The pH or acid and alkaline balance of the blood is a key factor in detoxification and inflammation. An acidic blood pH is more likely to be associated with increased inflammation throughout the body and with a greater incidence of skin conditions such as congestion and acne. By contrast alkaline blood is associated with reduced inflammation. Green foods such as chlorophyll can assist in balancing acid/alkaline balance, which may be helpful during detoxification. This video goes examines the acid/alkaline balance and the benefits of chlorophyll.
Grant’s Liquid Chlorophyll is a gentle, low dose product that assists with the acid/alkaline balance in the body. Recommended by Karen Fischer’s book “The Healthy Skin Diet“, chlorophyll is a useful supplement as part of an overall skin detoxification program. It also helps to reduce body odour – underarm, foot and bad breath.Twitter It!
The toxic ingredients in nail polish should be a bigger issue than they are. Commonly found in most commercial nail polish brands are phalates, formaldehyde, camphor and toulene, each one of these with the potential to increase the toxic burden we place on our bodies. The only way to avoid them is to choose non-toxic nail polishes and may I say, non-toxic brands should be more common than they are.
So while the brand we use is not 100% natural (there is currently no such thing as a natural nail polish) we make sure it contains non of the aforementioned ingredients. I have made a video which discusses each of these potentially harmful ingredients and showcases Zoya, the brand of non-toxic nail polish we use in our organic beauty salon.
View our range of Zoya nail polish. We currently have a range of 19 colours and expanding as we get requests. Check out Fergie and Zsa Zsa, my favourite colours or Hope which Roechelle is currently wearing. Tell us what your favorite colour or if you have used any other non-toxic nail polish ranges.Twitter It!
The simple answer is yes. Environmental factors, nutritional status and dietary intake more than genes can add years to a person’s appearance. While topical applications make a difference, a healthy glow is more often a sign of internal health than anything else. There is a growing body of evidence to show that what we eat certainly influences skin aging and not surprisingly, the dietary correlations that relate to reduced skin aging also relate to reduced aging in general. Apart from dietary interventions, research is showing that supplementation with specific nutrients and antioxidants supports the use of topical anti-aging products and that in fact the combination is more effective than either treatment alone. Below is a review of the most significant dietary and nutritional influences on aging.
An Australian study at Monash University looked at the effects of food and nutrient intake on skin wrinkling in areas exposed to the sun. The participants were from Melbourne, Greece and Sweden.
Food intake questionnaires were used to measure diet and microphotography of the skin was used to measure skin wrinkling. The study showed that Swedish had the least skin wrinkling, followed by Greeks and Australians had the most. The types of foods consumed did have an effect on the degree of skin wrinkling with more damage seen in those with a higher intake of meat, dairy and butter. Foods that had a protective effect against skin wrinkling included vegetables, legumes, olive oil, tea, prunes and apples (see full list below). Overall, positive dietary habits trended towards a low-GI diet.
Another study supports the above food associations showing that skin wrinkling in a sun-exposed site in older people of various ethnic backgrounds may be influenced reducing intakes of fats and carbohydrates and increasing antioxidants and beneficial fats, dietary measures which are associated with better skin-aging appearance.
It is worth noting that research linking skin aging and dietary habits should not be taken out of context. Overall dietary trends produce these effects rather than any single food group in isolation. However, the dietary trends in both studies show that high GI and saturated fats seem to have the most significant pro-wrinkling effect. Due to their higher saturated fat content meat, dairy and butter can increase skin inflammation and lead to faster skin aging. In addition a high sugar intake is also associated with greater skin wrinkling. Simple sugar has a pro-inflammatory effect but it also promotes the production of advanced glycosylation end products (AGE). AGEs are closely associated with oxidative stress. A combination of a high antioxidant diet and low sugar reduces inflammation, free radical damage and AGE production in the body. Again the trend shows that the protective foods are low or have no saturated fats and are low GI and rich in phytochemicals which support skin collagen and reduce inflammation.
The Monash study indicated that these foods associated with less wrinkling:
• Mono-unsaturated fat including those from olive oil and olives
• Nuts and legumes
• Fish (particularly those rich in essential fatty acids)
• Low fat milk and milk products, such as yogurt
• Wholegrain cereals
• Fruit and fruit products (especially prunes, cherries and apples)
• Tea and Water
More wrinkling was associated with diets that included higher intakes of:
• Saturated fat (including butter)
• Trans fats (including margarine)
• Meat (especially fatty processed meats)
• Full fat dairy products
• Refined carbohydrates and sugars such as cakes, pastries and desserts
• Soft drinks and cordials
• Confectionary of any kind
• Many packaged and processed foods contain hidden sugars
• Packaged cereals
Apart from dietary trends, certain nutrients also show promising effects on skin aging. Studies have shown that antioxidant nutrients, specifically vitamins C and E, as well as lipoic acid and flavonoids, exert protective effect against oxidative stress in the skin, in particular photoprotective effects. That is they help protect the skin from the oxidative damage caused by the sun. Lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin as a specific subset of carotenoids may also be used as oral sun protectants and contribute to the maintenance of skin health. In fact, taking carotenoids prior to sun exposure will increase the depth and lasting effect of a sun tan (not that extended tanning is advised).
In other research, a daily dosage of soy isoflavones (40mg per day) resulted in the improvement of fine wrinkles and increased skin elasticity after 12 weeks of supplementation in middle-aged women with aged skin. Interestingly, a common arthritis supplement glucosamine also improved the appearance of visible wrinkles and fine lines. Glucosamine is incorporated into glucosaminoglycans (GAGs) in the body. GAGs work to increase epidermal thickness and elasticity of the skin although they have no effect on skin hydration.
Research into oral proanthocyanidins flavanoids from grapeseed extract or pycnogenol has shown they both have a significant protective effect on the collagen matrix of the skin and capillaries. They work by reducing capillary fragility and inhibiting collagen, hyaluronic acid and elastin breakdown. Both substances also have an anti-inflammatory effect and can improve peripheral circulation.
Again it is important to note that while supplemental nutrition can support skin health in a number of ways, if concurrent dietary changes aren’t made, the supplements will be combating the constant inflammatory cascade from high GI foods and saturated fats. Removing these dietary items will ensure that inflammation, AGEs and oxidation are all reduced allowing the supplements to work to their optimal level and effect real changes in skin health.
Author: Ananda Mahony ND. Ananda is a naturopath and skin specialist. She owns Vitale Natural, an organic skin care store and beauty salon in Paddington, Brisbane. www.vitalenatural.com.auTwitter It!
Sensitive skin is something I have had to manage since my teenage years, and while I manage it well now, for a long time it was with varying degrees of success. I am not alone though, with up to 40% of people describing themselves as having sensitive skin and many more reporting an adverse response to a personal care product at some stage. From a dermatologist perspective, the term “sensitive” refers to those with skin that reacts or is intolerant to the use of some or many cosmetics. Sensitive skin can occur in all skin types however, it is more commonly found in women than men and often those with delicate or dry skin and a tendency to flushing. As well as reacting to cosmetics, sensitive skin can also react to environmental factors such as cold or hot temperatures and wind or sun exposure.
While there is no sign of inflammation, sensitive skin is commonly associated with burning, itching, stinging, dryness and redness or feelings of tightness. These reactions can be intermittent or permanent and vary in intensity. Where inflammation is present (welts, hives, raised red skin or lasting redness) it is important to consider an existing underlying skin condition such as dermatitis, rosacea or a contact allergy in which case cosmetic ingredients need to be assessed. Usually a challenge using the suspected product will pinpoint the cause. In the case of a skin disorder, managing the condition is a priority as well as removing suspected cosmetics.
As an advocate of natural and organic skin care, I am not surprised by the number of skin irritations that occur when using cosmetics with synthetic and in some cases potentially toxic ingredients. I will go into ingredient details later however it is important to be aware that natural skin care ingredients can also cause skin irritations for those with sensitive skin. Essential oils, particularly low-grade essential oils are also a common culprit. If you have sensitive skin it is important to find out what the triggers are and to avoid them.
Understanding the causes of sensitive skin
1. Reduced barrier function – if the barrier of lipids (acid mantle) is compromised the skin is less protected against chemicals, irritants and microorganisms and there is chance of greater Trans Epidermal Water Loss (TEWL), increasing the likelihood of dehydration. Skin that is dry, dehydrated or injured has less nerve end protection which continues the cycle of sensitivity reactions. Once this cycle is in place many cosmetic ingredients can cause irritation. Listed at the end of the article are the common cosmetic triggers.
A number of natural base oils help to reduce TEWL and improve the barrier
function. Rosehip, sweet almond, tamanu, jojoba and evening primrose oil are all rich in essential fatty acids (EFAs) which help repair skin cell membranes and as such water holding capacity. While not specific to all people with sensitive skin, EFAs will also dampen down skin cell inflammatory responses.
Avoiding products such as cleansers and shampoos that contain sodium laurel sulphate and like foaming agents is also crucial as they will aggravate skin dryness and further reduce barrier function. In one clinical trial, participants with reduced barrier function avoided all foaming agents (surfactants) and minimised preservative use. After 8 weeks their skin returned to normal barrier function.
2. Skin Trauma – skin traumas, such as sunburn and skin treatments like chemical peels and abrasion can cause ongoing sensitivity. Strong acids such as those found in glycolic acid peels have been known to cause lasting skin sensitivity issues. If the skin barrier function can be repaired, then sensitivity may be reduced however it is likely that cosmetic ingredients with a stronger acid pH will have to be avoided or used with caution. These can include further glycolic acid treatments, lactic and malic acid, vitamin C serums with concentrations over 10%, alpha and beta hydroxy acids.
3. Environmental factors – extremes of cold, heat (including heaters in winter), air conditioning, alcohol & spicy foods can be triggers and should be monitored and avoided if relevant.
4. Stress increases the likelihood of heightened neuro-sensory reaction in the skin. In situations such as this wind, touch and cosmetic brushes can cause irritation or redness. Managing stress can be quite individual and often required internal nervous system support as well as de-stressing practices such as yoga, breathing exercises or meditation.
5. Allergies – true skin allergies arise from immune system dysfunction. These include eczema, hives, rosacea and contact dermatitis. Patch testing can help confirm these conditions to establish if these conditions are contributing to sensitive skin reactions.
Hypoallergenic and “unscented” products are often recommend as a solution to sensitive skin however, just because you can’t smell the scent doesn’t mean that fragrances weren’t added or that fragrance-like substances weren’t used. Often subtle fragrances are used to cover up the scent of the base ingredients, so you don’t smell anything you would identify as a scent but it is still there and is likely to cause irritation regardless.
Other common skin irritants include:
• Balsam of Peru – perfume and skin lotion
• Formaldehyde – a preservative found in nail polish
• Quaternium 15 – a preservative in shampoo
• Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) – a detergent found in shampoo, toothpaste, body wash and bubble bath
• Propylene glycol – found in cosmetic products
• Methyl, propyl, butyl, and ethyl parabens – used as preservatives, they are found in many cosmetic products
• DEA (diethanolamine) and MEA (monoethanolamine) – foaming agents in products that “bubble”
• Artificial Colours – FD&C and D&C are used in make up
• Phthalates – found in plastic containers and some cosmetics
Below are some guidelines you can follow to manage sensitive skin:
1. Avoid artificial fragrances and products that contain high concentrations of essential oils or natural fragrances
2. Avoid the most common irritant in your skin and hair care as listed above
3. Avoid “acids” such as glycolic, lactic and malic acid products without the advice of a specialist
4. Avoid products that contain artificial dyes
5. Use non-soap cleansers for at least 2 months. Soapwort based products and cream cleansers are ideal to give the skin a break.
6. Use tepid water to wash your face and avoid hard scrubs and they may increase irritation.
7. Introduce one new skin care product at a time and use for at least 3 days to evaluate how your skin reacts. Ideally ask for a tester before you buy. When you find something that works, continue to use it.
View products suitable for sensitive skin.
Ananda Mahony ND is a naturopath and holistic skin specialist. Her practice focuses on the treatment of skin conditions and Food As Medicine. Ananda also owns Vitale Natural Skin & Body Care, a natural & organic skin care store in Paddington. www.vitalenatural.com.auTwitter It!
I was shocked and dismayed to read on Clean Life blog (one of my favorites) recently that a popular Australian brand has been found out to be a complete greenwash. Well actually I can go further because Natural Instincts was completely misleading the public about the ingredients in their products. I had a moment when I considered whether or not to write about this topic at all as I don’t like to “run down” other brands, however, I cannot bring myself to hold back about this deception as it affects the whole industry.
An except from the Clean Life Blog: “The company has been found to guilty of deliberately failing to list all ingredients on the on the ingredients lists such as Sodium Laureth Sulphate, listing some chemicals by incorrect names, and claiming that some products are “made from 100% pure oils and certified organic herbs” when in fact, only a very minor proportion of the product uses these. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has told it to publish corrective notices in newspapers & magazine.”
For specifics about the ACCC notice click here: ACCC Notice
One of the points made in the Clean Life blog is that it is up to us to stay informed about what is in our products. I will also add that you should be able to trust the suppliers of your favorite brands to be transparent with the products they sell and manufacture. To look at Vitale’s product guarantee click here. In addition, Clean Life has come up with some great resources to arm yourself with knowledge about labelling:
What you can do to protect your family:
1) Learn to read labels, our labelling legislation in Australia is incredibly weak, read more about it here;
2) Learn which chemicals need to be avoided and clean out your bathroom cupboard now
3) Choose products from reputable companies, like those on the CleanLife directory
4) Ensure that you seek the full refund for any products you have purchased that many have been affected.
993300;">To compensate customers who purchased Natural Instinct products and believe they have been misled, Natural Instinct is offering a refund for the full purchase price of affected products. For more information about claims for refunds contact Edwina Pearce of Natural Instinct on 1800 771 063 or at customerservice@natural instinct.com.au by 6 June 2009.
And I second Clean Life when I say – please forward this information on to as many people as you can.
As part of the series about “Inspirational Women” I have spoken to Cyndi Briggs, the founder of Treasured Earth. When I first came across Treasured Earth, I first of all fell in love with the packaging (it is so bright and colourful). This is a bit unusual as I tend to read ingredients first, try the product second, then pay attention to details such as packaging. Well with
Treasured Earth I did it in reverse and I while I still love the packaging, I also like the products and ingredients in this range. Well I haven’t said much about Cyndi but as the founder of Treasured Earth, she has been on a journey, like many of us that start with an idea, nurture it and watch it grow. Cyndi’s creative journey is still ongoing so here is the story so far…
1. Tell us a bit of background about your business
It was born from a desire to learn about natural therapies, starting with an interest in Naturopathy. I know myself well enough to know that I would never get through such an intense course, so I narrowed it down a bit, directing my focus into aromatherapy. I started study in this and it soon went off on a tangent into the skincare side of it. After a few experiments (good and bad!) I could see how beautiful these products could be if done correctly, so I embarked on the long and winding journey to get it all happening.
2. What inspired you to get started?
After years of surrounding myself with natural objects (timber furniture, crystals, feathers, sticks & rocks adorn my house!), I had been re-awakened to the fact that everything that we need has been provided for us in nature. I learned that Aspirin was discovered from the willow tree, for instance. As far as skin care goes, I no longer saw the need to be buying chemical driven products, which you pay big bucks for cheap ingredients and celebrity advertising. What a waste. So my inspiration is simple. My ideal day would be just walking through a rainforest, or sitting around under a tree (preferably with a glass of wine). Just to break away from the barrage of (often false) information that is drummed into us is…… and to ‘get back to nature’.
3. What makes your range special or different from other ranges available?
Our main point of difference is our use of rare essential oils. Magnolia, Honeysuckle, Hyacinth & Gardenia, for instance. Usually these are only found in a synthetic ‘fragrance’, but we have the pure essential oils. These have been documented to have a positive effect on the emotions and the chakras, so that adds another side to the proven therapeutic benefits of essential oils. We will be introducing new products (for oily skin) later in the year, that will include other rare essential oils, such as mango ginger, which has high antibacterial activity. Other unusual ingredients are used too, like the bamboo & hibiscus granules in our face scrub.
“A truly natural product with an exotic twist”. That’s our point of difference.
4. What are your 3 must have skin care products?
1. Hyacinth & Clementine Cleansing Milk. It is so effective and gentle. It takes off all traces of grime and makeup and it smells great. It’s probably my favorite product.
2. Gardenia & Rose Moisture Cream. The must have moisturiser. Gorgeous and unusual smell. Therapeutic essential oils for normal to dry skin. Herbal extracts and nourishing oils full of all sorts of vitamins and other goodies.
3. Avocado & Green Tea Night Cream. Beautifully rich in avocado and other oils, but it doesn’t feel like a greasy mask, like some heavier creams can. The maximum percentage of green tea extract is added, for its high level of anti-oxidants.
5. What products do you recommend people new to your range begin with.
I would think the Cleanser, Moisture Cream & Night Cream, but the Hand Cream is right up there too and the Rehydrating Mist is such a treat on a hot day!
6. What is your most popular selling item and why?
The Jasmine, Tangerine & Magnolia Hand Cream and the Gardenia & Rose Moisture Cream are both equally the highest selling products. They both smell amazing, feel amazing and they both work really well!
7. Tell us something about yourself you are proud of. (editor note – this is my favorite question)
I’m proud of the fact that I have the ability (guts, determination, craziness…) to put the effort into a project and make it work. I have had many moments of stress, exhaustion & just wondering what on earth I was thinking, but I have proven to myself – past and present – that I’m capable….. If I can just stop daydreaming and get stuff done…..Twitter It!
I am a huge fan of Mineral Make Up in general, particularly an Australian brand called Minerelle. Mineral make up suits most skin types however, application styles can vary from product to product and certainly, the pressed mineral powders require less work on the skin than loose powders. Here I show how I apply Minerelle Make Up, a pressed mineral powder as well as discus the benefits of mineral make up in general.Twitter It!
By Nirala Jacobi, BHSc, ND (USA)
Watching teenagers grow into their lanky bodies, we consider acne and braces almost part of their natural evolution. But many adults can suffer from ongoing acne well into their adult years. It is estimated that 40-54% of men and women over age 25 are still plagued by acne.
Not surprisingly, women have often tried many, many products, treatments, as well as prescription medications before finally searching help from a professional natural health care professional. They have spent literally thousands of dollars on these ineffective treatments and they are anxious to see results quickly.
I always have to explain that acne has several contributing factors that all need to be addressed for optimal results and it often takes weeks to months to see very obvious results with natural therapies. This is especially true if they’ve been on antibiotics or Roaccutane for their acne. I don’t make the rules, I’m just the messenger. But the good news is—once the fundamental cause of the acne is addressed, breakouts become are rare or complete resolved.
I believe knowledge is power, and when people are educated about the cause of their illness and are provided the proper information, they gain a sense of empowerment that they are part of their own health care and they then feel more inclined to make the right choices.
So with that in mind let’s take a look at some of the cause of adult acne.
It is a well established fact that hormonal fluctuations can cause acne— the reason for this could be twofold. Firstly, we know that the skin of acne sufferers contains higher concentrations of the enzyme that converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, a potent androgen (male hormone) that can increase oil production in the skin. This oil production can trap normal skin bacteria, which feed on this oil, and cause typical acne lesions. Yes, even women make testosterone. Many oral contraceptives control acne by indirectly controlling this conversion.
Androgenic control is a very important part of any good treatment plan for adult acne.
Another reason why acne often worsens around the period is inefficient liver clearance of hormones. Improving liver function is a good strategy for this type of acne. Liver “congestion” can be caused by an overload to the detoxification systems of the liver. Chronic chemical exposures (like for hairdressers, nail technicians, carpet layers, etc), bacterial and fungal endotoxins absorbed from the digestive tract, and dietary and cosmetic hormone disruptors all are examples of “liver congesters”
Your skin has a natural flora, just like your digestive tract. Even in very severe cystic acne, this normal flora is commonly all you can find on lab tests. Normal skin species include Propionibacterium acnes (Corynebacterium acnes) and Staphylococcus albus. P. acnes is believed to release chemicals that break down fats in skin oil that convert into potent free radicals, thus promoting an inflammatory cascade. Topical tea tree oil on acne lesions can help with this bacterial overgrowth.
Our diet is often a plethora of potential acne causing villains! The no-brainers are trans-fatty acids, most processed foods, and very fatty foods. Dairy is also associated with acne.
A good start is to eliminate these foods form your diet and stick to a 45% Protein, 35% carbohydrate, and 20% fat diet.
This diet will stabilize blood sugars that have been shown to be a factor in chronic acne. Researchers found skin glucose tolerance quite out of range in patients with acne. When given insulin their skin improved. This echoes what naturopaths have been saying for decades: consumption of sugar worsens acne! Supplemental chromium may be helpful if you have problems with balancing your blood sugar.
Believe it or not, I often find that food allergies can greatly contribute to chronic acne. This is especially true for the type of acne that does not seem to be affected by the monthly period – ie remain constant throughout he month. Big culprits here are dairy products and wheat.
Rarely have I seen a patient that suffers from long standing acne that has adequate zinc levels. Zinc is involved in local hormone activation, wound healing, immune system activity, and tissue regeneration.
Vitamin A is also a no-brainer for acne treatment. Synthetic vitamin A is the
prototype for Roaccutane—the conventional “big gun” of acne treatment. It is basically such high vitamin A doses that liver function has to be routinely observed. But vitamin A in smaller doses over longer periods of time can be also very effective. Unfortunately in Australia a severe phobia about vitamin A exists in the conventional medical community.
B5 (pantothenic acid) is another fairly important nutrient as this vital vitamin helps you to metabolize fats and oils as well as contribute to energy production. Some studies have shown very definite benefit with high dose B5 supplementation.
Topical Skin Products
One of the worst things you can do for your skin is to dry it out in hopes that this will stop the oil production that causes acne. So people use scrubs and antiseptics and wash their face multiple times a day. This is the worst thing you can do as this seriously dries out your skin and causes irritation and inflammation. Your skin will take that as a signal to produce more oil and therefore more acne lesions.
For daily skin care, you are in very good hands with Ananda and her organic skin care.
Topical B5 and B3 creams have also shown benefits in clinical studies and are sometimes prescribed through compounding pharmacies.
This article was meant as a basic overview and did in no way cover all possible natural treatments for acne. This skin condition is very amenable to natural treatments but patience is required. A must rule out, in my opinion, is liver congestion and digestive contributors. I also recommend professional guidance to make sure the treatment plan is individualized for you!
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