Beczema on Facebook – hit ‘like’ for samples and freebies!

After I posted reviews on two brilliant products for eczema – Lycogel foundation and Herstat ColdSore treatment – the lovely people at both companies offered freebie samples for Beczema friends to try out for themselves.

If you would do me the massive favour of hopping over to Facebook, hitting the like button and telling me why you would like to try out either Lycogel or Herstat – you could be in with a chance of getting your hands on a sample of one these little pots of magic!

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Lycogel: make-up that protects and calms facial eczema?

During one of my marathon web surfing sessions searching for facial eczema breakthroughs and treatments, I stumbled across a foundation called Lycogel. Not the most glam sounding product I grant you but, so far, (and I always have to add that caveat as skin care products can turn on me like the wind!) not only have I found a make-up that I can use without it ripping my skin to shreds but I have also found a product that cools, calms and soothes and – now this might be complete fantasy – seems to protect it from all the allergens and irritants out there waging daily battle with my super sensitive and over-reactive skin.

(*p.s. see the end of this post for some Lycogel sample giveaways*)

I firmly believe that there is such power and value in working hard to maintain self-confidence when your skin is doing its best to bring you to your knees. But, I am also the first to admit that if it IS possible to look better I would not ignore that option. I believe that the importance of facing the world when your skin is at its worst and you just can’t look good is a battle worth winning for so many reasons, see earlier posts on this – but, until now, I never had a realistic alternative, at least not one that didn’t cause my skin more irritation and damage.

So, Lycogel, what is it?

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Lycogel is a camouflage foundation created primarily for the cover-up and recovery of skin after cosmetic procedures. Apparently its main properties are healing, soothing and non-irritant – the foundation also allows the skin to ‘breathe’ (it supposedly increases oxygen intake). By happy accident, the dermatologists using it for this purpose also discovered that it had positive effects on patients with extremely sensitive skin, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea.

Here’s what one derm had to say about it:

“Women with conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, or sensitive skin often find that they are extremely limited, if not prohibited completely, when it comes to what they can put on their face. Lycogel is the first truly breathable foundation that provides flawless coverage while improving and actually helping the skin. Most of our patients were introduced to wearing Lycogel after having a procedure done in the clinic, but now they wear it everyday!” Dr David Eccleston M.B. Ch.B. B.A.C.D

I must admit to getting a little giddy about those claims and, after checking that there were no immediately obvious allergens involved (it’s paraben and fragrance free), I dived straight in and ordered a sample from RedLite Online, the only online skin-care website that seemed to be offering samples.

Now, a quick warning, this stuff is not cheap. Even the teeny tiny sample cost around £5.00. The full bottle is around £45 – but I am prepared to stump-up the cash if it actually does the job, and indeed there are plenty of high-end foundations out there that cost close to that.

When it arrived, free, next-day delivery (thank you RedLite!) I had just recovered from a really nasty flare-up – I think, due to me having a horrible reaction to a test sample of some Bobbi Brown foundations which contained some ingredients that I have previously got on well with (evening primrose, shea butter etc). So my skin was still a little irritated, but pretty stable. Here’s how it looked:

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The day before application of Lycogel

Well, I can tell you the coverage of Lycogel is amazing, but I suppose it would be for something that is marketing itself as camouflage. But what I didn’t expect was how luxurious and ‘high-end cosmetic’ it was going to feel. It glides on like silk, is incredibly easy to blend with fingers, it evens out the skin tone and completely hides redness.

I had more than a few spots that day and it was pretty good at covering those too. It is also almost undetectable on my skin and it doesn’t sit it my creases or in my rather large pores. It doesn’t rub off on my clothes and it stays put all day. But best of all it doesn’t seem to emphasise my flaky patches of dry skin:

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With Lycogel

There are plenty of shades available and there should be one for most skin tones out there:

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I think I’m in-between ‘beige’ and ‘sand’. I’m wearing ‘beige’ in the pictures and I have just forked out for a full bottle in the same colour, I’ll probably have to get ‘Sand’ for summer (better start saving). Here are, from left to right ‘Pearl’, ‘Beige’ and ‘Sand’ swatched on my hand.

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From left to right, Pearl, Beige, Sand

Now, after a few days of wear I started to notice a few other things. My skin seemed to be more hydrated than usual, my usual moisturiser wasn’t being lapped up as quickly at the end of the day – it usually soaks into my skin like a bucket of water in a sand dune – and my skin was feeling more comfortable than it had done in a really long time. I might be talking complete rubbish, but Lycogel seems to be offering my skin a protective barrier to all the allergens out there which cause my skin to erupt at the very least a few days a month.

I am so careful about getting too excited about a product because, of course, there is no miracle pot of potion out there that will magically make our eczema disappear, but I am discovering that good management with the right products for me can make all the difference.

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Week two of wearing Lycogel – no reaction so far

I have looked into the ingredients of Lycogel and I have to say I am pretty impressed by what’s in it. Nearly all of them have some sort of proven anti-inflammatory, healing, protective or soothing property – which would make sense for something that you could slap on your face after a chemical peel. For example, included in what they are calling their ‘Lyco-Complex’ is:

  • Live Yeast Cell Derivative (LYCD – I guess that’s the ‘Lyc’ in Lycogel), which is anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant, cell renewing, smoothing, and moisturising.
  • Acetyl Tetrapeptide-15, which apparently increases the skin’s sensitivity tolerance threshold, making skin less reactive and diminishing sensations of pain and discomfort.
  • EpiCalmin TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), which combines three different plants that have been used in traditional Chinese herbal skin treatments. According to the promotional literature from the product manufacturers, this ingredient is, “a protective and soothing ingredient that helps reinforce the skin’s natural defence system. It makes skin feels soft, moisturised and comfortable and improves skin hydration and soothes irritation.”
  • Squalane obtained from Olives, an emollient which supposedly mimics our own body’s natural moisturisers
  • Olive leaf extract, which apparently has anti-inflammatory and antibiotic agents and can also prolong the shelf life of cosmetics (Lycogel contains no parabens).
  • Centella Asiatica Extract – which is also known as ‘gotu kola’ and Indian pennywort, a plant which grows around the Indian ocean. Apparently this has been used traditionally in the management of dermatological conditions, helps with the faster healing of small wounds, scratches and superficial burns, as well as being an anti-inflammatory for eczema.
  • Algae extract – in short supposedly acts as a moisturiser and a protective barrier. But if you want to read more, have a look at this study that quite amazingly suggests, in the case of atopic dermatitis, it could reduce the histamine levels and help protect and promote healing.
  • Artemisia Vulgaris Extract: derived from the Mugwort plant. According to my research it contains anti-irritant, anti- inflammatory agents that reduce redness and irritation.
  • Sodium hyaluronate, aka – Hyaluronic acid, which helps the skin hold on to water.

There are dozens of other ingredients and I have looked into all of them. You can find them here: Lycogel INCI List. The anti-inflammatory, healing and moisturising claims go on and on. These people have really done their homework. And on that note, I do think it’s a bit of a shame that the name and the packaging are quite so clinical, with the quality of these ingredients I can visualise something much more elegant and more consumer friendly. With all those amazing botanical ingredients I would humbly suggest that they take a leaf out of the Liz Earle book of marketing and promotion.

That aside – and who cares what it looks like on the outside when the contents are so brilliant – I truly LOVE this product. What it has done for me so far has been pretty amazing. Not only can I apparently finally wear make-up, not just to cover up any sore or red patches, but on the good days when my skin is fine I can wear it just to look better. And, all the while, safe in the knowledge that all those incredible ingredients are quietly working hard to improve my skin. Too good to be true? I’ll keep you posted.

LYCOGEL SAMPLE GIVEAWAY

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Now, when I contacted the good people of Lycogel to ask about their ingredients, they very kindly offered a few samples as giveaways for anyone else suffering from the same problem as me and would like to give it a go. (Please note – that I paid for my own supply of Lycogel). So, if you’re interested in trying it out for yourself leave me a comment telling me why and I’ll let you know if you’re one of the lucky ones. It would also be great if, when you’ve tried it, you write your own review which I will post here.

Make sure you check out the ingredients list here first though to rule out any of your known allergies: Lycogel INCI List

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Cold sore treatment that doesn’t dry out eczema

On the strength of a glowing review from fellow eczema blogger Ruth over at whatallergy, I decided to give Herstat Cold Sore Care a go as a treatment for my parched and perennially viral encrusted lips.

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Herstat ColdSore Care and Lip Care Stick

On top of eczema I am also very often plagued with cold sores – yes, I was first in the queue when they drew the skin condition lottery. This is very often as a result of the extremely dried out and parched skin on and around my lips – damaged skin is weak and vulnerable skin, just what the cold sore virus loves.

I was frankly terrified to leave my trusted Zovirax in the drawer, as this has been the only thing I have found to successfully stop cold sores in their tracks, but in an ironic catch-22, it always managed turn my lips into a Saharan flakey disaster, leaving the door wide open for more attacks.

During one particularly nasty attack, I counted around five budding baby sores, I decided that things couldn’t get much worse and so reached for a virgin tube of Herstat, one that I had ordered earlier.

The skin around my lips was so badly dried out it was hard to tell where the outline was. Not the best picture and doesn’t really capture the extent of the dryness – but …

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Cracked-up and ready to sore

So I just slapped it on and hoped for the best. Well, frankly, the effect was been nothing short of biblical. 24 hours later, the dryness has gone and the sores have retreated. I kept up the treatment and my lips now feel supple and comfortable. I’m now carrying on with the little stick of lip salve with a similar set of ingredients (I think):

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Herstat Lip Care Stick

I’m happy to report that this is also one of the best daily lip care products I’ve ever used – and believe me, my bedside table is a greasy graveyard of lip care potions.

After a little investigation into the ingredients via the Herstat website, rather disappointingly top of the list is plain old petroleum jelly. Yes, Vaseline. I have long had a bit of love hate relationship with Vaseline – on the one hand it often is the only thing to which I can turn to sort out my cracked-up skin but it is just so *greasy*, I feel like I’m slicked up and ready swim the channel. Hertstat, by contrast, appears to also contain some other emollient ingredients which makes the whole experience quite a bit more tolerable. Here’s what they have to say on the matter:

Herstat ColdSore Care ointment has been formulated to offer an ideal environment for effective healing. It does this by creating an emollient barrier over the affected area which helps retain moisture and protects against secondary infection. It has a pleasant vanilla aroma and is not sticky or greasy when applied. Plus, we use propolis as a preservative which means a tube of our ointment is self-preserving and will last a long time.

Alright then. Well, frankly Herstat had me at hello and I’m not planning on ever leaving the house without it!

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Beczema interview on Eczema Blues

A while back I was invited to be interviewed for the spectacularly comprehensive eczema resource blog Eczema Blues. Eczema Blues is written and compiled by Marcie’s mum, who gave up her job to care for her daughter after she developed the particularly severe skin condition at the age of two weeks. I’ve pasted it below but please do see the post in full at Eczema Blues.

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Eczema Blues: Hi Rebecca, thanks so much for taking part in my Friday blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! Let’s start with you sharing a little of your eczema history, when did you get eczema? 

Rebecca: Hi Mei, thanks so much for asking me to contribute.

I have actually had eczema all of my life and I can honestly say that, now I am in my 40s, I am finally coming to terms with it. But, I think that 40 years is far too long for anyone to spend in crisis about a skin condition. Yes, it can be physically debilitating at times, but mostly our lack of self confidence as eczema sufferers is related to a perception of how we think we look – so I started the Beczema blog in the hope that I can go some way to changing the way fellow eczema sufferers think and feel about going out into the world.

My eczema has not always been severe. I have had months where you would not even know I had it, but then it hits me out of the blue and really takes hold. When I was a child, it was mostly located in the usual spots – inside of elbows, backs of knees, feet – but also some very visible patches around my mouth and eyes. In recent years, it has struck my face more than it has anywhere else.

Eczema Blues: Share with us the visibility of your eczema: Is the eczema in patches, lesions or visibly apparent?

Rebecca: These days my eczema affects mostly my face. Flare-ups usually begin with intense itching, swelling and the appearance of random hives. Then it gradually worsens as the days go on, the swelling becomes more pronounced, deep creases develop around my eyes and my skin dries out to such an extent that it becomes visibly flaky, red and very sore.

Then my skin will crack – which is the painful part – sometimes making it very difficult and painful to even smile. Which is something I have had to teach myself to do even when I am feeling at my lowest.

Eczema Blues: How did your eczema affect your self-confidence?

Rebecca: During my school and university years my eczema was probably the biggest cause of anxiety for me. At school, I was called ‘porridge face’ and ‘E.T.’! Then in later years when friends all started using make-up, I was well and truly left behind. I couldn’t use anything on my skin except the big pot of white grease as prescribed by the doctor.

I think kids are actually much kinder these days; they seem to have a respect for others and a perception of people’s differences that seemed to pass people by completely in the 1970s. But, even so, the emphasis on appearance seems to have been heightened considerably in recent years – perhaps because we are ‘mis-sold’ an ideal of the perfect body by the media? The link between looking good and feeling good certainly seems to have taken hold.

According to a report in the UK, 60% of people have at one time or another felt ashamed of the way they look – and these are people with perfectly healthy skin. So, who can blame sufferers of eczema for wanting to hide away from the world. If folk with lovely stretchy, elastic, non flaky, non red skin are hiding themselves away because they don’t live up to the ideal – then, frankly eczema sufferers have a much better excuse.

Except, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that by withdrawing from the world, you are stirring up eczema symptoms and creating a situation for yourself  whereby your condition is likely to get  worse.

Two dermatologists from the US, Dr Richard Fried and Dr Fran Cook-Bolden have looked closely at the ‘Skin-Mind’ connection in the treatment of eczema. They have evidence that patients with eczema actually get worse when they are under times of depression or anxiety.

Not surprising to any of us who have had the inevitable eczema flare-ups around exam time, interviews, wedding days! But, while a withdrawal from public life might seem like the most comfortable option during really bad bouts of eczema, the sense of isolation that results from hiding away can contribute significantly to longer term depression.

The self-perpetuating viscous cycle that exists between skin and negative emotional states is a real problem and one that, if you can tackle and overcome to some degree can actually help and improve your eczema symptoms.

It has taken me nearly 40 years to get there myself and I know that it takes a massive effort to be confident with problem skin – lots of talking to yourself into things that you find uncomfortable.

But, take it from me, the pay-off is huge. I don’t know what my face will look like when I wake up in the morning, some days it’s fine but some days it looks like I’ve been stung by a swarm of bees and been given a chemical peel during the course of the night.  But, one thing I can guarantee is that at least one day out of seven, I’m not going to look good.

So, after decades of hiding I have made a huge effort to break that link between looking/feeling good.

Eczema Blues: One final question – How is your confidence now and how has this journey changed your view of yourself?

Rebecca: I would love to say that I have totally tackled and completely conquered my lack of self-esteem and confidence as a result of my facial eczema, but the truth is – it is a daily battle.

If I am honest, I have to give myself a pep talk before any public events when my eczema is at its worst. For example, this weekend I had a party to go to – a garden party in the middle of the grass-pollen season! Naturally, my skin allergies and resulting eczema showed up right on cue. My skin was angry, red, and unbelievably itchy.

But, I put my best foot forward. Put a smile on my face and introduced myself to lots of new people – asked them questions about their lives and totally ignored the elephant in the room (well, the garden).  And it worked. I didn’t allow myself to hide away in a corner like I might have done some years ago or make excuses for the state of my skin, I didn’t let it rule my life. Not only did the satisfaction from winning that particular battle feel amazing – I had a great time!

Eczema Blues: Thanks Rebecca for taking time to share your personal story.

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Eczema skin care routine

I have been inspired by two women recently to devise and stick to a proper facial skin care routine i.e. not just slapping on a load of emollient over a dirty face. Soap and cleansers always dried me out or aggravated my skin so water was about the harshest cleanser I would subject my face to – and in truth only if I could be bothered at the end of the day. Using that particular skin-care ‘routine’ – the first picture was how I ended up looking a lot of the time – and the second is a good skin day following a new routine and with no flare-ups.

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I google eczema and eczema skin care almost to the point of obsession and in the process I stumbled across the inspirational Dr Cook-Bolden, Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Columbia University (you should really read what she has to say about the skin-mind connection here). This is what she has said about eczema and skin-care:

“Proper cleansing and moisturizing is vital in terms of healing. You really have to partner your traditional medical therapy of atopic dermatitis and psoriasis with the proper skin care, and that is key in maintaining that barrier not only in psoriasis or atopic dermatitis but also in acne and rosacea. It’s really very key in the whole process.”

Oops, OK – rumbled.

She goes on to say that cleansing removes dirt, of course, but also any possible irritants that if left on your skin may cause a reaction. But it’s the moisturisers where she really dishes the Doctor scoop:

“When you look at the different types of moisturizers, you’ll find humectants, you’ll find occlusives, and you’ll find emollients. Your humectants are the ones that attract the moisture and help to keep it there. The occlusives really focus on helping the skin barrier, providing another barrier, and things like petrolatum are great occlusives. When you talk about humectants, you’re looking at ingredients such as alpha-hydroxy acids, glycerol, and hyaluronic acid. When we use the term emollients, that’s a term I’m sure even we use interchangeably with moisturizers. Emollients really describe the types of moisturizers that soothe and calm the skin as well as provide some sort of barrier function.”

Humectants, occlusives, emollients. Oh my! But where to start?

I have been using Aveeno for years. But lately, it really wasn’t hydrating deeply enough. I have already blogged about Pure Potions Skin Salvation, which has really helped calm my skin and to keep it from drying out, but it’s not really the kind of moisturiser you’d like to work in to your face twice a day as part of a facial skin care routine – it’s just too thick and heavy.

At the beginning of this post I mentioned two inspirational women – the other being Sali Hughes, the Guardian beauty columnist and author of Pretty Honest: The Straight-Talking Beauty Companion.

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In my last post I admittedly had a bit of a rant about her notion of the look good/feel good connection but ultimately I think she’s got an amazing understanding of skin and the book has been a great help to me in getting to grips with the efficacy and potential effects of the thousands of skin care ingredients included in the millions of available skin products.

In one very poignant section of her book she discusses the kinds of emollients and creams you are likely to be prescribed by the doctor for cleansing and moisturising:

Having been on the receiving end of many of these prescription creams for many years, I will say that I find them less effective than great-quality creams made by non-pharmaceutical brands. This, I believe, has more to do with cost and budgetary restrictions than the genuine belief of well- meaning derms that these greasy, mineral- oil- rich lotions are actually the best thing. But that is only my opinion as a long-term NHS derm patient who comes from a pro- science and largely pro- chemical stance.

I would have to agree with her here – especially after the great aqueous cream scandal which was uncovered a few years back. Read all about it here, but essentially the cream was being prescribed by GPs for years as an emollient when it should only ever have been used as a cleanser – it contained detergents which, when left on the skin, caused the skin to dry out. I remember it well – slathering it on and then ending up in tears of horror as my whole body desiccated before my very eyes.

Sali talks about lots of different skin care products and makes recommendations based on your skin type, mine being dry, dehydrated and sensitive – as well as eczema-riddled of course! I have followed many of her recommendations to the letter and keeping in mind Dr Cook’s cleansing advice, here’s what I’m now doing:

Cleanser: Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser.

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Apparently Liz Earle had eczema and so combatting her skin care issues was largely the inspiration behind the massively successful brand – this was enough for me to give it a go alongside a recommendation from good old Sali. The cleanser is fantastic for my skin, has never caused irritation, in fact on the contrary – even when it’s at it’s worst, angry and red this visibly helps to calm it down. The soft muslin cloth gentle exfoliates and sloughs off those dry skin flakes. So that’s my cleaning done, onto the hydrating.

Serum: this is a skin care step I had never heard of before, but I am reliably informed by Pretty Honest that the fine texture, “penetrates quickly into the upper layers of the skin” and contains, “higher concentrates of key ingredients than moisturisers.” As Sali has dehydrated skin and ichthyosis I was keen to ape whatever she was using and to my slight horror that was a product called Advanced Night Repair by Estee Lauder.

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Yes, it’s one of those hugely expensive anti-aging skin care products marketed at women heading into their twilight years. But it is packed full of hyaluronic acid, Dr Cook-Bolden remember, and lots of other ingredients that help to calm and moisturise the skin.

Take a look at this post on the blog Clemmie’s Big Sister for a full breakdown of all the amazing ingredients and what they do for the skin. It feels amazingly hydrating and I do think it has made my skin feel softer. Hand on heart, I do think this is working for me. Is it worth the price of half a week’s grocery bill? I’m not sure, but I’ll keep you posted.

Mosituriser: Now this where I have had to really take a punt. I am baffled by the thousands out there and have almost run away screaming at the vastness of the decision – so I confess to having a go with the Liz Earle, non perfumed Superskin moisturiser – mostly on the strength of the brilliance of Cleanse and Polish.

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Among lots of other ingredients it contains: shea butter, glycerine – which helps the skin to hold onto lots of water, just like hyaloronic acid (humectants remember), borage oil – which contains gamma linolenic acid which, according to Liz Earle, “helps to lock moisture onto the skin” and Vitamin E – which, according to Sali, us eczema patients are more likely to be deficient in.

At first it didn’t seem to offer sufficient hydration – a bit of a long-running issue I have with most moisturisers and something I get around by applying some of the gorgeously soothing Pure Potions Skin Salvation skin salvation

But after a few days it did start to make a difference. It also comes in quite a swanky pot and forgive me for being a complete sucker – but it feels like a little bit of luxury. *Bleaugh, I hate myself a little bit for saying that!*

We’ll see – I’ve only been doing this for a few months, but I have definitely seen some major improvements and have had the longest run of good skin days for years – I won’t lie to you, I have had a couple of horrible flare-ups which I have managed with *very* short doses of prescribed eczema creams – steroid/protopic.

But for what it’s worth, here I am looking smooth, eczema-free and almost comfortable with having my picture taken!

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So come on then – what’s your routine? What works for you?

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Eczema and the gaping gender beauty divide or Channeling my inner Bill Murray

I have been reading Sali Hughes’ beauty column in the Guardian on Saturday for years now and I love her honest, no nonsense style. The ability to change the way you look with make-up must be incredibly liberating; to be able to reflect or deflect your mood with colour and pizazz I imagine is a joyous affair. But it is something I’ve never really been able to participate in – whenever I’ve tried it’s resulted in some fairly horrible skin reactions – completely counterproductive, so frankly I just stopped bothering.

So it surprised me to find out that Sali is an ichthyosis sufferer. Ichthyosis is a pretty miserable skin condition, it’s the result of a faulty gene affecting the rate at which skin regenerates – it either sheds old skin cells too slowly or skin cells reproduce too speedily. Whichever it is, it results in a build up of rough ‘fish scale’ skin. If you want to know more about ichthyosis visit the amazing Carly Findlay’s blog all about her life managing the skin condition and her battle with appearance diversity.

This year Sali published, Pretty Honest: The Straight-Talking Beauty Companion and on the strength of the fact that I love reading her writing and that she is a fellow ‘scaley’ I thought I’d have a read.

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Straight away I felt a tiny bit deflated, here’s what she has to say in the introduction:

“There are two mantras I live by. The first is my grandmother’s. One day, as a very little girl, I sat on her bed watching her spritz on Yardley English Lavender perfume, powder her face from a gilt Stratton compact and slick on her fuchsia No7 lipstick. Transfixed, I asked her why she wore make-up. Clicking the lipstick shut she said, matter-of-factly, ‘Because when I’ve got my make-up on, I’m always ready. Imagine if I was out and got some lovely invitation that I couldn’t accept because I wasn’t looking and feeling my best? With make-up, I’m always able to go on the adventure.’ I never forgot it and I apply the same theory to most days. The other is one that I remind my friends of whenever they’re feeling ill or blue, and I invariably send them a huge care parcel of beauty products and make-up. I believe that the only thing worse than feeling like crap, is looking like crap too. Often we can’t do anything about the former, but I feel passionately that addressing the latter can only help.”

I have had to work so hard on my ability to separate those two things: looking crap/feeling crap. See, Feel the eczema and do it anyway for much more on this. For the most part I can do it. But there are days when I really can’t – armour at the ready – scarves, hoods, eyes down.

And today is one of those days.

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On days like this I have to confess I do get a bit agro. I get angry at the unfairness of the gaping gender beauty divide. One image from last year really stuck in my craw. It was Bill Murray on a water taxi in Venice, flanked by two young beautiful women with perfect skin, on his way to the wedding of George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin. His face resembled mine on a bad day – puffy and red with not a scrap of make-up on. Google it and have a look. Now honestly, if that had been a female actor contemporary of Bill Murray’s up there waving gladly at the world’s press (and good luck gathering more names of women in this category than you can count on the fingers of one hand), it would have been front page news. Imagine Meryl Streep up there with a blotchy puffy face. I can just imagine the headlines.

Bill Murray felt able to ‘go on the adventure’ that day – it looked like a hoot and I reckon everyone probably had a great time. It was stylish, sparkly and shiny – legendary Hollywood glamour. I wonder if he cared about how he looked that day – maybe he did, who knows. Maybe he gave himself a little pep talk before he left the house, we’ll never know, but there is no denying that there was one rule for the men and another for the women. I can’t even conjure up a name of a female in the public eye who would have so confidently set off into one of the most photographed events of the year looking like he did.

But here I am, looking like that today. I don’t have a hollywood wedding to go to (that’s next week) but I do have a presentation to prepare for tomorrow where I might even have to appear on camera. And right at this moment, that fills me with dread. I’m going to have to dig very deep to channel my inner Bill Murray. Wish me luck!

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Skin Salvation, Selexir Peace Balm, Gentle Green Soothing Cream – early impressions

Over the last couple of months I’ve been trying out a few potions that have hit the market – all with anecdotal evidence to support great effects on eczema and dry skin – holy grail miracle creams according to some of their reviewers. All of them, I think, have been developed out of a need to find something that worked for the creator’s children or the creators themselves as an alternative to existing emollients and to avoid the need for steroid creams.

As everyone who suffers from eczema knows – what might be a miracle cream for one could fall flat for another and at worst cause a horrible reaction. There is also the massively disappointing scenario whereby the cream works miracles one week and appears to be the cause of a flare-up the next.

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But, the skin on my face has been so inflamed,puffy, creased and flaky over the last couple of months – my usual routine of Aveeno and Vaseline with a short blast of steroids to tackle  intense flare-ups has not really cut the mustard. So I decided to take the plunge and have a go at these little pots of mystery.

Here they are from left to right:

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1. Gentle Green Soothing Cream

2. Selexir Peace Balm

3. Pure Potions – Skin Salvation

selexir

Selexir Peace Balm

I first came across this after a glowing review on Twitter which claimed to work miracles on the blogger’s skin.

This cream/balm is the result of Selexir founder Elena Herdieckerhoff’s personal quest to find a solution to her own skin condition – soon after that friends and family were asking if she could make more for them and Selexir was born.

It’s not cheap, 15ml for around £25 and then getting on for £60 for 50ml, which I guess is down to its long list of botanical ingredients:

Black currant, black cumin, shea butter, aloe vera, honey, beeswax avocado, evening primrose oil, radish root, Japanese honeysuckle, garden honeysuckle, extract of poplar bark, centella asiatica extract, chamomile, calendula, witch hazel, cupuaçu seed extract, lavender oil, mango seed butter – to name but a few!

I wanted to like this cream so much, given the many documented success stories, and was prepared for a lifetime of shelling out a small fortune if it worked. But after the first application I’m sorry to say it really did nothing to calm my red and inflamed skin and even after several layers it didn’t manage to hydrate sufficiently to penetrate the awful flakiness.  I am very well aware that you need to give skincare weeks to truly know whether or not it is having a long term  effect – but I needed instant relief and this just didn’t do it for me.

Gentle Green Soothing Cream

gentle green

My son suffered very badly from eczema all over his little body when he was 5 – scratched himself raw, wore bandages to school, cried himself to sleep – life was miserable. Until we found eczema clothing – enclosed cotton pyjamas with no inside seams meant reduced scratching at night and the lessening of the symptoms. Highly recommended for anyone in the same situation. (www.eczemaclothing.com) After he suffered the worse case of chicken pox I’ve ever seen at the age of 6 – the eczema happily disappeared.

But I still get the catalogue. And on the pages of the latest issue – there was an ad for Gentle Green Soothing Cream. I’d just been paid, so I decided to treat myself. £30 for a pot.

Gentle Green Soothing Cream was created by Hannah Pearson at her home in Devon. She suffered from severe eczema as a child which inspired her to create an alternative to conventional steroid treatments.

Ingredients: Shea Fruit butter, Avocado butter, Coconut butter, Sunflower oil, Rosehip seed oil, Hemp seed oil, Sea Buckthorn fruit, Marshmallow, Calendula, Chickweed, St John’s wort, Nettle leaf, Roman Chamomile, Manuka, Lavender.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the Green Cream is orange. It’s a little like the consistency of set honey. But when applied instantly turns into a kind of wet slippery thin grease which takes a long while to sink in. This was totally not for me from the moment of first application – it did hydrate me immediately but left my face so wet and slippery it would have been impossible to feel or look dry. After it did sink in I’m afraid I felt like I needed an immediate top up. Again, I really wanted to love this. I admire and support the efforts of sufferers to find a solution to their own skin problems but, like I said earlier, each eczema sufferer’s skin is so different, with different needs and unique reactions. Wet and slippery might be just up your street – but I needed something with more welly!

Pure Potions Skin Salvation

skin salvation

I have naturally saved the best till last.

Pure Potions Skin Salvation is yet another kitchen sink tale of eczema woe. A Brighton based mother was exasperated by the state of her daughter’s skin and the lack of help offered by medical staff other than to blast with steroids (which, for my skin, I need to do from time to time) – so, yes you guessed it she came up with her own. I really take my hat off to these domestic alchemists – I wouldn’t have a clue where to start!

This is from the Pure Potions website:

“Natalie Balmond, founder of Purepotions, formulated the first of her products when her daughter Lula was suffering from a chronic dry skin condition.

None of the treatments she had tried, conventional GP-prescribed creams or alternative remedies,alleviated the itching and soreness that was causing Lula a great deal of distress. Lula was so poorly that 90% of her body was covered in open bleeding sores and she had to be wrapped in bandages every day. Natalie was desperate to find a solution and finally she took matters into her own hands.

With much determination and experimentation, Natalie developed a natural salve in her own kitchen, using a combination of herbs and oils which dramatically improved the condition of her daughter’s dry skin.”

The ingredients:  Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Cera Alba (Beeswax), Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Seed Oil, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria), Stellaria Media (Chickweed) Extract, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract.

£12.99 for 60ml.

Well, after I had scraped out my first, very solid, finger load (think the consistency of butter straight from the fridge), warmed it in my fingers and applied to my face … aaaah – instant relief. It is a balm-like consistency, but once you’ve scooped out the tiniest amount and started working it into your skin it turns into another slippery hydrating treatment. But this one does soak in and it leaves my skin feeling soft. You wouldn’t want to leave your front door straight after applying it, you do look like you have a face full of grease for some time, but for me anyway it offers some real hydration on top of my regular emollient.

But the best thing about Pure Potions is that it helps to calm the anger and fire in my skin when I’m having a horrible flare up. Anything thin with a liquid consistency can really burn when I put it straight onto my inflamed skin and this is where skin salvation really earns its stripes.

So, I’ll leave you with an image of pure comfort and joy. It’s very early days yet – but here’s hoping.

purepotions

 

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