a beta-hydroxy acid) are best for oily skin types. For drier skin types, chemical exfoliation containing alpha-hydroxy acids such as lactic or glycolic acid are best.
Secondly – Up the moisture
The sun completely dries your skin out. Moisturising after exposure will give your skin the hydration it needs to repair itself. It’s best to opt for a light moisturiser in the daytime and a thicker, more hydrating one for the night-time. Don’t forget the neck and décolletage when applying as this area of the skin is thinner, therefore particularly susceptible to wrinkles. As a bonus tip, apply moisturiser as soon as you’re out of the bath or shower, whilst your skin is still damp. That way you’ll lock in extra moisture!
This summer, I’ll be using the sk:n CU3 Intensive Moisture Cream. Not only does it moisturise, it has anti-ageing properties too. It contains copper peptides which helps with elastin and collagen production.
Number three – keep using retinol, with care
Retinoids such as Retinol are great collagen inducers which help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. They also help to even-out irregular pigmentation caused by sun damage. It is actually a myth that you can’t use a retinoid during the summer months. While true that skin becomes more photosensitive due to the exfoliation and removal of dead skin cells, provided you use retinol by night and sunscreen during the day you can both protect your skin and repair it at the same time.
Tip four – Make SPF your best friend
As soon as the sun appears many of us will want to ditch the thought of SPF to top up our tans. But it’s so essential that you wear protection. UVB rays cause sunburn and UVA rays can lead to premature ageing with both also contributing to skin cancer, so it’s important that you wear a sunscreen which contains protection against both.
You should always apply SPF after your moisturiser and before any foundation or make-up, while remembering to reapply regularly throughout the day. Although helpful, make up with SPF should not be used as a substitute for sunscreen. This is because it’s more likely to be removed by water or rubbing and we tend to apply a lot more thinly than sunscreen
In terms of your routine skincare products, it is best to go for fragrance-free products as fragrances can irritate your skin, and always choose the right product for your skin-type:
- For those with a normal skin type you may find selecting a moisturiser with SPF30 gives you the protection you need without being too heavy on your skin.
- If you suffer with dryer skin, opt for a separate moisturiser and SPF to give your skin the hydration you need.
- If you have acne-prone oily skin, then go for oil-free gel.
- Remember, if you’re fair or prone to burning you should always use SPF50.
Finally – Look after sun damaged skin
Regardless of whether you look burnt – if your skin has become dry, or feels warm to the touch, chances are it needs a little TLC at the end of the day. Take a cooling shower and cover yourself in a soothing body lotion while your skin is still damp. There are also many natural skin-loving ingredients that can help soothe sun-damaged skin. Aloe vera has moisturising and cooling properties which are particularly comforting for sunburnt skin, or dry, flaking skin caused by sun exposure.
This summer, my go to product will be Avène Skin Recovery Cream. It has a minimum number of ingredients, therefore is gentle on the skin and contains Parcerine which calms irritation and redness.
It’s really important that we look after our skin from the get-go, from our parents putting suncream on us as babies, to when we start looking after our own skin needs from our teenage years and beyond. Our Dermatologists have teamed up to give their top tips on the skincare rituals you should be obeying at all ages.
Generation Z (1995-2010)
The most common reason for spots appearing in this age group is due to change of hormones during puberty. This causes excess oil production which mixes with dead skin cells, leading to a blockage within our pores resulting in inflammation and spot formation. Generation Z is the age in which this tends to happen.
This is the time to establish a good skincare routine. This includes a cleanser, moisturiser and SPF. Using over-the-counter skin cleansers containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid can help remove excess oils and dead skin to unclog the pores.
Following your cleansing regime with a moisturiser that’s suitable for your skin type is also really important. If you have oily skin, make sure you use something that’s non comedogenic (non-pore blocking) and oil-free, whereas if you have dry skin, you can use something that contains oil to help inject moisture. However, be aware that the use of oil-based skincare product may worsen acne-prone skin.
One of our most popular products is our sk:n Hydrator for Oily/Blemish Prone Skin, it’s non-comedogenic formula doesn’t block pores and it contains anti-inflammatory properties to help calm and soothe the skin and reduce redness.
As the summer starts to roll in and the weather begins to improve, it may be tempting to top up the tan and spend time in the sun, but it’s important to ALWAYS wear sunscreen. Apply a non-comedogenic sunscreen with SPF30 or above before applying make-up but after moisturising first thing in the morning. Heliocare 360 Oil Free Gel is a good choice for acne prone skin. Sun exposure is linked to skin cancer and skin ageing, so it is important to start wearing sunscreen from an early age.
Millennials (1980 – 1994)
We start losing collagen in our mid-twenties. For those of you in your mid-twenties to thirties, now is the time to add a retinoid to your routine. Retinoids are a class of synthetic and naturally occurring Vitamin A compounds and include retinol (which is contained in many cosmetic anti-ageing products) and retinoic acid (for example, tretinoin, only available on prescription).
Retinoid promotes cell turnover, boosts collagen production and reduces the collagen breakdown. However, they can make your skin more sensitive to sun exposure therefore should always be applied at night. Use a pea-sized amount of retinoid and apply it between the forehead, cheeks, chin and nose whilst making sure to avoid the eye area.
One of the downsides of retinoid is that it causes a lot of irritation and must be built up slowly from low strength. It also can’t be used during pregnancy or whilst breastfeeding. An alternative trending ingredient, that is becoming much more popular is bakuchiol. Bakuchiol is a plant derivative from the Indian subcontinent and has been found to boost collagen and elastin in the same way that retinoid does but without the irritating side effects. It’s also much gentler and safe for pregnant women but we need more data to confidently say that this can replace our gold-standard anti-ageing cream, retinoid. Try using SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.3% as a starter product.
In addition, regular gentle exfoliation using cleansers and products containing alpha-hydroxy acids (such as glycolic acid or lactic acid) or beta-hydroxy acids (such as salicylic acid) will help to improve skin tone and texture. sk:n Facial Exfoliating Cleanser is a gentle cleanser containing glycolic acid and glycerine which is suitable for all skin types.
At this stage it would also be good to add an antioxidant in the morning just before putting on any SPF products. Antioxidants reduce free radical damage from pollution and UV which can contribute to ageing skin. Look out for ingredients like Vitamin C, Vitamin E combined with Ferulic acid. SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic can be used for those with dry to normal skin, and for those with oily skin, try SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF.
Gen X (1960 – 1979)
At this age, you will notice more visible signs of ageing such as wrinkles, pigmentation or sagging of skin caused by reduction in fat in your cheeks or temples as well as loss of skin elasticity. During this age we will go through hormonal shifts as we near menopause.
It’s essential to use a rich moisturiser that will keep skin hydrated all year round. Look for moisturisers that contain added anti-ageing ingredients like peptides, niacinamide or co-enzyme Q10. sk:n CU3 Intensive Moisture Cream is a rich moisturiser containing anti-ageing copper peptides.
Anti-ageing injectables are the most effective treatment for reducing dynamic lines, which are visible lines on muscle movement with various facial expression. By having injectables, it can also delay deep wrinkle formation. If you are concerned about static wrinkles or a change in contours of your face due to loss of volume in certain part of your face (such as cheeks or smile lines), dermal filler would be the best choice.
Dermal fillers are a good way of replacing volume loss. These are made of hyaluronic acid which is also the natural substance in your dermis which gives volume. Adding volume to the face will help firm the skin and restore a smoother appearance. This treatment can last up to 18 months.
For Gen X, like the millennial generation, a retinoid at night and antioxidant in the morning is a must – as is sunscreen with SPF 30 or above.
Other ways of improving skin tone, texture and fine lines are skin peels, microdermabrasion or microneedling. These rejuvenating treatments produce new collagen, tackling wrinkles and scarring.
Baby Boomers (1940-1959)
Baby Boomers are likely to see more deeper lines, volume loss and pigmentation on their facial skin due to the hormonal changes. Studies show that a person can lose up to 30% of collagen in the first 5 years of menopause.
We recommend Profhilo is a relatively new treatment that’s increasing in popularity – it’s an injectable hyaluronic acid and also has additional property to stimulate collagen and elastin, giving skin added hydration and improving the quality of the skin.
As with other injectables, Profhilo needs repeating to maintain the effects, the first two treatments should be one month apart followed by regular updates every six months. Most people find that after Profhilo their makeup looks smoother and they see a little lift in their skin and reduction of fine lines. It can be used for the face, neck and hands.
You may notice more sun-related skin lesions on your skin such as age spots or sun damage at this age. Age spots are brown flat marks on your skin and can be treated with laser or chemical peels. Laser resurfacing treatments can help remove fine lines, even out discolouration and repair sun damage. To correct pigmentation and protect against it through skincare, SkinCeuticals Discolouration Defense Serum is a good option.
Skin cancers also tend to be more common in this age group. Monitor your skin regularly and see your doctor or a dermatologist if you are concerned about new changing skin lesions.
Sun awareness week is between the 4th and 10th of May, and although we all know that wearing SPF in the summer months is a must, how many of us are actually applying it properly? We have worked with our skincare expert Dr Jinah Yoo, a consultant dermatologist to give us her insight on wearing SPF and protecting our skin as well as answering some top questions we find ourselves asking.
Q: What is the best skincare for sun-sensitive skin?
A: Sun-sensitive skin can present as sunburn, prickly heat or make skin conditions like Rosacea worse. Protecting the skin from the sun should be the centre of your skincare routine, especially for those with sun-sensitive skin. Mineral sunscreen containing titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide, which are very gentle ingredients and suitable for sensitive skin, is preferable than chemical sunscreen. In terms of your routine skincare products, it is best to go for fragrance-free products as fragrances can irritate your skin.
Q: What are the top skincare tips for sunburn?
A: Sunburn will make the skin become red, painful and potentially peel. To reduce the pain and soothe the skin, you can cool down your skin with frequent cool showers or use moisturisers containing aloe vera or soy. If you develop blisters, you need to leave them to heal by themselves, this is so that the blister can be used as a natural dressing and prevent infection.
Q: What skin treatments are available for sun-damaged skin?
A: Photo-aged skin can appear in many ways including wrinkles, sagging and pigmentation. If your main concern is photo-aged skin, various treatment including chemical peel, microneedling, lasers, skin lightening creams or topical retinoid cream could be considered, depending on individual’s skin assessment. As a result of long-term sun damage, rough patches can appear on sun-exposed skin which is called actinic keratosis. These are considered as precursors of skin cancer and you need to see your GP or a dermatologist to be treated with prescription cream or scraping of the lesion under local anaesthetic injection, depending on the area, size and extent of the sun-damages.
Q: What are the most common mistakes you see people making when using and applying sunscreen?
A: Studies have shown that most people apply less than half of the amount required to provide enough sun protection. If you are using sun lotions, you should apply at least six teaspoons to cover the body of an average adult and half a teaspoon to face and neck.
Q: What exactly happens to the skin when it’s overexposed to the sun?
A: The dark pigment produced in our skin, called melanin, increases in response to sun exposure. This is in an attempt to absorb UV and protect our skin. Increased production of melanin subsequently can mean skin becomes tanned. However, in lighter skin types, there is a smaller amount of melanin, meaning that the skin tends to react to UV rather than protecting against it. This means that lighter skin type tends to burn rather than tan.
Q: What are the earliest signs of skin damage which we might not pick up on?
A: Skin can appear dry, flaky and itchy with sun-damage which can be confused with many other skin conditions. Also, it can appear dull with uneven pigmentation, this is a subtle and early sign of skin damage from the sun.
Q: A lot of people wear makeup that contains SPF, is this enough protection for us to not need to reapply throughout the day?
A: Makeup with SPF is not a substitute for sunscreen. Make-up or moisturisers with SPF are more likely to be easily removed by water or rubbing and we tend to apply a lot more thinly than sunscreen. Furthermore, SPF is an indicator for UVB protection but does not give protection against UVA.
Q: What is the difference between UVA and UVB rays and how should we protect our skin from both?
A: UVB can cause sunburn and skin cancer whereas UVA is associated with skin ageing and skin cancer. UVA has longer wavelengths than UVB therefore UVA can penetrate through window glasses and deeper to the skin. To have an adequate sun protection, my advice is to apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or above and UVA star rating of 4 or 5 stars after moisturiser every morning and reapply every two hours when you are going outdoors.
Q: You often see a lot of people on holiday who have applied SPF and it has not been fully absorbed by the skin leaving a white paste on the skin, if you leave it like that are you actually protected?
A: The white appearance from sunscreen comes from the mineral UV filters, such as titanium dioxide, zinc oxide or iron oxide. These mineral (physical) sunscreens can reflect light from the skin and tend to be less irritating. However, new technologies have meant mineral sunscreens can now have a reduced white appearance and your skin will still be protected with these.
Q: Should we be applying SPF into our scalp?
A: It is not practical to apply SPF to the scalp as it is covered with hairs. Instead wearing a broad-brim hat on a sunny day can help to block the direct sun exposure.
Q: What should we be looking for when buying SPF? They don’t come cheap and can very quickly run out if we apply them all over our body several times a day when on holiday. Are we ok to buy cheaper brands, or should we be investing in the most expensive ones?
A: Choose the sunscreen which suits your skin type. Expensive sunscreen does not mean that it will suit everyone’s skin. Nowadays, there are many different types of formulation targeting different skin types. If you have acne-prone oily skin, then go for oil-free gel. When you are buying a sunscreen, it is most important to look at the SPF and UVA star rating to make sure that it has SPF 30 or above and UVA star rating of 4 or 5 stars.
Q: What exactly does the number on SPF products mean?
A: SPF stands for sun protection factor. It refers to the amount of UVB protection the sunscreen offers compared to unprotected skin. For example, SPF15 allows 7% of UVB to reach your skin whereas only 2% reaches your skin with SPF50.
Q: Why do we find that spots appear on the face, chest and shoulders when we apply SPF? Does it clog up our pores?
A: Comedogenic materials in sunscreen can clog up the pores and cause spots. Another possibility is that chemical sunscreens, with ingredients like benzophenones, can cause irritant reaction causing red bumps.
Q: You can buy tanning oils with SPF protection, but does it actually protect you and could you wear this alone on holiday and be safe in the sun and protected?
A: There is no such thing as a truly safe tan other than a fake tan. The goal of a tanning oil is to attract UV to achieve a quick tan, but the goal of SPF is completely opposite – to protect skin against these UV. Most of tanning oils, therefore, do not contain enough SPF to achieve the quick effective tanning.
Q: Are there any common myths or misconceptions about SPF and protecting your skin that you find parents have come to you with?
A: You may have seen some sunscreen advertised as ‘long-lasting’ and requiring only once-a-day application. However, majority of us do not apply an adequate amount of sunscreen and we can miss some areas when we apply the sunscreen. Also, it can be accidentally removed by rubbing or sweating throughout the day. Therefore, it is recommended to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours to exposure.
Although we are starting to adjust to our ‘normal’ routine and finding lots of at-home compromises, there are some things that we just can’t adapt. From laser hair removal to filler top-ups, many beauty fans will be pausing their regular aesthetic treatments and possibly even worrying about the impact this will have on their results.
Director of Medical Services for sk:n and Nurse Lisa Mason-Poyner, talks about pausing treatment courses and offers her advice on what can be done at home in the meantime.
LASER HAIR REMOVAL:
Firstly, the reduction you have seen already from laser hair removal is permanent and once your treatment restarts you will see results quickly, so you don’t need to be worried about progress or results due to a break in treatments.
The reason for a course of treatments is to catch the hair in the anagen phase which is the active growth phase. Anagen occurs at different stages depending if the hair is on the face or body, therefore effective results require treatments spread evenly, from four to eight weeks depending on your hair and where it is on your body. If your treatments are outside this period, laser hair removal will still give you the desired results. Everyone is different so depending on your hair, you may need additional sessions.
You can however still shave and use hair removal creams so there is no need to worry and think you need to let your hair fully grow out. For laser hair removal to work, the hair has to be present in the follicle. This is why you should shave or use hair removal creams as both only remove surface hair, keeping the hair in the follicle.
Aftercare is still really important so make sure you continue to use the products you have been advised to use. In particular, continue to apply SPF to any exposed areas that have been treated to avoid sun damage.
HydraFacial is a treatment that uses patented technology to cleanse, exfoliate, extract impurities and treat the skin and can be adapted to treat a variety of issues, ranging from dull, dry skin, to acne and pigmentation caused by sun damage. Course of treatments vary from weekly to every eight weeks, so it is very versatile.
You can still maintain a healthy glow at home so that your skin is ready to resume your treatment when it’s safe for clinics to reopen. Make sure you cleanse twice daily with warm water and a flannel to ensure that you are wiping away any dirt and dead skin cells. If you are still wearing makeup, or worried about dirt or pollution then introduce a cleansing micellar water into your routine to really cleanse the pores. The ingredients within these are very clever and are actually attracted to dirt and oil so they are particularly great to drawing out any of these impurities.
SKIN PEEL COURSES:
The power of a skin peel deeply exfoliates to brighten the skins surface. In a nutshell they help to stimulate new cell growth and collagen production, helping to reveal fresher, clearer and brighter skin.
Depending on what your personal skincare goals are there are a number of skin peels available and you may be advised to have a course of treatments for maximum results. If you haven’t already, introduce a low percentage retinol into your skincare routine using only a pea-size amount no more than twice weekly. As your skin gradually responds to this and becomes accustomed to it you can begin to use it more regularly or maintain just twice weekly but with a higher percentage retinol. SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.3% is a really effective product and can easily be introduced as part of your evening skincare routine to allow it to effectively work overnight. Similar to skin peels, retinol will leave your skin far more sensitive and at risk to sun damage so ensure you apply SPF, such as sk:n Sunscreen SPF 30.
It is important to know that there are no at-home treatments that will match the results achieved through in-clinic injectables and fillers. Do not be tempted to order products online that claim to offer clinical results as you could run the risk of causing serious harm and damage. These types of treatments should only ever be administered by a qualified practitioner within a certified clinic.
As fillers are non-permanent, over time the results will start to disappear. Typically, fillers last around 6 to 12 months. The good news is that you will be able to pick right back up from where you left off with your previous treatment, as the results are instance.
You can prolong the results of your recent fillers by:
- Applying SPF, especially on the areas that you have had treatment on
- Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise. Fine lines and wrinkles will appear when skin is dry, so if you can keep your skin nice and hydrated this will help to prologue results
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day. This will help to enhance the water-absorption effect of hyaluronic-based fillers which will help to keep the skin plump and wrinkle-free
ACNE/ACNE SCAR TREATMENT:
There are a number of treatments for acne and acne scarring depending on the severity. Whether you are having a course of skin peels, Microneedling or laser resurfacing, each treatment helps to gradually reduce the appearance of scars or pigmentation as the new layer of skin beneath is revealed.
Frequency of treatment doesn’t change this process. Results will, of course, be noticed quicker if you stick to regular sessions, however, if you find that you have a long break in-between this will simply cause the level of results to pause and in most cases, you can pick back up where you left off. Make sure you continue to look after your skin in the interim and follow any personalised advice given by your dermatologist including taking any prescribed medication.
LASER TATTOO REMOVAL TREATMENT COURSE:
Typically Laser Tattoo Removal is treated every 4 to 12 weeks as this gives the skin enough time to recover. During each session the light within the laser works by being selectively absorbed by the tattoo ink particles which then heats up and shatters into smaller pieces. This is why, to the eye, the tattoo can appear to become faded or blurry and continues to do so with each session. If you have a longer break between sessions such as a number of months this won’t impact the overall number of sessions needed, all it will simply do is add on additional time to the overall process.
Spring has most definitely sprung! So, it’s time to switch out our skincare products by replacing heavier winter products for lighter, summer alternatives.
Dr Shaaira Nasir, one of our Consultant Dermatologists, has shared her advice on switching up your skincare for spring and summer, as well as providing us with guidance to avoid some of the most common and biggest skin faux pas.
According to Dr Shaaira, ‘You wouldn’t wear your winter wardrobe in the middle of summer, so why would you cover your face with winter skincare products? The outcome is the same, it will become sweaty, greasy, unable to breathe and become uncomfortable and irritated. It is important to switch up your skincare products between the colder and hotter seasons and spring is the perfect time to do so.’
Check your skincare expiry dates
This should be everyone’s first step when revisiting products that haven’t been used for some time, especially if you opened it last summer and have broken the seal. Just like food, skincare and makeup have their own shelf life – especially products including SPF – so check the best before dates before using. Some products won’t have one but once they have been opened there are general sell-by dates you should be following.
- SPF: The FDA, The Food and Drug Administration, requires all SPF products to be marked with an expiration date, however, if you find you have an SPF that doesn’t have this you can assume it is up to three years. This date includes once it has been opened, so you can use leftover product from the year before but be sure to give it a good shake first.
- Moisturisers: All moisturisers, face creams and eye creams last approximately 6 to 12 months. Products with a pump are less prone to bacteria, whereas ones in jars or pots should be thrown out after 6 – 9 months as the ingredients will become less effective and can even start to cause irritation.
- Foundations/tinted moisturisers: These tend to have a shelf life of up to 12 months, particularly those that are liquid-based, so if you haven’t used it for a while give it a little shake as the ingredients may begin to separate.
- Lipstick/gloss: Products like these can last up to two years but it all depends on how regularly you use them. If your glossy becomes ‘gloopy’, probably time to treat yourself to a new one.
- Mascara and liquid eyeliner: Eye makeup usually only has a life expectancy of up to 3 months. You will know when it is time to replace them as the liquid will become sticky, clumpy and dry around the top. This product is so close to your eyes so it’s important to replace regularly for hygiene reasons.
Double cleanse every evening
During the summer months, our skin is more exposed to a build-up of sunscreen, sweat, excess oil and makeup, which can cause the skin to appear dull. Introduce double cleansing as you can do this every day. I would recommend double cleansing in the evening to make sure your skin is nice and clean before you go to sleep.
Exfoliation is a key part of your routine to remove dirt but remember to keep it gentle and no more than twice a week to avoid breaking the skin’s barrier. Chemical exfoliation in the form of acids such as AHAs or BHAs in washes or leave-on products can help gently exfoliate dead skin cells. This gives skin a more even skin tone and helps reduce problems like clogged pores and pigmentation. For this why not try our sk:n Vitamin Rich Cleanser For All Skin Types as it is the perfect product to gently remove any dirt, makeup and impurities.
Switching out your everyday moisturisers
With the increasing heat and humidity, a lot of people think daily moisturising isn’t needed during the summer months, however, this isn’t true. Your favourite moisturiser may have worked perfectly during the cooler months, but the trick in spring and summer is to swap rich creams for something a little more lightweight. Instead of an occlusive thick moisturiser containing ingredients like petrolatum, try a humectant like hyaluronic acid or glycerine which pulls water to the skin cells but doesn’t block pores.
This is something you should do all year round, however, the summer months is when you will find your skin becomes far more exposed to sun damage. This is where a high-grade antioxidant skincare product containing vitamin C or polyphenols will work to neutralise the free radicals activated by the sun within the skin. If this process isn’t intervened, then it will develop and damage the skins cells causing wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.
Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A and is another powerful antioxidant with multiple benefits. It stimulates collagen production and accelerates skin cell renewal which prevents premature skin ageing. This should be applied at night either in the form of a serum or cream.
A favourite retinol product of ours is the SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.3% which is enriched with pure retinol and designed to help reduce the appearance of fine lines, uneven skin tone and dark spots. This is also a great product to start off with if you are looking for your first retinol product to introduce to your skincare routine.
SPF, SPF, SPF
You should be applying sun protection all year round. The reason for this is that even though the UVB rays fluctuate between winter and summer, UVA rays do not, and these are what cause the skin to age prematurely. It is recommended to wear an SPF between 30 and 50 to help slow the ageing process and also keep your skin in optimal condition long term. It also comes as no surprise that the face is the most common place for people to develop skin cancer and problems with pigmentation. It is therefore vital that you keep it protected to avoid too much sun exposure.
Try using the sk:n Sunscreen SPF 30, this light formula fully protects your skin without any of that greasy feel. This product will also help to hydrate your skin as a result of the ingredient Violet Rice Extract which is rich in amino acids and vitamin B.
April is Rosacea Awareness Month, so we have spoken with our Consultant Dermatologist Dr Daron Seukeran, to answer all your questions on the skin condition
What is rosacea?
Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition which usually occurs on the face and can affect all skin types. It may also manifest itself as persistent redness, blood vessels and spots which can resemble a similar appearance to acne, although the two should not be confused. As a dermatologist it is quite a common skin condition I see in patients that visit me for treatment. It is more common in middle aged women, however, when this affects men it can be more severe. Rosacea is not specifically associated with any food allergies. However it is more apparent in Caucasian and European individuals who have fair skin.
What are the signs to look out for?
There are four main symptoms to help identify if you are suffering with rosacea. Persistent flushing of the face where redness will most commonly appear around the nose and cheeks, as well as thread veins which will be visible blood vessels around the same areas of the face and will not disappear without laser treatment. Then there are red spots which can be filled with puss and can often be misdiagnosed if not seen by a dermatologist. Thickening of the skin can also appear as excess, bumpy tissue, particularly around the nose although this is a rare complication of rosacea known as rhinophyma rosacea and is mainly seen in male patients.
Dry skin is more of a symptom for eczema or dermatitis and its not usually associated with rosacea but can be a factor in some very individual cases. In some cases rosacea can be mistaken for eczema or dermatitis as a patient will only appear to suffer with inflammation and redness of the skin and may not have spots which can cause it to look similar.
What everyday activities and foods can exacerbate rosacea?
It is not completely known what causes rosacea, although there are certain triggers that are known to contribute to make it appear worse such as alcohol, tea or coffee and spicy foods. In some cases the individual can be sensitive to the sun and find that going from a hot to cold temperature, or vice versa, can trigger it to flare up.
Some people claim their rosacea is less noticeable in summer, this is a variable claim as some people find that rosacea flairs up in the sunshine and heat, but in others this can actually help it to reduce the inflammation.
Is there a cure for rosacea?
There is no known cure for rosacea although there are a number of effective treatments that can help to alleviate the symptoms of rosacea. This includes antibiotics and topical prescription medications which can be prescribed by a doctor and can often lead to remission after about four to six months of treatments. In terms of dealing with redness and flushing, laser treatment can be an effective solution in removing these symptoms.
Any other top tips for dealing with rosacea?
If you can identify any triggers that causes your Rosacea to flare up, whether that be certain foods or drink, it is important to try and avoid these however, the most important thing is to seek medical attention if it persists. If left untreated rosacea can cause other complications such as irritation of the eyes and enlargement of the nose such as rhinophyma, which is rare but also a very unpleasant symptom.
Best skincare ingredients for rosacea? Worst skincare products?
It is always a good idea to try and use natural and gentle skin products when suffering with a skin condition or try looking for a non-fragranced moisturiser. Although, as rosacea is a medical condition it is most often treated with specially prescribed creams or tablets.
What are the best makeup products/techniques?
Green concealers are great for being used as colour corrector when trying to cover up the appearance of severe redness of the skin as they will help tone down the appearance of inflammation and help to camouflage it underneath your everyday foundation. It is always advisable to try and wear as little or light makeup as possible. The breathable Lycogel Foundation range, is an SPF 30 ideal for people with sensitive skin, who may try to camouflage Rosacea, Eczema or Acne. The heaviness of other foundation product can irritate those who are suffering with puss filled spots and contribute to drying out the skin.
Find out more about Rosacea treatments available at sk:n or book a consultation today!
With many of us now self-isolating and staying indoors, it is important to make sure we are taking the right steps to maintain the health of our skin. With this in mind, we asked one of our leading Consultant Dermatologists, Dr Jinah Yoo, to share with us her top golden rules to looking after your skin from home.
Dr Jinah Yoo says; ‘A change in environment and routine can have an impact on your skin, so it is important to consider daily habits and try introducing some golden rules to maintain healthy skin at home.’
Golden rule number 1: Fresh air and diet
You might not be wearing any makeup, but fresh moist air is key for allowing your skin to breath. One of the main functions of the skin is to create a barrier against the environment. The climate created by central heating – a high temperature combined with low humidity- can make your skin drier. When skin becomes dry, the barrier function can be disturbed causing inflammation and irritation of the skin. Regular ventilation, daily intake of 6-8 glasses of water and other liquids (1.2 to 1.5 litres) and regular application of moisturiser can help to improve the hydration in your skin. Vegetables and fruits are also a good source of antioxidants which can help to boost your immune system.
Prolonged screen time on digital devices can also put your skin under stress. Studies suggest that blue light causes prolonged hyperpigmentation in darker skin types. To reduce the amount of blue light reaching your skin, you can cover your phones and computers with a blue light shield or change the setting on your phone to night mode. You can also apply tinted sunscreen or compact with iron oxide, which can reflect away the UV and visible light reaching your skin.
Try using the sk:n Sunscreen SPF 30, this light formula can protect the skin and doesn’t leave a greasy feel. This product will also help to hydrate your skin as a result of the ingredient Violet Rice Extract which is rich in amino acids and vitamin B.
Golden rule number 2: Alleviate stress
Stress is a well-known factor contributing to skin ageing and worsening of existing skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, rosacea and acne. Chemicals released in stressful situations can suppress your immune function leading to a flare-up of your eczema/psoriasis as well as increasing oil production on your skin causing more spots. Try to develop your own way of controlling your stress at home. Tips to help reduce stress whilst at home include:
- At home workouts, there are plenty of videos now circulating the internet and social media all for free from some of the top trainers and boutique classes from at home circuits to body weight classes and yoga.
- If you’re a tea or coffee drinker try and reduce your intake. A simple way to do this is to gradually reduce the amount you usually have by having one less cup a day. Another way to do this is to opt for non-caffeinated tea or coffee, there are plenty of alternative options out there or maybe you simply switch it out for an herbal tea instead.
- Don’t go quiet with friends and family. It is important to keep talking with them and keep your spirits high with laughter, there are now so many virtual games that you can join it is a great way to have some fun with people you love without the need to leave the house.
Golden rule number 3: Take time to understand the skin you’re in
It is really important to understand your skin type so that you can find the correct skincare products. With many of us going make-up free while staying at home, we should take the opportunity to monitor our skin throughout the day. Knowing whether you have oily, dry, or combination skin is vital as not all skincare products will be right for everyone. You may see something that has worked for a friend, but it could be completely redundant on you, wasting time and money.
Golden rule number 4: Less is more
A lot of people use too many products on their skin which can cause skin irritation, especially now as we have more time on our hands to spend on our skincare routines. Don’t overdo it, you could find that your pores start to clog up with too many products being used, or possibly dry out as you are trying to make too many things happen at once. I recommend that everyone starts off by making sure they are using the correct products for their skin type when it comes to cleansing and moisturising. For SPF it is always best to try and use a product that is light and an oil free formulation to avoid that greasy feel and blocked pores.
- Oily skin sufferers:
Try using a cleanser with glycolic acid or salicylic acid which can help to remove excess oil and dead skin, followed by a moisturiser that is oil-free and non-comedogenic to prevent your pores becoming blocked. Why not try the sk:n Vitamin Rich Gel Cleanser for Oily Skin as this is perfect for reducing excess oil and bacteria that has built up on the skins surface.
- Dry skin sufferers:
Try using a gentle cleanser for sensitive skin, followed by a moisturiser containing hyaluronic acid, which can hold 1000 times its weight in water, and ceramide.
Golden rule number 5: Introduce Vitamin A, C & E into your skincare
Retinol, also known as a Vitamin A, and Vitamin C & E are all scientifically proven anti-ageing ingredients. By using retinol at night-time followed by antioxidants in the morning that contain vitamin C&E, this will help to improve the skin’s texture, tone and pigmentation. However, these can cause skin irritation especially on those who have not used it before. It is best to start off with a low strength such as 0.3% and gradually build-up your skin tolerance over time. This, however, is not a miracle treatment which works overnight, and you are expected to use it for 6 months minimum to see the best results.
A favourite of ours is the SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.3% which is enriched with pure retinol and designed to help reduce the appearance of fine lines, uneven skin tone and dark spots. This is also a great product to start off with if you are looking for your first retinol product to introduce to your skincare routine.
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