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…

Seven Easy Additions To Your Morning Routine For Glowing Skin

francis-philips

As a Nutritional Therapist, I like to focus on giving advice to my clients that can be incorporated into everyday life. I’m not a fan of diets or fads and I’m aware that unless the advice is do-able, it’s just not going to be adhered to. That’s why I often suggest ‘adding-in’ helpful practices. Here are some of my favourite small additions that could give you glowing skin if implemented regularly…

Drink a large glass of water upon waking

This is one of the nutrition basics but it’s one that can be so easily overlooked. Dehydration really shows on the skin as your body prioritises the more ‘vital’ organs. Some people love getting up and drinking hot water with lemon and that’s wonderful if you have the time. But, if you don’t then a large glass of water is just as hydrating. I also find it’s a much easier way of encouraging compliance.

Dry body brushing

This is great for lymphatic stimulation, as well as exfoliating the skin. Your lymph can only be moved manually as it doesn’t get ‘pumped’ in the same way your blood does. Practicing dry body brushing has been said to reduce cellulite and improve skin tone. Start at your feet and brush upwards in small circular motions towards your heart. For arms, begin at the hands and work upward. For the stomach, work in a counter-clockwise pattern. I prefer to do this in the morning rather than the evening as it can be quite energising. A couple of minutes before showering is ideal.

Alternating hot/cold shower

Again, this is great for your lymphatic system. It also helps to improve blood circulation. Blood flow to the surface is what carries the nutrients from your diet to the skin. I suggest alternating between hot and cold right at the end of showering, sticking to each temperature for about 20-30 seconds before switching (it’s meant to feel a little bracing but there’s no need to push it to where you feel uncomfortable). Then repeat this in total about three times.

Have an antioxidant-rich breakfast

Antioxidants are an essential part of the diet for healthy skin. They help protect against damaging ‘free radicals’ (the unstable chemicals in our environment that can cause premature ageing). They protect our collagen and elastin, vital proteins that maintain elasticity as well as increasing blood flow to the surface of our skin to help achieve that glow! They can be found in fruit and vegetables so it’s important to eat a wide variety (especially focus on ‘eating a rainbow’). Foods that are particularly high in antioxidants include blueberries, cherries and strawberries (or any seasonal berry in fact). That’s why I advocate including them in your breakfast in some way – either in a smoothie or as a topping for porridge or granola. My all-time favourite antioxidant-rich breakfast is an Açaí bowl.

Don’t forget about including ‘good’ fats

I think people are less scared nowadays about including fats in their diets (the bottom line: ‘good’ fat doesn’t make you fat). I encourage my clients to incorporate either avocados, nuts, seeds, nut butters, chia seeds, hemp seeds or flaxseeds into their breakfasts. The omega-3 fats found in these foods help keep skin plump as well as keeping you satiated for longer so less likely to eat sugary snacks. Omega-3 is also a great anti-inflammatory.

Vitamin C

Topical vitamin C is big news these days. As well as being an antioxidant, it also plays a key role in collagen formation and synthesis (that’s the protein that keeps skin looking bouncy and youthful). I recommend both topical and dietary sources for maximum effect. Our bodies can’t store vitamin C so it’s important to regularly include sources of it in our diet. Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits and berries.

Take your supplements with breakfast (and save the coffee for mid-morning)

You’re much more likely to remember to take supplements if you take them at the same time every day. Most supplements can be taken alongside your breakfast so it’s easier to remember. Try to avoid drinking coffee at the same time, however, as caffeine can inhibit nutrient absorption. It’s best to save coffee until mid-morning if possible.

Frances Phillips is a Nutritional Therapist and Health & Beauty Writer, www.thenaturaledit.com.

The Facial Massage Debate

Beauty Jade Tool

Facial massage has been heralded as the one stop shop for plumping, firming and smoothing skin, as well as leaving it with a radiant glow. Unsurprisingly, plenty  of skincare experts advocate the use of massage in some way to improve the quality of your skin.

Most facials incorporate some form of massage too, be it a dedicated section of the treatment or an accompanying technique when the therapist is cleansing or moisturising your skin. The reason is that massaging the skin boosts your circulation and lymphatic drainage, which in turn reduces inflammation and puffiness.

Over the years, massage has evolved into a full workout for your face with some experts claiming that facial exercises could take years off of you. The vigorous massage techniques and pummeling are believed to tone and sculpt your facial muscles, as well as boost that fresh glow. Not everyone is on board though. There are some experts who stress that strong massage can actually breakdown your skin’s collagen and cause more damage than good.

In their book You: Being Beautiful, both Dr Oz and Dr Michael F. Roizen argue that: “Exercising the facial muscles is a sure way to increase wrinkles. The repetitive movements of the skin, over the years, combined with the normal thinning of the collagen and elastin of the dermis, will eventually crack the skin, causing wrinkles.”

So, how should you approach facial massage?

While you want it to supercharge your circulation and get the blood flowing, you don’t want to be too rough with your skin. Hayo’u founder and Chinese medicine expert Katie Brindle developed the Beauty Restorer tool with this in mind. To work in harmony with traditional Chinese massage technique, the jade tool is perfectly shaped to fit into the natural curves of your face and helps you to gently but effectively increase circulation. Jade is renowned for its soothing, cooling powers as well.

How long should you massage your skin for?

It can be for as long or as short as you need. The Hayo’u method promotes one minute and longer 10 minute rituals depending on how much time you have to spare. Plenty of experts recommend using your hands and incorporating massage into simple tasks, such as cleansing. A cleansing oil or balm is the best texture to use as it encourages you to really work the formula into your skin.

Do you have to use tools?

Plenty of therapists use their hands rather than tools to massage their clients skin, so there’s no reason for you to invest in one in order to reap the benefits. However, if you’re not sure how to approach facial massage or want the cooling powers of jade, then we recommend looking into the Beauty Restorer.

Is Aftersun Worth The Investment?

aftersun

We’re all more than aware of the importance of wearing SPF and most of us are pretty good at slathering it on when we’re relaxing on a sun lounger on holiday. It’s the day-to-day application that some of us fall short with. Yet, with the UK experiencing one of the hottest summers in years and the record heatwave showing no sign of abating, wearing SPF every day has never been more essential.

If you’ve been caught out you’ll be well associated with that scorched, tight feeling too much sun can have on your skin. Enter your trusted bottle of aftersun. Brands often tout the cooling, soothing benefits of their aftersun, but is there any difference between them and your regular body lotion?

In a nutshell, yes. “Often traditional body lotions contain oil which create a barrier on the skin and trap the heat, causing prolonged burning,” says Dr Maryam Zamani, Oculoplastic Surgeon and Aesthetic Doctor.  “Aftersun on the other hand is a lighter cream or gel, which does not create a barrier and keeps the area underneath hydrated.”

Most aftersun formulas, including Coola Ecocert Radical Recovery After-Sun Lotion, £30, are also packed full of aloe vera, which is renowned for its cooling and soothing powers. While there isn’t a huge amount of scientific data to show that aloe vera is one of the best soothers for sun burn, almost every skin expert recommends using the ingredient for this purpose. Although, as Dr Zamani says, it’s better to opt for light lotions or gel formulas to allow the heat to escape as the aloe soothes your skin.

What if you’re allergic or sensitive to aloe vera? Fear not, social media has the answer and it’s an unusual one. This summer one Instagram user’s post went viral after she revealed her trick of using a menthol based shaving foam to help alleviate her husband’s sun burnt back. While it’s not a technique we’ve tried and tested, it’s worth exploring if you’re unable to use aloe vera as it’s likely the menthol will cool your skin and the foam will be incredibly lightweight.

Whichever approach you take, remember it’s a good sign when your skin starts to itch as it means it’s repairing itself. But, make sure you wear plenty of sun cream the next day and seek shade where possible.

How Supplements Became The Best Step In My Skincare Routine

spoon of fruit and vegetables

After my health issues a few years ago it became pretty obvious that what was happening on my skin had a lot to do with what was going on inside my body. In fact, how my skin changed was the first sign that something was wrong, although I did not realize this at the time. As my health deteriorated, my skin progressively got worse until I felt like I looked just as badly as I was feeling (which was pretty awful). The funny thing is, I remember being obsessed with fixing my skin and wasted so much time and money on products and treatments when what I needed to do was focus on my health – the root cause of my skin problems. Read More…