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Top picks and tips by Ila beauty founder Denise Leicester

Over the years, Ila founder Denise Leicester has sourced and tested hundreds of oils and oil blends from all over the world. Here, she highlights some of her best discoveries and offers some useful skincare advice. Select Ila products and treatments are available in Abu Dhabi at Chi, the Spa at the Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri; in Dubai at the Natural Elements Spa at Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre, the Balance Wellness Centre on Sheikh Zayed Road and Palazzo Versace Dubai; and in Sharjah at Dalouk Spa at the royal-family-run Sharjah Ladies Club.

The monthly subscription for Ila’s apothecary boxes, which will launch on February 1, 2017, is £25 (Dh115), not including postage and packaging outside the United Kingdom.

For more information on Ila products and spa locations, visit www.ila-spa.com.

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Boswellia, the raw resin of the frankincense tree, has excellent healing properties, soothes inflammation, helps cellular repair and stimulates production of the ceramides that help skin remain hydrated. It is also excellent on older skins, and the star ingredient in Ila’s Gold range.

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Another ingredient, sea buckthorn oil, which Leicester sources from the Himalayas, is also especially effective on older skin. A fatty oil, rich in omega-7, it can be used internally as well as externally, as a juice or jelly. Used in Ila’s Gold Cellular Age-Restore Face Cleanser, sea buckthorn oil helps strengthen cell walls and regenerate skin.

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Rosehip-seed oil has produced some of the best results Leicester says she’s ever seen on scars, stretch marks, fine wrinkles, sun damage and psoriasis. High in vitamin A and retinol, rosehip quickly penetrates the upper layers of the skin, stimulating regeneration in the cell membranes. Its potency depends greatly on where the plant grows, and the finest Leicester has found, producing a rich amber oil with a nutty scent, comes from wild roses in the southern Andes. This is the key ingredient in Ila’s Body Oil for Vital Energy and Day Cream for Glowing Radiance.

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Remember, says Leicester, that whatever you put on your skin is absorbed into your body. Women, in particular, have become used to using numerous toxins on their bodies, through mainstream skincare, which then affects their cellular chemistry. Many of the harmful ingredients present in mainstream skincare have been linked to cancer. Familiar offenders include parabens and sodium lauryl sulphate. But beware, too, of the innocuous-sounding “parfum” or “fragrance”: umbrella terms for thousands of chemicals. Peter Lamas’s book Dying to Be Beautiful, available on Amazon, is a useful pocket-sized guide on what to avoid in the sometimes misnamed “beauty” industry.

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The Amazon rainforest is proving a treasure house of new discoveries, such as Ila’s rich but light, non-oily babassu oil, which sinks into the skin quickly, delivering the health-giving properties of acmella, pfaffia, marapuama and white lily plant extracts.

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