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.

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.

Skip Care Is The New Self Care

skipcare

Over the past two years, the term self care has been associated with pretty much everything and if the wellness gurus are right, it’s an essential component for your mental and emotional wellbeing. From the nourishing oil you use to relieve tight, achy limbs to the journal you use to jot down your thoughts at the end of the day, the health and beauty industry is sprinkling self-care everywhere. 

Yet, there is something quite stressful about trying to find that extra half an hour in your week to tap into this wellness trend. You might even go as far as to say it’s just another thing that we’re expected to tick off the list, along with eating healthily, going to the gym, excelling at work and catching up with friends. Self care could be adding stress rather than helping reduce it.

In terms of your skincare regimen, the  relentless cleansing, massaging and layering can add an extra 10 minutes onto your evening routine – and that’s a polite estimate. If this is something you’ve struggled to get on board with you might welcome the new approach: skip care.

What is skip care?

Well, it might surprise you but it’s another Korean export. But unlike the 11 step routines that drove you, and most likely your skin, crazy, skip care is about honing in on the ingredients that really work for your skin and skipping the ones that don’t deliver the results you want. 

How can you embrace skip care?

The fundamental steps of cleanse, treat and protect still apply, but rather than piling on lots of individual products for brightening, exfoliating, hydrating et cetera, look for well formulated lotions and potions that multitask. 

For example, GoW Neurophroline Serum helps reduce the stress in your skin and hydrate. Whether you want to soothe rosacea, get a grip on acne breakouts or give dull, lacklustre complexions a boost, Neurophroline can help and pretty much everyone should be using it.

Likewise Nuori’s Supreme Moisture Mask is the perfect night cream treat for skin now that the weather is starting to turn. The lipid packed formula is surprisingly light and leaves skin feeling softer, smoother and plumper by the time you wake up.

The trick to making skip care work for you is to understand your skin and what it needs. Start with only the essential steps and embrace all the extra time you’ll now have.

Do You Need A Super Serum?

Serum Bottles with a dropper lid on pink background

Applying a serum has become a regular protocol in most people’s beauty routines and while stats show that many of us are eschewing multi-step routines, serums are sticking. “A need for simplicity has pushed UK women towards minimalist skincare products with more intense active ingredients, such as serums,” explains Alex Fisher, Global Skincare Analyst at Mintel. “Serums are also a well-liked format, perceived as brightening and nourishing and often include ingredients like vitamins and antioxidants that are said to illuminate skin.” Read More…

Bakuchiol, A Natural Alternative To Retinol

Dropper of clear serum pulling out of bottle, close up shot

Over the last decade particularly, retinol has been hailed as the holy grail of all anti-ageing hero ingredients used in serums, eye creams and moisturisers, and with good reason. Retinol, a form of vitamin A, encourages cell renewal and enhances collagen production to prevent and treat fine lines and wrinkles. However, retinol can be harsh causing signs of irritation including redness, itching and peeling. If you have sensitive skin, the chances are you will not be able to experience the powerful effects of retinol on your skin – until now. Bakuchiol is the latest plant-based, anti-ageing ingredient in skincare which is suitable for even the most sensitive skin and is considered a natural alternative to retinol. Read More…

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.