Beauty bi­ble

At­ten­tion, class: your lesson in beat­ing break­outs starts here

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - Contents - Lisa Arm­strong

Lisa Arm­strong takes on acne

TRULY, THE LORD GIVETH and taketh away. On the credit side, She has en­dowed women with the where­withal to look bet­ter for longer and longer. But She has also pro­mul­gated wide­spread outbreaks of what is eu­phemisti­cally called adult-on­set acne (or as it re­ferred to in com­mon par­lance, ‘Se­ri­ously?!’)

Iron­i­cally, some­times the very tools we use to boost our well­be­ing are the cul­prits in the Great Zit Dis­as­ter. Too lit­tle oe­stro­gen and too much testos­terone can dis­rupt ser­vice, lead­ing to erup­tions more akin to cysts or boils than nor­mal pim­ples. Ad­just­ing your lev­els can re­sult in im­me­di­ate im­prove­ments – check­ing your Hrt/bio-iden­ti­cal hor­mone or Pill pre­scrip­tion should be your first step.

And then? Gen­er­ally eas­ing up. No squeez­ing – it’s not just the po­ten­tial scar­ring, but the chain re­ac­tion be­neath the skin that’s coun­ter­pro­duc­tive.

An­other un­der­stand­able response to a spotty in­sur­rec­tion aged 51 and three quar­ters is to reach for the Emer­gency Kit – the foam­ing cleanser you know is de­hy­drat­ing, the ‘draw­ing’ face mask, the fruit-acid ex­fo­lia­tors and any­thing con­tain­ing al­co­hol. ‘All,’ says su­per­fa­cial­ist Sharon Mcglinchey, ‘will dry the skin while over­stim­u­lat­ing base lay­ers, pro­duc­ing more of the se­bum and bac­te­ria that led to the break­out.’

In­stead, she rec­om­mends pa­tience and a gen­tler ap­proach, with prod­ucts that bal­ance the skin: jo­joba, mixed with an essen­tial oil that’s nat­u­rally an­tibac­te­rial and anti-in­flam­ma­tory, such as laven­der, san­dal­wood or berg­amot, for cleans­ing; a clay mask you can use daily (I can vouch for her own, MV Or­ganic Sig­na­ture Min­eral Mask, £36 at cult­beauty.co.uk, which uses the high­est-grade French clay). ‘Don’t let it dry com­pletely or it will over­stim­u­late your skin,’ she says, ‘and eat more oe­stro­genic foods: lin­seeds, sesame seeds, peaches, straw­ber­ries, green beans, al­falfa sprouts, soy milk [Bon­soy or an equiv­a­lent qual­ity], pis­ta­chios and wal­nuts.’

Shabir Daya, the all-know­ing phar­ma­col­o­gist at Vic­to­ria Health, iden­ti­fies a few more vil­lains: sugar (‘acne has been dubbed “skin di­a­betes” be­cause re­fined su­gars cause con­stant in­sulin pro­duc­tion, which may trig­ger the in­flam­ma­tory com­pounds that cause ex­cess oil’); gluten, if you’re in­tol­er­ant (‘the the­ory is it makes your gut leakier, al­low­ing cer­tain pro­teins into the blood­stream that would nor­mally be ab­sent’); stress; and dairy. ‘The jury’s out,’ Daya says, ‘but it could be that hor­mones in milk dis­turb our own lev­els.’

Daya’s trusted reme­dies in­clude zinc to heal in­flam­ma­tion; se­le­nium, a min­eral we’re widely de­fi­cient in, which is an­noy­ing since it’s a free-rad­i­cal scav­enger and dis­plays anti-in­flam­ma­tory prop­er­ties; and Thyme Out so­lu­tion (£18, vic­to­ri­a­health.com), which isn’t merely calm­ing: Leeds Metropoli­tan Univer­sity found a thyme so­lu­tion more ef­fec­tive at killing the acne-caus­ing bac­te­ria than tra­di­tional chem­i­cal-based creams such as ben­zoyl per­ox­ide. An­other go-to is Gar­den of Wis­dom Niaci­namide Serum (£9, vic­to­ri­a­health.com). Daya calls it ‘the Her­cules of all serums’ and says it’s suit­able for every skin type and re­ally works to reg­u­late oil pro­duc­tion.

Fi­nally: pro­bi­otics, which we’ll get to an­other time. Just know for now that a health­ier gut equals health­ier skin.

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