Her results proof enough
MODELS, presenters and actors rely on Harley Street skin specialist and nutritionist Claudia Louch to help their complexions look screen-ready. And her secret is entirely natural. The 52-year-old, German-born practitioner's medicinal and skincare products may be 100% natural, her ethos may be holistic and her procedures non-invasive, but, let's be clear, there's nothing wishy-washy about her approach.
It is scientific, rooted in testing and analysis. If you join her 3000-plus client list, her six-strong team will usher you about with all the starchy bustle of the traditional medical establishment.
While about 85% of Louch's skincare patients come to her with medical problems, a growing number are looking for cosmetic solutions too, people – high-profile models, actors and presenters, although she won't name names – who have previously tried Botox and fillers.
"The usual route," as Louch puts it. "But they have been disillusioned. They have irritations, problems on the injection side, or they just don't want to look frozen anymore."
Louch herself is well-preserved, trim and blonde, with a pragmatic world view. "I will never do Botox or fillers – never, never," she declares in her lightly accented English.
"... most of us can age quite gracefully.
"We have many patients in their 60s and 70s who have lines but they are beautiful and well-groomed, stunning even."
Louch's main concern is with the toxins we liberally swallow, apply or inject for medicinal and cosmetic reasons.
She was a consultant on the 2007 documentary How Toxic Are You? on Channel 4, and part of her training was at a large pharmaceutical company.
"We know that Botox is a toxin, that people have reactions and if it is not administered properly it can cause lots of problems, but there is no data on the long-term effect
"We don't know what happens in 10, 15 years' time. But the toxin does accumulate inside you in some form," she says.
She sees the same pressure among her nutrition patients – Louch is a well-known weight-loss specialist on the BBC Two series The Supersizers.
"I had a client just last week, an American model who wants to break into the UK market. Her agent has told her she has to be 48kg to 50kg, which is skeletal.
"I said, 'No way. You cannot be that size, you'll die! Or at least be very unwell. Tell them they're off their head!'"
Will the model find another professional to help her?
"Probably, but it is totally irresponsible. If you are really tall, you cannot have a BMI [body mass index] of 16, which is what she would have been at that weight. 18.5 and below is anorexic."
It isn't just professionals facing body-image pressure. Louch is seeing a "growing number" of younger girls, brought to her by concerned mothers.
"I have a clinical psychologist working here because it is a very delicate matter. These girls don't realise you can't be that skinny, or at least stay that skinny, because it means not eating. And if you don't eat you die. It is as simple as that."
Louch's clinic has been set up to offer alternative solutions to these problems and more. Two thirds of patients come to her with an array of dermatological conditions.
Rosacea, urticaria, acne, psoriasis and eczema are on the increase, particularly among those in their 30s and 40s.
"I see a lot of adult eczema – they've never had it before and suddenly it flares up in a major way: rosacea in women and men, and also adult acne, especially in women who are 30-plus."
She believes increasing stress levels are contributing to the problem.
"If you are very stressed you produce more cortisol, a steroid hormone that affects other hormones and causes a whole cascade in your body. Acne is hormone driven. And when you're stressed you tend to eat worse food – takeaways, sugar.
"I've seen a rise in the amount of alcohol people drink. Maybe you want to relax and have a glass of wine, but that is sugar."
Conventional practitioners, she says, aren't usually interested in the causes of skin conditions. "They are giving you what the pharmaceuticals give them. And then they often don't do skin tests or blood tests for hormonal or allergic issues."
Louch takes a more holistic approach.
"History is important, genetics are important, diet is important. Your skin doesn't just break out for no reason. It's an indication that there is something going on inside the body." – The Daily Telegraph