Ask Lesley – How can I improve the look of my hands at home?

Q: My hands look thin, dry and old. I can’t afford expensive treatments – is there anything practical I can do at home to improve the look of them?

Most of us are so concerned about our facial wrinkles we forget about other parts of our body and it’s usually our hands which show signs of ageing first. Always protect your hands from the sun. Use a hand cream with a minimum SPF20 every day of the year and don’t waste it on the palms but concentrate using it on the backs of your hands. Also give your hands a weekly facial. Use an exfoliating scrub and apply your face-mask to the backs of your hands.

Pop on a pair of cotton gloves and leave on overnight for an extra moisture boost. Avoid washing your hands in very hot or cold water, as you will damage the skin and always use a milder soap that contains nourishing and moisturising oils to cleanse the skin. Wear protective gloves when doing housework or in the garden. Household products like bleach sprays and washing-up liquid can easily damage the skin’s natural PH balance.

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Ask Lesley – What is thinning my skin?

Q. I’ve noticed that my skin is much drier and thinner than it used to be. I regularly exfoliate and do at home peels. Could these be thinning my skin?

No. The layers of skin get thin by sun damage and ageing. However over-cleansing the skin or using harsh exfoliators can harm the skin. Your skin naturally acts as a barrier, meaning it keeps out what it’s supposed to (dirt and free radicals like environmental pollution) while keeping in the good stuff (moisture and some oils). When you over-cleanse your skin, you can strip your skin of the oils that keep skin healthy and balance so it feels taut and tight. Use a gentle cleanser like Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser (£7.19 boots.com) and only use a scrub once a week.

To improve dry skin there is a new treatment called Profhilo, which is designed to hydrate your skin from the inside out, using moisture boosting hyaluronic acid. The treatment takes around ten –minutes and involves having five tiny injections at special points on each side of the face but instead of going deep into the tissue, the injections are placed underneath the surface of the skin. The hyaluronic acid then gradually spreads through the surrounding tissues over the following weeks when you will see a radiant glow, a much improved skin tone and texture and healthy plump skin. Two sessions are necessary for the best results. There is no downtime, and results last up to nine months Expect to pay around £500  – for more info 0207 436 4441

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Lip, Lip Hooray!

Hand up those who want luscious-looking lips, but without going the full Kardashian? Well that will be me for a start because, whilst we know that pillowy lips tend to be more youthful-looking, they can look completely out of place on an older person…so balance is always the keyword.  Having said that, there is nothing wrong with giving Mother Nature a helping hand!

Yes, a little filler here and there can work wonders, but if you don’t want to go down that route consider a moisturiser!  I know the power of a good moisturiser and when women come to me saying that their lips are thinning and would some filler solve the problem, I can see that in many cases what is actually ageing them is lack of hydration.  The lip area is much thinner and doesn’t have oil glands, hence the curse of chapped lips in the winter.  And don’t even think of simply licking your lips..that will only make the symptoms worse!

Ladies your lips need hydrating.  Something which will protect, hydrate and thus volumise them, making them more youthful-looking.  I will often use a rich eye cream as long as it is not formulated as a ‘firming’ cream (that is code for drying) but I have recently been trying Hydraluron+ Volumising Lip Treatment by Indeed Laboratories as it has a series of patented formulas including ingredients which are designed to hydrate, soothe, nourish, volumise, plump and treat lips.  All packed in a cute pink tube.

So, does it work?  Well, I liked it.  It’s not sticky and when used at night it does tend to stay put so that you wake up with softer more moisturised lips.  I did try it during the day too, but found that it made my lipstick a tad too ‘glossy’ for my liking…but if you like a good, high gloss then this could be for you.  I am happy to keep it as a treatment…and one which does the trick nicely.

 

Hydraluron+ Volumising Lip Treatment costs £14.99 and is available at Boots.com

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Let’s talk Retinol.

There are a lot of ladies out there who avoid Retinol, mainly because they have heard horror stories of peeling skin and huge amounts of downtime whilst the skin recovers.  That can be true…especially if the person concerned has had a professional peel to address a particular skin problem, so the thought of using Retinol at home fills them with horror.

It certainly did with a friend of mine who was adamant that because she was ‘Over 40’ (plus some more actually!) that her skin was delicate and she didn’t want to use a powerful product which might cause her problems.  What she did want though was hydration…and despite my constant reassurance that Retinol was the answer, I couldn’t change her mind even after saying that Retinol (a form of Vitamin A) worked by encouraging skin cells to turn over faster, revealing fresher, younger skin.

However, I discovered that Olay had just brought out a brand new product containing a proprietary blend of B3 and Retinol Complex which has been formulated for daily use.  They said that it was completely different to other retinol formulations and would help brighten skin, smooth fine lines. improve dark spots and in general even skin tone.  Oh, and it delivers 24 hours hydration.

So, who to test out these claims?  Step forward my Over 40!  It took a bit of persuasion but in the end I won.

She came back to me a week later to say that she was amazed.  She had used it every night on pre-cleansed skin, and, despite her fears, the product did not cause massive redness or peeling…she said after 4 days she woke up to find that her skin looked so much better.  Plumper, smoother and her dark spots appeared to be fading.  She was thrilled….and hooked.

‘“Told you so”. I said, smugly!      “Now remember to protect your new skin by wearing a good sun protection product every day”!

So, what was this wonderful product?  Olay Regenerist Retinol24 Night Face Moisturiser is the name.  It costs an astounding £17.49 for a 50ml pot and is available from Boots.com.  There’s also a Serum and an Eye Cream too if you are interested both at an equally astounding £17.49.

Add it to your nighttime  regime….your skin will thank you.

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DE-STRESS YOURSELF

It’s very easy to say reduce stress but we all know it’s not as easy as that but do try and look at your lifestyle – some of the most effective stress banishers can easily be slotted into your daily life.


* Sleep More -stress is the main cause of insomnia – try and unwind before hitting the sheets and sleep more.

*Enjoy Exercise – do something you enjoy for at lease 30 minutes a day – it will help release endorphins, which can banish anxiety, as well as boost circulation to the skin.

*Eat Well – a good balanced diet with plenty of water and try to cut down on sugar. Include more stress reducing foods high in Vitamin C – like oranges, and kiwi– a German study found that this vitamin helps reduce stress and return blood pressure to normal levels after a stressful situation and also boosts the immune system. Tuck into apricots which are rich in magnesium -a natural muscle relaxant.

*Be Kind to Yourself – learn to unwind and do something for yourself, read a book, some deep breathing exercises or have a pamper session with friends.

*Say No More Often – set yourself limits and realistic goals so you’re not trying to do everything for everyone. Don’t try and be perfect in everything you do.

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RESCUE YOUR HAIR

Research shows that we can shed up to 10 per cent of hair during winter months – mix this with static from wearing protective hats, colouring, heated styling tools and no wonder hair is stressed and prone to breakage. Try L’Oreal Elvive Colour Protect Low Shampoo, around £9 (boots.com) sulphate and foam free, the creamy formula causes minimal friction as it cleanses making it ideal for fragile and weakened hair.


* Changing to silk pillowcases can help brittle, damaged hair as high thread cotton pillowcases can cause more friction as you toss and turn during the night.

*Allow more time between root retouches and use one of the new clever cover-ups like Color Wow Root Cover Up (£28.50 colourwow.com) the first mineral powder formula which stays in place until shampooed out – also covers dark roots in lightened hair without peroxide. Available in six shades

* Olaplex, a salon treatment for coloured, damaged or brittle hair, helps rebuild the strength, structure and re-bond damaged follicles, leaving hair smoother, silkier and more manageable. It can either be mixed in with your hair colour by your colourist or afterwards to ‘mend’ the hair. The treatment is left on for 15 minutes and then washed out and lasts until your next colouring process – From around £25 www.olaplex.co.uk.

*To encourage growth, restore density and strength, boost thinning hair with a supplement – try Viviscal, £51, enriched with essential ingredients for optimum healthy hair growth and used by A list celebrities (Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lawrence, Abbey Clancy,) Scientific studies show that there is 111% increase in terminal hairs after 3 months.


*At the clinic try Angel Hair, a new treatment which uses platelet rich plasma from your own blood which is then mixed with growth factors and injected into the scalp to help stimulate hair follicles. A course of 6 monthly treatments recommended to restore health and hair. From £1500 0207 436 4441.

 

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DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY

Like most women, I’d like to be a bit thinner, less wrinkled and to lose the double chin, but I can fix those things if I really want to. In the meantime, I can honestly say I love my life.

For me, there is nothing better than dinner in a nice restaurant (with pudding and cheese), a glass of champagne, seeing my friends for a natter or staying up late sometimes. I have a wonderful family and a great job. Yes, I have more wrinkles than I did 20 years ago, but I can count my blessings and I wouldn’t turn back the clock.

Women are never more beautiful and vital than when they’re happy. Here are a few ways to find happiness to ensure you have that constant glow on your face:

1. Have more sex. Making love three times a week can boost your mood and make you look 10 years younger!!

2-Don’t make comparisons that will only make you miserable. In particular, don’t compare yourself with the celebs you see in magazines; they all get airbrushed to death, so what you see is not reality.

3- Keep smiling. A smile is worth a million dollars in beauty terms.

4- Make an effort to look good every day and you’ll instantly feel more attractive.

5- Don’t forget to compliment others. Make an effort to tell your friends and colleagues how great they look, especially when they’ve made an effort or seem a bit down.

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GET THICKER HAIR FAST

Using your own blood to stimulate dormant hair follicles and encourage them to grow again is one of the hottest new developments. First, around three or four syringes of blood are taken from your arm and then treated in a new super-fast machine, called a centrifuge, which extracts more platelets from the blood than before.  

 

These platelets are then injected into the thinning hair areas on the scalp to release growth factors, stimulating cells to regenerate. The area is then stimulated again with a small derma roller, a barrel-like hand roller with hundreds of very fine needles which activates a wound/heal response to further boost hair follicles. Best results seen after three months when a top-up treatment may be needed. From £1800.

 

Tips:

*The high levels of city pollution and humidity can affect your hair density as water particles enlarge when they are in contact with pollution making the hair flatter. Use a hair serum like John Frieda’s Frizz Ease (£6.99 Superdrug) before styling and avoid too much hairspray, as the damp winter air will make it coagulate.  

 

*Flipping hair to the opposite side achieves more fullness – spray with a root lifting spray first – try Redken Rootful O6 Root Lifting Spray (£13.95 feelunique.com)
 


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FIX FLAB, FAST

Need to shape up but want to do it fast?  Then cut down on carbs and sugar, limit the alcohol intake and book a course of TiteFX… a non-invasive fat-busting procedure.

This 45 minute treatment uses radio frequency and electroporation to destroy fat cells and can be used on the stomach, muffin tops and podgy thighs.  Best results are seen after six weekly treatments.  Costs from £200 a session.

Forma can also help. It is a painless skin-tightening treatment using radio frequency energy to help stimulate new collagen.  You will need to commit to at least six weekly hour-long treatments for the best results. From £150 a session.

And don’t forget, there’s no point spending cash on treatments only to continue with bad habits. Junk food and a lack of exercise will leave its mark.

Two of the belly’s enemies are sugar and carbs. Cut back.

 

A daily plank will strengthen the core.  Rest on your elbows, feet on tiptoes and hold for 30 seconds.

 

Bloating happens when your body holds on to too much water or bad bacteria, so consume natural diuretics such as cranberries, beets, cucumber, lettuce, green tea and carrots.

High levels of the hormone cortisol can cause fat to store on the stomach.  Meditating regularly for 15 minutes can help to reduce stress, lowering cortisol production.

 

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Can South Korea get any Cooler?

Well, congratulations to South Korean thriller, Parasite, which was crowned Best Film at the Oscars this week..making movie history as it was the first time that a foreign-language film has won the top accolade. It was apparently the outsider, the dark horse which quietly snuck up on its rivals and overtook them at the last minute. Great news all round as we all love a success story.

But in the beauty world, South Korea has been quietly producing some stunning game-changers too.  Remember those gel masques?

I’ve recently been trying hip young South Korean brand Too Cool for School..specifically their Caviar Lime Hydra Vitamin Drop Essence and Caviar Lime Hydra Eye Treatment….mainly because I wanted to see how the main ingredient, the aforementioned Caviar Lime, performed on my not-so-hip skin!

What is Caviar Lime, I hear you ask?  It is a jewel-like fruit grown in Australia.  The moisture spheres inside the fruit contain 9 types of Vitamin C, with the total amount up to 44 times more than blueberries.  It is also heavy in hyaluronic acid derivatives ..and that is a very good thing as HA is a super-moisturiser.  Used after cleansing, both night and morning,  the Vitamin Drop Essence is a super-hydrating, brightening and anti-ageing gel-formula which my normal-to-dry skin absorbed fast, but without leaving any slippery residue.  I topped that up with my usual moisturiser and I must admit that my skin looked fresh and dewy.

I have also been trying their Hydra Eye Treatment too.  This is in a cream form and is designed to moisturise and minimise fine lines…and a little goes a long way.  A small rice-grain sized amount is more than enough for the eye area with enough left over for smile lines too.  It is absorbed very quickly so I kept the tube in my handbag to top up any dryness during the day.

Both are cute-looking products with good vegan credentials, which I really liked, but actually, although they are designed mainly for the younger complexion, the products work well for normal to dry skins.   Available at Boots.com.

Prices are incredibly reasonable too….Hydra Eye Treatment is £21.24 for 30ml and the Hydra Vitamin Drop Essence is £25.49 for 40 ml.  How cool is that?

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