LaVie Organique Skincare Blog

Facial Massage: A Touch of Traditional Healing to Complexion Care

A Facial Massage with Lavinia Borcau

A Facial Massage at Lavinia Borcau Day Spa

Speaking of the long-standing focus on healthy circulation  in holistic medical traditions, another time-honored way of optimizing blood flow to the skin is now steadily gaining popularity in U.S. spas—facial massage.

In Europe, where I was trained, mastering traditional facial massage techniques is an essential step in an esthetician’s education. The European approach to massage incorporates many aspects of acupressure, shiatsu, and other holistic therapies used to treat stress, migraine  headaches, PMS, sinus pain, and neuralgia.

Massage has been a an accepted treatment since medicine began. In many great civilizations of the past—including ancient China, Japan, Greece, Persia, and India—the practice of massage was regarded as an important method of maintaining wellness. In the Ayurvedic tradition, massage is believed to stimulate digestion, flush out toxins, and rejuvenate the body.

The results of recent research on the effectiveness of massage suggest it is a useful adjunct to medical care. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine cites scientific studies indicating that massage is effective in reducing heart rate and blood pressure, relieving pain, and improving health. Similar beneficial effects were found in a study of physiological and psychological stress in acute-care nurses.

An expert facial massage should be a regular part of your skin care regimen and is included in my European facial treatments.  It’s a simple, safe and effective way to relax facial lines and bring a fresh, healthy glow to the complexion, while treating yourself to a delightfully refreshing experience.

How Massage Stimulates Your Body’s Anti-aging Power

The benefits of massage go far deeper than relief of pain and stress.

Regular massages can boost the power of your anti-aging regime. How? By unleashing two forces that enable your body to counteract the effects of biological aging and environmental stress.

Acupressure and light stroking help revitalize facial tissues.

Reduced Inflammation

When it comes to our health, inflammation is a double-edged sword. The inflammatory process triggered by illness or infection enables our body to heal. But when inflammation becomes chronic or prolonged, it can cause a host of diseases and disorders. Many scientists consider inflammation the prime culprit in the symptoms of aging, including skin damage, weight gain, and muscle loss. Recent research indicates that massage not only helps control inflammation, but also speeds up recovery of injured or weakened tissues by improving cellular functioning.

Increased Circulation

The kneading and stroking techniques used by a skilled massage therapist not only increase the quantity of blood circulating around your body, but also improves its quality by multiplying its store of oxygen-rich red blood cells. By keeping all of our body’s cells properly nourished, healthy blood flow helps fuel the growth and repair of aging skin, muscles, and bones.

Rejuvenating Rewards for Every Taste

Virtually every culture has its own massage tradition. The one that’s best for you depends on your goals as well as your temperament and tastes.

  • Deep tissue massage uses intense pressure to relieve tension and maximize circulation in the layers of soft tissue that lie beneath the surface muscles.
  • Shiatsu means “finger pressure” in Japanese. Shiatsu massage therapists use their hands and fingers to apply light to medium pressure. For more intense pressure, they may employ their elbows, knees, and feet. This tradition is also widely practiced in Europe.
  • Acupressure exerts gentle pressure on various points of the body to release tension and stimulate circulation.
  • European facial massage applies a combination of techniques including light stroking, Shiatsu, and acupressure to increase blood flow to the skin and underlying tissues. It also softens expression lines by releasing facial tension.

 

 

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.”

5 Steps to a Tighter, Toned Face and Neck

Real Women Get Real Results from Their Facial Fitness Routines. Click to watch video.

An Internet search for terms like “nonsurgical anti-aging alternatives” or “European facelift” can turn up some pretty surprising results. You’ll find muscle stimulating and oral prosthetic devices, injections, laser treatments, and “minimally invasive” surgical procedures, as well as a multitude of face and neck exercise programs.  Obviously, many of these alternatives are neither natural nor entirely “risk-free.” Even an exercise program that appears safe and effective can prove to be a waste of time and money if the provider lacks the proper training and experience. The best investment protection is simple common sense. Here are a few basic rules for choosing a noninvasive anti-aging option:

1. Look before you leap – The first step to adopting a program that delivers real results is careful research. Check out these two fundamental differentiators:

  • The provider’s credentials – The most important qualification to look for is demonstrated expertise in facial care and muscle-training techniques.
  • The program’s theoretical foundation – The isometric and resistance techniques based on the work of facial anatomy expert Frederick Rossiter, M.D. and German physiologist Dr. A.H. Steinhaus are still considered the gold standard.
performing neck exercise against resistance

Using resistance techniques shortens and tightens sagging jaw lines.

2. Exercise Care:

  • Contract muscles against an external resistance
  • Release each contraction in a slow and controlled manner.
  • Exercise all the major areas of face and neck to create a balanced, lifted look.

3. Practice consistently:

  • For best results, spend approximately 10 to 15 minutes per day on your routine.
  • Don’t give up – The time it takes for muscles to respond varies among individuals. You’ll probably notice some subtle changes within a month. Over time, the positive effects will become increasingly dramatic.

4. Optimize your results:

  • Be sure to moisturize with all-natural humectants and emollients.
  • Breathe deeply between each set of repetitions.
  • Maintain a healthy diet and overall fitness routine.
  • Practice meditation or other relaxation techniques, including facial massage, to minimize expression lines.

5. Balance your expectations:

  • Remember that it takes ongoing practice to achieve meaningful change.
  • Understand that even plastic surgery can’t erase decades of damage or stop the aging process.
  • Smile! Your small investment of time and effort will deliver big rewards.
performing facial exercise

Smile Up: The rewards of your facial exercise program include renewed confidence.

I’ll be sharing some of the techniques used in the From My Neck™ exercise program in future blog spots. To read more about the anti-aging benefits of a  health-drive skincare regime and see the results my clients have achieved, visit the Lavie Organique™ website. 1

How to Live Happily Ever After with Your Neck

Part 2 of a 3-Part Series: Natural Anti-aging Care for the Neck

Paradoxically, the part of the body that needs the most care and attention to remain youthful-looking generally gets the least. Even people who pamper their face with expensive creams and salon treatments routinely ignore their necks.

natural skincare products for the neck

The delicate skin of our neck demands plenty of TLC.

Start Loving Your Neck: Commit to a  7-Point Rejuvenation Plan

Regardless of your age, it’s never to begin a healthy relationship with your neck – or to start looking younger by cultivating a disciplined in-depth neck-care regimen.

1. Minimize UVA damage.

(a) Stay out of direct sunlight.

(b) Wear a mineral-based sun block.

2. Handle with care

(a) Avoid soap, alcohol-based astringents, and other harsh skincare products.

(b) Never scrub your neck!

(c) Minimize lines and wrinkles by sleeping on your back.

3. Keep skin super-hydrated with plant-derived humectants and emollients.

4. Control inflammation.

(a) Avoid overuse of retinoids.

(b) Apply soothing natural anti-inflammatories such as green tea, chamomile, and aloe vera.

5. Kick harmful lifestyle habits.

(a) Don’t smoke.

(b) Lower your sugar intake.

(c) Shun yo-yo dieting.

facial massage

Accupressure and massage helps keep skin cells nourished by boosting blood flow

6. Promote optimal cell function and stimulate cell renewal.

(a) Eat a diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and proteins.

(b) Use green skincare treatments that comprise the same vital nutrients.

(c) Maintain a balanced exfoliation routine - Find the healthy midpoint between too much and not enough.

(i.) Gently slough off old skin with a soft washcloth or sponge.

(ii.) Use safe, non-irritating but highly effective natural exfoliants such as finely ground tree nuts.

7. Slow age-related tissue atrophy, sagging, and wrinkling

(a) Stimulate circulation throughout your body with a vigorous fitness routine.

(b) Use massage and acupressure techniques to improve blood flow and relax wrinkles.

(c) Restore muscle and bone mass with facial and neck exercises.

Although generations of  women have relied on face and neck exercises to delay and help repair the visible signs of aging, this traditional practice remains controversial among mainstream beauty experts.  In my next post, I’ll discuss the facts behind the opinions of this widely misunderstood anti-aging method.

Mother Knows Best: The 10 Secrets of Naturally Beautiful Skin

In honor of Mothers Day, I’ve distilled my mother’s and grandmother’s beauty advice and my own 30 years of research and hands-on experience into the10 fundamentals of organic anti-aging skin care listed here.

Leaf Lavie Organique1. Commit to a disciplined routine of daily and weekly skin care. A lifetime of youthful-looking skin requires life-long dedication to nurturing skin health.

2. Use only pure, 100% natural skin-care ingredients. Make sure that every product that touches your skin is 100% free of petrochemicals, parabens, and other harsh synthetic ingredients. Skin treatments made from certified organic and natural plant-derived ingredients are not only safer but more effective.

3. Nourish your skin from the inside and the outside. Maximize the rejuvenating effects of antioxidants, vitamins, and other phytonutrients with topical application of products made from the same plant-based health foods you eat.

4. Protect against sun damage. Guard against the #1 cause of skin cancer and wrinkles by avoiding prolonged sun exposure between 10 am and 3 pm and using sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, every day, all year round.

5. Synchronize your skin care routine with the rhythms of nature. Shift the focus of your skin-care regimen as the seasons change: Concentrate on exfoliation and hydration in the cold weather and on nutrition and sun protection as the days get warmer.

Flower Bud

6. Exfoliate—gently, safely, and effectively. To brighten and revitalize your complexion, add gentle natural exfoliants such as finely ground nuts, white willow bark, and food enzymes to your skin care regimen. (To learn more about the do’s and don’ts of exfoliation, read FAQ…)

7. Optimize microcirculation. Maintain healthy blood flow with a regular exercise program and skin-care products that contain natural circulation boosters, such as paprika, caffeine, and cinnamon.

8. De-stress your mind and body. Minimize the destructive effects of stress hormones on the skin with yoga, meditation, massage, and other holistic relaxation techniques. The serene expression that accompanies a calm spirit also helps slow the development of crows feet, lip lines, and other facial creases.

9. Increase your quotient of restorative sleep. Do whatever it takes to get in the mood for plenty of deep, restful sleep every night. Your skin cells need at least 7-10 hours every night to cleanse themselves of waste and toxins and repair free radical damage.

10. Become an educated consumer. Check out the fine print on product labels, get the facts behind advertising claims, and understand the effects of various cosmetic ingredients on skin function. Skin-care knowledge is the key to gaining power over aging—and over the physical and economic risks posed by inferior products.

PS to Daughters: Sharing goes both ways. Mothers and grandmothers are never too old to learn something new from the younger generation. Give them some uplifting words of wisdom this Mothers Day!

Image: dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: Carlos Porto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Three Faces of Exfoliation: Part 1

With so many exfoliating treatments on the market, how should you go about choosing one? The answer depends on a variety of factors—particularly your skin type. Although the number of products is endless, most of them fall into one of three categories. Let’s start with a look at the pros and cons of the hands-on approach:

Manual or Mechanical Exfoliation

For routine exfoliation, I recommend a gentle daily cleanser with a mild exfoliant such as white willow bark. A natural alternative to salicylic acid—an ingredient in many acne medications—this powerful but safe botanical extract is also an anti-inflammatory that stimulates and purifies the skin while also calming irritation.

You can use your fingers to massage your cleanser into the skin. If your complexion is very robust, you may want to use a washcloth or sponge to increase the exfoliating effect. But remember to be gentle—the last thing you want to do it over-abrade your skin. And remember to wash your washcloth or sponge with hot, soapy water after each use. Stay away from stiff complexion brushes or loofahs—which are not only too rough, but also tend to trap bacteria and product residue that can cause breakouts and infections.

At the high-tech end of this approach, there are a number of vibrating complexion brushes. These vary in quality and can be as expensive as $200. The best ones can help keep a healthy complexion glowing, but individuals with acne, rosacea, or fragile skin with broken capillaries, should steer clear of this type of device. Your complexion should be handled with the utmost care.

What about facial scrubs?

First of all, check out the ingredients. The good, the bad, and the ugly sides of exfoliation ultimately reside in the various type of scrubbing grains used in these products. Many types of granules are so large and jagged that they can cause microscopic lacerations on the skin surface. Surprisingly, the grains used in some types of all-natural scrubs are the worst offenders. Ground apricot pits as well as crushed nutshells, for instance have been cited by the Environmental Working Group  as potential skin-health hazards. As a natural alternative, finely ground nutmeats such as almonds or walnuts combine gentleness and safety with the restorative benefits of antioxidants.

To supplement these daily and weekly methods of hands-on exfoliation as you’re preparing your skin for winter, you might want to try a course of professional microdermabrasion treatments. Performed by an experienced professional with state-of-the-art equipment, microdermabrasion is far safer and more effective than at-home methods. A good esthetician understands exfoliation is not an end in itself—the delicate layer of new skin that’s revealed needs to be soothed, moisturized, and replenished with nutrients. And don’t forget to protect your baby-fresh skin! A good sunscreen with at least SPF 15 will help keep your complexion rosy instead of red.

Here’s a great video from Dr. Schultz’s Dermtv.com on how often you should exfoliate. Enjoy.