Posted by Kay
Yes the streets of London are dotted with canopies of pink blossom but shall I tell you how I knew that Spring had arrived?
I’ve got spots! Or zits as y’all say across the pond.
Just when I thought I was too old to get them, the pimples are having a last hurrah, sprouting up like dandelions on a Spring English lawn but a lot less pretty. Yes, that’s right, there’s nothing like a change in temperature-or more importantly moisture, that says to my face “you need to change the skincare lady”.
Skin gets dryer in the winter; brusque winds and central heating turn the dewiest skin into parched planes as the moisture (often mistaken for oil) is drawn out of the skin’s surface. (If you’re still in a cold climate, see Thandie’s recent post Make Up For The BRRRR to find out how to get the dewy look on dry skin days). This is when your richer creams are working their wonder, but now it’s time to lighten up on the cream.
So I’m rebooting not just my outer, but my inner beauty regime, switching from winter to summer products, eating more raw food, juicing and ‘Nutri-Bullet-ing’ more.
Regardless of spots/zits, top on my list is still moisturiser. Thandie and I are both huge fans of Antonia Burrell Skincare and we featured her last year.
Her ‘Cream Supreme Moisturiser’ is the Rolls Royce of Natural face creams. What’s so great about it? Well for a start Antonia doesn’t do nasties (petrochemicals), and in doing so she makes skin nourishment a priority. After all, it’s way cheaper to use petroleum (or its other name, mineral oil) than use Amazonian Andiroba Oil (a natural wonder that is both anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory).
From her website: “100% natural and easily absorbed, this deeply nourishing anti-ageing cream contains our patented Anti-Blemish Complex™ which fights uneven skin tone, pigmentation and imperfections. Designed to promote a flawless complexion in minimal time, it contains Amazonian Andiroba Oil, Olive Leaf Extract to diminish wrinkles, and Larch Extract to firm, tone and detoxify.”
As for the aforementioned spots, I’ve been targeting them with Hyaluspot in the Vichy’s Normaderm range. Enriched with hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid + LHA], this gel creates a protective film on the surface of the skin to protect the imperfection and lessen the appearance of blemishes.
It’s all about trial and error, taking note of your skin’s changing needs. If you are in really humid weather, then perhaps all you need is a good, enriching serum because if your skin is already oily and you are breaking out, even a day lotion may be too rich.
Before I go off to do a sweaty Jivamukti Yoga class or a cardio workout, I use a small amount of Nuxellence Eclat Youth and Radiance Fluid by Nuxe on damp skin, instead of moisturiser because the last thing warm, open pores need is a cocktail of sweat mixed with nourishing oils! The serum-meet’s lotion formula contains Passion Flower and Hyaluronic Acid.
You may be wondering what the weird, knobbly, short-haired brush is behind the skin products, well that’s my dry skin brush.
I discovered this when I did my first fasting cleanse over a decade ago. The skin is our body’s largest organ and a lot of elimination is done though its pores and via the lymphatic system, which can become sluggish in sedentary lifestyles and ‘modern’ diets lacking in fresh vegetables, fruits and water. Website mindbodygreen.com says “One third of your body’s toxins are excreted through the skin and dry brushing helps to unclog pores and excrete toxins that become trapped in the skin”.
Always use a natural (not synthetic) bristle brush. Before you bathe or shower, brush upwards from the tips of your toes and hands – always towards your heart – in brisk strokes. It may feel odd at first but you will notice how it immediately perks you up as your lymphatics are stimuated. You will see dust (strangely satisfying!). Shower immediately. Anything that is good for your lymphatic system is also good for cellulite. It’s a great way to speed up the hangover process too!
Where do I start with the virtues of green, and more specifically, the excellence of this superfood powder!
Well for starters this nutrient-dense formula from Kansas contains twenty five billion probiotics per serving and its alkaline green plant foods balance out acidic pH levels (many now say we’re meant to eat an 80% alkaline, 20% acid diet for optimum wellbeing).
I throw a tablespoon into my Nutribullet every morning. I am often run-down as I’m not a good sleeper; travelling for work can be stressful and I exercise a lot which sounds healthy but it isn’t when your adrenals are depleted as mine often are. I really notice the difference in my stamina and overall health by supplementing daily with this product. It’s the ideal foodstuff for those who do not like or are not able to eat a good serving or two of green veg (does not include aneamic, long-life lettuce!) a day.
Here are more green superfacts:
Mega-boosts your recommended 5 to 9 daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
Naturally detoxifies and boosts your immune system
Probiotics and enzymes to aid digestion and absorption of nutrients. Contains E3Live, a potent nutrient-dense aqua botanical superfood.
A complete raw food with powerful antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Contains more organic whole leaf greens per gram than other green superfoods that are not from juice. Gluten free, Raw, Vegan and USDA Certified Organic. It’s not cheap but its packed way more full than other powders of it’s kind so I’ve been told by numerous health store workers that this is the best value. Buy here.
All of our regulars know that we’re pretty obsessed with haircare and making the most of our ‘versatile’ (postively speaking) or wayward (ugh, I have to do my hair, see you in a couple of hours..) hair. For frizz challenged me I find that however well it’s styled, it is only a matter of hours before my baby and heat-broken hairs around my hairline become their true anarchic, wild selves and choose to become an entirely different hairstyle than the rest of my head. To tame these little beasts I have a veritable smorgasbord of follicle control. My latest in the arsenal is O&M Style Guru Styling Cream, it has a good ratio of hold and texture-you can even use as a blowdry prep for greater volume. Formulated with native Australian ingredient Banksia Flower rich in amino acids and antioxidants A, C and E to smooth and soften the hair texture.
Posted by Kay
Thandie and I met Antonia Burrell when she came to listen to a panel that we were on, discussing the beauty industry and how women of colour were being represented. For me, the best thing about the event was not only getting a chance to meet our readers, but the unexpected amount of inspired entrepreneurs such as Antonia, all of whom made Thandie and I feel hugely warm and fuzzy inside, like we were really on the right track with our site.
As well as having her naturally-derived skincare collection, Antonia is a big favourite with beauty editors who love treatments such as her ‘Natural Lift Facial’. Antonia is a BABTAC-accredited practitioner as well as an Associate Lecturer in the Chemistry of Aromatherapy and it’s clear when you meet her that the skincare brand is a true labour of love with Antonia, the inspired, female entrepreneur at the helm.
Both of us enjoy using her uncompromised products not just because they feel, smell and look good, but because they are truly healthy to use on the largest organ of our body-our skin. Her skincare collection is an 100% natural blend of potent, predominantly organic, bio-active plant extracts and clinically proven actives that Antonia believes ‘harness nature’s most potent, nutrient-rich botanicals and bring you results-quick’.
Entirely free from the typical ‘nasties’ like parabens, petrochemicals, synthetic fragrance, SLS, PEGS, glycols and other synthetic chemicals, we’re happy to hear that Antonia’s range is also not tested on animals.
Ethically, ecologically and sustainably sourced, Antonia Burrell Holistic Skincare continues to support organic growers in the UK and throughout the world.
Wearing an Elizabeth Arden lipgloss that came in a round, dark purple/violet case, with a mirror inside when you opened it. The colour was subtle and it smelt lovely.
Usually most of the time…. for me, beauty comes from within and it’s about spirit and giving.
Ponds Cold Cream next to a crystal cut glass bowl with a lid that held coloured cotton wool balls for when she cleansed. She also used Estée Lauder serums in little capsules, Elizabeth Arden moisturiser (it used to smell so nice) and Youth Dew perfume.
I loved the scent, it made me feel comforted and it reminded me of when she used to sit at her white dressing table and get ready. When she wasn’t there I used to sneak into her room and smell it.
He didn’t used to say much but he just used to stare at her when she was dressed up if we were going out (which was a lot). I noticed it when we used to go to church, or to my uncle’s for Sunday lunch and often driving in the car on our holiday to Cornwall. He was very proud and made sure she was always dressed in the best clothes.
My Cream Supreme Moisturiser.
I noticed that there had never been anything on the market like it before – a moisturiser that was hard working yet natural. My vision was to create a moisturiser that solved a whole host of common skin issues at the same time, to save women spending time and money on lots of different products that didn’t give the desired results. So I created Cream Supreme, a results-driven moisturiser that starts working from the first application. Ultimately I want women to feel more confident in their own skin and to feel beautiful for who they are, and the best way I can do this is by creating products that really work.
In a helicopter. I used to have a highflying boyfriend who had his own helicopter and he’d often take me out in it. I used to go along to his meetings sometimes, and so I would touch up my make-up on the go.
A couple of weeks ago. I was doing a facial treatment and a client’s skin was very congested and full of blackheads. I needed to steam for a while…
Antonia’s hero product is the Natural Glow Cleansing Oil from her range
Post by Thandie.
Acne. I used to think it was a prowling, menacing lurgy that left its mark. Waking up to a zinger on my face could be the difference between feeling fly and feeling foul. It seems almost cruel that it can cling like fear to shy teens, struggling as they are to face the world. It doesn’t help when beauty brand advertising shows epidermal perfection on every page. In truth the models in magazine ads are no exception – they’re often blemishLESS as a result of technological touch-ups (photoshop). Even movie stars have been known to have guarantees of CGI in their contracts, to alter their skin in post production, in case of breakouts.
Breakouts – we all get them, and the bulging shelves of pharmacies around the world are proof of that.
There’s a chain of events that causes spots – diet, pollution, stress – they’re all factors, but the big one, the BIG ONE, is hormones. Taming hormones is like trying to mount a wild horse blind fold. Well, that would leave you seriously injured, but what I mean is that it’s near impossible. Hormones just, RULE. We are at their mercy. As we should be, let’s face it, hormones are the structure for all the profound building blocks that lead our species to survive; without that complex matrix of shenanigans in our body we wouldn’t be able to transform into our reproductive selves.
Teenagers get spots, women about to get their period get spots, pregnant women in their first trimester get spots, and it doesn’t end there – depending on your unique physiological make up you might just be someone who GETS SPOTS!
My change of attitude to acne (hormones) came about recently, with my 3rd pregnancy. Really, it started with my first pregnancy 13 years ago (see post on Acne Alert here). Before that, I saw spots as a scourge that needed to be fought and controlled. It was a curse – and it was a curse that had been placed specifically on me.
The truth is, I was just a typically spotty teenager (and only a mildly spotty one at that) which should have been fine, but I was deeply self conscious and had very low self-esteem. So, the spots made me feel EVEN worse about myself. And, typical of the neurosis of shame, I focused my anguish on things I thought I could control – my skin, my eating (bulimia came later) – rather than focusing on why I felt so shit about myself in the first place! And to add to my panic, I landed my first film role when I was 16 (‘Flirting’). Even though I was playing a pubescent girl in the movie, I felt (like any naive young thing) that actresses were perfect skinned, other worldly beings, and I needed to do whatever it took to be admitted into that rarefied world. So, in the months before filming commenced, I took a course of anti-biotics (Vibramycin), which I think worked to suppress the zits. A few years, and more film offers later I went on a course of Roaccutane, which shred my lips with dryness, made my eyeballs feel like raisins, and I remember being shocked by the small print which said that that specific course of medication could seriously harm an unborn child… but still I took them, because I was desperate to be ‘perfect’. The pill popping didn’t end there; at 21 I remember thinking I was getting serious extra benefits when I went on the contraceptive pill, and discovered that the regulation of my hormones would also have the effect of keeping my skin spot free. In fact, there were times when I wasn’t in a relationship but I continued taking the pill, because I was addicted to the security of acne-free skin.
Honestly, it was madness. All that panicking, and searching for a ‘cure’ had FAR more to do with my chronically low self esteem, than with whether I had spots or not. I think about that teen, and I want to hug her and tell her that those dew drops of acne were the new dawn to becoming a beautiful woman, who would one day have children and witness the magnificence of bringing life into the world. That sprinkling of uncomfortable eruptions were signs of newness and growth, and I should have loved myself through it, not bent my body to the will of some demonic task master that only existed in my head. Easier said than done. It’s taken years of ‘growing up’, of healing and acceptance, to realize that my acne terror was a corollary of shame, alongside other shitty symptoms like staying in abusive relationships, eating disorders and depression.
I see my 13 year old daughter now, and she’s starting to show signs of hormonal change, with tiny breakouts – they are the sweetest, most beautiful things. Yes, those spots are beautiful – because they’re telling her, and me, that she’s growing and changing in the most profound ways. She hasn’t asked ‘what to do?’ or changed her behaviour in any way – she occasionally uses a mild cleanser, and a moisturizer because her skin gets dry sometimes. She doesn’t have a ‘beauty routine’, and doesn’t spend more than 30 seconds in any day looking at herself in the mirror. I frankly swoon with pride and relief over that, because I see that nonchalance as a measure of her self love, her self esteem, which, is ultimately what it is.
2 Photos of Thandie doctored by Nico Parker using IPhone Mega Photo Booth App.
Post by Thandie.
If you’re the latter then good for you! I sometimes wonder whether I’d have cared quite as much about breakouts if I hadn’t been in a profession where my face is often 6 foot wide across an illuminated screen? And the fact that I made my first film appearance when I was only 16. Insecurity+movie star+spots did not feel like a winning combo (see my Post ‘On the Spot’ here).
Nevertheless, as a result of fairly healthy eating, exercise, good skin care and the contraceptive pill – my skin is trouble free. Until it isn’t. Because there are still times when my hormones go to Mardi Gras, and then it’s a WHOLE OTHER STORY.
The truth is I’ve controlled my problem skin with medication all my adult life – with anti-biotics when I was 16, Roaccutane (I still can’t believe I went to such extreme measures) when I was 18, and finally the Pill from 21. But there have still been windows of opportunity for my hormones to freak out – and that’s when I come off the pill to become pregnant. Which is where I found myself earlier this year.
I knew the breakouts were coming, and I wasn’t particularly fazed – even though I was shooting a TV show at the time. The problem areas for me were mainly around the edge of my jaw-line, and my back. Rather than freak out I focused on management, and I was keen to share whatever methods I found with you, the readers of ThandieKay. I should mention though, that because of my pregnancy I sought out chemical-free products. In general, my attitude to skin care and treatment has changed a lot over the years. I now favor gentler methods over medicine, and additionally try to influence my skin’s behavior with exercise and diet. These things certainly aren’t as effective, in the short term, as ‘nuking’ with meds. But then, NUKING isn’t a good idea either, is it? (see the reference to ROACCUTANE in ‘On the Spot’ post)
I was shooting with Kay in the first trimester and she noticed a visible change in my skin – that it became oilier. I stopped using a daily exfoliator as I didn’t want to encourage my pores to produce any more sebum than they already were. I opted for Neals Yard Remedy’s (NYR) Rose Facial Wash – which is divine; really mild and smells heavenly. If I’d been wearing make up I’d use NYR Rose Beauty Balm as a make up remover (followed by the facial wash).
I carried on using my Olay Total Effects – but avoided the areas where I was breaking out. On those places I applied NYR Clarifying Mahonia Skin Gel. This stuff is fantastic – it protected my skin, had an astringent effect without drying it out, and was very soothing.
My back was the real problem – the spots were plentiful and painful. The fact that my skin was under clothing didn’t help – so I’d keep it naked as much as possible (easy at night). Gentle sun on my skin really helps when I have breakouts. I also discovered that swimming in the sea is incredibly helpful for my skin – the salty water cleanses and soothes quite dramatically. So, I started adding Dead Sea Salts to my NYR Lavender Shower Gel, and used it on my back twice a day. Afterwards I’d apply traces of lavender oil to any spots that were really ‘angry’.
We all know that we should NEVER PICK SPOTS. But have you seen monkeys eating mites off each other, and grooming the heck out of any warm body they can grab? I swear, it’s in our DNA. And notice that your brain only kicks in AFTER you’re stood there, shaking with ecstasy, with an oozing spot… you can practically hear the cackling bacteria flock like vampire bats to the wound. It really isn’t a good idea. Although I feel like I have an excuse because apparently I have tiny pores – great in all ways except when there’s a Vesuvias trapped under my skin for over a week. I justify ‘picking’ as a way of encouraging the zit to the next stage; the ‘eruption’ stage. Really, the only people who should do this are beauticians – because they cleanse and steam the area, pierce it with a Lancet (also used by diabetics to draw a pin prick of blood – I know because I nicked a few of my Mum’s for ‘home spot extraction’), ge-e-e-e-ntly squeeze, and then zap the area with a buzzy thing – which kills the bacteria. But who’s going to run to a beautician every time they have a break out? Instead, we should LEAVE IT and let nature do its thing.
But if you ARE going to squeeze at home (though you shouldn’t) do it before going to bed so it has a chance to heal overnight (or get worse and infected – I warned you). Make sure the area is super clean and not moisturized, that your fingers are super clean (Purell on the hands for extra certainty). I use a trace of lavender oil around the spot to kill bacteria beforehand, and then with two halves of a Kleenex folded up (not my nails) I GENTLY put pressure on either side of the spot. If nothing comes immediately then STOP, it simply is not ready. If on the other hand creamy goo has been unleashed, then make sure to keep gently squeezing until a little blood comes out. Afterwards, I use another folded Kleenex with a little lavender oil on there, and use it to put pressure on the area to stem the flow. THEN I use my very own zapper – because they’re available in the drugstore now! Hoorah! I have a TANDA zap – which emits ‘blue light’ therapy, and kills bacteria. I also tried a Zeno which was great (there’s another device called the No!No! which apparently works well).
After all this I cover the spot with NYR Palmarosa Purifying Facial Mask, and leave it on overnight. If I’ve timed it right the spot won’t be any worse the next day. But if it was an impulsive, too-early extraction it’ll hurt the next day, and be just as bad (if not worse). If that happens I’ll mournfully dab the area with a trace of lavender oil morning and night, also zapping it twice a day until it eventually heals.
Dark marks left by spots are a real problem for skin blessed with more melanin. Even if we don’t pick and let the spot come and go naturally, we can be left with hyper-pigmentation. When I was a kid, my Mum had ‘fade-out’ cream, and I didn’t associate it with her wanting her skin to be lighter, but with lightening the out-of-place marks left by spots. As you can see in the picture below, the spots during my first trimester left lots of dark marks. Obviously-when it’s your face-the right color correcting concealer is a great solution, but it’s also possible to gently fade the area. The two steps which work for me are exfoliation and fading. For exfoliation on my face I use the gorgeous ‘Eminence Strawberry Rhubarb Dermafoliant’ – completely natural and organic, smells divine and is gentle enough (but properly effective) to use morning and night (for my body I used Dead Sea Salts, mentioned above). After that I use Eminence ‘Bright Skin Licorice Root Booster-Serum’. This stuff rocks! The element found in most skin ‘lighteners’ is hydroquinone, and the good people at Eminence have discovered that this property occurs naturally in stone crop and licorice root. Bingo. It’s not an overnight sensation – and only works if you’re vigilant; applying after every cleanse. It definitely helps fading though.
I hope these tips help. I was definitely comforted by the gentle rituals, and feel that they were effective without being punishing. The most important thing was treating my skin with gentleness – even if I was frustrated. I kept reminding myself that the acne was signifier of extraordinary things going on in my body – new life growing. It’s the same with breakouts before our periods – we can take the positive approach and feel thankful that we are Goddesses able to bring life into the world. The same even with breakouts caused by stress – we can take a gentle approach and try to reduce that stress through some yoga, meditation, spending time with loving friends, even asking work colleagues to ‘back off’ for a bit.
Even though I managed my acne with these treatments, it only subsided when I was well into my second trimester, and now my skin is clear again. All the lotions and potions are relatively weak against our hormonal calendars. We finished the Second Season of Rogue last month, and watching the early episodes I have to take a deep breath when I see the huge spot on my face which I picked at relentlessly – it’s definitely a feature of episodes 2, 3 and 4 – it deserves a screen credit all of its own! But I also try and remember that my baby was taking hold of life, and my body was working hard to nurture him/her into being.
Top photo of Thandie by Jackie Dixon
Photo with headwrap Billie Scheepers