Category Archives: Skincare

Baby Fuzz Hair! Postpartum Hair Growth

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This is an odd one! It’s my strange baby fuzz hair!

One of those pregnancy perks that we all hope to experience is thick, shiny, gorgeous, commercial-worthy hair, right? Along with the glow of expectancy, there is a shadow of hope that we may feel like a super model for a few short months with this luxurious mane!

Then, all to soon, the postpartum hair loss hits. Your once rope like ponytail will sadly again become a scrawny rats tail and the advice everywhere is that this is a totally normal part of life after baby.

What nobody warned me about however, was the postpartum hair growth!

I have this weird halo of short frizzy hair around my head! When my hair is tied up (which it usually is or the little guy would pull it all out when he is feeding) it looks like my head is glowing…I have this ginger aura around my head, every day.

How have only just noticed this phosphorescent phenomenon, 11 months postpartum. I guess the fuzz has just reached a length that is more noticable, and impossible to tame. I was wondering why I had started looking like I had a serious case of bed hair…all day long.

Here’s the science!

On average, hair grows about 6 inches in a year. Every hair goes through three phases.

General Hair Growth Cycle

Cycle of hair growth (Credit: More’s)

Anagen is an active growth phase of which approximately 85% of the hairs on your head are going through at any one time. A hair in this phase grows for one to six years. Have you struggled to grow your hair past a certain length? This is down your anagen phase, and how long your hair spends in this growth period.

Catagen is essentially a transitional phase where the hair is cut off from its nourishing blood supply. The hair stops growing at this point.

Telogen is a resting phase. The hair lies dormant in the follicle for up to 100 days. Once telogen is complete, anagen can start up again and produce a new hair. This pushes out the old hair and you see what you might call shedding.

Up to 10% of hairs are in the resting phase at any one time…that translates to up to 100 precious hairs washing down the drain or taking up residence in your hair brush every single day!!

Hormones again…

During pregnancy, the increased level of estrogen keeps hair in the growth phase for longer. Your hair keeps growing and growing and growing! More hairs than the usual 85% are in this active growth phase at any given time, meaning less hairs enter the shedding phase…the result is thicker more luxurious hair.

Once baby is born, estrogen levels begin to drop…and that’s when you notice what seems like totally abnormal and massive hair loss, and start to panic! All of those hairs that stayed in active phase have to fall out eventually and now is the time. The switch up in hormone levels allows hairs to continue into the telogen phase and start to shed. All of those hairs that you didn’t shed for the last year suddenly start falling out 3-4 months postpartum.

And then…

6 months to 1 year after the arrival of the bundle, with any luck, your hormones are behaving sensibly and your hair should have settled back into a more normal growth cycle…new hairs start to push through and you may start to notice the not so cute, baby fuzz halo of un-tamable hair at the nape of the neck, the sides of the head, temples and forehead.

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No slick ballerina bun for me!

 

So those bad hair days may not be over just yet!

There really isn’t anything you can do to alter the course of nature and those darned hormones, but there are steps you can take to preserve hair and cover up the areas most affected.

How to help the problem of thinning hair:

  • Continue taking pre-natal vitamins or supplements after the birth and throughout breast-feeding as well as eating a healthy diet.
  • Be gentle, don’t wrap wet hair in a towel, the weight of the towel can drag at delicate hairs. Use a de-tangling conditioner, and comb hair through with care.
  • Try to let hair dry naturally when possible, save the blow-dry or styling tongs for special occasions.
  • Try a new hair cut, a good stylist will know how to cut hair to make it look thicker and fuller, with layers, a new parting, bangs or a fringe, and will advise on the right products to use.
  • Tinted hair powders, a glossing treatment or lightening and lifting up your hair colour may all help to camouflage thinning areas.

Remember also, if you think your hair-loss is excessive and not a normal for postpartum shedding, it may be worth booking a blood test to check for thyroid and hormonal imbalances.

Did you experience lovely, thick and luxurious hair when you were pregnant, only to watch it fall out once your little one was born? Have you also got the baby fuzz halo??? Let me know…

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Sunscreen. What Is Best For The Family.

bottle of sun lotionSunscreen. One of my longest standing skincare love affairs.

Being a little bit ginger, and a little bit pale, I am a little bit at the mercy of the sun. That also means I am at the mercy of the sunscreen manufacturers…over the years I have tried them all…sprays, gels, creams, mineral, natural, chemical, physical.

Each one has its own worry, and I worry about what I am applying equally as much as I worry about sun damage.

Now I have a little one to look after too I need to make the safest most informed choice I can for him in the Californian sunshine. Baby friendly sunscreen, a whole new world of worry!

So here are a few things to think about when choosing a sunsceen.

sunThe basics. Two types of sunscreen:

Chemical sunscreens penetrate the skin. They are designed to absorb UVA or UVB rays. They have stability issues on exposure to sunlight, and the chemicals used may also disrupt the body’s hormone system.

Physical/mineral sunscreens act as a total barrier sitting on top of the skin. They are designed to reflect both UVA and UVB rays. They are made with zinc and titanium in micronized form, tiny tiny nano sized particles!

The chemicals:

Nearly one-quarter of all sunscreens contain Retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A. It is added to act as an anti-oxidant to slow skin ageing. However studies show that it may actually speed the development of skin tumours when applied to skin in the presence of sunlight. It can make skin photosensitive and more susceptible to sun rays and may also break down leaving free radicals on the skin which we were trying to avoid in the first place. Crikey!

The most common sunscreens available contain a cocktail of chemical filters. These products can include a combination up to six of these active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Many of these chemicals cause allergic reactions, they are toxic to reproductive systems and they affect normal cell development.

A note for breastfeeding mums:

A 2010 study by Margaret Schlumpf of the University of Zurich found at least one sunscreen chemical in 85 percent of milk samples. Four of the chemicals detected are commonly used in sunscreens.

The minerals:

Most zinc oxide and titanium dioxide-based sunscreens contain nano-particles…particles that are one twentieth the width of a human hair. These aim of the nano-particle is to reduce the chalky white residue that these sunscreens used to leave on the skin. To reduce photo-activity, these nano particles need to be coated in inert chemicals. There is a small risk that if inhaled, the particles could damage internal organs, but there have been no reported cases of this happening and it is less of a risk once in lotion or cream form.

The SPF 100 con:

When correctly applied, SPF 50 sunscreen blocks 98 percent of sunburn rays. SPF 100 blocks 99 percent.

High-SPF products require higher concentrations of sun-filtering chemicals. These ingredients may penetrate the skin and pose health risks such as tissue damage and potential hormone disruption. Some may trigger allergic skin reactions.

So…if these high-SPF products were better at reducing skin damage and skin cancer risk, that extra chemical exposure might be justified, but as the increase in protection is negligible, choosing a sunscreen with a lower concentration of active ingredients – SPF 30 instead of SPF 70, for example, seems a sensible choice.

A super high SPF may also convince us that we are safe to stay in the sun for much longer than we should be.

Sun.Conclusion:

For me personally, I will be going down the rout of a natural, zinc based sunscreen. I definitely don’t like the idea of slathering potentially toxic and damaging chemicals all over the little guy. For that matter, I don’t like the idea of any of my family relying on chemical sunscreens at all. It is time to give the mineral sunscreens another try. I will be heading to a shop to sample the following, Green People, Liz Earle and Aubrey Organics, all of which have some good reviews.

We all need some sun in our lives!

Don’t forget that the sun is not all bad…its vital in helping the body to produce vitamin D,which in turn helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus, which in turn gives us nice strong bones.

The NHS advise the following:

Short daily periods of sun exposure without sunscreen during the summer months (April to October) are enough for most people to make enough vitamin D. Evidence suggests that the most effective time of day for vitamin D production is between 11am and 3pm.

A short period in the sun means a matter of minutes – about 10 to 15 minutes for most people – and is less than the time it takes you to start going red or to burn. The larger the area of your skin that is exposed to sunlight, the more chance there is of making enough vitamin D before you start to burn.

Things to avoid:

Spray Sunscreens make it too easy to miss a spot or apply too little
Super-High SPFs have high chemical concentrations, protect well against UVB but less so against UVA
Oxybenzone penetrates the skin, is a hormone disruptor
Loose Powder Sunscreens respiratory irritant, no guarantee how much coverage you are getting
Retinyl Palmitate a form of vitamin A, breaks down in sunlight and accelerates sun damage
Combined Sunscreen/Bug Repellents increases absorption of repellents into the skin
Sunscreen Towelettes easy to under apply SPFs
Tanning Oils just BAD! Your poor crispy skin!

Hopefully this has taken some of the confusion out of sunscreens for you and your family. There are many unique properties that the different brands offer, but making a more natural choice seems like a step in the right direction.

If you are interested in natural skincare take a look at my other natural facial skin care ideas…oil cleansing and manuka honey face masks!

Manuka On My Face…Mmmmm

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This one is courtesy of my oldest friend and fellow healthy wannabe. She has been pestering me with a sticky spoon of manuka honey for ages now, and I finally splashed out on a rather pricey jar of the best stuff I could find. Steens manuka 15+ honey, don’t tell my other half it cost over £20!

So I’m sitting here with a honey and cinnamon concoction on my face, which is surprisingly tingly, trying to so sort out my depressingly hormonal skin.

One of the nicest side effects during my pregnancy was super clear, spot free, healthy skin. Sadly, nine months after giving birth, the hormones have got the better of my face and I am once again at the mercy of those annoying hormonal outbreaks that have always plagued my face.

Honey has long been a family staple in our home, local honey especially, we use it on insect bites, stings, and cuts. But Manuka honey has extra special powers, and it has become big news recently.

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Honey face mask instructions.

It isn’t rocket science, take a teaspoon of honey and smooth it all over a clean face, leave for as long as possible (20 minutes to 1 hour) before washing of gently with warm water.

Alternatively, like I have been doing, mix the honey with a teaspoon of cinnamon powder before using it, The cinnamon has a natural antibacterial effect as well as being rich in antioxidants, so combined it makes a fantastic natural face mask perfect for treating and preventing acne, and reducing redness and inflammation.

English: A native New Zealand bee (probably Le...

A native New Zealand bee visits a manuka flower. Photo taken on Tiritiri Matangi Island. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why manuka honey?

All honey has antibacterial properties in the form of hydrogen peroxide, but these properties are destroyed easily by heat and light and body fluids. Manuka honey has an additional antimicrobial action that is much more resistant to heat or light or even body fluids making it invaluable in therapeutic use…like my honey face mask.

Manuka honey is from the native New Zealand manuka tree, and the extra special properties of the honey from the nectar of this tree is measured in UMF’s, a unique manuka factor.

UMF is the registered name and trademark of UMF® Honey Association and can be used only by licensed users who meet set criteria which includes the monitoring and auditing of honey quality. The New Zealand Honey industry (UMF Honey Association) has registered UMF as a trademark to ensure the activity of manuka honey and health benefits possible cannot be misrepresented.

An UMF rating of 10+ is the level at which the honey may be classed as active and is the level at which it may become beneficial for therapeutic use, it is the level at which a face mask may be able to wage war on my problem skin…here’s hoping!

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The following uses are from the Steens website:

5+ – This rating is recommended as a maintenance honey. (Not for therapeutic use).

10+ – Is considered as maintenance for the immune system and daily treatment of digestive ailments.

15+ – Is considered to be high in antibacterial levels and recommended for treatment of ulcers, strep throat, cold sores, digestion, burns, skin infections, cuts and abrasions.

20+ – This is a potent honey with superior levels of activity. It is recommended for direct application for wound healing, such as burns, ulcers, pressure sores, staph infections (proving to be effective against MRSA). Perfect for digestive health, where smaller amounts of honey can be consumed due to its potency.

Chosing a good manuka honey.

  • Make sure UMF® is clearly stated on the front label.
  • Make sure it is produced, packaged and labelled in New Zealand.
  • It is from a New Zealand company licensed by the UMF Honey Association to use the name UMF.
  • Make sure it has the UMF licensee’s name on the front label.
  • Ensure it has a rating of UMF 10+ or more.

Once you have your honey, start using it! Eat it, sweeten your tea with it, stick some on your face, and see what it does for you.

If you already use it, do you have any other ideas for natural remedies, or things it has helped you with? Let me know.

Check out my other natural skin care ideas…oil cleansing and natural sunscreens.

Good Stuff…Organic Babies Soothing Baby Salve

Green People

Green People Soothing Baby Salve

As I mentioned here, a bit too much research went into choosing the right oil to moisturise my little guys baby soft skin.  The final choice was grapeseed oil, high in linoleic acid for moisture control, perfect for locking in moisture after a bath, and light and thin so my little wriggler wouldn’t become a total snake in a towel!

We were getting along famously until the cold weather really set in, his face was getting chapped with all his teething dribble, and his never before dry skin started to feel rough with the central heating cranking away and the warmer bath water.

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Neals Yard Organic Grapeseed OIl

Rough skin!  Of course total panic and chaos followed, and so the search was on for something heavy duty but natural at the same time, to banish the bit of rough and restore good old baby buns.

I really just wanted a moisturising lotion or body cream, but checking the ingredients on the back of the bottles and tubes of seemingly natural, baby friendly products, I kept finding those little nasties.  Things I try and avoid on my own skin, like dimethicone, why would I want them on his skin?

Green people have a range called Organic Babies, I have used green people in the past and been really pleased with its quality, so I was excited to see the soothing baby salve with no SLS, detergents parabens, lanolin, phthalates, artificial perfumes, petrochemicals and colourants

When it arrived I struggled to work the locking cap, talk about kid proof! Three people and half an hour later I figured it out and the next challenge to squeeze the stuff from the tube began.  It was almost impossible, a really thick worm of salve worked its way out…not quite what I had expected.

Actually, as the balm has warmed up in the bedroom, it became super easy to squeezy.  The balm is like a semi solid oil (think olive oil when it gets really cold and goes hard and white) but between your palms it melts into a velvety thick gorgeous smelling oily salve.

You can smooth it literally everywhere, baby’s hands, face, body and bottom, mum’s cracked nipples, even poor old dad’s dry hands from all the washing up!  I am totally converted.  And because it is water-resistant it actually protects against the dribble or the dampness when your baby has nappy rash

It also says it is suitable for adults who are be prone to eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis, but there are one or two possible irritants in the ingredients list that would make me use it with caution on really sensitive skin, but no worse than you would find in a tube of E45 cream.

So for those who love a bit of scientific ingredient analysis, here is the list of lots of lovely skin conditioning and soothing ingredients with some explanations.

HELIANTHUS ANNUUS Sunflower seed oil
ELAEIS GUINEENSIS Palm oil, skin conditioning emollient
CERA ALBA Beeswax
PRUNUS AMYGDALUS DULCIS Sweet almond oil
BUTYROSPERMUM PARKII Shea butter
CANNABIS SATIVA Hemp seed oil
CETEARYL OLIVATE An emulsifier, from olive oil
SORBITAN OLIVATE An emulsifier, from olive oil
CALENDULA OFFICINALIS Marigold flower extract, skin conditioning and scent
AROMA LAVANDULA ANGUSTIFOLIA Lavender oil, skin conditioning and scent
LAVANDULA HYBRIDA Lavander oil, skin conditioning and scent
LINALOOL Naturally occurring chemical used for scent
LIMONENE Naturally occurring chemical used for scent

Oil Cleansing Method

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Neals Yard Grapeseed Oil

Since his birth I have been using organic cold pressed grapeseed oil on my little guy to massage and moisturise his body after bath time.  I wish someone would do this for me after my every bath time!  As always, the amount of research I did to choose this particular oil was totally irrational, but I do so love to research.

I chose grapeseed oil over olive oil, sunflower oil or sweet almond oil for lots of reasons.  I wanted an oil high in linoleic acid to lock the moisture in to his skin.  Olive oil for example has high levels of oleic acid which over time can let moisture out and dry the skin.  I also wanted an oil not derived from a nut kernel so I avoided sweet almond or peach kernel oil, just to keep in line with nut allergy warnings.

 

Grapeseed was my final choice.  It has been a lovely choice, inexpensive and totally natural.  So lovely and natural that I started to wonder if I could use it myself.

I have been using a few drops in the evening to moisturise my own face, massaging it in while watching Eastenders, doing my own version of some kid of lymphatic draining massage like I had with my pre-wedding facial. (I will do a bit more research into this soon.)

My face is definitely much softer, much smoother in texture (my main worry) and definitely more even in tone.

Then  a friend mentioned the oil cleansing method.  I studied intensely before starting the routine myself.  It is totally addictive,  I’ve got my friends hooked too.

Heres how to do it.

Take a 50 pence sized pool of oil in your palm.  Warm it between your hands.  Slop it all over your face and massage massage massage and massage some more.  5 minutes slow and purposeful massaging if you can handle it.

Now I do this whilst relaxing in front of Corrie, but for the true holistic experience, put a candle on, get all meditative and envision your beautiful skin emerging while doing the massage.

Then snap out of your meditative state and smother yourself under the heat of a wet hot face cloth.  Steam open those pores and wipe the oil away.  Repeat the steam and wipe until all the oil is removed.

I think a couple of times a week is good for the oil cleanse, any more and it seems to occasionally dry out patches of skin.

Give it a go, how do you find it?