ACE: Skin, Hair and Nails

ACE: Skin, Hair and Nails

Well, if we are all perfectly honest then there is not one of us who doesn’t like to receive a compliment concerning one of the above – if not all three.  Looking down at a pair of beautifully presented hands or smiling back at your reflection having had your hair fabulously quaffed to a standard nothing short of a red carpet appearance at your favourite salon is one of life’s small yet very considerable pleasures and that’s not to mention hearing a kind comment or two from a dear friend regarding how well you have been looking recently. No matter how non superficial we like to see ourselves, human beings like to be flattered and compliments regarding our visual appearance never go amiss.

Hair can literally make or break how you feel about yourself.  Lifeless locks or out of control frizz can make us all feel nothing short of desperate.  We feel the whole world is looking at us with a kind of judgement.  Of course, this is absolute rubbish – most people trundle around with their own list of jobs to do and crosses to bear and never really have time to absorb whether or not we are all up to scratch in comparison to each other but there are a few simple guide lines to follow when it comes to getting the best you can out of the assets you have. 

Never underestimate the power of a regular visit to the hairdressers.  From the moment you arrive through the door you are greeted with the most wonderful herbal based aromas of the various shampoos and conditioners – all stirred together in an amazing nasal mixing pot.  People chatting, catching up on their various stories – telling the sequel to the last visit’s conversation – asking about future holiday plans for this year – or wanting updates regarding wedding plans.  Lifetimes pass through these treasured appointments – they are not just hair cuts but can indeed be a funny version of counselling – not in the sense of a serious session but merely an opportunity to share a small portion of your immediate world – to talk as freely as you feel comfortable with. Afterall, it is not surprising really that people find themselves off loading their current life’s news when you consider the trust you need to have when you place your hair in their hands!

It is with rare exception that most of us leave the salon feeling much better about ourselves.  The power of a decent colour, cut and blow dry can give is nothing short of incredulous.  For the rest of the day we feel absolutely lovely, almost lighter on your feet – we feel younger, more alive, more attractive.  A good hair cut can even make us stand tall – better posture – and all because we feel better about ourselves. 

It is not simply the sole act of literally cutting hair.  We look forward to our visits with anticipation – a positive diary date.  Taking care of your hair in between salon visits is also a form of self care.  Using recommended products to assist is a good, positive action of self awareness and care.  Top all this off with as good a diet as your pocket will allow will help to make you radiate wellness.  Try to limit the amount of styling heat used so as not to over dry the hair or cause structural damage which can sometimes result in breakage and if you can use a hair conditioning mask once in a while to help boost bloom.

Vitamins are A-C-E!

Diet plays an important part in maintaining all areas of our body, so if you find yourself thinking that your locks aren’t looking quite as super as normal then a quick review of your daily intake could make the world of difference. 

Try to eat a minimum of 5 portions of fruit and veg daily and only allow yourself one smoothie. Fruit and vegetables are fab as they’re packed full of nutrients such as vitamin A C and E. Vitamin C helps to produce collagen – a super winner when it comes to keeping wrinkles at bay.  Vitamins A and E are particularly great for hair and skin as they’re powerful antioxidants helping to protect the body from free radicals and anti-inflammatory. 

Lots of brightly coloured fruits and veg will cover your vitamin intake and then you might wish to look out for hair products that also include supporting vitamins.

Zinc is really important – either in supplement form or naturally as it helps to accelerate hair follicle recovery and slow down regression.  Good quality meat, shellfish, legumes (chickpeas, lentil and beans to you and I) seeds, nuts, dairy and eggs plus whole grains are all natural healthy choices of which all of us can find something we like. 

It’s also important to keep an eye on your fat intake and by that I mean ‘healthy’, good fats. These are unprocessed oils found in nuts, seeds and avocados. Try eating at a handful of almond or brazil nuts instead of a biscuit if you fancy a snack and swap out frying with butter for a touch of vegetable oil instead. It really is quite achievable to eat healthily – a lot easier than most people think.  It is a mind set you need to embrace and you will soon see and feel the benefits!

Glowing Skin

When we stop to actually consider that our skin is the body’s largest organ being responsible for helping to protect our insides from external dangers, we come to realise just how absolutely fabulous we truly are.  It would be absolutely impossible to be a human being without skin! 

That said, it’s amazing how often we neglect this fact and do not afford our skin the care that it deserves, instead consuming too many processed foods with little nutrition, enjoying a few too many regular beer garden bevvies and failing to apply that SPF moisturiser that would keep our skin both hydrated and protected.

Sun screen is really crucial for protecting our skin against harmful rays but it’s important to remember that it does not provide 100% protection. Applying that factor 50 is not the go-a-head to sit out in the sun for hours on end. Instead apply sun screen regularly and only sit out in direct sun for around 20 minutes before seeking a more shady retreat. 

A couple of skin “nasties” are alcohol and smoking.  We can all conjure up images of wrinkly faces with a cigarette alight sticking out from the corner of a mouth, coupled with a screwed up eye smarting from the smoke. Never has smoking ever been considered as a beauty aid, not to mention all of the other health implications. Pack it in!

Alcohol by it’s nature causes dehydration and pores to look enlarged.  Skin will lose it’s plumpness and healthy glow.  Try to adhere to the Government guidelines of no more than 14 units of alcohol a week on a regular basis, spread over 3 or more days. If you’re heading out for a few drinks, keep a glass of water within reaching distance or perhaps swap out one of those glasses of wine for a refreshing, non-alcoholic alternative.

Tempting though it might be to think we all need to be bikini-body fit for our annual holidays, crash dieting is not a friend to good skin. Try to aim for consistency – a gentle approach to health with regular, steady input towards diet and exercise – not a last minute panic two weeks before departure.  The feeling that you are in control of the whole of you – both inside and out will add to your overall confidence which in turn will reduce your stress levels – again making you shine.

On top of the vitamins mentioned earlier water is one of your best friends for good skin.  Aim for 6-8 glasses per day.  Don’t worry if this sounds a lot initially – stick with it and you will adjust – and you will find that after all a while if you don’t keep it up then your body will really miss it.  Often people mistake thirst for hunger and eat a snack rather than have a drink – so keeping hydrated could go a long way to controlling weight as well as making your skin glow. 

Healthy Nails

There’s some good news here – if you’re following diet and lifestyle changes to keep your skin and hair healthy, then you’re getting a 3 for 1 as the same nutrients will benefit your nails as well.

What are nails? Nails are made of keratin, the same substance your body uses to create hair and the upper layer of your skin. Nails are often overlooked and taken for granted which is a bit of a shame for them given the job they do in protecting us. To offer them the spotlight they deserve but rarely receive, we’ve included some “did you know?” fun facts below:

  • Nails on your bigger fingers grow faster than smaller fingers.
  • Men’s nails grow faster than women’s.
  • Fingernails are often a marker of disease of the body – showing significant signs of underlying illness.
  • Human fingernails used to be curved similar to claws are basically flat claws. They’ve evolved over the past 2.5 million years to a flat shape.
  • The worlds longest record for a fingernail is held by Lee Redmond of Utah who had grown her right thumbnail to a length of 2 feet 11 inches and had a collective nail length of 28 feet 4 inches before loosing her nails in a car accident in 2009.

Overall our skin, nails and hair are unwittingly great communicators to the world.  They offer snippets of ourselves – a little view of what might be hidden beneath our outer wrapper. Clues to our personality, our tastes and preferences and our overall health. Wrinkles, scars and blemishes are all ok – they’re little markers of life. Where as you might look in the mirror and feel that’s all the world sees, remember that people see the whole of you and are more likely to remember a beaming smile than odd frown line!