Nailed it!

Nailed it!

Our top 10 tips for notoriously nice nails:

1 – Wear gloves

Simple and obvious, but often neglected.  From washing up to going out in the frosty weather you should always protect your nails (and your hands for that matter).  Nails are porous and will expand and contract with varying temperatures and varying moisture levels.  This cycle on a continuous basis will result in cracking and weaker nails.  The extra layer provided by gloves helps to keep the nails at a constant temperature and moisture.

2- Trim regularly

Like your hair, nails need to be trimmed regularly to keep them in best condition.  It is worth trimming once every two weeks and then adjusting the time between trims depending on how your nails grow.  Remember health is better than length, shorter stronger nails are always a better asset than long brittle ones.

3- File with style

When filing our nails, a common error is going back and forth with the coarsest nail file available.  It is better to nurture than force a change.  Use a minimum of 240 grade nail file and go in one direction only, try to avoid using a sawing action and go with the grain of the nail.  It results in a better finish and aids healthy growth.  Always keep a small nail file with you to deal with any rough edges as they appear so you do not end up catching them or making them worse as the day goes on.

4-Do not cut the cuticle, step away from the cuticle

The nail cuticle plays a key role in protecting your nail bed from bacteria.  It forms a seal to allow your nail to grow out from the nail bed without the risk of something nasty getting in.  If you are dead set on playing with the cuticles, only do so after a shower and use a clean wooden orange stick.  Then ensure you massage in some cuticle cream or lotion to speed up the sealing process again.  Using a cuticle oil twice daily morning and night is another excellent way to keep the cuticles in tip top condition.

5- Keep them clean

High level hand hygiene is a great way to keep your hands and nails looking great.  Using a gentle soft nail brush to move the daily debris.  This helps to remove any residual colour or acetone, both of which can dry the nails out.

6- Rely on what you apply

Always check the labels before applying anything to your nails (or any other part of your body to be honest) to ensure there are no nasty chemicals in the formulation.  Examples are: toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate.  Ensure you use a basecoat before applying any colour, this helps to prevent the nail from becoming stained and helps the colour applied to look for vibrant and less opaque.  Finally finish off with a top coat, this adds a nice sheen and prevents the colour form chipping, so you can make the most of your manicure.  Ideally a top coat applied every two to three days will keep your nails looking freshly finished for longer.

7- Wetter is better

The more moisture your nails have, the better condition they will be in.  This is the same for your skin and your body overall.  Hydration = healthy!  A good nail oil and hand cream or lotion should be part of your daily beauty regime.  This keeps the integrity of the nails high and mighty so even in the nude they will look awesome.

8-A little rest is best

Giving your nails a break from treatments and colours is another way to keep the end of your digits.  Think of it like a holiday, time for rest and recuperation so you can come back refreshed and ready for action.  The same goes for your nails, give them a holiday every now and then, a week of colour and then a weekend off is perfect, unless you have plans then fit a break in as you can.

9- You are what you eat

Having a balanced nutrient rich diet is going to help not just your nails, but your health overall.  For your nails, a diet containing nuts, fish and beans can give your nails a boost and keep them growing strong and healthy.

10- Super Supplements

There are times when your body needs a little more than your diet can give.  In this case, supplements such as biotin, vitamin E and more recently collagen have shown to give your nails a turbo boost.  These all help promote keratin production and can help give you the nails you have always wanted.

Ten Tips towards Younger Looking Skin

Ten Tips towards Younger Looking Skin

Want to keep your skin looking younger for longer? Then here are ten things that you need to be aware of.

  1. Do not be too much of a sun worshipper.

We all know a little sun always makes us and the rest of the world feel good. It is a clinical fact that a sunnier climate enhances our wellbeing. It is also now a clinical fact that the majority of us are vitamin D deficient. We need our brightest star to help produce vitamin D to keep our bones strong and healthy.

However, becoming a complete sun worshipper can have its disadvantages too. Like most things in life, everything is OK in moderation. Baking by the poolside or on the beach will not do your skin any favours.

Too much sun can lead to:

  • loss of skin elasticity
  • thinner and more translucent looking skin
  • wrinkles
  • dry and rough skin
  • broken capillaries on the face
  • freckles
  • liver spots
  • increased risk of skin cancer

So, if you want to keep your skin and the rest of your body healthy do not spend too much time in direct sun light. Cover up your bare skin, use a good sun cream, and slap up before you step out!

  1. Try and reduce that Carb Kick!

Some of our favourite guilty pleasures will not be doing our skin or for that matter the rest of our body any favours. Foods that are rich in sugars and starches are actually pro-inflammatory; this means they make your body react in the same way it would if you had an infection or injured yourself. This inevitably has a negative impact on your skin and wellbeing, including:

  • accelerating the ageing process
  • increasing the storage of body fat
  • the risk of diabetes
  • the risk of heart disease

and with respect to your skin:

  • loss of skin radiance
  • dark circles around the eyes
  • loss of skin tone
  • increased puffiness leading to loss of facial contours
  • increased pore size
  • increase in fine lines and wrinkles

You would be quite surprised by the amount of cheeky sugars that are lurking in everyday food and drink. Some examples are:

  • Ready-made convenience foods have sugars added by the manufacturers; these could be high fructose corn syrup, sucrose and glucose – all fancy names for sugar.
  • Fizzy or mixed squash drinks.
  • Fruit juices, although they do contribute to your 5 a day, limit the amount to 150ml.
  • Honey, syrups, fruit concentrates and nectars.
  • Cheeky sprinkle on cereal or added to hot drinks.

Be kind to your body and in turn your skin, reduce the simple carbs for a healthier and happier you.

  1. Smoking

Smoking is extremely damaging to your health and your skin. Just one puff of smoke leads to over a trillion free radicals being produced in your lungs. Free radicals are chemicals that cause your cells to mutate and also trigger an inflammatory response in your body. Prolonged inflammatory response is known to cause all types of ailments, including predisposition to heart disease. This inflammatory response occurs all over the body, not just in the lungs. As a result, your skin also suffers:

  • The amount of oxygen available to your skin reduces.
  • The level of vital nutrients including vitamin C, vital for plump, moist and youthful skin are significantly reduced.
  • Tobacco causes our blood vessels to constrict temporarily causing blood pressure to rise. This reduces the amount of blood flowing to the skin. The result is grey, pallid, lifeless and unhealthy looking skin.
  • Smoking will lead to premature ageing of the skin and therefore an increase in fine lines and wrinkles.

Quite obvious really, do not smoke and your skin stays healthier. The good news is, even if you are a smoker if you quit, all of the above can be reduced or reversed. A good anti-oxidant is also very helpful in ‘mopping up’ all those dangerous free radicals.

Be good to yourself and your skin, don’t smoke!

  1. Stress

The major destructive force in all our lives! The pro-inflammatory and pro-ageing force of stress is really quite something. Stress causes hormonal changes in our bodies which have a profound effect on the cells all over, including our skin. The stress hormone is known as cortisol, when large amounts are released into our blood stream for long periods, it is extremely toxic. Excess cortisol can lead to:

  • reduction in brain cells
  • reduced immune systems effectiveness
  • decrease in muscle mass
  • shrinkage in the size of other vital organs

The effect on the skin is profound; it can lead to thinning of the skin, accelerated skin ageing and therefore an increase in fine lines and wrinkles as well as increased visibility of blood vessels under the skin.

As difficult as it may be, one must find inner peace and reach the level of Zen to look after your mind, body and soul. Oh, it is also quite beneficial to your skin!

  1. Too much alcohol

The late night tipple or full on party night may feel like a good idea at the time, but we all know we pay for it the next day, and as we age, probably the next week. There is a common misconception that having plenty of water with your favourite alcoholic drink will counteract the negative effects. It is true that this may help to alleviate the dehydration caused; however, the negative effects of alcohol last longer than the simple dehydration. Alcohol is broken down to aldehydes; these chemicals can lead to cell damage which has a negative effect on your skin. Also, the blood vessels in your skin widen resulting in a flushed appearance and over time rupturing of the capillaries in the skin of the face. Alcohol induced dehydration also causes the skin to be more prone to fine lines, wrinkles and quicker ageing.

Remember that one drink can have effects that last for days and your skin will show it. It is not all bad news though, as with all things we enjoy, moderation is key. Chin, chin!

  1. Lack of sleep

Being a morning person may be one of the hardest things to achieve! A good night’s sleep ensures you start the day with a refreshed and radiant glow. Puffy eye syndrome and dull skin can all be attributed to a lack of ‘good sleep’. There is more science behind this than meets the eye. Sleep actually reduces the negative effects of cortisol and our adrenal hormones (used in the fight or flight reflex), all of which are increased during stress. During sleep, the hormone melatonin is actually released; this has a significant positive impact on our immune system and our skin. It is during our restful state that we build up our energy reserves and repair and rejuvenate our cells. Studies have shown inadequate sleep can lead to weight gain and a craving for fatty and carb loaded foods. A vicious cycle ensues. So the key to a more youthful, radiant and healthier you, plenty of exercise and then plenty of z’s.

  1. Lack of Exercise

The science that shows the health benefits of exercise is both plentiful and enlightening. A correct exercise regime will melt away the pounds, lower blood pressure, increase the happy endorphins circulating in your body, reduce the risk of certain cancers and also make your skin more beautiful. Studies show that exercise can have the same benefits on your skin as it does on your bone and muscle, all of which contain abundant amounts of collagen. If you look at the skin of a ‘gym junkie’ compared to a ‘couch potato’, the difference is quite dramatic. The greater the fitness level, the healthier the skin. There is a greater abundance and higher quality of collagen fibres in ‘fit skin’ than in unhealthy skin. Collagen fibres are what give our skin its strength, integrity and flexibility, so the more collagen present in the skin, the healthier and more youthful it will be. As with everything, moderation is also key in exercise, as long as we do not overdo it, an active lifestyle will have a profound, positive effect on your mind, wellbeing and skin.

  1. Not eating enough protein.

Protein is essential for cell repair. Our skin cells are constantly shedding and therefore we need enough raw materials to ensure we can rebuild and maintain the integrity of our skin. A lack of protein, either meat or plant derived is first notable on the face. Our features become softer, we lose the contoured cheekbones and jaw line blur into one soft shape. Our bodies are not designed to store protein, if we do not eat enough of this food group, the body will start to look at alternative sources. These being tissue and muscle, this inevitably leads to a reduction in collagen in the skin and other tissue and can cause the skin to age far quicker than it should. For great skin, eat a healthy balanced diet, maybe consisting of the odd big steak or bowl of humus to keep our building blocks in plentiful supply.

  1. Going Fat Free

Fat on the whole gets a bad press. True, there are many fats that are not good for us, but there are also plenty that we need and can give great health benefits. The ‘super-fats’, especially omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats have amazingly powerful anti-inflammatory effects and also improve the skin’s moisture, texture, suppleness and smoothness. Our good fats are found in many delicious ingredients: salmon, sardines, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados and acai berries to name a few. The fats in these foods help us absorb nutrients from our vegetables and fruits. This results in our minds being sharp, our mood upbeat and our skin glowing and wrinkle free.

  1. Not Drinking Enough H2O

Water should be our favourite drink! Without water our organs and cells will not function, if we do not drink enough, we cannot metabolize fat nor can we flush the waste products from our cells. Again, one should not overdo the intake of water, about two litres per day is perfect. A dehydrated body provokes the development of ageing and also causes the production of inflammatory chemicals. Drink enough water to keep your body in tip top shape and your skin will show it by being more radiant, soft and supple. Remember the difference between a crinkly prune and plump plum is water!

Pupinder Ghatora MPharm MRPharmS SCS and David Hyland MSc MBA CEng

Co-founders of Ingenious Beauty

February 2016

The Amazing History of Collagen

The Amazing History of Collagen

In search of lost youth

When holding a bottle of biologically active collagen peptide in our hands we hardly ever consider how many years, how much effort, research and experimentation it took to obtain it.

Few realise that the delicate preparation in the capsules is practically the very same substance we are built of, the substance we begin to lose faster and faster as we get older.

Collagen makes up 25% of the dry mass of our body and 75% of the dry mass of our connective tissue. It would probably win the contest for the most important protein in our body. It is a live frame underpinning the tissues of our various bodily organs. Moreover, it has to be intelligent, able to conform to the demands of different organs as diverse as skin, bones, ligaments, kidneys, blood vessels, heart, eyes, or liver. Its structure is even more sophisticated than a DNA particle, containing our genetic code.

Our body synthesises collagen continuously. Every year approximately 3 kg of our collagen undergoes degradation while another 3 kg is created. It is synthesised from 20 different amino acids into huge chains made up of 1,000 amino acids each. It creates gigantic triple helixes: complicated spiral conformations each made of three polypeptide chains, whose sophisticated structure resembles a Bach fugue.

There will come a time, however, when we run short of collagen. The process of its renewal can be disturbed due to disease, stress, UV rays, contact with synthetic chemical substances or other harmful factors; or when its synthesis starts to slow, which happens as we grow older. After the age of 25, we start to lose collagen from our bodies at a rate of 1.5% per year, so by the age of 45, up to 30% of our body’s collagen will have been lost.

Considering the importance of collagen in our body, it is no wonder that science has long been working on methods of obtaining this protein which would make it effectively applicable in medicine and cosmetic science.

Chase after collagen

For centuries, scientists and beauty therapists have fought to improve the appearance of the visible effects of ageing upon the human complexion; searching for ways to reduce facial lines and wrinkles, improve skin elasticity, enhance hair thickness and gloss, and strengthen brittle fingernails to create a more youthful look.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ejiao (made from Donkey-hide Gelatine) has been used since ancient times. Many stories have been told about famous people taking Ejiao.

  • Cao Zhi (192-232), the great writer, was unnaturally thin. But he was so invigorated by taking Ejiao that he called it an elixir.
  • Yang Yuhuan was one of the four great beauties of ancient China. She lived at the time of the Tang Dynasty?618-907?and was said to have had the fairest skin of any woman. The poet Xiao Xingzao showed that every day Yang ate Ejiao soup which was made from Ejiao, rice wine, walnuts, black sesame and crystal sugar.
  • The Song Dynasty(960-1279) philosopher Zhu Xi once wrote to his mother, advising her to take Ejiao frequently in order to extend her life.
  • Li Hongzhang, a minister at the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) court, travelled to Britain in 1896. He was 74 years old at the time, and throughout the long journey he took medicines he had brought from the imperial palace, including Ejiao, and returned to China in good health.

In pursuit of collagen

In the modern era, cosmetic scientists all over the world use “collagen” – though it is usually obtained from cows (bovine) – and have been using it for many decades. However, does bovine-extracted collagen really resemble the bioactive triple helixed collagen (tropocollagen) which makes up the organs of living vertebrates?

Scientific efforts to obtain biologically active collagen peptide were pioneered in the 1960s by Paul Börnstein, who developed an extraction-based method of obtaining collagen. After many years, however, this outstanding collagen researcher admitted that what he had obtained was not in fact biologically active collagen, but only partial and incomplete fragments of its triple helix, a lacklustre result stemming from irrecoverable degradation in his extraction process.

In spite of this, later attempts at obtaining collagen were still based on an extraction methodology. Yet these processes turned out to be too aggressive to collagen, and damaged the delicate bonds of the triple helix. The result of those methods was yet more examples of collagen particle degradation.

In a figurative sense, bone glue, fried fish or gelatine are, and can be called, “collagen”, even though they are in fact a result of collagen degeneration. The difference between the above and biologically active collagen is that they are not “intact”. During the process of their production the enormous sophisticated collagen triple helix disintegrates once and for all, unable to regain its previous properties. After all, no one puts grilled salmon on their face in the hope of getting rid of wrinkles.

While degenerated “collagen” may turn out to be helpful in some cosmetic applications; it can by no means compete with “intact” biologically active collagen and its role in the human body and skin.

Born on the sea: marine collagen peptide

The beginnings of the breakthrough in collagen research go back to the 1980s. Scientists from Gdansk (Maria Sadowska, Ilona Ko?odziejska, Eugeniusz Krajewski) carried out trailblazing experiments in the field of marine peptide biochemistry. In 1985, chemists from the Gdansk Polytechnic (Mieczys?aw Skrodzki, Antoni Michniewicz, and Henryk Kujawa), extracted collagen from fish skin. Their research continued, their methods were being improved.

What the scientists discovered, and refined, was the method of hydrolysation. Hydrolysation preserves the delicate bonds of the collagen helix and thus makes it possible to obtain tropocollagen – intact collagen – identical with collagen synthesised in the organisms of vertebrates, and most crucially, the collagen peptide produced is biologically active and akin to the collagen synthesised in your body. Moreover, collagen obtained from fish is safer than collagen obtained from mammals; it also has a better chemical and physical durability.

Bioactive Collagen – such as inside us

Thanks to all these efforts by the Polish scientists, methods of collagen production were devised which managed to preserve its unique spatial conformation – the triple helix made up of amino acid chains. This is why nowadays collagen advancements, and the resulting benefits of supplementation, achieve what was previously impossible given substandard collagen peptide extraction (and which cosmetic science has been using to date).

Namely, hydrolysed collagen can replenish collagen deficits in the organs of the human body including collagen deficits in the dermis – improving and reducing wrinkle formation and appearance. The results, making us look younger and improving our internal wellbeing, are truly ingenious.

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