LaVie Organique Skincare Blog

All posts tagged "inflammation"

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.

5 Diet Tips for a Younger, More Beautiful Face

Now that the season for New Year’s resolutions is here, many of you may be giving some extra thought to your eating habits. This year, keep in mind that what we eat is as important to the appearance of our face as it is to the size and shape of our body. Every aspect of our health from digestion and skin and muscle repair to mood regulation is affected by our diet. A diet that supports the healthy functioning of our organs and tissues optimizes the defining elements of a beautiful, youthful face. A radiant complexion, firm facial muscles, and a vibrant expression are all reflections of a thoughtful, balanced approach to eating.

Your face is a mirror of your overall health. <Image courtesy of adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net>

Here are some dietary tips for maintaining a naturally attractive face:
1. Eat enzyme-rich foods – Raw plant-based and naturally fermented foods contain high levels of enzymes, substances that speed up and regulate chemical reactions in the body. Enzymes improve digestion and help cleanse the blood by breaking down toxins and organic wastes. Our body’s supply of these vital substances declines as we age. To replenish enzyme levels, include foods such as raw fruit and vegetables, sprouted grains, yogurt, miso, olives, and sauerkraut in your meals and snacks. You’ll find that eating these foods not only increases you energy levels, but also helps restore the clear eyes and fresh complexion of youth.

2. Consume plenty of colorful fresh fruits and vegetables – Broccoli, kale, yellow and red peppers, purple plums and grapes—eating a “rainbow diet” will ensure you get the antioxidants you need to fight the effects of free radical damage on the skin. Carotenoids—a type of antioxidant found in deeply pigmented fruits and vegetables—can even improve skin tone. These yellow, orange, and red pigments give your complexion a healthy golden glow.

3. Get enough protein The amino acids in the proteins we eat provide our bodies with the raw materials for rebuilding the collagen fibers in our skin, muscles, and bones. Over time as collagen production declines, these tissues atrophy, causing sagging and wrinkling. To help slow this process, our diet should consist of 10% to 35% protein. The quality of the protein we consume is as important as the quantity. High-quality proteins contain some or all of the 9 essential amino acids that our body can’t manufacture on its own. Good sources of these amino acids include meat, fish, egg whites, legumes, soy, nuts, and quinoa.

4. Include healthy fats – Omega-3 fatty acids from plant sources and fatty cold-water fish have powerful anti-aging benefits. These healthy fats help keep the skin moist, control acne, and repair sun damage. By repairing cell membranes, omega-3s help protect the skin from environmental threats They’ve also been shown to improve mood and sleep, two important factors in maintaining a young, vital look. Good sources of omega-3s include olive oil, flaxseeds, nuts, avocados, salmon, and mackerel.

5. Avoid refined carbohydrates – High blood glucose levels from foods like white flour and sugar can trigger the chronic inflammation and hormonal imbalances associated with acne. Chronic inflammation also contributes to the breakdown of the collagen and elastin fibers that keep our skin strong and resilient. These fibers can begin to crack and tear when they bond with sugar molecules. To keep both acne and wrinkles at bay, substitute fresh fruit for sugary treats and replace refined carbohydrates with 100% whole grain products.

Your face is the mirror of your total health and wellbeing. In upcoming posts, I’ll be saying more about how to beautify your face by adopting healthy lifestyle practices.

How Massage Stimulates Your Body’s Anti-aging Power

The benefits of massage go far deeper than relief of pain and stress.

Regular massages can boost the power of your anti-aging regime. How? By unleashing two forces that enable your body to counteract the effects of biological aging and environmental stress.

Acupressure and light stroking help revitalize facial tissues.

Reduced Inflammation

When it comes to our health, inflammation is a double-edged sword. The inflammatory process triggered by illness or infection enables our body to heal. But when inflammation becomes chronic or prolonged, it can cause a host of diseases and disorders. Many scientists consider inflammation the prime culprit in the symptoms of aging, including skin damage, weight gain, and muscle loss. Recent research indicates that massage not only helps control inflammation, but also speeds up recovery of injured or weakened tissues by improving cellular functioning.

Increased Circulation

The kneading and stroking techniques used by a skilled massage therapist not only increase the quantity of blood circulating around your body, but also improves its quality by multiplying its store of oxygen-rich red blood cells. By keeping all of our body’s cells properly nourished, healthy blood flow helps fuel the growth and repair of aging skin, muscles, and bones.

Rejuvenating Rewards for Every Taste

Virtually every culture has its own massage tradition. The one that’s best for you depends on your goals as well as your temperament and tastes.

  • Deep tissue massage uses intense pressure to relieve tension and maximize circulation in the layers of soft tissue that lie beneath the surface muscles.
  • Shiatsu means “finger pressure” in Japanese. Shiatsu massage therapists use their hands and fingers to apply light to medium pressure. For more intense pressure, they may employ their elbows, knees, and feet. This tradition is also widely practiced in Europe.
  • Acupressure exerts gentle pressure on various points of the body to release tension and stimulate circulation.
  • European facial massage applies a combination of techniques including light stroking, Shiatsu, and acupressure to increase blood flow to the skin and underlying tissues. It also softens expression lines by releasing facial tension.

 

 

Pomegranate Seed Extract: The Essence of Beautifully Balanced Skin

Pomegranate seeds and Lavie OrganiqueAmong the many reasons pomegranate seed extract (Punica granatum linn) is now hailed as  an “elixir of youth” is its high content of the remarkable nutrient that bears this exotic super-fruit’s Latin genus name: punicic acid.

A Feast of Phytonutrients in Every Drop

An omega 5 conjugated fatty acid, punicic acid is one of the key elements of a healthy diets. Like gamma-linolenic acid and other plant-derived long-chain fatty acids, punicic acid has demonstrated a variety of positive health effects in laboratory studies, including reducing inflammation, promoting hormonal balance, and decreasing the incidence of skin cancer. Researchers at the University of Michigan have shown that punicic acid also helps regenerate epidermal cells and stimulate collagen and elastin renewal.

Pomegranate seeds are also a rich source of tocopherols: a group of fat-soluble alcohols that exhibit antioxidant properties similar to those of vitamin E. These potent age fighters help strengthen blood vessel walls and cellular membranes, improve circulation, and repair free radical damage. In addition to keeping cells well oxygenated and nourished, tocopherols help skin retain moisture and stabilize the slightly acidic pH of our outmost skin. This invisible natural barrier, or “acid mantle,” helps repel bacteria and other toxic invaders that contribute to acne, fungal infections, and a variety of skin diseases.

Holistic Skin Care: Healthy Practices for Balanced Functioning

Treat your skin to a double dose of natural rejuvenators: Add the fleshy ruby-red seeds of this luscious tropical fruit to your diet and their concentrated extract to your skin care routine, with daily application of LaVie Organique™ Face Cream.
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Image: djcodrin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sea Buckthorn Seed: Age-Fighting Might in a Miniscule Package

Sea Buckthorn Seed. This hardy mountain shrub’s nickname, “Siberian pineapple,” suggests its early fans considered its juicy orange berries one of the plant world’s natural wonders. Its Latin botanical name, Hippophae rhamnoides (“shiny racehorse”), probably derives from legends that the mighty steeds of ancient Greece grew swift and sleek on its leaves. Sea buckthorn’s fabled reputation as a super-food for four-legged thoroughbreds persists even today. But its nutritional value isn’t just for horses—nor do its benefits as a dietary supplement and cosmetic ingredient rest on myth and tradition alone.

Sea Buckthorn Seed in Lavie Organique

Science has uncovered the diverse mix of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, flavonoids, carotenoids, and other nutrients that makes virtually every part of this plant a high-energy health food. The benefits of these compounds alone might explain why the rejuvenating power of sea buckthorn has become a hot topic in the natural skin-care industry. But what’s really driving the anti-aging buzz goes straight to the source of this long-revered medicinal plant’s health and vigor: the tiny seeds that store two major classes of skin nutrients.

Fatty acid The high levels of omega 3, omega 6, and omega 9 oils derived from sea buckthorn seeds support skin health by stimulating circulation, repairing cell membranes, and retaining moisture. Fatty acids also promote a balanced complexion by regulating sebum production in the epidermis.

Phytosterols Plant-derived alcohols, like plant-based fats, offer major anti-aging benefits with none of the negatives associated with their synthetic versions. Because plant sterols are so similar to the natural sterols in human skin, they quickly penetrate the epidermis without causing dryness and irritation. In fact, plant sterols do just the opposite, boosting moisture retention, while reducing inflammation. Research suggests that plant sterols may also help repair sun damage and stimulate collagen renewal.

When you consider the full gamut of nutrients and phytonutrients from antioxidants through zinc packed inside every sea buckthorn seed, the growing reputation of the concentrated seed extract as an anti-aging powerhouse seems only natural. But as with any botanical skin-care ingredient, the quality standards observed by its growers and manufacturers make all the difference. To ensure you get all the synergistic benefits and none of potentially toxic effects of shoddy production practices, choose only certified organic sea buckthorn extract.

The Perimenopause Paradox Part 1: Crazy, Mixed-Up Skin

Adult Acne and Lavie Organique

Adult Acne: Courtesy dreamstimefree.com

For many women, their 40s and 50s are the worst of all possible times for their skin. They’re facing not only the return of the blackheads and blemishes that plagued their teenage years, but also the steady accumulation of the visible signs of aging. As one of my clients said recently, “Having to deal with wrinkles and acne at the same time just isn’t fair!” The fact that your complexion’s erratic behavior is also perfectly natural doesn’t make it any easier to accept. Nor are the natural processes that cause aging, acne-prone skin simple and predictable.

Among the many complex physical processes that lead to adult acne two stand out:

  • Hormonal havoc. Although female hormones start dwindling during perimenopause, they seldom go quietly. Levels can fluctuate wildly from day to day and week to week to week. The chain reaction that ultimately leads to an acne flare begins with a spike in androgen levels. As androgen levels rise, the dermal sebaceous glands get bigger. The amount of sebum, or oil, produced by these enlarged glands increases as a result.
  • Inflammation. As excess oil pumped out by the sebaceous glands accumulates in pores and hair follicles it combines with dead skin cells, forming sticky clumps. These clumps of organic matter not only clog pores but also serve as a hearty feast for the different species of bacteria that live there. The fatter and happier these bacteria get, the more they reproduce. The resulting boom in the bacteria population inflames the pores, causing pustules and whiteheads to erupt. Other unsightly manifestations of inflammation such as contact dermatitis, rashes, and dry itchy patches may also develop. These factors together with declining cell function often lead to “combination skin” with oiliness and acne in some areas dryness and flakiness in others.

The lines, wrinkles, sags, enlarged pores, and scaly brown splotches that emerge during perimenopause also entail a variety of factors:

  • Free radical damage Decades of exposure to UV radiation, toxins, and other environmental stressors—as well as the accumulated byproducts of normal metabolic processes—impair the functioning of skin cells and speed their death.
  • Sluggish circulation A variety of factors, including diet, genetics, and habits like cigarette smoking, may reduce blood flow to the skin, depriving it of oxygen and other vital nutrients.
  • Diminished collagen and elastin production In addition to contributing to skin cancer and a host of degenerative diseases, free radical damage interferes with the renewal of collagen and elastin cells. The network of protein fibers formed by these cells supports the skin. When the influx of fresh cells needed to  reinforce this supportive network slows, skin starts losing firmness, strength, and elasticity.
  • Decreased cell turnover As dead cells build up on its surface, skin not only looks increasingly lackluster, but also becomes more susceptible to acne.
  • Habitual facial expressions Sooner or later, a lifetime of smiles, frowns, squints, and other outward expressions of thoughts and feelings leaves lasting imprints on our face.
  • Gravity The lifelong pull of Earth’s magnetic core can lead to jowls and sags when skin becomes thin and weak.

That’s the bad news about perimenopausal skin changes. The good news is that the right skin care regimen can help you overcome these challenges. I’ll tell you how in my next post.

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.

Beauty and the Beast: A Tale of “Mud-Luscious” Skin Care

If you’ve seen the incredible film Pan’s Labyrinth—in which a young girl visits a gothic underworld teeming with grotesque mud-covered creatures—then you have some idea of what women in my native Romania look like in the throes of their favorite beauty ritual.

Lavinia Borcau's Native Home of Romania

The Romanian Black Sea - Courtesy of Dreamstimefree.com

Every summer as a child I’d see them on the shores of the Black Sea —these dark, gooey “monsters” caked with glistening mud and seaweed. My eyes would pop—especially after they’d shed their “Swamp Thing” skin beneath the waves and bobbed up looking like the mermaids in my fairytale books.

From Monsters to Mermaids
The “magic” in Black Sea mud comes from its high concentration of organic matter and mineral salts. In addition to the essential minerals such magnesium, potassium, bromine, zinc, copper, and calcium that also enrich the highly restorative salts of the Dead Sea, Romania’s volcanic mud contains the antioxidant vitamin B12—a vital player in the formation of red blood cells and our circulatory health.

Famed since ancient times, these therapeutic muds and sea salts remain under investigation by today’s scientists. But evidence from international dermatologic studies confirming their antibacterial properties and positive effects on roughness and inflammation suggest that Cleopatra and the Queen of Sheba were definitely on to something.

Mud Packs and Beyond
I highly recommend incorporating the nutrients found in traditional Romanian mud baths into your skin care regime. Luckily, their benefits are now available in more convenient forms. Thanks to hydrating seaweed masks and organic serums and other products that contain marine botanicals and Dead Sea salts, we don’t have to spend our beach time looking like the Beast from 20,000 Fathoms to refresh and rejuvenate our skin!

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.

Skin Aging Secrets: Sugar and Wrinkles, Part 1

Lavie Organique Ingredients

C'est Lavie Organique

If you aren’t already limiting your intake of junk food for the sake of your waistline, then consider what over-consumption of sugar and highly refined carbohydrates can do to your face. Scientists have established that foods that cause an immediate spike in blood sugar levels contribute to two physical processes linked to skin aging.

Inflammation. Inflammation is a double-edged sword. When we have an infection or injury, the increased flow of blood and immune cell activity that characterizes inflammation is essential to healing. But chronic inflammation is another story entirely. The buildup of free radicals in our tissues that accompanies this immune response leads to the death of healthy skin cells. The resulting breakdown of the collagen and elastin fibers needed for firm, resilient skin shows up on our faces as wrinkles and sagging.

Glycation Excess sugar in our bloodstream can actually attach to the protein and DNA molecules in our tissues. This process, known as glycation, contributes to a host of health problems, including cataracts, stiff joints, and hardening of the arteries. When sugar bonds to the proteins in our skin’s collagen fibers, they become less elastic and begin to tear and crack, causing loose skin and deep wrinkles.

Fortunately, a holistic approach to this kind of skin damage can help you achieve a more youthful appearance. I’ll give you the details in my next blog post.