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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
This blog is actually Jenni from Coconut Magic’s work. I just love coconut oil and use it for many things. In one of my recent posts I mention that a teaspoon in porridge in the morning adds to the creamy deliciousness of this dish. In any case, here are Jenni’s 6 clever ways to use Coconut Oil:
Coconut Magic is great for all these purposes because it has quite a neutral taste and smell. I have tried a teaspoon in a cup of black tea and it didn’t significantly change the flavour and that is saying something. I really don’t like the “toasted” smell of old coconut much but love this as it is mild smelling which is because it is from young coconuts – can’t really say enough good about this product!
Now if you want an oil that is more specifically used for cosmetic purposes Remedica’s Monoi Blue is coconut oil infused with Gardenia flowers. Only genuine Monoi oil such as Remedica is manufactured in Tahiti from pure Tahitian coconut oil and Tiare (Gardenia) flowers. It is just divine for skin and hair.
Love it. Please do tell if you have any other clever uses for Coconut Oil
Due to the recent rains in Brisbane, mosquitoes have plagued me, which has been a very itchy affair. However, after two nights of being bitten, I delved into the medicine cabinet and grabbed a bottle of 100% pure essential lavender oil. Not only does this fabulous essential oil stop any itching from bites almost immediately, it also keeps flying pests at bay. Eat dirt mozzies!
This episode reminded me how many simple but highly effective natural first aid remedies we have at our fingertips. Below I have listed what I consider “essentials” for any natural first aid kit.
Honey is a great soothing and antimicrobial agent. In the cooler months, it is an excellent treatment for windburn or chapped skin. Applied topically to wounds or acne lesions it inhibits the growth of bacteria and provides a moist wound-healing environment, speeding up the healing process. It’s also great for burns and sore throats.
It is important to use Manuka, Jellybush or untreated wild honey as these varieties are not heat-treated and therefore retain their beneficial effects.
2. Chamomile tea
Naturally calming and good for relaxing at night sleep, Chamomile tea is also soothing for the skin and is also useful for sore, tired or puffy eyes. Chamomile has anti-inflammatory and mild antimicrobial effects, which help soothe sore eyes. Soak the tea bag for 3 minutes in hot water. You can either drink the tea or once cool, soak a face cloth and use it to bathe your eyes or any part of the body that is red and/or irritated such as sunburn or rashes. Put the tea bags in the fridge and when you are ready, lie down and place one over each eye. Relax.
3. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Oil
Apart from its soothing and relaxing aromatherapy benefits, 100% pure lavender essential oil can be used as an effective first aid remedy. When applied to minor burns and bites or stings, the undiluted essential oil has an antiseptic and pain relieving effect. The sooner the oil is applied, the faster the pain relieving and healing effects of lavender will occur. Apply undiluted oil for burns or skin irritation or combine a few drops with a carrier oil such as jojoba for use as a relaxing massage oil.
As I mentioned above, it can help to repel mozzies but it is certainly a good idea to resort to a conventional insect repellent if you are in a malarial area.
Lavender oil is also purported to be effective for headache relief. Rub a few drops onto your temples, drink a large glass of water (dehydration is a common cause of headaches) and take a few, deep relaxing breaths. Just remember to choose a pure 100% essential oil as fragranced oils or cheap Lavender oil does not have the same healing qualities.
4. Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe is one of the best remedies for soothing irritated skin and healing burns including sunburn. Aloe contains constituents that have a demulcent (soothing) effect and so can be used on grazed, red or inflamed skin; as well as a vulnerary (wound-healing) effect. Aloe inhibits the formation of tissue-injuring compounds that gather at the site of a skin injury and so can be applied to the wound site to promote healing.
When applying fresh aloe from the leaves of the plant, use only the clear inner pulp of the leaf. This component has soothing and healing properties. The yellow/green sap that is exuded by leaf surface can be irritating to skin and so is best avoided. If you don’t have an aloe plant growing in your back yard, you can still harness the benefits of this plant by choosing products that are made with Aloe vera.
5. Spirit of Woman Crisis Calm
I carry a bottle of Crisis Calm in by handbag for any stressful or crisis situations. It is safe to use and excellent for children, animals and adults and a few drops under the tongue is easy to take. Crisis Calm helps connect to the sense of calm at the centre of any storm around you, whether a trauma, shock, emergency, or stress, emotional, psychological or physical. Sometime you just want to add it to the water supply!!!
6. Arnica (Arnica montana)
Arnica is a miracle plant from the Earth’s herbal pantry. When used externally, is has an amazing ability to clear bruises, bring down puffiness or swelling, and ease deep aches. It can’t be applied to open wounds but use liberally on any closed bruises, strains, sprains or inflammation.
7. Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Tea tree oil is one of the most effective essential oils as a natural skin remedy. It is a powerful antimicrobial and antiseptic, active against infectious organisms such as bacteria and fungi. Tea tree oil is useful in the management of infection in minor wounds and even acne. In the case of mild infection, liberally apply 100% tea tree oil to the affected area. Further application of tea tree to any bandage may also be applied and then changed every 24 hours.
8. Jojoba Oil
This may seem a bit unusual but I include Organic Jojoba Oil for its versatility. It can be used as part of the treatment for acne, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, cradle cap, nappy rash and other skin conditions where skin is red, irritated, dry or sensitive. Apply jojoba to face, body, hands and feet to smooth skin and nails, reduce cracking of dry skin, and improve skin elasticity.
If you have any natural first aid tips I would love to hear about them. Please let us know.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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