Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Your Skincare Questions Answered!

Recently I was in contact with the lovely people at Farmaline. If you've never heard of them before they're a online pharmacy that sell all the well known skincare brands such as Bioderma, La Roche Posay, Nuxe, Caudalie, some of which are hard to find here in the UK.
While in correspondence with them I asked some skincare questions and concerns I had.  They responded and offered me some great advice and information which was gratefully received. So that got me thinking.... I can't be the only one who finds themselves baffled when it comes to skincare! What should we be using? What shouldn't we be using? Don't do this, make sure you do that, The list is endless and the whole area becomes very confusing and rather daunting to be honest. How do we know which products to buy and which ones to stay clear of?
I thought it would be a great idea to pick the brains of the people in the know, and hopefully help out and answer your skincare concerns as well. I put a shout out on Twitter and Facebook and these are the most asked questions....

Q. What are your thoughts on Chemical exfoiliators and Glycolic based products? Can we use them too much?
Chemical exfoliants are preferred for pretty much everyone, contrary to popular belief there are acids that do a lot more than physical scrubs. Physical ones give the direct satisfaction of scrubbing hard and feeling skin become smoother, what people forget is that a lot of scrubs (not the ones with perfectly spherical beads) still cause micro tears. Bacteria can enter through these and you're basically damaging your skin on a microscopical level. Imaging using this and creating tiny wounds, spreading out acne bacteria from pimples all over your face. Hard to fight acne when you keep spreading it out to new locations no?

Chemical exfoliants don't need that scrubbing action but still eat away at those dead skin cells. They either dissolve them or loosen them from the fresh 'living' skin, so you can rinse off once you're done and use water or a cleanser. 

Personally I prefer chemical exfoliants on a daily basis in a mild version that gently removes dead skin, but never aggressively peels. Those types of peelings I reserve for at night or under strict guidance of someone that knows what they're talking about. Don't go out and buy just any peeling/acid treatment. Many of the really expensive brands have the complete wrong pH level to have any real peeling effect. They're so mild or ineffective that you paid a massive amount of money, for something you could have mimic'd with a cheaper product. 

Once more, it's ALL about the pH level of the product. Once that's in order, no matter the formulation, base or added 'wonder' ingredients.. the pH needs to be correct in order to have any peeling effect. 

If you're scared of the word peeling you really shouldn't be. Peeling just means "the exfoliation of the top layer of dead skin cells". You're also peeling when you simply wipe a washcloth over your face.
Recommended products.. Avene Cleanance K Cream Gel, Alpha H Liquid Gold

Q. Best products and treatments for dry skin?
Dry skin can be caused by either lack of hydration (water) or oil, there's this whole sub category of "dehydrated skin" that wasn't known to the general public for a long long time. I personally have dehydrated skin which basically means that water retention in my skin is an issue. I dry out easily yet can still have that oily t-zone shine while my skin feels bone dry. Fun no?

Dry skin is fixed by changing your diet or skincare products. Products with hydrating oils in them are usually the first thing people go for and it has been proven very effective. Whenever brands slap the term "RICHE/RICH/CREAM" on something, it generally means that it's a product containing oils for dry skin. This helps to provide that supple feeling and fight the look of flaky skin as the skin doesn't dry out horribly anymore. There's a layer of product put on top that somewhat penetrates the upper layers of the skin and prevents further water loss and lack of oil. 

You can also start using facial oils on their own or as a serum underneath your regular products. I personally use facial oils very frequently at night, either with a hydrating serum underneath of on their own. They really do balance out the oil production for people with oily skin, or intensely nourish and repair dry skin. Just a few drops on their own, mixing it in with your moisturizers.. you can try so many variations. The goal here is to give the skin back what life took away during the day. 

Omega supplements offer the same benefits as products with oils in them, just don't forget that you need to take these for at least 3 months to see & feel full benefits. You're filling up the reserves of your body when it comes to "fighting dry skin". While new skin is being produced, it'll have the proper building blocks to create healthy skin + your skin's function to protect and lubricate the outer layer through sebum is increased. Supplements take time! A benefit of the Omega's is that they're great for skin, hair, eyes, nails, etc. They have a huge amount of benefits but never forget that prolonged usage of the omega's has a similar effect as mild blood thinners. Nothing to worry about when you're young but I've seen older people with coagulation products in their blood, they weren't allowed to use the omega oils anymore. It's fine in most cases when you're healthy, when you're unsure.. just ask your doctor or pharmacy.
Recommended Products.... Bioderma Sensibio Rich Cream , Darphin Hydraskin Rich, Avene Hydrance Optimale Riche

Q. Do anti wrinkle creams really work? What are the key steps to younger looking skin?
A loaded question as I'm part of a billion dollar industry that thrives on beauty. Anti wrinkle creams do work to keep skin in the best possible condition, looking glowing and being healthy. Most anti wrinkle creams are gimmick as all they do is plump up the skin or hydrate.
When skin gets plumped up it'll fill out your wrinkles a bit -or a lot depending on the ingredients and concentration of plumping ingredients- giving that look of anti wrinkle. There are NO magical ingredients when it comes to anti ageing except a handful proven effective treatment. Retinol (Vit A), Vit C, Vit E, Resveratrol, hyaluronic acid are the most common ones used in anti ageing products. They actually work at plumping up the skin, boosting collagen, healing skin or fight off oxidative damage. Those fancy anti oxidants you always hear about in creams and lotions, not many of them actually work effectively.

The concentrations are very important and pretty much anything in a jar can be disposed as effective long term. Once air touches anti oxidants, they start losing potency and many people want prolonged usage of their expensive anti ageing creams. They'll use a tiny amount cause it's so expensive and in the end they're just using a basic hydrating cream with nothing special in it. Airtight pump systems are the only thing you should go for when you're into the anti ageing market. I leave my anti ageing to a serum version in an airtight pump bottle, a stable serum version -stored in a dark and cool place + used within x months- or an oil. The formulation has to be stable and be kept in the best possible conditions to preserve any expensive bought anti ageing claims.

Until the pharmaceutical industry comes up with a stable anti ageing formulation that can be exposed to air -hello illusion- it's best to stick to what really works in good packaging. What people are really buying from most brands are insane claims that can mostly be reduced to fairy dust ingredients or just basic plumping actions. Nothing wrong with the latter as it's very good for skin to receive hyaluronic acid, a natural occurrence in our skin anyway, but stop selling it so expensively! 

To keep skin young it's the following things you need to do. 
-Eat healthy
-Drink enough water for your weight
-Exercise to get all your clean eating efforts transported throughout your entire body
-Supplement where needed (healthy young people need nothing)
-Use hydrating products until you notice that wrinkles don't go away anymore once you stop using facial expressions
-SPF is your Number 1 defence against ageing as the sun breaks down collagen, gives sun spots and causes wrinkles due to that. Prevention is key! We've come a long way since the thick and sticky sunscreens, there are a ton of cosmetically pleasing sunscreens.. look at the Asian market and pretty much all French sunscreens. 
-Smile.. relax and you'll limit production of cotrisol. This is a real nasty hormone that can be very detrimental to all staying young efforts.
recommended products.. Darphin Ideal Resource Light Re-Birth Overnight creamFilorga Meso-Mask Smooth Tight skinDarphin Predermine Densifying Anti wrinkle cream

Q. What are the best products for achieving clear skin and for keeping spots and blemishes at bay?
Hydration is THE best thing you can do for clear skin. All skin works better once it's properly hydrated, that's why you see so many facialists and dermatologists suggesting hydrating products. Once your skin is properly hydrated we can tackle any other problems. If you have acne there are multiple ways to treat this. 

Depending on the severity of the condition you can follow several guidelines. Anyone with hormonal acne, very big lesions, pustules, open/oozing active acne really need to get themselves to a dermatologist and skin drugstore product experimentation. You need real medical guidance and not what salespeople will tell you. 

For anyone with mild to regular acne a chemical exfoliant is what I always suggest. Under no circumstances are people with active acne (whiteheads) allowed to use physical scrubs. No matter how strongly the commercials push this for teenagers or people with acne, this tears open the pimples and you're spreading out the acne bacteria all over your face. Seriously, are you asking for more pimples.. then go ahead. 

Several acne products contain BHA's or AHA's to clean deep down into the pores or exfoliate the top layer of the skin, preventing those excess dead skincells and sebum from clogging up pores. Both acids are very effective and there are thousands of products containing them. Just look for a gentle exfoliant you can use in a gel or lotion form, stay away from cream formulations with these. The cream versions contain pore clogging ingredients, making acne worse once again. 

Other than using gentle chemical exfoliating products, I really need people to properly cleanse their skin. I cannot count the number of people that sleep in their makeup, not wash their face properly to remove excess sebum and slough off dead skin cells. If you don't do this properly at least once a day then you'll have an uphill battle vs acne.
Recommened products... La Roche Posay Effaclar K,  Bioderma Sebium AKN Crème , La Roche Posay Effaclar Astringente, La Roche Posay Serozinc

Q. What steps should we ALL be doing as part of our skincare routine?
-A gentle cleans in the morning depending on your skintype and needs.
-A regular hydrating product
-Using an SPF
-Serums are used to target specific problems, only if needed.
-A proper cleanse at night before bed (skin the micellar lotions, get a balm/gel/cream and get to work)

Q. Tell me, what is all the fuss with Serozinc? Everyone and their dog is using it! Is it really that good and what benefits to we get from using it?
Serozinc is a spray by La Roche Posay containing their thermal waters and added Zinc Sulfate in spray form. What you're spraying on your face is a water formulation that'll create a hostile environment for bacteria. Zinc sulfate is very good at killing bacteria thus clearing out the skin due to this fact. You basically cleanse and then kill off most residual bacteria that could cause any harm. It's also refreshing and will moisten the top later of the skin, giving better absorption to the serum or hydrating product used afterwards.

I'm surprised that no other brand has tried to mimic this Sulfate spray. It's quite basic but the unique component is the natural water that La Roche Posay taps from. This is unique in composition of minerals and trace elements. This formulation combined with the added Zinc Sulfate is hitting the sweet spot, probably not so easy to copy. 

Q. Any products you would recommend to help close open and enlarged pores?
There no way to close open or enlarged pores. "They're not doors", like so many people have said and copied from the great skincare knowing people. Once pores are wide there's no reversing this. That's why it's a big mistake to squeeze out blackheads or pimples. You'll damage the pore wall and over time this will result in it losing it's strength to stay together in it's original form. It'll weaken and like an elastic band you cannot have it snap back once it's stretched out too far.

What you CAN do for enlarged pores is to keep them clean so that the look of "omg they're huge" lessens. As sebum gets trapped underneath a layer of dead skin, it'll give the common blackhead formation. You can see this process happening during the day if you like, so it's important to have products that constantly exfoliate or facilitate the flow of sebum. A clean sebum flowing pore is a happy pore and will be less visible.

For a cosmetic effect you can fill up the pore with makeup or product that's coloured, basically giving a fake illusion of poreless skin. This filling of the cracks/holes in your face is sadly usually blocking the pores and flow of sebum. You can imagine where I'm going with this right? Properly removal of any makeup at night is of utmost importance. 

Clay masks can be a quick fix to suck the pores dry of excess sebum, resulting in clean pores and less visibility. Sadly many of the clay masks are way too harsh and will overly dry the skin out, resulting in the skin trying to combat this by producing more sebum. Choose your clay masks carefully and never leave it on for too long. Also stop using drying products to fight oil, this will only make your skin angry and desperate to replace the lost oil by producing a lot extra.
Recommended products.. La Roche Posay Effaclar duo, Bioderma Sebium Mask

Q. What products would you recommend for sensitive dehydrated skin?
Bioderma Hydrabio Rich Crème, "The patented Aquagenium biological complex, re-trains the skin to generate in depth the hydration essential to its natural balance and to lock it in on its surface. Hydrabio Rich cream cream provides long-lasting hydration and restores the skin’s comfort, suppleness and radiance."
Avene Hydrance Optimale Legere, "A hydrating moisturiser for normal to combination dehydrated sensitive skin. Based on Meiboserin which limits the evaporation of the Avène Thermal Spring Water from the skin and Lipomucine which increases coverage across the skin. It also contains sebo-absorbing capsules for a light matifying effect and a matt finish."
Vichy Aqualia Thermal Spa Day crème, "Sensitive skin needs maximum hydration to nourish and restore. The gel contains thermal water enriched with hyaluronic acid, due to which soothes and makes the skin more resistant to daily aggressive influences of various factors. Skin is intensely hydrated for 48 hours. Efficacy proven under dermatological control."
Avene Anti Redness Calm Mask, "This ultra-soothing repair mask provides immediate comfort by cooling, calming and restoring comfort to irritated rasecea-prone skin."
Darphine Intral Reddness Relief Soothing Serum "High potency, soothing serum helps reduce the appearance of redness and instantly quiet discomforts associated with irritated skin. this delightfully scented formula softens sensitive skin and leaves a comforted, more even-looking complexion."

Q. Any tips for oily skin and keeping the shine at bay?
Stop using harsh and drying products. Include facial oils in your routine to balance out oil production. As you use facial oils you'll give a signal to your skin to regulate/slow down oil production as there's plenty available already. Once you start using drying washes or products, skin will fight back resulting in shiny and greasy looking skin very soon. 

A light blotting powder would be my suggestion while your skin transitions into a normal sebum product rhythm again. Also stop fighting that little bit of shine any normal skin gets. Why do so many people go for glowing radiant foundations or looking makeup, yet blot and fight off any oil? Embrace the natural glow skin gives off on it's own, enhance this but don't cover it up and then try to fake it with makeup. 

Blotting powder is one option but you can also use blotting papers or even a regular tissue slightly pressed into the skin. Again, don't fight the slight shine. If you get shiny way too fast after your morning routine, there's something wrong in the way you treat your skin or the products you use.. skin always tries to find balance. If you upset this process, it'll wreak havoc in the early afternoon.

I hope some of these questions have helped you, I know I now have a better understanding of what products I should be using. I would like to thank Philippe at Farmaline for answering these question for me. I'm sure if there are any other questions you have they would be more than happy to advice you and recommend products, you can tweet them and follow on Twitter... @FarmalineUK.

Has this post answered any skincare concerns you had? Any other advice on the questions asked?


  1. Glad you enjoyed it, I enjoyed writing up the answers :)
    Here's to hoping someone can use it.

  2. This is such an great informative post definitely gave me a greater insight of which products I should be using on my skin thank you so much for sharing ! Definitely going to try out some of the recommendations

  3. Such a good post Louise-really enjoyed reading it

    1. Thanks hun, I knew I couldn't be the only person with all these questions and Philippe was great, answered them all and made the topic of skincare a lot easier to understand. xx

  4. great post, i have no idea when it comes to skincare, this has helped me out that little bit more


I love reading your comments, so please feel free to comment with your views of the products/services mentioned, or if your have any recommendations I would love to hear them. :)