So the sun has finally come out so thought i would blog about how its a bit of a double edged sword.
One minute we are being told to' Slap on the suncream! It causes premature ageing and skin cancer!' The next article says ' Get out in the sun! Lack of vitamin D is causing rickets!'
So, how does it work and what's the best approach?
UV rays emitted by the sun come in 3 lengths and strengths with different harms and benefits.
UVC is the shortest, these rays are used in sterilisation units as they kill micro-orgsnisms. These rays are mostly absorbed by the ozone layer and don't generally reach us here on the ground. Unless you're underneath the bit with the hole in it!
UVB rays are active in the epidermis (the top layer of our skin) and are responsible for causing sunburn. UVB is also linked with skin cancer. B rays cannot penetrate through glass.
UVA are the longest and they penetrate into the dermis (the second layer of our skin) they give us a more immediate tan and are also associated with premature ageing. A rays can penetrate glass.
Cells in the epidermis called melanocytes make a substance called melanin when the skin is exposed to UV rays, this is the bodies way of defending itself agains UV and is what gives us our tanned colour!
Vitamin D is generated in the skins epidermis then transported and stored in the liver after exposure to `UVB rays. Vitamin D is thought to be involved in the transport of information between cells. Deficiency in vitamin D is on the rise and affects bone strength, muscles, hair growth, mood, energy levels and the immune system.
7 British organisations (British Association of Dermatologists, Cancer Research UK, Diabetes UK, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, the National Heart Forum, the National Osteoporosis Society and the Primary Care Dermatology Society.) came together to offer an advice statement regarding UV exposure, safety and vitamin D production.
Their advice is that skin exposure to UV on a sunny day (at midday) of between 10 and 15 minutes should be taken in order to maintain a good level of vitamin D. It is important to be aware that the manufacture and required levels of vitamin D vary between individuals due to genetic and environmental variations.
The medical profession also advises that vitamin D supplements should be taken during winter as there is very little available UVB and less opportunity for exposure during these months.
So how does UV accelerate ageing?
The skin is supported by a matrix of proteins called elastin and collagen and a substance called MMP breaks down old proteins to maintain healthy skin. UV exposure causes an over-production of MMP therefore increasing the breakdown. Exposure also causes higher levels of free radicals which attack the matrix, combined with lower levels of anti-oxidants which neutralise free radicals this all spells disaster for thespian in terms of ageing.
So how do we achieve a balance?
We need to have a little UV exposure to help with Vitamin D production as thats clearly an important vitamin in terms of physical development and also helping us feel better, more energised and fight off bugs.
So, sitting out in the sun for a short time enjoying a summer cocktail or iced coffee hanging out with friends or family is certainly something not to avoid BUT beware of the time!
Consider the time of day... the sun is so much stronger at midday and your skin will burn faster than you think. Also the burning effects of UVB aren't apparent until a few hours later when its too late and very painful!
Don't loose track of the time... follow the guide lines and only expose unprotected skin to the sun for 10-15 minutes after which time apply a good layer of sun cream.
My personal sun product of choice atm is Nivea. The range is wide in terms of application method and product and also their products contain both UVA and B protection which is important considering what we now know.
I really recommend getting the anti age fave protection, it's SPF 30 and it comes in a very handy cartable size and doesn't sting or irritate your eyes.
I often mix and match my skin protection applying 50+ on my shoulders, chest, back and arms and then applying 30 on my legs and tummy. I wear 30-50 on my face and a hat when possible especially when sunbathing or on the beach.
On the kids i usually let them run around for a little while in the morning sun without protection, maybe about 30 mins and then hit them with 30 or 50 if we are at the beach and i make sure its the all day product or waterproof.
Spots!! You always get one right when you really don't need one....right on the end of your nose or middle of the chin and weddings are no exception.
So how do they happen and whats the best approach to dealing with them?
Below is a diagram of a cross section of the skin showing how a spot can develop in a hair follicle.
In the 1st diagram on the left you can see the follicle with the hair growing out and up through the surface of the skin. The two lumpy things on the side are the sebaceous glands, they produce sebum which is an oily substance. It's necessary to keep the skin supple and also mixes with sweat on the skin's surface to keep bacteria under control.
In the 2nd diagram you can see a 'plug' forming which in blocking the pore, at this stage a blackhead could start to form which happens as the sebum reacts with the oxygen in the air and turns dark.
In the 3rd diagram there is no hair present and the 'plug' of sebum is getting bigger which is starting to form a papule or small spot.
Most of the follicles on the face don't have hairs growing out of them so they are more likely to develop these blockages.
The 4th diagram shows the blockage getting bigger and inflammation builds in the area as the body's natural reactions agains infection kick in.
The puss at the head of the spot is the natural 'debris' created as the body deals with the bacterial infection.
So the ideal way to prevent this happening is to use a gentle face was or cleanser which effectively removes make up and rinse off or use a toner to remove all the cleansing product residue.
Using a deep cleansing mask weekly will help to keep the pores free of blockages or a dermabrasion facial (vacuum suction based) every 4-6 weeks will really help to blocked pores under control.
If the spot has already arrived and is screaming at you in the mirror from the end of your nose then i suggest Lavender essential oil as a starting point, it's known for its anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antidepressant, antiseptic, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. It also has antispasmodic, analgesic, detoxifying and sedative effects.
Its really tempting to try to squeeze out the puss but be patient, let the lavender work its magic and come back to it in 10 mins, apply another dab and repeat 3 or 4 times.
If there is still a head on it, break the seal and let the liquid escape, apply little more lavender and then let it dry.
Don't give in to the temptation to squeeze and you risk damaging the already sensitive and inflamed skin around the spot.
Try to cover with concealer and remember that people will NOT be looking at your spot they'll be looking at you as a radiant bride and joining you in the best day possible to help you celebrate!
Scroll down for product recommendations.
Elizabeth's Daughter is fantastic, free form all the nasty chemicals and i have found the gel cleanser really effective on younger congested skin types.
Antonia Burrell's skin care range is fantastic for an older age group with congested a skin type.
Aromatherapy Associates are the creme de la creme in my mind when it comes to essential oil and bare in mind you only need a drop of oil for a treatment.
Holland and Barrett also produce a fantastic range of essential oils.
Thanks for reading, please feel free to leave any comments below and ask any questions you may have!
Over the 16 years I have been working with brides I have found that one of the most important things for them in terms of their big day makeup look is the foundation and even though there are lots of amazing bases out there they aren’t a fix all product.
At the bridal trial I often spend some time discussing the bride-to-be’s skin care routine to see if there are any potential changes to be made to improve the condition of their skin rather than relying on foundation.
I find that if a bride has oily and congested skin they will often over treat the problem by using strong cleansers, face washes and scrubs.
Our skin needs a certain amount of oil (sebum) to keep it supple and protect it from dehydration and bacteria and will naturally replace the oil that has been removed and sometimes more than necessary.
Using harsh cleansers can also irritate the skin causing mild inflammation making the problem worse.
The skin has a pH of 5.5 making it slightly acidic, this helps limit the growth of bacteria. Finding a pH balanced cleanser is essential and using soap which is usually alkaline is an absolute no-no as it will know the pH of the skin off balance.
Having a short facial course of some sort, maybe 2 or 3 treatments, is a great idea in the months leading up to the wedding.
There are several options including steaming, manual lymphatic drainage and dermabrasion treatments.
Steaming within a facial helps ‘open’ the pores and aids the removal of blackheads (comedones) and increases the circulation to the skin bringing nutrients and oxygen both of which will help a congested skin type.
MLD or Manual Lymphatic Drainage is a massage technique which doesn’t stimulate the skin but improves the lymph node activity and white blood cell production gradually improving the health of the skin.
There are two types of dermabrasion:
The Crystal Clear method sprays small crystals onto the skin and then gently sucks the crystals and debris away.
Vacuum suction method uses a gentle sucking motion with a diamond-encrusted tip to loosen dead skin cells and unblock pores.
Combined with using ultra sound treatment this method is very effective at clearing congestion, reducing inflammation and healing blemishes.
For minor blemishes and emerging spots (and even burns) I often use good old fashioned Lavender essential oil and its always in my kit! Its fantastic, its calming, mildly antiseptic and gentle and a great option to the more harsh tea tree oil.
For more extreme cases of congestion or acne niacinamide, zinc and salicylic acid are powerful remedies.
Another really common problem is skin surface dehydration which is often not visible until foundation is applied. It can affect the nose, forehead and around the eye area, it is easily treated on the forehead and nose area using a gentle facial peel and some hydrating mask treatments twice a week for a short time and a good moisturiser. Around the eye area you should be very gentle as its’ less supported by the skull and facial muscles. The skin around the eye is delicate and only specific eye products should be applied.
Having dry and sensitive skin myself I am cautious and tend to prefer a gentle, natural and gradual approach to skincare.
One of my favourite face peels is Doux Peeling by Clarins, it is a very gentle effective way to remove dead skin cells from the skin.
And one of my favourite mask treatments is the vitality mask by S5 Skincare which gives a beauty flash of hydration using a lightweight formulation.
Cleansing is the first area I ask brides to consider because it’s really fundamental to good skin health.
Using a gentle cleanser which you can wash away with warm water is important because unless the product is rinsed away there will be a residue left behind on the skin.
This is is my top cleanser because its gently, light weight, effectively removes make up without leaving the skin feeling dry.
Using a muslin face cloth soaked in warm water is great because this will regularly desquamate the skin surface reducing the need for harsh (and polluting) scrubs.
My absolute faves are these bamboo muslins by Aurelia- they’re beautifully soft, wash really well and are made from a sustainable product.
Implementing small changes and treating the skin carefully can result in improvements in the skins texture and condition reducing the need for heavy bases to cover up imperfections.
I hope these tips have helped, visit my website at www.sarahbirkett.com for more info about bridal and event make-up.
I love my job!
I'm very lucky I meet great people and have such fun helping them get ready and derive great satisfaction when they are so thrilled with their look.