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All You Need to Know About Treating Acne

  • Posted on October 7, 2014 at 2:34 pm

There’s a whole lot more to acne than red skin and spots. It can cause oily skin, as well dramatically increased sensitivity as well as skin that is sore or painful to the touch. It affects the face, neck, chest and back, and can result in six different types of spots: blackheads (dirty looking spots that are black or dark in color due to the pigmentation of the hair follicle showing through, whiteheads (whitish spots), papules (small red bumps that may be painful to the touch), pustules (similar to papules but with a white/yellow spot in the center), nodules (hard lumps that can be painful sitting underneath the surface of the skin) and cysts, which look similar to boils and are most likely to cause scarring.

When to Get Help

Treatment – and the help offered – will differ from state to state, but generally, the more severe your acne, the more important it is that you seek treatment quickly. Severe acne is treated with retinoids, antibiotics and azelaic acid, as well the contraceptive pill (in women) and a number of over the counter prescription medications. There are a number of self-care measures that you can take, too, which will help to prevent acne from getting worse, and that can help to eliminate mild to moderate acne entirely. When you notice a worsening of your symptoms – if your skin gets worse or your if it starts becoming painful or extra sensitive to the touch, it’s important to seek medical advice.

Causes of Acne

There’s a bit of a misconception that acne is caused by not cleaning your skin frequently enough. In actual fact, acne is caused by an excess of sebum within the sebaceous glands. These glands are responsible for lubricating the skin and when too much sebum is produced, it mixes with skin cells and dirt on the face, which forms a “plug” on the surface of the skin which can lead to a build-up of bacteria underneath the skin. Because the follicle can open up to the surface of the skin, it leads the way for bacteria – that is normally completely harmless – to find its way underneath the skin wherein it can cause papules, pustules, nodules and cysts.

Testosterone Acne

The sebaceous glands are thought to be fairly sensitive to hormones, which is why acne can appear during puberty, when hormones surge, as well as in pregnancy, when the levels of estrogen and testosterone in a woman’s body fluctuate massively. In cases of acne caused by hormonal fluctuations, hormonal treatments can often be used – for example, that is why the contraceptive pill is often used to treat acne in women.

Self-Care Treatments

  • One of the most important self-care tips for acne is to never, under any circumstances, touch your face and then touch another part of your face. It just spreads bacteria around. Although it might be really tempting to pick at your spots, just to get rid of them, but also simply because it can be a bit of a comfort. If you do touch your face, wash your hands before you touch it again.
  • Wash the affected area of skin only twice a day. Any more than that, and you’ll be stripping the skin of its natural oils, which in turn will lead to even more over-production of sebum – irritating the skin and making the problem even worse.
  • Don’t pop, squeeze or scrape out the yellow, white or dirty stuff from inside the spots. Although it makes the spot appear less noticeable, it actually contributes to spreading bacteria around the face. If you dig or scrape too hard, it can also lead to scarring, which is the last thing you want.
  • Using makeup and foundation can help to cover up the spots, but they will clog up your pores and the sebaceous glands on the surface of the skin, which means that it’ll lead to even more spots. If you do want to use makeup, make sure that it’s a mineral formation, or a water-based formation – anything made with oil will simply sit in your pores.
  • Wash your hair often and take regular showers. That won’t really have any effect on your acne, but it’ll stop it from getting any worse – plus, regular exercise will boost your self esteem and release endorphins, which will make you feel better about yourself and more motivated.
  • When using topical treatments, make sure that you always follow the instructions on the packet to the letter. Benzoyl peroxide, for example, is a topical treatment that helps to remove bacteria from the outer layer of the skin, whilst also preventing the build up of dead skin cells, which should help to prevent the skin “plugs” from forming.
  • Topical retinoids work in a similar way, but instead of killing bacteria, it works to reduce the amount of sebum that the sebaceous glands produce, which helps to prevent acne by treating the root cause.
  • Always read the side effects on any over the counter gels, creams or lotions. Some of them are very strong, and although they can reduce acne symptoms, they can cause side effects – including dry, tense skin, lightened skin, irritation and itching. If side effects become severe, speak to your doctor.
  • If taking antibiotics to treat your acne, check with your doctor to see if there are any interactions between the antibiotic and the contraceptive pill (if taking it for contraceptive reasons), as some antibiotics render the pill ineffective.
  • Try to avoid potential triggers. Some people find that eating too much refined sugar and too many refined carbs can increase their symptoms, while others struggle with acne when stressed or overwhelmed. Keep a diary, identify the triggers and try to avoid them where possible to reduce your symptoms.
  • One non-medicinal treatment that seems promising is photodynamic therapy, whereby lasers are used to damage skin cells, enabling them to regrow, replenish and heal.

Top Summer Makeup Tips

  • Posted on July 5, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Summer is finally here! If you’re planning on spending your days down at the beach or if you’re going off on your holidays, you’ll need to have a few makeup tricks up your sleeve to avoid looking like an oil slick by the time you get back home. Follow our top summer makeup tips to learn everything you need to know about looking your very best whatever the weather.

  • You do have to make a few changes to your routine when the warm weather hits. One of the most important products in your makeup bag will be a primers. The type of primer that you choose is entirely up to you. The primer that I use, personally, is a matte primer as it helps to prevent oil. If you’re prone to oily skin or if you often have to blot your skin throughout the day, that’d be a good choice for you. Other choices include colour correcting primers, smoothing primers and anti-aging primers. Apply moisturizer first, let it sink in, then apply your primer.  You can either keep your skin bare or apply concealer or a foundation over the top. If you do that, however, you’ll need to apply something to keep the makeup in place. Generally though, if you’re tanned, you won’t really need any concealer or anything as your skin tone should be nice and even
  • Blotting powder or blotting papers should be your very best friend when it’s hot and humid outside. Both have just one job – to “blot” or to soak up the oil on your face. If you’re looking for a blotting powder, go for something that’s translucent and that doesn’t have a color in it as otherwise your face could end up looking far paler than your body
  • Switch your blusher for a bronzer. Blush makes you look lovely and rosy in the winter – like you’ve just come in from the cold and are just warming up. Bronzer makes you look like you’ve been out in the sun all day and that it’s hit the right parts of your face, giving you a lovely golden glow. Brush it into the hollows of your cheekbones, under your chin and along your jawbone, blended into your hairline and also down your nose. If you want to go all out, dust it along your collarbones and on your decolletage too.
  • Fake tan is fantastic for making you look golden brown, but for ease, use a product that lasts for a week or so – that way you’ll only need to apply it once or twice a week. You’ll need to use a different product entirely for your face, as it’s far more sensitive to the rest of your body and using a regular fake tan on it could cause breakouts, spots and oily skin. Another alternative is to use a gradual tanner but these tend not to provide the depth of color that you’d like, so bite the bullet and exfoliate before apply fake tan with a tanning mitt. Maintain the tan by using moisturizer or body lotion once a day.
  • You can afford to be much more inventive with your color choices in the summer in the same way that you can be far more inventive with clothes. Generally, the best looking colors are deep jewel shades that’ll set off your tan – turquoise is gorgeous, as is aubergine. Deep shades of gold and bronze are fab, too. Be bold with your color choices on your feet and nails, pastel hues are lovely, especially if you mix and match them so that you have a pretty vintage look. Neons always work in the summer and bright white will make a surprising change. Postbox red is always a failsafe – it never looks bad, whatever the weather and whatever the time of year. Alternatively, a nude hue that matches your tan will always look super chic.
  • In terms of what you can do with your hair, think about what the sun naturally does to it: it tends to lighten it, and if you’re already blond, will make it blonder. If you’re brunette, usually, the sun will still lighten your locks a little bit. Typically, it’ll lighten the tips of your hair, the hair around your face and the hair on top of your head. Help it along a bit by using one of nature’s best bleaches: lemon juice. Just pop a little bit onto the spots that you’d like to lighten before you head out into the sun. Another alternative is a new lightening gel on the market, that you apply to any areas that you’d like to lighten and then either leave it do dry naturally, help it along with a hairdryer or by sitting out in the sun.
  • For perfect beachy locks, wash your hair before you go to bed, put through some mousse, then plait on either side of your head. In the morning, undo, run your fingers through the waves and add a little bit of salt spray. Another alternative is to simply wet hair in the morning, scrunch in a bit of salt spray and then let the sun do the rest of the work when you step outside. If having your hair down is a bit too much for you when it’s really hot, French plait the fringe from ear to ear and then secure the rest of your hair high at the top of your head in a bun. In the evenings, it’s lovely to let your hair just do it’s thing – it’ll be hot and humid so just work with what you’ve got. Use serums, shine sprays and mousses to tame your curls and don’t even bother with the straightening irons – your hair will be frizzy by the time you leave the house anyway!

Have happy holidays!

Smooth Operater: 10 Super Smooth Hair Tricks

  • Posted on May 30, 2014 at 12:58 pm

We all want wonderfully sleek, shiny and smooth locks. But there are so many things that can work against it: humidity can make your hair frizz out, too much sun, snow or rain can make it dull and dank or even just missing a haircut can increase split ends and frizz. So how do you get the super smooth hair you’ve always dreamed of? Follow our top ten tips and you’ll have stunning, sleek locks in no time.

  • It might sound obvious, but you need to make sure that the hair is as clean as can be. Put shampoo onto dry hair for optimum lather, and then make sure that it is squeaky clean – quite literally, your hair should squeak when you’re washing out the shampoo. Don’t be afraid to wash your hair twice, either. And although you’ve more than likely been told this a thousand times before, condition hair only from the ears down to the tips to avoid greasiness.
  • Use a heavy hair mask or deep conditioning treatment once every week to give hair an extra boost. For the most effective treatment, apply the mask or treatment, wrap your head in a warm towel and leave for at least half an hour before washing out.
  • Use ionic products where you can. You can now buy iconic hairbrushes, hairdryers, straighteners and even curling tongs, which all emit ions that penetrate into the hair shaft, eliminating frizz and smoothing hair.
  • Remember the 90/10 rule. When you’re blow-drying hair, just blast it all over until it’s about 90% dry. Once you’re done, use your hairdryer and a round brush to dry hair until it’s completely dry, teasing it into the style that you want – straight, curly, bouffant – anything you like. This technique is used in most salons, and your hair will keep its style far better. Once your hair is looking lovely, spritz with shine spray very gently to add shine, or for a cool, modern look, scrunch a shine spray into hair for matte texture.
  • One of the most bizarre tricks we’ve come across – but one of the very best, actually, is this: instead of rinsing shampoo out of your hair with water, is to rinse it out with beer. Take a couple of cans with you into the shower (yes, really!) and then use it to rinse your hair. Once the shampoo is completely out of your hair, give it a final rinse with a blast of cold water – this’ll help get rid of the “beery” smell so that you won’t smell like a pub but it’ll also add more shine than rinsing with warm water would.
  • Sometimes, if your hair is frizzy or dry, it’s more to do with your scalp rather than with the hair itself. So it makes sense to treat the scalp as best as you can. Luckily, one of the best scalp treatments is also one of the cheapest – basic olive oil. Warm it up in a cup in the microwave, just for a little while, then pour it over your scalp and use your fingertips to gently massage it into the scalp. Work it from root to tip, wrap your head in a warm towel, then leave the oil to sit for a good half an hour. Put shampoo onto the hair whilst dry, then wash out the oil as best as you can. It might take a few washes, but you’ll have the smooth hair of your dreams. Your scalp will feel wonderfully soft, too.
  • Your mum might have told you to brush your hair 100 times before you go to bed to keep it smooth and tangle-free, but that’s not really true. Although it will reduce tangles, it will also increase the number of breakages that occur, which can increase split ends and therefore frizziness. Don’t brush your hair too much – only when you need to! Anyway, some of the most popular styles only require you to use your fingers to gently comb through the hair, anyway. Go for scrunched beachy hair or a boho vibe if you’re worried about your hair looking a little messy.
  • Don’t wash your hair every day. Although it needs to be clean to be frizz-free, if it’s too clean (there is such a thing) it will get greasy more quickly. The old saying that you can “train” your hair to not be greasy is true, to some extent. Generally, you’re always best washing either every other day or every two days – but you definitely don’t want to be washing your hair every day. Invest in a decent dry shampoo for in-between days – it’s also good at reducing frizz, too.
  • If you can get away with it, don’t use heated products on your hair. Let it dry naturally – brush it out with a wide-toothed comb and then leave it to dry as it is if you want straight hair, or if you want curly, wavy hair, use your hands to scrunch hair as it dries. If you’re lucky enough to have sunny weather, go and sit out in the garden to dry off. If you’re blond, spritz a little bit of lemon juice onto hair before you go out to brighten and lighten your tresses.
  • Finally, it’s really important to treat the problem. If you have dry hair, use formulas and products specifically designed for those with dry hair. If you have frizz, treat it every day using a frizz serum. If you have greasy hair, use a deep cleansing shampoo. It’s really tricky to get perfect hair if you don’t use products that are designed for your hair type, so think about your hair like it’s a problem to solve instead of just going for whatever’s on offer at the supermarket.

Take a look at the rest of our posts for more top hair tips.

How to Treat Oily Skin

  • Posted on February 21, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Oily skin is a really common problem, but it can easily be managed. It’s caused by a number of things, but contrary to popular belief, eating chocolate won’t give you oily skin – the same goes for junk food! Grease does not necessarily equal greasy skin. Read on to learn about some of the causes of oily skin, how to combat it, and how to fake it.

Causes of Oily Skin

There are a number of causes of oily skin. If your mum or dad has oily skin, you’ll be more likely to have it. It might be unfair, but that’s the way it goes! If you use too much cleanser, exfoliator or moisturizer, it can also lead to oily skin – over-doing it messes with your skin’s natural balance of oils and sebums and can actually increase oiliness, even if you’re using oil-busting products.

Likewise, most of us experience oilier skin through the summer months as temperatures and humidity increase. However, you might also experience oiliness in the winter, especially if you don’t moisturize frequently enough, as your skin will release more oils to try and compensate for what it’s missing. Stress, hormonal changes, using the wrong skincare products and tools and tanning can also cause oily skin.

How to Treat Oily Skin

Oily skin can be treated. The first thing you need to do, really, is to use moisturizer. It might sound counterintuitive, but using moisturizer helps to replace lost moisture. Using it twice a day, once in the morning, once before you go to bed, will restore the natural oils within skin and will keep it soft and smooth. If you don’t use moisturizer, your skin will try to compensate for the fact that there isn’t enough moisture in the skin by releasing oils – which is why your skin will have an oily or greasy appearance.


One of the most effective ways to treat oily skin is with cleansers. They help to strip some of the oils from skin, so that your skin is clean and smooth, rather than oily and greasy. Just make sure that you don’t over-do it. To begin with, use a very gentle cleanser twice a day. Anything too harsh will stimulate oil secretion, and if you use exfoliators or a rough wash cloth, your skin will still be oily. Rub the cleanser into your skin using your fingertips, then wash off. Pat dry very gently with a clean cotton towel, then follow up with moisturizer. If your skin is particularly oily, use an oil-reducing moisturizer – it’ll hydrate the skin without making it oily.

If a gentle cleanser doesn’t do the trick, switch to a product that contains acid, such as benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, salicylic acid or beta-hydroxy acid. Generally, these products are marketed as anti-acne products, but they’re really good for people with oily skin, too. Use them once a day or a few times a week at first – use them too often and you could end up causing more damage.


Some dermatologists recommend using toners, and others don’t. If your skin is particularly oily, it’s worth giving them a go – if you find they make your skin too dry, stop using them. If they sort out the oiliness without causing any dryness, you can keep using them. Apply them on only the oily areas of skin, like on the forehead, the nose, and the chin, rather than all over the face. Instead of using an astringent toner, look for a nourishing toner instead. Gently dab onto your face using cotton pads instead of your fingers and follow instructions on the bottle as to whether you need to follow it up with a moisturizer or whether you can just leave it as it is.

Masks and Clays

On top of your usual skin regime, it might also be worth trying some masks and clays. Use them only occasionally, and only on the parts of your face that need attention – not all over. They can draw out oils and other impurities, improving the appearance of your skin and reducing oiliness. Again, they can be fairly drying, so make sure that you limit your use of them. Experiment with formulas until you find something that works for you.

Faking It

If you’re still struggling with oily skin, despite your best efforts, there are a few ways you can fake matte, shine-free skin. You could use medicated pads, which you can carry around in your bag and simply dab onto your face throughout the day to treat oily skin. Blotting papers are used in a similar way – they look like greaseproof paper and are impregnated with blotting powder. Simply dab onto skin when you’re on the go to touch up oily patches of skin, without ruining the rest of your makeup. You can also use blotting powder, although you need to make sure that your skin is well moisturized – if it’s a little bit oily and a little bit dry, the powder will combine with the flakes of your dry skin to make your skin look even drier and flakier.

Smooth, blemish-free and oil-free skin can be yours – just experiment with formulas and try not to use too much in the way of products and tools so that your skin doesn’t get worse. Look for things like oil-reducing formulations, especially in your moisturizer, and make sure that you don’t go for a super-hydrating product or a product used for dry skin as it’ll just make your skin even oilier and greasier.

Myths About Acne

  • Posted on February 1, 2014 at 4:10 pm

There are many, many myths and misconceptions about acne. Some people believe that chocolate can give you acne, whilst others think that if you don’t wash your face often enough, you’ll develop acne. Neither myths are true and there is no scientific evidence to back up either claim. Read on to learn about some of the common myths about acne and whether they’re fact or fiction.

Washing Your Face Reduces Breakouts

There’s a belief that dirt = acne. Although that is true to an extent – acne can be caused by pores that are blocked with excess sebum or bacteria – if you wash your face too frequently your skin will actually be stripped of essential oils. This decrease in essential oils and sebum will actually make your skin more prone to acne, as there will be nothing to protect your skin and breakouts might actually increase in frequency.

Tanning Gets Rid of Acne

A tan might temporarily get rid of acne, but that doesn’t mean that regularly going out into the sun without any SPF protection or regularly using sunbeds is the way to go to reduce acne. Regularly tanning with no protection will not only drastically increase your risk of sun-related cancers in the future but will also dry out your skin, leaving you more prone to breakouts. Look for sun lotions that have “nonacnegenic” written on the label – they won’t clog pores and will help to keep skin clear.

Eating Chocolate or Greasy Food Causes Acne

There is absolutely zero evidence to suggest a direct link between eating chocolate or greasy foods and acne breakouts. What might be to blame is the face that if you regularly eat junk foods, you’ll be neglecting your body in terms of the nutrients that it needs in order to function properly. Chances are, if you’re snacking on burgers instead of fresh fruits and veggies, your skin will suffer not because you’re eating the wrong foods but because you’re not eating the right foods. Minimize your risk of acne breakouts by eating a varied, balanced diet.

Wearing Makeup Causes Acne

Many people also believe that wearing makeup actually causes acne. Wearing makeup and makeup alone does not cause acne and it does not clog pores, as long as you take it off before you go to bed and try not to cake your face in heavy products. What can cause acne is actually the way that you apply your makeup. For example, if you use your fingers to pat concealer or foundation onto your skin, you’ll be spreading bacteria around your face – or, if you use brushes or sponges and don’t wash them often enough you’ll still end up spreading bacteria around. Choose light, breathable makeup and use a fresh sponge each day – or, just try to avoid touching your face unnecessarily.

Using More Medication Can Counteract Acne

If you keep getting acne breakouts despite taking medication it can be very tempting to just take a little more medication – after all, more medication = less acne, right? Wrong – more medication could actually dry your skin out. As we discussed before, the drier your skin, the more likely it is that you’ll end up having regular acne breakouts as the natural oils present in the surface of your skin will no longer be there, meaning that your skin has no protection. Never use more medication than your doctor recommends – not only could it cause further acne breakouts but it could even cause medical problems.

You Need to Pop Zits to Get Rid of Acne

Popping zits might get rid of them just for a little while, but long term, popping zits will just make your acne worse. Popping zits forces the oils and bacterias from the zit further into the dermis (middle layer of skin) and can spread the bacteria over the surface, too, resulting in more pimples.

For more advice about fighting acne, take a look at our blog posts.

Ten of the Best Hair Care Tips You’ll Ever Read

  • Posted on January 10, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Sleek, shiny hair can be yours – you just need to look after your hair. You don’t need to use a lot of products, either – just plenty of preparation, a bit of love and care and a little bit of effort and your hair will be strong, shiny and really easy to manage. Read on for ten of the best hair care tips you’ll ever read and look forward to having strong, healthy hair this year!

Dry Your Hair with a Paper Towel

Do you use a towel to dry your hair? That’s fine – but if you suffer from frizzy hair with lots of split ends, it could be to do with the towel you use when drying your hair. Rubbing your hair with a towel can cause breakages and frizz and one very simple way to prevent this is to dry your hair with a paper towel – it sounds a little bit strange, but the paper towels absorb far more water than a normal towel which cuts your drying time. Paper towels create less friction than fabric, and so will make hair sleek instead of frizzy.

Sleep on a Silk Pillow

If you take only one tip away from this blog, make it this one. Swap your cotton or polyester pillowcase for a silk one – cotton and polyester can cause frizz, whereby silk reduces static, keeping your hair sleeker and smoother. It can also help to reduce acne and spots, too.

Make Dry Shampoo Your New Best Friend

Dry shampoo isn’t just for bad hair days. Spritz it underneath the top layer of hair at the roots for extra volume, spray onto bobby pins and hair grip for plenty of extra grip, and spritz through the mid-lengths and ends of hair to create texture when you want a lived-in, beachy look. When using it, hold the can about 30cm away from your head, then spritz, leave to sit for 3-4 minutes, then brush out until the hair is clean and shiny.

Clarify Your Scalp

If your hair is being a bit naughty or if it is frizzy, full of split ends or just downright unmanageable, the problem might be with your scalp. Once a week, apply a very gentle astringent (suitable for use on skin), directly to the scalp with a cotton bud, then wash off carefully with warm water before you use shampoo and conditioner. Your hair will feel much cleaner and it’ll be much more manageable.

Rinse Hair Thoroughly

Sometimes we leave some conditioner in hair simply because it makes our hair feel soft and sleek – but leaving too much product in your hair can dull it, reducing shine and making it more difficult to shine. Wash shampoo and conditioner from hair as thoroughly as you can and when applying conditioner, run a wide-toothed comb through your hair to distribute it evenly.

Less is More

Even with the cheaper hair care products, you don’t need to use a lot of them. A dime-sized piece in the palm of your hand is all you need for both shampoo and conditioner – too much product and your hair will be lank, dull and greasy. With expensive brands, you can often get away with even less product – which is great news if you’re on a bit of a budget! The same goes for hairspray, hair oil, hair mousse, leave-in conditioner, masks etc – the less you use, the better in most cases in terms of how your hair looks, feels and moves.

Turn Up the Volume

When you use volume-enhancing products, such as mousses, they’re often activated by heat – so although you could see some lift and definition by simply scrunching them through your hair and leaving to air dry, most of the time, you’ll get even more lift and plenty of bounce and volume simply by blasting your roots for a few minutes. For the best results, tip your head upside down and just go for it with the hairdryer – your hair will definitely thank you for it!

Blow Baby

When using a hairdryer, to avoid frizz, direct it from the roots to the tips – never blow dry the tips or the hair from underneath, as it’ll simply add frizz rather than volume. Blow dry using a brush to smooth down the hair cuticles as you blast hair, as it’ll keep hair smooth and sleek, and when it comes to straightening or curling your hair, make sure that hair is 100% dry – using a heated appliance on hair that is still wet would cause frizz, static, and heat damage, too. Always use heat protect sprays, especially if you have naturally frizzy or curly hair.

Backcomb with a Toothbrush

Aiming the blowdryer directly at your roots can sometimes actually cause flat hair – but instead of backcombing hair with a comb, try a toothbrush. The soft bristles of a toothbrush can “rough up” hair just enough to give it a little extra boost of volume, whereas a comb can cause damage. It’s a clever tip, plus, you can easily slip the toothbrush into your purse so that you can touch up your locks when you’re on the go.

Use a Humidifier

If your hair is very dry, or if you’re regularly in a dry environment – for example, with air conditioning, central heating or if you live in a very cold climate, your hair will be dry, dull and frizzy. Although humidity can cause damage, a dry environment is even worse. Regularly running a humidifier will help to combat this, nourishing hair and adding moisture. Add a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner to your routine and your hair will be even softer.

For more skin care and hair care tips, take a look at the rest of our blogs.