Secrets to a glowing complexion…all the time

So much emphasis is put on products and diet when it comes to maintaining clear, youthful skin -and of course these are important.  But life (and “just one drink”) sometimes intervenes, and I wake up with panda eyes, a headache, and some seriously neglected skin.  So I have been searching for a back up plan, to avoid scaring the hell out of my neighbour’s children come Sunday morning.

1. A Silk Pillowcase

The tightly woven smooth fibres of silk help keep moisture close to the skin, and help prevent wrinkles.  Silk is also more gentle on your hair, and while I’m not promising a tangle free mane, it apparently helps reduce breakage and split ends.  Washing your pillowcase twice a week also reduces the build up of bacteria, so if the investment of a silk case is beyond your budget this is a more wallet friendly option.

 

2. Wheatgrass

True the juice is notorious for being absolutely disgusting (I am not that hardcore that I can pretend to like it), but I have found wheatgrass capsules that don’t even have an aftertaste.  When taken every day, they can increase energy, contribute to glowing skin, and reduce the pain of the morning after quite substantially.

 

3. Sweat

According to nutritionist Karen Fischer, Cameron Diaz (who has suffered quite publicly form adult acne), and dermatologist Dr Adebola Dele-Michael, sweat contributes big time to clear skin.   A 2011 study from the Archives of Environmental and Contamination Toxicology found that sweat is one of the better ways to eliminate toxins from the body – and can be as easy as 20 minutes in a steam room (also a fantastic hangover cure, provided you bring a few litres of water with you).  I try to sweat once a day either through running, gym classes or  when I’m feeling lazy, a long hot bath.

 

4. Shampoo and conditioner

This stuff washes all over your skin (and possibly into your eyes when your hungover…not claiming guilt on this one or anything…) and is choc a block full of chemicals! Have you ever read the back of the bottle?  Due to my recent issues with greasy hair, and subsequent OCD reading of the back of shampoo bottles,  I am very familiar with the laurel sulphates etc that are usually lurking there -and noticed a massive difference to my skin (particularly the décolletage area) after switching to a more natural selection. Dr Bronner’s soap makes a great shower gel if you chose to go the whole hog on this.

 

5. Body brushing

I had read about body brushing ad nauseam in every guide to curing or reducing cellulite before I actually gave it a go myself. And guess what….its a fundamental part of any anti-cellulite home treatment because it works!  According to Karen Fischer it also helps detox the whole body, by improving circulation and using the largest detox organ your body has -your skin. Miranda Kerr is also a fan. Finding the time to do it and make it part of your routine is another issue altogether, but if it’s good enough for Miranda Kerr it’s good enough for my thighs.

 

 

Would love to hear anyone else’s secrets!

The Secret to Shiny Hair

Bad hair days…the bane of every girls existence.  Although it’s usually a bad skin day that I freak out about, since moving to Dublin I have experienced a number of bad hair months.  Apparently the hard water here can wreak havoc with hair health -and as a regular runner (and consequently hair washer!) I can attest that this is 100% true.  Despite how many times I “lather, rinse, repeat” I found my hair feeling greasy as I blow-dried it…and dry shampoo became a necessity the day I washed my hair, rather than a lazy fix to get an extra day out of a blow dry.

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And so to Google I ran, looking for any possible remedy or cure.  The “no poo” shampoo method didn’t work (and added a weird coppery tinge), Listerine rinses (very popular!) made some dent in the greasy areas but not for long, rinsing with filtered water (yes I actually tried this with my Britta filter) wasn’t worth the effort and clarifying shampoos marginally improved things -but the ends of my hair suffered hugely.  I began to consider shaving my head for charity.

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(Okay it wasn’t actually this bad-this photo was just after the ALS ice bucket challenge)

I was doing my best to adjust to my new way of life, (while spending a small fortune on dry shampoo) when I happened to mention my problem to an Aveda sales assistant. She first recommended their “Damage Remedy” for the gnarled frizz masquerading as my hair…SUCCESS! Unlike most leave-in conditioner type things, Damage Remedy can be applied to the roots without any fear of looking like you had a run-in with a bottle of olive oil.  (The Dry Remedy mask is a favourite of mine on sun holidays, but can be overdone – think post-indian head massage look).  And the shine, seriously, the shine! If (like me) you don’t have trims as regularly as your hairdresser recommends (does anyone actually get their hair cut every 6-8weeks?) Damage Remedy is something that can hide this for a few weeks or even months.

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So shiny hair was back, but I still was having issues with the slick mess that would give Fonzie a run for his money.  So back to the Aveda counter I went, looking for another miracle product.  Once again, they came up trumps.  Their “Scalp Benefits” took on the grease monster and won.  Although among the pricier shampoos, I found I was using half the amount of all the other ones I’d tried -and at this stage it was working, so I really didn’t care if I had to sell my phone to buy it.

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So finally, an end to the saga of the grease.  Everyone working on the Aveda counter in BTs possibly thinks I’m a looper, but most definitely worth it.  Has anyone else had problems with hard water?  What worked for you?

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Good fats and great guacamole

Avocado is possibly my most favourite food ever.  It beats chocolate at times (yes, that’s how much I love them). Apparently even when I was a tot I would eat anything, provided it was mashed up with avocado.  We lived in Oregon at the time, and perfectly ripe avocados were easy to find.  Unfortunately finding them in Dublin takes determination and patience.  Finding that “just soft enough” but not  “blackened and spotty on the inside” balance is a skill that has to be cultivated. I have been known to buy 5 or 6 at a time -which makes me feel like some sort of addict when I’m only cooking for one…and eat at work for breakfast and lunch.  I do seem to use them up before they have gone off -quite an achievement if you have any experience with avocados.

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Avocados have become more popular over the last few years (I no longer have to explain the green stuff in my lunchbox like I did when I was 6 years old) and even neared the realm of the ever increasing “super foods”.  Avocados contain more fat than virtually any other fruit -and have classically been avoided by anyone trying to lose weight.  However avocado is a nutrient dense food and and one of the “good fats” – high in monounsaturated fatty acids -and can actually help you lose weight, and is fantastic for moisturising your skin from the inside out. Continue reading

Milk Kefir

Milk kefir -homemade probiotics

So you’ve tried the paleo diet, going gluten-free, cutting back on sugar and are munching on superfoods like it’s going out of fashion.  You’re feeling much better than before, but maybe not quite as good as you would expect.  Why? You are what you eat, right?  Well kinda…you are what you eat -and your gut can absorb and digest.  You can be eating all the super foods and green smoothies you like but if you can’t absorb the nutrients in them, you might be wasting you time. Continue reading

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Gluten Free Granola

Gluten free is everywhere these days -it’s almost becoming a cult obsession.  Although I wouldn’t have thought it would benefit anyone except coeliacs or those with a proven allergy, that may not actually be the case.  Well known Australian journalist and blogger, Sarah Wilson, has advocated a gluten free diet for anyone with an autoimmune disorder for years now.  She herself suffers from an autoimmune disorder that affects her thyroid, and attributes increased control of the disease and improved quality of life to quitting sugar and gluten.  She helps explain the recent phenomenon of the world and it’s mother suddenly developing allergies to gluten.

I have also seen a friend of mine benefit hugely from cutting out gluten completely. Continue reading

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Almond milk custard

So this dairy free experiment was recently tested by a trip home to see my parents. My family love good food. My mum is a great cook and my dad likes to bake. This makes for a reasonably healthy household, with very little store bought, processed foods. However…there is an abundance of milk, butter, cream and everything you can make or bake containing these ingredients. And we were going away for the weekend- so I wouldn’t have the back up of a fully stocked kitchen to make my own meals.  Cue anxiety about what I was going to eat and a serious skin flare-up!!

Impossible to resist!

Impossible to resist!

By Saturday morning, after a breakfast of rice flake muesli and almond milk, I had resorted to experimenting with whatever I could get my hands on…which was not a whole lot.   Continue reading

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The Healthy Skin Diet

I have been troubled by my skin for years now. It may not be the most obvious, as when my skin is good, it is great…but I have suffered from eczema, dry skin, red patches, acne, sensitivity and food-related flare ups. Most tend to be related to changing climate, hormone imbalance (I have PCOS) and most of all stress. During one study month in college I spent two weeks attempting to study at home instead of the library because a red rash appeared all over my face, due to drinking coffee – which was one thing I certainly couldn’t live without while studying.   Another time, while on holiday in Spain, I got a rash of red spots all over my back and arms from using a chlorinated swimming pool and had to avoid the pool for the rest of the week. When I’m very stressed I also tend to get a weird type of eczema on my face that stings and only goes away with a prescription cream. Such fun. But through all of these trials and tribulations, I have learned to understand my skin, and deal with it to a certain extent. Continue reading

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Personal training gains

4 weeks ago I began an experiment. I finally peeked behind the mysterious curtain of personal training and the results have been impressive….

To be brutally honest, I was quite sceptical that a personal trainer could add a whole lot to my life. I eat quite healthily – I have been mainly vegetarian since the age of 11 and therefore quite conscious of eating enough protein etc – I run regularly and push myself if I ever step inside a gym. I wasn’t sure how much more someone else could do for me…I have been humbled.  I have only begun to realise how little I know about weights, muscles and how my body works. Over the past 4 weeks I have discovered muscles I have never used (not once in my 26 years, judging by the pain anyway) and been put through trials I have never before encountered.

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Green Energy

I’m currently trying to improve my nutritional intake, without resorting to a raw, vegan,paleo (and all the other fashionable regimes) and no fun diet.  Smoothies have been a staple for me for a while.  They are quick, easy and only require a blender (as opposed to a juicer – which can be ridiculously expensive, and a pain in the you know what to clean up after).  Juices also seem to be a target in the raging “I quit sugar” battle.  Freshly squeezed orange juice can contain 10 teaspoons of sugar…the same as a glass of coke.  This is because the fibre is removed during juicing, concentrating the sugar into a much more manageable portion.  When is the last time you ate 4 or 5 large oranges in one sitting? So despite my love of fresh orange juice (I will actually get up early on a weekday, just to squeeze a glass), I am trying to swap the sugary stuff for green fibre filled smoothies.

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When making up a recipe for something, I tend to think about what I want from it first, then worry about “fixing” the taste after.  I’ve been feeling a bit tired lately, and my skin has been dry with all the cold, damp weather and central heating, so I wanted to specifically target these problems. I raided the fridge, and even made a trip to the supermarket (very proactive of me) and came up with the following:

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Enjoy!

Food…friend or foe?

As part of my trial with a personal trainer, I had to do a food diary for a few days.  This not only allowed my trainer to see what I eat normally, but gave him a baseline to work from to increase my protein, healthy fats intake etc.  During these few days I realised that the diet rule of writing down everything you eat does indeed make you very conscious of what you are putting into your mouth…especially when you know someone else is going to be looking at it!

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Instead of writing my food diary, I took photographs of everything with my phone – so much easier and a more effective way of showing quantities, sauces and sides.  Looking over everything really gave me food for thought (sorry, I couldn’t help it!!).  I’ve always been aware of my diet affecting my skin and weight but never really thought too much about any other aspect.  How much does the food we eat impact on our energy levels, mood and general well-being?

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