How do we know what our skin wants?
As summer arrives, the oily skinned girls of the world begin to wonder how they are going to get through without an acne breakout. The combination of hot weather, sunbaking and exercising is also accompanied by more oily than usual skin and the worry about how to cover it up.
We've all been there. Standing in front of the mirror trying to figure out how you were going to get rid of that pimple before a big event!
But maybe we aren't treating our skin properly for the summer months? How do we know what our skin wants?
Interview with Dr Eleni Yiasemides, Consultant Dermatologist
Question: How does oily skin need to be treated during the hot months /Should our Summer skin routine be different to our Winter routine?
Dr Eleni Yiasemides: Women may want to switch to a lighter moisturiser if the moisturiser they were using in the winter months is a little heavier. This might be a lighter non-comedogenic clinically proven moisturiser with active ingredients designed for oily to combination skin. Heat can cause you to produce more sebum (oil) so using a moisturiser that won't block pores and controls excess oil throughout the day may make all the difference in keeping future breakouts at bay. Although still important in winter, it's more likely that you will be making trips to the beach in summer and will need to apply SPF. Some women with oily skin refrain from applying SPF as they fear it will add oil to their oily skin- but this is causing more harm than good. Women need to find a sunscreen that will not leave excess oil on the skin on humid days and these include well formulated, oil free and non-comedogenic sunscreens.
Question: How does sunbaking affect our skin?
Dr Eleni Yiasemides: Sunbaking without SPF and other protection from the sun can make you age prematurely and cause skin cancer. Over 90% of the signs of aging and damage to the skin are a direct result of sun exposure. That's why it's important to never skip SPF! Wearing an SPF containing cream daily should be like brushing your teeth - a normal part of maintaining health. Sun protection not only reduces the incidence of skin cancers it also reduces all the signs of aging of the skin. It is never too late to start sun protecting!
Question: What are your top tips for keeping our skin clear whilst sweating more, in Summer?
Dr Eleni Yiasemides: Always participate in the three steps to achieving clear skin- cleansing, treating and moisturising. This is a simple regime to help manage oily or acne prone skin. It's very important to moisturise, as well, even when you are producing more oil in summer. Some women with oily skin tend to avoid from moisturising the skin as they fear this will add excess oil, but this can lead to the skin feeling worse. It sounds counterintuitive, but using a moisturiser specifically formulated for oily skin, can in fact help improve the appearance and feeling of the skin. I also think it's also very important to get the right SPF for your skin. There's some great SPF sunscreens or moisturisers with SPF for those with oil to acne prone skin. It can be hard to find a moisturiser with SPF 50+ so I usually recommend opting for a lightweight moisturiser that sits well on the skin whilst treating it and then putting the SPF 50+ on top.
Question: Can you break the big myths surrounding acne treatment?
Dr Eleni Yiasemides: As highlighted above, not moisturising when you have oily skin is one of the biggest myths. This is also paired with double cleansing. Doubling cleansing can be very damaging and will strip the skin of natural oils and proteins that are part of the barrier of the skin. There are no known benefits to double cleansing and I highly discourage it. Another big one is believing all your skin problems will be cured by diet. Although eating healthy will improve your wellbeing, changes to your diet will not miraculously cure your skin. Unfortunately avoiding certain ingredients in foods usually does not improve the appearance of the skin or cure acne. Another is the use of rosehip oil improving acne- there is no evidence that rosehip oil improves acne. It is not a recommended treatment by dermatologists.
Question: What active ingredients you we look for with acne skincare?
Dr Eleni Yiasemides: For cleansers: For those with acne-prone skin, go for cleansers that work to remove dirt, oil, bacteria, skin cells and work to unblock pores. Adults should look for ingredients such as: AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) eg., glycolic acid or lactic acid; BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) eg., salicylic acid; polyhydroxy acids (PHAs); witch hazel; benzoyl peroxide; azelaic acid.
For moisturisers: ingredients such as hyaluronic acid will help to boost skin's hydration and finding a moisturiser that is non-comedogenic so it won't block pores.
For exfoliators: In general, I recommend daily but gentle 'chemical" exfoliation with the use of a cleanser or serum that contains hydroxy acids (AHAs, BHAs, PHAs) applied once daily (ideally at night). There are many products now available that can be purchased that contain these active ingredients.
Treatments: For teenagers, treatments containing Acrylates Copolymer and Benzoyl Peroxide can help to treat acne. For adults, I recommend topical vitamin A (retinoids), vitamin C and vitamin B3 (anti-oxidant) containing serums and hydroxy acid containing serums and these should be used daily. Hydroxy acids include ingredients such as glycolic acid, lactic acid and salicylic acid.
Question: How can we create a clearer skin, this Summer, in three steps?
Dr Eleni Yiasemides: You can create clearer skin in the three simple steps of cleansing, treating and moisturising. Using these steps means that you have the potential to help achieve a clear, radiant complexion. This is a simple regime that goes beyond superficial relief!
Each step has its own role and if used correctly together, are very effective. Cleansing gently removes surface dirt, oil, bacteria, skin cells and other debris from the surface of the skin and helps to prepare the skin for treatment. A treatment then targets acne-causing bacteria and unblocks pores. Moisturising then ensures that excess oils are controlled throughout the day without blocking pores. Along with this, truly knowing what your skin type is and what works for you. Just because it works for someone else doesn't mean that it works for you.
And never skip SPF!
Interview by Brooke Hunter