LaVie Organique Skincare Blog

All posts tagged "facial treatments"

Facial Massage: A Touch of Traditional Healing to Complexion Care

A Facial Massage with Lavinia Borcau

A Facial Massage at Lavinia Borcau Day Spa

Speaking of the long-standing focus on healthy circulation  in holistic medical traditions, another time-honored way of optimizing blood flow to the skin is now steadily gaining popularity in U.S. spas—facial massage.

In Europe, where I was trained, mastering traditional facial massage techniques is an essential step in an esthetician’s education. The European approach to massage incorporates many aspects of acupressure, shiatsu, and other holistic therapies used to treat stress, migraine  headaches, PMS, sinus pain, and neuralgia.

Massage has been a an accepted treatment since medicine began. In many great civilizations of the past—including ancient China, Japan, Greece, Persia, and India—the practice of massage was regarded as an important method of maintaining wellness. In the Ayurvedic tradition, massage is believed to stimulate digestion, flush out toxins, and rejuvenate the body.

The results of recent research on the effectiveness of massage suggest it is a useful adjunct to medical care. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine cites scientific studies indicating that massage is effective in reducing heart rate and blood pressure, relieving pain, and improving health. Similar beneficial effects were found in a study of physiological and psychological stress in acute-care nurses.

An expert facial massage should be a regular part of your skin care regimen and is included in my European facial treatments.  It’s a simple, safe and effective way to relax facial lines and bring a fresh, healthy glow to the complexion, while treating yourself to a delightfully refreshing experience.

The Three Faces of Exfoliation, Part 3: Enzymes

Enzymes: A Uniquely Effective Approach to Exfoliation

Organic Peel at Lavinia Borcau SalonIf you’re wishing someone would invent an effective anti-aging exfoliation treatment without the side effects of harsh synthetic acid peels, you’ll be glad that nature has already provided the perfect solution—enzymes. The enzymes used in exfoliation treatments come foods we eat such as fruits, vegetables, and milk and contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) that speed up cell turnover. While the enzyme approach achieves its effects more gradually than invasive chemical peels, the additional benefits it confers on your skin are more than worth it.

What’s so different about enzymes? Unlike synthetic chemicals, enzymes are familiar to our bodies. Many enzymes are regularly introduced to our bodies through our diet. Some of them are also produced by our own cells and play a major role in the digestion of nutrients, detoxification, and energy production. As a result of this ability to stimulate healthy cellular activity, enzymes are a highly effective way to achieve significant positive changes in our skin.

In the article “Skin Exfoliation,” scientist Diana L.Howard Ph.D., of the International Dermal Institute explains that the AHAs in enzymes exfoliate the skin in a unique way. According to Dr. Howard,  “Some researchers believe the mechanism of action for AHAs cannot be tied solely to stimulation of the skin as measured by traditional cell renewal techniques.” She notes that studies suggest that AHAs may disrupt the “glue-like bonds” between dead skin cells, “causing a burst in skin exfoliation.” Howard points out that “it is often said that AHAs affect the skin from the inside out because of the suggestion that they influence corneocyte [dead skin cell] cohesion at the lower layers of the stratum corneum [outermost skin]. The result is a thinner stratum corneum, which is more flexible and compact, reflects more light and overall gives the skin a more youthful appearance.”

But the unmatched revitalizing power of enzyme peels and masks doesn’t end there. The special properties of some enzymes also contribute greatly to healthy functioning of the skin. In my next post I’ll explain the unique benefits of the natural enzymes used in my salon organic peel program, as well as in my LaVie Organique™ exfoliating mask.

The Three Faces of Exfoliation, Part 2: Chemical Exfoliation

The Unappealing Side of Chemical Exfoliation

Twenty-five years ago, the discovery of the bonus benefits of the acne treatment tretinoin (Retin-A) launched a revolution in skin care. Since then the use of synthetic vitamin A derivatives and other chemical exfoliants as anti-aging treatments has swept the beauty industry. At last, there were products and procedures that could dramatically improve the appearance of aging skin. In addition to Retin-A and related skin care products, more extreme versions of chemical seemed to promise a quick fix for every skin problem from acne and oily skin to age spots, warts, and wrinkles. But as with so many “miracle” products, the powerful effects of these chemical treatments come with risks.

Vitamin A Derivatives: A Word of Caution

The active ingredient in tretinoin and its over-the-counter cousins, the various retinol facial treatments retinol, is a vitamin A byproduct that induces a light chemical peel by introducing high doses of vitamin A into the skin. These products can cause severe irritation when used improperly. Women who are pregnant or nursing are warned not to use them because of the link between high doses of vitamin A and birth defects. Many women with sensitive skin find the redness and flakiness caused by these products too unpleasant to tolerate.

A Choice for an Organic Life

The Lavie Organique Product Line

At the right dosage level for your skin type, however, this powerful antioxidant does help restore a more youthful appearance by exfoliating worn-out surface skin cells and promoting cellular renewal in the underlying epidermal layer. With a natural form of vitamin A such as the retinyl palmitate in my LaVie Organique™ Original Formulas, you’re assured of the anti-aging effects of a plant-derived free radical scavenger without the risk of looking and feeling like you have a major case of sunburn.

Synthetic Chemical Peels: What Price Beauty?

Synthetic chemical peels are sometimes referred to as “lunchtime facelifts.” The implication is that you can radically change your appearance quickly, painlessly, and without any downtime. But even light peels with alpha hydroxyl acid (the active ingredient in many acne medications) or synthetic glycolic acid may cause flakiness, redness, and scabbing that can mar your appearance for days or weeks—and the deeper your go beneath the skin’s surface the higher the cost in pain and suffering. A medium trichloroacetic acid (TCA) can cause blistering and severe redness that may make you want to hide your face longer than you’d anticipated. With a deeper peel, the potential are more serious. In fact, the risks of this type of peel are equivalent to the dangers of surgery. This invasive procedure uses phenolic acid, a coal tar-derived industrial solvent and known carcinogen, also known as carbolic acid. Sedation and heart monitoring with an electrocardiograph are required. Recovery time usually takes three or four months and patients generally require strong medication to endure the deep throbbing pain.

The fact is, both TCA and phenol achieve their effects by inflicting a second-degree burn on your face. The severity of this injury to your skin poses serious risks including heart arrhythmias, shock, and infection. And in some cases the final result of all this painful damage can leave you with a ghostly white or brownish complexion.

As a European, I was schooled in a different approach to beauty. We prefer to incorporate a program of gradual, milder exfoliation into our holistic skin care regimen to achieve lasting results over time. I’ll explain more about this approach in Part 3 of “The Three Faces of Exfoliation.”

The Three Faces of Exfoliation: Part 1

With so many exfoliating treatments on the market, how should you go about choosing one? The answer depends on a variety of factors—particularly your skin type. Although the number of products is endless, most of them fall into one of three categories. Let’s start with a look at the pros and cons of the hands-on approach:

Manual or Mechanical Exfoliation

For routine exfoliation, I recommend a gentle daily cleanser with a mild exfoliant such as white willow bark. A natural alternative to salicylic acid—an ingredient in many acne medications—this powerful but safe botanical extract is also an anti-inflammatory that stimulates and purifies the skin while also calming irritation.

You can use your fingers to massage your cleanser into the skin. If your complexion is very robust, you may want to use a washcloth or sponge to increase the exfoliating effect. But remember to be gentle—the last thing you want to do it over-abrade your skin. And remember to wash your washcloth or sponge with hot, soapy water after each use. Stay away from stiff complexion brushes or loofahs—which are not only too rough, but also tend to trap bacteria and product residue that can cause breakouts and infections.

At the high-tech end of this approach, there are a number of vibrating complexion brushes. These vary in quality and can be as expensive as $200. The best ones can help keep a healthy complexion glowing, but individuals with acne, rosacea, or fragile skin with broken capillaries, should steer clear of this type of device. Your complexion should be handled with the utmost care.

What about facial scrubs?

First of all, check out the ingredients. The good, the bad, and the ugly sides of exfoliation ultimately reside in the various type of scrubbing grains used in these products. Many types of granules are so large and jagged that they can cause microscopic lacerations on the skin surface. Surprisingly, the grains used in some types of all-natural scrubs are the worst offenders. Ground apricot pits as well as crushed nutshells, for instance have been cited by the Environmental Working Group  as potential skin-health hazards. As a natural alternative, finely ground nutmeats such as almonds or walnuts combine gentleness and safety with the restorative benefits of antioxidants.

To supplement these daily and weekly methods of hands-on exfoliation as you’re preparing your skin for winter, you might want to try a course of professional microdermabrasion treatments. Performed by an experienced professional with state-of-the-art equipment, microdermabrasion is far safer and more effective than at-home methods. A good esthetician understands exfoliation is not an end in itself—the delicate layer of new skin that’s revealed needs to be soothed, moisturized, and replenished with nutrients. And don’t forget to protect your baby-fresh skin! A good sunscreen with at least SPF 15 will help keep your complexion rosy instead of red.

Here’s a great video from Dr. Schultz’s Dermtv.com on how often you should exfoliate. Enjoy.


Exfoliation: Why Less Is Sometimes More

What started decades ago with a humble plastic sponge has become the watchword in skincare. Exfoliation remains the key to the fresh, peach glow of a youthful complexion. But as the range of professional and at-home acid and enzyme peels, scrubs, and mechanical exfoliation devices continues to expand, skincare professionals are seeing the ugly side of the these facial treatments: the raw tomato-red of serious irritation.

The results of over-exfoliation aren’t just painful and unattractive—overaggressive skin stripping can actually do real damage. In addition to acne breakouts, people who get carried away can suffer broken capillaries, excessiveness dryness and scaling, and pigmentation changes—in other words exactly what you’re trying so hard to avoid: the visible signs of aging. The causes for these symptoms are rooted in the skin’s natural defense system—the inflammatory response.

Inflammation is the body’s response to injury. Removal of the superficial layer of skin (the stratum corneum) exposes the sensitive new skin underneath to a variety of assaults including bacteria, environmental pollutants, and solar radiation. But that doesn’t necessarily mean exfoliation is bad for your skin—in fact, done correctly, it’s one of best things you can do to revitalize your appearance. I’ll explain more of the hows and whys of exfoliation in future posts, but for now, enjoy the video below about exfoliation.

An Eye-Opener on Coffee: It’s Not Just for Drinking Anymore

The latest scientific research on coffee not only gives latté lovers reason to celebrate—it’s uncovered a potent new plant-based skincare ingredient.

You may already know about coffee’s high antioxidant levels—which are equal or higher than most fruits. Researchers believe the power of antioxidants to repair damaged cells is why coffee drinkers appear to have a lower risk of heart disease and skin, liver, and colon cancer. According to a study by Harvard Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, one of coffee’s antioxidants, quinine, can also help fight diabetes by increasing the body’s insulin resistance and regulating glucose metabolism.

But if you think a cup of decaf is a safer, healthier way to raise your daily dose of antioxidants, recent research on caffeine may surprise you. Studies have shown that in moderate doses, America’s favorite pick-me-up isn’t just harmless—it’s actually good for you. In fact, one of coffee’s cancer-fighting antioxidants, caffeic acid, comes from caffeine. That’s why caffeine is starting to pop up on sun block labels. In addition to repairing cellular damage, caffeine also appears to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease, control asthma attacks, cure headaches, and even prevent cavities!

Many of these health bonuses are linked to caffeine’s effect on inflamed arteries and veins. By constricting blood vessels, caffeine decreases inflammation. A diuretic, caffeine also reduces swelling by flushing excess blood and lymph from skin tissue. This multi-action combination of properties explains the growing use of caffeine in cellulite and facial treatments to boost performance.

Mounting scientific data and years of hands-on experience have convinced me that caffeine helps repair and rejuvenate the thin, delicate skin around our eyes. This area is the first place to show the damage that age, environmental toxins, and poor health habits can do to our appearance. For the red, puffy eyelids and dark circles that can afflict young and old alike, this powerhouse ingredient provides the perfect all-in-one solution. Derived from pure Colombian coffee, the caffeine in myLaVie Organique™ Eye Cream meets my exacting Quality Standards. This pure plant-derived extract works in synergy with my proprietary blend of certified organic and natural botanical ingredients to nurture and revitalize the eye area. It’s a balanced health drink for your skin that will bring a smile to your face when you see the results.

Your Sun Protection Questions Answered

We at Lavinia Borcau Skin Care want to provide you with all you need to know to enjoy the summer sun safely!  Our facial treatments and exfoliating body treatments are a great way to reverse sun damage to your skin, but prevention is even better.  Read on to get your questions about sunscreen answered:

When should sunscreen be used?

Sunscreen should be applied to the face and neck every day, and on exposed areas of the body if you’re planning to be in the sun for longer than 20 minutes.

Sunscreens can be applied under makeup and are available in moisturizers; for example, LaVie Organique Day Cream, which provides SPF 15 and helps combat the signs of aging skin by combining zinc oxide, a natural sunblock, with tons of antioxidants, known to slow and even reverse skin damage.  Sunscreens used on a regular basis actually allow some repair of damaged skin. Sunscreens should be applied to dry skin 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors.

How much sunscreen do I need?

A dime-sized amount is recommended to cover the face and neck.  When covering the whole body with sunscreen before hitting the beach, use no less than an ounce (enough to fill up a shot glass).  Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your scalp along the part, and use a lip balm with SPF.  Sunscreen needs to be reapplied after swimming or perspiring heavily.  You can monitor yourself to make sure you’re using enough sunscreen by comparing how much you use to how many ounces are in the tube.  If you’ve applied sunscreen to your whole body three times and there’s still some left in your 3-ounce tube, you know you’re not applying enough.

Is using sunscreen all I need to protect my skin?

Sunscreen provides the majority of sun protection, but it is wise to use additional sun barriers such as wide-brimmed hats, beach cover-ups, or maybe even avoiding the sun altogether between the peak hours of 10am-4pm if you know you’re prone to sunburn.

Is tanning safe as long as I’m using sunscreen?

Ladies, we all appreciate the toned, bronzed look of a tan, but the truth is, there is no safe way to tan from sun exposure (and tanning beds are even worse!).  A suntan is your body’s self-preservation reaction to damaging sun exposure.  Over the years, tanning, and especially repeated sunburns, can lead to early aging of skin, wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and even melanoma.  If it’s just not summer to you without a bronzed body, we recommend spray-on tans or self-tanning creams.

Thanks for reading our notes on sun protection! We hope you enjoy the fantastic summer weather safely and happily!

LaVie Organique Day Cream contains zinc oxide, an effective sunscreen, which provides SPF 15.  This level of sun protection is sufficient for most skin types, although those with very fair skin may wish to add another method of sun protection such as mineral makeup or a wide-brimmed hat.