Albinism in Your Skin

This one is especially for my friends in the Albinism community.  I think we can all agree that – while the blonde hair is a blessing – the translucent skin is a curse!  Especially when you have redness on top of that.

Covering up the redness with tan – do love this gúna though! It’s from Vanilla Boutique in Fermoy 

I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I purposely keep my arms (in particular) covered.  The problem with translucent skin is that redness shows constantly – I know for me, it means my arms end up looking like someone has slapped me, and the rest of my skin is deathly white! I’m so conscious of it, and the only way I’ve covered it before is with a spray tan.  But constant spray tanning isn’t pracitical – or financially healthy!

So a few weeks ago, a friend gave me some bottles of a new skincare range that she’s been using recently – a range called Ocean Bloom.  Usually, I won’t try a new range even when I do get a recommendation – my skin is so sensitive and the smallest thing can set me off with a rash or reaction.  But I must admit, when I checked out the ingredients on their website, I was impressed.  Their moisturiser has an SPF – super important for someone with albinism because of our lack of pigment.  No parabens, no nasty sulphates or silicones – and all organic ingredients.  They don’t test on animals either.

It’s great that the Ocean Bloom range isn’t tested on animals – I also just think this pic is super cute!

So I thought “I’ll give this a go!”.

I started out with the moisturiser and eye serum.  Of course, I patch tested both first, and no reaction so I was ready to go.  Woohoo!

Within a week, there was a clear difference in the redness of my face, something I’ve always had trouble with and something I put down to my albinism.  The red pigment and hue in my face started to fade – not entirely – but noticeably enough.  I’ve been doing a bit of Google’ing, and seaweed (the main ingredient) reduces skin redness, inflammation, and is a natural way to hydrate skin.  So maybe this explains it?  All I know is the redness is going slowly, and I’m super happy about that!

Some pics I took of the moisturiser, just for an idea of the consistency

Similarly with the eye serum, the dark circles around my eyes are gone way down too!  Again, these circles are something I used to put down the strain on my eyes by everyday tasks – I’m sure you all know how difficult it can be to work around nystagmus.  I felt it was my nystagmus made these circles worse – there’s a lot of pressure on my eyes day to day.  So obviously I’m super happy with this too.  It’s nice and soft around my eyes too – again, I’m so careful with what goes near them because it’s important to keep them as healthy as possible.

When these results were so good after just a week, I started using some of their other products – the main ingredient in the range is seaweed from West Cork.  So it MUST be good for the rest of my skin, right?

Remember what I said about the redness in my face being reduced with the moisturiser?  Well, the body butter had the EXACT same effect! I can only presume its because of the way seaweed reduces redness?  Or maybe its because something soothing is on my skin.  Whatever the reason, it basically means I don’t have to keep my arms constantly hidden if I have no tan on!  R-E-S-U-L-T!!

I’m always the first one to share any good products I find – especially when it comes to something that helps with the lesser effects of my albinism.  Trust me when I say this really helped the redness on my face, that I think is mostly down to my albinism.   The same with the redness on my arms and parts of my legs.  It hasn’t disappeared, but there’s a huuuuuge reduction in it.  Hopefully as I keep using it, it’ll continue to reduce it.  I’ve noticed that my skin is a lot healthier in general since I started using the moisturiser and body butter.

My favourite delivery of ALL time!!!! How cute is the packaging?

I’ve included links in this post if any of you want to have a look at Ocean Bloom’s online store, you can.  If you guys end up trying these products too, please message me and let me know!  I think it’ll be really beneficial for people like me with albinism who suffer from the same type of redness.

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Smear 4 Smear – My First Smear Test

My letter from CervicalCheck arrived around mid-December, reminding me that I was due my first smear test soon.  These reminders are posted out to each woman in Ireland shortly after her 25th birthday – and I must admit I was surprised at how timely my “smear invite” arrived!  From what I’d heard from other friends, aunts, and my mum, I knew it would take something like 3 weeks to get the results.  So I decided to book in for mine in January, so as to avoid any unnecessary worrying over Christmas time.

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So that was it – my first smear test booked. All I had to do was wait until the start of January.  I’d booked in with a female doctor at my GP’s practice, and I’d seen her a few times before for the inevitable “women’s problem’s” so I was comfortable with her.  I mean, your first smear test is kind of a thing, so you need to know whose doing it I think.

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So anyway…. 2.20pm, just checked in for my Smear at my GPs surgery. I’m nervous, this is my first Smear Test. I hope it doesn’t hurt but I know it’ll probably be uncomfortable.  I’ve now lost the letter for my smear test with the tracking number on it. The panic looking for it today hasn’t helped my humour at all. Hopefully the doctor can still do the test with my PPS number and ID number for my Smear, which I was able to look up on the Cervical Check website – here’s the link, just incase you lose yours too.

Oh my nerves, I can hear the clock ticking behind me and everything. Now I’m starting to think silly things: should I take my socks off or leave them on? Does she know I’m blogging about this? I hope she won’t mind. What if I do it wrong? Ugh it’s a smear how could I do it wrong?!! The doctor is the one doing it, all I have to do is lie back, relax and… think about something else. Like what though? The gym, I’m going to the gym later so I’ll think about that. What if I’m sore after the test and I can’t go to the gym? Ok I’m not gonna think about the gym, I’ll just go in there and empty my mind.

It’s 2.29 and no sign of the doctor, but my appointment is at half past. I can’t handle the suspense of this I just want it over with….

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I was called at 2.31, and out the door and all by 2.40…. What was I so worried about?  The female doctor called me into her room, and asked if I’d ever had a smear before.  I hadn’t.  So she explained to me how the test was done; that it would feel like a bit of pressure, and that I’d be waiting six weeks for results.  She asked if I was still happy to do the test and if I felt comfortable.  I did, but I was still nervous.

I lay back, and allowed her to do the test.  Its basically very similar to a pelvic exam, except that they use a little brush type instrument to take a few cells from the cervix.  I’m squeamish, and it didn’t bother me in the least.  It didn’t hurt either – like I said, it felt like pressure from a pelvic exam.  And that was it.  It was finished.

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The reasoning behind writing about something like this was to try and normalise it for other ladies, and to take away the fear around it.  As you’ve read, I was so nervous – and it turned out I had nothing to worry about!

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I’ll give an update on the Beyond the Blonde Facebook page when I get my results in a few weeks – but I’m not in the least worried.  Something to note though – a smear test only tests for cervical cancer or changes in the cervix.  It doesn’t screen for other gynae problems, like fibroids, or gynae cancers like ovarian cancer or endometrial cancer.

 

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I Know It’s Up for Me, If You Steal My Sunshine

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Skin care in the sun eh?  I bet you’re all thinking SUNCREAM right about now?  A lot more than that can and does go into taking care of your skin in the sun though.  I’d like to think this piece will be useful to everyone with different skin types, as well as my friends who have albinism too.  And also, I’ll take this chance to point out that this isn’t medical advise in any way, shape or form – its just a rambling piece about my thoughts on the topic and what has worked for me in the past.

It can be hard to take care of pale skin in the sun, especially when friends are sallow skinned and seem to tan instantly – which makes them want to spend days sitting in the sun even more.  In the past I’ve happily taken part in these sun sessions, but guess what happened? Burnt scalp, burnt arms, burnt ears etc.  And aside from the dangers of anything more sinister than sunburn blisters, it is really painful and uncomfortable.  So here are a few of my tips:

1.  Check the weather.

There are apps for this so you have NO excuse not to do it.  All during the summer months, I check the forecast every morning to check how intense the sun will be, if there are clouds due, and what times of the day that sunshine is expected.  If you have business to attend to during the day, you might decide to do it at a time when the sun is less intense or when it is overcast.  Above anything else, its helpful to plan an outfit – especially shoes!  Trust me, you do not want to be caught in a pair of cute flipflops when rain is pouring down on top of you!

2.  Choose your outfits wisely.

If I know it’ll be sunny on a particular day, I’ll plan to wear light clothes that will cover problem burn areas like shoulders or the upper back.  You can still look bright and feel comfortable in summer clothes even if you are a tad more covered than friends.  Shorts or strapless tops are a major no-no for me in the summer months, it is just too easy to get sunburned in those or to fail to apply suncream properly to these areas.  A lot of people say black should never be worn in the summer either as it attracts the sun, although I wonder is that a bit of an old wives tale!

3.  Suncream!

There is more to skin care in the sun than suncream, but it is a big part of keeping your skin healthy.  Its important to pick a suncream that will give you the right protection of course, but also one that you’ll be happy to wear too.  It’s pointless buying a suncream that is intensely heavy because you won’t want to wear it and it will be irritating to even apply.  Personally, I have always found the sun spray types best as they are much lighter than traditional suncreams, and as they have a spraying nozzle, they are also easier to apply.  Even the higher factor coverage in these sprays isn’t as gloopy as the typical sun creams are.  Just remember to constantly reapply every hour!

4.  Wear makeup if at all possible.  And sunglasses!

This probably sounds a bit over the top right?  But remember, most liquid foundations do have an SPF level within them.  And its a lot nicer to have makeup with sun protection covering your face, rather than applying suncream.  Keep in mind that the coverage in makeup isn’t that high though, and check your own foundation for its SPF level.  Remember to keep sunglasses around you at all time – especially in Ireland because you may never know when you need them!  Invest in a pair with good protection from the sun too – UV rays can and do damage eyes year after year, and so a pair of sunglasses with substantial protection are a worthy investment.

5.  Do your best to sit in the shade.

Simple but effective, and you would think it goes without saying, but that’s not always the case.  I always have to be reminded to sit in the shade!  If you’re in the park with friends who want to sunbath, try and sit near a tree or statue that can give you shade form the suns rays, while still allowing your friends to bask in the rays.

6.  Look out for moles and skin changes. 

I can’t stress this enough.  Moles that have recently changed shape or colour should always be observed by your GP, especially if they are in an area of your body which has been previously sunburned.  For more info on what type of changes to look for, click here – because I’m not a doctor and this is just an opinion piece and not medical advice in any way!

Hopefully, this piece will be useful not just to those with albinism, but also to anyone who is looking to protect their skin from the sun!  Anything you can add to this list of skin care in the sun?  Drop me a line through the blog page! In the meantime, check out this sunny selfie I took with a meerkat in Fota Wildlife Park on the Cork Rose tour recently – the meerkat didn’t really cooperate though!

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