Over the years I have written a lot about serums, which is mainly because I think they are an essential skin care item. Why? Oil serums have many beneficial functions for the skin and can be blended to suit all skin types from oily, congested skin to dry and dehydrated skin. Of course it depends on the base oils used and their molecular structure…but more about that later.
I use an oil serum every night and have done so since I first discovered them. Way back when (about 10 years ago) I had blemish-prone, chemically sensitive and dehydrated skin. I didn’t leave the house without make up to cover my blotchy, reactive skin! Purely by chance I stumbled across Remedica and started using Sensitive Visage. Well I don’t think my skin knew what hit it (In a good way!). The red reactivity settled down very quickly and along with some internal work, my skin improved dramatically over the next 3 months. Ten years later, I think my skin is better than it was back then – even toned and hydrated and only very occasionally reactive (when I am doing things I shouldn’t).
The reason for the dramatic change was the oil and antioxidant rich serum. Basically my skin was starved of nutrients, water and good fats. The skin is designed to be selectively permeable. It absorbs fat soluble nutrients much more readily than water soluble ones. This is why you can use a toner but your skin still feels dry – your skin just isn’t absorbing the water based ingredients. Fat soluble oils are absorbed very easily and quickly by the skin. Once absorbed, the oils are incorporated into the cell membrane, helping to keep it flexible. A flexible cell membrane makes for a healthy cell as water and nutrients can get into the cell and toxins eliminated.
Oil based serums also help to correct the acid mantle, the protective layer of the skin that prevents moisture loss or TEWL (Trans epidermal water loss). I have written extensively about the things that disrupt the acid mantle before but to recap, they include hot water, swimming (so cold water also!), synthetic foaming cleansers and over frequent cleaning among others. Applying a serum regularly will help repair this barrier which means your skin is less likely to be dehydrated and sensitive. Please note, you need to give any skin repair program at least 6 weeks.
The other benefit of serums is that the oil based medium delivers other nutrients to the skin which are also important for cell protection. Fat soluble antioxidants protect the skin from free radical damage produced by sun exposure, pollution, chemicals in skin care and daily living. Even vitamin C, which is a water soluble vitamin has been changed to a fat soluble nutrient (by adding a fat soluble carrier) to make sure it absorbed and works effectively (don’t worry, it is still natural).
Oil absorption depends on the viscosity of the oil (thickness). Heavier oils such as macadamia, avocado and coconut remain on the skin surface longer which is better for dry skin types. Light oils such as rosehip, olive squalane and tamanu sink in more quickly without leaving a residue making them suitable for oily or congested skin types.
Our skin, like the rest of our body is resting and repairing at night. Oil serums are great to use at night to encourage this process.
I would love to hear what serums you love and how you use them.Twitter It!
Following on from Pure and Green Organic Part 1 of Good Enough 2 Eat, Part 2 focuses on pregnancy nutrition and skin care. This topic can be a bit of a minefield for women who want to reduce the risk of exposure to potentially toxic chemicals during pregnancy.Twitter It!
While ensuring our internal levels of vitamins are optimal primarily through good dietary intake, topical vitamins also make a big impact on the appearance of our skin. The top 4 skin vitamins are A, C, E and D.
Vitamin E is well recognised as an antioxidant, and can help to protect the skin from toxins such as air pollution and ultraviolet radiation. Its antioxidant properties mean it enhances immune system functioning, and helps to fight free radicals. Vitamin E is commonly used as a treatment for scars, thanks to its ability to aid the skin’s natural healing process.
Another potent antioxidant vitamin C works by promoting stimulating the genes that make collagen and reducing the enzymes involved in its breakdown. In addition it help to protect the skin from ultraviolet A and B damage, lightens pigmentation and may also assist with the reduction of inflammation in skin disorders.
In skin care vitamin A comes in various forms. In most skin care retinal esters are used as the form of Vitamin A. The skin then converts the ester forms to Retinol which appears to increase the production of procollagen and gycosaminoglycan. These compounds help to promote new skin cells and retain water. With continued use this translates to a significant wrinkle reduction.
Where can I get it?
Apart from its important role in bone health, vitamin D It also helps to regulate the immune system, and has anti-inflammatory properties so is useful for inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Where can I get it?
The best way to improve your vitamin D status is through sun exposure. Twenty minutes per day, avoiding peak UV times will suffice if your vitamin D stores are good. However there are many factors that reduce vitamin D conversion and utilisation in the body. High use of sunscreens and over-washing the skin are two factors that limit stores. If you are low in vitamin D it is important to expose areas of the skin other than the face and ensure you don’t shower using soap or shower gel for at least 12 hours. How can you achieve this? Take a morning shower then get some early morning sun. Only shower once a day and you should be fine.
Vitamin D can also be taken as a supplement and is found in high amounts in oily fish, cheese and egg yolks.Twitter It!
Now I know the title of this may be a little dramatic because I do actually like Jojoba oil…a lot BUT I am also a little circumspect about any product that is posed as the new “wunderkind”. And so I am going to have a minor rant. This the contents of this article are motivated by two factors:
Both of these were actually positive representations about natural skin care and great for the industry but it sparked in me a week-long discontent that I just had to discuss…in public. My first issue is that we are all different. If there is one thing after working with hundreds of people with skin care issues that I know, it is that what works for some doesn’t always work for all.
So is Jojoba oil the answer to all of your skin care woes…maybe for some but not for all. Is Jojoba oil or any single oil going to be the only skin care product you need from now on? Well that depends on your skin type, your age, your personality, if you have any skin issues and even perhaps your budget.
Now while I love Jojoba oil – I use it as a cleanser in winter and it is one of the base oils in the night serum I use – I would not:
Obviously this post is about my personal choices not about what others should do however, I use my choices to illustrate the point above that we all have different skin care needs. Having said all of the above, Jojoba oil does have some marvelous qualities and I often recommend it for those with very sensitive skin as it provides light moisturising qualities without the likelihood of irritation: see Golden Goodness Jojoba Oil here for more.
Its the time of year that I struggle to keep my lips smooth – dry lips are a mainstay and I find myself depositing lip balms (all Hurraw! at the moment) in various pockets and bags to make sure I always have one on hand. The fact I ride my bike most places doesn’t help as the wind really dries lips out.
So why do our lips become dry and get chapped? Unlike most of the skin our face (around the eyes are the other exception) our lips don’t produce sebum and therefore don’t have the same level of protection from the elements. In addition they don’t contain the same level of melanin (skin pigment) as the rest of our skin so they tend to burn instead of tan when exposed to the sun. Here is where lip balm comes in. It is important however, to read the ingredients on your lip balm as many contain ingredients that you just don’t want to be eating.
The ingredients you do want in your lip balm are these:
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics competition came down to just a few votes, but the Kiss Lead Goodbye! contest winner is Iona Pelovska from Toronto! Iona’s video got her message across loud and clear and went beyond demanding that L’Oreal get the lead out of lipstick; it called out the entire broken cosmetics regulation system.
Click here to view a wide range of “LEAD-FREE” lipsticksTwitter It!
I came across this excellent pictorial from Inspired Souls on Facebook. Research informs us that the average woman applies over 515 chemicals to her body each day and we are seeing more and more evidence that at least some of these are not just toxic but cancer causing. Apart from reducing cancer potential, avoiding toxic chemicals in skin care and thereby reducing overall toxic load just makes good sense.
I think the visual brings home the the idea of just how many toxic chemicals we may be applying each day. View the most worrying chemicals used everyday below:
Check our our toxic free alternatives at Vitale Natural OnlineTwitter It!
Considered to be the benchmark in topical anti-wrinkle agents the much studied prescription medicine retinoic acid works by triggering the retinoid (vitamin A) receptors in skin cells. Once activated, these receptors affect many cellular processes including the renewal of epidermal cells, prevention of oxidative stress (associated with skin cell damage and ageing), control of surface skin bacteria by reducing sebum production and improvement in skin ageing and sun damage.
Unfortunately retinoic acid comes with significant skin tolerance issues including increased sun sensitivity, redness and irritation, all of which affect compliance. For many years vitamin A precursors have been considered less effective than retinoic acid as they first have to be converted to the active form via specialised enzymes in skin cells as below (http://www.smartskincare.com):
Retinyl palmitate <=> Retinol <=> Retinaldehyde => Retinoic acid
However, recent research supports the use of cosmetic retinal esters as significant anti-wrinkle agents comparable to retinoic acid (Retin-A or Trentinoin). The two important findings of the study (Fu et al. 2010) are that retinyl esters at 0.3% lead to significant improvement in wrinkles and that this effect is achieved without the irritation commonly experienced with prescribed retinoids. Specifically the use of retinyl esters was associated with improved wrinkle appearance after 8 weeks with continued improvement through to the end of the 24-week trial.
This is great news as it supports the use of retinyl palmitate in cosmetic formulations, more than just the label claim. Mismo ACE Vitamin Serum is my pick of natural retinyl palmitate formulations as it also contains the other significant anti-ageing vitamin, C. I have discussed the many benefits of vitamin C before (read more here) but the key difference is the type of vitamin C used in this formulation. Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant and for this reason it has been traditionally formulated in water based ingredients such as Aloe Vera. However, the skin prefers fat-soluble ingredients so the aim has been to ensure the skin effectively absorbs the vitamin C used. Recent innovation has lead to the development of Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, a vitamin C that has improved absorption, better stability and can be formulated in an oil base. The other unique quality of this vitamin C is that it doesn’t prickle the skin upon application, which means it is suitable for use on delicate areas of the skin such as around the eyes and as well as for those with sensitive skin.
Mismo ACE Vitamin Serum contains both retinyl palmitate and ascorbyl teraisopalmiate with some vitamin E in a triglyceride and jojoba oil base. This allows for effective transportation of the ingredients into the skin. Skin improvement with this product can be seen within 1-4 weeks with significant improvements within 12 weeks. Look at the difference below:Twitter It!
It seems that the toxic ingredients in skin care are really at the forefront of people’s minds again. I keep coming across articles and about this issue and one of the great resources I found is the infographic below from a blog page called EcoMom. I think they have done a great job at encapsulating the issues that we face every time we pick up a new cosmetic product.
Unlike the toxins we ingest in food or drink which the liver has the opportunity to filter and excrete before it is stored, the toxins in cosmetics are absorbed directly into the blood stream and are therefore much more likely to be stored in our cells where they can wreak havoc. There are so many toxic assaults our body in this day and age, from the xenobiotics found in carpet and plastics, to toxins in our cleaning products, food and the environment. However, there is a lot we can do to minimise the toxic load we face every day. Changing to non-toxic skin care that is natural and/or organic is a big step in the right direction.
View our range of natural and organic skin care.Twitter It!
The world is connected in ways that we never imagined even a decade ago and one of the most exciting aspects of this expansion is the discovery of new and exciting ingredients. Once considered exotic, ingredients from Morocco, Polynesia and Africa now feature in our everyday skin and hair care. This article takes a look at the benefits of some of the exotic oils now available to us, the benefits of which far surpass the traditional oils we have relied upon up until recently.
Argan oil – this oil is the darling of hair care. Produced from the kernels of the Argan tree fruit, which grows in Morocco, it is higher priced than many oils due to its limited availability. Consisting of a blend of fatty acids, it is also rich in vitamin E, phenols (antioxidants) and carotenes, which give carrots their orange colour. Preliminary research is showing promise in the areas of sebum control and the management of psoriasis. However, the use it is currently most known for is hair care and indeed it works very effectively to reduce frizz and create a high shine on dry or dull hair. It can also help with oil control for both oily and overly dry hair.
Due to its high content of oleic acid, it tends to be a slightly heavier oil and so may not be ideal for skin that becomes congested easily or that is prone to acne. It is however, ideal for dry, dehydrated and mature skin types. View products that contain Argan Oil
Baobab oil – is extracted from the nuts of an indigenous African tree. Its primary benefit for skin is that it is fast absorbing, non-comedogenic and has great moisturising qualities. It can also help with dermal protection, skin regeneration and the improvement of elasticity. This oil is great as a serum base oil. View products that contain Baobab oil
Olive Squalene – is actually a fraction of Olive Oil and is similar in form and function to Jojoba oil. It helps to balance sebum production and restore the natural moisturising factor (NMF) of the skin. Like Jojoba, it can be used for dry, dehydrated skins as well as oily skin types as it very light and doesn’t clog pores. Olive squalene is particularly useful for dry acne. View products that contain Olive Squalene
Tamanu Oil – Tamanu oil has powerful healing properties in its unique ability to promote the formation of new skin tissue. Traditionally used by the Polynesians as first aid for the skin and mucous membranes, the oil can assist with scars, burns, skin cracks, cuts, dry skin and wounds. Used cosmetically, Tamanu has healing, mild antibiotic and anti-inflammatory activity. For these reasons it is used in both protective and regenerative products aimed at restoring skin appearance. View products that contain Tamanu oil
Marula Oil – sourced from the nuts of the Marula tree in Mozambique and South Africa this oil is fast absorbing, helps to reduce trans epidermal water loss (TEWL) and supports tissue healing. Another interesting quality noted about Marula oil is its ability to reduce skin redness and vascular pigmentation commonly found with broken blood vessels. View products that contain Marula oil
Fortunately all of these oils are available either singularly or as base oils in serums and moisturizers so you can choose the unique qualities of one, or benefit from a combination.
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