Tuesday, 13 February 2018

The anti-ageing benefits of retinol

When it comes to “anti-ageing creams” and treating lines & wrinkles, there is one ingredient that is head & shoulders above the rest. Despite all the technological advances in skin care, Retinol is STILL the gold standard in anti-ageing!

Retinol is fantastic for treating lines & wrinkles no matter what your skin type or secondary skin concerns. Lines & wrinkles aren’t the only thing this wonder-ingredient can treat though. Retinol has the ability to correct all sorts of skin conditions and concerns including acne, eczema, pigmentation, enlarged pores.

What is Retinol?
Retinol is a form of Vitamin A and part of a family of ingredients known as Retinoids. Vitamin A is a potent antioxidant which has the ability to protect cells from free radical damage thus preventing collagen breakdown. It is also essential for cellular renewal and DNA repair.

Retinol acts like a hormone with the skin, normalising cell function. Therefore encouraging the skin to behave the way it did when it was younger.

Retinoid Skin Care Benefits
Aside from being an effective antioxidant, Vitamin A is essential for collagen synthesis and production. This is why it’s a fantastic ingredient to use when treating lines & wrinkles.

Retinol also normalises cellular turnover. As we age our cell turnover begins to slow down and become more sluggish. So by increasing it, it helps to give a more youthful complexion. By helping to normalise the way new cells are laid down forming the stratum corneum. Anyone who struggles with topical exfoliation should give Retinol a try. It has a similar exfoliating effect, but by stimulating the skins natural desquamation process.

For acne suffers where hyper-keratosis (excess of skin cells being produced) is an issue, Retinol helps to slow down cell production. In other words, helping to regulate or normalise cell turn over to a healthy rate.

Retinol also helps to normalise sebum production by reducing over-active sebaceous glands. So great for excessively oily skins. This regulation of oil production also helps to correct any secondary skin concerns such as acne or rosacea.

The Problem With Retinol
Whilst Retinol is a wonderful ingredient, it does have it’s drawbacks. There are good reasons why a lot of skin care brands do not use it in their formulations.

Firstly, it’s a highly unstable ingredient which deteriorates quickly when exposed to air and light. This is why it’s important to choose a product that uses encapsulated retinol and / or in airless packaging. This helps to ensure vulnerable ingredients are protected and thus remain active.

For example, imagine a product contains 0.5% pure Retinol. If the ingredient has not been protected, then the amount that is available to the skin will be much less. So therefore the results will be affected.

Secondly, it can be highly irritating and not easily tolerated by the skin. Using too much, too soon can cause irritation and over-stimulation. Which is why most over-the-counter skincare brands use such tiny concentrations so to avoid adverse reaction. However they also sacrifice the results from using retinoids.

It’s best to introduce Retinol slowly into your regime. This is another reason to choose a product that uses encapsulated Retinol, thus helping to deliver the Vitamin A to the deeper layers of skin without causing surface irritation.

Are All Retinoids Created Equal?
Vitamin A is such an effective ingredient because it’s recognised by the skin and has the ability to change the cell behaviour. Skin cells have receptor sites that recognise Vitamin A and can metabolise the ingredient. However it’s important to understand that in order for this to happen, Vitamin A has to be in a specific form known as Retinoic Acid. Therefore any retinoid that is applied topically to the skin goes through a conversion process before it can be utilised by the skin cell.

It is possible to apply Retinoic Acid topically in the form of a product called Retin-A (Isotretinoin). However this is a prescription drug and can only be prescribed by dermatologists. Whilst it’s the most effective form of Vitamin A, it’s also the most irritating and likely to cause irritation and over-stimulation.

The stages and order of Vitamin A conversion in the skin are;

  • Retinyl Esters (Sometimes shown as Retinyl Palmitate on ingredients)
  • Retinol
  • Retinaldehyde
  • Retinoic Acid

The further away from Retinoic Acid and the more conversion needed. The weaker the effect but also least irritating. The closer to Retinoic Acid and the less conversion needed. The stronger the effect but also the most irritating.

By this principle, in non-prescription skincare, then it’s best to choose a product that contains Retinol or Retinaldehyde (or a combination of the two).

Studies have shown that 0.5% Retinaldehyde is just as effective as 0.5% Retinoic Acid. Except Retinaldehyde is more easily tolerated by the skin and without the localised irritation of Retinoic Acid. [1]

How To Use Retinol Skincare
Choose a product that uses encapsulated Vitamin A and start off slowly. Introducing the product in small amounts with rest days until skin tolerance level is determined.

It’s completely normal to experience some initial dryness or flaking on the third day of using a Vitamin A product for the first time. This is because it takes 3 days for Retinol to be fully metabolise and converted to Retinoic Acid.

Due to the fact that Vitamin A is light sensitive, it’s best to use your Retinol products at night. This avoids the ingredient becoming unstable and therefore ineffective.

Always use a sunscreen whilst using Retinol products. This applies when using any stimulating ingredient on the skin that increases cell turnover and encourages desquamation.

Studies show by combining Retinol with AHA’s helps boost it’s effectiveness, particularly when treating sun damaged / photo damaged skin[2].

  1. Profilometric evaluation of photodamage after topical retinaldehyde and retinoic acid treatment. Creidi P, Vienne MP, Ochonisky S, Lauze C, Turlier V, Lagarde JM, Dupuy P, J Am Acad. Dermatol. 1998 Dec; 39(6):960-5.
  2. Pharmacology of RALGA, a mixture of retinaldehyde and glycolic acid. Tran C1, Kasraee B, Grand D, Carraux P, Didierjean L, Sorg O, Saurat JH. Dermatol. 2005; 210 Suppl 1:6-13.
  3. https://andymillward-skincare.co.uk/2015/03/retinol-the-gold-standard-in-anti-ageing-skincare/ 

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Beauty Benefits of Coconut Oil

Buying a bottle of coconut oil can be life changing for you. Not only is it good nourishment for your hair, it has various other beauty benefits too. Pretty soon, you won’t feel the need to buy a million different cosmetics to fulfil your needs, one bottle of coconut oil will do everything you need.You may have already made the switch to coconut oil in the kitchen, but did you know you can also swap out some of your beauty products for the wonder oil? This do-it-all ingredient can be used to moisturise skin and remove makeup, but that's just the beginning. Here are some of  the ways you can incorporate coconut oil into your beauty routine:

Hair Nourishment 
Be it as a hair oil or as a shampoo, coconut can do wonders to your hair. It can help you get rid of dandruff, hair fall, split ends and a lot more. Apply oil on your hair and soak for 20 minutes to make your hair shiny, massage warm coconut hair oil to stimulate blood circulation and promote hair growth. 

Makeup Remover
If your current makeup remover is leaving makeup behind, it is high time you switched to using coconut oil instead. You can use a blend of virgin coconut oil and rose water (floral water or hydrosol),  just dab your cotton ball in this mixture and use it like you would use your traditional cleanser to watch your makeup melt away the all-natural way.

Lip Balm 
The best way to tackle those stubborn dry lips in any season is coconut oil. This is especially true for the winters when your chapstick does not seem to be working no matter how many times you apply it. A little jar of coconut oil in your bag will go a long way to giving your supple and plump lips. The best part is in winters, the consistency of the product is much like lip balm too.

Itch Relief
If your average itch relief cream is causing you more harm than good, try to lather on some coconut oil for instant relief and quick results. You can use the oil on bug bites, burns, and even bruises. Again, a natural remedy is so much better than a chemically infused one. It’s the next best thing after aloe vera!

Leave-in Conditioner
Instead of getting confused between expensive oils or other hair care products for your hair, try coconut oil for a change. When your hair is wet, put a little coconut hair oil on your tresses and let it work its magic. It is pocket friendly and effective at the same time.

Fighting Stretch Marks
If you are an expecting mother or already have a child or two, in the process of losing weight or just noticing stretch marks on your body for no reason, your new best friend is a magical blend of coconut oil and castor oil. Regularly applying this mix on your problem areas will go a long way in solving it. And it works surprisingly fast, so that is a definite bonus.

Under Eye Cream
Eye creams, like a lot of the speciality cosmetics out there, are very expensive. For a small tube that may or may not work, you end up dishing out a fortune. Well, say goodbye to those days, because your new buddy is coconut oil. Gently (very gently) work the oil into the skin beneath your eyes are night before going to sleep every night and watch the difference it makes.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Is resveratrol the magic bullet against ageing?

The search for the mythical fountain of youth may have ended with Ponce de Leon, but millions of us hold out hope that science will discover the secret to beat ageing, the special formula that will keep our skin, and our insides, from displaying the wear and tear of our years. Found in red wine, red or purple grapes, some berries, and dark chocolate, resveratrol is a naturally-occurring polyphenol compound that has been touted as a potential remedy for a range of age-related conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease.

Said to contribute to the "French paradox"—the observation that people living in France tend to eat a lot of cheese, butter, and other fatty foods yet have a low incidence of heart disease—resveratrol consumption has been found to mimic a calorie-restricted diet (which studies have shown can play a role in longevity) and decrease chronic inflammation in the body.

The Benefits of Resveratrol: Can It Really Help?
Much of the research pointing to the benefits have been laboratory or animal-based studies. So far, research on resveratrol's effectiveness in humans has yielded mixed results. Here's a look at some key study findings:

Heart Health
For a review published in Clinical Nutrition in 2015, researchers analysed six previously published studies on the effects of resveratrol on blood pressure, and concluded that resveratrol didn't significantly reduce blood pressure. Higher doses of resveratrol (over 150 mg per day), however, were found to significantly decrease systolic blood pressure (the top number on a blood pressure reading). 

Another review, published in the International Journal of Cardiology in 2015, examined the effectiveness of resveratrol on cardiovascular risk factors. After analysing 10 previously published studies, researchers concluded that the analysis did not suggest any benefit of resveratrol supplementation on heart disease risk factors, including levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and C-reactive protein or CRP (a blood protein that is raised when there is inflammation, including in heart disease).

There's some evidence that resveratrol may not prolong life, according to research on people living in Tuscany who consume a diet rich in resveratrol from food sources like red wine. In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2014, 783 men and women 65 years or older were followed from 1998 to 2009.

During that time, intake of red wine (as measured by urine levels of resveratrol metabolites), didn't change the likelihood of dying from any cause, the incidence of heart disease or cancer, or markers of inflammation.

A number of preliminary studies suggest that resveratrol may have anti-cancer effects. In a 2016 animal study, for instance, resveratrol suppressed ovarian tumor regrowth after chemotherapy. Published in Cancer, the study found that resveratrol inhibited the uptake of glucose by cancer cells (many cancer cells depend on glucose as their energy supply).

Despite these findings, the data from the limited human clinical trials have shown inconsistent outcomes and the American Cancer Society cautions that randomised clinical trials are needed to confirm the cancer-fighting effects of resveratrol. (There is also some concern that resveratrol may influence levels of oestrogen and other hormones.)

Sources of resveratrol
Trans-resveratrol is a form of resveratrol commonly found in supplements. Proponents often claim that trans-resveratrol is the most stable form of resveratrol.

In addition to food sources, resveratrol is also found in Japanese knotweed (Polypodium cuspidatum), grape seed extract, cissus quadrangularis, and white mulberry (Morus alba). Pterostilbene is a compound related to resveratrol.

Possible Side Effects
Little is known about the safety of long-term or high dose use of resveratrol. Since resveratrol may possess oestrogen-like properties, some medical experts recommend that people with hormone-sensitive cancers (including cancers of the breast, ovary, or uterus), pregnant women, and children avoid taking resveratrol.

In addition, resveratrol could interact with blood thinners like warfarin, aspirin, and ibuprofen, which may raise your risk of bleeding. According to one study, high-dose resveratrol supplementation was associated with fever, reduced blood cells, and decreased blood pressure.

There is some concern that high doses of resveratrol supplements could lead to kidney problems in some people. Supplements haven't been tested for safety and due to the fact that dietary supplements are largely unregulated, the content of some products may differ from what is specified on the product label. You can get tips on using supplements here.

Since the compound was first described in 1992, resveratrol has been studied for its much-touted benefits on the brain, heart, and lifespan, but recent research casts doubt on the notion that resveratrol supplements can help you live longer or lower your risk of heart disease or cancer.

If you're wondering whether a daily glass of red wine or piece of dark chocolate will improve your health, some researchers note that consumption of red wine, dark chocolate, and some berries has been found to decrease inflammation and have heart-healthy benefits, and suggest that other compounds in these foods may contribute to these benefits.

It's impossible, however, to get anywhere near the doses used in studies from food sources. Many of the studies have used a dose of about 100 mg or more of resveratrol, while a 5-ounce glass of red wine only has about 1 mg of resveratrol.

It's important to note that increasing your intake of red wine comes with a trade-off. Consuming too much may raise your risk of high blood pressure, liver damage, obesity, and some forms of cancer.

To boost your intake without consuming alcohol, try eating foods like grapes, raspberries, plums, blueberries, cranberries, grape tomatoes, and pomegranate (all of which are rich in resveratrol and a range of antioxidants and nutrients).

If you're still considering using resveratrol supplements, talk to your healthcare provider before starting your supplement regimen to weigh the pros and cons and discuss whether it's appropriate for you.


  1. Liu Y, Ma W, Zhang P, He S, Huang D. Effect of resveratrol on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clin Nutr. 2015 Feb;34(1):27-34.
  2. Sahebkar A, Serban C, Ursoniu S, et al. Lack of efficacy of resveratrol on C-reactive protein and selected cardiovascular risk factors--Results from a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Int J Cardiol. 2015;189:47-55.
  3. Semba RD, Ferrucci L, Bartali B, et al. Resveratrol levels and all-cause mortality in older community-dwelling adults. JAMA Intern Med. 2014 Jul;174(7):1077-84.
  4. Tan L, Wang W, He G, et al. Resveratrol inhibits ovarian tumour growth in an in vivo mouse model. Cancer. 2016 Mar 1;122(5):722-9.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Worried about Parabens in your Beauty Products?

Most people know, or at least have a vague idea that parabens are potentially dangerous; yet many don’t know what parabens are, what they do, or what the controversy is actually about. So let's start with the basics:

Approximately 85% of Health and Beauty Products Contain Parabens

Parabens are preservatives, used in 90% of typical grocery items and, according to the American Chemical Society, approximately 85% of health, beauty, and personal care products. They extend the shelf life of items containing water, and are one of very few preservatives able to prevent the growth of bacteria, fungi, yeast, and mould–which is why they’re so popular.. You’ll find them in food, drugs, packaging, makeup, moisturiser, sunscreen, hair care, skincare, and shaving products, commonly listed under methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, isopropyl-, butyl-, isobutyl-, and benzylparaben–though that’s not an exhaustive list. And because people ingest parabens orally as well as through the skin, most Americans have them in their bodies at all times. I have previously written about this in an earlier blog: http://yaso-shan.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/truth-about-parabens.html

A 2017 University of California, Berkeley study suggests parabens might be more dangerous than previously thought–even in small amounts.

The controversy surrounding parabens has to do with their chemical structure; it’s similar to that of oestrogens, which are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive problems.

But the furore really took hold in 2004, when a British study showed “traces of five parabens in the breast tumours of 19 out of 20 women studied.” From there, the media ran stories about the possibility parabens, often found in deodorants and anti-perspirants, being linked to breast cancer–even though the study never claimed a causal relationship, and was later found invalid. Even so, many people immediately grew–and have remained–uneasy.

The short answer is no, parabens haven’t been definitively linked to health risks. A 2005 study concluded it’s “biologically implausible that parabens could increase the risk of . . . breast cancer.” But they are known to increase the growth of breast cancer cells, and to mimic oestrogen in the body. And a 2017 study suggests parabens might be more dangerous than previously thought–even in small amounts. It’s no surprise, then, that many consumers would rather leave parabens out of their quests for health and beauty.

Are Parabens Necessary?

Many people aren’t convinced they’re safe: animal studies in vitro have shown certain parabens to be potentially risky, the CDC is continuing long-term studies on their risks, and the European Union has severely restricted their use, citing possible risks to human health—-particularly in products designed for children. It is worth noting that not all products need preservatives for instance, products that don’t contain water won’t need preservatives like parabens, and those that do can be preserved in other ways.

(It’s important to note, however, that certain alternatives for parabens, however, contain allergens, skin irritants, and sensitizing ingredients. Digging deep into this issue means getting skilled at reading labels, to ensure you aren’t replacing a potentially dangerous ingredient with one proven to be risky.)

Do Parabens Cause Cancer?

The official word from the American Cancer Society is: “Although at this time there are no clear health risks from parabens in food, drugs, cosmetics, and skin care products, people concerned about exposure to parabens can avoid products containing them.”

Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, cosmetic products and ingredients, other than color additives, don’t need FDA approval before they go on the market.

The FDA takes a similar “safe until proven unsafe” stance; in partnership with the CDC, it conducted Cosmetic Ingredient Reviews in 2003 and 2005, and stuck with findings from 1984: There isn’t enough evidence to prove parabens dangerous in cosmetics, food, or food packaging, despite studies noting their ability to (weakly) mimic oestrogen in animal studies.

But there is enough information to give many consumers pause. For example, the European Union agrees that the dangers of parabens have NOT been conclusively proven; but over the past five years, it has restricted, further restricted, and banned certain parabens. 

Groups like the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (a project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners) second that thought. Their main concern is that “parabens are known to disrupt hormone function, an effect that is linked to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity.” They’ll tell you parabens have been linked to reproductive, immunological, neurological and skin irritation problems (which is true, in animal studies). And, if parabens are eventually linked to cancer in humans, women will primarily be affected: they use significantly more personal care products than men do, meaning they’re exposed to far more parabens.

The FDA’s website states that no studies have proven a link between parabens and cancer in humans; but many–based on a number of animal and laboratory studies–believe it’s just a matter of time. They aren’t comforted by the FDA’s insistence that, “Studies have shown . . . that parabens have significantly less estrogenic activity than the body’s naturally occurring estrogen. Parabens have not been shown to be harmful as used in cosmetics, where they are present only in very small amounts.”

What The Experts Say

Experts in the beauty industry also disagree about parabens, but some of their concerns have to do with skin sensitivity. In short, those in the industry are likely to remain divided–at least until a conclusive body of research rolls in. But one thing virtually every skincare expert does agree on is that fragrance-free products are best for your skin–a hidden perk, given how many parabens are used in fragrances. And the fact that manufacturers aren’t required to disclose fragrance formulas; labels that don’t list parabens may still contain them under Fragrance/Parfum. Going fragrance free will also help you avoid parabens.

If you are worried about preservatives or indeed parabens in your skincare product, take a look at the full article at: https://www.reviews.com/research/know-parabens-beauty-products/

Friday, 1 September 2017

Autumn Skincare Tips

Autumn is a time of spectacular natural beauty with the fields and trees so rich in texture and colour. Vibrant reds, orange, and yellow dominate and inspire the landscape.

Unlike the fast pace and excitement of Summer, Autumn is a time of winding-down, taking stock, and preparing for the long winter months ahead.

Fresh grains, nuts, fruits such as apples and pears and berries such as cranberries are typical of the Autumn season, and they all offer wonderful natural properties that nourish, protect and nurture our skin and bodies.

Quite often, major skincare companies attempt to reflect natural ingredients that are typical of each season, and to use those natural ingredients accordingly in customers' skin care routine.

Autumn is the perfect time to look after your skin after the intense, and often damaging and dehydrating, effects of the summer months and over exposure to UV.  Wearing and SPF of 30+ is just as important now as it was in the Summer, and I truly believe that protection and prevention are key in effective skin care.

Below are some of my favourite Autumn natural ingredients and their use in skincare:

Marigold (Calendula officinalis)
Marigolds are flowers typical of Autumn, though grown all year, as they don’t tolerate extreme cold or heat well. Their yellow and orange hues really remind me of Autumn, and as a plant remedy, well you don’t get more traditional than that! The plant extract or Calendula extract has many pharmacological uses and has long been proven to contain a variety of compounds that are anti-oxidant, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory. Calendula is often found in natural skincare balms, lotions, gels, and salves because of its wound healing and skin regenerating properties. The petals are classed as edible and some incorporate them in salads and dishes, and the petals can also be infused at home to make a healing oil (though I must admit I have never tried this!).

Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
This plant flowers in late Autumn and its bark and leaves are made into a well-known and multipurpose skin freshener and toner. Witchhazel has been used as a staple in the medicine chest for at least 300 years, and was even used by Native Americans to heal wounds.

Cranberries (Oxycoccus palustris)
Cranberries are typical of the northern hemisphere, and are vastly grown in the US and Canada, where they form a special part of their Autumn traditional foods such as for Thanksgiving. Cranberry botanical extract is rich in essential fatty acids that are essential for skin nourishment and health.

As autumn fast approaches, here are seven tips on how to keep your skin beautiful in cool weather. When temperatures plummet, a seasonal wardrobe change helps protect most of your body from the elements. However, your face and hands will still be exposed, and even areas protected by clothing can be affected by a harsh climate. An autumn skin-care regime can help ensure your delicate features fare well even as blustery winds blow.

Sunscreen smarts
Most people know that slathering on the sunscreen is a must when heading to the pool or beach, but your skin can actually take a hit from the sun’s damaging rays all year round. Apply a sunscreen lotion or moisturiser containing SPF daily to reduce the risk and minimise your chances of sun spots and wrinkles.

Healthy hydration
When it’s hot, you’re more likely to feel thirsty and drink more, but staying well hydrated is important in colder weather, too. Proper hydration affects numerous body functions, such as ensuring your muscles and joints are well-lubricated and helping your body to regulate its temperature. Water is the solution most experts recommend, but non-sugary options like tea can also help.

Food factors
Although limiting the amount of fat you consume is generally recommended for a nutritious eating plan, in the autumn and winter it’s especially important to be sure you’re consuming enough healthy fats and Omega-3s to promote moisture from the inside out. Good sources include eggs, nuts, avocados and lean proteins like fish, turkey, chicken and beef.

Clothing concerns
Even if you don’t feel the chill, cold wind can do a number on your skin. Be sure to cover up adequately when outdoors to prevent the chapping and irritation that can come from sustained exposure. Also be wary of precipitation; be sure your outer layers repel water and that you can change into dry clothing promptly if you do get wet.

Ample exercise
Getting your heart rate up helps get your blood circulating, which is not only good for burning calories and beefing up your muscles, it also promotes healthy skin. Sweating helps push impurities out of your pores, and the increased circulation helps distribute nutrients throughout your body, including the skin.

Avoid irritants
Especially if you have sensitive skin, cool wind can be brutal. Take care to avoid potential problems by sticking to softly textured fabrics that won’t get itchy. Take it easy on the exfoliating and be mindful of skin care products, soaps and detergents that may be particularly drying to already parched skin. Also skip the temptation to warm up in a hot shower, which can dry your skin even further.

Manage moisture
Even oilier skin types may need extra moisture when dry, cold conditions prevail. Oil-free options let you add moisture without over-stimulating oil glands, while natural oils such as coconut or jojoba are ideal for dryer skin. Apply a lotion after every shower to trap in moisture and as needed throughout the day to prevent chapping and cracking, and give special attention to areas that are prone to damage, such as your lips and hands. Find more ways to weather through this winter at eLivingToday.com.

Ways to perfect a carefree style
A carefree style may appear effortless, but creating a look that stands up to a busy day still requires some simple work. Keep your skin in top condition and your hair and makeup on point with these tips from the beauty experts at US department store Macy’s to help you look and feel your best.

Protect your skin
If there’s only one skin care product you use, it has to be sunscreen. Not only is daily SPF important for avoiding sunburn, it also helps prevent wrinkles and spots caused by sun damage. Apply early and often, and don’t be fooled by a cloudy day. Even when skies are overcast, those UV rays can inflict plenty of harm. If you’ll be out for an extended period, consider a stylish hat to lend extra protection to your scalp, ears and face. Also remember to cover or apply sunscreen to often-overlooked places, such as the tops of your feet.

Go for all-day eyes
When you’re embracing a laid-back look, a fully done eye can be overkill. A basic tint and some mascara is a simple way to achieve a put-together but fuss-free style. Using a waterproof formula can give you the confidence that your lashes are in perfect condition and ready for whatever the day may bring. If you have a favourite formula, check to see whether a waterproof version is available.

Make it matte
For lip colour that lasts from sunrise to moonlight, matte lipstick is the real deal. In addition to being long-lasting, matte lipsticks pack an intense punch of colour perfect for a bright and cheerful lip. If a little sparkle or shine is more your thing, go ahead and add a light layer of clear gloss and give yourself bonus points if one layer or both include SPF.

Explore new ideas
Pamper yourself with products you already love but explore new ideas and discover all-new cleansers, serums, moisturisers and a mask that will help .... Face oils can also do wonders on your skin.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Lavender for health and home

Related imageLavender is more than just a pretty plant. This fragrant perennial has been revered throughout the ages for its ability to breathe a sense of clarity and calm into every cupboard, room or beauty product in which it dwells. It has long been used as a remedy for a range of ailments from insomnia and anxiety to depression and fatigue.

Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia, being one of the several known species, is a shrub-like herb that can be found in gardens countrywide where it is adored for its lovely little blue flower buds that grow in whorls. It is famous worldwide for its popular and pleasing floral fragrance.  Further, research has confirmed that lavender produces slight calming, soothing, and sedative effects when its scent is inhaled so don’t leave your lavender outdoors solely to grace the garden, bring it indoors to grace you and your home with some of its healing properties.

Lavender promotes a good night's sleep
Related image
For centuries bedding and pillows have been stuffed with scented herbs, grasses and petals for utility sake as well as to aid in sleep. Ladies in the Victorian era favoured lavender in their pillows for its sweet scent and often inhaled it to calm their nerves. Using lavender as a sleep aid is as old as time and the current research is now beginning to support what has long been known. According to one study at Wesleyan University, smelling lavender before sleep  increased the percentage of deep or slow-wave sleep in both men and women and all of the subjects reported higher vigour the morning after lavender exposure. So, how to infuse the sleepy scent into our nighttime routine?

  • Add dried flower buds into pillows either directly or by placing a sachet or pad into the pillowcase.
  • Spritz your pillows and linens with an essential oil spritzer consisting of water, lavender essential oil and either witch hazel or alcohol.
  • Massage the scent (mixed with a carrier oil such as sweet almond oil) into temples, behind the ears and under the nose.
  • Dab a few drops of lavender essential oil onto tissue paper and place under pillow.
  • Brew a before bed cup of lavender tea for sweet dreams.

Lavender refreshes rooms and drawers
Image result for lavender drawer linersToss the synthetic room fresheners and create a natural room potpourri consisting of dried lavender buds and any other garden flowers or herbs such as geranium, rose petals or rosemary. Not only will it smell amazing but when placed in a decorative bowl it adds a burst of colour and beauty. When scent fades simply revive with a few drops of lavender essential oil.

Sachets or simply old hankies or cotton napkins can be stuffed with dried lavender buds and tied with a ribbon and tossed into drawers and linen cupboards to infuse a wonderful refreshing lavender scent.

Go to the source and infuse your laundry with lavender by stuffing a muslin sachet with the dried buds and topping with a couple of cotton balls. Pull tightly to close and you are good to go. Throw one in with the next load of damp clothes to the dryer and let the scent infuse your laundry.

Let lavender revive your beauty routine 
Image result for lavender first aidThe Latin root for lavender is lavare which means “to wash” and speaks of the cleansing and refreshing qualities of this herb. Lavender can be added into a daily facial cleansing routine to revive and uplift your skin and your spirits. Below is a recipe for a floral vinegar that can be used in the bath or as a general tonic. Simply add 1 cup to bath as a general tonic and to aid in dry skin or dab forehead and temples and behind ears to refresh after being out in the sun.

  • Floral Vinegar
  • 1 1/2c fresh lavender buds
  • 2 cups white wine or cider vinegar

Put lavender buds into a large bottle. Gently warm the vinegar then pour over lavender buds in the bottle. Leave bottle on sunny windowsill for two weeks. Strain.

Lavender as a first-aid relief 
Lavender essential oil has analgesic (pain-relieving) properties and can be helpful for minor burns, scrapes and bites. Mixed with a carrier oil such as sweet almond or jojoba oil it can be used on minor burns and/or bug bites to offer quick relief. Useful to have on hand a roller bottle for when those inevitable kitchen burns arise! Essential oils are potent and it only takes 1-2 drops of essential oil added to 1/4 oz of carrier oil. Certainly for severe burns seek medical advice immediately.

Washing your clothes in the scent of lavender might serve to keep away menacing mosquitoes as well as offering a relaxing scent. However you choose to use it, lavender has much to offer within the home, hearth and heart. 


Friday, 30 June 2017

Soap & Water vs Cleansers

FACT: Using a bar of soap on your face is bad for your skin.
But...... is washing your face with soap really bad for your skin?

Related imageIn the past 25 years, bar soaps have received a lot competition from face washing liquids, gels, creams and foams which are formulated to be gentler on the skin by not disrupting the surface moisture barrier. Despite the popularity of these gentler alternatives, there are still a lot of people who prefer to use a bar of soap–probably due to ease and habit.

However, is washing your face with a bar of soap really that bad for your skin?
Well, it can be quite damaging to the skin to cleanse your face with a bar of facial soap, especially if it is not followed by adequate moisturising afterwards. Although many bar soaps are now better formulated and gentler (due to a lower pH that closely matches the normal skin level), they will still be more drying sulphate-free gels, foams, liquids and creams. (What does sulphate-free mean? Read about sulphate-free cleansers here.) The binders that hold a bar of soap together naturally have a higher pH than products that are formulated specifically for cleansing the face, so they will have a drying effect on the skin. Skin that is dry and parches is bad for the long-term health and look of the skin.

Why is it bad to dry out the skin? 
When you wash with a foaming cleanser or soap that is too drying, it pulls all the water out of the skin and creates dead, dry skin cell buildup. To compensate for the moisture you removed, your moisturiser not have to repair the dehydrated cells caused from cleansing. (not efficient at all!) Every product that  your face should be offering something beneficial and not something harmful or potentially damaging.

Are some bar soaps gentler than others?
Yes, there are bar soaps with moisturising agents to make them gentler, but they are still a no-no in my book. Foaming cleansers are fine, I just don’t suggest ones in a bar form. Here’s the rule when it comes to foaming cleansers: The more lather and larger bubbles a foaming cleansers produces, the more drying it will be. The less lather with smaller bubbles, the less drying it will be.

What if I use a bar of soap and it doesn’t dry out my skin? 
Image result for bar of soapThere’s a difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin. People associate dry skin with flaking. Although, people with combination and oily skin types might not ever experience flakiness associated with dryness because the built-in oils in their skin will prevent this from happening. Dehydration, on the other hand, is when there is a tight feeling, which indicates that water has been robbed from the skin. If you have been using bar soap to wash their face for a long time, you might think this tight feeling is normal because you have nothing to compare it to. However, if you use a gentle sulphate-free cleanser, you will definitely notice that your skin doesn’t have that tight, parched feel. Try using soaps that suit your skin type as it won't tend to dry out the skin and it won't make it feel harsh on especially sensitive skin. 

The verdict however is the user and soap and water has been used for centuries; many famous celebrities swear by it as the best cleanser of all time. But not all skin is equal, so choose your skin type here to see which cleanser is right for you.

Benefits of Soapless Skin Cleansers
Image result for liquid soap cleansersBecause soapless cleansers moisturise the skin and strengthen the stratum corneum, they're a good choice for people with sensitive skin. But soapless skin cleansers can also benefit people with dry or oily skin. If your skin is oily, a soapless cleanser with a low pH will clean your skin without drying it out; removing too much oil can actually cause oil glands to go into overdrive. People with dry skin have little oil to protect their skin therefore soapless cleansers are also a good choice; the added moisturisers will help the skin retain water instead of drying it like bar soap.

These cleansers are also less likely to produce soap scum ie the combination of soap and hard water. Water that's high in calcium (hard water supply in some areas) can create a soap scum that leaves a residue on your skin. Soapless cleansers also have a longer shelf life than soap and soap deteriorates easily when it comes in contact with water but soapless cleansers can last for years.

Image result for liquid soap cleansersOne of the greatest benefits of soapless skin cleansers is that they keep your skin moisturised. You can help your body retain that moisture by taking warm, short showers instead of hot, lengthy ones. Too much heat can dry out your skin therefore applying a moisturiser within three minutes of bathing or showering can also help you retain the moisture that the water and cleanser added to your skin.