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Your skin problems solved

Winter can be tough on skin, making it dry and stressed. Rude Health magazine consults the skin experts for their best tips on great-looking skin

Natural is best

“Natural products are formulated using only beneficial ingredients with natural preservatives and fragrances,” says Niamh Larkin, beauty specialist at Evergreen in Mainguard St, Galway. “They tend to be kinder to the skin and the environment, and steer clear of unnecessary, cheap ‘bulking’ ingredients. People with sensitive skin especially will notice the difference in quality between natural and conventional skincare, as some of the cheaper ingredients used in mainstream beauty products can cause severe skin irritation.”

“Ingredients wise, SLS, parabens, silicones and synthetic fragrances and colourants all aggravate the skin, causing skin irritations, redness and sensitivity,” agrees Ingrid Hume of beauty company Pravera. “Products that do not contain synthetic fragrances and colours are more gentle and kinder to the skin. Soothing and calming natural and organic skincare products are ideal for the skin. Use products that use natural and organic ingredient such as plant extract/shea butter, calendula, aloe vera, jojoba oil as these nourish, moisturise and care for the skin. It also keeps the skin hydrated and avoids drying out."

Solutions to the most common skin issues:

Dryness

“Shea butter for dryness 100% of the time," says Niamh Larkin. "A fantastic product for anyone to have to hand especially as we now sanitise much more than we have done in the past. It can be used anywhere on the body, including the face, and only a tiny amount is needed for instant hydration.”

“Nourishing, moisturising and hydrating ingredients are best to use on dry skin,” says Ingrid Hume. “Organic sunflower oil, coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter and argan oil are all amazing for revitalising dry skin.”

Eczema

“One of the best and simplest products for topical use on skin prone to eczema is coconut oil,” says Niamh Larkin. “Yes, the same coconut oil from your kitchen cupboard, melted onto the skin for instant moisture and relief from itching. Eczema, like rosacea, is often a symptom of an internal issue – dairy intolerance and stress are two of the most common. So it is worth looking into the possibility of an underlying concern, and addressing that.”

“Eczema causes the skin to become dry, itchy, red and cracked,” says Ingrid Hume. “It can be caused by a number of factors such as alterations in the skin barrier and an overreactive inflammatory and allergy response. It is also linked to skin irritants, such as parabens or SLS in skincare products which can irritate the skin. The best way to keep eczema under control is to use a natural and organic, fragrance- and colourant-free product to nourish, moisturise and care for the skin. Aloe vera is great for soothing and calming the skin, calendula helps to hydrate the skin and fights infection.”

Psoriasis

“Tea tree helps to treat psoriasis as it has anti-inflammatory properties,” says Ingrid Hume. “Vitamin E helps to nourish the skin which is a number one priority for people who suffer with psoriasis.”

“Psoriasis happens when an over-production of skin cells manifests on the skin’s surface, causing blotching, itching and inflammation,” says Niamh Larkin. “Due to its nature, psoriasis can be controlled but is very difficult to eradicate altogether. Most sufferers of psoriasis will find they have certain triggers which makes the condition flare up. Making a note of when these flare-ups occur can help to narrow down what is triggering them. Using a gentle anti-inflammatory cream can help to manage the discomfort – lavender, shea butter and jojoba oil all work well for this.”

Rosacea

“Quite a common Irish skin problem is rosacea, or acne rosacea,” says Niamh Larkin. “It affects the skin on the face, with redness on the cheeks and nose which can also be accompanied by painful blemishes. Topical application for acne rosacea should be products that heal the skin and reduce redness or high pigmentation – think vitamin C, rosehip oil and tamanu oil. Do keep in mind though that these only reduce the symptoms, so should be used in conjunction with a good probiotic or other gut-supporting supplement.”

Best beauty ingredients

Look out for natural products for skin containing these natural ingredients

  • Activated charcoal – good for drawing excess oil, dirt and bacteria from the skin.
  • Aloe vera – contains anti-inflammatory and healing properties.
  • Apple cider vinegar – effective as a cleanser and for treating acne.
  • Argon oil – helps with hydration and helps to regulate the production of oil.
  • Coconut oil – a topical skin soother with anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Green tea – antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties can improve the appearance of sun-damaged skin.
  • Shea butter – loaded with fatty acids, so it is hydrating for skin.
  • Tea tree oil – antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties help combat a range of skin issues.

The trouble with masks

“Having to wear a face covering or mask for long work days is also playing havoc with our skin this winter,” says Niamh Larkin. “The lack of fresh air and constant chafing of fabric on the skin isn’t ideal for our faces. A decent protective moisturiser alongside regular steam baths and face masks should help to keep this (hopefully temporary!) issue under control.”

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