LaVie Organique Skincare Blog

All posts tagged "rosacea"

Is Your Face Trying to Tell You Something?

Face mapping—or face reading—offers an innovative approach to wellness-based skincare that’s rooted in ancient Eastern medical principles. Developed thousands of years ago by Chinese and Ayurvedic healers, this intuitive health and beauty practice gradually spread to other areas of the world, including my native Romania. The belief that our face is the mirror of our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing was fundamental to my education in Eastern European aesthetics.

The Messages in the Mirror

The idea that our complexion and even our facial features can provide important clues to organ function most likely arose from careful observation of patients not as a collection of symptoms but as individuals whose outward appearance reflected their internal health. For instance, the association between acne on the forehead and poor digestion probably emerged from years of observing this pattern of breakouts in people who had stomach and bowel complaints. When I see clients with this pattern of breakouts I often recommend changes in their diet such as eating more fruits, vegetables, and fiber or reducing wheat or milk intake to determine whether their digestive system is unusually sensitive to these foods. Here are a few more tips on managing your diet and lifestyle based on facial mapping:

Known as the T zone, the T-shaped area that includes your nose and the lower forehead) is generally associated with liver problems, which may call for curbing your alcohol consumption and upping your water intake. Foods that support strong liver function include dark, leafy greens; vegetable in the cabbage family (e.g., broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower); eggs; and garlic and onions. Sometimes blemishes on the nose signal cardiac problems, so make sure your blood pressure is under control. A puffy, red nose is sometimes a sign of heart issues as well, but can also be a symptom of rosacea, an inflammatory condition that, like acne, responds well to anti-inflammatory foods, including dark greens, fatty fish, and nuts. (Redness in the T-zone, particularly when it extends to the cheeks, can also be a normal reaction to eating spicy food or drinking alcohol as well, or could be a symptom of an allergy, a high fever, or a serious systemic illness such as lupus.) Clogged pores and blackheads in the T-zone are another common source of breakouts. The best way to control this problem is to use skincare products made with natural plant-based oils that don’t get stuck in pores and to schedule monthly pore extractions with a qualified aesthetician. (Don’t try removing blackheads at home—improper technique and unsanitary conditions can cause serious infections!)

Forehead Are deep horizontal lines on your forehead creating the impression that you’re worried/irritable/dissatisfied even when you’re in a good mood? If this is the case, you may be a habitual frowner who should adopt healthy ways to de-stress such as yoga or meditation and look for ways to lead a happier, more fulfilling life, whether it’s changing careers or just taking more time out from work and family obligations to relax and recharge your physical and emotional energies.

Eye area Puffiness here may indicate kidney issues, calling for careful attention to hydration from drinking water as well as from fruits and vegetables that contain a lot of water, such as grapefruit, melons, strawberries, cucumbers, spinach, and celery. Dark circles in this area may reveal a need for more sleep, while expression lines and wrinkles may indicate habits while squinting and rubbing your eyes. The cure may be as simple as stronger prescription lenses, sun glasses, a richer eye cream, or gentler handling of the delicate skin around the eyes.

Cheeks Breakouts here are associated with respiratory problems as well as stress. The best prescription for both conditions is plenty of exercise and extra vigilance in regard to diet and stress management.

Blemishes on your cheeks may be clue to aerobic fitness.

Blemishes on your cheeks may be clue to aerobic fitness.

 

Chin and jaw acne usually points to hormonal upsets. Add plenty of omega-3s (e.g., from walnuts, flaxseeds, salmon) to your diets and eliminate sugar and refined flour. A healthy balance of vigorous activity and natural relaxation techniques will also help quiet hormonal swings.

What Does Science Say?

A growing body of research shows that our face does indeed provide important insights into a variety of complexion issues and health conditions, including acne, diabetes, hepatitis, and hormonal dysfunction. There’s even exciting new evidence that facial features can help doctors diagnose genetic syndromes. The “face readers” of ancient times were the first practitioners to notice a link between the structure of the face (e.g., shape, placement of the ears, slant of the eyes, fullness of lips, occurrence of lines and wrinkles) to internal health, personality, and spiritual wellbeing.

Today’s physicians can now use a highly advanced digital tool called Face2Gene to pinpoint the markers of genetic disorders that deeply affect all these aspects of wellness and functionality, including autism and Alzheimer’s, in just seconds. Immediate access to this knowledge can eliminate the long, costly, frustrating search for a conclusive diagnosis and allow for helpful interventions in the early stages of disorders that are otherwise elusive and difficult to treat. For instance, research suggests that identifying early markers of dementia may enable people to make changes in their lifestyle that could help them to maintain a healthy, fulfilling for years to come.

Today, as in the past, the best diagnosticians are those who combine good gut instincts with sharp observations of each person’s unique physical characteristics. We can all nurture and practice these skills to help develop a beauty and lifestyle plan that is exactly right for us.

 

Reading the Skin

A crucial part of my training as a licensed esthetician in my native Romanian was learning to look at the skin as a “mirror” that reflects an individual’s overall health and well-being. As a result, I often recommend changes in diet and other aspects of my clients’ lifestyle or even a visit to their physician when my evaluation of their skin reveals signs of a physiological imbalance, stress, or a medical condition.

The various skin characteristics that I evaluate include its coloration. Unusual changes in coloration may be linked to physical problems ranging from pigmentation disorders and nutritional deficiencies to a variety of serious diseases. To help you become more attuned to the important health messages conveyed by our skin, I’ve outlined the major types of coloration problems and their possible causes below.

Whiteness—The causes of extreme paleness include iron deficiency anemia, circulatory congestion, respiratory problems, various genetic conditions, and vitiligo, a pigmentation disorder that may be triggered by severe sunburn, emotional distress, and other types of stress or trauma. In addition to causing self-consciousness and embarrassment, vitiligo may in some cases indicate an autoimmune disorder, genetic syndrome, or disease. Decreased pigmentation may also be a side effect of some drug treatments.

Blue or purplish coloration—This skin tone is linked to cyanosis, a serious condition caused by impaired circulation. Cyanosis indicates a lack of sufficient oxygen in the blood. People with asthma and other respiratory problems may also have bluish skin.

Yellow skin—Jaundice , or yellowing of the skin, is a symptom of serious gallbladder or liver problems that should be investigated by a physician.

Orange tone—The causes of orange skin range from eating too many carrots or other foods with high levels of beta carotene to a genetic condition that leads to excessive iron levels in the blood.

Redness—A variety of skin conditions including rashes, rosacea, and dermatitis can cause redness. In other cases, redness occurs when a rapid heartbeat causes swelling of the capillaries, bringing a rush of blood to the skin. Excessive consumption of alcohol or spicy foods, as well as some types of hypertension, can also redden the skin.

Skin darkening—Many cases of increased pigmentation result from free radical damage caused by sun exposure and environmental toxins. Some cases of skin darkening may indicate a serious health problem such as Addison’s disease or scleroderma.

As you can see, a number of the conditions I’ve outlined are related to what we eat and to the functioning of our circulatory system–two aspects of wellness that have long been a major focus of holistic medical traditions. A recent study by British researchers on healthy skin color has now lent additional weight to the importance of eating foods rich in antioxidants and maintaining circulatory health. Participants in the study used a software program to optimize the skin tones of faces displayed on a computer screen.

The results showed that the complexions the participants considered the healthiest and most attractive looking typically displayed a balanced combination of two skin tones: the golden pigmentation gained from eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables and the rosy glow provided by healthy blood flow and oxygen levels in the skin. Although this particular study was limited to Caucasian skin, the skin tones of all races display similar variations in brightness and tone. To me, these research findings are yet another example of how modern science is deepening our understanding of traditional intuitive approaches to “reading” the skin for clues to internal health.

White Tea Part II: Good for What Ails Aging Skin

As with many components of a healthy diet, white tea benefits our skin not only when we consume it, but also when we apply it topically. The white tea leaf extract in my LaVie Organique™ formulas contain several substances that play an important role in promoting healthy, young-looking skin. In addition to the antioxidant flavonoids I discussed in my last blog spot, white tea also contains alkaloids. Alkaloids are used to treats variety of skin diseases, including psoriasis, acne, dermatitis, rosacea, and squamous cell cancers.

Tea in Lavie Organique

Courtesy of dreamstimefree.com

The alkaloids in white tea include caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline. These three chemical compounds, referred to as xanthines, form loose bonds with the flavonoids in tea, increasing their antioxidant effects. In addition to contributing to the repair of free radical damage, xanthines help improve circulation, flush waste products from cells, reduce inflammation, and fight infection. These combined effects promote healthy, young looking skin in several ways.

Scientists have found evidence that topical application of unfermented tea fights photo-aging and skin cancer and works synergistically with sunscreen to boost sun protection. Because chemical reactions between the synthetic compounds in many sunscreens may alter the tea’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, my Day Cream formula combines organic white tea leaf extract with zinc oxide, a powerful natural-mineral sunscreen that is chemically inert.

Skin biopsies have shown that the antioxidants and xanthines in tea also help boost production of collagen and elastin cells. As we age, the rate at which these cells replace themselves slows, causing the network of collagen and elastin fibers that give our skin its shape, texture, and resilience to weaken. The result is sagging, wrinkled skin. While applying products that contain collagen won’t help—collagen molecules are too big to penetrate the epidermis—using treatments with ingredients that promote healthy cell renewal and that our skin can absorb can help improve the appearance of sun-damaged, aging skin.

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.