Thursday, 28 January 2010

Your health - it's written all over your face.

Now, I’m not one of those people that believes everything I’m told, and I can see how others may not get this at all, but something that really interests me is Chinese Facial Diagnosis. I recently attended a seminar by Dermalogica’s main skin expert and found it really interesting as she explained it so well and helped me to understand it in relation to a modern, Western world. Whether you believe in this or not, it is pretty interesting and I guarantee you’ll be looking in the mirror analysing your face after reading this (as well as parents/siblings/spouse/children/neighbours/people on the tube...)

Basically, the Chinese believe that the face isa map of the body, and any unbalance or illness inside will show up on the face in forms of breakouts, redness, heat etc. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something wrong, just that there is disharmony within that particular organ. In the Western world the body is compartmentalised but the Chinese think of it as a whole, almost like an orchestra, meaning that if one ‘instrument’ is playing out of tune, then it will affect the whole sound – the face is seen as an indictor of this.

According to Eastern medicine, we have invisible energy flowing through us (chi) and meridians are different points throughout the body that connect this flow to keep it running smoothly (they are also the points that acupuncturists use). For a truly healthy energy, the chi must be able to flow freely through the meridian network and any blockages in between these points can cause a strain upon all the connected organs.

The Chinese also use the Five Elements and each has a corresponding face shape which tells the face reader that certain energies, talents, or possible health problems may be found in this person’s make up.

Wood – long face, long nose, broad forehead, narrow cheeks.

Personality: They seek challenges and will push themselves to the limit. Work well under pressure and admire novelty and skill. They love action and adventure and want to be the first, best and only. On the downside they are intolerant, impatient and volatile, and tend to have an addictive personality.

Fire – wider across the jaw and narrower at the top, pointed chin, pointed forehead.

Personality: Pursues excitement and delights in intimacy, intuitive, passionate, and charismatic. Loves sensationalism, drama and sentiment. Bad points would be anxiety and agitation, bizarre perceptions -fanciful ideas and can suffer from nerves and exhaustion.

Metal – oval face shape with wider cheekbones and often a pale complexion.

Personality: Very disciplined and structured, values virtue and discretion and likes to live according to these principles. They have very high standards and respect beauty and refinement. Negatives would be that they can be very different and detached, formal, autocratic and self-righteous.

Water – round, soft face with large eyes. Often dark hair and colouring.

Personality: Articulate and clever, self sufficient, critical and seeks knowledge. They like to remain enigmatic and anonymous. Downsides are they can be emotionally inaccessible and can feed isolation and loneliness. Can be unforgiving and suspicious.

Earth – distinct jaw line, sallow complexion and thickset body.

Personality: Wants to be needed, likes to be in charge but not in the limelight, very agreeable and accommodating and seeks harmony and security. On the bad side they can become over-protective and can over extend themselves, leaving them to often become lethargic and inert and can have unrealistic expectations so are often disappointed. They worry and can become obsessed by things and often full of self-doubt.

So, once you’ve determined your face shape and had a good look at where the disharmony is showing up on your face, you can now start reading the face as a map. My below descriptions are very basic (and the map I’ve used is Dermalogica’s so not an official Chinese Medicine one - apologies for my shading too!)…it really is interesting though and you can go into so much more detail than I have, so have a look around on the internet!

Zones 1 and 3 represent the digestion and bladder. If there is something permanent, such as a mole, on a specific area then this is seen as an inherent weakness, rather than something temporary that can be ‘fixed’. Deeper lines which aren’t simply expression lines suggest a long term problem. Shorter term problems in this area are breakouts, pigmentation etc which suggests that perhaps there is a bladder infection or a problem with digestion which can be solved. If this area is very dry then it suggests that the bladder is overworked and you should drink more water.

Zone 2 is the liver. This is also known as the ‘wine and dine’ area and often things can show up here if you have been overindulging in rich food and drink. Breakouts etc can also occur here if you eat late and night which can overwork your liver as it slows down at around 8pm, or it could be too much animal fat or dairy produce which the liver finds hard to digest. A deep line down this area can really suggest long-term overindulgence or damage to the liver.

Zones 4 and 10 (ears) represent the kidneys. If your ears are redder than the skin on your face, then this can represent you overworking your adrenal glands which work very closely with the kidneys.

Zones 5 and 9 are the lungs, gums and teeth. Either side of the nose represents the lungs, and if these feel puffy, it means the lungs aren’t happy which may suggest allergies or a cold. You will also find that smokers often have a deep line by the nose and puffiness either side. The gums and teeth are the outside part of the cheek and things such as persistent breakouts in this area are a good indicator that you should visit the dentist! Redness, puffiness and breakouts around the nostrils and lower cheek can also indicate too many dairy products which produce mucus and congestion in the lungs. You may be on the verge of a bronchial infection if this area suddenly becomes red and dry.

Zones 6 and 8 (the eyes) are the kidneys again as well as the liver. Any imbalance in this area means you are working too hard and not flushing the toxins out of your body, which is also why lack of sleep can cause the puffiness and dark circles here (although if it’s inherited it’s not the same), as your body needs rest to do this properly. Cutting down on caffeine and increasing water intake will help with this. If the area is dark brown and has a congested look, your liver could be stressed, possibly through pent-up frustration or rich food and alcohol. If this indication is combined with one-sided headaches, jaw tension and two vertical lines between the eyebrows you could find that fat and hormone metabolism are to blame. If the two vertical lines from the end of the eyebrows are combined with two smaller hook-shaped lines, this means that the gall bladder is also showing stress.

Zone 7 (the nose) represents the heart, and the upper lip is the reproductive area. Someone who has high blood pressure may find they have a redder nose, and a paler nose could indicate low blood pressure. Have you ever noticed people who drink too much have a very red nose?! The upper lip is also really indicative and things such as pigmentation here suggest hormone imbalances such as the pill or pregnancy.

The mouth is the stomach and intestines. The top lip shows the stomach and the bottom lip shows the colon. If the gap between the nose and chin is squashed then it may represent lower body problems while someone with thinner lips may be prone to constipation and bigger lips are the opposite. Dry lips can suggest a dry colon (nice!) as in constipation, however in the Western world we do need to consider things such as central heating and lip balm addictions (of which I am guilty!)

Zones 11 and 13 are the ovaries. This is where I have the majority of my skin problems, and it is always at ‘that time of the month’. The scary thing with this is that it can even indicate which side you’re ovulating from depending on where the breakouts are! If there are continual breakouts in this area though, rather than monthly, then it could be a sign of an ongoing problem.

Zone 12 represents the small intestine. A cleft in the chin can even indicate being more prone to piles! Problems here suggest there are issues getting rid of waste from the body and when you change your diet, this is often where breakouts can occur. If the chin is red and swollen, it may mean that there is a structural weakness in the organs, Candida or stuck energy in the abdomen.

Zone 14 is the area which represents the adrenal glands, and this also includes the jaw line. Again, I get breakouts along the jaw line when I’m stressed, and people also experience pigmentation in this area when they are overworked.

As Coco Chanel said, “we get the face we deserve” and that could not be more true than when looking at the effects of diet and lifestyle on the skin. You may or may not believe in this type of thing, but I feel there’s no harm in taking a closer look at where you are experiencing problems on the face, and changing for the better!

Monday, 25 January 2010

Lovin' Lily's nails...

The gorgeous taupe nail varnish Lily Allen was wearing at Chanel’s SS/10 catwalk show in Paris is the latest bang-on-trend colour from the fashion power house. Particuli√®re (RRP £16) is sure to sell out fast so if you can’t get your hands/nails on one, or the recession is still biting, then read on for Secret Beauty Blogger’s alternatives…

Leighton Denny On The Rocks, £10 RRP

Orly Coffee Break, £8.50 RRP

Essie Jazz, £8.95 RRP

Nails Inc Jermyn Street, £10.95 RRP

OPI Over The Taupe, £9.50 RRP

Butter London Fash Pack, £10 RRP

This fab colour looks so chic and complements any outfit, even on my pale skin it still works!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Natural Nails

I don’t know about you, but I find that during the cold months of winter, it’s not just my hands that are dry, but my nails really feel it too. One product I can’t live without to combat this is my Solar Oil by Creative Nail Design (£9.95 RRP). It’s lasted me a good couple of years already and is a lovely blend of naturally light oils and Vitamin E, which deeply penetrate into the nails and surrounding skin to really moisturise and revive dry, brittle nails. It also acts as a great finisher for when you’ve put fresh polish on as it dries it quickly and really hydrates the nail. The effects are immediate if the nails have started to dry out, and used daily it really helps prevent this happening.

The Nails Inc Vitamin E oil pen (RRP £11) is a nice ‘on-the-go’ version which is great to keep in your handbag, although the Solar Oil does feel slightly richer and the effects seem to last longer.

 Secret Beauty Verdict: Even just using the Solar Oil once a week, my nails are in much better condition and stay strong.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

I'm in love...with a foundation!

I know I’ve written a lot of posts about flawless skin and the products that can help to achieve this, but for the past few years this seems to have been my biggest beauty mission! It shouldn’t be the case, but flawless, clear skin seems to suggest health, beauty and radiance, so if you can’t naturally have these, then use products to fake it!

I have a friend who works for a big cosmetics company, and suggested a rival foundation that apparently everyone in the business uses, although most have to pretend they use their own. The product she was talking about is Estee Lauder’s Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup SPF 10 foundation (£24.50 RRP). I don’t tend to use Estee Lauder as it seems to have connotations of being slightly frumpy, but when I tried this foundation…wow. Most people wouldn’t understand how you can actually fall in love with a beauty product, which is why it so nice to be able to declare my undying love for this foundation with fellow beauty addicts like yourselves – I know you won’t judge me for being materialistic!

Seriously though, this foundation is A-MA-ZING! It offers full coverage which some people don’t like, so if you’re after more of a sheer, dewy effect, this one perhaps isn’t for you (although there is a light version available), but for those of us with imperfections that need covering and oil that needs blotting, you HAVE to sample this. There are 19 shades to choose from and it contains SPF 10 so you should be able to get the shade that matches you exactly. Next time you pass the Estee Lauder counter, ask to be matched and to try a sample (they’re really generous samples too) and I promise you’ll love it. You have to apply it quite quickly as it does set to stay in place, but it doesn’t feel at all heavy and truly does last all day…I had a bit of a cold and it still didn’t budge even when blowing my nose all day!

I really can’t say a bad word about this foundation, I bought one in the Summer when I had a slight tan and have had to get another shade for Winter as you do need it to be a good match for the skin tone, but you only need to use a tiny bit and once opened the bottle lasts two years which, with the two different shades for different seasons, actually won’t be far off. One tip I would say though if you use this is to make sure you use an eyebrow pencil or clear mascara on your brows, as it does get into the eyebrows slightly but the coverage really is flawless. I use my hands to cover all over my face and neck (using the tiniest amount, not even pea-sized) and then a sponge to blend around the hair and jaw line, with a tiny bit more on a foundation brush to do my nose and pigmentation/blemishes around the chin – I also don’t need to wear concealer anymore when I use it!

Anyway, I’ll stop gushing now but seriously girls, go and sample this and fall in love like I did!