LaVie Organique Skincare Blog

All posts tagged "aloe vera"

Saving Your Skin: A 12 Step Approach to Overcoming Pore Paranoia

Do you wish your pores would shrink? Or better still, disappear? If so, then you’re not alone. Judging from media reports, the booming market in ”pore-minimizing” products, and my own experience as a skincare professional, the new obsession that dermatologists have dubbed “porexia” increasingly afflicts people of every age, gender, and complexion type.

Is There a Cure?

Some of the most popular pore treatments may help minimize the visibility of your problem temporarily. But no single topical treatment or invasive procedure has consistently proven safer, more effective, or more lasting than a lifetime program of disciplined natural skincare.

Even the cleanest faces can suffer from clogged pores.

Committed Pore Maintenance: A Lifelong Beauty Recovery Program

The following 12 classic skincare principles offer a comprehensive, commonsense approach to managing anxiety about your pores, while gradually optimizing your complexion’s texture, clarity, and youthfulness.

1. Know the difference between fact and fiction. Pores are nothing more than tiny openings in the skin surface. Their size is a fixed quantity related to the size of the underlying oil glands. These glands are the source of the mixture of sebum (oil) and skin cells that gets trapped inside pores and forms blackheads. The dark side of blackheads has nothing to do with dirt or poor hygiene. It’s the result of oxidation: a chemical reaction between the melanin in the dead skin cells on the blackhead’s exposed surface and the oxygen in the atmosphere.

2. Accept what you can’t change. The size of your pores is largely determined by genetics and your age. At puberty, pores go through their first growth spurt. From that point on, the combined forces of aging, hormonal changes, and environmental stresses on the skin take an increasingly heavy toll. This cumulative damage eventually results in larger, looser pores as the  supportive network of collagen fibers in the surrounding skin weakens and sags.

3. Be careful what you wish for. You’d be in big trouble if your dreams of a pore-less complexion came true. As the skin’s distribution channels, pores allow the healthy flow of two vital bodily fluids: (1) sebum, the natural lubricant that keeps skin moist and supple and (2) sweat, the liquid coolant that regulates body temperature and protects us from potentially fatal heat stroke when the mercury soars.

4.  Kick the quick-fix habit for good. Stop wasting money on miracle ”pore-reducers.” No topical skincare product can permanently constrict pores. The “pore-tightening” effect of alcohol-based astringents and anti-blackhead creams is actually a fleeting optical illusion. Equally deceptive is the bracing “clean” sensation you get from these products. In fact, both the brisk sting you feel and the shiny taut look you see in the mirror and are symptoms of potentially damaging irritation. By stripping off your complexion’s protective acid mantle, these harsh chemical solutions cause a variety of painful reactions, including minor swelling around your pores. This effect, which merely hides what you’re trying to erase, quickly fades. But the price you pay in inflammation, dryness, and increased vulnerability to acne-causing bacteria amounts to beating up your complexion to spite your pores.

5. Slough off the old; bring out the new. By gently sloughing of dead surface cells, a disciplined exfoliation routine accelerates the emergence of fresh skin cells and stimulates collagen production. Daily exfoliation with a washcloth or sponge and weekly or monthly applications of scrubs or masks that contain finely ground walnuts, organic fruit acids, or other natural exfoliators will gradually minimize the visibility of your pores by reducing the buildup of oily clogs and improving the strength and resilience of the surrounding skin. The autumn months are the ideal time to jump-start your pore recovery program. (Read more about the benefits of a seasonal exfoliation program…)

Regular exfoliation is the foundation of a healthy pore maintenance plan.

6. Keep it clean. Never go to bed without washing off your makeup—no exceptions. Although their manufacturers claim mineral-based make-ups are safe and gentle enough to wear overnight, the majority of these so-called “all-natural” products include ingredients like bismuth oxychloride, a synthetic derivative of natural minerals that tends to collect in oily pores. These impacted particles can aggravate acne symptoms and irritate sensitive or allergic skin. Other ingredients, including certain types of natural minerals, pose additional risks. For instance, those glittering particles of mica in highlighters may light up your cheekbones, but they can also cause tiny abrasions in thin, fragile skin.

7. Easy does it. Too much of a good thing can make a bad situation worse. Avoid over-washing, over-exfoliating, and overzealous use of retinoids, acne medications, and other pore-minimizing solutions. In addition to causing serious inflammation and increasing susceptibility to infection, treatments that over-strip the skin surface can upset the delicate moisture balance of healthy skin. To compensate for their drying effects, oil glands often go into overdrive, adding the insult of acne symptoms to the characteristic redness and flaking of a seriously injured complexion. The temptation to over-treat the target of a painful fixation is understandable.  But the temporary relief of your anxiety about a minor flaw isn’t worth the price you’ll pay in serious and highly visible skin problems. Try to remember, your skin is not the enemy. Like every bodily organ, your skin needs intelligent care and handling to perform its vital role in your health and appearance.

7. Don’t try this at home. The urge to take the problem of clogged pores into your own hands is particularly dangerous. Do-it-yourself blackhead removal can lead to infections, scarring, and permanently enlarged pores.

8. Get professional help. Aestheticians are specially trained to remove blackheads without causing infections or scarring. To prepare your skin for pore extraction, aestheticians typically lightly exfoliate and steam your face. Contrary to popular belief, the practice of steaming has nothing to do with opening the pores. Because the tissue surrounding the pores consists of skin rather than muscle cells, it’s impossible for pores to expand or contract in response to temperature changes. The actual purpose of steaming is to loosen the contents of clogged pores. To extract the clog, the aesthetician then presses gently on the surrounding skin with tissue-wrapped fingers. A good skincare salon can also advance your pore-minimizing goals with a customized program of exfoliating masks or microdermabrasion.

Shea butter and other organic moisturizers hydrate skin without clogging pores. Image: africa / FreeDigitalPhotos

9. Go natural. Like synthetic alcohols and harsh detergents, petroleum-based moisturizers not only irritate sensitive skin, but also magnify pore problems. The greasy film these products form on the skin’s outer surface can block pores and actually repel moisture. Our skin tends to absorb plant-derived oils and humectants more readily because their chemistry and molecular structure closely resemble those of human sebum. This natural kinship is the reason that organic skincare products are the best option for maintaining healthy pores. Plant-derived moisturizers such as aloe vera, shea butter, and hyaluronic acid are not only deeply hydrating, but  also non-comedogenic (i.e., they don’t clog pores or increase acne and blemishes).

10. Use protection. Free radical damage from sun exposure is one of the prime suspects in premature pore enlargement.

11. Perform a searching a lifestyle inventory. Your diet, exercise routine, sleep habits, and stress level all play a crucial role in maintaining the clarity and refined texture that characterizes healthy, youthful skin.

12. Maintain a balanced perspective. According to professional makeup artists and well-known dermatologists, porexia is particularly common among models and movie stars. This seemingly counterintuitive phenomenon makes sense in a crazy kind of way. The fewer serious skin problems you have, the more likely you are to fret about the ones nobody else can see. If your pores look like massive craters—especially if you’re staring at your nose in a magnifying mirror—the problem may lie not in your skin but in your distorted self-image. Instead of comparing yourself to the illusion of perfection we see in the media, try to remember that you don’t need makeup tricks, special camera lenses, or digital wizardry to minimize any flaw, regardless of its size. The natural radiance of a vibrant spirit and confident smile puts every face in its best light.


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.

Relax Your Wrinkles Away, Part 2: A Return to the Basics

Although stronger support for the anti-aging benefits of Botox alternatives may emerge over time, one question is hard to dismiss. Is blocking the release of the brain chemicals that drive essential bodily functions a smart approach to a cosmetic problem?

Why New and Improved Isn’t Always Better

Luckily, you don’t need to put your long-term health at risk to look a little younger. Or spend hundreds of dollars. In fact, many critics of topical wrinkle-relaxing creams suspect they have no significant effect on facial muscles, and that any “measurable improvements” observed in clinical trials are actually produced by one of the world’s oldest and simplest anti-wrinkle ingredients: water.

Whether or not synthetic peptides actually prevent muscle contractions strikes me as beside the point. What matters is that you can achieve very similar results without them. Any decent moisturizer will help plump up lines and furrows simply by binding water to thirsty skin cells.

Valid Science + Living Proof=The Highest Standard of Skincare

My own research and professional experience have taught me that one of the simplest and best ways to soften and smooth wrinkles is to hydrate and nourish your skin with plant-derived moisturizers and emollients such as aloe vera, vegetable glycerin, and shea butter.

A growing number of published scientific studies have verified the superior moisture-binding capacity, absorbability, and healing properties of these and other botanical extracts that traditional cultures have relied on for thousands of years. As I see it, when a natural treatment with that kind of track record gains scientific support, it’s won the kind of endorsement you can trust.

And remember: An ounce of wrinkle prevention is worth a ton of expensive bioengineered neuro-peptides. So use sun protection every day, and don’t smoke. Ultimately, the power to delay the effects of aging is your hands. Stay tuned for more tips about intelligent lifestyle choices that can help keep lines and wrinkles under control.

Image: Paul / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Restoring Radiance to Dull, Dry Complexions

Although the fundamentals of a disciplined skin-care routine are the same for every skin type, their specific application should be tailored to your individual complexion challenges.

TLC for Thirsty Skin

Like an oily, acne-prone complexion, dry, itchy, flaky skin requires a holistic wellness regime to restore and maintain the proper level and efficient flow of sebum. In addition to supporting skin health from the inside, you should cleanse, tone, exfoliate, moisturize, and nourish your complexion on the outside with safe, effective all-natural skincare products to normalize cell function, encourage collagen and elastin renewal, and protect against environmental damage. Above all, your daily and weekly skin-care program should focus on your dry complexion’s two most urgent needs: hydration and lubrication.

To optimize the health and appearance of dry skin make sure you…

Handle with care. Use lukewarm or cool water and a gentle touch to wash your face. Dry skin also tends to be sensitive, so stay away from products that contain synthetic fragrances, alcohols, moisturizers, and preservatives.

Apply liberal amounts plant-derived humectants and emollients to your skin while it’s still damp to lock in moisture. Botanical humectants and. lubricants, such as aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, and squalene, that closely resemble the components of human skin will keep your complexion soft, moist, and supple throughout the day.

Drink enough water—but don’t overdo it. As a general rule, eight 8-ounce glasses are sufficient to flush out toxins and ensure healthy cell function. According to the latest research, drinking water will not cure dry skin and consuming excessive amounts can be dangerous.

Use a humidifier in the winter. Low humidity is a major contributor to parched, cracked skin.

Consume enough healthy fats. Monosaturated fats from sources such as olive oil and avocados, as well as omega-3 fatty acids from fish, nuts, and seeds are vital skin foods. Rich in vitamin E, anti-inflammatories, flavenoids and other age-fighting nutrients, these beneficial oils are one of the keys to radiant, youthful skin.

Use an extra-rich face cream at night. Gently massage your face with a luxuriant face cream enriched with botanical oils, healing herbs, and natural antioxidants, and silk amino acids before bed to soothe, revitalize, and restore resilience to your skin as you sleep.

Talk with your doctor if your dry skin is persistent and severe. Dry skin may be a sign of a medical problems, including eczema, psoriasis, a vitamin B or A deficiency, a genetic syndrome, allergies, or an underactive thyroid. Reduced oil production is also a side effect of certain medications.

Combination Skin: Help for Confused Complexions

If you’re troubled by dry, flaky patches and breakouts give your skin the extra help it needs to recover and thrive. For an informed approach to your complexion’s erratic behavior, see my “Crazy, Mixed-Up Skin” post. For a personal consultation, please feel free to send your questions to the blog or contact me by email at info@laviniaborcau.com, or phone at (617) 734-5523. I look forward to hearing from you!

Image: Francesco Marino / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: m_bartosch / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A Few Words About a Disciplined Approach to Skin Care

Lavie Organique Daily Skin RoutineMany of my first-time clients seem mystified by their troubled skin. They claim their skin-care routine is highly disciplined—but for some unknown reason their unruly complexion just won’t cooperate.

When Skin Is Behaving Badly… Try a Little Tenderness

The trouble usually lies in their idea of discipline. To my way of thinking, a disciplined skin-care routine is as much about the quality of the time and attention you devote to your skin as the quantity. Treat your problem skin as you would a naughty two-year-old child—as a delicate living thing that requires constant loving care to thrive. When your complexion acts up, don’t punish its natural ups and downs with harsh treatments. Be gentle and consistent in your approach and sensitive to your skin’s unique needs. The kinder and more nurturing you are toward your skin the more lovable your complexion will become.

Caring for Oily, Acne-Prone Skin: Easy Does It

Follow these 10 rules of natural skin care for a complexion that gets better and better every day in every way.

1.    Don’t go to bed with makeup on. And no matter how exhausted you are, always remove all traces of foundation, blush, and eye makeup so your skin can breathe easily as it repairs environmental damage and restores healthy cell function during the night.

2.    Do wash your face morning and evening. Twice a day is sufficient—any more than that can actually contribute to breakouts by increasing inflammation and irritation, Wash with organic products made from natural cleansing agents including soap bark and phytosterols such as sea buckthorn, as well as rosemary, horsetail extracts. and other plant-derived anti-microbials and anti-inflammatories.

3.    Don’t use synthetic alcohol-based toners that can dry and irritate your skin.

4.    Do tone your skin with gentle plant-based ingredients. Restore your skin’s protective acid mantle after washing with products that contain mild astringents such as white willow, while fighting infection with natural anti-bacterial herbs and botanicals. Use toners that contain natural emollients and humectants such as vegetable glycerin and aloe vera to help control oily shine between washings without stripping away moisture.

5.    Don’t over-exfoliate or scrub your skin. Avoid the irritation and redness caused synthetic chemical peels. Be aware that even some natural scrubbing grains, such as ground apricot kernels, are too abrasive for fragile facial skin.

6.    Do use exfoliating products with gentle natural ingredients such as food enzymes, finely ground nuts, and honey that not only accelerate cell turnover and clean pores, but also provide a potent blend of nutrients that fight infection and promote balanced hormonal functioning. Remember: freshly exfoliated skin is drier and more sensitive to sun damage. Make sure you satisfy its craving for extra sun protection, emollients, and hydration.

7.    Don’t use greasy petrolatum-based moisturizers.
Products that contain petroleum jelly and mineral oil will not only clog your pores but also form a greasy film on the skin surface that can prevent the deeper layers from absorbing the nutrition and hydration required for healthy cell function.

8.   Do use a 100% green moisturizer. To restrain unsightly skin eruptions while maintaining a dewy, supple complexion, use a cream  with a balanced combination of ingredients. Botanical moisturizers and emollients such as jojoba seed oil that closely resemble human sebum penetrate the skin without clogging pores. A deeply hydrating product that combines plant-derived anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, vitamins and other nutrients with mineral-rich sea salts is ideal for both day and nighttime use. Dead Sea salts, in particular, contain high levels of zinc oxide—a mineral that not only serves as a highly effective sun block but also helps heal acne and control sebum production.

9.    Don’t fuel your skin’s “’roid rage.” Meat and poultry, as well as milk and other dairy products that contain synthetic hormones can push moody skin into a full-blown zit-fit.

10.   Do keep your skin on an even keel with a healthy holistic lifestyle. Combine vigorous exercise, stress reduction techniques, and balanced nutrition to help your complexion stay clear, calm, and collected. Work out 3 to 5 times a week, integrate relaxation time into your daily schedule, and get 7-10 hours of sleep every night.  Be sure to consume plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables. Stick with healthy oils such as contain omega 3s from nuts, seeds, and avocados, olives, and other plant sources and rely on beans and other legumes or organically raised meat, poultry, and fish for essential amino acids.

In my next post, I discuss the rules for managing dry skin.

Image: Andy Newson / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Retinoids & Anti-Aging Benefits: Too Much of a Good Thing?

While the anti-aging benefits of retinoid creams get a lot a press, I’ve yet to see an ad that vividly portrays their negative side.  As a practicing aesthetician, however, I see the unfortunate consequences of overusing prescription and over-the-counter vitamin A derivatives every day.

The Two Sides of an Anti-aging Vitamin

Topical retinoids such as retinyl palmitate do, of course, play an important role in anti-aging regimes. Used correctly, retinoids can help firm the skin and reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and brown spots by stimulating cell turnover and collagen and elastin production. But the same exfoliating action that produces these positive results can cause serious trouble when an overdose of retinoids strips the skin too vigorously.

The scaly, raw complexions of the retinol “junkies” who come to me for treatment speak more convincingly of the dangers of over-exfoliating the skin than the fine-print warning label on their favorite anti-aging cream. By inducing a state of chronic inflammation, excessive doses of retinoids can overwhelm the body’s natural ability to heal itself. In addition to disrupting collagen and elastin renewal, this state of chronic injury increases the skin’s susceptibility to sun damage, infection, and disease.


Restoring Balance to Stressed-Out Skin
My professional training and experience has taught me that the most effective way to counteract the irritation, swollen capillaries, dryness, and other damaging effects of inflammation is an all-natural, holistic approach. To restore the strength and healthy function of the skin’s stratum corneum (the outermost layer), exfoliated skin requires complementary treatment with a synergistic blend of plant-derived anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, antibacterials, fatty acids, and moisturizers. The following botanicals are among the most effective for calming, nourishing, and soothing inflamed skin:

* Capsicum pepper (Hungarian chili peppers)
* Avocado oil
* Shea butter
* White tea
*  Aloe vera
* Rosemary

Add a Dose of Kindness to Your Skin Care RegimeIn their zeal to combat the signs of aging, many beauty industry professionals as well as many consumers lose sight of their real goal. The point of an anti-aging regime is to nurture a fresh, youthful appearance—not to attack your skin. Like all living things, our skin needs proper nourishment, hydration—and gentle, loving care—to stay healthy and beautiful.

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Perimenopause Paradox Part 2: Skin’s Midlife Crisis Calls for Multifaceted Approach

Perimenopause and Lavie Organique

Courtesy dreamstimefree.com

There’s no magic bullet for perimenopausal skin problems. But that doesn’t mean you have to accept midlife as the beginning of the end of a beautiful, radiant complexion. Like any complex condition, the acne and signs of aging that tend to occur during these years require treatment that addresses not only the visible symptoms that result, but also their underlying causes.

A holistic skin care regime combines gentle, yet powerful topical treatments and healthy lifestyle habits to help you achieve clear, younger-looking skin. This multifaceted approach not only helps restore skin’s strength, resilience, and youthful luster by improving blood circulation, boosting elastin and collagen production, and neutralizing free radicals, but also calms irritated, acne-prone skin with plant-derived organic extracts that promote hormonal balance and fight bacteria and inflammation. I call this treatment plan the HERS program to remind my clients to focus on the fundamentals of caring for their skin during perimenopause.

If perimenopausal skin problems have got you down, give your complexion a boost by following these steps:

HYDRATE Hyaluronic acid is not only more easily absorbed and tolerated by sensitive skin than petroleum-based ingredients, but also offers superior moisture-binding capacity. Holistic Hydrators: Other multi-action plant-based moisturizers include aloe vera,  shea butter, and avocado oil. Botanical skin-care ingredients also contain a variety of beneficial compounds, such as antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and antibacterials.

ENERGIZE Eat Right: To nurture peak skin health during your 40s and 50s—and beyond—you need adequate daily doses protein; healthy fats such as olive oil; vitamins A, B, and C; and other antioxidants, minerals, and phytonutrients. Stave off snack attacks with fruits vegetables, yogurt, and other nutritious options—not junk food.Recent research links high blood sugar levels with wrinkles and premature aging.

And remember: most of the foods that are good for the inside of your body can help nourish your skin from the outside, too.

Exercise: Whether you prefer hiking up mountains or stretching in a yoga studio, maintain a regular schedule of vigorous workouts. Working up a sweat several times a week ensures the healthy blood circulation needed to optimize cellular functioning.

Exfoliate: Organic skin care products and salon peels that contain food enzymes such as  fruit acids, lactic acid, and other AHAs are a safe, effective way to revitalize your complexion. A regular exfoliation programs clears clogged pores, boosts blood flow, and strips away dead surface cells to reveal the fresh, glowing skin underneath.

REST/RELAX Be sure to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night and keep your stress levels in check. Poor stress management and lack of sleep can aggravate the hormonal fluctuations that lead to adult acne.

SUN-PROOF SPF 15 Sunscreen: Apply it liberally every day—all year round. Zinc oxide is a perfect choice for perimenopausal skin. In addition to acting as a highly effective physical barrier to UV rays, this multipurpose mineral is not only non-comedogenic—it actually helps regulate overactive oil glands, as well as heal blemishes.


Fact or Fiction? 4 Common Myths About Skin Care

Dry skin causes lines and wrinkles.

Dry Skin Does NOT Cause Wrinkles

Does Dry Skin Cause Wrinkles? Courtesy dreamstimefree.com

False: Sun exposure and other sources of free radical damage, as well as habitual facial expressions, are the primary causes of wrinkles and fine lines. However, dryness does accentuate their appearance. High-quality anti-aging skin creams and serums with ingredients such as jojoba, shea butter, hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, CoQ10, and rich supply of antioxidants not only improve the appearance of the skin by plumping up dehydrated skin cells, but actually help repair free radical damage. The best moisturizers also contain a natural sunscreens such as zinc oxide to help prevent wrinkles from developing.

Good old petroleum jelly is the best moisturizer of all.

False: Petroleum jelly, as well as its liquid form, mineral oil, forms a greasy film on the skin that not only clogs pores, but actually repels moisture. This cheap ubiquitous skin care ingredient contains a variety of potential irritants, as well as  impurities that have been linked to an increased risk of cancer. Natural moisturizers, such as hyaluronic acid and aloe vera, actually penetrate beneath the surface and bind water to skin cells, providing deep, lasting hydration that promotes healthy cellular functioning, as well as a more youthful appearance.

People with oily, acne-prone skin should use alcohol-based cleansers and toners.

Lavie Organique Natural Cleanser

Lavie Organique Facial Cleanser

False: Alcohol can actually make acne worse! It contributes to breakouts by stripping the natural moisture from skin, causing irritation and inflammation. Choose cleansers and toners that address the underlying causes of acne. Natural exfoliators such as white willow bark, herbal antibacterials like rosemary, and ingredients such as white tea that promote hormonal balance to keep your skin clear and glowing.

All products with the word natural or organic are free of synthetic chemicals.

False: Many popular brands with an earth-friendly image contain all kinds of nasty substances, including synthetic colors and fragrances, alcohol, parabens, propylene glycol, and coal tar derivatives. Read the fine print on the back of the label, and if you’re not sure what the words mean, do some research on the manufacturer. The purest, safest products are made by companies with a true commitment to green living.

Allergic to Exercise?

I have always been a strong advocate of a regular exercise routine as one of the most important things we can do to maintain not only our health but also beautiful, youthful-looking skin. Of course not everyone is a fan of vigorous physical activity, and those who just can’t seem to get themselves off the couch will sometimes claim they’re “allergic to exercise.”

In fact, this claim is no joke to those who suffer from exercise-induced urticaria. As their bodies start to heat up and sweat during exercise, people with this condition will break out in an itchy red rash or big swollen hives. The main culprit involved in this allergic reaction is histamine—a chemical released from our tissues that causes inflammation and swelling by expanding the capillaries underneath the skin surface. In most cases, taking an over-the-counter anti-histamine can relieve these symptoms.

A related condition, exercise-induced anaphylaxis, is far more serious. Intense physical activity can trigger this life-threatening reaction in people who have been exposed to a food, medication, or other substance they are severely allergic to. Symptoms include swelling of the throat, difficulty breathing, and nausea. Anaphylactic reactions require immediate medical treatment.

In addition to taking allergy pills, people with simple urticaria can control their symptoms by adopting the following practices:

·      Exercise in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler. Avoid working out in extremely humid conditions.
·      Wear loose cotton clothing. Synthetic fabrics often irritate the skin.
·      Wash new workout clothes before wearing. High concentrations of substances such as sizing, dyes, and pesticide residues in fabrics can also result in skin irritation.
·      Use an anti-inflammatory cream. Creams and lotions that contain plant-derived anti-inflammatories such as aloe vera 200X, white willow bark extract, and white tea are all good choices.

I’ll be writing more about the importance of exercise to achieving a healthy holistic lifestyle in my upcoming blog posts.

Aloe Vera Part 2: Can Aloe Vera Help Your Skin Look Younger?

Ancient herbalists and physicians believed in aloe vera ’s medicinal and rejuvenating qualities—and Mahatma Gandhi swore it was the secret of his strength and endurance. But even centuries of intuition and experience lack the persuasive power of the latest scientific knowledge. As today’s dermatologists and researchers continue rigorously investigating the science behind these claims, they’re discovering that the medical instincts of these long-ago healers were way ahead of their times.

The websites of prestigious institutions, such as the Mayo Clinic and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, now cite evidence that aloe vera helps heal a variety of skin conditions. A number of studies indicate that topical aloe vera treatments help improve psoriasis, seborrhea, and herpes. Preliminary research on aloe vera’s anti-inflammatory properties and role in promoting hormonal balance also look promising.

But how exactly does this plant extract help turn back the clock for aging skin? According to a study by Dr. Ivan E. Danhof, M.D./Ph.D., president of North Texas Research Laboratories, and a retired University of Texas Professor of Physiology, the key appears to lie just below the surface in the skin’s collagen layer. Collagen’s network of protein fibers support the skin’s surface and helps repair blood vessels and tissues. When sun exposure and normal aging gradually weaken this support system, our skin starts to sag and develop lines and wrinkles. Danho’s research shows that aloe vera extract boosts the turnover rate of the fibroblast cells that produce collagen. In his study, fibroblast cells reproduced six to eight times faster than the normal rate. The result? Stronger, more resilient collagen fibers and firmer, younger-looking skin!

The most convincing proof, however, ultimately lies in the product. The Aloe vera 200X in my Lavie Organique™ care system is just one of the plant-based ingredients that work synergistically to balance and support skin health. Try it and see for yourself what my signature blend of traditional wisdom, 21st century science, and European luxury can do for your skin.