Category Archives: Wellbeing and more

Do women need muscles

After two weeks of watching the world’s best compete at the London Olympics, it’s hard not to feel inspired. But even if you don’t have aspirations for Rio, there’s a lot to be said for putting a bit of extra effort into training. This great article, by Charles Poliquin, outlines the benefits of gaining muscle – not just to look good, but for long term health. It’s definitely worth a read. See more.


Review of ‘The Descendants’

By Sarah Cox.

With Oscar fever heating up and the stars getting ready to walk the red carpet, the world is waiting to see who will take out the Academy Awards.

A strong contender  in the categories of Best Film, Best Actor and  Best Director is the film, The Descendants, based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemming and directed by Alexander Payne. Starring George Clooney and Shailene Woodley, it is set in Hawaii and portrays an everyday, modern family living through the throes of the teenage and midlife years. Alexandra, the 17-year-old daughter, played by Woodley, has against her will, been taken out of college to return home and visit her mother who lies in hospital in a coma following a waterskiing accident. Her workaholic, distant father, Matt King, played by Clooney, is ignorant of the fact her mother had been having an affair just prior to the accident. Left to cope emotionally with growing up on her own, Alexandra, at the outset of the film, is rebellious and attention seeking. She is caught by her father late at night underage drinking outside the college grounds.

What makes this film worth viewing is the evolving relationship Alexandra has with her father Matt put in the context of the pressure she experiences to conform with her peers. As they come to terms with the mother’s impending passing and the journey they undertake to discover who the mother’s lover is, Alexandra changes from being a rude, opinionated teenager to a daughter who allows her father to parent her again. Previously ignored by both parents who were consumed with their own lives, she assumes the typical role of the try hard teen at college. When she returns home and has to face up to the tragic news that her mother is dying, this hard shell exterior is peeled away and her vulnerability and honesty is revealed. Her relationship with her father changes to be more one of love and support in the face of the family crisis. It is this portrayal of the human frailty in family life that makes this film quietly powerful.

Alexander Payne typically portrays people with flaws in his movies who are having some crisis. He said he made this film because he wanted to make it in the beautiful setting of Hawaii. Two  anchoring points in the film he thought resonated are, when the father Matt decides to find his wife’s lover and tell him the wife is dying. Though he feels that he wants to kill the lover, out of an act of love he  informs him. Also when the wife of the lover shows up at the hospital to the dying mother’s bedside, she tells the wife her husband was too cowardly to turn up but out of an act of love she feels that didn’t seem right so she goes herself. Human goodness overpowers the dysfunction.

Whilst The Descendants is a very good film, I personally did not find George Clooney entirely convincing as the responsible Dad (he was much better as the corrupt politician in The Ides of March). I thought Woodley’s portrayal as the daughter was a fine performance. Do you agree?

For a preview of the film see

In an interview, Shailene Woodley discusses the pressure placed on teenagers by our consumer society to act grown up and beyond their years –

Treatment for acne

By Julie Fison

Remember the old Clearasil ad – a bunch of skegs deciding if seaweed or saltwater was the best treatment for pimples? Thanks to new developments in skin care – there’s a bit more choice on the market to treat acne these days. In fact, there’s a huge choice out there. So, where do you start when your teen breaks out?

Mothers who have been through this, complain that some of the over-the-counter products can do more harm than good. It’s tempting for teens to try to really scrub their blocked pores, but a harsh cleanser can actually spread bacteria. Common pimple creams tend to dry out the skin as they get rid of the spots. They also treat the symptom rather than the cause – so another pimple pops up where the previous one was.

To get some professional advice on the subject, we have asked Wickham Terrace Skin Clinic Founder, Madelaine Goakes, for some answers.  Madelaine is a therapist (and registered nurse), not a dermatologist, so her expertise is in improving the health of the skin, not prescribing medication for acne.

What is acne?

‘When the teenage years hit, hormones can cause the sebaceous (oil) gland to produce excess oil. This oil can become mixed with flakes of skin and form a plug over the hair follicle, which is from where the oil flows.

With the follicle blocked and the sebaceous gland still producing oil, the oil cannot escape the follicle becomes distended, forming a bump under the skin. This bump can become infected with bacteria that live on the skin resulting in sore inflamed pimples.

Sometimes the blocked follicle presents as a blackhead, the colour is not from dirt. As the oil (sebum) dries it darkens in colour. These blackheads can easily become infected either from attempts to remove them or from the bacteria infiltrating from the surface of the skin.’

What kind of acne conditions can a therapist treat?

‘Acne is given a grading from 1 to 5, 1 is a mild form and 5 (acne conglobata) the most severe but uncommon form. To what level the therapist can treat is probably dependant on the type of treatments they offer and the products they use. Typically a grade1-3 could be tackled by a therapist.

Many people choose to start treatment this way because they want to avoid medication. The best advice I can give is don’t wait until the acne has reached stage 3. Start treatment early. With the correct cleansers and topical Vitamin A, many acne cases can be treated easily.’

What are the treatments?

‘The principles of treating acne are:

  • Reduce the oil production from the sebaceous gland.
  • Reduce the possibility of follicle becoming blocked by removing excess dead skin cells.
  • Remove the blockage of the follicle.
  • Prevent infection by keeping the pH of the skin at the lower end of normal  (4.5- 6.5) this helps to prevent bacteria growth.’

So how do you do this? 

‘There are several options available:

  • Topical Vitamin A has been shown for many years to be effective in improving problem skin. Known as the great cell normaliser, Vitamin A can also help reduce oil flow. Mild forms such as Retinyl Palmitate are very effective in early stages and do not have the risks of sun sensitivity that the stronger forms do.
  • Vitamin A also has a pleasing effect on the dead cells helping them to form a compact and smooth layer on the skin, reducing the possibility of causing blockages.
  • Mild chemical peeling may also be of benefit; this should be undertaken very carefully by an experienced therapist
  • Appropriate cleansers that contain Salicylic Acid can help to dissolve blockages.
  • The cleanser should also have the correct pH towards the lower end of 4.5-6.5, to maintain the delicate layer of oils and bacteria on the skin, this layer is called the acid mantle.  A toner containing Lactic Acid is also helpful.’

What are the side effects of treatment?

‘Some forms of Vitamin A and peeling treatment to reduce blockages can make the skin sun sensitive, but as your teen would be wearing sunscreen and a hat anyway you will probably not need to make any other changes. Yes, I know… what sunscreen and what hat!!!’

Does diet affect acne?

‘I teach skincare at a modeling school and love to tell the models that I have found no conclusive proof that chocolate causes acne. We are at the moment in the clinic researching any papers that make any recommendations based on conclusive trials on nutritional support for acne. However, a healthy balanced diet should always be encouraged.’

Are there other factors that affect acne?

‘There are many triggers for acne: stress, hormones and some medication. Acne can occur at any time in our lives. In our clinic we see quite a few distressed women in their 30s who managed to get through teenage years without acne, suddenly to have their skin out of control.’

‘To sum up, I would say:

  • Treat acne early.
  • The key to effective acne treatment is consistency of application of recommended products.
  • Some popular products used by teenagers can be very damaging to the skin.
  • Moisturising and application of creams can seem counterintuitive, but they are the best way to reduce acne and achieve a well-balanced and nourished skin.

If your skin is not responding to treatment, see your GP who can offer you help or refer you to a Dermatologist.’

Madelaine Goakes is a registered nurse with experience in cosmetic and surgical medicine. Her Wickham Terrace Skin Clinic addresses both the health and appearance of the skin and provides treatment for skins of all ages. See more details here.

Visit Whatever! again soon for professional guidance on using medication for severe acne cases.

See also our recipes for glowing skin here. 


Getting cricket whites WHITE

After countless soaks and numerous scrubs, are those whites are still looking soiled or dull? Then give this a go:

25 ml (heaped tbsp) Napisan Oxiaction. 25 ml Borax. 4 litres of water in a bucket. Lid or cover for bucket

This chemical cocktail of detergents seems to work better for me at removing those nagging grass and mud stains. Years ago, a friend (mother of a teen) suggested covering the bucket with a lid.  I have found this really reduces your soaking time to overnight instead of days. The theory is less air in the bucket reduces airflow and apparently encourages those chemical enzymes to clean better!  After the soak, just add the sports uniform into a wash with your other soiled white clothes (e.g. socks, tennis whites etc.) and voila!

Note: Napisan Oxiaction is the detergent in the purple jug

          Borax is in a 500g white,round container with red lid

Good luck!