LaVie Organique Skincare Blog

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Skin Safety Update: What You Should Know About Risky Ingredients

Exposure to environmental toxins is a major cause of premature aging and serious diseases, including cancer. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to minimize your risk, including eating organically grown foods, avoiding cigarette smoke and industrial pollutants—and choosing skin-care products that meet the highest standards of purity. Here’s why…

Why the Quality of Your Cosmetics Is a Matter of Health

Numerous scientific studies confirm that our skin serves as major port of entry for potentially dangerous topical skin-care ingredients. In fact, many experts believe that swallowing these chemicals is actually less dangerous than absorbing them through our skin. While powerful enzymes often detoxify ingested chemicals in our digestive tract, those that enter our bloodstream through the skin retain their full potency.

Unfortunately the protective barrier formed by our skin isn’t leak-proof. The permeability of the skin’s surface layer varies across different areas of our body. Areas where skin is thinnest, such as our face and neck, are particularly vulnerable to invasive toxins. Both the composition of the topical chemical involved and the structure of an individual’s skin also help determine the amount of that substance that enters the circulatory system. According to one toxicology study, the hairiness of our skin may also affect the rate at which our skin absorbs certain chemicals.

Don’t Let Toxic Invaders Get Under Your Skin!

Unfortunately, many of today’s mainstream skin-care manufacturers—including makers of popular baby-care products—continue to ignore the public health risks of exposure to not only chemical irritants but also “hidden carcinogens.” These silent, potentially lethal invaders include DDT-like pesticides, carcinogenic manufacturing residues, and ingredients that are chemical precursors to carcinogens or that can release cancer-causing agents as they degrade.

Even many so-called “natural” brands fail to live up to their comforting claims. Just because the label boldly proclaims the product is 100% free of the most notorious troublemakers (i.e., parabens, mineral oil, petrolatum, and polyethylene gycol) doesn’t mean it’s devoid of unsafe ingredients or harmful contaminants.

As “new, improved” beauty creams and personal care items continue to flood the market, the list of chemical hazards you should be aware of continues to grow.  Here are a few of the less publicized but increasingly prevalent chemical offenders:

  • DEA (diethanolamine)/MEA (monoethanolamine)/TEA (triethanolamine): Already restricted in the European Union, these potential liver and kidney carcinogens are still commonly used in the U.S. and Asia to adjust the pH of cosmetics or to increase the foaming of action of cleansers. Their toxic effects include allergies, eye irritation, and dryness.
  • Silicone-derived emollients: Stay clear of dimethicone, dimethicone copolyol, and cyclomethicone. Manufactured from the same material used for breast implants, these popular lubricants are widely used in skin creams that claim to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and to “lock in” moisture.  What the product makers fail to mention is that this sticky goo coats your face like a layer of Saran wrap, trapping sebum, dirt, and bacteria, while preventing your skin from breathing and releasing metabolic waste.  Research has shown that silicones are stored in our livers and lymph nodes and contribute to the development of cancerous tumors.
  • Midazolidinyl urea: A wide variety of cosmetics, from exfoliants, eye creams, and anti-aging and rosacea treatments to sunscreens and makeup remover, contain this synthetic preservative. Typically derived from ammonia, midazolidinyl urea is currently under study as a possible carcinogen and has been shown to release the potentially deadly chemical formaldehyde during the manufacturing process. Formaldehyde can also cause eczema, blistering, contact dermatitis, and severe allergic responses.
  • Lanolin: Who would imagine the old standby of our mother’s generation could increase our exposure to toxic chemicals? An “organic” oil derived from sheep’s wool, this seemingly harmless natural moisturizer is often contaminated with carcinogenic pesticide residues.
  • Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS): A common ingredient in shampoos, body washes, and other bath products, this industrial-strength detergent is made up of lightweight molecules that quickly penetrate into the deeper layers of our skin. Scientific studies indicate that SLS can accumulate in the brain, as well as in the heart and liver. SLS is so caustic that according to Judi Vance, author of Beauty To Die For (Promotion Publishing, 1998) it not only can impair the functioning of skin cells and hair follicle, but also frequently serves as the chemical irritant of choice in clinical skin-care studies.

A Word to the Wise Consumer

The best way to protect your skin from chemical risks is to choose a skin care provider you can count on to care about your safety. My commitment to the health of your skin and your total well-being ensures every Lavie Organique™ product is 100% free of synthetic irritants and meets the rigorous quality standards of the Natural Products Association.

Image: Andy Newson / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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

Honeysuckle in Lavie Organique: Sweet Relief for Your Skin

Organic Honeysuckle, Found in Lavie Organique

Honeysuckle in Lavie Organique. Courtesy dreamstimefree.com

The luscious scent of honeysuckle isn’t all this delicate bell-shaped bloom has going for it. Lonicera caprifolium flower extract has been a staple of traditional Chinese medicine for almost 2,000 years. Ancient herbalists relied on honeysuckle to treat a host of ailments, including fevers, rheumatism, skin ulcers, sore throats, and appendicitis.

Today’s scientists attribute honeysuckle’s healing effects to its high chlorogenic acid content. A powerful antioxidant also found in coffee, fruits, and vegetables, chlorogenic acid helps fight free radical damage caused by UVA exposure, promote healthy circulation and reduce inflammation, and heal fungal and bacterial infections.

With all these beneficial qualities, its not surprising that honeysuckle has a long and distinguished history as a cosmetic, too. A book about the 19th century Chinese Dowager Empress Cixi describes her applying honeysuckle extract to her face to moisten and firm her complexion.

The honeysuckle extract in my LaVie Organique™ Original Formulas does double-duty as a syngergistic anti-aging ingredient and a safe natural preservative. Like everything else in my professional skincare product line, this fragrant botanical extract contributes to an effective and elegant experience for your skin.

A Holistic Health Hint: In China, honeysuckle tea is a popular health tonic believed to promote longevity, calm worries, and brighten the eyes. For an easy, fresh-from-the-garden version, just steep a cup of the flowers in a quart of water to 10 minutes—and drink to your health!

The European Difference in Organic Skincare

Lavie Organique Product Line

Lavie Organique, an All Natural Products Line

Today’s growing trend toward on-the-go day spa services says a lot about the current American approach to beauty. Exposed to a continuous media hype about lunchtime face lifts, instant makeovers, and overnight results, people here have become conditioned to believe that faster is always better. While an express manicure or 10-minute waxing certainly comes in handy in a pinch, some things—like anti-aging skin care—just can’t be rushed.

In Europe, where the pace of life is slower, skin care is considered a lifetime discipline. This mindset is reflected in the European spa experience as well as in the time and effort European women dedicate to maintaining a beautiful, youthful-looking complexion.

A Time-Honored Tradition
My education as an aesthetician in Romania was grounded in the traditions of my country’s renowned health resorts. Travelers from all over Europe have been flocking to Romania’s health spas to bathe in its fabled hot springs and mineral-rich black sea mud, breathe fresh mountain air, and relax and restore themselves to optimal health since ancient times.

Over the centuries, as the custom of “taking the waters” became increasingly popular among Europe’s leisure classes, the spa experience continued to evolve. As the lavish hotels and resorts built to cater to wealthy patrons began integrating emerging medical technologies, new wellness philosophies, and elegant cultural and social activities into their treatment routines, the spa experience came to be regarded as the ultimate holistic cure: a combination of a highly personalized rehabilitation program, spiritual retreat, and luxury vacation.

Relax, Refresh, Restore
This tradition of providing a restorative experience for the body, mind, and soul lives on in today’s luxurious European day spas. Their serene and elegant interiors, like the customized organic skin care and complementary health and fitness services they offer, recall the glory days of Old World health spas.

In 1993, three years after coming to the U.S., I opened Lavinia Borcau Skin Care to provide my new clients with an authentic European day spa experience. Since then I’ve remained dedicated to educating clients about the holistic approach to wellness that I learned in my native country and to helping them integrate European-style skin-care regimes into their busy lifestyles.

Like my menu of spa services, the all-natural products in my complete Lavie Organique ™skin-care system are designed to nourish and pamper the skin, refresh the spirit, and delight the senses. As I see it, our skin is precious gift. Throughout our lives, it serves as an exquisitely sensitive interface between our inner being and the world around us. Surely, this essential part of ourselves deserves more than the potentially risky quick-and-dirty skin-care remedies that continue to flood the market. In return for all it does for you, why not give your skin what it needs to stay healthy and beautiful?  The gift of time.

Fair Trade Raw Shea: Butter Up Irritated Winter Skin

As we head into the coldest months of the year, your skin care regimen should focus squarely on keeping surface and underlying skin cells hydrated and nourished. To counteract the dryness and irritation caused by harsh weather and low humidity, I recommend using super-rich moisturizers and emollients whose structure and function mimic those of human skin.

One of the best of best organic oils for protecting and healing the skin in extreme weather is shea butter. Derived from the seed of the West African shea tree (Butyrospermum parkii), this nutrient-packed fat has been valued throughout this region for centuries as a food-oil, cosmetic, and medicine.

Because its natural lubricants closely resemble the sebum produced by the body’s oil glands, shea butter is a safer, more effective alternative to parabens and other petroleum derivatives. The potent mix of essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and healing agents in this plant-derived emollient not only softens surface roughness but also penetrates the skin, boosting circulation in the underlying capillaries and stimulating collagen renewal.

In addition to repairing free radical damage, the antioxidant vitamins A and E shea butter act as natural anti-inflammatories and anti-bacterials, soothing itchiness and irritation. When you add the presence of a natural sunscreen, cinnamic acid, to shea butter’s benefits, it’s easy to see why an increasing number of today’s finest anti-aging creams feature this remarkable natural ingredient.

The Fair Trade raw shea butter in my LaVie Organique™ Day Cream, Face Cream, and Eye Cream is 100 percent free of synthetic chemicals and preservatives and produced with environmentally sustainable methods—so it’s as kind to the Earth as it is to your skin.

Lavie Organique is also a proud supporter of Fair Trade Boston. We donated some of our inventory to help support the initiative of making Boston a Fair Trade City. The video below explains what Fair Trade is from local supporters.

What Exercise Can Do for Your Skin

One of the best ways to multiply the benefits of your all-natural skin care regimen is to maintain a balanced exercise routine. A program that combines aerobic exercise with strength training and stretching promotes beautiful, youthful-looking skin in the following ways:

  • Increasing circulation Improved blood flow to skin cells ensures the delivery of oxygen and nutrients needed  for collagen renewal and flushes away environmental toxins and excess fluids. These actions improve skin elasticity and firmness, reduce puffiness, and give your complexion a healthy pink glow.
  • Reducing stress By decreasing your level of tension and anxiety, exercise helps your facial muscles to relax, softening crow’s and expression lines and slowing the development of new ones.
  • Restoring hormonal balance Exercise helps control acne by keeping the levels of androgens produced by our adrenal glands in check. High levels of these male hormones can over-stimulate the oil glands in our skin, resulting in clogged pores and breakouts.
  • Toning muscles Weight training, Pilates, and yoga  increase of the strength and flexibility of the muscles and connective tissue that support our skin, reducing the visibility of cellulite and creating a toned, taut appearance.

By optimizing the cellular functioning of the skin and its underlying tissues, exercise revitalizes our skin. The fresh radiant complexion that results is not only beautiful to look at, but also visible proof of our skin’s health. This inextricable link between the appearance of our skin and its physiological functioning is at the heart of my holistic approach to skin care.

To be truly effective, the ingredients in your skin care products must go beyond temporarily smoothing and hydrating the skin surface. Unless their active ingredients are also nourishing cells and stimulating their renewal, the most expensive cleansers, toners, and creams in the world will fail to make any significant improvement in the appearance of your skin.

In many respects, the rejuvenating effects of skin care ingredients such as the plant-derived caffeine, hops, horsetail, and other natural circulatory stimulants, AHAs, anti-inflammatories, relaxants, and antioxidants in my LaVie Organique™ product line mirror those of exercise. Both play an essential role in keeping our skin fit, toned, and beautiful for a lifetime.

White Tea Part I: The Perfect Winter Pick-Me-Up

For generations of British subjects and ancient Chinese sages alike, there’s only one certain cure for whatever ails you. When all else fails, have a cup of tea. But does tea deserve its reputation as the perfect holistic remedy? I think it does—which is why my own prescriptions for a happy healthy winter include curling up on the sofa with a mug of hot tea. This year, I’ve also been suggesting my clients try a variety of tea that’s relatively new to the American market–white tea.

White Tea in Lavie Organique

Courtesy of dreamstimefree.com

White tea comes from the immature leaves of the same tea bush, Camillia ginensis, that’s used to make green tea. While we’ve all heard a lot about the benefits of green tea, it turns out that white tea may be an even healthier choice. After harvesting, white tea undergoes only minimal processing. Because it’s left closer to its natural state than green or fermented versions, white tea has a more delicate taste—and a significantly higher concentration of antioxidant flavanoids.

The antioxidant activity of  these plant-derived nutrients plays a vital role in the healthy functioning of our body by

·      enhancing immune response
·      improving cell-to-cell communication
·      regulating estrogen metabolism
·      inhibiting tumor growth
·      repairing free radical damage

Flavanoids also have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, and antiallergenic effects. Scientific studies indicate that their ability to prevent blood clots may help decrease the risk of strokes. Research also suggests that high flavanoid intake may help prevent heart attacks and cancer as well. With all  these beneficial effects, it should come as no surprise that drinking white tea is also good for your skin.

But it’s not just the physical but also the mental effects of white tea that make it such a potent holistic remedy. In China, tea was originally used as a medicine for improving mood and mental prowess, as well as eyesight and digestive and kidney function. Tea’s association with an alert, yet calm and harmonious mental state persisted in Chinese Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Monks in China and other countries where these religions are practiced continue to rely on tea as an aid to meditation. In fact, in Taoist tradition, the very act of preparing and drinking tea has been refined and ritualized as a form of meditation. This link between tea drinking and mental clarity is now supported with scientific studies on the antioxidant properties of flavanoids that show these free radical scavengers can help reduce age-related memory problems, as well as the fatigue, irritability, and sadness associated with depression.

Today’s scientists have also discovered that putting white tea extracts on our bodies as well as in them can also help promote radiant, youthful-looking skin. In fact, white tea leaf extract is an important ingredient not only in my organic peels and Lavie Organique™ Exfoliating Mask but also in  my skin creams and serum. I’ll tell you more about how this organic extract can enhance your skin care regimen in my next blog post.

In the meantime make yourself a nice cup of white tea. But instead of gulping your daily dose of anti-aging nutrients on the run, keep in mind the gentle rhythms of the Taoist tea ceremony, and as you enjoy the taste, imagine the warm, fragrant liquid dissolving your mind and body into the eternal universe.

The Beauty of a Holistic Skin Renewal Regime

The Enjoyable Fragrances of Lavie Organique

The Citrus Scents of Lavie Organique Exfoliating Mask

Like all my skin care products and salon treatments, my signature organic peels and LaVie Organique™ Exfoliating Mask are based on my holistic philosophy. I believe that every skin treatment should address the needs of your skin as a whole. For example, if the SPF 15 sunscreen you use causes acne breakouts, or your toner irritates or dries out your skin, you’re simply trading one skin problem for another one instead of actively promoting healthy, beautiful skin.

A Balanced Formula for Peak Functioning

An exfoliation treatment that does the job of stripping away damaged skin cells but nothing more defeats the purpose of your wintertime skin care regime. When skin is subjected to raw, windy weather and low indoor humidity, the last thing you want is dry, irritated skin. That’s why my exfoliation treatments contain a combination of active ingredients that work in harmony to stimulate cell renewal while restoring the moisture and nutrients needed for optimal functioning. The synergy of this special combination of fruits, herbs, teas, and other plant-derived ingredients is the key to the perfect balance of effectiveness and gentleness my Lavinia Borcau proprietary formulas offer. Each of these botanical extracts delivers important benefits, but used in combination their effects complement and enhance each other. The result is whole that’s more than the sum of its parts—in other words, a total solution to all the environmental and physical stresses that can damage and age our skin.

A Total Skin Care Solution

But a truly holistic skin care regimen doesn’t end with what we put on our bodies; it’s also about what goes in our bodies and what goes on in our mind and our hearts. In the coming weeks, I’ll be telling you more about my holistic approach to looking your best all through the winter and beyond…

The Lavie Organique Exfoliating Mask: Putting the Heat on Dull Wintertime Skin

Courtesy of Dreamstimefree.com

Did you know that adding a little spice to your wintertime exfoliation program can do wonders for your skin?  One of the active in ingredients in my signature organic peels  and LaVie Organique™ Exfoliating Mask  is paprika. In addition to vitamin A and other plant-derived  antioxidants, paprika contains capsaicin—the secret of the many pepper-based folk remedies used to treat a myriad of maladies from arthritis to psoriasis.

The hot, sweaty faces of customers at a chili stand or Indian restaurant are living proof of the powerful effects on capsaicin on the skin. Capsaicin is a vasodilator. This class of chemicals relaxes the smooth muscle cells of blood vessels and by widening the vessels, increases blood flow. When a vasodilator is applied topically, it stimulates blood flow in the capillaries that bring oxygen and nutrients to and remove waste products from our skin. University College of London researchers found that topical application of capsaicin increased cutaneous blood flow by as much as 300%.

If you’ve ever looked in the mirror after a vigorous bout of exercise, you’ve seen the amazing boost that increased blood flow gives to your skin. Best of all, with exfoliation products that contain capsaicin as well as enzymes, your skin enjoys the synergistic revitalizing effects of two potent plant-based ingredients. In combination, the ability of each of these organic extracts to promote cell renewal and overall skin health is enhanced, producing results greater than the sum of the effects of each. In other words, what you get is exactly what you want: the fresh glow of healthy, young-looking skin that comes from a balanced approach to skin care.

Fruit and Milk Enzymes: A Balanced Diet for Your Skin

The transformative power of my salon organic peels and LaVie Organique™ exfoliating mask comes from the ability of enzymes to stimulate cellular activity. But not all enzymes are created equal. The special revitalizing power of the food-derived enzymes malic acid and lactic acid is a case in point.

With the malic acid from the fresh apples and quince in my enzyme peels and LaVie Organic mask, you get far more than safe, effective exfoliation. This remarkable alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) plays a crucial role in cellular metabolism, the cycle of energy production that fuels healthy respiration and circulation. In addition to regulating cell function, malic acid refreshes parched, tired skin with a potent antioxidant cocktail and long-lasting hydration.

To create the ideal balance of nutrients for your skin, I complement the fruit acids in my organic peels with lactic acid  from fermented milk. The ability of this AHA-rich food to smooth rough, wrinkled skin  has been famed since Cleopatra made milk baths the favorite skin pick-me-up of the ancient world’s beautiful people. In addition sloughing off dead skin cells, lactic acid both moisturizes and tones the skin. Its astringent and antibacterial characteristics help prevent acne breakouts by fighting infection and controlling excess sebum production.

In combination, these two enzymes provide a holistic exfoliation treatment that not only removes the worn-out layer of outer skin, but also restores the proper balance of moisture and nutrients to stimulate the growth of fresh, resilient skin cells. Although a series of these peels may be required to achieve optimal results, the investment in time is worth it. You have nothing to lose but the risks of a quick beauty fix, and all the benefits of time-honored all-natural anti-aging solution to gain!