How To Soothe And Prevent Insect Bites

Insect Bites

We thought it was coming to an end, but the heatwave is set to last through until August. Water companies have put a proposed hosepipe ban in place for next month and the sales of fans has gone through the roof. While most of us have been enjoying the warmer climate, it has come with some downsides. This week, the NHS revealed that they have received twice the amount of 111 calls regarding insect bites compared to this time last year. Why? The warm, sticky weather is the perfect breeding ground for horse flies, midges, ants, you name it.

“Horseflies like hot weather in general, so they may become more active around breeding sites and farms in hot weather,” Dr Daniel Whitmore of the Natural History Museum’s insect division told the BBC. “Obviously, by wearing fewer clothes in hot weather we expose ourselves to bites more and become more attractive to the flies.”

Usually you feel a bite before you see it. Give an itchy patch 15 to 20 minutes and a hard, red lump tends to develop. Most bites tend to be nothing more than incredibly itchy, unsightly and irritating, but experts have warned that horsefly bites can become infected if not looked after properly.

If you want to prevent insect bites altogether, plan ahead and buy some vitamin B1 supplements. Studies have shown that this particular vitamin acts as a natural repellent by encouraging your skin to produce an odour that puts insects off. Don’t worry though, this smell isn’t detectable by humans. It’s also a non-toxic option to deet sprays. Shabir recommends taking one Vitamin B1 500mg, £21.99 by Solgar Vitamins, every day two weeks before your holiday and while you’re away.

For those who haven’t been as organised and are fed up of being bitten by the pesky insects, look to Mrs White’s Unstung Hero Mosquito Repellent, £20. It’s a non-toxic spray that offers instant protection from midges. To soothe and de-itch existing bites, invest in Thyme Out, £18. This insanely talented tonic helps to soothe insect bites and stings, as well as ease prickly heat and sunburn. It’s a summer essential and belongs in every bathroom cabinet. Plus, it also comes with a complimentary travel spray, so you can put it in your handbag or hand luggage.

Unsurprisingly, the heatwave has also seen a rise in cases of sunburn across the UK. To help ease your sunburn and other issues that arise in the hot weather, read Shabir’s guide to The Most Common Holiday Concerns Solved.

GOW – Causing A Frenzy

Lisa Armstrong: The word-of-mouth affordable beauty brand causing a frenzy in the industry

 

  • GOW Niacinamide

    Remember how excited we all got over science-savvy, budget-friendly The Ordinary? Well, Garden of Wisdom – or GOW as its blossoming herbaceous borders of fans have taken to calling it – is generating the same buzz.

    Like The Ordinary, GOW presents as honest value for money. We’re talking basic packaging and zero marketing. Each product has been formulated with just a few ingredients so that customers can build up an arsenal of potions to target their specific needs, rather than overloading with creams that keep replicating each other’s functions.

    It’s selling purely via word of mouth, which is working a treat because the products do their job without any fuss or silicones and without being tested on animals. Try the 100% Organic Cold-pressed Argan Oil, excellent for softening and protecting all skin types, the Vitamin C 23% Serum + Ferulic Acid, and the bestselling Niacinamide Serum, which regulates oil production, soothes and calms breakouts and encourages the body’s own collagen production. Many products have the ingredients’ strength on the front, the idea being that customers can make informed choices without being given silly promises. And they’re lovely to use, with pleasing textures. I particularly like the Hyaluronic Acid Serum, which is non-sticky and effective.
    Read More…

GOW – Affordable Beauty

Sarah Jossel: Affordable beauty products you need to know about

 

  • GOW Vitamin C 23% Serum & Ferulic Acid

    I’m done with the summer sales. Last night I put five frocks in my basket, just because. The worst was a burgundy appliqué strapless mididress that I almost bought. It had been reduced from £900 to £295. Bargain, right? The site said it was my last chance, so of course I swiftly started to type in my credit-card details, but then I realised I have absolutely nowhere to wear it. I’m sorted for my ten (hundred) summer weddings, so I’m panic buying, not practical buying.

    Sales can make you do silly things. That’s why today’s column is dedicated to affordable and brilliant products: ones that work hard without robbing you of your income, that will last for ages, and will give you results.

    Let’s start with Garden of Wisdom. Ignore the flouncy, fluffy name and the dated green website. This Arizona-based brand, dubbed the natural alternative to the Ordinary, is making a name for itself as the go-to skincare range for powerful ingredients without gimmicks and high prices. (You can see why it’s being compared to the Ordinary.) It’s brilliant for sensitive skins as the ingredient list is tiny. Read More…

Is Sophrology The New Mindfulness?

Sophrology

Mindfulness is a term that has been thrown around for the past few years. While some are well-equipped to meditate for ten minutes a day in a bid to be more present, others struggle to employ rigorous self control after a long day at the office and a yoga class feels more like 60 minutes of torture rather than much needed relaxation. For the latter there is a new approach making waves in the UK and it’s called Sophrology.

While Sophrology might be relatively new to the UK, it has been around for years and is popular across the continent. For some, the mix of visualisation, positive thinking and breathing techniques might still feel a bit too similar to mindfulness practices, but if you’re au fait with a yoga class but haven’t quite mastered the art of meditating this could be worth looking into.

What is Sophrology?

The word Sophrology means the science of consciousness in harmony. Essentially it’s still about connecting with yourself, but it takes a more practical approach with gentle stretches and movement (both sitting and standing), as well as breathing and visualisation techniques. If you nail the philosophy you should find managing your stress levels easier, see an improvement in your sleep patterns and generally feel more confident and self-assured.

How does it differ from traditional mindfulness?

While both methods encourage you to be more in-tune with yourself, Sophrology goes one step further to ensure that your body keeps up with your mind and is just as well maintained. It’s for this reason that people employ the Sophrology method before an important meeting or competition. In Switzerland, senior students are offered sessions in the lead up to their exams to keep anxiety, stress and nerves at bay.

What should you expect from a Sophrology session?

‘Sophrology can be practised in groups or in an individual session with a Sophrologist. After a brief discussion with the clients about what they want to achieve during the session, the Sophrologist will use his or her voice to guide them through a sequence of simple exercises including relaxation, breathing, visualisation and gentle movement,’ explains Dominique Antiglio, author and founder of BeSophro.

Where to start…

First and foremost, you have to work out which issue you want to tackle, be it overcoming nerves for an up-coming work event or generally just lowering your stress levels. There are Sophrology sessions available, but if you’d rather start at-home BeSophro offers online classes and if you can wait until September, Antiglio will be releasing her book to guide you through her 12-step method.

Middle-Aged Brits Are The Most Miserable People In The UK

unhappy_vh

Its been quite a week. What with England failing to make the final of the World Cup after being defeated by Croatia on Wednesday; the unexpected but much appreciated lengthy heatwave beginning to cool off; and the various political tussles that we’re not even going to touch on. It’s not surprising that some of us are feeling a little blue. If you’re aged between 45 and 59 years, this week might have hit you harder than most.

A new survey has revealed that middle-aged Brits are the most miserable, unfulfilled people in the UK. Health is the most common reason for unhappiness among this age group. Those who believe their health is bad are 14 times more likely to be unhappy than those in good health. However, being separated, divorced, unemployed or unhappy in their job and renting rather than owning their home can also play a role.

On the other end of the spectrum, students and those in early retirement are likely to be the most content and if you’re young, educated and married you might just be living your best life.

For the rest of us, here’s a few tips on how to boost your happiness levels…

Move more

Plenty of studies have proved that regular exercise not only improves our health, but also increases our endorphin (happy hormone) levels. This doesn’t mean you have to sign-up to a gruelling, sweaty spin class or hit the gym five times a week, instead find an activity you like and schedule it into your week where you can. Walking, running, swimming, you name it. It could even be a lifestyle change, such as walking to the train station rather than jumping on a bus, or walking up the stairs rather than taking the lift. As long as it raises your heart rate, you’re doing alright.

Look after your gut

Researchers are still exploring the impact our gut has on the rest of our body, but some studies have indicated a link between a healthy functioning gut and our emotional wellbeing. While any good quality probiotic should help promote good bacteria, Florassist Mood by Life Extensions has been specially formulated to help not only rebalance the bacteria in our gut, but also to improve the signalling between our gut and our nervous system.

Make a list

This is particularly useful if you’re feeling unhappy or unfulfilled at work. Making a list of what you like and don’t like, as well as where you’d like to be in the future can help give negative thoughts a constructive twist.

Take time out

For some this might be meditating or partaking in a yoga class, for others it’s binging on trashy TV or reading a book. Taking time for yourself doesn’t have to be virtuous, you just need to switch off from the tensions and dramas of day-to-day life and relax. We recommend investing in Soul Medicine’s Inner Smile Mist to set the tone. Admittedly, this is no mean feat if you have young children, but where possible having a little me-time and checking out can help you relax.

Have a clean-up

There’s the saying ‘tidy home, tidy mind’ and having a good deep clean of your home, desk or car could really help make space in your mind. If you need any more encouragement, it’s also been proven that you sleep better in a tidy bedroom.

In Case Of Emergencies

Black and white health case

With schools breaking up shortly, prep for holiday health with the St John Ambulance Universal Plus First Aid Kit – everything you need for common accidents, plus a first aid leaflet, £16.80 from stjohnsupplies.co.uk. And here are my tried and trusted products for trips near and far:

  • Derma E Hydrating Facial Wipes, £9 for 25: one-stop cleansing and softening wipes, based on plant ingredients; they’re plastic-free and 100 percent compostable with recyclable packaging. Also: Simply Gentle Organic Cotton Buds, £2.25 for 200, with biodegradable stems.
  • Compeed Blister Mix Plasters, £4.39: a must for sore heels, toes or corns. Available nationwide.
  • Sea-Band, £8.74 for a pack of two wristbands to help nausea and vomiting: position the band’s stud on an acupressure point on your inside wrist. For adults and children. Sea-Band Mama! Ginger Lozenges with Folic Acid, £4.60, may help to alleviate morning sickness.
  • Viridian Nutrition Travel Biotic, £24.95 for 30 capsules: contains a probiotic shown to prevent traveller’s diarrhoea and stomach upsets. Take one daily for five days before travelling then during your trip.
  • Dr Scurr’s Zinopin Long Haul, £24.50 for ten capsules (for each return flight): this natural supplement formulated by a consultant surgeon helps reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis and puffy ankles on flights over two hours.
  • De Mamiel Altitude Oil, £28 for 10ml: a blend of antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic herbs to help clear your head and protect your immune system on germ-friendly planes and public transport.
  • Fire Angel Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarm, £24.99: this portable device detects poisonous gas, which has no smell or taste. Inhaling CO can cause chronic ill health. High levels can be deadly, with deaths from faulty appliances recorded in hotels and rentals. (See nhs.uk for symptoms.)
  • Better You Magnesium Gel, £11.95: fast-acting gel for joint and muscle aches and pains or post-flight stiffness.
  • Terranova Avena Sativa & Tart Cherry, £16.80: natural remedy that may help jet lag, tension and insomnia.
  • iS Clinical Sheald Recovery Balm, £43 for 60ml: brilliant for sunburn – a father whose small son was very sunburnt was astonished at its almost instant calming and healing effect. (If you have nothing else, apply cold milk.)

Being ‘hangry’ – hungry and angry – is a real phenomenon, experts agree.
When blood sugar levels drop, you’re more likely to snap at people. Stress related hormones are released along with neuropeptide Y, a chemical that can make people more aggressive. Nutritionist Ian Marber (ianmarber.com) told me many years ago that blood sugar levels start to drop two to three hours after eating, which explained why I would feel faint, shaky and irritable if I didn’t refuel. Ever since then I always carry some nuts in my bag or – a new discovery – a Bounce Protein Energy Ball. These filling, gluten-free, vegetarian bites tide me over nicely. My favourites from the range of 12 are Cacao Mint and Almond, £2 each at Waitrose.


If footwear could win an Oscar, my colleague Rosalind and I would vote for FitFlops, the genius brand pioneered by entrepreneur Marcia Kilgore. Actress Uma Thurman loves them so much she has her own FitFlop Edit, #Forsuperwomen. Like millions of others, we are devotees of these brilliantly designed sandals, shoes and boots, which take you anywhere in style and (hallelujah!) comfort. I wore the Superchic Woven Ballerinas, £90, to a glam dinner and skipped home at the end. Rosalind’s vote goes to the ‘light and airy’ Lulu Mirror Cross Slide Sandals, £59.95. For trotting round town, we’re both wedded to our F-Sporty Uberknit Crystal Sneakers, £89.95 – lace-ups you can pull on. Your feet will thank you. fitflop.com