Beauty

Can Taking Antidepressants Affect Your Skin?

Blue eye with a large tear filled with tablets driping down cheek

Antidepressants treat all sorts of illnesses, and can be beneficial for people with mental health conditions including anxiety, depression, OCD, and bipolar disorder. And while for most, the potential side effects are outweighed by the opportunity to feel better within ourselves, these types of medication can in some cases affect our skin and bodies in unexpected ways.

First and foremost, it’s important to point out that everyone is different and will experience antidepressants in a completely unique way. While some people may experience a couple of side effects, others might not have to deal with any. The prospect of side effects relating to the feel and appearance of our skin should certainly not be undermined, but they should not stop those who need help from trying this form of medication.

In most cases, the positive impact antidepressants can have on a person’s mood and mental health far outweighs any minor side effects they have to contend with. In fact, in some cases, antidepressants can even aid our skin. “There is a close link between the mind and the skin,” confirms New York dermatologist Dr. Hadley King. “Stress is a common trigger for acne and this may well improve with an antidepressant.”

However, some side effects are more serious than others, and even those that don’t seem too overwhelming deserve to be addressed and should never be tossed aside. Physical effects such as those that change our skin can impact our confidence as well as our appearance, so they are just as important than others. But how exactly can antidepressants impact the skin?

One of the most common things people may notice is increased dryness in the skin on the face, as well as on the body. “Some antidepressants cause dry mouth and lips because they can block acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter responsible for the production of saliva which lubricates our mouth and lips,” explains Shabir Daya, pharmacist and co-founder of Victoria Health. This opinion is also echoed by Dr King, who says that, “in some cases, antidepressants can lead to general dehydration, making your skin, lips and the rest of your body cry out for moisture.”

Perhaps surprisingly, given that dryness is common, one of the other biggest physical side effects of antidepressants is an increase in sweat. Dr King even reports that approximately 20% of people taking antidepressants are affected. And as well as distressing night sweats and increased, unwanted daily sweating, this side effect of medication can inevitably have an impact on the skin on the face and body, sometimes leading to unwanted breakouts.

Breakouts are also a possible side effect in their own right. Certain antidepressants such as Lithium (used to treat Bipolar depression), are more common in resulting in spots than others, and can have “a particular tendency in some individuals to trigger very unpleasant acne,” explains Dr Mervyn Patterson, Cosmetic Doctor and Skin Expert at Woodford Medical. Patterson also says that those who suffer with conditions such as acne or eczema may find that their problems are exacerbated with certain medications.

The best thing to do if you find yourself suffering with outbreaks of acne, dryness, excess sweating or any other side effect, is to talk to your doctor. Together, you can make a decision about whether the side effects outweigh the improvements you may be feeling in your health. It may even be worth trying a different type of medication to find the best solution for you. In the meantime, opting for a pared-back skincare routine is optimal, particularly if you are suffering from excessive dryness, eczema, or acne. Products by brands such as Ameliorate, which are tailored to suit sensitive skin types, can replenish the skin’s moisture levels without provoking further damage. Their Intensive Lip Treatment is particularly effective at soothing sore, chapped lips.

While there can be some upsetting skin-related side effects that come from taking antidepressants, it is important to talk to your doctor to work out which medication is best, and even to see a dermatologist for a personalised skincare routine to suit you and your medication.

The Beauty Bible August Essentials

Orange paper with a tear in the middle with the number 6 inside and the word six below

Over the years, we’ve seen that, slathered this, tried that. (And sent literally thousands of products out to be trialled by our Beauty Bible testers, too.) So as true connoisseurs of beauty products with (blimey!) 50+ years’ experience between us. we like to think we recognise a great product when we see it. As of course, does Gill, which is why all the following, chosen over the past months as ‘Beauty Bible Loves’ picks on our own website, can be found on VH. We bring you six of the best, which we’ve raved about recently – and share what we said about them on our own website.

Sea Magik Turmeric Serenity Salts

Unusually, Jo was felled earlier this year by a nasty virus and spent a couple of days in bed. (Nobody can remember this in recent history.) She needed something to get her back on her feet, however – and these came up trumps. They’re Epsom salts – known to be amazingly restorative – but with some added extras. The first is anti-inflammatory turmeric (which gives the bath a pale yellow tinge). Jo was super-generous and added half a pack, being in the midst of a real health S.O.S., but a cupful would do for a typical bath. The second is bitter orange oil, which is wonderfully mood-lifting and definitely helped ramp up her energy levels a few degrees. And then there’s safflower oil – enough of it to leave skin really quite soft and silky. The result? She definitely experienced a Lazarus effect – enough to get her through a weekend of guests and a christening, and put her back on the path to feeling ‘normal’.
Sea Magik Turmeric Serenity Salts, £8.99

Lebon Organic Toothpastes

Now, this was a beauty/wellness category ripe for some serious innovation. So: say ‘bonjour’ to a range of luxury toothpastes created in tandem with perfumer/flavour experts in Grasse. Which, as you might guess, means that Lebon oralcare offers a very different sensory experience to the usual tooth-brushing drudgery. The first flavour to capture our imagination was Sweet Extravagance, described as ‘haute couture and sexy’, in which ‘rose embraces orange blossom with a hint of mint’. And yes, it’s just as delectable as that sounds.

Since then, we’ve enjoyed Rhythm is Love, featuring citrusy yuzu and ylang ylang, ‘the flower of the flowers’. (Next on our toothpaste wishlist – and who knew there could be such a thing? – is Tropical Crush, which blends pineapple with rooibos and mint.) Above and beyond that, though, they’re all so colourfully and stylishly packaged that Lebon will have you rearranging your bathroom shelf, to show off your toothpaste.
Lebon Organic Toothpastes, from £17.99

Weleda Skin Food Light

Well, this only happens once every few decades. Weleda have never been a launch-a-minute kind of brand – it simply doesn’t fit with their ethos. (Weleda products are NATRUE-certified natural and with high levels of organics, always, NB.) Skin Food’s been around since 1926 – and it’s taken them almost 100 years to add to the line-up! Personally, we love the richness of the original Skin Food – it’s something we often advise people to turn to when their skin’s flaring up. But not everyone wants that kind of rich texture (notably combination skin types). So, with its slightly more grass-green packaging, Skin Food Light has an airier texture, yet includes all the same healing botanicals: calendula, chamomile, viola tricolor and rosemary. (It retains the signature sweet orange and lavender light fragrance that so many love.) We really hope it doesn’t take them another 93 years to extend this wonderful skincare line even further…
Weleda Skin Food Light, £12.95

Sarah Chapman Icon Night

This cream is like shrugging on your favourite cashmere sweater. Just comforting and inviting, instantly soothing (and instantly improving skin’s appearance with an ever-so-slightly-radiant-yet-not-shimmery finish, we’ve observed). Since we’re talking about Sarah Chapman, of course, it is fired up by a slew of wonder ingredients. So: should you want the science bit, we can reveal that this cream offers ‘a revolutionary X503 targeted peptide drone delivery system’. There’s ‘retinaldehyde vitamin A’ in there, too. Frankly, this isn’t what interests us about any skin cream. It’s surely clever stuff – and few facialists know more about skin or have higher standards than Sarah Chapman. (Yes, it’s pricy. But there are much more expensive creams out there.) But at Beauty Bible what we look for, always, is a product that delivers sensory pleasure while you use it – and visible results, ideally both instantly (as in this case) and over the longer-term.

After using this for a while ourselves, we’re certainly noticing fine lines are finer, and skin is brighter – but it hasn’t been long, so we’ll stick with it. (No reaction to the vitamin A ingredient, by the way, which we sometimes experience in form of redness and irritation. So that’s a good sign. But it is important to up the daytime SPF whenever you’re using a vitamin A product.) Most of all, we look forward to using it, at bedtime. Almost as much as slipping between cool sheets with a good book and a hot night-time drink. A cream that makes us feel like that will win our hearts, every time.
Sarah Chapman Icon Night Cream, £98

This Works Sleep Power Recharge Mask

Yes, you will look like Avatar when you apply this bright blue mask, via its brush top. (A very soothing feeling, BTW.) No, you should not open the door to the DPD delivery guy wearing it. But when you remove after 20 minutes, skin will be brightened by the fruit acids and plumped by a surge of hyaluronic acid. And yes, if you’re an aromatherapy devotee, you’re going to adore the scent – grounding and uplifting at once, with its blend of vetiver, patchouli, camphor and lemon.
This Works Sleep Power Recharge Mask, £32

Ilapothecary Beat The Blues Shower & Bath Oil and Beat The Blues Pulse Point

Ever since we first smelled Ilapothecary’s Beat the Blues blend, we’ve been spritzing the air at Beauty Bible HQ we are in need of strength, fortification or we’re feeling down or slump-y.. It’s gloriously tuberose-y, with touches of rebalancing geranium, clary sage (for mental strength) and petitgrain, which Denise Leicester – healer and Ilapothecary founder – incorporated in the blend ‘to banish negative energies’. It’s been such a hit that (hurrah and hooray!), Ilapothecary have now extended the range. First up is a sublime Beat The Blues Shower & Bath Oil, which leaves skin beautifully nourished and veiled in scent as we emerge from the fragrant waters. (Just brilliant before bedtime, NB.) It also makes the most glamorous and heaven-scented leg-shaving oil on the planet! Ilapothecary has also just launched a Beat The Blues Pulse Point perfect for the handbag. Can’t tell you how many times, since we recently started using this, people have already stopped us and said: ‘What’s that gorgeous fragrance you’re wearing…?
Ilapothecary Beat The Blues Shower & Bath Oil, £29, and Beat The Blues Pulse Point, £27.

The Food Of Love

A row of carrots long ways cut in halfand resting on dirt

If ever I write a cookery book – and I guess with 25 books of varying kinds under my belt, it’s not entirely beyond the realms of possibility – then it will be called ‘Dried Onions & Donald Trump’. I realise that this may not be the catchiest title for a cookbook ever, um cooked up, but those are the two key reasons why I have truly embraced the kitchen, relatively late in life. And am experiencing the greatest, most unexpected joy, as a result.

First up, I have an allergy to chopping onions. Not the usual tear or two, but a Niagara of them which completely obscures my vision, sluices my mascara into my socks and puts me at risk of cutting my finger off, at any given moment. And since most savoury dishes have onions somewhere in their foundations, this used to be a real problem when it came to making everything from soups to casseroles via good old gravy. So I just didn’t. I mostly delegated making dinner to my husband, who has the ability to look in the fridge and rustle up a three-course meal when I look in the same fridge and the only thing I can think to make is a restaurant reservation.

But one life-changing (and marriage-changing) day surfing the internet, he found a source for organic dried onions (Just Ingredients, if you’re interested). OK, so they’re not going to cut the Dijon when it comes to recipes that require that lovely caramelly, slithery-finished, sweet type of onions – but a soup, a stock, a risotto, a casserole? Perfectly adequate for adding the right amount of onioniness. (I think I may just have invented a word there.) We buy them a kilo at a time, and I now make dinner more than he does.

Because the other factor in sending me scurrying into my bunker, sorry, kitchen, was Donald Trump. Basically, I decided that it was the only place I felt safe after he moved into the White House, like a sort of Smeg-equipped air raid shelter for the 21st Century. I have barely emerged since. Or at least, if I’m not in the office, I’m probably in the kitchen. No sooner are my eyes open on a Saturday morning than I’m downstairs making a batch of ‘Crackola’ (as the family have dubbed my can’t-stop-eating-it granola – or rather, Samin Nosrat’s granola recipe, from the excellent Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.) Out comes the state-of-the-art Titanium Kenwood mixer, a generous gift from a beloved friend (and right up there in my Best-Ever Pressies Hall of Fame). Into the oven go two trays of Crackola. 45 minutes later, we’re burning our fingers picking out caramelised pecans from those foil-lined trays, and everyone’s happy.

Each week, actually I have to make more and more, by popular request from family and friends. Ditto: fennel pickles. Ditto the newest addition to my repertoire, home-made ricotta – a culinary conjuring trick worthy of certification by The Magic Circle, yet so, so, soooooo easy. So easy that I’m actually going to share it with you here. Take two litres of whole milk and a bit of salt. Heat to 85 degrees (using a jam thermometer to measure – and don’t let the milk get hotter). Add 50 ml of white wine vinegar, stir for one minute, and hey, presto! ACTUAL CURDS. Three hours later, strain the lot into a colander (I just use a linen drying-up cloth), squeeze out the last of the whey, add more salt to taste as you fluff it up with a fork. That’s it. And I cannot tell you how blown away everyone will be.

The ultimate joy of cooking for me, though, is making food to make other people feel better. Bone broth for the poorly. Tempting, easy to digest dishes for the shell-shocked bereaved that they can pop in the oven and feed everyone with no more effort than turning a knob. Ditto food for people who’ve just moved house and can’t even find the kettle. (It happens.) And in the case of a young woman in my life who’s as close to a daughter as I’m ever going to get, who had a baby late last year and whose husband travels a lot for work, ‘A Year of Pie’. Comfort food is her favourite type of food. And is any hot dish more comforting than a potato- or pastry-topped pie…?

So that was Lily’s Christmas present – I designed an actual scroll on my computer and tied it with a ribbon – and I’m proud to say I’ve barely missed a week. And that way she knows, and I know, that there’ll be at least one good, hot, nutritious, organic, (and gluten and dairy-free) meal, made from scratch with fresh ingredients each week. And I honestly get the kind of pleasure from making that pie for her family each Saturday that once upon a time, long, long ago, I used to get from a Saturday morning of clothes-shopping in the boutiques of Brompton Cross.

I bought a great cookbook recently, with the rather wonderful name Extra Helping. (The title’s a play on words.) Its author, Janet Reich Eslbach – who I instantly deemed a kindred spirit – believes that through food, we can rebuild community. As she observes: ‘Growing and welcoming babies, nursing them through insults, moving house, suffering losses of near and dear ones, and all the other facts of lives… the things we survive have one common thread: if we got through it, we must have eaten something. The only thing that compares to the satisfaction of eating what’s just right for you in a particular moment of need is… the relief of not needing lift a finger to make it appear. How good it feels to be fed!’

Funnily enough, though, I wasn’t so good at feeding myself until very recently, when I stumbled upon another book I’m going to recommend, Signe Johannson’s Solo: The Joy of Cooking for One, which is filled with recipes for one person that are way, way more interesting (but not that much more hassle) than my go-to solo dinner halved-and-herbed tomato, baked potato and lashings of salty butter. It’s definitely pimped meals on nights when I’m home alone, with Signe’s great recipes for (among other dishes) miso ramen, Cuban-inspired rice and beans or courgette and ricotta fritter. (I happen to have a handy source of great ricotta…) Because if you are going to devote any time to cooking (and thereby caring) for others, you’ve really got to fuel yourself, too. ‘To secure another person’s oxygen mask, you must first apply your own,’ observes Janet Reich Elsbach. Well, quite.

The bottom line? If Donald Trump does hang on in the White House in 2020, I’m armed. With my rolling pin, my whisk, my Nutribullet, my Titanium mixer. And an arsenal of dried onions…

How To Save Yourself

Pile of Clothes on the floor

Life, I’ve decided, is too short to spend dithering over what to wear. And so I post the question: how long did it take you to get dressed this morning? Two minutes? Ten minutes? Half an hour…? Over a lifetime, dithering over clothes all scarily adds up, so it seems. A couple of years ago I was almost struck dumb by a survey which totted up that women on average spend almost a year – yes, a whole, precious year of our lives – deciding on our outfits. Read More…

A Guide To Summer Self-Care

Heart made with pink rocks

When we think about self-care we usually associate it with colder weather. Conjuring up visions of comforting rituals, journalling under a blanket with a warming cup of herbal tea and soaking in a hot bath filled with detoxifying salts. So understandably, self-care is usually the last thing on our minds once summertime comes around – bringing with it a schedule filled with rooftop cocktails, spontaneous barbecues and weekly weddings. Read More…

How To Reduce A Bloated Tummy This Summer

Large green leaves on white

The swimsuit season is upon us. Which means most women’s thoughts are turning, at least a little, to how we look in cosies and bikinis. And you know what women have long told us they worry about most, in a swimsuit? Not cellulite ­– but a less-than-flat-tummy. So here’s what we’ve learned really works to help beat a bloated tummy, over our too-many-years-to-mention in the beauty and wellness world. Read More…