’Tis the season to have (unprotected) sex

’Tis the season to have (unprotected) sex


We’re more likely to engage in casual or unprotected sex during the festive period. But with STIs on the rise, you need to arm yourself against the main five

STI
Getty Images

Words by Charlotte Haigh MacNeil

You might associate syphilis with Tudor monarchs, but according to a recent report by Public Health England, cases leapt up 76 per cent between 2012 and 2015. Meanwhile, gonorrhoea jumped up 13 per cent since 2017. And worryingly, the sexual-health charity FPA reveals that 68 per cent of Brits have never had an STI test, so could be unknowingly affected. This is bad news if you’re single and dating because several of the most common infections have serious long-term health consequences.

‘As the party season approaches, it’s a good time to evaluate your sexual health’, says Dr Claudia Estcourt, who specialises in sexual health. ‘People drink more at Christmas and it’s easier to get carried away and take risks. We see a rush in the clinic after the festive season as people have had unplanned sex and not used condoms so need an STI test or emergency contraception.’

Dating apps have also changed our sexual habits. ‘Women using apps like Tinder are having sex with more partners,’ says Estcourt. ‘In clinics, I’ve noticed they now talk about their sex lives with a new level of frankness.’

Her main three tips for the party season? Always use condoms with new partners. View a sexual health MOT as something you do regularly, like going to the dentist (if you’re having sex with new partners, aim for a check-up every three months). And once you get serious with a new partner, both book in for a full check-up before moving on to non-barrier methods like the Pill that do not protect you from STIs.

Here are the main five STIs to watch out for:

Chlamydia

What is it? The most common STI, with 220,000 cases a year in England alone, half of them in women. ‘The under-25 group is most affected but it’s far from exclusive – we see chlamydia in women through to their thirties,’ says Estcourt.

Symptoms: Bleeding after having sex and between periods, and  pelvic or abdominal pain. However, 70 per cent of women don’t have any symptoms at all.

Risks: Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can start when the bacteria progress through the cervix into the pelvis and can cause inflammation and scarring in the Fallopian tubes, leading to infertility and a raised risk of ectopic pregnancy.

How to treat it: Get a test – chlamydia can be treated simply with four antibiotic tablets you take all at once. ‘It’s also key to make sure your recent sexual partners are tested and treated if necessary, or you can be reinfected. Repeated chlamydia infections are more likely to lead to PID,’ says Estcourt. Use condoms to be safe.

HPV

What is it? The second-most common STI, the human papilloma virus (HPV) is actually a family of over 100 viruses, and some of them are responsible for genital warts.

Symptoms: Sometimes there are no symptoms at all, but if warts occur, they are small, fleshy growths that might crop up months after initial infection and can recur.

Risks: The strains of HPV that don’t cause warts have been linked with cervical cancer. ‘There’s also growing evidence of oral cancers being caused by certain types of HPV, which can be passed on during oral sex,’ says FPA chief executive Natika Halil.

How to treat it: Treatment usually involves using a topical cream to kill the warts, or they can be frozen or cut off. It’s passed on easily through skin-to-skin contact, so avoid sex if you or a partner has an active outbreak.

STI

Getty Images

Genital herpes

What is it? Caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), this STI basically leads to cold sores down below.

Symptoms: ‘There are two strains,’ says Estcourt. ‘HSV1 usually causes cold sores around the mouth.’ About 70 per cent of us are affected, and if you’ve had cold sores in the past, you have some protection against contracting genital herpes through oral sex from someone with cold sores. HSV2, meanwhile, only causes genital herpes.

Risks: Just as with cold sores, genital herpes might crop up in the first two years after the initial infection, and often when you’re run-down.

How to treat it: Your doctor may prescribe acyclovir, which suppresses the virus and reduces symptoms or prevents flare-ups. Avoid sex if you or a partner has active herpes, and use condoms. ‘For oral sex, a dam (a square of plastic) can be used to form a barrier between the mouth and genitals,’ says Halil.

Gonorrhoea

What is it? The infection that used 
to be referred to as ‘the clap’, Public Health England figures show that gonorrhoea cases jumped by 13 per cent between 2017 and 2018.

Symptoms: It can cause a thick yellow or green discharge, pain when peeing and bleeding between periods, though half of women have no symptoms.

Risks: As with chlamydia, gonorrhoea can raise the risk of PID and infertility. It can be treated with antibiotics, but scientists are worried about a rise in cases of drug-resistant gonorrhoea.

How to treat it: It’s usually treated with an injection, then a tablet. Prevention is key – it’s passed in semen and vaginal fluids, so condoms will keep you safe.

HIV

What is it? The virus that can lead to AIDS. ‘HIV doesn’t affect large numbers of British women in their twenties and thirties,’ says Estcourt. ‘But all clinicians know someone who doesn’t fit the usual profile who has been affected, so you can’t afford to be complacent on this one.’

Symptoms: While some people have a mild illness when first infected, HIV usually has no symptoms until it starts to damage your immune system, often many years later.

Risks: HIV can be managed so most people with it can live long, healthy lives. But it’s still a serious condition that will affect your quality of life.

To treat it: Testing is important – if you’re HIV-positive, the sooner you start treatment, the better. Male or female condoms are the best way to prevent HIV, and use a lubricant designed for sex – this helps stop the small friction tears that can mean HIV is passed on more easily.

The post ’Tis the season to have (unprotected) sex appeared first on Marie Claire.

The male contraceptive injection could be available in the next six months

The male contraceptive injection could be available in the next six months


Would your other half be willing to try this?

male contraceptive injection 164210757
Credit: Paper Boat Creative / Getty

Talk of a male contraceptive injection has been doing the rounds for years now. At the end of 2016, researchers revealed that they had found a way to suppress sperm count in the testicles. More than 250 men between the ages of 18 and 45 took part in the research, and had all been in monogamous relationships with female partners between the ages of 18 and 38 for at least one year.

Every woman who has suffered from mood swings, depression and acne at the hands of their contraception rejoiced at the news that they might get a bit of a break. But the study was cut short when a safety review noticed that the male participants began experiencing some uncomfortable side effects, such as – oh wait – mood swings, depression, and acne.

However, it seems that all is not lost for ladies who wish they could put down the pill packet as the world’s first male contraceptive injection – which can last up to 13 years – could be available within the next six months.

According to the Hindustan Times, a government-funded biomedical research agency, the Indian Council of Medical Research, has completed clinical trials and is awaiting regulatory approval.

Dr R.S. Sharma, senior scientist with ICMR, said: ‘The product is ready, with only regulatory approvals pending (from the government).

‘The trials are over, including extended, Phase 3 clinical trials for which 303 candidates were recruited with a 97.3 per cent success rate and no reported side effects.

‘The product can safely be called the world’s first male contraceptive.’

VG Somani, drug controller of India, said: ‘It’s the first in the world from India so we have to be extra careful about approval. We are looking at all aspects, especially the good manufacturing practice (GMP) certification that won’t raise any questions about its quality.

‘I’d say it will still take about six to seven months for all the approvals to be granted before the product can be manufactured.’

In 2017, scientists trialled a male contraceptive injection that aimed to prevent the body from releasing sperm. It works by inserting a gel into a tube of the male reproductive system, stopping the sperm from being transported from the testicles to the urethra. The injection had a 100% success rate over two years and was also a reversible procedure.

Professor Adam Balen, Chair of the British Fertility Society, said at the time: ‘This is an interesting technique that achieves a reversible ‘vasectomy’ by blocking the passage of sperm with a substance that later can be flushed out.

‘If free of side effects, then this novel approach has the potential for great promise as a male contraceptive. It is essential to know that the reversibility remains, irrespective of the duration of use.’

Currently, men have two options when it comes to using contraception themselves – either using condoms as a temporary method, or going for the permanent option of a vasectomy.

Women on the other hand have fifteen contraceptive methods available to them in the UK.

So another option for guys that means we can give our bodies and hormones a break?

We’re sold.

The post The male contraceptive injection could be available in the next six months appeared first on Marie Claire.

This woman's heartbreaking story reminds us to take action on men's mental health issues

This woman's heartbreaking story reminds us to take action on men's mental health issues


In April, Ella Rothwell’s 23-year-old brother Freddie died by suicide – less than three years after her eldest brother Jack attempted to take his life. On International Men’s Day, the singer pays tribute to Freddie and
encourages men to seek help

male suicide

It’s impossibly hard to accept – or even believe – that Freddie is gone forever, especially when just seven months ago he was living with me in London and had his whole life ahead of him.

I wish I could tell you there were warning signs of my brother’s depression, and that I’m kicking myself for not seeing them. The truth is, with Freddie, there were none. Whatever pain and sadness Freddie felt was completely hidden from the world. He was the life and soul of the party; my hilarious, fun and confident little brother.

From L-R: Freddie, Ella and Jack

But he wasn’t taking care of himself, physically or mentally. A lack of labouring work forced him to return home to Bristol, and he was going out five times a week, drinking and consuming cocaine.

He committed suicide after a night out with mates. He was staying with my dad, who was away that night, and before he ended his life he sent a long, drunken text message to his best friend, who read it when he woke up the next morning.

What makes this situation even more traumatic is Freddie lived through my older brother Jack’s suicide attempt in 2017. Jack openly suffers from depression, and at that time he abused alcohol and substances too.

His attempted suicide aged 27 left him in intensive care in an induced coma, and sadly the nasty substances in his system have caused irreversible long-term memory loss. But today, he’s clean, found love and has a career. He feels grateful for his life and for being found in time by my dad, and I feel Freddie would have regretted his attempt too. Sadly he succeeded.

View this post on Instagram

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day • I had two brothers. In the last 3 years both attempted suicide. One ended up in a Coma in ICU but thankfully survived and started a long, difficult and intense road to recovery. One did not survive. We grew up in a wonderful family unit, lucky to have the things we did and spoilt with the friends we had around us but still, suicide has impacted our lives in ways we could have never imagined. The feeling of knowing I am the only one of 3 siblings not to have attempted suicide is crippling for me personally, I feel the need to defend my family and my roots because suicide is STILL so stigmatised, when the reality is, mental health, societal pressures, drugs and alcohol have been leading factors in all of this. Therefore I want to talk about it. I feel that if I don’t speak openly about my situation then I’m adding to the stigma. • So today, on ‘World Suicide Prevention Day’ please talk about Suicide. Talk about how you’re feeling. Ask your mates how they are and make sure you’re all looking after yourselves. There have been days where I’ve wanted to world to swallow me up, days where I feel like my little world is completely broken, days that I’ll cry just because I can’t not cry, but I’m trying to be as honest as I can with the people around me because suicide needs to be spoken about. I’m in therapy, I’m taking anti-anxiety meds and I’m PROUD to tell you all of this because theres nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to mental health and this is what it’s taking for me to look after ME at the moment. • It’s almost 5 months to the day Freds. These pictures and videos show how wonderfully weird and full of life you were and I feel privileged to have been a part of you and your life. Where ever you may be, I’m sure you’d be chuffed with the amount of tattoo tributes you’ve had (you’ve already been the reason behind another cheeky 3 for me), your name has been sprawled across the infamous rock face over the Avon gorge and every day, with every inch of my being, I wish you were still here to make me laugh like no one else ever could ❤ #worldsuicidepreventionday @mindcharity @itsok_campaign @samaritanscharity

A post shared by R O T H W E L L (@officialrothwell) on Sep 10, 2019 at 12:12am PDT

In the text Freddie sent, he wrote that he didn’t think anybody liked him, and that he hadn’t got a place in this world. I was utterly shocked to learn this, because that’s not how he portrayed himself. Whereas with Jack, you could see his pain and the signs he was suffering from depression. Freddie didn’t let on at all.

After nearly losing Jack, my parents separated. My dad also suffers from depression and living with her husband and son took its toll on my mum, because all you want to do is make sure the people you love feel good about themselves, but there is very little you can do.

Jack, Freddie and I all had lovely childhoods. I’m very defensive of my parents because I don’t want people to think the boys didn’t want to be alive. That’s not the truth. This was a consequence of mental health combined with external factors of adulthood.

My story is a sad one, but I don’t want people to feel sorry for me – all I want is for people to be kind and empathetic, and remember you never know what is going on in someone’s mind and in their life. As a professional singer, I sometimes think about writing my story into a song, but at the moment it is far too painful and raw.

There have been days when I feel like my world is completely broken, days that I’ll cry just because I can’t stop the tears coming. Freddie was just the most charming, gorgeous human being and I miss him every day. I used to take drugs recreationally but since everything happened I won’t touch them, and I find it very difficult being around people who are using them. I enjoy a drink but never to excess.

I feel very strongly about speaking openly about my situation because if I don’t, I’m adding to the stigma. We need to talk about men’s mental health issues. I also want to be honest about myself. Following Freddie’s death I’ve been visiting a therapist, as well as taking anti-anxiety meds, and I’m proud to say this because there’s nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to mental health.

If you are worried about someone or would like to talk, please call The Samaritans at any time, day or night, on this free number: 116 1232 or email jo@samaritans.org (you will receive a reply within 24 hours).

Jack Rothwell is taking part in this year’s Movember campaign – to help raise awareness for men’s mental health and suicide prevention – by growing a moustache. To help Jack reach his Movember target, you can donate here. Visit Movember.com to learn more.

View this post on Instagram

👨🏽My big brother is my champion and the bravest man I know. He also happens to have one of the hairiest faces I know. So this year he’s taking part in @movember to help raise awareness for men’s mental health and suicide prevention. This years Movember campaign is hard hitting, honest and so so SO important, and seeing as I can’t (yet… hello impending whiskery 50s) grow a moustache, I’d love it if you could help my Big Bro @jack_louis_rothwell reach his target and help raise awareness for such an important cause. Jack has been brave enough to tell his story but it’s our joint responsibility to share our little brother, Freddie’s. So please, start the conversation. Be the voice and always, always be kind…. and if you can, GROW THAT MO 👨🏽 (donation link in my story)

A post shared by R O T H W E L L (@officialrothwell) on Nov 1, 2019 at 1:01am PDT

 

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‘I bit my tongue and felt a small lump – I was only 23 and it was mouth cancer’

‘I bit my tongue and felt a small lump – I was only 23 and it was mouth cancer’


Oral cancer is more common in the over 50s, so when Laura Taylor was told she was too young to have it she took a course of antibiotics believing she had a mouth infection…

mouth cancer
Getty Images

I was eating a bowl of cereal on a regular weekday morning when I discovered the lump. I thought I’d bitten my tongue, but when I went and checked in the mirror I noticed a bump underneath it. I hadn’t experienced any pain, my mouth didn’t feel any different and my taste was the same, so what was it? If you had told me it was mouth cancer, I wouldn’t have believed you.

I booked a doctor’s appointment to check it out, but was quickly dismissed as someone suffering from a mouth infection. I was given antibiotics and a mouthwash to take for seven days, but in the back of my mind I wasn’t convinced this was the answer. I booked another doctor’s appointment, but again was told to give the antibiotics a chance to work. When I questioned whether it could be mouth cancer, the doctor replied, ‘You’re 23, you can’t get mouth cancer.’

Laura Taylor

I agreed. After all, I’d always looked after my mouth. Never missed a dental check up, always eaten a balanced diet and I don’t drink or smoke. After I completed the course of antibiotics I returned to the doctor and used photo evidence to prove there was no change to my lump. I was referred for a biopsy and tissue was taken for testing. I had seven stitches to the side of my mouth, and the pain was so intense I couldn’t eat or speak for hours. I returned home the same day and the waiting game began.

Weeks later I was diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) of the tongue. I was distraught. My consultant planned to remove the lump and perform a radical skin graft from my arm onto my tongue, and being a mum, I didn’t really consider how severe the operation was going to be – I was willing to do anything to make sure I was around to watch my son grow up.

The plan was to undergo a 14-hour operation, where I would be put into an induced coma. Fortunately when the date in late November 2017 came, my surgeon gave me good news – the PET scan showed the cancer was smaller than they thought, and they could perform laser surgery to the tongue instead. I was also told my tonsils had flashed up as a cancer hotspot on the PET scan, so to be safe they were going to perform a tonsillectomy (both tonsils are fully removed from the back of the throat) as well.

I recovered well and spent five days in hospital, before returning home in early December and waiting to see if I needed radiotherapy to direct at the cancerous cells. Again, I’m lucky to say that I didn’t, and this is all due to early diagnosis.

Age is just a number. Let my story be a life lesson on the importance of knowing your mouth and preventing this horrible disease.

Spot the signs…

  • Mouth ulcers that do not heal within three weeks
  • Red and white patches in the mouth as well as lumps and swellings in the head and neck
  • Unexplained loose teeth or sockets that do not heal after extractions
  • Persistent numbness or an odd feeling on the lip or tongue
  • Changes in speech, such as a lisp

More from Mouth Cancer Action Month

  • More than 8,300 people in the United Kingdom are now diagnosed with mouth cancer every year. This figure has increased by 49% in the last decade, according to the Oral Health Foundation.
  • Although this mouth cancer is more common in over 50s, last year it claimed 2,722 lives in the UK. Many fatalities occur because the disease is caught too late.
  • While the disease can affect anyone, most are linked to a series of risk factors including smoking, drinking alcohol to excess and the human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • For more information and advice regarding mouth cancer, visit mouthcancer.org

The post ‘I bit my tongue and felt a small lump – I was only 23 and it was mouth cancer’ appeared first on Marie Claire.

Microdosing to get through a day at work – would you try the latest drugs trend?

Microdosing to get through a day at work – would you try the latest drugs trend?


The Silicon Valley trend for microdosing – taking tiny doses of psychedelic drugs to improve performance – is now spreading to the UK. Fans claim it boosts creativity, mood and focus, but does it really and what are the risks? Charlotte Haigh investigates

Microdosing LSD

Gemma, a 33-year-old buyer for a high-street fashion brand in Manchester, has been taking LSD twice a week for six weeks now. ‘I first heard about microdosing psychedelics on Reddit,’ she says. ‘I’ve always been pretty open-minded about trying out new things, and the more I read up on the science online, the more attractive it seemed.’ Like many microdosers, Gemma hadn’t actually used the class A psychedelic drug LSD recreationally and has never taken a full dose. But after two weeks of ‘microdosing’ – consuming small amounts (usually one tenth of the usual dose users take to get high) – she began to see small changes in her outlook and performance. ‘I felt sharper and more creative at work,’ she explains. ‘I seemed to get more done and new ideas came to me more easily.’

‘Anyone who has ever had a bad trip will tell you how terrifying it can be’

The use of psychedelics has become quietly fashionable again. Not in the ‘let’s drop some acid and go crazy’ way they were in the 90s, but as mental sharpeners for a new breed of career-driven millennials. The trend for taking small doses of hallucinogens to enhance performance gained traction in Silicon Valley five years ago, where it swept through communities of tech workers in fast-paced environments with exhausting hours. Its use as an idea enabler was given credence by the revelations of the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who admitted that taking LSD was for him a ‘profound experience’ and ‘one of the two or three most important things I’ve done in my life’. When American writer Ayelet Waldman published her book, A Really Good Day, about microdosing to manage her depression, it seemed to underline what many users had been whispering about online for a while. In the book, she describes the effects after a dose. ‘I feel at ease with myself and the world. When I think about my husband and my children, I feel a gentle sense of love and security. 
I am not anxious for them or annoyed with them. When I think of my work, I feel optimistic, brimming with ideas, yet not spilling over.’

In the UK, particularly in large cities, microdosing is becoming an increasingly popular way to experiment with psychedelics. Users admit to sourcing them online via 
the dark web (which is accessed through something called 
a Tor Browser that erases the user’s footprint, allowing them to enter sites that are blocked because many of the items available are illegal). The most popular hallucinogens – LSD and magic mushrooms – are taken at ten per cent of 
a full dose, anywhere between 200-500mg of mushrooms, or between six and 20mg of LSD. Most microdosers only take the substance twice a week, as repeated use can actually build a tolerance to it, meaning more has to be taken for 
the same effect. Problems arise, though, because it’s not an exact science as everyone has a different level of sensitivity to psychedelics. Then there’s the risk of buying badly mixed substances online and having to break the law to obtain them. Anyone who has ever had a bad trip will tell you how terrifying it can be. Anxiety and paranoia are common side effects of using LSD, while prolonged use has been linked to psychosis.

microdosing

‘When it comes to microdosing, it’s still a grass-roots movement, so we don’t yet have enough research to show what it does in the brain,’ says Dr Rosalind Watts, a clinical psychologist at the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College London. ‘Anecdotally, those who take it report feeling more optimistic and creative, and say they can do their jobs better, but we need more research.’ Her team has looked at high doses of the drugs and found all psychedelics, including Peruvian plant brew ayahuasca, psilocybin 
(the psychoactive component of magic mushrooms) and LSD, stimulate the 5-HT2A serotonin receptors in the brain’s prefrontal cortex. This mimics the effects of mood-boosting serotonin, leads to increased transmission of the neurotransmitter glutamate, and dampens activity in the default mode network (DMN), an area of the brain used for everyday mental activities, such as self-reflection and thinking back over the past or to the future. ‘This area can become overactive and trap you in repetitive negative thinking, as seen in depression and anxiety,’ says Dr Watts. ‘But on a psychedelic it’s quietened, so users report feeling more open to new thoughts.’ Scans also show that areas of the brain that weren’t talking to each other start connecting. 
Dr Watts says this probably explains why psychedelics in big doses thought capable of giving users a negative experience can also help a person to gain perspective, think flexibly 
and come up with new solutions and ideas. ‘In depression and anxiety, a trip takes you to the source of your pain, so you can develop a different view of it,’ she says.

‘Psychedelics are being viewed as a huge potential mental-health breakthrough in clinical circle’

But the jury’s still (far) out on whether microdosing may have the same benefits. ‘A microdose is not enough to give you a psychedelic experience,’ says Dr David Erritzoe, 
a researcher in the Centre for Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, whose team is about to begin 
a series of studies on the subject. ‘Nevertheless, the theory is that it still has some kind of effect on the brain, even if you don’t have a trip. So far, there are lots of strong anecdotal reports that it works, but this could be a placebo effect,’ he says. ‘After all, these are illegal substances, so the people getting hold of them usually have to look hard for them and are taking a legal risk. To go to those lengths, we can assume 
they are probably doing it because they expect it to work. And we know how powerful the placebo effect can be.’ 
Dr Erritzoe and his colleague have devised a way of gathering reports of people’s microdosing experiences, which would help rule out the placebo effect so, once the study is complete, scientists will have a better idea of whether it’s actually effective.

Psychedelics are being viewed as a huge potential mental-health breakthrough in clinical circles. For lots of people, though, going through a potentially challenging full trip could feel too much. Take a regular, tiny dose and you may get some of the benefits without having to experience the difficult parts. It’s a promising theory, but Dr Watts says that may be missing the point. ‘It’s possible you need an epic, transformative trip in order to see life in a different way, so microdosing just isn’t effective enough,’ she says.

‘The proven positive side of psychedelics is that they can build empathy’

Such debate over the effectiveness of microdosing, however, doesn’t put off Louisa, a graphic designer from London. The 31-year-old admits she looks forward to her magic mushroom microdoses on tough days and isn’t about to give up any time soon. She first microdosed after visiting friends in LA who were advocates. ‘I’ve been really down since splitting up with my fiancé, and I’m aware the doses give just enough to lift my mood and help me relax, like a glass of wine,’ she says.’

According to Dr Watts, this kind of use won’t do the person any harm, although it won’t 
help much, either. ‘The proven positive side of psychedelics is that they can build empathy, helping you feel more at one with the world and connected with others – that’s a big part of their effectiveness,’ she says. ‘If you’re just taking a microdose at home then going to work with people who don’t even know you’ve done it, you lose that.’ It can also mean you’re opening up a little without having support structures in place, adds Dr Watts, and even with microdosing the effects can sometimes be unpredictable and you may feel surprisingly emotional.

‘It’s an unregulated and illegal area’

However, Dr Watts does see one potential. ‘Some people do it to maintain the effects and connection after a full psychedelic experience,’ she says. ‘That could be really useful and something we might explore in the future.’ But she advises caution. ‘It’s an unregulated and illegal area, so the purchase and taking of these substances still carries high levels of risks. Until there is a change in the law allowing more research, microdosing isn’t something I’d recommend.’

Read on to find out what it’s like to be a female CEO in Silicon Valley https://www.marieclaire.co.uk/life/work/female-silicon-valley-ceo-517336

‘What I learned from four weeks of microdosing mushrooms’

Charlotte Haigh shares her story

‘I’m an experienced user of psychedelics, having been on ayahuasca retreats in Peru. Over the past few years, psychedelics have helped me come to terms with divorce, and given me a sense of confidence I never had before. But I hadn’t tried microdosing until this year. I was stressed with a huge workload, and generally feeling a bit stuck. And from what I’d read, I thought microdosing might help. I chose to use mushrooms because I preferred the idea of a natural plant substance to LSD, which is synthetic. I read The Third Wave’s guide to microdosing (thethirdwave.co) and took my first 250mg one morning after coffee, but before I’d eaten. Within half an hour, I could feel the effects 
– a gentle buzz of euphoria, milder than you might get with a glass of wine, but definitely obvious. I had to make an important phone call that morning and I could tell the difference. I was more upbeat and chatty than usual, but also very focused, and got 
a report I was writing that day done in super-quick time. But what really interested me was what happened over the next two days. While I couldn’t feel any obvious effects from the microdose after that first morning, I noticed how much more creative 
I was, coming up with lots of ideas and – crucially – having the confidence to follow them through. 
Every pitch I made that week was successful. Although there’s no science to back this up yet, anecdotally microdosers claim they feel in a creative “flow” state in between doses 
– and that was certainly my experience.
On the next day I was due to microdose, I had a migraine brewing. I decided to take the dose anyway – one study has found that magic mushrooms help with cluster headaches, so I thought a small dose may shift the threatening migraine. Sure enough, within an hour, all the signs had gone. Instead 
of feeling groggy and drugged, as I would after conventional painkillers, I felt clear-headed and upbeat. I only had one slightly negative experience, when a dose had a stronger effect than I expected. Psilocybin isn’t distributed evenly throughout 
a mushroom, so you can’t be sure of the amount of active ingredient you’re consuming. That morning, 
I must have taken a bit with a more concentrated level. I was staying at a guest house and, over breakfast, I suddenly felt overwhelmed, as though my senses had all been sharpened – everything seemed brighter, clearer and louder, and I felt a little panicky. I went upstairs to lie down for half an hour and it passed, but that could have been difficult to deal with in other circumstances.’

A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made A Mega Difference In My Mood, My Marriage, And My Life by Ayelet Waldman (£8.99, Corsair)

The post Microdosing to get through a day at work – would you try the latest drugs trend? appeared first on Marie Claire.

This is what London pollution is doing to your child's health

This is what London pollution is doing to your child's health


Here is why you need to pay attention to the ADDRESSPOLLUTION campaign.

As MC’s Beauty & Style Director I’ve loved living and working in central London for 20 years but with toxic air pollution levels rising and potentially harming my three-year-old daughter, Eliza, I now regularly find myself wondering if I should move to the countryside.

Living in London has given me so much: friends, a career, a home and the best time ever but what I don’t want it to give me is a sick daughter. The latest studies are spooking me so much with findings revealing that every time my daughter goes out to play or walks to her play group she’s breathing in toxins that may eventually damage her long-term health. In fact, London’s air has reached such high levels of toxicity the London Mayor’s office classified it as ‘illegal’ in data published by the London Atmospheric Emission Inventory.

ADDRESSPOLLUTION

Photography by Andrew Leo www.leoweddings.com

So why am I still here? Because I truly believe London is the best place for me and Eliza. I took my maternity leave where I grew up in Gloucestershire and loved being in the countryside, but I desperately missed London’s buzz and my career in the thriving beauty and fashion industry. I had a community in London, a place I belonged. And the city kept my mind and body busy, while although I love the therapeutic health benefits of the countryside I conversely found my experience isolating. I didn’t want Eliza to grow up seeing a mum who was lonely and who had quit a job that she loved. I want her to learn to chase contentment and to find a life that makes her thrive, and think the best way to teach her that is to show it to her, daily.

But the question of air quality is undeniably hard to ignore. Before falling pregnant, I lived in Notting Hill and, as a cyclist, had clearly been breathing in plenty of fumes – but it was only when I moved back to town after time in the countryside that the stark difference in the quality of air struck me.

‘Exposure to high levels of air pollution can lead to life-long impacts for children’s respiratory systems, neurodevelopment, and health more broadly,’ says Beatriz Cardenas, Air Quality Manager at the World Resources Institute. ‘Some of these impacts are set even without long-term exposure – brief, high levels of pollution can affect lung development and resilience for the child’s lifetime.’
Yes, the nightmare is real and as Unicef has acknowledged, we are in the middle for a public health emergency. UNICEF’s Pauline Castres, Policy and Advocacy Advisor says: ‘No parent should have to make the decision to move out [of a city] to protect their children’s health, and every child deserves the right to breathe clean air wherever he or she lives. Children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution as their growing heart, brain, lungs and immunity system are still developing, and research is also beginning to point towards effects on growth and intelligence.’
ADDRESSPOLLUTION

ADDRESSPOLLUTION

A new citizen-funded initiative, addresspollution.org, by the Central Office of Public Interest (COPI) is giving Londoners the tools to act and demand change. At addresspollution.org you enter your postcode and get a free report on the annual average levels of pollution there. It makes it clear if your London home area exceeds the World Health Organization’s annual legal limit for clean air. The data, from King’s College London gives every address in London an accurate, annualised reading of nitrogen dioxide and then details the specific health and financial costs for living there.

It’s also easy to lobby your council with localised solutions and to demand action by signing a petition through your MP. Humphrey Milles, founder of the COPI says: ‘Air pollution is killing people across the country, and London is one of the worst hit – but people won’t believe it until it affects them or their children. Find out your rating and then lobby your government for the sake of your kids.’ COPI plans to extend addresspollution.org to other UK cities by February 2020.

The question of whether to stay a Londoner or move back to my home town of Stroud, Gloucestershire, remains unanswered. But for now, I’m joining COPI and putting their advice on measures parents can take to protect their children into action.

1. Switch driving a car to walking, cycling or using public transport

Walk, cycle, bus or train it. Drivers can be exposed to twice as much air pollution as pedestrians and nine times more than a cyclist. So as well as cutting down the amount of pollution you make, you’re reducing your exposure and getting some exercise too.

2. Take the side streets

Using quieter streets when you’re on a bike or on foot can lower your kids exposure to air pollution by 20%.

3. Avoid exercise when pollution is high

There are about 10 to 20 high pollution days a year when it’s better to avoid intense activity, particularly if your children have a heart or lung condition.

4. Choose Click & Collect

Many city workplaces report that half of all deliveries are personal parcels for staff. That’s a whole lot of extra vans clogging up the city. Instead, choose a Click & Collect location near home.

5. Switch off engine when stationary

By turning off your car engine whenever you’re not moving – and it’s safe to do so – you’ll help to make the air cleaner for you, other drivers and pedestrians.

6. Keep your car tyres inflated 

Inflating your tyres properly means your car will be more efficient and use less fuel. And remember to give your car a regular service to ensureit runs as efficiently and cleanly as possible.

7. Invest in an electric car 

If you have to drive, Electric Vehicles (EVs) are better than their petrol and diesel counterparts – and their costs over a lifetime are cheaper than you might think. So when you upgrade your car, consider buying an electric vehicle.

8. Inspire others

Encourage others to take the actions above to improve the air we breathe.

The post This is what London pollution is doing to your child’s health appeared first on Marie Claire.

Should I move out of London for the sake of my toddler’s health?

Should I move out of London for the sake of my toddler’s health?


As MC’s Beauty & Style Director I’ve loved living and working in central London for 20 years but with toxic air pollution levels rising and potentially harming my three-year-old daughter, Eliza, I now regularly find myself wondering if I should move to the countryside.

Living in London has given me so much: friends, a career, a home and the best time ever but what I don’t want it to give me is a sick daughter. The latest studies are spooking me so much with findings revealing that every time my daughter goes out to play or walks to her play group she’s breathing in toxins that may eventually damage her long-term health. In fact, London’s air has reached such high levels of toxicity the London Mayor’s office classified it as ‘illegal’ in data published by the London Atmospheric Emission Inventory.

Photography by Andrew Leo www.leoweddings.com

So why am I still here? Because I truly believe London is the best place for me and Eliza. I took my maternity leave where I grew up in Gloucestershire and loved being in the countryside, but I desperately missed London’s buzz and my career in the thriving beauty and fashion industry. I had a community in London, a place I belonged. And the city kept my mind and body busy, while although I love the therapeutic health benefits of the countryside I conversely found my experience isolating. I didn’t want Eliza to grow up seeing a mum who was lonely and who had quit a job that she loved. I want her to learn to chase contentment and to find a life that makes her thrive, and think the best way to teach her that is to show it to her, daily.

But the question of air quality is undeniably hard to ignore. Before falling pregnant, I lived in Notting Hill and, as a cyclist, had clearly been breathing in plenty of fumes – but it was only when I moved back to town after time in the countryside that the stark difference in the quality of air struck me.

‘Exposure to high levels of air pollution can lead to life-long impacts for children’s respiratory systems, neurodevelopment, and health more broadly,’ says Beatriz Cardenas, Air Quality Manager at the World Resources Institute. ‘Some of these impacts are set even without long-term exposure – brief, high levels of pollution can affect lung development and resilience for the child’s lifetime.’
Yes, the nightmare is real and as Unicef has acknowledged, we are in the middle for a public health emergency. UNICEF’s Pauline Castres, Policy and Advocacy Advisor says: ‘No parent should have to make the decision to move out [of a city] to protect their children’s health, and every child deserves the right to breathe clean air wherever he or she lives. Children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution as their growing heart, brain, lungs and immunity system are still developing, and research is also beginning to point towards effects on growth and intelligence.’

#ADDRESSPOLLUTION

A new citizen-funded initiative, addresspollution.org, by the Central Office of Public Interest (COPI) is giving Londoners the tools to act and demand change. At addresspollution.org you enter your postcode and get a free report on the annual average levels of pollution there. It makes it clear if your London home area exceeds the World Health Organization’s annual legal limit for clean air. The data, from King’s College London gives every address in London an accurate, annualised reading of nitrogen dioxide and then details the specific health and financial costs for living there.

It’s also easy to lobby your council with localised solutions and to demand action by signing a petition through your MP. Humphrey Milles, founder of the COPI says: ‘Air pollution is killing people across the country, and London is one of the worst hit – but people won’t believe it until it affects them or their children. Find out your rating and then lobby your government for the sake of your kids.’ COPI plans to extend addresspollution.org to other UK cities by February 2020.

The question of whether to stay a Londoner or move back to my home town of Stroud, Gloucestershire, remains unanswered. But for now, I’m joining COPI and putting their advice on measures parents can take to protect their children into action.

1. Switch driving a car to walking, cycling or using public transport

Walk, cycle, bus or train it. Drivers can be exposed to twice as much air pollution as pedestrians and nine times more than a cyclist. So as well as cutting down the amount of pollution you make, you’re reducing your exposure and getting some exercise too.

2. Take the side streets

Using quieter streets when you’re on a bike or on foot can lower your kids exposure to air pollution by 20%.

3. Avoid exercise when pollution is high

There are about 10 to 20 high pollution days a year when it’s better to avoid intense activity, particularly if your children have a heart or lung condition.

4. Choose Click & Collect

Many city workplaces report that half of all deliveries are personal parcels for staff. That’s a whole lot of extra vans clogging up the city. Instead, choose a Click & Collect location near home.

5. Switch off engine when stationary

By turning off your car engine whenever you’re not moving – and it’s safe to do so – you’ll help to make the air cleaner for you, other drivers and pedestrians.

6. Keep your car tyres inflated 

Inflating your tyres properly means your car will be more efficient and use less fuel. And remember to give your car a regular service to ensureit runs as efficiently and cleanly as possible.

7. Invest in an electric car 

If you have to drive, Electric Vehicles (EVs) are better than their petrol and diesel counterparts – and their costs over a lifetime are cheaper than you might think. So when you upgrade your car, consider buying an electric vehicle.

8. Inspire others

Encourage others to take the actions above to improve the air we breathe.

The post Should I move out of London for the sake of my toddler’s health? appeared first on Marie Claire.

#ADDRESSPOLLUTION Is living in a city costing you your health?

#ADDRESSPOLLUTION Is living in a city costing you your health?


#ADDRESSPOLLUTION

As MC’s Beauty & Style Director I’ve loved living and working in central London for 20 years but with toxic air pollution levels rising and potentially harming my three-year-old daughter, Eliza, I now regularly find myself wondering if I should move to the countryside.

Living in London has given me so much: friends, a career, a home and the best time ever but what I don’t want it to give me is a sick daughter. The latest studies are spooking me so much with findings revealing that every time my daughter goes out to play or walks to her play group she’s breathing in toxins that may eventually damage her long-term health. In fact, London’s air has reached such high levels of toxicity the London Mayor’s office classified it as ‘illegal’ in data published by the London Atmospheric Emission Inventory.

#ADDRESSPOLLUTION

So why am I still here? Because I truly believe London is the best place for me and Eliza. I took my maternity leave where I grew up in Gloucestershire and loved being in the countryside, but I desperately missed London’s buzz and my career in the thriving beauty and fashion industry. I had a community in London, a place I belonged. And the city kept my mind and body busy, while although I love the therapeutic health benefits of the countryside I conversely found my experience isolating. I didn’t want Eliza to grow up seeing a mum who was lonely and who had quit a job that she loved. I want her to learn to chase contentment and to find a life that makes her thrive, and think the best way to teach her that is to show it to her, daily.

But the question of air quality is undeniably hard to ignore. Before falling pregnant, I lived in Notting Hill and, as a cyclist, had clearly been breathing in plenty of fumes – but it was only when I moved back to town after time in the countryside that the stark difference in the quality of air struck me.

‘Exposure to high levels of air pollution can lead to life-long impacts for children’s respiratory systems, neurodevelopment, and health more broadly,’ says Beatriz Cardenas, Air Quality Manager at the World Resources Institute. ‘Some of these impacts are set even without long-term exposure – brief, high levels of pollution can affect lung development and resilience for the child’s lifetime.’
Yes, the nightmare is real and as Unicef has acknowledged, we are in the middle for a public health emergency. UNICEF’s Pauline Castres, Policy and Advocacy Advisor says: ‘No parent should have to make the decision to move out [of a city] to protect their children’s health, and every child deserves the right to breathe clean air wherever he or she lives. Children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution as their growing heart, brain, lungs and immunity system are still developing, and research is also beginning to point towards effects on growth and intelligence.’

#ADDRESSPOLLUTION

A new citizen-funded initiative, addresspollution.org, by the Central Office of Public Interest (COPI) is giving Londoners the tools to act and demand change. At addresspollution.org you enter your postcode and get a free report on the annual average levels of pollution there. It makes it clear if your London home area exceeds the World Health Organization’s annual legal limit for clean air. The data, from King’s College London gives every address in London an accurate, annualised reading of nitrogen dioxide and then details the specific health and financial costs for living there.

It’s also easy to lobby your council with localised solutions and to demand action by signing a petition through your MP. Humphrey Milles, founder of the COPI says: ‘Air pollution is killing people across the country, and London is one of the worst hit – but people won’t believe it until it affects them or their children. Find out your rating and then lobby your government for the sake of your kids.’ COPI plans to extend addresspollution.org to other UK cities by February 2020.

The question of whether to stay a Londoner or move back to my home town of Stroud, Gloucestershire, remains unanswered. But for now, I’m joining COPI and putting their advice on measures parents can take to protect their children into action.

1. Switch driving a car to walking, cycling or using public transport

Walk, cycle, bus or train it. Drivers can be exposed to twice as much air pollution as pedestrians and nine times more than a cyclist. So as well as cutting down the amount of pollution you make, you’re reducing your exposure and getting some exercise too.

2. Take the side streets

Using quieter streets when you’re on a bike or on foot can lower your kids exposure to air pollution by 20%.

3. Avoid exercise when pollution is high

There are about 10 to 20 high pollution days a year when it’s better to avoid intense activity, particularly if your children have a heart or lung condition.

4. Choose Click & Collect

Many city workplaces report that half of all deliveries are personal parcels for staff. That’s a whole lot of extra vans clogging up the city. Instead, choose a Click & Collect location near home.

5. Switch off engine when stationary

By turning off your car engine whenever you’re not moving – and it’s safe to do so – you’ll help to make the air cleaner for you, other drivers and pedestrians.

6. Keep your car tyres inflated 

Inflating your tyres properly means your car will be more efficient and use less fuel. And remember to give your car a regular service to ensureit runs as efficiently and cleanly as possible.

7. Invest in an electric car 

If you have to drive, Electric Vehicles (EVs) are better than their petrol and diesel counterparts – and their costs over a lifetime are cheaper than you might think. So when you upgrade your car, consider buying an electric vehicle.

8. Inspire others

Encourage others to take the actions above to improve the air we breathe.

The post #ADDRESSPOLLUTION Is living in a city costing you your health? appeared first on Marie Claire.

Have you got brain fog? Here’s how to makeover your mind

Have you got brain fog? Here’s how to makeover your mind


Forgetting names? Can’t remember where you put your keys? It’s time to reboot your brain, says Alix O’Neil, who reveals the best ways to give your grey matter a workout

brain fog

There are certain inevitabilities about getting older I’ve come to accept as I settle into my mid-thirties. Pubs are intolerable unless you can nab a seat; bed after midnight favours twentysomething skin only; and any more than a couple of glasses of wine leads to a hangover of apocalyptic proportions.

But the one aspect I’m struggling to get on board with is my rapidly diminishing brainpower. There’s no evidence to suggest I’m losing my cognitive abilities, obviously, it’s just a feeling of being less sharp and mentally agile than I used to be. Since having a baby over a year ago, I frequently lose my train of thought mid-sentence and my inbox is cluttered with reminders such as ‘switch off hall light’ and ‘remember phone’. It’s not just a mum thing. Many of my thirtysomething child-free friends are also concerned about memory loss and general brain fog.

Brain health is a hot topic. In recent years, biohacking – essentially any action that helps your body or mind function better – has gone from an esoteric practice favoured by Silicon Valley execs to a mainstream wellness movement. Ranging from putting butter in your coffee to extreme fasting and inserting microchip implants under the skin, it’s a controversial trend. Yet, increasingly, our grey matter matters. This year sees the publication of a host of new books on the subject, including How (Not) To Train The Brain, 100 Days To A Younger Brain, Your Brain On Food and Brain Coach.

What’s behind this latest obsession? Sheida Rabipour, co-author of How (Not) To Train The Brain, explains: ‘As the ageing population grows, there’s a greater concern with memory loss, as well as more awareness of and treatment for mental health issues. There have also been a lot of technological advances that have allowed us to develop tools that track the progression of diseases and cognitive function in healthy people.’

According to recent government statistics, in 2016, 18 per cent of the UK’s population were aged 65 and over. By 2046, this is predicted to rise to almost 25 per cent. A healthy brain is key if we’re to make the most of our longevity and stave off cognitive diseases, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, the leading cause of death among women in England and Wales.*

The good news is, our brains are adaptable, says Sabina Brennan, a research psychologist at Trinity College Dublin’s Institute of Neuroscience and author of 100 Days To A Younger Brain. ‘A lot of people think dementia is a normal part of ageing, which it isn’t. Your brain can change at any age.’

Brennan claims 30 per cent of all cases of Alzheimer’s are attributable to seven risk factors: low levels of physical activity; poor educational attainment; mid-life obesity; type 2 diabetes; smoking; mid-life high blood pressure; and depression. Although our brains begin to atrophy from around age 30, Brennan says it’s possible to slow down the brain’s ageing process. ‘In a way, size matters when it comes to the brain: you can build brain reserves, which is like the hardware, and cognitive reserves, the software. The more brain cells you have the longer you can buffer against that loss. We used to think that there was nothing you could do about age-related atrophy, but recently we’ve discovered you can boost the size of your brain and build new neurons and connections that can help you keep pace with this decline.’

Practical steps you can take to improve cognitive well-being:

Eat your five a day

A recent study by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro found that a hormone released when we exercise was so powerful, it was capable of ‘reversing dementia’ and delaying the onset. Evidence also points towards a Mediterranean diet: colourful fresh fruit and veg, oily fish, nuts and proteins. ‘To function properly, your brain and nervous system require an adequate supply of amino acids, found in protein-rich foods. These are the raw materials needed to make neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that carry signals throughout your brain,’ says Brennan.

‘Dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin are key neurotransmitters that play a role in cognitive function, including attention, learning and memory.’ Brennan eats fish five or six times a week, though suggests aiming for at least twice a week. Good choices include sea bass, tinned tuna and salmon − farmed salmon is higher in omega-3s than wild salmon. Antioxidant-rich fruit and veg to plump for include citrus fruits, strawberries, sweet peppers, broccoli, carrots and spinach, while almonds, peanuts and hazelnuts offer the brain plenty of vitamin E, which may help protect neurons from damage.

Know your fats

Give food containing trans fats a wide berth. The brain needs natural fats to function properly, but trans fats can cause cellular damage, adversely affecting memory and brain function. ‘While cholesterol is critical for brain health, your body can produce all of the cholesterol it needs to carry out its essential functions,’ says Brennan. ‘You don’t need to eat food containing it.’ So, it’s goodbye to cakes and hello to kale.

Socialise and sleep

‘What’s good for your heart is good for your brain,’ says Brennan. Face-to-face social interaction is also crucial. But by far the best thing for your brain is sleep. ‘If you’re not getting proper sleep each night, it will impact on your attention, memory function, ability to learn, make decisions and take risks,’ she says.

Cut back on caffeine

The benefits of coffee have been widely debated, but Brennan says, ‘There’s a chemical in the brain called adenosine that tells us when we need sleep. When you drink coffee, you think it gives you energy, but it’s just blocking the adenosine’s signal.’ Alcohol is another brain drain. A 2017 study by the University of Oxford and University College London found even moderate amounts can damage areas of the brain linked to memory and cognitive function.

Give your brain a workout

There are plenty of apps to keep our grey cells supple with daily workouts. ‘If you find solving puzzles challenging and engaging, there’s nothing wrong with doing them,’ says Rabipour. ‘But equally, physical activity, learning a language or a musical instrument are protective factors.’ Rabipour and Brennan insist the brain needs to be challenged to benefit from its plasticity. Even small daily tasks that force the brain out of autopilot will make a difference. It’s about trying something new, such as listening to music from an unfamiliar genre, reading a section of a newspaper you’d normally bypass or taking a new route to work.’

The post Have you got brain fog? Here’s how to makeover your mind appeared first on Marie Claire.

Why ‘pimping’ your pimples is the next big beauty thing

Why ‘pimping’ your pimples is the next big beauty thing


Inspired by our favourite acnevists, looks like zit stickers are a make-up bag essential

acnevists
Starface

Words by Kerry Parnell

Forget caking on concealer every time you get a spot, now it’s all about pimping your pimples by making a feature of them – popping a neon yellow star or flower sticker over the offending spot, instead.

It’s not a Snapchat filter, it’s real life, as zit stickers have become the next big thing in beauty, inspired by the rising trend of online acnevists, who are out to make us love our skin, whatever condition it is in.

The stickers work by treating pimples while both covering and highlighting them. Squish Flower Power Acne Patches, £10, squishbeauty.com, are the brand-new brainchild of UK model and body activist Charli Howard and aim to beautify blemishes while drawing out impurities. ‘The acne positive movement definitely inspired me to design something that made light of blemishes, rather than feel embarrassed by them,’ she tells Marie Claire. ‘I think we’ve grown up with seeing constant, overly-Photoshopped smooth skin and people just want to see reality. A lot of skincare products, especially for acne, look very clinical and we just want our customers to feel good.’

Likewise, Starface Hydro-Stars, USD $22, starface.world, were launched by American beauty journalist Julie Schott, who says they aim to reverse the stigmatisation of spots by traditional skincare companies who are ‘looking to capitalize on insecurities’.

‘Pimples aren’t blemishes or imperfections, they’re part of having human skin. Starface is here to normalize acne and put an end to the idea that those with acne should ever have to feel less desirable,’ she says.

acnevists

Starface

Hydro-Stars, which will be available in the UK soon, are part of a growing movement online for acne positivity – where people proudly post photos of their break-outs, under the #acneisnormal. One of its biggest stars Em Ford, 29, became an online phenomenon in 2015 when the British beauty blogger developed adult acne and began showing her bare skin, blemishes and all, for before and after make-up tutorials on her blog My Pale Skin. Horrified by the flood of negative comments she received, she made the YouTube video ‘You look disgusting’, which went viral, racking up 32 million views to date. She now has 861,000 Instagram followers and 1.1million YouTube subscribers, and has worked with everyone from Kylie Jenner to L’Oreal and the BBC.

‘In the beginning, I felt overwhelmed. It took a lot of energy to step up and share my story,’ she tells Marie Claire. ‘But it quickly changed and every day I wake up feeling empowered by the people who now have the confidence to be themselves and to feel true beauty inside and out.

‘I’ve accepted that some days are going to be harder than others – regardless of what products exist to help. But now, I don’t let it stop me. I’ll happily hit the streets bare-faced. It’s the best thing for my skin and mind, and I work through it because we are more than just our skin,’ she says.

Another original acne positivity influencer is Kali Kushner, of @myfacestory, who also began posting before and after shots in 2015 when she started suffering from cystic pimples, initially wanting to track the progress of her medication. ‘In the beginning I was shocked that people would want to follow me,’ says Kali, 24.

‘My content wasn’t the ‘Insta-worthy’ stuff we’re all used to. But looking back I can see why I was able to grow a following, because I was being real and vulnerable in a time that Photoshop and Facetune were at an all-time high. I remember scrolling through Instagram before I started my account and it didn’t feel like my feed was relatable, nor did it make me feel good; I wanted to be a part of the movement to change that.’

The US poster girl activist has certainly done that, clocking up 67,800 Instagram followers and now working as an ambassador with trusted brands. She’s also up for decorating her break-outs. ‘I think pimple stickers, like stars and hearts are very cute and would help to further normalize acne,’ she says.

You could say she gives them a gold star.

The post Why ‘pimping’ your pimples is the next big beauty thing appeared first on Marie Claire.