LaVie Organique Skincare Blog

All posts in category "exfoliation"

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.

 

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.

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.

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.

Exfoliation: Start Winter with a Fresh Face

Although no single product or technique can erase decades of skin damage overnight, professional exfoliation treatments can jump-start the recovery process. By sloughing off rough, dry surface skin and stimulating cell turnover, a series of organic peels or micro-dermabrasion sessions will gradually and safely achieve dramatic improvements in your skin’s texture, tone, and elasticity.

Organic enzyme masks safely remove dead skin cells.

A Quick Refresher Course

As I’ve noted in earlier posts, the best time to intensify your exfoliation routine is in the fall and early winter months when the strength and duration of sunlight declines. The tender young epidermal cells exposed by exfoliation are especially vulnerable sun damage. In addition to extra protection against environmental stresses, these emerging skin cells require proper nourishment and gentle restorative care. For detailed guidance on this topic, read the exfoliation series in the blog’s October 2009 archives.

In the meantime, here are a few basic tips:

Exfoliation Dos and Don’ts

* DO educate yourself about the best organic exfoliants. Check out my posts on the skin benefits of seasonal fruit peels and other food enzymes to learn more.

* DO consult a knowledgeable aesthetician about the frequency and methods best suited to your skin type.

* DON’T overdo it. Caustic synthetic chemical peels and abrasive scrubs can cause excessive inflammation and irritation. By overstripping, scratching, or otherwise weakening the outer epidermis, overexfoliation also makes it easier for infections and environmental toxins to penetrate the surface and damage delicate new skin cells. To prevent this, be sure to research the safety of the ingredients in the exfoliation treatments you choose.  Even some natural exfoliants such as coarsely ground apricot pits and nutshells pose serious risks. And remember: even the gentlest exfoliation treatments can cause dryness and irritation unless you replenish newly exposed skin cells with moisture and vital nutrients.

My next several posts will take us deeper into my multilevel approach to beautifully balanced wintertime skin.