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The reason French women have such clear skin.

Byline: Cathryn Scott

Our French counterparts have been using essential oils on their faces for years - so why, asks Cathryn Scott, are British women so scared of them?

WITH beauty counters literally overflowing with new face moisturisers packed full of the latest wrinkle-busting chemicals and line-erasing formulas, it's easy to forget that often the simplest products are sometimes the best.

And such is the case with facial oils. Sold mostly in health shops or spas, or on the counters of premiere beauty lines, they generally look rather inconspicuous in their packaging and advertising, so much so that a lot of shoppers probably miss them.

In France, however, oils are an integral part of women's beauty routines, as Angela Chin-Steadman, training manager at Darphin, explains.

'Our French counterparts have been using them and experiencing the benefits of aromatherapy for decades,' she says. 'French women are known for their sophisticated approach to beauty and skincare in particular.'

In the UK, though, she says, 'We are sometimes a little afraid of essential oils.'

Lucy Richards, manager of Neal's Yard Remedies in Cardiff, says that's certainly the case among her customers.

'We get customers looking for a moisturiser that will be balancing and will restore the skin, and we do recommend oils because they nourish and re-balance whether your skin is oily or dry. A lot of people worry it will make their skin oily or spotty but it does the opposite.

'Oils are more in tune with your skin because you've got oils already present in your skin.'

They recommend their Orange Facial Flower Oil, which contains pomegranate, evening primrose and macadamia oils as well as orange flower oil, and which can be used every day and is good for all skin types. She says some customers do wonder whether such oils can be as effective as moisturisers that are specially formulated for anti-ageing.

But the answer is they are.

'It works on cellular regeneration,' Lucy says. 'It has anti-oxidants and vitamins so it puts goodness back in, rather like evening primrose oil capsules can.

'Orange and macadamia seed can help reduce the signs of ageing.'

Although they don't contain SPF, like most day moisturisers do, Lucy says you can buy separate protection products, such as their lavender sunscreen, which has an SPF of 22.

In terms of how to use facial oils, Lucy recommends using them instead of your usual moisturiser in the morning and evening. 'You just need a few drops; three drops is enough for your whole face,' she says. 'I would put three drops on tips of fingers, rub fingers together and apply to the face really quickly.'

Kate Melhuish, a therapist at Cardiff's Park Plaza Hotel and Spa, adds, 'You can use them underneath moisturiser so you don't get the greasy look. If you pat on rather than apply in a circular motion you are not stimulating oils in your face, so you don't get greasy.'

She recommends Elemis oils, in particular the Cellular Recover Skin Bliss Capsules (60 for pounds 55), a treatment that is used for one month at a time and includes rose oil capsules for the day and lavender for the night. She says, 'The rose is good for mature or dehydrated skin, so for anti-ageing, and the lavender is healing and rejuvenating. It also has anti-oxidant properties, so [is good] if you live in a city, or the skin is weather damaged.'

She thinks it's better for your skin to be oily than dry. 'When your skin is dry, that's when you start to age,' she says. 'You see few people with oily skin with wrinkles.'

For those who worry about using oils, Angela recommends choosing dry oils, which won't leave residue on the skin.

'Darphin's Aromatic Care oils are dry oils,' she says, 'which means that they are instantly absorbed in the skin, working on the lower levels of the skin to restore a sense of inner and outer beauty. As they are dry oils, they do not leave any residue on the skin which means that even combination skin types are able to use and appreciate the benefit of essential oils.'

In addition, Lucy recommends choosing the purest oils you can. 'The more organic the oil the better it is,' she says. 'They're more natural.'

And you don't have to stop at using oils on your face.

Says Lucy, 'They can be used over the whole of the body. Almond oil or grapeseed are great for the body as they are moisturising.'

Kate recommends Elemis Japanese Camelia Oil, good for all skin types. 'If you are pregnant it is good for stretch marks - apparently Posh Spice used it.

'It has plant collagen in it, which is like the elasten in the skin. Elasten is what keeps it together. Once the elasten goes, that's when the skin starts to age.'

She says that once women start using oils, often they don't want to use anything else.

'I've worked abroad,' she says, 'and they do tend to look after themselves a little bit better. That's probably because of the weather - they are on show. British ladies don't look after themselves enough. We're not educated enough; we don't like to feel greasy and oily.'
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 3, 2007
Words:870
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