Monday 25 April 2022

Revenge travel: What is it and why is it popular right now?

Right now, I've never been more excited to travel. Visiting unique and exciting places has always been part of an ongoing goal for me, but after two years spent on the ground (bar a couple of trips to Ireland), I have the urge to get on a plane to anywhere - even if it's just a quick trip to one of my failsafe destinations like Portugal or Greece.

And it seems like I'm not the only one. With more savings under their belt, easing COVID-19 restrictions, and a thirst for new experiences, Britons are 'revenge spending' and 'revenge travelling', and this is said to be shaping the 2022 holiday landscape.

Revenge spending = over-financing FOMO

The concept of revenge travel has its origins way back in the 1980s and is a take on “revenge spending”. When China’s economy saw an uprise after decades of economic paralysis, people flooded the market with their enormous spending on luxury goods.

Today, we’re seeing a resurrection of the concept as a response to the previous restrictions of the pandemic. With everyday life almost restored, people are finding themselves swept up in the post-lockdown impulse to spend their money.

“It’s a phenomenon that’s really about to erupt as we exit all restrictions and have the ability to spend the money we’ve been saving since 2020. The pandemic has affected everyone in different ways, and some people may feel that their spending is justified,” says Jonny Sabinsky, head of communications at thinkmoney.

According to YouGov, one in three Britons have bolstered their savings since the pandemic began, amounting to an average of £4,500. But what are they most willing to splash out on?
Revenge travel in 2022

It turns out that the itch for travel is huge. A GlobalData Poll found that 28% of 210 respondents have dedicated a holiday budget that’s either ‘a lot’ or ‘slightly’ higher than before COVID-19.

Making the most of 2022, sunbathing in the blazing sun in designer bikinis and soaking in the far-away culture of a dream destination is shaping the revenge travel landscape both in the UK and globally.

"As we've all been isolated for so long [...] everyone is desperate to meet other people and have new experiences," said Lee Thompson, founder and owner of London-based travel firm Flash Pack.

The firm reported seeing a “massive surge in bookings” in recent months. Even the higher prices of plane tickets due to sanctions against Russian oil exports won’t hold travellers back from satiating their thirst for new experiences.

Flash Pack isn’t the only travel agent that has noted an increase in bookings for the 2022 holiday season. Lorne Blyth, founder of Edinburgh-based travel firm Flavours Holidays, reported that her company’s bookings for 2022 are already reaching 2019 levels and that their customers aren’t concerned about the rising flight prices.

Top destinations: the year of bucket list trips and firm favourites

Intriguingly, travel bookers are showcasing a keen interest in extravagant, long-haul getaways for summer 2022. The accumulation of savings funds, a longing for a sky-high holiday, and an over-financing FOMO are all feeding into travellers’ destination choices.

“People are booking real ‘bucket list’ trips. They are splashing out on once-in-a-lifetime trips to long-haul destinations. This is ‘revenge travel’,” said Ben Casey, founder of Out of This World Travel in Solihull. His travel company has already received double the enquiries and bookings in the first period of 2022 compared with the previous year.

The US is one of the top destinations for holiday bookers in 2022. In fact, 18.1% of Britons are planning on visiting the country in 2022 as of August 2021, according to the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA). New York and Florida are amongst the most popular destinations. Google search interest for “New York” in the UK has increased from an interest score of 44 during April 11–17 2021 to 98 during March 27–April 2 2022. Similarly, Google search interest for “Florida” has increased from an interest score of 67 to 97 during the same time period. They're both currently on the rise.

Other long-haul destinations that offer travellers the holiday of their lifetime, as well as a chance to reconnect with family and friends abroad, include Australia (5.1%) and Canada (4.5%).

Ben Casey has also noticed increased bookings in more exotic destinations, such as Mauritius and the Maldives, which are great honeymoon spots.

“We had one person book a trip to climb Mount Everest; someone else is off to Borneo to see the orangutans, and we have had bookings for Japan, inspired by Joanna Lumley’s recent TV shows showing her touring the country,” commented Ben.

Alongside ‘bucket list’ destinations, holidaymakers are also booking firm favourites close to home. Spain, for example, is leading the way, with 29.3% of respondents claiming they plan to visit it in 2022. France (17.8%), Italy (16.4%), and Greece (10.1%) also make the top five, promising immersion into rich European culture, blazing sun, and beautiful cuisine.

Jetting off to a far-away destination seems more possible in 2022 than ever before. A long-haul getaway feels like the perfect way to make up for the quieter holiday season in the last few years, and Britons are determined to make the most of it.

Friday 22 April 2022

How your gut influences your health in more ways than one

“Listen to your gut” has become a buzz phrase in today’s health-conscious and mindfulness-oriented society. While the phrase is used to refer to our intuition, its connection with the gut is not a coincidence.

The gut is often referred to as the second brain due to the bacteria and nerves contained there that control our brain. It’s not only responsible for some vital bodily functions but also for our mood.

We venture to unveil the mystery of our gut and learn how to improve our gut health so that we can enjoy a fulfilling life.
Why is gut health important?

The gut contains a rich portfolio of bacteria, fungi, and viruses, around 1,000 species weighing approximately three pounds. Collectively, they are called the gut microbiome. But those bacteria aren’t harmful; on the contrary, they benefit our health and livelihood. They’re responsible for digesting food, getting rid of toxins, and keeping us happy and healthy.

Apart from breaking down food, the microbiome in our gut keeps our immune system intact to prevent us from diseases. In fact, 70% - 80% of our immune system is located in the gut.

Studies have also revealed a link between our gut health and mental health. There is something called the Microbiome Gut Brain (MGB) Axis which connects our gut microbiome with our brain through the nervous system. It “regulates our mood, response to stressors, movement, and ability to form memories and process information”. Also, more than 90% of our serotonin – the happiness hormone – is produced in the gut. If our gut microbiome is in dysbiosis, an imbalance of microorganisms, these functions are also affected.

Unhealthy gut: the causes

Unfortunately, about 40% of the UK population experiences a minimum of one digestive problem symptom at any given time. This negatively affects the quality of our lives. It’s not just the stress of our lives that can cause gut issues, the way we medicate ourselves with antibiotics can too.

Dr Grace Liu, also known as The Gut Goddess, shared the following in an interview for the Gaia series Healing Matrix: “Here, in the Western world, studies are showing that even after one course of antibiotics, we’re depleting such a great amount of microbiome. We literally can lose 1/3 or 2/3 of our whole microbiome with even one course of antibiotics, and it never reverts back for some people”.

If we want to improve our microbiome, we need to learn something from the cultures whose gut health is thriving. These are the Amish and the Blue Zoners. The latter live in geographical regions called Blue Zones where people are the healthiest and live the longest. Studies have shown that these cultures have a diverse microbiome including species that are extinct in the Western world.

Dr Grace Liu adds: “So, the way I look at the microbiome, it’s kind of like a wealth portfolio. Here in the Western world, we’re bankrupt in terms of our microbiome”.

How to improve your gut health?

Even if we might be a little short on vital species in our gut microbiome, there are ways we can enrich our microbiome portfolio through diet, detox, and probiotics. Here is how.

Fibre, fibre, fibre.

Dietary fibre promotes the growth of healthy bacteria. There are two types of fibre, each having its own benefits to your gut. Insoluble fibre helps with bowel movement, prevents constipation, and fills you up. It’s found in grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and the outer skin of root vegetables.

Soluble fibre, on the other hand, slows down digestion and regulates blood glucose levels. It’s contained in most fruits and vegetables, legumes, and oats.

30g of dietary fibre is the daily recommended amount.

Eat fermented foods

Dietary fibre has an amazing quality called fermentability. That is the extent to which a fibre is broken down by our gut bacteria. Fermented foods contain natural microorganisms called probiotics, which enhance our gut flora.

Try adding a portion of the following fermented foods in your diet every day: kimchi, sauerkraut, yoghurt, kombucha, kefir, and fermented vegetables such as pickles and onions.

If you feel like you need an extra probiotic boost, try probiotic supplements. These live bacteria and yeasts restore your microbiome balance.

Eat prebiotics

What probiotics feed off is prebiotics, the “fertilisers in our gardens”. They’re essential for keeping our ecosystem intact and are contained in foods such as onions, garlic, tomatoes, bananas, asparagus, and chicory.

Replace refined sugar with organic chocolate

Excessive amount of processed sugar and artificial sweeteners can cause microbiome dysbiosis. Heavy amounts of processed sugar are contained in most packaged foods and ready meals.

Of course, not all sugar is bad, rather, it’s vital for us. But instead of consuming ‘bad’ sugar, implement natural sugar (carbohydrates) into your diet in the form of fruits and vegetables.

Just like a drug, sugar is addictive. Oftentimes, we use it to add a pinch of sweetness into our lives and uplift our mood. However, after the initial sugar rush comes a sugar crash caused by the overworking of insulin and stress hormones. This leaves us feeling lethargic.

Instead, try and nurture your emotions to avoid sugar binges harming your gut microbiome. Alternatively, do yourself a favour and indulge in some organic chocolate. It’s packed full of nutrients such as magnesium, zinc, and calcium, and naturally boosts your serotonin level. It’s for a reason that the Mayans used to call cacao “the food of the gods”.

Sleep well

In our busy modern lives, we tend to neglect sleep. However, our bodies’ rhythms dictate our gut health. When we don’t get enough sleep, we give way for inflammatory bacteria to flourish in our gut, while healthy bacteria diminish.

Moreover, insufficient sleep can increase hunger levels and lead to obesity. So, make sure you get a good night’s sleep as often as you can.

Practise mindful eating

Mindful eating means paying attention to all your senses while eating: smell, touch, taste, sight, hearing. Turn your dining experience into a ritual. This will help you better understand your appetite and prevent you from overeating, find joy and appreciation in your food, and aid your digestion.

While eating, chew your food properly, so that your saliva releases enzymes that help with digestion. Also, make sure you’re stress free while having your meal, and avoid consuming too many drinks as they could overload your digestive system.

We all tend to focus on gaining riches, but how often do we stop and think about the wealth of our gut microbiome? To guarantee a healthy and fulfilling life, make sure you take care of your gut health and don’t forget to listen to your gut!


Thursday 21 April 2022

Is TikTok the new authority on skincare?

If there’s one platform that’s turned the skincare game on its head, it’s TikTok.

Once the domain of viral dances, the app is now bursting with engaging videos from dermatologists, aestheticians, and ‘skinfluencers’. With access to so much expert advice, TikTok has replaced Insta as our go-to social media app for all things skincare and beauty.

We’re engaging with skincare content on TikTok more than ever. Currently, #skincare is sitting at over 65 billion – yes, BILLION! – views.

52% of us say we use TikTok
to find new products, while influencer posts were up 16% in early 2021 compared to 2020.

Below, I cover three ways TikTok has revolutionised how we think about skincare and beauty.

Access to expert advice

We know from hours of scrolling endlessly on Instagram that the influencers we engage with aren’t necessarily qualified experts. We still love watching OOTD videos from our favourite influencers, but unlike fashion, there’s a science to skincare. On ‘SkinTok’, as it has been affectionately dubbed, we have access to advice from people who’ve studied the things they’re educating us on. While we love skinfluencers like @skincarebyhyram, we’re also turning to qualified dermatologists like @dermdoctor and @dermbeautydoc to help us nail our routines.

These experts are busting all the myths that we’ve grown up with, giving us the knowledge we need to have our healthiest skin ever. Thanks to their no-nonsense advice, we know that scrubbing at our acne with rough exfoliators will aggravate it, not make it go away. We know hydration and moisture is the key to keeping our skin youthful and bouncy. Most importantly, these qualified influencers are educating us on the importance of SPF – so if you’re looking for that all-important bronzed glow, self-tan and tan drops are the way to go!

In a world where anyone can be an influencer, having access to real, expert advice is important for looking after our skin. Save the reality star influencers for your fashion and make-up scrolling.

Ingredients, ingredients, ingredients

One of the benefits of following qualified experts is that they’re educating us on the ingredients in our products. Now, we’re smarter than ever before and we know what ingredients to look out for. We know now that our teenage ‘holy-grail’ products like witch hazel are actually too harsh for our skin, while salicylic acid will help unclog those pores and leave our skin glowing.

Thanks to TikTok, we’re selling out products that boast the ingredients we’re craving. The Ordinary’s TikTok-famous peeling solution has sold out so many times, with sales trebling yearly. We’ve also been introduced to new brands at affordable prices that include these powerhouse ingredients – meaning we can splurge more money on make-up and nights out! Our skin has never looked more radiant thanks to hyaluronic acid, retinol, and niacinamide.

We’re learning about the ingredients behind our favourite serums and creams. In turn, we’re empowered to make smart choices when we buy new products. No more being sucked in by stunning packaging and false promises.

Viral hacks lead the way

Who doesn’t love a life hack? Skincare and beauty hacks on TikTok aren’t in short supply, with users offering tips to improve your products and routines. Experts like @charlotteparler have taught us that applying most of our skincare products to damp skin can supercharge their effects – hello, glowing queen!

Our lips have never been plumper and poutier since we started layering a moisturiser under our lip balms, and our faces are also more sculpted when we leave the house in the morning thanks to massaging in our products, which helps reduce puffiness.

But, as with anything else, if something sounds too good to be true, it is. DIY face masks and treatments are huge on TikTok, with unqualified creators recommending blends of lemon juice, baking soda, and even egg whites. Our favourite TikTok derms recommend against these hacks because they can undo all the hard work we’ve put into our smooth, glowing complexions. Instead, look for products formulated with skin-loving ingredients. For example, try goji berries, which are an amazing antioxidant, instead of slathering raw ingredients on your face.

When it comes to skincare hacks on TikTok, I recommend sticking to viral techniques – like facial massage and damp skin – instead of DIY concoctions that could lead to red, irritated skin and acne outbreaks. That’s the last thing we want!

It’s safe to say that while Insta provides us with endless fashion and beauty inspo, TikTok reigns supreme for skincare content. Through these fast-paced videos, we’ve learnt about the ingredients that make our skin baby soft and radiant, as well as the ones to avoid. We’ve incorporated facial massage into our routines, and we know how to spot new products that’ll work for our skin type. ‘SkinTok’ shows no signs of slowing down, so get on it – it’s got everything you need for gorgeous, glowing skin.


Wednesday 20 April 2022

What you need to eat for perfect skin - according to your skin

Your quest for flawless skin knows no bounds. You’ve perfected your skincare routine and you know what ingredients work best for your skin type. You’re double-cleansing to remove makeup and all the pore-clogging dirt and grime that builds up on your face to achieve perfectly clear skin. You have a multi-step regime that incorporates moisturisers, serums, and SPF.

But if you want to take your skincare to the next level, it’s time to look at enhancing the effects of your topical treatments.

The food you eat can make a huge difference to the clarity and appearance of your skin. But I'm not talking about that age-old myth of junk food causing acne. I mean the foods that can make a positive difference and leave you with soft, glowing skin.

Here, I cover some of the best foods you can include in your diet based on your skin type.

Oily skin needs oily foods

Remember the time when everyone thought a facial oil was going to make their oiliness worse? We now know that certain facial oils can counteract skin’s oil production. But did you know the same applies to oily foods?

Foods with anti-inflammatory oils have been found to counteract oil production in the skin. And there are some delicious options to choose from.

Olives and olive oil

Olives and olive oil contain high levels of anti-inflammatory oils, leading to a reduction in the skin’s natural oil production. They can also improve your gut microbiome, which is another way it can help your skin. Studies have shown that unhealthy gut bacteria can lead to inflammatory skin conditions including acne and psoriasis.

A word of warning – don’t put this oil on your skin. While a lot of influencers – and even celebrities including J.Lo – promote using olive oil topically on your face, dermatologists including Dr Muneeb Shah and Dr Alexis Stephens have warned against it on their TikTok platforms. It can cause trans-epidermal water loss, which dries out our skin, and even encourages fungus to grow. Yikes.

Oily fish

Another oily food that can counteract oily skin is oily fish – including tuna, salmon, mackerel, and herring. This is because of its powerhouse ingredient: EPA. A type of Omega-3, this ingredient regulates the hormones in our body that are responsible for stress, which can lead to oil production.

EPA can also reduce inflammation in the body, often caused by stress – are you spotting a theme here?

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, Omega-3 supplements are a great addition to your diet.

Healthy fats for dry skin

Dry skin occurs when the skin doesn’t produce enough of its own natural oils. Dry skin can also be deficient in ceramides and lipids, the skin’s natural fatty acids that keep it plump and hydrated. Supercharge your skincare routine by incorporating foods rich in healthy fats for dewy, hydrated skin.

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are well known as some of the best sources of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They can help your skin build up its essential moisture barrier, alongside your barrier-boosting skincare products that contain ceramides and lipids.

Almonds are a great choice for especially dry skin because they’re high in magnesium and vitamin E, both ingredients that can boost your skin’s moisture from the inside out. Walnuts also have fats that can draw moisture in from the air. The skincare experts amongst you will know this is a property of hyaluronic acid, which the magnesium found in walnuts helps our body to produce!

Fruit and vegetables

Certain fruits and vegetables are packed with ingredients that hydrate dry skin. Guava is the most vitamin C-rich food (that’s right, it’s not oranges). But if that’s not accessible to you, kiwi fruit and bell peppers are the second and third highest on the list.

Topical vitamin C is well-known for a host of benefits including skin brightening, hydration, anti-ageing, and fighting sun damage. But it can sometimes be too irritating for dry and sensitive skin types. Eating your vitamin C can provide your skin with some of these benefits without the added side effect of irritation.

Food that works for all skin

If you have oily or dry skin, don’t feel like you have to stick to the specific foods above. We also need to consider combination skin, which suffers from both oiliness and dryness. The most common complaint of people with combination skin is an oily t-zone, but dry cheeks and forehead. There are also some lucky guys and gals out there who have normal skin, which doesn’t suffer heavily from oiliness or dryness.

As well as incorporating the above foods into your diet, here are some foods that can benefit all skin types.

Dark chocolate

Forget what you’ve been told about chocolate ruining your skin. While the dairy and sugar in milk chocolate can potentially cause some side effects like puffiness, dark chocolate is amazing for skin. It can supercharge your SPF – something you should be wearing every single day – because of its high antioxidant levels.

Studies have also shown that eating dark chocolate regularly can give you thicker, more hydrated skin – which is great news if you’re interested in anti-ageing, because thin, dehydrated skin is more prone to signs of ageing.

Green tea

An amazing all-rounder for skin, you might just want to start sipping green tea on a daily basis. Its ingredient, EGCG, can limit the production of androgens – hormones that can increase your sebum production. This makes it perfect for oily skin.

If you have dry, combination, or normal skin, don’t worry – green tea can still offer you plenty of benefits. it can reduce existing sun damage in your skin, which can be a cause of dryness if you’re a reformed sunbed user. It also revives dying skin cells, meaning sufferers of dry, flaky, or ageing skin can rejoice. Green tea also has these benefits when applied topically – win-win!

When it comes to looking after our skin, there’s no doubt that our skincare products reign supreme. Topical ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and niacinamide can penetrate our skin and make a difference on the surface. The most important thing for clear, plump, youthful skin is the products you apply – so make sure you have your routine nailed. Then, you can look to boost it even further by incorporating these skin-friendly foods into your diet for the best skin of your life.

Tuesday 19 April 2022

Why you should be staying out of the sun this summer (and what to do instead)

I used to love the feeling of being in the sun, but after one terribly long sunbathing session that ended up in awful burns and peeling all over my skin as a silly teenager, I decided since then that I would keep my sun exposure to a minimum.

Not only can UV rays cause burning, they are also the culprit behind advanced signs of ageing and skin damage.

However, if you love the feeling of light on your skin, there are actually different types of light therapy that can mimic the way the sun feels on our skin – plus, with added skincare benefits.

Here, I cover the type of lights you should stay away from, and the ones you need to become familiar with.

Stay away from: UV rays

That’s right. Your Ibiza beach vacations and sunbed sessions are potentially doing you damage. UV rays are the number one culprit of skin cancer – whether you get them from a sunbed or a day on the coast. But shockingly, only 11% of people regularly use SPF – and 46% never use it! It’s no wonder that skin cancer is one of the most common cancers.

As well as the horrifying dangers of skin cancer, UV rays are also the biggest contributor to skin ageing. There’s no better way to illustrate this than the famous photo of the truck driver who never wore SPF and only got sun damage on one side of his face due to his routes exposing the left side more than the right.

Because of all of this, it’s essential that you wear SPF – yes, even on the coldest, cloudiest days. UV rays can penetrate through clouds and damage your skin even in the winter, so it’s non-negotiable if you want to avoid the risk of skin cancer and keep your skin healthy and youthful.

I'm not saying you should never go out in the sun again, but make sure you’re wearing SPF all over, don’t spend too long in the sun on hot days, and bring plenty of cover-ups like hats, kaftans, and sarongs. If you’re missing your golden beach tan, using tanning water is a guaranteed safe way to do it. No need to forego your golden glow to stay safe!

Invest your time in: blue light therapy

If you’ve been a sunbed junkie for years and you’re prepared to give up this damaging habit, blue light therapy is for you. Think of it as the antidote to all the damage that has been caused by sunbathing without SPF or using sunbeds.

Blue light is used to reverse some of the damage caused by UV rays. It can both prevent skin cancer from forming and treat cancerous growths or patches of skin. When combined with a photosynthesizing treatment applied to the skin, it can target and kill off cancer cells. If you’re a reformed sunbather or sunbed user, we recommend talking to your derm about blue light therapy.

As well as these health-saving benefits, blue light therapy also has skincare benefits. If you have large pores and produce a lot of oil, blue light therapy can reduce the size of your sebaceous glands and in turn reduce acne. If all of that isn’t enough, it’s also used to treat depression and is particularly effective when treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD). A true all-rounder.

Get to know: red light therapy

Red light therapy is a treatment that has been around for a long time. This therapy can be used for a range of treatments from psoriasis to acne and premature ageing. It delivers low-level wavelengths of red light to your skin and comes in many different forms.

Red light therapy masks have become popular in recent years as a way to address premature ageing on our faces. Facial red light therapy can also be delivered through handheld devices which are available at your dermatologist or as at-home devices – but be aware that at-home devices may be less effective.

For full-body treatments like soothing psoriasis symptoms or chemotherapy side effects, you can bask in the light of a full booth. If you’re a sunbed junkie seeking that relaxing, warm experience, red light therapy is a much safer treatment – and comes with way more benefits than UV sunbeds.

Whether you live in a sun-filled locations, or you love to holiday in warmer climes, chances are you are used to basking in the sun. And although there are ways to do this while protecting yourself, it’s a habit that’s not good for your skin or your health. I recommend shunning UV sunbeds in favor of blue or red light therapy booths and reducing your exposure to the sun to keep your skin and your body youthful and healthy.
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