LaVie Organique Skincare Blog

All posts tagged "sensitive skin"

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

Chapped Lips: Is Your Favorite Lip Balm a Joke?

In the new movie Greenberg, there’s one joke that I could’ve written myself. Commenting on the cranky title character’s chapstick “addiction,” his friend actually reveals the true cause of Greenberg’s seemingly compulsive behavior: The more you these popular petroleum-based lip balms, the drier your lips get.

Thirsty Lips and Synthetic Moisturizers: A Vicious Cycle

Ironic isn’t it? The very products we rely on to moisten and soothe the fragile skin on our lips do the exact opposite of what they’re supposed to do.

Instead of hydrating and nourishing new cells in the skin’s deeper layers, the main ingredients in synthetic lip balms—petroleum and mineral oil derivatives—merely sit on the surface. In addition to actually repelling moisture, this greasy surface film often contains potentially irritating chemicals such as phenyl salicylate that can irritate and inflame sensitive skin.

Eliminating Chemical Accomplices

Cracking and peeling can be further aggravated by toothpastes and mouthwashes that contain guaiazulene, sodium lauryl sulfate, or other harsh chemicals. In some cases, severe, chronic chapping is related to a medical problem such as an autoimmune disorder, so if eliminating synthetic products doesn’t help, you should consult with your doctor.

Replenish and Revitalize with a Healthy a Dose of Green Medicine

To help your chapped lips recover from the ravages of dry weather and chemical irritants, I recommend trying one of the new green lip balms that have recently become available. But before you take out your wallet, read the label. Many so-called natural products contain the very ingredients you want to avoid. To hydrate, nourish, and restore the youthful luster of your lips, opt for lip balms made with natural beeswax or plant-derived moisturizers and lubricants, such as shea butter; sunflower, grapeseed, avocado, and almond oils; and honey.

I’ll explain the special benefits of honey as a natural skin healer in my next blog post.

Image: prozac1 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: m_bartosch / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: Graeme Weatherston / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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.


Rosemary: The Scent of Ageless Health and Beauty

I designed the elegant scent of my Lavie Organique professional skincare products to capture the essence of my balanced, synergistic approach to radiant health and beauty. Just as my special blend of natural and organic extracts works together to restore equilibrium to overstressed skin, the different fragrance notes that scent my proprietary formulas blend in perfect harmony to soothe and refresh your spirit.

Natural Ingredient in Lavie Organique

A Natural Ingredient Found in Lavie Organique

Rosemary leaf (Rosemarinus officinalis) extract lends a tangy evergreen note to the scent of my plant-based formulas—and the healing properties of a time-honored folk remedy. Aromatherapists still treat stress and fatigue with its fragrant leaves, but its medicinal properties been revered throughout history. Ancient Romans believed rosemary improved memory and traditional herbalists have been cooking up rosemary teas to treat headaches and digestive disorders for centuries. Medieval Europeans relied on rosemary to freshen breath and to keep meat from spoiling. In fact, its effectiveness as a natural preservative is borne out by its presence in the tissues of Egyptian mummies that have lasted for thousands of years.

With a history like that, it’s not surprising that today’s scientists are searching for the facts behind rosemary’s fabled reputation. Researchers have discovered that rosemary is not only a natural antiseptic, but also a diuretic that reduces swelling, as well as a possible cancer fighter and liver stimulant. The same anti-inflammatories and antioxidants, such as carnosol and caffeic acid that make rosemary a potential weapon against disease also explain why many of today’s best natural skincare products include it in their anti-aging arsenal.

In 2008,the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) confirmed that rosemary extracts complied with its notoriously stringent safety and effectiveness standards for use as an antioxidant. A 2009 press release that announced certification of rosemary extracts by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), noted the particular suitability of water-soluble rosmarinic acid for water-based products such as creams, as well as its heat stability, which prevents its antioxidant activity from dissipating at high temperatures.

Like Queen of Hungary Water—one of Europe’s first alcohol-based perfumes and astringents—Lavie Organique Toner also contains rosemary. But without the brandy that 14th century monks who invented it added to Elizabeth of Hungary’s signature cologne. Those monks obviously didn’t know much about the irritating effects of alcohols on sensitive skin!

Scented vs. Unscented: Making Sense of Cosmetic Labels

Have you ever been stuck next to someone whose cologne or aftershave made you literally sick? Well, anyone who thinks you’re exaggerating should read the EPA’s 1991 report on the most commonly used ingredients in synthetic fragrances. Even perfumes that smell fresher than a spring day and cost hundreds of dollars an ounce may contain up to 500 different synthetic chemicals.

According to that EPA study, this industrial witch’s brew of cheap, evil-smelling petrochemicals, solvents, and coal tar derivatives is packed with health perils ranging from skin inflammation, fatigue, headaches, and nausea to potentially fatal asthma attacks, immuno-toxicity, and central nervous system disorders.

For those who prefer to minimize their daily dose of toxic industrial waste products, unscented products seem like the logical, healthful alternative. It’s also logical to assume that words like scent-free, unscented, and fragrance-free on a product label signal safety from chemical irritants. But consumers who make this assumption are making the same mistake as Alice in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. In the backwards, baffling world of cosmetic labeling, words can mean exactly what product manufacturers choose them to mean.

The fact is, the FDA has never presented any legal definition of these terms in their compliance guidelines. As a result, manufacturers of fragrance-free products can and do use equally dangerous masking ingredients to hide the nasty chemical smell of their raw materials. So, unless you’ve researched every single ingredient on the product label, you have no way of knowing whether you’re choosing a truly scent-free alternative or merely the lesser of two evils.

Thanks to today’s burgeoning green revolution, however, you can choose a third alternative that’s not only safe for sensitive skin, but also a delight for the senses. In my next post, I’ll explain why all-natural plant-based scents and organic extracts are the best of all possible fragrances.

Organic Skincare for Sensitive Skin Part 4: Do Synthetic Moisturizers Deliver on Their Promises?

Once you’ve evaluated the risk factors, there’s another important question about synthetic skin care additives that remains to be answered. How effective are they?

Let’s start with a closer look at the world’ favorite moisturizer and all-purpose skin remedy: petrolatum jelly. Generations of consumers have relied on this sticky ointment to moisturize, soothe, and protect sensitive skin. Although petrolatum is often promoted as a remedy for sunburn, diaper rash, and dry, irritated skin, its physical properties actually worsen these conditions. In fact, this semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons actually repels moisture. Furthermore, physicians have shown that our skin can’t absorb petrolatum. The thick barrier this gooey substance forms on the skin may help keep germs out of wounds, but it also seals in the heat generated by any type of burn. Petrolatum jelly’s promise as a moisturizer is equally deceiving. Instead of the soft, dewy skin this product supposedly ensures, petrolatum leaves you with a greasy film. Other petroleum derivatives such as mineral oil—the main ingredient in baby oil—produce a similar effect.

What about propylene glycol? Unlike petrolatum, this additive can penetrate the skin surface. Propylene glycol is a humectant, a type of chemical whose molecules attract and easily bond with water molecules. Theoretically, then, propylene glycol should be a good skin moisturizer. But these two facts don’t tell the whole story of this widely used wetting agent and solvent. When humidity drops, propylene glycol tends to draw moisture from the lower layers of the skin instead of from the surrounding air. The ultimate result to your skin is increased dryness as well as irritation.

So why do cosmetic companies love these ingredients so much? The most likely reason is economic: Both petrolatum and propylene glycol are cheap.

The superiority of plant-based oils as skin moisturizers comes from a simple fact of nature: Botanical oils resemble sebum, the natural moisturizer found in our skin. One of the most effective of these plant-derived moisturizers, Aloe vera 200x, is an extract of a well-known succulent plant species. The water-retaining tissue of succulents enable these plants to thrive in the parched atmosphere of desert climates. Anyone who’s ever seen and touched an aloe vera plant’s sleek, juicy leaves has firsthand evidence of it’s amazing emollient and revitalizing properties.

To meet Lavinia Borcau Quality Standards, the Aloe vera 200x used in La Vie Organique™ Original Formulas must meet or exceed the Natural Product Association safety guidelines, as well as my own exacting criteria for professional skincare performance. So you’re assured of the highest levels of quality, purity, and safety.

In my next post, I’ll explain more about aloe vera’s power to enhance the health and beauty of your skin.

Organic Skincare for Sensitive Skin Part 3: Three Top Troublemakers

Parabens, petrolatum, and propylene glycol are the cosmetic industry’s three favorite synthetic additives. From skin cleaners and moisturizers to shampoos, sunscreens, makeup, deodorants, and shaving cream, virtually every beauty and personal care item in your local drugstore contains one or more these substances. In fact you’ll find all three on the label of almost every brand of baby lotion you can buy. That might be enough to reassure most consumers—but do evidence-based studies on these ingredients unanimously confirm their safety and effectiveness?

As it turns out, researchers at an organization specializing in environmental safety have challenged the widespread belief that parabens, petrolatum, and propylene glycol are harmless and even good for your skin. According to the database compiled by the Environmental Working Group, the potential health hazards of these ingredients extend far beyond their tendency to cause allergies and dermatitis. Let’s look at what EWG research reports have to say about each one.

Petrolatum jelly: Researcher classified this widely used moisturizer as a possible cancer risk and raised concerns about potential organ damage and the presence of toxic contaminants.

Parabens: This popular synthetic preservative may interfere with hormonal balance and has been found in the breast cancer tumors of 19 of 20 women studied. Approximately 250,000 beauty and personal care products contain parabens!

Propylene glycol: Evidence from animal studies suggests moderate doses of this petroleum derivative may cause widespread organ toxicity. Emerging concerns include potential damage to natural ecosystems.
In addition its use as a wetting agent in personal care products, propylene glycol is an ingredient often found in antifreeze—does that sound like anything you’d want put on your skin?

You can avoid all these health risks by maintaining an all-natural skin care regime. Every Orginal Formula product—from my daily cleanser, to my weekly exfoliating mask —in the Lavie Organique™ skin care system contains only certified organic and natural plant-derived ingredients. The complete line provides a total solution to the risk of skin and other health problems from exposure to synthetic additives.

In my concluding comments on sensitive skin, you’ll find out why safer and gentler natural alternatives to synthetic moisturizing and anti-agents can also deliver superior results.

Organic Skincare for Sensitive Skin Part 2: What’s in a Name?

When I advise clients with sensitive skin to avoid face creams and other beauty products with harsh chemical ingredients, they sometimes ask me to identify the major offenders. It’s actually a lot easier than you might think. In fact, anyone who’s committed to healthy eating already has a head start. If you check the labels of food products for harmful additives, you can probably spot synthetic chemicals immediately. Names like FD&C Yellow #6, sodium benzoate, BHA, BHT, and diacetyl tend to raise alarm bells in people who care about their diet. Basically, if the ingredient name looks like it belongs in a chemistry book, it probably doesn’t belong inside your body.

This same logic applies to the ingredients we put on our skin. For instance, ingredient names with –ly endings—ethyl, benzyl, methyl, and so forth—automatically spell trouble for sensitive skin. These alcohol derivatives are found in many high-priced cleansers, toners, and moisturizers—yet they can seriously damage your skin. Alcohols not only cause dryness and irritation, but also interfere with vitamin A absorption. The resulting deficiency may contribute to the premature development of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging.

Obviously there’s nothing beautiful about beauty products that can make you look old before your time! You won’t find any alcohols in Lavinia Borcau natural skin care products. In fact, any ingredient that isn’t 100% natural is specifically excluded from the Lavie Organique™ product line by my official Quality Standards. And as my clients will tell you, that’s a promise, you can trust!

Stay tuned—I’ll be naming more of the prime suspects in cases of red, irritated skin in Part 3.

Organic Skincare for Sensitive Skin—Part 1

Do you have sensitive skin? A great many of my clients—with all different skin types and a wide variety of symptoms—complain of this condition. The fact is, skin sensitivity is a popular, loosely defined term used to describe various forms of dermatitis. What all forms of dermatitis have in common is inflammation—our body’s natural defensive response to a disease or an injury or irritant.

The symptoms of dermatitis can range from mild redness and stinging or itching to painful hives and other severe rashes. The causes of this condition also vary. In some cases, the client may require medical treatment for a potentially serious skin disease such as eczema or psoriasis or specific skin allergies. In most cases, however, the client’s symptoms indicate dermatitis, a rash caused by exposure to harsh chemicals.

So what’s the best way to care for your sensitive skin? Gently and safely! Start by reading the label on every product that comes in contact with your skin. That includes detergents and fabric softeners, as well as shampoo, conditioner, bubble bath, shower gels, and body lotions. If a product contains any alcohol, alcohol derivatives, or other synthetic chemicals, keep it away from your skin! I’ll be going into more detail about the most common and harmful of these irritants in later posts.

Above all, be especially vigilant about the ingredients in the products you put on your face. Many popular sun blocks, cleansers, toners, and moisturizers can cause rashes, breakouts, and other complexion problems.

I also recommend my clients choose products with certified organic and natural plant derived ingredients for their daily and weekly skin care regimen. With my LaVie Organique™ product line you’re assured that only the purest and safest of natural and organic herbal and botanical ingredients touch your skin. But playing it safe, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice effectiveness. Lavinia Borcau natural skincare products combine the gentleness of nature with the power of 21st century science to provide the dramatic results that many synthetic skin care products promise—without any of the painful aftereffects they so often deliver.