Five of the best… natural beauty quick fixes

Five of the best… natural quick fixes
Whether it’s tiredness, stress or winter skin, Green Living Editor Ruth Styles has some super speedy suggestions – and no chemicals involved

January might be over but there’s still another two months of winter to go and that’s bad news for skin already stressed out by the frosty weather. But it’s not only the cold that can leave skin looking less than lovely. Tiredness, stress and dullness are all common beauty and health woes at this time of year, as the effects of the festive season wear off and the credit card bills come rolling in. But help is at hand. While there are plenty of conventional stress and spot busters out there, many are loaded with toxins, which is why choosing organic is the healthier choice. Whether you’re after a remedy for a breakout or need a little something for less than radiant skin, the Ecologist’s resident beauty expert has some ideas to help you get your glow back in double quick time.

First rate fatigue fighters
To do list as long as your arm? Interrupted sleep? Too many commitments? Traffic noise keeping you awake? Although tiredness can be a sign that your immune system is in trouble, for many of us, fatigue is the result of lifestyle. Between the demands of work, friends and family, it’s easy to end up seriously lacking energy, which then leads to unhealthy habits such as excessive caffeine consumption, eating high calorie snacks and drinking more alcohol. It also means that weekends are spent in bed rather than out and about.

Quick fix: More and better quality sleep is the key to knocking tiredness on the head as is cutting down on commitments – for a few weeks at least. But don’t reach for the Night Nurse; it’s loaded with chemicals and has addictive potential. What’s more, with potential side effects ranging from disorientation to photosensitivity, according to the NHS, it’s one to approach with caution. Instead, swap stimulants such as coffee and tobacco for organic chamomile tea and try doing yoga breathing exercises before bed. Regular work outs will also help, as will adjusting your sleeping patterns to reflect your body’s needs – between seven and eight hours a night is the average. If the lack of sleep has left you with dark circles, fix them by investing in an effective natural eye cream such as Dead Sea Spa Magik Age Response Eye Cream, £17.95. Packed with rejuvenating natural minerals, it helps to tone and firm the under eye area, dispatching wrinkles and puffiness in the process.

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Speedy stress-busters
Between rumours of another recession and dull winter days, it’s no surprise that so many of us are so stressed out. Research by the International Stress Management Association found that more than half of us have suffered from work related stress, while UK charity Anxiety UK estimates that one in six people will suffer the debilitating effects of stress at some point in their lives. With physical symptoms that can include anything from nausea to palpitations and mental effects ranging from irritability to loss of confidence, stress can be a serious problem.

Quick fix: According to Anxiety UK, the first step for sorting out your stress levels is identifying what’s causing the problem and taking steps to sort it out. If it’s work, try prioritising the most important tasks and delegating the rest, or create manageable to-do lists with tasks to be ticked off. Meditation and yoga can also help clear your mind, or for something a little more luxe, try Ila’s Kundalini chakra clearing massage. Beginning with a foot scrub, the soothing massage helps unblock your chakras and put you on the road to a more peaceful state of mind. If you can’t afford the treatment, Gielly Green therapist, Holly Gumble, suggests unblocking chakras in the bath at home. While your bath is running, rub Ila’s geranium scented Body Scrub for Energising and Detoxifying, £35.73, gently along your spine, above your solar plexus and on your lower stomach. You’ll be getting to grips with all of your chakras, and if that doesn’t help, half an hour in a warm bath will.

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Good to glow
Harsh temperatures outside combined with drying central heating indoors do your skin no favours and can leave it looking dull and dry. Environmental pollution can make things worse, particularly if you live in a city, and can leave a grimy radiance-destroying film on your skin. Other dulling agents include chemical based creams that irritate skin, lack of water and sleep, and unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.

Quick fix: While the only way to make a permanent change is to up your intake of antioxidant and vitamin C packed fruit and veg, streamlining your skincare routine can pay dividends. Use a really good oil based cleanser, such as Eve Lom’s, from £30, and follow up with toner and a good nourishing moisturiser. Try Suti’s Peppermint Water toner, £18, followed by Nude’s excellent Advanced Cellular Renewal Moisturiser, £78. Also worth adding is a brightening serum such as Forest Secrets iBright Serum, £35 and remember to exfoliate twice a week. Try Spiezia’s excellent Rose and Chamomile facial scrub, £22.50, which is free from harsh chemicals and smells fabulous. Finally, if all else fails, head to the spa for a brightening facial – the Aromatherapy Associates Skin Solutions facial, £65, is excellent. The effects won’t last forever but it’s a brilliant fast fix for dull skin.

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Beat the bloat
Everyone gets the dreaded bloat once in a while but for some, it’s symptomatic of a bigger problem. According to Coeliac UK, as many as one in every 100 people in the UK has coeliac disease – an autoimmune disease triggered by gluten - although many are undiagnosed. Food allergies and intolerances are a common cause of bloating, with Allergy UK estimates suggesting that around 45 per cent of us are food intolerant, while two per cent are allergic. Along with wheat, common intolerances include dairy, shellfish and nuts.

Quick fix: Dealing with bloat really depends on whether you have a genuine allergy or intolerance, or have just overindulged. For the former, the NHS recommends keeping a food diary for a couple of weeks to see what the main offenders are. They also suggest cutting down on fizzy drinks and ‘windy foods’ such as sprouts, beans, broccoli and cauliflower. Plenty of fluid and regular exercise also help. If that sounds like too much of a long haul solution, try a tummy flattening tea fortified with bloat-beating herbs such as fennel. Melvita’s organic Flat Stomach Herbal Tea, £6.50, includes fennel along with detoxifying mallow and rosemary.

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Zit zappers
While acne is, for most of us, an unpleasant teenage memory, spots can still strike at any age – usually just before a big event. The commonest cause is clogged pores, created by the sebaceous glands producing too much oil. Environmental factors such as pollution can also contribute to a spotty outbreak as can hormones, tiredness and changing seasons.

Quick fix: The cheapest and easiest way to reduce the swelling and redness associated with spots is to hold an ice cube on the area for 10 seconds and then leave it alone. Picking it will only make it worse and will slow down the healing process.  Use a cream based on healing herbs such as witch hazel or tea tree to sterilise the area and speed up healing. Jurlique’s excellent Blemish Cream, £19.50, is based on witch hazel and calendula, and help reduce redness and speed up healing. If all else fails, hide it with a medicated concealer. Lavera’s Concealing Blemish Stick, £9.50, offers good coverage and helpful doses of teatree and peppermint essential oils.

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