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Your Skin is an Amazing Organ

Our skin is an extremely remarkable, complex and resilient organ. Our skin is intelligent, Let’s pay Homage to our skin and all that it does for us:

  • Our skin is a waterproof barrier that protects us and keeps out harmful bacteria, chemicals, water, insects, heat and cold, dirt and gases.
  • It retains fluids like blood and water and holds safe, minerals, vitamins, Hormones, proteins and heat.
  • Our skin has an incredible self-renewing system that provides a replacement of the outer cells lost to the environment.
  • It provides protection from UV damage and deflects harmful rays (providing we don’t exfoliate it away!)
  • It protects our inner organs and keeps us alive, without skin we would perish.
  • Allows sensory feelings of pleasure and pain
  • Keeps our body at a comfortable temperature by controlling sweat evaporation
  • Our skin is a waste disposal system, ridding the body of many toxic substances, which often manifests as unsightly things that we blame our skin for not behaving, but in-fact it is just doing it’s job!
  • Our skin synthesises  Vitamin D
  • Our skin is part of our immune system and the first line of defence against damage and germs

When your skin reacts to something with irritation, your skin is simply adjusting to a chemical or physical imbalance and is trying to compensate. Your skin does not create an eczema flare up or huge acne cyst because it is out of control. It is exactly the opposite, your skin knows exactly what it is doing: It is simply trying to control a localised problem that occurs as a result of an internal condition.  Your skin makes every effort to restore itself to a full dermal density as it gets older, but we need to give it the right tools for the job.

When we see skin issues on the surface, we must first look at treating the problem inside and the root cause

We must respect our skin and realise that our skin is a reflection of what is going on inside of us.  Our skin takes the brunt of our bad habits, sugar, smoking, bad food, toxic overload. This clearly affects the skin’s ability to heal and control inflammation. Some of this can be fixed with nutrition, lifestyle and supplements, some skin conditions are genetic but can be controlled.

Let’s stop abusing our skin and build a Healthy Skin that lasts a lifetime.

The Best Habits For Healthy Skin

1) Protection, Protection, Protection! – The best anti-ageing product you can ever buy is an effective broad spectrum sunscreen with antioxidants. It’s not very glamorous I know, but if you start at a young age, you can prevent skin damage from the sun – which will eventually show itself as wrinkles, hyper-pigmentation, premature ageing and skin cancers.

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Caring For Your Bust

The skin around the breasts and chest is fine and fragile, and can often be neglected. However, the price is to be paid for the neglect later on in life, and can be seen as wrinkled, leathery prematurely aged skin, not forgetting age-defying gravity!

Don’t feel disheartened after pregnancy or breastfeeding as although we can’t undo overstretched skin, there is certainly much to improve the texture and tone of the skin on your chest and breasts.

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Wedding Perfect Skin

Radiantly Healthy, Glowing Skin on your Wedding Day!

Clear, Radiant Skin is a real confidence booster at the best of times, but on your wedding day it really is a must have – to feel your most beautiful and for picture perfect skin. Here is my guide to achieving lovely skin for your big day……..

When to start working on your skin?

Ideally 6 months before your wedding day, but 1 year for more chronic, persistent skin problems like adult Acne, Rosacea and stubborn Pigmentation.

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Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis Pilaris is the medical term for the genetic condition that appears as rough, red bumps on the skin – this resembles red goosebumps and chicken skin. It is most commonly found on the back of the tops of arms, but can also affect tops of thighs and buttocks. This condition can be  irritating and scratching seems to make it worse, this can cause scabs that result in scarring in extreme cases.

This affects 40% of the population – 50 – 80% will affect adolescents and often appears in individuals when they are children, it is more common in women than men.

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Dry and Dehydrated Skin

Dermalogica MoisturisersDry skin and dehydration can be a temporary problem for most people – for example, in the winter. But for some, dry skin is a lifelong concern – they have genetically lipid dry skin (Allipoid).

Dry skin, also known as Xerosis, effects many people of all ages, even infants. As we get older there is a significant drop in the Stratum Corneum Lipids – fats that are essential for the structure and function of living cells, as well as Ceramides (one of the important components that make up the skin’s Lipid Barrier).

By the time we reach our 40’s, our skin will most likely be dry as well as dehydrated.

Lifestyle can also contribute to a dry or dehydrated skin – stress, continued exposure to the sun, wind, and chemicals in the environment will all weaken your skin’s barrier and vital moisture is lost.

Also the products you choose can sometimes irritate and artificially dry your skin out, avoid S.D Alcohol (specially denatured- also known as Alcohol Denat) Any toners that feel like they are burning are a no no! they most likely contain S.D Alcohol or some other form of barrier solvent, you really want to strengthen your skin’s barrier and keep it as intact as you can.

Dry skin, or Allipoid skin, generally refers to a skin that is lacking in oil, whereas dehydrated skin is defined by the lack of water in the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the epidermis. Typically, skin cells that make up the deepest layers of the epidermis have around 80% water content, while cells of the stratum corneum are about 10% water. Anything below 10% is perceived as dehydrated.

Oily skin can still be dehydrated, it has enough levels of sebum (your skin’s oil) but that doesn’t help maintain water levels in the skin. A true dry skin will lack oil and also be dehydrated, due to a poor barrier that is leaking vital moisture.

Both dry and dehydrated skin is often irritated, inflamed and itchy, and it is worse in areas with very few sebaceous glands – such as arms, torso and legs as well as cheeks and eyes.

Other symptoms of dry skin can include a feeling of tightness or tautness, especially after bathing (having a bath is actually the worst thing for dry skin!), skin can flake and dry skin is more prone to fine lines and wrinkles. Dry skin will not have visible pores, the follicles will be quite tight.

Dry Skin Genes

Scientists at the University of Dundee have discovered the gene that causes dry skin. The Dundee research team says that its work has discovered the gene that produces “Filaggrin“, which helps the skin form a protective barrier, isn’t producing Filaggrin in a true Dry Skin. Filaggrin is normally found in large quantities in the outermost layers of the skin and is an essential part of the skin Barrier Function, helping to retain water and has moisturising properties, as well as keeping foreign organisms and bacteria out. They may have found the genetic reason for dry skin, but no cure! all I can say is moisturise, moisturise and then moisturise a bit more!

Winter Xerosis

This is also known as Chicago winter skin. It occurs when people live in a climate that goes from humid to very dry. This can be very uncomfortable for your skin, the reason is the low humidity which causes a decrease in the water content of the Stratum Corneum.

Lifestyle facors to avoid!

  • Over Cleansing – Yes! you can wash your skin too much! – avoid soap, it’s too alkaline and will strip your skin’s barrier. Use acid balanced cleansers, in a cream or cream/gel formulation. Also avoid very Hot water.
  • Over exfoliation – too much is definitely bad for your skin, dry skin needs a certain amount of exfoliation, but keep it light and less frequent, I like Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, it’s a super gentle polisher that leaves skin really smooth and glowing.
  • Avoid products with artificial colours or fragrance.
  • Smoking can also have a drying and dehydrating effect on the skin, as smoking inhibits the body’s ability to provide oxygen, nutrients and water to the skin. Smoking also drains the skin (and your body) of Vitamins A and C, and restricts blood vessels. You suffocate your skin from the inside.
  • The Sun can also contribute to dry skin, constant exposure to the sun causes water to evaporate from the skin, tanned or burned skin requires a lot more moisturising for this reason. Always wear an SPF at all times!
  • A Fat Free diet is definitely a trouble! and will put you on the path to dry skin and premature ageing! Skin friendly Essential Fatty Acids are the “good” fats and will provide your body the ingredients to support your skin’s barrier. I like Viridian’s Organic Beauty Oil or Udo’s Choice Oil blend  and take a tablespoon every day! It is also thought that taking “Hyaluronic Acid” supplements can plump cells and hydrate skin from within.
  • Excess Alcohol, and certain medications (such as decongestants) can also contribute to dry skin and cause dehydration.

What can you do?

There are many steps you can take to lessen the discomfort of dry and dehydrated skin. The right lifestyle choices are a great start, as well as a Professional Skin Treatment and effective home-care products.

Contrary to popular belief drinking water does not directly hydrate and impact your skin! your better off topically applying products to combat the moisture loss.

We need our bodies to be hydrated in order for our cells to get the water they need, but we are only as good as our circulation and lymphatic system! If they are not great, the blood vessels will not be carrying all the nutrients, water and oxygen to our skin! So the key is to do enough exercise (regularly) to get the blood flowing and you sweating! and your face nice and rosy!

It is true our body loses around 2 litres a day through sweat, urine etc, and we do need to put that back in, but we get water from our food as well as drinking, I try to drink about 1 litre of water a day as well as other drinks, and I eat lots of fruit and veg.  The signs of dehydration are –  lethargy, headaches and thirst – don’t let your body get to this point, so always keep some water handy!

The use of a humidifier will also help add moisture to surrounding air – central heating is terrible for our skin, warm dry air acts like a giant sponge, soaking up moisture from everything it touches. Dry-it-out  has a wide range of affordable humidifiers, or you can place some bowls of water around the house, house plants will also help.

Topical Solutions For Dry Skin

Effective skin-care for dry skin will include the use of emollients and hydrators to replenish skin, and antioxidant vitamins and peptides to stimulate collagen production and increase the skin’s barrier protection. Make sunscreen as much a part of your routine as cleansing and moisturising, apply at least a teaspoon to get the correct SPF.

Cleansers For Dry Skin

Avoid stripping the skin with one of these creamy, hydrating cleansers, if your skin is too dry to use water then simply tissue off.

Toners For Dry Skin

Spritz toners are great for dry or dehydrated skin, apply your moisturiser onto freshly spritzed, damp skin and you will seal in and trap extra moisture.

Moisturisers For Dry Skin

Treatment Masks for Dry Skin

Use a mask 2-3 times a week as a super hydrating and nourishing fix, especially in the winter or on holidays.

Products To Combat Dehydration

Some of the products above will be too emollient for skin’s that are dehydrated and not genetically dry, some of them though are still fine to use, even on oily skin. If in doubt, please ask me. The products below will tackle dehydration, even on oily, easily congested skin.

Skin Treatments For Dry And Dehydrated Skin

Sometimes your skin needs an extra boost, regardless of what products you are using – that’s the time to get a skin treatment. Treatments are tailored to your skin, as I am sure you may have other skin concerns apart from dryness or dehydration. Using Professional strength products and equipment that give real results. In a treatment we can use higher strength exfoliants, enhance the penetration of active ingredients with electricals, and enhance circulation and the lymphatic system.

 

Caring For Your Neck

Many of us tend to neglect our poor necks when it comes to skincare, whether that is from lack of time or not really thinking about it, but  the skin on our necks can have very little care and attention focused on it. What is the point of a beautiful smooth face, if it sits above a crepey old neck!

Unfortunately our necks reveal  the most visible tell-tale signs of ageing. This is especially evident if you have been a Sun Worshipper! and havn’t been as diligent as applying sun cream to your neck as you have your face.

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Dark Circles Revealed

Dark Circles under your eyes will most likely appear at some point in your life. The skin around our eyes is much thinner and more delicate than anywhere else on our body.

The Biology of Dark Circles Under eye darkness begins in your capillaries, which are very tiny blood vessels that surround the thin skin around your eyes. These capillaries are so small that Red Blood Cells have to line up to get through –  they freqently wander into the surrounding skin and our bodies have a mechanism to mop up these stray blood cells. Enzymes in your body will break down the red blood cells (including their Hemoglobin that gives them a Red colour). When Hemoglobin is broken down, the remaining components leave a dark bluish, black colour – just like a bruise, it’s the same mechanism. So leaky capillaries are responsible for the formation of dark circles, but other things can also impact this.

I actually feel more tired when I look in the mirror and see those shadows beneath my eyes, even if I am not! Surprisingly, the most common cause isn’t lack of sleep (although it definitely does have an affect) but Sinus Congestion. When your nose is blocked, the veins that usually drain from your eyes into your nose become dilated and darker, you can especially see this on someone with a very pale skin tone.

Dark circles can also be a sign of dehydration which will decrease the flow of nutrients to the capillaries, so evaluate your fluid intake. In Chinese Face Diagnosis the under eye area represents the Kidney area – they say darkness with a bluish colour is due to an imbalance in Kidney energy.

Unfortunately for some, dark circles can be hereditary and part of their natural genetic pigment. Pigmentation caused by sun-damage can be a cause for some people, so always make sure you wear an adequate SPF around the eyes and wear some BIG sunglasses. The skin around our eyes is far more sensitive to the sun as it is very thin with less oil glands, also sun-damage will degrade Collagen and Elastin and cause premature wrinkles and loose skin.

Ageing will make the appearance of Dark Circles worse, this is because the skin becomes much thinner and our skin becomes more translucent as we get older due to the decrease in Melanin Pigment, this makes the blood vessels show up more. Conditions that cause fluid retention (Kidney, Liver, Heart and Thyroid diseases) or certain medications that cause blood vessel dilation may be a factor – check with your doctor.

Allergies can make your eyes itchy and rubbing the delicate skin around your eyes can cause dark circles. Smoking will also have an impact as it restricts oxygen flow to the capillaries.

What Can We Do?

Changes to your lifestyle can have a positive effect on non-hereditory dark circles, here’s my tips….

  • Be sure to get plenty of sleep and STOP smoking!
  • Supplements containing Vitamin C, Pycnogenol, Grapeseed extract all contain antioxidant compounds that may help strengthen blood vessels, this may also help prevent broken capillaries.
  • Topical ingredients containing Horse Chestnut, Vitamin K, Gingko, Witch Hazel and Green Tea may also strengthen the delicate eye tissue.
  • A cold compress is a quick fix that helps constrict blood vessels and normalise tissue colour. Only Temporary, but makes you feel better! I like chilled plain teabags or Cucumber slices. I also use a Yuroll Eye Roller – the cooling Jade feels lovely and it will boost circulation and Lymph Drainage.
  • Feast on the wonderful varieties of  Super Berries – Cranberries, Blueberries, Blackcurrants – wash down with a large pot of Green or Black Tea. The Antioxidants they contain may help fortify blood vessels, also drink plenty of water and cut down on Salt, which can make dilated blood vessels worse.
  • A good concealer is worth its weight in gold! I like “Anti Fatigue Concealer” By Terry – this is brilliant at disguising dark circles without looking heavy, it also contains Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate the delicate skin.
  • Dermalogica Total Eye Care  is also a good treatment – it has a slight Pink colour that disguises darkness. It also has an essential SPF 15 to protect against sun-damage.

Hyaluronic Acid – The Elixir Of Life?

Hyaluronic AcidHyaluronic Acid is an important ingredient in skincare products, and a favourite of mine. It is also known as HA or Sodium Hyaluronate on an ingredients list, and is part of what is know as our “Glycosaminogylcans (GAGs)”. HA is natures own moisturiser and makes up a proportion of the extracellular fluid in the Dermis. It helps keep the dermal tissues highly hydrated and is a gel-like substance in which the fibrous proteins of Collagen and Elastin are embedded – this keeps them supple and flexible and gives skin turgor and bounce.

HA is natural to the body, where it has a crucial role of lubricating us internally, mainly our skin and  joints where it acts as a shock absorber. It has a very clever ability to attract and bind moisture to itself (Humectant) – and can hold up to 1000 times it’s weight in water and is known as natures sponge.

Research has shown that HA can help with wound healing and can reduce scarring on the skin. It is unlike most topical compounds as it can penetrate the epidermis to a deeper level and hydrate skin tissue and plump out fine lines. It gives skin a smoother appearance and banishes fine dehydration lines, it really is a superior moisturising ingredient.

Bill Sardi – author of “How to live to 100 without growing old” writes – “HA is a revolutionary natural molecule that stops or even reverses ageing. HA is the modern day Fountain of Youth“, he goes on to say “HA helps to erase facial ageing, lines and wrinkles and can product wound healing without scarring”. (HA taken internally as a supplement)

HA is the main ingredient used in Restylane Filler (injections) – this is an FDA approved ingredient (animal & non animal), which testifies to its safety. The main source is rooster combs, but I am sure you will be glad to know the non-animal form comes from Soy-Beans, this is the type used in most topical products.

Our Hyaluronic Acid in our skin starts to diminish once we get to around 40 years old. This is what adds to an aged appearance as we lose some of the volume in the dermis. Topical products will not replace this, but HA is still an important hydrating ingredient that’s not to be sniffed at! It has shown that if our skin is dehydrated, then some enzyme functions do not happen. Even an oily skin can benefit from HA, and there are some wonderful hydrating products to choose from, here are my favourites that have high levels of HA in the ingredient list.
Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Booster – This is a super saturated fluid that helps hydrate, smooth and miminize fine dehydration lines. This easily absorbed fluid restores moisture (without oil) and helps restore the skin’s barrier layer. This has good levels of HA and all skin types can use, either apply neat of mix into your moisturiser.
O2 Intraceuticals Rejuvenate Hydration Gel – This really is a favourite of mine. The whole Intraceuticals range is formulated with a patented form of HA and you can see the difference in your skin once applied. This is a concentrated, silky, moisture rich gel that counteracts skin dehydration, also has high levels of stable Vitamin C. A favourite with oily skin that is concerned with ageing, as you can use this on it’s own if most creams are too heavy.

Dermalogic
a Antioxidant Hydramist
– This is an amazing hydrating mist, packed with peptides, Vitamin C and White Tea, it really helps protect and hydrate the skin with high levels of HA. It is a refreshing spritz with the beautiful scent of Rose, you can use before moisturising or use during the day to counteract dehydrating atmospheres.

Taking HA internally in the form of a supplement has shown to have skin hydrating and plumping results, not to mention the benefits to your joints. Restoring HA plumps skin cells and restores moisture in all the tissues of the body – well worth it I think.

Viridian do excellent HA supplements as well as PURE-XP HA Elite. Jan Marini’s C-ESTAMINS also contain high levels of Hyaluronic Acid, alonside every vitamin and mineral you need for youthful skin and vitality.

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.

Conclusion

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!

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