April Newsletter


Welcome to the April newsletter where we launch Colours by The Ordinary; this is the newsletter that I never thought I would write. I have always said that we would never do colour on VH, we are health, we are beauty, we are not colour. The market is saturated; in each and every moment new lipsticks, eye colours, mascaras and foundations are launched, mostly with huge marketing budgets behind them. But then we launched The Ordinary and everything changed.

I will do an update on The Ordinary later in the newsletter, but for now I am going to talk about Colours and then we will head into several health issues, the pretty inevitable death of another product, we do news and feedback and we have a treat from Margaret Dabbs. Let’s do it:

Colours – The Ordinary

Before anything, I just want to say that the concept of The Ordinary remains one of the most important ‘missions’ we have ever done. It is far more than just ‘selling’ skincare products, it is a way of being able to deliver extremely potent formulations with honesty, transparency and integrity at a price point that reflects the true cost of commodities.

For sure it has shaken up the beauty industry, but I truly believe that in time the industry will change; it may take some time, but it has to change, for the sake of all of us (I am talking as a consumer here). The journey twists and turns. And so Colours.

The discussion and decision to launch a colour range took place a very long time ago (read my note at the end of this section!); Brandon and I both knew that we would be taking The Ordinary into a different market, another realm where we had not gone before. It is both daunting and exciting, but we both felt compelled to do this; I am calling it a ‘new way’, which I will touch on after I’ve written about the products, actually to be neat, this is me and Brandon writing together; here is the lowdown:

Colours is an evolving collection of colour formulations; the offering begins with lightweight Serum Foundations and highly-pigmented Coverage Foundations with each form available in a comprehensive shade range across 21 shades – which effectively means we are launching 42 new products on this newsletter (pray for me!).

The Serum Foundations are very low in viscosity and are dispensed with a pump; a glass dropper, for those who prefer, will be available for purchase when the products are released. The Serum Foundations offer moderate coverage that look natural with a very lightweight serum feel.

Coverage Foundations contain higher pigment levels, but still offer a smooth finish that avoids the heavy makeup look that can make skin appear more aged. The texture is that of a lightweight, non-oily cream.

The pigments used in both formats are treated for a rich, highly-saturated effect. These pigments are suspended in a proprietary spreadability system that allows pigments to look natural on the skin, resist collecting within fine lines and stay on for longer. The foundations offer a semi-matte finish and are compatible with most primers and are designed to work exceptionally well with the primers offering from The Ordinary.

Both Serum Foundations and Coverage Foundations offer SPF 15. This protection is achieved without the use of chemical sunscreens and only through physical protection from Titanium Dioxide. Additionally, no nano-particles are used to achieve this sun protection. These attributes are unique in foundations because it is exceptionally difficult to create a natural, lightweight look and consistent shades when using only non-nano forms of Titanium Dioxide for sun protection without any chemical sunscreen agents.

Each foundation format is available in 21 shades. The shades are divided into categories: 1 for fair to lighter tones, 2 for medium tones and 3 for darker tones. Each category is then classified further by a second digit from 0 to 3 to indicate depth within each category. Finally a letter is added to the shade code to identify the undertone: P (Pink) and R (Red) indicate cool undertones for lighter and darker shades respectively. N indicates a Neutral tone; Y indicates a Yellow undertone. Each shade code has a descriptive name as well. For example, 1.2P is Light with Pink Undertones, while 3.0Y is Medium Dark with Yellow Undertones.

Three of the shades have an additional letter at the end: S indicates Silver highlights and G indicates Gold highlights; these shades use natural-looking and exceptionally fine dispersions of metallic effect pigments for added highlight. The Ordinary will introduce individual enhancers and highlighters in the near future to customise all shades.

The full shade range is available to explore on each product page and also as a summary on The Ordinary Colours – Foundation Shade Guide page.

The unique suspension system used in the formulations allows shades to look so natural on skin that three shades or more will suit most skin tones. The shades can also be mixed at the time of application if desired. As with most liquid forms of foundation, it is ideal to shake the container lightly before use.

IMPORTANT – Please read carefully:

That’s it. Done. We promised we would launch on the April newsletter and we have, but for the moment we are just taking orders and the products will be released and sent out in approximately fourteen days, give or take a day or two. I/we know exactly what will happen and it is inevitable that demand will supersede supply.

However huge The Ordinary has become, and it has, it is still a niche brand and we know it will be a struggle to keep everybody happy within a certain time frame. I am not going to pretend otherwise, so please bear with us as we do this thing; if any of you missed it, we posted a very short video about Colours on Instagram a couple of weeks ago; there is a wonderful comment on there saying that I would spontaneously combust when Colours launches; that is not too far from the truth, but actually it has already happened; when I discovered the products were going to be slightly delayed, the combustion occurred, unspontaneously!

All orders will be processed in date order, without exception; we will not debit any monies until the day your order is processed and sent, at which time you will receive a shipping notification.

More than anything, I know what it’s like to have to wait for products, but I promise you these will be worth waiting for. A few months ago I ran out of my ‘go-to’ foundation; I was in the middle of testing Colours, but only had small lab samples so I had to troop along to the makeup counter. My existing foundation had been discontinued, so I bought the replacement. I used it once and threw it in the bin. My skin looked like it had been ‘caked and baked’ and I swear it made me look 20 years older than I am, which is absolutely not on my agenda, or yours I guess.

Perhaps it was because I knew no different, but mostly I think it was because I had been testing both of The Ordinary foundations and my skin looked and felt amazing. For me, there is no going back; I use both formulations, sometimes I mix them, sometimes I use each of them neat. I think the most profound difference is that my skin looks like skin, which is why I am calling it ‘a new way’, but then everything about these products is new, the technology, the formulations, the textures and of course the results, which really are quite sensational.

So I invite you to join me and I will end this by telling you that some time ago I got ‘made-up’, it wasn’t my choice, it was circumstance. A certain person took one look and screamed ‘will you get that stuff (improvised wording for the sake of decency) off your face, you look like an ugly painted mannequin’. Luckily for him I have a sense of humour and in that moment Colours was conceived.
Colours by The Ordinary; Serum Foundation with SPF 15 (21 Shades) £5.70 for 30 ml; Coverage Foundation with SPF 15 (21 Shades) £5.90 for 30 ml; High Adherence Silicone Primer £3.90 for 30 ml; High-Spreadability Fluid Primer £5.50 for 30 ml

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a common concern as we age. The term ‘silent killer’ describes high blood pressure well because unless you know what the symptoms of high blood pressure are, you would not necessarily know that you actually have high blood pressure. Medically, high blood pressure is known as hypertension and it is a serious concern which leads to thousands of deaths every year from heart attack, stroke and kidney failure.

Blood pressure readings are important regardless of how you feel physically and should be carried out frequently in order to ascertain whether you are prone to high blood pressure. Blood pressure is simply the force of your blood flow pounding against the arteries. If the pressure is high, there is a greater chance of creating damage to the arteries, which can lead to complications.

Generally, there are no major symptoms for high blood pressure, but there are some conditions that may indicate high blood pressure including vision problems, especially blurred vision often arising as a result of burst blood vessels in the eyes; severe headaches; pain in the chest area; breathing problems; blood in urine and a heartbeat that feels irregular. If you have any of the above symptoms, we recommend that you see your GP as soon as possible.

To a large extent high blood pressure can be preventable and of course stress plays a role in high blood pressure. Short-term stress increases blood pressure, which then reverts back to normal, but ongoing stress results in the production of hormones which constrict blood vessels so that the heart is burdened with having to force blood through the circulatory system. Lack of exercise, weight gain and poor dietary habits all influence blood pressure.

There are a number of herbs that are reported to be of benefit to the heart including Hawthorn and the Indian herb Arjuna. These herbs are often termed cardiotonics because they have the ability to enhance the contraction phase of the heart, which means that more blood is pumped around the body. In effect, they are a tonic for the heart.

Hawthorn has been used for many years as a heart tonic, being able to improve the efficiency of the pumping action of the heart by increasing blood flow in the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle tissue. Hawthorn extracts contain a range of biological compounds including flavonoids and polyphenols such as oligomeric procyanidins.

Several studies indicate that hawthorn extracts have multiple actions on the heart including strengthening and toning the heart muscle. Additionally, its source of procyanidins, powerful antioxidants, may help prevent the oxidation of fats which normally leads to their deposition onto the arteries. Deposition of fats onto arteries leads to the furring up of arteries and adds a burden on the heart to pump blood.

Arjuna is a medicinal plant that has widely been used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. Although Arjuna has a wide variety of benefits, its greatest use is as a cardiotonic herb to help protect the heart. Arjuna’s heart protecting properties include its ability to help reduce arterial plaque formation, reduce total cholesterol, reduce LDL cholesterol and raises protective HDL cholesterol.

The combination of Hawthorn with Arjuna is available in a supplement called Cardio Peak with Standardized Hawthorn and Arjuna and we recommend this supplement to help protect against heart concerns and high blood pressure.
VH Editorial: High Blood Pressure; Cardio Peak with Standardized Hawthorn and Arjuna £32 for 120 Capsules

Botanicals Wild Hayflower

Another new product to tell you about and although the hay fever season is not in full swing yet, we always recommend taking supplementation ahead of time and as Wild Hayflower has been formulated to boost antihistamine levels, it might be a good moment to start dosing up.

Wild Hayflower delivers a 100 mg dose of meadow grasses and flowers preparing your body to fight and then helping to combat hay fever during the pollination season. This type of treatment is called immunotherapy and the tablets are formulated using a wide combination of pollen rich flowers to increase the effectiveness of targeting the possible pollens you might be allergic to, such as meadow, couch, rye, trembling grasses and clovers. We like this approach. We like the product. We like that it works like a vaccine.
Botanicals Wild HayFlower £4.99 for 90 Tablets

Death of A Product

I seriously don’t know what is going on; so many products are being discontinued, it is getting difficult to know what we have and what we don’t have. Without warning, products seem to disappear overnight and I can’t write about all of them, so instead I will just let you know which bestselling products are now residing in heaven and the latest is CarnoSoothe, which we recommended as a natural solution for chronic stomach problems.

It has been replaced by Gastro-Ease, which Shabir likes rather a lot, so let’s just do an overview of this health concern, including information on this new product.

Gastric distress is a very common health concern and if you suffer from heartburn constantly, have abdominal pain or have a very sensitive stomach, the chances are that you may be suffering from gastritis.

Gastritis is the inflammation of the lining of the stomach and there are many causes of gastritis, which include stress, excessive alcohol consumption, prolonged use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), certain auto-immune diseases and sometimes gastritis can develop after chronic infection. However, one of the most common causes of gastritis is an infection by the organism Helicobacter pylori.

Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium species found in the stomach. It is one of the most common infections in the world and it is estimated that over 50% of the world’s population harbor H pylori in their gut. Scientists identified H pylori in 1982 and found that it was present in patients with gastritis and gastric ulcers, conditions that were never thought to have a bacterial connection and were thought to be caused by stress and poor dietary habits.

Helicobacter pylori require acid to survive and proliferate, which is why they are primarily found in the stomach. Once infected, the bacteria can cause chronic and persistent inflammation in the stomach which can lead to gastritis as well as stomach or duodenal ulcers. The infection spreads from human to human through saliva, food, water and dirty hands. Stomach ulcers affect millions of people worldwide and even greater numbers suffer from heartburn and other gastrointestinal concerns.

While infection with H pylori generally goes unnoticed, for some it can result in chronic inflammation of the lower stomach wall and gastritis leading to a whole array of uncomfortable digestive issues. Fortunately there are tests that can determine if you suffer from H pylori infection and these include blood tests, breath tests and biopsies. Conventional treatment for ulcers and H pylori infection is through the use of antibiotics and medications to help suppress acid production. The infection is difficult to eradicate since it thrives in the acidic environment of the stomach and long-term use of antibiotics may lead to resistance.

A remedy, approved in Japan as a drug to treat ulcers containing zinc carnosine, has been found to help strengthen the barrier of the cells lining the stomach as well as inhibiting the growth of H pylori and its damaging effects. It is called Gastro-Ease and it contains specialised forms of zinc and a probiotic, both of which support the health of the stomach lining.

Both Zinc and L-carnosine have antioxidant properties that help promote tissue repair and recovery. When bonded together to form zinc-carnosine, their tissue healing properties are increased markedly. Studies indicate that both components remain bound together in gastric juices where they can coat any erosive area. There is more in-depth information in Shabir’s article, link below.
VH Editorial: A Natural Solution To Chronic Stomach Problems; Gastro-Ease £35 for 60 Capsules

Margaret Dabbs Fabulous Feet Discovery Kit – Treat

We are fast heading into warmer times and rather than wait for the sun to shine, now is the time to start getting prepped for the emergence of our legs and feet. Created by leading foot expert, Margaret Dabbs, the Fabulous Feet Discovery Kit contains four products to help give you healthy gorgeous feet. The products include Intensive Hydrating Foot Soak (50 ml), Hydrating Foot Lotion (50 ml), Intensive Treatment Foot Oil (30 ml) and Exfoliating Foot Mousse (30 ml).

We have a limited number of these kits, so if you love Margaret Dabbs, which so many of you do, you will need to be pretty fast because we are offering this kit at a very special price of £25 (RRP £39), so not only do you save £14, but you can get your feet into sandal mode; if you are travelling, these products are ideal to take away with you because nobody wants dried-up looking feet on the beach. The beach – bring me the beach!
Margaret Dabbs Fabulous Feet Discovery Kit £25

Spring Facial Oil – Annee de Mamiel

I love Annee; I always have, she is one of life’s very special people and we have journeyed together for many years. We have grown-up together in every sense and more than anything I am just so, so happy that she continues to receive the love and recognition for the work that she does; a beautiful reward for a beautiful person.

So from a time when Annee had just three or four products she had mixed up to use on her clients (she is THE facial acupuncturist) to this – her latest offering – Spring Facial Oil.

Spring Facial Oil has been specifically blended as a wake-up call for winter dull complexions and it includes base oils of Jojoba, Rosehip and Milk Thistle to balance the skin. They are full of fatty acids, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories and they are joined by Juniper, Geranium and Grapefruit to help awaken the skin. Clary Sage, Lavender and Rosemary are included to help heal, protect and calm.

As ever with Annee’s facial oils, you should place four or five drops in the palm of the hands, press together to warm, then cup around your nose and mouth breathing deeply for a count of three, pause before exhaling for a count of five. Then massage upward and over the face, working outward from the centre, until the oil is absorbed. The Annee de Mamiel experience.
Spring Facial Oil by de Mamiel £70 for 20 ml

Athlete’s Foot

Back to feet. One of the most common areas affected by fungi and bacteria are the feet. Athlete’s Foot gets its name because these fungi and bacteria thrive in warm, moist and dark environments such as swimming pools, locker rooms, gyms, showers and of course shoes. Not just limited to athletes, this concern is more common in males than females, affecting roughly one out of ten people. There are three types of Athlete’s Foot, which are:

Toe Web (Inter-digital): The most common type of infection found between the toes, especially between the fourth and fifth toes.

Moccasin-Type: This affects the soles of the feet, which become tender, dry and flaky.

Acute Vesicular: This is the least common form of Athlete’s Foot; painful blisters appear suddenly due to an allergic reaction to the fungus often accompanied by a bacterial infection.

The usual symptoms of toe web infections include scaling and peeling of skin between the toes, mild pain, odour, blistering and the itching of skin. If left untreated, this type of infection can become severe leading to extreme pain, bleeding, large amounts of scaling, painful blisters and can also spread to other parts of the body, especially if accompanied by a bacterial infection.

Like most diseases, Athlete’s Foot is best treated upon early detection and the results are often quick and positive. Anti-fungal creams are obtainable over-the-counter or in worse cases stronger creams may need to be prescribed. Whilst of great benefit in eradicating the fungi, these creams do not offer relief from itching or inflammation and furthermore they don’t encourage the healing of cracks and blisters.

It is for this reason that we often recommend Hydrosol Silver Gel to be used morning and evening. Silver displays potent anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Additionally, silver creams have been used in the treatment of inflammatory skin concerns such as acne, rosacea and eczema.

If you suffer from severe Athlete’s Foot infections or recurring infections, we recommend Horopito and Aniseed capsules, an anti-fungal supplement. In 1982 scientists at the University of Canterbury discovered that horopito was more effective at destroying Candida albicans than the powerful pharmaceutical anti-Candida drug, Amphotericin B.

One of the most common products used is Tea Tree Oil; this should never be used directly onto the skin unless it has been diluted as it can cause further drying of the skin. There is no doubt that Tea Tree Oil has antimicrobial properties, but we prefer Lemon Myrtle Oil. Studies at Charles Sturt University in Australia have shown Lemon Myrtle oil to have 30% more anti-bacterial activity than Tea Tree Oil. In topical use, Lemon Myrtle oil should be diluted with a carrier oil at a level of one drop to 10 ml carrier oil. Wrapped.
Hydrosol Silver Gel £12.95 for 44 ml; Horopito & Aniseed £22 for 60 Capsules; Organic Lemon Myrtle Oil £5.95 for 10 ml

Adrenal Stress

It is some time since I’ve written about adrenal stress and I’m doing it again because although most of us don’t realise it, many of us suffer from adrenal stress, yet it remains virtually ‘un-tagged’ as a health concern. Although often linked to menopausal symptoms, adrenal stress (or adrenal fatigue) can also arise during or after acute or chronic infections and as the name suggests, its paramount symptom is fatigue that is not relieved by sleep.

This syndrome has been known by many other names throughout the past century, such as non-Addison’s hypoadrenia, sub-clinical hypoadrenia, adrenal apathy and adrenal exhaustion. If you feel tired all the time, sweat excessively or wake up and can’t get back to sleep, you may be suffering from adrenal stress. Other symptoms including a craving for sweet and salty snacks (sounds familiar!) and generally feeling run-down and overwhelmed.

The adrenal glands sit atop the kidneys and pump out the hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which help keep you on your feet throughout the day. At times of stress, whether physical, hormonal or environmental, these glands can no longer secrete normal levels of any of these hormones and often over-secrete cortisol. Mood swings, symptoms of stress and anxiety, sleep disturbances, emotional stress and lower immunity are just some of the concerns associated with higher than normal levels of cortisol, so this is not a hormone you want circulating in abundance.

Reducing stress levels is of course paramount and we recommend Magnolia Rhodiola Complex, our bestselling supplement for helping to relieve the symptoms of anxiety and stress. Magnolia extracts have been shown to physically relax muscles and nerves as well as helping to reduce the levels of stress hormones in the body, which is of course key in helping to combat adrenal stress.
VH Editorial: How To Combat Stress Effectively; Magnolia Rhodiola Complex £26 for 60 Capsules

News, Feedback and Other Things

I suppose I need to start this section with The Ordinary; I seriously don’t want to sound like a broken record by repeating myself over and over, but somewhere along the line we seem to have gone from a multi-award winning website to a place where I either sit and hold my head in my hands every day, hide under the desk or am apologising for stock issues and delays.

As I write each newsletter, my brain cells conflict violently; if I give you feedback about certain products, I know exactly what will happen and yet if I don’t I am in some way, shape or form being remiss. This could not be more relevant than on this newsletter. Do I keep quiet and let Colours do its thing and end the newsletter now, or do we carry on? We carry on, of course we do!

Inhibitif Face Serum (Third Generation): Yes, we were out of stock for a couple of weeks, so my apologies if you have had to wait, but at the time of writing this we are back in stock. Suppose I’m not surprised really, after I replicated an email from a customer about the efficacy of this product on the last newsletter, the emails and phone calls poured in and everybody is saying the same thing. They have tried every form of treatment for unwanted facial hair, including threading, waxing and in some cases laser treatments, but they didn’t work. I know that is a generalisation, but in a world where products need to work, this is working for so many of you and that makes me extraordinarily happy.

And as I’ve written above, it is nearly time for our legs and feet to be exposed, so bring on the third generation of Inhibitif Body Serum and get spraying because this is not one of those ‘overnight sensations’; it’s a build, but a rather fabulous one because as I wrote when we launched these new products, I completely adore the fragrance; so then of course Brandon had to join in and say he loved it too. Sure Brandon, sure!
Face Serum £17 for 30 ml; Body Serum £30 for 240 ml; Intimate Care £9 for 60 ml; Deodorant £9 for 50 ml

The Ordinary: Argireline: In and out of stock this goes. There is of course no comparison between Botox and Argireline, they both do different things, but I am perfectly satisfied that given time, Argireline will help reduce some of those stubborn lines.

If you are on a NIOD regimen, then use Argireline after CAIS and MMHC and before Hydration Vaccine; you just need to rub it gently into the lines, leave for a couple of minutes and then continue. Again, this is not another one of those instant products and I would give it at least 30 days, although early feedback has been really promising. You can use it on the upper lip to help prevent those horrid lines appearing, or if you already have a few, then this will help soften them.

At this point I am going to let you into a secret, but please, please be very careful if you do this and please, please do a skin patch test first. I have loved Lip Bio-Lipid Concentrate by NIOD from the very first time I used it; I truly believe it is miraculous and the secret is that if you put it on your upper lip, it will seriously help blast those lines away, again in time.

But, and this is a big but, if you have used Lip Bio-Lipid Complex, you will know that if you get any on your skin, your skin will immediately turn red and start to feel like it is burning. It isn’t burning and it is not an allergic reaction (provided you have done a patch test first), it’s just the efficacy of the ingredients.

Please do not do this if you are going out, it can take anything from 30 minutes to a couple of hours for the skin to calm down. Crazy stuff, I know, but we love a bit of crazy at times, in moderation of course. If you have sensitive skin, then stick to Argireline, if you are hard-core, you can use both or substitute Lip for FECC, which is incredibly potent and is without doubt, the best ‘eye’ product I have ever used.
Argireline Solution 10% £5.50 for 30 ml; Lip Bio-Lipid Concentrate £38 for 15 ml; Fractionated Eye Contour Concentrate (FECC) £43 for 15 ml. 

The Ordinary: Squalane: I have always loved products that work in several different ways; primarily Squalane is for the face and I will admit to having a couple of lazy moments when it’s 2 am and I just can’t do my normal skincare regimen, so I’ve grabbed Squalane and start massaging it into my face as I fall into bed and it is fabulous, truly it is. But, and as I have written, I use Squalane as a body treatment, basically because I love what it does to my skin.

And then so many of you started to do the same, so there is a bit of a Squalane body thing going on right now. I particularly love a comment from a VH Addict who told me that it ‘takes those horrible bumpy things on the back of my arms off in one. It just works and my skin is so, so soft, so I am doing the whole body thing that you recommended’. The joy, the sheer joy. Actually it might not be joyous later today if we run out. If there is a Squalane God, please let him/her deliver.
100% Plant-Derived Squalane £5.50 for 30 ml

Stemm and Superoxide Dismutase Saccharide Mist (SDSM): So we go from hard-core products (above) to hard-core VH Addicts. VH Addicts are always vocal, they say what they think and they don’t hold back. There are a whole group of us and we have this email thing going on. We left any niceties behind a very long time ago, who needs that, we go straight in with what we need to say and mostly we laugh for the rest of the day.

Because I take data-protection really seriously, I never reveal names, but there is one Addict who does such crazy things with products that I can never tell you about them because you will think we have entered the realm of madness. Perhaps we have, but when she sent me this a couple of days ago I knew I would put it on the newsletter because she is right, I ran to the bathroom and tried it. These are her words:

‘And my new secret weapon – I blast my hair with SDSM after washing with Stemm! Downside is people keep trying to touch my ‘shiny sexy hair’.

Final words, I have always sprayed SDSM on my body as well as my face; so for the body, spray after Squalane if you are joining in, and if you haven’t tried SDSM, please do if you can, whichever skincare regimen you are on because it protects and hydrates skin magnificently.
High Amino Shampoo by Stemm £25 for 480 ml; Superoxide Dismutase Saccharide Mist (SDSM) by NIOD £34 for 240 ml

The Ordinary: The Acids: Three products; Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution; AHA 30% + BHA Peeling Solution and Salicylic 2% Solution. We launched these products on the last newsletter (here if you missed it). I had written that basically we are against the use of acids on skin; NIOD would never endorse acid use, NIOD recommends NAAP, but The Ordinary, as an ingredient led brand had made them available for those who were hooked on acid use; so despite my ‘drop the acid’ words, which I’ve written several times, it seems most of the world ignored me and the inevitable happened.

We have listed glycolic acids on our site for many years because I strongly believe there must be a choice in all things, but these new product releases created a full-on rampage. I am not going to state the obvious here, just to say we are doing the very best we can and please be patient, we will get there, wherever there is.
Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution £6.80 for 240 ml; AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution £6.30 for 30 ml; Salicylic Acid 2% Solution £3.90 for 15 ml; Non-Acid Acid Precursor 15% by NIOD £35 for 30 ml

Wayne Goss: I’ve taken to writing about Wayne on the last few newsletters; I love all the ‘Wayne’ emails we receive and they fall into two categories, those of you who follow Wayne (millions of you) and have discovered us and those who have discovered Wayne because I keep writing about him. I thank you and I thank Wayne for being so incredibly loyal, in every sense of the word.

Truly not a lot could make me happier; to love and support is so very important to me; there is enough grief and unhappiness in this world, so if you can love, let it be a love that is equal, love with passion and love like it is your last moment. That’s all.

VH Editorial

This month the Beauty Bible girls do oil-powered: the best skin slicks; Carolyn Asome reveals why we need to listen to our gut more, Catherine Turner does ‘healing waters’ and Jo Fairley does her must-visit spa destinations. I hope you enjoy reading them. And if you want to know why there hasn’t been a ‘Gill meets’ for heaven only knows how long, it’s because I have been chained to my computer and/or my office, so I haven’t met anybody. OMG, I am so incredibly stupid, I should do Gill meets Wayne Goss; I have literally just thought of that as I’m writing this. Leave it with me!
Healing Waters; Why We All Need To Listen To Our Gut More; Striking Oils The New Argan And Other Oils; Jo’s Favourite UK Spa’s

One last piece of news; it is NIOD’s second birthday next month. In some ways it seems that NIOD has always been with us, yet in other ways I can vividly remember the day we launched NIOD (globally, Brandon, globally!!). I know that many of you think we have abandoned or forgotten about NIOD because of The Ordinary, but I absolutely promise you we haven’t. Two very different missions, two very different energies and NIOD is, and will always be, so very special.

More of course on the May newsletter, but until then, and together with Shabir and the VH Team, I thank you for your ongoing loyalty and support.

I hope you have a wonderful April, if you are travelling, be safe.

With love

Gill x

Foods To Lift Your Mood


Neuroscientist and leadership coach Dr Tara Swart, who is conducting a year-long study on mental resilience among selected staff and guests at London’s Corinthia Hotel, emphasises the information superhighway between your gut and mood. Around 90 per cent of the body’s serotonin, the mood-balancing neurotransmitter, is found in the gut. So, as mental health charity Mind (mind.org.uk) suggests, eating food to balance gut bacteria (eg, live yoghurt, fruit, vegetables and whole grains) is vital. Research has also shown that people who took a probiotic supplement for a month experienced fewer negative thoughts. Pharmacist Shabir Daya recommends Florassist Mood, which contains two probiotic strains shown to influence gut-nervous system signalling, with positive effects on mood.

Omega-3 fats, found in oily fish, nuts, seeds and leafy vegetables, are also an essential brain food, says Dr Swart. She also says that stress causes the vital mineral magnesium to leech from our bodies, so advises clients to take a supplement. Shabir Daya suggests Solgar Wild Alaskan Full Spectrum Omega and Neuro-Mag.


Happiness describes a lovely state of mind that we all want, but sometimes feel is out of reach. Feeling happy is both about experiencing an ongoing state of contentment with your life (and coping with bad things when they happen), and exulting in moments of joy. With both of these, there are factors you can influence positively.

When mother of two Nicola Elliott, 38, found that her life as a ‘crazy, 60-hour-a-week’ magazine journalist was making her constantly anxious and putting her wellbeing in jeopardy, she retrained as an aromatherapist and nutritionist.

‘I was surrounded by other women who were stressed, sleeping badly and had plummeting energy,’ says Nicola. ‘So I began creating pure essential-oil blends and tinctures to help us all. The most popular one was called Tranquillity, which I made for my sister who was having trouble sleeping.’ Those kitchen-table products led to Nicola and business partner Oliver Mennell launching Neom Organics in 2005 with the aim of helping people to manage their wellbeing.

Last year, Neom created The Happiness Programme. As well as its Scent to Make You Happy range (from candles and bath products to the Mood Lifting On The Go Mist, much appreciated by my colleagues), it has now created The Guide To Happiness ebook. Written by Neom’s wellbeing experts, it provides bitesize but well-researched information and practical tips on everything from psychology and diet to mindfulness and meditation. It is really impressive and helpful. (See right for Nicola’s mood-boosting tips.)

To give YOU readers a flying start to the New Year, Neom is offering a free Nourish, Breathe & Smile Hand Balm, worth £15, to the first 250 readers to register on neomorganics.com/youhappy. In addition, Neom is offering a 20 per cent discount on all products, plus a free The Guide to Happiness ebook for every reader. To get your exclusive discount code and free ebook download, visit neomorganics.com/youhappy*.


Get plenty of fresh air every day. It’s sometimes hard to leave your desk, but try to nip out, even if it’s only for 15 minutes.

Turn off all tech at allotted times each day. I try to do this between 5.30pm and 7.30pm, so that I can give my children my full attention.

Phone a friend. If you’re time-poor, it’s easy to use social media as your default communication mode. Actually talking to my friends and family makes me feel happy.

Choose exercise you enjoy – that’s swimming and running for me – and do it for your mind as well as your thighs. Exercise triggers brain chemicals that dull pain, lighten mood and relieve stress.

Make time to do something just for you, whether that’s reading (I’m a total bookworm), listening to music, lying in a scented bath, walking in a green space or simply daydreaming.

High Blood Pressure


High blood pressure is a common concern as we begin to age. The term ‘silent killer’ describes high blood pressure well because unless you know what the symptoms of high blood pressure are, you would not necessarily know that you actually have high blood pressure. Medically high blood pressure is known as hypertension and it is a serious concern which leads to thousands of deaths every year from heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. Yet most of us do not get our blood pressure monitored frequently until the disease sets in or worse when a complication arises.

Blood pressure readings

Knowing your blood pressure reading is important regardless of how you feel physically and this should be carried out frequently in order to ascertain whether you suffer from this or not. Blood pressure is simply the force of your blood flow pounding against the arteries. The higher the pressure, the greater the chance of damaging the arteries leading to complications.

Blood pressure readings include systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure and are a series of numbers. Systolic pressure is the blood pressure when the heart is pumping blood and diastolic pressure is the resting pressure on the walls of arteries in between the heart beats. The normal reading for blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg. High blood pressure is considered to be prevalent when the readings are consistently around 140/90 mmHg. When blood pressure is elevated consistently, the heart is having to work harder in order to force blood around the body.

Symptoms of high blood pressure

Generally, there are no major symptoms for high blood pressure, which is why it is often referred to as a ‘silent killer’. This is one of the main reasons why I recommend checking your blood pressure regularly. If your blood pressure is very high, then the following symptoms may become apparent:

  • vision problems, especially blurred vision, often arising as a result of burst blood vessels in the eyes
  • severe headaches
  • pain in the chest area
  • breathing problems
  • blood in urine
  • a heartbeat that feels irregular

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you must see your doctor as soon as possible. The complications of high blood pressure can be life threatening and include heart failure, the possibility of stroke and kidney disease.

Causes of high blood pressure

High blood pressure is preventable to a large extent. Aside from the ageing factor, the following is a list of causes which can be addressed.

Stress plays a role in high blood pressure; short term stress increases blood pressure which then reverts back to normal but ongoing stress results in the production of hormones which constrict blood vessels so that the heart is burdened with having to force blood through the circulatory system.

Lack of exercise is another important factor since exercise strengthens the heart muscle tissue. Additionally, lack of exercise may lead to weight gain which would put the heart under pressure to pump blood around the body.

A healthy diet is equally important. Reducing fat, alcohol and salt consumption will help to keep the heart healthy and able to support circulation easily.

These are some of the major causal factors which influence blood pressure in the body.

A natural remedy to support the heart

There are a number of herbs which are reported to be of benefit to the heart including Hawthorn and the Indian herb Arjuna. These type of herbs are often termed cardiotonics because they have the ability to enhance the contraction phase of the heart, which means that more blood is pumped around the body. In effect they are a tonic for the heart.

Hawthorn has been used for many years as a heart tonic, being able to improve the efficiency of the pumping action of the heart. It does so by increasing blood flow in the coronary arteries which are the ones that supply blood to the heart muscle tissue. Hawthorn extracts contain a range of biological compounds including flavonoids and polyphenols such as oligomeric procyanidins. Several studies indicate that hawthorn extracts have multiple actions on the heart including strengthening and toning the heart muscle. Additionally, its source of procyanidins, powerful antioxidants, may help prevent the oxidation of fats which normally leads to their deposition onto the arteries. Deposition of fats onto arteries leads to the furring up of arteries and puts a burden on the heart to pump blood around.

Arjuna is a medicinal plant that has widely been used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. Although Arjuna has a wide variety of benefits, its greatest use is as a cardiotonic herb to protect the heart and act as a heart tonic. Arjuna’s heart protecting properties include its ability to reduce arterial plaque formation, reduce total cholesterol, reduce LDL cholesterol and raises protective HDL cholesterol.

The combination of Hawthorn with Arjuna is available in a supplement by Life Extension namely Cardio Peak with Standardized Hawthorn and Arjuna. The varying benefits of the individual herbs means that Cardio Peak is likely to help protect against most of the concerns associated with the heart whether it is high blood pressure, plaque formation, restricted blood flow to the heart, higher levels of bad cholesterol or simply an ageing heart.

Cardio Peak with Standardized Hawthorn and Arjuna offers real hope in the fight against the multiple concerns that lead to heart disease.

Why We All Need To Listen To Our Gut More


Austria’s Mayr and Vivamayr clinics, which specialise in gut health, have proved divisive. Some are sceptical of the draconian measures which dictate that for the duration of your stay you should chew on (slightly stale) spelt bread (forty times per morsel) and “eat” rather than drink the evening herbal teas. It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted but after visiting the original F.X Clinic on the shores of Lake Worthersee ten years ago, I vowed to return every year.

What I loved was at the heart of it all was a philosophy that was steeped not in gobbledy gook or new fangled health ideas, but the sort of wisdom or common sense that has travelled down generations.

The science bit goes something like this: Dr Franz Xaver Mayr (1875-1965) concluded that a healthy bowel was the key to good health and beauty.

Not only did he believe in daily moderate exercise and fad-free home cooking eaten at regular times during the day (the smallest of which should be eaten in the evening) but most of all he believed that you should chew. Lots.

An early student of the digestive system, decades before an entire publishing industry focusing on the gut was invented, Dr. Mayr believed you should chew every morsel that you ate at least 40 times.

Even liquids, went his thinking, should be swished around your mouth before being swallowed. This is because saliva with its digestive enzymes breaks down the food in the mouth, easing the burden on our stomach. The toxins that accumulate in the bowel as a result of a poor diet and bad habits not only impair the digestive system but eventually your whole body.

It’s a way of eating which echoes the sort of advice your Granny might have given you: don’t eat plates piled high with over-processed, microwaved convenience food but to eat simple, homemade fare that was to be chewed properly and to follow the adage “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper”.

And boy was it an enormous eye opener. It made me realise how much we over-eat because once you start really chewing, not only do you really taste every bit of food (by the way, those Kettle chips taste pretty rank after 40 chews) but you also eat less as there a) isn’t enough time and b) you feel fuller sooner.  What was also surprising was how quickly I began to notice the benefits on my digestive system, and in turn my skin and energy levels. Which gets me in a rather long-winded way to the point of this piece.

Because that is precisely when I started listening to my gut. I haven’t always done it since, but feeling less bloated and blocked, or eliminating that ‘icky’ feeling has certainly encouraged me to do so more.

And the best thing: once you start doing it, the better you become at truly listening to it.  I can’t count the number of times my gut has won out over rational logic.

Most of us have experienced the sense of knowing things before we know them, even if we can’t explain how. You hesitate at a green light and miss getting hit by a speeding truck. You decide on a whim perhaps to break your no-blind-dates rule and end up meeting your life partner.

You have a hunch that you should invest in a little online startup and it becomes Amazon.

Your intuition is often so much more powerful than taking advice from someone else. Often it is even more powerful than rational logic.

Some scientists say that you can “feel” approaching events specifically thanks to your dopamine neurons. “The jitters of dopamine help keep track of reality, alerting us to those subtle patterns that we can’t consciously detect, such as if there is something in our environment which is slightly irregular — the speed of an approaching truck, the slightly unusual behavior of someone at a party — your brain squirts dopamine and you get that “weird” feeling. Whether you pay attention or not can make all the difference. But living more intuitively also demands that we live more in the moment which makes for a far richer life.

So how do you choose which gut feelings to trust? Some pyschologists suggest it’s a matter of combining linear mind and intuition and striking the right balance between gut instinct and rational thinking.

Ronald A. Alexander, PhD, a psychologist and mindfulness expert, also recommends paying close attention to any sudden physical sensations you experience during the course of an interaction. He recounts a story of traveling in India where he decided not to get in a cab because of a “burning sensation” in his gut, and he later saw the driver being arrested in the train station for suspected robbery. He says he typically feels intuitions in his chest or his stomach; the latter is relatively common given that the intestines house the enteric nervous system, sometimes called the “second brain.” That second brain really is the intuitive brain.

Most people have a great “I just knew it was right” story. There’s a reason most of us have memorable stories about the biggest and best decisions we make in life as they’re typically remarkable for their absence of over-thinking.

When your intuition signals that you’ve found something or someone truly right for you, the choice often becomes strangely easy. “It feels healthy; it feels good; it doesn’t feel like you’re forcing it, there’s not a lot of conflict.

So why is gut instinct so valuable? It is priceless primarily because it’s exponentially faster than your logical mind. The speed of instinct is another one of the reasons body language is such an accurate marker—the body responds to stimulus within a 10th of a second and reacts with visible signals of dislike, lying, etc., that are difficult or even impossible to hide.

Jo’s Favourite UK Spa’s


If I wanted to, I could probably swan from one spa to another, doing ‘research’ as a beauty editor. Irony is, much as I’d love to do that, I have precious little time for treatments of any kind (even though my shoulders need unkinking and my jaw de-stressing as much as the next person). So it really matters to me that a spa visit has to be exceptional – because otherwise, I can think of a gazillion things I’d rather be doing with my time. And indeed, I’ve been known to leap off the couch mid-way through an ineffectual massage or facial, make my apologies, and skidaddle. Life’s too short to lie with my face in a be-towelled couch-hole, festering at the therapist’s not-much-more-than-a-tickle effleurage.

At the following destinations, however, I’ve experienced the not-so-minor-miracle (for me) of truly switching off. They’re all places I’d be happy to return to – and for me, there’s no greater accolade.

Gaia Spa at Boringdon Hall (Devon). Gaia Spa opened last summer and is as modern as it gets – but at the same time, it’s a real nod to nature. I’d call the whole vibe ‘eco-glam’ – not a wind chime in sight. Instead, gorgeous fabrics, stunning artworks and sculpture, properly spa-like soothing sounds – and who isn’t going to fall in love with a spa that serves éclairs in its Spatisserie…? Everything is beautiful – not least the treatments themselves. Alongside ESPA treatments but also an entire programme of massages, facials etc. using Gaia Spa‘s own range of very impressive products. I enjoyed – truly enjoyed – the Gaia Spa Holistic Spa Ritual, which blends Balinese and Lomi Lomi techniques (long, smooth movements to release tension, as deep or as light as suits you). The body is exfoliated, followed by a not-too-messy application of re-mineralising Gaia mud, showered off before a choice of Gaia Spa oil blends – I went for Uplifting – is massaged into skin for what feels, blissfully, like ages. (This is a two-hour ritual.) There’s a facial as a finale but to be honest, I can’t remember a thing about that because by now I was away with the fairies who no doubt occupy nearby Dartmoor. There are lots of facilities and restful areas to take advantage of after a treatment – the salt crystal room, chill-out area around the pool (you can swim outside or in), etc. I took the cake option.
Gaia Spa at Boringdon Hall/01752-344455 gaiaboringdon.co.uk

Bodysgallen Hall (Wales). This isn’t on the way to anywhere – unless you’re touring Snowdonia or en route Holyhead for the ferry to Ireland. But it’s worth a pilgrimage. The multi-award-winning Spa itself is tucked away a couple of hundred yards’ walk from the historic National Trust hotel, in a low-built stone conversion. A crackling log fire flanked by inviting chairs greeted me on a winter’s day – and the welcome is equally warm. The spa changing room leads onto a long indoor heated swimming pool, where it’s also possible to lounge between treatments, though I didn’t have time to do much more than slip on a robe and head for a massage, alas. Darphin is the main brand featured on the treatment menu (along with Jessica manicures/pedicures, XEN-Tan and CACI if your face is in need of a bit of gravity-defiance). I often find spa rituals over-fussy when what we really want is someone’s fingers and thumbs working on ‘computer knots’, so I opted for a Deep Rebalancing Massage (which is a very reasonable £60). Mine was a true, gifted therapist rather than a beautician who’s turning her hand to occasional massages (which is the case in too many spas to mention). The hour in the treatment room, with its very comfortable bed, went all-too-quickly.
Bodysgallen Hall, The Royal Welsh Way, Llandudno, North Wales, LL30 1RS/01492-584466 bodysgallen.com

Uniquely Organic EcoSpa (Brighton). Organic spas are few and far between, but even if you’re not a card-carrying member of the Green party, this Hove-based spa is a wonderful place to chill. They stock only organic ranges: Balm Balm, Pinks Boutique and Living Nature feature. Furniture is Fairtrade, and eco-paints have been used in the decor. The staff are not only extremely competent, technically, but they really do tune into the treatment, rather than just going through the motions; founder Kirsty Taylor graduated with a BSc in cosmetic science but went down the natural beauty route after writing her final dissertation on organic cosmetics, and finding her passion in life. The particular treatment that I wallowed in was the fab Pinks Boutique Eco-Chic Facial, £60 for one hour, which incorporates this all-organic range’s cleanser, gentle exfoliator and and facial oil in a really hands-on treatment that totally zaps facial tension, but also gets right into those knotty bits in the shoulders. This is truly guilt-free pampering, and writing this has reminded me to check out the menu again, head to Brighton – just an hour along the coast from my house – and check in for the Muladara (Root Chakra) Ayurvedic treatment, designed to promote a sense of stillness, which I’d put on my spa wishlist.
Uniquely Organic EcoSpa, 40 Church Road, Hove, East Sussex, BN3 2FN/01273-726973 uoecospa.com

Aromatherapy Associates Boutique & Treatment Rooms. I’ve said it before – and I’ll almost certainly say it again. (And again.) When it comes to mood-shifting, no oils have the power of Aromatherapy Associates to lift me up or waft me off to the land of Nod. (Fact: my No. 1 desert island must-have is Deep Relax Bath & Shower Oil.) Their treatments, of course, are widely available – but my favourite AA ‘branch’ is the flagship store and treatment destination in Knightsbridge. Upstairs, you’ll find the whole range of oils, skincare and bodycare, beautifully showcased. You can experience mini-treatments, or learn by smelling the essential oils in their ‘raw’ form. But downstairs, heaven truly beckons: boutique-hotel-style treatment rooms where you can enjoy facials or body treatments. My favourite is quite simple: a 90-minute City Stress Buster, which does just what it says on the tin (or rather, glass bottle), promising help with disturbed sleep and exhaustion. Therapists are world-class. And at this stage in my life, I’d rather pay a little extra and be assured of that.
Aromatherapy Associates Boutique & Treatment Rooms, 5 Montpelier Street, London SW7 1EZ/020-7838 1117

Margaret Dabbs Sole Spa at SpaceNK. This is one treatment that I do carve time out of my diary for once every four weeks or so, to have hooves shaved, nails buffed, calves massaged – and the finishing touch: a glossy, longlasting polish. (Although that’s booked separately: the podiatrists don’t varnish.) And the more comfy my feet are, the further I walk. Therefore: a medi-pedi isn’t an indulgence, it’s a health necessity. There’s a lovely new setting in which to enjoy these treatments – and the full range of Margaret Dabbs podiatry services, which also include lasering, orthotics and all the really serious foot stuff, tucked away at the back of the vast SpaceNK Apothecary on Westbourne Grove. All the podiatrists are fantastic at what they do – and treatment products came from Margaret’s fab, Beauty Bible Award-winning range which you can of course find on VH. I honestly can’t recommend too highly that if medical pedicures aren’t on your maintenance list, you experience one for yourself. I’d much rather spend money on my actual feet than on endless pairs of new shoes. I’ve said it before, we will definitely say it again: happy feet make a happy woman – which makes all of Margaret Dabbs‘s salons is positive temples to joy.
Margaret Dabbs Notting Hill 127-131 Westbourne Grove, W2 4UP/020-7486 0620 to book (NB this covers all the spas, so be sure to specify New Cavendish Street, Liberty or Westbourne Grove)


Healing Waters


We all know that water is essential to life – and these days so much is made of staying hydrated. it does make sense when you think that the average adult is 65% water, and that it is a huge multi-tasker in the the body. It’s a building block for cells; helps to regulate internal temperature and the metabolism; it’s a primary component of saliva (where digestion begins); lubricates joints and helps to flush out waste via the kidneys. So no wonder the big wellness mantra of our time continues to be ‘drink more water’.

However, it’s the one health habit I personally struggle with, hence I use all kinds of ways to trick myself into drinking more. In the winter it’s hot water with lemon, and lots of herbal teas; summer, it’s room temperature with fresh cucumber and or mint. Sometimes I’ll add a little food grade rose water to my glass when I need a general pick-me-up. And though I know some might dismiss the idea of buying bottled waters, and most of the time, I’d agree it’s not the most sustainable thing in the world. And yet a good bottled mineral water tastes way better than tap to me, so I sometimes indulge (maybe even with a bit of fizz!).

Recently, I’ve been sipping on a whole host of new health waters. Having drunk my way through the coconut water fad, I was a little sceptical when I first heard about Birch water until a Lithuanian friend of mine told me it has been used for centuries in her country as a tonic in spring to revive after a long winter (likewise in Russia and Nordic countries). When I tasted it, I was surprised how much I loved it – kind of sweet/sour, a little bit medicinal yet very restorative and refreshing. Much more so than plain water. Maybe it’s no coincidence I’ve always loved silver birch trees, so being able to imbibe a bit of their goodness and beauty makes sense – and especially refreshing right now as spring gets into full swing.

Apparently, the sap is literally ‘tapped’ from the bark of silver birch trees as it rises full of nutrients post winter, and its sweetness comes from naturally occurring xylitol. The brand Sibberi blend theirs from birch tree forests in Finland, Latvia and Lithuania. They’ve now introduced Maple Water which has less sugar than coconut water, and Bamboo Water which contains silica renowned for its ability to boost skins natural glow. Tapped use Finnish birch sap in their collection which includes a deliciously delicate traditional Scandi berry flavour called Wild Bilberry & Wild Lingonberry.

Alongside hipster tree waters, you can now also sip in the power of flowers. Many of us are familiar with Bach Flower Rescue Remedy, created in the 1930‘s by Dr Edward Bach who is credited for modernising this ancient practice used in many traditional cultures throughout the world, including Australian bushmen and Native Americans. The method captures the energy, emotion and healing properties of flowers in bloom by floating them in water and allowing sunlight to help the goodness diffuse.

I’ve always been a big fan of sprays you can use in the atmosphere and drops to ingest and now a company called Conscious Water have made little concentrated sachets of flower essences you can drop into plain water so you can drink in the benefits. The packaging is a real delight – Japanese in detail – the box even contains mini wooden stirrers to mix in your essence. There are six flavours – my favourites are happiness which has a brightness I reach for to elevate my mood. It contains Purple Magnolia which heightens the senses, and Snowdrop which helps to boost enthusiasm. Also clarity on deadline days – it has Blue Lupin for focus and makes knuckling down to work a little smoother. The Variety Pack is well worth getting to try them all.

So now there’s no excuse for me – or any of us – miss out on our 6-8 glasses a day.