Anti Ageing Treatments Explained

In my last post, I talked about the different changes in our skin that occur as we age. It prompted a fair bit of discussion with fellow bloggers and readers as to what can actually be done once we show signs of ageing. Is there any way that we can really turn back the clock and make ourselves look younger once our skin has lost it’s elasticity and youthfulness? As I have mentioned before, prevention is definitely better than cure when it comes to maintaining your skin’s appearance as you get older. Whatever care you take of your skin when you are young will pay dividends in the future. If you haven’t taken care of your skin, there is no magic treatment that will cure years of neglect and a bad lifestyle. There are however, loads of treatments out there designed to improve your skin’s appearance. Here’s a few of them…

Botox – The infamous Botox is one of the most well known anti ageing treatments. It is injected into the skin and works by paralysing the muscles in the injected area to reduce lines and wrinkles. It is especially popular in the forehead and eye area. Botox is a relatively new treatment however and the long term effects are not yet known.

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Botox is often used to treat fine lines in the eye area

Chemical peels – Sometimes referred to as skin peels or acid peels. This is where an acid or chemical (such as alpha-hydroxy acid) is applied to your skin to dissolve the outer layers. The idea is that it temporarily reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. As the outer layers of skin are removed, it will make you more susceptible to UV damage afterwards and many people suffer adverse reactions. Never, ever attempt to do this yourself. This is strictly to be left to the professionals!

Collagen – Another well known technique are collagen injections. Collagen is a naturally occurring protein in the body and this technique involves injecting collagen directly into the dermis (deepest layer) of your skin to plump up wrinkles. People often have their lips injected with collagen to achieve a fuller appearance although this can go badly wrong if you have an allergic reaction!

Dermabrasion – Like chemical peels, this treatment is designed to take your skin back to the lowest possible layer to temporarily banish wrinkles and lines. Instead of using chemicals or acids, this treatment uses wire brushes or diamond wheels. Think of it as a more extreme version of exfoliating. Again, this technique is to be left to the professionals.

Facial treatments – A good skincare routine can work wonders. Get into the habit of cleansing, toning and moisturising on a daily basis. Exfoliating at least once a week and indulging in a weekly face mask can also keep skin looking clear, smooth and fresh.

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Even something as simple as exfoliating and using face masks can help to keep your skin looking fresh and smooth

Moisturisers – As the skin ages, it loses moisture and becomes drier and more in need of hydration. Moisturisers don’t add moisture to your skin, they actually work by forming a barrier that locks in existing moisture. They can also provide protection from environmental conditions such as UV rays and pollution. There are many moisturisers available that are formulated for mature skin and contain active ingredients such as peptides that work to temporarily reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. However, do not be tempted to use anti ageing products if you have young skin in an attempt to prevent ageing. They are formulated for older skin. The best thing you can do as a young woman is to stop smoking and use sunscreen.

Many of these treatments have to be performed several times for results to appear and as the results are temporary, require use on an ongoing basis. As well as the aforementioned treatments, some people also turn to cosmetic surgery to reduce the signs of ageing. But the ageing process in inevitable. You cannot stop your biological clock. Some treatments will have a temporary effect or delay the inevitable but really the best thing you can do is to look after your skin when you are young, prevent as much sun damage as you can and don’t smoke.

Until next time, stay beautiful x

Your Age And Your Skin

Recently, I have talked a lot about skin. And for good reason – any beauty regimen should begin by taking good care of your skin. And the earlier that you begin to care for it, the better. This is so important as when we get older and use and abuse our bodies, the appearance and condition of our skin will begin to reflect our age and lifestyle. Skin tends to go through phases according to our age and if we know what to look out for, we can begin to take preventative steps to keep our skin looking it’s best.

When we’re young, most of us are lucky enough to have unblemished skin. As we get older, our skin will gradually change. Here is a short guide to what can happen to your skin at various phases in your life and how you can help to keep it looking it’s best.

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Hormonal changes can cause skin problems in our teenage years

Teenage years – Many of the skin problems we associate with teenagers such as acne are a result of hormonal changes during puberty. Oil glands in the skin are stimulated by hormones causing an over-production of oil which ends up clogging the pores and resulting in spots. Enlarged pores can often be a problem during teenage years too. This is often as a result of oil clogging up pores and once you have them, they will stay with you. This is why it is really important to get in the habit of cleansing and looking after your skin at as young an age as possible. Many of us (including myself) with fairer skin will begin to develop freckles as a result of sun exposure. Cover up with sunscreen to help prevent more from occurring. Do not be tempted at this age to use cosmetics and skincare products designed for more mature skin – it will do more harm than good!

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Me aged 23. Your skin should be at it’s best in your twenties

Twenties – If you are in your twenties, in theory your skin should be at it’s peak. The upheaval of puberty is over and your skin should have settled. Spots and acne at this age are often the result of hormonal changes during your menstrual cycle and possibly as a result of hormonal contraception. If you have freckles that do not fade over winter, they will stay with you. If you don’t want anymore appearing, protect your skin from the sun. Remember that poor lifestyle choices now such as smoking, lack of sleep and too much alcohol will take their toll on you as you get older. If you have not already established a good skincare routine, now is the time to do it. Invest in your skin now and your future self will thank you for it.

Thirties – This is when your skin will begin to dry out and show signs of ageing (although this can start in your twenties if care is not taken). At this age, prevention is better than cure. Protect your skin from the damaging effects of the sun, regularly exfoliate and moisturise and don’t forget to take care of your hands and neck. Keep these areas moisturised as they are often one of the first places we begin to show signs of ageing. Look after the thin, delicate skin around your eye area with specially formulated products and wear sunglasses.

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As I enter my thirties, I need to take care of my skin to prevent premature ageing

Forties – This is when wrinkles that developed in your thirties will now become a permanent feature. Your skin will begin to lose elasticity and collagen production starts to slow down. Look for products that are formulated for more mature skin containing ingredients such as peptides and retinoids to help your skin appear firmer. Your skin will also become thinner and more prone to sun damage so if you have never taken sun protection seriously in the past, now really is the time to do so.

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As skin matures, we need to take extra care to prevent sun damage and dryness

Fifties and over – No matter how much you have looked after your skin in the past, this is when your skin will begin to show it’s age. The protein fibres and fatty deposits beneath your skin are disappearing and your skin will begin to feel looser. Wrinkles become more deep set and the skin becomes dryer. It is more essential than ever to eat well, exercise and keep your skin well moisturised and protected from the sun.

A philosophy of ‘prevention is better than cure’ is the number one thing to remember when it comes to the ageing process of your skin. Begin to look after your skin as early as possible. If you develop a good skincare regimen, protect your skin from the sun and enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle it will pay dividends in the future that your sixty year old self will thank you for.

Until next time, stay beautiful x

An Ancient Egyptian Guide To Beauty

Makeup and cosmetic products are far from being a recent invention. For centuries, men as well as women have been looking for ways to enhance their appearance using cosmetics. The Ancient Egyptians were innovative thinkers that made a massive contribution to mankind with inventions that are still in use to this day such as the doorlock and written language. But we can also thank them for another thing which many of us also use on a daily basis – makeup.

We now know that some of the techniques they employed were highly inadvisable such as painting their faces with a deadly mixture of lead carbonate and water. They did however pioneer techniques we can learn from and use today. Here are some of them.

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The Ancient Egyptians didn’t just give the world the spectacular pyramids, they also invented some great beauty products too

Beeswax – The Ancient Egyptians realised that beeswax had moisturising properties and regularly used it to moisturise their skin from the effects of the hot Egyptian sun. You can buy ready made moisturisers containing beeswax or alternatively you can make your own in combination with other ingredients such as olive oil.

Egg white facials – Ancient Egyptian women used egg white facials to pamper their skin. To make your own, simply whisk one egg white with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, apply and leave for 10-15 minutes before rinsing away with tepid water.

Perfume – Perfumed oils containing frankincense and myrhh were popular in Ancient Egypt. DKNY Delicious Night is an example of a modern perfume containing these ingredients.

Kohl – Outline your eyes with a thick line of kohl eyeliner to recreate the look of beautiful Ancient Egyptian women such as Cleopatra. For a really authentic look, team with coloured eyeshadow.

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The Ancient Egyptians created kohl eyeliner

Milk and honey – The Egyptian queen Cleopatra famously bathed in milk to maintain her beautiful skin. To try this for yourself mix fresh milk, honey and almond oil into your bathwater.

Sea salt scrub – For a truly authentic Ancient Egyptian style bath, use ground sea salt as a body scrub to exfoliate your skin after a milk bath.

Rosewater – The Ancient Egyptians created all manner of cosmetic and beauty products using natural ingredients. One such product was rosewater which they used to nourish their skin. There are a number of rosewater beauty products available to buy from facial toners to bath oils. Or if you enjoy getting creative, make your own rosewater by boiling rose petals (make sure they are free of chemicals) in spring water.

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Rosewater works as a great natural toner for skin

Apple cider vinegar – This was used as an invigorating face wash. To try it for yourself, add a 3:1 ratio of apple cider vinegar to warm water.

This is just a few of the amazing, natural beauty techniques that the Ancient Egyptians pioneered. The trend for cosmetics derived from naturally based ingredients is far from a recent phenomenon. The Ancient Egyptians were way ahead of their time.

Until next time, stay beautiful x

The Properties And Benefits Of Argan Oil

There are so many different lotions and potions available to care for your hair and skin these days that it’s difficult to choose the right one. If you take a trip into your local drugstore, you will be greeted by row after row of shelves full of various products, all promising to work wonders and create miracles. I think really the only way to find out which products are right for you is to experiment and try for yourself. One of my favourites that I’ve been using for a while now is argan oil.

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Argan oil is renowned for making hair soft and manageable

Sometimes referred to as ‘liquid gold’, argan oil is a natural product, extracted from the kernels of the argan tree which is native to Morocco. It is often used as a moisturiser as well as in products to care for your hair. This is due to the fact that the oil has a high nutrient content and is rich in fatty acids, anti-oxidants and vitamin E which is vital for healthy skin and hair. Argan oil is renowned for making hair soft, silky and shiny and to help make frizzy hair more manageable. Other reported benefits of argan oil for hair include the promotion of healthy hair growth, prevention of scalp dryness and itching and the restoration of dry and damaged hair. As a non-greasy, easily absorbed oil it is often used as a skin moisturiser which can benefit dry skin in particular. It is also known for it’s anti-ageing properties and many advocates of argan oil have stated how it has helped their skin conditions such as acne and eczema. I have used argan oil to help treat dry skin on my elbows and knees and it worked very well for me and left my skin beautifully soft and smooth with no irritation.

Because of it’s beneficial properties, celebrities including Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Kylie Minogue, Madonna and Taylor Swift are all users of argan oil to help care for their hair and skin. It’s even beginning to appear in mascara formulas as it’s claimed it helps to make your lashes longer and more lustrous. My hair is very dry and has a wiry texture (it almost feels like fine fishing line) and argan oil in it’s pure form really helps to add moisture and softness to my hair. Even if you are lucky enough to have naturally soft hair, argan oil is a nice finishing touch to add extra gloss and shine.

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Argan oil is extracted from the fruit of the argan tree

Although finding shampoos, conditioners, hair styling products and skincare products containing argan oil is easy, due to the oil’s rarity they come at a relatively high price. As I mentioned before, the oil is extracted from the argan tree which is found in southern Morocco. The traditional method of extracting the oil was to collect argan fruit, dry it, extract the nuts, crack them to reveal the kernels and then to crush them to release their oil. The process was done by hand and took fifteen hours of labour and thirty two kilograms of fruit to produce just one litre of oil! These days the kernels are mechanically cold pressed (heat damages the oil’s chemical properties). The tree is rare, extracting the oil is labour intensive…hence the high price. However, the good news is a little oil goes a long way.

The scarcity of the argan tree is where the problem lies. There are so many products on the market now which contain argan oil or are marketed as ‘argan oil’ or ‘Moroccan oil’. But if you examine the label, there are often other ingredients (such as silicon) in larger quantities than the actual argan oil. Cosmetic companies need to work hard to ensure that the supply of argan oil is sustainable and of a high quality, untainted by other oils or substances.

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Look for products that contain as much unrefined argan oil as possible

So how do you know you are getting the real deal? If you are buying a product containing argan oil – check the ingredients. Look out for ‘argania spinosa kernel oil’, it should be high up the ingredients list and ideally, the product should contain as few ingredients as possible. The more ingredients that the oil is mixed with, the less effective the oil will be. If you are buying pure argan oil, make sure it is in a dark coloured bottle as the light passing through a clear bottle can break down the oil’s chemical properties. Some products that are marketed as argan oil also contain a carrier oil such as olive or sunflower oil. Also be aware of the price you are paying. Argan oil doesn’t have to cost a fortune but at the same time, it is a rare oil that is labour intensive to produce and so isn’t usually sold at a ‘giveaway’ price. The best argan oil product isn’t necessarily the most expensive but remember the saying, ‘you get what you pay for’.

I am currently using hair products containing argan oil from one of the best-selling brands in the UK and will follow up this article in the near future with a product review…

Until then, stay beautiful x

Boots Essentials 3-Minute Clay Mask

Recently, I’ve been using the Boots Essentials 3-Minute Clay Mask on my face. Here’s what I think of it…

The 3-Minute Clay Mask available from Boots (current price £1.50) is suitable for all skin types and as well as clay, also contains cucumber extract. Clay masks for the face have been around since ancient times and a quick glance at the ingredients list for this mask shows that besides water, it’s other key ingredient is kaolin clay. Kaolin clay is known for it’s cleansing and detoxifying properties. It is found in a number of skincare products and is known to deeply cleanse the pores, enhance blood circulation and contains nutrients which are good for the skin. So far so good.

The other notable ingredient in this mask is cucumber extract. When we think of face masks, we often think of women lying back with slices of cucumber on their faces and over their eyes. There is a good reason for this. Cucumber is believed to reduce puffiness under the eyes and it soothes, cools and cleanses the skin. So with key ingredients like this, I had high hopes for this mask…

The product itself comes in a neat, 50ml tube and is small enough to be easily stored in a drawer or makeup bag. The packaging design is simple and is ‘cucumber coloured’ although the mask itself is more of a chalky white colour. To apply the mask, firstly you must cleanse your face whichever way you normally would. Make sure you wear a headband or tie your hair back to keep it away from your face. Then the mask can be massaged onto your skin avoiding the thinner, more delicate skin around your eyes. If you have ever tried your hand at working with clay, you will be familiar with the distinctive feel of it on your skin and this mask is no exception. But it spreads easily and has a pleasant, fresh scent of cucumber.

Once you have applied it, you only need to leave it on for three minutes to work before it can be removed. I left it on for slightly longer and waited until the clay had begun to ‘set’ and began to feel dry to the touch (approximately eight minutes). When the mask was on my face, there was a reassuring ‘tingling’ sensation. I like to think that it’s the product working it’s magic. Like any face mask, I would recommend applying it when your husband is not around. Mine exclaimed ‘what the hell?!’ and couldn’t stop laughing at me when he saw me with clay smeared all over my face. To remove the mask, the quickest way is to wipe away with damp cotton wool. You can use your hands to rinse it off too but it will take slightly longer (and is messier). I always like to splash my face with cold water after rinsing it off to help close pores (cold water acts as a natural toner for skin).

Afterwards, my skin felt really clean, smooth and refreshed. When your skin is still damp, I would recommend moisturising afterwards as it can leave your skin feeling a little bit dry but moisturising after cleansing should already be a habit for you. For normal skin, this mask can be applied once a week but if you have oily skin, you would probably benefit from using it twice a week. I have been using this mask combined with other skincare products for several weeks now and I haven’t had any adverse affects. My skin has felt clear, clean and smooth. We all have different skin that reacts in different ways to different products but I think that considering it’s low price, it is worth trying out.

Until next time, stay beautiful x

Get To Know Your Skin Type

Skin can be classified into different types depending on it’s behaviour and characteristics. The most common types are normal, dry, oily and combination. Knowing what type of skin you have can be really helpful in helping you to decide which makeup and cosmetic products to use. After talking to family and friends, I discovered a surprising amount of women don’t really know what skin type they have. They just buy whatever products appeal to them and don’t consider how their skin will react with the product. So with this in mind, here is a short guide to help you determine which skin type you have so you can make a more informed decision the next time you go shopping for beauty supplies.

The first step to analysing your skin type is to cleanse it, preferably in the morning so you can look at how your skin changes throughout the course of the day. Pay close attention to how your skin feels after you have cleansed. Normal skin should feel clean but comfortable. If your skin is feeling tight, particularly around your forehead, you may have dry skin.

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I have normal/combination skin. My forehead and cheeks are the areas most prone to shine

Next, leave your skin unmoisturised and take a good look at it in a mirror in natural light. Study the texture of your skin, looking all over the face and look out for pores and shiny areas. Normal skin will have a smooth texture with small pores and possibly some shine visible. As well as a tight feeling after cleansing, dry skin will have a matt texture, may have visible ‘flaky’ patches and small pores. Dry skin often suffers from sensitivity and will show fine lines and wrinkles quicker than other skin types. Oily skin will have a shiny look, particularly in your T zone (your forehead, nose and chin) and often larger, visible pores. Oily skin is also more prone to breaking out in spots. It’s not all bad though, oily skin often ages slower and shows less visible signs of ageing.

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Simple skincare offer a good range of products for sensitive skin. I use these three products on a daily basis – the Kind To Skin Light Moisturiser, Age Resisting Eye Cream and Kind To Skin Cleansing Facial Wipes

Have another look at your skin at midday. If you have oily or combination skin (combination skin will usually be more oily in the T zone than the rest of the face), oil breakthrough will usually be visible by this time. Dry skin will often be showing signs of dryness by this time too, even if you have moisturised in the morning.

Take into consideration other factors which may be affecting the condition of your skin. Stress, medication, the contraceptive pill, pregnancy, your menstrual cycle, how much sun your skin is exposed to, smoking and your diet are among other factors which will influence how your skin looks.

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The contraceptive pill can affect the current condition of your skin

Knowing your correct skin type will help you to make more effective decisions the next time you go shopping for makeup and cosmetic supplies. No matter which skin type you have, skin responds to care and it’s condition can be improved. Many beauty products such as cleansers, moisturisers, face masks and makeup are labelled as to which skin type they are most suited for. Now you know which skin type you have, you can shop with confidence.

Until next time, stay beautiful x

Beautiful Skin At Any Age

I am fast approaching thirty. That isn’t old by anyone’s standards but I am still aware of the gradual changes to my skin that are taking place. Coco Chanel was once quoted as saying ‘Nature gives you the face you have at twenty. Life shapes the face you have at thirty. But at fifty you get the face you deserve’. I think she got it spot on. No matter how young you are, it is never too early to make changes to your lifestyle which will set up a good foundation for the ageing process. Your older self will thank you for it.

Stay hydrated – Water is quite literally the elixir of life. Your body is approximately sixty percent water and it plays an essential role in many of the processes that happen within your body. It will also help to keep your skin clear and assist your body with flushing out toxins. With that in mind, you need to stay properly hydrated in order to look and feel your best. Official guidelines state that you should be drinking six to eight glasses of water per day for optimum health but don’t forget many foods such as fresh fruit also contain water. Many people drink hot water with a slice of lemon but bear in mind that this is a very acidic drink and will erode your teeth when drunk on a regular basis. Alcohol and caffeine are dehydrating so it is a good idea to drink some plain water each time you consume a drink that contains either substance.

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Aim to drink at least six glasses of water each day

Eat well – Genetics and heritage determine how your skin looks, behaves and ages but you can do much to assist the process by improving your lifestyle. As well as staying well hydrated, another way to do this is by eating a good, well balanced diet to give your body the nutrition it needs. The most beneficial vitamins for your skin are A, C and E. These are found in abundance in fruits and vegetables so try to include at least five portions each day. Other beneficial foods for your body include beans, dairy, eggs, fish, nuts and whole grains. Remember that the nutritional benefits of eating the right foods will always be better for your body than consuming them in pill form.

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Aim to eat a minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables each day

Protect yourself from the sun – Never underestimate the damaging effects of the sun on your skin. A golden tan may look attractive in your twenties but when you are in your fifties and have wrinkled, sagging skin peppered with moles, it will not look quite so appealing. And of course, too much sun exposure can cause skin cancer. Many skincare and make up products contain a sun protection factor (SPF) so keep a look out for these when you are shopping for supplies. Also use a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 and avoid midday sun when UV levels are at their strongest. Don’t forget to wear sunglasses, constant squinting in the sun will help to give you the dreaded ‘crow’s feet’ wrinkles around your eyes.

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Always protect your eyes from the sun

Exercise – Most of us are aware of the health benefits of exercise but of course it can benefit the way we look too. As well as helping to build a slim, toned physique, all of the sweat you produce when you exercise will help to bring impurities out of your skin helping to keep it clear and fresh. As you get older, as well as keeping your body healthy, exercise will also help to manage your weight. As you age, your metabolic rate (the rate at which your body burns calories) decreases leading to an increased likelihood of weight gain.

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Yoga is a great way to help you to stay in shape

Get into a good beauty routine – As well as the lifestyle factors that will play a part in maintaining the beauty of your skin, getting into a good routine with skincare will also help. Look after your skin by moisturising daily, exfoliating weekly and use face masks depending on your skin type. Normal moisturiser formulas are often too rich and heavy for the delicate skin around the eyes and can cause puffiness. Make you use a specially formulated cream for eyes. As we age, our skin produces less collagen and so skin loses it’s elasticity and becomes less firm. If you have mature skin, look out for products containing peptides and retinoids which will help your skin to build collagen and appear firmer. Also try to avoid foundation formulas that are too dry as they will settle into wrinkles. Keep your skin well moisturised and use a moisture rich foundation formula.

Stop smoking – I used to have a twenty (sometimes thirty) a day habit so I know how hard it is to stop. But with self belief and sheer willpower, you can stop. You will look and feel so much better for it believe me.

Remember, it’s never too early to begin thinking about preserving your skin for the future.

Until next time, stay beautiful x