Good skin is not simple and it is not easy. Despite discipline, expensive products and avoiding all the classic ‘skin evils’ (excess sun, sleeping with make up on, tons of alcohol), sometimes your skin still doesn’t look good. It can be very frustrating when your skin refuses to behave.

Bad skin is becoming more common. Dermatologists Dr Nick and Dr Philippa Lowe have noted an increase in patients in their 20’s coming into their clinic with spots and acne. The trend is unusual given many of these people did not suffer with spots as teenagers. 

So what is going on?

Water.

But water is good for your skin I hear you cry? Yes, but tap water, specifically London tap water, is not. There is lots of evidence that suggests London tap water is high in oestrogen. This is because there are a huge number of people in the capital on the contraceptive pill and the hormones do not get filtered out of the water.

Excess oestrogen causes our individual internal hormone levels to become out of balance and has a big impact on everything from skin, female fertility (PCOS is an oestrogen dominant condition) to male fertility (man boobs I am looking at you). Late onset acne is difficult to treat and antibiotics may not do the trick and have some pretty nasty side effects (killing good bacteria in the gut causing things like a weakened immune system, allergies, and yes…you got it… worse skin!).

So what can we do?

1. Get a water filter

There are lots out there so do some research as to which type works best for you (but be cautious to not get one that strips out all the good minerals too). This should help reduce the oestrogen load on your body. Remember that bath and shower water counts too! 60% of what we put on our body goes into our blood stream so the more you can filter the better. If you can afford to do both, we would recommend it (especially if you have a lot of baths).

Our favourite filters are – Berkey (the best, expensive but very good see here what it removes), Brita (a good entry level filter but filter needs changing often and does not remove everything) and Reverse osmosis filters (Remove everything including vital minerals so the water is dead and needs remineralising).

2. Rid your home and skincare products that are filled with endocrine disruptors

Lots of conventional skincare and household products are packed full of endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can interfere with your hormone system. Do your research and know what to get rid of. Look for ingredients such as phthalates (on the label as vinyl, PVC, phthalates, DEHP, DBP, fragrance, parfum), Bisphenol (BPA), Perfluorinated chemicals (on the label as PFOA, PFOS, “-fluoro”, “-perfluoro”), Triclosan (on the label triclosan, “antibacterial”), Parabens (on the label as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparapen and ethylparaben).

Skincare products such as standard shampoo, toothpaste and make up are common culprits. Whilst in the kitchen the worst offenders are things like non-stick cookware, plastic containers and cling film (the chemicals leach into your food). There is a whole section on this and how to clean up your home in the book Womancode

3. Tinned Foods

Many brands still use bisphenol-A (BPA) in their canned goods, even though it's a known endocrine disruptor. BPA has been linked to a number of health concerns, particularly in pregnant women, foetuses and young children, but also in adults. Look for BPA free cans.

4. Foods to Avoid

As much as possible, buy and eat organic produce and free-range, organic meats to reduce your exposure to added hormones, pesticides, and fertilizers. Also avoid milk and other dairy products that contain the genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST).

5. Foods to Eat

Cruciferous vegetables are good at reducing oestrogen dominance – think broccoli, cabbage, kale, brussel sprouts, cauliflower. Also sesame seeds and flaxseeds have oestrogen binding ligans which help to remove excess oestrogen from your body. Some tasty recipes here and here!

6. Skin exfoliation

Skin exfoliation helps stimulate circulation and unblock pores which helps clear out acne and stimulates the body’s lymphatic systems which speeds up detoxification. Our body scrubs are free from artificial ingredients, hormones, microbeads and chemicals making them a perfect addition to your natural skincare routine!