At the end of the year, we need to look our festive best. Esther Mills-Roberts shows us how…
You’ve braced yourself against the cold, and your hair has taken the breeze. You’ve come inside into the warm and your face has flushed with the temperature change. Your nails are in gloves, get wet, dry out, get bashed. And your diet changes, fresh fruit and vegetable intakes drop, in comes the winter stodge and up goes fat, sugar and alcohol. If this sounds like you, then a natural winter beauty plan is a must.
For your skin
If there’s one thing that’s worth investing in this cold season, it’s natural skincare products. With conventional products selling serum, bringing you micro beads and making you consider mini peels, it’s easy to see why some people get rather scientific when making skin choices. And yet, with more natural ranges, it’s every bit as much about what’s not in there as what is. Many ranges are made on an ethos of natural ingredients, with no conventionally used chemical ingredients. Here are just a few for you to try…
Have you heard of Rosa mosqueta? This Chilean rosehip is particularly rich in essential fatty acids, which are vital for correct function and structure of cell membranes. For this reason, it is a highly popular for people with tired, dull, dry and lifeless skin, and for those with scars. Research has shown that Rosa mosqueta oil can help diminish the appearance of scars when used for six to eight weeks – which is what makes it an exciting plant product for women of all ages (it can also be used for stretchmarks).
Aloe vera is excellent as a skin soother, especially when the summer months are on the way and you might need a little sun-calming gel. It contains mucilage components which help to take out heat, as well as moisturise the skin. Other natural skin calmers include chamomile, which is a very popular addition to skin formulas, acting as an anti-inflammatory and general skin soother.
Nature has given us all nature of wonderful oils to choose from which help to condition and improve the appearance of the skin, and many of these are included in natural moisturisers. Take vitamin E, for example, which is not only included as a deep-conditioning nutrient but is also added to products to act as an antioxidant to increase the product’s shelf life. Avocado oil is wonderfully rich, and calendula oil gives the skin an amazing sheen, like you’ve just spent an hour in the sun. It’s also light, well absorbed and delicate enough to use on more sensitive areas, such as around the eyes.
Essential fatty acid supplements are also chosen to help maintain skin that is conditioned, supple and protected against the elements. Fish oil and evening primrose oil are other popular choices.
Look out for creams containing natural antimicrobials. These can range from honey or propolis-based formulas, antibacterial essential oils such as tea tree, or even antifungal essential oils such as tagetes.
If you want really great skin, don’t forget the importance of exfoliation. Choose from nutshell-based creams, salt rubs, wheat germ in oil or microbead formulations. Ask your local health store for information about these. You can also try skin brushing to remove dead skin and reveal soft smooth skin underneath.
Super skin must haves
As we age, the body produces less hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring mucopolysaccharide. To what effect? Quite simply, areas of the body where it is found in high concentration are compromised, and with the skin, the result is that it goes dry and wrinkly. Ask in store about supplementation with this health substance.
We can’t mention skin health without talking about hydrolysed collagen peptides. Found naturally occurring in the skin, providing elasticity and structural support, collagen is highly popular. Do make sure that you’re using the right intake. Generally, research on collagen and skin health use around 3,000 to 10,000mg of hydrolysed collagen daily.
Heading for the best
If you’re the sort of person who likes luxurious ingredients, then it’s time to look for some natural hair products. What’s more, whilst some high street brands put in only a token gesture of essential oils, or worse still, use synthetic plant aromas, reputable natural health brands stick to a philosophy of leaving out what needn’t be in, and include plenty of therapeutic plant ingredients.
This is why you can see ranges based on cocoa butter for shine, avocado for dry hair, rosemary for dandruff, citrus ingredients for more greasy hair or ylang ylang which is a general hair conditioner and revitaliser.
Of course, as with hair, if you’re prone to a sensitive scalp, then it makes sense to use organic hair care products too, to minimise the effects of chemicals which are often found in conventional products.
The same goes for hair dyes, which can irritate the scalp due to the chemicals which are in conventional hair dyes. Many women simply feel they must put up with the stinging or scalp irritation, but this is not the case. There are now natural hair colourants made using natural plant and herbal extracts, which give excellent results and come in an extensive range of colours. These are made without ammonia, resorcinol and parabens – ask in store for more details.
Naturally made up
If you are very sensitive to chemicals, or even if you just want to minimise using products which include harsh chemicals when there are alternatives, then natural and organic make-up ranges are for you.
Like natural skincare ranges, they are formulated on the principle that they should be kept as natural as possible, and may be marketed as free of parabens, phthalates, mineral oils, heavy metals, nanoparticles, artificial perfumes and GM ingredients.
Natural and organic make-up ranges have really developed over the past 10 years, and now rival any classy mainstream brand. The colours are diverse and subtle, the powders fine and easy to apply, the lipsticks stay put and the liners are soft and gentle.
Super condition nails
Nails are a real tell-tale when it comes to the nutritional status of our bodies, especially where minerals are concerned. It’s widely known that white spots on the nails can indicate zinc deficiency, but what about other winter helpers for nail health?
B vitamin complex supplements have often been recommended for nail health and one B vitamin takes prominence for skin hair and nails, and that’s vitamin B5 – pantothenic acid. A supplement, whether as a single B complex, or within a high potency multi-nutrient, can help to safeguard intakes of this important nail nutrient.
Add to this a supplement such as hydrolysed collagen, which are very popular for nail health, with vitamin E and essential fatty acids from fish oils and evening primrose oil, and you can see how a healthy regime for skin directly helps the nails, giving you a double-whammy approach to your winter beauty wellness.
About Esther Mills-Roberts
Esther Mills-Roberts is a degree-trained nutritional biochemist and registered nutritionist. She has a private practice in Stratford Upon Avon.
Esther studied nutrition and biochemistry at Nottingham University and worked for a number of nutritional supplement companies before eventually setting up as a consultant on nutritional marketing, PR, quality standard, labelling and new product development.
She has also lectured and educated many about the science of nutrition, written for a number of health titles, written her own books and has featured on both TV and radio. Esther is a member of the Guild of Health Writers, London.