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How the Perimenopause & Menopause can change our skin

How the Perimenopause & Menopause can change our skin

 

How getting our skincare on point can help us to feel a little bit more ‘Meno-poised’

Perimenopause and menopause are massive life events for women. Seen as a taboo until very recently, discussions and awareness are thankfully welcomed more now than they have ever been. Yet these changes are still misunderstood, misdiagnosed and sometimes ignored. I am a Menopause Coach and my aim is to pass on some sound advice. If you are suffering right now or think you are at the beginning of this journey I want to empower you to recognise what is happening within your own bodies. Providing some confidence to seek help from your GP or a health specialist. Plus if you are reading this but not affected by the menopause personally I hope to arm you with some useful knowledge to be able to understand and support others around you.

 

In this article I’m going to talk about the difference between perimenopause and menopause. I’ll also discuss some of the changes we may experience in our skin and what we can do to alleviate these.

 

Almost every women will go through these changes which arecaused by long term hormone deficiencies. Ultimately, it’s when we stop having periods because our ovaries stop producing eggs and, as a consequence, our hormone levels of oestrogen and progesterone fall. But this is generally not a smooth transition because our hormones fluctuate rather than fall steadily causing all sorts of issues. It’s really important to say that we must recognise it’s not just women in their forties and fifties that will experience this. Those who are non-binarythat were female at birth, trans men who haven’t gone through gender re-assignment surgery, anyone who has had a hysterectomy (uterus removal) and/or oophorectomy (ovary removal) and in rare cases teenagers and even children can also experience these symptoms.

 

Research has shown that one third of perimenopausal and menopausal women in the UK wait at least a year to receive treatment for their symptoms and for one in ten it takes more than nine doctor appointments to make a diagnosis. This is all whilst experiencing a multitude of symptoms which can cause real suffering. Physical and mental health can decline during this time. We shouldn’t have to endure these changes just because it’s a ‘natural’ process that women go through. Withthe appropriate treatments and lifestyle changes it can be effectively managed and quality of life can be improved.

 

What is Perimenopause?

This is when we are experiencing menopausal symptoms due to hormone changes but we still have our periods. Even if these are changing in frequency and nature. The average age to start having perimenopausal symptoms is around forty five. Although everyone’s experience is different. The perimenopause can last for many months or years and can be a rocky road.

 

 

What is Menopause?

In Greek it translates as ‘month’ and ‘cease’ and is when wedon’t have a period for twelve consecutive months. The average age of menopause is fifty one and forty nine for BIPOC  communities (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour). But again this can be different from woman to woman. Most people concentrate on the menopause but it’s the perimenopause beforehand which can be really disruptive.

 

What is Post Menopause?

The time in our life after the period of twelve consecutive months with no period.

 

What part do Oestrogen & Progesterone play?

For many of us the hormones oestrogen and progesterone work in synergy to regulate the menstrual cycle and produce eggs. They are preparing our bodies for possible pregnancy every month and we experience a period when pregnancy doesn’t happen. As we approach menopause our ovaries make fewer of these hormones and our fertility decreases. Once we are post menopause we can’t become pregnant. Testosterone also has an important role to play in growth, bone mass and maintenance of the female sexual anatomy. So can cause problems when it too starts to decline.

 

Oestrogen is a big player in keeping our whole bodies running smoothly, not just our menstrual cycle. It directly effects our immunity, mood, muscles, hair and skin to name just a few. So when it starts to fluctuate during the perimenopause and menopause this leads to a deficiency resulting in a whole host of symptoms.

 

What are the symptoms?

There isn’t a test available that can give us a definitive diagnosis. If you are not feeling quite like your normal self, ‘out of sorts’, experiencing symptoms you haven’t noticed before I would suggest keeping a diary of your mental and physical health or better still use a menopause app to track what’s going on. There are nearly forty different symptoms associated with this period in our lives. It’s not just hot flushes and feeling a bit cranky! Below are many of them although this isn’t an exhaustive list:

 

Feeling tense/nervous
Trouble sleeping
Dizziness/feeling faint
Loss of interest in sex
Muscle and joint aches and pains
Difficulty concentrating
Irregular periods
Heart palpitations
Tiredness/lack of energy
Crying frequently
Feeling irritable
Headaches
Stress incontinence
Skin becomes dry and itchy
Loss of interest in things
Hot flushes
Brittle nails
Numbness in parts of body
Vaginal dryness
Osteoporosis
Feeling unhappy
Body odour changes
Bloating
Night sweats
Breathing difficulties
Memory loss
Mood swings
Breast soreness
Changes in body shape and weight gain
Recurrent urinary tract infections
Digestive problems
Hair loss
Tinnitus

 

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, keep a note of them and read what you can from reliable sources. Make an appointment to see your GP or a health professional armed with your evidence and knowledge.

 

How does the perimenopause and menopause affect our skin?

Many of us will see the biggest changes to our skin during this time. It may feel tighter, drier, itchier and rougher with a dull appearance. Rosacea and broken capillaries may develop. Fine lines will seem more prominent. We may even see a return of acne or experience it for the first time. Much of this isn’t exclusive to the skin on our face either, changes happen to the skin all over our body.

 

So why does this happen? Most of the cells in our skin have oestrogen receptors. Oestrogen has four key functions within our skin which, when depleting, will cause changes:

 

1.Oestrogen produces hyaluronic acid

This is a gel like substance produced just below the skins surface. It’s a natural hydrator and is able to retain water so it’s a real skin superhero. It gives the skin fullness, reducing fine lines and dryness. But as oestrogen declines, so does the production of hyaluronic acid. Therefore our skin finds it harder to retain moisture leaving it dry, dull and scaly. The natural shedding of dry dead skin cells slows right down too. The radiant glow we maybe once had seems to fade away. When skin cells don’t shed effectively skincare products that are applied cannot penetrate effectively and do their job.

 

Oestrogen stimulates the sebaceous glands

Therefore sebum (oil) is produced to keep the skin nourished and smooth. When this depletes skin becomes drier, scaly and rougher.

 

 

Oestrogen also builds collagen

This is a connective tissue that gives skin its strength and structure. When they decrease, stiffen and break apart this results in deeper lines, sagginess and loss of tone.

 

Oestrogen produces ceramides

Ceramides are a lipid that binds the top layers of the skin together so that it can retain water and protect from irritants.When these decrease the skin finds it harder to hold on to water. Again resulting in drier skin which can become sensitised due to its protective layer being compromised.

 

It’s been found that oestrogen levels start to decrease in the skin up to ten years before we are fully menopausal. So these symptoms of decreasing moisture and changes to the structure of the skin can creep up on us over a period of time. Testosterone can also wreak havoc by producing excess sebum which can lead to an oilier skin, blemishes and blocked pores. We can also see an increase in facial hair too. The rate in which our skin cells renew slows down massively. But help is at hand, we can tweak our current skincare routines to seepositive results.

 

What can I do to improve the health of my skin?

There are lots of small changes we can make to see and feel a difference in our skin. Healthy radiant skin is possible whatever our age and no matter what treatment for perimenopause and menopause we decide to take.

 

Start with reviewing your current skincare routine

Focus on the basics, don’t have an over complicated regime. Choose products that are gentle, nourishing and hydrating by looking for ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides and squalene to support the skins natural barrier and moisture. Peptides and retinoids are collagen boosting ingredients and will help to combat loss of firmness and fine lines. Treat skin as ‘maturing’ skin and try to see this as a positive because it is. We are lucky to see our skin change and develop with age, even if it doesn’t seem like it at times.

 

Choose gentle cleansers such as balms, oils and milks which won’t strip the skin.

 

Always keep a facial mist to hand. These are wonderful hydrating sprays that you can use any time of day or night.

 

Opt for serums that contain vitamin C to brighten the complexion and hyaluronic acid to hydrate.

 

Use a gentle exfoliator to remove dry dead skin cells and encourage new cells to form.

 

Try not to over use acids and peels such as glycolic or lactic acid. They still have a place in many skincare routines to exfoliate, brighten and stimulate the skin but pare back a little.

 

Retinoids (vitamin A) are an incredible addition to an evening routine but if you haven’t used them before introduce themgradually. They can make a real difference to the appearance and texture of the skin.

 

Moisturise with a cream suitable for your skin. Don’t feel you have to use a super rich formulation if your skin isn’t particularly dry. There are lots of different textures to choose from for this age group.

 

Sunscreen should be a daily staple, even in the winter, and especially after applying retinoid the night before.

 

Don’t overload the skin with too many thick rich products.  Be mindful of how your skin looks and feels and if it needs more product you can apply it. I always suggest cleansing the face and applying your evening routine products several hours before bed. This way you can then see and feel if you face needs more moisture just before going to bed.

 

Treat the skin on your body much the same as the skin on your face. You may be experiencing dry, dehydrated, rough, itchy skin as hormone levels fluctuate. Use a gentle shower gel and moisturise daily. Use a gentle body exfoliator once or twice a week to remove dry dead skin cells. You don’t need to use harsh scrubs as this might make the situation worse. Many body care products contain ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and ceramides etc. So keep your eyes peeled for these if you have particularly dry skin.

 

Ultimately concentrate on feeding and nourishing the skin. Think of your new skincare routine as a real act of kindness to yourself.

 

And also think about:

 

Feeding the skin from the inside

Keeping hydrated with drinking water, feeding our body nutritious gut friendly food and reducing our sugar intake will not only benefit our skin but all systems of the body. A good quality Omega 3 supplement can make a positive impact.Omega 3 are a crucial component of the lipid membrane of skin cells. So this is also a good place to start feeding the skin from the inside out. Check with your GP before taking if you have any concerns.

 

Breakouts

Don’t treat the skin harshly if you experience spots and blackheads. There is no need to try to strip the skin of oil. This will only create further problems. Treat the area where the spots are rather than the whole face.

 

Moles

Keep a check on moles as it’s more common to find pre-cancerous and cancerous changes at this time.

 

Bruises

We are more prone to bruising due to the falling levels of oestrogen but also simply because the skin is thinner.

 

Healing

Our skin is slower to repair and heal as we get older. We don’t have as many growth factors and stem cells to regenerate.

 

Stress

The route of all evil. If we are able to reduce stress in our lives this will have a positive impact on our perimenopause and menopause experience including what happens with our skin.

 

Below are some handpicked products stocked at Perfumery & Company which are perfect for perimenopausal and menopausal skin. However, they do stock many more items suitable for maturing and hormonal skin so do check out their website or pop in if you are local to them:

 

Clarins Super Restorative range

This range has been specifically designed for menopausal skin. Like a comfort blanket for the face. The day and night creams have been formulated to our specific needs at these different times of the day, protecting the skins barrier during the day and reactivating the skin cells at night. Containing organic harungana extract which is a tree sap with healing, soothing and revitalising properties. It’s known as one of nature’s retinols so is ideal for skin of this age. This range offers face creams for different skin types. I have been trialling the day and night cream for very dry skin. If your skin isn’t very dry you could opt for the moisturisers for all skin types.

 

Clarins Super Restorative Day Cream

Suitable for very dry skin (another cream is available in the range for all skin types and has a lighter consistency)

Containing vegetal squalene to rebuild and protect the skin’s natural barrier encouraging a smoother surface texture. What I love about this cream is that even though it’s for a very dry skin it isn’t too rich. It penetrates effectively into the skin so shouldn’t feel too heavy for someone with dry skin. Apply in the morning onto clean skin after serum. Always take the cream down the neck and onto the chest area.

 

Clarins Super Restorative Night Cream

Suitable for very dry skin (another cream is available in the range for all skin types and has a lighter consistency)

Along with organic harungana this cream contains a vitamin C derivative to brighten and organic sea lily to improveoverall hydration.  This is a super nourishing cream for dry to very dry skin. Apply in the evening onto clean skin after serums/oils.

 

Neals Yard Remedies Women’s balance range

This is a body care range featuring a specific blend of essential oils that smell like a spa in a bottle – Rose Absolut, geranium and frankincense that not only nourish parched skin but are clinically proven to bring about balance and harmony to mind and body. A lovely delicate fragrance. This range has been designed specifically for women’s natural cycles and life stages. They are a joy to use and help to relax and calm.

 

Women’s Balance Shower Oil

Suitable for all skin types

I love a shower oil and this one is no exception. Macadamia and sea buckthorn cleanse and nourish dry, dehydrated skin perfectly. Whilst the unique blend of essential oils definitely brings some calm and balance. Massage into wet skin and see it transform into a milk to provide hours of moisture.

 

Women’s Balance Massage Oil

Suitable for all skin types

This is a luxurious massage oil to use after a shower on dry skin. Containing the same incredible essential oil blend apply any time to restore feelings of calm. Warm a few drops in your hands and breath in the aroma. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths before massaging in circular motions all over the body. I like to use this in the morning after my shower as it doesn’t leave skin feeling greasy, it sinks in beautifully. But I’ve also used it at night, specifically to give myself a warming foot massage before bed. Remember to gently exfoliate once or twice a week to ensure the massage oil can penetrate effectively.

 

Body Cream

Suitable for all skin types

Containing hyaluronic acid to intensely moisturise, this rich body cream feels like a real treat to use and is perfect for dry skin. It will keep your body moisturised for up to twenty four hours. It brings immediate relief and comfort to skin that feels parched and itchy leaving it smooth and moisturised. Containing the same spa like fragrance as the rest of the Women’s Balance range, it has definitely formed part of a relaxing bed time ritual for me.

 

I really hope to have imparted some useful information about this much misunderstood stage of life and shared a few hints and tips on ways to look after your skin through this time.

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Men’s Skin Care Guide

Men’s Skin Care Guide

Firstly, I’d like to preface this blog by saying that men’s skincare is not exclusive to men and what is considered all other skincare is not considered a no no for men either. Choose and use what is best for you and your skin. However, I know that lots of men like to use products specifically designed for men’s skin, and often, for good reason.  Male skin is structurally different to women’s and therefore can benefit from the use of products specifically formulated for them. 

 

It’s not just the contents of the products that may be different. Packaging and the language used are often distinct too. Functional, easy to use packaging is partnered with language which is much more male orientated.  So instead of ‘anti-ageing’ (which, by the way, is a saying I loathe) a men’s skincare product may say ‘anti-fatigue’ or ‘energising’ for example. These products will encourage skin to feel fresh, give a healthy looking glow whilst providing comfort. And let’s not forget that they can pack a punch when targeting many skincare concerns such as fine lines, blemishes or pigmentation to name a few.

 

For many men, looking after their skin with a daily skincare routine is a relatively new phenomenon or it has passed them by completely. If we think about the main skincare priorities as a teenager they tend to be getting to grips with shaving and dealing with spots and for many the routine hasn’t changed a great deal. Washing faces with shower gel or shampoo whilst showering has been the norm for some, along with not moisturising or protecting skin from the sun.  The great thing is that, if this sounds like you or someone close to you, there are small changes which can make a real difference to the look and feel of the skin without costing the earth or taking hours to do. The tables are turning full speed because lots of men take their skincare seriously and the choice available now is better than ever. Our skin is the largest organ of the body, performing a multitude of functions, and as such needs a good deal of looking after.

 

I’ve written lots of blogs for Perfumery & Company and all are relevant to men’s skin so grab your favourite drink, find a comfy spot and have a read. I share lots of hints and tips about our skin, products to incorporate into your morning and evening routine plus the best type of products to choose and why. Within this blog I will be running through the differences between men’s and women’s skin, a little about skin types and conditions, plus the best ways of caring for your skin with a effective and efficient routine.

 

So how is men’s skin different to women’s skin?

 

A thicker skin

Testosterone causes an increase in skin thickness, resulting in a man’s skin being about 25% thicker than a woman’s. It is also tougher in texture too. So products need to be able to successfully penetrate those thicker upper skin layers.

 

Two facial zones

Men’s faces can be divided into two areas. The beard area from cheek bones down the neck which is well served by oil glands and benefits from their natural, age-protective action. Whereas the facial area, above the beard, may experience fine lines and wrinkles, especially around the eyes and fore head. Both areas may need to be treated differently. Above the beard men’s concerns are often similar to women’s.

 

Increased sebum production

Sebum (oil) production is greater too which tends to mean male skin is oilier and, in some cases, more prone to long lasting acne.  But this can also be an advantage as it might not show signs of ageing as much as a drier skin.

 

Hair growth

An obvious one but due to this fact there is an increased risk of ingrown hairs. This is where, instead of the hair growing out of the skin, it grows back on itself within the skin layers. This causes lumps, bumps, boils and general irritation. Shaving is a big cause of this problem.  

 

Higher collagen density

I think it is totally unfair that men have a higher collagen density than women! So with this in mind men’s skin generally doesn’t age at the rate that women’s does. However, where many men let themselves down is that they don’t use sunscreens so this ‘skin age gap’ is often not noticeable because sun damage causes premature ageing which outweighs the slower natural ageing.

 

Possible irritation

The nature of shaving means that every time shaving happens it’s an intensive form of exfoliation. The benefit of this is that it can give the appearance of a youthful skin but it can certainly heighten sensitivity and irritation including ingrown hairs and lumps and bumps.

 

What type of skin do you have?

 

Firstly, it’s important to try to identify and understand your own skin type as this will help you to care for it in the best way by choosing the correct products. This will also mean that you won’t waste money buying items that aren’t right for your skin.

 

Is your skin:

 

Normal/balanced skin

Clear with no issues or sensitivities. Unfortunately hardly anyone has this type of skin apart from babies and young children.

 

Dry skin

Can appear and feel flaky, itchy, rough with an uneven surface texture. Skin pores may be hard to see.

 

Oily skin

Tends to be shiny and greasy, with possible spots and blemishes and obvious looking pores.

 

Combination skin

This is where some areas (usually the cheek areas) are dry whilst other areas (perhaps the nose, chin and forehead) are oily. This will often happen if the protective layer on the surface of the skin is being stripped because a product is being applied that is too harsh. This can therefore create an imbalance of the skins natural pH level. For example, using shampoo or shower gel or a harsh abrasive soap to wash the face.

 

What’s the condition of your skin like?

 

Skin conditions are in addition to your skin type. They can come and go. So when considering what your skin is like think about the following - Do you suffer with any sensitivity, for example, redness or rashe? Or perhaps your skin is dehydrated. If you pinch your skin between two fingers and notice fine lines chances are it’s in need of hydration. If you apply product and it soaks into your skin straight away or your skin has a dull appearance these could also be signs of dehydration. Maybe you have pigmentation on areas of your face. This is where the colour is not even and you may have darker patches. This is usually caused by sun damage. If you have patches of redness mainly on the cheek or nose area this could be an indication of rosacea. These are some of the most common skin conditions.  And there are skincare products suitable for each of these.

 

So what can you do to look after your skin in the best way?

 

The basic elements of an effective skin care plan remain the same between men and women. But I’ve outlined here what a typical routine might look like for a guy, including shaving tips.

 

Pre Shave

Cleansers

Clean the face with a gentle facial wash or balm. This can be done in the shower or at the sink. Massage the product into dry skin and massage into the face, add a little water to give it some slip and remove with a warm flannel. This will not only remove excess oil, bacteria, pollution and sweat etc but it will also prepare the skin for shaving by warming the surface and lifting the hairs. Try not to use really hot water on the face as this can be an irritant.  Cleanse your face morning and evening plus after exercise.

 

Exfoliators

Exfoliating the skin will encourage removal of dry dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. Not only will this aid shaving, making it easier for the razor to glide, it will also lift hairs ready for shaving and brighten and energise the skins appearance. By exfoliating each week you will also find that you don’t need to apply as much of the products you subsequently apply, for example, a moisturiser as it will be able to penetrate the upper skin layers much more effectively. Exfoliators are products that contain tiny particles. When massaged onto the skin they create a light friction which buffs away the dead skin cells. This only needs to be done a couple of times a week.

 

Shaving

If you struggle with shaving you could invest in a shaving oil. Massage it into the skin before shaving. This encourages the hairs to lift and improves razor glide. All whilst helping to keep the skin moisturised minimising razor burn and rashes. You could use any number of facial oils for this. It doesn’t have to be a specific shaving oil. You could use the oil as your shaving product alone or apply it under a shaving gel or cream. This will moisturise and comfort the skin. It’s also a great skin buffer as many cheaper foams and gels will dry out the skin. If you can, choose the best quality products you can afford. Ones that are skincare led because they are specifically designed to calm the skin and provide comfort whilst delivering results.

 

Post Shave

Toners/Facial Spritz

Dry your face after shaving and then spritz the face with a toner or facial mist. Either spray directly onto face or on a cotton pad. Done every day after shaving will instantly cool the skin and prepare it for moisture. Really try to avoid traditional splash-on aftershaves which are heavily alcohol based. They will send you through the roof if you splash them onto your face directly after a shave. The alcohol can be extremely drying on the skin and sting like crazy. There are much kinder products to choose from.

 

Eye products

If signs of fatigue or dryness are a concern around your eyes then an eye cream or gel would be advantageous. Apply an amount the same size as a grain of rice to each eye with your ring fingers, being careful not to press too hard. Less is definitely more. If you are tempted to slather it on you may end up with puffy eyes and wasted product.

 

Serums

Serums are where the magic really happens. They are usually packed full of active ingredients which will give your skin a really boost and freshen the face. They tend to be of a light consistency so are easily absorbed. There are serums for all sorts of concerns including tired, dull skin, to increase cell turnover, dehydration, pigmentation, fine lines.  Massage a small amount on your face and neck after cleansing, toning and applying an eye product.

 

Moisturiser

A moisturiser will soothe and bring comfort to the skin whilst keeping it hydrated. It’s an important step no matter what your skin type. There are oil free versions for oily or blemished skin and rich nourishing formulations for drier skin plus everything in between.  Massage moisturiser in after each of the previous steps.

 

SPF – Sun Protection Factor

Sun cream should be applied every day no matter what the weather. The harmful UV rays can even penetrate clouds and glass. Apart from helping to protect our skin against cancer, a sun cream will slow down signs of ageing such as fine lines, wrinkles and pigmentation. Opt for factor 50 if you can and don’t go below factor 30. Apply two finger lengths full of cream for the face and another for the scalp if you are bald. Don’t forget your ears and the back of your neck. Apply before leaving home in the morning and reapply frequently. Wear every day even when it isn’t sunny. This is where a lot of guys undo all of the excellent benefits of having a higher collagen density. That healthy skin can very easily get negatively impacted by the sun. For best protection choose a broad spectrum sun cream which will protect against UVA rays (the ageing rays) and UVB rays (the burning rays).

 

Check the sun protection blog for more info and recommendations.

 

Face Masks

Face masks area a great way to instantly treat a skin concern, whether that be skin that looks tired and dull, dehydrated, excess oiliness, sensitivity or spots to name a few. These are mostly applied to the skin and left on for a few minutes before being removed with a flannel and water. They can give a natural looking glow, boost hydration or soothe sensitised or decongest skin.

 

Aftershaves, fragrance, colognes

Spritz these on arms, chest and back of the neck. Avoid the face, it’s not necessary. A word of warning - don’t use fragrance before sunbathing as it may cause pigmentation and increase skin sensitivity. Save your fragrance for afterwards.

 

Make up

I know it’s not for everyone but don’t rule out make up. There are some incredible tinted moisturisers and under eye concealers available and they are a subtle way of giving a healthy glow. Tinted moisturiser can even out skin tone whilst concealers with light reflecting particles can lift the eyes and help cover dark circles.

 

So, if all of this is new to you or you are wanting to switch up how you currently look after your skin, this blog is giving your permission to nurture your skin and in turn look after yourself in a small way. Your skin will thank you for it!

 

Below is a handpicked selection of some of the products available at Perfumery & Company (but remember to check back to earlier blogs for a wider selection). These would all make perfect gifts too:

 

Cleansers:

Clarins Active Face Wash

Suitable for all skin types (including dry)

This is a gentle and comforting wash which effectively removes dirt, oil, sweat and pollutants whilst soothing razor burn.

Apply a small amount of this light gel to palms of hands and add some water to create a creamy foam. Then massage onto wet skin using light circular movements. Remove with cold water or a flannel soaked in cold water and pat skin dry. Use morning and night.

 

Neals Yard Remedies For Men Purifying Face Wash

Suitable for all skin types (especially oily/combination)

This is an energizing and aromatic face wash. Very efficient in removing daily build-up of impurities on the skin.

Massage this gel into skin, making sure to get in all of the nooks and crannies around the nose area, rinse with warm water and gently towel dry face. Use morning and night.

 

Grown Alchemist Gentle Gel Facial Cleanser

Suitable for all skin types (including sensitive)

A calming, delicately fragranced, gel which transforms into a light milk consistency that cleans without stripping. A beautiful blend of botanical extracts which leave the skin feeling fresh and clean.

Apply to dry skin and massage in circular movements whilst adding some water to create a light foam. Wash off with warm water before patting skin dry with a towel. Use morning and night.

 

None of these cleansers will create lots of bubbles and neither would you want them to as lots of lather can often be quite drying on the skin. If your skin is particularly dry you could opt for a cleansing balm such as the Elemis Pro Collagen Cleansing Balm. This is an incredible product.

 

Check the cleansing blog for more recommendations

 

Exfoliators:

Clarins Fresh Scrub

Suitable for all skin types (including dry)

A refreshing creamy facial scrub containing tiny particles of natural wood cellulose to effectively remove dry dead skin cells from the surface of the skin and lift hairs in preparation for shaving. Skin will feel smoother and softer.

Once skin has been cleaned apply a small amount to face with water, gentle massage around (avoiding eye area) and rinse thoroughly. Use up to three times a week after cleansing and before shaving.

 

Neals Yard Remedies For Men Revitalising Face Scrub

Suitable for all skin types (especially oily or combination)

Clay draws out impurities whilst ground rice and rosehip seeds buff away dry dead skin cells.

Massage into wet skin (avoiding eye area) and rinse with warm water. The particles are bigger in this scrub compared to the Clarins scrub so it may be better for oily, combination skin that isn’t sensitive rather than dry or sensitive skin.

 

Exfoliators are only for use two to three times a week. Not every day.

 

Check the exfoliating blog for more recommendations

 

Shaving:

Neals Yard Remedies For Men Close Shave Cream

Suitable for all skin types

This is a non-lathering cream which softens stubble whilst soothing skin. It’s a pleasure to use as it aids razor glide.

Wet face and massage into skin before shaving. Use this after cleaning the face (and after exfoliating on days that you exfoliate). Remove any excess with warm or cold water and pat skin dry with a towel. A little goes a long way so this tube will last quite a while.

 

Remember to check out the facial oils available as these can be a great addition to your shaving routine and will not make skin oilier.

 

Check the facial oil blog for recommendations

 

Toner:

Grown Alchemist Balancing Toner

Suitable for all skin types

A toner is a gem within your shaving and skincare routine. Removing any last remnants of shaving product, balancing and comforting the skin and refining the appearance of open pores. It will effectively refresh, invigorate and soothe the skin.

Apply after shaving by either applying a few drops into the palms of your hands and pressing onto the face and neck or applying directly onto a cotton pad and sweeping over the face.  Use in the morning after shaving and in the evening after cleansing.

 

Check the toner blog for more recommendations

 

Eye products:

Clarins Energizing Eye Gel

Suitable for all skin types

A wonder product that will visibly revive tired eyes whilst delivering a hit of hydration. If you experience puffy eyes or just generally have tired heavy eyes this will revitalise the delicate eye area. The ball applicator dispenses the cooling gel onto the skin and helps the eye area to feel rested.

Apply after toning morning and evening.

 

Check the eye product blog for more recommendations

 

Serums:

Grown Alchemist Instant Smoothing Serum

Suitable for all skin types (including sensitive)

Serums usually contain the most active ingredients compared to other skincare products. This is where you are most likely to see results/changes in our skin. This is the perfect product for combating fine dehydration lines on the face and neck, to smooth the surface and improve skins appearance. Think of a serum as a skin boost.

Apply this in the morning and/or evening after your eye product.

 

Check the serum blog for other recommendations

 

Moisturisers:

Elemis Pro-Collagen Marin Cream For Men

Suitable for all skin types

If you are looking for a typically masculine fragrance this is for you. It’s an incredible cream marketed as an anti-wrinkle moisturiser. Light in texture, absorbs effortlessly and delivers a much needed hit of moisture which all skin types need. It’s rich enough for dry skin whilst being light enough to absorb into more oily or combination skin types without being greasy or shiny. It gives the skin a real glow and smooth texture. A really effective cream.

Apply a pea sized amount morning and evening onto the face and neck after your serum.

 

Clarins Super Moisture Lotion

Suitable for all skin types (especially oily, combination and normal)

This is a lightweight delicately fragranced moisturiser that leaves a matte finish on the skin so doesn’t feel tacky or greasy. It provides much needed hydration to the skin leaving it smooth and supple.

Even though it contains an SPF20 I would still urge you to use a separate sun cream as, in my opinion, a sun cream within a moisturiser means that you would have to use a huge amount of the moisturiser to obtain the right amount of protection from the sun.

Apply in the mornings after your serum. Do not apply in the evening due to the SPF which will just be sitting on the skin whilst you sleep. Apply a different moisturiser in the evening.

 

Clarins Super Moisture Balm

Suitable for all skin types (especially normal and dry)

This has more slip that the lotion without being greasy. Perfect for drier skin types. Like the lotion it provides hydration to the skin helping it to feel more comfortable and healthy. This one doesn’t contain an SPF for sun protection which is no bad thing as a specific sun cream applied over the top of your moisturiser is much more effective.

Apply morning and evening after your serum.

 

Neals Yard Remedies For Men Age-Defying Moisturiser

Suitable for all skin types

This is a light and aromatic cream which can be applied to the eye area too. Just dot a small amount around the eyes (not too close to the lashes) and gently dab with your ring finger until it is absorbed. It will leave the skin looking rested, smooth and supple.

Apply to clean skin morning and evening after your serum. Don’t forget your neck!

 

L’Occitane L’Occitan After Shave Balm

Suitable for all skin types

A beautiful light balm with a typically masculine fragrance. A little definitely goes a long way and leaves a lovely sheen on the skin without feeling tacky. It has perfect hydrating and soothing ingredients to nourish the skin. Whilst anti-inflammatory properties ease skin from any irritation and tightness caused by shaving.

Apply to face and neck after serum morning and evening.

 

Grown Alchemist Hydra Repair Day Cream

Suitable for all skin types (including oily, combination and sensitive)

This is a nourishing, non-greasy light cream which is effective at leaving the skin smooth, soothed and healthy looking. It provides a good hit of hydration to feed the skin with what it needs.

Apply to face and neck morning and evening after serum.

 

If you spend a lot of time outside for work, exercise or hobbies a moisturiser and a sun cream are a must to protect against the effects of the sun, wind, cold and general elements and pollution.

 

Check the moisturiser blog for more recommendations

 

If you aren’t looking for a comprehensive regimen but would like to get started I would recommend the following products as being excellent staples (alongside your shaving products) They would be applied to the face in this order:

 

Cleanser (Morning & Evening)

Exfoliator (Two to three times a week after cleansing face in the morning)

Serum/Moisturiser (Morning & Evening)

SPF- Sun cream (Morning only)

Really consider investing in a serum as this is where the magic really happens

 

Everyone at Perfumery & Company are on hand to help and provide a level of service you don’t see in larger stores. I really hope this blog has been helpful.

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Body Care Spring Clean

Body Care Spring Clean

Normally at this time of year many of us are spring cleaning our homes, or perhaps our routines, relationships or finances. The weather is brighter and warmer and there is often an air of hope and optimism. But what else might we spring clean? I’ve written over ten blogs for Perfumery & Company about the skin on our faces and how best to look after it. But how about the skin on the rest of our bodies? Do you look after it as well as your facial skin? In my experience most of us don’t. Skincare routines for the face can be well established but these often stop at the neck. So during this blog I’m going to focus on our body skin and explain why now is the perfect time to start giving it a ‘spring clean’ if it’s been a little neglected.  

I would like to say at this point that this article isn’t about focusing on perceived ‘imperfections’ and looking for ways to change our appearance. Our bodies are amazing. They allow us to do so many different things and, importantly, we only have the one. We should be celebrating what we have and learn to feel comfortable in our own skin. Don’t fall into the trap of panicking about getting your body ‘beach ready’ in preparation for a holiday. I hate this saying as it creates so much pressure to look a certain way. Let’s show ourselves some love and attention. After all our skin is the largest organ of the body and as such needs support like any other organ. So if you are someone who has neglected your body, fear not, I’m here to show you some quick and easy ways to mindfully connect with your body through the use of body care products. These steps can be done all year round to encourage smooth, hydrated and glowing skin. The textures, fragrances and massage application play a large part in positively boosting our mood. But the benefits don’t stop there. These techniques will also stimulate some of our body’s internal systems, such as our lymphatic system. This is responsible for detoxification, almost like a spring clean. But more on that later.

 

Firstly let’s look at the main differences between facial and body skin:

 

Skin thickness: Skin is thicker on our body, compared to our face and it’s typically not as sensitive. The fat layer under the skin is thicker too. But our hands and feet have the densest skin, allowing for more resilience. However, this often results in increased dryness.

 

Dryness: The skin on our body has less sebaceous glands than our face. These naturally produce oil to keep skin soft and supple. So dryness tends to be more of a concern for many of us.

 

Skin cell turnover rate: The rate at which our skin cells turnover in the skin on our body is slower than on our face. It takes longer for skin cells to naturally renew, so the dry dead ones can hang around for longer which means that skin can appear and feel drier, more dull, thicker and have a scale like appearance.

 So what are my top body care habits?

 

  • Washing with a gentle body wash or oil every day
  • Dry body brushing once or twice a week
  • Gently exfoliating twice a week
  • Massaging in a body oil/cream/lotion/gel every day

 But the following are also extremely beneficial and should be part of our routines:

  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Moving our body every day
  • Limiting our alcohol and sugar intake
  • Eating the rainbow (a well-balanced colourful diet)
  • Getting good quality sleep
  • Trying cold showers (I turn my shower to cold right at the end but only last for about fifteen seconds!)

 

During this blog I will focus on dry body brushing, along with applying exfoliators and oils for the body. You’ll find several hero products featured here which you can find in store and online. These products are incredible and can be used on a regular basis. I urge you not to save products for ‘best’. I’ve spoken to numerous people who say ‘Oh it’s too good to use or too expensive to open” and they either never get round to using it or it’s out of date when they finally do. My advice is to use that beautiful body cream you were given for your birthday or that luxurious body oil you bought yourself but regretted. Invest in yourself, you are worth it!

 

A quick word about our lymphatic system

 

This is a subsidiary circulatory system entwined with the blood circulation and is responsible for filtering toxins in our body. It delivers fluid and nutrients around the body as it drains excess fluid from tissues and helps to fight infection. It’s our body’s way of spring cleaning itself all year round. The trouble is that it doesn’t have its own pump, like the heart does.  So in order for it to be stimulated and work effectively it relies on muscle movement, deep breathing and massage, to name a few. However, many of us will experience an impaired lymphatic system. Symptoms can be swelling of the ankles, feet and fingers, dehydrated and/or dry skin, sallow and tired looking skin, skin that is slow to heal, fine lines, loss of resilience and bounce and blemishes that take a long time to heal.

 

Dry body brushing and taking time to massage body care products into the skin will help muscles to relax, allowing lymphatic vessels to open and aid drainage. By taking deep breaths at the same time lymph flow will be stimulated which will also aid drainage. So by mindfully connecting with our bodies when we are using body care products means we are supporting the body’s way of spring cleaning itself. Other activities which will stimulate the system and encourage healing are walking, swimming or aqua aerobics for twenty minutes a day and elevating legs for twenty minutes at the end of the day or after long periods of standing or sitting to encourage a boost in circulation. Drinking plenty of water and reducing our salt intake are also a must.

 

The amazing benefits of Dry Body Brushing

 

I recommend body brushing to everyone. It’s such a quick, easy and cheap way to improve the look and feel of the skin whilst stimulating the lymphatic system. If you’ve not heard of body brushing before, it’s when we use a brush designed specifically for the body on dry skin.

  • It’s incredibly invigorating (Although don’t be tempted to use a body brush on the face, otherwise you’ll be rocking a red raw complexion!).
  • It will slough away dry dead skin cells on the surface of the skin and encourage the regeneration of new ones, leaving the skin soft and supple.
  • It will increase circulation to bring nutrient rich freshly oxygenated blood to the skins surface for better tone and elasticity.
  • It helps the body to metabolise toxins efficiently and discourages water retention.
  • By improving the circulation it encourages cell turnover and plumps the skin making cellulite appear less obvious. However this is only a temporary fix. (Cellulite is stubborn but is also completely natural).
  • It encourages ingrown hairs to lift up and keeps clogged pores at bay.
  • Overall it is a huge stress reliever and it only takes a few minutes.

 

How to do it:

  • Dry body brush in the morning before your shower (if you prefer a shower at night try to do it a couple of hours before bed otherwise it will be too invigorating and may not be conducive to a good night’s sleep).
  • Both skin and brush should be dry when you use it.
  • Start at the feet and ankles and use short sweeping motions in an upwards direction. Brush over legs (including the back of both knees), buttocks, arms (including wrists) and back. The stomach and chest area are usually more sensitive so go gently and avoid the breast and nipple area. Always move the brush in the direction of your heart and Don’t go over the same area more than a couple of times.
  • Don’t brush too hard, it shouldn’t scratch, hurt, burn or sting. Skin will have a pink appearance but it shouldn’t be red. It will feel tingly and alive.
  • Once finished take a shower. I challenge you to turn the temperature to cold for the last few seconds. I promise that you will feel amazing afterwards.
  • Pat skin dry and be sure to moisturise afterwards to prevent dryness. If using an oil apply to damp skin to maximise the benefits.
  • Clean your brush regularly according to the cleaning instructions.
  • B. Don’t dry body brush over eczema, psoriasis, rashes, wounds, sunburn, irritations or any severe skin condition.

 

*Perfumery & Co have Elemis body brushes available to order in store/via the phone.

 

Why do we need to Exfoliate?

You can moisturise your skin every single day but it will only have a minimal benefit if we don’t dry body brush or exfoliate to remove the natural build-up of dry dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. Once these are removed, any product subsequently applied will be able to penetrate more effectively and you won’t need to use as much of it. Otherwise anything you apply will just sit on the surface. Unless you have eczema, psoriasis, a severe skin condition or any of the other reasons previously mentioned you can exfoliate gently at least twice a week. This will speed up cell turnover by mimicking the skins natural shedding to reveal smoother brighter skin. The same application principles apply when using a body exfoliator as with body brushing although I always include my feet and hands too.

 

*Some of Perfumery & Co’s top body exfoliator picks are:

 

Elemis Sea Lavender & Samphire Salt Scrub

All skin types

This is a gentle but highly effective exfoliator. It has an incredible unisex fragrance which is so uplifting and invigorating. It is the perfect way to start the day. The particles are sea salt which brings about smooth and soft skin. Sea Lavender has been proven to deliver hydration to the skin and is known to be rich in antioxidants which help to protect the skin. Samphire has anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. Effective at supporting the skins natural moisture barrier which often gets compromised. It is a gel like texture which is super easy to use.

Apply a pea sized amount to damp skin using circular motions before rinsing off. I sometimes apply it straight onto dry skin if I feel my skin needs it i.e. during the colder months or after I have been on a summer holiday.

 

Neals Yard Remedies Wild Rose Body Polish

All skin types

This is a certified organic product which is a pleasure to use. It has the most beautiful rose fragrance which is left lingering on the skin. Crushed organic wild rosehip seeds are mixed into a creamy texture which is really gentle on the skin and very hydrating. Skin is left soft and moisturised. I often use this on my hands and feet too.

Massage into damp skin using circular motions before rinsing.

 

Clarins Exfoliating Body Scrub

All skin types

Natural bamboo powders gently exfoliate whilst shea butter moisturises and nourishes the skin leaving it feeling smooth. This cream exfoliator is so easy to use and has a very subtle fragrance which wouldn’t interfere with any products subsequently applied.

Massage  into dry or damp skin. I prefer to apply this one to dry skin whilst standing in the shower before I turn the water on.

 

Neals Yard Remedies Geranium & Orange Body Scrub

All skin types

This is a hardworking buttery salt scrub suspended in organic soybean oil and olive fruit oil which leaves the skin soft and supple. It’s enriched with nourishing shea nut butter and is therefore particularly good for rough dry areas such as hands, feet, knees, elbows, tops of arms and thighs. Perfect if you are a keen gardener etc. Citrus and geranium essential oils create a subtle but refreshing fragrance suitable for anyone. Due to the high salt content don’t use this on freshly shaven or broken skin. Some exfoliators are most effective when used on dry or damp skin before stepping into the stream of water in the shower. But I suggest scooping this out onto wet skin to give it more slip as the particles are quite sizeable.

 

*All of these scrubs are designed for use on the body massaging in circular motions. Always choose a specific facial exfoliator for use on the face. I don’t advice using one for the body on the face. Be sure to apply gentle pressure. Don’t be tempted to go at it as though you are sanding a rough piece of wood!

Body Moisturising

These deliver a surge of moisture and nourishment to the skin. It helps to restore the hydrolipidic film on the surface of the skin to prevent further moisture loss. Aim to moisturise every day either in the morning after a shower or in the evening before bed (leaving enough time for the product to sink in before going to bed. Otherwise your sheets will feel the benefit rather than your skin!). If you are regularly body brushing or exfoliating you will find that you won’t need to use as much product as you were previously so you may not need to replenish them quite as often. I love to have a choice of products at home – sometimes I use a lotion, sometimes an oil, other times a cream. It depends on how I am feeling and what my body needs. Oils are my favourite as they tend to absorb quickly and leave my skin the smoothest. Always moisturise after body brushing and exfoliating and massage in firmly using circular motions all over (paying particular attention to dry areas such as elbows, heels and knees). On the mornings I body brush or exfoliate I always allow a couple of extra minutes to apply an oil, lotion or cream straight afterwards to nourish the skin effectively. Perfumery & Co have many body moisturisers where the textures and fragrances will lift your spirits whilst delivering results. I am putting the spotlight on body oils.

 *Some of Perfumery & Co’s top body oil picks:

 The Organic Pharmacy Detox Body Oil

All skin types

This has such an invigorating blend of oils including juniper, fennel, eucalyptus and rosemary. Perfect for application in the mornings to deliver a shot of energy and moisture. This lightweight oil has been clinically proven to increase the skins moisture and elasticity after being applied once a day for a month. I’m always a bit dubious about products that claim to improve tone but I’ve definitely noticed the elasticity of my skin improve.

Either apply directly onto damp skin after a shower or, as The Organic Pharmacy suggest,  spray directly onto your dry body brush and then apply in long upward sweeping strokes towards the heart before showering. 

 

Clarins Contour Treatment Oil

All skin types

I am a huge fan of Clarins facial and body oils. They never disappoint. This is a lightweight oil developed to strengthen the skin. It has a beautiful spa like fragrance comprising of essential oils of geranium, lemon and bitter orange tree and is always a joy to massage in. It is marvellous at reducing the feeling of heavy legs which many of us get if we stand or sit for long periods. I can see that my skin is well hydrated and the elasticity is better.

This is designed to be used before a cold shower in the evening. This would be the best time to do it if you suffer with heavy legs. But for me, I have found that it is more convenient to use in the morning on damp skin. Whenever you use it massage it into legs, hips and buttocks before standing under a cold shower. If you can’t bring yourself to stand under a cold shower just try to ensure the temperature is lower than you normally have it to stimulate your circulatory system.

Neals Yard Remedies Detox Toning Oil

All skin types

A beautiful warming aromatic fragrance containing essential oils of lemon, black pepper and frankincense. This soothing blend of oils is often used for lymphatic drainage by Aromatherapists. It helps to strengthen the skin and improve smoothness which I have noticed in my own skin. I’ve used it on some of my clients who suffer with fluid retention during leg massages. Although it can be used all over the body if you wish.

Massage vigorously in to skin daily morning or evening.

*If massaged in well and used on a regular basis all of these oils will help to stimulate the lymphatic system and aid detoxification whilst leaving skin smoother and more supple.

 I also wanted to draw your attention to a Detox dietary supplement programme available at Perfumery & Co:

The Organic Pharmacy 10 Day Detox

This is a complete programme of nutritional supplements along with a very thorough guide and meal plan.

This ten day kit will sooth the digestive tract, support drainage and liver function and metabolism of carbohydrates and lipids. It also helps to protect cells from oxidative stress.

If you are looking to reset your body - perhaps you feel sluggish, tired, bloated, constantly craving sugar etc. then consider this kit. It’s a well-balanced detox plan where you actually eat! You don’t have to survive on juice, air or dust!

This product was awarded a CEW Beauty Award as voted for by industry professionals and experts. These are recognised as one of the most coveted awards in the industry. They recognise the ‘best in class’. So this programme is something to take note of.

On opening the box you will find four supplement bottles (Detox, Phytonutrients + MSM), Superantioxidants and Essential Fatty Acid +B Complex). Plus a detailed guide covering how the detox works, sources of toxins, what to expect from the detox itself and the meal plan. I’m not usually a fan of ‘detoxing’ but I would say that The Organic Pharmacy’s plan is not like a traditional detox. Following this plan myself has helped me to refocus my own eating habits and I do feel better.

 *As always I spend a lot of time testing these products and give my honest opinion.

I hope you have found this body care blog insightful. As always everyone at Perfumery & Company are incredible at what they do so please reach out if you have any questions.

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Face Masks – The perfect mindful moment

Face Masks – The perfect mindful moment

Written by Nicola Meir Holistic Therapies

Facial masks are an incredible way to treat our skin. They aren’t an everyday skincare essential but an effective way to boost the skin once or twice a week.  In most cases they are a product that you apply to the skin, leave on for several minutes and then remove. They restore skin revealing a fresher, brighter, comfortable and more hydrated complexion. The choice is huge with products fulfilling many different skin types and concerns.  A good mask will deliver real visible results in just a few minutes. We should be able to look in the mirror afterwards and see a noticeable difference.  Whether that be, for example, a glowing complexion, calmed redness, or reduced oiliness.

I adore using face masks. They are a great way to carve out little pockets of time on a regular basis just for ourselves. The beauty of them is that once applied, they stay on the skin for an allotted amount of time (always check the product instructions for exact timings). This creates a wonderful opportunity to take time for ourselves. To grab our favourite drink, a book or magazine and relax whilst the mask does its magic. However, if you have a ‘to do’ list as long as your arm, apply the mask and carry on with your tasks! I’ve done this many a time.

It is easy though to forget about us, to create breathing space, time to relax. I try to work this into my daily and weekly routine and applying a mask can be part of this. It could become part of a Sunday morning ritual, or a midweek boost or you could even start ‘Mask Monday’. Whatever is best, it needs to work for you and around your schedule. When I am giving client facials it is an integral part of the treatment, extremely relaxing and beneficial to their skin.

However, don’t be fooled into thinking that you can get great results from using a mask once or twice a week whilst neglecting your daily skincare routine. Masks are in addition to those all-important skincare steps which act as your skins maintenance. In order for skin to thrive it needs consistency and this is why a regular morning and evening routine is so important.

What are the main types of masks:

Hydrating masks

These usually contain ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, glycerin, squalene, shea butter and plant oils (such as rose oil). These help to lock in moisture, stop moisture escaping and therefore hydrate the skin. They support the comfort levels of the skin and will generally feed it with the nourishment it is craving.

Pore cleansing and balancing masks

These often contain clay, salicylic acid, cucumber, honey and other refining and antibacterial ingredients to help draw out impurities, balance an oily complexion and minimise the appearance of pores. Although I will say that we need our pores, it’s not simply a case of closing them with a product if they are too visible. But a clay based mask will help to reduce their appearance. Check that the labelling says ‘non-comedogenic’ which means they are less likely to clog the pores and will therefore contain lighter ingredients. Avoid heavy components like coconut oil or shea butter.

Brightening masks/Exfoliating masks (without physical granules)

These generally contain acids such as glycolic or lactic to gently dissolve the upper layer of cells to kickstart the skin’s process of renewal. This can leave skin feeling and looking smoother and more evenly pigmented. Vitamin C is often a main element here as it works wonders to improve the skins radiance.

Sleep masks/overnight masks

These are designed to be applied at night and left on rather than washing off for a more intensive treatment.

Sheet masks

Avoid if you can. These single use products are bad for the environment and are essentially paper with a little bit of product soaked into them. However, there are a few companies who have launched biodegradable masks. But if in doubt don’t purchase.

Pore strips

These are another product to steer clear of. Don’t be swayed by who is advertising them. They are just awful for the skin.

When choosing a mask always select one for your particular skincare concern, whether that be blemish control, dehydration, lack of radiance to name a few. Skin can go through changes depending on the weather, central heating, medication, hormones, illness, poor diet and not drinking enough water so having a couple of different ones on your shelf is advantageous.

How often should I use a mask?

Always refer to the individual product instructions as these may differ, not only in how often to use them but the duration they should be left on the skin. As a rule of thumb once a week works well for most skin types and concerns.  Twice a week for a drier skin type.

Always apply to a clean dry face and when it comes to washing it off massage any excess into the skin (unless it is clay based). Then wash off what’s remaining with a warm cloth or flannel. If using more of a cream based mask rather than a clay based mask you may notice that when you come to wash off the excess there isn’t any to remove. This could be a sign that your skin is dehydrated. It’s been drinking up the product. If this is the case increase your daily water intake and perhaps start using a serum containing hyaluronic acid each day if you don’t already do so.

To really get the most out of your mask I suggest doing the following on the day that you are using it:

Double cleanse

Exfoliate (unless you are using an exfoliating mask)

Facial oil (massage into the face, neck and décolleté for a couple of minutes)

Mask

Tone

Eye product

Serum

Moisturiser

For a special treat, apply your face mask whilst relaxing in a warm bath. It’s important not to have the water too hot though. The steam from the water will soften the skin, encouraging the mask to penetrate more effectively.

Where should I apply the mask?

All over the face apart from the eye area. Many brands have specific eye masks to choose from although these aren’t always necessary. Don’t forget to apply the mask to your neck and chest area too (décolleté) if they need it. There is also nothing stopping you using two different masks on your face. Perhaps one to combat excess oiliness on the forehead, nose and chin and a hydrating one on the cheeks and neck. Or after applying a skin balancing one all over the face, following this with a hydrating one. This is because some masks for oiliness can sometimes be a bit dehydrating depending on the ingredients used.

Below are a selection of facial masks available at Perfumery & Company. These options are a good place to start if you haven’t used a mask before or are looking to switch up your current products.

The Organic Pharmacy

I have been super impressed with every product I have tried in this range. If you didn’t catch my last skincare blog for Perfumery & Co. on serums you might not know too much about this brand. They are London based and were the first pharmacy dedicated to all things organic. They have been trading for two decades with a factory in West London.  Organic ingredients are used whenever possible and are sustainably sourced. Many of their products are vegan and none have been tested on animals. They fuse ‘nature with nurture’.

The Organic Pharmacy Enzyme Peel Mask

To Brighten & Exfoliate

For all skin types

This light cream/gel mask is 71.6% organic and suitable for vegans. It contains a cocktail of Vitamin C, passion fruit and lactic acid. It has a fresh and fruity mouth-watering fragrance. Due to the lactic acid enzymes which are naturally exfoliating you may experience a slight tingling when it’s on the skin but this is completely normal and shouldn’t be uncomfortable. The ingredients are nibbling away at the dead skin cells which in turn encourages cell turnover to increase. This helps to even out pigmentation and brighten a dull complexion. Because of the enzymes present, you won’t find any physical particles in this product.

The Organic Pharmacy Honey & Jasmine Mask

To Firm & Moisturise

Suitable for all skin types but particularly dry, dehydrated or stressed skin

This rich and luxurious mask is 67.15% organic. It has a comforting creamy texture containing honey, squalene and aloe which all help to nourish, soothe and hydrate parched skin. I personally love this product. Not only can it be used in the traditional way where it gets washed off after twenty minutes but a thin layer can be applied before bed and left on whilst you sleep. Your skin will feel like it is cocooned in the softest blanket. It has a light comforting powdery fragrance.

The Organic Pharmacy Purifying Seaweed Clay Mask

To Purify & Rebalance

Suitable for oily, combination or congested skin

Containing spirulina, sage and eucalyptus this 58.7% organic aromatic mask is perfect for balancing the skin. It’s a cross between a cream and a very light paste in texture, very easy to apply and suitable for vegans. The clay means that the mask dries on the skin, helping to draw out impurities. But unlike some clay based masks it’s very easy to remove. The seaweed works its magic on any redness whilst Vitamin C restores a lovely glow.

Clarins Extra Firming Mask

To soothe stress lines, firm and revive radiance

Suitable for all skin types

Clarins is a well-established, well regarded skincare brand. Glycerin and organic green banana help to hydrate the skin reducing the appearance of tension, stress and tiredness. This mask comes with a ‘pressure point’ application method which is explained on a leaflet inside the box. Even though this product is marketed as extra firming, I see it as a wonderful stress reliever. Apply using this method, breathing deeply and slowly and you’ll be sure to relax. It has the familiar Clarins light floral fragrance which is very agreeable.

The guys at Perfumery & Co have a wealth of knowledge and are incredible at what they do.  They are on hand to help you if you have any questions.

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Serums – The crème de la crème of performance skincare

Serums – The crème de la crème of performance skincare

 

Serums are the doer, the hard grafter of the skincare family, addressing specific skin concerns. We are lucky to have so many to choose from. Serums treat a plethora of different issues ranging from lack of radiance, pigmentation spots, dehydration, oiliness, large pores and spots, redness, fine lines and they can even exfoliate. Many will tackle more than one issue under the umbrella of ‘anti-ageing’. I’ve said before that I don’t like the term anti-ageing. Surely we want to live until we are old. This is the aim, right?! However, serums are designed to deliver a powerful hit of active ingredients, such as vitamins, peptides and high tech molecules, directly to our skin and can offer all kinds of benefits. This is why you will often find that they are of a higher price point compared to all other skincare steps. They cost more to produce because they contain more active ingredients. Think of your serum as having the biggest job to do. This is where you treat, repair and correct your skin. It’s stimulation for the skin. So if you are able to invest in the right one, your skin will thank you for it.

 

What types of serums are there?

Thankfully there are many kinds available, so you should find one to suit you and you may benefit from more than one. Below are the main ones:

 

Vitamin C

This is an antioxidant powerhouse, a true skincare superhero, that helps protect skin against free radicals which can cause damage. They do this by breaking down collagen and elastin production. Pollution, cigarette smoke and other factors within our everyday environment are nasty culprits but vitamin C fights back. It improves the look and feel of the skin by boosting collagen production and is glow giving . Vitamin C is recognised as an anti-ageing ingredient and I use it every morning without fail.

 

Vitamin A

Retinoids are a form of vitamin A and are the best topical treatment (a product applied to the skin) for long term reduction in fine lines, wrinkles and sun damage, along with many other skincare concerns. Some are able to reduce the appearance of pores, improve acne and psoriasis. They work by promoting skin regeneration and can be quite potent. So most need to be introduced gradually into your skincare routine as they can cause flaking and redness but this doesn’t last long. Always follow the instructions on the packaging. Don’t be tempted to slather it on. Less is definitely more to start with. Vitamin A products must always be used in conjunction with a broad spectrum sunscreen as the ingredients can leave the skin more sun sensitive. It usually takes several weeks to see a difference in the skin. It’s an investment and one that needs patience but don’t give up. The results can be incredible. There are many brands now triumphing natural alternatives which is wonderful for consumer choice. They tend not be quite as potent which might appeal to some. I use a Vitamin A serum every other night as part of my evening routine. When I first started I used it twice a week and built it up. I haven’t suffered any adverse effects.

 

 

 

Vitamin E

This is a skincare all-rounder.  It’s found naturally in the skin but when we are exposed to the sun and free radicals it diminishes.  It really helps to retain moisture, is an effective anti-inflammatory, a wound healer and can reduce redness. This is a great option for those with really sensitive skin.

 

Hyaluronic Acid

This might sound scary but if you’ve read my blog about acid toners you’ll know that there is nothing to fear. These products don’t contain harsh acids. Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance which is already present in your body. It has the ability to hold more than a thousand times its own weight in water. It will grab onto water in your skin and plump it up as well as brighten the skin tone. So by doing this it helps the skin to look and feel plumper and smoother. It’s widely used in serums as well as creams, foundations, body lotion, lip balms and can be used on any skin type. Perfect for this time of year when skin tends to be drier and more dehydrated than normal. I love it because results can be instant. I use this in the morning when I feel my skin needs it and sometimes in the evening.

 

Peptides

These are collagen boosters that stimulate the skin’s stem cells. When collagen breaks down, as we get older, it releases peptides. By applying a topical peptide it encourages the skin to make new collagen. Copper Peptide is certainly a favourite. It accelerates collagen production and increases the skins natural moisturisation encouraging firmer more hydrated skin. I have a peptide serum which I use a few times a week when needed.

 

Niacinamide

Also known as vitamin B3. It has been shown to work well for acne/blemish prone skin. It works by enhancing and strengthening the barrier function of the epidermis (the outer layers of the skin), therefore protecting against bacterial attack. It works well to soothe redness and irritation so it’s good for rosacea, hyper-pigmentation and fine lines. I keep a Niacinamide serum in my bathroom cabinet at home as I sometimes get a rosacea flare up on one cheek and will use it to calm the area.

 

When should I use a serum?

As a rule - every day. Don’t save them for best.  They are the boss of skincare products so weave them into your routine. As a general rule use Vitamin C in the morning after cleansing, toning and applying an eye product. Then follow with moisturiser and your sunscreen. Vitamin A can be introduced gradually into your evening routine after cleansing, toning and applying an eye product. Then follow with facial oils, night creams and blemish treatments. Hyaluronic acid, vitamin E and peptides can be fitted in as and when you need them. Try to always follow with a moisturiser because, even though they contain more active ingredients than a moisturiser, they don’t tend to contain enough moisture. Remember – use your serums every day. Make them your friend. Having said that, you don’t need to have every one of the serums that I’ve mentioned. Start with a vitamin C and use it in the morning. You can then add others to your skincare shelf as and when you want to.

 

 

 

How much serum should I use?

Most serums come with a handy pump dispenser or pipette (dropper) which makes them super easy to use as they dispense the correct amount. Always follow the product instructions but they will generally say one pump or half a pipettes worth. A little goes a long way to cover the face. They are normally light water based formulas which means that they sink into the upper layers of the skin easily and tend not to leave an oily residue. Massage in well to face, neck and décolleté, there is no need to gently pat the product in unless this is specifically stated (but even then I always massage it in).

 

In what order should I apply my serums?

If you are applying more than one serum, for example a vitamin C and a hyaluronic acid always apply the lightest consistency first. Although most serums are quite light, there is a mixture of textures available. They are designed to be layered under a moisturiser and will penetrate into the upper layers so ensure skin is regularly exfoliated with a physical exfoliator or acid toner. This will mean that the product will effectively penetrate rather than sit on the surface with the dry dead skin cells. We want those active ingredients to absorb well.  Your moisturiser then works predominantly on the surface of the skin.

 

Serums according to age:

Here is an outline of what you could use according to your age and the condition that your skin is in. It is a loose guideline as you will ultimately know your skin best.

 

Teens

A vitamin C would be great but a very gentle one. It doesn’t need to be too active or aggressive.

 

20s

An antioxidant serum like vitamin C and niacinamide plus a hyaluronic acid serum. From our mid-twenties our cell turnover slows down, this is the start of the aging process. Skin will find it harder to retain water and oil, this is called trans epidermal water loss, and so Hyaluronic acid will really help to combat this.

 

30s

A good antioxidant serum like Vitamin C and niacinamide. Use daily in the morning. Also a daily dose of a good quality hyaluronic acid to combat trans epidermal water loss which is quite common at this age and can get worse. From our mid 30s we can step things up with the use of peptides and retinoids too. Don’t leave these until you notice lots of signs that your skin is getting older, if you’d prefer to keep them at bay.

 

40s 50s 60s 70s 80s & 90s

A good quality antioxidant serum like Vitamin C. But you may also want to spend money correcting issues i.e. a good quality pigmentation serum, good quality hyaluronic serum, Vitamin A, these should be a staple as the skins cell turnover is very slow at this point and vitamin A will help to speed it up.

 

Perfumery & Company have lots of serums for you to choose from and lots of knowledge and advice to help you select the right one for you. Below is my review of several on offer:

 

The Organic Pharmacy

This London based brand has only recently been stocked in Perfumery & Company. They were the first pharmacy dedicated to all things organic and have been trading for two decades with a factory in West London.  They use organic ingredients whenever possible and are sustainably sourced. Many of their products are vegan and none have been tested on animals. They fuse ‘nature with nurture’. The best of both worlds.

 

The Organic Pharmacy Hyaluronic Acid Serum

For all skin types

This is a vegan 95% organic lightweight, easily absorbed serum that works wonders on parched skin. It delivers a hit of hydration to lock in moisture. This enables skin to appear more plump by reducing the appearance of wrinkles. One full dropper is enough for the face, neck and décolleté every morning and evening. It sinks in easily and doesn’t leave an oily residue.

 

The Organic Pharmacy Stabilised Vitamin C Serum

For all skin types

91% organic and vegan friendly.

This serum is effective in brightening and evening skin tone. It gives a lovely glow. It’s a great choice for anyone who’s noticed a lack of radiance, dull complexion, some pigmentation. Apply one full dropper every morning. The organic Pharmacy suggest every evening too but you may decide to use another serum instead. It’s a lovely light consistency.

 

The Organic Pharmacy Skin Rescue Serum

For dry and sensitised skin, eczema, psoriasis

98% organic

Think of this as your first aid serum for skin that needs calming, soothing, healing and hydrating. It’s a great serum for eczema and psoriasis. Once applied it restores some elasticity to the skin making it more comfortable and adds a layer of protection against external aggressors and the potential of water loss from within the skin. Apply between two to four drops up to one dropper full each morning and evening and whenever it’s needed. A light consistency which doesn’t sit heavy on the skin.

 

The Organic Pharmacy Four Acid Peel

Suitable for all skin types

90% organic and vegan friendly

This is a serum that gently exfoliates and brightens the skin to reveal a smoother complexion. It helps to fight blemishes and boosts the radiance of the skin. No need to wash off and no exfoliating particles. A Combination of plant derived acids naturally dissolve dry dead skin cells including glycolic, lactic and citric acids. Super easy to use and a lovely lightweight texture. Can be used once a day but I would start off with a couple of times a week.

 

The Organic Pharmacy Retinol Night Serum

Suitable for all skin types

93% Organic and suitable for vegans

This is The Organic Pharmacy’s retinol offering for targeting signs of skin getting older i.e. fine lines, wrinkles, reducing enlarged pores. It speeds up the renewal of new skin cells. It contains an encapsulated retinol which means that the retinol is protected from degradation, increasing its stability and improving its delivery to the skin. The Organic Pharmacy suggest using one full dropper on the face, neck and décolleté every night to clean skin. I’d say introduce it a couple of evenings a week, then every other evening and then every evening. This serum works well being applied after the Four Acid peel (which aids better penetration of products). All of these have a light texture that is really easy to work with.

 

Clarins Double Serum

Suitable for all skin types

This is without doubt one of Clarins hero products. It has a cult status as a fantastic comprehensive ‘anti-ageing’ product containing twenty one plant extracts. Improved radiance, firmer and plumper skin, smoother fine lines and skin texture and reduced appearance of pores. It has a light fluid texture which sits brilliantly under a moisturiser creating a lovely base for makeup. It can be applied morning and/or evening. The special rotating push button also delivers the correct dosage of serum. I can also be mixed with your foundation for a beautiful dewy look or under a mask for an extra skin boost. I love this product, it’s a great allrounder and can see why it gets so many rave reviews.

 

L’Occitane Immortelle Overnight Reset Oil in Serum

Suitable for all skin types

I am a real fan of L’Occitane’s Immortelle range. This is an overnight oil in serum which has a light gel texture, it contains 92% natural origin ingredients. It’s an effective night time treatment to encourage rested skin, improve radiance and reduced signs of tiredness. Some of the ingredients relax muscle tension whilst soothing skin from redness and tightness. The formula stimulates microcirculation and increases collagen production. It doesn’t leave the skin oily or tacky. Apply to cleansed and toned skin and follow with your regular serum and moisturiser.

 

So, make friends with a serum. They won’t let you down. They are a hard worker and your skin will be so thankful that you met.

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The Wonderful world of Fragrance

The Wonderful world of Fragrance

Fragrance is amazing, it has the power to evoke memories and emotions with one simple inhalation. Smells envelop us, circle around us, enter our bodies and emanate from us. We live in a world where we are constantly surrounded by scent. But it’s not a new phenomenon, ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics illustrate that perfume played a part in life dating back as far as between 3500 and 3000 BC. It’s well documented about Cleopatra’s elaborate use of fragrance. When meeting Mark Anthony, her arrival was announced by clouds of fragrance before she came into view. Greece are credited with the art of making the first liquid perfume, although it was quite different from perfume as we know it today. They didn’t contain any alcohol and tended to be a mixture of fragrant powders and oils. However, it was Arabia who linked the past and present of the perfume industry. They created the process of extracting oils from flowers, for example rose oil.

 Fragrance really came into its own when Louis XIV took the throne in the 18th Century. He demanded a different fragrance each day! At this point perfume was a substitute for soap and water! I’m glad I wasn’t around then, I don’t think my nose could take it! Napoleon was another lover of scent and it’s been reported that he would get through sixty bottles of double extract of jasmine a month! His first wife Josephine favoured musk which was even stronger and it was reported that this fragrance lingered in her boudoir sixty years after her death! Wow, that must have been strong stuff! In early America the first scents were colognes and scented waters and at the turn of the 20th Century perfumes were single flower fragrances, for example rose, violet, lily of the valley. Floral bouquets were introduced towards the end of the first decade and after this fragrances continued to develop in complexity, including the introduction of many synthetic notes which were made in laboratories. Fragrances today are crafted by well-trained perfumers often referred to as ‘Noses’. In the past twenty years the use of technology has increased in the development of perfumes to find the best odour molecules that will activate the desired smell. Fragrance is both an art and a science.

 

Let’s go back to basics - How do we smell?

Without knowing it we smell a wide variety of odours throughout the day and night. Breathing in and out as we go about our daily lives, a myriad of chemical molecules interact subliminally with our odour receptors. It’s only when an odour is pleasing to us, or irritates, triggers a warning or jogs a memory that we take notice.

 

When we breath in through our nose air swirls up through the nostrils to a ‘sheet’ the size of a small postage stamp. This contains millions of receptor cells. It’s called the olfactory epithelium. Each of these receptor cells has minute filaments which stick out beyond the surface and contain proteins. They grasp the fragrance molecules as they float up our noses. A process then takes place whereby these sensory cells are stimulated. An electrical activity takes place to send messages to the olfactory bulb in the brain which determines the smell.  As we get older our sense of smell diminishes, just like our eyesight and hearing. The number of receptor cells and olfactory bulb nerve cells decrease.

 

 

Why use fragrance? Here are some of the benefits:

Nowadays it is more than a fashion accessory and depending on the type we choose they can be increasingly used to enhance our daily lives:

  • Elevate mood and positivity
  • Promote relaxation
  • Reduce stress
  • Enhance self-image
  • Retrieve memories
  • Improve concentration

 

Personally I have about six different perfumes on the go throughout the year. I will make a choice on which one to wear based on how I’m feeling that day, what time of year it is, what I’m doing that day and I’ll wear some kind of scent pretty much every day. I don’t keep fragrance for ‘best’. Best should be every day. We are worth that!

 

Fragrance and emotions

Our sense of smell is often referred to as our most primitive sense. As we have evolved we no longer need to spend so much time on survival which has made way for us to notice and enjoy the great outdoors – nature, flowers, plants, woods, herbs etc. The reason that fragrances stimulate our feelings is that our brains have been designed so that emotions and the sense of smell anatomically overlap.

 

Many of us have experienced that unexpected hit of nostalgia on smelling a particular scent. The memories of fragrance are generally associated with closeness or social events and are linked to the emotions we felt the first time we experienced it. In no time at all we can be teleported back to another moment in time – our nan’s house where her favourite soap filled the air, our mums kitchen with the smell of cake baking in the oven, a warm embrace with an old friend, an old book that we loved to read. Now this may sound bizarre but every time I smell tinsel (who knew it actually had a smell!) it instantly transports me back to me childhood Christmases. Such a wonderful memory. So every Christmas you’ll catch me sniffing any tinsel I can find!

 

What’s the basic construction of fragrance?

Have you heard of fragrance notes?

No musical notes involved here! But you may have noticed that if you smell fragrance as soon as you spray it on your skin it can smell quite different to smelling it once it’s been on your skin for several hours. This is because fragrances are complex, they are not a fixed object, they develop over time.

 

There are two types of main fragrance constructions.  The first is a classic horizontal formula (as described above). This is where the fragrance evolves as it warms and develops on your skin. The fragrance ‘notes’ – the top, middle and bottom ingredient notes are all separate. But as they merge and mix together the true scent appears.  Many perfumes follow this transition from top note to middle (heart) note and then to bottom (base) note.

 

However, the second type of fragrance construction is a vertical formula. This is where it has been purposely created to remain the same from the first note to the last note so they do not have that transition through a series of notes. There are even some formulas that have one solid dominating note all the way through.

 

Top notes

The important first impression when you initially spray the fragrance. Top notes are usually made of the most volatile ingredients. These are often fresh, citrusy, fruity and light. They quickly blend into the middle notes which is the second part of the fragrance

 

Middle notes

This is the heart of the fragrance and what classifies it into the right fragrance family i.e. floral, green, woody, chypre, spicy, oriental. Fragrance families are used to categorise fragrances. It usually takes between ten to twenty minutes for these heart notes to fully develop on the skin. They bring harmony and balance to the composition and they will often be flowery notes to provide the ‘bouquet’.

 

Base notes

These are made up of the underlying tones of the fragrance and are responsible for its lasting qualities. These tend to be warmer less volatile components that are woody, musky notes. It’s important to say that perfumes should not break up into three stages. If it is well balanced the transition should be impeccable. A perfume that falls apart is badly constructed.

 

So this is why, when choosing a new fragrance, we should spray and leave it on the skin for a few minutes to allow the scent to develop before making a decision. Try not to test more than three fragrances at one time as this will overwhelm the nose. A little tip is to smell the inside of the elbow to neutralise the nose before smelling the next fragrance, as long as fragrance hasn’t been sprayed here before.

 

Why can perfume be expensive?

The combination of exceptional ‘noses’, the long development process and the price of the raw materials are all very costly. So much expertise is involved in creating fragrances. They are like works of art. I like to break down the cost of my fragrances as a daily use cost which makes it more justifiable and like I’ve said before fragrance should be enjoyed every day. A pleasure to wear.

 

How can I get the most out of my fragrance? What’s fragrance layering?

Do you feel like your scent disappears throughout the day? Most fragrances will need to be sprayed during the day and/or evening. They won’t last all day if only spritzed first thing in the morning. Usually the more expensive the ingredients, and the higher the perfume concentration, the longer the fragrance will last. But there are ways to give it some longevity.

 

It’s important to note that fragrance doesn’t like dry skin. It needs moisture molecules to hook onto in order to stay put. If our skin is dry and dehydrated it’s not going to last. Ensure that skin is moisturised before spritzing.  This is where fragrance layering comes in. It’s when we use two or more fragrance forms together. Perhaps starting with a body wash or bath oil in the chosen scent, followed by the matching body lotion or cream and finishing with the perfume. This layering effect ensures the fragrance takes on a much softer character and stays around for longer. Ultimately this is a more economical way of wearing fragrance as, even though the initial outlay may be more, we will use less in the long run.

 

Where are the best places to spray fragrance?

Aim for pulse points (wrists, crook of the elbow, behind the knees, inside the ankles) But avoid the neck and chest as this can cause damage, pigmentation, blemishes and premature ageing. It is designed to be worn on the skin, to be warmed by the body and develop into a wonderful aroma. Don’t spray onto clothes as not only can this distort the scent but can damage the fabric too.

 

How should I store fragrance?

Although many fragrances come in the most beautiful bottles it’s best to keep them in their box and store in a cool dark place like a wardrobe or drawer. If kept in this way they will last six months to a year or even longer depending on the ingredients. My best advice is to use it little and often.  Don’t save it for best. Spritz yourself every day. You will know if a perfume has gone off or spoiled as its colour will have dramatically changed and it will smell different.

 

What are the different fragrance strengths?

The concentration of a scent is determined by its ratio of base (pure fragrance) to the dilutant (alcohol and water). Incidentally, alcohol is needed in a fragrance for longevity on the skin. It’s not like dousing ourselves in fragrant vodka. It’s a different kind of alcohol. The higher the concentration of base the more lasting the fragrance will be on the skin. Parfum is the highest concentration and will only require two or three dabs onto the skin. Eau de Parfum is next and can be applied more but not too liberally. Think less is more. Eau de toilette contains less parfum which makes it light to wear but can still be long lasting. Eau de Cologne is very light and can be applied liberally and often. There are also lots of other concentrations on the market which tend to be quite subtle in strength, for example, body spray, body mist, aftershave, perfume veil. Long gone are the days of only being able to choose from perfume for women and after shave for me. Nowadays there is an abundant choice with tonnes that are suitable for everyone.

 

How much fragrance should I use?

This is completely personal and will depend on what strength of fragrance is being used. As a general rule no one should be able to smell your fragrance if they are more than an arm’s length away from you. We don’t want to overpower those around us. If anyone enters our personal ‘circle’ they should be able to smell it. As a side note, many people think their fragrance disappears because they can’t smell it. However, our noses become desensitised to the scent. It’s not gone away and other people can still smell it. So there’s no need to dowse ourselves in a bucket of perfume throughout the  day.

 

Perfumery & Company offer an extensive range of fragrances in their store and on their website. I’d like to spotlight one particular fragrance range of theirs  – L’Atelier Parfum. A unique, creative and long lasting collection of scents within their Opus 1 Le Jardin Secret range. I believe that there is something for everyone to choose from. The team select natural high quality ingredients that are ethically sourced locally in France and the rest of Europe to limit their carbon footprint. Made in Grasse, the perfume capital of the world, their essences are formulated by excellent French craftmanship who endeavour to include up to 90% ingredients from natural origin. They are vegan containing no animal components and they don’t test on animals.

 

There are seven Eau de Parfum fragrances in the range and, depending on taste, are not gender specific. I’ve highlighted some of the notes within each to try to paint a picture of how each might smell:

 

L’Atelier Parfum

 

Coeur de Pateles

A luxurious floral fragrance with notes of bergamot, rose, raspberry and almond. A subtle cheerful scent that evokes memories of spring.

 

Arme Blanche

With notes of neroli, orange blossom, jasmine and sandalwood this is a delicate floral fragrance which reminds me of a gorgeous bouquet of flowers.

 

Verte Euphorie

A light and fresh invigorating citrus scent containing blood orange, grapefruit, petit grain, carrot and white cedar. I love a citrus fragrance and this doesn’t disappoint.

 

Rose Coup de Foudre

With notes of Turkish rose, patchouli and amber this is a rose fragrance like no other.  It’s captivating, sensual and dynamic whilst not overpowering.

 

Belle Joueuse

This is a modern sexy chypre, containing raspberry, ginger, rose, tonka bean, vetiver, and a soft amber. An understated elegant fragrance.

 

Douce Insomnie

With notes of pink berries, cappuccino accord, jasmine, vanilla, patchouli this is an intense and passionate perfume perfect for an evening out.

 

Exquise Tentation

A powdery sweet sensual fragrance full of opulence, containing bergamot, blackcurrant, rose, lily of the valley, almond and vanilla. A dramatic and heady spicy vanilla scent.

 

All fragrances are available to try in store.

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Facial oils – The quickest way to get the glow

Facial oils – The quickest way to get the glow

I adore facial oils. They are one of my favourite skincare steps and a game changer when it comes to achieving glowing skin. The humble facial oil is the quickest and simplest way to bring some luminosity to the skin. But if you’ve previously avoided them, put off by applying an ‘oil’ onto your face, I’m here to persuade you to think again. It’s earned its place within the ‘skincare wardrobe’ and it will be a staple that you can pull out time and time again.

 

Facial oils are nutritionally brilliant for the skin. I often refer to them as food for the skin with many containing fatty acids, vitamins, antioxidants, peptides etc that really pack a punch when combined with a little facial massage. The oils available to us vary a lot from simple seed and nut oils to much more complex blends often containing plant extracts like essential oils.

 

Facial oils are loved by men and women. Whether you have dry, combination, oily skin, sensitivity, concerns about your skin showing signs of getting older, dehydrated skin, blemishes – there is an oil for you.  Different oils have different molecule sizes which means that they can penetrate into the skin at different rates and levels, some deeper than others. They replace oil that the skin has already lost and help to prevent further moisture loss which can happen with any skin type. They are classed as an emollient so they encourage softness and smoothness and are typically water free which means that they have limited preservatives. There are many beautiful blends available and usually smell absolutely divine. With amazing formulas for all skin types and concerns you will find one of these skincare saviours that’s just right for you.


Depending on the type of facial oil you need, here are some of their benefits:

  • Improved radiance and glow
  • Stimulated skin cell renewal
  • Hydration and moisture replenishment
  • Improved elasticity
  • Balanced excess oil production
  • Anti-inflammatory and comforting
  • Reduction in puffiness
  • Prevention of razor burn, soreness and rashes from shaving
  • Increased feelings of relaxation (a secondary benefit of inhaling the aromas of the oil and massaging it into the skin during your evening routine)

 

What can an oil do for different skin types and concerns?

There is an abundant choice of oils for all skin types and concerns. First and foremost it will bring amazing luminosity to the skin but there are so many benefits if you choose one for your specific skin type or concern. Lots will contain active ingredients and these are ingredients that are clinically proven to deliver results and are what makes the oil effective.

 

Oily/Combination

Facial oils for oily and combination skin types will help to balance and regulate the natural oil production whilst leaving the skin soft and supple. They won’t make the skin any oilier. Blemishes and acne do not clear up by starving them of moisture. It’s just not the case. They are more likely to become red, angry and sore as the protective layer of the skin is stripped away. If harsh alcoholic based product are being used in the hope that they will dry out spots, what happens is that moisture is banished. Skin becomes confused and starts producing more oil to compensate, comfort and treat itself. These formulas are often ‘dry oils’ which have a lighter texture making them quicker to absorb. Therefore not leaving the skin feeling oily or blocking pores. Apply as part of your evening routine. They can work wonders!

 

Dry and/or dehydrated skin

Dry skin is usually caused by lack of oil in the skin. You may feel tightness, flakiness, a dull complexion, find that products don’t absorb well and experience some sensitivity. If your skin is dehydrated (this can affect any skin type) there is a lack of water in the skin. Skin can have areas of tightness and areas of oiliness, moisturisers are absorbed really quickly, makeup disappears, goes patchy, or seems like it slides off of your face.  Most of us at one time of another will have dehydrated skin.

 

If your skin is dry and/or dehydrated try to include several ‘oily’ products into your routine to keep the dryness and dehydration at bay. For example a balm cleanser as well as a facial oil. Layer products up by applying a facial oil under your moisturiser during the day.  Even mix a couple of drops with your moisturiser or foundation. Apply again as part of your evening routine. Be aware of how your skin feels as the evening progresses. I know this might sound a bit weird but if you tend to get up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet do a quick check of your skin and if it feels parched apply a little more.

 

Sensitive

Skin sensitivity can be due to lifestyle or genetics. A dryer skin type will be more prone to sensitivity because the skins protective barrier is compromised. The sensitivity should be temporary but could take a while to manage. Facial oils for sensitivity will contain ingredients known to soothe and comfort the skin. They will calm the skin down whilst adding vital moisture. Pat onto skin before moisturiser in the morning or evening. A facial oil or a moisturiser specifically designed for sensitive skin are your first port of call if you want to try to address some sensitivity issues.

 

When do I apply a facial oil?

As part of your evening routine:

The optimum time to apply your facial oil is as part of your evening skincare routine.

Cleanse, tone, eye product, serum, oil, moisturiser.  You’ll sometimes find me massaging a facial oil into my skin whilst curled up on the sofa watching TV.  Once a week, usually on a Sunday, I will do a longer massage. I have created a place for my skincare application within my evening routine and it works really well. Whether you do this when you get in from work or just before you go to bed is entirely up to you. But, what I would say is that, you may be feeling too tired if you leave this until bed time. An added bonus is that the oil will help reduce pillow crease marks when you wake in the morning. You could even apply a layer to your face as you lay in the bath relaxing.

 

 

As part of your morning routine:

As a pre shave to lift and soften the hairs in preparation for shaving. Also to shave with as the oil will help the razor to glide over the skin. If you prefer to use a shaving foam apply the facial oil underneath and it will act as a buffer between your skin and the razor, counteracting any drying effects of the blade scaping the skin. Putting an oil on the skin post shave before your aftershave balm/moisturiser is another great use. Either under or over your moisturiser or mixed into your cream when extra hydration is needed. This is a brilliant and effective moisture boost. A couple of drops in your foundation can give a lovely dewy look. But don’t apply over an SPF as this may break down the efficacy of the sunscreen.

 

When you are taking part in sport:

Heat and oils work well together so if you love spin, hot yoga, running, cycling etc an oil can be a great addition to your shelf. They are also great to use in a sauna or steam room too.

 

When flying:

Oils really come into their own when travelling on planes. Flying is extremely dehydrating so having a facial oil in your hand luggage, applying before you board and topping up on the flight will help to keep your skins hydration levels up and keep it soft and supple.

 

When the seasons change:

When the weather starts to get colder and the central heating kicks in our skin suffers. We can notice dryness, dehydration, a change in texture etc. Upping your facial oil application, whether applying it on its own, underneath or over the top of moisturiser or mixed into moisturiser will help to feed the skin with the moisture it’s craving. Having said this I use an oil all year round but I always assess my skincare with each season and look at what’s working and what needs to be switched up.

 

How do I apply a facial oil?

One of the things I like most about facial oils is that they encourage you to massage your skin as you apply it. The texture lends itself to be massaged in which will help them to penetrate effectively.  Through the mere action of your fingers, palms, heels of hands and finger tips applying the oil around your face, neck and décolleté (avoiding the eye area) blood circulation will be boosted and puffiness drained, alongside a myriad of other benefits. Facial massage is your secret weapon delivering visible benefits. Think of it as a workout for the skin.

You don’t need to warm the oil in your hands for it to be absorbed onto your face. Most formulations these days are ready as soon as they leave the bottle. But in the case of oils, distributing the product into your hands means you will be able to evenly apply it onto your face. There is a great opportunity here to inhale the beautiful aromas of the oil by cupping your hands around your nose and mouth. Take a moment to breathe in and out slowly three times before applying to your face and massaging in. They are a delight to use. 

Your skin shouldn’t feel greasy when you’ve applied oil. If it does, you’ve probably applied too much. A couple of drops is all that you will need. Most facial oils come in pipette or pump form so getting the right amount is easy. You want to be able to feel some grip to the skin rather than your hands slipping and sliding all of the  place. It’s a restored fresh healthy glow we are after rather than looking like we have dived into a vat of olive oil! Although I’m sure this has its own benefits but maybe not just before bedtime!

Visit my website www.nicolameirholistictherapies.com where I’ve written about facial massage www.nicolameirholistictherapies.com/post/facial-massage-at-home and my Instagram @nicolameirholistictherapies and Facebook @nicolameirbusiness where you will find information on facial massage techniques. However, don’t get bogged down by thinking that you have to use specific techniques and that everything must be just so. As long as you are using sweeping upward and outward movements you’ll be fine.

 

How should I store them

Keep them out of sunlight and they will last longer. If they come in a box store keep them in this. They will eventually go rancid but you will notice this as they will smell different or off.

 

When should I start using a facial oil?

I’d suggest that from your thirties a facial oil is a must. It’s a quick fix for glowing skin. I’ve used an oil since my mid-twenties and I’m now into my late forties. If you are in your teens and twenties a facial oil is a great product to have on your shelf. Just spend what you can afford. Pop a couple of drops into your moisturiser for convenience. You’ll soon see the difference, especially if your skin feels a bit dry or dehydrated during the colder months, or after a few too many wines, lack of sleep, burning the candle at both ends etc! This isn’t to say that the rest of us don’t experience any of these things but I remember those heady days in my teens and twenties.

 

There’s a huge choice of oils on the market and Perfumery & Company stock a great selection of them. Here are a few picks to help you choose:

 

Wildsmith Skin is a brand relatively new to me. I’ve been using some of their products for the last nine months or so. I haven’t been disappointed. They are a company based in Hampshire with roots firmly in the natural world. Their products use the latest bioactives, botanicals and minerals combined with optimal delivery systems that make a real difference to the skin.

 

Wildsmith Active Super Oil

Suitable for most skin types

Wow, what an oil!! This is a superior vitamin rich, nourishing and repairing overnight facial oil.  It’s definitely an investment but a little goes a long way. It contains seventeen premium plant oils which have been blended to regenerate and rejuvenate the skin and will benefit dehydrated, dry and ageing skin.  It seals in moisture and helps to reinforce the skins barrier whilst powerful antioxidants protect against cell damage from external aggressors.

 

Clarins do facial oils so well. They’ve been formulating facial oils for over sixty years. I have adored them for many many years and I usually have at least one of them on my shelf at any one time. They are plant based oils and offer a wide choice for different skin types and concerns.

Clarins Blue Orchid Treatment Oil

Dehydrated skin

An absolute firm favourite of mine with a beautiful aroma. Blue orchid & patchouli essential oils are efficient at delivering a hit of hydration, softening the skin and brightening the complexion. Love, love, love!

 

Clarins Santal Treatment Oil

Dry skin

Sandalwood, cardamom and lavender essential oils work perfectly on skin that is dry, red and uncomfortable. They soothe the skin and restore suppleness, whilst encouraging luminosity.  

 

Clarins Lotus Treatment Oil

Oily or combination skin

Geranium and rosemary essential oils combined with lotus extract will purity, refine the skins texture, regulate oil production in addition to much needed hydration. This is a great choice for anyone who has oily or combination skin. And remember, it won’t make your skin more oily.

 

Clarins Restoring Treatment Oil

Sensitive skin

A beautiful oil containing clary sage extract to soothe feelings of tightness, dryness etc. It will protect the skin, hydrate, and smooth the skins surface. It can be used to ‘reset’ the skin after a bout of sensitivity. Think of it as a blanket for your face.

 

Nourish London is a British organic skincare company offering scientifically developed organic and vegan products powered by ingredients found in nature. Their products are made in London.

 

Nourish London Radiance Firming Facial Oil

For all skin types

This contains a luxurious blend of omega rich oils including pumpkin seed oil which has been scientifically proven to improve skin tone, boost radiance and protect the skin. French marine algae extract slows the breakdown of collagen and elastin encouraging skin to stay firm and supple. A beautiful light fragrance which is a pleasure to use as part of your evening routine.

 

Neals Yard Remedies were stablished forty years ago. They are a modern apothecary, established as a successful creator of natural and organic health and beauty products. Neals Yard produce oils that are a pleasure to use. I use several doing my client facial and body treatments.

 

Neals Yard Rehydrating Rose Facial Oil

Normal skin (although I would suggest it suitable for most skin types)

This oil has a heavenly fragrance dominated by the infusion of damask. It soothes and revitalises whilst balancing the skins natural moisture levels.

 

Neals Yard Orange Flower Facial Oil

Dry Skin

A skin quenching formula for dryer skin. Nourishing neroli oil combined with a blend of omega and antioxidant rich botanical oils not only feeds the skin with what dry skin needs but also protects the skin from further moisture loss.

 

We all want glowing skin, right? Head to Perfumery & Company (in person or online) and they will be so happy to help.

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The importance of Sun Protection – Do you want to be a grape or a prune?

The importance of Sun Protection – Do you want to be a grape or a prune?

Those teenage days of laying on Brighton beach covered in baby oil are well and truly behind me. I remember my best friend lathering herself in cooking oil and she literally fried! We didn’t know any better. But thankfully things have changed, there is a lot more knowledge about the damaging effects of the sun and so much choice to protect ourselves including specific products for the face, body and scalp. 

Our skin is the largest organ of the body, we wear it every day, so we need to look after it and protect it properly. The sun can be great for us both physically and mentally. I love that feeling of the warm sun on my skin. It’s so uplifting. But unprotected and/or excessive exposure is extremely damaging. It can be the difference between having skin that looks like a plump smooth grape or a dry wrinkly prune (I know which I would prefer) and this is without the added danger of skin cancer.

 So let’s start with the basics – What does SPF stand for?

All sun protection products will display an SPF number. It indicates the products Sun Protection Factor. There are differing SPFs and the number (i.e. 30 or 50) extends the amount of time our skin can normally be exposed to the sun unprotected before burning. So let’s say that we choose a product of SPF15.  This means that once we have applied the product to our skin it will multiply our natural protection (when we don’t apply sunscreen) by fifteen times before we would start to burn. So an SPF15, in theory, would protect us for 150 minutes. However, I say ‘in theory’ because I don’t think it’s wise to rely on this calculation to prevent burning. It can give a false sense of security that we will be fully protected until our SPF time is up. This can be really damaging for our skin. I wouldn’t lay in the sun for two and a half hours straight, let alone when the sun is at its strongest (11am-3pm) using a SPF15. I wouldn’t lay in the sun for this long anyway. It would definitely result in sunburn and most sunscreens won’t remain effective after one and a half to two hours of being applied anyway.

 It is much safer to opt for either SPF30 or SPF50 and reapply regularly. Please don’t go any lower. It’s not worth it. The higher the SPF number, the more protection our skin will get. I always use a factor 50 or 50+ on my face and either a factor 30 or 50 on my body.  As I’ve mentioned, I love that feeling of the sun warming the skin but I try to be so careful and spend more time in the shade these days.

 As a general rule this is how the SPF numbers are categorized:

Low – 6 to 14 (long gone are the days of using Hawaiian Tropic SPF2!)

Medium – 15 to 29

High – 30 to 50

Very High – 50+ (this must provide at least SPF60 in testing)

Very high SPFs are suggested for those with red hair and freckle because burning can happen super quick. High SPFs are for people, like me, with fair skin. A medium SPF would be ok if you are any type of ethnicity where your skin tans easily and rarely burns. But I would suggest using a higher SPF to be safer (just one that doesn’t contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as these can form a visible ghostly look on the skin, although technology is evolving all of the time.

What is a broad spectrum sunscreen?

As well as making sure that we are choosing a high SPF always look to see if the sunscreen is broad spectrum. This means that it will help to protect from UVA and UVB sun rays. Some sunscreens only protect against one.

UVA are the ageing rays (think A for ageing) which penetrate deep into the skin (to the subcutaneous level) destroying its collagen and elastin causing premature ageing, wrinkles, uneven surface, sagging, pigmentation. UVA also penetrates clouds and glass so even on a cloudy day or when sitting by a window (driving in our car) we need protection.

UVB are the burning rays (think B for burning) which cause skin damage. They have the ability to alter the structure of skin cells (damaging their DNA) and can ultimately lead to skin cancer. Skcin, a melanoma and skin cancer charity, recently reported that one in thirty six UK males and one in forty seven females will be diagnosed with melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) in their lifetime and it’s one of the biggest killers in the 15-34 age group. They talk a lot about taking steps to prevent this from happening by using a broad spectrum sunscreen and reapplying regularly (even in cloudy weather). They also promote early detection by regularly checking moles for changes, being aware of any new growths and seeking medical advice if we notice anything different. Early detection is crucial.  The World Health Organisation have identified UV light as a proven human carcinogen.

It’s important to note that the sun protection factor (SPF) is usually only relevant to UVB light (burning rays) so it is only giving us half the picture about how much the product is going to protect us. Look out for the letters UVA in a circle on sun products as this proves that it will provide at least a third of its protection against UVA (as well as UVB) and will be broad spectrum.

What type of sunscreen should I use?

So we’ve looked at what the Sun Protection Factor means . Let’s now look at the types of sunscreens available.  There are two main types – Chemical sunscreens and Physical sunscreens (which are sometimes referred to as Mineral or Natural)

Chemical sunscreens absorb the UV light and turn it into heat. When applied they trigger a chemical reaction within the skin which activates their protective mechanism.  It’s usually recommended to apply twenty minutes before going out in the sun as this allows the process to take place. Some commonly used chemical UV filters are octocrylene, helioplex, avobenzone, oxybenzone.

Physical/Mineral sunscreens are sometimes referred to as natural sunscreens, usually for marketing purposes. They work by reflecting the UV light away from the skin. However, it has been recently proven that they only reflect a very small amount and absorb most of it, turning it in to heat within the body like chemical sunscreens. They are effective as soon as they are applied. But because they sit on the skin they need to be reapplied often especially after swimming or exercise etc as they may have been washed or sweated off. Physical sunscreens are usually made with minerals such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Although they will go through a chemical process to become part of the sunscreen so are not necessarily ‘natural’. These minerals are pulverised (mostly invisible to the naked eye) and when applied in a sunscreen they sit on the surface and reflect the UV rays. They can sometimes leave the skin looking ghostly, can feel a bit greasy and may not create the best base for make up if this is being applied after SPF. However, formulas are evolving continuously.

Is there a way of tanning safely?

The crux of the matter is that there is no safe tan.  When our skin tans this is a sign of DNA damage. It’s our body trying to protect itself from the UV light. So a tan is sun damage. Melanocytes are cells that are responsible for creating a pigment called melanin. This is what determines our skin tone. The more melanocytes we have the darker our natural skin colour. When exposed to the sun they produce more melanin to try to protect the skin. But this is actually sun damage. Avoid the hours between 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its hottest. This is the time that we are most likely to burn. It is possible to still tan in the shade. The sun reflects off of water, floor tiles and sand right onto our skin. But we are less at risk of burning. If tanned skin is what’s wanted, try to opt for self-tans. Many of the formulas are fantastic these days.

How much should I apply and how often should I apply it?

Most of us don’t apply enough sunscreen. We need to be more generous. Slather it on!  Don’t be shy! If we look at our forefinger and middle finger with the knuckles facing down we need to apply a line of facial SPF to each of those fingers from base to tip and that’s how much we need to apply to our face, neck and ears. Depending on how tall we, are a couple of teaspoons is good guidance for each area of our body i.e. each arm, each leg, chest, back. Don’t forget feet and hands too!  Most of us may find we go through SPF quicker than we usually do if we take this advice on board.

Regardless of the factor reapply sunscreen every one and a half to two hours if we are sitting in the sun, more frequent if we are in the water. When applying to the face first thing in the morning it should always be the last cream applied to the skin (after cleansing, toning/acid toners, eye creams, serums, moisturisers/aftershave balms) and before applying any make up.

I have an SPF in my moisturiser/primer/foundation, surely that’s enough?

There are a few reasons why SPF in a moisturiser or other product isn’t the best option for us. Firstly SPF is a combination of powerful ingredients which will overtake any active or expensive ingredients within any other cream.  So if we are buying a pricey ‘anti-ageing’ moisturiser with an SPF it will literally be an expensive SPF moisturiser without the benefits of the other ingredients.

Secondly, an SPF within another product like a moisturiser will often give a false sense of security. We apply it in the morning and that’s it. When in reality we should be applying it throughout the day at intervals. SPF needs to be reapplied and there are some fantastic SPFs available on the market these days that can be sprayed over make up.

Thirdly, chances are that we aren’t as thorough when applying moisturiser as we are when applying a dedicated SPF so our faces won’t be fully covered. We might be a bit more slap dash with our moisturiser compared to applying an SPF.

Another reason is that a moisturiser containing SPF will usually only protect against UVB rays, so we may not burn but we aren’t protected from the UVA rays. These are the rays that have a detrimental effect on our collagen and elastin.

And lastly, moisturisers with an inbuilt SPF will invariably not be water or rub resistant. So if we apply make up over the top of it with a brush or our fingers we will rub some of it off. If it’s been a particularly hot day and you’ve sweated it will be gone!

It's so much better to layer up. Allow our moisturiser to deliver great skin benefits, our SPF to protect our skin in the best way possible and our foundation to provide fabulous colour and coverage. Be aware that if several different products are being applied with differing SPFs the overall SPF rating will not accumulate. We can’t add them up and be triple protected. We will be protected at the level of the highest SPF that we have applied.

What is the best SPF for me?

The best SPF is the one that we are going to use and continue using.  If it’s at all possible, try several before buying and see how they feel on the skin. Find one that you like where the texture works for you and keep on using it. Bear in mind if make up is going to be applied on top. Does it provide a nice base? SPFs have come a long way since the days of being greasy and gloopy. There are many non-oily and non-comedogenic (won’t block pores) formulations available. And at the other end of the scale there are richer creams for those with a dryer skin type.

But what about Vitamin D, don’t we need sun exposure for this?

We need some exposure to the sun to produce Vitamin D.  Without it our bodies are unable to properly absorb calcium and we may be more susceptible to high blood pressure, headaches, low mood, poor quality sleep, osteoporosis, diabetes and arthritis to name a few. Food sources are quite difficult to come by. So exposing our skin to UVB is the primary way of making it in our bodies. The sun’s UVB rays interact with a protein called 7-DHC in the skin, converting it into vitamin D3, the active form of vitamin D.

It’s been recommended by The British Skin Foundation that we get at least 20 minutes of sun exposure a day to fortify our vitamin D production. These can differ from person to person depending on skin type, weight etc and generally the darker your skin the more exposure you will need. Many people, mainly women, now take daily Vitamin D supplements as they are deficient. So here we have a juxtaposition – the need to protect our skin from the sun’s rays and the need to exposure our skin for vitamin D absorption.  So how can we get vitamin D exposure safely? Clinical studies have shown that sunscreen use doesn’t lead to vitamin D deficiency. In fact, it is the case that people who use sunscreen daily can maintain their vitamin D levels. One explanation for this is that no matter how much sunscreen we apply to our skin, there will always be some of the sun’s rays which will reach the skin. For example, an SPF50 will filter out 98 percent of UVB rays and this is only if we apply it properly. So it is possible to synthesis the vitamin D necessary for our bodies whilst still wearing sunscreen.

Other important considerations

  • Most sun damage is done in the first twenty years of our lives. The appearance of age spots and pigmentation when we’re older is due to sun damage when we were younger. So sun protection needs to become a habit early on in life.
  • Even though the darkest of skin tones have an inbuilt SPF of around 13 and are not quite as vulnerable to UV light they still need protection from UV damage by using an SPF. A minimum of SPF30 is recommended. No one is immune from sun damage unfortunately.
  • If our SPF doesn’t have an expiry date, assume that it will last a year. After that it loses its efficacy. Buy new SPF every year.
  • In Europe SPF label classification is not the law, it’s just for information because it is classed as a cosmetic. In the US SPF classification is required as it’s considered a drug. However, European manufacturers are permitted to use seven proven UVA filters while the US can only use three. This means that European products definitely have the potential to be more effective.
  • A lot of skin damage (in addition to on the face) happen to the back of the neck, tops of the ears and tip of the nose. We mustn’t forget these areas when applying product.
  • If swimming in a chlorinated pool it’s necessary to shower before applying more sunscreen.
  • If acne is a problem opt for an oil free SPF as some can be too rich and block the pores which will only exasperate the situation. But thankfully there is a lot of choice available.
  • Don’t use SPF instead of moisturiser, they do different things. Apply moisturiser first and follow with SPF.
  • Always double cleanse (cleaning our faces twice) at the end of the day if SPF has been applied. SPF is designed to stay put on our skin, to protect it, so it will take more rigorous removal. Balms and oil cleansers are best for this in conjunction with a soft flannel.
  • SPF isn’t just for use abroad, the sun is still very strong in the UK. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this is the case though. If you go shopping in Boots or a supermarket during the summer months that’s when all of the big sunscreen displays are on sale. Go in during winter and you won’t find them. Most people think that sun protection is only needed during the summer months. But the sun’s rays are always there, even on cloudy days, even in winter. 75% of UV rays can penetrate through windows too.
  • If on holiday and sunbathing, carry a small bottle of micellar water and cotton pads in a beach bag. Instead of putting layer upon layer of SPF on which can end up blocking pores, trapping sweat and dirt (which can cause blemishes), remove with the micellar soaked cotton pads and apply a fresh layer. Keep pre soaked pads in a small lunch box for extra convenience.
  • Sunscreens work best on exfoliated skin. Otherwise we are just sealing the SPF to dead skin cells which can rub off more easily.
  • Avoid using perfume on top of SPF as it will break down its efficacy stopping it from working as well, plus it can cause pigmentation and sensitivity.
  • Avoid using retinoids, peels, glycolic acids when in the sun for long periods (I wouldn’t recommend being in the sun for long periods anyway) as skin will be a bit more vulnerable to sun damage and sensitivity.
  • Aftersun is a must. Apply after a shower to dry or damp skin once chlorine, sunscreen, sweat, sea salt etc has been thoroughly washed off.
  • If you are a teenager or in your early 20s please don’t think that SPF is decades away. It really isn’t. Most sun damage occurs before your 21st birthday but it won’t show up for a while. Now is the time to start taking ownership for protecting your skin.
  • Don’t forget hands. When we protect our faces (and the rest of our bodies) we should be protecting our hands too. If pigmentation is already a concern, this may get darker when exposed to the sun. Slather SPF on them during the day and cover in a hand cream containing a proven ingredient that works on signs of ageing i.e. retinol, AHAs, to treat any damage that has already been done.

I really hope this has given an insight into the world of SPFs and shed some light on what is, sometimes, a confusing area of skin and body care.

 Let’s take a look at a selection of great Sun Protection products available at Perfumery & Company. They stock, among others, two excellent sun care ranges – Clarins and Lancaster.

Clarins Sun Care

Clarins have a comprehensive range of sun care. Here are a few that I have tested and they are all broad spectrum:

 

For the face

Clarins SPF50+ Very High Protection UVA & UVB Dry Touch Sun Care Cream for the Face

This gives the highest level of sun protection. It contains a complex of six plant extracts to work on signs of skin getting older i.e. fine lines and age spots/pigmentation and dehydration which can all be side effects of sun exposure. Clarins state this is a cream suitable for all skin types. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it for oily skin types because, even though it’s a dry touch cream, it seems too rich for oily skin and may sit uncomfortably on the surface. If applying makeup over the top I would suggest leaving a few minutes before doing so in order for the cream to sink in. This will then create a lovely base for foundation to sit on.

Clarins also have the above cream in a SPF30 High Protection UVA & UVB Dry Touch Sun Care Cream for the Face.  If your skin is naturally darker and doesn’t burn easily, this is another option to consider. But if in doubt opt for the factor 50+.

For the Body

Clarins SPF 50 High Protection UVA & UVB Sun Care Gel-to-Oil for Body

This can be applied to wet or dry skin. The gel to oil texture makes it easy to massage in. It’s  a great hydrating body product suitable for all skin types.  I would suggest applying to either dry or damp skin rather than wet skin as I don’t think it would massage in as easily. This body care product contains the six plant extracts to help prevent visible signs of ageing and dehydration.

Clarins Soothing After Sun Balm for Face and Body

Enriched with anti-oxidants to prolong your tan.

This is a light cream balm texture which is easily absorbed into the skin.  Great for all skin types.  Sunflower extract helps to soothe skin if it is sore from too much sun exposure. Aloe vera, watermelon and shea butter hydrate and soften the skin. It acts as a great body moisturiser for all skin types. If you have a tan that you are wanting to maintain this cream will prolong it with the help of safflower extract.

Lancaster Sun Care

Lancaster is synonymous with excellent sun care. Here are some that I tested and they are all broad spectrum:

For the face

Lancaster Sun Beauty Sublime Tan SPF30 High Protection UVA & UVB + Visible Light & Infrared Velvet Cream for face

All of the Lancaster products featured here have a patented Full Light technology which not only protects from UVA and UVB rays but also visible light and infrared light. Lancaster state that this cream is designed for medium to dark skins. I think this is because it is SPF30 rather than SPF50. It contains a special complex called Sunsicalm which soothes skin suffering from any sun sensitivity. The texture is light and easily absorbed which would provide a great base for make up for most skin types, except maybe very dry skin.

For the body

Lancaster Sun Sensitive SPF50 High Protection UVA & UVB + Visible Light & Infrared Oil Free Milk for body

Specifically formulated for sensitive skin that often turns red and feels uncomfortable. But it’s suitable for all skin types. The texture is a light weight oil free milk which leaves a silky matt finish to the skin once it’s dried.

 Lancaster Sun Sport SPF50 High Protection UVA & UVB + Visible Light & Infrared Cooling Invisible Mist

This has been specifically formulated to be applied to wet skin but isn’t designed for use on the face. Water and sweat resistant (no sunscreen is waterproof), this is a convenient product aimed at those who are very active.  I would say that it should still be applied frequently, especially after swimming and other activities. It is a cooling mist which dries quickly but it’s very important to apply it thoroughly. As it’s a mist, you can’t always see where it has been applied to the skin so ensure it is massaged in properly.

Lancaster Sun Beauty Sublime Tan SPF30 High Protection UVA & UVB + Visible Light & Infrared Velvet Milk for body

Lancaster suggest this is ideal for medium to dark skin, skin that tans gradually and sometimes burns.  Again, I think this is due to the fact that it is SPF 30 instead of SPF 50. A richer cream texture which is moisturising and hydrating. Perfect for any skin type including dryer skins.

Lancaster Golden Tan Maximizer After Sun Lotion

This is an after sun moisturiser for the face and body. It’s a light velvety lotion texture which hydrates and soothes the skin. If you have a tan that you would like to prolong this product will help to do this for up to one month. I assume that this is due to the fact that new skin cells production generally take around 28 days to replenish. Suitable for all skin types.

The guys at Perfumery and Company are on hand to personally advice you and answer any questions you may have. If you don’t live close enough to pop in, give them a call or check out their website.

But remember, don’t let any sun screen give you a false sense of security. Don’t stay out in the sun for prolonged periods even with sun cream on. They are designed for shorter periods. And anyway, who wants to look like a prune when we can look like a grape!

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Eye products – Why do I need a specific product?

Eye products – Why do I need a specific product?

Written by Nicola Meir Holistic Therapies

A question I get asked quite a lot is whether specific eye products are necessary or a waste of money? My answer is YES… Especially if you have concerns about the skin around your eyes. An eye product is a great addition to your skincare toolkit. 

Everything and anything can affect the eye area

There’s there saying that ‘our eyes are the window to our soul’. They are also the window to lots of other things that could be affecting their appearance, such as:

  • Lack of sleep (I certainly noticed a change once I had my first baby)
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Poor diet
  • General illness
  • Medication
  • Sun damage
  • Too much sleep (Yes I know! Who would have thought!)
  • Liver problems
  • Sluggish lymph drainage
  • The natural ageing process
  • Genetics
  • Exam study or jobs which involve staring at a screen/books for long periods of time
  • Too much partying (although the chance would be a fine thing at the moment!)

 

Why should we pay particular attention to the eye area?

Let’s take a quick look at the skin around our eyes as it’s different to the rest of our skin. Therefore it needs to be treated accordingly. In fact it is ten times thinner than the skin on the rest of our face, which is thinner than the skin on the rest of our bodies. Excess fluid can collect very easily here, it’s an area that doesn’t have a bone structure and has lots of little sacs which can fill up with fluid. To add to this, as we get older our skins production of elastin and collagen slows down resulting in thinner and slacker skin. So it’s easy to see why we need a specific product for this delicate area and why we need to treat it very gently.

So what can we do to support our eye area?

The legend that is Cher once sang “If I could turn back time!” …But it’s important to note that nothing we apply directly onto our skin (topically) will permanently ‘turn back time’ and fix concerns we may have.  The only way of getting lasting results are with injectables or surgery. However, let’s embrace changes to our skin by looking after what we have with topical solutions. Eye products have been specifically designed to focus on this delicate area which often shows the first signs of ageing. Many have advanced formulas to target puffiness, dehydration, fine lines, signs of tiredness etc and are a real asset to our skincare routine if used regularly. 

When should I start using an eye product?

Personally I love an eye product, I enjoy using them in the morning and the evening and any time my eyes feel tired and need a pep up. I’ve been using them religiously since my 30s, more sporadically before that. But if you’ve never used one, it’s not too late to start and you can even start using them in your 20s if you wish. There are so many different kinds on the market and I would say, if you are able to, have a couple of different ones on your bathroom shelf. I always have a lovely cooling revitalising gel or serum for the mornings and a light balm or light cream for the evenings.  As a general rule choose light textures, whether that be gels, balms, creams or serums. A really thick product could be the route to puffy eyes.

 

Here are a few things to bear in mind when using eye products:

Don’t use more product than is needed: Follow the instructions. Generally the amount needed for each eye is the size of a grain of rice. Slapping on more will not turn back time unfortunately Cher!!  It may instead result in puffy irritated eyes. We would also be pouring our money down the drain. Think-  less is more in this instance.

Only apply product on to the eye bone: Don’t be tempted to apply product right up to the eyelashes. The skin is so much thinner here that the product will not have anywhere to go once it is applied, therefore sitting just under the top layer of skin. This again could result in puffy irritated eyes. Instead apply lightly onto the orbital bone (think eye socket) with the ring finger as these naturally have a lighter touch than our forefingers. Start at the inner corner of the eye socket by the nose and either gently pat or sweep outwards to the temple. Repeat this on the brow bone from the inner corner out to the temple.

Apply a little more product if you have certain dry skin conditions: If you have a skin condition which leaves your eye area very dry, for example psoriasis or eczema, you may benefit from applying a richer eye cream on the lids. Although this will not treat the condition it will keep them comfortable and moisturised.

Apply the eye product before other skincare products such as serums, moisturisers, aftershave balms and SPFs (sun cream): This will ensure that you can apply the product exactly where it needs to go and it won’t have to penetrate through a layer of another product before working its magic.

Don’t apply heavy eye creams at night time: If we think about it our eyes stay shut for hours whilst we sleep, our circulation slows and so the cream may just sit there which could be a recipe for puffy tired eyes. During the day our eyes are constantly opening and closing which allows the product to penetrate efficiently. So if you are wanting to wear a cream apply it in the morning.

Apply a night time eye product at least an hour before bed: This will give it time to sink in, otherwise most of it will end up on the pillow rather than doing its job.

Don’t be swayed by fragrance: It’s not really needed in an eye product.

Supercharge your eye care: If you really want to super charge your eye care apply a hydrating light cream, serum, balm or gel in the morning and a retinol eye product in the evening 

Dark circles and puffiness

These are two common eye issues I talk about a lot with clients. Here’s some useful info on both 

Dark circles:

Don’t you just love them!! They can be caused by many things including genetics, illness, dehydration, nasal congestion, too much sugary or spicy food in the diet, alcohol, some medication and the natural ageing process.  This is where our skin becomes even thinner around the eye area making it easier to see the blood vessels that are close to the skin’s surface.  I have dark circles to some extent myself and they are hereditary in my family. Sadly, there isn’t a cream available which will get rid of them when genes are at play. However, brightening eye products can work wonders at reducing their appearance. If your dark circles are not hereditary or due to medication check that you are getting enough sleep, eating well and managing your alcohol intake. An eye cream, balm, serum, gel can then work on the eye area. 

Puffiness:

There are several reasons for puffiness including excess fluid collecting under the eyes, a heavy eye cream being applied too liberally, an allergic reaction, a sluggish lymphatic system (which, when working effectively, removes waste products from the body), hormonal changes, hereditary issues, a diet rich in dairy (which can cause sinus congestion resulting in puffy eyes) and a high salt intake (which encourages water retention that can also result in puffiness).

Always try to use light textured eye products – light creams, gels, balms and serums rather than rich creams. Only apply your eye product in the morning for a period of time and see if the puffiness improves. Check that you aren’t allergic to a product you are using. Stop using it for at least a week and see if the situation improves. Try cutting out coffee, alcohol, lower salt and dairy intake and really increase water intake. I know that this may sound counter-productive to add more fluid to the body when we might already be experiencing fluid retention around the eyes but it will help to disperse fluids in the face by encouraging the lymph system to flow more efficiently. It must be water though, not tea, coffee, soft drinks or alcohol. Slices of cucumber or cold damp nettle tea bags work wonders when applied to closed eyes for five minutes or so. Or sweeping the back of cold spoons over the orbital bone, where eye cream would be applied, has a cooling and draining effect to help disperse fluid. Ensure you apply an eye product beforehand to give the spoons some slip so as not to drag this delicate skin.

Here is a lovely selection of eye products available at Perfumery and Company.

L’Occitane Immortelle Divine Eye Balm

Best for anyone concerned about fine lines, dullness, dryness, uneven skin around the eyes. It helps to improve tone and radiance. The balm texture feels very luxurious without being heavy. The hero ingredient is the sustainably sourced Immortelle flower from the Island of Corsica.  A Super Extract derived from this flower has the ability to target signs of skin getting older by boosting circulation, acting as an antioxidant to protect against free radical damage and increasing collagen production. This is a natural alternative to Retinol which is a super effective ingredient at packing a punch against signs of ageing.  Shea Butter helps to provide a balm like consistency which sinks into the skin whilst nourishing the area. This could be used morning and/or evening and would be a perfect base for makeup. It can also be used as an eye mask once or twice a week. It’s a wonderful allrounder all year.

 

Neals Yard Reviving White Tea Eye Gel

Best for anyone who wants to pep up tired, puffy eyes. This is a very light gel texture.

It’s the perfect eye product to revive eyes after lack of sleep, to cool in hot weather,  soothe and comfort puffiness. I loved to use it in the morning. White tea is an effective antioxidant so it’s perfect at protecting the skin against free radicals such as pollution which can damage the skin. It works hand in hand with organic eyebright extract. The pump delivers the correct amount so there’s no wastage. Again a perfect base for makeup and I’d say particularly good during the warmer months, when you are feeling particularly tired or if you have puffiness you’d like to target.

 

Clarins Total Eye Lift

Best for anyone concerned with fine lines, dullness, uneven skin surface or dryness.  This is a light gel/cream texture with a pump so you get the correct amount every application. It sinks in easily and make up can be applied straight away.  I’ve used this morning and evening and can be used all year round. This is a new version of Clarins iconic Total Eye Concentrate. They are renowned for their use of plant extracts and this is no exception. Horse Chestnut brightens the skin, whilst organic extract of Guarana reduces puffiness.

 

Nourish Kale Anti-Ageing Eye Cream

Best for anyone who wants to target fine lines and plump the skin around the eyes. This is a very light cream with a great pump action. What I love about this cream is that it contains peptides. These are an amazing ingredient for anyone concerned about signs of skin getting older. Peptides are made of amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins. Proteins keep skin looking plump, bouncy and firm. Collagen is a protein. Many skincare brands are now looking at how our bodies do things and then trying to bottle some of the components so that the product ingredients mimic what happens within our skin. The combination of these amino acids and kale, which is rich in vitamins, works on fine lines. Macqui Berry and Pomegranate enzymes help counteract puffiness and brighten the skin. I’d suggest that cream this could be used morning and/or evening all year round.

Hopefully this gives you an insight into the delicate area around our eyes and suggestions on a some of the products available at Perfumery and Company. They are always happy to help in person or on the phone and some of these can be ordered online.

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Night Creams – Would your skin benefit from using one?

Night Creams – Would your skin benefit from using one?

 

During my last two blogs I’ve written in depth about moisturisers. Feel free to take a read if this skincare staple is new to you. They are an essential part of looking after your skin as they have many benefits, including:

 

  • Help to protect the skins natural barrier.
  • Keep it hydrated by maintaining our natural moisturising factors.
  • Prevent moisture loss from our skin.
  • Soothe irritated skin.
  • Fight against free radical damage which can cause fine lines, a break down in collagen, blemishes and pigmentation.
  • Smoothing the skin’s surface.
  • Providing a perfect base for make up to be applied so that it stays put all day.
  • All of which can improve the appearance and feel of our skin.

 

Many brands not only produce day time moisturisers for different skin types but also evening moisturisers.  More often than not they are called night creams and they are designed to be used at the end of our evening skincare routine before going to bed.  I’ve mentioned before about how I’m a fan of starting my evening routine a couple of hours before going to bed. This means that through cleansing my face I’m getting rid of any make up, SPF (sun cream), dirt, pollution, sweat etc before treating my skin with other products. I usually, but not always, finish with a moisturiser. As I do all of this way before my bedtime the products have a chance to penetrate into the skin so that my face doesn’t stick to my pillow! It also means that by the time I go to bed I can feel if my skin needs any more hydration, in which case I can pop a little more product on.

 

Our skin is repairing all the time, the difference at night is that it isn’t being hit left, right and centre by dirt, sunlight, environmental aggressors etc. and having to protect us. Therefore it can go into full repair and regeneration mode by increasing blood flow and cell turnover, rebuilding collagen and repairing damage from UV sun exposure.

 

Does everyone need a night cream?

 

I’ve said before that we generally don’t need lots of moisturisers. There are other steps in our skincare routine that warrant a selection of products i.e. toners/acid toners, serums etc. We should choose a moisturiser that is suited to our skin type, so even those with an oily skin can benefit from the right moisturiser and quite often this can be used day and night.  However, there are instances where a night cream would work really well and be a valuable part of our evening routine. Both day and night creams are purposely formulated differently.  In short, day creams protect the skin whilst night creams work hard to repair and regenerate and you’ll normally find that day creams are generally lighter in texture than night creams, which tend to be richer.

 If skin is particularly dry, dehydrated, uneven in texture, uncomfortable or there are real concerns about signs of ageing then a night cream can be a great addition. It’s important to note that as we get older our skin’s ability to retain moisture reduces, so our need for moisture increases. It can also help induce repair by amplifying cell turnover. Be guided, in the first instance, by how the night cream feels on the skin, if it just sits on the surface it is probably too rich and may clog pores which can result in blackheads and other blemishes. It should sink in and leave the skin feeling comfortable. Don’t forget to apply cream to the neck and cleavage (décolleté) area too. There’s no point in having a lovely looking face, but a neck and chest area that doesn’t match. Any excess product can be massaged into the back of the hands. Waste not want not I say!! However don’t apply a thick moisturiser around the eye area as this can result in puffiness which is not a look most of us are aiming for when we wake up in the morning! A good cream can also reduce that droopy creased lines look we might get after several hours in bed (a silk pillow case can also reduce this from happening). Bear in mind that if you exfoliate your skin regularly any product that is subsequently applied will sink in and work far more effectively than if you don’t. You’ll definitely get more for your money as you won’t need to use as much product each night.

If you are really not sure if your skin would benefit from a specific night cream you can do a little experiment. Take some time to establish your skin’s night time needs. Cleanse your face in the evening and go to bed bare-faced i.e. don’t apply anything else. When you wake up, go straight to a mirror in good light and look at your face. Do you have any dry patches, does your skin feel sensitive, is your complexion a little dull, do you look a bit deflated or drained? If this is the case you may benefit from something which boosts cell turnover, plumps or really feeds the skin with nourishment and much needed moisture. If your skin feels oily and congested on waking you may benefit for something skin balancing. Don’t think that night creams are only for night time use either. It is possible that, if your skin is particularly stressed, sensitive, parched, these technical formulas can deliver an intensive hit of nutrients whenever needed. The important thing to remember is that our skin can go through cycles and changes and therefore it’s advantageous to have a couple of options available depending on what your skin is like, what season we are in, your hormones, stress levels etc.

Here are a few night cream options available at Perfumery and Company 

Clarins Super Restorative Night Cream

Suitable for all skin types (I think this may not be enough for really dry skin though)

This cream is specifically targeted for those of us who are experiencing hormonal changes as we get older. I would say that if your concern is loss of firmness, pigmentation spots and dehydration give this cream a go. Montpellier Rock-rose works to reduce the appearance of dark pigmentation spots and evens out the skin tone. Harungana extract, also known as a healing tree in Madagascar, replenishes the skin to prevent it from sagging and has been proven to increase firmness. Ginkgo Biloba brightens the skin giving it a rosy glow. Shea Butter is such a fantastic ingredient as it provides a lasting hit of hydration and nourishment.

I certainly noticed my skin glowing on application and the next morning. It is a beautiful lightweight cream with a delicate floral fragrance. It’s been a delight to apply to my face, neck and décolleté at night time.

Clarins Multi-Active Nuit – Targets fine lines, revitalising night cream

Suitable for normal to dry skin (I think this is fair, it would be too heavy for an oily skin type)

If you are concerned about noticing the first signs of your skin changing and getting older i.e. fine lines and lack of radiance perhaps due to tiredness I would suggest this cream. Golden Poppy extract revitalises the skin (which is great if you’ve not had a lot of sleep!) Organic teasel extract promotes the production of energising molecules which help fight against free radicals, therefore helping to protect the skin and boost glow. You will also get a lovely dose of hydration to maintain skin health.

I know fragrance isn’t an important factor in skincare to everyone but I like products to smell nice, unless of course they are fragrance free and I use plenty of these too. This cream has such a comforting soothing fragrance that reminds me of suntan lotion and being at the beach. This is slightly richer in texture than the Super Restorative Night Cream but sinks in to the skin effectively.

 Clarins Extra-Firming Nuit – Wrinkle control, regenerating night cream

Suitable for all skin types

This cream has been designed for skin which is experiencing a loss of firmness and the appearance of wrinkles.  It will also keep hydration levels high. Kangaroo flower plumps and helps to firm the skin whilst Moonstone Hydrated Silica encourages the regeneration of skin cells for a healthy radiant complexion. It’s a lightweight cream that is easily worked into the skin so should work well with oily/combination skin types and has a delicate fresh woody fragrance. Apply as your last skincare step before bed.

If you are local to Perfumery and Company pop in to check out their night creams or browse through their website (Clarins can be ordered on the phone).

 N x

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