Beauty News

What I Have Learnt Since Having Psoriasis

simple illustrated diagram of the layers of skin and psoriasis

It’s a skin condition that affects just two per cent of the UK population, but if you have ever endured the eye-watering itchiness and discomfort that psoriasis causes then you’ll know just how debilitating it can be. Mine started back when I was in my 20’s with dry, itchy red patches developing along the left side of my neck.

For the first few weeks I blamed the change in season and higher-than-usual stress levels. But the patches didn’t ease up, instead they blistered and spread up to my scalp, behind my ears, along my forehead and over my neck. Putting it down to an allergic reaction, my doctor prescribed me Hydrocortisone cream and antihistamines.

While these helped to calm down the itchiness, but they did little to ease the redness around my neck and face. Psoriasis can be tricky to diagnose and if you haven’t experienced a severe bout of it before, then it’s not uncommon to assume that it is an allergic reaction to something you’ve eaten or used.

Flare-ups come and go in cycles. In its mildest form it can be confused with eczema as the patches are red, dry and itchy, while the severest attacks can look like reactions to food or creams. During the first six months, I was given several different diagnoses, including acute eczema, dermatitis and allergic reactions.

The NHS defines psoriasis as: ‘a skin condition that causes red, flaky, crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales. These patches normally appear on your elbows, knees, scalp and lower back, but can appear anywhere on your body.’

Admittedly this sounds very similar to eczema, however psoriasis is an autoimmune disease where your skin cells multiply at a faster rate than usual and don’t shed, which results in bumpy, inflamed skin and can lead to infections. “Our skin cells are normally made and replaced every three to four weeks,” says dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahoto. With psoriasis this process can take just three to seven days.

First and foremost, if you think you might have psoriasis it is key to ask your doctor or a dermatologist for a skin biopsy to rule out any other skin conditions. While it’s a chronic skin condition that you will always have, there are ways to make it more manageable.

It’s thought that genetics plays a role in psoriasis and it can run in families. When it comes to managing your condition though, anything from what you eat to the lotions and potions you use can exacerbate the rashes and blisters. Like most things in life stress is a common trigger for flare-ups.

For me, the best thing I ever did was to start a skin diary. I documented everything I ate and drank, how much exercise I’d done, which skincare products I was using, as well as how I felt on a day-to-day basis. While not everything that worked for me will work for everyone suffering with psoriasis, it might give you some food for thought. I found that stripping my beauty routine right back to the very basics made a huge difference. Out went any foaming cleansers as they dried out my skin, along with acid-based formulas and peels.

Instead, my skin relished in soothing, hydrating formulas that helped mute the itchiness without feeling heavy or clogging my pores. For my scalp, I found coal tar shampoo helped reduce the scaling endless white flakes. Although I appreciate not everyone will be willing to catch a whiff of tarmac every time you move your hair.

In terms of my diet I was advised to try cancelling out different food groups to see if they had any impact on my skin. For me, cutting out dairy, wheat and alcohol made the biggest difference. I would wake up and my skin wouldn’t look or feel red-raw and my hair didn’t look like I’d slept-walked through a snow blizzard.

After months of trial and error, constantly scribbling down in my skin diary and making small tweaks to my day-to-day routine, I can finally say that while the psoriasis on my scalp and behind my ears persists, the red scaling from my face and neck has gone. It’s not necessarily gone for good and I’m still a work-in progress, but I feel more in control of it.

As it stands there is no cure no psoriasis and I would be lying if I said I had never battled with a dark moment, but my biggest piece of advice to anyone suffering with psoriasis is to stay positive and stick with your skin diary.

Do You Really Need To Switch Up Your Skincare Every Season?

Spring On White

As the season’s revolving door swings into spring it feels only right to embrace the change by updating our skincare routine. In the same way that layers of your clothing get lighter and airier, logic would dictate the same goes for your creams and lotions. But is it a necessity for achieving healthy and glowing skin? The good news is that you don’t need to completely overhaul your winter skincare routine in a bid to fix any problems you now face. However, the devil is in the detail when it comes to perfect skin once the mercury rises. Here’s everything you need to know about trans-seasonal skincare. Read More…

How To Take The Perfect Bath

bathroom plug

In a bid to take charge of our own wellbeing many of us have made a personal promise to try and disconnect from technology when possible. Trouble is, phones are often found perched next to us, whether it’s the desk, sofa, dinner table or bed, making it tough not to scroll idly through feeds. Bathrooms however, are proving to be gadget free sanctuaries, which may be the reason that bathing is undergoing a renaissance as more of us opt to sit in the tub, rather than take a shower. Read More…

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…