Category Archives: Face and skin

New Year Resolution

Forget about do-good resolutions

Indulge yourself flowers

– you KNOW it’s good for you!

If you are looked after by the British NHS, you have probably encountered the charming doctor who thinks worrying about your skin is all nonsense.  Asking for a cream to sooth your compromised skin, produces a patronising “you could try this” and a suggestion to use an old-fashioned gunky pot of thick gunge. Continue reading

Zap that dry skin!

 Sun or drug side effects – both dry out skin


But my unscientific, unproven except by old wives remedy for dealing with this might help.


English: Rose മലയാളം: പനിനീര്‍പ്പൂവ്‍


The usual happens after after a long winter of drugs, drugs and more drugs (wish doctors weren’t s


ready to prescribe) added to a few days of hot weather, have made me itch all over


So my favourite cure is to run a very warm bath (as hot as I can bear it – I know, I know I shouldn’t  do it i- but I did).  Just once desperate measures were needed. Continue reading

From Facials to Ferragamo

Left with dried-out skin after Winter or

drug treatments?

What to do when left with dull skin.

Noël: Roseanne PlanetDoll Make-up - KRL


Take care of skin, and it will look good for many years.  I am no Saint, so don’t like preaching, but if you want an excuse to give up smoking, this will improve your facial skin no end.


Continue reading

French Wine growers add their expertise to skincare

Grapes + Science = Glamour


Once, the grapes being tended by the men

traditionally driving the horses in the

vineyards would be destined for wine – but

today they might just as likely be used

for skincare.

As a teetotaler, it may sound silly to be interested in wine and vines, but talking to a Sherry vineyard  owner, he mentioned that the climate around Herez in Southern Spain, was so dry, that the vines send their roots down 3 – 4 metres seeking moisture.

Vines need moisture to grow.  But it took a clever Frenchwoman to put two and two together, and use this ‘dig deep’ ability to help our moisture-hungry skins.

She founded the skincare firm Caudalie,  and it’s fans have grown by word of mouth ever since 1995.  Since then she and Dr. Vercauten from the University of Pharmacy in Bordeaux, the famous wine-growing area of France, have been developing purely natural products to help our moisture-starved skins.

Recently, having been put on new drugs that have landed me with the usual dry, dry skin, I have been trying out Caudalie products;  at first sceptically – but now I see how they work I am not only a fan, but have been buying their products as present for other friends with the same problems.

As the Caudalie research team say:

“Organic grape water and grape seed oil will calm down and rebuild the skin. The polyphenol will stop free radicals leaded by the stress of the disease.”

Vine Body Butter

One of the first products I just had to try was Vine Body butter, and this is a real Hero product.     My body drinks it in, as it is incredibly soothing;  as soon as I started to use it I could feel the benefits as my Brillo pad skin started smoothing out.   I wish I knew what ingredient in modern drugs gives one this nasty dry skin – but somehow feel the drug companies don’t care.

The Body Butter contains grape-seeds (anti-oxidant) and grape seed oil (used a lot in cooking!) 

  • Shea butter – always a star ingredient
  • Avocado extra – another natural smoother

and sinks in without any trace of grease.

Like all Caudalie products, it is sold through pharmacies and Chemists;  the French believe in using the pharmacists’ knowledge, not just go in for medicines as we seem to do.   Cost:  £20

A very sensible idea is the way Caudalie uses the inside of boxes to show graphics on how to use the creams, serums, etc.  I think that this was the practical idea of the founder, Mathilde Thomas – and it’s really very sensible.  Once wonders why this has never been thought of before.

(Takes a woman to think up something so practical!)

So once you have unwrapped the products, flatten out the package and look for hints and tips inside – the S.O.S Serum had helpful diagrams on how best to massage it into your face.  There is also a helpful guide to which products go on first, so you don’t have to hunt round to find out which cream goes under/on top.

Vinosource Moisture Recovery Cream

This can be used as a Day or Night Cream

I used it on its own during the day, and at night massaged in the S.O.S. Serum first, then patted on the Recovery Cream.

Then went to the OAP’s Party at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.  I arrived feeling like the oldest person there, but everyone was so complimentary about how well I looked – I soon perked up!

Cost £19.90

Chemists know all about the products

Near my new home is a wonderful Chemists – Chelsea Pharmacy.  They stock Caudalie, and I found Rima incredibly knowledgeable.  She told me about the Caudalie cleanser, and also recommended their Grape Water spray as being just the thing to moisturise my skin whilst I sit at my lap top all day in a centrally-heated room.  She is quite right!



You can apply the Moisture Recovery Cream both in the morning and evening – I hope this answers your question, do let me know if there is anything further you need.

Kind regards,


Josie Pohlinger

Senior Account Executive


+ 44 (0) 20 7381 6226



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Skincare is so important for cancer survivors

Especially in this appalling Winter

Cyclamen flowers

Cyclamen flowers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rain – Rain – Rain.  And then snow.  All designed to make our ‘drug prone’ skin break out in rashes, scaly patches, rough bits and other horrors. Doesn’t it make you cross!  But I have been treating myself to retail therapy and using some ‘old’ favourites, but this time slapping them on twice or three times a day.

One encouraging sign

The recent reports (by Breast Cancer Care, Macmillan, etc) identified that there 500,000 survivors with MAJOR side effects from cancer drugs, and gave hope to those of us who have been trying to get doctors to acknowledg that we suffer from appalling skin problems, thanks to these drugs.

Macmillan called its report CURED – BUT AT WHAT COST? And when you read this you find many of our problems are finally acknowledged.  But in true British fashion – none of the charities involved seemed concerned to do anything to help us.

So it is left to us to get on with the fall-out – and this can cost.  Anyway here are some of the staples that I turn to to hep me with skin problems from side effects – NOT FOR SKIN CANCER – that’s a different subject.


I haven’t put in prices of many of the products, BECAUSE – in case you haven’t noticed – there is a credit squeeze on.  Products that are best for our ‘druggie’ skin tend to contain expensive ingredients (that’s why they work well), and can be very expensive.  A lot of the cost goes into paying for research, and whilst there isn’t the money around, companies often offer good deals to enable us to buy their products, hoping that when money is more available they can recoup research costs – and start doing more research!

So go on-line, or ask your favourite skincare assistant what good deals are available.

Elemis Body Cream

I love Elemis – not least because I am a dedicated patriot, and Elemis are a British company.  Since the Jubilee I have come out of the closet and admitted that I search out British-made products whenever I can.  So the British company Elemis are always top of  my list.

My skin is suffering from ‘winter-season’ blues.  The change from summer bought out Brillo pad skin, so went off and treated myself to a tube of Elemis’s Tranquil Touch Body Cream.  It has calmed down the rough patches, and restored my soft skin of which I am so proud.

At the same time I thought I should do something about lines under my eyes, so treated myself to the Elemis Pro-collagen Eye Treatment, and lines are less noticeable.  It’s a lightweight texture so it doesn’t drag on the sensitive skin under the eyes , and defense against nasties such as pollution.

Then I thought I really deserved a treat, so added a jar of their Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream;  this really is one of the best face creams, and works wonders on my ‘druggie’ skin and the rough patches.  It’s only a few days, but already I can feel the skin is much softer.


Their Even Better makeup is a dermatologist-developed makeup that helps restore uneven skin tone.  Gently patting this on my face evens out the variations, and I end up with really good looking skin, although I never know what to make of comments like, “you do look well”.  It helps when you are in despair because drugs cause your skin to break out in blotches! But what do I look like normally!

There must be an Even Better Make-up colour for you, as they offer 25 different shades in the range, reckoning to cover a wide range of tones.  It also has an SPF of 15;  which although not strong enough for bright sunlight, is adequate for outdoor wear on most days.  And like most Clinique products, it is very competively priced at £23

 Neom Organic Bath Oil

I have been staying with cousins, and they kept on coming into the room sniffing and saying “something smells good”.  It was my Neom products, which made life very easy for all the birthdays that happened at the same time!

I have been rubbing this onto my skin as a counter for the side effects of some new drug that is leaching out the moisture from my skin.  I was scratching myself all over, as the new pills were so draining, but a few days rubbing in Neom oil and my skin is blissfully free of itching.

My favourite scent is Moroccan Blush Rose, but if anyone wants to give me a present (hint hint to those I http://www.neomorganics.comam staying with!) I am happy with any of the scents.  They are all based on natural plant extracts etc. and contain things such as Lavender and Rose which were used for antiseptics.

Living Nature gentle make-up remover

Travelling as I am doing at the moment, I do like the Living Nature products in their flat-backed eco-friendly bottles.  They slip into a corner of my bag, and are easy to pack.  Another thing in their favour is that this make-up remover is also good for removing eye make-up – in fact it won an award as best remover from The Green Bible.

Gentle Makeup Remover is a highly effective but extra-gentle cleanser to instantly soften and remove makeup. It’s non-drying and skin-calming formulation is soothing – an  infusion of cleansing Kumerahou, hydrating Harakeke Flax Gel, and nourishing Active Manuka Honey. It also contains Eyebright and Witchhazel extracts (natural anti-inflammatories and skin conditioners), to soothe the skin.

Of course it is  fragrance and allergen free, making it suitable for sensitive skin.

To use: Apply to warm damp cotton pad and gently wipe away all traces of makeup.

For all skin types, especially sensitive skin.

This weird summer we are having is making everything topsy-turvey.  Once we put away lip salve when Spring came;  now I use this all year long.  New Zealand is producing excellent products for cancer ‘hit’ skin, and the latest is Kiwiherb’s Calendula Ointment for lips.

And I can hardly believe it – but the sun is peeping out!  What more could I want?  !!!

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Seaweed is becoming a celebrity plant

Seaweed is the latest super plant


Some forms are now used to help those with acne and skin spots from cancer

Another type is used to help cancer drug-dried out skin

This rather slimy weed floating around in seawater has thousands of uses, many of which are still to be discovered.  And it can be free to use, if you live near the sea.

Premila, a friend who lives in Brighton, collects the dark green large leaved seaweed you see above, takes it home and dumps it in the bath, and says she has a lovely relaxing soak.


It all started with Dr. Richard Russell (1687 – 1759) who was an 18th century physician working in Brighton.  He  encouraged his patients to use a form of water therapy that involved submersing his patients in the sea, and then drinking seawater.  This developed into Thalassotherapy, taken up eagerly by the French, and now on offer around their coastline and in the Mediterranean.

But I am glad to say that drinking sea water is no longer encouraged!  Ugh! But now medical spas using thalassotherapy treatment are found all round Europe’s sea coasts.

 Help with Acne and Spots

And come September, Mentholatum has a brand new product launching that is proving incredibly helpful to those suffering from acne and spots induced by cancer treatment.

Watch this space in September.

More Seaweed miracles

I have written about the benefits of using an Icelandic seaweed-based skincare developed by Dr. Jón Bragi Bjarnason,  Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Iceland.

This is for my type of skin – the one that is totally dried out by cancer drugs.  There are two main  products –

Age Management Gel

An Age Management Gel that you wear as a moisturiser.  It comes in a clear dispenser, and you only need one or two small drops.  Spread this over your face, and WAIT 15 minutes before putting anything else on your face.  £120.  But it lasts me 3 – 4 months, and my skin is very thirsty.

There is also a Face and Body Salvation – a clear spray that is particularly good if you are out in the sun, or travelling by air.

Then there is also a Mask – which has all the benefits of the seaweed ingredients to give your face a lift (£10).

And the seaweed content?  As they say, “the diverse marine life of Iceland’s abundant waters inspired Dr Bragi to scientifically explore the effects of a new and undiscovered enzyme. He has since dedicated his life to the understanding and development of marine enzymes, and owns the worldwide patent for these powerful extracts.

His extensive research initially focused on the therapeutic value of the enzymes for arthritis and wound healing. Clinical evidence of their effectiveness was so compelling that it prompted Dr Bragi to explore their cosmetic potential as well.

He decided to develop a unique line of skin care products based on his marine enzyme technology.

Now, after seven years of extensive trials – with incredible results – Dr. Bragi’s skincare formulations are commercially available to the public for the first time.

Important Information

As a non-scientist, my way of testing is to actually try a product on my skin, and any of my friends who have had cancer whom I can persuade!  So when trying out products I surf the web to find good/bad info that might throw more light on how and why a product works.  I came across Marta, on, who – like me – tests things on herself.  She had some good things to say about Dr. Bragi, but had tested the Age Management product and was not impressed.  So she posted an article.

The Dr. Bragi team had the courtesy to reply – I thought their comments were intesting:

1. Dr Bragi Technical Team Jul 24th, 2009

Dear Marta,

Thank you for showing an interest in our brand, it’s always good to see that our products have caught people’s attention.

After reading your blog we felt inclined to write back and correct you on a few points you made about our product. Our customers opinions and comments mean a lot to us and we appreciate your honesty however we thought we would explain a few things that perhaps were misunderstood during your research.

Firstly, let us tell you a little more about Penzyme. Indeed, this is a marine enzyme and obtained from through a strict purification process from sustainably fished organic Icelandic cod, however, no animals are killed in the name of our products – the ingredient is obtained a s a by product from cod used to obtain Omega-3 supplements which are consumed in abundance all over the world.

The cod used comes from the North Atlantic, which is extremely pure and contains absolutely no mercury or other heavy metals.

Secondly, you are absolutely right about Penzyme being made by Zymetech and used in the pharmaceutical industry. Dr Bragi is Iceland’s most respected biochemist and produces the enzyme at the University of Iceland and sells this through Zymetech which is his research and manufacture company. Dr Bragi dedicated his life to the study of marine enzymes and as you pointed out, it has been sold over the counter for a while for the treatment of various conditions. The efficacy is backed by a plethora of empirical research data which we will happily provide for anyone that may be interested. Moreover, Penzyme holds a global patent for its efficacy. Obtaining a patent is an extremely complicated and extensively vetted procedure; this is why we are so proud to produce a product containing a scientifically backed ingredient. The enzyme used in our skincare line is the same, however, it is formulated in different percentages. It is not mass produced but made in small batches by Jon Bragi himself and we are very careful with our ingredients adapted for use on the face.

The discovery of Penzyme’s efficacy on wrinkles, rosacea, acne and so on was an unexpected discovery during clinical trials on wound healing, this then lead on to more successful research which again, we will happily provide to our customers. Due to the concentration, formulation and sheer net weight, the Age Management Moisturiser is expensive but lasts a very long time and we encourage our customers to use as little as possible. This brings us to another of your points, the ‘thickness, tackiness and stickiness’ of the product. The formulation contains no oil; it is based purely on glycerine and sorbitol which may occasionally feel sticky. The enzyme can only survive in a very strict environment, which means we can only use those two base ingredients however we will soon be adding Hyaluronic Acid, which will not only make the product far less sticky but also even more efficient. Ingredients like urea (obtained from plants) and hydrochloric acid are also needed to balance out the correct pH for the enzyme, these are present in negligible percentages of 0.01%. Sodium hydroxide is used in the process as a buffing agent, only 0.15% is used.

We hope this helps you understand our product more and we are always here to answer any questions, as is Dr Bragi himself. We try to be as transparent and possible and offer all information available in order to help our customers understand the science behind our brand. We are sorry to hear the product did not work for you and we will happily send you a complimentary sample of our award winning Intensive Treatment Mask, perhaps that will change your mind and you will join the many satisfied Dr Bragi customers around the globe.

Sincerely yours,

The Dr Bragi Technical Team
2. Martamarta Jul 24th, 2009

Thank you Dr Bragi tech team for taking the time to write such an informative response. The fact that the enzyme can only live in a very strict environment is fascinating and seems obvious now that you say it. The future addition of hyaluronic acid sounds like a very good idea – I felt that it needed a moisture boost. And I’d love to try the mask!
My best, Marta

P.P.S  Hyaluronic acid is definitely something to watch – Mentholatum use this in some of their products.   I should definiutely have paid more attention to Science lessons at school, instead of learning how to read comics held in my lap.


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Cancer patients in twenties and thirties get a raw deal

Image created of Kylie Minogue during the Show...

Image via Wikipedia

The ‘Kylie’ effect seems to have worn off

And younger cancer patients can find doctors totally unsympathetic when dealing with the horrible side effects of cancer drugs on your skin.

These side effects  make teens and twenties skin care even more of a problem.  But don’t worry, a company called Elemis have come to the rescue.

No-one wishes cancer on anyone, but when Kylie Minogue was unlucky enough to develop breast cancer, inadvertently she did a lot to help other women in their twenties and thirties.

These are the women who belong to the “you’re too young” generation;  with cancer left untended, often for years, before a doctor would take them seriously.

When Kylie got cancer, she says she suspected something was wrong, but doctors said she was too young;  how wrong could they be.

Her case with its massive publicity formed a wake-up call to stick-in-the-mud medics, who go by the ‘age’ rule book.  Thanks to her and publicity surrounding her case, young women found it easier to convince doctors they knew their own bodies.

And were given access to tests far earlier than had been the case before.

Now, some doctors are showing signs of having forgotten what happened,, and being dismissive when younger patients come with fears – but if this happens to you just stamp your platform shoes and INSIST on tests.

But – however young or old you are, you still get the side effects, and one of the most distressing is horrid skin – particularly when you are young and want to party.

For anyone who is undergoing hospital treatment, for cancer or any other condition, doctors are often dismissive of your skin problems.  They will treat you for the condition, but haven’t a clue what to do when your skin looks years older – it goes grey and lifeless – and you feel everything’s against you.

Even if your health is good, you can still have problems when partying and having fun – so these tips might help.

Ultimate treat for young skin

Elemis have taken on board that young skins suffer – from cancer drugs or day-to-day living and trying to combine earning a living and partying.

They have come up with the Freshskin range:  specially made for teens and twenties (and even thirties), it has everything you need to keep your skin soft, and help zap scratchy, itchy out-of-condition dry skin.  And packaged the range up in a fun way.

Freshskin Party Princess collection of face masks and treats brings together small treats  so you can get the girls round before a night out to indulge in masks and facials;  including an exfoliating face wash and Softly Softly moisturiser for you,  the package comes out a tiny £10.

But for the ultimate pampering collection (start thinking up hint hints), look for the polka dot vanity case containing everything a girl can need, from face wash to pampering body treats – all for £99.

Elemis are a British company (hurrah!) who spend time and money on research and developing skincare that is right for today.  When they showed off Freshskin to a group of beauty writers, everyone was crowding round to try it out. 

But they are keen that we adopt sensible ‘beauty rules’, and here are some of their tips – with additions from me, who was never one to take the long way to skincare – if I could hurry things up!

Going out from the office

If you are going to have to dress in the back of a taxi (black cabs are the best for this), get down on the floor (sit on a newspaper), make sure you can’t make eye contact with the cabbie, and always take a fairly loose dress to change in to – skin tight dresses are no-no in this situation.

Try to time things so that you are in a jam when you start your strip-tease, otherwise you can be rolling around on the floor if your cabbie decides to sprint past a line of cars.

Just watch out for surrounding traffic – and remember lorry drivers and those on the top deck of double deckers can look down into the back of your cab:  I once entertained 70 people on a double-decker bus when I chose to change in a traffic jam.

Just make sure your undies can go from day to night – changing bras is not a good idea in this situation.


OK – yeah yeah – all sorts of things are bad for your skin, but we all do them, and survive.  As long as you don’t make a habit of it.

If you have a good routine of cleanse-tone-moisturise (Elemis make teen-and-twenty friendly products in their Freshskin range), it won’t hurt to – carefully – put make-up on top of your day stuff.

Although I never managed to put false eyelashes on in a taxi – I used to make a dash for the Ladies when I arrived to put finishing touches.

Leaving make-up on after a party

Don’t you dare do this more than once a week – I MEAN IT.

Face wipes are not good for your skin, but if you use the Freshskin ones they are less harsh.  Before you go out on the town, leave a pack by your bed, then when you arrive home at umph-o’clock, it’s easy to grab a wipe and give your face a quick wipe-over (saves the pillow).

Night time is when your skin has a chance to repair and regenerate and it can’t do that if your pores are blocked up by a nice mix of sweat, dirt and make-up. That said, don’t believe the urban myth that sleeping in make-up for a night will age your skin 7 days (or 7 years, in the exaggerated version).  It’s just scare-mongering. As long as you don’t make a habit of it, your skin will survive.

Doing zero exercise

If you’re not managing to squeeze in much exercise, facial massage can help you fake a just-back-from-my-run glow. Instead of just slapping on your moisturiser, give yourself a circulation-boosting facial by massaging the cream firmly into your skin, making circular movements over your cheeks and forehead, and upward strokes from your jawline. This will bring fresh oxygenated blood to your skin to give it the same healthy glow as exercise does.

Sadly it won’t get rid of a muffin top though… but an energetic stint on the dance floor is good exercise, especially if you have lots of arm movement.

Skimping on sleep

If a few too many late nights have made your eyes puffy, don’t bother with the teabags and cucumber slices. (I mean, seriously, who wants to lie around with bits of vegetable on their face?) Just keep your eye cream in the fridge and you’ll get the same de-puffing benefits, without the mess.

Another trick that lots of models use is to sleep on an extra pillow so that your head is slightly raised – it allows any swelling to drain so prevents under-eye bags.  And if you can afford it, silk pillows can avoid creases you get from ordinary pillows.

Getting stressed

Ever noticed that when you’ve got exams or a deadline, your skin goes completely haywire? Yep, you can thank stress for that spot on your forehead.

To minimise the impact of stress on your skin, set aside fifteen minutes a week to chill out with some tunes and a detoxifying face mask. It’s a double whammy – having a break for some pampering will help you unwind, and the mask will deep clean your pores to stop spots in their tracks. Even better if you can lie on the floor with your legs raised against the wall.   Sorted.

For regular life-style tips, follow Elemis Freshskin on   and Twitter @elemisfreshskin.


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Summertime skin and what's hot

New products keep your skin moist and glowing


It looks like summer is really here, and skincare routines need updating!

Anyone who is on drugs (medicinal ones that is), can’t afford to relax for one moment.  Even in summer drugs are still churning up nasty rough patches, losing moisture and producing wrinkles, unless we continue to zap them.

So the cleanse, tone and moisturise routine is  still important – and here are some new products that will help lift your skincare and give you lots of new benefits, because good skincare is constantly evolving and being updated.

As so many of us shop online today, I have included current cheapest price on the net, but can’t guarantee they will stay – although they should.

If  ‘Googling’ a company or product, don’t forget that many are international, so UK addresses will usually end in, rather than .com – which can lead to US dollar prices and a hefty postage bill!


Anyone who watches the QVC Channel knows what a boon online shopping is when you are stuck at home.

The channel are now promoting ARK skincare, who have a brilliant cleanser which they call ‘skin clear cleanser’.  It definitely wakes up skin, and is so easy to use:  just one  drop smoothed over your face, then rinse off.



I love the Clarins products, and currently am using the Extra-Comfort Toning Lotion.

No nasties, it is alcohol-free so doesn’t sting, is very gentle, and lasts and last  –

at a gentle price online of £10.


Eye Care

Winter often leaves us with fine lines around the eyes, not helped by drug-induced dry, dry skin.  I have been trying out two new creams – one under the right and the other the left.  And I have to say that the one I am using on the left-hand side is streets better:  it’s Augen, a product that QVC are about to launch, so am waiting for price.  It’s way ahead of a Japanese product which sells at £80 – so if you have fine lines ask QVC for price and I bet it’s lower than the £80 product.


Serums are the success story of skincare today,

and I am using Elemis’s Visible Brilliance every morning.

Most serums are to be used at night, but this is light enough to be worn during the daytime, so helps give dried-out skins a double whammy of TLC.

When using, they should be smoothed or patted on after the toner, and before you use a moisturiser or cream.  Cheapest price online £35.

At night-time I prefer to use an oil, and Living Nature has a brilliant Radiance Night Oil.  Not only does one wake up with a gorgeous smooth skin, but there is no oily patch on the pillow.

This is a tiny little bottle, but a minuscule amount goes a long, long way and packs a real punch when it comes to moisturising one’s face .  £44.45


Final layer should be a cream;  either a light day cream, possibly one with an SPF factor of at least 30 if you are going out in the sun, or a rich one for night-time.

Because drugs try their best to ruin my skin, I believe in the double-whammy principle:  a moisturiser AND a cream with an SPF factor just before I go out.

Avene are a French company noted for skincare.  They have an extremely rich compensating cream which I use every morning, and although it is rich, it sinks in and protects my skin all day.  In France Avene have a medical treatment spa which is noted for its skincare;  (I have been told that NHS patients have managed to have funded  treatments paid for there).  £16.50.

At night, I use Clinique Comfort on Call ‘relief cream’, which seems to repair my skin overnight and leaves it well moisturised.    You can use this all day, especially if drugs have played havoc with your skin, and you want to give it a boost.  £35.





Skin protection

Elsewhere I go in to SPFs etc., but you should be looking for a minimum SPF 30 to wear outdoors all summer long, even on days when the sky is overcast.

One of my favourite products is Clinique’s Super City Block.  It’s oil-free, which means it doesn’t slide off during the day, and not only protects my face from sun AND pollution, but also leaves my skin beautifully soft all day long.

It’s slightly tinted, and is SPF 40   £15.50.


Fake Tan that doesn’t look fake

The media is full of photos of the Middleton family, especially the females, and even more especially their legs.  Look carefully, and you will see that they are generally tanned, which makes them look even more gorgeous!  Having a light tan makes legs look slimmer, too.

I want to look tanned, without the dreadful leathery skin, so have been investigating the newest ‘fake’ tan, which will help slim down legs, and have been using a new product, St. Moriz (sic).

This is fake tanning mousse is brilliant on my skin.      No streaks, no hard lines, it glides on and gives me a very realistic tan effect without having to wait hours.

Only thing to watch is the mousse is very light, so make sure your hand is steady and you don’t flick it around.   And it doesn’t smell (for some reason my skin used to smell awful with other fake tans – probably aided by the drugs I am on).

I couldn’t believe how smoothly St. Moriz glided on, and the colour stays for several days. I use it about once a week now, unless I want a deeper tan, in which case I put it on two or three times a week.  Best to exfoliate and moisturise beforehand, then it looks even better, and of course wash your hands after applying.  £4.99 .

And now comes St.Moriz Instant Self-Tanning Lotion, for those of you who prefer this type of application.  I have been using both mousse and lotion;  they are equally brilliant, and give a really natural-looking tan.

WARNING – fake tans generally do NOT provide sun protection.    You will need to slap on an SPF product afterwards:  look under SKIN FACTS category on this site.

And to finish off the look, St. Moriz now makes Bronzing Powders.  You brush these onto your face (no need for foundation or powder) and these give you a healthy, ‘sunkissed’ look.  I tried this out for the first time at a press party, and other journos were coming up and saying “you do look well” – two even wanted me to email them withe name of the Bronzer.  So when journos actually ASK for info from another journo, you know you are on to something good.  I am using the Light Bronzer, but there is a darker one too for when you get browner.

Incidentally this is useful for shading, as well as giving a shimmer, so I shall use it in the winter to give me a glow, and to add as a blusher.

Living Nature has come up with a range of lipsticks;  I particularly like Summer Rain and Coral Sea.  It is far better to go for coral and deep pink tones,  which these are, and are much more flattering to our skins.  They last (even when licking an ice-cream) and friends say ‘you do look well’ .Beware though!

Beward fashionable dark shades;  they  can make you look really washed out.  Our skins suffer from drug side effects, and we often look paler than before.  Slap on vampire black, and you realy do look like you are ill!

N. B. These summer products are generally cheaper than the products I recommend for winter;  this is because our skins don’t need quite as much protection from the harsh winds during the cold season.

However, if you are going to go sailing then go back to using ‘winter’ creams at night, and slap on the day creams several times a day.  If you are out on the water, where sun’s rays are magnified, and wind is strong, then a once-a-day slather is NOT enough.  It needs to be every two-three hours.



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How to look after your face in Winter

Two cute Tibetan girls, friends, one wearing t...
Tibetan girl   Flickr

How to protect your face from wind, rain and other winter pitfalls

Michael Winner, food critic and film director, was moaning in his column that he always loses his glasses – so being very rich (as he keeps on reminding us), he bought 35 pairs to scatter all over his house.

Now that winter is here, I am going to follow his example and buy a lip balm for every room (not quite as many as he has).  I am determined to zap all rough skin and red patches  – and if I follow my own advice I hope to sail through winter with a dewy skin (well, that’s the idea!)

First, I need to Cleanse – Tone – Protect – Moisturise – and Guard against wind and sun.  Sounds a lot to do, but if you get it down to a routine it won’t take long – promise!

Of course, you could get your mother to smother your face in lanolin, butter or some other fat, as they do to children in mountain communities all over the world,.  There are still some communties that coat their kids’ faces and bodies with butter or something similar,  sew them  into clothes in the autumn and don’t cut these off until the summer sun re-appears.  Phew!  But apparently the skin underneath is lovely and soft.

But for less drastic measures, this is the way to go!

I mention different products made by different companies.  Being female I like to mix and match, and change my products – but every company I mention makes good products for all our basic needs.


Never, ever use face wipes.  Yes, I know nurses give them to you in hospital, but if you could see your face in one of those camera screens used by dermatologists, you would find they leave behind a fine, dry powder, so it’s no wonder      you come out  with dreadful skin, as they dry out your skin.

Always use a good quality cleanser, the best you can buy.  Elemis Pro-Radiance Cream Cleanser is doing a marvellous job on my face, and easily gets rid of dirt, grime etc.  leaving my skin soft.  Currently they have a sample size in their Pink pack for October, and the small bottle has lasted me over a month.


It’s always best to use a toner made by the same company that makes your cleanser, so I am using Elemis’s Soothing Apricot Toner.  I like the fact it has a spray pump so I don’t have to keep on taking the top on and off.


This is where Serums come in very handy.   I have been trying out iS Clinical’s Hydra-Cool Serum, and using just a few drops at night, in between Toning and Moisturising.  They have other serums, but for my skin this is the best one.


Most companies make a different one to use in the morning, and a different one at night.  No, it doesn’t save money to use the same cream at both times, as each carries out a different function.  So always use a Day AND a Night Moisturiser.

Day:  I am trying out Chanel’s Hydramax + Active Cream, and it really softens and protects my skin.    Also, about twice a week, I use their Hydramax + Active Moisture Mask when I have a bath or shower, so that the steamy heat helps it to be absorbed into my skin.  Then I don’t wipe it off, but leave it on whilst I potter around the house, before putting on the Day skin cream when I go out.

It’s ironic that it was Coco Chanel who first made tanning fashionable, but recently the skincare company she founded has been making amends by producing lovely products that pamper and sooth our skin – so when you go past their elegant counters in stores, check out what is their latest product for helping our drug-dried skins.

Night:  I am using Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream, not only because their products really do my skin good, but because they are tremendous supporters of breast cancer causes.  Thanks guys.  This cream not only works well, but it is very light so you don’t end up with greasy pillow cases.

Body care

Even in winter, winds and damp can penetrate beneath our clothers, and wreak havoc with out skin;  so you must still slap on the body lotion every day.  I am a real fan of Living Nature‘s clever packaging, and can write about the products as they are so good.  They make a lovely Lavender Hand and Body Lotion, which I use all over.  My skin likes the creaming, and I like the smell!  After all, Lavender is used as an antiseptic, so is very appropriate.

Your feet still need daily care with a good cream;  my favourite is Flexitol Foot Balm, which has the added joy of being prescribed by the NHS, so we get it for free (I hope you aren’t one of the thousands of cancer patients who are still paying for prescriptions?)

And every day, guard against wind and sun when you go outdoors.  I reckon this is the secret known to all good Skincare Consultants.  Recently, every time I have talked to one, whilst having a consultation or a facial, they all tell me  they don’t go outdoors without slapping on a 30+ sunscreen.  They should know, as their faces genuinely are their fortune;  what’s the first thing we do when we go for a consulation?  Yes, take a good look at THEIR skin!

If you don’t want to have horried dry, flaking lips, you will need a good lip balm;  around the house, as well as outdoors.  So I use a good Lip Balm like Rock Face’s Sheer Clear.  I went off and               bought half a dozen sticks, and there is one in every room, by my bed, next to my lap top, in the kitchen – and I use it constantly.  When I go out I have one  in the pocket of my ‘dog walking coat’ , and I always carry a Sheer Clear in my handbag, and use this as an undercoat whenever I use my lipstick.

And when you go outdoors, even when there are only grey skies, take a tip from the the best facial therapists and always wear sun protection.  Even on the dullest day there can still be sun rays breaking through the clouds, and they always wear it, “even on Christmas Day”, as one told me.  So I am a big fan of La Roche Posay, the company whose products are clinically trialled for cancer patients, and I am using their Anthelios XL 50+, which I reckon is strong enough to protect from any sun, especially if I go off on a winter holiday either in the sun or snow.  And an added bonus:  it is tinted so I don’t need a foundatio

Enjoy the winter, and hopefully you won’t have to dread the effects of wind and rain!

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Trying out skincare for the future

It pays to be brave!

I love Elemis products, and when they offered me a Complexion Analysis I jumped at the chance  – then half way to Oxford Street realised that maybe I didn’t really want to know what I had done to my skin during all the years!

I was booked into one of their new SpaPod centres, and thinking that these were probably small and tucked away in a number of major department stores, I didn’t have much in expectations.  Boy – I soon realised these are seriously useful centres in the fight against ageing.

Elemis has a special camera in these SpaPods that takes photos of your face, then prints out scary looking photos with the exact number of wrinkles, spots, open pores and UV spots I had on my face.  I know, I know – I should take better care of my skin – but this really bought it home to me, and I could actually see what condition my skin was in.

First – the good news was that I only had three wrinkles;  this was thanks to using good skin creams such as Elemis on a regular basis.  I am doing something right!  But – I have lots of pores, and Sarah, the knowledgeable and very helpful Consultant, said I must exfoliate my facial skin twice a week.

I scored high on cleansing – Sarah congratulated me on NOT using facial wipes, and said she could always tell when customers used these as they left whitish powder marks on the skin, and were very bad for it.  So the Elemis Cream Cleanser and Soothing Apricot Toner I am using were doing their work well.

The wrinkles were kept at bay using their brilliant Pro-Collagen Eye Renewal cream, and my favourite Cream Moisturising  Mask;  Sarah gave me a tip – if I used it at night I didn’t have to wipe it off – just leave it to soak in.  Now that’s a helpful time-saving tip!  Another tip was just put a small dab of Eye Renewal cream on one finger-tip, rub opposite finger together, then that is all you need to spread on the lines under your eyes – much less than one would think.

If you have ever wondered what those pretty pink and green capsules were on the Elemis counters, Sarah showed me how to use these, and said they were excellent to counter the effects of drugs on our skin.  Use a course of them 3 – 4 times a year, she recommended, and kindly gave me a sample jar, before taking me next door to give me a blissful facial.

All in all, if you want to give yourself a treat, boost your skin when it is ‘drug laden’, and learn a lot about looking after your skin, book yourself in to the nearest Elemis counter for a Skin Consultation, Facial Mapping and Facial – this is skincare of the future, and jolly well should be prescribed on the NHS.  I am sure my facial and skin analysis did me far more good than any of the drugs that were draining away my moisture from my face.

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