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Cystic Spots

This is how my skin looks normally.

For anyone who read my last blog, you’ll know I had a bit of a nightmare recently when using Retinol for the first time! After this mis-hap I was left with some pretty nasty spots. Just to be clear, I have never suffered with spots. Not through my teens, not when I’m on my period, never; I have been lucky enough to always have blemish-free skin. 

A week went by and the spots didn’t amount to anything. They didn’t look bigger, they didn’t look smaller and they didn’t ‘come to a head’. In fact the only thing that got worse was the pain and itchiness. They felt way bigger than they looked and they throbbed. I tried not to touch them, however whilst investigating, I realised they were getting bigger but only under the surface of the skin. This is when I started doing some research, I spoke to one of my friends who is a nurse and we diagnosed them as ‘Cystic Spots’. I felt really embarrassed because even though they didn’t look like ‘bad spots’ they were really sore.

According to WebMD “Cystic acne happens when this infection goes deep into your skin, creating a red, tender bump that’s full of pus. It may hurt or itch. If a cyst bursts, the infection can spread, causing more breakouts.”

WebMD say this is the way you treat Cystic spots:

How Is It Treated?

Over-the-counter medicines that work on milder acne often have little effect on cystic acne. A dermatologist will likely recommend one or more of the following:

  • Oral antibiotics help control bacteria and lower inflammation. Sometimes your acne may not respond to antibiotics or you may find they don’t work as well after a few years.
  • Birth-control pills can help some women by regulating their hormones.
  • Prescription-strength creams, lotions, or gels with retinoid, a form of vitamin A, can help unclog your pores and assist the  antibiotics with their job. 
  • Isotretinoin (formerly known as Accutane but now available as the brands Claravis, Sotret, Myorisan, Amnesteem, and Absorica) attacks all causes of acne. The recommended dosage for most of these medications is to take a pill once or twice daily for about 5 months. For most people, this clears the skin completely and permanently. If it recurs, you can repeat the treatment. Women should avoid becoming pregnant while taking this drug.
  • Spironolactone is a medication that helps you get rid of unneeded water, but also is effective for cystic acne in women.
  • Injections of steroids into individual cysts can be performed at your doctor’s office.”

 I have never got on with birth control pills and injections seemed like overkill. I decided to try some topical treatments first of all. I started with tea tree oil applying morning and night for about 4 weeks. This definitely reduced the itchiness and inflammation but the spots showed no sign of disappearing.

I then bought an ‘Overnight Targeted Blemish Lotion’ from Revolution Skincare. The description was ‘The Overnight Targeted Blemish Lotion is the ideal treatment to help soothe and clear your breakouts in a hurry. Formulated with spot-fighting Salicylic Acid, Zinc Oxide and Calamine, breakouts are targeted and skin is soothed.’ My thinking was that the Salicylic Acid would help get rid of dead skin cells and build up of dirt, whilst being antibacterial. The Zinc Oxide might draw out any impurities and the Calamine would soothe the skin and irritation. I used this at night for about 3-4 weeks and nothing changed. 

At my wits end, I started asking other people what they were using, searching forums and looking for another solution. My younger sister is 14 and has suffered with acne and had been given some lotion at the doctors, a form of antibiotics. She had the tiniest bit left and offered it for me to try.

Now normally I would always consult my own doctor before using something like this. But due to the fact mine weren’t going to be diagnosed as ‘acne’ I knew it was unlikely I would be prescribed this. Doctors are known for being stubborn when it comes to spot treatment and whilst my face isn’t covered in multiple spots, the few I had were really sore to live with.

Its called “Dalacin T Topical Lotion- Clindamycin Phosphate”, you apply once in the morning and once at night. I started this on Saturday evening (16/11/2019) Within 24 hours the pain and itchiness had subsided. By Tuesday the cystic lumps I could feel beneath my skin had reduced in size. Here we are on Friday and they barely feel like spots at all! I am so impressed!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now whilst I can’t tell you where you can buy it, as it has to be prescribed. I can tell you that if you are suffering as much as I was, go to your doctor and make a massive fuss and ask for it! Because I honestly can’t recommend it enough!

The only other over-the-counter product I have been recommended but didn’t get a chance to use was ‘Acnecide’. If you have any personal experiences with this, whether it be good or bad, please share in the comments! It could really help someone else looking for a cure! 

My skin now!

Big shout out to anyone who deals with any type of acne. People don’t realise that it’s not just about how you look but how it makes you feel and how painful and itchy it can be. 

Not only does it look better but there is barely any cyst behind each dot!

If you need any advice on anything mentioned in today’s blog please get in touch via the comments or email in to info@thebeautyumbrella.com.

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Retinol

Retinol is the key anti-ageing ingredient everyone is talking about at the moment,  and that is most probably due to the fact that it works! Let’s dive straight in and I will tell you all about retinol including my personal experience with it.

Firstly, let’s cover what Retinol actually is. Topical vitamin A–based drugs called retinoids—the most used and most studied anti-aging compounds— reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Tretinoin, under the brand name Retin-A, was the first retinoid. It was used as an acne treatment in the 1970s, but researchers later discovered that it also faded actinic keratosis spots, evened the appearance of pigmentation, and sped up the turnover of superficial skin cells.

Retinoids reduce fine lines and wrinkles by increasing the production of collagen. They also stimulate the production of new blood vessels in the skin, which improves skin color. Other benefits include; fading age spots and softening rough patches of skin. However, it can take the best part of three to six months of regular use before improvements in wrinkles are apparent—and the best results take six to 12 months of use.

Because retinoids can cause skin dryness and irritation, doctors often recommend using them only every other day at first and then gradually working up to nightly applications gradually. In the same way, as I have said in previous blogs about exfoliant products, you need to wear sunscreen during the day, because retinoids increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight.

Tretinoin (Retin-A, generic), tazarotene (Avage, Tazorac), and adapalene (Differin) are prescription retinoids. Adapalene is also available over the counter (in a 0.1% formulation versus the 0.3% prescription version). Other retinoids are still currently undergoing clinical trials.

Several over-the-counter products containing retinoids, such as retinol, are available. Because they’re not as strong (and thus less irritating), they are not as effective in reducing wrinkles as tretinoin; but they do improve the appearance of photo-aged skin. Tretinoin can be used with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) for additional skin-smoothing effects.

Retinols do not work equally well on everyone – you should definitely not touch the stuff if you suffer from rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis as retinol can make you more vascular – meaning that you will end up with more inflammation and thereby worsening symptoms of whatever it is you are suffering from- however no-where did it tell me this when I had my first experience with Retinol!!!

As I am a self-diagnosed ‘beauty junkie’ I buy a lot of products online. More often or not they send little samples and sachets for me to try; mainly because I spend way over the promotion minimum spend. One day I got a lovely sachet of Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream with 1.0% retinol. Here are the photos of the sachet and what was written on the packet. “Suggest use: Morning or night, apply a pea-size amount or less to clean, dry face, avoiding the eye area.” That was it. Nothing more, nothing less. At this time I didn’t know anything about retinol and one evening I decided to use my sachet…

Whilst I did avoid my eye area… luckily. Unfortunately, I did not use a pea-size amount. I had no idea how strong just 1.0% would be. 

The day after I looked bloody incredible. Best. Skin. Day. Of. My. Life. 

The day after however, my entire face started to peel and. See pictures below. It was painful with red blotches, it was sore and it felt so tight that no amount of moisture cold relieve me. This lasted for around 4-5 days before I started to feel better. Ever since I have been left with cystic spots that I can’t seem to get rid of. I have never had spots in my life, even in my teens, but I seem to have so many sitting under the skin that won’t even come to the surface. They are sore and lumpy and the only thing I can put it down to is the retinol experience. 

This is not an advert for or against retinol, but after I had conducted some research I discovered that many dermatologists don’t advise people who have psoriasis to use retinol. I have psoriasis! There should have been more warnings on the packaging of the sample; I should have researched the ingredients before putting it on my face and I should have only used a pea-size amount. The moral of the story is to do your own research before using a new product or ingredient and to also conduct patch tests to see how your skin reacts.

Let me learn the lessons for you folks!

Retinol can be beneficial for…

  • Anti-aging – As well as targeting wrinkles, retinol visibly brightens dark circles, plumps loose skin, and reduces dullness. 
  • Prevention – Once we reach our twenties our skin starts to produce less collagen so it’s a good time to start using retinol to strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier and defend against the early signs of aging. 
  • Acne/breakouts – Retinol encourages cell turnover in the lower layers of the skin and reduces the overproduction of sebum, so it stops breakouts from forming by preventing dead skin cells and excess oils from clogging pores. 
  • Scarring/pigmentation – Retinol increases cell production in the base layer of the skin, which in turn helps to stimulate cell turnover in the upper layers. As each layer is renewed, scars and marks from sun damage or breakouts fade and soon disappear.

PLEASE BE CAREFUL and contact me or your dermatologist for more information if you are not sure if retinol is a good suit for your skin needs.

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Normal Skin

‘Normal Skin’ is a term often used for ‘well-balanced’ skin. Yes I’m afraid to tell you guys but it IS a thing! Though very rare, there are some lucky people out there who can breeze through life with fairly ‘normal’ skin.

If this is you then this skin activity will sound familiar… 

  • You get out of the shower and your skin feels a little tight and uncomfortable. You put some moisturiser on and voila it’s back to normal. 
  • You feel a bit oily today, best skip the moisturiser for a couple of days. Voila your skin is back to normal!
  • You rarely get blemishes but if you do they are gone in a couple of days. A ‘normal cycle’ for a spot.
  • That time of the month? No worries, nothing changes.
  • Putting your makeup on is fairly easy and often your foundation gives you an even coverage regardless of the brand. 
  • Winter presents no problem for your skin.
  • Drinking more or less water makes little difference to your skin.
  • Face masks, scrubs and sun cream all leave your skin saying ‘nooooo problem!’

As unfair as it is, this skin type is by far the easiest to maintain. Sound like you? Well all I have to say is… good for you!! 

Doesn’t sound like you? Check out some of our other blogs in the Skin Care category!

 

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Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic Acid is pronounced “hiah-lur-onic” and it was developed to target the effects of dehydration. Hyaluronic acid is a substance that is naturally present in the human body. It is found in the highest concentrations in fluids in the eyes and joints. However, the HA ingredient that you find in serums and products is a synthetic version. Hyaluronic acid is most loved for its incredible water retention properties. It has been estimated that hyaluronic acid (HA) can hold up to one thousand times its own weight in water molecules.

As skin ages, it becomes drier as its ability to retain water lessens, which results in loss of firmness and fine lines. Collagen is mainly made of water and this is exactly what keeps skin looking youthful. When applied, hyaluronic acid will rehydrate skin for a plumper appearance and will minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. If you see a product that says it’s ‘plumping’ this will usually mean it’s hydrating. It’s the hydration that plumps the skin.

Hydration isn’t the only benefit of hyaluronic acid, it also has antioxidant properties to protect your skin from the environment, sun exposure and harsh chemicals.

One of the best things about hyaluronic acid is that it can benefit all skin types. It’s obviously great for dry and mature skin due to its hydrating and anti-aging properties, but it can also help oily complexions. Oily and combination skin types still need hydration and the lightweight formulation of hyaluronic acid is perfect as it feels weightless on the skin, whilst still providing the much-needed moisture.

Hyaluronic acid is also for sensitive and blemish-prone skin as it helps to calm skin, whilst protecting it with its antioxidant properties. It can also be used safely during pregnancy.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA’s) provoke skin cell turnover to help exfoliate skin for a brighter and more even skin tone. However, these acids can be drying on the skin, so including hyaluronic acid is a great way to enjoy the benefits of AHA/BHA’s without dehydrating the skin.

Hyaluronic acid also works well alongside other anti-aging ingredients such as vitamin C which brightens and aids collagen production. This pairing together encourages and protects collagen, whilst hydrating and brightening aging skin. When you’re looking at the ingredients list on a product, keep an eye out for Sodium Hyaluronate. Sodium hyaluronate is a salt derivative of hyaluronic acid with all the same benefits, except it is more easily absorbed. Look for a product containing both sodium hyaluronate and hyaluronic acid for the optimum hydration boost.

Like with any new skincare product, you should start slow with hyaluronic acid, applying it once per day to see how your skin takes to it. If you find your skin is really benefiting from the additional hydration, you should apply it once in the morning and once in the evening. Any water-based products should be applied before heavy oils and creams, all over the face.

The most well-known products with hyaluronic acid in are the products from the Nip & Fab’s Dragons’ Blood Collection. Personally this is the collection I have got on best with. Their concentrated drops can be added to my daily moisturiser, their serum is fast drying and their plumping mask is great to wear overnight. This range rose to fame after being publicly praised by Kylie Jenner.

They say “HYDRATE + PLUMP Providing the ultimate hydration fix for the skin, our Dragon’s Blood Fix range contains sap from the Croton Lechleri tree which acts as a ‘second-skin’ protective shield as well as to soothe the skin. With added hyaluronic acid (the holy grail ingredient for skin hydration) these products provide intense moisture + comfort to dehydrated skin to leave a healthy hydrated plumped glow. Suitable for all skin types. Ideal for those suffering from dehydration, skin sensitivity or redness.”

If you have any questions regarding the ingredient hyaluronic acid drop me a line at info@thebeautyumbrella.com.