Saturday, 30 March 2013

Bex & Julz

On Tuesday 12th March, I went along to the launch and exclusive screening of Bex & Julz, an artistic collaboration of literature, visual art and performance. Rebecca Illing and Giulia Campaner founded the concept and have created four high fashion feature films; Morph, Waiting, Siblings and The Masters; each inspired by classic literature. 

The launch party was hosted at Proud Caberet in the city and exclusively showcased the films whilst recreating the Midnight Ball scene from Bulgakov's classic, The Master and Margarita. It was a wonderful evening, a celebration of Russian glamour and excess, great Balkan music and some tasty food and drinks too. A high profile crowd from the arts and fashion world attended and I spotted Proudlock from Made in Chelsea too.

I highly recommend Proud Caberet; this was my second time there and it makes for a fabulous alternative evening out. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more from Bez & Julz in the future, and I found it really refreshing to witness such creative freedom in action. Their films were fresh, arresting and inspiring.

Proud Cabaret (city),
No.1 Mark Lane,
(Corner of Dunster and Mark Lane),
London EC3R 7AH

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Visit Stockholm

I loved Stockholm! It's true what they say, your wallet will get a proper bashing, but it's worth every penny. If you drink, buy your alcohol in duty free before you go. My favourite places were Riche (if SATC filmed in Stockholm, they'd film here), Marie Laveau, Under Bron, Rosendals Tradgard, Acne and Marimekko. Top tip: buy food in ICA Supermarkets; cheap and delicious, leaving you with more money to spend on shopping!

We stayed at Hostel Stockholm (booked through Hostel World). Hostel Stockholm is as clean, stylish and slickly run as any hotel, but with the benefit of your own kitchen to prepare your supermarket delights. We opted for a four-bed dorm, paying a bit more to have the place to the three of us. We had an en-suite bathroom. The staff are friendly and helpful (even booking our table at Marie Laveau and organising taxis) and there's a strict 'no booze' policy, you don't have to worry about drunken teenagers.

Friday, 8 March 2013

SkinMed Interview with Peter Roberts

Peter Roberts founded SkinMed, a company dedicated to finding ‘Solutions for skin, medically tested’. Since my facial with Lee Garrett, I have been using products from SkinMed’s Aknicare range and seeing amazing effects. As someone who has suffered with Acne since puberty, I was keen to find out more about the range which has has delivered such amazing results. 

There are a lot of skincare products out there – what sets SkinMed apart from the rest?

I come from the research and medical side of skin, having worked in pharmaceuticals sector for 20 years. My wife Carole, is in the business now and has worked for businesses such as Helena Rubinstein and Revlon. As more skin products moved from prescription to OTC, I saw more and more opportunity in the growing aesthetics field and through my initial research I was shocked at the unsubstantiated claims made by a significant number of products. SkinMed will not sell anything that is not proven, we are very much on the medical border and our expertise is very much about sorting out skin problems such as resistant acne, T zones, rosacea, melasmas etc. However we do effectively deal with scars and stretch marks and there are similar processes for treating aged skin with lines and wrinkles. All our products have been trialed by dermatologists and surgeons and there is published data. If we cannot fix it we tell you. If your problem can be sorted out by creams, we will not try to push you into expensive clinic treatment programmes. We are scientific, too much for some, but knowledge, research and constant innovation (thoroughly researched and tested) are the keys to success and we have oodles of these characteristics.

It looks and feels medical and the results have been very impressive. Would an NHS doctor prescribe it?

A number of our products are medical devices and hence are only used by medical personnel and we do get private prescriptions. Some of our products have been added to the UK drug tariff (due to the strong clinical studies proving their effectiveness) and are prescribable on the NHS. However  skin issues like acne are not a priority for the NHS going through major change and getting our products added to the local G P prescribing formulary is a no go especially as the people who co-ordinate this are probably being made redundant. The interesting thing is acne, rosacea and other ‘allegedly’ minor skin issues are being pushed towards the private sector and self treatment is being propagated and so a lot of dissatisfied customers are having to access private or self pay treatment and they need advice. We can give this advice and it’s free!

Would you say it was better to invest in a few great products or experiment with many until you find something that works?
Most pharmaceutical companies work with the latter way. Most big pharmaceutical companies test hundreds of compounds and have usually made their first fortune on one. Tagamet, Ampicillin, Zantac, Prozac are all brand names that turned small companies into big ones. However we follow skin indications and we innovate from where we are, so it is a progression rather than a revolution. However this type of phased research sometimes has lead us to a revolution. So we focus on acne and all its associated issues. For instance we have just launched the first treatment systems dedicated to chest and back acne. No one else has done this but we know there are differences in the management to facial acne.

Skincare can get very confusing and there are so many brands which seem to be supported by scientific facts. At a basic level, which ingredients should you choose and which should you avoid?

Depends on what you are trying to achieve, but basically for good healthy skin you must manage water loss from the skin. The skin needs to lose water as part of controlling body temperature and water levels in the body and for other reasons, but if it loses water too fast the skin can become dry or actually oily because the skin compensates for the excess water loss by producing more oil to slow water loss this down. In fact acne is caused initially by a hormonally caused increased in skin water loss, not by bacteria. they get involved later on in the process. So manage skin lipid levels by ceramide-boosting creams and control skin water loss.

Secondly use a good UVa and UVb sunscreen all year round. The biggest way of reducing free radical ageing and damage (never mind skin cancer) use the new plant derived SPFs as the older titanium oxides etc are showing some issues in terms of maybe being a problem for the skin in themselves.

Thirdly, anything you can do to boost hyaluronic acid levels in the skin. This is the key molecule that we start lose around 28 (varies around this number). This is the ingredient which as it depletes leads to skin sagging, collagen and elastin changes, lines and wrinkles. Don’t wait until you see the wrinkles to have filler injections (contain hyaluronic acid), because hyaluronic acid levels are already too low. Do it before, supplement and protect and boost skin synthesis (Fillast is the product for this).

Lastly, a top anti-ageing tip: Never exfoliate in the morning, do it last thing at night so your skin’s acid mantle and langerhan cells (helps maintains skin immune status) can recover by morning. If you exfoliate in the morning, UV damage is much greater with the consequential ageing impact and also can lead to skin issues generally.

Describe a great skincare regime for someone who suffers with mild acne

I have trained in microbiology and unless the bacterial component of someone’s acne is a scarring risk. I do not recommend antibiotics as the bacteria are only causing a problem due to blockages of the hair follicle opening. I don’t like skin thinners or strippers (Exfoliants) like benzoyl peroxide which I think have harmful side effects, but also because they cause water loss as described above which can make the oil production increase etc.

A product that gently unplugs the blocked hair follicle ducts and the puts in an ingredient which stops the bacteria feeding on our oils, so it starves and instead it feeds on this ingredient which kills it is very clever and unlike antibiotics it can’t become resistant to it and also it does not affect your ‘good bacteria’ and so bacterial resistance is prevented (which is a major issue for MRSA in hospitals) would be my way. I would use Aknicare Soothing Cleansing Gel followed by Aknicare cream. I would also keep an Aknicare skin roller to zap existing spots. If I felt I needed some exfoliating wash I would use Aknicare cleanser. These products can be bought in pharmacies, online and in skin clinics like sk:n but we have some great offers on right now, with two key products for £20 (lasts 10 weeks) and then any other product for just £6.

Describe a great skincare regime for someone who suffers with severe acne

Well Aknicare has its heavyweight treatment which is Aknicare Lotion used in conjunction with Aknicare cream. As I said I would also consider a high dose 21 day course of a good antibiotic to reduce bacterial scarring risk although Aknicare in itself is very good in this regards. Some would use retinoids (vitamin A) to help normalise the skin but Aknicare is a topical product that has retinoid like effect. Not only that is  clinical study published in the British Journal of Dermatology the top dermatology research journal Aknicare slowed down oil production rates by up to 68% with the average at 53%. It got rid of old spots quickly and less and less new spots appeared each week of the study. It worked a lot quicker than antibiotics as described by the study’s author Professor Tony Chu of Imperial London (Hammersmith hospital) and President of the UK acne charity.

A study done in 5 university hospitals in Italy on resistant acne (failed to respond to conventional treatments) found that using four 30% Salicylic peels two weeks apart  which incorporated in the solution the key Aknicare ingredients had a 77% success rate when used with Aknicare cream in between. Remember these were patients who had not responded to antibiotics or other prescription products in 12 months.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Fighting Back(acne)

Everyone suffers with body spots from time to time and the back and chest are two of the most common areas to experience breakouts. I've had problems with this in the past, so have come up with a master plan to treat and prevent body acne.

Keep it Clean
It sounds simple, but it’s important you keep your back well-cleansed as sweat can clog pores (mmm). When I’ve been in the gym, I come home and scrub my back using a natural bristle brush from TKMaxx. The ones with detachable heads are best as you can use them to simultaneously battle cellulite. Steam from the shower makes for a deeper clean.

Cleansing products I like to use:
Quinoderm Antibacterial Facewash (I use this on my face and body)
Organic Colour Systems Soothe Plus (gentle, smells great)
Biolife medicleanse (for serious breakouts and rashes)

Cleanse with Caution
Shampoo and conditioner can get caught in your pores on the way to the plughole. Use organic formulations to maintain skin balance. I’ve been using Organic Colour Systems Status Quo shampoo and conditioner, which also protects from colour fade and UV damage.

Scrub it
A nice back scrub is a great twice-weekly treat. I’m using Ark Invigorating Body Scrub at the moment. Use a back brush to reach the ‘behind the bra strap’ bits which are prone to clogging.

Spray for a Miracle
A good treatment spray is a great idea, both as preventative and cure. I like Clarifying Body Spray by Murad. It has a clever nozzle which allows for a good wide spray. No piece of back is left uncoated.

Hermione Lawson, spokesperson for the British Skin Foundation says: “Acne is a very common skin condition that varies in severity from a few spots on the face, neck, back and chest, which most adolescents will get at one stage or another, to a more significant problem that may cause scarring and impact on self-confidence. Judging from the emails and phone calls we get, we know there are a large number of people out there who are deeply affected by their acne, yet don’t always have an obvious person or place to turn to about it. If you are struggling to control your acne using over the counter medication, our advice would be to take action sooner rather than later, and visit see your GP or dermatologist. They can advise you what treatments are available which can be very effective in preventing the formation of new spots and scarring”.
The British Skin Foundation is running a survey at the moment; take some time to take part if you can!

Thanks to for the image.