LaVie Organique Skincare Blog

All posts in category "Uncategorized"

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.

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.

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.”

Fall Fitness Challenge: Stepping Up Your Game

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

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

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

Getting into Your Exercise Groove by Getting into Nature

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

Recharging for Spring with a Cleansing Diet

Eating in harmony with the seasons is the key to promoting the body’s natural power to cleanse and heal itself. Cleansing the body is especially important as we move from winter into spring. The heavier foods we typically eat in winter can slow digestion and tax the liver, interfering with its ability to process fats and proteins and to rid the body of toxins. For this reason, spring is a good time to take a break from meat and other animal products. Reorganize your spring diet around plant-based foods that help revitalize the digestive system and the liver and remove toxins and impurities from the organs and bloodstream. Here are some of the most effective choices:

Greens are an important part of a cleansing diet.

Leafy green vegetables – The green pigment chlorophyll in vegetables like spinach, chard, collard greens, and kale is a powerful detoxifying agent.  Scientific studies of chlorophyll suggest the antioxidant compounds it contains may help protect against cancer-causing chemicals and environmental toxins. These vegetables also help the liver produce more bile, a digestive fluid that helps break down fats and remove metabolic wastes from the blood.

Whole grains - The B-complex vitamins in brown rice, barley, and other whole grains support the metabolic functions of the liver. These foods are also high in fiber, which helps our digestive system function more efficiently.

Olive oil - The antioxidant properties of olive oil help the liver recover from toxin-induced stress.

Mushrooms – The antioxidant mineral selenium in mushrooms also has this effect.

Root vegetables - This category includes vegetables from garlic and onions to carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, and celery roots. Like whole grains, root vegetables are a great source of fiber. They are also rich in antioxidants, including many vital minerals, which they absorb from the soil. Allicin, a sulfur compound that’s produced when raw garlic is chopped or crushed, helps protect the liver from toxins.  Another substance in garlic helps cleanse the blood. Onions are also particularly beneficial to the liver.

Lemon - Lemon juice helps flush out toxins from the liver and kidneys. It also stimulates digestion and bile flow.

For a springtime meal packed with cleansing foods, try this traditional Romanian soup.

 

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.

 

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.

‘Tis the Season for Intensive Skincare

December can be the cruelest month of all for your complexion. Just when it’s your time to shine at holiday parties and family gatherings, your skin turns dull and lifeless. As dry, frigid weather sets in, the superficial lines you barely noticed in the fall start to deepen. In a matter of weeks, this environmental assault on your skin can add years to your appearance.

As the toll of wintertime stresses on your complexion mounts, the temptation to fight back with drastic measures can become hard to resist. But if you’re on the verge of submitting to radical cosmetic procedures, I urge you to wait and consider a safer, more sustainable approach. Rather than investing in a potentially hazardous quick fix, commit your time and attention to creating the conditions for naturally beautiful skin.

wintertime skin

Wintertime skin needs multilevel care

Beauty and Health: Make the Connection
In the coming weeks, I’ll introduce you to a comprehensive wintertime skincare program based on the wellness practices developed in Romania’s world-renowned Black Sea spas. The centuries-old holistic philosophy behind these practices teaches that every aspect of our selves-including our outward appearance-is a reflection of our total well-being.

Holistic Life Support to the Rescue
The holistic skincare practices I learned from my Romanian mother and grandmother offer an intuitively wise and scientifically valid alternative to invasive anti-aging methods. Instead of attacking ailing complexions with scalpels or deep laser or chemical burns, this wellness-based skincare approach strives to nurse fragile, damaged skin back to health by restoring and sustaining its natural ability to repair and renew itself.

A Top-Down Approach to Cold-Weather Complexion Care
Just as we insulate our bodies from the elements by layering sweaters, shirts, and long johns under our winter coats, our skin shields the tissues and organ systems underneath it with multiple layers. From the five strata of the epidermis to the underlying dermis and subcutaneous tissues, every cell layer of this complex vital organ needs proper care, feeding, and protection to survive and flourish. But the benefits of a truly holistic skincare regime go deeper still. By providing equal support for the microcirculatory system, underlying musculature, and internal organ systems that maintain the health and youthful appearance of our skin, this multilevel skincare program safely achieves beautiful, lasting results.

In my next blog, I’ll start outlining the steps to keeping your skin health and beautiful all winter long–and beyond.

Choosing Organic Skin and Beauty Products 101

Green, organic, 100% natural… The Earth-friendly words on the labels of many popular skincare brands have a comforting ring, but what do they really mean? If you’re confused about how to tell genuinely safe, sustainable choices from potentially toxic imposters, this brief video will provide with some basic guidance.

In today’s expanding green marketplace, it pays to become an educated consumer. For more details on protecting your skin from risky ingredients, visit the Skin Safety Update post.