Health and Beauty Articles
It’s been two and a half years since the day I became a Mrs, and I can still recall just about every last detail of the day: the moment I woke up in the morning, the smell of the orchids in my bouquet, the tears in my mother’s eyes, the look on my husband’s face when I walked down the aisle; oh, and not forgetting the guest that turned up unannounced and uninvited who attempted to destroy our wedding photos. No, it wasn’t drunk Uncle Albert who was trying to photo bomb us. Nor was it a crazed ex partner, intent on recreating a scene from Hollyoaks. It was so much worse.
I woke to a painful, shiny, devastatingly red pluck right in the middle of my forehead – sort of like an archery target, if you will. And if you too have walked down the aisle, you will appreciate the dilemma and grief this caused me – no amount of concealor was covering that bad boy and you can see it in half of my pictures! Needless to say I was a tad stressed on the run up to the wedding, and thus my spot was born.
Years ago, I would treat and give advice on skin based purely on a person’s skincare routine and product knowledge. I used to skim over topics such as diet, stress and hormones; after all, what real difference would they make to skin? A huge difference, it transpires! I am now of the belief that skincare helps the skin stay clean and supple, but that the real causes of skin problems come from what we put into our bodies, and what is going on inside of our bodies!
Stress and hormones
Considering my past experiences, I’d say this is a good place to start this article! When we’re stressed, a hormone called ‘cortisol’ spikes - which can make the skin more sensitive and reactive. This in turn sends a signal to the sebaceous glands to increase oil production – and where there’s oil, there’s a whole host of other baddies that follows: oily skin, acne, blackheads and spots, as well as some other skin changes such as bumps and flaky patches that aren’t far behind! If you already have problematic skin i.e. psoriasis, acne, cold sores, it will likely trigger these conditions. When you are stressed, pay close attention to your skincare routine, drink plenty water and try and maintain good sleep patterns.
Without a doubt drinking the recommended quota of water every day is one of the best things you can do for your skin. Water not only helps to keep the skin hydrated, it also flushes out toxins and impurities which can often give us blemished, dull and sometimes blotchy skin. It also helps to prevent wrinkles which are undoubtedly one of a woman’s main skin concerns! It is estimated that one in five don’t get the recommended 2 litres of water a day – and sadly caffeinated and diluted drinks don’t count! A good way to incorporate more water into your day is to drink a glass of water when you wake in the morning, taking a bottle with you throughout the day as well as drinking water with your meals.
Along with hydration you need to avoid dehydration – that’s right, that old chestnut - alcohol! Not only do the chemicals in alcohol give us ‘boozy spots’, the dehydration that follows from a night out can really drain our complexions. No matter how much make up I pile on after a night out I still look like the walking dead!
Our friend (or foe) caffeine also causes us to dehydrate. Now, I would never condemn a morning cuppa because I would be a lesser human without it – but try to limit your intake so that you’re not reaching for more than 2-3 cups a day. Caffeine is a toxin that although when applied topically it gives the skin a boost, it can be harmful to the skin in the long run if too much is ingested daily. Caffeine and alcohol also act as a diuretic and prevent you from holding onto water, which can give the skin a dehydrated and dry appearance.
Eat burgers, fizzy drinks and gorge yourself on chocolate and you will have gloriously glowing skin by the summer! Aye right, in our dreams – it will sadly come as no surprise that the above is not only bad for our hips, but also for our skin! A diet high in fat and sugar will provide no nutrients to feed the skin – our skin requires a wave of nutrients and vitamins in order to function and remain in a constant good condition. Diet in my opinion is the key to youthful, healthy skin. There’s definitely an element of trial and error involved until you find what works, or doesn’t work, for you, so I’ve given some variations on this section:
It has been said that a low-glycaemic diet can help skin conditions such as acne. The glycaemic Index is a ranking of carbohydrate-containing foods based on the overall effect on the blood glucose levels. Low GI foods, such as whole-grain foods and antioxidant rich fruit and vegetables, releases sugar into the blood slowly. In comparison, high GI foods such as sugary and refined carbohydrates (e.g. white bread and white pasta) cause a rapid, but short-lived, rise in blood sugar – leaving you lacking in energy and feeling hungry soon after eating. Following this type of diet will stamp out the up-and-down sugar fix way of eating many of us follow. This attitude towards food will not only help your skin, but your waist lines as well!
I’m also a big fan of juicing, and cannot encourage this enough to people. Juicing fresh fruits and vegetables helps a whole host of ailments such as IBS, migraine and heartburn. Not only that, but it helps skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, acne and other skin problems. I speak from experience with this – I stopped juicing for about 4 months because it was winter and I generally run from anything cold or remotely healthy looking in these months. My acne started to get the better of me once again, so I’ve gone back on the juice in the last month and I’m delighted to report it has since cleared! Go to www.juicemaster.com, click on juice therapy and ‘a-z ailments’ to find out how juicing can help your own skin. I aim for two juices a day.
Vitamins & minerals
In addition to this, try and include the following vitamins and minerals in your diet:
· Vitamin B – found in multi-grain breads, brown rice, mushrooms and asparagus
· Vitamin C – found in broccoli, tomatoes, berries, citrus fruits and watermelon
· Vitamin E – found in wholegrain cereals, nuts, seeds, olive oil, spinach and avocado
· Beta-carotene – found in carrots, apricots, mangoes, pumpkins and sweet potato
· Selenium – found in Brazil nuts, tuna, crab, whole wheat pasta, lean beef, chicken and eggs
· Omega 3 – found in salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, walnuts and soybeans
· Sulphur – found in garlic, leeks, onions and eggs
Hormones... I can feel a spot coming on just thinking about the word! Hormones can have a profound effect on the skin. Although they are intended to be balanced, when changes occur and they surge or dip, the results on the skin can be more than a little unkind.
This is particularly true when we talk about teenage skin. During puberty, the female body begins to produce sex hormones (estrogens and androgens) which can sometimes dramatically affect the skin. These hormones can enlarge pores and boost the production of sebum, which can then lead to teenage acne. There are various treatments for acne: for mild acne you can treat it at home with a good cleansing routine, however if the condition is beyond your control its time to see the GP.
There is also no hiding from the fact that acne flare ups are more dominant around the time of a woman’s premenstrual cycle. This is so frustrating for many who have just noticed their skin clearing up from last month’s cycle, and then it’s back again! This is caused by an increase in the hormone progesterone, which in turn increases sebum production and compresses the pores; providing a breeding ground for blemishes and clogged pores, and these blemishes tend to appear around the chin and jaw line a.k.a the hormone zone!
Lack of sleep also releases the stress hormone ‘cortisol’ which I discussed in the stress section, which in turn can give you the same problematic skin as a result. In addition to this, the body isn’t having a chance to repair and restore itself. For example, when excess fluid near the skin isn’t transported to the bladder to be excreted, the result is puffiness. Sound familiar? Also try to avoid sleeping on the same side of your face every night, especially if you currently have a break out n that area. Aim for 7 hours a night for a healthy complexion!
Poor skincare routine
I won’t open a can of worms by delving into this topic too much, but maintaining a good skincare routine will not only cleanse away the day’s dirt and make up, it will help prevent the ageing process, keep skin supple and help ward of bacteria that could lead to break-outs. Cleanse and moisturise twice a day, with weekly scrubs and face masks.
Smoking is the number one cause of premature aging, followed closely behind by too much sun exposure. By the age of 70 years, smoking roughly 30 cigarettes a day could lead to the equivalent of an additional 14 years of skin ageing. Smoking narrows the blood vessels of the skin, reduces Vitamin A and moisture levels as well as affecting the elastic fibres of the skin.
Good hygiene is paramount for healthy, clean skin. Asides from ensuring you are cleaning your skin of impurities twice a day, be careful to be cleaning your make up brushes, sponges, pillow cases and remember to wash your hands regularly.
Playing with your skin!
You might be surprised to see this having a sub-heading ALL to itself, but believe it or not this is one of the most common admissions I see in work – people love to play with their skin! At all costs avoid squeezing and playing with your spots, as this will cause the pores to break under the skin, spreading the bacteria to other parts of the face. It will also sabotage the skins attempt to heal if you are constantly taking off the top layer of the epidermis!
Understanding why your skin is misbehaving is a challenging task: there are so many factors to consider when looking at the relationship between lifestyle, general health and skin. But to put it simply - stop stressing, start eating well, drink lots of water and for goodness sake turn the TV (or Facebook!) off and get your beauty sleep!