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Wednesday
Jan092013

Are expensive skin care products better than cheaper brands?

Dermatologists and beauty experts generally agree that price isn't a direct indication of how effective a skin care product is.  Generally speaking, expensive brands are not necessarily better than less costly brands to the point of price being sometimes irrelevant.

Sometimes, however, there is a true and valid reason for a product to be expensive.  Some ingredients can be hard to come by or prepare. This doesn't mean that the more exotic an active ingredient in a cream or lotion, the more powerful it would be when it comes to moisturising or repairing your skin.  

Another consideration for increased costs and price lies in the quality of ingredients.  Very often a product manufacturer would have the option of selecting a good quality raw material versus a cheaper, lower quality alternative.  The brand proposition would dictate the policy for the selection of raw materials and this could certainly have an effect on the end product.  I do believe a product with better quality ingredients would derive better results.

Another cost driver is research and development. Some organisations spend a lot of resources in R&D.  This is a great thing for the advancement of current products and the discovery of new ones.  This investment often gets reflected in the price of a particular line of products.  A lot more goes into making a good skin care product than we are aware of. You need to get the right percentage of active ingredients, the appropriate pH level for your skin, the right attributes in terms of absorption levels and overall feel on the skin.  The product also needs to look right in terms of its consistency and fragrance, and must keep stable over time. All these things take time and effort to achieve and impact the overall cost of the item.

The packaging and advertising spends are also a consideration when it comes to defining the attributes of a brand, including pricing.  

In summary, expensive brand names alone shouldn't be the only consideration when purchasing a skin care product.  Pharmacy products, available at a fraction of the price of top brands, can be as effective, sometimes more effective.  Very cheap products, on the other hand, are not necessarily the same as higher priced items.  There are both good and bad products at different price tags.  

Going into the other side of the equation, you will find the homebrand products, packaged and marketed by the Coles and Woolworths of this world.  Then we touch on a number of other issues altogether.  It is quite possible that you find a suitable product within the  ever growing spectrum of homebrand products.  The problem with this is the process by which these prices and products come together.  Large supermarket chains are known for putting great pressure on manufacturers and suppliers to create more homebrand products, which are underwritten by the supermarket chains themselves.  I believe there is a conflict of interest in this, as the trend is to for supermarket chains to promote their own products, regardless of what is better for suppliers and end consumers.

Homebrand products are being pushed so hard that in a few years it is expected to have 25-30% of supermarket shelves offering homebrand products.  In particular categories you may only find homebrand products, which means that options are being eliminated, suppliers and manufacturers are being pushed out of supermarket shelves and supermarkets may have the power to charge whatever they want for their own homebrand products.  With no competition, the biggest looser at the end of the queue may be the end consumer.  

A similar model is being brewed in the pharmacy channel, with organisations such as Chemist Warehouse learning from the models created by Coles and Woolworths and finding ways to applying them in the pharmacy space.  

In summary, I am not suggesting you to buy cheaper products, homebrand products or the more expensive brand names.  At the end of the day, you have the choice and you should exercise that powerful option.  I am suggesting that you go and face the supermarket and pharmacy shelves with a discerning frame of mind.  If you decide to support a particular product you do so because you like the product, you like what it does to your skin and you want to support that particular brand or manufacturer.  If you go and buy a homebrand product, that is fine too, and you are doing so with an understanding of who you are supporting and who you are affecting with your choices.  


"Beauty is what happens when you’re busy being yourself" - Anonymous

Wednesday
Jan022013

Water: elixir of health and beauty for your skin and hair

Water carries nutrients, minerals and the building blocks of growth and healing throughout the body.  Water disposes of waste and is constantly cooling, cleansing and purifying the body. Water lubricates our joints and acts as a catalyst, temperature regulator and transport system.  Water is necessary for all the chemical reactions that occur in our bodies.

Along with oxygen, water is a top priority element for human life. The average person could survive for about a month without food, but most people will die if they go for more than 72 hours without a drink.

The fact is that the skin is an organ, the larger of all for that matter, and just like any other organ in your body, your skin is made up of cells. Skin cells need water to work properly, to grow, execute the chemical reactions it is supposed to and to excrete toxins when required.  Without adequate levels of water, the skin will certainly not function at its best.

Our hair is made up 5% of water and 95% protein. So, to keep hair in a beautiful condition, you need to make sure water levels in your body are optimal.   This will keep your hair alive and bouncy.  Water stimulates hair growth. If you are facing hair loss, water may be a deterrent to this process.

Skin and hair are tied to the overall health of your body. When your body is properly hydrated, you will look better and feel better, you will glow through your skin and hair.

If your body is not getting the sufficient amount of water, the lack of hydration will present itself by turning your skin and hair dry, flaky and flat.

For your skin to function properly and your hair to look great, you must replenish the body water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water. The adequate intake for adult women is 2.2 litres (about 9 glasses) a day. Some of this intake can be made up from liquid obtained from fruits, vegetables, etc., so you need to make sure you consume at least 8-10 glasses of water per day. We need to drink more if we do exercise, we are sick, we are pregnant, we are exposed to air conditioning or if temperatures are too hot or too cold. Tea, coffee, alcohol and smoking all dehydrate the body, therefore, if we take them we need to drink more good water to compensate.

You can determine whether you are drinking enough water by the colour of your urine. If it is dark yellow, you are low in water and you need to procure it. You are drinking enough water when your urine is colourless.

Wednesday
Jan022013

5 tips to care for dry skin in summer

Summer is a beautiful season without a doubt, but like my grandmother used to say, there is no success without sacrifice.  In this context, this means that we need to carefully plan our skin care strategy if we are to have a healthy outcome out of this summer's rendezvous with the sun, with the beach and with as little clothing as possible.

To address dry skin this summer you should concentrate on trying to protect the skin's natural layer of oils.  To achieve that, here you have five easy strategies you can follow:

Less shower time, lower shower temperature

Most people start their day with a long hot shower in the morning.  This habit dries out your skin and washes off the natural layer of oils of the skin.  Use cool water.  It may shock you a little at first, but over time you will find it stimulating and invigorating.  I am not suggesting to go for an ice cold shower, but cool it down as much as you can without feeling uncomfortable.  You will see the difference this makes to your skin.

Less harsh soaps

Typically, bar soaps have a higher pH level than liquid soaps. Because of this, some bar soaps can be more drying to the skin. Strong bar soaps can be too harsh for some people, stripping away important oils and giving you discomfort.  I recommend the shower gel route.  You know how much I love shower gels!  Besides having a less irritant action on your skin, you can choose the experience you want even with active moisturisers and humectants to protect that layer of natural oils of your skin.

Gentle with the towel

Rubbing dry your skin stretches and stresses out it unnecessarily. Pat dry it instead.  Be gentle and make sure your skin is a little damp before you apply your moisturiser.

Moisturise

Moisturisers protect your skin from the environment - applying moisturiser creams or lotions creates a barrier on your skin that keeps oils from escaping and harmful outside elements from coming in and causing dryness and irritation.  Make sure you apply a good moisturiser cream if possible or a lotion just after your shower and before going to bed.  If your skin is very dry you may need to apply some more during the day.

Protect your skin with a high SPF

Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen and avoid direct exposure to the sun for long periods of time.

Tuesday
Jan012013

How often should you replace your sponges, loofahs and poufs?

Shower gels are absolutely awesome.  They enhance my daily shower routine.  I like to try different ones to enjoy different shower experiences.  Some shower gels excel on the use of fragrances, or aromatherapy to enhance the shower experience.  Others can be more interesting in terms of their texture and feeling on the skin.  Whatever shower gel or body wash I try, I use a bath sponge.  This has become an indispensable skin care accessory for me.  The shower sponge, besides its health and beauty properties for exfoliation and massaging of the skin, does make the process more fun and pleasurable.  The lathering is always better with a nice sponge and the rubbing on the skin is quite stimulating.  All this besides the fact that by using a sponge you will use at least 30% shower gel every time you have a shower.

Yes, I love the sponge bath experience, but you need to be aware that loofahs, washcloths, sponges and poufs can be a breeding ground for bacteria and germs.  This is due to the fact that these shower utensiles provide a high humidity environment in which bacteria and germs can live and multiply.

Experts recommend to replace sponges, poufs, and loofahs every month.  To me this sounds a bit wasteful.  There are a couple of things you can do to extend the live of your sponges:  you can warm wash them in the laundry machine; you can also zap them in the microwave oven to kill the bacteria and germs.  That will give you a bit more run for your money.

Sunday
Dec302012

How to deal with extra dry elbows, heels and knees

Elbows, heels and knees are often the driest areas of the body, regardless of the time of the year.    They become severely dry, flaky and even crack, leading to discomfort and self-consciousness when you wear something above the knee, sandals or a short-sleeved shirt.

Check out the following tips to address the extra dry spots:

Exfoliate

One of the best ways to smooth dry skin is to use a gentle scrub on the areas that need special attention. Try a sugar based scrub to avoid irritation.  Rub the sugar scrub gently in a circular motion over the knees and elbows for one to two minutes, and then rinse with water. After the water has softened up the heels, rub them down with a pumice stone or a rough towel to rub away the dry skin. Some people recommend soaking the feet in warm water before exfoliating to make the process easier and more effective.

Not too hot and not too long in the bath

If the water is too hot, it strips the skin from its natural oils causing it to get even dryer and sensitive.   Take a lukewarm shower and try to limit bathing time to no more than 10-15 minutes to prevent the skin from drying out.

Moisurise deeply

Moisturising is another important skin care treatment for dry heels, knees and elbows. During the bath, you can try adding a moisturising oil.  After the bath, apply a moisturising lotion.  Wear a moisturiser before going to bed to get it working during the night.  Balms or creams are rich and thick so they soak into the skin and hydrate from deep within the skin's layers. We recommend the Instituto Español Elbows, Knees, Heels Repair Tube  twice a day.

Dry skin is never fun to deal with.  Try to be proactive and moisturise regularly to be able to do away with cracked, dry skin.