During this cooler, drier winter weather it can be a battle to maintain skin moisture, particularly if hot showers are a daily event. If you suffer from Eczema, Psoriasis, Dermatitis or Keratosis Pilaris (bumps that commonly occur on the back of arms) you will most likely find that your skin worsens and creams don’t hold moisture as effectively.
One way to overcome this is to use a richer cream in winter than you do for the rest of the year, one that contains Shea or Coconut butter as a base. While oils are great they don’t have the same moisture holding capacity as butters or waxes. So find a cream that contains both waxes or butters and oils and this should go some way to support the skin’s moisture holding capacity. My recommendations for richer skin creams include:
Dry Body Brushing will also significantly help improve skin health whether or not you have a pre-existing skin condition. Personally I have found my skin smoother and more hydrated than ever before due to regular skin brushing (3 times a week minimum) this dry season.
Jodie from Bodecare tells us below how dry brushing improves skin:
The skin is one of the major organs of the body, responsible for ridding the toxins from our system on a daily basis, working alongside the bowel, kidneys and lungs. If any of these elimination systems are not working properly, they will put an extra burden on the other organs. Dry Body Brushing assists the skin with it’s many functions like:
Key things to remember if you do suffer from a dry skin condition:
I for one am sold on dry body brushing. If you are having good results please let us know.Twitter It!
Every year I feel the change of season in my skin. It feels tighter, drier and any colour I achieved during summer starts to fade. The change of season has a big impact on the look and feel of our skin and no amount of makeup will make our skin look good if we haven’t done the prep work (or are genetically gifted) for the oncoming cold weather. Here is how to get prepared…
1. Start by changing your cleanser. If you are using a gel or foaming cleanser it will likely be too strong for the drier winter months. Use a cream cleanser such as La Mav Hydra Calm Cream Cleanser. For very dry, sensitive skin use Haven Scent Coconut Cream Cleanser or oil cleansing with Jojoba oil.
2. Scrub away dead skin cells. This allows the nutrients in your moisturiser or serum to penetrate more deeply as they don’t have to work through layers of dead skin cells. It also prevents your skin becoming clogged due to the richer ingredients used during the cooler months. Your skin will feel smoother and refreshed.
3. Use a Night Serum. Oils are so important for skin nutrition. They penetrate the skin more deeply carrying antioxidants and vitamins with them. Ensuring the cellular membrane of the skin cells is healthy allows nutrients and moisture to be retained within the cell and toxins to be effectively eliminated. Just what we want.
4. Keep your lips moist. Dry, chapped lips are a pain in winter. The wind and cold make it difficult for the thin skin of the lips to retain moisture. Give them a hand by applying lip balm regularly. Those containing beeswax will have greater moisture holding capacity that those based on oils alone.Twitter It!
In answer to the title of this article you may expect that the response is “it’s organic or natural” but that goes without saying. However, this article takes a deeper look at the classes of ingredients, the skin benefits of these ingredients and their impact on the skin. The basic aims of a good moisturiser is to maintain or restore skin barrier systems and to improve overall skin health. At a cellular level it is important that the formation of the epidermis or outer layer of skin is supported, as this is the foundation of an effective protective layer.
A well-formulated moisturiser will have the following properties:
• Mimic skin structure and function
• Slow trans epidermal water loss
• Maintain the skin’s protective barrier
• Nourish the skin by providing nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and essential fats
• Have a moisture saturating effect i.e. provide the skin with the moisture it needs
• Have a balanced pH
• Have a restorative effect i.e. work to improve superficial skin damage
In addition, it is important that the formulation looks, feels and smells nice. The aesthetics of a formulation have a large impact on its use. After all, a formulation can have amazing properties but if it sits on the bathroom shelf without being used, it is no good to anyone.
In order to achieve the above aims, a good moisturiser obviously needs to contain active ingredients but just as important are the base ingredients. In many cases, the base carriers, emollients (softening and soothing) and humectants (retains water) could also be considered active ingredients if well chosen.
Base ingredients are those that make up over 50 – 70% of the formulation. They are responsible largely for protection and hydration. If formulated well with ingredients such as fruit, seed and plant oils or gels, they will also provide some nutritional value.
The growing sophistication of natural and organic formulations highlights the key differences between these and their synthetic counterparts. Obviously the lack of potential toxic or irritating colours, fragrances and preservatives is a major difference, however, returning to the original premise of the article, “what makes a good formulation”, the key difference by proportion of formulation is actually the base ingredients. Comprising over half of the formulation, they can either actively promote skin health, or have a somewhat neutral effect.
By way of example, petroleum has an excellent and immediate barrier effect on the skin however, it sits on the surface of the skin and so stops the skin breathing and depending on where it is sourced may potentially be a source of toxic contamination. On the other hand, Shea Butter also has an excellent barrier effect but is also a source of vitamins A and E, iron and essential fatty acids. In addition it penetrates the skin readily, has an emollient effect and supports skin elasticizing. As you can imagine, a formulation containing Shea Butter is much more likely to meet the essential criteria of a good formulation.
Active ingredients are more likely to help to restore skin health and provide skin nourishment. These include antioxidants, vitamins, amino acids and minerals. They may make up between 5-10% of a formulation. These days it is common to see the same active ingredients in a good organic formulation as it is in an expensive department store brand or dermatologist cosmedic range. Ingredients such as vitamin C, alpha hydroxy acids, retinoids, hyaluronic acid and peptides are no longer the exclusive domains of dermatologists.
Depending on the formulation colours and fragrances make up less than 5%. An organic formulation is unlikely to have any added colours or fragrances but rather utilizes the natural fragrances of essential oils, which are in fact considered actives or essential oil based preservatives, which again give the formulation its fragrance.
Preservatives may also contribute up to 5% of a formulation. Depending on whether the formulation is natural or synthetically based, the preservatives will be either essential oil or plant based or a synthetic alternative such as parabens. Some organic products contain chemically modified preservatives i.e. the starting material is natural but it is modified to have a preservative-like effect. One example of this is phenoxyethanol. There are a number of ways of manufacturing this preservative however the form that is acceptable in organic formulations is based on natural starting materials.
Determining a good moisturiser from one that is…well average cannot be based on the active ingredients alone. A holistic review of the ingredients including the base formulation, colours, fragrances and preservatives will determine this and if after this you are still unsure, ask! Contact the manufacture, check the Skin Deep database or ask the retailer for a detailed explanation of ingredients so that you really know what you are putting on your face each day.
To review the ingredients of some very good organic moisturisers, click here!Twitter It!
My excitement with the new La Mav range was tempered somewhat when I realized I couldn’t try all the new products at once (I really am still very excited). To really assess the range our Vitale Natural team has had to trial each product at a time. Some of the products we are already familiar with such as the favorite amongst staff and indeed, award winning Bio-A7 Firming Eye Lotion but others are new to us. Over the next few months we will reveal our thoughts on many of the new products but first I wanted to review another of my favorites: Argania Extract Lift and Firm Serum (Lift & Firm Serum for short). Lift & Firm Serum contains some key bio-active ingredients (and this is these are the ingredients that really get me excited as they are considered “active” and have real therapeutic benefits on the skin) including:
Of these, Argania Spinosa extract, Acacia Senegal and Rhozbian Gum have immediate effects on the skin acting like a flash balm by tightening and lifting skin which is ideal for tired skin around the eyes. Argania also has a long-term biological effect, working to reduce wrinkles particularly on the neck. My first experience of this product was one morning when I had had a late night and a very early start – I looked very tired and quite dehydrated which shows up around my eyes in particular. I thought this was the ideal opportunity to try out this product. I put it on and dashed out the door. Later that morning I checked out the progress and indeed I thought I looked better (I certainly looked better than I felt). Based on that response I have been using it under my moisturizer every day since and generally think my skin looks good. I can’t really notice a difference on my neck as yet as I am a bit haphazard about application in that area. Lift & Firm Serum goes really well with Hibiscus Extract Ultra-Lift Moisturiser.
If you have used this product please add your comments as we would love to hear what you think.Twitter It!
I have to admit I am a bit lackadaisical when it comes to using a toner every day. If it is in front of me, I use one under my moisturizer but if it isn’t I don’t go searching. This is in contrast to Mary and Caitlyn, our Vitale beauty therapists – they both swear by toners and use them religiously. May I also add they both have gorgeous skin! So when the Dr recently told me to keep the scars on my face moist, I added in the use of a toner first under the healing oils to deliver extra moisture, with might I add, excellent results! Since then I have been using a toner daily.
There are three categories of toner so it is important to make the distinction between them: traditional toners, astringents and fresheners.
Traditional toners are used to restore moisture to the skin. They are ideal for those with normal to dry or dehydrated skin as they contain moisturizing ingredients, herbal extracts and essential oils. They do not contain alcohol, which can reduce moisture and oil content in the skin and potential cause irritation. Examples of traditional toners are:
Remedica Hydra Mist – this amazing looking and smelling product is an active hydrator, moisture retainer and lipid-acid mantle restorer. The effectiveness of this product is due to a complex synergism between antioxidants, essential oils, vitamins and of the natural water binder Lecithin (humectant) which attracts water molecules from the atmosphere and helps bind these molecules to the skin. These actions are exactly what are needed for dry, dehydrated or damaged skin.
La Mav Refining Toner – again excellent for normal to dry or dehydrated skin this toner contains loads of slow ageing ingredients which when used under the La Mav Wrinkle Smoother, layer nutrients and enhance their effects.
Astiringent Toners contain alcohol based (or ethanol) in some form, which has the effect of tightening pores and removing oil. The natural & organic skin care industry moved away from this type of toner a long time ago however, you can still get the pore tightening, cleansing and refreshing effect from other ingredients used in toners that are suitable for normal to oily skin. I will also add that I think toners are excellent and often overlooked for very oil and acne-prone skin. They can deliver a light layer of healing and oil minimizing ingredients without the congestion issues that are sometimes found with moisturizers. Acne prone or oily skin is surprisingly often quite dehydrated. Yes you can have oily but dehydrated (low water) skin. So delivering moisture to oily skin is essential.
Examples of toners for oily or acne-prone skin include:
Third Stone Botanicals Cedarwood Toner – this product delivers concentrated hydration to skin after cleansing just when it needs it and before acid mantle returns which is the best opportunity to lock in extra moisture. The cedarwood essential oil helps to balance out oil production.
Devita Cool Cucumber Toner – well this just smells divine for a start but it also contains chamomile to soothe irritated skin and natural fruit acids to help clean out and tighten pores.
Fresheners are a category of toners that are used for…well exactly that, freshening up your face on a hot day or resetting your mineral makeup, cleansing off makeup at the end of the day or just adding that extra bit of moisture when you look and feel tired or your skin is dehydrated. Based on floral waters, they give much needed moisture but without the drying effects of water (ironic isn’t it but one of the most drying thing we do to our faces everyday is wash with water!).
Treasured Earth Gardenia & Honeysuckle Rehydrating Mist uses rose and lemon myrtle floral water to refresh and rehydrated skin. It also includes the purifying qualities of Iceland Moss so is excellent to help cleanse skin after makeup removal.
For best results use toners twice a day, morning and night after washing your face. One or two sprays is usually enough.Twitter It!
Dry, easily broken nails can be a problem at any time of year but like our skin it tends to be worse in winter when there is less humidity. Due to their porous nature, nails lose moisture very easily and easily become brittle and dry. Preventing moisture loss is essential. Nails will also be slower growing during winter (on average nails grow about 1mm per week). Apart from the weather and humidity there are a number of other factors that affect nail health:
A really good way of maintaining nail health is to protect them from damage in the first place by using gloves to wash up or garden. Then regularly apply hand & nail cream, taking the time to massage the cream into your nail bed.
I would love to hear any nail tips you might have.
No matter what type of skin you have choosing the right cleanser is key to maintaining the protective layer and nutrition of your skin. When choosing cleansers for skin types, I break them into different categories ranging from the most gentle and nourishing to the strongest cleansers:
Cream Cleansers – have the consistency of thick cream. Cream cleansers generally don’t contain any surfactants (foaming agents). They are ideal for dry, dehydrated, mature or sensitive skin as they work by using the oil component to bind with and remove makeup and daily pollution. Cream cleansers only minimally disrupt the acid mantle of the skin, if at all and maintain skin hydration. They are also the best for removing makeup.
For best results, moisten your face with tepid water, apply the cream cleanser and gently massage your face. Remove by wiping with a soft moist cloth or rinse with tepid water. Examples include Haven Scent Coconut Cream Cleanser and AUM Brightening Milk Cleanser.
Milk Cleansers – have the consistency of milk. Milk cleansers may or may not contain surfactants and if they do, they are generally only very mild surfactants. They are lighter than cream cleansers and therefore are ideal for normal to sometimes dry, mildly dehydrated and mature skin. Examples include Treasured Earth Cleansing Milk and Third Stone Botanicals Palmarosa Cleansing Milk.
Gel Cleansers – typically used for normal to combination skin they can be minimally drying but less so than a foaming cleanser. Gel cleansers are ideal for skin that is sometimes dry and sometimes a bit oily and certainly for congestion. They aren’t as good as milk or cream cleansers at removing makeup but will certainly give the skin a “clean” feeling. Generally they are gentler on the skin than Foaming Cleansers and less disruptive to the acid mantle. Mukti Gentle Foaming Cleanser and Treasured Earth Lemon & Mango Cleansing Gel
Foaming Cleansers – often leave you with a “squeaky-clean” feel and so are great for acne-prone, congested or oily skin. Most natural foaming cleansers only create tight bubbles rather than lots of foam like cleanser based on synthetic foaming agents. The smaller foaming action means less disruption to the acid mantle and a quicker recovery. Foaming cleanser can be slightly drying for non-oily skin types or in winter when there is less humidity in the air. Examples include: Remedica Black Soap, Devita Aloe Cleanser and Third Stone Botanicals Rose Geranium Cleanser.
If you use a cleanser that is too “strong” for your skin it will have an impact on the protective layer and you may find your skin feeling overly tight. Using a richer moisturizer is a common way of combating the use of the wrong cleanser for your skin type and ultimately it will lead to either dehydrated skin or dehydrated skin with congestion, which is something no-one wants.
On the other hand choosing a cleanser that is too rich for your skin can lead to congestion and/or superficially oily skin. Again not a great outcome! You may find that you need to try a few cleansers to get the best one for your skin. And indeed it may change with the seasons. Myself, I use a cleaning gel in summer and a milk in winter which I have found suits my skin perfectly. As a general rule of thumb, if your skin feels squeaky clean, the cleanser is probably to “strong” for your skin. Your skin should feel clean but not tight after cleansing.Twitter It!
As we move into the cooler months I checked in with the Vitale Team about their favorite products. Basically they had nothing to do with drier, cooler weather and we all about individual skin type or needs:
cause it is natural but doesn’t leave a white cast to the skin like other mineral sun protection products. In a minor concession to my question about Autumn skincare, she added that sun protection is important all year round and looking at her skin, which is gorgeous, you can tell she means it!
We would love to know what your favorite product is!Twitter It!
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!
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