Beauty Clinic: A spotty skin S.O.S.
Q. I’m 19 and have battled with my very sensitive, spotty, very dry and flaky skin for four years. The doctor prescribed tablets but they didn't really work and I am desperate. It is really affecting how I see myself. None of the cheaper anti-acne products work and I am very willing to spend decent money. I know there isn’t a miracle cure but can you suggest anything that might help? A. We are so sympathetic. Sarah battled with acne for years – her brother called her ‘Spotty Muldoon’ – but she can testify that you can improve your skin immeasurably with a holistic approach.
We asked the advice of biochemist Nausheen Qureshi, founder of Elethea natural skincare (www.elethea.com) who herself battled spots coupled with dry, eczema-prone skin. She says that ‘acne sufferers often over-dry their skin and make the problems much worse with over the counter anti-acne products containing benzoyl peroxide, or sometimes alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs)’.
Nausheen advises taking this holistic inside/outside approach:
‘Look after the inside: there are certain foods that trigger inflammation and breakouts such as dairy products, refined sugar and fruit juice/smoothies (because of all the sugars) and an excess of starch carbs (which also convert to sugar).
‘Sip plenty of still water between meals to keep your body well hydrated, and consume a diet rich in green leafy vegetables, green tea, oily fish and lean meats, with purple/red fruits like blueberries between meals.
‘Instead of cows milk, swap to almond milk, and if you like yogurt, choose coconut yogurt. Consider going gluten-free (no grains) for a while.
‘Take supplements of spirulina and omega-3 essential fatty acids. (You will find a choice of these on www.victoriahealth.com, together with more information about skin problems.)
Topically, Nausheen emphasizes the importance of a gentle regime to calm and balance your skin.
‘Avoid cleansing brushes, soaps and overloading the skin with too many products. Cleanse your skin at night only, just splash with water in the morning. Remove make up with oil-based products such as simple organic coconut oil: smear this over your face (to dissolve the fats in make-up), wipe off with a warm, damp, scrupulously clean flannel and follow with a gentle foaming cleanser without surfactants or essential oils (eg Elethea Pure Balancing Cleanser).
‘Make your own gentle bacterial disinfectant by mixing equal parts water and aloe juice in a spray with two drops pure tea tree oil - spritz this liberally over the face after cleansing.
‘At night use 4 to 6 drops of a special facial oil like Elethea Complete Replenishing Oil, then spend two minutes really massaging this into the skin. Oils are really good for acne skins, although many people worry they will block pores and make acne worse. Low molecular weight oils with a high concentration of Vitamin A actually help repair the skin without clogging up the pores.
‘If you can afford it, I recommend investing in resurfacing treatments with a lactic acid peel once a month (e.g. Elethea Ultimate Restore Facial, in London, www.elethea.com). Alternatively, use Cosmedix Pure Enzymes, to exfoliate and protect against spot formation.
‘To camouflage and even out your skin try a mineral powder product in a cream base, ie not a powder formula as this may dehydrate the skin further. [Beauty Bible recommends trying new bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream, which lightly covers and conceals.]
‘Anxiety, stress and lack of sleep trigger hormones that will make your skin worse so do take regular gentle exercise (walking, dancing, anything you enjoy), practice yoga, and make sure to get enough sleep.
Finally, Nausheen Qureshi emphasises that you should give this new regime several months to work fully. Your skin needs time to recover and rebalance.
bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream/£26 - available in April 2015