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Your questions answered

Nicky Hambleton-Jones gets to grips with your health, beauty and fashion and querie.

My scarring gets me down
I had acne in my younger years and I’m very conscious about the scars I still have on my face. But I think it’s time to stop hiding behind hair and make-up. Can you suggest any ways that I can go about improving my confidence?
Clare Watts, 34, Bournemouth

Nicky replies:
I should point out that I’m not a dermatologist, but it sounds to me like you would benefit from an acid peel. They come in varying depths and intensities and can be very effective at resurfacing the skin and improving its overall quality by stimulating collagen production. Laser resurfacing is another treatment that’s often used to remove acne scarring. However, it is quite invasive and the risk of infection is high, which makes an acid peel the safer option. I would suggest you make an appointment with a dermatologist who will be able to advise you on the best course of action for your level of scarring and skin type. It may even be that a course of microdermabrasion would do the job.

I dress like a granny
I’m about to hit 40 and my children say that I dress too old for my age. I’m not really sure where to shop or what to wear – I’m a size 12 and am not very tall. Do you have any suggestions?
Sinead Amour, 39, Brighton

Nicky replies:
Don’t let your age dictate where you shop. The most important thing to remember is to wear clothes that fit. Avoid saggy, baggy shapeless clothes, as these will instantly put ten years on your age. Secondly, opt for a flash of colour, particularly around your face. This will not only lift your spirits but your complexion too, and you’ll feel years younger. Finally, if you’re not sure which fashion trends work for you, why not invest in a few key accessories to update your look. Ask your kids for their advice. They’re obviously not scared to give you their opinion, so give them the opportunity to revamp your look too.

Help! I’m losing my hair
I’m worried about hair loss. Is there a specific treatment or product you would recommend?
Susie Gara, 49, Croydon

Nicky replies:
Depending on the degree of hair loss, you can treat it with a topical treatment such as Minoxidil, which is used to halt the progression of hair loss. Light-based laser therapies can be effective too, as they improve blood flow and the function of the hair cell, which in turn encourages it to grow. If you’re really concerned about it, I would suggest you get advice from an expert before deciding on a recommended course of treatment.

Vein advice
Can you suggest any treatments for varicose veins?
Kirsty Winters, 56, Derby

Nicky replies:
If you already have varicose veins, there is very little you can do apart from wearing elasticised stockings every day. This will not make them better but can prevent them from getting worse. There are various treatments available depending on the state of the veins. If you have large varicose veins, you can either have them surgically removed or opt for sclerotherapy, which is less invasive. This involves a solution being injected into the vein to seal and dry it out. If you have spider veins, laser treatment is very effective.

Mum deserves a treat
My mum has a really stressful job, works long hours and doesn’t really get any time to herself. For her birthday, I’d like to treat her to a day at a health spa. Are there any treatments you can recommend that will help her relax and unwind?
Scarlett Harris, 23, Maidstone

Nicky replies:
That’s a lovely idea. I think just being in a spa will instantly help her to relax and unwind. My favourite treatments are a facial and a hot stone massage. The heat from the stones penetrates deep into the muscles, which I find more relaxing and therapeutic than a deep tissue massage. For me, a facial is one of the most relaxing treatments you can have. As your mum is slightly older, why not treat her to an anti-ageing facial, which will not only be relaxing but rejuvenate her skin too

I’m needle-phobic
I really want to have a couple of Botox treatments on my forehead but I’m terrified of needles. Are there any alternative methods that don’t include needles?
Nicole Morris, 43, Coventry

Nicky replies:
There are creams that temporarily tighten the skin but usually the effects won’t last longer than a day. If you already have deep lines on your forehead, I’d suggest you change your hairstyle. A fringe will help disguise the lines. Another option worth considering is to have regular skin peels, which will help stimulate the collagen in the skin – plumping out fine lines. All of the above will help disguise the lines but nothing will give you the instant, longer-term results that Botox does. It may not be as bad as you think it might be.

How can I prepare to peel?
I’m thinking about having a chemical face peel. Are there certain things I should consider before getting it done?
Shirley Bateman, 52, Enfield

Nicky replies:
Before you embark on any kind of peeling, you should always consult an expert. There are varying intensities of peels available, and you need to take advice on which one would be appropriate for your skin. Also, bear in mind that you can’t go in the sun for at least four weeks before or after a peel and that you should wear SPF 30 on your face every day. It’s crucial, too, that you stop smoking before, during and for four weeks after having an acid peel as smoking increases the risk of infection and delays the healing process. If you’re not able to commit to it, then don’t have the peel.

Make-up melt down
My skin is quite oily and it’s difficult for me to find a good foundation and powder to suit. Do you have any suggestions?
Mary O’Connor, 44, Cardiff

Nicky replies:
There are a couple of options. Block powder is your best option as it gives you a light natural finish and is more likely to last, but do make sure you apply it with a brush and not the puff. If you’re using foundation, it’s got to be a mattifying one. Try Studio Fix Fluid Foundation from Mac ( It’s an oil-absorbent liquid foundation that you apply with a foundation brush and buff across the skin to achieve a more even finish. If your skin is very oily, use a mattifying gel beneath your foundation. You can buy them at most cosmetics counters and Mac do a good one. This gives the foundation a flawless finish and holds it in place longer, though you will look more heavily made-up.
For a more natural finish use the mattifying gel beneath your powder. Apply the powder to the most oily areas – ie, the
T-zone – and don’t forget to use a brush rather than the puff.

I really want to be a yummy mummy
Since I had my first baby I’ve found it difficult to lose the weight I put on in pregnancy. There’s loads of press coverage on
A-listers who regain their figures in an instant. But do you think this is safe? And how can I get back in shape at a steady rate?
Lorna Young, 29, Bristol

Nicky replies:
Extreme weight loss is never sensible, so don’t look to the A-listers for inspiration. Steady weight loss is a far safer and more sustainable long-term solution, best achieved through a combination of healthy eating and exercise. Stay away from the cakes and cookies at coffee mornings. Don’t eat the left-overs on your child’s plate. Opt for three balanced meals and make a point of exercising at least three or four times a week. At least two of these exercise sessions should be cardiovascular, (ie, running, skipping, or swimming). The other two should involve strength training such as pilates, yoga or callanetics. I know this may sound exhausting but remember you got yourself into the shape you’re in and only you can get it back.

I need to glam up my look
I hate the fact that I look and feel the same at work as I do in the evenings, when I’m having a night out. How can I change my make-up routine so that I feel younger and more glamorous in the evenings?
Stacey, 45, Leicester

Nicky replies:
Not having met you, it’s difficult to assess your current make-up routine. The easiest way to glam up your look for a night out is to be a little more heavy-handed on either the eyes or the lips – whichever you prefer. If you like to focus on your eyes, use a darker brown shadow to outline them – top and bottom. Attach a few false eyelashes to the corners of your eyes and follow with a few lashings of mascara. If you’d rather draw attention to your lips, choose a lipstick that’s a few shades richer than your day colour and finish off with a dab of lip gloss in the centre of your pout.

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