Spotty teenager syndrome bypassed me completely; instead my skin decided to cause havoc when I was 25. What started off as the occasional spot soon turned into breakouts on my forehead whenever I was stressed, followed by a bout of adult acne that was quickly squashed by going on the pill.
Since then, my skin and I have not always been on the best of terms, and now that I'm in my 30s, it's not improving. The spots, when they do flare up tend to pop up in the same place, and usually, I try and get rid of them as quickly as possible by trying to pop them. Disgusting, I agree.
But I’m not alone in dealing with problem skin as an adult rather than a teenager – according to various reports including one from skin expert Dr Perricone, adult acne is on the rise due to the body trying to deal with modern living and the impact that has on hormones.
I’ve also noticed an increase in sensitivity, and after a recent bout with exfoliation left me with a forehead that looked like an angry dartboard, I made an appointment with skin expert Donna Glazer.
Donna doesn’t just fix your skin temporarily by doing a nice facial that gives you good skin for a few hours, I was told. She goes a bit deeper to find out what the root of the problem might be.
Since I’ve been trying to solve the issue of my problem skin for a while with no real resolution, I’m hopeful but also mildly cynical as to whether this is actually going to work.
I made my way to the Face It clinic where Donna operates from, and as she sits me down and talks through my skin history, I quite like her no-nonsense approach – it’s firm, warm and reassuring. Also, she’s really interested in skin (not in a Buffalo Bill way, before you hesitate), and that really comes through with the advice she gives.
One of the most illuminating things she makes me realise, after I ask her whether expensive beauty products are actually worth the money, is that a lot of the products we tend to use are cosmetic or aromatherapy style products which “have beautiful packaging and smell really nice, but don’t really do a huge amount for the skin.”
Story continues below the slideshow:
Freeze Your Eyeliner
Does your eyeliner constantly crumble while putting it on? Our friends at <a href="http://www.youbeauty.com/face/galleries/tips-to-stay-beautiful#3">You Beauty</a> recommend leaving it in the freezer for 15 minutes prior to applying your makeup. It should glide along your lash line seamlessly after that.
Shave With Conditioner
If you're out of shaving cream, lather your legs with conditioner instead of soap. Conditioner will soften the hair on your legs making it easier to shave (and it will leave your skin feeling extra silky). Source: <a href="http://www.youbeauty.com/face/galleries/tips-to-stay-beautiful#4">You Beauty</a>
Rinse Hair With Beer Or Vinegar
Rinsing your hair with beer helps restore moisture to your locks while using vinegar will up the ante in shine. Soak your hair in either liquid (not at the same time) for a few minutes, then rinse with cold water. Source: <a href="http://www.youbeauty.com/face/galleries/tips-to-stay-beautiful#5">You Beauty</a>
Turn Up The Heat
For curlier, flirtier lashes, the experts at <a href="http://www.youbeauty.com/face/galleries/tips-to-stay-beautiful#2">You Beauty</a> recommend heating your lash curler with a hair dryer for five to eight seconds before curling them.
Use Ice Cubes To Keep Fat, Acne and Wrinkles At Bay
The experts at <a href="http://www.youbeauty.com/face/galleries/tips-to-stay-beautiful#6">You Beauty</a> recommend massaging an ice cube over your face until it melts. Do it every night before bed and keep fat cells, acne and wrinkles under control.
Make Your Manicure Last.. And Last
Before applying nail polish, wipe nails with an acetone-based cleanser. Essie Weingarten, founder of <a href="http://www.essie.com/">Essie Cosmetics</a>, told the pros at <a href="http://www.redbookmag.com/beauty-fashion/tips-advice/manicure-tools-and-treatments#slide-4">Redbook</a> that cleaning excess dirt, oil or moisturizer from your nails will ensure that the polish adheres properly. Follow the rest of these tips at <a href="http://www.redbookmag.com/beauty-fashion/tips-advice/manicure-tools-and-treatments#slide-4">Redbook</a> and your perfectly polished manicure will last for a week and a half.
Soothe Your Stomach.. And Your Face
Apparently Pepto-Bismol isn't just a stomach soother, it can also be used as a facial mask. It contains bismuth subsalicylate, which is commonly found in facial creams. In an interview with <a href="http://www.readersdigest.ca/health/beauty/6-weird-beauty-tips?id=5">Reader's Digest</a>, <a href="http://www.skinworks.ca/our-team/dr-frances-jang">Dr.Frances Jang, a dermatologist</a> at <a href="http://www.skinworks.ca/">Skinworks</a>, recommended spreading two teaspoons of Pepto-Bismol on your face, then letting it dry for 15 to 30 minutes before rinsing it off with warm water.
Apply Sunscreen Daily
Wear sunscreen every day, rain or shine. Even when it's cloudy. According to the <a href="http://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/prevention-and-care/sunscreens">American Academy of Dermatology</a>, 80 per cent of the sun's ultraviolet rays pass through the clouds.
Don't Neglect Your Elbows
It's easy to forget about your elbows, but they need just as much protection and care as other parts of your body. Cure dry elbows by massaging <a href="http://bio-oilusa.com/en-us/">Bio-Oi</a>l onto them daily. You'll see and feel softer elbows in at least two days.
Lighten Hair With Chamomile Tea And Lemon Juice
In an interview with <a href="http://www.readersdigest.ca/health/beauty/6-weird-beauty-tips?id=5">Reader's Digest</a>, Popie Poulos, hairstylist and owner of <a href="https://plus.google.com/108355367519345999757/about?gl=ca&hl=en">The Salon</a>, recommends rinsing your hair with a mixture of chamomile and fresh lemon juice instead of conditioner to permanently lighten your tresses. Allow your hair to dry while sitting in the sun or use a blow dryer — the heat will lighten your locks.
De-Puff Your Eyes With Raw Potatoes
In an interview with <a href="http://www.readersdigest.ca/health/beauty/6-weird-beauty-tips?id=3">Reader's Digest</a>, Dr.Frances Jang, a dermatologist</a> at <a href="http://www.skinworks.ca/">Skinworks</a> recommends using raw potato slices to soothe your eyes. She says they are astringent which means they help decrease water retention and they also contain the enzyme catalase which helps lighten dark under eye circles. First, wash and peel a potato. Cut two slices and place one on each eye for 10 minutes. Lay down, relax and let the potatoes work their magic. Rinse the eye area gently with lukewarm water when you're done.
Maximize The Lifespan Of Your Blow Out
We love walking out of the salon with a fresh blow out, but how do you prevent your locks from going limp in the days after? The experts at <a href="http://www.allure.com/beauty-trends/blogs/daily-beauty-reporter/2011/11/surprising-tricks-for-making-a-blowout-last.html">Allure</a> say plan early. Your hair naturally secretes oil so be two steps ahead and spray your roots with dry shampoo before you start producing oil. This way the dry shampoo will absorb any moisture before it weighs down your tresses. Also make sure you protect your hair from moisture (rain is sure to ruin your mane) and touch up your blow out in the morning using a hair dryer and round brush. It will give you an instant boost of volume.
Countouring Creates Dimension
The trick to achieving a chiseled celebrity-like face is to contour (Angelina Jolie cheekbones, anyone?). Your face is three dimensional so applying foundation in a single tone will only make your face appear flat. Add a highlighter to areas of your face that would usually catch light but create enough shadow to emphasize your jaw line and cheekbones. For tips on how to contour your face according to its specific shape, visit <a href="http://www.totalbeauty.com/content/gallery/contouring-face-shape/p105682/page4">Total Beauty</a>.
Say Goodbye To Makeup Sponges
Makeup sponges help you apply make up, but not without a cost. They usually soak up more liquid foundation than what ends up on your face. The result? You're wasting foundation and constantly buying new sponges. The fix? Get a foundation brush. You waste less foundation and it allows for a more even and precise application than a sponge would.
Avoid Overly Rosy Cheeks
Giving yourself a natural glow avec blush is an in look for spring. But you'll want to avoid brushing on too much (lest you look like a clown). So always start your blush line two finger widths away from your nose and only apply it on the apples of your cheeks. This will ensure you create a natural glow without going overboard.
Keep Misbehaving Brows In Check
Spritz an old toothbrush or a clean mascara wand with hairspray, then brush brows and style them as desired. Even the most hard to tame brows will fall in line with this trick. Source: <a href="http://shopping.yahoo.com/news/44-timeless-beauty-tips-000000915.html">Yahoo Shopping</a>
Applying False Lashes
Adding extra eye fringe amps up the glam instantly. First, take your falsies and loosen them by gently flexing the eyelash band, then curl your natural lashes to make sure your falsies line up with your actual lash line. Apply glue on your falsies using a Q-tip. Using tweezers (or finger tips if you feel that gives you more control), place your falsies as close to your lash line as possible. Let your lashes dry for a minute before you add a coat of mascara (this is optional). Source: <a href="http://www.makeup.com/article/how-to-apply-false-eyelashes/">Makeup.com</a>
Toothpaste Zaps Pimples
You've heard it before — don't pop your zits! The folks over at <a href="http://www.dailyglow.com/how-to-get-rid-of-a-zit-fast-easy-home-remedies.html">Daily Glow</a> suggest applying a bit of toothpaste to a pimple before bed and washing it off with warm water when you wake up in the morning. They say that toothpastes draws impurities out of clogged pores and dries the skin with shrinks the pimple. Opt for organic toothpastes rather than gel toothpastes which don't work as well.
Blot Away Excess Oil
Do you start the morning with matte, fresh-looking skin only to find that by the time 5 p.m. rolls in you're a shiny mess? If you have oily skin then blotting papers are a beauty godsend. Don't use powder to soak up the oil. Using too much periodically throughout the day will make your skin appear cakey because you're just layering makeup on top of more makeup. Opt for blotting papers instead. They will soak up all the oil. We love <a href="http://www.sephora.com/blotting-papers-P312902?skuId=1411735">We love Sephora's blotting papers.</a>
No Makeup Remover? Try Lotion Instead
If you're out of makeup remover, use body lotion to get rid of makeup. It works especially well on tough mascara.
Create Fuller Lips
If you're tired of having thin, pursed puckers, extend your lip line using a neutral-toned lip liner. Then apply lipstick over top. Be careful though — don't extend your lip line too much.
Lashes For Miles
Curl your lashes both before and after applying mascara for longer lashes. You may want to re-curl them throughout the day to get some extra lift, just remember to be gentle when you apply pressure with your curler.
Don't Pop It
No, no, no! Don't pop your zits. Not only does it increase the chance of scarring, it's also likely that you will worsen the blemish and spread bacteria to other places on your face which could give rise to another breakout.
Stop Your Hair Colour From Fading
If you've just had your hair dyed, the last thing you want is for the colour to fade. One surefire way to prevent such a mishap from happening is to use a deep-conditioning treatment once a month. This will help lock in colour and has the added benefit of staving off dry and damaged locks.
Use A Flat Iron To Create Waves
Flat irons are amazing tools with multiple uses. Not only can you use it to straighten your hair, you can also create tight curls or soft romantic waves.
Exfoliate Your Lips
Dry, flaky, chapped lips are the worst canvas for lipstick. To ensure that your puckers are in perfect pout condition, the experts at <a href="http://thebeautydepartment.com/2012/06/diy-lip-smoothie/">The Beauty Department</a> recommend exfoliating your lips. To do this, apply lip balm to your lips, then using a toothbrush or clean mascara wand, scrub your lips (don't be too rough). Then, use a tissue to wipe away excess flakes and voila! You'll have a perfect pout in no time.
Microwave Lotion Into Luxury
Who doesn't love a spa day? If we could go every day, we probably would, but that would also put a dent in our wallets. A quick, easy and cheaper indulgence is to put your favourite lotion in the microwave for about 10 seconds. Make sure the oils in your lotion don't separate and that it isn't too hot. Apply it on to your skin and enjoy! Source: <a href="http://www.bellasugar.com/How-Make-Lotion-100-Times-Better-993220">Bella Sugar</a>
Exfoliation is an important and easy way to buff away the dead skin cells that cover up your skin's natural glow. Use a light exfoliator, like the <a href="http://www.dermalogica.com/ca/html/products/daily-microfoliant-11.html">Daily Microfoliant from Dermalogica</a>, to freshen your face daily.
Know Your Shade
When choosing a foundation, test a product on the skin near your jawline. And be sure to do it in natural light. This will ensure the foundation tone you choose for your face isn't too different from the natural shade of your neck. We really love <a href="http://www.makeupforever.com/products/hd-foundation.html#.UO7yx-RlV8E">Makeup Forever's Invisible Cover HD Foundation</a> because it comes in so many shades.
Uses For Old Mascara Wands
Don't throw away your old mascara wand, it's still got a few uses left. Clean it and use it as a brow brush instead. You might even find it handy around the house — use it to unclog sinks or clean tough to reach areas in your home. Source: <a href="http://www.athriftymrs.com/2012/02/8-uses-for-old-mascara-wands.html">A Thrifty Mrs</a>
Wear Pantyhose Or Tights
What's worse than having to wear a skirt with absolutely no time to shave your legs? We've all been there. The hassle free fix for this is to wearing pantyhose or tights (try a patterned pair for something new). It will disguise stubble as well as any blemishes on your stems.
Before you tweeze, make sure you soften your skin by dabbing a cotton ball soaked in warm water or cream. When you start tweezing, do so in the direction of your hair's growth. Source: <a href="http://shopping.yahoo.com/news/44-timeless-beauty-tips-000000915.html">Yahoo Shopping</a>
Camouflage Grey Hair
If you want to camouflage some strands of grey hair on the go, the folks at <a href="http://www.realsimple.com/beauty-fashion/makeovers-tips/timesavers/fast-beauty-00000000040261/page3.html">Real Simple</a> suggest using mascara if you have dark hair. For blondes or redheads try dusting your roots with bronzing powder.
Cut Back On Pedicures
Save money on your beauty routine by taking care of your feet on a daily basis. Simply scrub your foot with a pumice stone each morning in the shower. Once you step out and dry off, apply a moisture cream to your feet. This will increase the amount of time you can go without a pedicure and will keep your toes healthy and fungus-free.
Use Dry Shampoo
We absolutely love dry shampoo, especially <a href="http://www.kloraneusa.com/DryShampoo.htm">Klorane</a> (we use this brand religiously). It absorbs excess oil on your strands and scalp and keeps your mane looking clean and fresh. If you don't have dry shampoo, try washing just the top of your head (or wherever there is oil), with regular shampoo followed by a quick blow dry. Your tresses will look as good as new.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Be beautiful and environmentally savvy while you're at it. Recycle your old beauty products by shipping them to <a href="http://www.terracycle.ca/en-CA/">Terra Cycle</a> (you can download their pre-paid UPS shipping packages online so it's completely free). They'll take your old beauty products and transform them into something new.
Don't Pump Your Mascara
The experts at <a href="http://www.beautyismyduty.com/makeup-2/how-to-make-your-mascara-last-longer/">Beauty Is My Duty</a> say that you should never pump your mascara (i.e., moving the wand up and down in the tube really quickly) because it will only allow air into the tube which will cause your mascara to dry (and ultimately shorten its lifespan).
Apply Bronzer Evenly
Before applying bronzer or self-tanning lotion, mix a drop or two of the solution with moisture cream. Blend using your finger or a Q-tip then apply to skin as you would regular moisturizer. This will ensure the cream blends in — and covers skin — evenly.
Use Oil On Your Skin.. Even If It's Already Oily
This probably sounds crazy, but using an oil-based product to remove makeup or excess dirt from your skin can actually improve your epidermis' condition. Why? Over-cleaning stimulates the sebum glands, which causes skin to over-produce oil. Using oil-based products will have the opposite effect.
Avoid Chipped Nail Polish Like The Plague
There are only two options for your nails — with nail polish or without. Do not allow your nails to be caught somewhere in the middle (there is nothing worse than nails donning chipped red nail polish). Even if you think no one else will notice, trust us, someone will.
Sometimes less is more. Don't slather your face with moisturizer because it will take 10 minutes or more to be absorbed by the skin before your face is ready for makeup. In an interview with <a href="http://www.realsimple.com/beauty-fashion/makeovers-tips/timesavers/fast-beauty-00000000040261/index.html">Real Simple</a>, Susan Evans, a dermatologist, said the best way to apply face cream is to blend a dime-sized amount on your cheeks, nose, chin and forehead instead of moisturizing heavily.
Clean Your Makeup Brushes
Make sure you clean your makeup brushes regularly to avoid a buildup of makeup residue and bacteria. You can purchase makeup brush cleaner from a drug or beauty store, or you can simply use shampoo and conditioner to clean your brushes as you would your own hair. Clean brushes guarantee a super smooth and even makeup application every time.
Treat Ingrown Hairs
Apply a product containing azulene or witch hazel to help reduce the swelling and redness that's associated with ingrown hairs. From there, coax the ingrown hair from its location with a pair of tweezers (don't pull it out, though — this will only make the ingrown hair regrow in in the same way later).
Towel Dry The Right Way
Don't rub your hair dry with your towel; it will cause your hair to frizz. Instead, before getting out of the shower gently squeeze excess water from your hair. Then, wrap your hair in a towel and pat it dry to absorb any remaining moisture.
Consult A Doctor Before Popping Pills
Do you really need all those supplements? It's true the healthier you are, the healthier your skin and hair will be. But popping supplements without discussing them with your doctor can do more harm than good. Why? Because mixing certain vitamins and minerals can have the opposite effect of what you're hoping. Talk to your physician before popping any pills.
Remove Nail Polish Without Remover
If you run out of nail polish remover, you can remove cracked or chipped nail polish by applying a clear top coat to the nail and removing it promptly with a cotton ball.
Don't douse yourself with perfume before you leave the house (you don't want to bombard other people's nostril with strong smells). Just because you can't smell it doesn't mean other people won't be able to. If you wear it every day, chances are your olfactory sense has just become desensitized to the scent. <a href="http://www.chercabulasmindbox.com/2010/08/beauty-tips.html">Only spray or dab perfume on select spots like your knees, wrists, base of throat, and behind your earlobes. </a>
A Top Coat Is A Must
Add a top coat to freshly painted nails, and then again once they are dry. This makes your nail polish less likely to chip and will ensure it lasts longer.
Clarify Your Hair
In order to remove product build-up from locks, use a clarifying shampoo once a week. This will also help prevent dandruff and other annoying hair/scalp conditions.
Our best beauty tip? Smile! It's the most beautiful asset you have. Where it every day.
Our best beauty tip? Smile! It's the most beautiful asset you have. Where it every day.
“What do you think caused this?” she asks, looking at my forehead. I tell her it was because I started using a facial scrub because I’d heard that it was important to exfoliate the skin.
She proceeds to tell me that a lot of facial scrubs are too rough on the skin and take too much off, including natural oils your facial skin actually needs. “Creating a spot is rather like baking a cake,” she says. “You need just the right ingredients, so it could be skin getting trapped in the pores, coupled with your hormones and lots of other things. When the skin gets inflamed, like it has done here, it shows me that something has irritated it.”
The biggest takeaway I have from the session, however, is understanding that sometimes, spots just happen. You can’t control it, but you can control how you deal with it.
Whereas I was a champion picker, Donna says that this is just about the worst thing you can do. Of course I know that picking spots is bad, but until she explains why, the penny doesn’t drop.
“The more you pick, the more you’re inflaming the area, and you’re then likely to have more than one spot in the same area. It’s like inviting the devil in. Then, even when the spot has gone, what you’ve done is weaken the area, so the next time your face wants to create a spot, it’ll pop up in an area like that. Which is why people tend to get spots in the same area.”
The best practice is to keep the skin clean – for instance, taking your make-up off before you do a workout in the gym – and cleaning your facial with a muslin cloth at night to take off your makeup. If you do get a spot, let it just come to a head – don’t touch it – and then when it’s ready to pop, you can rub it with a towel to so that it breaks naturally rather than using your fingers. “Once it breaks,” says Donna, “you then take a dab of tea tree oil on a cotton bud and touch it lightly to the head of the spot to clean the area.”
There’s no real solution as to why I started getting spotty at 25 – one reason could be going on the pill, others could be that my body has just decided of its own accord to produce more of one hormone than another.
But, there is still the matter of the many painful red spots on my forehead, and I mention plaintively, I’m going on holiday in about 10 days. As she peers at my forehead, she says one of them is definitely going to stick around for about two weeks, but that the others may go down.
She gets to work by cleansing my face. Instead of exfoliation, Donna says that what she does is ‘desquemation’, which is encouraging the skin to naturally shed its layers rather like a snake, than scrubbing them off. She then puts on this incredibly thick mask which is meant to draw out all my impurities and finishes off with a solution that will calm the skin down.
This is only half the battle, however. When I leave, my skin looks about 5 shades less red than it did when I came in. Donna gives me products to try over the period of four weeks. The skincare range is called Dermaviduals. It includes a serum, cleansing milk (gels can sometimes take too much off), Liposome Concentra Plus for the spotty area and a facial moisturiser. “Whatever you do,” says Donna, “don’t use any other skincare products during this time.”
The following day, my skin is definitely looking a lot more angry, and this continues to the third day. I’m about to wobble and reach for my usual moisturiser, but I keep with it and by day five, it’s looking a lot more even. In fact, apart from the one bastard spot that Donna warned me about, the rest are already going away. I feel a lot calmer about it, and in turn, this is probably helping the spots to stay away.
Donna asks me to use the products for four weeks, which I do, but I’m not sure I’m totally sold on Dermaviduals as a product.
There’s no doubt that specially-formulated skincare is better for the skin, but during my four weeks I notice my blackheads – which I had gotten rid of using Skinceuticals B5 serum – have returned, and four weeks on I start developing another slew of spots. However, I love the cleansing lotion as it's gentle and mild and seems to last forever.
There’s no perfect rule when it comes to skincare - I suspect my spots are hormonal which no amount of face cream is going to fix. Would I visit Donna again for a facial? Absolutely - I haven't visited another facialist as knowledgeable as her. But I might just hold on to my other nice-smelling skincare for a while yet.
Face It, 17 Highgate High Street, London, N6 5JT. To make an appointment with Donna call 020 8340 1770 or visit the website.