Sunday, 26 February 2012

Helen's History of nail varnish

I need to admit to something, to some women it's shoes and handbags, to men its gadgets and electronnics (well my husband anyway). I am just slightly different - mine is nail varnishes.

My first one I ever got was actually given to me by my dad at the age of 8 (the last age I was allowed a kiddie party with disco, jelly and ice cream). It done by a company called tinkerbell (or something simular) and was targeted at the younger market. It was a dusky rose pink and once it dried you could peel it straight off. My parents said that I was too young for make up and had to wait until I was 16 to be allowed. I was also a massive nail biter, not a little nibble but right down to the bottom, I can't understand why its was the worst thing to do and they bleed all the time. My parents treid everything including the stuff you painted on that didn't taste right, I, in the end didn't mind it and carried on.

One day when I was at secondary school, I was in science and just decided to stop (I was about 14 at the time). Soon they grew back, this is where they broke the rule I was allowed one varnish to wear to encourage me not to chew. This was Rimmels in Magnolia, a silvery white pearl that I could just get away with at school. By the time I was in my final year, they were weapons - long, strong and sharp. I picked on most of my friends including the poor guys who hung wih us, one in particular who I am still sorry to, to this day.

By the time I was earning my own wage my love of bright varnish was full on - I remember walking into Boots and buying my first one with my new pay check - A Miss Selfridge Blue that ironically is now back in fashion. I carried on with a lot of clear varnishes as I hit my late teens, then my twenties was when not only my varnish obession but with make up generally happened (but I leave that for another time).

I started working in Boots at 20, I had a better income and was able to buy nearly the whole of the No.7 varnish range which I wore constant (at this time I was a fragrance consultant - All the alcohol used to eat away at it so I always had to keep changing to keep it fresh). My fave at this time - Damson Dream, a pink/lilac/gold which was stunning, a re-formulation is not as this one, I actually cried when I got told this was being discontinued as there was none left in stock to buy.

Then I discovered RED and how wonderful it looked on my pale skin/dark hair combo also hence my nickname and other obesession, Snow White) - I also had just started to work for Lauder and had Jungle Red (which I still have) on constant use (as well as Petal - a beautiful white/beige). I rock red, if I need a pick me up its always red and I have a lot of shades and finishes for this. Also at this time I trained as a manicurised (which to me made absolute sense with my obesession), and discovered OPI (*sigh* I love them so much).

My first trade show as a professional I went crazy at the their stall and came back with 10 different varnishes all for my personal use, which was completely wrong because as a Lauder Lady I was only allowed to wear 1 of 6 colours that they do. When I did make the decision to leave, the freedom to wear colour was overwhelming. My current role (until the business really picks up I still work full time) means I can wear varnish but it wrecks my nails often to the point of they break once a week, however I am slowly rescuing them.

So now nearing towards my thirties I am still obsessed with my hands, I never come home shopping without a new varnish (the only day I came home with 3 and a 5 pound off No.7 which no doubt will go on another). I'd rather have my nails looking amazing than be wearing make up (I told you I wasn't normal).

One final note: The poor man who got my nails constantly in his neck I married him wearing Makes Men Blush by OPI :)

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Masterclass - Moisturisers

aka. Your skin needs a drink.

Firstly a few more skin basics - Your skin contains 20% of your body's water reserves. Most of this is in the lower layer (dermis) of the skin, however, like the cell regeneration it work its way up to the top layer (epidermis) where it'll evaporate away. Skin protects itself by production of sebum, protecting cells by creating a complex mix of subtances and finally filling more gaps with lipids (like fats) which forms a watertight barrier.

Moisturiser is there to offer a support to this system, it's not just something to slap on, it is something to think about.

Any basis of a moisturiser cream is a mixture of oil and water, whether it is your one pound special or Creme de la Mer. Lotions have an ingrediant called glycrine (a sugar syrup that is simular to lipids) or sobitol (a reduction of glycrine), this then means that the concetration of oil used can be lowered, which produces the lighter fluid moistrusier. This is why if you read any ingrediant lists on products "aqua" (posh word for "water") appears first as it is the ingrediant that there is the most of.

Into this is where we find the differences in each brand/formulation - vitamins, minerals, SPF, the list you can image is endless (I cannot remember the brand but there is one out there which boosts it has over 300 ingrediants - I would hate to learn that list!). SPF (Sun Protection Factor) would make you bog standard moisturiser into an anti-aging moitursier. This will protect the skin from the sun rays (bonus points if you can get one with UV filters, but not sun screen as these are very rich with oil and can feel heavy), and delay damage to the skin which can lead to wrinkles.

Ok so why is La Pairie creams (avg. 300-400 pounds a go), when theres something else for a tenner? It all comes down to those extra ingrediants that are being added (like gold flakes, cavier - These are very rare thus very expensive to put in. Not to forget that that these companies have put in hours of research to create something no one else has etc.)

What you need to think about two things - What do I want it to do for me? (Protection, cure dryness, makes skin less red etc.) and I think the more important, how much am I willing to spend up to? When I'm looking for a new product to invest in (personal or business) I read blogs, customer review sites, magazines - This is so I know what is out there, what my money can get (and do I need to save up if I fall in love with something), but also what the customer REALLY thinks (because a great product can be great for them/you and worth a look, but a continued bad product is worth a wide birth!).

A good moisturiser is a real investment, when a jar runs out and if it still doing wonderful things for you be faithful to your love. Only you know when it's time to move onto another moistrusier lover.
Next time - The minefield of skin types.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Masterclass - Serums

When I first started in the beauty industry, serums were a buzz word for the elite to the point that it wasn't until I worked for Estee Lauder and discovered Advance Night Repair that I even what a serum was. Serums are an intensive formulation that contains nurtients, vitamins, antioxidents and other ingredients, depending on the concern for the skin. They can be put onto the face, neck and even around the eye area, are easily absorbed and leave no residue behind.

These started out as something that was added to the moisturiser, then with anything within the beauty industry they discovered that they could create smaller molcules that can penetate the skin deeper (but here were only talking one or two of the layers, but sometimes that can make all the difference) which is why they are recommended to go onto clean skin first so they can maximise the benefits. Of course as the industry moved along technology means that now its gone from being elite to the mass market, the key exampe in this is Boot's No.7 Protect adn Perfect that caused mass hyistria when the BBC said that this in their scienticific test was proved to be most effective against some big names (which all released statements discrediting the research of course).

Serums are formulated to work alongside your moisturiser, not to replace it. Think of it as this the serum is a bucket and the mosturiser is the water. The serum acts as a collector for the mosituriser and acts as a effective holder. A key ingredient that does this is Hylaronic Acid (When I first training I always got this wrong and mixed it up with a poison instead, you could imagine the surprise face from customers), this is a protein that natural occurs in the skin. You will also some level of vitamin C and E that have huge benefits, vitamin C supports anti-oxident production and collegen productions, with vitamin E is an active anti-oxident.

Each formulation of serum will be diffrent depending on the needs of the customer. I find that serums fall into two catagories: Prevention and anti-aging. Prevention I have found have anti-oxidents, vitamins, and recently radiance. Anti-aging will have, as well as vitamins, collegen boosters, smoothing textures and moisturer retainers. Any company worth their salt would let you try the serum for at least a week before investment (or have a very good returns policy in place) as the best way to know if this is good for you (like moistursers and foundations) is to actually try them in your routinue. 

One final note - I know some of the best serums can be costly investments, however plesae take into that the amount you will use at a time would be tiny, about the size of a pea up to a 5p piece. There are 3 things if anything you'll need to invest time and money in because they make that much of a difference: Foundation, moisturisers and serum.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Mastrclass - Cleansing

Aka - Scrub-a-dub-dub

Last time we learnt how awesome skin is, so now it's time to start looking after it. The first step is to make it clean - we know that our skin is a barrier that keeps dirt out, however that dirt stays on your skin. The result is off colour skin that can be prone to spots (as dirt is one of their main causes). It can also look dull and feel gritty as dirt collects.

Every cleansers aim is to remove make up, dead skin cells, oil, dirt and other pollutants to the skin. This then leaves skin look a lot brighter, cleaner and smoother, but also makes a clear smooth canvas that any make up that goes on easily and bringing out the best of what you use. Out there, there are different kinds of cleanser/washing/scrubbing items, my aim in this is go through each one so you can make correct decision for your skin:

Cream/Lotion/milk cleanser - This is the main one you will see on the market, it works massging it into the skin and then using a cotton pad to wipe over the skin (using it damp so it doesn't drag on the skin and makes it less irritable for the skin). Cream is the richest that is best for dry skin, while lotion/milk is the lightest and is best for less drier skin.  I wouldn't use these on your eyes becuse it can sting, in the next few weeks we'll go through eye care as well as cleansing.

Gel - Works the same as above but its a lighter consistancy. It feels much fresher on the skin and is great for oiler skins as this can still cleanse but panic the skin into producing more natural oil.

Oil - Another area that is more suited to drier skin, massage in and wipe off like a cream. The only reservaton I have about this is that it can leave a slightly oil residue behind. I have tried ones that start like oil and when apllied to skin turns into a lotion (Lancome's Huile Douceur Cleansing oil is the one I've tried), I do find that they are not really designed for heavy make wearers as it losens it but doesn't remove.

Water - On the other hand this section is becoming more popular - Lancomes Eau Micellaire has just won Instyle's Best beauty buy for the third year in a row. Put onto a pad (same again damp, you'll find you'll also use less product on this one), and swipe over the face a few times. Great for wearers of light make up and people who want something quick.

Wipes - I like wipes, they use the water cleanser from above and put into individual cloths. However, I like them for a one off been out and I know I should take my make up off but can't do the whole thing. They do not replace a routine, I've found that after I used one that I still need a good wash afterwards because I still felt like I had the cleanser on my skin (I'm a squeekly clean fan).

Washes - Usually comes in foaming gel, After wiping make up off (or use straight away if not wearing any), fill a bowl of warm water (hot can damage the skin), foam up in and rub over face. Wash off when done as easy as that! I like to use a face wash after taking make up off as I feel a lot more clean and fresher.

Scrubs - Can come in a foam or non-foaming, these contains small grains that are used to exfoliate the skin (extra washng to remove any other dirt and cells that are clinging on). Because these are mor agreesive to the skin I would only recommend to use the once/twice a week depending on the needs. i went against this when i was younger and wondered why my poor skin was bright red, it turns up and I was scrubbing my face raw (ow!). A great cost effective way is that I use a fannel to softly massage my cleanser, more gentle and still gives the same glow.

Toners - Are used to clean off excess cleanser (not instead off as this has no real cleansing active ingredients) on the skin as well as refresh. They come as a liquid that you would put onto a damp pad and then wipe over the skin. Some people love them (like my mum) and some people don't, I personally use them more for treatments to wipe any excess off but in my own routinue I find after washing my face everything is removed and it's not needed.

Cleansing the skin makes it ready for any product that you choose to put on top (rather than giving the dirt all the benefits!)

Next time - Serums

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Masterclass - Skin Basics

Aka. Love your biggest organ!

Your skin features heavily in beauty - There is a huge estimated at 2.1 million dollars spent in 2011, with so much invested how muc do you know about your skin?

Your skin is amazing, but I don't have to tell you that! Skin is what you see, that outer layer which covers your outer body and also clings to those things you don't want it to. It also comes in different textures, colours and finishes. The most fasinacting things about our skin is its core functions:

* Protection - Keeps germs and dirt away, that is why one key care for skin is to clean it regulary.
*Sensation - Contains your nerve endings to tell hot, cold, touch, pressure, vibation and tissue injury.
*Heat regulation - Skin contains its own blood supply greater than what it needs because it preceisely controls energy loss and retention.
* Control of evaporation - Porvides a dry barrier to loss of water.
* Looks and communication - The look of our skin can show our mood, physical state and attractiveness.
* Storage - Can store water and process vitamin D.
* Excretion - Eew! fact: Our sweat contains 1/130th of urine, yum!
*Absoption - The key componant to the beauty industry, all product administration onto the skin will penetrate part of the skin. Other parts of the body rely on this for transport.
*Water resistance - So all those lovely nuritents don't get worked out of the body.
Phew! That thing you look at everyday is a huge part of your body.
You've brought the latest thing and in the small print they point out that it only penetrates the 'Stratum corneum' and of course you go "huh?". Your skin is made of many extremely thin layers which make up three main layers: Epidermis (where stratum corneum is the top layer of this, but I'm going to keep it good and simple), Dermis and Hypodermis. Each one has it's own function:
*Epidermis - This is the part of the skin that is most nurtured by beauty products, and also is the end result of skin rejuvenation. Your skin has a 40 day cycle and ends with the skin shedding. This is why the results of a good skin routine can only be reveled after this time.
*Dermis - This is the layer that contains the collegan fibres that givens the skin its flex. These fibres are the ones that decrease with age so these are the buggers that give you wrinkles as you age as they lose they're strength. These also the ones responsible for stretch marks when these fibres are over stretched and break.
*Hypodermis - The fatty layer of the skin that holds nerve endings, blood vessels, lymph (which supports drainage), and many other complex functions. If you catch yourself and don't bleed you haven't cut deep enough to this layer.

Your skin is tough, flexible and very hard working. It deserves the best care possible to make sure that it does the best job for your body but also makes you look your best.

Next time: Stage One - Cleansing