LaVie Organique Skincare Blog

Lavinia says, Do as I Do: Complement Professional Skincare with Homemade Masks from Nutrient-Rich Foods

DIY masks made from nutrient-dense whole foods are a great way to boost the rejuvenating power of high-quality skincare products and salon treatments.

My clients frequently ask me for tips on how to maximize the benefits of salon treatments without overextending their beauty budget. As someone who grew up watching my mother and grandmother whip up homemade skin, hair, and body treatments, I’m intimately acquainted with this subject. During my girlhood in Romania, product shortages were a fact of life—and personal care items were no exception. Yet the women in my family consistently maintained fresh, glowing skin and lustrous hair. Their secret was a beauty routine grounded in traditional knowledge of how to make the most of what nature provides: the organic nutrients, hydrators, and emollients in foods sourced from their gardens and local farmers.

I continue to rely on these homemade beauty recipes to complement the advanced professionally formulated beauty products, including my signature skincare line, that help me remain confident that my fifth decade life truly is a “second spring.” In the coming months, I’m going to share these Old World recipes with you in a series of posts on optimizing your seasonal beauty routine with easy do-it-yourself treatments made from nutritious whole foods.

Four Revitalizing Masks for Fall

The following four masks are the perfect way to optimize and extend the results of an intensive fall program of professional exfoliation treatments. Each mask is designed to address a specific issue—whether it’s a dull, lifeless complexion or dry, oily, or combination skin—while improving your skin’s overall health and functioning. All you have to do to achieve great results is prepare the recipe of your choice and keep the following recommendations in mind:

 

  • Always apply the mask to freshly washed and toned skin.
  • Let the mask and sit for the specified time.
  • Remove with warm (not hot!) water and sponges or a face cloth shower. (It’s easiest to do this in the shower.)
  • Put the finishing touches on your face with a gentle toner, antioxidant-rich serum, and nourishing moisturizer. Be sure to include a mineral sun block in your routine if you’re going outdoors.
  • Use professional-quality skincare products that are free of petroleum-based ingredients and harsh chemicals like sodium lauryl sulphate, propylene glycol, and synthetic alcohols. Make sure that every component of your beauty regime is as pure and natural as these homemade mask recipes.

RECIPES FOR EVERY SKIN TYPE

Sour Cream Exfoliating Mask

Women have used fermented dairy products to brighten and soften their skin for thousands of years—according to legend, Cleopatra’s favorite beauty secret was bathing in fermented goat’s milk. This sour cream mask works on the same principle and requires only one ingredient that’s readily available from your local grocery store. Because the lactic acid in sour cream is milder than the fruit acids used in more intensive peels, it can be safely used to speed up cell turnover around your eyes and on the eyelids. The sour cream also cools and refreshes irritated complexions and contains humectants that bind moisture to the skin surface. This mask is such a gentle way of rejuvenating skin that I’ve made it a daily habit. It will leave your complexion feeling like velvet!

  • Cover your entire face with a thick layer of sour cream. (Be careful not to get any in your eyes when applying it to the eye area and eyelids.)
  • Wait five minutes before removing.

Egg White Mask for Oily Skin

The combination of egg white, lemon juice, and oatmeal is perfect for oily, acne-prone skin. Egg white and lemon juice both have astringent properties that tighten and tone the skin, while the oatmeal both cleanses and prevents excessive dryness, enhancing your complexion with a soft, fresh glow. Lemon juice also has antioxidant properties and helps lighten brown spots.

  • Collect the white from 1 egg in a small bowl.
  • Whisk in 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
  • Mix with 1 tablespoon of uncooked oatmeal to form a smooth paste.

Moisturizing Egg Yolk Mask

Dry, flaky, irritated skin gains resilience and radiance from the essential fatty acids and healing nutrients in the egg yolk, avocado, and olive oil used in this moisture-replenishing mask. The oatmeal not only sloughs off worn-out skin cells, but also helps reduce itching and inflammation while boosting the mask’s hydrating and antioxidant effects.

  • Collect the yolk of 1 egg in a small bowl.
  • Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, and whisk together until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  • Mash ? ripe avocado.
  • Add the egg yolk mixture and 1 tablespoon of oatmeal to the avocado. Blend thoroughly.

Cocoa-Cinnamon-Honey Mask for Combination Skin

This mask helps balance combination skin, keeping skin soft and supple, while fighting acne—and it smells delicious! All three ingredients contain antibacterials that promote a clear, blemish-free complexion. The cocoa is rich in magnesium, which helps balance hormone levels, and is packed with wrinkle-reducing antioxidants. Its caffeine content improves the appearance of dark circles and puffy under-eye bags. The cinnamon contributes to healthy cellular functioning by stimulating blood flow.

  • Combine 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa, 1 tablespoon raw honey, and ? teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl.
  • Mix thoroughly.

With the addition of a whole-food mask to your fall exfoliation program, your complexion will gain the health and strength it needs to withstand the environmental stresses of winter. You can also use the mask year-round to make the most of your salon facials and natural skincare products.

 

Why It’s Time to Go Natural with Vitamin D: The Latest Wisdom on a Supernutrient

In recent years, the growing reputation of vitamin D as a “supervitamin” has prompted many people to view high-dose supplements as insurance against a variety of age-related diseases and conditions. A vast body of evidence shows that vitamin D plays an essential role in maintaining strong, healthy bones, muscles and skin; a balanced mood; and an efficiently functioning brain and immune system. A number of studies also suggest that low vitamin D levels may increase the risk of a host of degenerative diseases ranging from heart problems and cancer to diabetes, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s. These findings all contribute to the widespread perception that increasing our blood levels of vitamin D with supplements will lead to a longer, healthier life. However, the link between vitamin D supplementation and improved health and longevity is not as straightforward as it sounds.

What the Latest Scientific Research Says About the Sunshine Vitamin

Regular doses of sunshine from March through October can help your body produce enough vitamin D to last all year long.

Regular doses of sunshine from March through October can help your body produce enough vitamin D to last all year long.

 

The jury is still out on many of the claims made for vitamin D, but to date, the evidence suggests that relying on natural sources of vitamin D is the safest, most effective approach to capitalizing on its health benefits. The answers to the following questions explain why, for most people, supplements are not only unnecessary, but also, in some cases, potentially harmful.

How much vitamin D do you need in your blood to avoid a deficiency? The question of whether you have a deficiency depends on the source you consult. The cutoff for adequate levels of vitamin D varies widely across testing labs, typically falling between 30 and 50 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). Some health organizations set the bar as high as 60 ng/mL However, a large study by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a leading nonprofit healthcare organization affiliated with the National Academies of Science, sets the threshold for deficiency at 20 ng/mL

Is vitamin D deficiency common? Reports in the popular press suggest we’re in the midst of a D-deficiency epidemic, with the rate of inadequate levels among U.S. adults and teenagers reaching as high as 75 percent. In fact, the rate of deficiency depends on how you define deficiency. When the IOM definition of deficiency (less than 20 ng/mL) is applied, only 10 percent of Americans are deficient.

Should I have my vitamin D levels checked? Different labs and different test methods can produce different results, depending on their reporting standards, test methods, and proficiency level. For these reasons, an independent panel of preventative medicine experts recently advised against routine vitamin D testing. The panel concluded that the cost of testing and the risk of overtreatment outweighed the potential benefits.

How much vitamin D is required to maintain health? The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 400 to 600 IU a day. High dose vitamin D supplements that far exceed the RDA can lead to harmful side effects including hardening of soft tissues.

Should I take a vitamin D supplement, just to be on the safe side? To date, there is no strong evidence that taking vitamin D supplements prevents disease or improves health. Despite all the research showing a link between low vitamin D levels and various diseases, no study has yet proved that vitamin D deficiency causes these health problems. In fact, a recent review of this research suggests that a deficiency is more likely to be the consequence of ill health. Even the widespread practice of taking vitamin D to prevent osteoporosis has been called into question by the National Institute of Health (NIH). While severe vitamin D deficiencies can lead to bone softening and weakness in both children and adults, these conditions are quite rare in developed countries. Experts disagree about whether vitamin D supplementation helps prevent fractures in individuals who already suffer from osteoporosis. Some studies show that nursing home residents with osteoporosis may benefit from a combination of vitamin D therapy and calcium supplementation. However, these findings don’t apply to older adults who live in the wider community.

What’s the bottom line? Both science and common sense suggest that the best approach to maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D is to get adequate sun exposure and to include whole-food sources of vitamin D–rich foods in your diet. Many articles on this topic insist that this approach is impractical. This argument is based on two popular misconceptions: (1) that people who live in a northern regions or practice sun protection don’t absorb enough sunlight to synthesize vitamin D and (2) that very few foods contain enough of this nutrient to make up the difference. The truth is, not only does a little sun exposure go a long way, but a diverse whole food diet generally also provides enough vitamin D to naturally supplement the amount we derive from spending time outdoors.

Because our fat cells store vitamin D, even people who get minimal UV rays from November through February can stockpile a year-round supply without damaging their skin. Depending on your skin tone, you can build up an adequate store of the sunshine vitamin by exposing your bare arms and legs to as little as 10 to 60 minutes of sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. two to three times a week, from late March through October. Always protect the delicate skin on your face and neck with sun block and, if you’re fair skinned, restrict unprotected time in the sun to 10 to 15 minutes during June through August. You don’t need to risk sunburn or get a tan to optimize your blood levels of vitamin D. Nor do you need to choke down spoonfuls of cod liver oil. Many delicious and healthful foods from fatty fish, shrimp, oysters, and pork to eggs, dairy products, and mushrooms are good sources of vitamin D. Foods that are high in vitamin D3, such as egg yolks, meat, and cheese are generally more effective in raising blood levels that the vitamin D2 in plant sources. If you’re worried about your calorie or fat intake, consider that a single serving of wild salmon is enough to meet the RDA (farmed fish has far less) and that, in combination with modest doses of sunlight, a few portions of dairy, eggs, or meat can also do the trick.

 

Is Your Face Trying to Tell You Something?

Face mapping—or face reading—offers an innovative approach to wellness-based skincare that’s rooted in ancient Eastern medical principles. Developed thousands of years ago by Chinese and Ayurvedic healers, this intuitive health and beauty practice gradually spread to other areas of the world, including my native Romania. The belief that our face is the mirror of our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing was fundamental to my education in Eastern European aesthetics.

The Messages in the Mirror

The idea that our complexion and even our facial features can provide important clues to organ function most likely arose from careful observation of patients not as a collection of symptoms but as individuals whose outward appearance reflected their internal health. For instance, the association between acne on the forehead and poor digestion probably emerged from years of observing this pattern of breakouts in people who had stomach and bowel complaints. When I see clients with this pattern of breakouts I often recommend changes in their diet such as eating more fruits, vegetables, and fiber or reducing wheat or milk intake to determine whether their digestive system is unusually sensitive to these foods. Here are a few more tips on managing your diet and lifestyle based on facial mapping:

Known as the T zone, the T-shaped area that includes your nose and the lower forehead) is generally associated with liver problems, which may call for curbing your alcohol consumption and upping your water intake. Foods that support strong liver function include dark, leafy greens; vegetable in the cabbage family (e.g., broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower); eggs; and garlic and onions. Sometimes blemishes on the nose signal cardiac problems, so make sure your blood pressure is under control. A puffy, red nose is sometimes a sign of heart issues as well, but can also be a symptom of rosacea, an inflammatory condition that, like acne, responds well to anti-inflammatory foods, including dark greens, fatty fish, and nuts. (Redness in the T-zone, particularly when it extends to the cheeks, can also be a normal reaction to eating spicy food or drinking alcohol as well, or could be a symptom of an allergy, a high fever, or a serious systemic illness such as lupus.) Clogged pores and blackheads in the T-zone are another common source of breakouts. The best way to control this problem is to use skincare products made with natural plant-based oils that don’t get stuck in pores and to schedule monthly pore extractions with a qualified aesthetician. (Don’t try removing blackheads at home—improper technique and unsanitary conditions can cause serious infections!)

Forehead Are deep horizontal lines on your forehead creating the impression that you’re worried/irritable/dissatisfied even when you’re in a good mood? If this is the case, you may be a habitual frowner who should adopt healthy ways to de-stress such as yoga or meditation and look for ways to lead a happier, more fulfilling life, whether it’s changing careers or just taking more time out from work and family obligations to relax and recharge your physical and emotional energies.

Eye area Puffiness here may indicate kidney issues, calling for careful attention to hydration from drinking water as well as from fruits and vegetables that contain a lot of water, such as grapefruit, melons, strawberries, cucumbers, spinach, and celery. Dark circles in this area may reveal a need for more sleep, while expression lines and wrinkles may indicate habits while squinting and rubbing your eyes. The cure may be as simple as stronger prescription lenses, sun glasses, a richer eye cream, or gentler handling of the delicate skin around the eyes.

Cheeks Breakouts here are associated with respiratory problems as well as stress. The best prescription for both conditions is plenty of exercise and extra vigilance in regard to diet and stress management.

Blemishes on your cheeks may be clue to aerobic fitness.

Blemishes on your cheeks may be clue to aerobic fitness.

 

Chin and jaw acne usually points to hormonal upsets. Add plenty of omega-3s (e.g., from walnuts, flaxseeds, salmon) to your diets and eliminate sugar and refined flour. A healthy balance of vigorous activity and natural relaxation techniques will also help quiet hormonal swings.

What Does Science Say?

A growing body of research shows that our face does indeed provide important insights into a variety of complexion issues and health conditions, including acne, diabetes, hepatitis, and hormonal dysfunction. There’s even exciting new evidence that facial features can help doctors diagnose genetic syndromes. The “face readers” of ancient times were the first practitioners to notice a link between the structure of the face (e.g., shape, placement of the ears, slant of the eyes, fullness of lips, occurrence of lines and wrinkles) to internal health, personality, and spiritual wellbeing.

Today’s physicians can now use a highly advanced digital tool called Face2Gene to pinpoint the markers of genetic disorders that deeply affect all these aspects of wellness and functionality, including autism and Alzheimer’s, in just seconds. Immediate access to this knowledge can eliminate the long, costly, frustrating search for a conclusive diagnosis and allow for helpful interventions in the early stages of disorders that are otherwise elusive and difficult to treat. For instance, research suggests that identifying early markers of dementia may enable people to make changes in their lifestyle that could help them to maintain a healthy, fulfilling for years to come.

Today, as in the past, the best diagnosticians are those who combine good gut instincts with sharp observations of each person’s unique physical characteristics. We can all nurture and practice these skills to help develop a beauty and lifestyle plan that is exactly right for us.

 

Skin Care Alert: Do You Know What You’re Putting on Your Face?

 

Skin Care 101: Read the label on cosmetic products before you put them on your face.

Skin Care 101: Read the label on cosmetic products before you put them on your face.

One of my goals as a skin care educator is to teach people to avoid personal care products with harsh chemical ingredients. Ironically, the product formulas of some the most popular and expensive cosmetic brands include industrial-strength chemicals and cancer-causing agents such as formaldehyde, propylene glycol, and sodium laurel sulfate. These ingredients, which are used in embalming fluid, antifreeze, brake fluid, and engine degreaser, obviously have no place on your face! The link below will connect you to an article about the 10 most toxic cosmetic ingredients. This list of scary ingredients will give you10 good reasons to stick with organic products.

http://bit.ly/2qxeLzA

Test Your Skincare IQ: Is Your Cleansing Routine Based on Facts or Myths?

When it comes to facial cleansing, following the common wisdom can sometimes lead to serious skin problems. Take our quiz to find out whether you’re basing your skincare decisions on solid knowledge or popular misconceptions. The answers will reveal the best techniques and ingredients for nurturing a clear, sparkling-clean complexion.

natasha-face

The basic principles of an effective facial cleansing routine are not always as obvious as they seem.

TRUE OR FALSE?

  1. Your face should feel tight and squeaky clean after washing.
  2. Cleansers that sting help fight blackheads and heal pimples.
  3. You need to really scrub your face to remove grime and exfoliate dead skin.
  4. There’s no meaningful difference between cheap drugstore cleansers and high-end products.
  5. Makeup removal requires a cleanser that contains powerful foaming agents.
  6. People who have really oily skin should wash their face at least three times a day.

ANSWER

If you identified all 6 statements as false, you know a skincare myth when you see one. Let’s look a little deeper into these fictions to uncover the realities of healthy skincare.

  1. Cleansers that make your skin feel tight as a drum strip away natural oils and moisture. Products that contain gentle natural cleaning agents like coco glucoside and plant-derived hydrators and conditioners like vegetable glycerin and algae extract get the job done while leaving your skin soft and supple.
  2. Face-wash formulas that sting are based on synthetic alcohols and other harsh chemicals that can irritate acne-prone skin. These ingredients can aggravate the inflammation that’s one of the primary drivers of acne breakouts.
  3. Aggressive scrubbing can rub your skin raw, leaving it vulnerable to environmental damage. Exfoliate gently with a foam sponge or a thin washcloth. Exfoliating masks made with natural scrubbing grains, like finely ground walnuts, can be used once or twice a week, depending on your skin type.
  4. Cheap cleansers are often full of potentially toxic ingredients like parabens, formaldehyde, phthalates, and synthetic dyes. That said, make sure what you’re paying for is high-quality natural ingredients—not snazzy packaging or a celebrity endorsement.
  5. Many products depend on foaming agents like sodium lauryl sulfate to work up a rich lather. These cheap, industrial-strength chemicals are also used in engine degreaser and heavy-duty detergents—no wonder they can damage the delicate acid mantle that protects the skin surface.
  6. Washing your face more than twice a day can result in dehydration and irritation. If your complexion gets really oily between washings, wipe it gently using a soft cotton pad moistened with a gentle plant-based toner. Ingredients like witch hazel extract will leave your face feeling clean without over-drying.

Topical Niacin: A Vital Nutrient for Winter-Stressed Skin

Is winter giving your complexion a tough time? Skin exposed to harsh winds, frigid temperatures, and bone-dry indoor air cries out for emergency relief. A facial mask that contains a topical form of niacin (vitamin B3) is a great multi-symptom remedy for skin that’s feeling under the weather.

A mask that contains topical niacin helps winter-weary skin recapture its healthy natural glow.

A mask that contains topical niacin helps winter-weary skin recapture its healthy natural glow.

Topical niacin helps seal in moisture by stimulating the production of ceramides, a type of fat molecule that’s a major component of the skin surface. Ceramide production declines as we age, leaving mature complexions more vulnerable to the environmental assaults of winter. Natural derivatives of niacin, such niacinamide extracted from whole grain wheat, offer a safe and highly effective way to increase hydration and restore the firm, supple quality of youthful skin.

By strengthening the skin’s natural protective barrier, niacinamide not only helps keep moisture in but also helps keep chemical irritants and bacteria out. This ability to repel bacteria, together with its oil-control and anti-inflammatory properties, makes niacinamide an important player in acne treatments. Complexions troubled by other inflammatory conditions such as rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema also benefit from this healing nutrient.

The visible improvements in mature skin treated with this powerhouse ingredient don’t stop there. Niacinamide helps lighten brown spots, improve blotchy or sallow skin tone, and minimize fine lines and wrinkles by boosting collagen production. It even helps protect against sun damage.

Be sure to get enough dietary niacin, too. Vitamin B3 helps sustain healthy cell function, reduce hardening of the arteries, and balance cholesterol levels. There are plenty of good sources, including turkey, chicken, tuna, salmon, grass-fed beef, while grains, peanuts, green peas, and mushrooms. Nutritious whole foods like these are the most essential ingredients in your anti-aging skincare regime!

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.”