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Archive for April, 2011

Recently, Nigella Lawson was spotted on Australia’s Bondi Beach sporting rather more than your average beach-goer. Yes, that’s right, she was wearing a so-called “burkini”, the modesty-saving outfit designed for Muslim women.

Quite frankly, I am amazed by the fuss this simple family day at the beach has caused!

Naturally fair-skinned, like many of us Brits, Ms Lawson is quite right to be taking care of her skin when out in the sun. Judging by the continuing rise in skin cancer cases in the UK, perhaps more of us should be following her example. I’ve written about the risks of sun damage to your skin in previous posts, so won’t go into it again here. Just to say that you really need to be careful (I know you know that already, I just thought I’d say it again for good measure!).

I too have fair skin, and so understand the fears of skin damage due to over-exposure to the sun. I try to stay covered as much as possible, as well as plastering on the factor 30!

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I’d go so far as wearing a burkini to the beach, but then, I don’t have the luxury of holidaying in the sort of hot countries that would warrant it.

There are those who say that she wore the burkini in order to draw attention to herself.

Erm… hang on a minute…

Where once a woman had to wear as little as possible (with bikinis now consisting of practically non-existent, barely-there scraps of fabric) to gain attention, now the same can be said of covering up completely?

It would seem we have come full circle!

But let’s think about it a different way…

If Nigella Lawson had worn the de rigueur itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny bikini, we all know what would have happened; images of the curvaceously lovely Ms Lawson would have appeared in certain glossy magazines (you know who you are!) high-lighting each and every wobbly bit and ‘imperfection’.

So, if anything can be gained from this whole blown-out-of-proportion incident, it is the proof that women just cannot win!

To put it simply; we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

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We’ve all heard things throughout our life that we then stick to because we believe they’re true. In our Beauty Myths Busted Series we’re going to look at some of these myths in depth to see if they are really true.

Beauty Myth #1

Eating excess sugar causes wrinkles

Beauty Fact

Sugar isn’t a direct cause of wrinkles.

If you were to eat a predominantly sugar-based diet, I very much doubt that it would be the actual sugar that would cause wrinkles, more likely it would be due to the fact that there weren’t any healthy, antioxidant-rich foods in your diet.

Similarly, a poor diet brought about by crash-dieting, or a fat-free diet can lead to premature wrinkles because of the evaporation of fat cells in the face, which give the skin its plumped-up feel and appearance. This can leave you with sagging jowls and dark circles under the eyes.

Now, I’m not saying you need to stop eating cake. I love cake!

Mmmm!… Cake…!

Sorry, I got distracted… where was I?

Oh yes, so what you need is a good all-round balance in your diet. Not a detox of cutting out lots of types of food, and not a diet which involves a lot of sugar. Rather it should be a balanced diet with everything in moderation, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.

But i know you know that already!

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Haven’t we had some glorious weather just lately?! It’s been absolutely gorgeous. I keep having to remind myself that it’s only April and not the height of summer. Who’d have thought we’d be in t-shirt and shorts, picnicking in the park in early April? Just wonderful.

But, there is an important message to this post, and it’s this…

Soaking up the sun is all well and good, but are you being careful about it?

Everyone wants a tan, right? We think it makes us look healthy, more attractive, and sexy. A tan can hide acne, cellulite, and make the skin look smoother. Who wouldn’t want that?

Well, maybe that’s true, but what are you willing to pay for you’re your tan?

According to the British Association of Dermatologists, there has been an alarming rise in the number of people diagnosed with skin cancer. In the UK, more than 100,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually, making it the most common cancer. Of these, more than 10,000 are melanoma. There are over 2,300 deaths from skin cancer annually in the UK.

Research released at the British Association of Dermatologists annual conference in Glasgow in 2009 found that men are twice as likely as women to not protect their skin in the sun, despite more men dying from melanoma than women. In just 30 years, cases of melanoma across Great Britain have quadrupled in men and tripled in women. It also found that people in their teens and early twenties are less likely than any other age group to use sun protection, despite increasing numbers of melanoma being diagnosed in this age group.

One in ten of those surveyed (10%) take no protective measures at all against sun exposure, compared to 8% in 2000.

Most people surveyed (70%) use sunscreen as their primary method of sun protection, despite warnings from dermatologists that shade and clothing should be the first line of defence against sun damage, with sunscreen offering additional protection.

We humans are hard-wired to enjoy the feeling of sun on our bodies. It has been found that sunshine boosts the brain’s serotonin and dopamine levels – the body’s natural happy drugs – and helps to release certain neurotransmitters and hormones, like epinephrine, that regulate mood.

So I can quote all the numbers and statistics under the sun (no pun intended) at you, but you’ll still want to be out in the sunshine. And I’m there with you! I love being out in the sun.

But what I will ask of you, or rather plead with you, is to protect yourself. Think of your long-term health (I know it’s difficult when you’re in the here and now, but you’ll be glad of it down the line), get yourself a decent sunscreen (SPF 25 or above) – remember sunscreen needs to be re-applied generously and frequently. When the sun is at its hottest (between 11am and 3pm), please cover up or sit in the shade. To be honest, I really don’t know how anyone can stay out in the sun when it’s so hot! I literally feel like I’m baking/melting and have to seek refuge.

Most importantly, check your skin for damage and signs of cancer. For more information on what to look for, check out ultimateskincare.org.

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In our next Ingredient Profile we’re looking at Peppermint.

Peppermint – latin name Mentha piperita – is actually a naturally occurring hybrid plant that is derived from the crossing of water mint and spearmint. Peppermint grows widely in many places in Europe, Japan, and North America. Apparently the best type is from Britain as it favours the damp conditions!

It is a perennial plant and can grow up to 40 inches in height. It has narrow, toothed leaves and a short spike of purple flowers. It reproduces chiefly by means of underground stems and rooting branches.

Like many herbs, peppermint was known to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. The Romans crowned themselves with peppermint at their feasts – possibly they were aware of its detoxifying properties! Peppermint was also used as an ingredient of wine.

Peppermint has a cooling nature which seems to relieve states of anger, hysteria, and nervous trembling. It is excellent for mental fatigue and depression.

Peppermint is commonly drunk as tea, and is believed to have many health benefits. Its action on the digestive system is well-known. It can have a relaxing and slightly anaesthetic effect on stomach muscles, apparently beneficial against food poisoning, and deals well with vomiting, diarrhoea and constipation, flatulence, colic, and nausea as well as travel sickness.

The cooling and pain-relieving action of peppermint seems to ease headaches, migraines and toothache. It is an excellent remedy for aching feet.

By removing toxic congestion, peppermint can be beneficial to skin conditions such as dermatitis. Due to capillary constriction, it is cooling in action and can relieve itching, inflammation and sunburn. It also softens the skin, helps to remove blackheads, and is effective on greasy skin and hair.

At Freyaluna, we use a blend of peppermint, spearmint and lime in our Mint Mojito skincare range. You can find these, and all of our products on our website.

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Skincare Recipe of the Month is a monthly feature where we share one of our favourite skincare recipes that you can make at home, usually using ingredients you will already have in your kitchen cupboards.

This month we’ve got a recipe for Bare Skin Mist…

This is a lightweight fragrance that contains no alcohol, so it can be sprayed and spritzed all over your bare skin. You can even use it on your face and hair to refresh yourself throughout the day. It contains orange flower water, whose scent is from the bitter orange tree. This scent is also called neroli and is popular in many commercial products because it is believed to reduce stress.

Ingredients

1/4 cup (60ml) orange flower water

1/2 cup (125ml) distilled water

1/2 tsp light sesame oil

1-2 drops essential oil

Method

1. Stir together all of the ingredients until thoroughly mixed.

2. Pour into a clean spray bottle.

3. Label and date.

To Use

Shake bottle well before use. Lightly spray the body mist all over your bare skin.

Suggested Scents

This is a very refreshing recipe, just perfect for these spring days as the weather is getting warmer. I would suggest that you keep this in mind when choosing an essential oil to use in this recipe.

A few recommendations are; peppermint, lemon, geranium, or bergamot. However, scent is a very personal choice so use your own judgement.

I’d love to hear how you get on with this recipe! Do let me know by leaving a comment below.

If you think others would like this, please share via twitter or facebook, also below.

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You may think that knowing your skin type is a really basic step to planning your skincare routine, and you’d be right; ‘diagnosing’ your skin type is a fundamental step towards good skincare. But, this is the one beauty mistake that around 80% of us are making.

Just as we want to believe we’re a size smaller than we actually are, a lot of us like to think we have a certain skin type. It may be the ‘stigmas’ seemingly associated with each skin type – the teenage angst of “oily”, the guilt of “sun-damaged”, the neurotic connotations of “sensitive” – that put women off accepting their true skin type.

If you are one of these women (and I hold my hand up! I was in this position not too long ago), then you’re only cheating yourself out of great skin.

Your skin type changes with age, and not only that, the needs of your skin change depending on the weather, season, etc. Recent research has found that most women in their mid-thirties think they have the same skin type as when they were in their teens, and that on third of us have never changed our skincare. The research also found that many of us – up to 70% – have bought a product and used it only once before discarding it because it was wrong for our skin type.

Even if you do have money to burn, where’s the sense in that?

So what happens when you buy the wrong product for your skin type? Well it’s problematic; it means the products you buy aren’t working properly. They can also cause damage to the skin – making it redder, wrinklier (is that a word? Well it is now!), spottier.

For example; when used on oily skin, a thick heavy cream designed for dry skin, can create a oxygen-less environment, which means pores can get blocked and spots develop. Many women in their forties experience late-onset acne, and it could simply be due to to much heavy product.

At the other end of the spectrum, if you think you have oily skin and it isn’t, the products will strip the skin of natural oils and take out too much moisture, thus increasing dehydration and exagerating fine lines.

Another common problem is women in their twenties and thirties using anti-aging products designed for women in their fifties – this can cause over-sensitised, red, patchy or acne-prone skin.

If you have combitation skin, there is no reason why you can’t use different products in different palces. If you have an oily T-zone, use a lighter product there, and then a more hydrating cream on your cheeks.

So, what skin are you in?

  • To see if you have OILY skin, you should clease your face, leaving it free from moisturiser overnight. On waking, run your finger down your nose. If it slips easily and feels greasy, it’s oily.
  • Sensitive skin can be easily irritated. Typical reactions are itching, burning, chafing and stinging.To be truly SENSITIVE, your cheeks will be constantly hot to the touch.
  • Pinch your cheeks. If vertical lines show up, you have DEHYDRATED skin.
  • DRY skin is characterised by dry and flaking patches, tight closed pores and prone to broken capillaries/red patches.
  • COMBINATION skin is just what it says. Generally those with combination skin will find they experience an oily T-zone (forehead, nose and chin area) and dry cheeks.

Four things your skin needs to know…

  1. Those with highly pigmented skin should avoid using anything too abrasive, like scrubs, as this could cause an inflammatory response and thus more pigmentation.
  2. Don’t buy the same cream over and over. Lifestyle changes, medication, and weather all affect your skin and the products it needs. Reassess your skin regularly.
  3. Stop being so heavy-handed. We’re all in such a rush, we apply far too much product to our faces. Be sparing and just put the cream where it’s needed.
  4. Take time to cleanse properly; it’s the most important part of your routine. Cleansing properly with the right product means any skincare you follow with will penetrate better.

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