To make things a little bit easier I have compiled a simple checklist of symptoms that are experienced by those with Rosacea.
Do you suffer from really sensitive skin?
Does your skin have a hard time tolerating skincare and cosmetics?
Do you regularly breakout in a flush or blush?
And when you do blush, does the redness last longer than 15 minutes?
Do you have redness on cheek and nose area that doesn’t ever diminish?
When you are stressed out does your skin redden and become extra temperamental?
Do you have any broken blood vessels on your face?
Do you have any little red spots that don’t seem to heal?
Have you ever suffered really bad (and I mean peeling/blistering bad?) sunburn in the past?
Are your eyes quite sensitive to sunlight?
Do extremes of temperature (either sticky summer heat or freezing winters) cause your skin to suffer long term redness?
Does just a few moments in the sun cause your skin to flush and does the redness then last for a day or so?
If you eat hot, spicy foods, drink hot drinks or enjoy the occasional tipple do you find that your skin flushes?
Do your eyes feel scratchy and irritated?
Do your eyes tear up easily and appear bloodshot?
OK, you guessed it! If you answered yes to more than two of these questions you may be suffering from Rosacea and I would recommend you to hotfoot it straight down to the Dr. It's absolutely essential that you get the correct diagnosis and the earlier you seek advice and treatment the more likely you will be to control the condition.
Rosacea has to be the number one skin condition I get questioned about. It affects so many and can be a stressful and really upsetting condition to deal with. So I'm devoting the next few posts to share some information that I hope will help you to take control and make some better choices for your skin.
What Is Rosacea?
Rosacea is an inflammatory skin disorder linked to the vascular system (hence the redness). It’s characterized by reddening of the skin (and sometimes swelling). It generally appears on the face (usually around cheeks & nose in a tell tale butterfly pattern ), forehead, chin, ears & neck, but can also appear on the chest & back. It’s a condition that at the start can be easily misdiagnosed; sometimes the redness is taken for an allergic reaction to skincare, sunburn or even acne. It’s a grown up skin condition as it tends to strike the over 30’s. Those with fair or Celtic skin types are most likely to suffer from Rosacea and women are more susceptible to this condition then men. But sorry guys, I’m afraid your more likely to suffer from a more severe form of Rosacea, with more redness and the lumpy, bumpiness of skin inflammation (especially on the nose).
The bad news is nobody knows exactly what causes Rosacea. There are a myriad of theories about the cause that range from intestinal infections, hereditary condition, sun damage, immune system, some even reckon it’s caused by an icky little mite which lives in hair follicles and clogs oil glands, which leads to that acne type inflammation. Rosacea cannot be cured but with a little bit of knowledge and the right skincare routine you can bring back some balance to your skin.
You know I do rather like to think of myself as the Ray Mears of skincare, providing you with all all the skills and knowledge you need to look fabulous whatever the world throws at you and winter can be very, very testing! So before you don your snow shoes and head for the bitter outdoors just take a moment to read through my top tips for fabulous winter skin.
Winter takes its toll on your skin and you really need to make that extra bit of effort to protect your skin. But just follow my simple winter skincare rules and your skin reap the benefits from that little bit of extra care.
Rule No 1 - WEAR YOUR SUNSCREEN
I know it’s the middle of a glum English winter but you still need to protect your skin and a decent SPF is the very best skincare purchase you can make. Exposure to the sun (even in the middle of winter) seriously speeds up the ageing process of your skin and makes you prone to developing dry skin, age spots, wrinkles and those horrid spider veins. For daily wear just try a simple SPF 15.
Rule No 2 - MOISTURIZE TO THE MAX!
Its bad enough that not only does your skin have to combat the brutal weather outside but as soon as you step inside any teeny bit of moisture in the air is sucked out by central heating. Dry air can wreak havoc on your skin making it flake and crack (it even makes those pesky fine lines and wrinkles more noticeable). To combat this its absolutely essential that you cosset your skin throughout the day. In the morning apply a lovely rich balm (like Rose Otto Healing Balm) and throughout the day spray your skin with Neroli & Melissa Super Skin Hydrator, rich in glycerin (vegetable of course) which draws water into the skin and keeps it there. It also helps add a gorgeous finish to make up (especially mineral bases) and keeps your skin refreshed, soft and glowing throughout the day.
RULE NO 3 - BE KIND TO YOUR SKIN
Products that contain active anti-ageing ingredients such as Retinoid's and AHA‘s can really irritate skin making it even drier, itchier and prone to flaking. If you must use them; why not try applying a every alternate evening so your skin is not overwhelmed by those nasty
RULE NO 4 - PUCKER UP!
Don’t forget those delectable lips. Keep your Irresistible Kiss Balm with you at all times and apply frequently. Frequent application ensures that your lips are soft, supple and totally irresistible!
RULE NO 5 - BATHE IN THE MOISTURE!
Keep your baths and showers short & sweet. A quick dip of about 15 minutes maximum will add moisture to your skin but any longer any your skin will dry out! For extra skin soothing try Nourish Bath Oil. Keep the water warm, not HOT! Hot water strips your skin of its natural protective oils and damages skin cells causing dry, itchy skin. After your bath or shower pat skin dry, this action helps the skin retain moisture and is a far more gentle action to use on sensitive skin. Apply your Nourish Lotion or Heavenly Bliss Balm as soon as you can to trap any remaining moisture into the skin. By following these simple steps you will see & feel a difference in your skin.
WHAT IS ACNE?
Besides being annoying, frustrating and seemingly never-ending, Acne is technically an inflammatory disorder of the sebaceous glands (wow bet you feel better now!). Its incredibly common and can strike at any age. Though it tends to rear its ugly head around puberty, it can strike in your twenties, thirties and beyond. Breakouts tend to occur where sebaceous glands are most prominent - face, back & chest. Its characterised by this wonderful group of delightful carbuncles:
Also known as blackheads and whiteheads. Blackheads appear when the opening of the hair follicle becomes blocked with dead skin cells, oil and bacteria. A blackhead is not dirt, the contents of the follicle become dark when exposed to air. Whiteheads (not to be confused with Milia, more of that later!). These are very similar to blackheads accept that the opening is covered so the contents are not exposed to the air. They take on a slightly raised appearance (you can feel them if you run your fingers over your skin) and are filled with an icky white pus.
A small raised angry red bump that is created when a pore ruptures due to the release of oil, skin cells and other debris. Bacteria infects the pore and voila a startlingly horrid zit appears. If the inflammation really takes hold an absolutely horrendous pustule is created (in other words a whacking great pus filled spot) that not only fills the pimple with pus but extends well below skin surface to spread its horrid wrath!
The nasty big brother of the papule. Again they are very red, very tender and usually filled with white pus in the centre.
Horrible, horrible, horrible! These dreadful lumps are located just under the skin surface, they feel incredibly solid and incredibly painful when you touch them.
These are the nastiest of all breakouts. Very painful, pus filled lumps that are just beneath the surface of the skin. You must see your Doctor if a breakout of this type occurs as incorrect treatment (such as picking and squeezing) will worsen infection and cause serious scarring.
HOW IS ACNE CAUSED?
There are three main factors that are to blame for breakouts.
Can Acne Be Cured?
It can’t be cured but you can keep it under control with some simple changes.
Kate’s Golden Rules for Acne Prevention
I don't believe in the myth of "normal" skin, I actually believe that the basic skin type that each and every one of us shares is combination skin. All skin is dry in some areas and oily in others; its down to the distribution of your sebaceous glands, the stuff that produces sebum. Sebaceous glands aren't neatly and evenly distributed around your body; they are more abundant on the scalp, forehead, nose and sides of nose, while scarcer around the eyes, neck and outer cheek area. Treating this skin type doesn't have to be complicated at all. Skincare should be flexible anyway; you need to take into account your current lifestyle, environment and those pesky hormonal cycles. With a gentle skincare regime and an awareness of your skin you can head off any trouble.
Dry skin feels hot to the touch, has areas of flakiness (particularly around the nose and cheek area). The skin is also prone to very fine lines, but don't worry, these are only dryness lines and do tend to disappear when you apply a nourishing product to the area. The skin can feel uncomfortably tight after cleansing. Dry skin is caused by a lack of natural oil (sebum) and moisture in the skin. Unfortunately, due to this lack of protective oil the skin does show signs of ageing sooner than other skin types. Your skin is made up of around 70% water, but as the skin cells travel up through the dermis and epidermis towards the surface much of that water content evaporates. If too much water evaporates the skin becomes parched and as a consequence the natural oils are depleted and less water is held in the skin. You may have a natural predisposition to dry skin but it can also be triggered by some of the following:
anti-ageing treatments and products targeted to soothe breakout can be real culprits.
Sorry to go on, but please use a decent spf!
Extremes of Temperature
Extreme hot or cold can injure skin cells, causing skin to dehydrate and cause surface capillaries. Please be very wary of facial treatments that involve any extremes of temperature, they really are not necessary and can cause a whole load of problems!
Back in my training days I was taught that a mature skin type was anyone over the age of 25 (how depressing is that?). But to be honest I never bought into that theory. Yes, changes do occur as we get older but lifestyle choices and genetics play their part too. Skin ageing is reflected in two ways - intrinsic & extrinsic ageing.
Intrinsic Ageing - Bad news; this is the stuff you can't change, its your genetics and it happens to us all darling! Good news; on a physical (and purely shallow level!!!) this is not as noticeable as the effects of extrinsic ageing are. The signs of intrinsic ageing are sneakily slow. Subtle changes take place within the structure of your skin. The epidermis thins, there is a loss of collagen and fat within the skin, elastin fibres become coarser, hair follicles and oil glands become less dense and oil production slows down.
Extrinsic Ageing - Bad news, this is the stuff that makes you look older than your peers. The good news is that you can fight this. Extrinsic ageing is down to environment and lifestyle choices. Long term exposure to UV rays is responsible for the majority of extrinsic ageing problems such as spider veins, pigmented skin, thick, rough texture and wrinkles.
So sorry to disappoint you but there is no such thing as a healthy tan! A tan is visible proof that your skin has been damaged. In my earlier description of the structure of your skin I mentioned cells called melanocytes. These cells produce a dark brown pigment called melanin which gives the skin its natural colour. When skin is exposed to UV rays the melanocytes spring into action by producing more melanin in a bid to absorb the UV and protect the underlying structure. I suppose you could say that melanin is your body’s natural sunscreen but with an SPF of just 2 it really offers only the scarcest of protection. Even if you possess gorgeous skin of colour such as an Afro-Caribbean or Asian skin tone you still need to protect your skin. Yes, darker skin does have increased melanin, but definitely not enough to protect you from the harsh effects of UV rays. The sun may feel good on your skin but UV rays cause the skin to age rapidly - leading to uneven pigmentation, leathery texture and deep wrinkles. Repeated sun exposure can also cause age spots. An age spot is really a solar lento (a tiny bit of pigmentation caused by sun exposure). But the dangers of sun exposure are not just on the surface. Your skin protects your body from destructive outside forces and contains the necessary elements that are essential to the good health of your immune system. The epidermis (outer layer of skin) contains Langerhan Cells which prevent bacteria from attacking your immune system and just a few minutes of UV exposure can damage these cells. The best way to protect yourself is by using an effective sunscreen, of which more later!
What does SPF mean?
All sunscreens in the UK are labelled with the letters SPF. SPF stands for sun protection factor. The SPF number is determined in lab tests by exposing skin to a light spectrum that mimics the level of UV at midday. The SPF is the level of protection that is offered against UVB (it’s the measure of time that you can stay in the sun with sunscreen on before redness occurs on the skin). So if you are a person who would start to burn after about 10 minutes in the sun without sunscreen then by applying an SPF 15 (10 minutes till burn time x 15 spf = 150) you would gain 150 minutes of UVB protection.
UVA & Star System
On sunscreens purchased in the UK you will find the UVA logo (“UVA” printed in a circle) accompanied by up to 5 stars.The UVA logo indicates that the UVA protection is at least a 1/3 of that of the SPF.The stars indicate the amount of UVA rays absorbed by the sunscreen in comparison to the UVB. So if you purchase a sunscreen with a low SPF, it might have a high star rating but that doesn’t mean its got super powerful UVA protection it just means that the correlation of UVA & UVB protection is about the same. So to ensure that your skin is getting the best protection opt for a sunscreen that has both a high SPF and high UVA star rating, these are the sunscreens that are referred to as “broad spectrum”.SPF in MoisturizersThough they are tested in exactly the same way as regular sunscreens, they are less likely to give you the same level of protection. They tend to be thinner formulations and don’t last on the skin as long as a separate sunscreen. Though they are perfectly adequate for limited exposure to the UV that you will encounter in your daily routine but for exposure time of over an hour you are better off with a separate sunscreen.
Organic & Inorganic Filters
If you only buy one single skincare product PLEASE make it sunscreen. Unfortunately buying sunscreen can be both confusing and frustrating, so lets go through the basics of sunscreen.
How Do Sunscreens Actually Work?
Sunscreens are available in two types Organic and Inorganic filters.
Organic Filters (also known as Chemical Filters)
Don’t think that “Organic” means lovely, all natural ingredients organically grown; I’m afraid its just the scientific term for this type of sunscreen. Organic Filters work by actually absorbing UV radiation, converting it to heat and then allowing it to disperse “harmlessly“. Organic Filters tend to absorb more UVB than UVA rays. Organic Filters are absorbed by the skin and secreted in the urine. Dermatologists advise that this type of sunscreen should not be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and should NOT be used on children.
Inorganic Filters (also known as Physical Sunscreens)
Inorganic Filters protect the skin by providing a physical block against UV rays. They tend to be opaque and have a thicker consistency (but they are getting lighter and better!). I prefer Inorganic Filters as they are not absorbed by the skin and at the end of the day can be simple cleansed away. They are also more suited to sensitive skin as they rarely cause any problems. Think of Inorganic Filters working like a mirror on your skin reflecting away those nasty UV rays. There is a great debate about Organic V Inorganic Filters, more of which later.
Before we delve into the fabulous world of skin type lets take a short detour and learn some basic (I promise you I won't ramble on!) physiology. Just knowing the physical make up of your skin will make it so much easier for you to cut through all the nonsense of those so called "miracle" products and enable you to make the best possible choice for your skin. Your skin isn't just a gorgeous layer of loveliness; it does some very important work. It provides protection from the elements, maintains your body temperature, eliminates toxins, protects you from all sorts of bacterial nasties and best of all is home to all those gorgeous nerve endings which give you your glorious sense of touch!
The epidermis is constantly being renewed. It takes around 28 days for the skin cells to travel from the base of the epidermis to the top, unfortunately this process slows as we age. This is why many skincare companies produce quite harsh skin treatments to irritate the skin and slough off dead cells in the hope of speeding up the process of epidermal regeneration. Unfortunately these harsh products are extremely effective causing the skin to become irritated and inflamed. Even more worrying is the fact they thin the skin making it even more susceptible to sun damage & broken capillaries! Your epidermis has six layers (don't worry, I won't bore you, I'll just stick to the need to know!). The uppermost layer (the bit you can feel) is called the stratum corneum. It's tightly packed with scaly cells called keratinocytes. These cells are little elevators that move upward from the bottom of the epidermis to the top, but on their journey they stop at every floor to fill up with keratin. Keratin is a tough little protein that provides the skin with its waterproof barrier. The barrier that those cells create forms a protective layer that protects against harm from water loss, pollutants and unfriendly bacteria. At the base of the epidermis you will find melanocytes. These fab little cells are responsible for producing melanin, which protects your skin and the underlying tissue from sunlight. Melanin produces the pigment that causes your skin to tan. Melanocytes produce and move melanin in cells called melanosomes; these little cells are then taken up by the keratinocytes on their journey to the top of the epidermis.
Another Good Reason To Use SPF
The epidermis also contains Langerhan cells, which provide protection for the immune system against invading micro organisms, viruses and bacteria. When skin becomes damaged by UV radiation it also damages the Langerhan cells, causing few to survive in the skin and carry on providing protection for your immune system.
Located directly under the epidermis, the dermis acts as a support. This is the skins most active layer, its where the most vital functions take place. The dermis contains (amongst other things!) blood vessels, nerve fibres, lymph glands and of course collagen and elastin. Collagen and elastin are that wonderful duo of fibres that give your skin its flexibility and strength. Think of them as a firm mattress providing your skin with real tone. Collagen and elastin's mortal enemy is the sun. UV rays are kryptonite to this fabulous duo, causing them to become damaged which in turn causes skin to become wrinkly and saggy (the not so fabulous duo!).