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Pores for thought

Shovelling down breakfast and coffee yesterday my ears pricked up at a radio advert promising me bright eyes, a playful personality, and a shiny coat. "Yes please!", I announced, scrabbling around for a pen to amend my Christmas list. The excitement was cruelly crushed by an internet search (Ecosia - an alternative to Google that plants trees!). Apparently (*irritatedly*) 'Purina' is intended for cats. Hmph.

Sigh, back to the Christmas list. I've just started looking for small interesting eco-friendly items for stocking-fillers, trying to support local indie shops in York. These smaller shops tend to have less packaging and often don't offer plastic bags. More about this soon! Now, GPs see a lot of eczema in York due to our naturally hard water (nice to drink but not great for baby-soft skin), so I'm always on the search for skin-friendly products that actually work, and don't come swathed in plastic. Soaps, shampoos and moisturisers can come in bars now, reducing waste and making them ultra compact and easy to pack into a bag for those trips we're, er, not able to enjoy right now. Just take your tupperware to the shop or use a beeswax wrap to transport home your new precious toiletry, for extra planet points. Check out fantastic local shops such as Upside Down Design, Heima, The Bishy Weigh, and Frankie & Johnny's for packaging-free soaps. Let's keep those hands nice and COVID-clean!

If you like your moisturiser to come out of a bottle then you're choosing between ointments (super-greasy and great for overnight) and lotions (light and won't leave you feeling like a heavily basted channel-swimmer). Here in York many standard moisturisers are no longer available on prescription, since our CCG currently spends £1m a year on them. Yes friends, just in the Vale of York. Wow. So it's adieu Aveeno, ciao ciao Aqueous cream, hasta la vista Hydromol and do svidaniya Diprobase. Your NHS thanks you for buying over the counter, if you're able to. Come and see me and I'll give you a smiley sticker (after appropriate telephone triage of course, oops!).

But (and this is a big expensively-bejewelled 'but'), if you're starting to think about cosy fireside evenings, please remember that ALL MOISTURISERS ARE FLAMMABLE, especially if they contain paraffin (E45, diprobase, QV cream, and check out this list for many more). And I'm sure you wouldn't dream of smoking, now would you *smiles hopefully*? So avoid flames, and change moisturisery-bedclothes regularly so they don't become a fire-hazard.

Or, maybe your skin is the opposite of dry already, and you struggle with spots? Then remember to avoid products containing cocoa butter as these actually block pores and can lead to more spots. We call this 'comedogenic'. Not fun. As acne is in part due to some pesky and extravagantly named bacteria on the skin 'Propionibacterium acnes', you can either pay Clinique prices or try soaps like this one containing salicylic acid. Sounds like the bath scene in Breaking Bad, but speak to your friendly GP or pharmacist who will reassure you it's a proper evidence based skincare ingredient. And of course if you've already tried over-the-counter, it might be that you need something stronger and we're happy to help. You can send us a photo (see our OSMP tips to summon your inner Mario Testino) and book a telephone consultation so you can chat to us from work, on a walk, or even in the bath - no need to come down to the surgery.

Speaking of relaxing time in the tub, try The Soap Shop for some eco-friendly bubbles! Weirdly, these days most bath bombs promise to leave you smelling like you've been stuffed into grandma's knicker drawer, or marinated to the point of 'oven-ready' (yes, lavender and geranium, and lemongrass, ginger and orange I'm talking about you). The thing is, we all need some pampering from time to time. Especially when bright eyes and a bushy tail (I draw the line there) seem beyond reach. Sob.

Naïvely I forgot that my phone would henceforth be swamped by disturbing cat-food pop-ups. Eyeroll...

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