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What Does Central Heating Do To Your Skin?

central heating with pink wall

With the turn in temperature comes a dial-up of central heating in our workplaces, homes and social settings. As cosy as it feels, it’s not doing our skin any favours, with increased dehydration and dryness on the horizon.

But instead of simply enduring lacklustre skin, clinical aesthetician and co-founder of Mortar & Milk Pamela Marshall along with consultant dermatologist Dr Justine Kluk, reveal that there are preventative measures you can take, as well as the ingredients to prioritise in your routine to help ward off the effects of central heating amidst a winter chill.

What are the effects of central heating on our skin?

As Marshall explains, central heating, much like air conditioning in the summer, draws moisture from the skin which causes the outer stratum corneum to become dry and irritated. “The change from central heating to being out in the cold, going from work to home, will also affect our capillary network, causing the capillaries to become dilated.” Dry skin can then exacerbate acne, rosacea and eczema, she adds.

While increased dryness is particularly prominent across our lips and hands, keep a close eye on your cheeks as according to Marshall, the apples of our cheeks and nose tend to become more sensitised and flushed, and the skin often becomes dry and irritated too.

What preventative steps can you take to keep help avoid irritation?

While we’re all well-versed in the age-old solution to maintaining hydration levels by drinking water, you can also take extra measures to ensure skin health throughout the temperamental temperatures inside and outside.

In environments like your home, where you can control the central heating, Dr Kluk recommends using a timer so your heating comes on for a couple of hours in the evening and switches off again until morning. Not only will this help with your bills, but it won’t aggravate your skin with excessive heat. If you’re in a particularly cold place and prefer to keep your heating on overnight, turn the thermostat down and aim for a temperature around 20 degrees Celsius, says Dr Kluk to minimise its impact on the skin.

“Avoid marathon sessions in the bath or shower and keep the water lukewarm,” says Dr Kluk, who advises something as simple as trapping humidity in the bathroom while you wash by keeping the door shut. To minimise the loss of moisture from your skin, pat your face and body dry with a soft towel and apply moisturiser while it’s still a little damp.

It’s also important to steer clear of known irritants in skin care products; fragrance being one of the worst offenders. Stick to unscented shower gels, and avoid foaming agents such as sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) in your products too. Dr Kluk recommends an emollient soap as a substitute instead.

What ingredients should you introduce to your skincare?

As for the steps to take within your skincare routine, there are a handful of ingredients that will aid recovery of damage done by central heating and increase hydration levels.

Firstly, polyhydroxy acids (PHA’s) are the best at deeply hydrating the skin beyond the stratum corneum, as well as reducing inflammation says Marshall, who makes sure her patients in her clinic use it topically all year round too.

“Look to other known humectants too, such as glycerin, urea, lactic acid and hyaluronic acid,” says Dr Kluk, which will attract water to your skin and help boost hydration. “Occlusive ingredients such as lanolin or petrolatum will also create a seal to reduce transepidermal water loss,” she adds, commonly found in lip balms and will help keep dry, chapped lips at bay.

Don’t forget to consider your diet too. According to Marshall, taking omegas and essential fatty acids are essential as our inner skin is both hydrophilic and lipophilic, and needs water hydration as much as lipid hydration. And of course, continue to keep drinking water regularly.

Everything You Need to Know About LED Light Therapy

One yellow light bulb standing out against 5 other pink light bulbs

Light-emitting diode therapy (or LED for short) is nothing new. Having long been used in professional treatments, the benefits of LED for acne-prone, rosacea-ridden, discoloured, dull and ageing skin come with regular use. While this might deliver great results, it has previously been a costly and time-consuming approach in the pursuit for healthy skin.

And thus, the emergence of at-home skincare devices, led by LED treatments in the form of targeted on-the-spot gadgets and full face masks, are becoming popular for consumers who want to maintain the results of in-clinic treatments and the efficacy of carefully curated skincare routines. According to global market researcher Mintel, 41% of beauty consumers use skincare devices to prolong the effects of professional treatments. With better access to information, technological advancements and more transparency from brands, high-performance products are no longer exclusively available in costly facials and specialist clinics. Plus, LED light treatments are the most pain-free facial you can have, with no tingling, side effects or downtime needed. What more could you want?

Here are all your questions about LED light therapy answered:

What are the benefits of LED for the skin?

“LED light emits therapeutic wavelengths of light energy to energise cells,” explains Laura Ferguson and Hannah Measures, co-founders of The Light Salon. In doing so, the light energy stimulates the production of collagen, elastin and antioxidants while improving blood and lymphatic circulation. It’s a treatment that is suitable for all skin types and is designed to be used after cleansing and exfoliating, followed by your serums and moisturiser.

How many different types of LED lights are there and what is the difference between them?

“Different light spectrum penetrates the skin in different depths and has different effects. Red and blue LED light therapy combat numerous issues, including but not limited to, dullness, fine lines and wrinkles, inflammation, redness and swelling. They replenish dermal and epidermal cells, stimulate the natural production of collagen and elastin and speed up the recovery process,” explains Dr Dennis Gross, dermatologist, dermatologic surgeon and founder of Dr. Dennis Gross Dermatology.

Near-infrared light is another option, suiting inflamed skin best as it stimulates the skin’s healing and regeneration process by delivering nutrients and oxygen to problem areas, leaving you with strengthened and brightened skin. If acne is a concern, Ferguson and Measures recommend red light as it has an antiseptic effect on blemishes and reduces inflammation and painful swelling within the spot to help speed up the healing of the area. Impressively, when used together near-infrared and red light are clinically proven to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

What’s the difference between an LED treatment in a clinic and an at home device?

At-home devices don’t have the power of the professional machines used in LED light therapy treatments, but Ferguson and Measures explain that if you use an LED light mask three times a week over a four week period, it delivers the equivalent cumulative dose of light as one salon treatment, if you went once a week for the same period. “Results are instant and long-term and because LED light therapy works on a cellular level, so you leave with a glow, which becomes more pronounced with each treatment. Think of it in terms of a workout – going once is better than not going at all, but if you make an effort to stick to regular sessions, you’ll get great cumulative benefits.”

A Simple Guide To Reading Skincare Labels

Coloured chalk molecular formulas and diagrams

Understanding the symbols, ingredients list and claims on skincare products can be confusing and unclear. Sifting through the marketing jargon and understanding the complexity of ingredient names and functions is time-consuming and frustrating. To help you decipher it all, this is a simple guide to digesting your product labels.

First up is what a product claims to do. According to the UK government, the product labelling in the sale of goods and services requires that it is not misleading in; the quantity or size, the price, what it’s made of, how, where and when it was made, what you say it can do and the people or organisations that endorse it.

Three terms you will often see are; dermatologically tested, hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic. Dr Anjali Mahto, Consultant Dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic and spokesperson for the British Skin Foundation explains exactly what they mean in The Skincare Bible:

Dermatologically Tested – This implies that the product has the endorsement of, or has passed rigorous laboratory tests carried out by a dermatologist. In the UK, there is no legal definition of the term and this testing could be as basic as a dermatologist or other qualified medical doctor giving the product to a handful of people and relaying back that there were no reports that it caused irritation

Hypoallergenic – This is a manufacturer claim that a product will cause fewer allergies than others. It is not, however, a legally binding term and is rather meaningless. Hypoallergenic products can still contain fragrances – a common cause of allergy and irritation.

Non-comedogenic – This literally means ‘will not blog pores’. Yet again, there is no industry standards or regulation. Be aware that despite the label, it can still clog pores.

Next are ten symbols you will have seen on your products and their packaging.

Leaping Bunny – This internationally recognised logo means the product has not been tested animals.

PAO – Meaning, Period After Opening, this tells you the expiration date of a product. It’s commonly found in the image of a jar with a number on it next to the letter ‘M’. For example, if the number says 6M, that mean you have six months to use it after opening, before it will expire.

Mobius – Signifying that the packaging can be recycled, sometimes there may be a number in the middle of the triangle, which represents the percentage of the packaging made using recycled materials.

Ecocert – This arrow-filled circle symbol is an organic certification and was set up in 2003 as one of the first regulatory bodies developing standards for natural and organic cosmetics.

Refer To Insert – When it’s impossible for a brand to fit all the legally required information on a product, the information can be found on the accompanying leaflet inside the packaging.

Flame – An obvious one, but important to note nonetheless, this tells you the product is flammable and should be kept away from an open flame. This is usually found on pressurised cans such as deodorant and hairspray.

Greendot – This symbol means that 95% of your product is made from plant-based ingredients and 10% of all its ingredients are organic.

Hourglass – This represents that the product has a life span of less than 30 months – even if it’s not opened.

E-Mark – The lowercase ‘e’ sometimes found on packaging means the average volume or weight of the product is the same as what’s listed on the label, as per EU law.

UVA – An important one for sun lovers, this means the product contains the minimum recommended level of UVA protection for a sunscreen.

Reading and understanding an ingredients list can be difficult without the help of an expert. Decoding the complicated names and variations in formulas is not something that’s easily done and as a result, is often dismissed. But understanding what’s in your products can help you to accurately find products that are suitable for your skin.

In the EU, cosmetic ingredients are labelled using an INCI list, which stands for the International Nomenclature of Cosmetics Ingredients. Ingredients are listed in order from the highest to lowest concentrate. If there is less than 1% of an ingredient in a product, it is not required to be listed. Despite EU legislation dictating how ingredients are labelled, there is still confusion, in particular with fragrance, which can be described through blanket terms such as ‘parfum’ or ‘aroma’. As we know, fragrance is one of the biggest irritants for sensitive skin so if sensitivity is your concern, it’s always best to go fragrance-free.

Dr Mahto details further, “If your skin is sensitive to fragrance, or you otherwise choose to avoid it, these are the additional 26 ingredients to look out for; alpha-isomethyl ionone, amyl cinnamal, amyl cinnamyl alcohol, anise alcohol, benzyl alcohol, benzyl benzoate, benzyl salicylate, butylphenyl methylpropional, cinnamal, cinnamyl alcohol, citral, citronellol, coumarin, eugenol, evernia furfuracea extract, evernia prunastri extract, farnesol, geraniol, hexyl cinnamal, hydroxycitronellal, hydroxyisohexyl-3-cyclohexene-carboxaldehyde, isoeugenol, limonene, linaool, methyl 2-octynoate.

Helpful resources to assist you in understanding the EU regulations behind ingredients, product labelling and changing rules and regulations, Dr Mahto recommends the cosmetics section of the European Commission website. Here you will also find the Cosing Database, which enables you to look up cosmetic ingredients to find out what they are.

Have We Got It All Wrong About Preservatives?

have-we-got-it-all-wrong-about-preservatives

As the wave of natural beauty shows no signs of slowing down, the argument of natural vs synthetic ingredients continues, particularly when it comes to preservatives. Pick up any cosmetic product and you’ll see ‘paraben-free’ proudly listed on its packaging and advertising. Read More…