A “Perk”fect Pout

I once had a friend who described the first impression I make when entering a room as “here comes Melissa’s lips”.  I have stuck with that over the years as I think there are few things that make a bolder statement than a fabulous set of freshly plumped lips.  I know you natural beauty fans are cringing.  But, honestly I don’t believe that genuine natural beauty exists in anyone over the age of 12.  Now put down your torches and pitchforks anyone can be beautiful, but let’s not delude ourselves.  At 46 I need all the help I can get! As we age lips get thinner and all that lovely collagen we took for granted in our 20’s has done a runner.  I, being a big fan of white coats and needles am quite happy to get regular fillers in my race with Father Time.  I am referring to time with a male pronoun not because I am being patriarchal, but because surely only a man would have the audacity to steal your collagen and impose the menopause on you in one swoop.

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But, I know that many of you are looking for a less invasive way of giving the old girl a bit of a boost.  There are some genuinely ingenious ways of getting that pout just right.  I was invited to the multiple award winning clinic Juvea Aesthetics to have a treatment called “Perk” Lips.  This treatment is from the company that brought us the Rolls Royce of facials, Hydrafacial.  Perk is literally a lunchtime lip boost.  Performed by the gorgeous and amazingly talented El If Ay I was in great hands.

Perk involves putting a tingly minty serum over your lips and using what I can only describe as a mini hoover over your lips.  It exfoliates as well so it leaves you with a gorgeous pillowy finish that is perfect if you want to test drive some super lush lips before committing to more invasive treatments.  You take home the peppermint oil and peony extract that lightly plump your pout.  So, you can give your lips a little boost anytime.  This little roller ball of freshness is now a staple in my handbag.

The Perk Lips is an amazing treatment for anyone, but particularly if you are considering lip fillers. Perk will give you a little preview of what you would look like with fuller lips.

There are a whole list of Perk treatments that can be done over a lunchtime without any downtime and the only side effect is fabulousness!

You’re gonna feel a little prick

So, if someone told you they could make the skin on your face and neck instantly look younger by sticking hundreds of needles in it what would you think?  A bit scary right?  Well, when that person is the amazing Milena Lazarova of Dr Joney De Souza Skin and Laser Clinic, what you actually say is wh at time should I be there?

14102600_10154515608085955_3755839774309327548_nDr Joney De Souza’s clinic in the heart of Harley Street has become one of my favourite clinics.  Whether I am there to see Dr Joney for a bit of needle artistry or the always gorgeous Milena Lazarova I am never disappointed.

Micro-needling with the Dermapen or Goldpen has recently become the hot treatment of choice amongst celebrities.  The treatment involves using a device with tiny needles on the end of the pen that make the smallest of punctures in the skin.  This process relies on the skins natural ability to repair itself.  So, these tiny injuries to the skin stimulate collagen growth, reducing the size of your pores and instantly giving you smoother looking and feeling skin.

When a treatment involves needles one would automatically assume there will be an element of pain involved.  But, with the pen in the expert hands of Milena it was more relaxing than anything else.  The “needling” felt a bit like a soft cactus being run over my face.  Even in the most sensitive parts of my face near my eyes I experienced no pain.

14718859_10154736122475955_8509224452825945405_nThe great thing about the Dermapen treatment is that it can be repeated every couple of weeks for maximum results.  But, as a boost for the skin now and then it is certainly a beautiful treat.  The results following the treatment were instant.  My skin was glowing when I left the clinic and in the days following my make-up went on like pure silk.

The Dermapen/Goldpen is a very versatile treatment that not only works for anti-ageing, but also can be used for scar correction, stretch marks, blemishes and is even used to promote hair growth for those suffering from thinning.

 

14045787_10154503926875955_5277541631543853675_nThe results of my treatment were so dramatic that it was recently featured in Woman magazine.

*Like all aesthetic treatments micro-needling should only be performed by trained practitioners.

 

 

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Shot of Sleep, Straight Up

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Before

I’ve heard people talk about something called sleep. I believe it’s something I used to do before children and the weight of the world got the better of me.  I try my best with make-up and what can only be described as industrial grade concealer to hide the stress and lack of sleep that has taken residence under my eyes.  With bags big enough to hold all my luggage and dark circles that would be the envy of most raccoons there is only so much a mere cosmetic can be expected to do.  I have tried all the light reflecting magic, miracle potions out there and don’t get me wrong they can make a difference up to a point.  But, the 24/7 hustle of being a working mum who’s building a brand, writing as well as 9 to 5’ing takes a toll.

I am obviously very open minded when it comes to aesthetics and plastics. So, when I learned about the use of fillers to treat Tear Troughs, the area around the eyes, I was more than intrigued.  Now, don’t get me wrong the idea of having a filler, in this case Teosyal injected into the eye socket sounds a bit frightening. However, I was incredibly lucky to have had a Teoxane Trainer carrying out my treatment.

Dr Linea Strachan is trained dentist, but has been doing aesthetics for nearly 10 years.  She is the clinical director of A&L Clinics, which is one of the best and busiest cosmetic clinics in Suffolk. Luckily for me she has recently started running a clinic from Harley Street.  She is the teacher for intermediate and advanced filler techniques for Teoxane UK.  Dr Strachan is an award winning practitioner having won in two categories in facial aesthetics in the Aesthetic Dentistry Awards 2016.

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Before

I met Dr Strachan in Harley Street on the day of the treatment. As a rule of thumb people will often tell you that the best way to judge someone’s aesthetic skill is by looking at them.  Well Dr Strachan is certainly an amazing advert for her work.  She is as brilliant as she is stunning.  Following in intensive consultation and taking a set of before photos she explained that she would be using a new bit of technology for the treatment called a Teosyalpen.  It is basically an electronic dispenser that distributes the filler into the area being treated.  Dr Strachan first put in a small cannula which was then attached to the Teosyalpen.  I have had filler on many occasions and even with a numbing cream there is often a sting.  Not overly painful but usually enough to cause the eyes water a bit.  But, with the pen there was literally nothing.  I did not have any numbing cream and the only thing I felt was the tinniest scratch when the cannula was put in and just a bit of vibration as the teosyal went into the tear trough.  This was hands down the least painful treatment I have ever had.  It took no more than 15 minutes per side and the results were instant.  Because of the technique Dr Strachan uses there was no bruising and I couldn’t even see the entry point from the needle.

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After

Following the procedure you look like you have just come out of a week long nap! I was in awe of the difference.  There was minimal swelling which was pretty much gone within the week.  No down time whatsoever and a result that lasts up to a year.  Seriously, what’s not to love?

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After

Time for a safety lecture and some words of caution about this and all aesthetic treatments. A tear trough should not under any circumstances be administered by a non-medically trained practitioner!  Now I realise there are a number of people who are happy to be injected with any number of things by beauticians, I am not one of them.  Every single one of these procedures have the ability to cause serious and life altering side effects in the wrong hands.  Prior to any procedure an extensive consultation should be carried out to ensure you are suitable and safe to have the treatment. In addition the person injecting you should have the training to deal with complications should they arise.  I know a “bit of filler” seems like no bid deal.  But, if you were to have an allergic reaction to it does that beautician injecting you in the backroom of a salon have the medical training to deal with an anaphylactic shock? Will basic life support even be something he or she is trained in much less the injection of adrenaline in an emergency.   I say this as a nurse not just a blogger. These are things you need to consider when undertaking a “bit of a tweak”.   Beauticians are amazing at their jobs and in no way am I putting down their skills for “beauty treatments”. Injecting chemicals into the skin though done for non-medical reasons are still medical procedures and should be respected as that.   I believe that aesthetic treatments should be regulated in such a way as to make it illegal for anyone other than medically trained professionals to inject them.  With the treatment of your Tear Troughs in particular the experience and education of your practitioner is absolutely your number one priority.

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Date With Dr Victoria

I think it has never been a better time to be “a woman of a certain age”.  From Botox to Butt lifts there is something for every possible age related issue.  The current non-surgical options are endless.  But, when looking into clinics it is important to find a safe practitioner that has had the latest training as well as being someone with the appropriate background.  Personally, although I am aware this can be a grey area I believe that only those with medical backgrounds should be carrying out such procedures.

I realise it is obviously no secret I love a bit of youth in syringe form.  So, you can imagine how excited I was when I received an invitation to visit Aestha Clinic at 25 Upper Wimpole St in London.  Following an extensive consultation with the gorgeous and talented Dr Victoria Virtosu it was decided that I would have some Juvederm in my lips and a bit (well more than a bit) of Botox to rid my face of the previous six months of worry lines I had developed.

Botox being my favourite neurotoxin, smooths out those “road hard and put away wet” areas of the face like nothing else can.

Juvederm is a range of fillers containing injectable hyaluronic acid that when injected by a trained professional can provide nine months to one year of fullness to your lips as well as correct moderate to severe wrinkling on certain areas of the face.

Lip fillers are an instant gratification kind of treatment, which I love!  Botox tends to take roughly five days or so to see the finished result.  When done correctly the forehead should not appear frozen, just noticeable smoother, giving a subtle more plump appearance to the skin.

The skin on your lips in particular over the life span is constantly moisturised from within by hyaluronic acid which is a naturally occurring sugar. However, as your skin ages you lose hyaluronic acid causing lines to appear and the thinning of the lips.

Having a bit of filler when done correctly can dramatically improve the appearance of the lips.  Obviously, it is up to the individual in consultation with an aesthetic professional how plump you want them.

Dr Victoria was very conscious of making sure that my results were balanced and symmetrical.  Some of the biggest complaints I hear is around asymmetry which is why it is so important to see an experienced professional. Ultimately, it is up to you how big you want your lips.  There are a lot of arguments online about this and honestly it all comes down to personal yet INFORMED choice.

Knowledge is power people!!

A Clockwork Orange Peel

Cellulite!!  Ugh!  It is not even a pretty word.  A bit like moist, every time I hear it I just cringe!  First of all everyone has a bit of cellulite at one point or another.  But, unfortunately I have it all the time.  Primarily because I spent the majority of my life morbidly obese, cellulite is the price I have to pay for my years of gluttony. Although I have lost a huge amount of weight and have had reconstructive surgery for loose skin, the cellulite in one form or another remains.

I have tried lotions, potions and various notions.  Short of voodoo I have yet to find a miracle.  Now I am sure you have heard of the various anti-cellulite tights and leggings.  There are several companies that make them, all with very ambitious claims about “impregnated” fabric and that they sacrifice a live chicken in the factory to ensure your positive results.  Ok, I made that last bit up!! But, you see where I am going.  There are some very grand claims out there for what is often a very mediocre product.   As some of these products are very expensive, the last thing you want is to spend £200 on what ends being a pair of lazy pants you wear on the school run.

I am very much a believer in finding those special treasures in places you would not normally look.  I love the idea of trying something from a lesser known company as often they have something super special, but perhaps the world hasn’t discovered them yet.  I met this amazing and very inspiring entrepreneur Fabia Santos at a plastic surgery conference.  Her company called Yoga Compression Garments was not one I had heard of before, but her belief and dedication to her products hooked me right in.  I wasn’t sure why at the time, but she was definitely someone I wanted to know better.  There was the added bonus I suppose because it is a Brazilian company I thought if anyone in the world is going to know how to make your ass look good, it’s going to be them!

Over the course of researching the products what I learned was that in addition to the leggings which I will get to later, Fabia has dedicated herself to helping women going through reconstructive surgeries.  She attends hospitals herself to ensure post surgical garments are fitted properly and educates medical staff on the importance of garment fitting in the healing process.  I suppose this resonated with me because I have been in the position of trying to get myself into post surgery garments that in retrospect did more harm than good.  One very ill-fitting corset I had following abdominoplasty  I referred to as “the juicer”.  The second I put it on my clothes were soaked with the excess drainage.  So, the work she does is an integral part of the healing process for women that are already feeling quite vulnerable following life changing operations that are not always cosmetic.  As a professional Fabia is someone who really “walks the talk”.

The leggings are called The Yoga Emana.  They absorb heat from the body and return in the form of “long infrared rays”.  The rays are then absorbed into the skin and stimulate circulation and cellular metabolism.  The leggings contain bio-active crystals and so these properties are not lost when they are washed.  Amongst the many benefits that are purported:

Increased cellular metabolism
Increased skin elasticity
Reducing the appearance of cellulite
Thermal equilibrium
Reduction of muscle fatigue

So, with my magic leggings in hand I was off to try them myself in hopes of conquering these beastly dimples! Putting aside that they are meant to benefit you by wearing them, as a product they are beautiful and really flattering.  The instructions are that you are to wear them 12 hours a day.  I must say this was easy as they go with everything and really give you a beautiful shape.  They are so comfortable, yet hold everything in as well as pushing that excess junk in the trunk up perfectly.

The initial trial is meant to show results within weeks.  As I have particularly bad cellulite I took before pictures over six weeks.  The results were everything that was promised.  There was a marked difference in the smoothness of the skin and I definitely found the dimpling in my upper thighs in particular to have reduced.

Although I was primarily trialling them in order to ascertain the anti-cellulite properties I did actually find that there was a marked difference in how my legs felt following a run when wearing them.  So, there is definitely something too the claims about reducing fatigue.  From day one I was able to pack more punch into a workout wearing my Emana’s.  All in all the trial was extremely successful.  I can’t recommend them enough.  They retail for £95, which is a reasonable price for leggings that deliver the goods.  They remain in my normal rotation as my go to workout wear as well as sneaking them under other garments as a much more comfortable option to your standard “suck in your gut” pants.  An all around great product from a fabulous company.

 

The Anti-Ageing Matrix

20999_954452254605038_1864708531383285239_nOk, so I am the first to admit I am really rubbish with skin regimes.  I do use moisturisers, eye creams, serums, etc.  But, I am a terrible cheat and have a difficult time sticking to one product line.  I am a bit of a “player” in the realm of skin care.  I may use an Estee Lauder eye cream with a Lidl moisturiser or a tub of Astral with a super posh tube of retinol.  You know what it’s like right?  Busy Mum skin care and all that?  It is about convenience and what I have to hand at times.  My priorities aren’t about me.  So, sadly my skin ends up being a bit of a mash up of products.  But, I decided as a middle aged woman my skin needed something a bit more intense.  Following a conversation with the Super Skincare Diva that is Lorna Bowes of Aesthetic Source, I would make a commitment to follow a specific regime and see if it truly made a difference in my skin.  Lorna recommended Neo Strata’s “Skin Active” Intensive Eye Therapy, Bionic Skin Cream, “Restore” Matrix Support Moisturiser and Facial Cleanser.

I used the Intensive Eye Therapy and Bionic Skin Cream at night and the Matrix Support which has an SPF of 30 during the day.  Both the Bionic and Matrix Support had a beautiful creamy texture that absorbed into my skin beautifully.  The first thing I noticed using the day products is that my need for a make-up primer quickly became unnecessary.  The Matrix Moisturiser was enough to make my foundation go on smoothly, whilst at the same time not leaving my face feeling like an oil slick.  It is so difficult in your 40’s as with many products they make the assumption that you are a dried up old prune that needs to be slathered in oil. But, that is absolutely not the case.  In fact I am still prone to the occasional breakout with the wrong combination of products.

The Bionic Skin Cream left my skin feeling so smooth at night and I never woke up with that icky product residue that you get with other night creams.  I love the Intensive Eye Cream.  It absorbed quickly and never irritated my skin.  The best part was the reduction in those tiny lines (I am not saying crows-feet).   Luckily Neo Strata knows what women need on their skin!  This combination left my skin dewy and I have noticed a marked difference in my lines. Oh God did I actually refer to my lines again?  Oh the humanity!!  But, in all seriousness my forehead in particular is looking much better and I am seriously past my Botox’s expiration date.  So, the change cannot be put down to a needle!   My skin as a whole from keeping on this regime for three solid months is amazing.  I am definitely a convert to using a proper skin care routine.

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Neo Strata are certainly on the cutting edge of anti-ageing skin care.  They are nominated in several categories in the My Face, My Body Awards and The Aesthetic Awards 2015 It is not difficult to see why.  I am looking forward to trying their Skin Active Triple Lifting Neck cream next!

Hiding the Evidence…

YouTube - Mel - YouTube - Google Chrome.mp4_snapshot_00.37_[2015.02.27_13.04.51]To say my body has been through the wars is probably a huge understatement.  The combined damage done to the very structure that holds everything together has been inflated and deflated within an inch of bursting on multiple occasions over the last 30 years.  The final deflation being the 12 stone I lost in the 18 months following my Gastric Plication that freed my damaged shell from super morbid obesity.  Following that there was the amazing rebuild that took place at the hands of Paul Baguley.  Having been an amazing transformation I could hardly complain about the scarring that this type of massive reconstruction leaves.  In many ways they were the battle scars, the physical proof of my history reminder of all the work I had put into changing my body so dramatically.

11418262_10153464841360955_593986283_nI wasn’t overly concerned about them initially.  To be fair the scars were neat and tidy and only noticeable at certain angles. I was so happy to have been liberated from the prison of skin that I had been encased in the scars rarely entered my radar. However, they were there and over time I had begun to look at them as the last bit of evidence of what a poor steward I had been over this body.  I thought about it and did some research.  It appeared that for the most part the recommendations were limited to various oils and silicone patches to lighten and flatten them.  Nothing particularly dramatic, but it would seem that would be what I would have to settle for.

11324103_10153464841345955_929175080_nRecently I was approached by Dr Daniel Sister, who I had heard of previously.  He is a pioneer in anti-ageing treatments with his method of Dracula Therapy™.  This procedure involves taking a vile of your own blood and spinning it in a centrifuge in order to separate the red blood cells from the clear serum and platelets.  The platelets are then injected into the skin, normally the face in order to reduce the signs of ageing. The injections encourage DNA repair thus, making the skin appear more youthful and rejuvenated.  Dr Sister was looking into how this treatment could be used to reduce the appearance of scars.  Obviously, knowing who Dr Sister was I jumped at the chance to work with him.

11418315_10153464841330955_1993958428_nI travelled to Dr Sisters London clinic, Beauty Works West for a consultation.  Due to the amount of surgery I previously had Dr Sister certainly had his work cut out for him.  But, knowing his amazing reputation I was in great hands.  He started by explaining to me how the procedure would work. He would take a small amount of my blood and spin it in the centrifuge and then re-inject the clear serum back into the scars in order to stimulate the body into repairing itself.

The injections themselves were almost pain free.  I don’t believe I even flinched once.  The truly outstanding thing was that the following day there was already a difference in the scars.  I was blown away at how dramatically they changed.  Over the following weeks what had been quite pink in places became lighter and flatter. The results have been miraculous.  For me this has been unbelievable and further increased my confidence as it means I get less looks and awkward questions as for the most part my scars are no longer visible.

However, as ecstatic as I am with the results it is particularly important to consider how life changing the Dracula Therapy™ could be for someone with extensive facial scarring. This treatment is certainly a game changer to say the least.

melissa

Hidden Gems

white_multi_clear_background_grandeIn February I attended the ultimate beauty event.  Professional Beauty 2015 at the Excel in London.  It is a show that brings out the biggest and the brightest that the industry has on offer.  There were the amazing displays put on by the big boys like Clarins, Fake Bake, OPI, etc.  But, tucked at the back were the up and comers.  They don’t have the big budgets and some are no more then a table display and a business plan.  That is what is so special about these events, it gives you the opportunity to see what is happening on the ground floor of beauty.

I was gifted an amazing array of products and am yet to even make a dent in trying many of them.  But, as I was going through my bag of fabulousness I came across a small jar of Terre Verdi Multitasking Cream.   I was looking for something to out on my very delicate and red skin following an intense beauty treatment.  This gorgeous balm was just the remedy.  It is gorgeous!  The texture in the jar has an almost grainy like texture.  But, when you put it on your skin it melts straight in.  You need the tiniest amount per use, so a jar would last ages.  I used it on my face, hands, feet and body.  It instantly makes your skin feel like silk.  The smell is a bit citrus and not at all overpowering.  The product is made with Calendula, Argan and Shea Butter.  This is definitely going into permanent skin rotation particularly as we come up to summer.  It would make a great after sun cream to keep your skin silky soft.

50 Shades of Botox

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Virgin Face

I guess you can call me a late bloomer. I like to think I am adventurous, but there was still one area yet to be explored. As I sat in the perfectly lit room on the sofa waiting I was nervous.  You see at nearly 45 years old I was still a virgin.  I know it’s shocking in this day and age.  But, I guess you could say I never found the right person. I am not the type of woman to give it up to just anyone and maybe that makes me a bit old fashioned.  But, I needed someone I could fully and completely trust. In time I found him. After lots of quiet contemplation I made the decision he was going to the one.  The perfect person to allow in. His reputation was amazing and I knew the second we met he would in fact be “the one”.

So, yes today was going to be the day!  He came into the room and asked me exactly what I was looking for, my hopes for our encounter and my expectations for the future.  We talked though what was going to happen.  As it was my first time he wanted to ensure I was ready and that I left completely satisfied.  This was it, no going back as he drew closer to me with his needle in his hand, I was about to have BOTOX® for the first time!  So, finally with the first puncture into my skin, my journey began.

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Virgin Face

Dr Joney De Souza, my chosen one talked me through the procedure.  He would be injecting Botulinum toxin into three areas around my face.  My forehead which I felt particularly gave away my age.  My Bunny lines, which no matter what cute cuddly animal the word bunny conjured up I needed him to make them disappear before they had a chance to start reproducing. Finally, he injected the area around my eyes that evokes a slightly less cuddly animal, my crowsfeet.

The needle itself is so fine you can barely feel it. The exquisite pain as I have come to refer to it of that first injection was well below that of an eyebrow threading. I was able to chat through the entire procedure.  Dr De Souza made sure I had a hand mirror to see the areas he was injecting and explain each part of the procedure and how his goal was to give me the most natural appearance.  He would use the lower amount of Botox on my forehead as he explained this area is particularly susceptible to the effects of the toxin.  It is always better to be conservative in order to prevent that stunned/frozen look we have grown so accustomed to seeing.  The procedure took no more than 20 minutes and following Dr De Souza’s instructions of no vigorous exercise or alcohol for four hours I was on my way, with the promise of a two week follow-up for tweaks and top-ups if needed.

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Devirginized

Dr De Souza said it would take about a week to see the full effect of the botox.  However, I noticed a big difference by mid-week.  Those bunnies were tamer than last week and my crowsfeet where definitely not flying as high.  By the following weekend my forehead was smoother than it had been in at least 10-15 years.  Friends noticed a marked improvement in my face.  I looked fresh and smooth without looking “overdone”.  My make-up went on better and I just felt more confident.  I think a bit of that magic encased in the little syringe did as much for my insides as it did for the outside. By two weeks “postox” the effects were amazing.  I still had room for more injections around my forehead.  Dr De Souza worked his magic a bit more.  At the end of the follow-up we discussed other areas I had concerns about.  He gave me further advice on other treatments that would enhance the work he already done.  Totally satisfied and very happy with my results, I was on my way again. Would I be seeing him again?  Well yes, 11124837_10153275603980955_2082728750_nbecause although I was no longer a botox virgin, I was yet to have my fill…

Part Two coming soon!!

Nectar of Youth?

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11079804_10153250643605955_1467114390_nI have been researching collagen drinks for several months.  But, having tried samples here and there I had yet to find one that was palatable enough to commit to drinking a full bottle much less drinking it every day for a month. But, following a chat with Agostina from Skinade at a workshop we both attended I was sold.  I took a hideous no make up selfie the day I started.  Notice the dark circles and general uneven tone in my skin.

First things first, the taste!!  It is gorgeous, not overly sweet and tastes like mango juice.  I really loved the flavour.  In the first week I noticed my skin becoming clearer.  Because it was early days I wasn’t sure if it was the drink or if I was just having a “good skin week”.  But, by week two there was no doubt that the Skinade was definitely having a positive effect on not only the tone of my skin but felt my fine lines were less noticeable.  The sciency bit about Skinade is contains 7000mg of marine collagen (7000mg), calcium ascorbate, MSM, B Complex, flax seed and l-lysine.  The ingredients are meant to increase the elasticity and the natural production of collagen in your skin.
11087010_10153250643390955_877713063_o (1)By the third week my skin had a dewy appearance and the difference in my skin was becoming noticeable to my colleagues. At one point I was even asked if I had recently had any “work” on my face.  Another unexpected and very pleasant surprise is that my hair was shinier and I noticed new hair growth.  As I have particularly thin and fine hair this was a huge bonus.  In fact even my lovely beautician commented that I had a huge amount of lash growth in the last month.

11081388_10153250643535955_1337131390_n (1)By the final week there was no doubt my skin was more even and there was a huge difference in the general tone and appearance.  My skin was firmer and glowing even without my bronzer. There was a visible change in the appearance of fine lines.

If the 30 day course has results like this I can only imagine what a 90 day course would do.   would certainly recommend this product and think it makes an excellent addition to your daily anti-ageing regime.