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Sk!n Dr Sk!n Dr

How you can have healthy skin this festive season the natural ancient Indian way!

Hello and welcome to my pre –Christmas skin blog Hello readers.  Now that the weather is getting colder, the Christmas markets are getting in to full swing and the festive party season is starting, having your skin in great shape becomes all the more important.  During the winter months our skin and hair tends to become dryer and duller due to the cold dry air stripping the moisture out.  Our skin, hair and nails require a bit more tender loving care during this time.

I  have recently returned from a trip to India where as many of you know Ayurvedic medicine and naturopathy is big practice; this brought back memories of  natural skin care advice I got from my own grandmother.  I was touched by a sense of déjà vu when I returned to London and noticed how health supplements and skin creams available on the market here in the western world have embraced the ingredients used in Ayurvedic and naturopathic practice with known ingredients being supported by scientifically proven health benefits.  These ingredients when used in creams or in supplement form can support your skin and general health.

With this in mind I thought I’d share with you my top 5 recommended ingredients to look for in skin creams and health supplements which can often be found at home and could well give your skin, hair and nails that extra oomph factor this Christmas.

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My top five natural products to keep your skin in great shape this festive season:  

1. Lemon: applying lemon on your skin especially after being out in the sun was believed and practiced to be an effective way for reducing sun tan effects in Ancient India. I remember being told to rub lemon on my skin to prevent hyperpigmentation/ skin darkening after strong sun exposure.  Nowadays the health benefits of taking both oral vitamin C supplementation and topical vitamin C containing creams have been well researched with their effects in reducing photo-ageing (sun induced skin ageing) and skin photo-damage (damage to the skin DNA which can cause skin cancer).  So neat lemon on your skin or increasing vitamin C in your diet or through supplementation may indeed may brighten up your complexion and keep you looking younger by reducing the effects of the most common cause of ageing – sun damage.

2. Coconut oil: When babies are born in India it is often tradition to oil massage their skin for its moisturising and antiseptic effects. Now we have scientific research to support the fact that application of coconut oil on the skin prevents trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) which is basically when your skin looses is moisture content by losing water leaving you with a dry dull complexion. Coconut oil increases our skins ability to retain moisture and also prevents bacterial growth on the skin. Coconut oil or creams containing coconut oil in good quantity gets a huge thumbs up in keeping your skin well moisturised this winter.

3. Turmeric equals the new Trendy in skin and health supplements today with its active ingredient i.e. the chemical responsible for its beneficial effects being curcumin.  It has been around in Indian cooking and beauty regimens for centuries and still is.  In fact turmeric is applied as a ritual on the skin of Indian brides for its anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and skin radiance enhancing effects named “ubtan”.  Nowadays you can find turmeric in the form of capsule supplements with growing evidence for its antioxidant, antineoplastic (cancer fighting) and anti-inflammatory effects thereby providing benefits against ageing of the skin, in inflammatory skin and joint conditions and for cancer prevention. Turmeric is also commonly found in creams where benefits in acne, sun damage and general skin radiance have been found .

4. Ginger and its health benefits when ingested orally is well known with its active compound chemical being 6 Shogaol. Ginger is often used in cooking, eaten raw or drank in the form of herbal teas particularly when we have a sore throat.  Ginger has also however been found to have health benefits for the skin in the form of its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on allergic skin rashes.  More recently the effects of ginger’s active compound 6-Shogaol has been found to be helpful in reducing melanin production (melanin being the pigment in our skin), which may suggest further potential for its use as a skin lightening/whitening agent.

5. Garlic is a very commonly used ingredient in Indian cooking and although a heavy Indian curry may not be as healthy as it may be tasty… its garlic component definitely is. Garlic capsules are widely available in health shops as garlic is known to be a naturally occurring anticoagulant i.e. it prevents blood cells from becoming sticky thereby supporting healthy blood circulation thereby preventing of heart attacks, clots in the lungs or legs and strokes. Oral garlic supplementation has also recently gathered evidence for its antioxidant and prevention of photo-ageing effects thereby allowing your skin cells to regenerate and rejuvenate whilst preventing the ageing effects of sun exposure.  You must be aware though that applying garlic directly on to your skin may cause an allergic reaction called contact dermatitis often in chefs who peel garlic frequently.

Wishing you all a lovely pre Christmas season of fun and frolic with a warm winter glow of “naturally fabulously healthy skin” brightening up your festivities. Until next time …SR

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