Hi! It’s been an age since I last wrote a blog and I thought I’d better check in!

First and foremost I hope you and your families haven’t personally suffered with Covid. We’ve all been affected in some way by this terrible Virus; whether it’s home schooling, isolating, losing your income, stress, anxiety – I honestly hope you’re coping and are at very least okish!

My daughter left home in November so I spent my first Christmas without her- very odd! My sister was obviously unable to leave her home in Cyprus as she usually does, and although I did see my mum on Christmas Day it was far from normal! Thankfully my husband’s business is ticking over and luckily he very rarely needs to see anyone so we’re both quite hermit like! The dog is clearly confused and wondering where all her fans have gone again!

As many of you may know I have taken on a massive challenge of late! At the beginning of lockdown .2 in November, I resolutely decided that I needed to make the most of another enforced halt to my business; I needed structure, a reason to get up in the morning and something to mentally stretch myself- something I’d never usually have the opportunity/ time to do.

My favourite part of my job as a beauty therapist- indeed the reason I became one 35 years ago is facials; I adore both the holistic and electrical aspect but I am increasingly adding more advanced, results driven treatments to my menu. I particularly love doing chemical peels but of course they did not even exist back in the 1980’s when I did my 2yr City and Guilds/ IHBC training.

Obviously I have a good background knowledge in anatomy and physiology, skin diseases and disorders as well as decades of experience, many accredited and CPD courses, but the progression in science and product formulation is growing expediently and despite good manufacturers training courses, I have felt a little out of my depth and to be honest was suffering with’ imposter syndrome!’

In order for me to feel 100% confident in my services and advise I knew I had to invest both a lot of money and time to update, so I bit the bullet and terrifyingly spent my savings on a CIBTAC Advanced Aesthetics/ skin science course- levels 4 & 5. 90% of level 4 is theory and the copious amount of class notes, slides and audio teaching is available online. I also have a course tutor at the end of the phone. There’s a lot of research and essay writing to keep me busy for months- indeed it takes most people 1-3 yrs to complete under normal circumstances. Hopefully by the time I’m ready to do the practical part and formal examinations we’ll be out of lockdown. Level 5 is predominantly advanced practical training and assessments but I’m a long way off that as yet!

This qualification is the only OFQUAL recognised qualification in our industry and is equivalent to the first two years of a degree. It is possible to do level 4 training in individual treatments but this is not government recognised- only the full CIBTAC course covering literally everything one could possibly need to know about working in an aesthetic practise is deemed adequate. So far I am only 20% of the way through level 4 and I have barely touched on any treatment protocols! So far I’ve been studying the magnetic light spectrum, legalities, clinical governance/ compliancy; medical audits, understanding the work of the MHRA, JCCP, CPSA, CQC, professional ethics, duty of care, government guidelines, H&S etc. I’ve researched nutritional supplements for the skin, written essays comparing various cosmeceutical ranges and the ingredients/ percentages of actives, looked at clinical trials and much more!

I am now onto module 3: Microbiology- and it’s certainly not easy for a 51 yr old menopausal woman to remember, identify or even pronounce the Latin terminology but what a truly mind-
blowing subject- one that has seriously piqued my interest! On top of my course notes, I’ve gone off piste and am also reading books on the fascinating and all-consuming subject of the gut-brain-skin axis! I am now so excited to get back into the salon and use my newly acquired knowledge. My consultations have always been thorough but I’m now realising I hardly touched the surface! From now on they will be truly multi-layered with a lot more emphasis on inner health and wellbeing, with my prime focus on gut health and the microbiome.

A healthy microflora is vital for the absorption of essential nutrients, the production of enzymes and various substances such as collagen. 90% of our Serotonin (feel good hormone) is also produced there- indeed all our hormones and metabolism are controlled by the bacteria that colonise our insides! It makes total sense therefore, that inflammation in the gut caused by the prevalence of pathogenic (bad bacteria) will affect the entire body, not just those seen in inflammatory skin conditions such as acne vulgaris, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis, but also in Crohns, fibromyalgia and arthritis to name but a few! It’s a mind field – can you imagine how much money the NHS would save if this subject was taught in schools?

I have just started my own personal journey with supplements, taking them both day and night plus probiotics. Indeed I will be reopening after lockdown as a stockist of probiotics and collagen supplements. Did you know the body loses 1-1.5% of its collagen after the age of 20?

Taking a bioavailable supplement will be an added bonus in the antiaging fight!

This doesn’t mean topically applied products aren’t important; good skincare and professional treatments are still right up there on the list, but can you imagine just how amazing the combination of the two could be? Your skin, hair, nails, eyes would be enviable; radiating health and vitality from within as literally every system in the body starts working efficiently and symbiotically- from the nervous system with the production of melatonin, the balance of cortisol /enhanced sleep, to an improved mental health, energy and pain levels PLUS perfect pH levels for your skins own microflora- the list goes on and on!!

Back to probiotics; you can make a start by eating fermented foods. Yogurts (and I don’t mean the diet kind! – artificial sweeteners play havoc with your microbiome) Soya sauce, miso, sauerkraut or
even better- Kimchee (oh so good- google the recipe). Additionally, prebiotics are also really important; so garlic, onions, chickpeas, asparagus, okra are all great sources.
Sleep, something I have long struggled with is my number one priority at the moment! As my vitamins and supplements kick in, I’m positive this will improve. Sitting in front of a blue light/ pc all day studying, is not helping ,either my ability to switch off or my skin’s health, so I must get around to ordering a screen filter!

We all know the importance of fresh air, exercise, not eating / drinking caffeine or alcohol too near bed time, turning off our devices, winding down at a sensible time- (and I am trying!) But here’s a few more ideas for anyone who’s struggling…

Top sleep tips:

1. Ashwaganda powder (certainly not something I’d ever heard of before) apparently is remarkable- taken before bed, it quickly puts you into a restful sleep by lowering cortisol. – I ordered some yesterday! Pukka have also started making teabags too!
2. Eat 2x Kiwi fruit before bed time- magnesium is the magic ingredient and will put you into a deep slumber- even if your bladder awakes you, you should be able to get straight back into it!
3. Epsom Salts bath – preferably with some of my Eve Taylor Anti-stress bath & body oil thrown in for good measure. Smells amazing with the essential oils of Pettigrain, Lavender, Mandarin and Ylang Ylang.
4. Eve Taylor #10 Relaxing Body Serum pressed into shoulders and inhaled deeply from cupped palms or applied to the soles of the feet is great for anxiety, irritability, stress, tension and insomnia!
5. Whim Hof –breathing exercises- haven’t tried this myself yet- check out videos on Youtube!
6. Download the ‘Calm’ app to your phone- there are some lovely bedtime stories- some read by the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Harry Styles (who knew he had such a calming voice?- highly recommend that one!) And Cillian Murphy (I look forward to that!) and I really enjoyed my Queen Mary Cruise in 1938- very visual! I haven’t made it to the end of a story yet! Additionally, there are some nice rituals/ meditations that actually aren’t too annoying! I must make that a regular part of my day!
7. Journaling immediately after a meditation is apparently a really good way of getting rid of those blasted, obscure thoughts that fill your head all night too!
8. Alexa has loads of ambient sound that you can play on a loop- if you love the sound of thunder storms, oceans, rainforests, electric fans, crackling fireplaces, crickets- this may well help you nod off. (There are loads with babbling brooks but I find the sound of running water isn’t conducive to a good night’s sleep!)
If you have any other recommendations please let me know!!

This lockdown is thankfully going by very quickly- I honestly don’t know where my days go to! I am never bored but I do tend to spend too long procrastinating especially with the advent of Clubhouse!
At least you can listen whilst doing something else and it is both very educational and social! If you haven’t yet joined, I have some invitations- so give me a shout!!

If you haven’t already signed the online petition to lower our VAT rate in line with that of the hospitality industry, please take a moment to help us- It would make such a big difference to salon owners -when we reopen we once again will be binning products that are past ‘Use by’ dates and spend money we haven’t got on repurchasing new!

I can’t wait to reopen and I was thrilled to hear Matt Hancock tell us yesterday that all over 50’s will have the jab by May! Whilst we will still obviously have to take the utmost care for a while to come; I hope those of you who will also have had the jab by then, will feel confident to return knowing we’re both immunised and therefore relatively safe. It will definitely take a lot of my anxiety away anyway!

Although we are promised some snow, spring is finally on its way; new beginnings, hope for the end of restrictions and a return to normal is promised! I can’t wait to get my hair done! dressed up and
go out for dinner, meet friends, go to the theatre (all a long way off- I need to earn some money first!) but loooong, oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin fuelled hugs are free and I will be overdosing!!

Please try to always shop local- products, Mother’s Day gifts, gift voucher orders, pamper box orders are always received with love and gratitude.

Until we meet again, take care, stay safe, we’re nearly there!!

Kirsten x