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After living in Madrid for eight years, you’d think I’d be enjoying Britain’s heatwave. But since starting menopause, it’s not the heat that affects me so much as the impact it has on my skin.
As well as itchy skin from the lack of oestrogen, I’ve found I’m more prone to outbreaks and rashes once the temperature starts rising.
Thankfully, skin expert Dr Lauren Hamilton from London aesthetics clinic Victor & Garth is here with her colleague Dr Miriam Adebibe to help…
How to treat heat rash
Heat rash – or prickly heat, as it’s sometimes known – can appear on any part of the body. Its usually a red rash, which means it can be harder to see on black or brown skin, but the symptoms are:
- small, raised spots
- an itchy, prickly feeling
- mild swelling
While it sounds bad – and can look worse – there’s no need for concern, says Dr Lauren. “Unlike some summer skin conditions, they’re nothing to worry about and can be relieved with a hydrocortisone cream or aloe vera, plus a cool shower.”
However, you do need to take more care if you also suffer from any skin conditions that tend to flare up in the heat, Dr Miriam tells us, adding: “While some people find UV exposure can reduce the signs and symptoms psoriasis, for those with skin that’s sensitive to the sun it can exacerbate it and sunburn tend to make it worse.”
Dr Lauren’s advice: “Stay out of the sun where possible, especially around midday when it’s at its strongest, and always make sure you keep your SPF topped up.”
What about “bacne”?
Bacne! I love these terms. They say it all. Bacne is breakouts that occur on other areas of your body, such as your arms or your chest, and the heat can also play a part here, too.
Dr Lauren says: “The best way to prevent spots on your body is to extend your skincare products down the neck and onto the décolletage morning and night. Using a product containing BHAs [a skin acid that helps remove oil and dead skin] on the chest, such as salicylic acid, removes all of the dead skin cells and debris which will unclog pores and stop spots from forming whereas using body care products that contain lactic acid not only help with exfoliation, but also help to rehydrate skin without congesting the skin.”
I’m love the CeraVe range at the moment and use the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser*, which is foam-free and leaves my skin clean but not tight. If you suffer from bacne, then the CeraVe Smooth Cleanser* is for you. It has salicylic acid to unclog pores and treat inflamed pimples. (You can find out more about skincare acids here.)
As I know I will eventually get bored of CeraVe (I’m fickle, I know…) I’m also keen to try their Dirty Faace Cleansing Wash, which has natural AHAs for gentle exfoliation and zinc to ward off breakouts. I really liked their Menopause Faace facemask so I’d like to know if the rest of the range is as good.
How to treat a red face
Ah, the old favourite. You’re enjoying a sunny day out with friends, look drop-dead gorgeous and your make-up is perfect, and then bam! Suddenly, you look like Elmo from Sesame Street.
If this is you, then you need some anti-inflammatory products stat, says Dr Miriam.
“Exposure to UV radiation releases chemical messengers that cause blood vessels to enlarge, so your skin may feel swollen and appear red,” she adds.
“If your skin is sensitive after sun exposure, look for soothing products such as aloe vera. Vitamin C is also a wonder ingredient – as well as being an antioxidant, it’s also been shown to prevent the redness caused by the sun and helps to revitalise sun-damaged skin and fight off fine lines.”
For a natural eco-friendly product that will also help British business, try Wild Science Lab Juice Boost Brightening Serum, which contains aloe vera, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid to to help bring your sun-parched skin back to it’s radiant best.
How to stop spots
You think you grow out of spots when you hit your 20s – that’s what the myth says, anyway. Nobody tells you that menopause can bring them back! (Wouldn’t it be lovely to see a spot cream ad that featured an older woman on it???? Never gonna happen…)
Of course, lifestyle can play a huge part in breakouts, especially in summer. You’ve got sweat, heat and sunscreen to start with, then you can add the office air-con, together with the likes of sand, salt water and summer tipples at the beach bar (if you’re lucky) or the office air-con.
I mean, it’s no wonder your skin breaks out.
If this is you, then one of the first products you should look at is your sunscreen, says Dr Lauren. “In the summer, sweat and SPF can cause irritation to skin so chose your skincare products carefully. SPF is obviously non-negotiable, but try to choose one that’s oil-free. People tend to suffer from acne in the summer because the hot weather means we sweat more, which in turns means more oil accumulates on the skin. This then acts to block pores, fuel bacteria and ultimately result in spots.”
Read my guide to sunscreens for more…
A huge thank you to Dr Lauren and Dr Miriam. If you want to find out more about their work, check out their uber-cool website at Victor & Garth and follow them on Instagram at @victorandgarth. (Psst, it would be lovely to see some midlife women on your feed! You know where I am…)
What skincare products do you rely on in summer? Let me know in the comments below. And don’t forget to subscribe to get my free 20-page guide to menopause, HRT and more…