Dr Sam Answers Your Skincare Questions

Beauty Hacks

Dr Sam Answers Your Skincare Questions

If you follow me on Instagram, you’d have seen I asked you to send me your questions for a Q&A and I was inundated with so many that I had to do a dedicated skincare video and blog post. There’s nothing I love more than answering your skincare concerns and helping you find the best solutions so I hope the below is helpful and I look forward to the next one!

How do you take care of a massive cystic breakout before an important day?

The best plan of action is to treat it with the most powerful anti-inflammatory ingredients at your disposal. Use salicylic acid at a concentration of 1-2% such as Flawless Neutralising Gel, which is a powerful redness reducer and will help reduce swelling too. 

Once your spot treatment has absorbed skin, you're going to want to conceal it. Use a trusted concealer with a lot of pigment but that’s still relatively creamy. I like the Surratt Perfectionniste Concealing Palette for this as it’s blendable and easy to use, plus the range of shades is excellent.  

My final tip is to use the art of distraction. For example, if your blemish is on your chin, bring more attention to your eyes by using plenty of mascara or perhaps a winged liner. Use makeup as a tool to distract attention away from the area -   and then forget about it!

Will spironolactone mess up my periods? Is it birth control?

It’s not a birth control pill and it is not a drug that you want to take whilst pregnant. Yes ,  it can impact your monthly cycle and it is quite common to get breakthrough bleeding while taking it. 

This tends to be a dose-dependent side effect and if you're at the lower end of the dosing spectrum, taking 25 or 50 milligrams a day, oftentimes it won't impact your periods. In itself, that's not a harmful thing, but just make sure that if you're not on the contraceptive pill, that you are taking precautions to avoid pregnancy.

When are you going to launch an eye product?

An eye product is definitely on the horizon….but I can’t reveal more at this point! 

A targeted eye treatment is something that I want to add to the line because we currently don't have an active product for the eye area. We all know that the eye area is the first place to tell the tale of time but it needs special consideration because the skin is thin, delicate, prone to creasing and dark circles. 

It’s crucial to keep the skin around the eyes nice and thick but in the meantime, Flawless Moisturiser and Flawless Daily Sunscreen will definitely keep things in good shape!

Is it necessary to treat acne with a combined therapy like Differin and benzoyl peroxide?

Generally, yes because you need what I call a preventer step. Typically, it’s a retinoid unless you're pregnant, in which case you'd substitute it for azelaic acid. 

You want something that unclogs the pores, which is the first step in the pathway to developing acne and blemishes. 

Despite all the best preventative work, you’ll often still get the occasional breakthrough blemish, so you’ll need an anti-inflammatory treatment containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. 

Even if you’ve finished your Roaccutane journey, I advise my patients to use a long term retinoid and make sure that they have a targeted blemish treatment, too. 

How do I know if a moisturizer is non-comedogenic for my acne-prone, dry skin?

Stick with brands that are known for labelling their products non-comedogenic because it’s incredibly difficult to go through the INCI list to work it out by yourself. Typically, if you stick to brands like Dr Sam’s, Paula's Choice or French Pharmacy brands that are known for catering to breakout-prone skin, you should be in a good place.

Can the size of a pore become smaller permanently?

Pores are a source of much discontent. I rarely meet someone who is happy with their pores but pore size is dictated by several things. 

Firstly, it depends on how much oil is passing through it. A pore essentially is the ending of a  tube called a duct which is connected to a gland that sits deep in your skin. If there is more oil coming through the tube, it will appear more open than if there isn't very much oil passing through.

The second thing that dictates pore size is what is happening at the opening and whether there are dead skin cells collecting and making it look more prominent.  

Sadly the only things that control the amount of oil that we produce are oral medications such as the contraceptive pill and drugs that we use to treat acne such as spironolactone or isotretinoin. For most people, those aren’t viable options for tackling pores so the best thing you can do for clear pores is to use ingredients such as salicylic acid or topical retinoids that stop the skin cells from clogging up. 

The final thing to think about is as we age, our pore size can increase due to collagen breakdown. The key is to work on maintaining collagen because that will keep everything taut and perky, and keep the pore size unchanged. Retinoids are powerful because they tackle both aspects of clarity and collagen production. Sunscreen is also important because it protects your collagen and therefore keeps the pores their optimum size. 

Should I use mild exfoliants while on low-dose isotretinoin?

I don't think you should use any active ingredients whilst on oral retinoids, nor should you need to really. Isotretinoin in itself is such a powerful treatment for acne as it tackles all steps in the acne pathway. Generally, all you need when taking oral isotretinoin is to moisturise generously, cleanse gently, and wear sunscreen. Anything else should be discussed with your prescribing physician. You definitely don't want to be exfoliating dry, flaky skin because in general, any dryness or flakiness from taking isotretinoin or Roaccutane is due to lack of water in the skin - so actually what you need is more moisturiser.

Are Nightly and Brightly good in treating acne?

Flawless Nightly Serum and Flawless Brightly Serum are both designed to treat breakout-prone skin. They’re both anti-inflammatory, with Flawless Brightly Serum containing 10% azelaic acid and 5% azelaic acid in Flawless Nightly Serum; Nightly also contains  Granactive Retinoid, which is a powerful ingredient when it comes to unclogging pores and helping prevent the appearance of blemishes. 

The formulas are further boosted with niacinamide and bakuchiol, which are also anti-inflammatory and help calm, soothe and restore. The serums were created to be true workhorses, containing everything the skin needs to stay bright and clear in just one pump

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