Skincare Alphabet

A is for Acids

If you haven’t heard about acids in skin care, where have you been? Almost every skin care product will contain either glycolic acid or salicylic acid at the very least. These acids will fall into one of two main groups: Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) or Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs).

 AHAs help to chemically exfoliate, ridding the skin of dead skin cells and reduces the appearance of fine lines. AHAs are typically derived from fruit, plants and milk and treat the issues associated with ageing. They are an excellent remedy for dull, tired skin as they help to brighten and hydrate dry skin.

BHAs help skin which is prone to spots or blackheads as they penetrate deep to unclog pores. They are antibacterial and anti-inflammatory to help reduce redness and shine. BHAs also exfoliate and can be stronger than AHAs which means that it can be a little drying. They are more likely to be used in products aimed at problem or oily skin.

Finally, ascorbic acid which is Vitamin C. You will see skincare ranges containing Vitamin C at various price points. Vitamin C is an antioxidant which is used to reduce fine lines, brighten the skin and fade blemishes.

Please remember to use SPF after applying products with acids.


B is for Bacteria

I know what you’re thinking – why are we talking about bacteria? Did you know that although there is bad bacteria, there are also good bacteria? Bacteria literally surrounds us. There are trillions of bacteria which live on our body. Some are contained on the body’s largest organ, the skin, and most live within our gut, both of which are closely connected. The good bacteria helps to boost our immune system, neutralises toxins and helps to inhibit yeast and the bad bacteria in the gut. It also helps to stimulate the digestive process and aid the absorption of nutrients.

However, in today’s world where we are obsessed with a high level of cleanliness around our homes and on our bodies, we not only destroy the bad bacteria but also the good. We can replenish the good bacteria by taking probiotic drinks and supplements as well as through food. Fermented and cultured foods such as kefir, yoghurt and miso contain different types of probiotic bacteria. Whilst prebiotic foods like flax seeds, apples, oats and chia seeds can encourage your own good bacteria to multiply. Health and lifestyle factors such as stress, unhealthy diet, illness and age can also have a negative impact on our good bacteria. To counteract this and be healthy we should aim to eat a balanced diet, observe good food hygiene and keep stress levels low.

Good bacteria on our skin protects us from virus causing pathogens, maintains the skin’s natural pH function, resilience, clarity and suppleness. There are skin care brands which contain prebiotics to help stimulate the good bacteria and lactic acid is said to help restore the barrier function of the skin. Other brands eliminate the ingredients that kill the good bacteria. These tend to be the ingredients that give products their long shelf life.

A quote by Julie E. Russak, MD summarises it brilliantly: “A strong, balanced microbiome is essential for a glowing, healthy complexion.”


C is for Collagen

The word ‘Collagen’ comes from the Greek word for glue and is found in various parts of the body including the skin, joints and connective tissues. Collagen makes up around 30% of the body’s proteins and is the most abundant protein in the skin. 

Collagen is responsible for making skin firm and plump. It also helps to give our skin strength, elasticity and replaces dead skin cells. However, due to the body’s natural ageing process, our ability to produce collagen decreases year on year after the age of 25 and the consequences are wrinkles, joint pains and sagging skin. If that wasn’t bad enough, our lifestyle habits such as a diet high in sugar and high sun exposure exasperate the decrease in collagen.

The good news is that there are ways in which we can boost our skin’s collagen. Addressing our lifestyle issues is one of the most obvious ways to help our skin’s ability to produce collagen. This means cutting down on sugar intake and stop smoking. Then there are things we can actively do to help such as getting regular facials. An essential part of a facial is the massage which can stimulate collagen production and strengthen muscle memory. Another way to increase collagen is to apply it topically using creams such as our Collagen + Retinol Moisturiser Eating foods rich in sulphur and vitamin c which aid the formation of collagen and work to reduce oxidative damage as well as taking collagen supplements are other ways to boost our skin’s collagen. Finally, copper is a natural antioxidant which helps the development of collagen and elastin.


D is for Double Cleanse 

If you have seen some of my Facebook lives, have been a fan of my page for a while or you’re a self-confessed skin care addict then double cleansing will not be a new concept to you.

Cleansing is a daily ritual which should be done every day without exception. It is the most important part of any skin care regime and I’d highly recommend cleansing twice a day – morning and night. A morning cleanse helps to rid your skin of the dirt which builds up overnight. “What dirt?” I hear you ask. Well now I’ll ask you how often you change your pillowcase. Most of us do this weekly and not daily.

Whilst the morning cleanse only requires a single cleanse, at night we should always double cleanse. Without exception. Double cleansing rids the skin of makeup, pollution and other elements which can cause congestion to the skin. The first cleanse removes makeup, pollution and oil based dirt. Whist the second cleanse removes water based dirt and dead skin cells.

For best results apply generous amounts of your cleanser to dry skin so as not to dilute the product and if you have time, massage the cleanser into your skin for 2 to 3 minutes.


E is for Essential Oils

Essential oils are plant oils which are able to evaporate. It’s their ability to evaporate that enables them to have an aroma unlike other plant oils such as olive oil and avocado oil. Many plants produce an essential oil and they can be extracted from different parts of the plant such as the petals, leaves, wood, seeds, roots and stems.

The use of essential oils can enhance physiology, psychology and promote healing. They are extremely versatile and can be used on the skin, to make our homes smell good, as a disinfectant and to help our mood.

Essential oils are added to most natural skin care products to not only scent the product but also for their active properties. This means that it is considered to have an altering effect. For example, lavender helps us to sleep and frankincense is brilliant for calming nervous tension.

For those with sensitive skin you could try adding neroli or sandalwood to a base oil such as sweet almond oil for a wonderful body oil. Geranium or clary sage will help those with oily skin and jasmine or frankincense for those with dry or mature skin.

If you were to use two essential oils which have opposite capabilities they will cancel each other out. For example, rose and lemon – however you would still have the benefit of the uplifting fragrance from the oils.


F is for Facial Hair

I recently read a post by someone in a Facebook group who was asking for tips on removing facial hair. Lots of people in the group responded with nice and not so nice comments. What I hadn’t realised is that there are so many women out there struggling with having facial hair. From ‘peach fuzz’ to darker, thicker hair and everything in between. Why didn’t I know?...It’s because it is still relatively a taboo subject even in 2017.

It is thought that approximately 1 in 14 women have hirsutism. Hirsutism is a condition where ‘excessive’ hair appears in what is considered male areas on women’s bodies. There are some medical conditions which can cause hirsutism, most notably polycystic ovary syndrome which accounts for around 75% of cases.

It seems society sees female facial hair as abnormal and unacceptable, putting pressure on women to remove hair which isn’t ‘normal.’ Then comes another minefield. If a lady decides she wants to be hair free she’s faced with a plethora of tools and options to use and at the back of her mind is the thought  ‘What if I make it worse?’

So, what are the most popular ways to remove facial hair? For a do it yourself, home solution you could try shaving. Contrary to the old wives tale, shaving doesn’t make your hair grow back thicker or coarser. However, proceed with caution and try shaving either in or after a shower as the steam helps to soften the strands. If you’d prefer to go to your local beauty salon, you could try waxing or threading. And for a permanent solution you could try laser hair removal.

Or, perhaps it’s time to push back and accept what grows naturally on our bodies as normal and not abnormal. Would it be so bad if we just let it grow and start a ‘hairvolution?’


G is for Glow

The crucial step to having the ultimate glow for the face and body is exfoliation.

Exfoliating should be done once or twice a week to help remove dead skin cells and reveal gorgeous, fresh glowing skin.

Exfoliating can be done in one of two ways:

  • Physical – using small particles which buff away the dead skin cells
  • Chemical/Mask - which uses enzymes or acids to dissolve dead skin cells

If using a physical exfoliant it’s important to check they are made with natural ingredients such as sugar or jojoba beads.

Chemical/Mask exfoliants are typically made with fruit enzymes such as our Enzyme Rich Mask or acids.


H is for Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is essentially a large sugar which is naturally occurring in connective tissues throughout our bodies. Around 50% is found in our skin.

Our ability to produce hyaluronic acid and hold on to it decreases as we age which is why we find lots of beauty brands adding hyaluronic acid into serums and creams. It is an ingredient in our Collagen & Retinol Moisturiser:

Hyaluronic acid has an important role in retaining moisture in the skin, it can hold up to 1000 times its own weight in water. It also works as an antioxidant and stimulates collagen. It is also an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial.

Hyaluronic acid acts like a sponge as it holds large amounts of water in the skin which effectively plumps out the skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also improves the skin’s hydration and texture.

The wonderful benefits of hyaluronic acid are plumper skin and a luminous glow.


I is for Indian Head Massage

Indian Head Massage originates from the ancient system of medicine known as Ayurveda and has been practised in India as part of family rituals for over a thousand years.

This type of head massage involves massaging the upper back, shoulders, upper arms, neck, face and scalp. The benefits of Indian Head Massage can assist with a variety of physical and emotional problems and its underlying philosophy is that health results from a harmonious self.

Other benefits of Indian Head Massage include: general relaxation for muscles and the body as a whole, increases oxygen update in the tissues, improves blood circulation, stimulates the circulation of the lymphatic system and provides a sense of calmness.

Indian Head Massage also helps to balance chakra energy and works on the upper chakras – the crown, the brow and the throat chakra.

The crown chakra relates to consciousness as pure awareness. The brow chakra, also known as the third eye is related to the act of seeing, both physically and intuitively. And the throat chakra is related to communication and creativity.