The simple truth about HYPER-PIGMENTATION.

One of the most common skin care concerns for especially women are hyperpigmentation – or some refer to it as brown marks/patches on their skin (facial area).

What are the most common causes?

  1. Age (and sun exposure) – Due to years of sun damage you see sun spots/age spots/liver spots appear on sun exposed areas as you get older.
  2. Hormones (and sun exposure) – Many women develop a type of hyperpigmentation called chloasma during pregnancy but this can actually appear any time during a woman’s life.  It generally only appears during the late 20’s and can progressively get worse.
  3. Inflammation (and sun exposure) – Some people hyperpigment as part of the healing process (inflammation) after an injury.  You often see this in acne sufferers.
  4. Other – for example certain types of medication/diseases and chemicals (like certain perfumes) can cause hyperpigmentation.

You will see that all these factors go hand in hand with SUN EXPOSURE.  So sun exposure is the COMMON DENOMINATOR.

What can you do about it?

Let’s BE REAL about this before I get into who you can see and what you can potentially do…

Hyperpigmentation in MANY cases is something that you will struggle with to a certain extent for the rest of your life.  You might be able to lighten it when doing treatments/using products, but the chances of it disappearing completely and staying away is very RARE.

So you need to learn to manage it.  What I mean by this is that you learn to:

  1. Properly protect your skin from the SUN (An effective UVB/UVA + anti-oxidant sunscreen and things like a hat when outside).
  2. You might decide to regularly go for a skin treatment that treats hyperpigmentation
  3. Use a product for hyperpigmentation together with your other skin care products
  4. Get good quality make-up if you feel you would like to camouflage it a bit during the day.

Hyperpigmentation is a condition that is understood by the medical and skin care community to an extent, and there are many products and treatments that claim to be effective.

But I once had a chat with a renowned dermatologist (from Johannesburg) who did his thesis on hyperpigmentatoin – and he told me that he believed it is something that is not yet understood 100% and there is nothing yet on the market that can claim that it will work 100%!

So my suggestion:

USE SUNBLOCK EVERY DAY!

Chat to your dermatologist/skin care specialist about your treatment and product options – BUT BE REALISTIC IN YOUR EXPECTATIONS.

AND FINALLY… Love yourself and your skin… I can promise you that you are more aware and self-conscious about it than anyone else!  Take good care of your skin and do what you can, but don’t obsess about it… Because it IS a difficult one…and best made peace with to a certain extent…and managed well.

Love Helene xxx

PS.  I am not going to talk about product options in this blog… Will have to cover it in another blog – so much to say but I want to keep my blogs short(ish) 😉

 

Skincare must haves for a busy mom

You can spend 100’s of Rands on make up and still be frustrated with the end result if your canvass (your skin) isn’t in a good condition. Some lucky individuals are blessed with a genetically beautiful flawless skin, but most of us need to put in some work – and a couple of good quality products.

Below are my steps to the essential skin care – focussing on ANTI-AGEING.

Your products can look a little different if you are working towards targeting a more specific skin care concern like adult acne or hyperpigmentation for example. Check out my blogs about acne and pigmentation.

I am also just looking at the ESSENTIALS today – there are quite a bit more that you can do at home like exfoliators and masks – but more about that in another blog 😉

So here are my top skincare must haves for a busy mom!

Essential Morning routine:

Step 1: CLEANSE PROPERLY

Gentle Foaming Cleanser from Theravine

Make sure you cleanse your skin every morning and every evening with a MILD cleanser suitable to your PREFERENCE (gel/foam/cream/oil/liquid water based cleanser etc) and SKIN TYPE (oily/dry/combination). I currently use the Gentle Foaming Cleanser from Theravine (Available at salons or get in touch with me) retails for R298.  I also quite like the Loreal cleanser: Pure Clay detox face wash. R88

What do I look for in a cleanser? Not expensive (it really doesn’t have to be); gentle yet effective and I prefer a foamy gel in comparison to a cream.

Step 2: USE AN ANTIOXIDANT as your serum for the day.  Antioxidants have antiageing benefits as well as being super important to fight harmful free radicals during the day.  I am currently using the brilliant Phloretin CF from Skinceuticals. Thanks to my friend who was generous to give this as my 40th birthday present!

Step 3: USE A GOOD MOISTURISER on your face and neck.  I currently enjoy the Nourishing and Firming Day cream from Theravine for the DAY and the amazing moisturizer from Lamelle, Dermaheal Cellular Repair Cream.

Optional extra: Use an eye cream – check out my blog about eye creams here.

Step 4: USE A GOOD QUALITY sunblock every single day – check out my blog about sunscreen here and here.  My personal favourite is Heliocare. – either the SPF50 Gel or the SPF Tinted (this replaces my foundation on most days now because it is so quick and easy!)  Check out my blog on make-up tips for a busy mom HERE.

 

Essential Evening routine:

Step 1: CLEANSE PROPERLY

I start by cleansing off my eye make up. I love this water based cleanser from Garnier – retails for R80. Bioderma also has one, but is more expensive – retails for R230. Then I cleanse as in the morning routine.

Optional extra: Tone if necessary (not essential), sometimes necessary if you wear a lot of make up to ensure your skin is squaky.clean! You want it to be clean for your evening serum/cream to penetrate.

Step 2: USE AN ANTI-AGEING SERUM

So this might look different than your morning serum.  At night it is a good idea to introduce anti-ageing ingredients like Vitamin A (MY FIRM FAVOURITE – it is one of the most well researched and proven anti-ageing ingredients!) or anti-ageing PEPTIDES or GROWTH FACTORS or even exfoliating ingredients like alpha and beta hydroxy acids.  I currently use Retacnyl (on doctor prescription) but only one evening per week (Retinol is very active and the skin will initially peel upon starting usage).  On other nights I enjoy the Collagen M/P Serum from Matriskin for its amazing anti-ageing benefits due to anti-ageing peptides.

Option extra: Use an eye cream – check out my blog about eye creams here.

Step 3: USE A GOOD MOISTURISER – Same as morning routing.

Please feel free to email me your questions about your skin care routine!

Love Helene xxx

Does what you eat affect your skin? Part 2 (Acne)

Hello again!  In part 1 of “Does what you eat affect your skin”- I discussed sugar, wheat and how these could potentially cause a lot of damage showing up as skin ageing – all the things that we DON’T want to see when we look in the mirror!  Today I am going to share with you how what you eat can also potentially lead to a common skin problem even in adults…

ACNE

4687180430_c3ff93615c3Sugar consumption can also affect acne. When our blood sugar and insulin levels rise, whether from a poor diet or from stress, we experience a serious increase in inflammatory chemicals at a cellular level. This causes inflammatory diseases such as acne to worsen dramatically. Cortisol and other adrenal steroids can act as androgens (male hormones) and stimulate the sebaceous (oil) glands resulting in a flare-up of acne.

Dr. William Davis states in his book Wheat Belly:wheatbelly-book320

Evidence suggests that it is not a genetic issue, but one of diet. Cultures that rely only on foods provided by their unique location and climate allow us to observe the effects of foods added or subtracted to the diet. Acne-free populations such as the Kitavans of New Guinea exist on a hunter-gatherer diet of vegetables, fruits, tubers, coconuts and fish. Japanese Okinawans, probably the most long-lived group on planet earth, until the 1980’s consumed a diet rich in an incredible array of vegetables, sweet potatoes, soya, pork and fish; acne was virtually unknown among them.

Cultures without acne consume little to no wheat, sugar or dairy products. As Western influence introduced processed starches such as wheat and sugars into groups such as the Okinawans, Inuits and Zulus, acne promptly followed. In other words, acne-free cultures had no special genetic protection from acne, but simply followed a diet that lacked the foods that provoke the condition. Introduce wheat, sugar and dairy products, and Clearasil sales go through the roof.

More recently, studies have once again pointed at carbohydrates as the trigger of acne formation, working their acne promoting effect via increased levels of insulin.

Woman with PCOS, who demonstrate exaggerated insulin responses and higher blood sugars, are strikingly prone to acne.

Insulin levels are highest after carbohydrates are consumed; the higher the glycemic index of the consumed carb, the more insulin is released by the pancreas.

There is so much more that I can say about adult acne and breakouts.  I will leave this for a future blog, but I would still like to end of with a couple of tips and a few of my personal favourite products to treat acne.

1.  Look out for products that are specifically designed for the oily and acne skin.  They should include ingredients like Salicylic Acid; Vitamin A; Benzoyl Peroxide and other purifying ingredients.

2.  Always ensure that you cleanse your skin thoroughly with an effective yet gentle cleanser – not the cheap & nasty products that will just dehydrate your skin making it look and feel even worse.

3.  Next, I would strongly advise you to LEAVE YOUR SKIN ALONE!  The more you touch and pick at your skin, the more infection spreads worsening the condition.  Use a spot treatment for those stubborn spots as well as a treatment product specifically for oiliness/acne underneath an oil-free moisturizer and sunblock.  I will write about all of these products in blogs to come – for now here are a couple of cleansers I have recently tried for oily and blemish prone skin:

2015-06-01 16.44.20Bioderma Sebium H2O R159.95and Sebium Foaming Gel – R169.95

What I like about the Bioderma Sebium H2O cleanser is that it has all the great properties of their legendary Sensibio H2O cleanser with added benefits for oily skin. It still gently removes all make up while purifying and regulating excess oil on the combination and oily skin type.

The Foaming Gel is as good as any good quality gel cleanser for combination, oily and acne skin.  It doesn’t foam up as much as I would like it to, but that’s just me.  Hubby loves this one!

2015-06-01 16.43.10Neostrata Clarifying Facial Cleanser – R419

This gel cleanser contains all the active ingredients to purify your oily skin and fight those breakout causing bacteria.  Added bonus is that a little goes a long way and it foams up gloriously – Yay!

Eucerin DermoPurifyer Cleanser – R79.95

Good value for money foaming gel cleanser for oily skin types.  I finished this one a while ago – therefore no picture!  Great for me and hubby – the type of cleanser you can leave in the shower and not skimp too much on using because of the good value.

Skinceuticals Blemish & Age Cleansing Gel – R832

blemish_cleansing_gel_retail-500x500I haven’t personally owned one of these – but have used it in professional Skinceuticals treatments as well as having received feedback from clients using it at home.  This cleanser perfectly combines targeting two issues that many women struggle with – Ageing and Oily skin (Blemish prone/Acne prone).  For most women this is a real frustration, because there are plenty of products for either of the two concerns, but not many targeting both at the same time.  You only use a little bit at a time and it foams up beautifully giving you a thorough cleanse without stripping the skin. It is both exfoliating (fruit acids) and brightening.

A final word – have a look at this recent article published on US News – Health News: Healing your skin with your mind – The solution to your skin issues, from eczema to psoriasis, could be in your head.  This links up with my previous blog: Stress and your skin.

If you are struggling with one or more of these skin problems and have tried different treatments and/or products – maybe its time to think about how your mind and what you eat could be the root cause.

Love

Helene x x x

DOES WHAT YOU EAT AFFECT YOUR SKIN? – Part 1

This has been a question that’s been asked for years by clients as well as skin care professionals. I remember as a student, we were told that it’s an absolute myth that what you eat like for example junk food, dairy or sugar can affect your skin.

Well, luckily since then we have moved on and have been enlightened by new scientific research to answer the question that YES – what you put into your body every single day doesn’t only affect your body weight (which is the main concern for many of us), but also your general health and subsequently your skin condition too!

This is a very personal thing and something you will probably figure out through trial and error. I have known about the potential adverse effects of sugar and wheat on the skin – but I believe I haven’t experienced it first-hand until recently. In my previous blog I wrote about my recent skin care woes in the form of redness, dryness and swelling (eczema) and a bout of mild adult acne on my face. Short term oral and topical medication worked for a while, but like most short-term solutions, the problem didn’t go away. At the first glimpse of stress/some irritant/cold dry air – it came back. Now I feel ready and desperate enough to try to find a long-term solution. Unfortunately with many of these kind of medical issues – it is often up to you to do your own research and figure out the long-term solution that will work for YOU. This can be a frustrating but a necessary path in the pursuit of obtaining your optimum health and wellness.

I will look at 2 of the most common dietary villains: SUGAR & WHEAT – and the potential of causing and/or aggravating 3 common SKIN ISSUES: AGEING, ACNE & ECZEMA (Acne & Eczema: Part 2).

SUGAR

Let’s start by clarifying this substance called sugar. Table sugar (sucrose) is made up of glucose and fructose and some say that FRUCTOSE is the real enemy. So this will include ALL the thousands of products in our grocery stores containing sugar often disguised with over 55 different names:

sugarGenerally speaking, if the food (can you really call it food…?) comes in a wrapper/box etc. it is called processed food and all processed food contain heaps of hidden sugars. And I’m not only talking about your sweet foods, check out the labels on your savory items too.

Fruits contain natural fruit sugar called fructose. So now what…? Fruits used to be an occasional treat for our ancestors.  Try to see fruit as an occasional treat or even one a day if you need to. Eat the fruit that you enjoy, but remember that certain fruits like mangos, bananas and pineapples are the highest in fructose. I’m not going to even talk about fruit juice… I think most of us realize by now that fruit juice is everything but healthy containing as much sugar as sugar laden fizzy drinks.

What about CARBS like bread, pasta and rice?  All foods high in carbohydrates rapidly convert to glucose when eaten. This subsequently causes a spike in your blood sugar levels and an increase in the secretion of insulin by your pancreas into your blood stream. Insulin has been labeled the fat storing and inflammation causing hormone.

WHEAT

Wheat is EVERYWHERE.  Just start checking food labels on anything from sauces, soups, ready-made-meals, deserts and all your “obvious” CARBS (breads; breakfast cereals; crackers; biscuits; pastries; pasta; wraps etc.) – and you will notice wheat is very much THERE.

Dr. William Davis, MD – author of the international bestseller: Wheat Belly states the following:

Wheat, more than any other foodstuff is woven into the fabric of the Western food experience.

Modern commercial wheat production has been intent on delivering features such as increased yield, decreased production costs and large-scale production of a consistent commodity.  All the while, virtually no questions have been asked about whether these features are compatible with human health.

Documented peculiar effects of wheat on humans include appetite stimulation, exposure to brain-active endorphins, exaggerated blood sugar surges that trigger cycles of satiety alternating with heightened appetite, the process of glycation that underlies disease and ageing, inflammatory and pH effects that erode cartilage and damage bone, and activation of disordered immune responses.

THE EFFECTS ON YOUR SKIN

AGING

skin ageing

Sugars in your bloodstream can permanently attach to protein like collagen and elastin in our skin and rest of the body. This process is called GLYCATION and results in the formation of harmful advanced glycation end products (AGEs).

Prevention.com says the following:  The more sugar you eat, the more AGEs you develop. “As AGEs accumulate, they damage adjacent proteins in a domino-like fashion,” explains Fredric Brandt, MD, a dermatologist in private practice in Miami and New York City. Most vulnerable to damage: collagen and elastin, the protein fibres that keep skin firm and elastic. Once damaged, springy and resilient collagen and elastin become dry and brittle, leading to wrinkles and sagging. These aging effects start at about age 35 and increase rapidly after that, according to a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology.

Dr. Perricone also states that:  At the point of attachment between the protein (collagen) and sugar molecule, there is a small mechanism creating inflammation, which then becomes a source of inflammation in its own right. This inflammation produces enzymes that break down collagen, resulting in wrinkled, sagging skin. In addition to inflammation, glycation also causes cross-linking in our collagen, making it stiff and inflexible where it was once soft and supple. Glycation creates “free radical” factories known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which also increase cellular inflammation.

A study was done demonstrating the ageing effects of sugar:

Scientists from the Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands and Unilever in the UK measured the blood sugar levels of 600 men and women aged between 50 and 70. Photographs of these people were presented to a board of 60 independent evaluators. What these evaluators perceived in this study was that those with higher blood sugar levels looked older than those with lower blood sugar levels. The researchers also discovered that with every 1mm/liter increase in blood sugar, the perceived age of that person rose by five months!

 Dr. William Davis states in his book that: Wheat can exert age-advancing skin effects, such as wrinkles and lost elasticity, through the formation of advanced glycation end products.

 WHAT CAN YOU START DOING NOW?

Look out for products containing anti-oxidants; retinoids and AGEs fighting ingredients.

Some of my personal favourite anti-oxidant skin care products:

2015-05-26 16.53.56 Skinceuticals Phloretin CF:

I love this anti-oxidant serum.  It has a super light, liquid texture and a few drops are applied onto clean skin in the morning before your moisturizer and sunblock.  This is perfect for my oily and hyper-pigmented skin.

2015-05-26 16.51.56SkinMedica Vitamin C+E Complex:

This amazing anti-oxidant has a velvety/silky texture making it more suitable for more normal to dry skin types.  It is also applied only in the morning under your moisturizer and sunblock.

F30030X-w1000Neostrata’s Skin Active Anti-oxidant Defense Serum

This affordable anti-oxidant serum has a liquid clear gel consistency and glides onto your clean skin every morning before your moisturizer and sunblock.  Oily skin types could find that they do not need an additional moisturizer.  Personal tip:  Don’t apply too much, if you do and then try to rub it in it can form little “bits” on the skin’s surface.

All products available online at Dermastore.co.za and at all Skin Renewal branches nationwide as well as other medical aesthetic practises.

But you can’t get away from starting on the INSIDE.

Here, five steps to eat right and keep your skin looking its youngest.

I hope this blog has given you some useful information on how SUGAR AND WHEAT can cause havoc on your skin in the form of AGEING, ACNE AND ECZEMA (Look out for Part 2 where I will discuss Acne & Eczema!).

I will be writing about my efforts to eliminate sugar & wheat in the next couple of weeks!

Helene x x x