What Is Skincare And Why Is It So Important?

It is without a doubt that most of us have heard or used the terms ‘skin care’ or ‘skincare’ in the past. Skincare is a term which covers a large range of practises to enhance and protect the skin. But what exactly is skincare, and why is it so important these days?

This article is split into several sections, covering: 1. What Is Skincare, 2. A Brief History, 3. Why Skincare Is So Important, 4. The Different Forms And Methods Of Skincare and 5. The Different Skin Types. Each section aims to give an insight into the world of skincare, whether you’re a beginner or an expert.

1. What Is Skincare?

As the name suggests, skincare is a method through which skin is treated and cared for. This can be through the use of products (creams, emollients, etc), nutrition and diet to supplement skin health, as well as lifestyle practises (avoiding direct sunlight, not smoking).

There are many different categories of skincare; things you can do at home as well as treatments that can be carried out by qualified dermatologists.

Ultimately the goal with skincare is to preserve and enhance the condition of the skin, as well as to achieve individual needs. Examples of common individual needs include anti-aging, reduction of acne, fading of scars and evening skin tone.

While skincare may seem like a modern practise (especially with all the nifty electronics you can now purchase for at-home use) evidence of it’s use spans across several centuries.

2. Skincare: A Brief History

Ancient Egypt

Skincare is a practise that has been around for many millennia. The first documented use of skincare is somewhere around 3000 BC with the Ancient Egyptians.

Ancient Egyptian Beauty (~2000-3000 BC)

The first use of cosmetics and therefore skincare can be traced back to Ancient Egypt (2000-3000 BC). One thing to take note of is that this is the first documented use of skincare, it has likely been around for longer than this.

The Ancient Egyptians used natural ingredients and remedies to treat and enhance their skin. Examples of ingredients used include oils, berries, milk, honey, yogurt and plant extracts [1].

Ancient Chinese Skincare (1600-1900 BC)

Skincare products and remedies have been seen in ancient China, as early as 1650 – 1950 BC (Qin dynasty).

Ancient Chinese women used things like rice water to wash their face and brighten their complexion. You’ll find that this is still used today as a natural skin cleanser, and is a very common homemade skincare solution[2].

Skincare In Ancient Greece

The word cosmetics is derived from the Greek term ‘Kosmetikos’ meaning skilled in decorating or beautifying [3]. It’s no surprise that the Greek’s were pioneers in beauty treatments, some of which have even shaped the way we use beauty treatments in today’s time.

The Ancient Greeks used natural produce to make body oils and lotions. Olive oil was a core ingredient, you’ll find that Greek culture still incorporates olive in cooking, pharmaceuticals and of course, cosmetic and skincare use[4].

Beauty In Ancient Rome

The ancient Romans used cosmetics to tackle aging, sun spots, and flaky/dry skin. Common ingredients used include honey, oils, vinegar, ashes, as well as various plant extracts[5].

Use Of Cosmetics In The Medieval Era

The use of cosmetics has been documented in Medieval Europe, around the 12th century. Fair skin was a desirable trait, and many used treatments in order to brighten and even their complexion. Examples of ingredients used include aloe vera, cucumbers, honey and vinegar[6].

The 1800’s

Many lifestyle changes were being made in the 1800’s especially with modern advancements in society. Skincare was therefore a bigger concern than seen before. Cleansers were made from egg yolk and oatmeal, these were said to cleanse the skin and reduce blemishes.

The obsession with fair skin was very much a thing and lemon juice was used as a bleaching agent. With the 1800’s also comes the invention of some of the most iconic skincare products to date, including Vaseline and baby powder[6].

The 1900’s

Most of the brands we love today were founded in the 1900’s, Estee Lauder, La Mer, Clinique and The Body Shop to name a few. Skincare became a lot more accessible in the 1900’s. Advertising campaigns as well as more people becoming informed on the topic led to a boom in the industry.

3. Why Skincare Is So Important

skincare product on bath

Looking after your skin is a critical procedure in maintaining skin youthfulness and clarity. The skin does indeed look after itself, though only to a certain extent. Some external effort is needed to supplement this.

You shed thousands of dead skin cells every day and your skin self-moisturises by producing sebum, it is indeed a very effective system. Sebum is a waxy secretion that your pores secrete to keep the skin hydrated and protected.

But what happens if your skin is naturally dry, or if you suffer from hormonal acne? This is exactly where skincare becomes a critical procedure.

Sometimes your skin cannot take care of itself as effectively as you’d want it to. This can be due to a medical condition, environmental effects, genetics, and lifestyle choices. This is where you can step in.

By practising good skincare you can drastically improve the condition of your skin; for most this improves self-image; most people agree that the condition of their skin is a factor influencing self-worth and mental health.

Not only is skincare important for mental health, but also from a medical standpoint. By practising good lifestyle habits such as avoiding direct sunlight and applying SPF, you’re reducing the probability of skin cancer caused by UV rays.

In addition to preventing cancer, medical breakthroughs have improved the quality of life for many suffering from skin conditions. Examples of such conditions include cystic acne, psoriasis, and eczema. Various emollients and ointments have been developed to help this demographic with their skin concerns.

4. Different Forms And Methods Of Skincare

woman receiving skincare treatment

Skincare presents itself in various forms, creams, ointments, needles, lasers, to name a few. Below is a small list of common types of skincare treatments available today, both at-home and in the hands of a medical professional.

4.1. Creams

A cream by definition is simply a formulation or preparation made for application to the skin (topical use) [7]. These creams are made to tackle a range of skin concerns and conditions.

4.1.1. Moisturisers

A moisturiser is an example of a cream used to hydrate and moisturise the skin. These are also commonly referred to as emollients. Moisturising is a crucial step in any skincare regime to protect the skin from environmental effects, and to help regulate sebum production.

A moisturiser reduces and prevents transepidermal water loss from the skin. Throughout the day the skin loses moisture through evaporation, this regulates the water content in the skin for optimal function. This is known as transepidermal water loss. In certain temperaments this can be accelerated which can cause skin dryness and fragility.

By forming a thin layer on the skin, this water loss is reduced which can help in preventing dry skin and flaking. Moisturisers have been used for many centuries to tackle skin concerns such as psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema.

4.1.2. Sunscreen

Sunscreen is another type of cream/lotion which we should all be using to prevent skin damage from UV rays.

Sunscreen or sunblock helps to absorb or reflect some of the UVA and UVB radiation from the sun that would otherwise cause skin damage through burning or alteration of DNA. It is through this mechanism that skin cancer is formed. Sunscreen is often presented in spray, gel, or lotion formats.

Effective use of sunscreen can also prevent skin aging. Sun damage is a significant contributory factor towards premature skin aging, and applying SPF can help to mitigate this. Ensure you use a minimum of SPF 30+ with broad spectrum UVA & UVB protection.

4.1.3. Cleansing Cream

There are now many different types of cleansing creams available for those with sensitive skin. These creams are a gentler solution to facial cleansing, and get rid of dirt, oils and makeup while simultaneously moisturising the skin.

4.2. Cleansers

A cleanser is simply a product which removes unwanted dirt, make-up, dead skin cells, oils and other pollutants from the skin [8]. Cleansing the face and body is essential to prevent clogged pores and acne as a result.

4.2.1. Bar Soap

Perhaps the most iconic cleanser, a bar soap gets rid of dirt and oils by binding it to the soap and carrying it away when washed off. Bar soaps aren’t typically recommended for facial use as they’re overly drying, but are usually fine if used on the body.

4.2.2. Facial Cleanser

Facial cleansers are cleansers which are specifically formulated for use on the face. These are often more gentle than other forms of cleansers, namely bar soap, and are often infused with fragrances to improve the experience, or as a selling point. Facial cleansers commonly come in the form of a foam, soap, milk, cream and gel.

4.3. Exfoliants

Exfoliants are products which help to exfoliate the skin. Exfoliation is the procedure through which dead skin cells and other pollutants are removed from the outermost layer of skin, revealing a brighter, healthier complexion underneath. Exfoliating often can help to unclog pores and prevent breakouts. There are two types of exfoliant, chemical and physical.

4.3.1. Physical Exfoliants

These are exfoliants which use mechanical action to slough off dead skin cells. Examples of physical exfoliants include facial scrubs, brushes, face cloths, and sponges.

4.3.2. Chemical Exfoliants

Chemical exfoliants are products which include ‘chemicals’ that work to actively exfoliate the skin. Often these chemicals and acids help to promote cell turnover, and break up debris in the pores to clear the complexion.

Common examples of chemical exfoliants include; salicylic acid, glycolic acid and lactic acid. These are examples of AHA’s (Alpha-Hydroxy Acids) and BHA’s (Beta-Hydroxy Acids). Chemical exfoliants are often presented in serum, toner or lotion form.

4.4. Anti-Aging Treatments

There are many anti-aging treatments that you can carry out at home, though improved efficacy is often achieved from dermatologist visits. Anti-Aging treatments seek to prevent aging, as well as minimise signs of aging such as age spots, fine lines and wrinkles.

4.4.1. Retinol

Retinol is perhaps the most common form of anti-aging treatment that is used at home. A stronger prescription version of retinol is available known as retinoic acid which is more effective, but also more harsh. Retinol is a form of Vitamin-A which can boost collagen production with continued use.

4.4.2. Microneedling

Microneedling is a procedure where a dermaroller is run across the face causing hundreds of small punctures in the skin. This is seen to promote collagen synthesis, therefore minimising fine lines, wrinkles, and enlarged pores.

4.4.3. Botox

Botox is a procedure through which the botulinum neurotoxin is injected into the skin to paralyse the muscle group. This helps prevent movement in these muscles, which can prevent wrinkle formation and development. Common areas for botox include the forehead, cheeks and neck.

4.4.4. Chemical Peels

Chemical peels use different acids (typically AHA’s) in high concentrations to promote shedding of the skin. It’s this shedding that promotes cellular regeneration and can therefore minimise signs of aging.

High-strength peels are more effective than those you might be able to purchase at-home, but these are only available under the supervision of a qualified medical professional.

4.4.5. Laser Resurfacing

The thought of using lasers on the facial skin can be a little daunting but it is a safe, approved method in the quest to minimise aging effects. Laser resurfacing or light therapy uses concentrated bursts of laser light to remove dead and damaged skin cells. This also promotes cell turnover, which can tackle aging concerns such as fine lines, wrinkles and age spots.

5. The Different Skin Types

Identifying your skin type can help you identify and use the right procedures and products. There are 4 main types of skin which we have covered in depth in our article on Building The Perfect Skincare Routine.

  1. Normal Skin: There is no true example of normal skin, but rather skin that is well-balanced. Those with normal skin do not have excessively oily or dry skin, with few imperfections.
  2. Dry Skin: Dry skin is often characterised by a dull, dry looking complexion. Dry skin sufferers often have peeling or cracking skin which can lead to inflammation, redness and infection. Those with dry skin are also more susceptible to signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles.
  3. Oily Skin: Oily skin refers to skin that is excessively oily or shiny, this also makes breakouts more common. Skin oiliness occurs as a result of overactive sebaceous glands which produce sebum. Many acne sufferers have this skin-type.
  4. Combination Skin: Combination skin is simply a combination of any one of the types of skin listed above. As an example, you may have an oily T-Zone, but normal or dry skin elsewhere on the face.

Once you have identified your skin type, it is time to build the perfect skincare regime that is tailored to you. This will improve skin clarity and health, and give you that glowing complexion we all strive to achieve.

Have any thoughts or suggestions? Make sure you leave them in the comments down below!

References

[1] – https://www.skincaretotal.co.uk/the-history-of-skin-care.html

[2] – http://english.visitbeijing.com.cn/a1/a-XCC8FK46BBB61EA22F5A79

[3] – https://www.etymonline.com/word/cosmetic

[4] – https://www.skinstation.co.uk/blog/the-history-of-skin-care-amp;-beauty-ancient-greek-secrets

[5] – https://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/beauty-history-cosmetics-secrets-of-the-ancient-romans/#:~:text=The%20Ancient%20Romans%20also%20made,grease%2C%20basil%20juice%20and%20hawthorn.

[6] – https://www.inbmedical.com/the-evolving-role-of-skincare

[7] – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cream_(pharmacy)

[8] – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleanser

Patch Testing Skincare: How To Do It The Right Way?

Patch testing is a critical procedure which everyone should be using to determine the compatibility of a skincare product with their respective skin types. By patch testing you’re minimising the possibility of damaging or irritating your skin, here’s how to do it the right way

We always recommend a patch test when you use a new product, even if you think the ingredients are the same/similar to a product you were using prior. Better safe than sorry.

Step #1: Apply Product To Inconspicuous Area

You’ll want to pick an inconspicuous area of skin just in case you do have an adverse affect to the product. It’s usually recommended that you conduct the patch test on the wrist, inner elbow or neck area.

Apply a small amount of the desired product to the area, which brings us onto step 2;

Step #2: Cover The Area

Not everyone follows this step but it is typically very necessary. Covering the area up prevents the skincare product from coming off the area, and prevents it from smearing into the surrounding area. The goal is to contain the test to a small, defined area as this is proper procedure.

You can cover the area with a bandage or even skin plasters, ensure you cover the entire area where you applied the product.

Step #3: Wait 24-48 Hours

Perhaps the least fun step, it takes a minimum of about 24 hours to determine whether or not the product is good to use. After 24 hours, peel away the bandage and inspect the area.

Usually a small amount of redness is acceptable especially if you used an exfoliating serum (AHA, BHA), but if there are the following symptoms you should discontinue use immediately:

  • Redness, itchiness
  • Small red bumps on skin
  • Skin flaking
  • Skin inflammation

All of the above depict an allergic reaction to whatever is in the product. It’s best to discontinue use if you experience any of the above symptoms.

That’s all there is to an effective patch test, 3 easy steps to ensure your skin stays happy and healthy.

The Top 5 Luxury Skincare Brands In 2020

We all love a bit of luxury from time to time, whether this be through sporting designer garments or driving fancy cars; treating yourself every now and then is definitely a form of self care. Luxury skin care brands are on the up, but here are the top 5 most luxurious skincare brands in 2020:

#1 La Prairie (https://www.laprairie.com/)

No doubt one of the most luxurious skincare and health brands out there. You’ll find La Prairie items stocked at the likes of Harrods, costing sometimes upwards of £500 per formulation.

Founded in Montreux, Switzerland, the origins of the brand are from an anti-aging therapy perspective. Nowadays you’ll find ingredients such as caviar infused into the formulations to lift and firm the skin. La Prairie also infuse fine fragrances into their products so you can indulge in a true at-home spa experience.

#2 Vine Vera (https://www.vinevera.com/)

Founded in 2011, Vine Vera’s focus is to provide skin care products for both sexes to transform complexions and skin care regimes.

Vine Vera primarily focuses on the addition of Resveratrol into their products. Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant derived from red grapes, and it is seen to slow down the aging process; thus preventing fine lines and wrinkles from appearing.

#3 La Mer (https://www.cremedelamer.co.uk/)

A tailored approach to skincare, La Mer was founded in 1965 by Huber. Crème de la mer was the original formulation, which literally translates to cream of the sea. Estée Lauder purchased the brand after Huber’s death in 1991, which sort of explains the luxury factor.

La Mer use combinations of natural ingredients to create tailored products for all skin types.

Creme De La Mer
Blue Heart Crème de la Mer, RRP: £355

#4 Sisley Paris (https://www.sisley-paris.com/)

Sisley Paris is a luxury cosmetic and perfume brand founded in 1972 in Paris, France. Plants and essential oils are a core part of Sisley’s formulations and harmony is achieved between nature and the lab.

Sisley’s expertise is in anti-aging, hydration and sun protection and they work hard to meet the needs of all skin types.

#5 Estée Lauder (https://www.esteelauder.co.uk/)

While Estée Lauder perhaps isn’t the most expensive brand it doesn’t at all take away from the luxury factor. All of Estée Lauder’s products come excellently packaged with various flashy bottles and tubs to spice up your bathroom cabinet.

Estée Lauder was founded in 1946 in New York City, USA. They’re now a global giant who own many other companies (including La Mer as mentioned above). Estée Lauder produce many different lines of products for all skin types and concerns, particularly anti-aging.

Which one of these luxury skincare brands are your favourite? Let us know in the comments below!

Is Malachite Safe In Skincare?

Whether you’re looking to formulate your own products or even using store bought ones, you might be wondering whether or not the addition of malachite is safe in skincare products. Malachite possesses anti-aging, anti-wrinkle and skin protecting properties which explains it’s popularity as of recently.

First Things First, What Is Malachite?

Malachite is a green copper carbonate hydroxide mineral. It has been branded the ‘protection’ stone with many spiritual associations. Recently however the addition of malachite in skincare has seen an increase for it’s potential to neutralise free radicals and protect the skin.

The incorporation of natural products into skincare is by no means a new concept, but certainly one that has gained traction in the past couple years. Many different minerals and plants are being added to skincare formulations as the research depicting their benefits increases.

Is Malachite Safe In Skincare?

Malachite is a naturally occuring mineral with little reactivity. The addition of malachite in skincare products is a completely safe, and it can help boost the skin’s natural defense system. These properties make malachite and excellent mineral for absolutely all skin types, and the likelihood of allergy is low.

While the research is still limited, below are some of the potential benefits of using malachite on the skin:

Stimulates collagen production: The copper present in malachite can possibly help boost collagen production and slow down the aging process

Fights free-radicals: Malachite can potentially help to neutralise those pesky free radicals, and therefore prevent skin damage and premature aging

Strengthens the skin’s natural barrier function: Malachite has the potential to strengthen the skin’s natural barrier function, therefore protecting against environmental stressors

To Sum It Up

Malachite is a copper-rich mineral which is perfectly safe for topical use on your face and body. There are many serums and creams available that include malachite, and these may work to slow down aging and improve the skin’s natural barrier function.

Here’s Why You Should Avoid Activated Charcoal In Skincare Products

You find activated charcoal in everything these days; face masks, face scrubs, face cleansers, toothpastes, the list goes on. Charcoal is being used for it’s excellent ability to absorb things; in the medical field activated charcoal is used to treat poisoning. It’s this strong ability to absorb that might be damaging your skin instead of doing it any good. Read on to find out why you should avoid charcoal in skincare products.

How does activated charcoal work?

Activated charcoal is a fine black powder made from wood or coal; it is activated using high temperatures combined with gas which significantly increases it’s surface area. It’s this large surface area that gives activated charcoal space to absorb substances, oils, dirt, impurities and the like.

Many brands and DIY masks are now including activated charcoal as a ‘must have’ ingredient, but here’s why you should think twice before using them:

Charcoal is highly absorbent

This is seen to be a good thing in skincare, especially for those that suffer from oily skin. Applying a charcoal treatment to oily skin can help absorb all that excess oil and impurity, leaving your skin ‘squeaky’ clean. This is good news….or is it?

The problem with a ‘squeaky clean’ skin finish that we all strive to achieve is that it really isn’t great for the skin. The skin is supposed to have natural oil secretions on it which keep the skin healthy and moisturised. By completely stripping the skin of these oils you could be compromising the natural lipid barrier.

Not only does this leave your skin more prone to environmental damage, but it also means you can suffer from dry skin or your sebaceous glands have to work overtime to counter this dryness. When you strip the skin of it’s natural oils, sebum production is increased to help hydrate the pores and skin. This can even lead to an oily complexion or breakouts, things you were trying to combat in the first place.

Charcoal peel masks are a harsh treatment

Those charcoal peel masks you’ve been seeing everywhere are often doing more harm than good. These masks strip the skin of it’s natural oils, and the adhesion to the skin can have disastrous effects. Some cheaper masks which include stronger ‘glues’ or adhesives which bind the mask to your face can cause skin irritation, peeling and redness.

What you’re effectively doing when using these activated charcoal masks is peeling or ripping the outermost layer of skin off. This can be problematic for those with sensitive skin, eczema, rosacea or related skin conditions. Even if you have healthy skin, continued use of these masks can make your complexion take a turn for the worst.

To sum it up

Activated charcoal has a large surface area which can readily absorb toxins, oils and impurities from the skin. This however means that the skin is stripped of all it’s oils, good and bad which can cause skin dryness or over-activity in the sebaceous glands. This can lead to skin oiliness, breakouts, irritation, redness and sensitivity.

Here’s Why You Should Change Your Pillowcase Every Other Day

After a long day’s work you want nothing more to get into bed and rest your head on your pillow. The ideal pillow offers good neck support and can promote a good night’s sleep. Seeing as you spend most of your night with your head resting on the pillow, it makes sense that it can accumulate a lot of unwanted dirt and bacteria. Here’s why you should change your pillowcase at least every other day.

Reason #1: Pillowcases accumulate dirt

We spend a good 6-8 hours lying in bed, this makes up roughly a third of our day. Your hair is good at holding on to dirt especially if you rock longer hair. Dirt includes pollutants from the environment, dust, as well as dead skin cells which are shed from the face and scalp. All these contaminants fall onto your pillowcase making it a breeding ground for bacteria, yuck.

While it can be difficult to know how often exactly you should change your pillowcase, we recommend doing it every other day. This holds particularly true if you suffer from acne and blackheads. Make sure you’re turning it often too!

Reason #2: Pillowcases absorb sweat and oils

Throughout the night your scalp secretes oils to keep the hair nourished and healthy. If it’s particularly warm, you’re also more prone to sweating and this will be directly transferred onto the pillow. Now imagine you’re rolling your face around this dirt all night, doesn’t sound pleasant right?

This oil and moisture is not only a breeding ground for bacteria, but it can also get on your face and clog your pores. Changing your sheets and pillowcase often might improve the condition of your skin, especially if you’re prone to breaking out.

Reason #3: We shed around 50-100 hairs a day

You can guess where they’re going; some on the bathroom floor, some outside, but mostly on your pillow. You don’t want to be rubbing your face in your own hair all night, best to change those covers.

Reason #4: Sleep on your side or front?

A significant advantage to those that sleep on their back is that their face has minimum contact with the pillow. This not only prevents dirt and bacteria from getting on the face, but it can also prevent premature aging. Sleeping on your front or side puts stress on the delicate facial skin and can cause premature aging, and also disturb the natural spinal curve.

Think about it, your face is in contact with the pillow all night. If you’re not changing the pillow cases often everything on that pillow is being transferred to your skin. Gross.

Reason #5: Changing your pillowcase often can help clear up your skin

As mentioned previously, by changing your pillowcases often you’re making sure there aren’t any oils or dirt which can work to clog pores. It’s these clogged pores that lead to blackheads and breakouts. We always say the start to any good skincare regime is practising good hygiene; changing sheets often and refraining from touching your face being the big players.

To sum it up

You should change your pillow cases/covers every other day, especially if you suffer from breakouts, blackheads or other skin conditions.

The 6 Most Common Skincare Myths Debunked

In this age of information it’s very easy to inform yourself on a topic with a tap of your fingers; this also means that misinformation is easily spread, not only through social media platforms but also by word of mouth. By believing certain skincare myths you might be damaging your complexion or simply wasting your time with treatments with poor efficacy. Read on to find out the most common skincare myths you should avoid

Myth #1 – You don’t need to use moisturiser if your skin is oily

It makes a little sense that if your skin is oily applying a moisturiser will only contribute to the overall oily appearance and clamminess already present on your skin. This myth is propagated with the idea that applying this moisturiser will clog your pores, increase overall shine and even worsen breakouts, but is there any truth to this?

Well, it depends. Using a dense, comedogenic moisturiser on your face whether or not you have oily skin can indeed cause breakouts and clogged pores. It really depends on the type of moisturiser used. If you have oily skin you should be sticking to light, oil-free moisturisers; preferably gel based.

Moisturising is a critical step in any skincare regime, oily skin or not. When you wash, exfoliate or tone your face you’re effectively stripping the skin of some of it’s natural oils required for healthy skin function. This must therefore be replenished afterwards, which is achieved through moisturising. This moisturiser keeps the skin hydrated and acts as a protective barrier.

If you do not moisturise your face after cleansing it can aggravate skin oiliness. When the skin is stripped of it’s natural oils, the sebaceous glands (the glands responsible for sebum (oil) secretion) begin to overproduce sebum to counter this dryness. It’s through this mechanism that skin oiliness can be worsened, leading to further clogged pores and acne breakouts.

Moral of the story: Make sure your moisturise twice a day after cleansing using the correct product for your skin type.

Myth #2 – Pore strips are great for cleaning out your pores, repeated use is perfectly fine

Pore strips are effectively a sheet of strong glue which are attached to the skin and gently removed, thus peeling away those contaminants and blackheads from your pores. Not only does this remove blackheads, it also removes the top-most layer of skin, as well as hair follicles and sebaceous filaments.

Those little dots you see on your nose might not be blackheads at all, but sebaceous filaments. It’s very satisfying to see all the ‘gunk’ on a pore strip after removal, but it isn’t all ‘bad’. Sebaceous filaments are a small amount of sebum that channel oil flow to the skin’s surface. These are completely normal and removal can cause dry skin or lead to the sebaceous glands overproducing sebum which can lead to an oily complexion.

These pore strips can also remove the outermost layer of skin, this can damage natural barrier function, cause redness and irritation and lead the skin more prone to environmental effects. Some anecdotal evidence also shows permanent enlargement of pores with repeated use of these strips.

So, while they may be a quick, easy fix to your blackhead problem they aren’t necessarily doing your skin any wonders. You should instead focus on creating a skincare routine that is tailored to your skin type, to prevent clogged pores and blackhead formation in the first place.

Read more: Staying away from pore strips

Myth #3 – Coconut oil is an excellent, natural moisturiser for all skin types

This is a myth that spread like wildfire and many still continue to hold it as true. Coconut oil does contain some acids which possess anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties but this is almost completely undone considering how comedogenic the oil is. Coconut oil is rated 4 on the comedogenic scale out of a possible 5.

Using coconut oil on the body is usually perfectly safe and it sinks right in to deal with dry skin issues. However, it should be kept away from the face as more often than not it will clog pores and aggravate breakouts, especially for those already prone to acne.

If you’re looking for all-natural moisturisers, try aloe vera gel. It’s anti-inflammatory and hydrating properties make it an excellent product for all skin types. Read more: How Aloe Vera Can Benefit Your Skin

Myth #4 – Anti-Aging creams will boost collagen production and prevent aging

While keeping your skin hydrated is the first step in slowing down aging, most anti-aging creams which claim to minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles aren’t doing much…..at all.

Aging skin is a complex process which is a product of diet, sun exposure, as well as the natural decrease in collagen and elastin which comes with age. Collagen is the key factor here, it is responsible for the skin’s firmness and elasticity.

Most of these creams available on the high-street are simply dense moisturisers which do little to stimulate collagen production. You should be looking instead for treatments containing retinol and glycolic acid, ingredients which have been known to stimulate collagen production and therefore reduce the signs of aging.

Myth #5 – Natural skincare remedies are just as effective as professional formulations

Many turn to natural skincare remedies out of fear of some of the ingredients added in common skincare products or simply because they prefer to know what’s going on their skin.

But are these natural remedies as effective? Likely not

The biggest problem with many natural remedies is that they lack scientific evidence to support the claims made; the evidence is simply anecdotal. Professional dermatologist formulations instead use ingredients which have undergone the scientific method to tackle your skin concerns. Examples of this include salicylic acid, a potent acne-fighting ingredient and retinol, a derivative of vitamin-a which promotes collagen production and fights aging.

That being said, natural remedies aren’t necessarily bad for your skin; they might simply be ineffective. Some natural ingredients have been seen to exhibit anti-inflammatory and hydrating properties however, examples include tea tree oil and aloe vera gel.

Myth #6 – Hot water opens up your pores for a deeper clean

The biggest myth here is that pores can even open and close, pores do not have muscles that control their size and therefore cannot open or close regardless of temperature or product exposure.

Hot water therefore doesn’t ‘open’ your pores like many think, but it can help to get a deeper clean. Hot water and steaming will soften the debris in your pores allowing for easier extractions.

Infused Water: Skincare Miracle Or Myth?

You might have heard of infused waters, infusions or detox water in the past. Many celebrities and influencers alike swear by their skin and health improving qualities; but are these waters actually beneficial for your skin and overall health? Read on to find out

Firstly, what is infused water?

Simply put, infused/detox water is water that has had fruits, herbs, vegetables or a combination of the three ‘infused’ or immersed into it. Doing this gives the water a slight flavorful taste and aroma, and some of the natural anti-oxidants present in these fruits and vegetables may end up infusing into the water.

These waters are very easy to make at home and many claim they have a range of benefits for the health and skin, below are just a few:

Infused water health benefits

Infused water supposedly has various health benefits, below are just a few of the claims made:

  • ‘Detoxifies’ the body
  • Improves skin clarity and health
  • Aids with weight loss
  • Improves digestive system
  • Minimises brain ‘fog’, improved mental clarity
  • Increased energy levels

So, infused water: miracle or myth?

The health benefits that come with drinking this infused water are less likely due to the infusions and instead to do with just the water. Keeping hydrated is absolutely critical for all bodily functions to perform at their best and by drinking more water you may be supplementing this.

The anecdotal evidence that has been provided again has less to do with the ingredients in the water and more with the additional water intake instead. As an example, if prior to starting an infused water program you only used to drink 5 glasses of water a day, and now, having strictly followed a regime you drink 8 glasses of water, it’s this additional intake that is providing benefits to your skin and health.

Drinking enough water means that your skin is better hydrated, more plump and better able to remove toxins that are responsible for acne and other skin conditions. This has little to no correlation with what you’re putting in the water, and just with the water instead.

The bottom line

Infusing your water with vegetables, herbs or fruits provides little additional benefit than drinking the water alone. That is not to say you shouldn’t drink infused water; infused waters often taste better than water alone and they can help you to achieve the recommended daily-water intake (roughly 8 glasses). Just don’t expect any drastic changes by throwing a lemon into your jug.