Exercise Could Help Ease SAD This Winter


Darker mornings and longer evenings mean that a lot of us rarely catch much daylight during the week. According to YouGov, around 29 percent of the UK battle with debilitating SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), while almost two thirds of us feel noticeably less happy during the winter months compared to the summer. The lack of sunlight throughout the colder months can affect your melatonin and serotonin levels, and leave you feeling tired, lethargic, anxious and depressed.  

Spring might feel like a long way away, but if you have suffered with symptoms of SAD previously there are a few tricks you can employ to help lift your mood. Earlier this month, a study highlighted how exercise can help alleviate depression and anxiety. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital looked over data from over 8000 people and concluded that regular exercise can help reduce depressive episodes.

“Our findings strongly suggest that, when it comes to depression, genes are not destiny and that being physically active has the potential to neutralize the added risk of future episodes in individuals who are genetically vulnerable,” says Karmel Choi, PhD, of MGH and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and lead author of the study. “On average, about 35 additional minutes of physical activity each day may help people to reduce their risk and protect against future depression episodes.”

This isn’t the first study to outline the benefits exercise can have on our mood. For years, experts have been championing that well-established idea that working out releases mood-boosting endorphins. What makes this study particularly interesting is that the researchers discovered that both high-intensity activities, such as aerobics and dances, and low-intensity forms, including yoga and stretching, can help reduce your chances of having a depressive episode. In fact, the researchers concluded that by adding four hours of exercise into your week can reduce it by 17 percent.

What does four hours of exercise look like? Well, it could be four hours of cardio in the gym, or a weekly 1.5 hour yoga class paired with 30 minutes of brisk walking five days a week. If that feels like too much of a commitment but SAD is something you’ve struggled with previously, Shabir has a couple of tricks to help, including two fast-acting supplements – read more, here.

Why Health Experts Want Us All To Start Running


We are all well-versed in the benefits of exercising – even if most of us don’t workout nearly enough. There are endless studies highlighting why exercise is so good for us. Earlier this year, researchers at Columbia University discovered that a hormone (irisin) which is produced during exercise could help protect the neurons in our brain from Alzheimer’s, while scientists at the Queen Mary University of London found that working out can help prevent the breakdown of cartilage caused by osteoarthritis. 

This week, a study honed in on the importance of running. Researchers reviewed data from 14 studies and concluded that any amount of running can help lower your risk of death by 27%. Yes, whether you run once a day, once a week or just a couple of times a week, you will help improve your health. The researchers also highlighted that neither your speed nor your distance mattered either. Although they did conclude: ‘Increased rates of participation in running, regardless of its dose, would probably lead to substantial improvements in population health and longevity.’

This isn’t the first time running has been specifically highlighted by the science community. Last year, Brigham Young University found that running can help improve our brain health. “Exercise is a simple and cost-effective way to eliminate the negative impacts on memory of chronic stress,” the study lead, Jeff Edwards said at the time.

Fitness expert and celebrity trainer, Dalton Wong is an advocate of running: “Running is an excellent and low cost cardiovascular exercise that can be done anywhere. It can be suitable for all fitness levels,” says Wong. “Running outside is also an excellent way to connect with nature. Fresh air and vitamin D is always beneficial to the body.”

So, how can we improve our running game?

Invest in your trainers: To fully support your feet and avoid injury, it is worth investing in a decent pair of running shoes.

Check your gait: Plenty of sport shops offer gait analysis, which will correct any form issues and also help prevent injury. Several places offer video analysis, so you can see on the screen where you’re going wrong. 

Download a running app: If finding the motivation is where you seem to fall short and you don’t have the budget for a personal trainer, download an app. Nike’s Running Club app tracks your runs, offers in-app coaching, celebrates your achievements and allows your friends to tap in and offer encouragement. 

Embrace podcasts: Try listening to a podcast rather than music. Start with a 30 minute one (Joan and Jericha season 2 is equally as funny as the first if you enjoy satire) and build up to an hour long one (Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster or Adam Buxton’s interviews will keep you amused). 

Don’t forget your R&R: There’s nothing worse than enjoying a long, steady run only to wake up feeling sore and stiff two days later. Soaking in a bath of magnesium flakes or massaging Better You’s Magnesium Oil Original Spray into limbs post-run can help ease delayed onset muscle soreness. 

Should We All Be Eating Seasonally?


With most of us becoming increasingly aware of our carbon footprint, eating the fruit and vegetables that are in season is common practice for a lot of households these days. Companies such as Odd Box and Farm Drop have made it effortless with their weekly deliveries of locally sourced produce that supermarkets have rejected due to their peculiar shapes and sizes. 

There are other benefits to eating seasonally too. Speak to almost any nutritionist and dietitian about how to eat a healthy, balanced diet and they’ll recommend you shop seasonally as the food is deemed to be more nutrient rich.

It is also a fundamental pillar of Chinese medicine, as founder of Hayo’u explains: “Chinese wisdom has suggested ways to adjust what we do every season to stay in balance with nature. The amount we sleep, the food we eat and the life choices we make can be gently adjusted to bring us into line with the natural cycle.”

So, what should we be eating?

Root vegetables are very much in season. Think carrots, beetroots and artichokes. “Bone stews, warming casseroles, fresh ginger, turmeric and miso soup paste are all good things to indulge in,” says Brindle. 

It’s definitely time to lay-off the salads as it’s thought that eating too much cold, raw food during the winter can play havoc with your digestion. However, warming, hearty soups and stews packed full of grains, cabbage and root vegetables alongside a cup of ginger tea – cue Triple Leaf Tea’s Ginger Tea – can do wonders for you.

Brindle goes as far as to recommend going no colder than room temperature. “I only eat warm food and definitely no ice in my drinks to avoid unnecessary work for my digestion,” says Brindle. “In Chinese medicine, the stomach is described as a bubbling cauldron, full of digestive fires that are put out by the cold. Any raw food sits undigested in your stomach.”

Will eating seasonally fend off colds and lurgies?

As we mentioned, seasonal produce is thought to be more nutrient dense, however you need to eat a lot of vegetables to ensure you’re maintaining the daily amounts to keep your body at optimum health. Hence why Alive Once Daily Multivitamin by Natures Way are one of the most common supplements Shabir recommends to readers.

If you are prone to catching colds throughout autumn and winter it might be worth introducing Daily Immunity by VH into your routine. With the help of probiotics, zinc, vitamin D and C and astragalus, this daily supplement helps to support your immune system. It’s one of those supplements that you don’t realise is working until you stop taking it and start to feel the glands in your throat.

To learn more about Chinese medicine and eating seasonally, check out Katie Brindle’s book, Yang Sheng: The Art Of Chinese Self Healing

Can Lifestyle Changes Improve Your Fertility?


The ever burgeoning wellness market has taken fertility under its wing over the past year or so. More than a handful of apps that monitor your cycle and deliver daily tips on boosting your fertility have popped up in the App Store. Not to mention a growing number of fertility focused subscription boxes which promise to help you conceive with prenatal vitamins and ovulation tests. 

But, should we be treating fertility as a commodity or take heed from our mothers and make a few lifestyle tweaks? Fertility expert and author of My Fertility Guide: How to get pregnant naturally, Dr Attilio D’Alberto advocates the latter. So, what should we be doing?

Up your vitamin B intake

It’s not uncommon for women to be low in B vitamins, but a deficiency can impact your chances of conceiving. Vitamin B12 is particularly important when it comes to fertility. Dr D’Alberto recommends taking a high does and looking for supplements that contain 50mg of B6 and 1mg of B12. Brands such as Wild Nutrition and VitaBiotics have formulated supplements to help boost your intake of the vital vitamins and nutrients. 

If you want to improve your B12 levels specifically, Shabir regularly recommends investing in Jarrow Formulas Methyl B12 and has written about the supplement, here.

Cut back on your vices

It’s not going to come as much of a surprise, but Dr D’Alberto strongly advocates quitting if you smoke and cutting back on your alcohol in-take. “Drinking two glasses of red wine a week can help your blood, reduce stress levels and regulate hormones,” he says. “But be careful to drink no more than two glasses a week!” If you prefer beer, Dr D’Alberto recommends no more than one or two bottles a week. 

Be mindful of chemicals

“Our bodies are surrounded by numerous chemicals from fragrances in soaps, shampoos and perfumes to make-up and cleaning products as well as nail polish that act like oestrogens,” says Dr D’Alberto. “Unknowingly, we are overdosing on these chemicals, which cause irregular hormone levels in men and women and could result in infertility.” Where possible it is worth switching to natural alternatives, such as PHB Ethical Beauty and opting for fragrance-free formulas.

Monitor your phone time

There is a small amount of research to suggest that the electromagnetic waves from your mobile phone could impact your fertility. It is based on a study that concluded that men who kept their phones in their front pockets had lower sperm levels. However, it should be noted that the men in the study were undergoing fertility treatment. That said, reducing your time spent in front of a screen could help reduce your stress levels and help you get a better night’s sleep, so it’s not a terrible idea.

Get some sleep

Speaking of sleep, everyone can benefit from seven to eight hours of sleep a night, but if you’re hoping to get pregnant, it’s key. “To enhance your fertility, try not to sleep later than 10 p.m. and sleep for seven to eight hours,” says Dr D’Alberto. “It will take  some practice if you’re not used to it, but you’ll notice how much better you will feel for it.” If sleep doesn’t come easily to you, it’s worth looking into Life Extensions Herbal Sleep PM, which helps calm and relax you without involving your hormones. 

While some of these tips might work wonders for you, everyone is different and if you are struggling to conceive we always recommend seeking advice from your doctor. For more information on Dr Attilio D’Alberto, click here.

November Newsletter

Lady with face cream on her face and hands

So this is how it is. I’ve been sitting on this new product launch for so many months now, I figured self-implosion wasn’t too far away. I have been using it since I received the very first sample and all the while I’ve had to keep my mouth shut which, as most of you know, isn’t the easiest thing in the world for me. I’ve avoided writing about some of the skincare products I am currently using because I would feel guilty (think I was born guilty!) by not mentioning it. So what is ‘it’. It’s Fulvic Face Cream, that’s what it is.

And so I welcome you to the November newsletter where we also launch two new products from Dermasuri, a touch of newness from LixirSkin and Shabir takes a look at the supplements you need if you are in your 30s (clearly I’m not!). Wait lists and chaos seem to have played a central role over the last few months, so discover why I’m now laughing about Prickly Pear and what happened when I lobbied, on your behalf, for the retro-return of a product. But first, of course, Fulvic Face Cream; here we go:

Fulvic Face Cream

Load it, I said to Shabir at the beginning of the year. Formulate me a moisturiser and load it with all the ingredients I adore and it has to be perfect (actually beyond perfect if there is such a thing), not only for me, but for each of us. My love of all things Fulvic has been extraordinarily well documented (by me!) and I have been spraying Fulvic Acid on my skin forever, but I wanted more than that. My insatiable gene appeared; it actually lives within as far as products go.

Take it to the limit is what I thought, and now, at last, I have my own Fulvic Face Cream. However tempted I was to call it ‘Gill’s Dream Cream’, I resisted because I didn’t formulate it, Shabir did, and I’m not going to steal his thunder. Poor Shabir. He has at least another five products to formulate for me, but he has his own thoughts on some new products, so I’ll stand in line. Reluctantly.

Anyway, Fulvic Face Cream. Make it luxurious, I said. It is. Let it nourish, hydrate, protect and prime my skin. It does. Cram it full of Ioniplex Fulvic Acid in order that it may deliver vital nutrients, trace minerals and vitamins to my skin cells, all necessary for cell growth and cellular rejuvenation. He did. May it help plump and smooth my skin and please ensure it penetrates into the deepest layers of my skin. Tick, tick and tick. And then please blend the Fulvic, which in and of itself is a powerful antioxidant, with other outstanding ingredients; but with one proviso; Shabir, I said, if you dare add one drop of essential oil into the formulation, I will literally kill you. He didn’t. He’s still breathing.

The other ingredients, in case you need to know, include Hyaluronic Acid, because of its ability to help drench the skin; and then there’s Argan Oil, literally bursting with omega 6 fatty acids, tocopherols and polyphenols, Argan is renowned for helping to brighten toneless, dull-looking skin, so in it went; Vitamin E is added to enhance intense cell regeneration and to also help protect skin from oxidative damage. Also included, Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) also known as Thioctic Acid, another antioxidant, but this one helps reduce swelling, puffiness, redness and those blotchy patches which seem to appear every now and again (go away, please just go!).

And then in a final flourish, Shabir included Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid), which binds to moisture acting as a natural hydrator to help improve the skin’s softness and elasticity. That word ‘elasticity’ sends me. Surely the Nirvana of all skin-related words. CoQ10 makes an appearance too. Another vital antioxidant, it helps to neutralise free radicals from external stressors such as UV rays. As we age, levels of CoQ10 decrease making our skin more susceptible to damage which can result in fine lines and wrinkles; we call it the great repairer.

Three more ingredients to go. Allantoin, Aloe Vera, both having strong soothing qualities and finally Plant-derived Squalane, which helps boost lipid levels in skin (another bouncy elastic skin moment – deep joy) and helps relieve the discomfort of dry, tight skin. So that’s a wrap on the active ingredients.

Fulvic Face Cream is suitable for all skin types, including acne and rosacea-prone skin, and one more thing: so many of you have been taking Ionicell since we launched it; it was our bestselling supplement last year (I think it still is) and little wonder because we all know the vast difference that it makes to the health of our hair, skin and nails. We called it the next-generation hair, skin and nail supplement when we launched it. We don’t think anything in that genre comes close. So hand in hand they go. Fulvic Face Cream and Ionicell.

So could Fulvic Face Cream be the love of my life (product wise) right now, yes I think so because it’s everything and more that a girl could ask and wish for. Has my skin changed, yes it has in a way I didn’t think was possible, but actually I can’t be wholly monogamous here, because I have never, ever used a serum that performs in the way that Neurophroline does for taking the stress out of my skin. So for several months I have been using Neurophroline and Fulvic Face Cream together, morning and night. And I want to sing. And I want to dance. And I invite you to join me. Shabir, I thank you for both formulations. Proud moment. Spread.
Fulvic Face Cream by Ful.Vic.Health £30 for 60 ml; Ionicell £20 for 60 VegiCaps; Neurophroline Serum £18 for 30 ml

Deep Exfoliating Back Scrub by Dermasuri

Many of you will remember when we launched the Dermasuri Deep Exfoliating Body Mitt several years ago. It had a rather big moment then and actually it continues to have several moments basically because it’s rather fabulous. And now the Dermasuri Deep Exfoliating Back Scrub, which I knew I would adore even before it arrived. And I do. I do. With all the best will in the world, I have tested numerous back brushes, some are great, but they don’t possess the ‘satisfaction factor’. This does.

Made with a unique fabric texture, the back scrub visibly removes surface layers of build-up and dead skin instantly. Super-wide and super-long, it is the easiest thing in the world to use on your back, most especially on those hard-to-reach areas as it has ‘straps’ on both ends so you can exfoliate to your heart’s content.

I know I’m sad, but the very thought of rolling away dead skin cells thrills me. Take it into the shower with you and when you have finished turn the shower off, squeeze excess water from the back scrub and go for it, but don’t use it with soap, you don’t need to. For optimal results use horizontal side-to-side motions. Apply pressure by pulling handles away from your body. But it’s not only about the dead skin cells falling onto the shower floor, it helps increase circulation too, which is a rather good thing from a health perspective. If you want to know more, then speak to Jo or Natalie in our customer care team. They ‘stole’ the samples I stashed under my desk. Is nothing sacred!
Deep Exfoliating Back Scrub by Dermasuri £25

Deep Exfoliating Face Mitt

Peak excitement as I write about the second new Dermasuri product. If my bathroom could talk (thankfully it can’t), it would tell you that I was screeching with delight when I was testing this. As I wrote on the last newsletter, it’s always the small things in life that excite me and this small thing does just that. Made of the same unique fabric texture as the Back Scrub, this also removes dry skin instantly, while massaging and stimulating your skin. It also helps remove make-up residue, helps reduce blackheads, reduces pore visibility and prepares your skin to absorb serums and moisturisers in an efficacious way.

You need to use it damp and whilst you shouldn’t use it with soap, you can use it with a cleanser as a daily wash. My preference is to use it damp, without product (all the while looking how many dead skin cells fall into the sink) and once or twice a week I follow through with Pore Cleaning Powder (aka Miracle Powder). And very happy I am. For best results use it in circular movements. Buff. Cleanse. Exfoliate. Look-in-the-mirror. Don’t fall over.
Deep Exfoliating Face Mitt £15; Pore Cleaning Powder by GoW for VH £12 for 50 grams

The Uprising – Miracle Lotion

Let me set the scene. Since the beginning of VH time we have all loved Miracle Lotion. The packaging was dire, so dire that it could be kitsch (that waterfall!), but never mind that, it lived up to its name and it did actually perform miracles on dry skin. Everybody I know hid it in their bathroom somewhere, including many beauty editors, but it was our secret weapon for crocodile skin and it had its own unique fragrance, which was often the subject of discussion; it was a love/hate thing, but mostly love. And then calamity.

For some unknown reason, the formulation changed and the packaging changed too. I wrote on the newsletter at that time that I just couldn’t understand what on earth the manufacturers were thinking because the container (for want of a better word) looked like a bottle of weed killer and I can’t even bring myself to write about the wording on the front. Let’s just say I had a virtual heart attack when I saw it, as did so many of you.

And then the pleading emails started to roll in. The uprising had begun, it was very real and, on your behalf, we started to lobby for the return of the original Miracle Lotion. And we’ve won. Glory hallelujah, the original Miracle Lotion is now back where it belongs and so let us sing together the VH mantra: ‘We Shall Not Be Moved’. (More singing soon).
Miracle Lotion £16 for 237 ml

Supplements To Take In Your 30s

Through the decades we go and this month Shabir takes a look at the supplements you may need if you are in your 30s. This is of course an overview, but the subjects covered include the importance of food-state vitamins, PMS, anxiety, fertility and anaemia. Probiotics are of course a given, in our opinion, for all ages. Check it out.
VH Editorial: Supplements To Take In Your 30s; Alive Once Daily Multivitamin Ultra Potency £29 for 60 Tablets

Over We Go – Supplement Change

Over the years, as many of you know, I have often said we are changing supplements. This mostly happens when further research dictates that what we believe to be best-in-class at that time, gets superseded with an even better best-in-class. Such is the case with Super Bio-Curcumin, which has now been superseded with Curcumin Elite.

By way of background, curcumin is impressing scientists around the world with its remarkable multiple health benefits. Curcumin is a polyphenol present in the spice turmeric and was first used, it is thought, over 3000 years ago in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. Modern science has found that curcumin has many remarkable properties and has also been found to help increase detoxifying enzymes and help promote healthy DNA function.

So Curcumin Elite it is then as I tell you that Curcumin Elite is absorbed 270 x more than conventional curcumin supplements and delivers 45 x more free-curcuminoids, which in short increases benefits for the heart, joints, mind and the immune system. Powerful stuff.
VH Editorial: Turmeric – The Spice With Health Benefits; Curcumin Elite by Life Extension £29.50 for 60 Capsules

Getting Rid Of A Cold Quickly

When you catch a cold, it is very natural to want to get rid of it fast. The average duration of a cold is between four and seven days and this all depends on the strength of your immune system and how quickly it can respond. The most common viruses for a cold are rhinovirus and corona virus, although there are around two hundred types of viruses which may cause a common cold.

In his article, Shabir takes a look at the products that he believes should be kept in your medicine cabinet if you succumb. That said, we both believe prevention is better than cure and for that Shabir recommends taking Daily Immunity, which continues to support so many of you through the most vulnerable months. This isn’t on his article, but I also have something to say, so I will say it! I strongly believe that Fulvic Acid Elixir also helps hugely in the immunity stakes. Over the many years of taking Fulvic, I can’t remember when I last had a cold and so many of you tell me the same thing. There are several reasons why I can’t (and won’t) live without Fulvic, and this is just one of them.
VH Editorial: Getting Rid Of A Cold Quickly; Daily Immunity £26 for 60 Capsules; Fulvic Acid Elixir £30 for 480 ml

Prickly Pear Seed Oil – The Update

Aside from the fact that I’m wishing I had a Prickly Pear farm, actually probably a co-operative shared between all of us would be good, the story and the wait list continues.

Our biggest hurdle was getting over the first three days of ordering; the task was monumental, but we’ve done it. It seems pretty incredulous that I’m on the November newsletter talking about orders placed in August, but that’s the reality of the situation and as I’m writing this I know of at least three more consignments, which are scheduled to arrive over the coming days, all things being equal, which may well mean we are getting closer to smashing our way through the ongoing wait list.

One of the reasons the wait list is ongoing is because, taking their lead from Nigella’s article in The Sunday Times, various publications decided to run the story and I can absolutely assure you that I didn’t send out a press release about this to the world. And on top of this, the re-ordering of Prickly Pear is extraordinarily high; I have a mountain of emails extolling the virtues of the oil and Nigella of course, from the people who were amongst the first to order.

You would think that I would be stressed out of my head, but I’m not, I’m actually laughing and it’s all because of so many of you. Throughout all of this, the one thing I have done is keep everybody updated with emails, there have been five of them to date (check your junk mail if you haven’t received them).

On the last email sent, entitled ‘Prickly Pear – Episode 5’, I wrote that I was walking around singing ‘I Will Survive’ because death-by-wait-list wasn’t on my agenda, mostly because I had to write this newsletter. And then more chaos as so many of you mailed back suggesting various songs we could sing together. I fell about laughing. I can’t tell you all of them, there were so many for which I thank you; here’s a small selection:

I’m Still Waiting (Diana Ross); Simply The Best (Tina Turner); Under Pressure (Queen); Anticipation (Carly Simon); I’m Still Standing (Elton John), Runaway (Bon Jovi) and Patience (Guns N’ Roses).

The Collective VH. The Songs.
We Sing. You. Me. Us.
VH Editorial: The Beauty Benefits of Prickly Pear Seed Oil; 100% Pure Prickly Pear Seed Oil £20 for 30 ml

Superior Joints With A Gift

Arthritis affects an estimated one in five people in the UK and although considered a disease of old age, it can affect all ages. Healthy and flexible joints are paramount and it is a well-documented fact that pain relief to help ease the reduction in stiffness of joints is a multi-million-pound business with both over-the-counter medicines, prescription medication and natural supplements.

Glucosamine is often recommended and perhaps it is the most well-known natural ingredient for pain relief, but Natural Egg Shell Membrane has been the subject of studies and has been shown to significantly reduce pain quite rapidly, within approximately seven days, and continuously when used over a 30-day period.

Superior Joints, our bestselling joint supplement, contains Natural Egg Shell Membrane and it is the supplement Shabir always recommends for joint issues.

The Superior Joints Treat: The Superior Joints Treat comprises of Superior Joints (obviously!) and Capsicum & Ginger Warming Cream, which is free and worth £9. This warming cream is used as a massage rub to help comfort muscles, joints, backs and also helps ease neck tension. There is only one Superior Joints Treat per customer; orders will be processed in three or four days time; this is a limited time offer and will end on Friday 1 November 2019 at midnight GMT. **Sorry this promotion has ended**
VH Editorial: Read This If You Are Taking Glucosamine And Suffer From Painful JointsSuperior Joints Treat £30 for 60 Capsules; Capsicum & Ginger Warming Cream by Napiers £9 for 100 ml

The Good Skin Trio Mini Set: LixirSkin

Take the three bestselling heroes from the LixirSkin range, otherwise known as LixirSkin’s ultimate essentials for everyday skin needs, put them in a new mini format and voila, The Good Skin Trio Mini Set.

The three products are Vitamin C Paste, the quick morning mask that protects and corrects in one; Electrogel Cleanser, the evening cleanser and detoxifying mask and Universal Emulsion which can be used as a day moisturiser, a night cream or a serum base. Each of the products are 30 ml and if you haven’t yet tried these products, here is an opportunity to do so. Also perfect for travelling or for gifting. Christmas gifting perhaps.
The Good Skin Trio Mini Set by LixirSkin £34 (Vitamin C Paste 30 ml; Electrogel Cleanser 30 ml; Universal Emulsion 30 ml)

Male Vascular Sexual Support

Stress, as ever, plays a major role in male sexual issues and dissatisfaction and reports are indicating that this concern is becoming increasingly prevalent, most especially with younger men.

This new sexual health support supplement can be taken at any age. The formulation contains KaempMax, a unique extract of Kaempferia parviflora, a member of the ginger family. It helps support healthy male sexual function, helps enhance healthy male sexual response and overall sexual health. Dosage: one capsule daily.
Male Vascular Sexual Support by Life Extension £20 for 30 Capsules

Skip Care

I have often written that skincare should be joyously simple; there is no need to use seven different serums, various creams, primers and heaven knows what else. The very last thing any of us want to do is to send our skin into overdrive, so I was thrilled to read Victoria’s article on the latest ‘trend’, which is ‘skip care’. I don’t really like the word ‘trend’, but never mind that, this makes sense to me, whereas the whole eleven-step thing, advocated all over the place (except here), just doesn’t.

Skip care is about honing in on the ingredients that really work for your skin and skipping the ones that don’t deliver the results you want. I am currently in a phase where I’m not testing any new skincare products, which is rather miraculous, so I have free reign to use anything I want. I suppose it’s akin to living in a sweet shop, which was my childhood dream that clearly failed to materialise.

So my three essentials right now are, I suppose, pretty obvious. I’ve already written about Neurophroline and Fulvic Face Cream and the third serum I add in, three or four times a week, is Super Bakuchiol Serum. If you haven’t yet tried Super Bakuchiol, then you are in for a treat because I think it’s fabulous and bearing in mind I will not use Retinol or Retinoids on my skin, this is a brilliant, clinically proven natural alternative and my skin adores it.

So it’s Neurophroline first, Super Bakuchiol second and Fulvic Face Cream third. You can take this down to two steps by adding a few drops of Super Bakuchiol into Fulvic Face Cream (or whatever moisturiser you are using), but I adore the texture and feel of Super Bakuchiol, so I do it separately. I think this regimen is suitable for most skin types, so love me do, and that’s also a song.
VH Editorial: Skip Care Is The New Self-Care; Bakuchiol, A Natural Alternative To Retinol; Neurophroline £18 for 30 ml; Super Bakuchiol Serum £15 for 30 ml; Fulvic Face Cream £30 for 60 ml

Daily Cleanser

I deliberately didn’t write about the cleansers, oils or masks that I use above, but if we are talking cleansers, then Daily Cleanser is Shabir’s favourite. I suppose it would be really because he formulated it, but there is always a story behind each formulation and so here is Shabir’s story and raison d’être:

‘Just like your gut, the skin on your face houses billions of friendly bacteria and this community is known as the skin microbiome. Just like your gut, your skin microbiome is unique to you. These organisms help maintain healthy skin barrier function, protecting it against other invaders and they also produce skin nutrients and essential skin lipids making your skin feel and look healthier.

Many cleansers eradicate these friendly bacteria using harsh chemicals, but I wanted to take a different route and I formulated Daily Cleanser in order that it respects the skin’s pH. It does not contain harsh chemicals, but it does contain an infusion of Marshmallow root, which acts as a prebiotic to help promote these friendly bacteria to flourish’.

Daily Cleanser is ideal for normal, combination and oily skin types. The question is what product will Shabir formulate next? I seriously don’t know, but life works in mysterious ways; well it does if you’re Shabir. Mostly he resides on a parallel universe. Fine with me.
Daily Cleanser by GoW for VH £12 for 120 ml


I should really be writing this section on the December newsletter, but I’m going early because, as most of you know, the December newsletter is dedicated to the VH Awards and I won’t have space for these. Anyway, it’s good to be organised, so here are a few of our favourite things:

Aromatherapy Associates Seasonal Saviours will help transform your bathing experience from day to night with the help of a carefully curated trio of bath and shower oils. The oils included are Light Relax Bath & Shower Oil (9 ml); De-Stress Mind & Shower Oil (9 ml) and Revive Morning Bath & Shower Oil (9 ml).
Aromatherapy Associates Seasonal Saviours £25

Forever Evergreen Hanging Decoration also from Aromatherapy Associates, this contains Support Breathe Bath & Shower Oil (9 ml). Loaded with Eucalyptus, Pine and Peppermint, it has been formulated to help clear your mind with fragrances of the forest.
Forever Evergreen Hanging Decoration by Aromatherapy Associates £10

Kiss Me Cracker by Lanolips includes two little tubes of magic; the Lano 101 Ointment Fruities offer multi-tasking properties for super-dry lips. The cracker contains Multi-Balm Strawberry (10 grams) and Multi-Balm Peach (10 grams). Kisses.
Kiss Me Cracker by Lanolips £11.99

The Glow Card from Sarah Chapman comes as a greeting card presenting their bestselling 3D Moisture Infusion mask for an instantly hydrating glow boost. It hydrates, plumps and soothes and it was also our bestselling gift last year. It went out of stock really quickly, but I hope we have it covered this year. Don’t hit me if it all goes pear shaped. Thanks.
The Glow Card from Sarah Chapman £10

Sleep Power Nap Spray from This Works contains two travel size tubes (10 ml each) of this clinically proven formulation which is loaded with Lavender, Vetivert and Camomile. Perfect for using on a long-haul flight. The gift of sleep.
Sleep Power Nap Spray by This Works £15 (Two x 10 ml)

Beat The Blues Room Spray by Ilapothecary remains one of my favourite ever scents, but then of course, as many of you know, I use it as a fragrance as well as a room spray. This is the scent that literally stops everybody in their tracks and you can use it for any number of things including spraying into the atmosphere after any heated discussions. A must-have for those Christmas events perhaps.
Beat The Blues Room Spray by Ilapothecary £29 for 50 ml; Beat The Blues Ritual £85 (Love)

The Healing Heart Facial by Ila Spa contains two Rose Quartz hearts renowned for their soothing and healing properties. Symbolic of the energy of love and peace they are a wonderful gift and can be used in numerous ways; as a healing face massage (a small phial of Face Oil for Glowing Skin is included), or you can put one on each eye after spending hours staring at a computer screen. That would be me.
The Healing Heart Facial by Ila Spa £29.50 (Pack of Two Hearts)

VH Editorial – The Feature Articles

Are you really listening asks Carolyn Asome. The answer is very likely a big fat no. How often do you actually focus on what someone is saying. Instead, there’s the running ticker-tape: the Ocado shop, when will Brexit go away, yesterday’s deadlines, the overwhelming in-box, the beep of your iPhone, what are the kids going to eat for dinner? And you are not alone. Research shows that only 10% of us listen effectively. Carolyn feels the guilt.
Are You Really Listening by Carolyn Asome

It is clear to see that the popularity of spiritual practices is on the rise. We’re seeing crystals lined up on desks, energy healers on speed-dial and more of us are choosing to swap out post-work drinks for breath work. Whether you’re engaging in these practices or not, there’s one word that’s always mentioned and written about, but seems to escape many of us, and that’s intuition. Giselle La Pompe-Moore investigates.
How To Tune Into Your Intuition by Giselle La Pompe-Moore

Just sometimes you come across a poem, or a poster, that stops you in your tracks. This happened to Jo Fairley recently and it got her thinking about her own life, the things she regrets and taking risks. Full disclosure here.
Regrets by Jo Fairley

Pain is no beautifier, say the Beauty Bible girls. We furrow our brows, the light goes out of our eyes, we stoop or slouch, and left untended, our joints may suffer irreparable damage. At Beauty Bible, as you’ll probably know, we take a holistic approach to beauty and so that means doing what we can to keep aches and pains, with their knock-on effect on our looks and energy levels, at bay.
How To Ease Aches and Pains by Beauty Bible

With the turn in temperature comes a dial-up of central heating in our workplaces, homes and social settings. As cosy as it feels, it’s not doing our skin any favours, with increased dehydration and dryness on the horizon. Louise Whitbread does the low-down.
What Does Central Heating Do To Your Skin by Louise Whitbread

The End Bit

Just a few more things to tell you:

Sarah Chapman Alert. With any order placed for any Sarah Chapman product, we will automatically include Morning Facial (5 ml) as a gift. Only one gift per customer whilst stocks last and this will not show up on your invoice.
Sarah Chapman Skinesis

For the love of Color Wow. The new products keep on coming and the very latest is EXTRA Mist-ical Shine Spray, which they say is light years ahead of other hair shine sprays. So the spray absorbs UV rays and releases full spectrum white light, acting like a solar-powered spotlight on your hair.

Formulated with African flower-derived mullein, a natural source of luminescence that lights up your hair with an intense glossy shine, with a tongue-in-cheek statement, Color Wow say it will keep dark forces away. Good with me. For a whole new level of EXTRA exaggerated shine, spray it on then hit with blow-dryer heat. Swing that hair. Fabulous.
EXTRA Mist-ical Shine Spray by Color Wow £25 for 162 ml

We’ve done the shine, now let’s do the shimmer. SHOW-OFF (so many capitals everywhere!) Super Hydrating Shimmer Lotion melts into the skin leaving it moist, plump and dewy while imparting an opalescent, shimmer glow on the surface. Smooth, glossy skin, yes and I know it’s not summer, but it’s the party season if you like that kind of thing, personally I don’t. Never mind that, you can shimmer and I’ll stay in bed. Thank you.
SHOW-OFF Super Hydrating Shimmer Lotion by Time Bomb £24 for 250 ml

And so we have come to the end of another newsletter; I honestly don’t know where this year has gone and I can barely believe that very soon I will be writing the final newsletter of the year. I think I’m going to release it slightly later than normal, so Tuesday 3 December it will be, so please don’t miss it because I’m busy polishing my tiara for the award ceremony, which is all a rather large figment of my over-active imagination.

Finally, and with my feet back on the ground, together with Shabir I would like to thank each of you for your ongoing loyalty and support.
Wishing you a happy and healthy November.

With love

Gill x

Are You Really Listening?

text written on black wall effect background

Are you really listening? The answer is very likely a big fat no. How often do you actually focus on what someone is saying. Instead, there’s the running ticker tape: the Ocado shop, when will Brexit go away, yesterday’s deadlines, the overwhelming in-box, the beep of your iPhone, what are the kids going to eat for dinner? And you are not alone. Research shows that only 10% of us listen effectively.

We might think we are listening, but more often than not we are chomping at the bit to jump in and share our experiences or offer advice – but are we listening to fully understand what it is that someone is trying to tell us, a factor which negates the efficacy of our day-to-day communication.

I am just as guilty. Silly because I know only too well as a journalist that the best type of interview comes when you really listen; and that’s the words along with the pauses (which incidentally are just as revealing as the words).

I get the best exchange when I’m not ticking off a checklist of questions that I’ve prepared ahead, but when I take part in a conversation which evolves organically. It’s when I receive the best insights, the sound bites no one else has written and not the rat-a-tat-patter of well-rehearsed answers to questions the interviewee has been asked a dozen of times. And, which frankly is so much more enjoyable.

Active listening (the ability to unpick the meaning of words and silence) is so integral to good communication and yet, it is so rarely championed – or even taught at school or later on in life. Think of the many many tomes which have been written on the art of speaking or public speaking since the time of Cicero, but when was the last time you read anything about learning to listen properly, something that can definitely be improved upon with a bit of effort. As a child, my Granny used to tell me, God gave you two ears and one mouth so you could listen twice as much as you speak.

The late American psychologist Edwin Shneidman said, “When you listen for the pain, hurt and fear in people, it is always there. And when people sense you doing that with no other motive than to alleviate all of those, they will lower their walls and reveal them to you.”

Listening promotes empathy along with being in the present. It takes some practice to not judge or let your mind wander off. The way we listen and engage with others mostly boils down to a mixture of the following: only listening to what someone is saying through the prism of our own perspective; at other times, we are assumptive listeners (the most obvious example of poor listening) whereby we assume we know what the other person will say. We are so caught up thinking about what the other person wants to say that we don’t hear what they are actually saying, either because we are too impatient or as a result from a past experience with them.

There’s also judgemental and defensive listening where we might criticise someone – and body language is also very much at play here – to the extent that the person withdraws. And finally, a sort of authoritative listening, the kind of listening where someone always has to be right. There’s a lot of ‘should-ing’ that happens in this kind of conversation typically, an approach which implies that the speaker does not have anything of value to bring to the table.

To really listen of course, it helps to shut out the noise in our heads and adopt lightness. This is something that I come back to time and time again and I’ve written about before, but have you noticed that when there is a light hand on the tiller, (controlled, calm and confident) that everything just runs more smoothly, everything just IS better. Adopting lightness in every aspect of my life I have come to realise – relationships, work, conversations, that dealing with problems makes me feel more joyful and curious, more outward looking. Not only does this clear the mind and enable you to be more in the moment, it allows you to be a good listener.

How can we be better listeners? A good listener knows that, somewhat paradoxically we also need to learn to be a skilled interrupter by which I don’t mean charging in with our own ideas or advice before you have listened to the end of a sentence, but asking questions which delve deeper, are open-ended and which encourage the speaker to carry on. By doing so, you are able to elicit so much more from the person speaking.

Another key trait of the good listener is not to follow every digression introduced by the speaker; to gently but ever so skillfully steer the speaker back to the point he was making. A good listener doesn’t moralise either, they are kind ,patient (and often curious) enough to listen without judgement, to reassure someone that whatever it is that they are saying is not strange, that the vulnerability of the speaker is to be encouraged and explored.

The good listener might also add a few, judiciously placed confessions to assure that whatever the speaker is saying falls in the realms of normal or acceptable behaviour. They confess not so much to unburden themselves as to help others accept their own nature, experiences and story. For ultimately they are really listening.