The simple truth about HYPER-PIGMENTATION.

One of the most common skin care concerns for especially women are hyperpigmentation – or some refer to it as brown marks/patches on their skin (facial area).

What are the most common causes?

  1. Age (and sun exposure) – Due to years of sun damage you see sun spots/age spots/liver spots appear on sun exposed areas as you get older.
  2. Hormones (and sun exposure) – Many women develop a type of hyperpigmentation called chloasma during pregnancy but this can actually appear any time during a woman’s life.  It generally only appears during the late 20’s and can progressively get worse.
  3. Inflammation (and sun exposure) – Some people hyperpigment as part of the healing process (inflammation) after an injury.  You often see this in acne sufferers.
  4. Other – for example certain types of medication/diseases and chemicals (like certain perfumes) can cause hyperpigmentation.

You will see that all these factors go hand in hand with SUN EXPOSURE.  So sun exposure is the COMMON DENOMINATOR.

What can you do about it?

Let’s BE REAL about this before I get into who you can see and what you can potentially do…

Hyperpigmentation in MANY cases is something that you will struggle with to a certain extent for the rest of your life.  You might be able to lighten it when doing treatments/using products, but the chances of it disappearing completely and staying away is very RARE.

So you need to learn to manage it.  What I mean by this is that you learn to:

  1. Properly protect your skin from the SUN (An effective UVB/UVA + anti-oxidant sunscreen and things like a hat when outside).
  2. You might decide to regularly go for a skin treatment that treats hyperpigmentation
  3. Use a product for hyperpigmentation together with your other skin care products
  4. Get good quality make-up if you feel you would like to camouflage it a bit during the day.

Hyperpigmentation is a condition that is understood by the medical and skin care community to an extent, and there are many products and treatments that claim to be effective.

But I once had a chat with a renowned dermatologist (from Johannesburg) who did his thesis on hyperpigmentatoin – and he told me that he believed it is something that is not yet understood 100% and there is nothing yet on the market that can claim that it will work 100%!

So my suggestion:

USE SUNBLOCK EVERY DAY!

Chat to your dermatologist/skin care specialist about your treatment and product options – BUT BE REALISTIC IN YOUR EXPECTATIONS.

AND FINALLY… Love yourself and your skin… I can promise you that you are more aware and self-conscious about it than anyone else!  Take good care of your skin and do what you can, but don’t obsess about it… Because it IS a difficult one…and best made peace with to a certain extent…and managed well.

Love Helene xxx

PS.  I am not going to talk about product options in this blog… Will have to cover it in another blog – so much to say but I want to keep my blogs short(ish) 😉

 

My sugar detox journal…hidden sugars to watch out for!

I finished my 21 days of trying my best to go off sugar.

HiddenSugarInfographicAlthough I am happy with my progress,  I am not entirely happy with how the 21 days went.

Why?

  1.  I had about 4 “cheat” days
  2. I didn’t cut out ALL sugar (for example: Honey, fruit and certain refined carbs)
  3. I don’t think I experienced the FULL BENEFIT of really detoxing from sugar… And this is what I am after – really getting to that point of moving beyond the withdrawal and cravings and starting to experience all the benefits.  Like…. better and a more stable mood, better sleep, clarity of mind, more energy and some weight loss.

So… What I am going to try to do over the next 21 days is to:

  1. Consistently cut out all forms of sugar (Including honey, fruit and hidden sugar in snacks – see this cool picture to the left…)
  2. Lower my overall carb intake (Mostly for me:  Bread; rusks; wraps; rice; potatoes; pasta; pizza)
  3. Decrease my caffeine intake to 2 cups max per day – mostly to help with the anxiety and insomnia.
  4. Trying not to get too ravenous (this is when I make my poorest food choices) – so filling my tummy with good stuff whenever I am hungry.

Here is a great list of all those other names under which sugar hides in foods:

According to the USDA and other sources, alternative sugar ingredients or names to watch out for when reading labels include:

There also “healthier” sugars, including coconut palm sugar, honey and blackstrap molasses. Generally since these are far less processed (especially real, raw honey), they are OK in moderation but still a source of sugar to keep to small amounts.

So today is another day 1 for me… wish me luck!

Love Helene x x x

My sugar detox journal – this is hard!

I am currently on day 15 of my 21 DAY attempt to detox myself from sugar.

The first 10 days were relatively easy for me – I think it was due to my human will power doing fairly well initially…

 Then my old habits started to taunt me… Let me explain:

I am a stay at home mommy of 21 month old Lucas.  My GO TO for when I am feeling a bit tired/bored/lonely/emotional is mostly coffee and sugar if there is any form of sugar in the house.

So a couple of days ago I gave my little boy a biscuit.  He didn’t want it.  For a moment I was in a battle in my head, and then I just ate the cookie… And then I finished the whole bag (kiddies bag I have to add in my defense 😉 And then I had some fruit cake that I had in the house the previous day for my in-laws visiting.

That old – almost uncontrolled way of eating – took over for that moment…

Later that same day I went to the mall and considered stopping for a piece of cheese cake – because (my old way of thinking) I might as well cheat properly!  And I was feeling tired and like I “deserved” it (again an old habit of mine…).

I didn’t give in to the cheesecake which was an achievement for me.  So the next day I just  kept going where I left off.

So be aware of your old ways of thinking… For those sugary snacks in the house… And don’t beat yourself up if you slip up – just carry on the following day.

Weight loss? Not dramatic in any way – perhaps because I havent given up carbs too.  But I have probably lost almost 1 kg.

But it’s about more than weight for me – its about my health and knowing what sugar does to the brain and body…

After the 21 days…?  The other day I listened to a podcast of Dr Caroline Leaf and she said it takes 3 cycles of 21 days to really create new habits… So perhaps I will push myself a little longer… and even look at cutting out some other things like too much processed food/perhaps I will be a bit more strict with my carb intake.  I’ll decide when I get there…

For now…baby steps and just keep going moment by moment…

Skincare must haves for a busy mom

You can spend 100’s of Rands on make up and still be frustrated with the end result if your canvass (your skin) isn’t in a good condition. Some lucky individuals are blessed with a genetically beautiful flawless skin, but most of us need to put in some work – and a couple of good quality products.

Below are my steps to the essential skin care – focussing on ANTI-AGEING.

Your products can look a little different if you are working towards targeting a more specific skin care concern like adult acne or hyperpigmentation for example. Check out my blogs about acne and pigmentation.

I am also just looking at the ESSENTIALS today – there are quite a bit more that you can do at home like exfoliators and masks – but more about that in another blog 😉

So here are my top skincare must haves for a busy mom!

Essential Morning routine:

Step 1: CLEANSE PROPERLY

Gentle Foaming Cleanser from Theravine

Make sure you cleanse your skin every morning and every evening with a MILD cleanser suitable to your PREFERENCE (gel/foam/cream/oil/liquid water based cleanser etc) and SKIN TYPE (oily/dry/combination). I currently use the Gentle Foaming Cleanser from Theravine (Available at salons or get in touch with me) retails for R298.  I also quite like the Loreal cleanser: Pure Clay detox face wash. R88

What do I look for in a cleanser? Not expensive (it really doesn’t have to be); gentle yet effective and I prefer a foamy gel in comparison to a cream.

Step 2: USE AN ANTIOXIDANT as your serum for the day.  Antioxidants have antiageing benefits as well as being super important to fight harmful free radicals during the day.  I am currently using the brilliant Phloretin CF from Skinceuticals. Thanks to my friend who was generous to give this as my 40th birthday present!

Step 3: USE A GOOD MOISTURISER on your face and neck.  I currently enjoy the Nourishing and Firming Day cream from Theravine for the DAY and the amazing moisturizer from Lamelle, Dermaheal Cellular Repair Cream.

Optional extra: Use an eye cream – check out my blog about eye creams here.

Step 4: USE A GOOD QUALITY sunblock every single day – check out my blog about sunscreen here and here.  My personal favourite is Heliocare. – either the SPF50 Gel or the SPF Tinted (this replaces my foundation on most days now because it is so quick and easy!)  Check out my blog on make-up tips for a busy mom HERE.

 

Essential Evening routine:

Step 1: CLEANSE PROPERLY

I start by cleansing off my eye make up. I love this water based cleanser from Garnier – retails for R80. Bioderma also has one, but is more expensive – retails for R230. Then I cleanse as in the morning routine.

Optional extra: Tone if necessary (not essential), sometimes necessary if you wear a lot of make up to ensure your skin is squaky.clean! You want it to be clean for your evening serum/cream to penetrate.

Step 2: USE AN ANTI-AGEING SERUM

So this might look different than your morning serum.  At night it is a good idea to introduce anti-ageing ingredients like Vitamin A (MY FIRM FAVOURITE – it is one of the most well researched and proven anti-ageing ingredients!) or anti-ageing PEPTIDES or GROWTH FACTORS or even exfoliating ingredients like alpha and beta hydroxy acids.  I currently use Retacnyl (on doctor prescription) but only one evening per week (Retinol is very active and the skin will initially peel upon starting usage).  On other nights I enjoy the Collagen M/P Serum from Matriskin for its amazing anti-ageing benefits due to anti-ageing peptides.

Option extra: Use an eye cream – check out my blog about eye creams here.

Step 3: USE A GOOD MOISTURISER – Same as morning routing.

Please feel free to email me your questions about your skin care routine!

Love Helene xxx

What the sugar?? My sugar detox journal…

I am doing a sugar detox for 21 days. I am currently on day 6.

Why I decided to do a sugar detox? I feel that I have become addicted to sugar and that it was starting to affect my mood in a negative way. It is a personal mission of mine to achieve mental wellness, and I know its up to me to make it happen. About 6 months ago I started suffering from insomnia and this has seriously spurred me on to do everything I possibly can to start sleeping better again… Sugar potentially being one of the aspects that can affect your sleep negatively.

SugarWithdrawl_Graphic_1-768x3464
So the insomnia and mood issues are my main reasons for going on this sugar detox. (To be perfectly honest, other reasons for me include potential weight loss and the prevention of diseases.)
What a sugar detox looks like for me? A book that has helped me a lot is “I quit sugar” from Sarah Wilson. But there are many many books. So for me it basically means cutting out ALL sugar. A quick list would be : Actual sugar (brown, white) ; honey; any foods or sauces with lots of sugar added (check labels)and fruit (actual fruit, juices, dried). I am not cutting out all carbs – I have decided to make this about SUGAR.
How am I feeling? I felt perfectly fine for the 1st 2 days. On day 3 I started really craving and missing my sugar fix (usually cake/chocolate/sweets). On day 4 I started struggling emotionally and day 5 I felt completely depressed and tearful. I wondered whether this could be a detox symptom and found out that it absolutely can be…(have a look at this link.)

The start is always the HARDEST. But I have found that once you get started it gets easier.

It’s almost like you need to learn how to trust yourself again too. Trusting yourself that you will honour a decision that you make to commit to something. Even if no one else is checking up on you.

Day 6: Yesterday we celebrated my bother’s 46th birthday and since his wife always bakes with zero sugar I thought the birthday cake was a gluten and sugar-free version. After this 1st couple of bites I realised that it wasnt this time 😉

For a moment I felt like I was a failure and had to start all over again.

Then I decided to be kind to myself. So I am adding an extra day to my 21 days and today I am continuing as normal despite my little “glitch”.

People trying to eat healthier can often be so hard on themselves for having a weak moment – that weak moment then becomes a weak month of year… These type of negative emotions and guilt just never serve you.

So currently I am still on day 6 and so far so good. I had a scone this morning with butter and cream (no jam) and coffee without sugar. Also had a seed cracker with sugar-free peanut butter. And I am feeling a lot better today in terms of my mood…

I will do another post in 1 week!!! I will write about which sugar alternatives are BAD and which ones are OK. I personally like Xylitol… And of course an update of how it’s going with my detox…

Why not join me?

Love Helene xxx

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Skincare ingredients that matter

With the overload of skincare products on the market, choosing the right skincare product can become extremely overwhelming and confusing.  I have come to the conclusion that in reality it shouldn’t be confusing – you just need to know WHICH SKINCARE INGREDIENTS actually MATTER and can have a positive impact on your skin.  Once you know WHICH INGREDIENTS YOUR SKIN NEEDS, you can choose skincare products accordingly! (And stop wasting your money on nothing more than “HOPE IN A JAR”…)

So which ingredients matter…?  I’ll try to keep this short and to the point 🙂

  1. ANTI-OXIDANTS:  e.g Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C); Tocopherol (Vitamin E); Co-enzyme Q10; Glutathione.  Why your skin needs anti-oxidants?  To neutralise all the harmful free radicals roaming around in your skin wanting to cause damage and skin ageing.antioxidants-donating-electrons1-300x288
  2. VITAMIN A:  e.g Retinoic Acid; Retinol.  Why your skin needs Vitamin A?  This wonder vitamin is one of the most well researched anti-ageing skincare ingredients.  Originally tested on adult acne in the 60’s, they soon realised the incredible effects it had on signs of ageing e.g. superficial lines and age spots.
  3. GROWTH FACTORS:  e.g. EGF (Epidermal Growth Factor).  Why your skin needs growth factors?  These awesome little “messenger molecules” help with cellular growth and differentiation. They jump in and help to repair the skin when damaged.  As we get older and our levels of naturally occurring growth factors decline, our skin becomes less able to repair itself.  Now we can apply growth factors topically and assist the skin in repairing itself from skin damage (ageing due to mostly sun damage).

Other ingredients that also deserve a mention are:  (I will keep the info for another blog post!)

  1. PEPTIDES
  2. FRUIT ACIDS
  3. ENZYMES

So my advise when purchasing skincare products would be to look at the ingredients and ask the right questions!

Yours in beautiful and healthy skin, Helene x x x

PS.  I like this picture showing the important skincare ingredients – have a look at the blog post here.

skin-care-pyramid