I booked in a course with Dawn. They really helped me reconnect with my body and not be all in my mind. I have still been using what I have learnt.
Dawn is a brilliant therapist and got me completely as a person which was important to me.
Thank you so much. S.T
I am often asked by clients about ‘natural’ sun protection products so I thought I would share with you my responses to some of the most commonly asked questions. We haven’t seen much of the sun in recent days, but the one great thing about the British weather is that it can change overnight for the better as well as the worse. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!
What is the difference between ‘regular’ and ‘natural’ sun protection products?
Regular sun protection products are usually petroleum based and will contain other synthetic and possibly some natural ingredients.
Natural sun protection products are plant based with no or minimal synthetic ingredients and rely entirely on natural ingredients to provide protection from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays.
How do they work?
Regular sun protection products work in a variety of ways. Many are absorbed into the upper layers of the skin where they react to sunlight when it strikes the skin preventing the UVA and UVB light from passing through. Several brands have their own patented formula. Sometimes a blend of the natural minerals zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are used in addition to other synthetic chemicals.
Natural sun protection products create a barrier to the sun’s ultraviolet light using ingredients that are derived entirely from natural sources. The ingredients most commonly used are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These natural minerals sit on the skin and act as a ‘reflector’ through which the light cannot penetrate. Some plant oils such as red raspberry seed and carrot oil offer some protection against ultraviolet light and are often added to natural sun protection creams.
Do natural sun protection products work?
Whilst there are no guarantees that every natural sun protection cream on sale will do what it claims, I personally always go for a product that states it is ‘broad spectrum’ in other words it can protect against UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF rating displayed. The SPF (sun protection factor) is a standard test that basically shows how much protection the product will give you from harmful UVB rays and it would be against the brand’s own interest to be misleading about this.
What does SPF mean?
Sun Protection Factor is a scientific measure. It gives an indication of how much lower the risk of sun damage is due to the use of sunscreen. It focuses on the time it takes for UVB rays to get through a sunscreen and cause the skin to go red, compared to the time this takes when there is no sunscreen. Laboratory tests are carried out on an untanned patch of skin. The number of seconds it takes a patch of skin to slightly redden when covered in sunscreen is divided by the number of seconds it takes to slightly redden when there is no sunscreen applied. This will determine the product’s SPF and illustrates how sun protection cream is not a magical formula that will block out all the sun’s rays but rather something that buys us a little more time outdoors.
Which type of sun protection should I use regular or natural?
This is entirely your choice. The points in favour of regular products are that they are easily accessible and sold at supermarkets, chemists and other stores. A huge choice of product type is on offer gels, creams and lotions in every SPF strength. They also come to fit every purse from inexpensive to luxury high end.
Natural products may be more difficult to source and tend to be sold at health food and specialist stores. The types of sun protection product on offer, may be more limited and they may be more costly. However, if you have a sensitive skin, suffer from skin allergies or prefer to limit your contact with synthetic ingredients you may prefer to go for a natural product.
If you are concerned about the ingredients in your skin care products it is advisable to check the ingredient list and do a little research. This way you can feel confident you are using a product that does not expose you to any chemicals you would prefer to avoid. A US based website - the Environmental Working Group - is a reliable resource if you need to check the safety of cosmetic ingredients.
We are now more educated than ever about the potential harmful effects of the sun, and my advice would be to always utilise the various products available, whether they be natural or otherwise.
If you are looking to make the most of sunnier days, here are some suggestions of ways to enjoy the sun safely.
You should take extra care in the sun if you;
Whatever our skin tone it is always advisable to wear sun protection cream if you are outdoors in the UK from March to October, even on overcast days.
Sun protection of SPF 30 used on the face from childhood will save you a lot of money on anti-ageing creams as an adult!
Check the expiry date on the product. Never be tempted to use last year’s sun protection cream. It may not be as effective, especially if you have opened it.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, make sure you apply the product thickly enough. Most manufacturers will also recommend you reapply every two to four hours.
Avoid exposure when the sun’s damaging rays are at their strongest from 11. to 3pm.
Hats and sunglasses will help stop the sun directly striking your face if you are walking or hiking. Loose, thin cotton clothes, long sleeves, long dresses or trousers will give additional protection. Protective clothing that will not allow UV light to pass through is now available.
The environmental impact of sun protection products is another consideration and there are now marine friendly sun creams available that do not harm sea life or coral reefs.
The Government’s restrictions on our daily activities over the past year have
been incredibly challenging for everyone. We had to learn how to live with the loss of our normal routine and had very limited interaction with other people. Suddenly most of our time was taken up with focusing on ways to stay healthy not only physically but mentally. If mental health was something we didn’t give much thought to before, being in lockdown will certainly have changed that.
The life changes and uncertainty caused by the pandemic were perfect fuel for anxious thoughts, and many of us found ourselves looking for ways to give our mind a rest from over thinking. Mindfulness meditation is often suggested by mental health professionals as an effective way to help quieten a busy mind. It helps focus our attention and bring us fully into the present moment. Of course, when we are paying full attention to what is happening in the moment, it is impossible to be overthinking or worrying. I would recommend everyone give mindfulness a try, however it takes time, commitment and regular practice and I know it is not for everyone.
So, what else can we do that will help keep us fully in the present moment so we can enjoy the benefits of peace of mind? The good news is that it needn’t be hard work and if you have a hobby or activity, you can fully immerse yourself in you may already be enjoying the benefits it brings to your mental health.
The psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was the first to recognise a state of mind he named ‘flow’. When we are in a ‘flow state’ we are so completely focused and totally absorbed by the task in hand that we are beyond distraction. Our senses are heightened, we lose track of time and there is a fluidity between our mind and body. Physical sensation such as hunger or tiredness fade into the background and most importantly mind chatter quietens. Csikszentmihalyi found rock climbers, surgeons and ballet dancers all enjoyed being in the ‘flow’ when they were doing their thing. You may have enjoyed being in a ‘flow’ state while taking part in activities, such as, sport, ballroom dancing, playing chess, drawing, painting, or playing a musical instrument.
It appears when we are completely focused on doing something we love, ‘flow’ happens in a spontaneous and natural way. So, if you are unsure if you have ever experienced ‘flow’ but curious to have a go, here are a few pointers that will give you the best chance of enjoying that blissful state.
The great benefit of being in the ‘flow’ is that as well as keeping our mind focused on the job in hand, and therefore away from negative thoughts, it is very enjoyable and brings a great sense of satisfaction and wellbeing. I dare say we could all do with some of that!
As the pandemic remains these are the hygiene measures I am taking to minimise risk of transmission.
I have been vaccinated against C-19.
I will continue to wear a face covering during treatments.
Clients having craniosacral therapy need to wear a face covering unless they are exempt for medical reasons.
Paper used on the treatment table is disposable and changed between clients.
Clients having facials will bring their own face cloths and sponges, or buy some from me. I will return these at the end of the treatment for you to take home and launder and bring with you next time. If you purchase them from me the cloths and sponges cost £3.00
The window in my treatment room will remain open for ventilation. The heating system at High Beech House is very good and I will make sure the room is always warm enough for you.
Some clients like to be covered during a treatment. I have light blankets which you can use but you are welcome to bring your own if you wish.
I am no longer able to offer you drinking water, please bring your own.
Hand sanitiser is available, and all surfaces including product containers are cleaned with antiviral cleaning products between clients.
To protect my other clients, myself and prevent the spread of Covid in the community I politely request that you do not attend if you feel unwell and think you may have Covid, have tested positive for Covid or know you have been in contact within the last 14 days with someone who has Covid-19.
‘Stress’ tends to manifest itself in two ways in the body. We either have too much energy running around our system and feel ‘hyper’; with tense muscles, churning stomach and the inability to focus; or we feel a deep lack of energy, fatigued, withdrawn, and a lack of motivation.
Does this sound familiar? When dealing with the challenges of the past year you may have felt your own energy swing from one of the above examples to the other. Here are some suggestions of activities that will help to bring you back into that middle ground and feel more in balance
Our body is able to create a huge surge of energy to get us away from anything we consider threatening. In our daily lives, anxious thoughts trigger this same response, and while this energy remains circulating in our body, it will be more difficult for our nervous system to be able to shift out of the stress response and into a state where we feel calm. One of the most effective ways to release this ‘excess’ energy is exercise. Any form of exercise will be beneficial, so do whatever is possible within your range of fitness and ability. If you have a health condition that means you are not able to exercise, or you don’t have the space at home, then TRE or Tension Releasing Exercise is an effective alternative. A technique created by Dr David Berceli, who first used it to help heal traumatised communities in countries affected by violence and war, it is a technique that is now taught in classes and on a one-to-one basis. Online teaching may now also be on offer.
There is a strong connection between the body, mind and breath. Learning to breathe well is one of the most powerful ways of revitalising your mind, body and emotions, and when practised regularly the benefits of breathing exercises are far reaching. They help rid the body of waste products, increase a sense of vitality, and calm the mind and emotions during stressful times. If you are interested in trying this for yourself ‘The Power of Breath’ by Swami Saradananda is an easy to follow and inspiring book with many different breathing exercises. Conscious use of the breath is practised in hatha yoga which is an excellent way to deepen your connection to your body and another way to build good breathing habits. For local yoga classes in person and online I highly recommend Yoga Crow.
The vagus nerve is part of our parasympathetic nervous system and a great regulator of our body. It helps shift our body out of ‘fight or flight’ and into a calm balanced state. We are not able to consciously control the vagus but there are many activities that influence it indirectly. Breathing exercises mentioned above are one way and here are some more simple ones you can try;
Our digestive system has around 100 million neurons, which is why it is sometimes known as our ‘second brain’. Our gut does a lot more than just digest our food, it supports our immune system, reduces inflammation in the body and most relevant here, influences our mood and how anxious we feel. It does this by working very closely with our brain and our gut bacteria or gut microbiota. Our gut and the bacteria in it are able to produce natural mood regulating substances such a serotonin and dopamine. As you can see, having a healthy and diverse microbiome supports our overall health so if you are interested in learning more about the gut microbiome, Viola Sampson is a reliable source of information on this topic.
Full Body Presence
If you are lacking in energy, feel empty, or physically numb; or if you are recovering from an illness and have post viral fatigue; it can be difficult to find the energy and motivation to do anything at all. If this is how you are feeling right now then guided visualisations and meditations can be helpful, as they only require you to listen and can be done sitting or lying down. Suzanne Scurlock Durana a craniosacral therapist based in the USA has created her own visualisation called ‘Full Body Presence’ that will help you feel more energised and connected to your body. This audio is not free but you can hear a similar shorter version on Suzanne’s website for a taster. If you have a history of trauma, please be cautious when doing exercises that focus on body sensation. Remember you are in complete control throughout and can stop the audio at any time. You may find it helps to lighten your focus if you are struggling but do not continue if you feel at all uncomfortable.
Oils have been extracted from plants, seeds, and leaves for thousands of years. Plant oils have been used as food, in traditional forms of medicine like herbalism and of course in skin care too. Most natural skin care products harness the benefits of the huge array of plant oils available to keep skin healthy and looking good. I am often asked which plant oils I would recommend for skin care so here is a shortlist of some my favourite oils.
A light easily absorbed oil that contains trans-retinoic acid and vitamin C. Rosehip seed oil is very effective at promoting skin cell regeneration, and as a result is helpful for mature skin and in the healing of scars.
A lovely odourless golden coloured oil with the silkiest of textures. Jojoba oil has the ability to permeate the skin and to pool at the base of hair follicles. If the skins own oil is gathering here and blocking the pore Jojoba oil is able to help dissolve this build-up and as a result may help prevent spots. This makes Jojoba oil ideal for oily or combination skin, helping to keep it hydrated without making it greasy. Hazelnut oil is also a good alternative.
Evening Primrose and Borage
Both of these very light easily absorbed oils are rich in Gamma-linolenic-acid, a type of essential fatty acid needed for maintaining cell structure and function. If used in skin care they are anti-inflammatory and help establish and maintain normal skin function. This makes them ideal for sensitive or dry, scaly skin, and eczema, where the skin is not broken.
A beautiful copper coloured oil with a velvety texture and a nutty aroma, Argan oil contains vitamin E and is a powerful antioxidant that quenches free radicals. Ideal for dry, lacklustre skin and skin affected negatively by stress.
Avocado oil is thick and green and unless it is deodorised has a distinctive smell. This is one oil that will still retain its benefits if refined and does not need to be kept too cool as it will start to solidify. A very effective moisturiser, it contains vitamin E and A and is excellent for very dry skin.
Shea butter is actually a fat and not an oil but is well worth including in this list. Extracted from the Karite nut, Shea butter has anti-inflammatory properties, encourages cell regeneration and healing, which makes it ideal for dry chapped skin. It is a little heavy for the face but is very nourishing used as a hand or foot cream or body lotion.
Good quality oils can be costly so you might consider sharing some with a friend or you could try less expensive oils such as Apricot Kernel – great for sensitive skin or Sunflower seed a heavier oil which is good for use on the body.
All of these oils can be used on their own, but you might like to experiment by combining oils. A good combination for dry or mature skin would be to blend an active but readily absorbed oil like Rosehip with a heavier more emollient oil like Argan. This will provide the skin with regenerating nutrients whilst moisturising and nourishing. Apply by massaging into the skin after cleansing at night.
Some things to look out for when purchasing oils:
I am pleased to tell you that close contact services will be permitted in the Loughton area from the 2nd December 2020 so I will be able to do facials again with safety precautions in place. Unless there is a change to the local restrictions which mean I can't do treatments, these are the days I will be open during the festive period.
Monday 21 Tuesday 29 2 January 2021
Tuesday 22 Wednesday 30
Wednesday 23 Thursday 31
I will have all the usual safety precautions in place. Please wear a face covering or mask when you visit and remember all the usual rules apply so if you have had a high temperature, new continuous cough, have lost your sense of taste or smell or know you have been in contact with someone who has C-19 please cancel your appointment.
I think we will all agree that being told to stay indoors during ‘lockdown’ was something everyone found challenging. There has been a alot of research into how our bodies respond to being in nature. Intuitively we feel good when we are in a natural environment and we now have scientific evidence that shows being in a natural environment has a positive effect on our wellbeing.
If you live in West Essex where we have Epping Forest on our doorstep you may already enjoy a walk in the woods, however if you need encouragement to leave your comfy sofa keep reading as I have some facts that may convince you.
The Japanese, many of whom live in densely populated cities, have recognised the health benefits of being ‘in nature’ and taken this a step further by creating Shinrin-yoku or ‘forest bathing'. This term was first used in 1982 by the director of the Japanese Forestry Agency and refers to immersing oneself in a forest and connecting deeply to the environment through our senses. It is a very pleasurable exercise in immersing yourself in your sensory experience of the forest by paying close attention to the sights, sounds and smells of your natural surroundings.
Forest bathing does not involve strenuous activity so is accessible to anyone regardless of how fit they are. In fact it is best done slowly as the idea is to notice everything around you, both large and small. For example, the quality of light, the different types of plants and insects or wild animals, all of which might be missed if you are walking speedily by. It has been proven so effective at stress reduction that major corporations based in Tokyo regularly send their staff on Shinrin-yoku holidays.
Dr Yoshifumi Miyazaki pioneered studies over many years on the effect of forest bathing on the body and summarises the key results in a book he has written on the subject. The studies found that after two hours of ‘forest bathing’, cortisol, one of the hormones produced profusely when we are under stress, was reduced by 15.8%, pulse rate slowed by 3.9%, blood pressure dropped by 2.1% and parasympathetic nerve activity (the part of our nervous system that is more fully engaged when we feel calm) went up by 102%. (Miyazaki Y 2018). Of course, what cannot be measured is the pleasure and enjoyment we get from feeling so connected to our natural surroundings.
So why not try a little forest bathing yourself this season? Autumn is the time the forest puts on a huge show and the perfect chance for us to appreciate the beauty and wonder of the natural world. Learn more about forest bathing
I have implemented new hygiene measures: