Friday, 20 January 2012

Absorbency, medication and inflammation... a request from Twitter...and how to make the perfect cup of tea.

I've had a few questions on Twitter this week that take more than 140 characters to respond to!

Firstly, medication and the effects on the body and skin - meds can affect the skin in all sorts of ways - but the most common reaction is inflammation in one way or another. Just a reminder that I am under no illusions that I am a GP! - this is just my training, experience and reactions from customers and clients.  
Antibiotics tend to dry you out and can cause either redness and/or rashes or, as in my case, you go 'grey' and lose colour in your face. This usually leads to people saying 'You look really rough!' Um thanks.
Ditto most other meds. And I'm talking about prescribed medication - not over the counter paracetamol. 

The thing that's best for skin that is under the influence of any medication? Just go down the anti-inflammatory route. Cut out sugar, alcohol, smoking (don't get me started), lower dairy intake and be careful using really active ingredients in products - your skin is trying to cope with enough without making it work harder. 
Use a soft cleanser - preferably a balm or oil (as always non mineral oil based), find a nice cooling spray toner/tonic such as Avene, and a really hydrating moisturiser. Water based is safe all round. If you're particularly oily or dry supplement with a suitable oil in the evenings.
Cleanse, spray, moisturise, spray again. Think of your routine as 'putting out the fire'.

Absorbency. I was tweeted by the lovely Liloo  this evening to ask my opinion on a particular new launch claiming to be 300% stronger than other antioxidants used in products. Or summin. 
My concern with brands that talk the talk about miracle ingredients is the delivery system.

Let me set the scene: When you make a cup of tea in a cup - why do you not add the milk to the mug first? 
Because the fat molecules in the milk are bigger than the holes in the teabag. If you add the milk first the tea stops brewing and you get a cup of cat pee. No matter how hard you squeeze it against the side of the cup with that teaspoon.

Your skin, like a teabag, is not designed to just absorb willy-nilly. If it did - you wouldn't be able to take a bath - you'd drown.
You can have the best ingredients available on the market but if they're not in a specialised delivery system - such as a nicotine or HRT patch, they will just sit on the surface of the skin - or evaporate off. Take retinol. When it first came on to the market, the delivery system was sub-standard and the product sat on the surface of the skin - causing irritation and in some cases burning people who then went out in to the sun unknowingly. Most people would return their products saying 'I've had an allergic reaction'. Then came micro technology and THEN came nano technology. Which basically means the molecules of the ingredient in the formulation are smaller than the entry points on the epidermis. 
So when you're about to buy an expensive face cream, don't worry so much about the ingredients - its bound to have some excellent ones. Ask how they plan to penetrate you. You know you want to.

That's all. Remember this though: 
  • In-vitro and in-utero testing is fabulous - but how do they intend to get it INTO your cells?
  • Whatever you use, whatever they tell you, nothing, NOTHING penetrates further than the dermis that is NOT IN A NEEDLE. 
Now. Someone put the kettle on. And do it properly please.


  1. Milk in tea first is an abomination.

    More actives does not equal better.

    Basically, I agree with you. Again.

  2. My boyfriend puts the tea bag in, puts the water in then basically shoves the milk straight in! Drives me mad!

  3. Thank you so much for this post. I'm looking at what is in the products I'm using and can see they are probably making things worse. It all makes sense now! I'll remember what you said about tea bags when I'm shopping for new products.
    Katy x

  4. 'you get a cup of cat pee' <-- bahahahaha
    you know, they do that at work, this business of putting the milk first. I think it's because they can go and put the milk back in the fridge faster. Thank you so so so much for the post. I am not very interested to know more about absorption of all this goodness into our skin. No idea about what a HRT patch is but going to google that. Patch: omg, do they do collagene and what-other-anti-ageing-things- in a patch and if not, what not? This is the future. We need patches. I WANT PATCHES OF STUFF. Or have they done that already and it doesn't work? Going to google for a skin diagramme as well. You got me aAAAll curious :) thanks a million for the faboulous post and for opening our eyes. Now for the whole world to see. If I can have 5 persons to see my tweet about your post (it's friday night after all) I shall consider it as a success :)
    thank you very much again x

    liloo / @tsunimee

    1. *starts working feverishly on patches for Liloo*

  5. Oh, I love this! I was taught never to put milk in tea first and professionally speaking, I can vouch for the "it's too big, it's not going in" stuff. No smart delivery system, no buy.

    1. MB - Did you really write 'It's too big, it's not going in'? You were on a ROLL last night! ;) x

    2. I'm so glad you two are as bad as me.

  6. A tea metaphor will always get my attention.

    You know what else people don't understand? That you need one for the pot. You order a pot of tea for two these days and it comes with two teabags in it. Don't know how this can be used in a metaphor for skincare. Will have a think.

  7. Wanders off with fresh cup of well made tea to go and ask people how they plan to penetrate me.

    A fun day ahead

    1. In the words of David Cassidy - I think I love you.

  8. I remember a while ago you talked of a cream by chantecaille which had gold in it.. now, I've seen quite a few creams with gold in them for their surface property (making skin appear pretty) but with regards to it penetrating the skin.. surely this isn't good? Its not something we were designed to eat.. so I'm wondering about that pentrating the skin.. Some plant oils aren't too expensive, so I do wonder why some companies charge alot? Or is this just to fool those who have more money than sense into thinking I'm paying alot therefore it must be good? Afterall the males have gotten away with not going to all the trouble we women do for years.. but do they all look haggered?

    1. Chantecaille uses nano technology so its all good. I trust Chantecaille. Some companies use better quality oils - more refined - but yes, some companies are just after your £££!!

  9. Thanks so much for your take on that. I was talking to a cosmetologist a couple weeks ago and that's basically what she said - the ingredients are not as important as the delivery system. She said there was an experiment in which they compared an expensive moisturizer to a drugstore-priced one; the ingredients were basically the same, but what you were paying for was the delivery system. She told me that when in doubt, I should just ask the brand representative straight away; she said the ingredients could be absorbed by means of a nano technology, special peptides or other compounds that carry the ingredients into the skin. I'd love to know more about that, so maybe if you were taking post requests, I'd love to know more about that, with examples of brands/products worth looking into. You're the best :D

  10. great post, so informative :D

  11. Only your readers, myself included, could read a fantastically well written piece regarding skin care and come away more enthused by your tea analogy than all the skin care guru'ness you shared! I knew the milk in at the same time as the bag was wrong and so never do it, but I didn't know why, the fat molecules thing has totally made my day, thank you!


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