What is your body acne telling you?

There has been a lot of discussion on this blog about how face mapping can reveal underlying health problems through the location of acne on various “zones” that correspond to our internal organs. But this ancient science doesn’t end there: just as face mapping can tell what your facial pimples mean, mapping where you get pimples on the rest of your body can also help pinpoint (and thereby treat) internal imbalances that might be messing up your system.

So, on popular demand, I have gone back to the drawing board – consisting of ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic texts, as interpreted by 21st century’s cutting edge doctors – and distilled that knowledge into this easy-to-interpret “body map” of acne zones. Put simply, think of your body as a map and blemishes as X’s on that landscape. Spots in different zones correspond to different problems. Interesting, right? Try it out: here is how to decode breakouts in the basic body areas.

body-acne-meaningZone 1: Hormones

Like the jaw, acne on the neck might indicate that your adrenal glands (hormones) are in overdrive. Other options: stress or excessive sugar intake. That’s if you are not wearing shirts with tight collars or have greasy hair that constantly touches the skin in this area.

Zone 2 & 3: Stress

Shoulder acne could mean that you are overstressed, sensitive and vulnerable. Another alternative? Check whether your handbag strap is causing friction against the skin.

Zone 4: Digestive System

Are you wearing clothes that are not breathable – like polyester or nylon? Have you ruled out fungal infections (especially if you have little whiteheads on the chest that don’t respond to acne treatments) and allergies? If all these are clear, acne on the chest can point towards digestive troubles, like a poor diet, bad eating habits, having excessively spicy food or drinking too many cold beverages on a regular basis.

Zone 5 & 6: Vitamin Levels

Skin is coarser on the arms so you can get keratosis pilaris in this area. This appears as small spots that give skin a rough, goose-bumpy appearance. Keratosis pilaris is caused by poor circulation and overproduction of dead cells at the hair follicle. Try to treat it with regular exfoliation and moisturizers containing salicylic acid. If the problem persists despite this, it could be a sign of how efficiently your body is receiving and utilising vitamins from your diet.

Zone 7: Blood Sugar Levels

There are very few oil glands in this area, making stomach acne a rarer complaint. When zits do crop up here, it’s usually because of one of these reasons: tight fitting clothes or high blood sugar.

Zone 8: Hygiene or STDs

Utterly painful and pretty difficult to clear up because of this area’s high moistness factor, crotch or pelvic acne could crop up because of ingrown hairs from waxing or shaving. Then again, poor personal hygiene might play a role. More worryingly though, it could be warts or the symptom of an STD (especially if the spots itch, ooze or don’t show any signs of improvement after 3-4 days).

Zone 9 & 10: Skin Sensitivities or Allergies

Acne on the thighs and upper legs often comes up as a reaction to body lotions, shower gels, laundry detergent, fabric softener or dryer sheets. On the lower legs, there is the added factor of ingrown hair post-shaving or waxing. It’s best treated with a body wash that has salicylic acid (BHA) or glycolic acid (AHA) and a light, non-comedogenic moisturizer.

Zone 11 & 12: Nervous and Digestive Systems

This is the most common body area for acne and frequent reasons include allergies, excessive sweating, not showering after exercise, friction from athletic gear, clothes that are too tight and not breathable, backpack straps, irritation because of hair or body care products, reaction to laundry detergent, fabric softener or dryer sheets. If you have ruled out all these, evaluate whether your diet is loaded with fried and high calorie foods or you aren’t getting enough sleep… both could be contributing elements.

Zone 13 & 14: Digestive System

There are usually three reasons for acne to show up on the buttocks: underwear that’s dirty, not breathable or too tight; excessively dry skin; and poor diet or digestion, with too many cold drinks and too much spicy food. So if the zits don’t subside despite moisturizing your skin, wearing loose cotton clothes and keeping everything clean, start evaluating your dietary habits.

So the next time you break out on the back or shoulders, look to your body map: your skin is probably trying to communicate on behalf of the internal organs. However, do remember that, as with all medical issues, it is always best to see your doctor or dermotologist for a proper prognosis. I am not a doctor or a medical practitioner and this is just a general guide to head you off in the right investigative direction – just becuase you break out on the stomach doesn’t always mean you have high blood sugar!

Drink up (a pina colada!) for beautiful skin

My skin hates me at the moment 🙁 But with six weeks of continuous travelling, layers of makeup melting into every pore in the summer heat, three hours of sleep a night (if I am lucky) and loads of junk food, even I have to admit that it has good reason to pout and rebel. What I do hate though is its way of showing displeasure – zits like I haven’t had since the age of 14 in places where I never had them even when I was 14, blotchy patches that make any kind of cover-up crease and crumble, skin that looks grey and lifeless. Ugh!

perricone, smoothie, skin, pina colada, recipe, skincare, summerSo, it’s time to make amends and when the legendary Dr. Perricone started talking of a recipe that combines pina colada delectableness with loads of skin soothing benefits, how could I resist? A quick trip to the market and 10 minutes in the kitchen later, I can honestly vouch for its deliciousness.

The skin benefits, I assume, will take a little more time to show up but when they do, Dr. Perricone promises hydration, an Omega buzz that ups detoxification, boosts blood circulation and raises energy levels, and medium-chain fatty acids that make the complexion glow. In the long term, this coconut-almond-and-avocado pina colada is also supposed to help lose weight, lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. And yup, you can enjoy this healthy cocktail virgin (or not – I definitely did nothing of the sort!).

Ingredients

  • Half a cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup pineapple pieces
  • 1 small piece of avocado (about 1/5 of a large avocado or ¼ of a small one)
  • 1 tablespoon shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • Dash of vanilla extract
  • 2-4 ice cubes
  • Half a cup of water
  • Rum to taste (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender
  2. Blend until smooth and creamy
  3. Drink up!

BB Tea: Worth the hype?

kusmi-BB-teaForget the green juices and wheatgrass shots: our new healthy beverage of choice is the humble cup of tea. Except that it’s not so humble any more, what with the blending in of innumerable exotic ingredients – right from acai berries to rosehip chips – in a single cuppa. Case in point: Kusmi’s BB Detox tea, which is inspired by BB Creams and packs a potent skin protecting-moisturising-detoxifying punch with green tea, yerba mate, rooibos and dandelion – all topped off by the subtle taste of grapefruit.

Sounds interesting but I am not sure what makes it different from the other beauty teas out there – there is a brilliant one by Caudalie and another one by Fauchon – which are essentially a blend of green tea’s antioxidant and detoxifying powers, along with the skin boosting prowess of various herbs and botanicals. But then, I never really got the whole concept of BB creams either. Though, in this BB tea’s favour, Kusmi is definitely a terrific brand… it’s been around since 1867 and comes up with exquisitely delicious blends of black teas, green teas and infusions. So, even though its BB Detox Tea seems more like a piggybacking-on-a-popular-trend version of their already famous (and effective) Detox Tea, it’s worth the experience if you have €11.80 to spare for a box of 20 muslin-wrapped sachets.

Your thoughts? Would you try a cup of this grapefruit-flavoured BB tea? 

What to do AFTER a spa treatment!

For all the admonishments we get to arrive at least 20 minutes before the appointment, switch off the cellphone, steer clear of the razor and clearly communicate any discomforts, there is surprisingly little advice dispensed at the end of spa treatments on what to do in the hours ahead! But ignorance does not make for spa-bliss – in fact, since your body is at its most vulnerable immediately after a massage or scrub, it’s important to take precautions. This will not only help avoid damage to your skin but also optimise the skincare, wellness and feel-good results you paid for (often through your nose!).

post-spa1. Stay off the alcohol and cigarettes

Most spa treatments expel toxins by releasing them into your blood stream, from where they are gradually pushed out of the body – usually over 24 hours. Drinking alcohol and smoking can dehydrate your body and further increase toxicity, so avoid these for at least a full day.

2. Turn to water

In order to flush away these toxins and replace lost hydration (which is common after spa therapies), drink lots of fluids – namely water and green tea – for 24 hours post-treatment.

3. Eat light

Avoid eating a heavy meal for a few hours after the treatment as your digestion needs all it’s power to eliminate toxins. For optimum results, have a meal made with garlic, which lowers blood pressure, boosts circulation, reduces fat, and flushes toxins from the body. Your best bet? A light, Asian-inspired dish.

4. Load up on the fruits

Swap dessert for a platter of fresh fruits: chock full with vitamins, enzymes and water, these are the best option for maintain the health effects of any spa treatment.

5. Rest, rest, rest… and then rest some more!

A massage reveals its optimal benefits over a few hours, so you need some “me-time” to fully absorb the results of any spa session. By doing anything stressful, you might lose the effects of your treatment. Plus, any strenuous, rigorous or exciting activities (including steamy sex!), which make you sweat, will cause dehydration, leading to extreme fatigue. Instead, indulge in some quiet, relaxing pursuits like getting lost in a book or zoning away to music for 24 hours after your spa visit.

6. Resist the shower

Although it may sound counter-productive, if you have any treatments that use essential oils, creams or botanicals, refraining from rinsing off will allow your skin to soak up the minerals and anti-oxidants completely.

7. Skip the steam and sauna

You’ve been cleaned and steamed… heating up the face and body is going to strip away that just paid-for glow. And that’s highly avoidable, right?

8. Go light on home products

This is especially true if you have had a peel or scrub: adding on potent at-home products after these is a surefire recipe for redness. So, give your skin a two or three day break after a treatment.

9. Stay out of the sun

After a massage, peel or scrub, you’ve got a whole new batch of vulnerable skin cells that can easily burn in the sun. Better to stay in the shade and avoid the skin damage.

10. Sleep on a soft sheet

Your skin is super-soft after a spa visit (which is good). However, this also makes it super-prone to allergies, dust and harsh fabrics that can easily cause rashes and other irritations (which is bad). To avoid, sleep on a soft sheet – preferably silk or satin (sigh!) – that won’t irritate your skin. And, yes, stay away from those rough towels as well.