Doesn't winter seem much more fun in December, when Christmas lights are sparkling, advent calendars give the perfect excuse to eat chocolate every morning and the excitement of spending time with loved ones is building?
Come January, it's cold, wet and dull and summer seems a lifetime away. It's a time of year when we make resolutions to better ourselves, but often get caught up in the trap of making unrealistic goals that we are unable to stick to. Rather than making lofty resolutions, try changing small things that may make a big difference.
Forget the detox and the expensive gym membership for now, and focus on the one area that is exposed all the time - your face. Whether young or not quite as young, male or female, we all want to look our best. Here are seven simple steps to achieving ravishingly radiant skin.
1 - Be religious about removing make-up
We've all bypassed the bathroom and thrown ourselves into bed after a late night, but just how bad is it to sleep with make-up on? Whilst the odd blip won't cost you, repeatedly committing this sin may aggravate skin conditions such as acne, eczema, rosacea and psoriasis as well as contributing to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Why so? Make up forms a barrier that clogs pores and impedes the skin cell renewal process.
There's a simple solution - take it all off! Remember to double cleanse; first use a cleansing balm or oil along with a bamboo flannel soaked in warm water to remove make-up, then follow with a cleansing milk or facial wash.
2 - Switch to certified organic products
If you have never bothered taking notice of the ingredients list on the back of your beauty products, make 2016 the year you do so. Choosing organic is best for your skin, your health and the environment. Avoid known skin irritants such as sulphates, parabens, preservatives, mineral oils and artificial fragrances, as these weaken the skin barrier, causing worsening of many skin conditions, especially eczema. What we put on the skin is also absorbed by the body and some of these ingredients have been linked to infertility, neurological conditions and cancer, so why be a human guinea pig?
Which brands are best? There are many ethical brands with a long heritage of using natural plant extracts that work with the skin's natural processes. Founded in 1921, Weleda www.weleda.co.uk is perhaps the world's leading organic skin-care and natural beauty brand and carries the NATRUE seal of approval.
3 - Use the correct products for your skin type
Many of us over a certain age are guilty of using the same products, despite the fact that our skin changes constantly through the seasons and over the years. Faced with a bewildering array of products on the shelves, it certainly seems the safest option to stick to what you know. If you've been struggling with skin issues for a while, or if your skin often feels tight and uncomfortable, a professional assessment of your skin may be just what the (skin) doctor ordered.
For a free consultation, find a Weleda wellbeing advisor in your area (only available in the UK). They are trained to assess your skin and demonstrate products that will work with your skin to reinforce it's natural function. Three reasons why you should do it - 1) Wellbeing advisors are lovely, knowledgeable professionals 2) There's never any pressure or obligation to purchase products 3) If you do wish to buy, products are very reasonably priced, with over half of the entire range priced under £10.
4 - Schedule regular breaks from your laptop
Why is sitting at your laptop considered a skin sin? Long periods spent staring at a computer or laptop screen can result in frown lines as well as saggy jowls from looking downwards. It's easy to get engrossed in what we're doing and forget to move the muscles of the face, neck and shoulders, causing impaired blood flow to the skin and muscles.
The solution? Take regular breaks away from your screen to have a good stretch of your fingers and wrists; rotate the neck and shoulders. Pulling faces at nearby colleagues, children or pets is also recommended; as well as getting blood pumping to the facial skin and muscles for glowing skin, it also has a de-stressing effect!
5 - Keep hydrated
Dehydration can make your skin appear dull, dry and lined, so make sure you are getting enough fluids by carrying a bottle of water in your bag or keeping one on your desk at work.
Need some inspiration? Check out this ingenious product by Hydratem8 that is part BPA free water bottle, part health coach. It reminds you to sip throughout the day and even gives you praise for doing so! www.hydratem8.co.uk
6 - Wear sunscreen
As well as being constantly exposed to the environment, facial skin is thinner and therefore more susceptible to ultra-violet damage. Many dermatologists will tell you that the single most important thing to look after your skin is to wear sunscreen every day, year round. It's easy to avoid chemically laden creams by opting for natural mineral blocks containing titanium or zinc to deflect the sun's rays.
Green People offer a good selection of natural and effective sunscreens and tinted moisturisers www.greenpeople.co.uk. Also worth a mention is Bare Minerals natural sunscreen powder; perfect if you need coverage but want to let your skin breathe www.bareminerals.co.uk
7 - Get a good night’s sleep
There's a good reason it's called beauty sleep. Sleep is the body's rest and repair mode when cell renewal and tissue repair occur. Aim for 7-9 hours a night. Lack of sleep, either quality or quantity, may result in higher levels of stress hormone cortisol, which has been shown to aggravate skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, acne and rosacea. It is also known to reduce production of collagen, leading to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.
If you have trouble dropping off, aromatherapy may help. Add a drop of Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Neroli or Ylang Ylang essential oil to your pillow or add a few drops to a capful of full fat milk to use in a warm bath before bed. Remember to switch off all electrical devices in your bedroom and turn your mobile phone onto flight mode at least an hour before lights out.
Stick with these solutions for one month to look and feel better than ever! Happy New Year!
Complementary therapist and natural health expert. On a mission to sprinkle health and wellness wherever I go...