Forget your aqueous creams and paraffin-based pharmacy skincare - this sunflower oil range created by NHS scientists nourishes sensitive skin in a way that doesn’t feel clinical

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My first ever Saturday job was in a village chemist. I actually rather enjoyed it - for four hours a week I would see a lot of the same customers (it was a very small village), deal with prescriptions and usually learn something new as I conferred with the brilliant pharmacist on what the best products were for everything from veruccas to a child’s chesty cough. The downside, though, was that not only did I have to wear a white coat, but when I wasn’t on the till I was carefully restocking the shelves and getting absolutely covered in dust. I’m still not sure why chemists get quite so dusty - I’ve not noticed it in any other shop or job - but they do; I used to leave with black hands and a greying coat.

Unlike the chic French pharmacies of our European neighbours, ours tend to be a bit stuffy, blandly designed and in need of a good polish - much like the clinical-looking skincare sold within them. So if I were to imagine a skincare range created by the NHS I’d picture dusty white packaging with simple, inoffensive ingredients and thick, unappealing formulas that make my sensitive skin  feel a bit more comfortable, but do little else - which is why discovering My Trusty Skincare, a range created by leading Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust skincare scientists for their patients, was such a revelation.

patient feedback was so positive that it was routinely supplied by doctors

The products themselves aren’t exactly new; in fact, they were created by the team back in 1983 as a joint venture between the plastics and burns departments in order to better treat their patients’ problem skin, be it to soothe burns, reduce scarring or care for skin grafts. Back then, the so-called 'sunflower cream' was in an unassuming white pot, but it didn’t have time to get dusty - patient feedback was so positive that it was routinely supplied by doctors, until its reputation as an effective moisturiser became so widely known that it was turned into a commercial brand. It’s the first NHS skincare range that is available to buy (you’ll now find it in Tesco, Superdrug and independent pharmacies nationwide) - so just what makes My Trusty so effective?

It’s all down to the sunflower oil - or, more accurately, the linoleic acid that the plant oil contains. On studying the damaged skin of their patients and the newly formed skin over their scars, the team discovered that the skin was lacking this critical fatty acid, which is not made by the body but is needed in order to prevent moisture loss and maintain a healthy and functioning skin barrier , as well as having a vital role in repairing and creating body tissue. Sunflower oil is a rich source of the essential fatty acid (EFA), packed with vitamins E and F, has anti-inflammatory properties and is rich in acne-fighting vitamins A, C and D  - and so the natural-based formula for My Trusty was born.

Clinical scientist Dr Mark Brewin, PhD, comments, “The linoleic acid found in sunflower oil is an ideal skin moisturiser. In addition to its intense moisturising properties, it has a low viscosity which means it doesn’t clog the pores. This makes it suitable for either dry or oily skin.  Although originally developed to treat patients here with burns and scars, My Trusty is gentle enough for the whole family to use every day."

The award-winning products have proven efficacy too; a recent study showed a ‘substantial reduction in the appearance of scars and a significant increase in skin hydration for up to 24 hours’, while patients report an improvement in dryness, itching, acne , eczema , psoriasis  and rosacea .

buy eleven bottles of the face and body oil and you could pay for a potentially life-saving MRI scan

"Our users have reported significant benefits on problematic skin conditions,” continues Dr Brewin, "so we’re very excited that the range is now available to everyone, whilst benefitting the NHS.”

Ah, yes - the icing on the cake. the profits from every purchase go straight back into the NHS, so by buying the range you’re not only helping your skin barrier, but our beloved and somewhat crumbling health service too. The products are very reasonably priced, with the most expensive being only £8.99 - but every little counts. It’s estimated, for example, that the sale of just three body butters could pay for an X-ray; four bottles of body lotion could cover the cost of an ultrasound scan; or buy eleven bottles of the face and body oil and you could pay for a potentially life-saving MRI scan. It’s said around 50% of us consider ourselves to have sensitive skin; if we all swapped our skincare to My Trusty we’d have no problem covering the cost of employing a Band 5 nurse for a whole year. What a beautiful thought.

But back to the products themselves; they're vegan , free from parabens, lanolin, artificial perfumes and SLS , and suitable for the whole family starting from babies over the age of 8 weeks and including mums-to-be - plus, there are fragrance-free options and an essential oil-scented range, both of which are suitable for sensitive skin.

Best of all, though, they work - and they feel a world away from those thick, greasy creams you’re no doubt used to being prescribed for problem skin. This is one range that won’t be gathering dust on my shelf.

Sunflower Body Lotion, £5.99 for 250ml

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I prefer the fragrance-free option of the body cream as I’m not a fan of lavender , but either way it’s impressive stuff - the pump dispenser keeps it fresh and it sinks in easily without a hint of greasiness. I slather it on before bedtime on my flaky arms and shins and awake to softer, smoother skin that really does last all day.

Sunflower Hand Cream, £3.99 for 100ml

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This is the exact same formula as the body lotion, but in a handy (see what they did there) 100ml tube. Again, the grease-free texture makes it one of the better hand products on the market, or pack it as your body cream for your travels - either way, it’s good for on the go.

Sunflower Body Butter, £7.99 for 200ml

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My favourite product of the bunch, the bergamot, neroli and orange essential oils in this super rich butter are subtle yet luxurious to a fragrance-avoider like me. The formula hits the perfect balance of having enough slip to spread easily on dry elbows, patches of eczema, sore feet and everything in between, without leaving an oily sheen behind or feeling heavy on the skin. Dream cream.

Sunflower Face and Body Oil, £8.99 for 50ml

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I’m a big fan of face and body oils but few are as light to the touch as this one - the versatile formula contains the highest content of sunflower oil out of the range at 10%, as well as rose oil, neroli, bergamot and rosemary and feels intensely nourishing. I’m applying it to scars to see if I can spot the difference; use at night time for a glowing face the next morning or smother onto bare legs for a delicate, flattering sheen.

Find out more about My Trusty Skincare and see their full INCI list on their  website

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