Love the skin youíre in!

Steph from Barnettís Wholefoods tells us her secrets for beautiful skin...

Youíve all seen the advert about how miraculous our skin is, repairing and regenerating itself throughout our lifetime pretty much unnoticed unless it starts to misbehave, or we begin to notice the tell-tale signs of old age creeping up on us and spring into action with the latest anti-wrinkle cream.

Like anything else we can improve its performance with a little t.l.c. and a bit of nourishment from inside and out and, as always, the best place to start is the beginning.

The peachy soft skin we begin life with is best left with no interference at all. Babies love their daily bathe, but really the warm water is enough to cleanse and itís important not to dry it out with too much soap or detergent. If you really want to use something, make sure it is extra mild, like the Weleda Calendula range, specially formulated for babies. Cradle cap can be gently scraped off if it is first rubbed with olive oil for a couple of days. Little patches of eczema are not uncommon in infants, and most children will grow out of it by the time they are 2 or 3, but in the meantime stop the itch with Grandma Vines antiseptic gel, and encourage the skin to heal with a zinc and chickweed cream. An intolerance to dairy products has been linked to eczema, and a dairy-free diet is worth considering if the problem is extensive.

By our teens, with hormones raging, girls and boys alike have to survive the torment of spots. Keeping the skin scrupulously clean with a product containing tea-tree oil will always help, but if itís a real problem it needs to be treated from the inside. We have seen supplementation with Omega 6 oils (such as hemp or flax), Vitamin C and MSM sulphur all have good results and are certainly worth a try.

Adult skin fares pretty well, kept moisturised and protected from the sun. If youíre avoiding chemicals, you might be interested to know that the Lavera range of natural, mineral-based sunscreens is the only one proven effective enough to gain the government stamp of approval.

Which brings us to the dreaded wrinkles! The range of creams, oils, potions and lotions is enormous, with something to suit all skin types and personal preferences. Do your skin a favour and make sure the one you choose is vegetable-based and free from chemicals Ė the choice is still huge.

You can also help it keep its elasticity and plumpness by supplementing with collagen or silica, and if it seems dry eat plenty of seeds and nuts, or supplement with Omega 6.

Though it is, by and large, self-sufficient, donít take it for granted. Apart from keeping you dry and warm, it has an extra gift Ė next time someone strokes your hand or kisses your cheek remember itís thanks to your wonderful skin that you can feel it!

Healthy foods, supplements and our expert professional advice are all available from Barnettís Wholefoods six days a week.