My Journey – Arly

new plant growth

It has been a whirlwind month since I officially joined the VH inner sanctum and I still can’t get over it. One of the reasons this new role is so special to me is because Victoria Health saved my life and not figuratively, I mean that literally. Gill, Shabir and the dearly missed Sally helped me through one of the most difficult times in my life and their collective help, knowledge and support changed me in so many ways. Without them I wouldn’t have a blog, wouldn’t be as passionate about skincare and certainly wouldn’t be here writing this. I know many of you will have only just discovered me through the articles I’ve written on here or from my blog or Instagram, but I have been here with you as a fellow VH Addict for years, and today I want to share my journey with you.

We have all heard the cliché adage regarding health, wellness and skin, how it’s all connected and that you can’t have one without the other, but for me that was never true. For most of my life I existed in the realm of “generally” – generally good health, generally good skin and generally active (but not really), all while eating whatever I wanted and generally looking very well. The flip side of that and the sad truth is I was also generally unwell, but not enough to cause concern, so I ignored it. I carried on like this for years, until something happened in my life and it all came crashing down. I got sicker with each passing month, my skin started to breakout like crazy, my hair was falling out and my hormones were all over the place. I was seeing countless doctors, found myself in and out of the hospital with pain so bad I genuinely thought I was dying and it got to the point where I didn’t think I could go on, and might not have if it wasn’t for Sally’s courageous and moving words. Then one day during a lucid moment, spurred on by the fear of my impending invasive surgery, I decided to take matters into my own hands and that’s where Victoria Health came in.

I somehow stumbled on to the site after googling women’s health or vitamins and that night read countless articles written by Shabir and Gill until my eyes hurt and the sun was shining again. This was a pivotal tipping point for me. I suddenly felt determined, hopeful and in control again, as well as sure that if I had done this to myself, I could undo it myself. I read and research as much as I could on everything from vitamins, hormones, skincare, ingredients, food, sleep, emotions, astrology (yes, really) and what I eventually realized is not only is the clichéd adage true, it is the basis of everything. The connection between our health, wellness (mental, emotional, spiritual) and skin is a cyclical balancing act with each one relying on the others to function harmoniously. For most of my life I had been juggling these three generally quite well, but when one fell (wellness), the others were quick to follow (health/skin). Stress lead to poor health, which lead to bad skin, which lead to more stress and round and round that circle I went, getting worse each time.

One of the most challenging ways my stress manifested itself was through my skin. I became obsessed with checking my face in the mirror and couldn’t stop looking and touching the new breakouts that were popping up every single day. It was like I had tunnel vision and predictably that lead to compulsive picking, which just savaged my skin further and caused yet more stress. I know, understand and completely believe that beauty is not just skin deep, but until you have stood in front of the mirror hating what you see, it is hard to understand the connection between how we look and how we feel. The pain was visceral, crushing and completely uncontrollable and made everything else I was going through feel so much harder to cope with. I had reached my limit and something had to change, and thankfully it did.

My first two orders are ones I will never forget because they made the biggest difference and changed everything for me. The first contained a mix of vitamins I had picked for myself based on Shabir’s brilliant articles and the second was for iS Clinical’s Sheald Recovery Balm that Gill had raved about when it first launched. Of course, with the vitamins I didn’t see or feel results for weeks, but with Sheald I was crying with happiness in just three days. When I started using it my face was covered with big red, raw and painful “wounds” as a result of my picking and this product helped to heal them faster and better than anything else I had ever used. I couldn’t believe it and realized there were skincare products out there that actually worked. On that third day I was so overcome with relief at how well each wound had scabbed over and was healing that I just burst into tears, because as I said, it’s deeply painful to hate what you see in the mirror and worse when you’ve done it to yourself. I used Sheald pretty much daily (then CAIS when it launched) and was diligent with my vitamins, taking them for months (as well as healthy eating and exercising etc) until I had pretty much completely healed myself and didn’t need surgery. I continued to focus on my health and wellness, my skin got much better (thanks also to the more informed purchases I was making), I delved deeper in to my new found love and appreciation for skincare, eventually started my blog and now here I am.

One of the first things I tell people when they ask me for advice about their skin is to stay calm. Not easy I know, but as far as I am concerned, stress (aka inflammation) acts like a poison and has such a detrimental effect on every aspect of our being. It is crucial to get it as under control as possible as soon as possible, because it affects everything. Luckily, when it comes to healing, because each element is connected, the improvements you make to your skin and health will in turn improve your wellness, which will continue to improve your health and skin and that’s exactly what happened to me. No matter what anyone says, skin health goes far beyond what we put on our face and if you are struggling with yours then you must take a look at how your lifestyle may be contributing to the issues. My skin got so bad because my body was crying out for help, so pay attention, but also don’t get too stressed about it. Thankfully, the industry has dramatically changed over the past few years (mostly due to Deciem/NIOD/The Ordinary) and there is a wealth of knowledge out there like never before, so don’t feel like your situation is hopeless.

This experience right here is the reason I started my blog. Until this happened I knew nothing about skincare, products, ingredients or how they should work because I didn’t need to and when I did need help, it just wasn’t there. I desperately bought and used pretty much every product out there for acne, believed everything I was told from people who’s only goal is to make a sale and wasted thousands of pounds while my skin got worse. This incident taught me so much (the hard way) and I want to share what I have learned incase any of you are as lost, desperate and frustrated as I was back then, and because it should not be this way. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but this is exactly why working with Victoria Health now means so much to me. They were there (without even knowing it) when I needed help the most and I can’t even imagine what my life would be like now without them. I want to be here for you in the same way, so whatever you are going through, please don’t give up. We are all in this together and stronger for it.

Arly

Cuts And Grazes

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Q. I tripped recently and tore a layer of skin off both my knees. I realised that I didn’t know the protocol for dealing with this small but painful injury. What should I do next time?

A. Most cuts and grazes are minor and can easily be treated at home, according to NHS Choices (nhs.uk). Here is a guide:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Stop any bleeding Apply pressure using a clean, dry, absorbent material (eg, a flannel, hanky or piece of bandage) for several minutes. If the cut is on your hand or arm, raise it above your head; if to a lower limb, lie down and raise the affected area above the level of your heart.
  • Clean the wound under running tap water (if you are abroad, ensure it is drinking quality). Don’t use antiseptic as it may damage the skin and slow healing. If there are any residual fragments of grit, remove them with tweezers.
  • Pat the area dry with a clean towel and apply a sterile adhesive dressing, eg, a plaster (waterproof plasters mean you can take a shower). Change the dressing daily if possible.
  • Encourage faster healing with a specific product such as Sheald Recovery Balm (£43), which can be applied to open wounds.
  • Go to your GP or minor injuries unit if you think your wound is, or could become, infected. Go to your nearest A&E if you cannot stop the bleeding or if the wound is large – particularly if it is on your face or the palm of your hand. Check with NHS 111 if you need further medical advice.

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Sheald Recovery Balm – The Ultimate Skin Saviour

  • Sheald Recovery Balm

    The Ultimate Skin Saviour

    Woken up to a complete sensitivity breakout? “Streamline your beauty regime to prevent further aggravation and avoid products with aggressive actives”, says Tom Ogden, European business manager at Alpha-H. That means retinol, glycolic acid and vitamin C-based products are a no-no, but try this balm instead. Originally formulated for use after plastic surgery, it’s rich in hydrating hyaluronic acid, as well as glycerin for repair and oat kernels to reduce redness.
    iS Clinical Sheald Recovery Balm, £43

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Beyond Repair – India Knight

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Beyond Repair – India Knight discovers a recovery balm to heal all your skin woes

  • The Tweezy

    We’re doing useful rather than glamorous this week, and we’re going slightly first-aid kit (as in the cupboard, not the totally great band David Cameron almost ruined by saying he liked them). Sheald Recovery Balm is by a company called iS Clinical that, as the name suggests, does heavy-duty clinical products. This one is designed specifically for use after cosmetic surgery and procedures such as laser treatment. Yes, I know you probably don’t have invasive procedures or laser treatment. Keep reading please.

    Formulated to use on wounds, it a) speeds up recovery, b) prevents scabbing and peeling, c) restores healthy skin asap, and d) is about a specific amino acid, 4 hydroxyproline, that basically tells the skin to start making new collagen. That’s all very good, and if you have any kind of invasive treatment on the cards, you want a tube of this for afterwards. It would also come in handy following a bad facial, when you leave all red and swollen, cursing yourself for your lack of research.

    I do not have invasive treatments, but I do have a child who had open-heart surgery last October. The surgeon went in through her existing scar this time. It’s a beautiful scar as it happens, but, obviously, it’s a scar. And it’s a scar that had finished healing when I approached my guinea-pig daughter brandishing my tube of Sheald. Or so I thought. Turns out this was not the case: this stuff is incredible on scars, even if the scars are old. After a month of use, it has all but erased my daughter’s. I would strongly recommend using this on post-pregnancy stretch-marks or any other kind of stretch-marks or scarring, even if the marks or scars are not new. And if you know anyone who’s going for surgery, turning up at the hospital with a tube of this is going to be a lot more use than a bunch of flowers and some boring magazines. (Sheald and a Kindle loaded with comfort reads, that’s my advice.)

    Sheald has multiple other applications, none quite as dramatic, but all as effective. If your skin is dry to the point of desiccation, whack this on all over before you go to bed. If your skin is behaving weirdly, ditto. If you get a stress rash, like I do – strangle little inflammations that come, itch and go away again – this stuff will get rid of them (it contains kava, which has a mild local anaesthetic effect, so the itch goes almost immediately). If you have ‘princessy’ skin that gets irritated by cleaning products – I spring-cleaned the kitchen recently and the oven cleaner made me come up in giant hives – this will sort you out. Strange dry patches: gone. Knackered looking skin under your eyes after too many late nights: gone. Dry elbows/knees/feet: banished. Mild allergic reactions that show up in your skin as annoying red splodges: zapped.

    This stuff has tons of uses other than its chief cosmetic one; it’s quasi-miraculous. Parents of small children should keep a tube handy in case of cuts, falls, nicks and grazes, and I have a feeling Sheald would work brilliantly on chickenpox scars. I’ve not tried it on acne scars, but if anything’s going to work, it’s this. And if you have an elderly relative who is prone to banging their shins on things, get them some Sheald and their skin will heal faster. I don’t quite know why it’s marketed with the ‘post-procedure’ tag so much to the fore; everyone needs this stuff, not only ladies who like scalpels. Not cheap, but one of the most effective products I’ve ever come across.


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Speed Scar Recovery

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A reader asks for a skin-friendly product to speed the healing of a pink scar, following a scab, on her 12-year-old daughter’s face. The answer, says pharmacist Shabir Daya, is Sheald Recovery Balm, a powerful repairing formula developed by US company iS Clinical. Testaments include this from a middle-aged couple who were horrifically attacked last Christmas. ‘We left hospital with scars over our faces and hands. A variety of creams didn’t improve them but after using Sheald four times, my red raw hands became a gentle pink and improved every day, and the large swellings on my husband’s face went right down.’ Sheald Recovery Balm, £43 for 60ml, Victoria Health.

MAKE WORK WORTH IT

Psychologists agree that ‘meaningful work’ is a fundamental pillar of wellbeing for most people. But according to careers coach Katharine Brooks, writing in Psychology Today, many people feel ‘stuck, bored and unfulfilled’. Brooks insists that ‘only in the rarest of situations must [people] remain stuck…even small changes can ease the pain.’ Read More…