Min's Beauty Equipment: July 2013

Sunday 21 July 2013

Should I Tan or will the Tanning Trend be Reversed?

How very strange! Up until recently I always thought that sun-kissed bodies looked better. My attitude has changed.

Nicola Roberts from Girls Aloud admitted to feeling pressure to be brown and using sunbeds, but she is an advocate of white skin now. Angelina Jolie's skin is pale, but she always looks absolutely stunning.

It is all about perception. As my knowledge of the harmful effects of the sun increased I started seeing things differently.  When I see heavily tanned girls I do think it's somewhat of a pity; a twenty year old cannot imagine herself feeling the effects of ageing.  I felt the same a decade ago, but now I see the damage; my skin would probably be so much smoother had I not abused it.

Getting back to the point, when I see a perfectly tanned young woman I do not think for a second about how good her tan is, I see brown skin that is going to age earlier than it absolutely has to. White skin seems perfectly attractive to me.

There are many articles coming out about premature ageing and wrinkles, increased risk of skin cancer caused by excessive exposure to UV. I hope with the help of some smart celebrities and media attention the trend of having brown skin will die out.

Friday 12 July 2013

Dry Skin in Winter is Annoying - How Can You Help Yourself?

Why does skin get dry in winter?

If skin is to be beautiful, it must be well-hydrated. Water loss affects its appearance and other important qualities of the skin. Skin becomes dry, tight, rough, flaky and scaly.

Epidermis is the outer layer of the skin. The top layer of epidermis contains dead cells, which bind water, and natural moisturising factors (NMF) that keep skin moist. Dead cells together with some other structures form a barrier which protects our bodies from various parasites.

If the human skin is exposed to low humidity even if only for a few hours, moisture in the outer layer of the skin decreases and the skin becomes rougher. Skin needs time to adjust to new environment. However, if a person is exposed to certain humidity for a prolonged period of time the skin adapts. In a climate with low humidity skin starts producing a lot of NMF and the barrier function is enhanced. In a climate with high humidity its production of NMF deteriorates and the barrier degrades. Therefore, when the skin adapts to a high humidity environment, its capacity to respond to external changes is decreased.

Now let's see what happens in the UK during winter. Relative humidity in winter is very high, however, heating dries out a lot of moisture at home, at night heating is often turned down. There is a lot of fluctuation in moisture levels - from high humidity outdoors and possibly at night to low humidity during the day when indoors - skin struggles to adjust and starts drying out, roughens.

The same castle in summer and in winter on a foggy day

In summer humidity levels are the same at home and outdoors, so skin adapts to whatever level of humidity there is. Humidity level is a lot lower in summer in than it is in winter, so the skin barrier is stronger in summer, moisture level in the skin does not fluctuate and, as a consequence of this, skin feels nice and smooth.

There are other factors to watch out for in summer such as excessive exposure to sun or wind that may also dry out your skin.

How can you keep your skin moist?

  • If possible, avoid abrupt changes in humidity levels. You may consider acquiring a humidifier.
  • Prevent skin from losing moisture by using sun creem and mild cleansers (harsh cleansers damage the protective barrier and reduces skin moisture and smoothness).
  • Apply creams and lotions that have hydrating ingredients.
  • Drink lots of water.  Although drinking water does not moisturise dry skin, it is generally beneficial for you as it stimulates cell activity, enhances nutrient absorption, detoxification.

Tuesday 2 July 2013

How to Get Rid of Acne?

Skin barrier prevents the growth of pathogenic bacteria

Many of us were led to believe that frequent washing of our skin is good for us. It gets rid of all the debris and oil, but does it get rid of bacteria?

The skin protects the human body from its environment. One of the important characteristics of skin is it's surface pH which is largely acidic and is around 5.5. The skin is a habitat for a complex microbial ecosystem. Permanently resident good bacteria act as a defensive barrier and prevent the growth of pathogenic, or bad bacteria.

Changes in skin pH level and use of antimicrobial skin cleansers may compromise the barrier

Good bacteria grow best at a more acidic pH, whereas pathogenic grow best at a neutral pH. Changes in skin pH may facilitate the resident bacteria to become pathogenic. For example, P. acnes bacteria causing acne vulgaris is at its minimum when skin pH is 5.5, but a little increase in pH level results in increased growth of this organism.

We normally think that washing our skin more frequently is a good thing. But be wary that intensive use of antimicrobial skin cleansers could lead to an increased susceptibility to skin infections. This is due to the fact that the normal flora of the skin gets invaded, so do not forget that you need to think about your good bacteria not only bad.

Normal soap has alkaline pH, which is a lot higher than pH of the skin. After washing our skin with soap, our skin's pH temporarily goes up, which creates a favourable environment for pathogenic bacteria.

Also, we often hear that natural is better than synthetic, however, some people may prefer synthetic cleanser due to the fact that synthetic cleansers usually have pH that matches the skin. This may be particularly relevant for acne prone individuals to keep P. acnes bacteria at bay.

Tap water in Europe has a pH level of around 8 which is a lot higher than acidic skin surface pH of around 5.5. Washing ourselves under tap water temporarily increases skin pH level even if we use a cleanser that is balanced. If skin is left unwashed and unaltered by any chemicals for 24 hours, its natural level of pH drops to around 4.9.

Washing yourself less frequently may help with your acne

If you have any skin problems, be careful; do not be led into thinking that washing yourself frequently is always better, especially if you have problems with acne. It is often claimed that acne is caused by clogged pores, so you need to cleanse them often to keep them unblocked. Washing too often may interfere with the natural bacterial balance of your skin, thus, causing acne to be more severe.