LaVie Organique Skincare Blog

5 Foods for Cultivating Healthier, More Beautiful Skin This Summer

There’s more to summertime skincare than sun block and moisturizer. To prevent and repair free radical damage and inflammation caused by ultraviolet radiation, we need to choose the foods we eat as carefully as our skincare products. Luckily, summer fruits and vegetable are packed with the antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and other plant chemicals we need to help minimize the development of wrinkles and reduce our chances of skin cancer.

Here are five of the best sources of these skin-saving nutrients:

The red pigment in these colorful peppers act as an internal sunscreen.

The red pigment in these colorful peppers act as an internal sunscreen.

 

Lycopene-loaded fruits and vegetables - The plant pigment that gives produce like tomatoes, watermelon, raspberries, and red peppers their inviting color, lycopene give us the advantage of an internal sunscreen. Results of a 2008 study showed that subjects who ate 5 tablespoons of tomato paste a day for 12 weeks enjoyed 30 percent more protection against sunburn than those who did not.

Eggplant - Thanks to its generous supply of phenolic acids, eggplant ranks in the top 10 of foods that counteract free radical damage.

Cantaloupe - The beta-carotene in this juicy, delicately flavored summer fruit not only neutralizes free, radicals, but may also help reduce sun sensitivity.

Cucumbers - In addition to protecting our skin with a variety of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, cucumbers serve as a tasty, refreshing way to avoid the dehydrating effects of hot, sunny days. Their ample water content is complemented by a combination of minerals that help regulate fluid balance. These characteristics make cucumber juice substantially more hydrating than an equal volume of drinking water.

• Tart cherries - High in flavonoids, polyphenols, and vitamin C, tart cherries help protect against cancer, inflammation, and aging. Greatly prized in my native Romania, where they’re known as sour cherries, these tangy treats are a smart alternative to their sweeter cousins. In addition to containing a greater concentration of anti-inflammatories, tart cherries have a much less significant impact on blood sugar levels than sweet varieties like Bings. Their lively flavor can help retrain sugar-saturated palates to appreciate the zippy taste of a full range of healthful tart foods from pickled beets and cabbage to unsweetened yoghurt. Rich in melatonin, tart cherries also help our body get more of restorative beauty sleep that it needs for cell repair and regeneration.

Eating Sun-Smart Foods the Romanian Way

Served on their own or as part of rainbow-hued salads, these flavorful nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables appeal to our summertime appetite for light yet sensually satisfying foods. For a truly mouth-watering experience, arrange your selection artistically on a simple white plate and add an appropriate garnish. Try a sprig of mint on cantaloupe. Or sprinkle some fresh oregano or basil on sliced tomatoes for eye-catching contrast and a more intense and complex taste and aroma. The zesty Romanian salads outlined below are two of my favorite summertime recipes. The healthful oils they contain add a silky texture as well as an extra dose of sun protection. If you want to escape from the kitchen, roast the vegetables on an outdoor grill.

The olive oil in this mouth-watering summer salad adds extra does of anti-inflammatories and antioxidants.

The olive oil in this mouth-watering summer salad adds extra does of anti-inflammatories and antioxidants.

Roasted Peppers

2 peppers

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon vinegar

Salt to taste

Wash the peppers. Turn the burner on high, and place the peppers directly on the flame. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes turning on all sides. Once roasted (the skin turns black), place in a colander and place the colander on top of a large bowl. Let the peppers cool and the juices drain. Gently peel the skin off the peppers. Remove the stem and seeds. Cut each pepper in thin lengthwise slices. In a bowl mix together the olive oil, vinegar and salt and add to the peppers. Mix together. Serve immediately or later. This dish can be done a day ahead.

 

Eggplant Salad

4 small Italian eggplants

1 small onion thinly chopped

1/4 cup grape seed oil

Salt to taste

Instructions for gas stove or grill: Turn the burner on high and place the eggplant on the flame. Turn every couple of minutes until roasted. An Italian eggplant needs about 15 minutes to roast as it is thin, but thicker eggplant will need additional time. Place the roasted eggplants in a colander, and place the colander on top of a large bowl. Let the eggplants cool and the juices drain out of eggplants for a minute or two. Once cool, peel the skin off the eggplants. Place on a chopping board and give the eggplant a rough chop. Chop the onion finely.

Frequently Asked Questions: Is Retin-A the Best Treatment for Wrinkles?

What’s the most effective treatment for wrinkles?

This is probably the question I hear most often from my clients. Before answering, I always examine their skin. Frequently my exams of women over fifty turns up similar results. Their skin is red, scaly, and bone dry. When I ask them if they’re using Retin-A (or another topical formulation of the prescription drug tretinoin) they usually exclaim, “How did you know?”

I know because their skin looks unhappy.

Prescription Retinoids: The Downsides of an Aggressive Anti-aging
Approach
While many dermatologists promote tretinoin and other prescription-strength retinoids as the gold standard in wrinkle reduction, I’ve seen the damage they can do firsthand. There are several reasons these products can actually wrinkles worse:

Excessive inflammation and irritation: Prescription retinoids are a very harsh and invasive anti-aging approach that’s only suitable for complexions that can tolerate strong topical chemicals without developing severe side effects. Their negative impact on sensitive or delicate skin can range from an itchy, blistering rash and other symptoms of eczema to “orange peel” skin, enlarged pores, and spider veins. The long-term effects of these prescription formulas are also a concern. People who apply them every day, year after year are courting chronic inflammation. While it’s true that short bouts of inflammation can stimulate collagen growth, inflammation that persists over the long term actually accelerates collagen breakdown. That means wrinkles, sagging, and other signs of skin aging will appear faster than they would without any treatment.

Dehydration: Tretinoin and similar products can overexfoliate the skin, disrupting its acid mantle. This thin film of natural body oils and perspiration protects our complexion from moisture loss as well as bacteria, pollutants, and harsh weather. Products that strip away this protective film can dehydrate and stress skin cells, impairing the flow of fluids and nutrients that enable them to function efficiently and maintain their plump, youthful shape. This loss of structural integrity and healthy functioning gradually reduces the skin’s strength and resilience. As the skin becomes weaker, it loses its natural resistance to lines and creases from squinting, frowning, and other facial movements and expressions.

Extreme sun sensitivity: Dry, overexfoliated skin is extremely vulnerable to the aging effects of ultraviolet rays. These effects stem from a combination of inflammation, free radical damage, and dehydration that wreaks havoc on skin cells. Cellular damage from UV rays is the number one cause of not only wrinkles, but also skin cancer.

Gentle Alternatives to Aggressive Wrinkle Reduction Treatments
Advanced European skincare offers a safer, more gradual path to a smooth, younger-looking complexion:

 

Maintaining a balanced complexion is the bottom line in wrinkle protection.

Maintaining a balanced complexion is the bottom line in wrinkle protection.

Organic serums and face creams that combine a milder vitamin A derivative such as retinol with vitamin C provide the same benefits as prescription retinoids without damaging side effects. Another plus: the nutrient-rich botanical oils and humectants in high-quality organic serums and creams maximize wrinkle protection by hydrating and nourishing skin cells and sealing in moisture.

A series of organic peels gradually improves the appearance of existing facial lines and other visible signs of aging. In addition to providing these rejuvenating benefits, this approach strengthens the skin’s natural defenses against wrinkle formation. By harnessing the anti-aging power of mild fruit acids, multifunctional antioxidants, and circulatory stimulation, this classic European treatment gently exfoliates old, worn-out surface skin while optimizing cellular functioning and increasing collagen production. The treatment process includes a deeply hydrating mask fortified with natural anti-inflammatories to minimize the risk of dryness, irritation, and extreme sun sensitivity. Even so, it’s important to remember that freshly exfoliated skin always requires extra attention to hydration and UV protection.

Timeless Beauty Wisdom
These pain-free skincare options disprove the popular notion that we have to suffer to look beautiful. While “miracle” treatments come and go, the simple truth remains the same. Happy, balanced skin is the keyto lasting beauty and youthfulness.

Supercharge Your Anti-aging Skincare Routine with 5 New Year’s Resolutions

Make 2016 the year you resolve to start growing younger! The key to taking years off your appearance is to make a conscious decision to consistently include healthy skincare habits in your daily routine. Here are 5 New Year’s skincare resolutions that can help you look and feel more vibrant and beautiful.

In the hands of a rigorously trained aesthetician, a monthly deep-cleaning facial lays the foundation for clearer, more radiant skin.

In the hands of a rigorously trained aesthetician, a monthly deep-cleaning facial lays the foundation for clearer, more radiant skin.

Set your intention to achieve a glowing, youthful complexion by adopting the essentials of a disciplined skincare regimen:

1. Always wash your makeup off before going to bed-Even “all-natural” mineral makeup contains other ingredients that can clog pores and irritate sensitive skin.

2. Never wash your face with soap or harsh synthetic cleansers-A gentle cleanser made with plant-derived ingredients protects the integrity of the skin’s acid mantle, preventing bacteria and other contaminants from penetrating the surface. Look for mild cleansing agents like coco-glucoside, as well as for glycerin and other vegetable emollients and soothing anti-inflammatories such as olive leaf and aloe vera.

3. Use a full-spectrum sun protection every day-Even though the UVB rays that cause sunburn are weaker in the winter and on cloudy days, UVA radiation keeps going strong regardless of the weather. UVA rays reach the deeper layers of the skin, causing the bulk of the damage that results in visible aging. For full spectrum coverage without potentially irritating or unsafe chemicals, use a mineral sun block made with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Opt for a cream rather than a spray or powder to avoid the risk of inhaling the tiny mineral particles.

4. Get plenty of antioxidants-inside and out-To resist and recover from free radical damage, skin cells need more help than even the best mix of topical antioxidants can provide. Internal support from antioxidant-rich whole foods is absolutely vital. Be sure to include regular servings of foods such as berries, walnuts, red beans and pinto beans, kale, spinach, grapes, and plums in your diet. These anti-aging superfoods help optimize functioning of not only the skin, but also all the other organs that support skin health. Skincare products that contain plant-based ingredients like white tea, red algae, sea buckthorn, and the antioxidant vitamins C and E provide a rejuvenating “meal” for your complexion.

5. Invest in professional organic facials-Sparkling clean skin is a major beauty asset for women of every age. A skilled aesthetician knows how to gently extract the contents of pores and remove whiteheads without causing scarring or infection. Trusting these delicate procedures to an experienced professional is a must! A facialist who’s trained in traditional European aesthetics is a particularly valuable resource. She can advise you on the best salon treatments, homecare regimen, skincare products, and dietary practices for your skin type. You can also rely on her to use safe, effective organic ingredients in your facial treatments. The fresh rosy glow she can bring to your complexion with an expert facial massage is yet another plus. For women in their twenties, a pore-cleansing facial once a season is usually sufficient. Women over thirty should shoot for once a month. Regular visits to an aesthetician who’s truly passionate about healthy skin and consistently dedicated to your beauty goals is a smart long-term investment. With the right combination of services, advice, and support, you’ll see increasingly significant improvements in your complexion over time.

 

Five Stimulating Tips for Radiant Skin and Glowing Health This Fall

November’s waning sun is nature’s invitation to rev up our blood circulation. Vigorous, unrestricted blood flow is one of the keys to not only staying comfortably warm as the temperatures drop, but also maintaining our health and beauty as we age. Here are five tips that are guaranteed to pep up your anti-aging regimen this fall.

Pick up the pace: When chilly autumn winds nip our ears, we’re naturally inclined to walk faster. Be mindful of that tendency and fully indulge it every chance you get. Whether you’re outdoors enjoying the vivid fall scenery or shopping inside the mall, maintain proper walking form. Stand tall with your chest high and your shoulders relaxed, push off your toes, and focus on making your steps as quick as possible. Avoid getting to the point where you become totally out of breath. Compared to strolling, fast walking stimulates greater blood flow, supplying your cells with more of the oxygen and nutrients they need to repair free radical damage. With a small adjustment to a simple routine activity, you can reap a host of outsized rewards from fewer wrinkles and a slimmer body to a reduced risk of heart disease and dementia.

Exercise increases blood flow to all the organs and tissues of our body, ensuring cells get plenty of oxygen and nutrients.

Exercise increases blood flow to all the organs and tissues of our body, ensuring cells get plenty of oxygen and nutrients.

Spice up your diet: Cook a big pot of red beans with chili powder, or add dried chili flakes, cayenne pepper, or Hungarian paprika to a steaming-hot stew of fall root vegetables. These spicy cool-weather meals raise the rate of blood flow to the skin while warming our stomachs and waking up tired taste buds. With their generous supply of vitamins A and C, hot peppers also contribute to the long-term health of our circulatory system by strengthening blood vessels.

Perk up your complexion the Eastern European way: Circulatory stimulation is the core skin repair mechanism employed in classic Eastern European anti-aging treatments. One the most powerful of these treatments, the organic peel, activates this mechanism with a dose of fiery Hungarian paprika. (To learn more about the benefits of fruit acid peels, read my post on Three Fall Skincare Fundamentals. A traditional European facial that incorporates facial massage will also help optimize blood flow to the deeper layers of the skin where new collagen and epidermal cells form.

Go heavy on the garlic: Garlic improves circulation by dilating blood vessels and hindering the formation of artery-clogging cholesterol plaques. The latest research suggests that we can help fend off the diseases of aging by adding two to five cloves of garlic a day to our diet. With simple yet intensely flavorful menu choices from spaghetti with garlic sautéed in olive oil to hummus and roasted garlic spread, people who enjoy Mediterranean-style foods will find it delightfully easy to stick to this health habit. Be sure to let garlic cloves sit for about 15 minutes after crushing or chopping to maximize the potency of the healthful compounds they contain. (Worried about garlic breath? Try chewing a few fennel seeds after a garlicky meal to help remove the pungent odor.)

Pump up your nitric oxide levels: Raising the levels of nitric oxide in our bloodstream stimulates circulation by expanding and relaxing blood vessel walls. A 2014 study by Italian scientists confirmed that we can achieve this effect by eating dark chocolate. This beneficial impact on blood flow is one of the reasons my book Timeless Woman recommends a small square of dark chocolate when your craving for a super-rich treat becomes irresistible. Chocolate with a cocoa content of 70 to 85 percent will give you the most bang for the least amount of sugar and calories. Or if you want to skip those dietary downsides entirely, you can take another page from my book of seasonal strategies.

Among my recommendations for a fall health and beauty routine is regular meditation sessions, a practice that, according to a cardiologist quoted in a recent NPR report, also boosts the body’s production of nitric oxide. So the next time you want to get your blood flowing without breaking a sweat, just sit down, close your eyes, and chill out. You don’t have to twist your legs into a pretzel, chant a mantra, or strain your back. Research shows that simply relaxing in a comfortable chair while listening to inspiring classical music produces the same positive effects on vascular health as traditional Eastern-style meditation. In as little time as 20 minutes, you can feel like a new person, ready to make the most of a season that’s often called nature’s “second spring.”

How to Ramp Up Nutrition While Kicking Back This Summer

When my Romanian grandmother went away for the summer, she brought her commitment to anti-aging nutrition along with her. Thanks to her deep roots in Romania’s traditional wellness culture, she  knew exactly how to fit that disciplined attitude into a restful, pleasure-filled vacation. As this excerpt from my new book, Timeless Woman, explains, the secret of balancing good nutrition with easy summer living is to embrace the foods that Mother Nature intended us to eat at this time of year.

Satisfying Seasonal Appetites and Lifestyle Needs
Summer menus that center on salads and other vegetable dishes are in keeping with the Romanian tradition of living in harmony with the seasons. Cold dishes and foods that are less filling are particularly appealing in hot weather. These easy-to-prepare foods also fit summertime’s relaxed schedules. Salads are a wonderful alternative to convenience foods and takeout meals when you’re on vacation. All you need is a medley of fresh summer vegetables from local produce stands. Then you can put together a nutritious homemade meal without spending a lot of time standing in line in a crowded supermarket or sweating over a hot stove.

This cooling Romanian summer salad is a snap to make and a delicious way to increase your intake of anti-aging nutrients. The antioxidants and anti-inflammatories in the cucumbers and peppers help prevent and repair the damaging effects of intense summertime sun on our skin.

Romanian Summer Salad

2 garden cucumbers, peeled
1 bell pepper (red, yellow, or orange)
2 tomatoes
1 young onion
2 tablespoons sunflower seed oil or
extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut all vegetables. Mix with oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Summer produce supplies and abundance of anti-aging nutrients, while providing a fest for the senses. KEKO64

Summer produce supplies an abundance of anti-aging nutrients, while providing a feast for the senses. KEKO64

Even the most casual meal should be elegantly presented. Romanian cooks take as much pride in their presentation of the food as they do in their treasured family recipes. This Old World approach to serving meals can be easily integrated into laidback summer lifestyles by taking advantage of the beautiful qualities of whole foods. In summer, nature provides us with a bounty of brightly hued produce that can be shown to its best advantage with a minimum of fuss. For instance, you can create a minor work of art simply by arranging a rainbow assortment of vegetables or fruits on a plate, with an eye to how the different colors, sizes, shapes, and textures work together. Easier still, you can add visual excitement to a plain dish of sliced tomatoes or grilled summer squash with a garnish of summer herbs.

Visually appealing food stimulates the digestive juices that enable our body to extract dietary nutrients. Food that’s pleasing to the eye is also an expression of caring that helps make the meal an emotionally satisfying experience. Other thoughtful touches like a properly set table with fresh flowers and cloth napkins add a special shine to the meal, transforming the simplest lunch or dinner into a celebration of summer.

Fall Fitness Challenge: Stepping Up Your Game

Fall is the perfect time to ramp up your fitness routine.

Fall is the perfect time to ramp up your fitness routine. Serge Bertasius Photography

There’s no better time to focus on increasing our fitness than fall. By late September, the average temperature is ideal for a stepped-up outdoor training regime. Most important, our energy levels and overall wellbeing are at their peak. We’ve been nourished all summer long by the rich supply of vitamins and minerals found in locally grown fruits and vegetables. Summer sunshine has brightened our mood and built up our reserves vitamin D. As a result, we’re brimming with the zest and vigor we need to stretch ourselves beyond our usual limits.

Getting into Your Exercise Groove by Getting into Nature

To make the pursuit of your new fitness goals more enjoyable, feast your senses on autumn’s splendor when you exercise. Run or bike under a golden canopy of leaves. Hike toward a breathtaking view with the forest floor crackling underfoot. Let the crisp, energizing weather set your pace as you row on a tranquil lake or kayak in the ocean’s rolling waves. As nature casts its spell, your awareness of physical exertion will diminish. Your body will feel lighter and more alive. As the stress-reducing brain chemicals released by exercise enhance these effects, you’ll fall into a steady rhythm that enables you to push yourself harder and keep going longer. The sense of vitality and expanded potential that comes from this marriage of nature and exercise will reinforce your commitment to your workout program.

Two Natural Homecare Treatments for Lustrous Skin and Hair

If the long, harsh winter has left you with dull, brittle hair and flaky, itchy skin from head to toe, you can restore their health and beauty with a few simple ingredients from your kitchen. The following nutrient-packed recipes will give you a head start on a all-over springtime glow.

Combined with olive oil, salt makes an excellent natural exfoliator for dry, rough skin.

Combined with olive oil, salt makes an excellent natural exfoliator for dry, rough skin.

Egg and Olive Oil Hair Mask

This super-nourishing mask is the perfect all-in-one treatment for the hair and scalp. The protein, fatty acids, and vitamins B-12 and E in the egg yolk strengthen the hair and stimulate its growth. Egg yolks also contain vitamin D and iron, two nutrients that help prevent hair loss. Their rich supply of vitamin A helps relieve the drying effects of winter on the scalp, reducing flakiness and ensuring adequate oil production. Together with the lipids in the eggs, the emollient properties of the olive oil not only soothe parched, itchy scalps but also add suppleness, silkiness, and shine to drab, damaged hair.

1-2 beaten egg yolks (depending on hair length)

2 TBS extra virgin olive oil

Mix together the egg yolk and olive oil. After shampooing and rinsing, slowly massage the mask into the scalp and hair. Cover with a shower cap or plastic wrap and wait at least 15 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. You may need to add a little shampoo to remove the mask.

Salt and Olive Oil Scrub

The coarse-grained kosher salt in this scrub will gently exfoliate dead skin cells, allowing fresh new ones to come to the surface. In addition to smoothing and softening the skin and sealing in moisture, olive oil helps relieve irritation, protect against infections, and heal free radical damage with a potent mix of inflammatories, anti-bacterials, and antioxidants.

The following recipe makes enough of the scrub for about three applications.

1 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup virgin olive oil

Mix salt and oil together in a container or Ziploc plastic bag. Apply to damp skin and massage in a circular motion with your hands. Rise off the salt and gently pat dry. No need to apply lotion or cream-the olive oil will leave your skin thoroughly moisturized.

To get your hair and skin in the best possible shape for spring, be sure to include the same nutrients found in these natural homecare treatments in your daily diet. Balanced nutrition-inside and out-is the key to continually renewing the natural beauty of our skin and hair.

How Your Hands Can Start Growing Younger This Winter

Maintaining a truly youthful look requires an extra measure of kindness to our hands. The old saying that a woman’s hands tell her real age is based on the fact that our hands age more rapidly than our face. The skin on the backs of our hands is thinner than it is on most parts of our face and has fewer oil glands, so it’s highly susceptible to dryness and wrinkling. Compared to our face, our hands also have less fat underneath the skin. As age causes this cushion of fat to shrink, the hands can develop loose and crinkly skin and a bony appearance. These changes often become more noticeable in the wintertime when frigid winds, low humidity, and frequent hand washing to prevent colds can dehydrate the skin.  The following tips will not only winter-proof your hands, but also ensure they look younger throughout the year.

Invest in Professional Pampering

To get the best possible results from your hand rejuvenation program, invest in intensive treatments from an aesthetician who specializes in organic skincare. Professional hand care services often include the following steps:

  • Gentle exfoliation: Light scrubbing with a mixture of sea salt and plant-derived oils and moisturizers sloughs off rough, scaly skin, bringing fresh, young cells to the surface, and stepping up collagen production.
  • Warm paraffin mask: After your moisturized hands are dipped in warm paraffin, they’ll be covered with plastic bags or gloves to seal in the heat. The delicious warmth maximizes hydration and stimulates circulation, plumping up skin cells and encouraging collagen renewal. This deeply soothing treatment also helps relieve minor aches and pains and reduce the aging effects of stress on the entire body.
  • Hand Massage: By activating acupressure and reflexology points and increasing blood flow, an expert hand massage delivers a multitude of benefits. In addition to improving skin health and relaxing stiff joints, this traditional healing method fosters deep, revitalizing beauty sleep.

Massaging the hands and arms increases blood flow to the skin.

Do Try These at Home

Ask your aesthetician to recommend organic oils, creams, and anti-aging formulas you can use at home to give your hands the royal treatment. Your home hand care routine should include the following products and practices:

  • Healing hand hygiene: Replace irritating synthetic hand sanitizers and anti-bacterial soaps with moisturizing cleansers that include natural antiseptics like aloe vera, lavender, tea tree oil, grapefruit seed extract, and rosemary. As potent anti-inflammatories, these ingredients also reduce redness and itching.
  • Nutrient-rich anti-aging serum: Serum ingredients such as sesame seed oil; vitamins A, C, and E; sea buckthorn oil; and white tea protect your hands from the aging effects of free radicals and inflammation. Products with lactic acid and fruit enzymes help fade brown spots and speed cell turnover.
  • Deep moisturizing: Plant-based moisturizers such as olive oil, shea butter, and jojoba oil penetrate the skin’s deeper layers, where they hydrate and nourish newly formed cells. Their superior lubricating properties restore a firmer, more supple appearance to your hands.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Make sure not only your hand care products but also your diet contain plenty of these healthy fats. Wintertime meals that feature oily fishes like salmon and tuna; beans; flaxseed oil; nuts; and spinach, broccoli, or cauliflower help promote softer, wrinkle-free hands.
  • Damage control: On days when you’re not wearing mittens, shield your hands from UVA damage with a mineral-based sun block. Minimize wear and tear on your hands by avoiding harsh detergents and household cleaners. Use safe, plant-derived products instead. Your hands will thank you by looking fresh and feeling comfy all winter long.

 

Three Fall Skincare Fundamentals for Rejuvenating Your Skin

Why You Need a Balanced Fall Skincare Routine

Like every change of season, the arrival of fall places new demands on our skin while also presenting fresh opportunities to optimize its health and appearance. To help you prepare for the rigors of colder weather and take full advantage of the seasonal foods and renewed energy that fall brings, I recommend making the following seasonal adjustments to your integrated beauty and wellness regime.

Fall is the perfect time to revive radiance by shedding old skin cells. image courtesy of James Barker - FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Shed your old skin, bring on the new: Get your skin in shape for winter with a fall exfoliation program. A series of professional organic peels will not only help you slough off sun-damaged skin of summer, but also increase your skin’s capacity to absorb moisture. In addition to alpha hydroxy acids from the fall harvest of apples and quince, a traditional European organic peel contains Hungarian paprika to stimulate circulation. This combination of ingredients restores a youthful glow by bringing new cells the surface, while strengthening the skin’s ability to repair and renew itself. To calm, soothe, and protect the delicate new layer of skin revealed by the peel, your aesthetician should apply a mask that’s rich in organic moisturizers and plant-derived anti-inflammatories. Ingredients like aloe vera and white tea not only minimize redness but also help heal UV damage with generous doses of antioxidants. For your homecare routine, choose an organic scrub that contains gentle natural exfoliants such as ground walnuts, fruits, and lactic acid and follow it up with a super-rich night cream. Be sure to consult a qualified aesthetician about the pacing of your exfoliation treatments. A gentle, gradual approach to exfoliation is the key to achieving beautiful results without unattractive side effects. And don’t forget to wear a natural mineral sun block even on gray, cloudy days. Freshly exfoliated skin is particularly sensitive to ultraviolet rays.

Remember your roots: The earth provides the perfect remedy when the colder weather is about to drive us indoors, where our skin will be exposed to dry air and an increased risk of infection. The root vegetables that thrive in fall are packed with minerals and other nutrients from the soil. Increasing consumption of these nutrients now prepares our skin for winter by improving the resilience of the skin’s protective barrier and strengthening its resistance to inflammatory conditions, bacteria, and funguses. High in fiber, root vegetables satisfy hearty fall appetites without adding a lot of calories to a meal. Choose a colorful assortment of seasonal vegetables and roast them with olive oil and herbs for a delicious, restorative dinner. Some of the most nutritious choices are listed below:

  • Beets – High in antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and enzymes that bind and neutralize toxic cellular wastes.
  • Yams – A natural source of rejuvenating plant hormones.
  • Onions – Rich in flavonoids that act as anti-bacterials.
  • Parsnips – A good of vitamin C, folate, and other vitamins and minerals that support healthy skin function.
  • Sweet potatoes – High in vitamin A, one of the core active ingredients in anti-aging skin treatments.
  • Carrots – Full of beta-carotene, which helps prevent environmental damage and adds golden tones to the complexion.
  • Garlic – High in allicins with antibiotic and anti-fungal properties; sulfur compounds also benefits skin by promoting circulatory health.

Pump up your exercise routine with fresh air: Recent scientific studies confirm intuitive wisdom. Exercising outdoors is good for both body and soul. According to a New York Times article, new research has revealed that people who take their workout outside not only exercise longer and harder, but also enjoy the experience more. Best of all, people who walked in the fresh air improved their overall sense of wellbeing. On psychological tests, they scored higher in enthusiasm, pleasure, vitality, and self-esteem than people who exercised indoors. They also reported less tension, depression, and fatigue. The energizing effects of cool weather make fall a particularly inviting time to exercise outdoors. Observing nature’s splendors as you walk, run, or do yoga poses on a brisk fall day is a great way to enjoy a natural high and reinforce your commitment to a disciplined fitness routine. From boosting blood flow to relaxing the mind, the benefits of regular exercise translate into a healthier, younger-looking complexion and a rejuvenated spirit.

Taking the Heat Off Your Skin: 10 Anti-inflammatory Diet Tips

One of the most important ways a healthful diet can help you nurture beautiful, youthful skin is by keeping your body’s inflammatory response in check. Under normal circumstances, inflammation promotes healing by sending white blood cells to infected or injured tissues. But inflammation can also damage tissues when stressors such as smoking, obesity, or sun exposure cause it to spiral out of control and become chronic. Chronic inflammation plays a key role in a host of skin problems from rashes, acne, eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea to wrinkles, sagging, and other visible signs of aging. An anti-inflammatory diet increases the power of your topical skincare routine to minimize the symptoms of these conditions and restore balanced health to your complexion.
Controlling inflammation depends as much on avoiding the wrong foods as it does on eating more of the right ones. Here are some basic guidelines to help you distinguish between pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods.

Pro-inflammatory Foods: Adding Fuel to the Fire
To minimize your exposure dietary compounds that fuel inflammation-related skin damage, avoid foods from the following categories.
Trans fats – Steer clear of processed foods such as crackers, cookies, and chips that list hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils on their labels.
Refined carbohydrates – Replace white bread, pasta, and rice with whole grain versions.
Sugar – The link between sugar and inflammation has serious implications for your skin. When sugar molecules attach to the proteins in our skin’s collagen fibers, the resulting inflammation causes those fibers to break down, reducing the skin’s strength and resilience. Inflammation linked to high blood sugar levels can also worsen acne. In addition to limiting your intake of sweets, watch out for sugars hiding in processed foods under different names like sucrose, dextrose, maltose, fructose, cane juice, and corn syrup.
Omega-6 cooking oils – Popular cooking oils such as corn, soy, canola, sunflower, and safflower are high in omega-6 fatty acids. While these fatty acids play a crucial role in our health, some of them promote inflammation when consumed in excess. For optimum health, you need to balance your omega-6 consumption with adequate amounts of anti-inflammatory omega-3s. Good sources include beans, fish, olive oil, flaxseeds, and walnuts. Depending on your specific health needs, the ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s in your diet should vary from 4:1 to 1:1.

Eating a rainbow of vegetables helps protect the skin from damaging inflammation.

Eating a rainbow of vegetables helps protect the skin from damaging inflammation.

Anti-inflammatory Foods: Keeping Your Skin Cool, Calm, and Collected
The following foods are among the richest sources of compounds that help keep your complexion healthy and youthful by interrupting the inflammatory process.
Berries – The phenolic compounds in blueberries, strawberries, and other berries help block enzymes that contribute to inflammation.
Olive oil – Another great source of anti-inflammatory phenolic compounds—for the highest concentration of these compounds, choose the extra virgin variety.
Cruciferous vegetables – These vegetables belong to the mustard family and include cabbage, mustard greens, broccoli, and cauliflower. The vitamin K, the omega-3 fatty acids, and a chemical called ITC in cruciferous vegetables help regulate the body’s inflammatory response.
Mushrooms – Mushrooms have been used an anti-inflammatories since ancient times. Porcini, shitake, and oyster mushrooms are particularly good choices.
Onions and garlic – These two members of the allium family of vegetables help prevent inflammation with a potent combination of phenolic compounds. Red onions are particularly high in these anti-inflammatories. They’re concentrated in the outer layers, so be sure you don’t peel away this portion of the onion.
Sweet potatoes – The anti-inflammatory effects of sweet potatoes come from the pigments that give them their orange or purple color, as well as from their high levels of vitamin A and other antioxidants. To preserve these nutrients cook sweet potatoes by steaming.
Ensuring your diet and your skincare products contain healthy doses of natural anti-inflammatories is a safe, gentle, effective way of protecting your complexion from the damaging effects of inflammation. In my next post, I’ll review the major plant-derived anti-inflammatories used in top-quality organic skincare products.