This question from a customer is interesting because it details a number of skin issues at once and the question is then, what to do first? Can everything be managed at once? I have a method for improving pretty much any skin condition or issue that I am asked about and I have outlined it below. It starts at the foundation of good skin health and progresses from there. This questions illustrates the process:
Q: Firstly, thank you for all the excellent information you provide via your blog, newsletter and mini skin care course. It really is very good especially since there is so much (misleading) information out there. My email is regarding the following:
I have been using Akin products for some time now but I think it is time for change. I am 36 and I have noticed that my skin condition has changed significantly in the last 5 years. I think I need to change to skin care specifically for slowing the ageing process.
I have very dry skin (I often reapply moisturizer in the afternoon), my skin is losing elasticity, wrinkles are certainly visible, I have some sun damage and hormone spots from pregnancies. I am fair and my skin is delicate.
Can you help me with advice on:
A: Reading your e-mail I suggest we work with the skin issues you have outlined in the following way (in order of priority):
1. repair dehydration and correct nutrient status – at the very outset, this will help your skin to plump out and look younger. It is also the basis for healthy skin.
2. correct sun damage – this will take about 3 months but will really make a difference to your skin. Sun damage is a visible sign of skin ageing. It is at this stage that any other skin issues are addressed e.g. pigmentation, rosacea, irritation
3. support slow ageing – some of what we do above will be slow ageing but once your skin is hydrated and sun protected, we can look at longer term slow aging. The reason I put anti-aging 3rd is that by addressing the other issues (if they are present) you will achieve healthier, younger looking skin anyway. Then we can start with specific anti-aging skin care.
For dry skin, choose a lotion cleanser instead of a gel cleanser. The AUM Brightening Cream Cleanser is ideal as it also contains enzymes to help clear congestion and reduce sun damage but is gentle on dry skin at the same time. Use an oil serum at night to help improve the moisture holding capacity of the skin cells. You can apply the serum instead of a night cream. Any serum you use should sink into the skin completely within 5 minutes. Remedica Regenerate Visage will nourish the skin deeply and more than that, help improve the skin cell health due to the high antioxidant and essential fatty acid levels. Then address sun damage. I suggest a moisturiser with a natural sunscreen agent such as Devita Solar Protect (SPF 30). If it feels too light, use half a pump of Regenerate Visage and then apply the Solar Protect over the top.
With existing sun damage you have a couple of options. You can cover it up (and I am going to suggest a make up below) and/or you can fade back the pigmentation using a natural skin brightening serum. I used the Devita Skin Brightening Serum with great effect myself this year. Pigmentation I thought would never fade has and I have skin quite similar to yours – fair & dry.
It will take about 3 weeks for you to really see a difference in your skin hydration and at about 3 months, the pigmentation should start to fade back significantly. After 4-6 months we can look at some more specific slow aging products such as vitamin C serums etc but until then, they won’t be as effective as they could be.
I would love to hear if you have a similar story and what you have done to manage either dry or pigmented skin.
Whoops! I promised I would post the remainder of Tess Dingle’s ND informative article about sunscreens and haven’t until now. The second half of this article really gets into the nitty-gritty of sunscreen ingredients. This means that you will know what you are looking at when you read the chemical names on the back of a sunscreen bottle and more importantly which of those are good, bad or downright ugly! Useful information indeed!
The second half of this article looks at some sunscreen agents commonly in use:
Octyl Methoxycinnamate and other cinnamates cause photo and contact allergy and do not effectively block UVA. We must ask, what is the point of using a sunscreen agent that causes allergy in the presence of sunlight?
Benzophenones/oxybenzone/benzoylmethanes do absorb some UVA radiation but have been found to cause photo/contact allergy and most significantly, they tend to imitate and therefore exacerbate existing skin disease (including acne).
Titanium dioxide effectively blocks out UVA radiation and therefore protects against skin cancer. Although this is also a photon scattering agent (UV reflector), it does absorb UV radiation which produces free radicals in the presence of water. Many manufacturers use different methods to “coat” the particles, making them less reactive.
Salicylates commonly cause photo allergy.
PABA (Paramino benzoic acid) is part of the B group of vitamins. Taken internally, it can help prevent UV damage. Used externally, it causes phototoxicity and sensitisation. PABA generates free radicals when exposed to sunlight, predisposing the skin to cancer. It does not effectively block UVA radiation. It is banned as a sunscreen agent in Australia.
Zinc oxide effectively blocks out UVA radiation, has the benefit of being inert on the skin (it does not absorb UV radiation) and has skin healing properties. It does, however, contain large particles and can form a paste when applied to the skin. The finer the zinc particles, the less visible they are on the skin. Micronised superfine zinc is the best choice for minimizing the “paste-effect” without resorting to nanoparticles.
Iron oxide is found naturally in mineral clays, which have an ochre colour due to the ferrous (iron) content. Due to the large particle size, iron oxide also acts as a UV reflector and is inert in the sun (does not produce free radicals). Natural mineral clays also contain varying proportions of other UV protectors such as titania.
It must also be noted that this discussion of the active constituents in sunscreens is academic without paying respect to the ingredients in the carrier or base formulation. Do they cause free radical damage themselves and in particular, how well do they stand up to sun exposure?
There are instances of people using sunscreens who have reacted to the excipients (base materials/carriers) included in the formulation, such as preservatives, fragrances and emulsifiers, which have caused contact allergies. So there is cause for concern not only about the active ingredients in sunscreens, but about the inert ingredients as well. Ed note: I don’t know about anyone else but standard sunscreens make my eyes sting and water particularly after swimming in the surf. I worked out that for me, it is probably the product fragrance that is causing this effect. In any case, it has been a long time since I have used a conventional sunscreen as I prefer to stick to zinc oxide based products.
There are a number of base ingredients to look for such as antioxidant vitamins C and E at effective concentrations. Vitamins C and E (tocopherol) are known to protect against skin cancer, particularly when applied topically as they prevent free radical damage from UV radiation. Certified organic shea butter, sesame and avocado oils have natural UV protective qualities, primarily due to their vitamin A and E content. Shea butter also protects against burning (UVB radiation) and is an excellent emollient, softening the skin and preventing the formation of wrinkles. Aloe vera, a plant which has been shown to prevent DNA damage to the skin following sun exposure and its use in treating burns of all descriptions is well-known and an excellent inclusion as a base ingredient. Antioxidant medicinal strength herbal extracts of ginkgo biloba, green tea and pomegranate are also excellent for their ability to protect against DNA damage from UV radiation.
I received this question below about dry rosacea via e-mail the other day and was reminded that skin hydration is so important. Dehydrated skin is more sensitive, more likely to scar and more open to the elements which leads to more skin damage and moisture loss. With any skin condition the first thing I look at doing is increasing skin moisture content and reducing inflammation. While many skin care products multi-task, it is important that these issues are addressed otherwise it takes that much longer to see any improvements.
Q: I am in my 40′s so lines are a problem, but my biggest concern, is my DRY ROSACEA, winter is the worst season for me. Besides that I have an oily T Zone, and my skin is red and blotchy [mostly marks I guess
from past breakouts] a lot of the time, any suggestions?
A: Thanks for your e-mail. From what you have said it seems to me that the acid mantle (protective barrier) of your skin is disrupted which is why your skin is dry, red and blotchy. This also explains why you have an oily T-zone. Skin cells that are deficient in good fats (essential fatty acids) and moisture will react by over producing sebum in some areas and then be overly dry in others. Then the rosacea compounds the issue but also indicates there is inflammation and possibly underlying digestive issues. First things first, a light oil based serum will help with repair the acid mantle and the moisture content of your skin. I recommend the following:
Remedica Clair Visage – will helps to repair the acid mantle, reduce inflammation and redness and increase the skin’s moisture content. It is not congesting or overly rich so won’t make the rosacea or the oily T-zone worse. I recommend use for at least 3 months. Then we can re-evaluate and if necessary go to a slightly richer serum such as Remedica Sensitive Visage.
Minerelle Centella Gel – will help to strengthen the blood vessels and reduce the hyper-reactivity of capillaries. It is a light gel so won’t be enough to counteract the dryness. You couldn’t use this by itself but in combination with the Clair Visage it will be useful.
In your case, with dry rosacea, it is important that you avoid any AHA or salicylic acid type products which are commonly used to manage rosacea.
Internal moisture is essential where skin is dry and inflamed. I have put some dietary suggestions below but please in particular think about the Lemon Detox Drink even if just as a trial for 7 days. It does amazing things for the skin by repairing the essential fatty acid levels of the skin cells and allowing them to hold onto moisture.
From a dietary perspective a high fat, high sugar (processed foods) diet will contribute to inflammation. Avoiding foods high in saturated and trans fats and simple sugars will help to reduce this effect which will also minimise localised skin inflammation. Foods that commonly contain trans or saturated fats include milk, milk products, margarine, shortening and other synthetically hydrogenated oils as well as fried foods. For rosacea specifically it is also advisable to avoid the foods that are likely to directly cause flushing such as alcohol, coffee, hot beverages and spicy foods. Avoiding simple sugars and highly processed foods also helps avoid the over-secretion of insulin, which occurs in response to raised blood sugar levels and is linked with systemic inflammation.
There is some research to suggest that low gastric acid levels in people with rosacea may contribute to the development or progression of the condition. Some rosacea patients have responded well to hydrochloric acid supplementation. Low stomach acid is also more likely to be associated with Helicobactor pylori (H. pylori). Supporting this theory is the finding that levels of H. pylori have been found to be higher in rosacea sufferers. A trip to the naturopath would be a good idea if you can identify any digestive issues such as bloating or irregularity.
Essential fatty acids are important in the treatment and management of rosacea and sensitive skin. They work to reduce skin inflammation as well as improving skin moisture and appearance. Good sources of essential fatty acids include deep sea fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel as well as nuts and seeds. Flax oil and fish oil capsules are suitable alternatives if dietary intake is insufficient (or see Lemon Detox Drink recipe below). Zinc is also important for skin repair and inflammation control. Good dietary sources of zinc include lean beef, whole grains, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
Lemon Detox Drink
This drink is fantastic for anyone with sensitive, dry or inflammed skin. The lemon has an astringent effect which means it stimulates the liver to release bile into the digestive tract to be eliminated. The bile contains stored toxins so effectively you are dumping waste from your liver. The lecithin and flax oil prime your digestive system for the day, particularly your fat digestion so again supporting the liver. And of course water is just plain good for you and helps flush out daily waste particularly via your kidneys.
It also has the effect of super-saturating your body with essential fatty acids. So in addition to the excellent detox effect, flax seed oil supports the moisture holding capacity of your skin cells and has a anti-inflammatory effect thereby supporting your skin’s health. Feedback from client is that skin is generally less red and much more even toned since being on the Lemon Detox Drink.
The recipe is as follows:
1/2 lemon (wash the outside)
1 tablespoon of soy lecithin (German is better than US variety)
1 tablespoon of flax oil (organic)
300mls of filtered water
Method: finely grate the rind of the lemon into the blender then squeeze in the lemon juice. Add the lecithin, flax oil and water. Blend for 1 minute until frothy. Pour and drink.Twitter It!
As we age, muscle fibers under the skin lengthen and loosen. Skin sags and becomes thinner and so it is not just wrinkles and sun damage that makes us look older but also skin sag. DMAE (also known as Dimethylaminoethanol) is an, in my opinion underutilized and generally overpriced ingredient (particularly in the Dr Perricone Neuropeptide range!) that helps to improve the firmness of the skin and helps reduce the visual appearance of sagging skin. It is an amine-based alcohol, a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, present in nerve tissue in small amounts.
DMAE is incorporated into the membrane of cells, protecting against the cell membrane protein cross-linking (which can lead to sag and wrinkling). This ingredient also helps in the brain increasing higher cognitive function. In this video I talk more about DMAE and review a couple of products that contain this ingredient:
Read more about Devita Optimal RejuvenationTwitter It!
A tan is something I have never been able to achieve. By contrast, my Mum tans so easily and for many years I desperately wished I had skin like hers…ahhh, in my dreams! The reality for me is that I will never tan and in some ways I have a lot to be thankful for. My sun consciousness has ensured that now in my late 30′s I have relatively little permanent sun damage despite living under a massive hole in the ozone layer! I am still amazed when I go to the beach and see people baking themselves and think that in some ways we have a long way to go before we get the balance between enough sun for vitamin D and too much right. This article by Tisha Dotson outlines some of the dangers of sun baking and tanning beds.
It’s interesting how fashions cycle over time. For the past several years, sporting a shade of perfectly tanned skin is the aesthetic ideal to which all who want to have the “look” aspire. This Mediterranean, olive-toned shade is natural for some, but for those of fairer mien, the look is acquired by tanning–either staying out in the sun for the express purpose of achieving darker skin or going to the even more harmful tanning bed salons.
As most of us know, excess tanning has a detrimental effect on the skin. But just how bad is it? Here are some facts to remind us all of what we risk by attempting to achieve a tanned look for the sake of fitting into a beauty standard.
1. Healthy Tanning?
Even though we would like to think that tans are not as bad for our skin as sun burn, the facts still stands that when you tan, the sun’s rays are still attacking the skin’s DNA, which drastically increases the risk for developing skin cancer. Ed note: A glowing tan is something that many Australians aspire to but in reality you are best to learn to love the colour of skin you were born with. There is no such thing as healthy tanning, however, if you plan to be out in the sun this summer, slowly introducing your skin to the sun is a good idea. Sun exposure in the early mornings and late afternoons allows your skin to gradually build up some colour and get sufficient vitamin D without burning. Twenty minutes is enough time. Remember by the time your skin starts to feel hot, it is already burnt.
2. Tanning booths are even worse than sun tanning.
Recently, the United States government went so far as to impose a tax on tanning salons. Why such drastic measures in a country that is usually lax on imposing government measures on business? This is simply because tanning salons, although they advertise as safe, controlled exposure to UV rays, are in fact far more damaging to your skin than tanning out in the sun. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the chances of occasional tanning booth users getting melanoma rose by 300%, while those who frequented tanning beds more then ten times a year heightened their risk by a whopping 800%.
3. The ageing effect
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the number of wrinkles you have later in life are directly determined by how much sun you’ve been exposed to. Aside from genetics and smoking, UV rays are the main culprit in premature aging of the skin.Twitter It!
Well I don’t know about you but as the weather warms up in Brisbane I have started to feel the burn from the sun again. As one with very pale and easily burnt skin, this is not a pleasant sensation and so I have been reaching for the sunscreen bottle with greater frequency. Unfortunately there is so much misconception and misinformation surrounding sunscreens, nanoparticles, SPF and UV absorbers and blockers so by way of explaination, the next few blogs will address these issues. This by article Tess Dingle ND goes a long way towards this purpose:
There is much misinformation and hype surrounding the topic of suntanning, burning, cancer and sunscreens. In this issue we will attempt to decode the catchphrases and steer you in the right direction.
The most obvious and important issue is that in Australia we enjoy a climate which sends us outdoors for much of the year and we are living under one of the thinnest sections of the earth’s protective ozone layer. It is well established that the UV radiation that beats down on us is harsher and more direct than in many other parts of the world. So what is this UV radiation and what are its effects?
UV or ultraviolet radiation is classified into three different wavelengths of light. Two of these wavelengths, referred to as UVA and UVB radiation, affect our skin. UVC radiation is largely absorbed by gases in the Earth’s atmosphere and does not reach our skin. While both UVA and UVB can cause DNA changes within the layers of our skin, it is predominantly UVA which causes the most common forms of skin cancer (melanomas) and accelerates the visible signs of aging. UVB predominantly causes burning. The purpose of a sunscreen is (or should be!) to
reduce the severity of UVA and UVB affecting our skin negatively (sunlight is also constructive for several biochemical processes, including our production of vitamin D and the regulation of our sleep – or circadian rhythm – obviously, it was once natural to spend time in the sun).
However, not all sunscreens achieve this. When you buy sunscreen you most likely look for the SPF number (Sun Protection Factor), but what does this number refer to? It indicates the length of time you can stay in the sun without burning relative to your normal burn time if you apply the sunscreen first. For example, if you would normally burn after one hour of exposure to sunlight and the SPF of the sunscreen you are using is 15, then technically you can stay in the sun for 15 hours before burning. This can be incredibly misleading. It means that the sunscreen guarantees to block out UVB radiation 15 times no protection but in fact there are no guarantees regarding UVA radiation, ie. radiation that causes melanoma.
Ed note: There is some confusion about the difference between say a 15 or 30 SPF rating and in the US even a 50 SPF rating. A higher SPF doesn’t necessarily mean better protection. To explain:
SPF 8-15: Is sufficient to give your skin ideal protection against the harmful effects of light for normal exposure to the sun like at home, at the office, in the city, day to day errands, but the more sun you are exposed to (an entire day at the beach, for instance) the higher the SPF should be to give your skin optimal protection. Higher than SPF 30 only jumps up 1-2% and no sunscreen give you complete protection.
If you feel safe staying in the sun for longer and there is no protection against UVA radiation in the sunscreen, skin cancer risk could be 15 times higher than normal. Queensland has the highest incidence of skin cancers in the world. Have we all been misled by the sunscreen marketing?
According to the American Food and Drug Administration website, no system yet exists to rate UVA protection. You must also reapply sunscreens after sweating or swimming unless the product states “water resistant”, meaning the SPF stands even after exposure to water.
So let’s look at the sunscreen ingredients themselves. Generally, sunscreen ingredients are divided into their modes of activity. They are either UV absorbers or UV reflectors or have a combined action. UV absorbers physically contain the UV radiation to stop it from reaching our skin. In this process, the active particles become energised to a higher energetic level (or frequency) to contain the UV radiation. This is the key to the problems with this type of sunscreen ingredient.
When UV exposure reduces (when you come out of the sun), the energetic level of the sunscreen particles drops to their former frequency, releasing energy again. The energy is released into the epidermis of your skin where it can then cause changes to the DNA, predisposing the skin to cancer.
UV reflectors work by scattering UV light so it cannot penetrate the skin. Generally, this process depends on the physical size of the sunscreen particles. Hence, application of these ingredients is usually thicker and opaque. It is the UV reflectors which are most effective at blocking UVA radiation. The possible downside of UV reflectors, apart from (or because of) the thick application necessary is that they tend to plug the pores of the skin which can produce miliaria, a consequence of blocked sweat glands. Due to both modes of action, all sunscreens need to be washed from the skin thoroughly once you have come out of the sun.
The next blog will identify which sunscreen agents are commonly in use and how to assess them. Below is a videoblog that covers off some of the issues above as well at looking at some other common issues with sunscreens:
Sometimes I just want to talk about a product because I love it and this is one of those cases. I have had this product sitting on my dresser all Winter but for various reasons including having heaps of other stuff to use up, I hadn’t used it. Last week I ran out of my regular body moisturiser and so grabbed the Remedica Monoi Blue used it instead – the fragrance, oh so divine. I just love it. So this is my video blog about Remedica Monoi Blue:Twitter It!
Last month I posted a blog about Story of Cosmetics. This video has caused big waves, particularly in the US where lobby groups work hard to maintain the toxic status quo. I am please to say the ground swell against toxic ingredients in everyday products is growing. Over 200,ooo people have watched the Story of Cosmetics since its launch on July 21st. What a great response! Not only did people watch but they responded, grateful for raising this issue as a topic for debate.
It is so heartening to see the impact the Story of Cosmetics is having and indeed the positive influence that can be had using social media. Keep it up I say! Please let me know what you think about this topic.
If you didn’t get to watch the video, here it is again:
Coffee is my one serious addiction. I have tried to cut it out but failed miserably. I have one cup of black espresso a day (and about once a month a second which leaves me jitter and not quite right for the rest of the day). My naturopath friend Ben Brown wrote about the psychoactive effects of coffee in his recent blog titled “Caffeine and your mood: friend or foe?” which outlines how some people feel caffeine improves their mood (me with one coffee) and others feel the opposite (me with more than one cup of coffee). Ben writes that “caffeine can improve mood, alertness, attention and energy. The positive effects of caffeine on mood occur at lower doses (50-100 mg) and may be limited to regular caffeine users.” However, caffeine may also be “detrimental for people with anxiety, particularly if you are sensitive to caffeine or consume high amounts (300 mg or about 3-4 cups of tea or 2-3 cups of coffee).”
Of course if you consume too much caffeine from coffee, tea or soft drink can also cause skin problems, particularly dehydration. Caffeine is a diuretic which means it encourages the body to expell water via urine. If you drink a lot of caffeine containing drinks and don’t top up with water, it is highly likely your body and therefore your skin will be dehydrated.
It is a different story when applying caffeine topically - for a start isn’t addictive! As mentioned in a previous blog, caffeine can help to stimulate local fat metabolism increasing lipolysis (fat burning) which may help with cellulite. Read full article here.
Caffeine may also have a positive effect on the delicate skin around the eyes. The skin around the eyes is different from skin elsewhere on the body for a number of reasons:
When applied to the tissue around the eye area the stimulating effect of caffeine helps to tighten the skin by reducing capillary permeability (leaky blood microvessels) and increases constriction thereby moving the fluid away from the eye area. This effect has been shown to help with puffy bags which are characterised by fluid build up and leaky microvessels. I want to note that there is a difference between puffy eyes and skin sag or fat deposits below the eye. Usually puffy eyes will be worse in the morning and clear up as the day progresses. So to be clear, it is unlikely that caffeine will have any impact on skin sag. At this stage I am not sure if it will assist with fat deposits under the eyes despite the stimulating effect it has on lipolysis as there just isn’t enough research to indicate a positive effect.
Eye care products that contain caffeine may also help with dark circles due to their ability to reduce capillary permeability however, dark circles are notoriously difficult to treat topically and can often be the result of other health issues.
Caffeine can be included in eye care products in the form of caffeine-rich green tea, however, this won’t be as effective as use of coffee or pure caffeine. Lavera My Age Intensive Eye Cream incorporates organic caffeine from coffee and Fair Trade organic green tea to ensure a stimulating effect.
As to my own caffeine use, I am going to relax and enjoy my one cup of coffee a day and on the days that I need it, instead of a second cup, apply some caffeine containing eye cream to my eyes. Please let me know if you have had any experience with caffeine containing products and what results you got.Twitter It!
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