How To Find The Right Liquid Exfoliator For Your Skin

Garden of Wisdom

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past two years, you will have noticed a sharp increase in the amount of acid-based skincare products hitting the shelves. While scrubs might have been the tried and tested method of sloughing away dead skin a few years back, now it is all about the liquid exfoliator. So much so, Pinterest has seen a 58% increase in searches for liquid exfoliators. Read More…

How Does Sleep Affect Your Skin?

sleepskin

According to new research, the average Brit regularly survives on less than six hours of sleep a night. Most of us are well-versed with the implications of not getting sufficient sleep, including daytime fatigue, irritability and a shorter concentration span. Studies have also solidified the link the between a lack of sleep and weight gain. The impact on our skin is rarely talked about.

The quality and duration of sleep can have a profound effect on the health of our skin. When we sleep our bodies recharge but so does our skin. While we sleep our body goes into repair-mode and heals, restores and eliminates toxins from our skin. It gives the term ‘beauty sleep’ a whole new meaning.

How does a lack of sleep affect skin’s appearance?

Dull-looking skin: A lack of sleep raises your cortisol levels, which in turn increases inflammation in your body. Inflammation is one of the biggest underlying skin issues and if it’s constant can lead to pigmentation, increased sensitivity, rosacea and premature ageing.

Cortisol breaks down the proteins that keep your skin smooth and radiant. It is the flight or fight hormone and it sends blood to your muscles rather than to your skin. This deprives your skin of oxygen and vital nutrients, which leaves it looking dull, ashy and blotchy.

Incorporating massage into your skincare routine when you cleanse with your fingers or a tool, such as Beauty Restorer, will help boost your circulation and ease this inflammation.

Dry skin: The increased inflammation due to the cortisol can also break down the tiny lipids, known as ceramides, which hold the skin cells together and create a protective layer to retain nutrients and water. This break down can result in the dehydration, which can lead to dryness.

Your body also works to rehydrate and balance moisture levels whilst you sleep, but this can falter if you’re not getting enough sleep. Replenishing your body’s hyaluronic acid levels with supplements and a serum will help fend off dry skin if you’re unable to get a full night’s sleep regularly.

Puffy eyes and dark circles: As mentioned previously, water balance occurs whilst your sleep so cutting this sleep time could result in puffy eyes and perhaps even a slightly puffed up body (water retention). Dark circles may also be associated with a lack of sleep because the dilation of the blood vessels in the under-eye area can result in deeper tint. In darker complexions this is more pronounced since you already have more pigment.

It sounds simple, but using a cold teabag on the area does work for some because the tannic acids in tea encourages the blood vessels to shrink. However, the real thing it to get a sufficient night’s sleep!

Ageing skin: We have already touched on this, but the increased levels of cortisol leads to inflammation, which in turn breaks down the bonds that form collagen. It is the collagen in your skin that maintains the structure and elasticity, which gives it that supple plumpness. With the loss of collagen skin becomes thinner, less firmer, less smoother and gradually wrinkles become more prominent. 

Hair: There is a direct correlation between stress and the onset of hair loss. Cortisol causes inflammation in the whole body, including the hair follicles where all the process of keratin manufacture occurs. A lack of sleep is the most ruthless form of stress to the body and can result in premature hair loss.

With the help of fulvic acid, which supercharges your cellular energy, the Ful.Vic.Health range can help alleviate this somewhat. But as I have mentioned, targeting the underlying sleep issue is the best preventative approach. For more advice on this, read Signs and Symptons of Sleep Loss.

Beneath The Layers: Winter Body Care

beauty-bible-feet

You know that saying, ‘Out of sight, out of mind?’ Well, that’s how an awful lot of women of our acquaintance regard the skin under their clothing, during the cold months. We pile on the vests, socks, gilets, gloves, scarves, tights – often all at once, resembling some kind of Michelin woman, when the weather’s bad enough. And unless we heat our houses to tropical levels (which at Beauty Bible we definitely don’t), there’s definitely no temptation to dance around naked, or even near-naked, at home.

All of which can be an excuse for not attending to the skin on our bodies. (At least until it’s time to start thinking about what it might actually feel like to be warm again, and want to peel off some layers – which usually happens around April, in our experience.) It’s easy to get lazy because that body skin is basically rarely on show except in the privacy of a steamy bathroom – because if you’re anything like us, you’re nipping into your flannelette PJs pronto, the minute you take your day clothes off.

Actually, those clothes themselves pose quite some challenges for body skin: fabric physically ‘wicks’ moisture from the body’s surface, drying it out. Thus the bottom line is that if you’re not lavishing lots of TLC from top-to-toe, you’re going to end up with skin that is dull, dry and flat-looking – and feels like nothing so much as sandpaper.

Aside from wanting skin that just plain feels nice to the touch – and isn’t tight or itchy – there’s another really good reason for continuing to give your body plenty of TLC, during the upcoming months. Well-moisturised cells allow for healthy ‘cellular communication’ – so your skin doesn’t just appear younger, when moisture levels are kept topped up; it actually behaves like younger skin, better able to renew itself. Our advice, then, is to turn on the heated towel rail, warm up the bathroom – and take a few minutes to nourish from neck-to-toe after showering or bathing each time, with the following favourite ‘finds’ of ours. They should transform caring for your body, year-round, from a beauty chore into a positive pleasure.

Start by using an oil scrub on knees, elbows, feet and shins, each time you bathe. The great thing about oil-based scrubs is that they literally leave a ‘slick’ of oil on the skin’s surface. (Often, a gorgeously fragrant one.) Work gently into areas that are particularly prone to roughness, in circular movements. Salt or sugar scrubs will dissolve in the water, leaving a fine layer on the surface that clings to skin as you get out of the water; we still like to moisturise afterwards, but this thin veil on the skin is a great ‘base coat’ for a rich cream. Our favourites include NEOM Organics Real Luxury Body Scrub, £34, with its divine scent of jasmine, lavender and rosewood; upliftingly-fragranced Temple Spa Sugar Buff, £23; and Green People Sugar Scrub, which nourishes with a blend of shea butter, rosehip, pomegranate and coconut oils.

If you skin is really bumpy and ‘chicken skin’-like, meanwhile, it may be Keratosis Pilaris (KP). Shabir writes very well about this here, – it’s a problem which affects nearly 40% of the population – but our go-to topical product for this is always Ameliorate Transforming Body Lotion, £22.50, a great treatment for rough, bumpy skin, featuring a combination of Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and a special hydration complex. Impressive stuff.

The cold weather watchword, pretty much regardless of skin type, is:  ‘more’. More moisturising, more often. We actually like to double-moisturise, applying first a body lotion, then maybe an oil or a richer butter to ‘lock in’ that moisture. Our faves include the incredible Aromatherapy Associates Nourishing Enrich Body Butter (this jasmine-scented mega-treat seems expensive at £55 for 200ml, but we suggest you put it top of your ‘Dear Santa’ list right now); Soapsmith Bloomsbury Body Butter Melt, £12, and the super-affordable Jason Nourishing Cocoa Butter Cream, £6.99.

If you prefer an oil, or want to add another layer of skin TLC over your body butter, we’re fond of Weleda Pomegranate Regenerating Body Oil, £24.95 (to Jo, it smells a little like Guerlain Shalimar!); Ilapothecary Feminine Happy Oil, £40, which has a mood-balancing blend of essential oils including heavenly rose – and again, there’s a bargain option in the form of good old Jason Vitamin E Oil 5000iu, £6.99.

Pay special attention to elbows, heels, cuticles. These can get actively scaly and flaky during winter. DO NOT PICK! That’s rule number one. Secondly, after you’ve scrubbed (see above), apply an ointment-style balm and work in circular movements to get under every raised cell. If you keep this on your bedside table, it will remind you to do this every night. Lanolips 101 Ointment Multi-purpose Superbalm Lips + Hands + All Over, £10.99, is terrific for the task, while we’re also big fans of Pommade Divine, £14, with its wonderfully camphoraceous scent.

Be nice to your feet. You have pedicures in summer – why not winter? We almost make ourselves yawn afresh by repeating the mantra (yet again) that happy feet make a happy woman, but we believe in having year-round medical pedicures (from the wonderful Margaret Dabbs), to remove hard skin build-up and check in with foot health generally. In summer, we book in once a month – but once every six weeks minimum in autumn, winter and early spring, too. Because feet are closeted in lots of layers, inside shoes and boots, they can get sweaty – leading to problems of athlete’s foot. There will also be times – party nights, yoga classes – when your feet will emerge from those opaques and go on show. And how much nicer to be able to look at glamorously painted toenails and well-tended cuticles than feel embarrassed about getting your hooves out?

So: stay warm, stay snuggly – but underneath those cosy layers, be sure to stay smooth and soft, too!

Shabir And Trinny On Post-Summer Concerns

Shabir and Trinny

With summer drawing to a close and autumn just beginning, Shabir joined Trinny Woodall in the bathroom to discuss the causes, symptoms and treatments available for some of the most common post-summer health and beauty concerns. Read More…

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.

The Magic Of Moisture

moisture_jo_

Dewy. Fresh. Quenched. Are those words that apply to your skin, or are you more: Thirsty. Parched. Sahara-dry…? If you fall into the latter category, welcome to the club, because it happens to us all: the sensation that our skin’s too tight for our face, the texture that resembles crêpe paper if we don’t keep slathering on creams, and perhaps even itching. Mostly, skin starts to dry out from 40 onwards, as soon as hormone levels start to drop. But in our modern, hermetically-sealed world, it’s a common skin woe at all ages: air-conditioned or centrally-heated air literally sucks the moisture out of skin. (And turning up of the thermostat at work and at home at this time of year just makes dry skin – as well as those heating bills – worse.)

Until fairly recently, I didn’t give my own dry face and body too much thought. Yes, my skin often feels like it’s a size 10 and I’m a size 12, and absorbs skin creams so greedily you can almost hear the slurping. But every so often, in my glamorous life as a beauty editor (in between taking tea with make-up artists, playing with next season’s colours and Eurostarring to Paris for fragrance launches, naturellement), I hear something that makes me do a double-take. There I was (at the St. Martin’s Lane Hotel, as it happens), listening to Lancaster cosmetics’ in-house skin boffin Professor Leonard Zastrow talking about sun damage, when he flashed up a slide that declared: ‘Dry skin is a cause of premature ageing’. Yes, I knew that the crêpe paperiness, the tautness and the thirstiness were a well-known sign of ageing – but a cause? I collared the professor, at the end, to ask for an explanation.

If you’re ready for the science bit, it goes like this. In well-hydrated skin, so the professor explained, the cells in our skin communicate efficiently. They tell each other to produce more elastin and more collagen (which gives skin its ‘bounce-back’ factor), and all the other good things skin needs. But when skin’s dry, there are gaps between the cells. (Under a microscope, those gaps look scarily like Grand Canyons.) There’s a communication breakdown. Cells aren’t getting the right message – so production of collagen and elastin slows. What’s more, in dry skin, cell turnover can slow down from 28 to 40 days. (Which explains why dry skin often = dull skin). The natural healing process is slower, too. And you know what? It’s a vicious circle: the drier our complexions, the more of that precious water escapes – because the all-important barrier (which keeps moisture in and irritants out) is impaired. Read More…