The Writerri small bird

Health and Beauty Articles

I’m curious what springs to mind when I put the following phrases to you: Patchy tan. Brittle nails. Problematic skin. Unnatural make up. Forget the curiosity; beauty gone wrong is more than likely your first line of thought! These issues are all things that can be avoided, not only by being pro active and doing certain things, but also by not doing certain things. This column is going to be all about not doing, rather than doing, for a wee change. My younger, confused adolescent self pretty much covered all of these beauty sins (stopping foundation abruptly at my chin, is one example of many) so needless to say I’m somewhat of an expert in this area...


Face wipes. The Daddy of all beauty sins. All others pale into insignificance next to this one. These chemical-ladened cloths are your skins worst nightmare: they can be lying on a shop shelf in their packaging for up to 18 months, so require a huge amount of preservatives, alcohol and anti-bacterial agents in order for them to be usable. They dehydrate skin, sensitise skin and they do NOT remove make up properly! Removal of a full application of makeup requires an effective cleanser and a good five minutes at the sink rinsing wet, hot sponges/hot face towel until the water runs clear. Your skin should feel soft and clean after cleansing, rather than tight and irritated as a result of using face wipes. Lesson: chuck ‘em in the bin – your skin will thank you for it!

Sudocream. I’ve had quite a few worried mothers in recently who have said their teenage daughters are going to bed with their faces completely covered in Sudocream, a.k.a – nappy rash cream! I’d definitely advise against this, as although this product has antibacterial properties, it is incredibly thick and greasy (one person likened it to looking like they’d fried an egg on their face!) which in turn could clog your pores, aggravate your spots and encourage breakouts. I once used it on an irritated area as someone advised this, and I nearly went through the roof with the pain when I applied it! After a bit of research I discovered it has a mineral oil that can easily cause reactions. Lesson: give the nappy rash cream a wide berth, unless, of course, you have a nappy rash...

Playing with spots. If you are partial to the odd breakout of spots, then you will more than likely have discovered why it’s advised that you don’t play with them. Fiddling with spots will irritate them and can spread the bacteria under the skin, leaving you with more spots than you started with! Also never, ever, EVER squeeze spots – even if they are threatening your sanity and vanity – this merely drives the bacteria further into the skin and can also cause scarring. You can squeeze blackheads however but this needs to be done carefully at home or by a professional. Lesson: allow your spots to go in their own time (roughly 4-6 weeks) but if you want to help them along a bit, use a bit of diluted tea tree oil over the affected area and ensure you have established a good skincare routine.


Cut cuticles. I again, learned this the hard way (skip this paragraph now if you’re squeamish!) I once worked for, shall we say, a bit of a questionable ‘beauty salon’ in Glasgow. I’m now fairly convinced that the owner didn’t have a beauty qualification to her name. But alas, one day, she decided she’d give me a manicure as we were quiet. Out came the clippers, straight to my cuticles they went, and soon my nails were painted red, and it wasn’t from polish! It makes me shudder even now to think about it! Hence, cuticles should never be cut. They can be pushed back to allow for a cleaner finish to your polish, but they are there for a reason – to protect the nail from bacteria. Lesson: leave them be unless it’s a gentle pushback.

Biting nails. This habit is one that is done without even thinking. One minute you’re admiring your nice, long nail, next you’re wondering how on earth you have an unsightly stub where your nail once lived! Not only can your nails become infected after biting them, you can also be more susceptible to colds and other illnesses as it encourages the spread of germs from the nails to the lips and mouth. It’s most common in children, with a massive 50% being affected. Lesson: tackle the problem early before it develops into a habit in adulthood, which would be more difficult to break. Many believe in making the nails taste unpleasant, or using a solution over the nail, such as Boots Nail Biting Solution (£4.20). Another method I find is popular for little girls is to book them in for a manicure, but only if they let their nails grow!


Tan on top of tan. Even if you aren’t a fake tan fan, most will know the number one golden rule which is to exfoliate before a tan. But many forget to exfoliate whilst they have a tan, meaning that you see the tan coming off bit-by-streaky-patchy-bit. And then if more fake tan is applied on top, you’re asking for double-trouble! Lesson: to get the best results exfoliate 3-4 days after applying your tan, and then reapply once the tan has completely come off (around 7 days).

Make up

Poor hygiene. I remember being horrified in college once when a fellow classmate was failed in her final makeup exam when the teacher spotted her using an old foundation sponge to apply makeup; I thought she was being picky and a bit harsh. But I now know that using an old sponge can encourage bacteria, spread spots and dead skin cells! The foundation remaining on the sponge can also seep into your fresh foundation, meaning your make up can look patchy. Lesson: Use either a new sponge for every application or a foundation brush.

Wrong foundation. This is easily the most common problem when it comes to makeup – out of thousands of brands and shades, which one is meant for you? A wrong foundation will look obvious on the skin so it’s a good idea to spend a bit of time finding which one is right for you.

· Firstly, find the correct type of foundation: liquid for good coverage and blemishes, mineral for a softer appearance as well as being a skin conditioner or tinted moisturiser could be used for those who prefer a very minimal make up look or for mature skins. My personal favourite brands are Estee Lauder Double Wear (liquid), Makeup Forever HD (liquid), Bare Minerals (mineral powder) and Bobbi brown’s tinted moisturiser.

· Choose oil free foundations such as Mac Studio Fix if your skin is oily or a foundation with added moisture if your skin is dry, such as Chanel Lumiere. If you have clear, even skin then a tinted moisturiser or mineral powder would be sufficient.

· If you are on a budget then visit a makeup counter, such as Debenhams (the next time you’re in Inverness!) and ask for a sample – and nip next door to Boots to find a match that will cost less, genius!

· Next, match the foundation to your skin tone. Foundation tones tend to be yellow, pink or neutral, so match accordingly. The majority of us in Scotland usually don’t go much higher than the lower shades of foundation due to our lightly pigmented skins, but those who wear tan or are naturally darker will require a darker shade.

· Test the foundation in natural lighting on the back of your hand, your neck and on your face – these areas can all be different shades but try to match as close to your natural colour as possible (the colour is correct if it disappears without blending). If you’re like me, and your skin tone can vary depending on your suntan, fake tan or how much sleep you’re getting, then choose a light and a darker shade, and simply mix them according to how your skin looks that day.

· Blend the foundation thoroughly so that no lines or streaks are visible. Take the foundation all the way down the neck line so it looks seamless. Allow to dry before applying any other product.

Lesson: avoid wearing foundation that is unsuitable for your skin type, or that is too dark, or too light, for your complexion. Research the best brands online, or go for a makeup lesson to learn a bit more about them. It’s worth investing in a professional foundation as they last for ages and give great results.

There are endless beauty sins out there but that’s a selection of the ones that stick in my mind as being very common and very irritating when they happen. I like to think of myself as somewhat of a guinea pig in this area – I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt and I ain’t going back!

See you in October (where has the year gone!)


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