In my clinic I work with many patients that have skin issues, not just eczema, acne or psoriasis but also generally dry, dehydrated or irritated skin. While I always treat each patient individually (there is no all-encompassing solution) there is one recipe that makes a huge difference in skin hydration, inflammation and sensitivity. I found this recipe from Karen Fischer’s fantastic book “The Healthy Skin Diet” but in clinic over the years I have adapted it to suit my patients.
Originally the recipe called for Flax Oil and certainly you can use this instead but I have found that naturally lemon-flavoured Omega 3 Fish Oil or Super D Cod Liver Oil are much more effective. Why you may ask?
Skin Healing Drink
This recipe is tried and true and is fantastic for anyone with sensitive, dry, dehydrated or inflamed 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 fish 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/Skin Healing Drink.
The recipe is as follows:
1/2 lemon (wash the outside)
1 teaspoon of soy lecithin (German is better than US variety)
1 teaspoon of naturally lemon flavoured Omega 3 Fish Oil or Cod Liver Oil
300mls of filtered water
Method: Squeeze in the lemon juice into the blender. Add the lecithin, oil and water. Blend for 1 minute until frothy. Pour and drink. Feel free to add other ingredients such as ginger or turmeric to spice up the flavour.
If you try out this recipe I would love to hear your feedback.Twitter It!
The weather in Brisbane in the last week has been variable to say the least. The first few days my skin felt as dry as old leather. Fortunately for me it didn’t look that way but it made me realise that the humidity has dropped and finally the cooler weather is on its way. Skin dryness or dehydration occurs when the water and oils that form part of the protective layer are out of balance as it is the balance of sebum (skin oil) and perspiration that keeps the skin healthy. This can happen for various reasons that I have outlined below:
1. Evaporation of moisture through the skin. Factors that promote moisture evaporation include dry air (ie lack of humidity in winter, heating or air-conditioning), wind, and prolonged water exposure (swimming in pools or long showers).
2. Damage to the waterproof barrier or disruption of the acid mantle leaving the skin open to issues such as dehydration, roughness, infection, redness and irritation. Synthetic foaming agents such as sodium laurel sulphate are a significant cause of acid mantle disruption.
Choose a richer moisturiser. Generally if you just choose the next richest moisturiser up from your current one. Alternatively, try using your night cream during the day. If it sinks in without a greasy feel, then it is suitable for day use. A few good recommendations include:
3. The inside stuff. What you put into your body also has an impact in skin hydration. Reducing factors that have a diuretic effect such as alcohol and coffee will increase cellular hydration. It is also important to have adequate good fats in the diet. Good fats such as essential fatty acids (EFA’s) ensure the cell membrane remains flexible. This allows the cell to excrete toxins and cellular waste products and hold onto nutrients and water. EFAs also help to keep skin flexible and hydrated and promoting skin healing. Deep Sea fish are among the best source of EFAs including tuna, salmon, anchovies and sardines. Other good sources of EFA’s include avocado, nuts & seeds, flaxoil and Evening Primrose Oil. Keep in mind…
4. Ageing. As we age the production of sebum and natural oils lessens effectively reducing the water holding capacity of our skin. This leads to drier skin. You can counter this by using an oil based serum. Apply the serum under your moisturiser during the day (only use half a pump) or instead of a night cream. Any serum you use should sink into the skin completely within 5 minutes. Our product picks are:
5. 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. If your skin becomes red or irritated easily, particularly in dry cold weather, choose products scent free products and nourishing oils
After 23 years of lobbying the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments has finally succeeded which means part of the world at least is a kinder and more humane place. Specifically the group has brought about a ban on the use of animals in cosmetics testing in all member countries of the European Union. This covers all personal care products from high-end to supermarket brands. The fantastic part about this is that it doesn’t just cover the end product but also includes a ban on testing individual product ingredients. Cosmetics sold in Europe will still be safety tested by agreed upon non-animal methods.
Standard animal testing in the US and Europe up until today, although not required by law can include:
So the big question is “does animal testing take place in Australia”. According to the RSPCA, “there is no testing of cosmetics involving animals conducted in Australia. However, the majority of cosmetic products sold here will contain ingredients that will have been tested on animals at some time.” So the changes in Europe will have a positive impact for Australia, particularly with relation to imported cosmetics. The next step for consumers is to either choose confirmed cruelty-free cosmetic providers (which buying from Vitale Natural Online certainly ensures) or if you do buy from overseas, choose cosmetics manufactured in Europe rather than the US or Asia.
In any case this is a huge step forward and will hopefully inspire change in other cosmetic manufacturing countries. Well done Europe.Twitter It!
As a naturopath there are topics that I am asked about regularly and one of those is what oils to use when cooking. Well this can be quite confusing because a number of factors have to be taken into account:
Click on the image below to take you to Balanced Bites for an easy printout of what to use and what to avoid:
Skin type is predominantly a genetic trait and generally skin type doesn’t change much over your lifetime however, nutritional status, overall health, external factors such as sun damage and aging can cause changes in the integrity of skin making it important to reassess your skin’s needs ensuring you use the appropriate products. Using products that don’t suit your basic skin type can cause numerous skin issues.
There are four key skin types: oily, combination, normal and dry. In addition to the basic skin types, there are skin issues which include congestion, sensitivity and dehydration. You will only ever be one skin type but you may have a number of skin issues. These are not genetic and tend to be the result of diet and lifestyle choices or using skin care that doesn’t suit your skin type. The characteristics of each skin type and issue are listed below. Please remember however, that every skin type is different and if you feel that you don’t fit into any of these types or have any of these issues, contact our skin specialist, who will assist you with a personalized skin analysis and product prescription.
If you know your skin type, click here to view products suited to your skin
Oily Skin – producing too much oil
One of the common issues with oily skin is the use of creams that are too rich for the skin. The misconception is that a rich or heavy cream (by rich I mean including butters and waxes) will have a better moisturising effect. Regardless of the “richness” of a product, if it is chosen to correctly match the skin type, the moisture content and nutritional status of the skin will improve.
The other common misconception with oily skin is that not using a moisturiser at all will help reduce oiliness. Oily skins still need skin nutrition, moisture in the form of water and ingredients that will help to control sebum, the factor that creates “shine”. A good moisturiser for oily will do all of these things.
The benefit of oily skin is that those with oily skin will tend to age more gracefully than their drier-skinned counterparts.
Combination skin – the most common skin type
Many with combination skin tend to go for richer creams to help moisturise the drier sections of skin but this causes issues such as clogging and breakouts with the oily sections. A light but highly nourishing moisturiser combined with an eye cream is a better option than a rich cream. The other thing that is important is regular but gentle exfoliation to get rid of the dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. On drier skin this is important to allow mositurisers to penetrate more easily. With the oily skin areas, it stops the buildup of dead skin cells in open pores.
Dry Skin – needs more oil
Dry skin lacks both sebum and moisture due to insufficient production by the sebaceous glands which reduces the cells ability to hold onto moisture. Usually dry skin is delicate with small or no obvious pores and quite fine textured. However, due to the lack of moisture and oil, it is likely to show obvious signs of aging sooner than other skin types such as wrinkles and fine lines. There may also be red or flaky patches evident.
First and foremost it is important with dry skin to prevent further drying out of the skin. To do this it is important to avoid alcohol based products as they worsen dryness. Daily moisturising is essential. It prevents moisture loss and supplies the skin with essential nutrients and oils to keep the cells well nourished. A healthy cell is more likely to hold onto moisture. Avoid foaming cleansers in general and particularly those containing sodium lauryl sulphate as they will disrupt the acid mantle and again reduce the moisture holding capacity of the skin.
Other tips include drinking enough water and eating plenty of essential fatty acids which are found in nuts & seeds, fish and flax oil.
Normal Skin - Neither oily nor dry
Dehydrated Skin – if your skin lacks radiance and feels “tight” it is likely that it is dehydrated. The appearance of fine lines due to loss of elasticity and flexibility are other key signs of dehydrated skin. Moisture evaporates readily through the skin, and if we don’t stop this occurrence our skin loses its ability to protect against the outside environment leading to even more moisture loss and in the long term, actual skin damage due to poor cellular integrity. Check for these signs:
Sensitive Skin - heightened skin sensitivity and adverse reactions to certain irritants characterizes sensitive skin. Common skin irritants include detergents, certain skin care ingredients particularly synthetics and petrochemical ingredients and environmental factors such as heat, sun exposure, cold and wind. There is a strong correlation between dry skin and sensitive skin. Those with thin or finely textured skin are more prone to skin sensitivity. Common characteristics of sensitivity include:
Congested Skin – skin congestion is characterised by blocked pores, dull skin, uneven skin, blackheads and whiteheads.Twitter It!
Signs of vitamin deficiencies show up firstly in the skin, hair and nails. The reason this occurs is due to the fact that in times of stress or low intake the body preferentially provides nutrition to the critical organs such as the heart, lungs and brain rather than the skin. So irritating skin issues such as cracks in the corners of the mouth or peri oral dermatitis may actually be signalling a nutrient deficiency rather than a disease state or skin condition.
Underlying causes for nutrient deficiencies are many and various but often come back to reduced intake or excess demand. Inadequate intake of water-soluble vitamins such as the B group and vitamin C is more common due to the fact that our body doesn’t store these vitamins. Any excess passes out on a daily basis. It makes sense then that an inadequate intake of B group and vitamin C rich foods could eventually lead to signs of deficiency. Fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, E, D and K are slower to show up as deficiency sigs as our body stores these nutrients in some cases for long fairly long periods. However, lack of dietary intake (or sunshine) will eventually use up stored resources and again eventually lead to lower levels.
The other factor that may lead to skin signs of deficiency is placing excess demands on our vitamin resources. Stress, environmental toxins, dietary excesses and ill health will all use vitamins up, sometimes faster than we are taking them in. Again the net result is lower levels.
A good dietary intake of both water and fat-soluble vitamins will help to maintain healthy and vibrant skin. For specific skin signs, the nutrient association and the food sources see the table below.
|Nutrient||Possible Skin Sign||Food Sources|
|Vitamin A||Rough, dry and scaly skin – particularly on the back of arms, thighs and buttocks. The carotenoid form of vitamin A will also help to improve skin colour i.e. give you a healthy glow.||Liver, cod liver oil, yellow, orange and red vegetables (plant source is carotenoids)|
|Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)||Bleeding gums, rough skin and easy bruising, poor wound healing, pinpoint broken capillaries particularly where extensive sun exposure has occurred e.g. face, neck and chest||Kiwi fruit, green capsicum, citrus fruits, paw paw, strawberries, berries, broccoli, sprouts|
|Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)||Inflamed eyelids, cracks and redness at the corner of the mouth (caution, this may also related to low iron so get your iron levels checked if B group supplementation doesn’t improve within 2 weeks), facial skin lesions with greasy scales, peri-oral dermatitis||Almonds, salmon, spinach, milk & milk products, eggs, oats, whole grains|
|Pantothenic Acid (B5)||Excessive sebum production particularly associated with acne||Avocado, mushrooms, lentils, milk & milk products, eggs, almonds|
|Pyridoxine (B6)||Scaly dermatitis, peri-oral dermatitis, cracks and redness in the corners of the mouth.||Bananas, tuna, avocado, spinach, mackerel, brown rice, Brussels Sprouts|
|Folates (B9)||Peri-oral dermatitis, cracks and redness in the corners of the mouth.||Lentils, spinach, green leafy vegetables, asparagus, paw paw, yellow corn|
|Vitamin D||Worsening of inflammatory skin conditions due to imbalanced immune function e.g. eczema and dermatitis||Cod liver oil, salmon, oysters, whole milk, egg yolk|
It is important to note that because fat soluble vitamins build up in the body, it is advisable to speak to a health care professional such as your doctor, naturopath or nutritionist before taking supplemental forms.
Please comment if you have any questions.Twitter It!
Dark circles are the bane of some people existence and to others a temporary change in appearance often associated with lack of sleep. While sleep deprivation may be one cause another often overlooked cause may actually be lack of water. Dehydration can show up around the eye area as dark circles and possibly even a slight temporary increase in the appearance of wrinkles.
To help improve the appearance of tired eyes try these tips:
If you have come across a treatment that works for dark circles we would love to hear – please comment.Twitter It!
Our skin has a low permeability, which blocks foreign substances such as toxins from penetrating through the skin and coming into contact with our internal organs. On the surface of the skin is a very fine, slightly acidic film that is secreted by the sweat glands. This layer is called the acid mantle because it has a pH of between 4.5 and 6.2 (any measure less than 7 is considered acidic. Above 7 is alkaline). The acid mantle acts as a barrier protecting your skin from the elements (wind and pollution) and from bacteria, viruses and other contaminants that might penetrate the skin or cause irritation. Apart from acting as a physical barrier the acid mantle helps to neutralize the chemical effects of contaminants, which are generally alkaline.
The daily barrage of pollution in the form of chemicals from the atmosphere, bacteria, and commercial skin care such as sodium laurel sulphate based cleansers can cause the acid mantle to be disrupted or lose its acidity. When this occurs, skin is more prone to damage, sensitivity responses (allergy like symptoms), irritation, infection and redness. Stress also plays a large role in the health of the skin pH.
Maintaining a healthy acid mantle and therefore pH is not only vital for skin protection but it also helps maintain healthier skin for longer. Other skin issues associated with a disrupted skin barrier include:
Once the acid mantle is damaged there are definitely ways of encouraging repair:
Find out about the new range to Vitale – Sophyto Organic Skin CareTwitter 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!
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