Guest Appearances

What Do Vitamins Actually Do For Our Skin?

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Vitamins are some of the most frequently touted ingredients in skincare. Hailed for overhauling tired skin and giving our complexions a much-needed boost, vitamins have infiltrated our face creams and serums. We know they can deliver skin-boosting results, but you wouldn’t be alone if you’re still not entirely au fait with what vitamin A does compared to vitamin C and whether you should always use vitamin E. Read More…

The Bar Of Soap Is Back, And Here’s Why

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Despite having been around for centuries, traditional bar soap has had a rough ride in recent years, continually slipping down the popularity scale in the cleansing world thanks to the introduction of its liquid, foam, gel and waterless counterparts. However, according to research by consumer insights company, Kantar Worldpanel, sales of classic bar soap rose for the first time in years in 2018, with a three per cent increase nationally since 2017. That’s right, the OG cleansing method has come back into the limelight and back into our bathrooms.

Fortunately bar soaps have become a little more sophisticated while we’ve had our eye on the sparklier alternatives. Forget the shrivelled, unloved husks of the past, or the retro, shell-shaped cakes that seem to reside in the home of every grandmother. The new school of soaps offer a fresh upgrade on the musty-smelling, pastel bars of old. It’s out with filler ingredients and overly drying chemicals, and in with skin-loving oils, clarifying muds and heavenly-scented natural extracts.

Take Dead Sea Spa Magik’s Black Mud Soap, which owes its inky hue to pH-balancing mud sourced from the Dead Sea, making it perfect for sensitised skin on both face and body. Or Soapsmith’s delicious-smelling bars, each hand-made in London and inspired by the city’s streets and boroughs (Baker Street, with its almond, honey and goat’s milk blend, is particularly addictive). The scents are modern and fresh, the packaging is chic and they make perfect gifts – ones that will actually get used, rather than languishing in the back of a drawer like the soaps your distant relatives used to give you for Christmas. There’s something undeniably satisfying about the unwrapping of a smooth, box-fresh bar, and the fragrant, deep-cleansing lather it creates when it comes into contact with water.

But the prettier upgrade is not the only reason soap is back in the spotlight. With many of us keen to cut back on excess packaging, bar soaps offer a much more eco-friendly route to keeping ourselves clean. Instead of the bulky bottles and unrecyclable pumps of liquid soaps, the best bar soaps are made from naturally-sourced ingredients and packaged in no more than a printed paper wrap, cutting out unnecessary waste almost completely. Market intelligence agency Mintel highlighted plastic-free packaging as one of the key packaging trends for 2019, giving bar soap the upper hand in the world of bubbles and lather. And whilst hand and body soaps are perhaps the most ubiquitous, effective bar cleansers for face and even hair look set to trend too as we all wake up to the endless bottles, jars and tubes involved in our everyday beauty routines and consider where it’s possible to cut back.

And that more conscious approach goes for the formulations too. Those keen to remove potentially worrying chemicals and preservatives from their beauty routines might find solace in bar soaps, which use fats such as olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil as their base. These fats have the added benefit of providing excellent nourishment for the skin, cleansing gently and effectively as well as supporting skin’s natural oil barrier.

Which brings us to the power of soap as the ultimate all-rounder. Take Dr. Bronner’s All-One Pure-Castile Bar Soap, which is formulated with organic oils and comes in natural scents such as Hemp Rose, Hemp Almond and Hemp Peppermint. Packaged in recycled paper packaging in all colours of the rainbow, it is designed for use on face, hair and body, and is completely vegan. And it costs £4.99. Do you need any more convincing?

Everything You Need to Know About LED Light Therapy

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Light-emitting diode therapy (or LED for short) is nothing new. Having long been used in professional treatments, the benefits of LED for acne-prone, rosacea-ridden, discoloured, dull and ageing skin come with regular use. While this might deliver great results, it has previously been a costly and time-consuming approach in the pursuit for healthy skin.

And thus, the emergence of at-home skincare devices, led by LED treatments in the form of targeted on-the-spot gadgets and full face masks, are becoming popular for consumers who want to maintain the results of in-clinic treatments and the efficacy of carefully curated skincare routines. According to global market researcher Mintel, 41% of beauty consumers use skincare devices to prolong the effects of professional treatments. With better access to information, technological advancements and more transparency from brands, high-performance products are no longer exclusively available in costly facials and specialist clinics. Plus, LED light treatments are the most pain-free facial you can have, with no tingling, side effects or downtime needed. What more could you want?

Here are all your questions about LED light therapy answered:

What are the benefits of LED for the skin?

“LED light emits therapeutic wavelengths of light energy to energise cells,” explains Laura Ferguson and Hannah Measures, co-founders of The Light Salon. In doing so, the light energy stimulates the production of collagen, elastin and antioxidants while improving blood and lymphatic circulation. It’s a treatment that is suitable for all skin types and is designed to be used after cleansing and exfoliating, followed by your serums and moisturiser.

How many different types of LED lights are there and what is the difference between them?

“Different light spectrum penetrates the skin in different depths and has different effects. Red and blue LED light therapy combat numerous issues, including but not limited to, dullness, fine lines and wrinkles, inflammation, redness and swelling. They replenish dermal and epidermal cells, stimulate the natural production of collagen and elastin and speed up the recovery process,” explains Dr Dennis Gross, dermatologist, dermatologic surgeon and founder of Dr. Dennis Gross Dermatology.

Near-infrared light is another option, suiting inflamed skin best as it stimulates the skin’s healing and regeneration process by delivering nutrients and oxygen to problem areas, leaving you with strengthened and brightened skin. If acne is a concern, Ferguson and Measures recommend red light as it has an antiseptic effect on blemishes and reduces inflammation and painful swelling within the spot to help speed up the healing of the area. Impressively, when used together near-infrared and red light are clinically proven to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

What’s the difference between an LED treatment in a clinic and an at home device?

At-home devices don’t have the power of the professional machines used in LED light therapy treatments, but Ferguson and Measures explain that if you use an LED light mask three times a week over a four week period, it delivers the equivalent cumulative dose of light as one salon treatment, if you went once a week for the same period. “Results are instant and long-term and because LED light therapy works on a cellular level, so you leave with a glow, which becomes more pronounced with each treatment. Think of it in terms of a workout – going once is better than not going at all, but if you make an effort to stick to regular sessions, you’ll get great cumulative benefits.”

Why This Technique Is The Best Medicine For New Mums

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As a beauty and wellness editor, I get inundated with hundreds of press releases titled ‘next big wellness trend’. That’s usually when I start to sigh or eye roll. Because, while some new wellness trends are backed by scientific and profound evidence, others, such as ‘weight loss teas’ and the celebrity endorsed ‘vagina steam cleaning’ are not only ludicrous and a waste of time, worryingly, they can negatively impact our health. Read More…

Kevyn Aucoin: The Face Painter

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‘I need you to go to Paris and shoot some beauty with Christy Turlington, Berry Smithers and a new girl we’re trying out called Kate Moss,’ said my Editor-in Chief, Liz Tilberis of Harper’s Bazaar US. I was up against it, having turned in some dud pictures from LA, where it had uncharacteristically rained buckets, the photographer had turned out to be a drug addict and the models, having sat in the Winnebago for two days eating donuts, had all broken out in spots. With that black mark against me I wasn’t exactly about to say no.

And besides, the chance to work with the legendary team of the world’s number one make-up artist Kevyn Aucoin, hair god Sam McKnight and photographic star Steven Klein was a thrill. The pictures and words from that two day shoot in Paris remain one of my favourite pieces of work. Read More…

Endometriosis And Me

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You know that flutter of a feeling you get when something is wrong? An inkling deep down in the pit of your stomach that something isn’t all together copasetic? Groovy in the gastro? Positive in the pelvis? Call it intuition or what you will, there’s something to be said for “knowing” and listening to your own body, trusting your ahem, gut when it comes to your health.

In my case, my “gut feeling” presented itself in my teens. I was late-ish to get my period, at least compared to all my friends. So much so that aged 14 when Aunt Flow finally arrived at school, the boys in my class cheered! From that point on, my period was about as reliable as London’s transport system. Sometimes it would come, sometimes it would arrive twice in one month, and sometimes it would go on strike just for the hell of it.

Coupled with an unreliable period, I was dealt a case of crippling pain whenever said period decided to show up. Now I’ve had a kid, so I can wholeheartedly say, without any hesitation, that I’d rather give birth 10 times over than ever experience those period pains again. It got to the point I was petrified my period would come and worse, that I’d need a number two because boy oh boy, that’s when the sh*t really hit the fan. Oh, and sex a little later in my teens wasn’t much fun either. I mean it never is at that age, but every time it felt like I was losing my virginity all over again and quite frankly no one wants to relive that. Ever.

It’s the early 90s in South Africa and like every good girl I went to see our family gynaecologist – (they literally get passed down through two generations or so let’s just say he’d seen his fair share) and his recommendation was to put me on the contraceptive pill. “To control the periods and manage the pain.” That’s it. No further exploration, no possibility that it could’ve been anything untoward and certainly no mention of the word ‘Endometriosis’.

Fast forward to my early 20s (almost ten years living with chronic pain), I’m now making a life for myself in London with my boyfriend, who would go on to become my husband. It turns out that he doesn’t think holding me whilst I’m doubled over in pain on the toilet is the most romantic start to our relationship, so we started researching. And researching. Everything we read leads us to believe I’m suffering with Endometriosis, a condition in which the layer of tissue that normally covers the inside of the uterus grows outside of it.

But, getting a diagnosis or treatment in those days was incredibly hard. So off we trot to our local GP, armed with all our notes and most importantly, my personal experiences. After a few months, I’m finally diagnosed. “Apologies for the delay to your service, there’s an obstruction on the line”.

With one of the worst cases the consultant had ever seen, I spent the next few years undergoing numerous laparoscopy treatments (a procedure where a laser is inserted through your belly button to burn away scar tissue) having my internal organs separated from each other as a result of years of internal bleeding, which had caused them to fuse together. It turns out I was trying to poop with my bowel attached to my back. I don’t say this to gross you out but, so you understand what a mess it was in there.

At this point, my husband and I were told that the likelihood of me ever conceiving naturally were low. On the flip side, if we did manage to fall pregnant, it was highly likely that after giving birth my endometriosis symptoms would ease off, if not stop entirely.  I was in my mid-twenties, babies were not on the agenda yet, but to be told there’s every chance you may not fall pregnant, ever, is a sucker punch to an already wrecked stomach.

We tried of course. Valiantly took on the challenge until we eventually had to admit defeat a few years later and ask for medical intervention. Throughout the IVF process my thoughts were consumed by first and foremost, a happy, healthy baby and secondly, that this could (bonus) be the end of years and years of chronic pain. Almost eight years later, said baby is indeed happy and healthy and my endometriosis? Well it’s still there, albeit a duller, more bearable throb but enough to remind me of the surgeon’s words as I lay on the delivery table, during an emergency c-section “good grief, it’s a mess in here, a road map of scar tissue”.

Turns out my intuition was right all along and ultimately played itself out as our daughter arrived into the world to the dulcet tones of ACDC’s ‘Highway to Hell’.