Welcome to the September newsletter where we globally launch a new skincare brand, The Ordinary. After that I need to report that there has been an uprising amongst us and I introduce you to Mastic Must, the newest product from NIOD. I also write about a product which hasn’t been released yet, but became an overnight bestseller and we release another Kerecis product, the third in the series from this amazing Icelandic medical brand. Somewhere amongst all of this is a treat and we also throw the focus on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). But first, The Ordinary:
The Ordinary was created to celebrate integrity in its most humble and true form. Its birth indirectly celebrates The Extraordinary. The Ordinary is the third skincare concept to be launched under the DECIEM umbrella, following Hylamide and NIOD.
Hylamide and NIOD both launched last year; both were exceptional skincare ranges and both were destined to change everything in the beauty industry. Both were pioneering in their individual ways and as Hylamide was designed to serve a broader audience, NIOD was niche. I am often asked the difference between the two and it is very simple, whereas Hylamide may have five advanced technologies in any given formulation, NIOD will have eleven; whereas some of the Hylamide products will give more rapid results, the core NIOD products are formulated for the longer-term, concentrating on the health and integrity of our skin. We could have launched both, but we didn’t. We chose NIOD.
The NIOD journey has been extraordinary, but NIOD is extraordinary. I have written about NIOD on every single newsletter since inception, which in itself is pretty extraordinary. Since the beginning of VH time, our message has not changed; we are totally unbiased in the products and the brands we choose to list on our site. The unbiased then transforms into the biased when we are absolutely certain that we are sharing the very best in class across all categories in health, wellbeing and beauty. NIOD is in a class unto itself.
However rock solid my belief system is, I am not complacent; I never have been and never will be and I am forever experimenting. I will leave a product out of my regimen for several days to see if it makes any difference, it does. I once went cold turkey on CAIS, the core NIOD product, for over a week, my skin was not happy. I have of course done this before, mostly with supplementation and notably with HA, but I have to do it just to double-check myself as I continuously write about making a stand for the truth in all things.
I am now making another stance, and I make this stance with Brandon holding my hand. Together we made a pact and a promise that we would change everything in health and beauty; neither of us understood why skincare products are being sold at such high prices; we don’t understand the £200+ products; we don’t understand some of the £80 products; we don’t understand the claims and we don’t understand how some very effective but widely-available technologies, such as Retinoids and Matrixyl, are still being pushed out as ground-breaking and if we don’t understand, and we are in the industry, how on earth is anybody else meant to understand.
So please allow me to introduce you to The Ordinary. At this point, I would like to say that this was my brainchild, but it wasn’t. It was Brandon’s. He went into the lab and created a series of formulations. They are effective; they are credible; but in context of where technology is today, they are ordinary; and they form The Ordinary. They are rather similar to products you will find everywhere. Some of those ‘everywhere’ products are rather expensive, some not so, some of those ‘everywhere’ products describe themselves as if they were going to save the world and your skin alongside it. They won’t and if we know they won’t, you need to know the same.
The Ordinary is an evolving range of skincare products; they make a statement. In their own way they are pioneering, not in the technologies they use, but in their honesty and integrity. The Ordinary begins its journey with ten clinical formulations, such as Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% (£4.90), Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 (£5.90) and Matrixyl 10% + HA (£9).
The Ordinary exists because we believe that there should be a choice in all things. We also believe in delivering simple messages. The Ordinary products range in price from £4.90 upwards to £12.70, representing what fair pricing for such products would be. The Ordinary is born to disallow commodity to be disguised as ingenuity. The Ordinary are ‘clinical formulations with integrity’. We invite you to explore.
NIOD (The Extraordinary)
In the entire history of newsletters, we have never, ever received as much feedback as we did from the August newsletter. It was of course all about NIOD and it wasn’t because of a new product launch because we didn’t launch anything new, aside from Neck Elasticity Catalyst which we released in a larger size and which, incidentally, flew out after I wrote about the NIOD ‘boob job’. It happened because of you and it happened because I shared some very special emails that had been sent to us. It also happened because those emails could have been written by any one of us who are on this journey as we can all relate, but mostly it happened because the message was so incredibly profound, with NIOD we have come home and we are home to stay.
As above, our entire ethos has always been to stand up and tell the truth, no matter what; we are all the same and if we are to change everything, then together we must be that change. And we are, we really are. And we are because of the trust we have between us, which is so special and makes me emotional because I know it is a rare thing. And as the emails and phone calls came, amongst them was this poem by William Butler Yeats. And as I read it, I realised that it epitomises all that NIOD is and all that we are, but more than that, it also tells the story of Yešti, where we go right back to the beginning of all there was and is. The poem first and then the second Yešti product launch:
If I make the lashes dark
And the eyes more bright
And the lips more scarlet,
Or ask if all be right
From mirror after mirror,
No vanity’s displayed:
I’m looking for the face I had
Before the world was made.
Mastic Must (MM)
When we launched the first Yešti product, Sanskrit Saponins, I wrote at that time that the Yešti journey (within NIOD) was profoundly important to both Brandon and myself because of our passionate and long-held belief in ancient wisdom and knowledge, which of course is at the very core of this exploration, which we now continue. But before that, I just want to say that so many of you have fallen in love with Sanskrit Saponins, basically because it cleans the skin in the most impeccable way and it really, really helps close pores, taking skin right the way back to an almost primal state of being. And then there is the smell. Everybody is talking about the smell because it is like no other smell and it has a touch of the divinity about it. A really special close friend told me that it was like ‘the first ever smell’ and there is something incredibly beautiful and true in those words.
So Mastic Must; it has been formulated to be used after Sanskrit Saponins and before CAIS, although of course you can also use it as a stand-alone. It is a transparent masque and although designed to be used in the morning, I have been using it in the morning and the evening as I have been putting it through some pretty rigorous testing, as always. I am completely mesmerised by it and I think you will be too when you see what it does to your skin.
MM uses a highly-densified sap from Greek mastic trees. It literally is a dense gum that binds to congestion like gum would but it doesn’t bind to oil or water just like gum wouldn’t; it purifies and shrinks pores without drying. The sap is a powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. It’s definitely Greek in every way but borrowed by Middle Eastern medicine and called Arabic Gum which should not be confused with the very cheap substance known as Gum Arabic. The sap in MM is purified in a very precise bio-technology lab with extremely high purity.
I am not quite sure how after using NIOD for so long my skin can improve, but it just does and if you use MM in the following way, you may well be staring in the mirror forever, which actually may be a bit unfortunate as we do have lives outside of our bathrooms. I keep MM on my skin for about ten minutes; after rinsing off, pat your face dry with a towel and then blast your skin for about 15 seconds with your hairdryer on a medium setting, slightly away from your face. And then start staring. Your skin will verge on the unbelievable, but believe me when I tell you it becomes believable and you may well be pretty astounded.
MM continues the masque journey, although I’m not certain that I really want to call them masques. Instead I prefer to say that they are a collection of incredible treatments, which happen to be masques. And I’m using them all. Flavanone Mud because it decongests and takes inflammation right down, Voicemail Masque, which some of you do have (this wondrous overnight masque will not launch until later in the year) and now Mastic Must.
Sanskrit Saponins £34 for 180 ml; Sanskrit Saponins £21 for 90 ml; Mastic Must £27 for 90 ml; Flavanone Mud £28 for 50 ml; Neck Elasticity Catalyst £78 for 100 ml; Neck Elasticity Catalyst £50 for 50 ml
I have written about Prudvi Kaka on previous newsletters and acknowledged and respected his role as NIOD’s (and DECIEM’s) lead chemist. I am of course completely privileged to receive lab samples from him on an ongoing basis, which allows me to experiment with the products long before we release them, which is so important to me.
I often go ‘behind the brands’ and talk to founders, but I want to go further behind and take you into the world that I know; the world where it all begins, the lab. This is Prudvi’s world and as he shares it with me, I want to share this with you. It fascinates me and I hope it will fascinate you too, so please do take the time to read his words, which are pretty profound. You will also discover his favourite NIOD product, which is probably not what you would expect. Prudvi, thank you. Legend.
Gill meets Prudvi Kaka
Finally, I just want to say ‘happy birthday’ to Low-Viscosity Cleaning Ester (LVCE), Fractionated Eye Contour Concentrate (FECC) and Hydration Vaccine (HV). This month, collectively, they are one. This month, a year ago, a lot of the fashion girls sat on the Front Row of the shows wearing Hydration Vaccine. They were wearing it because it protected their skin against degradation of Natural Moisturising Factors (NMF) and supported the skin’s own NMF sealing it from loss of hydration, which in turn works so efficiently that skin can look considerably younger after four weeks of use, purely by increased natural water content.
Another year, another Front Row and I am vicariously living the moment with the NIOD girls as they sit and stare at Dolce and I sit and stare at my computer. Oh!
Low-Viscosity Cleaning Ester £30 for 240 ml; Fractionated Eye Contour Concentrate £43 for 15 ml; Hydration Vaccine £35 for 50 ml
Botanical Cream Deodorant
Another Sunday morning; it was really early and I was in a semi-coma; my brain was far from functioning correctly and I couldn’t work out why so many people were ordering a product that I hadn’t mentioned or written about, basically because it hadn’t been released yet, even though it was listed on our site as a pre-order item and it still is.
The product was Botanical Cream Deodorant from Aurelia Probiotic Skincare. And then I realized. Two words and a name. India Knight. And suddenly the coma was over and I was dancing around after I read what she had written about it in The Sunday Times. And then came the screaming with the Aurelia girls, notably the very lovely Anna who I have known forever and a day!
So two things here, thank you India for making it dead easy for me, I don’t need to write about it in great detail because you have and secondly, in a nutshell, this is what it is all about:
Botanical Cream Deodorant is a natural, aluminium-free cream to powder deodorant, which is uniquely powerful and it really works. This is important because so many natural deodorants don’t; it is loaded with superfine powdered plant based botanicals including antimicrobial Arrowroot and Kaolin, which sit invisibly on the skin helping to absorb natural perspiration, retaining dryness.
You can read India’s words here and I also need to tell you that we have a very limited volume of Botanical Cream Deodorant miniatures, which we will drop in with your order if available. Obviously they will be gifted to those who have already ordered and I hope they extend to those of you who order today, although I make no promises because demand is high. The miniature should last just over a week and is therefore ideal for travel, but then the product is ideal for those of you who have been searching forever for a product like this. The search is over.
Botanical Cream Deodorant by Aurelia Probiotic Skincare £18 for 50 grams
Kerecis Smooth with mOmega3
When this landed on my desk, I got a bit over-excited; as I’ve written above, this is the third product to launch in the Kerecis series, and its efficacy is as outstanding as Kerecis Psoria (for psoriasis) and Kerecis Xma (for eczema). Kerecis Smooth has been formulated for skin bumps, which covers a whole genre of concerns including ingrown hairs (pests!), chicken skin (keratosis pilaris) and razor bumps.
The outermost layer of the skin consists of between 15-20 cell layers of dead cells that have dried out and died. This is the corneal layer of the skin. Between the dried cells is the intercellular substance, which is rich in fatty acids that keep the structure intact and water-tight.
Various complications can cause the formation of skin bumps, which include hair follicles becoming blocked by skin-fat plugs and skin contracting after shaving (Pseudofollicultis Barbae). Some people’s skin is also just too dense, blocking the growth of tiny body hairs from hair follicles, which can, in some cases be one of the causes of chicken skin (Keratosis Pilaris). The results are rough patches of small, acne-like bumps that are normally white, although they may be red, but generally they don’t hurt or itch.
Kerecis Smooth helps to soften the outermost layer of skin making it easier for the tiny body hairs to grow out and it also helps soften the bumps so they can be easily rubbed off. We love that this zaps three annoying conditions into oblivion and right at the top of that list is ingrown hairs!
Kerecis Smooth with mOmega 3 £17.99 for 50 ml; Kerecis Psoria with mOmega 3 £17.99 for 50 ml; Kerecis Xma with mOmega 3 £17.99 for 50 ml
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
Millions of people suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and yet this is one of the most misunderstood health concerns with many myths surrounding its very existence, however most experts now agree that CFS is a distinct disease with very specific symptoms.
CFS is an illness characterised by persistent medically unexplained fatigue, which is not relieved by rest. Other symptoms include muscle pain, muscle weakness, joint pain, bowel problems, unexplained headaches, poor sleep quality and the inability to concentrate. Scientists have several theories mooted to trigger CFS which include viral infections, including Epstein-Barr virus, heavy metal intake from food and the environment, overwork, stress, poor working of the immune system and hormonal imbalances.
Regardless, we still do not fully understand this illness and whilst scientists remain puzzled as to the causes of CFS, doctors remain baffled as to the treatment options. Antidepressants and sleeping pills are the mainstay treatments, but they do not resolve the problem. All the while, CFS is hard to diagnose and many people live with this fatigue without realising that they have it. There are no lab tests to confirm CFS and a diagnosis is generally only arrived at after everything else has been ruled out, which can take several months.
With a constant eye on emerging research, it is important to note that scientists have discovered a unique set of compounds called roburins, which are found in oak wood. Two major human studies have demonstrated the potential of roburins to help mitigate the symptoms of CFS. A patented form of roburins, Robuvit, under the influence of the bacteria in the gut is converted into bioactive compounds called urolithins. In one of the studies, significant reductions were noted in some of the symptoms of CFS of people taking oak wood extract, compared to the control group, who showed no changes.
Fatigue, where chronic or generalised, can be very debilitating both physically and emotionally, most especially because of the secondary symptoms such as lack of sleep and weakness. Based on current research and studies, we are recommending RiboGen French Oak Wood Extract and we further recommend that you take this for at least three months. And if you don’t have CFS, but feel tired constantly, it is worth taking too. I am absolutely not saying that this will wipe CFS off the face of the earth today, but I am saying it could help resolve some of the symptoms and in time, we may well be looking at a complete solution.
VH Editorial: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; RiboGen French Oak Wood Extract by Life Extension £30 for 30 Capsules
Hands are complicated structures and have many moving parts comprising of 27 bones, several muscles, ligaments, tendons and thousands of nerves. With such an array of different structures and tissues, a lot can go wrong, most especially because many of our daily activities (texting!) are motions that can cause long-term damage to all or some of the structures of our hands.
Diagnosing the cause of hand pain is not easy; symptoms may come and go; Shabir takes a look at some of the most common problems, which are abbreviated here otherwise this newsletter will go on forever. You can of course read the article in full, which is linked at the bottom of this section:
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS): CTS is caused by the swelling of irritated tendons or fluid in the carpal tunnel, a small passage-way of bones and ligaments at the base of the hand. Anti-inflammatories and analgesics are normally prescribed to dull or alleviate pain, but because they are not without side effects, we are recommending Bromelain, which is a natural anti-inflammatory and also Aculief, a clever little device that Shabir swears by and uses himself – see it’s not only me that takes things off our shelves!
Bromelain by Viridian Nutrition £24.55 for 90 Capsules; Aculief £19.95
Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow: You do not have to play tennis or golf to develop these types of elbow pain. Both tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are the result of a partial tear of the tendon that connects the muscle to the elbow. Symptoms include pain radiating from outside the elbow to the forearm and over time the pain gets worse. Ice packs work best for this type of pain in the short-term and in the longer-term, Bromelain, as above, again.
Trigger Finger: A trigger finger is a condition which affects one or more tendons in the hand, making it difficult to bend the finger or thumb. Trigger finger arises when inflammation narrows the space within the sheath that surrounds the tendon of the affected finger. Symptoms vary depending upon the severity and include finger stiffness and/or a clicking sensation when you move your finger. For this condition you need to be taking a good soft-tissue anti-inflammatory and if your fingers get ‘locked’, then spray with Pure Magnesium Oil.
Super Bio-Curcumin £27.95 for 60 Capsules; Pure Magnesium Oil Spray £16.50 for 236 ml
Sprained Wrist: A sprained wrist is a common injury, particularly amongst athletes and those who undertake fitness exercises (er, that’s not me – never been to a gym and proud!), but it can also happen simply by falling over. When a wrist sprain injury occurs, the ligaments of the wrist are stretched beyond their normal limits. Arnica to the rescue here and both of these together please.
Arnica 200c £7.50 for 84 Tablets; Arnica High Potency Cream £5.99 for 75 ml
Osteoarthritis: Of the 120 different types of arthritis, osteoarthritis remains the most common form. It is the result of wear and tear of the joint tissues, specifically of the cartilage in between bones resulting in the rubbing together of the bones. It most often affects the hands where it can cause permanent damage if not treated. Superior Joints is a brilliant supplement in helping to eliminate all joint pain and topically we recommend Pure Magnesium Oil Spray, as above, together with Capsicum & Ginger Warming Cream.
VH Editorial: Pain Free Hands; Superior Joints £30 for 60 Capsules; Capsicum & Ginger Warming Cream £9 for 100 ml
Shabir created this regimen a few years ago and I include it on the newsletter periodically because he truly believes that we should all be taking all three of the following supplements for overall health and wellbeing; they are:
Virgin Krill Oil: The most utilizable and cleanest source of omega 3 fatty acids.
Mega Probiotic ND: Our bestselling probiotic, which is all-natural, non-dairy and acid resistant to help support digestive tract health.
My Favorite Multiple Energizer: Containing 100% of the recommended daily amounts of all the essential vitamins and minerals in a highly energizing food base for maximum absorption and utilization for the body.
The Treat: We have put all three supplements together, added them up and together they are £61. £61 becomes £45 once we have taken off £16 and this offer will be ongoing while stocks last. Hopefully it will be longer than one day!
Absolute Fundamentals £45 (Virgin Krill Oil £25; Mega Probiotic ND £19; My Favorite Multiple Energizer £17)
Feminine Deodorant Powder
The second deodorant on this newsletter and this time it is Feminine Deodorant Powder. There is not much I can write about such an obvious product except to say that it is an odour-blocking talc-free powder which will also help prevent moisture, keeping you cool and dry. It is loaded with Calendula, Chamomile and Lavender to help soothe skin and Non-GMO Corn-starch and baking soda help fight wetness and odour. It can also be used between the thighs and under the breasts.
While I am on the subject, let’s do the inside/out approach to help eliminate vaginal odour. So we recommend using Feminine Deodorant Powder topically and Feminesse Gel internally, clinically proven to help odour disappear for up to three days at a time.
Feminine Deodorant Powder £15 for 115 grams; Feminesse Gel £8.99 for 20 grams + Applicator
It’s September; every month has its story and post-holiday blues is pretty rife this month for those who have been away. Autumn approaches, we haven’t really had a summer here (do we ever) and according to statistics, it is a really busy month for divorce lawyers, second only to post-Christmas – yikes!
So let’s get with the programme: if you feel anxious, stressed and are suffering from mild depression, then we recommend Magnolia Rhodiola Complex, which is a mood-elevating adaptogenic supplement. Extensive research has been carried out on magnolia and it is found to help reduce cortisol, the stress hormone, in the body. Additionally magnolia extracts have been found to exhibit muscle and nerve-relaxing properties.
Rhodiola, also known as the Arctic root due to its habitat, has been found to increase the uptake by the brain of the mood-elevating compound, serotonin, by as much as 30%. Rhodiola root is one of the most popular adaptogenic herbs used widely to help counter depression and compromised immunity. An adaptogen is a herb or compound which helps increase the body’s ability to cope with all types of stressors, whether physical, hormonal or emotive.
I just want to say here that Magnolia Rhodiola Complex has been our bestselling supplement for mood elevation for many years. While new supplementation is released on a constant basis, we still maintain that nothing can touch the efficacy of Magnolia Rhodiola Complex.
It would be ever so easy to introduce you to new supplementation in this sector every other month; supplements in pretty packaging keep landing on my desk and they look so cute as opposed to bog-standard boring circa 1950’s supplement packaging, but the thing is that you can’t eat the packaging, so if you don’t mind, please can we stay as we are. Thank you.
VH Editorial: Post-Holiday Blues; Magnolia Rhodiola Complex £26 for 60 Capsules
LQ Liquid Health Joint Care
Following through on bestselling supplementation, Superior Joints, containing NEM (Natural Eggshell Membrane) has been our recommendation for joint health for many years. That said we are aware that many of you are unable to swallow capsules and if you fall into this group of people, you may want to know about LQ Liquid Health Joint Care.
It contains key active ingredients such as Peptan marine collagen, the major constituent of connective tissue in the body; hyaluronic acid, one of the main compounds of synovial fluids, the joint lubricant and ‘shock absorber’; glucosamine, chondroitin, copper, ginger and vitamin C.
It has been developed specifically to help improve joint flexibility and mobility, whilst helping to reduce joint pain. The recommended dosage is one 50 ml bottle per day and it is further recommended that LQ should be taken daily for at least one month and two to three months for best results, following which you can take a maintenance dosage. It should preferably be taken on an empty stomach.
LQ Liquid Health Joint Care £24.99 (Ten x 50 ml)
This month the Beauty Bible girls offer numerous beauty tips and Jo Fairley writes about getting your yoga mojo back if you have lost it somewhere along the way; Catherine Turner reports on how to satisfy sweet cravings in a wholesome way and Carolyn Asome writes about the importance of putting yourself first. On this, I think that mostly we were all born guilty, so do take time to read this if you are guilty of being guilty, it may well change you!
Which Product When by Beauty Bible; Getting Your Yoga Mojo Back by Jo Fairley; Something Sweet by Catherine Turner; The Importance of Putting Yourself First by Carolyn Asome
And Sally Brampton. Still in our thoughts and still the emails arrive, remembering and missing. It is nearly four months since Sally did her walk and I thank all of you who keep sending such beautiful words. It feels pretty surreal because I can still feel her around me and I hope that is a ‘forever’ feeling. In our Sally series, this month I am replicating her article ‘The Aunties’. This was a happy moment in her life and I want to share it with you.
The Aunties by Sally Brampton
This is a slightly shorter newsletter than normal, give thanks! I have said all I want to say this month, so together with Shabir and the VH team, I thank you for your love and support, which always means so much.
I hope you all have a wonderful September.