Pregnancy and Your Skin

Pregnancy and Your SkinAs a specialist in Pregnancy reflexology & massage I have seen some of the very different skin problems that women experience during pregnancy. Most women will experience radiant, blooming complexions, this is due to an increase in blood flow during pregnancy and more blood getting into the tiny blood vessels in the surface of the skin. Also increased Oestrogen levels, our reproductive hormone will contribute to a smooth and supple skin.

However, many women experience very unpredictable skin problems as well! All triggered by those pregnancy hormones, Oestrogen, Progesterone and HCG that are all circulating inside you. The first trimester will be particularly draining, to your energy levels and your skin, as the growing foetus will be taking everything it needs nutritionally, and leaving little left for you – let alone your skin.

Pregnancy Skincare

You will have plenty of other things to think about instead of your skincare regime, so take the time to enjoy your pregnancy and relish the attention – it will all be over before you know it! Here’s some simple  TLC for your skin……

  • A simple but thorough skincare regime – a few good products will see you through.
  • Cleanser and gentle exfoliator – you may need to change your usual products as skin can become drier or oilier (spend at least 1 minute cleansing your skin).
  • A refreshing skin spritz – this can hydrate and cool skin during the day – many pregnant women complain of getting too hot!
  • A moisturiser with an effective sunscreen is vital – this is so important to prevent pregnancy pigmentation from becoming permanent – be extra careful with a big floppy hat if it’s very sunny.
  • A good spot treatment to zapp those hormonal blemishes, unfortunately you wont be able to use some of the effective treatments with Salicylic Acid, Essential Oils and Vitamin A, but try a dab of witch hazel or Sudocrem. Invest in a good non-comedogenic foundation and concealer for cover ups.

Pregnancy & Acne

Skin flare ups are common for some women in the first trimester as hormones have a profound effect on acne. During pregnancy “Progesterone” (a female hormone) levels are much higher – this can result in distressing acne flare-ups. This may clear up in the second or third trimester, and with most people will disappear after giving birth.

Melasma  – also known as the mask of pregnancy.

Hormonal imbalance, a cause of pigmentation mostly affecting women, can occur during any time that the body’s natural hormonal balance is disturbed. These triggers can include hormonal changes, such as those that happen during the menstrual cycle, birth control pills, prolonged stress, menopause and most commonly pregnancy. Unlike pigmentation related to trauma or sun damage, hormonal induced hyper-pigmentation generally disappears when hormone balance is restored, and it can be treated during the interim period with topical skin brighteners. If you are pregnant always wear a SPF on your face, this will prevent the Melasma from getting darker and prevent damage. Try mineral sunblocks as they are less irritating if your skin is sensitised with pregnancy.

Extra Care For Your Body

One of the main concerns for most pregnant women is the appearance of stretch marks and appear  mostly on the stomach, breasts and thighs when Collagen and Elastin is stretched to the point of no return – some women are more prone than others genetically, but there is  much you can do to nourish and prevent the worst……

  • Lavish your body with moisturiser after every shower or bath, use ultra rich nourishing creams and plant oils. (avoid Mineral Oil – this is not an effective hydrator). Rose-hip Oil mixed with a Vitamin E capsule will strengthen and protect skin, also Dermalogica Ultra Rich Body Cream is extremely nourishing and doesn’t contain any essential oils.
  • Avoid Soap and Sodium Lauryl Sulphate – these will strip the skin’s barrier and leave your skin tight and flaky.
  • Skin that is essentially stretching can feel dry and itchy, especially around the belly. Try bathing in Oatmeal (wrap the oatmeal in a pair of old tights and immerse in warm water), it is incredibly soothing and helps relieve the itch!

Ingredients To Avoid During Pregnancy

  • Vitamin A (Retinoids) – avoid all forms as this may be very irritating to your skin.
  • Salicylic Acid – This is a Beta Hydroxy Acid and part of the Aspirin family, best avoided during pregnancy.
  • Benzoyl Peroxide – This is found in some acne products and can penetrate the skin so best avoided.
  • Essential Oils – Avoid the stimulating and Detoxifying  Essential Oils, if you want to use essential oils whilst pregnant seek advice from your doctor. Some are absolutely fine for pregnancy, but as a general rule I feel safer avoiding them all together.

Varicose Veins

Pregnancy hormones can make the walls and valves in your veins more relaxed, and with an increase in blood flow you may be plagued with Varicose Veins in your legs, groin or thighs. These can sometimes be extremely swollen, painful or itchy. They do normally run in families and worse if you stand up a lot, so if your mum has Varicose Veins, the chances are you will too. They are likely to become more visible in the last few weeks of pregnancy when you are at your heaviest. A good pair of support tights will help as well as massaging in a cooling leg and foot gel, try elevating your legs above chest height when you sit down and try to do some gentle exercise, also avoid sitting or standing for long periods. There are some effective solutions to remove Varicose Veins but wait until you have had all the children you want before seeking help.

Nutritional Needs During Pregnancy

Omega 3Omega 3 supplements are now recommended by doctors and beneficial for baby’s health in the womb – and of course you! It’s easier to take a supplement than eating vast quantities of oily fish, also there are growing concerns over heavy metals in fish stocks, limit your Tuna & Swordfish due to high Mercury content.

Remember it is vital for your unborn baby that you have taken a Folic Acid supplement if your planning to get pregnant and during the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy – this is to prevent neural tube defects. Try Viridian’s Fertility For Women supplements or Advanced Nutrition Programme Skin Vitality 1, these have everything you need for a healthy conception.

During  your pregnancy you can take Viridian’s excellent Pregnancy Omega Oil  and Pregnancy Complex vitamins, also carry on taking them post pregnancy while you are breast feeding.

Supplements will ensure you are getting everything you need as your diet may not be perfect during pregnancy!

For a treat, get yourself a lovely pedicure for pretty feet! or if your skin is going crazy book in for a Pre & Post Natal Skin Health Treatment, to tackle some of your skin issues and release some of the tension in your face and neck, also a real treat would be to get a professional pregnancy massage or reflexology – bliss!



What is a Skin Type

The first sort of skin typing emerged in the 1970’s, from beauty guru Helena Rubenstein. The following categories were used to describe the differences in skin.

  • Normal
  • Oily
  • Dry (Allipoid)
  • Combination
  • Sensitive
  • Acneic

Dermalogica Face MappingTo put it simply a skin type is a description of how and why your skin looks, and behaves the way it does.

The problem is – these categories are all very neat and tidy! but your skin is a little bit more complex, and your skin condition is never static, and over time your skin type can change.

The variations of what is happening on your skin can not only change season to season, but month to month, even on a weekly or daily basis. Your skin type is the the most important factor that influences the decisions you make about your skin.

Skin Type vs Skin Condition

A common mistake made by both client and therapists is not knowing the difference between skin type and skin condition. These are two different things and will play a big part in which skin-care products you choose. Generally your skin type is genetic, and skin conditions are effected by internal and external influences.

Skin Conditions

  • Dehydrated
  • Sensitised
  • Ageing/Prematurely
  • Pigmentation
  • Congestion/breakouts

As you can see, this can lead to confusion and an elusive search for the right products! The typical categories of normal, dry etc are a good start point, but they will not address every change and fluctuation of your skin. You definitely need to tweak your skin care regimen, with the ever changing needs of your skin.

You need to recognise all the changes that happen to your skin, and really get to know your skin and how it reacts to different seasons, stress, hormonal changes.

This is important, as different skin types require different product formulations. Even though we all require some of the same active ingredients such as, Sunscreens, antioxidants, peptides and vitamins, it depends on the base they are in (lotion, gel, serum, cream etc).

So be careful before you put yourself in a skin type category, as sometimes the very products you thought would help, can make your skin worse!

Internal Influences

  • Hormonal changes (pregnancy, menopause, menstrual cycle)
  • Stress
  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Smoking
  • Medications
  • Diet
  • Poor health

External influences

  • Climate/weather (humidity, hot, cold etc)
  • Your skin regimen, (over exfoliating, using pore-clogging ingredients or irritating products)
  • The sun and external pollutants

The Skin Type Solution – by Dr Baummen, is a brilliant book, and has a questionnaire that really points you in the right direction.


This is such a huge subject, and I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, remember that your born with a genetic skin type, your skin condition can change frequently. So I would definitely advise you to use products that don’t create of reinforce your skin problems. Among the offending products are bars of soaps (too alkaline, and barrier stripping, can artificially make your skin dry and irritated), occlusive moisturisers can clog pores and make breakouts worse. Avoid irritating ingredients, and astringents, that can strip your skin’s barrier, and make your skin sensitised.

And remember skin-care varies from person to person, what your best friend likes may wreak havoc on your skin! Pay attention to what is taking place on your skin, and tweak your products accordingly. Don’t get swept away with misleading advertising, and unrealistic claims!

For better skin – see an experienced skin professional!

Jessica Alba buying Dermalogica

Jessica Alba’s Body Secret

Jessica was recently snapped in Beverly Hills stocking up on Dermalogica Conditioning Body Wash and Body Hydrating Cream.

Dermalogica Body Therapy Products are also a favourite of mine, mainly for the gorgeous aromatic smell, the formulation, texture and of course results. The focus on our body skin can take a bit of a back-seat but Dermalogica have made it easy and extremely pleasurable to take care of the skin on our body.

Read more

Jade Face Roller

Yuroll Medium Roller

Yuroll Medium Roller is a Jade Facial Massaging tool. The medium roller measures 4.5 x 2.5 and ideal for use on the forehead, cheeks, neck and jawline. Using broad sweeps, roll across the forehead, cheeks, throat and decolletage. Not forgetting to target the jawline, where congestion and muscular tension can build up. Also feels nice if you have a tension headache around the forehead and temples as the Jade has a cooling effect and is said to disperse negative energy.

Regular rolling, stimulates lymphatic drainage and by improving the circulation increases the Oxygen supply to the face, thus enhancing the general bloom and radiance. Incorporating acupressure and massage principles, facial rolling will ensure a lean, re-contoured, wonderfully smooth face; thoroughly toned and with improved elasticity

You can use your roller with oil or just by itself – I favor a little Rose hip Seed Oil or some Viridian Beauty Oil – this smells beautiful and sends me off to sleep!

Yurolls are beautiful objects and hand made from solid Jade – if you drop them they will most likely break! so be gentle. Ideal as a gorgeous gift for the skincare fanatic!

Tua Viso

Tua Viso Micro-Current Machine

The Tua Viso has been a much coveted skincare gadget by me for quite a while, until my 32nd birthday in July when I finally invested in one.

Tua Viso is Italian for “Your Face” and claims to reduce the signs of ageing, gives you a more firmed, sculpted and radiant appearance. The Tua Viso is a hand held gadget and a non-invasive treatment for the facial muscles that works via Hydro electronic micro-current stimulation. It was developed by an Italian Dermatologist – Dr Andrea Paolorosso and brought to the UK by facialist “Tina Richards“.

Micro-current is a low level of electrical current that mirrors the body’s own natural current. It’s a proven and accepted method of Muscle Re-education. There are 32 different muscles of the face that are manipulated during the average micro-current skin treatment. Our facial skin is supported and anchored by a network of muscles, while we age the facial muscles start to lose their tone, volume and elasticity also the facial ligaments become loose that hold our muscles in place, this leads to a loss of facial contour and sagging. Although this is not the only reason for the visible signs of ageing, it will contribute to an aged appearance.

I have worked with some of the expensive salon “Non Surgical Facelift” machines and can conclude from using this myself that I have got far better results using this – This is my personal opinion and I am in no way connected to the company to sell or promote the Tua Viso. I am just interested in non-invasive treatments and gadgets that give results.

Here are some of the benefits of using a Micro-Current Machine

  • Increased circulation for the blood and lymph – this I feel is a real plus point and will help detoxify the skin, reduce facial puffiness and under eye bags and improve the overall surface appearance of the skin. Skin is plump with an enhanced colour .
  • Muscle re-education – you will prevent and correct the loss of facial tone and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Improves the firmness and tone of the cheeks, jaw line and neck for a more youthful appearance.
  • Increased natural production of Collagen and Elastin
  • Increased Protein sythesis
  • Dispersion of hardened Collagen

Electrical stimulation for the facial muscles works the less used muscle fibres which is why this works much better than manual Facial Exercises (which may cause more wrinkles) and has many more benefits for your skin.

I feel that starting this earlier on will prevent more signs of ageing and keep your skin in great condition. I have been using it 3 – 4 times a week since the start of July and after the 2nd go I could notice results, especially around my eyes as the skin feels firmer and I look less tired. Admittedly I don’t have many fine lines yet, but I have noticed the deepening of my nasal folds either side of my mouth, and after a month of using my Tua Viso they have definitely improved. I actually hold a lot of tension in my facial muscles and since using the Tua Viso it has really helped alleviate it, especially around my jaw line.

Once you have been patient enough to learn how to use your Tua Viso and master the points on which to place it, then it really is very easy! No sticky pads that lose their sticky, no messy gels to apply, it just needs some water that you pour into the back  reservoirs that dampen the sponges which you press to your face. As for the feeling, well I wouldn’t say it was nice but you actually get used to it – and I am a bit of a wimp. You can start off with the intensity low and build up to higher level – the higher the level the better the results. The whole face can be done in about 30 – 40 minutes (watch some TV). I choose to focus on areas where I need it more and do a couple more minutes, like around my eyes.

This may not be for everyone and as with everything some people will love it and some wont! but I feel it is a very good option as a non-invasive Anti-Ageing treatment for long-term use – whilst being cost effective.

Botox and Micro-current do not mix – so steer clear if you have Botox injections.

You can buy the Tua Viso online from Tina Richards Website.

Antioxidants to the Rescue!

You have probably heard the word “Antioxidant” used lots of times in regards to skincare and nutrition, but you may not exactly understand exactly what they are or how to get enough of them! They have amazing health benefits and help prevent heart disease, liver disease and some cancers, they can also offer protection against other age related conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Antioxidants are also know as Free Radical Scavengers and are the best defence against oxidative damage and will help prevent wrinkles! That is enough reason to start guzzling the Pomegranate Juice!!
To understand what Antioxidants do, we must first understand oxidation, this is easy – imagine an apple that has fallen from its tree and laid on the ground in the sun – it soon goes brown and shrivels up! Our skin, unlike the apple has a constant supply of nourishment from within (as long as we eat well and hydrate ourselves!) but the effects of the environment will eventually take their toll. As our outermost layer, our skin is constantly exposed to environmental factors which influence its health and appearance. Ironically most of the oxidants in the body are actually toxic forms of one of our most essential elements – Oxygen.
Oxidants – also known as Free Radicals and Reactive Oxygen Species, are the body’s equivalent of nuclear waste which must be disposed of to remove the danger! Think of them as sparks being generated by our bodies burning glucose to make energy in our cells, or by pollution, UV and smoking. These sparks or oxidants, cause damage to cells and need to be put out! This is where Antioxidants play their part! they are like the fire extinguishers for the sparks.

Without being too technical (or boring!), here is a brief explanation of how oxidants wreak their havoc – first imagine millions of atoms in our bodies, and in the chemicals in the environment. Each atom has a paired positive and negative charge (electrons) which keep it nice and balanced. An oxidant is, in contrast unbalanced and highly reactive. It is an atom with one of its electrons missing, so it causes chaos by trying to steal one from a nearby atom. As you can imagine, the theft of an electron itself creates another oxidant and so the process continues in a cascade of damage to vital skin components (not to mention your internal bits as well). Oxidants are very destructive overall because they damage fats, proteins, connective tissue and DNA.

Some oxidants arise normally during metabolism, sometimes the body’s immune system’s cells create them on purpose to neutralize viruses and bacteria. Normally the body can handle them, but if Antioxidants are unavailable, or if the Free Radical production becomes excessive (UV damage and smoking!) then damage occurs.
By understanding this process, we can defeat it! and stay healthier and younger looking for longer! Smoking creates something like 500,000 Free Radicals at every puff! that is why smokers age at double the rate, and are at risk of more cancers than non-smokers – very scary!
“The Free Radical is the source for virtually all disease, illness and ageing itself”

Antioxidants to the rescue!!– The most well known antioxidants are Vitamins A, C and E, Beta-Carotene and in the minerals Copper, Zinc and Selenium. Dietary compounds are believed to be even more powderful, these include Lycopene (tomatoes), Anthocyanins (cranberries), Lutein (leafy greens) and Flavanoids ( Green Tea, White Tea, Rooibos Tea and Red Wine). Other excellent sources of antioxidants include Blueberries,Pomegranate and Acai fruits, and herbs like Turmeric, Ginger and Cinnamon. We should aim to get some of these from our diet as they are the most effective sources – however I think a supplement is well worth taking as we don’t always manage the perfect diet! While ingesting Antioxidants can effectively scavenge Free Radicals, our skin is often the last to get its ration of Antioxidants. That is when topically applied cosmetics come into play.
Scientists have been studying an entire host of plant antioxidants that, when applied topically, can help us fight Free Radicals and protect our skin, look our for some of the above ingredients in your skin care formulas and make sure the Vitamins are in a stable form to keep them potent especially in your sun care products – it has been proven that they give you further protection for your skin cells. Look for some of the same Antioxidants as above, especially Vitamins A, C and E, Resveratrol (from red wine) is the new super-antioxidant to watch out for and Green and White Teas are always a great choice. Antioxidants are a preventative measure only, and cannot make your wrinkles you already have go away!
Our body actually creates antioxidant systems as well, some of these are enzyme systems and others are amino acids, like Glutathione, which can stop Free Radicals in their tracks!
We need a healthy balanced diet for our body to do what it can to repair and heal itself, Antioxidants are basically like insurance for our skin and our health! prevention is better than cure!
Make sure you are including loads of Antioxidant rich fruit and veg and get a good Antioxidant supplement just to make sure – start from a young age and you will reap the benefits, but it is never too late too prevent further damage.

Right, I’m off for a cup of Green Tea!

Cleansing Your Way To Great Skin

Cleansing Your SkinWhatever your skin type, cleansing is the key to healthy, clear skin. It really is the cornerstone of a skincare routine, but can be rather neglected. Research from the “International Dermal Institute” shows that most people spend less than 20 seconds cleansing their skin, this isn’t thorough enough to remove all the pollutants, oil and make-up that if not properly removed can sit on the surface and cause blackheads and undersurface congestion.

I always recommend to cleanse in the morning – this will remove any overnight sebum production and leave your skin fresh and ready for your moisturiser. It is essential to cleanse at the end of the day as well and for this I recommend a “Double Cleanse” – the reason for this is the first cleanse will remove all the environmental pollutants, grime, oil, make-up and sunscreen. The second cleanse that you perform will actually cleanse your skin and your pores. If you skimp on this and traces of either the above or any cleanser is left on the skin, then you may experience some lumps and bumps underneath the skin and more blackheads than usual with a dull appearance.

A great Product to start your first cleanse is Dermalogica PreCleanse, this is a lightweight oil made from Olive and Apricot Kernal Oil and fortified with Kukui, Borage and Rice Bran Oil. It is a Hydrophillic (water loving) and once it has liquified sebum and oil based debris on your skin, it rinses clean away without residue and the essential oils give it a fresh lemon smell. The reason oil based cleansers work so well is that oil attracts oil, whilst oil repels water – making this an excellent cleansing medium that leaves your skin ready and receptive for its second skin type specific cleanser. Please note, not all oil cleansers are equal and some will not rinse away, PreCleanse has been specially formulated to go milky when in contact with water and rinse clean away, Olive oil on its own will  not do the same!

PH Balanced Cleansers

The PH of your cleanser is very important as our skin is naturally acidic at around 4.5 – 5.5 on the PH scale. This helps keep our skin protected from bacteria. A PH balanced cleanser will not strip the skin and leave it feeling comfortable and calm instead of tight and itchy. Soap is out of the question as it is far too alkaline and will strip the skin’s natural protective barrier and leave it tight and uncomfortable, the skin will often compensate if it can by pumping out more sebum leaving you slick and shiny. All Dermalogica Cleansers are PH balanced as are my other brands.

I have tested the PH of some other well known so called simple cleansing products, and was very surprised to find that some have the same PH as CIF cleaning product – which was very alkaline. You can buy a PH testing kit and try some of your own skincare products, some of the results may shock you!

How To Apply Cleanser

Regardless of the formulation, massage your cleanser onto the face and neck in small circular movements, work around the nooks of your nose and spend at least a few minutes of massaging in/or foaming up, this is a great time to give your skin a circulation boosting massage. Either rinse away with warm water or remove with a damp muslin cloth, I like these as they are have a slightly exfoliating action and feel great against your skin.

Which Cleanser is Right For You?

This obviously depends on your skin type and condition, but it also comes down to personal preference. Some people will not feel clean unless they use something that foams up, although oils and lotions are excellent cleansers it does come down to what you like to use. I always feel that good products whether they foam or not should be rinsable and leave skin feeling comfortable. You may need to tweak your cleanser with the seasons and as you age – I switch to a creamier cleanser in the winter time as my skin is a lot less oilier than summer.

Going to bed with your make-up on is one of the worst things you can do to your skin! (even if it is a mineral make-up) Please try, even if you may have had one glass of wine too many, to manage one cleanse, it is better than none.

If you need some advice on what cleanser will suit you, please ask as I am happy to advise.

Fabulous Vitamin A

Retinoids are a family of chemicals derived from Vitamin A. This is a very important Vitamin in regards to your skin,  as it has a normalizing effect on skin cells, it’s a potent exfoliator,  reverses photo-ageing (sun damage), inhibits Collagen breakdown and makes the skin cells more organized.

Vitamin A is a beneficial Cell Communicating ingredient and an Antioxidant when applied to the skin and is confirmed to improve wrinkles. It can increase Collagen synthesis and Glycosaminoglycans (the substances in your Dermis that hydrate and plump skin, e.g Hyaluronic Acid). Vitamin A in the appropriate strength also has the ability to stimulate the anchoring fibrils at your Dermal Epidermal Junction – this is the area that starts to separate your epidermis from your dermis as we age.

What is confusing, is the various forms of Vitamin A and what strengths they should be to have any noticeable effect on the skin.

Not all forms of Vitamin A are created equal. Some are more easily converted to Retinoic Acid than others. The typical conversion pathway – is as follows – Retinyl Palmitate => Retinol => Retinaldehyde => Retinoic Acid.

Our skin has enzymes which convert the Retinyl esters into Retinol and from that the Retinol is converted into Retinyl (Retinyl Aldehyde) and from there it is converted into Retinoic Acid and this is the form that actually makes the changes in DNA and cellular structures. Only a small amount of Retinoic Acid is normally found in the skin.

  • Retinyl Palmitate  – This is an ester of Vitamin A and the animal form. It is found in nearly all skincare products that are widely available. As you see from above it is the lowest in the coversion chain, so isn’t as irritating as the other forms. Many products with Retinyl Palmitate are touted as equivalent to Retinoic Acid yet without the side-effects. Many of these products contain too little Retinyl Palmitate to have any noticeable effect and just to have it listed on the ingredients list is not enough. Products with higher concentrations do exist, Environ formulated their whole range around the use of Vitamin A in this form. Some individuals may not be able to convert this effectively into Retioic Acid, while others may see great results.
  • Retinol -This is the alcohol form of Vitamin A and Retinol is regarded by some as the “True” Vitamin A or the complete molecule. It is highly effective if in a stable form and helps create better, healthier skin cells and increase the amount of skin support substances. The stability and packaging issues are important as any container or jar that lets in air or sunlight will degrade the Retinol. Effective stable versions of Retinol will have this either near the top of the ingredient list or above half way. I use Afirm TRx systems, it has shown me great results.
  • Retinoic Acid – This is the acid form of Vitamin A and is usually only available from prescription from your doctor/dermatologist. It is also known as Tretinoin – its technical name is All-Trans Retinoic Acid and is the ingredient in the following prescription topical drugs – Retin-A, Renova, Tazorac, Avita and Differin. Some of these are prescribed for acne as Vitamin A has shown to clear acne lesions and normalize the skin. It  is approved as a treatment for severe Photo-aged skin and helps prevent further damage. The results of using this drug are indisputable, as Tretionoin affects and improves the actual cell production deep in the Dermis. However not every-one’s skin will tolerate the use of Tretinoin without experiencing discomfort and side effects including flaking and a sunburned like skin. Most dermatologists advise starting with the lowest percentage and use once a week, then building up the usage – follow any guidelines given by your doctor.
  • Beta Carotene – This is the plant version of Vitamin A and a member of the Carotenoid family – it’s not just Carrots that contain this, many dark leafy veg contains this as well as other fruit and vegetables. Beta-Carotene  is a fantastic Antioxidant but also has the ability to convert Retinol into Retinoic Acid,  this may not be effective for everyone or very results based.

In summary Vitamin A is the most effective anti-ageing ingredient you can use. Although it is not the only ingredient to look for in a formula, it deserves strong consideration by anyone concerned with keeping their skin in top condition. Vitamin A deficiency is probably the greatest vitamin deficiency of the skin and can lead to DNA damage of the skin cell, to minimize this debt apply a product every day with Retinyl Palmitate (skin friendly form), start this from a young age and use with a reliable sunscreen with antioxidants C and E, as Vitamin A is depleted by daylight. You may choose to try one of the stronger forms of Retinoids as you age, especially if your skin is very strong and resistant.

To get enough Vitamin A inside you, try to eat more Vitamin A rich foods. Animal (especially fish) livers contain a good source,  but I prefer the vegetable sources of Beta-Carotene,  e.g – Carrots, Sweet Potato, Canteloupe Melon, Goji Berries and loads more. My mum used to tell me to eat all my carrots and I will be able to see in the dark, well it is indeed true as Vitamin A improves night vision!

Recommended Supplements, Skin Vit A by the Advanced Nutrition Programme.


Willie’s Delectable Chocolate

Dark ChocolateLast year I followed Willie Harcourt Cooze on his journey to make a very high quality Cacao, (a very condensed form of Cocoa) – to use in cooking and baking. There was a series of TV programmes on channel four entitled “Willie’s Wonky Chocolate Factory”, and showed his struggle to manufacture his Cacao. Willie has his own Cocoa Bean plantation is Venezuela, where he grows his organic beans for use in his cacao.
Recently there was some follow up programmes, which showed Willie trying (with lots of hiccups along the way) to make his own chocolate bars by 100 year old antique chocolate making machinery. The programme showed him attempting to teach a nation of chocolate lovers (mostly Cadburys or Galaxy) how wonderful and good for you real dark chocolate could be! This man has such a passion for chocolate; he literally puts it in most things he cooks!
Well not everyone is going to enjoy dark chocolate, but it’s not just about gorging yourself on chocolate, the real stuff is actually good for us! Why is chocolate so good for us? – Well here’s the science bit.
Recent research has shown that real dark chocolate can provide natural health-promoting substances called Flavonoids. These flavonoids demonstrate to have powerful antioxidant effects and contain flavanols and procyanids. These two compounds come from the Flavonoid family that includes Resveratrol – found in grape juice and red wine and EGCG found in Green Tea. When we consume these substances in chocolate, the antioxidant status of our blood increases, thus fighting Free Radical damage to our cells – these are destructive molecules that are implicated with a whole host of degenerative diseases including heart disease and cancer. Research has also found dark chocolate can help reduce high blood pressure, but remember the word moderation when you nibble!!
Theobromine is also found in products of the Cocoa Tree (Theobroma Cacao), this is chocolates caffeine cousin and gives you a very mild stimulation and feel good factor when you consume it. This chemical is toxic to dogs and other domestic animals, as they metabolise Theobromine more slowly than us, and this can lead to heart failure, kidney failure and death! Please do not feed your pets chocolate – it isn’t worth it!
Also those who eat chocolate regularly may have a higher sex drive!! Any excuse eh? The Aztec emperor “Montezuma” used to drink a goblet of chocolate before entering his harem each night, leading to the popular legend of chocolates aphrodisiac properties! Well it won’t hurt to try I suppose!
I have made a commitment to eat more of the good chocolate (I have bought some of Willy’s chocolate – it is lovely) I am also going to buy some of the Cacao and Willy’s chocolate recipe book, and try (I am normally rubbish at baking!) to make some lovely cakes and desserts. I do find that just a small piece of the dark stuff, stops me wanting to stuff Galaxy down my throat!, and I feel better about eating it.
Antioxidants are the key to ageing well, and you can never consume too many – make a conscious effort to ingest more and you will possibly prevent disease and premature ageing of your skin!
You can buy Willie’s Cacao and chocolate bars from Waitrose and Selfridges.
and Willie’s website –


Green &Blacks Chocolate Recipes  is also a lovely read for the chocolate lover, with lots of chocolatey tips and advice! Yum!