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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.

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.

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

Disposable Glove’s Good or Bad?

I talked in my last blog about the damage that frequent, but essential washing can do to your hands. Is a simpler solution to wear disposable gloves, which are often made of latex? I have seen many people at work and in Supermarket’s wearing these one-use gloves. But is this as safe as frequent hand- washing, it could be that wearing gloves can give you a false sense of security. A virus like Covid can adhere well to latex and other types of gloves. Similarly, if someone has touched a contaminated surface with a gloved hand, they are just as likely to transmit contamination as someone who hasn’t worn gloves. Failing to change gloves when needed is no different from failing to wash your hands. If you handle something contaminated with coronavirus and then touch your face, the gloves won’t stop you from getting infected. Wearing gloves is a convenient way to minimise contamination and keep our hands clean, but they are only really useful when hand-washing is either not possible or insufficient to prevent chemical or biological contamination. And if they are worn, will need to be changed as often as hands need to be washed.

Most gloves that come in large packs are not sterile. When you see someone wearing gloves in a food preparation or retail environment, they may have had them on for hours and might have also handled contaminated material with them. Not taking off gloves correctly can contaminate your hands. You need to reach inside your right glove and peel it inside out without touching the outside. Watch a few episodes of Gray’s Anatomy or ER to see how It’s done!

Some people develop an allergy to gloves made of natural rubber latex. Choose non-latex gloves unless there are no alternatives that give the required protection.  Alternatives such as soft nitrile, vinyl or plastic gloves may provide better chemical resistance or durability. If you must use latex, choose low-protein, powder-free gloves. Gloves should always fit the wearer. Tight gloves can make hands feel tired and lose their grip. Gloves that are too large, can create folds, these can impair work and be uncomfortable. Our hands have a natural reaction to a tight, hot environment, which leads to sweating. This can make wearing gloves uncomfortable and even lead to skin problems that make the issue worse. When skin is exposed to sweat for a prolonged time, it weakens and becomes more vulnerable. Also, a moist environment is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and fungus. So, although gloves are a necessary precaution without taking steps to reduce sweat build-up, they can become a health issue.

Standard single-use gloves provide a non-permeable barrier that safely protects the hands in light duty work environments. But a lack of airflow inhibits proper regulation of the skin environment and glove friction from repeatedly rubbing against the skin harms the upper skin layers. Over time, the health risks for workers from uncomfortable single-use gloves can greatly decrease productivity as well increase the risk of significant medical issues. By limiting hand functionality, perspiration may hinder someone’s ability to perform certain job functions. Repeatedly alternating from a wet to dry environment, like putting on and removing several pairs of gloves a day, exacerbates irritation to the skin. (Just ask nurses what they think about this!) It doesn’t get any better when gloves are removed as the compromised skin is then exposed to a fluctuaton in temperature. Skin irritations such as dryness, chapping and cracking, can lead to more serious conditions.

Chronic contact dermatitis, is one of the most commonly reported occupational diseases. Dermatitis can be caused by direct contact with the natural latex rubber in latex gloves. Powdered latex gloves can also cause asthma. The proteins in the latex glove leach into the powder which becomes airborne when they are removed. Inhaling the powder may lead to sensitisation.

This all sounds a little alarming but if you have to or want to wear gloves, there are some moisture management techniques that can help. Using an emollient or hand creams that adds an additional layer of protection between glove moisture and the skin and frequently changing your gloves so as to limit exposure to prolonged moisture. Newer technologies within a glove are making the wearing experience more comfortable. One such technology incorporates an absorbent liner that wicks moisture from the skin. Additionally, therapeutic properties and protective ingredients are being manufactured into a glove, which can limit the potential for skin irritation and provide a healthier environment for the hand.

Been aware of taking care of your hands safely and keeping them clean, dry and well-moisturised will make a big difference. And not just sticking on a pair of gloves and forgetting about them. Many one-use gloves are now fully recyclable and opt for these if you can.

Look after your hands they work hand on your behalf and deserve to be treatedwith love and care.

Looking After Your Hands

Our hands play an important role in our lives. We use them when expressing ourselves, to show our affection for the ones we love, and even put them through the stress and hard work of daily chores. Hands are a vital tool that we should definitely take better care of. Now, more than ever, our hands need both protection and pampering.

Every time you wash your hands, the skin is stripped of its natural oils. Excessive hand -washing can quickly leave you with very dry hands. So, the recent extra hand-washing has played havoc on our long-suffering hands. The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a great deal of interest in how people might avoid getting infected. One of the methods public health officials strongly encourage is hand-washing. We are all very adept at washing our hands thoroughly. But this repeatedly cleaning with soap and water and then using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser (at least 60% alcohol to be effective) can lead to damaged skin and soreness. It’s also worth mentioning that wearing one-use gloves on a daily bases can cause problems, as latex gloves can result in allergic reactions and irritation. (I am writing an additional blog post about this as we speak)

Frequent hand-washing can lead to Irritant Contact Dermatitis. This presents as dry, sore, itchy or red skin on the hands. This isn’t an allergy, but an irritative effect of the soaps been used. Looking after your hands is important, to keep them healthy and free from infection. The most important step is applying a moisturiser (emollient) to the hands regularly. Ideally, every time you wash your hands, use a hand cream or lotion afterwards. Often people have a hand cream but simply do not use it frequently enough, to get its full benefits. Daily activities do dry out the skin on your hands so moisturising will give back much needed hydration.

Very dry hands that are rough and cracked need a lot more care and attention If you have severely dry hands this might also mean you’re dehydrated. Contact your doctor if your hands become infected. A great tip to get an overnight miracle hand treatment is to rub in a thick layer of hand lotion or cream and pull on a pair of light cotton gloves. Simply leave them on throughout the night and you will wake up with lovely, soft, moisturised hands. (It works for the feet too using socks of course!)

Here are a few easy tips in caring for your hands;

  • Avoid exposure to extremely hot water and use warm water to wash your hands.
  • Wear gloves for washing up and gardening, to help protect hands and nails from dehydration and damage.
  • Protect your hands when using chemicals such as cleaning products and wear rubber gloves.
  •  Apply the cream or lotion to the backs of the hands first and rub together before smoothing any excess onto the palms. The backs of your hands need more moisturisation.
  • Massage your hands, regularly, which is very stress-relieving and helps to release any pain in your hands. Good for arthritis sufferers.
  • Use mild and gentle soap when washing your hands and natural hand lotions and creams.
  • Wear sunscreen on your hands. This is easy to forget to do. Your hands show as much age damage as your face.

On a final note, often we don’t stop to consider the impact of cleaning products on our skin. These remove grime, limescale and dirt, but they also do the same to skin cells. The chemicals in toilet cleaners are some of the most abrasive. Chlorine combined with acid can form a toxic chlorine gas, which can cause severe burns on the skin. So, (as your grandmother swore by) always wear a pair of rubber gloves. Washing your dishes in piping hot water is essential to remove dirt and kill off lingering germs. However, this hot water is uncomfortable and bad for your skin.

The most well-known brand (launched in1950) and the best, I’ve tried is Marigold, good sturdy high-quality gloves that last for months, these are now latex- free and recyclable. (even the disposable glove range) They have teamed up with Teracycle®, a global leader in recycling hard-to-recycle waste. Which is one more reason to buy this product.

So, it’s not just a nice treat to buy a hand cream but as important as buying a product for your face. And your hands do deserve your gratitude for all they do for you!

Baby Steps to Normal Life

As some elements of our normal life returns to us this week and next week. I think its time to reflect on the last year. Give a huge thank you to the front-line workers who kept everything running whilst placing themselves in harm’s way, to help others. I send a virtual hug to those who lose someone and those still living with long-term health problems. And last but certainly not less, I sent a silent pray to those who are still battling Covid and their loved ones. We have to remember the bad times to hopefully learn from them as start to rebuilt a new normal life.

I am not sure that things will ever be quite the same, perhaps that’s not such a bad thing if the new normal is an improvement on the old normal. I guess that is left in all of our carefully washed hands. With a renewed sense of what matters the most: family, health and community.

We still need to proceed with care, the worse hopefully is over, but there still needs to be caution and new awareness. Some of the freedom we took for granted maybe lost for some time. Working together we can do more, a lot of people are stir crazy, some are deeply depressed with good cause, some are anxious to leave the safety of their four walls. Everyone’s story is different and deserves respect. We have all done the best we could do under the circumstances. The blame game achieves nothing!

I have mentioned this before but if you are offered a vaccination please take it, if not for yourself but for the others in your life to protect them. Its one of the few things available to us to fight this silent virus.

I wish you all a safe journey moving forward, continue to stay safe and respect the path of others please, we all matter!

The Beauty of Words

When I was researching about the use of words, I found an English Language and Culture Blog, it’s so fascinating to look at your native language (and one that you often take for granted) through some-else’s eyes. Words do have real power to express feeling. Their meanings shape our beliefs, drive our behaviour and create our world. When we read, speak or hear certain words it can stimulate our emotional responses. In fact, some of the most beautiful English words evoke feelings of happiness like Serenity which is a sense of calm and peacefulness.

I have been improving my skills in Spanish and French during the lockdown period. I find that Latin-based languages sound so beautiful, at times they almost flow along. I fully understand how French is said to be the language of love. The English language has borrowed from more traditionally beautiful languages such as French, Italian and Spanish and some of English’s beauty does come from its relationship to other languages. My Spanish friends add words like estupendo and magnifico into every day conversation. Yet in English conversation, more flamboyant language is generally only used by Thespians, Artists and enthused drama teachers. Other-wise it regarded as a bit eccentric. I found myself chuckling after reading a blog about learning to speak English and encouraging the use of, shall we say, more descriptive words. As I can imagine how mixed the responses to this would be!

But perhaps adding more beautiful words into our everyday speech is not such a bad thing. We do after all, have a truly beautiful language but don’t always use it, to its full advantage.

Here are some of my favourites, now I’m not fully sure how I am going to introduce these into my conversations, but a challenge is always good!

Quintessential from a Latin word describing something in its purest form.

Sumptuous from a French word meaning something that is lavish or wastefully expensive. Today, it describes something that is magnificent or seemingly expensive.

Cascade from the Italian cascare meaning to fall. Refers to water falling over a cliff or a similar situation.

Ethereal means something so beautiful that it simply cannot be from this world.

Succulent from a French word meaning juicy. (Cacti are called “succulents” because of how much water they hold)

Iridescent from the Latin word iris, meaning rainbow.

Serendipity refers to something positive that happens completely by chance. It was coined by writer and historian Horace Walpole in the 1700s and based on a Persian fairy tale.

Evanescence comes from the French word évanescent, meaning something that disappears to the point of becoming invisible.

Solitude: a state of seclusion or isolation.

Eloquence the art of using language in an apt, fluent way.

Aesthete is one having or affecting sensitivity to the beautiful especially in art.

Euphoria from the Greek word for healthy, is now used to describe an intense feeling of happiness or elation.

Cherish to hold dear or cultivate with care and affection.

Dulcet pleasant to the ear; melodious and soothing

Tranquillity being free from agitation of mind or spirit.

Who says English is not a beautiful, poetic language, with words like these. Eloquence is surely the only way forward.