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.

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!

Global Trending in Beauty

So, I have talked about de-cluttering and I think we are all in agreement less is more. The beauty industry has always been centred on multi-selling and buying the full range of products. The industry average sale per transaction is three, so they hope to sell at least 3 items per customer. We have all thought that to get great results, we had to buy every product. (Many of which we never use) Major changes are now occurring, people are becoming overwhelmed by having so much stuff. Now it’s the age of low-effort beauty. As awareness grows of the impact that the sheer amount of our purchases have on the planet, it is clear that conscious consumerism is here to stay. Trends such as slow beauty and minimalist beauty point the same way, shoppers are not only drawn to buying less, they can see the beauty benefits of using fewer products. Whilst buying less for themselves consumers are still expecting products to deliver all of the results they want. There is a shift towards purposeful beauty that will only become more pronounced in the future.

In the year 2020 and the decade ahead, beauty brands must go beyond product, and contribute positively to the world– Cosmetic Business Report 2019.

What are the global trends and how will these affect the environmentally – minded consumer? As young consumers gain more spending power, they have different expectations of the beauty world. They fully expect brands to prove that there is a reason for their existence, one that contributes in some way positively to the environment, to society and to supporting individual expression.

According to Mintel, over the next 10 years, two distinct forces of change will disrupt the beauty consumer landscape. The brand to consumer relationship will shift in a more seismic manner, as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (the blurring of boundaries between the physical, digital, and biological worlds) goes mainstream. At the same time, consumer behaviour will become increasingly polarising and fluctuate across a spectrum driven by information and emotion. Consumers will explore the push-pull between nature and science; each must support the other to expand beauty consumption.

The three main trends are below:

Water– The new luxury Water is set to become a precious commodity as consumption outstrips supply. The more consumers become aware of this, the more beauty brands will need to change how they manufacture and formulate products to limit their dependence on water.

Power Play- Consumers are facing an energy crisis as the pace of modern life catches up with them. Aware of consumers’ need to make long-term lifestyle changes to address falling energy levels, beauty brands are delivering products that put energy claims at the forefront of their message.

Gastronomia – ‘it’s what’s on the inside that counts. The interest in natural ingredients is on the rise as more people dare to push up their sleeves and get involved in the process of creating beauty products.

In layman terms what does this all mean? Consumers will increasingly seek out brands whose values align with their own, 90% of consumers believe that companies and brands have a responsibility to take care of the planet and its people. Ethical and sustainable beauty will continue to dominate the industry. Brands will be required to display greater honesty and transparency about their products, which will include the ingredients, some of which have been guarded secrets.

 “Looking ahead to the new decade, brands will begin their shift away from misleading buzzwords and hyped ingredients towards a more sustainable industry that considers tomorrow’s ecosystem,” says Jessica Smith, Senior Creative Researcher at The Future Laboratory.

I have worked with a few, independent beauty companies, packaging is always a huge problem to resolve, striking the balance between using less, but packing safety and causing less harm environmentally. Smaller companies who want to do The Right Thing may be limited financially in adapting to the changing market. However, as the industry continues to be spotlighted for its environmental impact and waste, all brands, large or small, need to look at reducing waste by removing unnecessary packaging. During Zero Waste Week, it was reported that the cosmetics industry produces 120 billion units of packaging per year. Which means that 18 million acres of forest is annually lost in part due to the cardboard used for beauty products. I met a small artisan company who had come up with some ingenious ways of packing sustainably on a tight budget.

The bring-back loyalty-based recycling schemes for bottles and jars, are a further way for brands to help consumers tread more lightly on the planet. Started by the Body shop. Anita Roddick, the founder of ethical beauty consumerism, I am sure would have had some great ideas!

We were all shocked at the plastic pollution in the scenes shown in the 2018’s Blue Planet TV show. Most businesses are actively trying to replace plastic with glass and aluminium which can be fully recycled and where possible using recycled packaging. Refillable and reusable packaging initiatives have been adopted, the larger refills, cut down on packaging and are cost- effective to the customer, these are appearing more and more in the mainstream market. Fully recyclable products will become a baseline and compostable packaging will be introduced more widely according to plastics provider Eastman, which recently announced three recycling technology loops using landfill-bound waste, bio-content, and consumer take-back materials to produce plastic packaging. The future could see plastic waste used as feed-stock and transformed into uncompromising luxury packaging that is indistinguishable from packaging made from fossil-based raw materials.

The luxury skin- care brand Haeckel’s, bio-contributing mycelium and seed paper packaging can be planted in the garden to add nutrients as it biodegrades and brings new plant live when the seeds germinate. Haeckel’s founder Dom Bridges says: “If shopping as a concept is to continue it must on all levels create at least no waste, but in order to create true sustainability, every product we make needs to contribute back to the ecosystem.

But beyond packaging, consumers are starting to question the sustainability of natural ingredients used in their beauty products and just how natural ‘natural’ products really are. Brands will need to have the confidence to explain exactly why they are using naturals or synthetics, particularly if the latter is more sustainable or long lasting. Over the past year, dozens of brands across the board have gained certification according to ethical standards, with cruelty-free and 100% vegan claims becoming increasingly common within the industry. While the beauty industry has traditionally been viewed as a culture of vanity and luxury, now characteristics such as health, ethics and positively impacting the environment, are the new status symbol. The bar has been raised for everything from efficacy to ethics, and in the years ahead, the consumer demands for ethical purchasing will evolve even further. The challenge will be how brands can innovate sustainably, develop alternative ‘greener’ packaging and adapt to the consumer-led changes.

The beauty industry has seen an influx of multi-task products hitting the market recently and there seems to be a fresh new buzz surrounding the reasons why these products are becoming such an integral part of our daily regimes. Men’s products, particularly those geared around sports, have often been multi-purpose, by that I mean a hair and body wash or a 2 in 1, shampoo and conditioner. In the 1980’s high volume, mass- produced products were made this way and promoted as a way of saving money, today the companies prompting these 2 in 1 products are more about saving the planet. The US brand, Illuum, with its you deserve less philosophy has fewer products, fewer ingredients and less skin stress. This skin care brand offers only six products, many of which contain just two or three ingredients each, which are designed to equip skin with the tools it needs to perform the job it was designed to do. Beauty experts have admitted that using too many products is worse for your skin that using too little, and have openly encouraged a pared-back beauty routine.

 If we buy into using multi-benefit products and the movement of less is more, by having 5 products in our bathroom instead of 15, is a positive step we can all take towards softening our environmental footprint.

I am going to try it, after I have de-cluttered my over-flowing bathroom cabinet. Will you too?

The Healing Benefits of Seaweed Bathing

Outside- The Body

I have talked already about the many benefits to the inside of your body by eating seaweed. What about the benefits to outside your body? Legend has long had it that taking a dip in the sea can work wonders for your health. As far back as 400BC, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, was advocating saltwater and heated seaweed baths for curing a variety of bodily ailments.

Go to the ocean to heal– is a quote ascribed to Hippocrates.

Seaweed has been in use for thousands of years, in diet, science and bathing, it boasts a myriad of nutrients, amino acids, and antioxidants that are associated with skin health and beauty. As skin is the largest organ in the body it gives the maximum surface through which its natural source of minerals, vitamins and amino acids in seaweed can be fully absorbed. Seaweed takes the nutrients in the water in a similar way to the way our bodies do, it balances and purifies the ocean through its growth and chemistry. So, bathing in the weeds of the sea can be healthy, balancing and nourishing for the skin and body. Acting as an emoillant which locks in moisture. Our skin is constantly plagued by harmful environmental effects that can speed up the skin’s aging process. Research suggests that seaweed has a revitalizing effect on the skin because of its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to induce blood flow to the skin. A hot seaweed bath is like a wet-steam sauna: the greens from the sea balance body chemistry without dehydrating it. The electromagnetic action of the seaweed acts as a diuretic to release excess body fluids from congested cells. So dissolves fatty wastes through the skin, replacing them with minerals, especially iodine, which boosts thyroid activity. Seaweed is rich in B, C, E and K vitamins, niacin, pantothenic acid and folic acid. Vitamin K boosts adrenal activity, which can help maintain hormone balance for a more youthful body. Scientific studies have confirmed that seaweed bathing helps lower body stress and back pain. Skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema and acne are relieved and soothed. It has also been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of muscle aches and joint stiffness helping in combating rheumatism and arthritis.

  In 1904 French scientist Rene Quinton published the medical work L’eau de Mer, Millen Organique which translates as Sea Water Organic Medium. Quinton’s study indicated that sea water and human plasma, Blood and Lymph fluid, are almost identical in their composition of mineral salts, proteins and various other elements. Seaweed is one of nature’s sponges so absorbs minerals from the sea. In a bath where seaweed and seawater are infused the mineral concentration within the infusion is much greater than in the water alone. ( This would occur in a treatment bath)

Many people in countries like Ireland and France, where it grows in abundance, have long used seaweed to keep the skin clean, moisture-rich, and rejuvenated. Natural skincare and body care has evolved, but one thing remains true, we still make use of the raw ingredients around us, often using plants our ancestors have used for centuries to help to heal the skin and body. Modern thalassotherapy techniques use seawater and seaweed baths and treatments to deliver their potent combination of beauty properties and healing elements.

France still leads the way with many Spas (thalassotherapy) specializing in seaweed treatments, many of which are associated with body toning, slimming and skin imperfections. We are made up of 65% water and water is the basis for our body’s evaporative cooling system. It flushes out toxic wastes, plumps up our cells, and lubricates our moving body parts.

Ireland has had a centuries-old practice of Seaweed bathing. It has fortified generations who relied on its therapeutic benefits to see them through the cold season, helping with aches and pains caused by the damp climate. Spartan seaweed baths were once popular in Ireland many attributing robust health and energy to the traditional cure of a hot seaweed bath. Now it’s much more relaxing, with many Spas and Hotels offering this service. The Ice House, in Mayo, has the Chill Spa with lovely products created by VOYA.ie it has an outdoor seaweed bath on the deck overlooking the river and is pure luxury. Voya Seaweed Baths is based in the coastal village of Strandhill in County Sligo they offer detoxifying seaweed baths and treatments utilising the natural power of their organic hand-harvested, wild seaweed. For full details of bathing treatments and products visit:

https://www.voyaseaweedbaths.com https://www.voya.ie/

The seaweed used for bathing in Ireland is a wrack called Fucus Serratus, also known as serrated wrack and Fucus Vesiculosus known as Bladder wrack, belonging to the brown seaweed family. Wracks are large seaweeds growing on rocky shores in the northern hemisphere, particularly in Europe and North America. This seaweed has a high mineral content, and is rich in sulphur, iodine and natural oils.

It is possible to try seaweed treatments and baths at home and there are many great companies selling products that are both therapeutic and relaxing. Look for organic and natural companies where possible. Think how great you feel after walking on the beach and having a dip in the sea. A seaweed bathing regimen is thought to have a significant impact on our health and well-being as well as pure relaxation after a busy day.

Well I am totally convinced are you?

Stop and Smell the Roses

We often hear the phrase, Stop and Smell the Roses, and whilst I am sure there are several takes on this, to me it means; to pause, reflect and look at the brighter side of life. English Rose Gardens remind me of visiting my grandparents’ house when I was a child, I am instantly transported to happy times. Nostalgic yet uplifting too.

Roses are one of the most beautiful flowers in the world, literally the queen of flowers. We all love and appreciate their beauty and they have a myriad of uses in bath and body products, fragrance, room aromas, love potions, teas and cooking ingredients. The benefits to the mind and body have been recognized for thousands of years. The Incas used Rose Otto essential oil as a cure-all.  Rose oils were linked to the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite and the Roman goddess of love, Venus. Even Cleopatra, regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful women used roses in her facial and bathing rituals.

Seen as a universal symbol of love, roses are widely used by people to express their feelings to their loved ones. In perfumery its currently used in 75% of modern feminine fragrances and 10% of men’s fragrances. (In Muslin countries this was originally a man’s scent)

We sometimes regard perfumes with notes of rose as been a little old-fashioned, however, there’s a new crop of perfumes without a trace of Eau de Grandmère. Rose scents are constantly re-invented, in fact it’s a note never too far from a perfumer’s vision, a bit like the Little Black Dress of the fragrance world.  There is a real resurgence right now in rose perfumes. Some say it’s down to political uncertainty and consumers feel the need to surround themselves with something familiar and comforting. I think this is true in part, but also there is something dreamy glorious about receiving a large bouquet of flowers. The scent of rose can have so many different elements, sweet- smelling, fresh, zesty, heady, sumptuous, romantic even aromatic. The Chelsea Flower Show in a bottle!

Rose is said to soothe the heart, heal past griefs, reduce nervous energy and depression, encourage self-love and help to move forward positivity in difficult times. It has spiritual qualities and can aid healing during times of bereavement. It would be beneficial at this difficult time, to drink rose tea as it soothes the mind, heart and throat.

Ayvurvedic healers have used the rose plant in herbal remedies, tinctures, oils, teas, and skincare for many years. Rose balances the Sadhaka Pitta, which governs emotions and how it impacts the heart. Rose- water showers are used traditionally at Indian weddings. The wedding bed is covered in Red rose petals for several reasons: the scent is calming to the nerves and act as a sedative, (It lowers the cortisol stress hormones) roses are an aphrodisiac and the colour Red relates to romance and passion. So, this sets up a favourable mood for the newly-weds special evening.

In beauty products for the face and body, rose has many valuable properties, its complex array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants can be very enriching for dry skin, as it soothes irritations, reduces redness and stimulates collagen. All of which help to counteract premature aging. It’s an emollient, which locks moisture into your skin, which then helps to keep your skin feeling hydrated for longer while also improving its texture, giving a soft, healthy glow.

On a final note, I can say that Roses possess a heavenly scent, are wonderful in perfumes, bath and body products, room aromas or simply as flowers in a vase. They can represent spiritually, purity, passion, friendship and love and are present in our thoughts and hearts like no other flower.

The world is a rose, smell it, and pass it to your friends.”

– Persian Proverb

DIY Home Spa

Now more than ever we need to look after ourselves. Many people, often women, feel guilty about spending time relaxing and pampering its seen as self-indulgent and a bit unnecessary. But I really don’t think that’s true! We all work hard and need some TLC, even in Lockdown an hour or so pampering would make a huge difference to your health and happiness.

I work for a wonderful Artisan company who make bath and body products and often need to try out products for home as part of my role, but even before this, I have always seen how important it is to put aside some time to have a leisurely bath, using body creams or a face mask. There are many health benefits to dry brushing and regular massage. Taking some quiet time can be a meditation tool and help to clear the mind easing mental stress. I am a great fan of Dead Sea Salts, a soak in the bath does wonders for back pain and sore muscles. If you don’t have a bath, use these in a large bowl, as a footbath. Our poor feet work hard on our behalf and deserve looking after. If you want to just do one pampering thing to affect your whole body massage your feet.

If you have very dry skin, massage oil into your skin and soak in a bath, the warm water allows to the oil to penetrate your skin much more than putting oil on to your skin after bathing. I often burn essential oils and are a great believer in the benefits of these in bath and body products. Using products that are free of parabens and harmful chemicals are also important, although these can cost a little more usually, they last longer and really benefit the skin.

Having healthy, moisturized, glowing skin not only looks good it feels great too.

Its easy to make a DIY Spa, some candles, fluffy towels, bath and body products, peace and quiet (or relaxing music) even a glass of wine. Organize everything ahead of time and clear away any clutter like children’s toys. So you can just lay back, relax and enjoy.

spa day