2019 Resolutions And Solutions

Old typewriter close up with "New Year Chapter One" typed on paper

I always look forward to the start of a new year for that feeling of a clean slate it gives and the opportunity to do better and more. I have always loved making resolutions too, not unrealistic or unattainable ones that I have no intention of keeping, but personal goals and exciting plans that help me shape how I want the year to go.

Last year didn’t work out at all how I had planned and while I am still dealing with some of the health issues involved in that, I am now in a much better place and ready to take on 2019. When thinking about what I want my resolutions to be, I quickly realised that it was all about self-care and wellness, which makes sense considering how sick I have been.

One of the biggest things that went “wrong” last year was that I didn’t look after myself enough. I pushed and pushed until I couldn’t go any further and put off looking after myself because I didn’t prioritise my own wellbeing. This year I plan to do things completely differently. I have learned the hard way that health and wellness is a precious gift that needs to be nurtured and I plan to do just that.

Basically my goal is to simply get back on track — with my health, my life, my happiness and everything else that I abandoned over the past twelve months. Ultimately I just want to feel well again and repair the damage I did to myself, and these are the resolutions that I hope will help me do exactly that. I have kept them simple with no pressure inducing timelines and in a way, they are all linked. I have also included solutions so that my resolutions are more concrete and achievable, which I think will help me feel more capable of following through.

Hormone Balance

Resolution: As a woman in my thirties this is such an important component to overall good health. Having hormonal irregularities has affected so many areas of my life from the obvious menstrual cycle related issues, to the not so obvious ones like when I sleep and how long for, what I eat and how much of it and other issues I will talk more about soon.

Solution: Balancing your hormones can be tricky, so it’s extremely important to consult a doctor and get your levels checked. Once that’s done you can make a plan to get them in order and that can involve medication, supplements, food and exercise. For me, I will be keeping track of my blood sugar levels, (hopefully) sleeping more at night and introducing female health supportive supplements.

I am currently taking Endo Complex and Fertility from Wild Nutrition because both contain an excellent mix of ingredients essential for women’s health with the addition of hormone support through B6, N-Acetyl Cysteine and Cordyceps (Fertility), and oestrogen clearance (Endo Complex). I will also be eliminating or at the very least limiting my sugar and dairy intake as both affect my hormone levels.

I plan to get several checks throughout the year to track my progress so I can have a better understanding of what causes my hormonal fluctuations and then learn how to minimize and manage them going forward.

Skintelligence

Resolution: Skincare is my thing and looking after my skin is something I truly enjoy. Testing products, reading about ingredients and experimenting with new routines is not a chore to me and I love the process of it all. Last year unfortunately I used too much, tried too many things, played around too carelessly and my skin did not like that one bit. For 2019 I want to find a balance between enjoying all the new launches and putting my skin first.

Solution: Last year I started to be more thoughtful than ever when it comes to skincare. Excess was in and it just didn’t work for me. I became acutely aware of how damaging the need to have and try all the products can be for our skin and mental health and I did not want to be a part of it anymore. When I got sick I had virtually no time for new products let alone the ones I already had, but what I learned was that my skin was actually pretty okay with less — less products, less routines. It was all about finding the right ingredients for my skin and not over using them.

Thanks to the excellent Garden of Wisdom range I have been able to simplify my routine yet still see great results. In particular the PHA PlusMandelic Acid 10%Alpha Arbutin 2% and Kojic Acid 1% and 100% Prickly Pear Seed Oil have done so much for my skin, even without using them every day. That’s because instead of jumping on every new launch, I have focused on the ingredients that I know work well for my skin. Finding what works for you when it comes to skincare is definitely a journey that will take some time and experimentation, but it is worth it in the end.

Mane Attraction

Resolution: I really neglected my hair last year and this is something I want to change in 2019. At the beginning of the year I was just too busy to bother with it much and then since last summer I have been too sick to do anything beyond a perfunctory wash and air dry, which isn’t the best look for me (my hair is curly with some frizz). I have also experienced some shedding/thinning due to my illness and suddenly a lot more greys than I started the year with. I’m a Leo and the stereotype of my astrology sign loving their hair is somewhat true for me, so I want to start taking care of it again.

Solution: As many of you already know from personal experience, the launch of Ful.Vic Health was a big one and I have finally jumped on board. I just started using the shampooconditioner and mist, and I am in love. The range targets hair loss, shedding and thinning, as well as scalp support and follicle repair. This is exactly what I need and I have already started seeing a difference. With each wash I see less fall out and my hair is so much smoother and softer, even without using a hair dryer or straightener.

Hair care is definitely an inside-out job, so along with these topical products I will also start using the Elixir and making sure I’m getting enough scalp and hair supporting vitamins and minerals, which I should be thanks to the Wild Nutrition supplements. I might even treat myself to Hayo’u’s Beauty Restorer Comb as it is designed to promote healthy hair and reduce stress, and in my experience the two are linked – the more stressed I am, the more shedding I notice. I also plan to get my vitamin and mineral levels tested, so I can track the changes and any improvements myself.

Sleep Well

Resolution: Sleep is crucial for optimal health and fully functional living, and it is something I have been doing poorly the whole of last year. Continually having poor sleep has made dealing with an illness even more stressful and on top of that it sucked the joy out of things I used to love. I would find myself too tired to hang out with friends, falling asleep during movies or after reading a few paragraphs, and it just made me feel like I was dragging myself through each day like a zombie. I am the type of person who thrives on more sleep not less, so my plan is to make that a priority again.

Solution: What I have found is that getting a good night’s sleep is easier said than done. Even when I find myself exhausted and barely able to stay awake at 7 pm, once I am actually in bed and ready to sleep I can’t. I will be wide awake until 5 am and then absolutely shattered when my alarm goes off a few hours later.

Sleep is so important because it is the time when the body gets to rest, repair and restore itself, so without that most people won’t be able to feel their best. Knowing how essential sleep is to good health I plan to make my evenings more structured and deliberate. I will set a time to switch off from stimulating devices and begin a wind down routine that will help signal to my body that it’s time to sleep. For me this will include things like having a bath, wearing cosy pyjamas, reading a book and meditation.

I absolutely love listening to Soul Medicine before bed to help me relax and unwind and now that winter is officially here, it’s time to start using my beloved Space Masks again, which are brilliant for getting off to sleep quicker thanks to the soothing heat. Not only that, having my eyes covered means I’m less likely to be enticed by my phone whenever it vibrates or glows. De Mamiel also have a lovely sounding sleep range that I’m going to look in to and supplements like Magnolia Rhiodola and Magnesium have helped in the past, so I am taking those again.

Good sleep is a process and something that has to be learned and maintained, so achieving it is not something that will happen overnight, but if you can commit to a schedule of sleeping and waking and keeping your bedroom free of distractions, you will find that you will start to fall in to a natural pattern and when that happens it will be bliss. No more sleepless nights and exhausted days — just deep, restorative sleep that will help you feel and live better.

As you can see, my resolutions are pretty simple, but they are all linked. Improving my sleep will help with my hormones and balancing those will in turn help my hair and skin. The goal is to basically feel like myself again and that involves feeling good on the inside and out as well as finding my way back to joy. Self-care is important for mental and physical health and for me, that’s my aim for 2019 — looking after myself properly and committing to making my needs a priority. No matter what your resolutions for 2019 are, I hope they are ones that make you feel good and look forward to the year.

Have We Got It All Wrong About Preservatives?

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As the wave of natural beauty shows no signs of slowing down, the argument of natural vs synthetic ingredients continues, particularly when it comes to preservatives. Pick up any cosmetic product and you’ll see ‘paraben-free’ proudly listed on its packaging and advertising. Read More…

Meet The Woman Behind Nannette De Gaspé

Nannette de Gaspe

Most of us are well acquainted with sheet masks and have put several to task to hydrate, brighten and improve our skin. The idea of using a dry sheet mask might feel slightly unnatural, but over the past year several have launched onto the market. The woman who discovered the technology and first launched it onto the skincare market is Nannette de Gaspe. To mark the launch of Nannette de Gaspé’s game-changing dry sheet masks and her impressive Art of Noir skincare range, we caught up with her to find out what inspired her…

Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I began my career in corporate banking and corporate finance. For a number of years, prior to launching Nannette de Gaspé, I worked in private equity.

What gave you the inspiration to develop the dry sheet masks?
A few years ago, through my private equity work, I was presented with a revolutionary technology in the delivery of active ingredients and a process to dry print the formulations onto textiles.

I was inspired to bring the technology to the market when I learned how the clever delivery system transports active ingredients to multiple layers of the epidermis (top layer of skin), creating a reservoir under the skin, feeding and nourishing it from the inside out. I was very impressed with the significant clinical results achieved in a very short amount of time. It was true innovation.

I decided to launch Nannette de Gaspé, a luxury, high-performing and natural beauty brand to share this wearable technology with the world.  My vision was and is to empower people with revolutionary cosmetic solutions that are easy-to-use, not intrusive and truly beneficial to the skin. We have since introduced our Baume Noir Face, a virtually waterless global face cream that also incorporates this advanced delivery technology.

Can you explain in Layman’s terms the technology?
We are using a breakthrough micro vector ingredient delivery system that allows for active ingredients to travel through micro penetration to multiple layers of the epidermis (top layer of skin). The technology not only allows for a deeper penetration of actives, but also ensures a more continuous release of actives as the micro vectors slowly melt into the skin, thus delivering more pronounced results in a condensed amount of time.

Because our TechstileTM treatments are dry, there is no water to act as a filler, infusing your skin with upwards of 95% natural ingredients and up to a mind-blowing 87% active ingredient concentration.

Why did you decide to expand the range with the Art of Noir products?
We would always suggest to our clients that they should wash their faces with a good cleanser and use an exfoliator to remove dead skin cells and refine pores, before using our dry TechstileTM  treatment. Many of our clients would ask us when we were coming out these products.

Because Nannette de Gaspé was called a disruptor in the beauty industry when we pioneered the dry TechstileTM treatment, we knew that we had to bring out unique, high-performing skincare. We spent almost two years creating our Art of Noir skincare collection which is upward of 95% natural.  

What are your desert island beauty essentials?
Definitely our Essence Noir Cleansing and Treatment Clothes, the Polish and both Baume Noir Face and Lips. I would also want my Amazing Cosmetics Amazing Concealer (never leave home without it!), Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Mascara, MAC Blushbaby Blush and, of course, my Elta MD SPF46 Sunscreen.

What do you think the future holds for the health and beauty industry?
Skincare will be more about quality than quantity. Consumers will want their skincare routine to be simple, treatment focused and fit easily into their lifestyle. They will be looking for high-performing active ingredients in multi-tasking formulations (ie. a cleanser that is also a light exfoliator with anti-ageing and hydrating benefits).

As trends are moving towards nourishing the body with green and clean inside and out, people will want clean beauty which incorporates more natural and sustainable ingredients.

As consumers become more educated and savvy, they will want greater customisation options and access to products and technologies that they can use at home, on their terms. Brands will offer personalised products for the changing needs of one’s skin, which can be daily, weekly, monthly.

How I Found My Skincare Style

dob-september-18

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 Supplements Became The Best Step In My Skincare Routine

spoon of fruit and vegetables

After my health issues a few years ago it became pretty obvious that what was happening on my skin had a lot to do with what was going on inside my body. In fact, how my skin changed was the first sign that something was wrong, although I did not realize this at the time. As my health deteriorated, my skin progressively got worse until I felt like I looked just as badly as I was feeling (which was pretty awful). The funny thing is, I remember being obsessed with fixing my skin and wasted so much time and money on products and treatments when what I needed to do was focus on my health – the root cause of my skin problems.

 

My discovery of how important supplements can be for the skin happened completely by accident. In order to avoid surgery to remove a large cyst I began researching alternative medicines and from there I learned about the different vitamins, minerals and herbal remedies that would help me naturally balance my hormones, support the digestive system and lower my stress levels. The supplements I began taking had nothing to do with the skin as far as I was concerned, but a very happy “side effect” I started to notice after a couple of months was that my skin was improving, all without having any kind of skincare routine.

 

That’s when I realized that for many of us skincare junkies out there, products can only do so much and to really care for our skin we need to look after our bodies as a whole. For me that included taking my supplements, but also eating well (things like sugar, dairy, meat and grains really upset my stomach), regular exercise, plenty of rest, less stress and more mindfulness. Basically, all the boring things we know we need to do, but often find it difficult to make time for these days. I ultimately made a complete lifestyle shift with my supplements at the centre of it all and the difference in how I felt and looked was like night and day.

 

Despite all this, once I was well enough to get back to my normal life I was quick to forget everything I had learned. Ridiculous, I know, but I think I rushed my recovery because I felt like I had wasted so much time being ill and I just wanted to move on from it all. It was a dark time for me and instead of seeing the things I had done to get well as a new way of life to stay that way, I saw them as a reminder of how sick I had been. Over the years I eventually stopped doing everything, even taking supplements. As a result, about six years later I am dealing with the same issue again, which brings me to my current round of supplement therapy.

 

I thought it was important to finally share my experiences with supplements and talk about my current journey because I know that in general most people are quite skeptical of them and I was too. Even after I had seen how well they had worked for me I still doubted if they had really had an effect. I wondered if they were just giving me “expensive pee”, but after tracking my health and skin with supplements alone, only using skincare products and just exercise and healthy eating, as well as different combinations of these things, I know that supplements make a difference for me and that they are worth trying.

 

Currently I am focusing on reducing inflammation, repairing my gut and balancing my hormones. As I have said many times, I believe inflammation is the root cause of pretty much every issue with the body and skin and in my experience it affects and is linked to my digestive and reproductive health. I am also working on improving cellular waste/toxin removal, which I hope will help my issue resolve itself without any surgical intervention. As for my skin, the biggest concerns I am trying to address are dullness, hyperpigmentation and inflammation, which the supplements I am taking have already begun to help with.

 

Even though supplements are very personal and it’s important to tailor them to your own specific needs and issues, there are a few that I think pretty much everyone could benefit from for overall health and good skin. The main supplement that I have felt and seen the most improvement from are digestive enzymes/probiotics. These are the staples in my supplement regime and sort of form the basis for general good health because without proper gut function you’ll likely not be able to absorb and reap the full benefits of any vitamins you take, as well as the food you are eating. Not only that, more and more research and studies are coming out that show just how important it is to look after our gut and many issues, especially with the skin, could be a result of conditions like leaky gut (Shabir has written about that more here) or gut bacteria related food sensitivities. 

 

Once you have taken care of your gut you can move on to tackling specific issues and even when it comes to the skin there is pretty much a supplement for everything. If inflammation (internal and/or external) or acne (especially cystic) is a chronic issue for you then try Omega 3. It has worked really well for me over the years and helped reduce the size and frequency of the cystic acne I was getting the first time I was ill. Another good supplement for the skin is zinc, which helped my blemishes heal quicker by improving wound healing and boosting my immune system.

 

If like me pigmentation or dullness is an issue then check out Glutathione, which not only works to reduce melanin production, but also supports the liver and kidneys (also great for the skin). If you find that your skin is affected by your menstrual cycle then try Agnus Castus, which has worked wonders for me and many of my female family members and friends. Stress management is also extremely important for your skin and overall health. If you find you frequently suffer from feeling anxious, low mood or mood swings then something like Rhiodola Rosea can help reduce the levels of cortisol in the body. This hormone affects how we respond to stress, but it also impacts our skin, which is why we often get blemishes during stressful times.

 

All these supplements have been written about extensively on here by the extremely knowledgeable and incredibly helpful Shabir and I encourage you to read up on any issue you are having because it’s likely you will find a way to deal with them through supplement therapy like I did. As many of you will know, I found my way to Victoria Health thanks to googling alternative ways to help with my cyst and the supplements I bought as a result of reading Shabir’s articles were why I was able to get well without conventional medicine or surgery.

 

I know that taking supplements probably seems less exciting and more of a hassle than using a face mask or getting a facial, but for me (and I am sure many of you), what is happening on my skin is just a symptom of something else going on in my body. Skincare products can help a lot, but only to a point and what I have found is that by taking a 360 approach to my health and including supplements as part of my skincare routine my skin is way more calm and balanced, even when I barely use anything on it like I have been for the past few weeks.

 

Of course, like everything (but especially all things beauty/skin related) supplements are extremely personal and there is no one magic pill that will cure everything, nor is there one perfect regime that will work for everyone. It’s all about what your body needs and the right combination and dosage to get the best results. Even so, I truly believe that if you are dealing with persistent health or skin issues then supplements could be worth investing in over an expensive serum or “miracle” cream.

 

Being that this is a health and wellness platform, I know a vast majority of VH readers are dedicated supplement users, but if you are a newbie then there are some guidelines that can help. First and foremost, there are many factors that go in to what supplements to take (age, sex, lifestyle, medication, allergies, contradictions etc), so it is very important that you do as much research as possible and consult your doctor. Shabir has written thousands of articles and those are a great place to start. The first time I discovered them I was reading until the sun came up and it was the first time I felt truly empowered in my illness.

 

Next, like skincare it’s all about finding what works for you and that also includes how the supplements will be administered. I have found that I pretty much hate the feeling of swallowing pills or capsules and have now focused on liquid/spray supplements from brands like Biocare, BetterYou and LivOn Labs in my regime. By doing this I now actually enjoy taking my supplements and again like with skincare products, great ingredients can only work if you actually use them. 

 

Not only that, in the same way that you have to stay consistent with your skincare products to see the best results, the same goes for your supplements. I usually start to feel a difference within a month (what my period is like is generally a good indicator) and see results around the 10-12 week mark. I would also recommend starting slowly (just like you wouldn’t start using too many products at once) and documenting how you feel day-to-day.. Right now I am taking all the supplements mentioned and a few more that I will explain in more detail on my blog to share my journey.

 

For some of you simple changes like switching to a non-drying cleanser, or incorporating a retinol product will be all you need to see a difference in your skin, but for others the issues are more than skin deep and need to be addressed from the inside out. Sometimes our skin can act like a mirror reflecting what’s going on internally and if you find that you have the same recurring issues or can never quite get a handle on your skin then incorporating supplements could be the best step your skincare routine has been missing out on.

 

The Boring Truth About My Skin (And Probably Yours)

cream tub

Ever notice how when your skin is freaking out, you pare back your routine to the bare minimum? Like me, you probably cut out strong actives such as acids and retinol, up the hydration and stick to only three-five products (or less) in a routine. Sound familiar? It is something I think almost everyone does instinctively and there’s a good reason for it – this is what our skin really wants from us.

While it has become increasingly popular to acquire lots of products and perform up to ten steps per routine, most of us could very easily use way less and have better skin for it. Boring, I know, but it’s a truth I have finally accepted about my skin and it has made such a big difference. Read More…