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
If you read my blogs regularly you will likely know that I have sensitive skin. In recent years, this hasn’t been such a big problem for me but I am regularly asked how to manage sensitive skin. In this video I review why sensitive skin occurs, how you can help minimise skin reactions using topical ingredients and what dietary and lifestyle changes you can make to help improve your skin. I have also previously written a Sensitive Skin Information Page about sensitive skin which you can review here.
Sensitive Skin Solutions
I was recently berated by a well-meaning friend for applying makeup in the car on the basis that it is dangerous. This is true but in my defence I only apply makeup when stopped at the lights and I have only had one car accident while applying mascara…ever! (I was in a traffic jam and didn’t put my foot on the brake so bumped into the car in front – no damage to either car but I was red-faced). This got me thinking about whether the car is actually the best place and I decided probably not. Supporting this decision were some interesting experiences I have had while applying makeup in the car:
Once when applying mascara in the car, I put sunglasses on immediately afterward and then swept them up onto my head. Little did I know that the mascara was still wet and it completely smudged my upper eyelids creating a Clockwork Orange effect. I was dropping my sister off to school at the time and wondered why all the other parents were looking at me strangely. Back in the car, I was mortified. I now make sure my mascara is dry before I leave the house…or car.
Brush my hair…ever. I think some madness came over me in this circumstance. After the beach one day I decided to brush my hair then drove to the shops with all the windows down. My hair is curly and without product is frizzy so combined with salt water, by the time I reached the shops, I looked like Young Einstein.
Pondering my makeup mistakes lead me to bad habits. I think the only significant habit I have that affects my skin is hot showers but there are a few others that may contribute to skin complaints. In no particular order these are bad habits to avoid:
That’s it from me. I don’t want to sound too much like I am on a soap box…not after I admitted to applying make up while driving! Do you have any bad habits or makeup mistakes you want to share. I would love to hear about them.Twitter It!
Baaaahhh! This winter has been a shocker for me with regard to red skin. While mostly OK during the day, at night in heated rooms (it doesn’t help that I practically sit on the heater) my skin flares up and goes bright red across the cheeks and nose. When I say bright red, I am talking Rudolf here, it almost glows in the dark! Not an issue at all during summer, my tendency to Rosacea has come back with a vengeance. There are a few triggers I have worked out make the flare ups worse:
Even though it is annoying, I am not surprised by this recent flare up. I haven’t been looking after myself. Correction – I always look after my skin by using excellent quality organic skincare, so that’s not what I mean. Specifically I haven’t been looking after my internal and mental wellbeing. There are things I know clear up my flushing and it is about time I gave myself a little TLC. So here is a list of things that I haven’t been doing but that I am going to do from now on:
Start yoga classes again. I have poor circulation generally and so while my face is burning my hands are freezing. I think it helps to improve circulation generally. For me yoga and walking help. I haven’t been going to yoga and as well as having cold hands, I have been quite stressed. One session of yoga a week was enough to keep me calm (well more calm anyway!).
That’s my plan. Well actually I started on Monday and so far this week, no bad flushing incidents so I think I am onto a good thing! If you are prone to flushed or rosacea flare ups, tell us what works for you. I know I would love to know and I am sure others will benefit from the tips as well!Twitter It!
So for many mineral makeup is an ideal choice. However, there are some that still love liquid foundations and so for them this will be the only choice. While liquids don’t cover as well as mineral foundations, they do contain moisture, which may be better if you have dry or dehydrated skin. Liquid foundation also tends to give a dewy, glowing look rather than a matte appearance.
Do you stock organic makeup?
Well yes…and no. We only sell natural and organic skincare at Vitale and so “yes” is the simple answer, but I would like to clear up some confusion about the difference between organic and inorganic materials. Only living plant material can be classed as organic. Minerals by their very nature are inorganic materials. This doesn’t mean they contain any nasty chemicals or are petrochemical based, it means that the minerals in mineral makeup are natural, but not organic (i.e. not plant based).
To potentially confuse this issue further, mineral makeup may contain ingredients that are organic such as vitamin E or herbal extracts and so are labeled as containing organic ingredients but really the majority of the product is made up from inorganic minerals. This almost boarders on greenwashing for me but then I am probably just being pedantic!Twitter It!
For a long time experts stated that there was no correlation between diet and acne however more and more research is popping up discounting this assumption. In this blog I look at the association between dairy, in particular milk and the incidence of acne.
The studies showing a correlation between milk consumption and acne cross a wide age group, from teenage boys and girls to adult women and while the dairy industry claim skewed data there is enough evidence to show a definite link.
Firstly though I want to be clear about what the research does and doesn’t show; milk consumption alone doesn’t cause acne but it seems that those that drink milk develop more severe acne than non-milk drinkers. Furthermore, the more milk consumed, the worse the acne tended to be.
While the link between the severity of acne and milk is strongest, other dairy products have shown similar effects including cottage cheese, chocolate milk and skim milk. From personal experience one of the worst offenders apart from milk is yoghurt. I had to cut out dairy completely for 3 months and until my breakouts cleared up completely, then I was able to reintroduce some dairy but only butter, occasionally hard cheese such as parmesan and very occasionally some icecream (just because I find it hard to resist). If I start back on dairy regularly, my system doesn’t like it and I start to break out.
One of the interesting things that emerged from the research is that skim milk induced more breakouts than whole fat milk indicating that fat is not the issue. Other research has shown that while high saturated and animal fat foods aren’t ideal from a health perspective, they do not necessary cause or worsen acne. High sugar foods on the other hand are another story completely and do show a strong correlation with breakouts.
So if not the fat, what is the culprit? While not conclusively proved, the hormones in milk may well be the driver. Milk contains androgen hormones, the most notably testosterone. The body converts some testosterone to di-hydrotestosterone (DHT) which has a simulating effect on the skin’s sebaceous glands promoting the production of sebum. The result is oilier skin, more pore congestion and therefore more pimples. The more milk consumed, the more hormones, which may explain the proportional effect of higher milk consumption and more severe acne. Genetics also play a role according to researchers with people who are genetically predisposed to acne breakouts having a stronger reaction to the hormones in milk.
It is common practice with the commercial production of milk for dairy farmers to give cows additional hormones as this stimulates a higher milk yield. One of the side effects of this is milk with a high IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor-1) concentration and again the more consumed, the higher the blood concentration of IGF-1 found. Like DHT, IGF-1 drives sebum production which can trigger acne breakouts.
The other issue that may be linked to dairy, keep in mind there is no specific research about this, is the protein in dairy. Skim milk is believed to be worse than full cream milk due to the whey protein which is added to give a creamier taste. There are many different proteins in milk and IGF-1 is only one that may cause issues. If your digestive system is not performing as optimally as it could, the proteins in milk may eventually lead to internal inflammation of the gut and poor detoxification of waste. There is a strong link between poor digestive detoxification and acne. I will address this topic in more depth in another blog very soon.
So while milk and dairy are not a direct cause of acne, cutting it out of your diet can help to reduce acne severity. Reducing dairy may help but giving your body a rest from it all together is going to get a better initial result. One way to test your response to dairy is to start with 3 weeks complete removal and monitor your skin’s response. Look for a decrease in overall breakouts and well as less redness (inflammation). If you find that it doesn’t seem to make a difference at all reintroduce dairy slowly, again still monitoring the response to see if there are any worsening effects. If it does make a difference, it is best to stay off or only have limited quantities (and can I just say, a latte a day is a lot, not a little bit of milk).
A note of caution, often when people give up cow’s milk, they move over to soy milk. While this may seem like a sensible substitute, soy contains phytoestrogens, which may also be problematic for acne sufferers. It is best just to see how you go without cow’s milk first before using a dairy substitute.
This is the first in a series of blogs I am going to do about acne, its underlying causes and triggers. Please let me know if there are any topics in particular you would like me to cover.Twitter It!
Yes its that time of year again – cool weather equals drier skin. The question that has been most asked is “what can I do about my dry skin?”. As always I like to give you a complete answer so I will outline below internal and lifestyle solutions as well as the topical products you can use to improve skin dryness and dehydration.
Firstly a short explaination about why your skin is feel dry and tight. Basically, with the cooler weather the humidity decreases and moisture evaporates out of your skin. This reduces the skin’s ability to protect from the external environment and so it reacts more readily to wind, cold weather and topical irritants. You may find that as well as feeling dry, your skin is also more sensitive during winter. However, there are a few simple steps you can take to reduce moisture evaporation and increase skin protection and resiliance.
Sun, wind, cold air and hot water all increase water loss. You can reduce evaporation by making a few changes to your routine:
If you have any additional winter skin tips, please write in and let me know. I would love to hear about them.Twitter It!
Every now and again at Vitale we hear really amazing stories and one of these is about my friend Karen. A bit about Karen, she is very fit and has no fear and so when she decided to learn how to skydive solo, no-one was surprised. So she spent 3 months prepping for her first solo dive and one sunny Sunday morning jumped out of a plane (the thought almost makes me pee my pants but she says she had no fear!). The dive was perfect, the landing was perfect and then Karen to one step and shattered her ankle and lower leg. The ambulance people told her that this was a common occurance and that they had been out at the same field the week before for the same reason. If only she had known!
What followed was lots of leg surgery, bed rest, casts etc. But Karen is a busy kind of person so within 5 days she was up and about. Three weeks later she came to me and said “I need some Rosehip oil for my scar – it isn’t healing”. I had a look at the scar – it was gruesome! So I replied, “yes Rosehip oil is good, but try this stuff, it is Excellent!”.
Five days after that I received a text message with photos attached. Being a scientific-type, Karen took a photo of her scar and sent it through to me:
After 5 days I received this surprising photo:
Finally on Day 7 of application I received this photo:
Karen is pretty happy with the results and her surgeon was also quietly impressed!
The product I recommended is Third Stone Botanicals Skin Smoother. It does contain Rosehip Oil, which is great for scar healing but it also contains some other key ingredients that promote even more rapid skin healing including Calendula, vitamin E and Wheatgerm oil. Karen’s isn’t the only story I have been told about this product – open heart surgery scars and scars from a broken arm have also responded similarly. You can also use Skin Smoother on small scars, wounds and abrasions. For areas where the skin is dry or dehydrated, choose Calm Magic Balm instead.
If you have a story about wound or scar healing or have used this product yourself, I would love to hear about it.Twitter It!
Antiaging ingredients and eye creams that work…a myth or reality? While there may be many products in the market that claim to work, how many actually do make a difference? Two tried and true ways of finding out are:
1. Review the research. Antiaging is big business but there are a handful of key ingredients that show real promise. Among them, marine extracts, Hibiscus esculentus extract, sodium hyaluronate and naturally sourced alpha hydroxy acids.
2. Alternatively you can try a product out for yourself. What works for others may not work for you…and vice versa and it can be worth spending the money to find out.
The Eyes have it…
In my opinion eye cream isn’t just a clever marketing gimmick – it really does work! And it makes sense to take care of the skin around your eye, as it is the thinnest skin on your face and the first to show the signs of aging. And yes, eye creams are different to everyday face creams. Moisturisers tend to have a heavier molecular structure and so can cause puffiness or inflammation around the eye area. Eye creams are designed specifically for the delicate skin around the eye.
In my experience, eye creams are lighter and tend to absorb in more quickly. The ingredients are also targeted for the eye area however, there are many different choices when it comes to eye creams and eye products tend to focus on specific issues be it puffiness, dark circles or fine lines and wrinkles. Choose the one that suits best suits your skin and the predominant issue. Similarly to moisturisers, it is important to choose age-appropriate eye creams (and I don’t mean R-rated eye creams!). Anti-aging eye products and creams are probably to rich for someone in their early 20s. In this case an eye gel may have a better result.
To get the best out of your eye cream use it daily both in the morning after cleansing and in the evening after you’ve removed your make-up. Gently apply using the pad of your fourth finger and dab the eye cream around your eye socket. Our pick of the very best natural eye creams on the market now:
1. Worth every cent La Mav Certified Organic Firming Eye Lotion contains active ingredients to help with skin restructuring by preserving collagen & elastin fibers and marine extracts help reduce the appearance of dark circles.
2. Haven Scent Rosehip Eye Cream is a light soothing eye cream that nourishes and hydrates skin using certified organic aloe vera and rosehip oil. A favorite indeed!
3. To minimise dark circles Devita Under Eye Repair Gel is ideal. A light, refreshing serum that soothes tired eyes. The inclusion of bioflavanoids Astaxanthin and Hesperdin help strengthen the capillary network under the eyes and clear dark circles. Don’t expect overnight results; give it 3 months and you should see a lightening of dark circles – anything less is unrealistic.
4. As a light and soothing gel, Third Stone Botanicals Green Tea Eye Serum l contains colloidal silica and green tea antioxidants soothe and protect the delicate eye area and help reduce puffiness. Storing this product in the fridge will further help with the reduction of puffy eyes.
Tell us what your favorite eye product is and why for your chance to win a $10 Vitale Gift Voucher (prize will be presented 14 days after post).Twitter It!
The beauty of many natural skin care remedies is that far from being exclusive, they can be found in your kitchen cupboard, growing in your back yard or even in the supermarket isles. Generally they are inexpensive, costing as much as a teaspoon of honey or a tea bag. In some cases such as aloe vera, you can grow it in your own back yard. Made with ordinary ingredients, these remedies are easily available, simple but highly effective and can have powerful healing benefits.
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.
Raw, unprocessed honey is one of the most useful natural remedies we have available for wound healing. Medical grade antibacterial honey, particularly for chronic and poorly healing wounds such as ulcers has even proven its worth in clinical trials. Not all types of honey are effective for wound healing and the
differences related to the floral source. Manuka honey from New Zealand along with honey from the Leptospermum tree found in Australia, are considered the most effective medical honeys. Antibacterial honey is beneficial for wound healing because it has such a broad range of therapeutic effects. It offers wound protection by proving a physical barrier to antibiotic resistant strains of microorganisms thereby preventing cross infection. It promotes clean wounds by removing necrotic (dead) tissue and debris. Finally it promotes wound healing by maintaining a moist wound environment and encouraging tissue granulation. Medical honeys are available in typical honey form, which is ideal for oral use or incorporated into creams or lotions and even bandages for easier application to external wounds. Raw honey is also available in products such as Live Live Bee Yummy Skin Food and Eko Organica Calm Magic Balm (UMF16).
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has two qualities that make it one of the most effective essential oils as
a natural skin remedy. Firstly it is a powerful antimicrobial and antiseptic, active against all infectious organisms including bacteria, viruses and fungi. Secondly, it is a very effective immune stimulant, increasing the body’s ability to respond when in contact with any of the above micro-organisms. 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.
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.
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