LaVie Organique Skincare Blog

All posts in category "seasonal skincare"

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.

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 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.

Carrot Mask Nourishes Wintertime Skin

Treat wintertime skin to the extra pampering it needs with a moisture-rich, nutrition-packed carrot mask. Cold winds, icy temperatures, and dry indoor air can leave the skin dry and dull—especially on our face. An organic mask that contains carrots is a completely natural and highly effective way of restoring your complexion’s radiance and resilience.

Carrots are packed with nutrients that revitalize winter-stressed skin. Image courtesy of creativedoxfoto: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The key to the rejuvenating effects of a carrot mask lies in its nutrient content:

  • Beta carotene – Scientific studies suggest that this powerful antioxidant helps to counteract the damaging effects of sun exposure and environmental pollutants. In addition to slowing the development of fine lines and wrinkles, the healing properties of beta carotene reduce the irritation and itchiness of dehydrated skin. It also returns suppleness by promoting faster cell turnover. Beta carotene is the perfect pick-me-up for pale wintertime complexions. The red and yellow pigments it contains contribute to a warm, even skin tone.
  • Vitamins C & E – Like beta carotene, these antioxidant vitamins play an important role in repairing the cell damage caused by aging, UVA radiation, and environmental toxins.
  • B-complex of vitamins – Folic acid, thiamin, pantothenic acid, and other B vitamins are vital to healthy cell metabolism.
  • Vitamin K – Research on this vitamin indicates that it protects the skin’s elasticity and improves the appearance of dark under-eye circles.
  • Minerals – Carrots are also loaded with minerals, such as potassium, manganese, and phosphorus that play an important role in the formation of new collagen cells.

This revitalizing combination of nutrients is beneficial to every skin type—both as a facial treatment and as part of a healthful wintertime diet.

 

Summer Skincare Tips

Regardless of your complexion type, protection should be your chief skincare concern in the summertime. Sun exposure not only increases your risk of skin cancer, but is also responsible for as much as 90% of premature aging.

Sun protection is the key to a healthy summer skincare regime <FreeDigitalPhotos.net>.

Practice Sun Sense

To help minimize environmental skin damage, it’s a good idea to limit sun exposure, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and loose, tightly woven cover-ups. Try to stay in the shade. While our bodies need sunlight to synthesize vitamin D, 5 to 30 minutes of exposure without sunscreen, twice a week is usually sufficient (read more about sun safety).

Choose the Right Sun Block

Products that contain micronized particles of zinc oxide and titanium oxide are the safest and most effective option. Apply 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every two hours. There’s no such thing as waterproof sun block, so apply a fresh layer of protection immediately after swimming or perspiring heavily

A hydrating organic day cream that contains a mineral sun block protects skin from summertime stresses.

Adapt Your Daily Skincare Routine

Summer weather affects existing skin conditions. Hot temperatures can trigger excess oil production and sweating, which can clog pores and lead to acne flares. Increased dryness from sun exposure can also be a problem. To help your complexion cope with these seasonal stresses, I recommend the following daily skincare practices:

  • Cleanse and tone gently To clear excess oil and impurities from pores without stripping skin of necessary moisture, use organic products with plant-derived cleansers and moisture-binding ingredients. Look for ingredients like soapbark, aloe vera, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid. Powerful natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatories including white tea and sea buckthorn help counteract the aging effects of the sun.
  • Modify your exfoliation program Freshly exfoliated skin is particularly vulnerable to sun damage. The best time for an intensive exfoliation program is in the late fall and winter months. During the summer, you can speed up cell turnover by lightly exfoliating your face with a soft sponge and an all-natural cleanser that contains white willow bark.
  • Balance moisture levels An organic day cream that contains a natural mineral sun block not only shields you from sun damage, but also helps regulate oil production. To keep skin hydrated without clogging pores, choose moisturizers made with pure botanical oils. Ingredients such as shea butter and jojoba and avocado oils deliver moisture and age-fighting nutrients below the skin surface, where new cells are forming. Be sure to protect the thin, delicate skin around your eyes with a cream specially formulated for this area. If your skin is very dry, continue using a super-rich organic skin cream at night.

 

Remember: For beautifully balanced skin all year long, always choose skincare products that are 100% free of parabens, petroleum derivatives, synthetic fragrances and preservatives, and other artificial or impure ingredients.

 

When Your Regular Moisturizer Is Not Enough

During the extreme cold and dryness of mid-winter, you may find the lighter moisturizers that keep your skin soft and hydrated in more temperate weather falling down on the job. That’s why your wintertime skincare regime should include extra doses of natural lubricants and emollients.

Save your fragile winter complexion with 3 layers of natural protection:

  • A hydrating serum: Give your day cream a boost by wearing a super-hydrating organic serum underneath it. Look for high-powered antioxidant and moisture-binding ingredients such as white tea, silk amino acids, seaweed extract, and vitamin E, along with healing herbs and essential oils.

  • A day cream rich in natural moisturizing factors (NMFs): NMFs are the free amino acids and other compounds such as lactic acid, urea, and salts found in the skin’s stratum corneum (outer layer) that attract and hold moisture. Plant-derived oils and humectants (e.g., shea butter, avocado oil, jojoba oil, squalane, vegetable glycerin, natural sorbitol, hyaluronic acid) are structurally similar to NMFs and therefore more easily absorbed into the deeper epidermal layers and better tolerated than synthetic moisturizers. In addition to their superior ability to soothe and protect rough, chapped skin, these natural lubricants contain a host of antioxidants, phytonutrients, and antimicrobials that repel pathogens and speed healing. Don’t fall for the popular myth that plain, old petroleum jelly is the best heavy-duty lubricant and moisturizer around. This and other cheap crude oil derivatives (baby oil, etc.) not only contain potentially irritating impurities, but also coat the skin with an impenetrable layer of grease that actually repels moisture.
  • A super-rich nighttime repair cream: A luxuriant night cream can help retard the moisture loss that occurs when skin temperature rises during sleep. Some studies also suggest that increased nighttime blood flow may improve absorption of small-molecule ingredients, such as peptides, that contribute to cell repair and collagen renewal. Lavish your parched, tired skin with a premium face cream full of buttery all-natural emollients and multi-action rejuvenators, including pearl powder, pomegranate seed extract, and Co-Q10 enzymes.

Hydration Extras: 5 Tips for Reviving Wintertime Skin

1. Adopt a no-excuses approach to hydration: Although water may be nature’s best medicine for dry, flaky skin; irritability and malaise; low-energy; and other common wintertime afflictions, many people find consuming adequate amounts an unpleasant chore. The simplest solution is to liven up the taste of water wit some fresh lemon or other favorite fruit juice. If you’re sensitive to the cold, try to resist the urge for a steaming cup of caffeinated coffee or tea. Hot lemon water or herbal tea will warm you up without depleting body fluids by putting your kidneys into overdrive.

2. Maintain indoor humidity levels of approximately 60%: Using humidifiers or vaporizers, hanging wet laundry inside opening your windows for ten minutes a day, or placing shallow bowls of water near heating vents will help relieve that tight creepy-crawly feeling caused by dry, overheated air.

3. Pump up the volume of surface moisture: By adding water and other nutrients to depleted surface cells, regular spritzes of a high-quality plant-derived toner will help keep your complexion looking supple and radiant.

Like all living things, skin cells thrive in a moist environment.Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

4. Avoid over-washing chapped, irritated skin: By dissolving the valuable oils that bond surface skin cells together, excessive bathing can disrupt the integrity and functioning of our skin’s protective barrier. One lukewarm bath or shower daily is enough to remove harmful bacteria and skin debris without damaging our skin’s natural defenses against infection and moisture loss.

5. Stick with green anti-bacterials: The potent synthetic anti-bacterials in today’s popular soaps, deodorants, hand wipes, and other personal care items claim to not only keep our skin fresh and squeaky clean, but also protect our body from the deadly germs of winter. In fact, many scientists agree that this growing arsenal of germ fighters is causing more problems than it solves. In addition to promoting dry, irritated skin, our increasing addiction to synthetic anti-bacterials may actually make us even more susceptible to infection. To learn why, check out this informative online article http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/biology/b103/f01/web3/bond.html.

My next blog post will discuss the next important step in restoring softness and elasticity to roughed-up winter skin.

Wintertime Skincare Basics: Hydration

Replenish Thirsty Skin from the Inside Out

In wintertime, consistent attention to both internal and external hydration should become one of your top skincare priorities.

Is Your Dry Wintertime Skin Telling You Something?

The parched, prickly skin of winter is more than a cosmetic problem. Crusty cracked lips; sunken eye sockets; or shriveled, papery skin are often the first visible warning signs of dehydration. Once our body loses 2% its fluids, the ensuing symptoms–dizziness, fatigue, muscle weakness, headaches, and general malaise–cause most of us to reach for aspirin, antibiotics, or heavy-duty cold medicines. Why don’t we just pour ourselves a big glass of water instead?

Winter’s desert-dry air saps moisture from skin.Image: m_bartosch / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The answer lies in the complex interplay between our wintertime environment and our body’s physiological responses to its extremes of temperature and humidity.

Dehydration: A Sneak Attack on Your Body’s Defenses

Whether we’re trudging through a snowstorm, sipping hot cocoa by the fireplace, or working up a sweat downhill skiing, the shifting environmental extremes we experience at this time of year not only deplete our bodies of water, but also impair the ability of our organs to keep fluid levels in balance.

Exercise caution: To protect their bodies from the insidious, cumulative effects of frigid, dry air, winter sports enthusiasts need adequate hydration. Image: Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.n

A Vicious Natural Cycle

While the heat and low humidity indoors tends to leach water from the outer layers of our skin, the cold, dry air outside robs moisture from the mucosal tissues in our mouths, throats, and lungs. The stress of frigid temperatures also raises our blood pressure, which in turn causes the kidneys to overproduce urine, prompting repeated trips to the bathroom that further diminish the volume of vital bodily fluids. To make matters still worse, cold weather tends to depress the brain functions that signal thirst.

For older adults, the risk of dehydration is even greater. Aging not only further weakens the brain’s thirst signals, but also decreases the amount of water in our tissues as well as our kidney’s ability to regulate fluid volume and concentration.

Water: Nature’s Perfect Health Tonic

Plain old-fashioned water remains the best internal hydrator around. But that doesn’t stop the mainstream health and beauty industry from trying to convince consumers to waste money on their new and “improved” varieties.

Internal Hydration: Why Simpler Is Better

Leading health experts agree that vitamin-enriched waters not only fail to improve on Mother Nature’s version, but also frequently contain refined sugars or artificial sweeteners, dyes, and other risky chemicals. As for the special blend of skin-balancing nutrients in the latest “cosmeceutical” drinks–a quick check of the label reveals the truth: The synthetic antioxidants and vitamins they contain are the same ones in cheap chemical supplements.

As far as I know, 21st century bioengineering has yet to invent a better hydration method than the prescription handed down across generations:  Drink 8 glasses of water and eat plenty of fruit every day.

External Hydration: Keep It Natural

Why are aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, honey, vegetable glycerin, and other natural humectants a better choice than synthetic moisturizers?  The two main advantages of these organic substances are absolutely fundamental to total skin health: (1) safety  (2) effectiveness.

Water and plant-derived moisturizers revive dry, depleted skin cells.Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Plant-derived humectants are less likely to cause irritation or allergies because their composition closely resembles the natural moisturizing factors (NMFs) in human skin. As a result, our skin cells readily absorb botanical humectants. In addition to hydrating the skin surface, these natural moisture magnets also support cellular functioning and repair with a healthy dose of anti-aging phytonutrients.

For more information about the anti-aging benefits of natural humectants read my October 2010 0n noninvasive wrinkle treatments.