Think Second-Hand First- The Fashion Re-sale Market

The re-sale fashion market will eclipse fast fashion in a decade. While fast fashion is expected to continue to grow 20% in the next 10 years, second-hand fashion is poised to grow by 185%. The growth of the online re-sale clothing market was evident long before Covid-19, fuelled by younger consumers turning their back on fast fashion for a more sustainable, affordable and creative way to shop for clothing.

Fashion re-sale also known as recommence sites is a large consumer market with lower prices allowing for a more diversely budgeted audience. The increase in purchases of second-hand clothing is due to a wide range of factors, one of which is the tighter budgets of many consumers throughout lockdown, with shoppers having little to no disposable income. Store shutdowns, temporarily and permanently, have played a part in the surge in second-hand shopping, to, with people unable shop from high street and charity shops stores now looking for an online alternative. Saving money isn’t the only motivation, with wider concerns about the environment and mass-consumerism urging people to buy and sell pre-owned goods.

“The production of clothing is incredibly resource intensive, re-wearing a garment and extending its lifespan by a mere nine months can help to reduce its environmental impact by up to 30%, so buying second-hand is an incredibly easy way to do this.”  sustainable fashion blogger, Charlotte

Fashion resale apps, stores and websites have seen an unprecedented growth throughout 2020. Lockdown gave consumers time to research into the effects of fast fashion and the need for keeping our garments in a cycle, rather than sending them to landfill. With lockdown giving an unlimited amount of time to deep-clean wardrobes, and the realisation of just how much is bought and not worn. As consumers embrace more affordable clothing instead of buying brand new. As well as reducing spending, online resale apps enable users to make money or earn an additional income. Whether consumer behaviour will change after the pandemic eases and this will only be temporary, we will have to wait and see. (Now people no longer have to stay home, sorting through old clothes may have less appeal) When money gets tight discounted clothing allows fashion to be a more accessible market to all. Many industry experts think this is a permanent move.

 A report published by ThredUp has shown that by 2029 the second-hand fashion market will have grown a worth of over 80 billion dollars. (Almost twice the size of the fast fashion market) The report also found that a record 33 million people bought second-hand clothing for the first time in 2020. Of these first-time buyers, 76% plan on increasing their share of resale purchases in the next five years.

On eBay, sales of pre-loved fashion have shot up in the UK over the past year, with the company selling more than 60 million used items. Murray Lambell, the general manager of eBay’s UK business, said: “There is definitely a change in mindset, driven by younger consumers up to the age of 30.” Trends in fashion come back around year after year, so recycling and archiving them for the next generation coupled with an appreciation of vintage design and a desire to create a more individual look beyond mass-produced fast fashion by Generation Z makes this a successful move.

But even though Generation Z is driving the second-hand revival( no pun intended), they’re not the only ones getting swept up in the trend. Emily Farra reported in Vogue in 2020 that in Lyst’s annual Year Fashion report, it revealed an 35,000 increase in searches for vintage fashion and a 104% increase in entries for second-hand-related keywords.

“It gives an item a second life, which is absolutely fantastic, not to mention how sustainable buying second hand is.” Cieran Harris, Company Director of Timeless Vintage Co

A decade ago, consumer attitudes toward pre-owned clothing was decidedly negative. This year has brought a shift in perspective with shoppers now being more open to purchasing from re-sellers than ever before. Any stigma around second-hand fashion being uncool or unhygienic has dissolved with customers now proud of their thrifted finds. The re-commerce market now has an aura of environmental and social responsibility. More brands are open to the idea that second-hand fashion is the way to revolutionise their sales and reach more consumers. (I will discuss this further in another blog post)

This means the new online marketplaces must work hard to stand out, spending more on marketing and advertising. Vinted (an app that lets users buy and sell pre-owned clothes) now advertise on national TV and was recently valued at 3.5 billion euros. I have successfully bought and sold on vinted for about 8 years. But be warned it can be addictive.

Resale will be an assumed part of the luxury buying experience,” Allison Sommer at Real Real

Although there’s still plenty of luck with buying second-hand, the Internet has become home to many, easily searchable re-sale sites. The second-hand clothing market is composed of two major categories, charity stops and re-sale platforms. But it’s the latter that has largely fuelled the recent boom. A trend of “fashion flipping” which is buying second-hand clothes and reselling them particularly popular among young consumers.

Researchers who study clothing consumption and sustainability, think the second-hand clothing trend has the potential to reshape the fashion industry mitigating the industry’s detrimental environmental impact on the planet. Even more transformative is second-hand clothing’s potential to dramatically alter the prominence of fast fashion (disposable) in the early 2000’s. More clothes were produced and distributed at lower costs, encouraging shoppers to buy more and often wear only once.

It could be that the trend for buying and selling used clothes ends up being a passing trend, once things go back to normal and we return to the high street. Or perhaps it is the way forward for buying fashion clothing?

The Myth of Being a Natural Beauty

Make-up trends come and go, like fashion, I personally prefer to use what suits me best, with some adaptions to the latest trends, rather than following every new beauty and make-up direction.

However, it would be untrue of me to say that I don’t ever follow the latest trends, as the power of advertising has a powerful pull and with Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram all adding to our daily feeds it’s impossible not to be aware of what’s new.

In the fairly recent TV series on beauty by Lisa Eldridge, the Victorian era and the social pressure on women to look beautiful while pretending the effect is all natural was discussed. She describes it as the era of sneaky makeup, looking at the household tricks that women achieved to create virtuous blushes and wholesome glossy eyebrows. It was an hypocritical culture that forced women into covert trickery as a means of demonstrating their goodness. Beauty and make-up products were sold under the counter often as health treatments. No one, who valued their good reputation wanted to be seen as having to have help to look beautiful. Although we can now openly buy make-up and beauty products has the notion of been a natural beauty really changed that much? Do we still live in the Victorian shadow on this score, that some (mostly men) still regard it wrong to wear a lot of make-up or use many beauty products?

 As a feminist issue, it’s an interesting one as women surely should be able to choose to use as little or as much help in the beauty department as they wish, but some feminists express the view, that woman are been exploited by the beauty industry, by feeling they have to wear make-up.

A 2019 study suggested that the average British woman spends £2.39 per day on make-up and toiletries, which adds up to £16.73 a week and £872.35 a year. How much time we spend on our make-up varies, 21 % of us spend under five minutes on make-up each day, with 48 % spending five-to-15 minutes and 31% between 15 and 30 minutes. As many feminists point out, that’s a lot of time and money.

During her show, Lisa Eldridge reveals that the natural look is one of the most time-consuming styles for her to achieve and it usually takes her over 45 minutes of painstaking dabbing and brushing to make a young fashion model look effortlessly beautiful. I would say that make-up should be about enhancing your natural features and in turn giving you more confidence. Some women can look completely different with make-up, again that’s a personal choice. I prefer to look the same, with or without make-up just a slightly better version. (With make-up) You can watch an online beauty tuitional online to help achieve this look.

After a year or more of going without make-up during Lockdown, you would think that we would all want to go back to wearing our make-up in a big way? During a recent survey by L’Oréal, it found that 80% of 16–34-year-olds were excited to start wearing more makeup again after lockdown. But, having got used to a minimal way of doing things, it seems the make-up products that are feeling right for now are subtle cheats that helps to embrace a more natural look. The Latest make-up trends are for make-up that doesn’t even look like you’re wearing makeup! It just looks like beautiful skin. I think the no make-up trend has dominated the make-up industry in the latter half of the last decade, and it’s just being talked about more now. This tend does has to go hand in hand with the beauty industry as you really do have to look after your skin to achieve this look as lighter make-up means less coverage to hide any blemishes or imperfections.

Skinimalism has become a major buzzword as brands have seen the shift of focus to increasing the focus of looking after your skin and paring back make-up to show off the results of taking better care of the skin. Letting skin glow rather that be concealed.

I work for a natural beauty company and have always said that the best beauty look is aiming to have the best skin you can. Trying to cover up problem skins with concealers and heavy make-ups just starts to look cakey and actually looks more obvious. Less is always more. Also, a heavy make-up doesn’t allow skin to breath, so it can actually make skin conditions worse.

So, for once this will me a trend that I follow, well just a bit….

What Does the Label Mean on Beauty Products?

More than ever, we are hyper aware of what we are putting onto our bodies. But what do the labels actually mean? Unless you’re a chemist you probably can’t make sense of it, I find it confusing ever with some knowledge! It’s important to understand what you are putting onto your body and by reading the label of your products it tells you, legally you have to have this information, so don’t buy products that don’t list the ingredients as they could be fake. Each list is compiled by the order of concentration. Do remember that natural skin compounds are often under the chemical or Latin name.

What should be on a label: the nominal net weight, PAO (Period after Opening) or minimum durability date if applicable, any safety warnings and precautions, the name & address of the Company or Responsible Person that the product is being sold under and most importantly, an ingredients list (INCI) in decreasing order of weight. The 26 most-known allergenic substances must be shown. (There have been discussions to increase this to 90)

Some popular ingredients are listed as; Shea butter-Butyrospermum parkii, Aloe Vera – Aloe Barbadensis Leaf extract, Argan oil -Argania Spinosa, Evening Primrose oil- Oenothera Biennis and olive oil – Olea Europea. All of this are great natural ingredients. But what about the chemicals in your face and body products? There are a huge number of ones to choose from so I have listed the most common and the ones to be aware of most. For more details a great source is the Derma Review glossary which contains accurate information.

Women on average use 12 products a day based on a recent survey. The study found that 12.2 million adults expose their bodies to ingredients that are known to be probable carcinogens.

There are many toxic ingredients to avoid, although some have been banned many are still on the market and in most of the products, we all use. Top of the list are parabens, which can be listed as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, this are used as preservatives. They are thought to mimic oestrogen and can lead to cancer. SLS and SLES is sodium lauryl sulphate which is a forming agent which is used in shampoos and body washes. These strip the skin, can cause irritation, eye problems and respiratory problems. Mineral oil and petroleum jelly are environmentally unkind as they affect climate change, pollution, and greenhouse gases and can block the proper detoxification of the skin. This is what the best-selling Vaseline contains.

Phthalates are listed as dibutyl and diethylhexy and help a fragrance to adhere to the skin and these have been associated with birth defects.

Triclosan is an anti- bacterial ingredient in hand washes, soap and washing powders, the research is ongoing as to its safety but is said to disrupt hormones and create drug resistant bacteria. This chemical can also accumulate in lakes and streams. 

Triethanolamine or TEA helps to mix oil and water-based products to create a smooth, stable formulation, it doesn’t provide any benefits to the skin. When absorbed into the body over a long period of time, it can become toxic. Even short periods of exposure can cause allergic reactions, including eye problems and dry hair and skin. Typically, it’s used in amounts less than 1% in cosmetics and beauty products.

Diethanolamine or DEA Is an organic substance typically used as an emulsifier or wetting agent in skincare products. It produces foam and bubbles when added often to face washes. it can cause mild to moderate skin and eye irritation. More serious is that it over time reacts with other ingredients in formulations causing nitrosodiethanolamine  or NDEA which is a powerful carcinogen that is absorbed through the skin and linked to stomach, liver and bladder cancers. In the UK this is banned.

Dimethicone is used as a skin barrier, emulsifier, to hold ingredients together and to give an easy glide. It can be chemical or natural. According to the FDA and Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), dimethicone is a safe skincare ingredient that calms irritation, minimizes redness, and protects the skin from further damage. One problem is that it seals in oil, sweat, dirt and other things that can clog pores and lead to acne. Also, when washed down the drain, it can feed into aquatic environments and impact fish and plant life.

Phenoxyethanol is a Glycol Ether which is used as a preservative in cosmetic products, which acts as a preservative against germ contamination of bottled products. It’s often used a safer alternative to Parabens. Its side effects can cause skin irritation and can make Eczema worse.

Most antiperspirants are aluminium based. Chemicals like aluminium chlorohydrate and aluminium zirconium tettachlorohydrex, block the sweat ducts so you don’t perspire and have links to breast cancer. Until recently it was very hard to find affordable zinc and Aluminium free deodorants on the market, but these are becoming more available and well- known brands like soft and simple are introducing affordable Aluminium- free anti-perspirants.

I have barely covered this vast subject, so I may come back to it at a later point. But hopefully this has helped to understand labelling a bit more. It’s alarming stuff and something we do need to be aware of, in some cases safer options are available but at a higher cost to the manufacturer. But the consumer does have the power to choose not buy items with could have harmful effects! So learning to understand what a label means is benefiting your health.

Greening the Beauty Business

For many years Green Business has been on the fringes but now the business world is changing. Environmental awareness is on the rise by demonstrating a commitment to the environment it can enhance a company’s reputation among its existing customers and potential customers and by tapping into a new- eco conscious customer base this also encourages younger consumers, who are very aware of environmental issues. Many consumers believe that companies do have a corporate social responsibility or CSR. This is very much change that is consumer-led.

The Beauty industry is one of the worst offenders, with its unnecessary outer packaging, cellophane and use of plastic bottles and containers.

Greening a business requires putting energy into how to use resources more efficiently. Smaller businesses have been quicker to adapt and make greener decisions but even larger companies like Apple have made huge commitments to sustainable operations, by using 100% renewable energy and zero waste etc. Is this just hype to get more publicity and business, we will have to see long-term!

Exactly, what is a Green Business? This is one that uses sustainable materials to make its products and aims to use as little water, energy and raw materials as possible. As well as reducing its carbon emissions, by using local suppliers and not using excessive packaging. This business approach minimizes the company strain on natural resources and contribution to climate change.

The British Beauty Council in a 2020 survey found that two-thirds of consumers want brands to do more to counter climate change. One in Seven want to use a more environmentally friendly product. Also, according to The Beauty Councils survey packaging makes up 70% of the beauty industries waste. Consumers are switching to brands like Labo or opting for refillable perfumes. Larger brands like Chanel, Guerlain and L’Oréal have been investing heavily in farming communities and sourcing partnerships. Long term relationships that benefit the brand and the ingredient suppliers. Farmers are learning to grow sustainably and the beauty companies are following their raw ingredients every step of the way.

How can we all green our beauty products? Try to use a business that is part of a green Initiative such as the Green Small Business Initiative with gives companies the help to put an action plan in place. Look for products that use natural ingredients that are eco-certified compliant and are sourced from a sustainable supply chain. Look at the sustainability and environmental policies of the business, what are they actually doing to make a difference? Look at using refills where possible and fully recyclable bottles and containers. We also have to think again about wanting to see everything boxed and gift wrapped, nice packaging does look lovely, but in reality, it just adds to the landfill. We can all make a difference just my looking at things in a different way and deciding what matters the most.

There are several green business logos that are shown on shop windows and packaging, I have listed these below:

Forests for all-FSC Forest Stewardship Council when you see this logo, you know that any card, paper and cardboard has been sourced from a responsibly managed forest

Soil Association- This for organic perfumes and perfume ingredients

PETRA– This logo guarantees that the brand has never conducted or allowed testing on animals. This has to be more raw ingredients and the final product

B Corporation– To be B Corp certificated means that the highest standards of social and environmental impact have to be met

Essential Facial Skincare, Natural of Course!

Do you view your skincare as a practice, in the same way as a mediation, exercise or hobby? Or is this just a hygiene obligation like brushing your teeth? Now imagine your skincare as a ritual not a routine. Something sensory and enjoyable. Self-care is not selfish it’s your personal wellness.

In an age of excess, there’s a never-ending array of products to choose, but what exactly do you need? You may be sabotaging your skin by using a toner which is too astringent for you or even using far more products than you need, which is overloading your skin.  Using too much product is actually worse than using too little. It doesn’t really help that, the skin care industry is always coming up with new products, so what to choose is totally baffling.

So, what do facial skincare do you actually need and what do they all actually do? I would recommend the following as essential in your skincare routine. But its very personal and if you are buying new skincare do get advice and if you can do a patch test. (This is using a small amount of the product, to check you have no reactions) Check that any items you are using are in date and its best to keep your lotions and potions in a cupboard. Bathrooms can be too hot and humid so don’t leave products out if you can help it. If your skincare, starts smelling strange, or changes or texture don’t use it, even if it was very expensive as it could be harmful.

To give you a little information: the skins barrier function is called the stratum corneum and is a mix of natural oils a microcosm of beneficial bacteria. At the mention of bacteria, we start to panic, however this protects the skin from the environment, defends against pathogenic bacteria and helps keep in the moisture. An unbalanced skin can be red, peeling or have a rough texture. (Think of Sunburn) Most people have skin that is too dry or too oily and the goal is to achieve a healthy balanced skin.

Cleanser-Cleansing is the first step in any routine, a good cleanser should detoxify the skin and remove any impurities like dirt, sebum, sweat, pollution and dead cell build up. My personal favourite is cleansing lotion, my skin tends to be on the drier/ sensitive side. Cream cleansers dissolve make-up, dirt and epidermal debris, without stripping the skin of its natural protective barrier. . Cleansing gels or facial washes, are formulated to degrease the skin, so work better for an oily skin. High foam cleansers and surfactants can strip the skin of natural moisture. You should cleanse in the morning and at night. Over-night your skin repairs itself and often secretes sebum, cleansing after sleeping removes this. In Japan, it become popular to triple cleanse, is this essential? If you wear heavier make-up double- cleansing may be required to remove all the residue or if you live in a heavily polluted city. When I lived in London, I did double- cleanse as I felt my skin needed it, to remove all the grime etc. For most of us, cleansing once is fine.

Exfoliators– remove the outer layer of dead epidermal cells on the surface of the skin. Which helps with the texture of the skin. Your skin does naturally shed skin cells, however with age this process slows down and sometimes it needs a helping hand.  In general, most people don’t exfoliate or exfoliate too much. Its more harmful to over-exfoliate, as it damages the skins barrier function. Beware of very harsh exfoliators, as these can damage the skin and are intended for only occasional rather than regular use. Personally, I feel a gentle exfoliator using natural ingredients, like orange peel, works the best. There are two types of exfoliations, physical or chemical. Physical exfoliators are rotary spinning brushes, dry lymphatic facial brushes, cloths or pads or granular scrubs. Do be gentle when using any of these, also rotary brushes come into contact with your skin so have to be cleaned after every use.  Many facial scrubs are on the market, it’s best to opt for a fine power scrub rather than a large granular size as the texture is softer. Chemical Exfoliators are professional treatments, these can sometimes be mis-used and never try at home!

Toners– are a must, don’t be tempted to miss this stage out. These are fast absorbing liquid products that restore the skins PH balance, as well as any remaining impurities after cleansing. Your skin needs oil and water to be happy. Facial mists, are a botanical water, produced in the making of essential oils.  I love these and have used them for years, the most popular been rose, lavender and calendula. Mist onto clean skin or use a cotton pad before applying a moisturiser, these are perfect in hot and humid conditions. Astringent toners are often marketed to oily, acne prone skin because they contain alcohol, which can dry the skin. Witch hazel toners can be a good option which will balance and clarify the skin without over stripping it.

Face masks– you ever love using these or don’t like them at all, put using a mask for one or two days (never more than this) week can have a positive effect on your skin. Once again, there is a huge variety to choose from, sheet masks and clay, would be my best choices. Sheet masks are hydrating, often using a gel, with ingredients like royal jelly, fruits and glycerine. These can be ideal as relaxing masks, for a pamper day or night. Clarifying masks are clay or mud based, look for kaolin clay for all skin types, marine extracts or charcoal for oily skin. These are to left on for up to 10 minutes, never longer and should be removed before fully- hard. A face mask can make the most difference and give the most benefits in your skincare routine. They can draw out impurities so always use a few days before any special events, just in case.

Facial moisturisers- provide a thin layer on the outermost layer of the skin, they can slow down the process of transepidermal water loss and enhance your body’s natural functions. They are the last step in your routine. Face creams are known to combat dehydration. They are an emulsion of water and oil. Some people opt for very rich heavy creams, a nutrients rich lighter cream can work even for a very dry skin as heavy cream can block pores, which causes spots.

Serums– are used before a traditional moisture, they are highly concentrated and formulated to penetrate beyond the surface of the skin, so as to repair skin at a cellular level. Often these have anti-aging ingredients added, so are great for a more mature skin that needs a little more TLC.

Face oils– there is not a skin type on the planet that does not benefit from using oil on the face. I am not talking about heavy mineral oils which should be avoided but lightweight, nutrient rich plant-based oils. These helps regulate the skins own natural sebum production. I am a total fan of these and have used them for years. Do buy natural, essential oil- based ones.

Eye creams, the skin around the eyes is the thinnest on your body and does not contain oil glands. So, using a product specially formulated for the eyes is vital. Every need these, even the young, the earlier you start using the better. Aging shows first around the eyes and is the most noticeable.

Buying natural and organic products is best, although these can be a little bit more expensive, a little usually goes a long way and they are free from harmful chemicals. I will go into more details about what to avoid in a later blog.

It can sound like a lot but once you get into a routine or even make it a daily ritual, it can be enjoyable, beneficial to your skin and something to look forward too. A healthy, glowing skin is always in fashion, at any age for women and men. And real men do use skincare!

Make-up a Glamourous History

“Make-up can be seen as a frivolous subject.  But I think it’s hugely important. What we believe to be beautiful is a window on the world we’re living in.” Lisa Eldridge

As a professional make-up artist and Global Creative Director for Lancôme and the presenter of Make-up a Glamourous History on BBC2, Eldridge has a wealth of experience and passion. Over the course of this three-part series, she raises her scholarly spectacles over early make-up and beauty trends and provides an illuminating guide through the evolution of facial fashion, from the early 18th century up to the Thirties. The beauty looks of three periods in Britain are explored and what it reveals about that era: Georgian, Victorian and The Roaring Twenties. You may think make-up is a frivolous business, but Lisa Eldridge argues that what someone puts on the face and why says a lot about the time they live in.

She trawls through the history books and re-created products we haven’t used for decades. There are recipes with crushed beetles, seashells and bear grease (which she substituted with a vegetable oil). She tests them out first on herself and then on a lovely, young model called Queenie. Eldridge really sells her sensory delight in the products and her curiosity about what they meant to the women of the past. The pharmacist Szu Shen Wong, was drafted in to make the more tricky or toxic products in her lab.

It shows the growth of the beauty industry and the start of companies like Boots and the No7 range, which brought beauty to woman of all classes and not just the wealthy, upper and middle classes. Launched by Boots in 1935 as a selection of eleven skincare products this was then expanded in 1937 with some colour cosmetics. The name was reportedly chosen due to the fact that the number seven was often used to signify perfection. It was one of the first brands to really open up beauty for mass audiences and was made available to the ordinary woman. In 2016, Boots celebrated eighty year’s, they continue to sell and hopefully will carry on for many more years to come!

Many lower-class women had to make their own beauty products, in the Victorian age, cleanliness was hugely important and soap became more easily available and used. But beauty products and make-up were only for the rich and wealthy and still had to be purchased secretly as the use of these was seen as immoral. So many upper-class women purchased these under the counter, disguised as medicinal items. Women were expected to be beautiful but only by natural means. To use beauty products or cosmetics was not acceptable to society, only prostitutes and actresses used them. As we all know, even those blessed with natural good looks, still need some help at times, and it must have been impossible for women at the time to follow the rules of Victorian society whilst achieving the expected levels of beauty.

Selfridge & Co. opened its doors in London on the 15th of March 1909. The owner, American, Harry Gordon Selfridge, wanted to make retail exciting and available to everyone.  Selfridges, was the first store to bring beauty products to the front of a department store. Selfridge wanted women to be able try the products rather than them being hidden behind a counter. This was very forward thinking at the time and was to totally change the way retailers sold beauty products, as his competitors rushed to copy him. He supported the rights of women, even though this caused him ridicule. I think that the beauty industry was starting to encourage women to be more independent, rather than the early views of women looking pretty for their husbands, it was more modern to look good for themselves. Just been able to openly purchase beauty products was liberating for them.

This is social history at it’s best and for anyone interested in the world of beauty, unmissable. Surprising, although we wouldn’t want to go back to some of the toxic ingredients used, some of the more natural ingredients were very successful. So, as the beauty industry changes, and moves away from its reliance on chemicals, perhaps it also needs to look through historical archives as our ancestors could teach use a few things about making natural skincare and cosmetics.

We take it for granted that we can just go into a shop and buy the products we need or want and for most, historically this wasn’t available to women, in particular working-class women for quite some time. I loved this series, and hope that it returns to discuss, beauty in the forties and current times too.

It’s available to view on BBC iPlayer.

By George- History Is Trending

Last year, many of us submerged ourselves in the Regency times whilst watching Bridgeton created by Chris Van Dusen and Shonda Rhimes and based on the romance novels of Julia Quinn. Whilst not strictly historically correct, it was visually pleasing, very entertaining and totally watchable escapism. It also created an interest in the history of this period. The Georgians witnessed the birth of industrialisation; radicalism and repression and extreme luxury alongside extreme poverty. Bridgeton, shows the formalized courting season in London in 1813, as wealthy high-society family’s scheme to pair off their eligible offspring. Showing the Ton, from the French phrase le bon ton meaning in the fashionable mode, or the In Crowd in our modern terms, at its best and worst.The Regency is the period of social and cultural development seen by many as a glorious epoch in British history. As the First Gentleman of Europe the Prince Regent actively encouraged many of the new movements in painting, sculpture, decoration, literature, music, technology and science.

In the last decade many historians have become fascinated by the similarities between the eighteenth century and our own times. The free-wheeling commercial development of the Georgian era, its unabashed enjoyment of consumption of all kinds and the importance of newspapers and magazines in everyday life. This also was the beginning of the culture of celebrity, as Georgian’s held an obsessive interest in all kinds of fame.  

The Georgian era is from 1714 to 1837 and named after the Hanoverian Kings George I, George II, George III and George IV. The Regency period was from 1811 to 1820 when George, Prince of Wales, governed the country as Regent during the madness of his father, George III.

This was a period of great change, as cities grew, trade expanded and consumerism and popular culture blossomed. Known for its lavish fashions, sumptuous food and decadence. In high society, the more over the top the better, best shown in Sofia Coppola’s film, Marie Antoinette in 2006 which was the retelling of France’s iconic but ill-fated French queen. The excess of the period ended with Marie Antoinette’s head been lifted off by its pomaded pomp for a Republican crowd. The Georgian era was a period of ostentation and inequality when it was fashionable for both men and women to flaunt their wealth with excessive displays of hair and beauty products. The more elaborate it was, the longer it took to do, and the more expensive the ingredients, the better. Men’s fashion was equally flamboyant to match the liberal period they lived in with powdered wigs, collared frock coats, and the early to mid-1800s Beau Brummel provided a fashionable figure to follow in terms of what to and what not to wear. It was the last time in history that male attire was as elaborate as women’s making Harry Styles appear quite conservative by comparison.

 On BBC’s twos Make-up a Glamourous History, with Lisa Eldridge, a professional make-up and Global Creative Director for Lancôme, explores what the beauty of the time reveals about the era. Discovering how in this period of extreme wealth in Britain, the rich entered an arms race of beauty. Eldridge tries out all sorts of Georgian recipes with crushed beetles, seashells and bear grease. (Which she substituted with a vegetable oil) Later, she recreates an authentic Georgian look on a 21st century model, with towering hair and whitened complexion. (Without, using toxic lead powder like the Georgians). It had been known for a time that some ingredients such as lead and mercury were very harmful to health, but were still used by many. Pale skin was considered a sign of wealth as it meant you didn’t have to work outside.  Eventually, zinc oxide and talc were used to whiten the face, which was less opaque and relatively less harmful.

Sometimes, additional facial adornments were used to emphasize a fashionable pallor included a small black mole, little clippings of dark velvet, silk or glossy silk applied to the face as a flirtatious embellishment, sending a possible suitor a message about yourself. However, it was said that a promiscuous manner of patching may be productive of ill consequences and ruin many a fair character. These also had the advantage of concealing unsightly pox scars or blemishes. For women, cosmetics were an essential fashion accessory, enabling them to express their status and cultural refinement by emulating the latest modes in female beauty. Members of the aristocracy were often criticized for their heavy-handed use of face-paint. The Georgian look might be ravishingly beautiful but was insanely time -consuming. That was the point. Only the very richest could afford the time and products and this was a period of staggering inequality.

The French Revolution (1789-1799) had the biggest impact on women’s Regency makeup. For a start, it swept away the widespread and extravagant use of makeup that was associated with the decadent aristocracy. The Regency period had a more delicate appearance which extended to the hair, with wigs and enormous headpieces falling out of fashion, curls, feathers, and natural hair were prized. The upper classes wanted their daughters to look respectable and be pleasingly natural, think of Jane Austin.

Beauty and fashion can be seen as a frivolous subject, but what we believe to be beautiful is a window on the world we’re living in and a reflection of society and social history. Personally, I find it fascinating. I worked in a Georgian House Museum, and therefore learnt a lot about this period. If you are interested in finding out more: Amanda Vickery, Lucy Worsley and Annie Gray all write interesting accounts of the time.

Park life

During the last year, many of us have found that what we miss the most are the small things that we took for granted. Going for a walk in or sitting in our local or city park, is something we didn’t give much thought to. But when we were no longer able to do this as our parks were closed, you realized how important these are to our health and wellbeing.  This year’s theme for Mental Awareness Week was Nature, which encouraged going outside, walking in parks, the countryside and forests and been more aware of the beauty of the nature that is all around. Direct exposure to nature has its own benefits on mental health, reducing stress and increasing happiness. And these effects take place almost immediately. A study by Finnish researchers found that ten minutes in a park or green area could tangibly reduce stress.

 Some of my fondest childhood events, were going to the park, with my parents, grandparents or my sister. In fact, many of our childhood memories often happened in parks, as they have a significant impact on the development of children. By providing a free, safe place for families to connect with nature outdoors. Children who spend a significant amount of time in nature also experience better emotional stability and improved mental health. Where, I knew up, I was fortunate to have a small park within walking distance from by home and also some much larger parks, complete with cafes and play areas and sports areas etc in my home city. But many children have no access to a green space.

When I lived in London, sitting in a local park, large or small, and reading a book, or just watching the world around me was my preferred way to spent my days off.  These were often, peaceful, contemplative moments, the sun shone, the sky was blue and I was surrounded by plants, flowers and trees. A perfect antidote to the stress of working in London, the hours spend commuting on dirty tubes and life in general. I lived near Hampstead Heath, which although not a park as such, is a safe, green space to walk, sit or swim. I didn’t have my own garden at the time, so It was one of the few ways I get outside and exercise, as I couldn’t afford to go to a gym. Our open spaces are a powerful weapon in the fight against obesity and ill-health, encouraging us to walk more and to play sports, for free or with a low cost. A sedentary lifestyle can cause a number of health problems.

Access to good-quality, well-maintained public spaces is vital to everyone, as more and more parks close, fewer people have gardens. Where I live, any new building projects are mostly apartment buildings which are packed in closely with no green spaces. Has nothing been learnt about housing requirements? Parks and green areas are crucial to the healthy development in our cities and towns, also making a neighbourhood more enjoyable to walk through and should be a major part of any city planning moving forward. Parks and green spaces benefit everyone in the community. As a place where people are able to make connections and meet new friends. As cities grow, more and more animals find themselves without homes. Parks provide habitat for wildlife. Most importantly, they help to improve the quality of the air we breathe. Even a small increase in the number of parks can make a big difference to air pollution.  Air pollution is an important health concern that can lead to unpleasant symptoms and long-term health issues. This affects all of us and anything that can be done to repair the damage should be done. So, let’s hope that green spaces like parks, are the future and not the past.

To simply enjoy a green and natural environment, what could be better than a park, these are one of my pleasures, I hope they become yours too.  

Tulips for Mental Health Awareness

Paul Cummins is on a campaign to spring us all into creative action. Paul is an internationally renowned British artist and ceramicist, best-known for his floral ceramic creations and large-scale landscape installations, most notably 2014’s Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ installation at the Tower of London, which was made up of 888,246 handmade red ceramic poppies, one for each life lost on the frontline in the First World War.

Paul has donated a unique illustration of a tulip to Mental Health UK. During this week, you can download it or draw your own tulip, colour it in blue and stick it in your window as a symbol of mental health awareness.

Why the simple tulip? The tulip has a colourful past. Having withstood a virus, it flourished brightly against all odds and flowers each spring. Quite simply, the tulip is a timely emblem of hope and rebirth through adversity.

The link is below. I have added some Tulip images to inspire you!

https://mentalhealth-uk.org/blog/plant-a-tulip-and-seed-a-conversation-during-mental-health-awareness-week/

Nature and Your Mental Heath

During the pandemic, millions of us have experienced a mental health problem, or seen a loved one struggle. If ever, there was a time that your mental health was essential it’s now. The upheaval of the last year, the uncertainty, stress, loneliness and in many cases financial hardship as been difficult for everyone. Depression and Anxiety has been on the increase, quite understandably. While the support networks have disappeared and the support needed just was not out there.

In a recent tweet from the Samaritans, they say: We all have mental health, and it’s just as important to look after as our physical health

In a recent survey of over 500 people severely affected by mental illness, an overwhelming majority of 88% said that discrimination towards people severely affected by mental illness is widespread in England. This is been talked about more but there is still a long way to go. In a way, mental health problems are often invisible in a way that physical health problems are visible. You would openly be asked if your cold was better or had a back injury improved but rarely would a mental health problem be discussed in the same way.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021(is hosted by the Mental Health Foundation) and takes place from the 10th May to the 16th of May. This year’s theme is nature. They are inviting us to immerse yourselves in the 5 Ways to Wellbeing, while reconnecting with nature across the week. During Mental Health Awareness Week, the Mind community is been asked to speak out and share why fighting for mental health is important to them.

After a year, where we’ve seen more of the four walls in our homes than the great outdoors. It seems the perfect theme as well as a much-needed opportunity to reconnect with nature and the environment. As the nation eases out of lockdown and spring time is starting to bloom, this is a perfect time to reflect on the positive, the beauty and power of nature. To savour the moment, by sitting in your garden, a park or taking a walk. Having a greater awareness of the world around us helps us see the unusual and notice simple pleasures like the changing seasons. To been present to our feelings. It’s time to re-balance our relationship with nature, from forests, to parks and gardens, to window boxes or even house plants. Interacting with nature can enjoyable and beneficial to our mental health and wellbeing.

The benefits of connecting to the environment around us can stimulate our senses, help us to gain a sense of peace which helps our minds rest, whilst improving concentration. New and exciting research is happening all the time that adds to our understanding of how our natural environment affects the health of our bodies and minds. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you. To thrive and for nature to thrive around you.

Many people find nature inspires them to create, be it through painting, drawing, photography or writing. Many famous artists and writers attribute their masterpieces to nature.

There is good evidence to, that people who spend time gardening experience a wide range of positive results. An important link has been found between spending time outdoors and how physically active you are.

The world of nature is truly incredible; inspiring, soothing and enchanting. Connecting us to something far bigger.  A true medicine for mental health and a balm for our souls.

Visit the link https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/thriving-with-nature/guide