LaVie Organique Skincare Blog

All posts tagged "skin care regime"

Spring Ahead! Why It’s Time to Freshen Up Your Skin-Care Regime

For my mother and grandmother and generations of Romanian women before them, the first day of spring has always signaled an important transition in their natural skin-care regimes. According to our Old World beauty traditions, the season of planting and cultivation is also the perfect time to concentrate on nurturing and renewing our skin.

Spring Training for Your Skin

As members of a culture strongly in tune with the rhythms of natural world, Romanian women believe in shifting the focus of their skin routine in synchrony with the changing seasons. After our wintertime exfoliation program, has sloughed off the accumulation of dead cells on the skin’s surface, we turn or attention to the delicate new skin cells that have emerged. Like the tender young seedlings in our spring garden these new skin cells require a strength-building diet to achieve and maintain robust health.

The Care and Feeding of Skin Cells

According to recent scientific research, a diet rich in superfoods, such as blueberries, nuts and seeds, green and white teas, avocados, and peppers, can help prevent premature aging and restore healthy cellular functioning in all the tissues and organs of the body, including our skin.

Superfoods That Perfect Form and Supercharge Function

The same amino acids, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that we consume to boost skin cell health from within can also beautify and strengthen our skin from the outside. Skin care products made from certified organic extracts and natural plant-derived ingredients are a safe, effective solution to the damage that environmental stresses and the passage of time inflict on our complexions. In my upcoming posts, I’ll discuss some the specific nutrients that will help you not only shape up your skin for spring but also keep it in the pink all year-round and at every age.

Image: Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: m_bartosch / FreeDigitalPhotos.net







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!

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.

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.

Sleep: The Beauty Secret You Can’t Afford to Ignore

Sleep and Lavie Organique

Courtesy of dreamstimefree.com

It’s a highly effective 100% natural treatment for a multitude of skin problems—and it won’t cost you a penny. Yet even many skin-care care fanatics think it’s a waste of time. I’m referring to sleep. Deep, restful sleep—at least 7 to 10 hours of it every night—is one of the best ways to ensure a vibrant, youthful-looking complexion.

Our bodies can devote a lot more energy to repairing damage from free radicals, environmental pollutants, infections, and other skin stressors when they’re at rest than when we’re pushing them through our busy daily routines. In fact, scientific studies have shown that the power of sleep to reduce wear and tear on our bodies can help prevent a range of age-related ailments, including heart attacks and cardiovascular diseases, memory impairment, and diabetes. Ongoing research at the University of Chicago on the role of poor sleep quality in type 2 diabetes and other diseases dramatically illustrates the profound impact of sleep on biological aging. Tests performed there showed that healthy young individuals who were deprived of sleep not only developed abnormally high insulin levels, but also suffered a decline in cell functioning similar to that of a 60-year-old.

Our vulnerability to a variety of skin woes from acne flare-ups and under-eye puffiness to premature aging increases when we don’t get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation impairs our immune systems and disrupts hormone levels, interfering with the skin’s ability to fight infection and replace damaged cells with new ones. The decline in cell function caused by lack of sleep also makes it more difficult for skin cells to cleanse themselves of wastes and toxins. Modern science may have increased our understanding of sleep but it hasn’t done much to help us get more of it. In fact, ever since the invention of the electric light, the amount of sleep the average person gets has been decreasing. Unfortunately many factors, including stress, age, and poor health habits can also contribute to insufficient or poor-quality sleep.

One of the best ways to a avoid a major sleep deficit is to “unplug” from the myriad sources of electronic stimulation that provide our evening entertainment. Turn off your cellphone. Don’t sit up half the night surfing the Internet or watching TV shows that assault your senses with nonstop action and blaring commercials. Spend some time really relaxing before you go to bed. Meditate, take a warm bath, or light some aromatherapy candles (warm, familiar scents such as vanilla are particularly restful) and listen to some soothing music. Develop a consistent nightly ritual that tells your body it’s time for sleep.

You can also assist your skin’s night-time work by incorporating a high-quality all-natural face cream into your evening skin care regime. Make sure the night cream you choose is packed with plant-derived antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and moisturizers. Ingredients such as white tea, rosemary, hops, and horsetail that have a combination of these properties offer the most efficient approach to fighting the effects of aging and restoring a healthy balance to our skin.

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…

Fragrance Overload: Too Much of a Good Thing

Rainwater Fresh fabric softer, Persian Lilac body scrub, Mint Mojito candles, Raspberry-Chocolate moisturizer… At some point, our natural urge to make ourselves and our environment smell yummy went into overdrive. Everywhere we go  now—subways and buses, the workplace, restaurants, homes—our senses are assaulted by a multitude of competing scents. I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to feel like I’m trapped inside a giant jar of potpourri!

No Perfumes in Lavie Organique

Even so, the allure of perfumes and fragrances has persisted for thousands of years. The perfume lovers of the world still cherish the power of a signature scent to set a mood and make a unique statement about their image and identity. During the creation my LaVie Organique product line I thought long and hard about not only about the health issues surrounding the fragrance debate but also the complexities of personal preferences. My goal was to create a skin care regimen that was not only safe for sensitive skin, but also a calming, soothing experience for the mind. But a question remained? How can I do all that and still create top-quality natural skincare products that would appeal to a multitude of tastes?

Once again, the good things of nature provided all the answers I needed. The all-natural plant-based ingredients and organic extracts in my Lavinia Borcau formulas lend a trace of subtly elegant fragrance to every step of your daily skin care regimen.

One of the sources of the clean, delicate scent of my prodcuts is citrus grandis (pink grapefruit) peel essential oil. In keeping with my holistic philosophy this ingredient is not merely a pleasant extra—it’s a vital contributor to the quality and functionality of my all-natural skin care products.

This fruit extract’s powers as an antiseptic and a detoxifier make this all-natural essential oil a vital component of my all my Lavinia Borcau proprietary formulas. A natural antibacterial, this nontoxic alternative to risky preservatives like methylparaben and other petroleum derivatives also protects your health and helps ensure the quality and safety of my products.

With all these benefits plus a light, refreshing scent that doesn’t linger, pink grapefruit oil offers a luxurious experience for men and women of every taste. But there’s more than one note to to the sensual delights of natural scents…I’ll tell you more next time.

Can an Apple a Day Keep Age Spots Away?

Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

While freckles or age spots may bother us, in the majority of cases, they’re perfectly harmless. As I explained in my last post, blotchy areas of darkened skin are most often the result of an interaction between solar radiation and the type of melanin cells we’ve inherited. Facial hyperpigmentation may also signal natural hormonal changes. Melasma, “the mask of pregnancy,” is one such benign condition that occurs in approximately 65% of expectant mothers. Nevertheless it’s important to be aware that not all brown spots are normal. Some may indicate serious health problems.

A dark spot with irregular borders could, for instance, be a malignant melanoma. Among the many other serious diseases associated with hyperpigmentation are Addison’s disease, lupus, scleroderma, and diabetes. Any change in skin pigmentation that comes on suddenly or looks unusual warrants a visit to your physician. If your areas of hyperpigmentation are the natural, normal kind, does that mean you just have to live with them? The fact is age spots are a stubborn—but far from hopeless—problem. While increased melanin production is the best-known contributor to the development of age spots, another culprit is implicated as well.

Known as the “age pigment,” lipofuscin is make up of oxidized fat and other dark-colored wastes that accumulate in our cells as we grow older. Sun exposure and an unhealthy lifestyle also contribute to and hasten the buildup of these free radicals in aging cells. Scientific studies, including one on the effects of grape seed extract on lipofuscin formation, suggest that flavonoids, as well as vitamin E, and other antioxidants can help repair this damage.

Contains Apples & Appleseed

So what’s my prescription for age spots? An all-natural skin care regime that includes plant-based antioxidants and exfoliants and a mineral sunblock. With my full range of LaVie Organique™ skin care products—from the gentle daily cleanser to the revitalizing mask you get all that and more: sun protection from the soothing sea salt zinc oxide, the gentle exfoliating action of ground walnuts; pure, unprocessed tocopherol (vitamin E); anti- inflammatory flavonoids, such as eucalyptus leaf oil and white tea—and the most famous folk remedy of all time—apples.

The remarkable organic compound that makes apples the perfect health food for your skin is malic acid, a potent antioxidant that’s also an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). In my salon’s signature organic peels as well as in the LaVie Organique Exfoliating Mask, this double-duty skin rejuvenator helps refine the skin’s texture and restore a more uniform tone by stripping away the damaged outer layer of skin.

Take advantage of the power of a professional skincare regime—at home or in the salon—and see for yourself what an apple a day can do for your skin.

Freckles Part 1: Where Do They Come From?

On fresh, young skin, freckles can look downright adorable. But once skin loses it youthful glow that cute little sprinkling of polka dots becomes something else entirely: nasty old liver spots. Whether you call them age spots, sun spots, lentigo, or just plain freckles, these uneven deposits of melanin are a variation on a suntan. In both cases, the increased production of brown pigment is our skin’s attempt to protect itself from the sun’s UV-B rays.

Courtesy of http://mhdbass.wordpress.com

Freckles are most commonly seen on fair-skinned people. Redheads and blondes are more likely to have freckles than dark-haired people, but many African Americans and Asians have them, too. In fact, when the Chinese-American actress Lucy Liu appeared in the movie Kill Bill with her freckles showing, she had trouble convincing people that they weren’t the handiwork of a clever make-up artist. Liu insists it’s the other way around—in earlier roles, a heavy layer of foundation masked the freckles she’s had since early childhood.

So, is it our genes or the sun that causes freckles? The answer is both. UV-B radiation activates melanocytes—the cells that produce melanin. The distribution of melanocytes in our skin determines the presence or absence of freckles. In freckled skin, these cells are clumped together rather than spread out evenly. Very fair skin without freckles indicates that very few melanocytes are present.

Freckles are also linked to the type of melanocytes you inherit. One type produces eumelanin, a black or brown pigment. In people with very dark, even skin tone, these cells are distributed evenly. The other type of melanocyte produces a yellowish or red pigment called pheomelanin. People who produce more pheomelanin than eumelanin will have freckles.

The causes of the larger, darker discolored areas that often develop as we age are usually decades of sun damage, the increased melanin production that can occur as we grow older, or a combination of the two.

In people of Northern European ancestry, the buildup of pheomelanin in the skin is associated with a defect in the melanocortin-1 receptor MC1R gene—a gene associated with not only your skin and hair color, but also your risk of developing melanoma. Recent scientific studies have also linked pale, freckled skin to a poorly functioning kit ligand gene, the gene associated with skin and hair color in East Asians.

Now that we know where age spots come from, what can we do about them? In my next post, I’ll discuss the serious skin care regimen needed to reduce the visibility and roughness of the scaly brown splotches that can afflict aging 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.