The New Generation Of Gua Sha

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Chinese medicine has had a real resurgence this year with plenty of experts and beauty brands taking inspiration from the ancient ritualistic approach. It goes hand-in-hand with the modern concept of self-care and desire felt by many to strike the work/life balance and switch off.

If you follow Gill’s newsletters you’ll already be well-versed in the Hayo’u method and its authentic yet practical take on Chinese medicine and more specifically the Gua Sha massage technique. The skin-boosting Beauty Restorer has become a bestseller and offers a fool-proof approach to facial massage. This autumn, Hayo’u is launching three new tools. We caught up with the founder, Katie Brindle to find out more…

The hair reviver

For some, the idea that a piece of jade stone could in anyway help boost hair growth could be a bit far-fetched. Yet the Beauty Restorer Comb has been expertly cut and chiselled to do just that. Using the same approach as the original Beauty Restorer, the comb works by boosting your circulation to drive nutrients to the follicles in your scalp.

“It also massages the acupressure points of your head, regulating the meridians (energy channels) that flow through the scalp,” says Brindle. “This is great for your overall health.”

The inspiration behind the Beauty Restorer Comb was personal for Brindle. “I inherited thin hair from my mother and grandfather then endless dieting during my teens and early 20s resulted in anything remotely resembling a luscious head of hair,” she says. “Having tried everything on the market to no avail I gave up and resorted to extensions as it was so bad.”

For those who know this feeling all too well, Brindle recommends sweeping the comb across your scalp from your forehead down to your neck. While this can be done at any time of the day, on wet or dry hair, Brindle stresses that it should be done daily for the best results.

The eye brightener

Also known as the Beauty Restorer Precision, this small paddle wand has the potential to magically brighten and smooth your eye and lip areas. “It’s really simple to use, letting you get even closer to fine lines and wrinkles, particularly around the eyes and lips,” says Brindle.

Unlike the other Hayo’u tools, you need to use small ‘flick’ movements when you use this one and use your natural facial contours as a guide. For example, trace your eye socket with small flicks to boost and lift your eye area. Like with the comb, you do need to use the Beauty Restorer Precision regularly to see any difference.

While it was designed for the eyes and lips, you can use this tool all over your body. “The fine tip means you can use it for longer and with pinpoint accuracy to reach every contour, line and wrinkle around your whole face,” says Brindle. “It can also be used on specific areas of muscular tension and joint pain to clear inflammation and stagnation.” If you spend too much time sat at a desk or on your phone, you might find it helpful in treating carpal tunnel syndrome and RSI.

The skin booster

At first glance the Beauty Restorer Lite looks exactly the same as the original. But, upon closer inspection you’ll notice that it is much slimmer and lighter. Brindle designed it for those with more delicate skin. “The older we get, the thinner and more delicate our skin gets – due to the natural loss of elastin and collagen over time, as well as hormonal changes, which weaken it,” she explains.

“Children also need a gentler tool as each layer of their skin is only around one fifth of the thickness of adults.  thinner and more delicate. Each layer of young children’s skin is around one fifth as thick as adult skin,” Brindle adds. The Beauty Restorer Lite can be used in the same way as the original tool, following the traditional Gua Sha method, to help boost circulation and reduce inflammation. It’s also particularly good at helping to clear up teenage acne and breakouts.

For more information on Hayo’u and the Gua Sha rituals, click here.

Would You Ditch Oils for Clearer Skin?

amy-lawrenson

Throughout my twenties I had the most awful acne along my jawline. I would hide it behind my long hair and was constantly slapping on make-up in a bid to conceal the sore, red bumps beneath. Working in beauty I would ask every skin expert I saw about my problem and, luckily, this scatter gun approach eventually came through for me. A few years ago, I met Kate Kerr, clinical facialist and founder of SkinHQ, who helped me swap oils for the clear skin I so desperately wanted.

Now, when it comes to our complexions there are two types of oil; the sebum we produce and the oils we find in skincare. Neither get glowing reports from Kerr. “The oil produced by our skin is an irritant, it no longer has a function and our bodies have evolved past the point of needing it,” explains Kerr, who links oil production to issues like acne, seborrheic dermatitis and even hyperpigmentation.

“Oils congest the skin, upsetting our own moisturising processes and preventing product penetration,” Kerr tells me. She believes people should ditch oils and moisturisers and instead load up on lightweight serums. And when you think about it, it makes sense. “By using a moisturiser our skin’s surface sends a signal down to its water reservoirs telling them that there is plenty of moisture and to halt production. This makes the skin sluggish and lacking in moisture, so we reach for more moisturiser, thus exacerbating the problem,” says Kerr.

Skin soon becomes dehydrated and produces more sebum in response. Now if your skin isn’t working as efficiently as it should (read: it’s become lazy and reliant on rich creams) dead skin cells will build up preventing the oil from escaping resulting in blackheads, whiteheads and, in my case, full blown acne. “Waking up the skin’s natural moisturising processes helps to balance oil production thus preventing skin congestion and subsequent breakouts,” says Kerr.

So, how do you trigger those natural moisturising processes—essentially your skin’s in-built moisturiser? “Urea, low to medium levels of glycerine, hyaluronic acid and water—these ingredients are part of our skin’s natural moisturising mechanisms and when applied topically they won’t upset the skin’s functionality,” explains Kerr.

During our meeting, Kerr went through the ingredient list of every product I owned before making me ditch anything with oil. She prescribed a routine that would give my skin the wake-up call it needed, along with some rules to follow:

Rule 1: Cleanse AM and PM to remove oil.

Rule 2: Exfoliate daily, to slough away any dead skin cells that could potentially shut the oil in. You can do this with a mechanical scrub or something containing AHAs, known as a chemical exfoliator.

Rule 3: Always use SPF in the morning.

Rule 4: At night apply a retinol-based product. Retinol, a Vitamin A derivative, is a wonder ingredient that does everything from gently exfoliating and repairing the skin’s barrier function, to reducing oil production and tackling pigmentation.

I layered serums instead of relying on rich creams, I looked to hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C in the day and then retinol and hyaluronic acid (again) at night. I followed Kerr’s rules to the letter and within weeks my acne had cleared up. It was a miracle.

Being a beauty editor, it’s hard to avoid oils all the time. I still swerve straight-up oils and rich, oily cleansing balms, but when it comes to other products I always give the contents a once over. On all products the ingredients are listed in order of concentration, so the first makes up the biggest proportion of the contents through to the last which is the least. So, if a product contains an oil quite far down the list then, as long as I’m exfoliating regularly, I know my skin can handle it.

There are experts and editors who will defend oils to the death, but for me giving them up and now using them very sparingly has worked. If you’re experiencing any kind of acne right now, it can’t hurt to streamline your routine, ditch the oils and rich creams and see how you get on. As long as you’re supplementing with those hydrating ingredients I can all but guarantee it will help.

Amy Lawrenson is Editorial Director of beauty and wellness website Byrdie.co.uk.

How I Found My Skincare Style

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All this recent talk about “skincare wardrobes” courtesy of Lisa Armstrong in her GoW article (here) and Gill in last month’s newsletter got me thinking about my own skincare style and how I found it. I get asked all the time about how to curate the perfect set of products, aka a skincare wardrobe and it is something I like to think I have pretty much perfected now, although it wasn’t an easy process. It took a lot of time, a lot of money spent and wasted and a lot of bad skin days before I truly realized what worked for me and why. Knowing this is what allowed me to formulate my current results driven skincare style, which is focused on ingredients and formulas that do the most for my skin.

I went through a lot of different phases before I found my personal skincare style. In the beginning it was non-existent as I only used face wipes and a moisturizer. Then I went overboard and jumped on any new trend, launch and brand I could get my hands on. There was no structure and my skin was not happy. I also copied a lot of what I saw other people using, but that didn’t help either. Neither did using only products from one brand, it just wasn’t for me. Eventually I found my way to green beauty where I primarily used only organic and plant based products, but there was always something missing, which brings me to where I am now.

My product style is focused on ingredients and results. Sounds simple enough and when it comes to results you would think that’s what most people are after, but that isn’t always the case. For example, some people are looking for an “experience” from their products, which I can relate to in terms of self-care and others are more concerned with how a product will look on an Instagram #topshelfie post, which I don’t recommend doing. For me, after struggling with my skin for so long my number one concern is if a product actually works. I don’t care about the price (to a point) or the packaging (as long as it’s functional I’m happy) and I am not “loyal” to any brand. I want results and having a luxurious experience or pretty branding is not a major deciding factor when it comes to what I use.

What I learned over the years is that while no one brand has been able to completely cater to my combination skin, certain ingredients work really well for me and I seek them out in as many products as I can. My skin loves green tea (soothing antioxidant), salicylic and mandelic acids (generally gentle exfoliants), aloe vera (anti-inflammatory), zinc (wound healing), fruit enzymes (natural exfoliants), retinol (anti-ageing and anti-acne) and PHAs (more on this wonder ingredient soon). On the other hand, my skin doesn’t like lactic acid, some forms/strengths of Vit C and too much fragrance – synthetic or naturally occurring, so I try to avoid those. Now I can pretty much tell without even using something if it will work for me or cause a break out. Of course, I still get excited by new launches, but now I find them easier to resist the majority of them as my purchases are much more educated and less hopeful guesses nowadays.

How did I find all this out? Through trial and lots of error and finally playing attention to the information on the back of the product box (the inci list) instead of the claims being made on the front. For the longest time I had no idea what worked for my skin and most importantly, why until I started educating myself. This is also when I started to see the best results and after dealing with acne for so many years that’s really all I care about. Beautiful packaging, gorgeous scents/textures and “all natural” ingredients are meaningless to me if they don’t provide results worth paying extra for (yes extra, because that’s exactly how it works). We pay more for all the bells and whistles, as well as the fantastical claims about purity and wellness, which are usually just a marketing smoke screen for grossly overpriced subpar products. Be warned – expensive doesn’t always mean better.

If you are still struggling to hone in on your own personal skincare style then I have a few pointers that might help. In general, once you have figured out your skin type and/or major concerns you are then free to decide what factors are most important when it comes to choosing your skincare products. It could be refined textures, certain ingredients like me or you can choose to go the more clinical route with cosmeceutical brands or stick to more “natural” products from “green” companies. You can also decide on being a minimalist with just 2-4 steps or going all out with a full Asian skincare inspired 10+ step routine.

You can also take in to account how much you want to spend on skincare. I know that for many buying skincare products is more of a treat than a necessity and not everyone can afford to have multiple cleansers, eye serums and moisturizers (trust me, it’s probably better if you don’t). Luckily the industry has a skincare line to suit every budget and you can spend as little as under £10 on a product all the way up to thousands. Just be sure you’re getting your money’s worth and that being frugal isn’t costing you in the long run. Whether it’s cheap and cheerful or advanced science and luxurious, it has to give results to be worth buying.

When people ask me how to put together a skincare wardrobe I generally recommend mixing it up in a way where the most money is being spent on the most important areas or steps. The high-low approach that Lisa mentioned is a great place to start because it allows you to save on steps like cleansers and toners where you’re not likely to see visible changes (unless you’re using the wrong one) and invest in targeted treatments that will actually make a difference to your skin. Your skin style should be personal to you and your wardrobe should include products that you enjoy using and see results with.

Luckily, like with fashion there’s not really a wrong way to do it. Whether you go all out and spend a small fortune or opt for the budget friendly brands, or even stick to one brand because the products work that well for you, as long as you and your skin are happy then that’s all that matters. The only thing I would be wary of is the changing season as most people will need more hydration during the winter and then lighter layers in the summer, but those are easy to make small tweaks. Definitely pay attention to how your skin responds to what you’re using and try and do as much research as you can before buying (get samples!). This way you should find your skincare style will naturally evolve the more you begin to understand your skin.

How To Beat Adult Acne

Lisa Armstrong: How to beat adult acne with this £9 super-serum

 

  • GOW Niacinamide

    Truly, the Lord giveth and taketh away. On the credit side, She has endowed women with the wherewithal to look better for longer and longer. But She has also promulgated widespread outbreaks of what is euphemistically called adult-onset acne (or as it referred to in common parlance, ‘Seriously?!’)

    Ironically, sometimes the very tools we use to boost our wellbeing are the culprits in the Great Zit Disaster. Too little oestrogen and too much testosterone can disrupt service, leading to eruptions more akin to cysts or boils than normal pimples. Adjusting your levels can result in immediate improvements – checking your HRT/bio-identical hormone or Pill prescription should be your first step.

    And then generally easing up. No squeezing – it’s not just the potential scarring, but the chain reaction beneath the skin that’s counterproductive…

    What Your Skin Says About you Read More…

Review: A Spritz For Irritated Skin

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If summer is the season of itchy skin for you, this soothing product really works – By India Knight

 

  • Thyme Out Spray

    I am always on the lookout for products that help irritated skin, especially at this time of year. I am a bug magnet and everything bites me, which is unfortunate as I have various disproportionate reactions, depending on the species. Insects aside, when I lived in London I sometimes used to get these sudden, weird, raised, red flare-ups on the side of my neck or on the inside of my arms, like an allergic reaction to something, but not anything obvious. (I no longer get these — I wonder if, perhaps, they were related to pollution?)

    I think a lot of people have similarly reactive skin: a little patch that appears for no reason, itches like mad and then goes away again, or all sorts of stress-related rednesses and rashes and irritations that pop up when they are least welcome. And then there are the more explicable things such as insect bites, nettle rash, snog rash, spots, grazes, you know the sort of thing. It’s really useful to have something on you that will alleviate, and ideally eradicate, the issue, not just for yourself, but also for any children you might have about your person.
    Read More…

Takeaway Tips From Shabir And Trinny’s Facebook Live On Acne

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If you missed Shabir in the bathroom with Trinny talking all things acne, then you can catch up on the key points and watch the full video right now. Acne is one of the most common skincare concerns and over 85 percent of people between 12 and 25 years suffer with it and one in five women will battle breakouts. While there is not set fast rule in terms of what causes acne, hormonal imbalance, stress and dietary choices, such as gluten and refined sugar, are all thought to be key drivers. When it comes to getting rid of acne, there are plenty of options.  Read More…