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We may have had the wettest summer since the Great Flood, but there's still the odd day when that big yellow ball in the sky manages to shine through the clouds and you can put on your lighter clothes. Still, many of us feel less than confident about showing some skin; no surprise when it's been hidden under layers through the summer.
Looking good needn't break the bank, nor involve harsh chemicals. In fact, whether it's bikini weather or deluge conditions, looking after your skin using techniques and products more natural than those typically found in the high street can be beneficial to your general wellbeing, your pocket and your environmental footprint.
Of course, the condition of our skin is a reflection of our inner health, and often people find that once internal problems such as poor digestion, infection or hormonal imbalance are addressed, their skin problems are lessened too. You'll have a much better chance of looking healthy and glowing with radiance if you, nurture your body with plenty of water and herbal teas, fresh fruit and vegetables, and enjoy exercise suited to your needs and abilities.
has many uses in the body, including a major role in producing collagen, which is the main structural protein in skin. Genetics, ageing and pollution exposure can negatively affect collagen synthesis, as can low oestrogen levels in women, so consider taking the vitamin for your skin as well as your general health. Another substance with many applications in the body is omega 3 essential fatty acids, as found in oily fish or supplements such as Quest's Marine Omega 3
. Once ingested, Omega 3s are incorporated into every cell membrane in the body, and studies support their role in keeping skin hydrated and preventing inflammation. Other supplements to consider for helping to support the skin include Hyaluronic Acid
and Grape Seed Extract
, both of which are increasingly being used in cosmetic products (although they can be quite expensive).
As the skin plays a role in your body's detox processes many find cleansing
herbal teas can lead to improved skin. Teas such as Pukka's Cleanse Tea, which is a mix of Nettle, Fennel and Peppermint or Dr Stuart's Skin Purify Tea, which contains Red Clover, Nettle, Dandelion, Burdock and Chamomile may help. Alternatively we have all these dried herbs available in loose form
is not caused by sweat itself, but by the bacteria that breed in sweat. Sweating is one of the major routes of toxin elimination in the body, and most 'anti-perspirants' work through the use of aluminium-based substances blocking the sweat pores and stopping sweat from leaving the body. Though we need to sweat, we don't need to smell bad! As the majority of essential oils are anti-bacterial, they can be used as deodorants by inhibiting the growth of odour-causing bacteria in the sweat. Weleda's deodorant sprays
, come in uplifting Citrus, fresh Sage and blossomy Rose. Or make your own deodorant
, using essential oils such as Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
and Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)
. Use an empty spray bottle
and, as essential oils don't mix well with water, mix them with a clear alcohol such as vodka (typically 40-80 drops of essential oil per 100ml liquid is used).
There is an ever increasing choice of natural skincare companies. Weleda's extensive facial skincare
range is our favourite and like all their products, their skincare products are free from petro-chemicals, synthetic ingredients, GMOs and have never been tested on animals. Fellow ethical companies Faith In Nature
(whose products are vegan) and Avalon Organics
similarly take pride in using only natural ingredients in their skincare collections.
You can further improve skin condition by dry skin brushing
, a simple technique ideally performed daily before bathing. All you'll need is a natural bristle brush
and a few minutes of privacy. Start from the soles of the feet and brush gently but firmly up the legs and body, always using strokes in the direction of the heart. Avoid the face and other sensitive areas. The whole body should only take a few minutes. There are more tips on dry skin brushing
on our website. Those who regularly dry skin brush report healthier skin and circulation, and reduced fluid retention and cellulite.
From at least the time of the ancient Egyptians to the luxury spas of today, people have been enjoying the benefits of salts from the Dead Sea. The mineral composition of salts from the Dead Sea is markedly different from other seas as it contains less sodium chloride and much more magnesium chloride and potassium chloride. When dissolved in bath water, the minerals may be absorbed by the skin, and recent studies have confirmed their helpfulness in improving skin hydration and lessening inflammation.
Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate) is named after the Surrey town where the salts were originally prepared by boiling down the water from the local springs. It has a long history of use, particularly as a laxative (in small doses dissolved in water) and as a principal ingredient of bath salts. It contains magnesium, sulphur and oxygen and its chemical formula is MgSO4. There are many ways of using Epsom salt, most commonly by adding a couple of handfuls to your regular bath, or using more in the bath as part of a detox or training programme. It can also be used cosmetically for body exfoliation or added to shampoo as a quick remedy for oily hair. Some people also use epsom salt around the home; for example in an open container (out of reach of pets and children) to help absorb problematic damp or as a plant food (in general, people find a dissolved teaspoon per litre of water works well). No doubt you'll have your own uses for it both as a remedy and elsewhere - we'd love to hear about them.
Both salts contain magnesium, which is required for the action of over 300 enzymes in the body. Low levels of magnesium are associated with many ailments such as cramp and restless legs, inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, migraine and the fatigue experienced by those with conditions such as Fibromyalgia and ME. Some find that a bath in Dead Sea or Epsom salts can benefit the body through absorption. If taken internally magnesium is typically taken as a tablet.
In store we sell a range of Dead Sea Spa Magik products as well as loose Dead Sea and Epsom salts for £2.80 per kg.
Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) has centuries of use in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and is a small, herbaceous plant native to swampy parts of Asia, Melanesia and northern Australia. Its name comes from the Sinhalese, for 'conical' (gotu') and 'leaf' ('kola'). Unlike the caffeine-containing Kola nut used in cola drinks, Gotu Kola is a mild sedative, and tea made with its leaves is caffeine free. In Ayurveda and TCM, the plant has many traditional uses, such as enhancing mental function and reducing symptoms of anxiety. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study in 2000, it was found that subjects who had taken Gotu Kola had a significantly lessened startle response (an involuntary reaction associated with high alert states) than controls.
Another traditional use of Gotu Kola is treating the skin lesions, and in recent years the plant's skin healing properties have been suggested to come from asiatoside, an organic compound which appears to enhance the healthy formation of collagen in cartilage, bones and connective tissue. This suggests Gotu Kola may be helpful for burns, wounds, scars and other skin conditions and for protecting the integrity of veins. An infusion of Gotu Kola leaves may be drunk or used as a compress on affected skin, and the plant is even beginning to turn up in some commercial skin care products.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, are on any medication or have a medical condition, always consult a healthcare practitioner before taking any dietary supplement or herbal remedy.
20% off products online and instore that are considered to support a healthy musculo-skeletal system. Choose from a wide range including creams, gels, glucosamine tablets and many more.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the effects of Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) on acoustic startle response in healthy subjects, Bradwejn J et al, Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, December 2000, pp 680-684
Effect of the triterpenoid fraction of Centella asiatica on macromolecules of the connective matrix in human skin fibroblast cultures, Tenni R et al, Italian Journal of Biochemistry, March to April 1988, pp 69-77
Eicosapentaenoic Acid Inhibits UV-induced MMP-1 Expression in Human Dermal Fibroblasts Hyeon Kim et al, Journal of Lipid Research, August 2005, pp 1712-20
Bathing in a magnesium-rich Dead Sea salt solution: follow-on review, Ehrhardt P et al, International Journal of Dermatology vol 46, 2005, pp 151-7
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