LaVie Organique Skincare Blog

All posts in category "wintertime skincare"

Topical Niacin: A Vital Nutrient for Winter-Stressed Skin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

 

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.