Clean Up Your Act

After the overindulgence of Christmas, it's time to give your skin & body a bit of love!

Every January it's tempting to join a gym, do a detox or perhaps jump onto the latest celebrity driven diet fad! These measures tend to only last a couple of months as they can be too extreme so my advise would be to strive for a more permanent lifestyle change of an 80/20 balance (80% good, 20% a little more relaxed).

I would definitely put this equation into practise when it comes to your beauty and grooming regime! Your skin is your largest organ and generally is good reflection of your overall state of health. Remember that your skin can absorb 70% of what you use topically so it's worth knowing what ingredients are good and which ones you should avoid. It's also important to look at the ingredients of your cosmetics and be aware of the levels of key ingredients which are listed on a product in order of concentration as some of them maybe causing irritation. But as I mentioned before its a question of balance.

Here are three ingredients which you should be aware of:

Parabens- This is a cheap preservative that is used not only in cosmetics but also in processed foods ( in the form of E numbers). But its also present naturally in some good foods like Blueberries. However, parabens have been linked to negative conditions like rosacea and contact dermatitis if used excessively. It's good to be aware of how much of these you are exposing yourself to on a daily basis. There's been a bit of a witch hunt for this ingredient...which has been used in cosmetics now for about 30years.

I would say that if you have a lot of processed foods AND it has a high placing on your cosmetics ingredients then you should definitely cut back. A good general rule of thumb as far as I'm concerned is make sure that any ingredient in your cosmetics which ends in '...paraben' is listed towards the end.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate ( SLS)- This is one of the most irritating cleansing agents used in skincare. It's especially prevalent in shower gels and hand washes and is always listed near the top of your products ingredients list. Hand washes are extremely popular now so invest in an effective yet gentle one , especially as your whole family will be using it. I like Faith In Nature hand wash...not a lover of their packaging though, but you can always decant it into a fancy dispenser.

Petrochemicals- Chemical ingredients derived from petroleum. They feel good on the skin but don't hydrate efficiently and can cause irritation. Petroleum derivatives are commonly found in lip balms (petrolatum). Bulldog for Men lip balm (£3 Boots) and EOS lip sphere ( £6.50 Selfridges) are both petrochemical free and fabulous!

Skin friendly ingredients like Shea butter and coconut oil are lovely ingredients with the latter one being extremely versatile as you can cook with it, pop it in your coffee or moisturise with it! Try a good quality cold pressed coconut oil like Viridian 100% Raw Coconut Oil (£15). In a recent study, coconut oil has been proven to have a positive effect on skin disorders like dermatitis when applied topically.

January is the perfect time of year to clean out your makeup bag. Look out for the Period After Opening symbols on your products ( the little open pot symbol with a number in it), this tells you how long your product is ok for once opened. If the product is water based then the increase of bacteria is more prevalent once it's exposed to air so that includes items like mascara ,foundation and moisturiser.

Never pump your mascara as that will not only increase bacteria activity but also clog your lashes.

We all know the benefit of probiotics for our gut ( but invest in a good brand like Udos or Viridian and not the sugar ridden drinks), but did you know that probiotics in skincare can be great for your skin!? Healthy bacteria can topically reduce inflammation which is why it's worth while checking out The Miracle Cleanser by probiotic brand Aurelia (£34 Space NK) or the Advanced range by British brand Skn-rg (starting from £30 The Yard, Alderley Edge)