Have you noticed that organic products feel different to their synthetic counterparts? Sometimes they take a little longer to sink in or initially feel richer due to the oil component. Once applied however, you can start to notice your skin feels different, and not just after application but also over time, it feels smoother and more hydrated. There is a reason for this and it all comes down to the base ingredients used in organic skin formulations.
Conventional skin care contains synthetic ingredients such as fillers, silicon and slip agents. These make the product feel smooth as they give the product slip and are designed to settle on the top of the skin, creating a smooth barrier. It also makes your skin appear more hydrated than it actually is. In reality, the barrier created by fillers and silicone agents creates an occlusive coat, trapping ingredients below it and stopping the skin from breathing. While this may make your skin feel better in the short term, in the long term they provide little if any nourishment for the skin.
Skin “breathing” is a critical function of body detoxification. While creating a barrier to the outside world the skin also allows substances such as water, waste products and oxygen to pass through its layers. If these are then trapped below an occlusive emollient such as silicone it can lead to skin health issues such as congestion, poor skin texture and irritation. Extended exposure to sweat under an occlusive layer can further irritation. In addition, skin exposure to ingredients such as artificial colours and scents, which are already the most significant cause of skin issues, can become even more problematic if trapped under an occlusive layer.
By contrast natural base oils and butters, while giving products a smooth base feel, also allow the skin to breathe. As fatty substances they are absorbed into the skin, rather than sitting on the surface and in doing so carry important ingredients such as antioxidants through as well. In addition, they are a source of critical essential fatty acids, glycolipids and phosphlipids which support the skin cell membranes and permit nutrients and water into the cell and toxins out.
What to look for in your products are ingredients such as those listed below:
The benefits of products containing such ingredients as their basis are twofold; firstly they aren’t irritating to the skin and secondly provide essential nutrition. This is a win-win situation all round.Twitter It!
One of my major bugbears is the use of “green-washing” when it comes to the natural & organic skin care industry. Waving an organic tea-bag over a jar of skin care doesn’t make it organic. I think a healthy dose of transparency is needed in this industry. This youtube video by Pure & Green Organics is a good one as it helps to identify some of the marketing tricks used as well as showing consumers how to identify certified organic ranges.
I do want to point out that using natural skin care (which isn’t necessarily organic) is the first step to healthier skin…going organic is the next step however it isn’t always possible to find products that work for you that are both natural AND organic. Ultimately I believe you have to choose the product that suits your skin first over organic certification (please comment if you disagree as I love to read what y’all think). I can imagine a world where this will be possible…and quite soon, but we aren’t there yet.
Organic Skincare – Real or Fake by Pure and Green OrganicsTwitter It!
The term “new adopter” refers to people that follow new trends or products particularly in the area of new technology however I have borrowed the term for skin care aficionados i.e. people that just have to have the latest cosmetic or cream released on the market. I can confirm that I have definitely had moments of “new adoption” where I have bought products just because they were new or eagerly anticipated the release of a new range or product with the intent to purchase as soon as available.
On the flip side there are some favourite products I just can’t do without. Products that work for my skin or hair or coloured cosmetics that suit me so I go back to them time and time again. Among these is my Minerelle foundation. I have tried so many different foundations (I receive many samples in the course of my work) and while initially I might be impressed, I go back to Minerelle every time. For me it is not just about the performance of the product, which is excellent but also the shade which suits my skin perfectly.
One trend I did follow (well almost followed) is that of Morrocan Oil. I was really pleased to hear that there was a hair oil on the market based on natural ingredients. However, at the point of purchase I gave the ingredients a quick once over and smartly put it back on the shelf – the ONLY natural ingredient in Morrocan Oil is a bit of Argan oil – it is not even the first ingredient which means the fragrances and polymers make up most of the product. I was so disappointed so I instead chose Pure Lustre from Nature’s Symphony which is based on Camellia oil and completely natural. My hair loves it and love that it is natural.
The body product I just can’t go without is Remedica African Vanilla & Shea Nut Body Butter. I love everything about it – the texture, the scent (which lasts all day) and the way it moisturises my skin. BIG LOVE and a staple in my bathroom cupboard.
One new product that I think will become a favourite is La Mav’s Bio VA5 Daily Wrinkle Smoothing Crème. It has recently been reformulated and I find it excellent for my skin as it is not too rich but the cosmeceutical ingredients really pack a punch – Acai, Kakadu Plum, Hibiscus, Pea and Cassia to name a few.
With regard to cosmetics, when it comes to mascaras, I just can’t go past the Ere Perez Natural Almond Oil Mascara – it doesn’t clump, it doesn’t run or smudge or do any of the annoying things mascaras generally do. HANDS UP for this product. However, I will also say that the newer range of Lavera mascaras are pretty appealing particularly for longer, lusher lashes. I feel the call to try something new…
I did a quick ask around with the staff at Vitale Natural and they all pretty much mention the same three products as definite favourites:
I would love to know if you have any favourite products or products you think will become favourites.Twitter It!
LOHAS stands for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability which is essentially a socio-economic term that describes a segment of conscious shoppers i.e. people who not only consider their own personal benefit but the impact on the wider community and planet. In Australia this represents around 26 % of the adult population. However, this is a global trend and not only do I think the number of people that start making more conscious choices will rise, particularly in Australia where such a wide range of choices are available.
You can see evidence of this trend impacting on companies and brands alike particularly in the cosmetic industry where the trend towards natural & organic products has been taken further so it encompassess use of eco packaging materials, fair trade ingredients, stopping the use of palm oil or using sustainable plantation sources and choosing only cruelty free products.
At Vitale it is about ensuring coherence between what we say we do and what we actually do. We do this by:
I was prompted to write this little blurb by an article about LOHAS which got me thinking about how we as a company perform. Of course there is always room for improvement but I also think we have set a high standard for ourselves and we strive to achieve it in every way we can.
We would love to hear about areas we could improve so please have your say.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!
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!
A question from a customer struck home for me this month. It was about red skin, not rosacea rather a red or pink tone to the skin. This is more common in pale skins like myself and I have always tended to a slightly pink nose and red cheeks. Ironically now that my skin tone has evened out, I use blush!
This question from Nadia: I am a 39 year old redhead with freckly skin (from the sun!) and fairly red skin on my chin and cheeks, other than that, my skin is in good condition, with no wrinkles and I am regularly told I look late 20’s. I have had the redness for many years (I have had two try at expensive laser treatment twice, (its not rosacea ), though it hasn’t worked and I was very disappointed.
My skin doesn’t appear to be sensitive at all. I wear a lot of foundation to cover the redness (I don’t have any freckles on my face). I would love to get away from wearing foundation all the time, though it is quite a sensitive topic for me, as it stops me doing many outdoor activities, sports etc, as I am always touching up my make up, as I am so self conscious about my skin.
My response to Nadia was: Thank you for your e-mail. Based on what you have written below I have a couple of suggestions. Firstly it is great that your skin looks so good – it shows you have looked after it.
With regard to redness…the cause may be internal. I have attached a link to an article I wrote recently about Facial Diagnosis which looks at the internal causes of skin issues including red skin. The thing that makes my redness worse is when I drink too much coffee, alcohol or eat sugary, processed foods. These foods are pro-inflammatory and so can cause redness in the skin. For me, minimising these foods helps a great deal.
Topically I find that vitamin C products help reduce redness. They increase the antioxidant network in the skin and improve skin immunity all which seem to dampen down redness. Personally, as one with red cheeks, I have used Devita C Accelerate to great effect with redness. I have also used antioxidants internally (vitamins A, C, E and zinc along with grapeseed) and this markedly decreased the redness in my cheeks. The grapeseed works by strengthening the capillary network reducing reactivity and “blushing”.
In addition, while it may not be obvious, sun exposure can contribute to redness over time so wearing sunscreen on your face is important. Where the damage is permanent and long lasting Devita Sun Damage Repair Gel may help as it promotes repair of damaged skin and helps lighten spots. To cover redness, I recommend and use Mineral Makeup (my savior on many occasions). Minerelle, the brand we stock is a professional range and the cover is excellent. I only need to apply once a day for great long-lasting cover.
Ed note: I did go onto to discuss feelings of self-consciousness with Nadia because on a personal note, I do understand the feeling of being self-conscious about my skin. It took me a long time to feel ok about going without makeup and even now sometimes I look in the mirror and think that my skin looks terrible. However, I finally realised that the more I focused on it, the more of an issue it became and I was making myself miserable. These days I am far more accepting of how I look and it is quite frankly, a relief.
I would love to read your comments, how you feel about your skin and what helps you feel better.Twitter It!
I read this blog post by Grace from Pure & Green Organics with great interest as it outlines some great Shopping Guides that help you to navigate your way through the maze of ingredients on cosmetic labels. I have personally used all of these guides and found them excellent. I particularly like the phone apps as they are portable.
Grace from Pure & Green writes: The good news is there are guides already in existence and most of them very reasonably priced, and some are even free. I have broken the options down to the ones I have used and feel comfortable recommending & also into three formats (1) PC downloads you can print out (2) apps for your iphone or (3) apps for your android phone
While most cosmetic dictionaries are so bulky you couldn’t possibly bring them to the shops with you, one very clever lady named Ruth Winter has prepared her dictionary in multiple formats making life a little easier. The book is titled “A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients – 7th edition” . Here is a blurb from her about the latest edition
“Everything you need to know about the safety and efficacy of cosmetics and cosmeceuticals. Is it a cosmetic? A drug? A nutrient? Its becoming more and more difficult to tell the difference with the cosmetic companies combining the three. …. . So before you slather on that wrinkle-reducing cream or swallow a skin-rejuvenating vitamin, find out whats in your health and beauty products with A Consumers Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients.”
I bought her dictionary in e-book form and it does the job although the focus is on explaining the ingredients, not emphatically stating avoid this or that.
You can buy the book as an e-book or in hard cover (which is probably easier to navigate than the e-book) both versions cost $17.99
or as an iphone app – also $17.99
nothing available for android phones at the moment
If $17.99 is outside your budget you could print out the free shoppers guide from the David Suzuki Foundation. This little guide is well, little, so it focuses on what they have called the dirty dozen, the top 12 “families” of chemicals to avoid. It’s not as comprehensive as Ruth Winter’s book but it’s free, easy to carry and a good start.
Update: readers have recommended “The Chemical Maze Shopping Companion 4th edition: Your Guide to Food Additives and Cosmetic Ingredients”. Author – Bill Statham. This book is very small – compact enough to fit into your handbag while shopping, and is available through online booksellers for approx $16.00
For help in choosing a sunscreen, there is a free guide available from Friends of the Earth which you can print out. It’s focus is on nano-free products not the overall toxicity.
Environmental Working Group have produced a report into the toxicity of sunscreens, which you could access free with an iphone app
I find a combination of the two guides is useful as they each have a different focus, it’s only by combining them that you get the whole picture.
Ed. note: Do you know of any great cosmetic resources. If so please share the love so we can all benefit! Thanks.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!
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!
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