Beauty: Skin in a spot of bother?
Ice cubes and vinegar could be the answer
IT'S almost a certainty that we'll all suffer from a bad breakout at some stage. Even celebrities like Victoria Beckham and Cameron Diaz, who have access to the best products and the best professionals, aren't immune to an occasional breakout.
"I had terrible, terrible skin. It was embarrassing, and I did everything I could think of to make it go away," Cameron wrote in her health and wellness guide The Body Book. "I tried to cover it with makeup. I tried to get rid of it with medication - oral, topical, even the harshest prescriptions. Nothing helped for very long. The pimples were still there through high school and into my 20s, while I was modelling and acting. It was really challenging to cover them up for the cameras; it was awkward and embarrassing and frustrating, and I always felt really bad about myself."
Stress, excess sebum, bacteria, hormones, pregnancy… there are countless reasons as to why breakouts occur, but rather than getting bogged down in the causes, many of which are unavoidable, it's what you do when it happens that's important. "Squeezing a pimple incorrectly can result in a much bigger spot developing plus you can scar the skin permanently in your attempt to get rid of a spot," explains one of Ireland's best known facialists Nuala Woulfe. Instead, the single most important thing you can do to heal blemishes and treat compromised skin is to have a good skincare routine, says Nuala, who has given us her top tips for tackling a breakout.
How to Deal with a Breakout:
A Step-by-Step Guide with Facialist and Salon Owner Nuala Woulfe
1. Wash your face well with a gentle cleanser, ideally one designed for blemishes. Look for cleansers that contain salicylic acid. I love Skinceuticals' Blemish + Age Cleansing Gel.
2. Use an ice cube in some damp cotton wool directly on the spot to bring down the inflammation, particularly if the spot is red and sore.
3. Apply your spot treatment of choice. There are some amazing treatments on the market that work to soothe and heal. Common ingredients to look for in good spot treatments include benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and tea tree oil.
4. I really like Eminence's Herbal Spot Serum and La Roche Posay's Targeted Breakout Corrector for speeding healing time and calming the skin. For a more natural solution to treating blemishes, mix one-part apple cider vinegar to three-parts water, dip cotton ball into the mixture and apply it directly to the blemish. Leave on for at least 10 minutes before washing off with water.
5. If your skin feels dry and tight, use moisturisers and serums as you would normally, just try to make sure they're light in texture.
6. At night after you've cleansed, apply a clay mask all over your face or simply on the spot (using a cotton bud). This will help speed up healing.
7. Apply a night cream or treatment face oil before hitting the pillow.
A good night's sleep is essential because the body heals itself at night.
Do's and Don'ts
● When cleansing, use lukewarm rather than hot water or cold water, as both stimulate the skin.
● Don't over-wash or over-scrub. Harsh cleansers and toners will only irritate the condition, leaving the skin dry and triggering glands to produce more oil, thus increasing the likelihood of pimples.
● In general, washing your face with a gentle cleanser once or twice a day is a good idea.
● Taking a tincture of horsetail extract can relieve hormone related breakouts.
● Apple cider vinegar is a powerhouse when it comes to acting as an acne remedy. It kills off the bacteria that may be causing all the trouble in the first place. It also becomes alkaline, and balances the PH of your skin, which in turn makes it harder for bacteria to thrive.
● Use an oil-free moisturiser rather than something overly rich if you suffer from excessively oily skin.
● Don't skip your facial SPF, just make sure it's fragrance-free.
● There's a common misconception that face oils are bad for acne-prone skin, but this is not the case as very often the skin may be dry on the surface whilst producing excess sebum. ● Clean your make-up brushes regularly as they might be harbouring spot-causing bacteria.
● Drink loads of water, a cliché, but a true one.
● Most importantly of all, don't squeeze or pick blemishes. Popping pimples can drive acne bacteria deeper into the skin. Picking can lead to more inflammation and permanent scarring.
Blemish Busting Toolkit
Blemish + Age Cleansing Gel, €41, Skinceuticals, available in selected salons nationwide
An amazing cleanser that contains a powerful trio of exfoliating acids plus non-drying cleansing agents to remove impurities and excess oils to leave skin feeling squeaky clean.
Mineral Radiance Mask, €23.95, Trilogy, available in Arnotts and selected retailers nationwide
Skin will be left brighter, smoother and less prone to breakouts when you use this purifying clay mask once a week.
Effaclar Targeted Breakout Corrector, €13.99, La Roche Posay, available in selected pharmacies nationwide.
A tonic for those pesky blemishes that can be used at any stage in the cycle of a spot to soothe, calm, heal and hide any residual marks. Wonder potion.
Lotus Face Treatment Oil, €39.50, Clarins, available in selected department stores nationwide
This gorgeous face oil is designed specifically for problematic skin and skin in need of some TLC. Made with 100% pure plant extracts, it purifies, tightens pores and refines the skin texture.