How To Boost Your Overnight Skincare Routine

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New figures suggest that we’re honing in on our overnight skincare routines. Sleep has always been big business, but now we’re as obsessed with boosting our skin as we are with getting enough shut-eye. According to NPD UK, sales of night creams in the UK have risen sharply in the past year and the night-time skincare market was valued at £43 million between October 2017 and September 2018. Read More…

Everything You Need To Know About Dermarolling

dermaroller

The idea of puncturing your skin with sharp 0.5mm long needles for three minutes, twice a week, might be enough to make some people squirm, but dermarolling, or microneedling, has received a lot of press in recent months. The technique isn’t necessarily new, but more experts are rallying behind it as a way of rejuvenating your skin quickly. So, what are the benefits?

First and foremost, what is a dermaroller?

It look like a medieval torture device, but the spiky, roller gadget can be hugely beneficial to your skin. Dermarollers have lots of small, sharp needles that you roll across your skin to create micro punctures. Needle length varies from 0.2mm to 1mm for both in-clinic and at-home dermarollers. Nannette de Gaspé’s Roller Noir has 0.5mm length needles to ensure it’s safe to use at home yet still offers collagen-boosting results.

What are the skincare benefits?

Microneedling creates thousands of tiny punctures to your skin, which not only help to slough away dry skin, but also turbocharges your collagen and elastin production. Essentially, microneedling makes your skin think it’s been injured and forces it into repair mode.

While you will notice your complexion looks fresher, don’t expect overnight success in terms of skin firmness as it can take around eight weeks for your skin to produce collagen.

How do you use it?

Experts recommend rolling upwards in a diagonal direction across your face at least twice, if not three times for the best results. Always roll on freshly cleansed skin and wash/spritz your roller with alcohol afterwards to avoid any bacteria build-up. Expect your skin to be a shade of pink for at least 15 minutes after you’ve rolled.

What’s the best skincare to use alongside your dermaroller?

If you usually apply your vitamin C or retinol serum in the evening, alternate these with your dermaroller. Reactive ingredients, especially exfoliating acids can be too harsh on skin after microneedling. Instead, opt for a hydrating hyaluronic acid serum or a soothing, nourishing formula to help replenish your skin. Remember you’ve just caused micro-injuries across your face, so be gentle.

How long will your dermaroller last for?

Similar to razor blades, over time the needles on your dermaroller will become blunt. However, this should take around six months if you’re using it a couple of times a week.

The Importance Of Acceptance

the-importance-of-acceptance

We know lots of women who’ve had fillers, Botox and other cosmetic ‘tweaks’. And if that includes you, that’s your choice. But you won’t find us lining up for a syringe-ful of anything ‘age-defying’ in a cosmeto-dermatologist’s waiting room. Not now, not ever. We have plenty of beauty editor colleagues who’ve done so, of course – sometimes in the line of duty, to educate other women about what it’s like and what results to expect. But along the way, in some cases, they’ve entirely stopped looking like the women we knew (and not in a good way).

Fact: once you have that first procedure – even if it’s something as simple as Botox – you’ve crossed the rubicon. If that doesn’t make you better and solve all your life problems (and trust us, it won’t), then where next…? It’s a rabbit hole and a slippery slope. (Possibly a slippery slope into a rabbit hole, actually, is how we see it.)

Do we always love what we see in the mirror? No. Nobody said ageing was easy. But we’re happy to be living in a time when there are, at last, fabulous older role models out there. The ninety-something, super-stylish Iris Apfel, for instance. Linda Rodin, who sold her Rodin Olio Lusso skincare line to Estée Lauder, and whose grey-haired fabulousness (and pet poodle, Winks) we just adore following on her @lindaandwinks Instagram account. Or Jan de Villeneuve, 60s model, still going strong in her 70s (and soon to make an appearance in a quirky Jo Malone London campaign). They don’t airbrush or ‘fix’ their lines – they embrace them. And that’s what we strive for, too.

What is entirely possible, however – as the women above all prove – is that it’s easier than ever to look good for your age. So this month on VH, we thought we’d share what we have learned, over our long careers, really, really works.

Get a great makeover

Before anyone heads off to a doctor’s surgery on a quest for eternal youth, we like to divert them to a beauty counter – probably Bobbi Brown’s. One of the things that happens as we age, and which women find most distressing, is that their make-up doesn’t work the way it used to. It settles into lines. The complexion underneath has changed, too – often becoming paler and more washed-out. Brows go grey. Because of that – and the ever-present fear of looking like Widow Twankey, and having someone shout ‘Mutton!’ after you in the street – some women stop using make-up altogether. Which is absolutely the worst thing to do, because you will simply fade away.

Pale skin, pale brows, pale lashes, paler lips – it all adds up to a disappearing act. But Bobbi Brown’s make-up artists, in particular, are great at giving makeovers that make you look like you – only better. At the very least you’ll pick up some tips and tricks (and it’s only make-up, not a tattoo – if you hate the results, just cleanse them away when you get home).

Find a great facialist

For our money, a good facial with massage by skilled hands can give some gorgeous instant results and really get skin glowing. Ask friends for recommendations, because not all facialists are created equal, by a long chalk. (But you might just find a magic-worker round the corner.)

Add at-home facial massage into your regime

It works wonders; on ‘grey days’ it revs up circulation, restoring glow. We love the following, from Annee de Mamiel, which is fantastic performed with her facial oils. (Find them here.)

• Smooth your favourite facial oil over entire face and neck.

• Cup hands over nose and mouth, breathe in and out deeply.

• Tug your earlobes with thumb and index finger.  Then with fingertips, use firm, circular movements to massage from behind ears to base of neck.

• From the point of your chin, work up and outwards along the jaw to your ear; then from corners of mouth over the cheeks to ear, with circular movements; then from base of nose to top of ear.        Repeat the whole sequence three times.

• Sweep your fingertips firmly over your eye brows, then under, then gently pinch along them. Repeat twice.

• Pressing firmly with your middle fingers, circle the eyes beginning above the inner corners and working outwards.  Repeat three times.

• From the centre of your forehead, just above the nose, zigzag middle fingers in small, firm motions out to the temples; repeat working up the forehead.

• With the side of your index finger (held vertically), smooth skin from centre of face outwards, beginning with your forehead, then sides of nose, middle of mouth and centre of chin.

• Finish by breathing deeply, hands cupped over mouth and nose.

Try a jade stone

If there’s one thing more effective than massaging with fingers, it’s using a tool to do so. The Hayo’u Beauty Restorer has become a ‘cult’ product, and we’re so not surprised – it’s brilliant for dispelling fluid build-up and eliminating facial puffiness, especially around the jaw.

Get the needle!

Not Botox, or fillers, but acupuncture needles. We swear by them. And believe us, the needles truly aren’t scary. We were having facial acupuncture long before we met the wondrous Annee de Mamiel (see above), but we love her philosophy and her explanation of why facial acupuncture works. ‘Beauty is about being balanced on the inside, in every way – physically and psychologically. If you feel good about yourself, it reflects in the way you look. Dry, wrinkled, saggy skin mirrors what is happening in your body, so a facial acupuncturist looks at the roots of the problems and treat those too.’ For instance, the common problem of vertical lines between your eyebrows can relate to liver energy not flowing properly (frowning too much is a factor too!), so as well as needling the lines themselves, an acupuncturist will treats the liver. It’s also incredibly relaxing, we find – and of course that shows instantly on the face, too.

Never, ever, EVER look at yourself in the ‘vanity’ mirror of your car

If you want to feel good about yourself, and practice ‘acceptance’, that is. Invariably, lines appear there that weren’t there yesterday. It’s some kind of quirk of physics, we think. (Jo’s stuck gaffer tape over hers, to avoid nasty surprises.) And be really careful with FaceTime on your phone, too – we kinda hate Apple for coming up with that.

Last but not least, think nice thoughts

Your skin and face reflect your state of mind. If you’re stressed, you run the risk of looking pinched and peaky. Try thinking of a couple of nice things that have happened to you today – remember someone you love and, or something delicious that you have to look forward to. Even if life is really tough (and it happens to everyone), there’s almost always something positive. Gratitude and hope are great beautifiers. Be kind to others, and to yourself, too. That’s true beauty, in our book.

Would You Ditch Oils for Clearer Skin?

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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 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…