I thought August was a good month to talk about confidence because summer time tends to be when everybody is out a lot more, socialising, holidays, just getting fresh air. Weather behaving, there can be a lot of flesh on show. With everybody being busy ‘living their best lives’ I think, if you are feeling a bit self-conscious about something physically, it might feel a little bit more exaggerated at this time of the year.
I specifically want to zone in on talking about breakouts, and when I am talking about breakouts we can be talking about something at the severe end of the spectrum or at the other milder end of the spectrum. Actually, with confidence in mind it really has no bearing as it is all about how it makes you feel. So medically speaking perhaps your breakout issue is not particularly ‘dramatic’ but the way it makes you feel maybe quite significant and that is not for anyone else to dictate. You feel how you feel and no amount of others telling you not worry has any impact.
Today’s post is very generic, I do not want to be overloading you with suggested treatments but I thought I could talk a little bit about the who, where, when, why, along with a few really easy hacks that you can all implement right away.
I see a whole range of people who suffer with breakouts, and as I mentioned, for some people it is quite a severe problem, other people it is not so severe but the common theme is that it affects people emotionally in generally the same kind of way.
Breakouts can happen on the face, on the chest, on the back, all three places, or one of them. Like many issues I talk about there are a lot of people who have picked up lots of useless ‘facts’ along the way. The most frequently heard old wives’ tales are regarding spots in specific areas of the face develop due to hormones whilst others are ‘not hormonal’. I will come back to this point later on.
I think the skin is such a strange and unpredictable organ in many ways. With regards to breakouts some people are plagued throughout their teens and then into adulthood as well. For some people, they will have clear skin their whole lives and then suddenly hit their 30s or their 40s or even 50s and start getting spots.
For some people, the problem may be short lived, it might come and go, for others it may be more persistent. It can be a really difficult problem when you are young and you do not have necessarily much confidence but actually I think for adults it also can be a pretty awful experience, in part because you feel as though you should not be getting spots, you feel like the unwritten rule is that this is a problem only for teenagers. Unfortunately, as I tell my clients frequently it is way more common than you think.
The bottom line with this is that you have a genetic predisposition for it and then the rest of the work is done by your hormones. So all spots are driven by hormones. The complicated part is that there are other factors involved as well. So it is not just as simple as that, and even if it were just the hormones, what the hell are you going to do about it?
So hormones do drive spots and breakouts, ultimately. They might be on the face, they might be on the back, they might be on the chest, you might be a man, you might be a woman, you might be in your 40s, you might be in your 20s, they are just a real pain in the butt.
If you are a woman, some types of the contraceptive pill may help.
I am really not an advocate for cutting out food groups and doing really radical stuff with diet because the evidence simply is not there. I am nurse and I therefore I prefer to be evidence.
My feeling is that cutting out large food groups, can be something that actually just adds to making you feel a bit more crap than you already feel.
We do know, however that insulin, which is a hormone in our body, is one of the things that can make your skin break out more. So one of the things that you can do with your diet, is to reduce the amount of processed food in your diet. You want to try and cut out what we call those ‘high glycaemic index’ foods. This group of foods are readily converted to sugar in the blood stream. In turn Insulin is released to ‘look after’ that surge of blood sugar.
So processed foods, which are generally not good for anything, are the ones that you should try and cut down on. Keep your diet as fresh as you can, as unprocessed as possible, within reason, rather than doing anything drastic like cutting out dairy, cutting out big food groups. Keep it simple, just keep your diet nice and healthy, nice and balanced, you are going to benefit from that every which way and hopefully the skin will benefit from it as well.
Stress is another thing that affects hormones and again, that is a really difficult one. How do we eliminate stress from our lives? I think living in London is incredibly stressful and even if you are not particularly aware that you are stressed out, once we start unpicking your daily life, your weekly life, it is bloody stressful. Most of us are running around like a zillion miles an hour, constantly thinking about what is the next thing we have got to do, and that level of stress is just on a normal week, a normal day. Then you take other little life events that will happen along the way and boom, you are stressed, stressed, stressed.
So again, what can you do with stress? Often you cannot just get rid of that thing that is causing it. Try to find ways to manage it. Work out what your thing is, try to make a bit of time for yourself, to do whatever it is that makes you feel a bit better and do it without feeling bad because again, I think we all feel constantly like we should be doing something productive and we should be go-getting. Self care can help your skin.
Whether you are a gym person, you like taking a a walk, a trip to a museum, try to be a bit more aware of the fact that actually you probably do have an element of stress in your life. And again, if you can do something to alleviate stress, it is going to have a good health impact. If it helps your skin as well – great.
Basic Skin Hacks:
- Spend 1 full minute washing your face morning and evening.
Ensure that you are making good contact with your product.
- Use a product you can rinse off with water – tepid water.
Heat will stimulate oil production so keep water temperature down
- Dry your face using a patting technique – clean towel or kitchen paper.
Rubbing creates friction which stimulates oil production
- Do not use wipes.
Wipes are full of preservatives, they move dirt around, they do not clean
- Do not apply oil based products on your face
Oil contributes to the formation of spots – it is a major No – No
- If you are a makeup wearer – try Mineral Makeup
Mineral makeup has no oil and less chemicals
- Do not squeeze
I know this is obvious – but why do you still do it?!
- If your GP has prescribed a cream, introduce it gradually
GPs sometimes forget to tell you to start prescription creams slowly as they can cause irritation.
Treatments in Clinic
In terms of what else can you do, unfortunately you cannot cure the problem. I know you do not want to hear that but it is the truth. So it is always about managing the problem. And you can manage it. You can get it to a much more manageable level where it is not affecting how you feel about yourself so much, but it is about management.
That being said, the basic building blocks of management is a good medical skincare regime. Medical skincare brands like ZO and pH formula contain active ingredients that stimulate change in your skin cells.
Depending on the severity of your problem, or depending on how quickly you want to see a fix, you might want to chuck some other stuff in there as well. Other considerations can include:
- Prescription skincare such as antibiotics, azelaic acid, retinoids.
- Skin peels
- Oral medications such as antibiotics, roaccutane
However all of these are IN ADDITION to skincare not instead of. Layering different treatments on top of skincare will maximise and accelerate your result.
Lastly, another common theme that comes up in my consultations is that people seem to feel that acne or breakouts are somehow their fault. This is incorrect. You are unlucky to have difficult skin and you may already be doing all of the basic hacks, but if you were not doing those then your skin would be worse.
Stay positive and please do get in touch if you would like to get some help.
LPA is an award-winning nurse-led clinic. Our philosophy is to help you age in a way that you feel confident and comfortable in yourself. We’re on a mission to win your trust from the off, by making your visit relaxed and easy and ultimately sending you on your way with a natural revitalised and more attractive version of you, so that you’re ready to conquer your world!
We are based in EC1 in the bustle of the city. We are registered with Save Face, the UK aesthetics regulatory body.