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.

Does Blue Light Affect Our Health?

bluelight

Over the past few years, there has been plenty of debate about the effects of blue light can have on us. While techies applaud the convenience that brighter, clearer screens offer our hectic schedules, sleep gurus and skin experts have warned about the implications they can have on our sleeping patterns and complexions. 

Last year, a study found that blue light can be detrimental to our eyes and cause damage to our cornea and retina. Researchers from the University of South China warned that we should take protective measures, especially at night to help prevent putting our eyes under oxidative stress.

Earlier this week, another study highlighted that it could be possible that blue light doesn’t just damage our eyes, but it could also affect our brain. Scientists at Oregon State University looked at the effect of blue light has on fruit flies and found that even if it’s not shining directly into your eyes, blue light can damage the neurons in your brain. 

“There is evidence suggesting that increased exposure to artificial light is a risk factor for sleep and circadian disorders,” says co-author of the study, Eileen Chow. “And with the prevalent use of LED lighting and device displays, we are subjected to increasing amounts of light in the blue spectrum, since commonly used LEDs emit a high fraction of blue light.”

Wait, what is blue light?

From your laptop to your smartphone, pretty much every screen in your home emits high-energy visible (HEV) or ‘blue’ light. Even some of your light bulbs give off blue rays. Why have we moved to blue light? Well, essentially it’s super bright and allows you to see your screen clearly in sunlight and it is thought to help boost attention and mood levels.  

How does it impact your body?

Blue light hasn’t been around for long enough for us to fully understand how it affects us, however scientists have been exploring the topic. Plenty of experts agree that blue light can disrupt our circadian rhythm and light exposure at night has been shown to decrease our melatonin (sleep hormone) levels. 

A couple of years back, a study compared the impact of blue light with green light when it comes to our body clock and found that the former suppressed our melatonin levels for twice as long. So, if you’re the kind of person who wakes up in the middle of the night and reaches for your phone, it’s time to take note and potentially invest in a gentler bedside lamp.

There have also been murmurings about the impact of blue light on our skin and some brands have even brought out formulas that promise to help protect our complexions from the premature ageing that is believed to be triggered by our screens.

Can you protect from blue light?

Aside from living by candlelight and limiting your screen time, a very easy trick is to change the light settings on your phone, laptop and computer. If you have an iPhone you’ll find this in your settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift, which you can set a timer for. While there’s not a lot of research around the benefits of the Night Shift setting, it does highlight how bright the standard blue light setting is and will help limit your exposure in the lead up to bedtime. There are also protective blue light filters in the form of glasses and phone cases. 

If you find it hard to get to sleep at night it is worth taking Cherry Night by Viridian as cherries help to boost your melatonin levels over time. Admittedly the powder does take a couple of weeks to kick into action, but you will notice that it is easier to drift off if you take it consistently every night around an hour before you want to go to bed.

For those who are concerned about the damage blue light is doing to their skin and potentially the rest of their body, it’s worth increasing your intake of antioxidants to help protect against free radical damage. Look to supplements such as astaxanthin and fulvic acid to help protect your body. We recommend Ful.Vic.Health Fulvic Acid Elixir – those who prefer tablets should try Ionicell. Fulvic acid is a fabulous antioxidant and it provides 65+ essential macro and trace minerals to your body (learn more about the benefits, here).

While a lot more research needs to be done to discover exactly how to protect our skin from blue light, dermatologists tend to recommend applying a good quality antioxidant, such as a good vitamin C serum. Regardless of your budget, Garden of Wisdom’s Vitamin C Serum 23% and Ferulic Acid is a good place to start and if you want more of a treatment mask, try Lixirskin’s Vitamin C Paste.

This is an area of research that is going to continue to evolve though. “Human lifespan has increased dramatically over the past century as we’ve found ways to treat diseases, and at the same time we have been spending more and more time with artificial light,” says Chow. “As science looks for ways to help people be healthier as they live longer, designing a healthier spectrum of light might be a possibility, not just in terms of sleeping better but in terms of overall health.”

Is It Time We Took Skin Issues More Seriously?

skin issues

Even if you count yourself lucky and rarely have to worry red patches on your cheeks or an ever-growing sun spot above your left brow, we’ve all woken up with a corker of a blemish that captures the gaze of anyone you encounter for the next three days. Those who have waged a war against skin issues, including rosacea and acne will be only too aware of the mental impact these can have over time. 

This week, the British Skin Foundation shared a survey that revealed that nine in 10 dermatologists believe that not enough importance is placed on the psychological impact skin conditions can have on us. “This survey demonstrates that dermatologists recognise some patients experience psychological distress associated with their skin condition,” says Dr Andrew Thompson, Reader in Clinical Psychology and Practitioner Clinical Psychologist, University of Sheffield and Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust.

“It also indicates that whilst dermatology is making great advances in treating the medical aspects of skin disease, perhaps not enough is being done to address the accompanying psychological effects,” says Dr Thompson. In a world where we can disguise skin concerns with make-up or add a filter to a selfie some might assume that battling with a skin concern is less of an issue than it used to be. However, in the last few months, two writers have shared their experiences with rosacea and psoriasis and how they have impacted their confidence and mental health.

While Rose Gallagher might appear to be confident on her Instagram stories, she revealed that her rosacea still affects her mental health: “It still impacts how attractive I feel in myself, especially when it flares up.” On the other hand, Sophie Cullen struggled to have her psoriasis diagnosed.

This is not uncommon as Consultant Psychologist Dr Alexandra Mizara explains, “Skin patients often experience that they are not listened to or understood by their healthcare providers. The occasions that they are listened to and understood are rare and extraordinary.”

So, how can you seek out support, or help someone you know? “If you suffer with a skin condition that has impacted adversely on your life, talk openly about it to your doctor and ask them to refer you to see a psychologist,” says Dr Mizara. If you don’t get far with this, it is also worth seeking out skin disease wellbeing services in your area or talk-based therapies to help tackle any low mood or anxiety. Dr Mizara also recommends looking up charities and support groups.

For those looking for a natural remedy to help ease their skin issues, Clear Skin Complex by Viridian contains probiotics, zinc, selenium and burdock root to help soothe a range of conditions, including acne, eczema and psoriasis. While it won’t fix these concerns overnight, it does help support your body and ease inflammatory skin conditions. Shabir has written extensively about the supplement, here.

PHB Ethical Beauty: What You Need To Know

PHB Ethical Beauty

‘Clean beauty’ isn’t a phrase that many people like because it is very vague in its definition. We are willing to go out on a limb and hazard a guess that PHB Ethical Beauty is a brand that most people would consider ‘clean’. It’s natural, organic, vegan-friendly, Halal certified, the majority of its packaging is recyclable and the brand donates 20% of its net profit to charity. Read More…

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.

Could The #60SecondRule Give You Your Best Skin?

cleansing

Cleansing is a fundamental step to any healthy skincare routine, but have you ever questioned how long you should spend massaging the formula into your skin? No? Well, a couple of months back US based aesthetician Nayamka Roberts-Smith caused a stir on social media with her hashtag #60SecondRule.  Read More…