November Newsletter

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Welcome to the November newsletter where we introduce you to Biocol Labs (head-over-heels excited) and new product releases from Ameliorate and BioBelle (of ‘I Woke Up Like This’ fame). We do the feedback on LixirSkin, which I will tell you right now is completely sensational and I also report on the Beauty Bible Awards, where one brand absolutely swept the board with 14 awards (FOURTEEN!). There is a Podium moment too, but first Biocol and I honestly can’t remember the last time I led a newsletter with health, but I am now, so let’s do it:

Biocol Labs

Even with the launch of many award-winning skincare and beauty products, we are still predominantly health-driven; it is at the very core of what and who we are and of course in turn it translates into skincare products, but I’ll touch on that later. In the very early days of VH I had a dream. I couldn’t understand why the packaging of health products was so dire and I was the one who was going to change all of that. I felt passionately about it, but I grew up rapidly. Of course it is totally irrelevant what the packaging is all about; if the efficacy and therapeutic dosages are questionable then what on earth is the point of being cute. And then (15 years after the event) Biocol landed on my desk and my heart nearly stopped beating. Read More…

Beauty Bible Loves: The (Early) Spring Edit

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VH has long been a go-to site for us – and for countless readers – for beauty ‘happenings’. It’s all Gill’s fault: she’s constantly out there sleuthing new and improved products to revolutionise our beauty regimes, and which do what they say on the tin/jar/whatever.

We frequently share our ‘finds’ with Beauty Bible readers – maybe you’re among them? – but thought it was time for a seasonal round-up of some of the new VH faves to which we’ve had the pleasure of introducing our fans and followers. (Every one of which is then entitled to use the rather lovely logo that we had designed a few years back, and which we’re always gratified to spot on beauty packaging!) Temple Spa Trufflesque. Remember that scene in Goldfinger where Shirley Eaton was entirely painted in gold? Read More…

And Just B-R-E-A-T-H-E

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I haven’t always breathed brilliantly. My overriding childhood memory is of a Wright’s Coal Tar Burner flickering in the corner of my bedroom, in an effort to ‘open up my passages’ (as my mother rather unglamorously put it). Heaven knows what the coal tar did to my lungs, long-term, but having coughed my way through childhood I’m one of those people who – when there’s a bug going round – will experience it going ‘straight to my chest’, if I succumb.

Or I did. In the past few years, things have improved enormously – and I think it’s down to several factors. Ah, those of you who know me might say: you moved to the brisk and breezy coast, 15 years ago. But actually, these past three years, I’ve been spending several nights a week in pollution-choked Central London, so that can’t be it. (Although I do always make a point of avoiding the city centre’s most clogged arteries, always walking on backstreets so I’m not breathing the diesel belching out of black cabs, in particular.)

I put it down to having written a book on yoga, a few years ago ­– Yoga for Life, which you can actually find on VH – which had me really thinking about breathing properly, for the first time in my life. As a bonus, what I also discovered is that right breathing does double-duty as a relaxing technique. (Always room for more of that, in our busy lives.)

There are a couple of techniques which I honestly believe really work to keep my lungs strong and resilient. ‘Nad Shodhana’, or ‘sweet breath’, is alternate nostril breathing – which you do by pressing lightly on one nostril, breathing in with the other, holding, releasing the finger and exhaling through the opposite nostril. But the technique that I really treasure, and which I think has helped me is called ‘ocean breath’ – because it sounds a bit like the pull of a calm sea on a sandy beach. It’s technically known as ‘Ujjayi’ breathing (say it ‘ooh-jie’). Or, slightly more heretically, as the ‘Darth Vader’ breath, which is the best clue I can think of as to how this should sound when you do it right. It happens to be truly brilliant for focusing the mind: if you have a project to complete and you’re finding it hard to rein in your thoughts, do some ‘ocean breathing’. And – useful at this time of years – it’s also brilliant for building internal heat: on a cold day, ujjayi breath is wonderfully warming. And this is how you do it.

Start by…  Finding a comfortable seated position, or alternatively, lying on your back. Putting a bolster under your knees can be good.

  1. Start by taking long, deep, slow breaths through your nostrils.
  2. Slightly contract the back of your throat to make a hissing sound as you breathe steadily in and out. (It’s sort of en route for a snore, but not quite;  it shouldn’t be forced – but if someone came close, they should be able to hear this breathing.)
  3. Lengthen your inhalations and exhalations as much as you comfortably can, while still feeling relaxed and comfortable. While you’re doing it, listen to your breathing; just the sound can be as calming as one of those ‘ocean wave’ relaxation tapes.

To be sure you’re getting it ‘right’, hold your hand up to your mouth and breathe out as if you were trying to fog up a mirror or a windowpane. To get the ‘fog’, you have to constrict the back of your throat. Now close your mouth and do the same thing, but breathing through your nose. And that’s it: you’re ujjayi breathing. I think of it as Jane Fonda for my lungs, only a lot calmer. And no snazzy leotard required.

There are a couple of other things which I think have helped my ‘chestiness’. A practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine told me to eat an apple every day – rather in line with that ‘prescription’ to keep doctors like him at bay, but in TCM it transpires that apples are considered especially good for the lungs. In winter, I also often put a dab or two of frankincense essential oil on my chest – a tip from my beauty editor and This Works founder colleague Kathy Phillips, which I find very helpful.

And last but not least – because don’t we all love a great product? – I want to single out two aromatherapeutic treats which definitely have a place in my breathe-easy arsenal. First off, Temple Spa Breath of Life Aromatherapy Inhalation Essence, which packs a menthol-y punch, together with notes of lavender, eucalyptus and tea tree. (If this doesn’t clear your passages, nothing will! But great for a cold, because of that.)

The second must-have is yet another in the Aromatherapy Associates Bath & Shower Oil collection, which as many readers know features my ‘desert island’ must-haves, Inner Strength and Deep Relax. But when I’m feeling cold-y or just need to breathe more clearly, I turn to the fabulous Support Breathe Bath & Shower Oil: an absolute miracle worker with its eucalyptus, tea tree and pine blend. A capful in the bath, 15 minutes breathing the fragrant steam, and I’m a different woman. With different lungs.

Meanwhile, I thought I’d just finish with this wonderfully inspiring Swedish proverb, which seems really timely for a new year. ‘Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more – and all good things are yours.’ So here’s wishing you a wonderful 2017. (With clear passages…)

Christmas Gifts

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Christmas, we think, is the time to give treats that people wouldn’t buy for themselves. But at Beauty Bible, we’ve long made a tradition of using the festive season as an excuse to introduce friends and family to the beauty and wellbeing treats we swear by ourselves. Because if something’s made it onto our bathroom shelves (between us, we literally receive thousands of products to try, each year) and stayed there, this is really quite significant! Bottom line: we would be happy – no, THRILLED! – to receive any of the following. Read More…

Arms Heading South

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Most of the women I know who look at news footage of the US president are transfixed by Barack Obama. But not me. I generally spend the whole time examining Michelle Obama’s upper arms, which are very often but a few feet from Barack’s side. Searching for the merest jiggle or wobble, actually, that might make me feel better about mine.

But no. Michelle’s arms are lean. With beautifully, subtly defined–yet–feminine biceps that her J. Crew sleeveless dresses seem specifically tailored to show off to best advantage. Now, hands up who hasn’t worn one of those for a while…? Well, if that includes you, right now you’re probably at the peak of Upper Arm Anxiety Season – with hot weather, holidays and all the shorter sleeves that go with them.

It’s a fairly widespread neurosis, I’ve found. And it might console you to know that even supermodels aren’t immune to Upper Arm Anxiety, as it happens. As my friend and former L’Oréal model Dayle Haddon observes, ‘Flabby underarms are tremendously ageing. After a certain age, we’ve all waved goodbye to someone – and been mortified to see our underarms flapping away in the wind! I believe,’ she continues, ‘that some could even create dangerous wind patterns…’ Read More…

Temple Spa

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Temple Spa is a total lifestyle brand that seeks to beautifully fuse product, philosophy and spa. Liz and Mark Warom are the co-owners and founders of Temple Spa. Product gurus with a long history of managing some pretty major international brand names, this savvy couple were well placed and connected to finally create and establish their own brand-baby Temple Spa.

Having spent a year long sabbatical and research time mainly in the Mediterranean, they returned to the UK armed with a heap of energy and a strong raison d’etre for their new brand concept. Enthused by the culture, inspired by the landscape and strengthened by the diet of the Mediterranean, they prepared the script for a compelling skin-spa brand. Read More…