We’re always being told we need new beauty products. but there’s a whole realm of current beauty issues that not many people talk about, and not many mainstream beauty brands address. Real, not-always-aesthetic beauty issues that women and men deal with on a daily basis, but are for some reason considered ‘taboo’, or ‘unattractive’.
If you’ve ever had an issue with ingrown hairs, not worn a cami top because of body acne, avoided shorts or dresses because your thighs rub together, experienced boob sweat in a heatwave or kept your jacket on because of ‘chicken skin’ on your arms – you are not alone. These issues are so much more common than we think, and almost everyone has experienced at least one of them.
With these ‘taboo’ topics, the issue is most certainly that we’re made to feel abnormal, or somehow wrong for experiencing anything less than perfection. We’re supposed to just naturally look put together, and give off a cool, calm and collected demeanor, rather than the reality, which is us as a sweaty mess on the tube at 8am. The fact that these under-the-surface ‘beauty issues’ aren’t widely talked about merely adds fuel to our body-conscious fires.
So let’s talk about them. Let’s talk about how they affect us, and the treatments and solutions to ease our discomfort and encourage a little more confidence.
Your thighs rub together
Also know as ‘chafing’ or ‘chub rub’, this can be a pretty painful, uncomfortable reality for a lot of people, as many of us don’t have the thigh gap lots of publications would have us believe is the norm. A result of friction, it can often end with red, sore skin, and even bleeding. It makes the idea of walking anywhere an absolute no-no, and can also mean that half of your ideal summer wardrobe is out of bounds. Dresses and skirts? Only if you can wear cycle shorts underneath. Shorts? Forget it.
There are two options here. Keep the area dry by dusting powder on your inner thighs. Baby powder is great for this, but another option you may already own, or be more likely to carry around in your handbag, is a light translucent powder. This will reduce the friction and pull on your skin, and soak up any moisture, allowing for a seamless glide. Your other choice is to apply a balm to the area, which also gives your thighs that elusive gliding effect. Decleor’s Cica Balm has anti-inflammatory cica, while Australian Bodycare Balm has tea tree oil to soothe irritated skin.
You have ‘chicken skin’ on your arms or legs
Keratosis pilaris, aka ‘chicken skin’ occurs when keratin protein congests the hair follicles on your body. It usually occurs on your upper thighs and upper arms, and is recognisable by many red dots, sometimes raised. It’s most common in those who suffer from dry skin, though anyone can have it as the exact cause is still not known. It can also be exacerbated by sweating, making sports and summer a bit anxiety-inducing if you suffer from it.
There’s no all-out ‘cure’, but the condition can be managed by exfoliating acids to help reduce the keratin build up. Try Alpha-H Liquid Gold Resurfacing Body Cloths, for an easy yet effective treatment. They’re infused with the signature Liquid Gold blend of glycolic acid and botanicals, with a textured side to gently buff away dead skin cells, and a smooth side to smooth and hydrate the skin.
If you want to try products you already have on your bathroom shelf, you most likely already have skincare with ingredients that can help, such as a toner or serum. Ren Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic is a toner that contains chemical exfoliant.
Anyone who practices hair removal will know the irritation of ingrown hairs, caused by hair getting caught in skin before it can grow out of the follicle, so it grows into the skin rather than out. If you have sensitive skin that gets irritated by shaving, or curlier hair that has a tendency to grow back on itself, you’ll know this pain more than most. Summer can be a minefield for those prone to ingrown hairs – think more regular hair removal and more areas of skin on show.
Both shaving and waxing can lead to ingrown hairs, and the only way to completely eliminate then is to not remove hair in the first place (though the occasional one may still turn back on itself and grow into the skin), or to opt for laser hair removal, a more expensive but worthy solution.
If neither of those are the option for you, the best way to manage ingrowing hairs is to regularly exfoliate. This will reduce dead skin cells and therefore reduce the risk of hairs getting caught. Both manual and chemical exfoliators are great for this, and should be used every day.
Use a manual exfoliant in the shower (Rituals Body Scrub smells amazing, while Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Body is great if you have sensitive or dry skin), or a chemical exfoliant immediately after showering (try Jane Scrivner Skinfoliate, or Pixi Glow Peel Pads which are super easy and quick – perfect for travelling), as your pores will be open and more receptive to dead skin removal.
Another tip is to use a soothing cream immediately after hair removal (Decleor have a gel designed specifically for this, or use a product with soothing ingredients such as aloe vera) which will reduce inflammation, and if shaving, shave in the direction of hair growth for less irritation on the skin. Also ensure your razor blade is in good condition – Gillette recommends replacing your razor blade every one to two weeks if you shave daily, or every four to six weeks if you shave twice a week.
No matter what bra size you wear, it’s likely you will have experienced this to some degree. If its hot outside and you’re wearing a bra, chances are you’ll get the boob sweats. However those with bigger breasts will know better than most the fear of the under-boob sweat patches, and the uncomfortable stickiness and chafing that can come with it. Not only that, but this can actually cause skin sensitivity, and become susceptible to fungal infections if not kept in check.
The best thing to do is use antiperspirant. That’s right, antiperspirant isn’t just for your underarms – you can actually use it anywhere. It’s designed to prevent sweat from leaving your glands, so it’s perfect for anywhere you sweat. However if your skin is feeling sensitive already from chafing or rubbing, antiperspirant may not be the best option, as it won’t be all that gentle on irritated skin (though Australian Bodycare’s Deodorant is super gentle). Another option, as with thigh rub, is to use powder to soak up moisture and create a barrier. And if you’re worried about infections or want to soothe irritated skin, be sure to use an antibacterial wash like Australian Body Care’s Skin Wash to keep the area clean and fungi-free.
If spots on your back, shoulders, chest or buttocks are making you feel that you can’t fully embrace swimsuit season, you’re not the only one. We urge you to don that bikini anyway, but also understand it’s something you’d just rather not have to deal with.
Put simply, acne on the body is exactly the same as acne on the face – it can be hormonal, and can also be caused by blocked pores from oil or sweat. Luckily, it can be treated in much the same way too, with the same spot-fighting ingredients. The most effective of these is salicylic acid, as it helps to dissolve the bonds that stick the skin together, breaking up impurities and clearing pores, so it’s great for targeting excess oil and clearing blackheads. It’s both an exfoliant and an anti-inflammatory, so it will help clear congested skin while reducing redness and inflammation. Plus, the skin on your body is less sensitive than your face, there’s way less worry about overdoing it.
AHAs are also worth using, and again you may already have these in your skincare stash. If you’re short on time and want to combine your exfoliant and moisturiser, Gatineau’s AHA Body Lotion has natural fruit acids to gently exfoliate. And again, be sure to keep the area as clean as possible with an antibacterial shower gel. An option for hard-to-reach areas such as the back is an antibacterial spray, while wipes are great for when you’re out and about.