Psoriasis is an extremely common skin condition, but it is manageable. On World Psoriasis Day, makeup artist and psoriasis sufferer Charlotte Brooks shares the best beauty products to keep flare-ups at bay
When you meet Charlotte Brooks, a 24 year old makeup artist from Watford, you would have no idea she managed a skin condition. Psoriasis on her forehead and eyebrows is hidden by flawless makeup which she has mastered after years of trying various products.
Charlotte is one of the two per cent of the UK population who suffers with psoriasis, a genetic skin disease in which the immune system causes skin cells to reproduce too quickly. The National Psoraisis Foundation says, ‘A normal skin cell matures and falls off the body’s surface in 28 to 30 days. However, skin affected by psoriasis takes only three to four days to mature and move to the surface.’ Instead of falling off, the skill cells pile up to form raised, red, flaky patches of skin which can become itchy and sore. These most commonly appear on the knees, elbows, scalp and lower back.
When Charlotte first went to the doctor during her first year of secondary school, she was told 75 per cent of her scalp was covered with psoriasis. It was thick and sore, and began spreading to her arms and legs. There is currently no cure, so Charlotte has managed her condition using creams and a light therapy treatment available on the NHS called phototherapy, which uses ultraviolet rays similar to those found in a tanning bed but in safe, therapeutic dosages. In fact, natural sunlight on holidays, as well as the de-stress effect, have been Charlotte’s greatest remedy.
‘Stress makes my condition ten times worse’, she says. ‘If I am stressed I will have a flare up around two weeks later. If I drink alcohol, it will come up 2-3 days later.’
At the moment Charlotte’s psoriasis appears in ‘raindrops’ across many parts of her body, and more persistently on her back, stomach and around her face. With an expert hand at makeup, and an inside knowledge of the industry, Charlotte tells Healthista the 19 makeup and skincare products that she swears by, and could work for you too.
‘To take off makeup, I don’t use face wipes as these strip the face of it’s natural oils and it can be quite harsh rubbing the cloth. This micellar oil uses nothing other than your hands. I use two pumps to rub over the face and remove make up, even waterproof and long wearing.
‘I look ridiculous because I have black mascara all over my face, but then the oil emulsifies and becomes white as you add water and massage any dirt away. I sometimes have a facial with Decleor – who you need to know about if you have interests in skin health. Their aromatherapy essential oils come in little bottles and despite being all natural they still have light fragrances.’
‘I use this as my daily cleanser in the morning and evening. Kiehl’s have explained to me before that calendula flowers are anti-inflammatory and have natural healing properties. So they are really good for reducing redness in the skin and locking in moisture. I’d say this is good for anyone with skin complaints, as it leaves the skin so soft. I put two pumps into my hand and lather it with water and that’s enough.’
‘This serum is quite expensive but it’s an absolute favourite. One of the ingredients is glycerine and anything that has glycerine in will help the skin to retain moisture – exactly what you want for skin conditions – by attracting water molecules. After using my skin feels more plump and even, which is just what I want considering psoarisis makes the skin lumpy.’
‘This multi-peptide serum is a good cheap alternative to the pricey serums out there so I use it on a daily basis. It’s got an array of advanced ingredients which makers claim are antiageing, such as hyaluronic acid and Matrixyl 3000, to help with the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles. It goes on a bit like a gel formula which melts into the skin but leaves a nice slick, hydrating the dry areas.
‘I haven’t found that cheaper products are less effective or that they have more chemicals in. The Ordinary are what they say on the tin without any sneaky added extras. Some of their products have retinols and acids but I just go for the simplistic ones as I don’t want to over complicate my skincare range. I’ve been through all the ingredients and I haven’t found anything to disrupt my skin.’
‘The reason I am using this is because it is sugar based. Microbeads (which are now banned in the UK) can be tough on the skin but sugar is gentle and dissolves as you rub it. My friend also recommended just using a couple of pieces of honey and sugar in a bowl stirred together – at least you know what’s in that. The honey is anti-inflammatory so I love any product which includes it.’
‘I have used face masks before but I have always been nervous about what I use. Make sure to do your research before buying something and finding it isn’t the best choice for people with sensitive skin. One I do use is Manuka Doctor APIClear Facial Peel.
‘It goes on very thick, dries, and then you peel it off from the chin upwards which has a plumping effect. It leaves my skin incredibly soft, that’s the honey working, but also slightly pink from the peel so I wouldn’t recommend using it more than once a week. Bee venom has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties and kaolin helps to clear impurities. I am obsessed with this!’
‘Generally my skin type is oily, but of course in the areas I have psoriasis, around my forehead and eyebrows, it’s dry. I try and use things that aren’t oily because where the patches of psoriasis are, it almost acts as a barrier – oil doesn’t get through that part of the skin, it just sits on top. So I tend to use things that are oil-free and water based or with glycerine that get through. This oil free lotion helps my skin because it doesn’t leave a residue and is very lightweight.’
‘I cleanse my skin and use Midnight Recovery before bed. You apply it with a pipette and it sinks into the skin quickly but works through the night to help renew the skin cells. It’s full of essential oils including lavender and primrose which are hydrating which also make it smell incredible. It’s like a mini relaxation facial in the evening. The omega-6 fatty acids and squalane are known to do wonders for anyone’s skin, too.’
‘My Nan showed me this shampoo when she read an article so I thought what was the harm in trying? It’s luminous pink and so cheap, but after 2-3 washes the psoriasis on my scalp was completely gone.
‘You massage it in, leave for a couple of minutes, wash out (it leaves your hair feeling like straw) and then use your usual products. When my scalp clears I don’t need to carry on using it, but if the psoriasis comes back, I just use it a couple of times and it clears. Friends of mine have also found this really works for them.’
‘I put Epsom salt into the bath and soak for around 30 minutes which makes my psoriasis more manageable. I do this once a fortnight but if I had more time it would be once a week. It removes the flakey bits of skin and then I moisturise after with E45 Body Lotion for dry skin, £4.33, which absorbs really quickly, or The Body Shop Olive Nourishing Butter, £6. I’m careful about high street brands but this one agrees with me. I can’t often get nice smelling things because of the alcohol in the fragrance, so this is a luxury!’
‘This is like a tinted moisturiser which I use for light coverage. It comes in eight different shades and because it’s lightweight it tends to suit all skin tones. It has a soft focus finish using HD pigments so when it goes onto the skin, if you have any red areas, it gives the effect of blurring them out. I love this because it gives the skin a really even complexion.
‘I’ve tried other tinted moisturisers, but this one has the added benefit of Coenzyme Q10 and vitamins C, E and F which are enriching for sensitive skin. I apply it with a Mac 170 Rounded Slant Brush, £28, using a buffing motion (circular whilst pushing into the skin). This blends it into the skin rather than leaves it sitting on top, which you can get with flat foundation brushes.’
For heavier coverage I Fix Fluid from MAC. If you are finding you have red areas that are hard to cover, this is the best makeup for that. It’s the closest oil free foundation they do, claiming to control oily skin with a matte finish. It sinks into the skin well and I like that it is buildable, meaning you can go for a natural finish if you want. Again, this has blurring focus molecules which creates a flawless look.
To apply, I use a Beauty Blender, £16, which is amazing for blending any skin makeup product to avoid the texture of dry skin coming through.
‘You can use this spray either before makeup as a primer, after or on it’s own. It’s not a setting spray but it is hydrating, being water based. To avoid a matte look which isn’t ideal when you have textured skin, I use this spray to create a dewy look. I spray it 30cm from my face and it comes out as a mist, evenly covering the face and bringing the products together. If you find make up is settling into a part of your psoriasis, this spray lifts it or makes it more able to be blended again.’
‘I get psoriasis in my eyebrows, so firstly I make sure I exfoliate them once or twice a week, really scrubbing to make sure all makeup product and flakiness is removed. As long as I do this and make sure the skin is hydrated, it will be ok.
‘For makeup, I use Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Promade. This is a popular product for eyebrows and is a wax product that you apply with an angled brush. It’s water resistant and last all day, but it isn’t tough to remove like I have found with other longwear eyebrow products. It lasts all day without irritating the skin on removal.’
Charlotte Brooks has been a makeup artist for six years, working with MAC makeup for four years. She has worked in TV, film, fashion and theatre. You can follow her Instagram here.