An Ounce of Prevention (…or what I would love to tell my teenage self).

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.  All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.

We have all heard this nursery rhyme but what does it have to do with skin care or health in general?  The point I want to make is, that once something is broken it can be really difficult (and/or expensive) to fix.  The same thing goes for our bodies.  The earlier we start taking care of ourselves the less damage we will have to try to “fix” later in life.

Most of the cells in our bodies divide, die, and regenerate.  The old or damaged cells are replaced by new cells but as we age, that turnover slows down and is less efficient.  That means things start to break down and wear out (collagen and elastin start to fizz out as early as 25 years old!).

Ageing is inevitable and there is nothing we can do to stop that from happening, at least not yet.  How well we age and the quality of life we have is largely based upon how well we treat ourselves (I know people who take better care of their cars than they do their own bodies).  So what can we do to take better care of ourselves?  Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables (find the ones you like and eat those), drink water (infuse it with fruit or herbs for flavor), exercise (just walking is great), learn something new (anything at all), get quality sleep (important for just functioning properly), wear sunscreen every day (helps prevent skin cancer and wrinkles), spend time with the people you love (people who do this are happier and healthier), and relax (stress leads to all kinds of problems including premature ageing).

Take a little time to take care of yourself now and every day.  Like we’re instructed on the airplane:  put the oxygen mask on yourself first; you can’t help anyone else if you don’t first help yourself.

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I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom from the late George Carlin:

  Life in reverse By George Carlin

“The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends.

I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time.

What do you get at the end of it?

A death.

What’s that, a bonus?

I think the life cycle is all backwards.

You should die first; get it out of the way.

Then you live in an old age home.

You get kicked out when you’re too young, you get a gold watch,

you go to work.

You work forty years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement.

You drink alcohol, you party,

you get ready for high school.

You go to grade school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb,

You spend your last nine months floating…

Then you finish off as an orgasm.”

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Sleep Wrinkles

The position in which we sleep and the material our pillowcase is made of might play a role in wrinkle formation or what are called sleep lines.  When we lie on our side or stomach, our face gets smooshed into the pillow.  If this happens over and over, permanent lines may form.    The best option is to sleep on our backs.  This position may not be comfortable for some people and we move around a lot when we sleep, so we are likely to end up on our side at some point.  You could try placing pillows behind your back to make it more difficult to roll over.  I did try this, and it sort of worked; but I move a lot so the pillows were on the floor by morning and I was on my side.

Another option is to purchase a sleep pillow.    I bought the Nurse Jamie Beauty Bear Age Delay Pillow.  This pillow encouraged more back sleeping.  I also no longer experienced neck pain or headaches after I started using it.  And because I still end up on my side at times, it has U-shape to it so your forehead and chin are propped up but your cheek is free.  The Beauty Bear pillow is also available in memory foam.  I’ve had both fill types, and I personally like the memory foam one quite a bit more.

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There are other sleep pillows on the market so I decided to try out a different brand. I found the Envy Pillow.  This one comes from a couple of Canadian nurses and is made out of memory foam (you may have noticed a nurse trend here and that’s because I love nurses, plus I am one).  This pillow also encourages back-sleeping but if you end up on your side it has a gull wing shape so your cheek is elevated.  It is bigger than the Nurse Jamie pillow (about the size of a standard pillow) but it has a great design and really helps with proper neck alignment and support.  They also offer a travel size and a kid’s pillow.

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The pillow is important but so is the pillowcase.  Most pillowcases are made out of cotton.   Cotton is great, and I love cotton, but not for my pillowcase.  Cotton bunches up and pulls against our delicate facial skin each time we move.  The best material is silk or satin.  These materials allow our skin to slide on the pillow.   They are less absorbent than cotton so those expensive skin care products you applied before bed stay on your skin instead of transferring to your pillow.  The smooth texture of silk and satin is also good for our hair.  For the same reason it doesn’t pull on our skin it doesn’t pull on our hair.  This means less breakage and healthier hair.  The Beauty Bear pillow comes with a satin pillow case.  The Envy pillow provides a choice of bamboo or silk.  I purchased the silk cover and I love it.  Envy also comes with a lovely travel bag.

If you don’t want to purchase a sleep pillow (because the prices can be a little high) you can switch out your cotton pillowcase for a silk or satin one.  I found this inexpensive Silk Pillowcase on amazon.  Soft Surroundings also has an inexpensive silk pillowcase and it comes in 3 different sizes and a nice range of colors.  Silk can still be on the pricey side so a satin one will work and I have found some inexpensive satin pillowcases at Target, TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, and Home Goods.

Get a good night’s sleep (see my post on sleep here), use a silk or satin pillowcase (and/or a sleep pillow), and always remember to wear sunscreen (if this is confusing, you must be new to my site).  Your skin will thank you.

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The Envy Pillow without the pillowcase

For further reading:

journal of cosmetic laser therapy-the influence of the sleeping on the formation of facial wrinkles)

aesthetic surgery journal-sleep wrinkles: facial aging and facial distortion during sleep

National Sleep Foundation-sleep and wrinkles

Micellar Water

For the longest time, I resisted even trying micellar water.  I thought, “What’s the point?”  I use facial cleanser and water to wash my face.  I couldn’t imagine how swiping a liquid-soaked cotton pad across my face, without rinsing it off no less, could possibly clean anything.  Well, I’m always up for trying new things.

Micelle Ball-3321

I knew what the term micellar meant.  I studied micelles in high school and college chemistry.  The definition of micelle is an aggregate of molecules in a colloidal solution, such as those formed be detergents.  That is not very glamorous nor does it really mean anything to those of us who aren’t scientists.  I could go into the chemistry of how micelles work but I won’t bore you.  If you are really interested visit this site or this one here.  In a nutshell, micellar water contains a bunch of micelles, which are like little sponges, suspended in water.  The micelles have oil-loving tails and water-loving heads.   This magical combination traps dirt, oil, and makeup and whisks it away with the swipe of a cotton pad.

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I subscribe to the New Beauty Test Tube and in my last box of goodies, I received a sample of micellar water from Lumene.  I read the ingredients and put it aside with the intention of trying it at a later date.  My husband saw it and decided he wanted to try it out.  He loved it!  I was still a little skeptical but decided to give it a try anyway.  To my surprise, I really liked it too.  I thought my skin would still feel dirty or possibly dried out but it didn’t.  It felt clean and hydrated.  I wondered if other micellar waters would feel the same way so I went to Ulta and purchased a few others.  I read through the ingredients lists of several brands and decided to purchase La Roche Posay Micellar Water, Pacifica Kale Water, Pacifica Cactus Water, and another bottle of the Lumene.  I chose La Roche Posay because I like and use several of their products.  I chose the two from Pacifica because I liked the ingredients, I like and use several other Pacifica products, and they are a local company and I like to support local when I can.  So far, I like the Lumene and the Pacifica the best.  That’s because they have additional, beneficial ingredients in them like Birch sap in the Lumene or glycolic acid in the Pacifica Kale Water.  The La Roche Posay is best for those with sensitive skin because there are no additional ingredients.   There are a lot of different micellar waters out there, so don’t’ be afraid to ask for samples.  I ask for samples all of the time.  This way if I don’t like it I don’t have to waste my money.  I also shop around to see if I can find better prices.  Amazon is always a great option and I purchase my Lumene from Amazon for $5.99 for a full size bottle.  It’s even better if you are a Prime subscriber because you get free 2 day shipping!

I am pretty diligent about washing my face at night, but sometimes I feel so lazy I don’t want to do anything but go to bed.  This is the perfect time to use my micellar water.  Keep a bottle on the nightstand with some cotton pads, swipe your face, and done.  You don’t even have to sit up!  It’s also great for camping when you may not have access to a lot of fresh water.

I’m not really sure how micellar water will perform if you wear a lot of makeup.  I don’t wear a lot, so it works pretty well for me.  I clean my face, neck and chest every day and I have to use at least 3 cotton pads for that.  I would bet with more makeup you are going to be using a good amount of cotton pads, and even then it may not feel like you have removed all of your makeup.  I would suggest using a makeup remover wipe beforehand.

I found an article in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology discussing sensitive skin compatibility of micellar water.  There was no increased irritation from using micellar water compared to water.  There was also an immediate increase in skin hydration after its use, and that skin hydration persisted for 4 hours.  The study was 100% sponsored by Unilever.  This means that the research and its outcomes may have some bias and should be taken with a grain of salt.  However, there does seem to be something great about micellar water.  After all, how could all those French women be wrong?

10 Tips for Beautiful Skin

Taking care of our skin does not have to be difficult or expensive.  There are simple things you can do every day that will give you glowing skin.

Top Ten List #1 (Revision)

  1. Drink water. I know that for some of us this can be a difficult task.  Some people forget and some people just don’t like drinking water.  I get it.  I used to be there, but I have since become a believer in the power of water.  When I started drinking more water I began getting compliments on how nice my skin looked, and I noticed a little glow myself.  Try filling a water bottle with water before you leave home in the morning and keep it with you to sip on throughout the day.  Other liquids & foods count too as long as they do not include caffeine or alcohol.  Herbal teas, lettuce, melons, and soup all contain water.  You could also try adding fruits, vegetables and herbs to your water to infuse it with flavor.  I love lemons, limes, blueberries and cucumbers.
  2. Get a good night’s sleep. This one can be tough too because we live in a fast-paced, always going society.  Even if we manage by some miracle to get to bed at a decent hour we toss and turn and wake up feeling like we never slept at all.  Stay away from caffeine before going to bed, make sure your bedroom is dark or wear a sleep mask, your bedroom temperature should be between 65-68 degrees F, and make sure you have a good mattress and pillow.  If you like herbal teas you could try drinking chamomile tea or Fortified Calming Tea from WelleCo before bed.  Use this code, http://fbuy.me/fJnBp, to receive $10 off your first purchase of $50 or more.
  3. Eat foods rich in antioxidants. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables have proven benefits for more than just our skin.  They help keep all of our organs healthy which makes us feel better which, in turn, makes us look better.   As an added bonus dark chocolate contains antioxidants.  I keep dark chocolate in my pantry as well as dark chocolate powder to make hot drinking chocolate as a treat.  Look for organic cacao without sugar added.  I like and use Navitas Organics Cacao Powder, Dagoba Organic Chocolate, and Crio Brü.  The Crio Brü is roasted and ground cocoa beans and you can brew it like coffee.  One of my favorites was the Maya which had cinnamon, vanilla, and cayenne pepper but they don’t make it anymore.
  4. Wash your face daily. It’s important to wash your face at least once per day before bed to clean away accumulated dirt and makeup.  If you have oily skin, a gel or foam cleanser works well.  If you have dry skin, a creamy cleanser may work better.  It is also important to exfoliate once or twice per week.  Don’t over wash or over exfoliate because too much can cause more harm.
  5. Apply sunscreen EVERY DAY. I can’t say this enough.  UV light can cause skin damage even on a cloudy day.  The best way to protect our skin is to wear sunscreen every day.  Also, it’s not enough to wear just your foundation, even if it has sunscreen in it.  You are likely not applying enough foundation to get the right amount of sun protection.  Apply sunscreen first then apply foundation.
  6. Don’t pick at pimples. I know this one is really tough but picking at pimples could cause scarring or infection.  Apply an over-the-counter spot treatment that contains salicylic acid like Dermalogica Overnight Clearing Gel or benzoyl peroxide like Dermalogica Special Clearing Booster and/or wash with a cleanser that contains salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide like La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution.
  7. Move your body. Exercise increases blood flow which increases the amount of oxygen delivered to your skin.  This will give you that glow you are looking for.  You don’t have to run a marathon; walking is some of the best exercise you can do.
  8. Avoid long, hot showers. This is important if you have dry skin or suffer from eczema or rosacea.  Long periods of exposure to hot water can dry out your skin and increase red flushing and visible blood vessels.  I’m not saying you have to eliminate hot showers entirely.  If hot showers bring you joy, don’t stop (I personally know someone who would be devastated if he couldn’t take hot showers). Maybe take a 10 minute hot shower instead of a 20 minute hot shower.  My motto is everything in moderation
  9. Apply antioxidants to your skin. Applying products that contain vitamin C and E will help to build collagen and keep your skin smooth.  I use Skinceuticals CE Ferulic or Vitamin C+E Serum from Cosmetic Skin Solutions.
  10. Keep it simple: We all live busy lives and I don’t know anyone who has the time or energy for a multi-step process every night.  In the morning wash your face with a gentle cleanser, apply an antioxidant serum, moisturizer if you need it, and then apply sunscreen.  To keep thinks even simpler, in the morning multi-task with a sunscreen that contains moisturizers like Drunk Elephant Umbra Sunscreen; this saves time and money. Before you go to bed wash your face with a gentle cleanser, apply retinol, and then apply a moisturizer.  It’s also important to remember to exfoliate one to two times per week to remove dead skin cells.

There you have it.  Simple, right?

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Thermal Water

I love thermal waters, or any kind of facial water really.  For the past several years I have spritzed thermal water on my face, all day every day.  I keep a little spritzer bottle in my bag so I can use it whenever I feel the urge.  I love the way it feels so much (like a cold drink of water on a hot day) that I feel compelled to share with others.  Of course, I always ask before I just go about spraying perfect strangers with a bottle of who knows what, but I find that most people are ok with it.  They even enjoy it; I knew they would!

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I used to live in the arid climate of Idaho and whenever I return, my skin dries out and I get a nose bleed.  I learned a long time ago that I need to hydrate myself inside and out as much as possible during the flight (or drive) and at least during the first 24 hours I’m there.  If I don’t, it takes days for my skin to recover.  I use my thermal waters, lotion up my hands every time I wash them, put lotion on my skin while still damp from the shower, I don’t wash my hair as much, I use moisturizing lip balms, and I use Ocean Mist for my nose.  I have heard of some people placing a hydrating mask on their face during an airplane flight and washing it off once they reach their destination.  I have not tried this yet but I can see it in my future.  I am always willing to try new things.

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So . . . thermal water?

Thermal waters come from thermal, or hot, springs and don’t contain preservatives.   The water is located deep underground and passes through rock, sand, and soil before it reaches the surface.  Along the way it picks up all kinds of beneficial minerals that are also found naturally in our skin.  There are many thermal springs all over the world and each one has its own unique mineral content.

Some of the more popular brands are Evian, Vichy, La-Roche-Posay, and Avène.  All of these thermal waters come from France.

The studies that have been done to see if thermal waters have any real benefits are mostly sponsored by the companies that own the products.  This means they may not be impartial and the results will likely favor their own product versus another.  That being said, there is some evidence that thermal waters have antioxidant qualities (likely due to their mineral content) and provide relief from inflammation.

It is best to apply thermal water right after you wash your face and before you apply any other products.  The thermal water will help to lock in moisture.

I have all of the sprays in the table below and I use all of them.   You can pick up all of the sprays from Amazon.   Evian is more readily available and you can find it at Sephora, UltaNordstrom, Macy’s, Walgreens and Urban Outfitters.

Quick links to Amazon:

Eau Thermale Avène Thermal Spring Water
Evian Natural Mineral Water Facial Spray
La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water
Vichy Mineralizing Thermal Water Spray

The table below provides a comparison of four different thermal waters.

Thermal Waters Table 170830 v4 (color)

All of these sprays come in different sizes including a travel size.  It makes it so convenient to take with me wherever I go.  It’s also safe to take on an airplane and is one of my travel essentials.  So, pick up some thermal water and let me know what you think.

Read more:

http://stylecaster.com/beauty/the-many-uses-for-facial-water-mists/#ixzz4i7exXgxr

www.labmuffin.com/what-is-thermal-water-and-how-does-it-work-in-skin-care/

https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/onki/77/5/77_413/_pdf

International Journal of Dermatology, Volume 38Issue 10pages 784–7861999 October

Thermal water from Uriage-les-Bains: Ionic Composition and Osmolarity:  Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications,Vol.4 No.2(2014), Article ID:44295,8 pages

Physicochemical analysis of La Roche-Posay thermal spring water:
Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2013; 6: 23–28.

 

 

 

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Complexion Perfection

Look in any beauty magazine and you will see the smooth, poreless complexions of gorgeous people staring back at you.  With a long sigh I say “I wish my skin looked like that!”  Well, the truth is those photos have most likely been Photoshopped.  Sure, when I was 6 years old my skin looked like that but I’m an adult now (sort of ) and my skin has grown up with me.

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My previous bad habits (not wearing sunscreen, slathering on baby oil, and laying out in the sun pretty much every day on summer break) are starting to catch up with me.  I am now a religious user of sunscreen and I reapply every couple of hours or more if I am swimming or sweating.  I look for clothes that contain ultraviolet protection factor (UPF), including hats, and I wear my sunglasses almost every day.

I still want to have that “poreless” perfect skin so how do I get it?  I will never have the skin I had when I was 6 but there are things that I can do to make my skin as healthy and youthful as I can.

What’s a Pore?

It’s an opening of a hair follicle on the surface of our skin that contains sebaceous glands.  The sebaceous glands produce our skin’s oil.   A pore allows gases, liquids, and teeny tiny particles to pass through.

Big or Small

Pore size is genetically determined so if you have fair and/or dry skin, your pores may appear smaller.  If you have darker and/or oily skin they will appear larger.   They are also more plentiful, so more noticeable, on our forehead, nose and chin (the T-zone).  Pores can also look larger than they are if they are clogged with dead skin cells and oil, otherwise known as a pimple.  If the pimple is not removed the collagen and elastin fibers surrounding the pore can stretch out and the pores will appear large permanently.  In fact, collagen and elastin breakdown from sun damage and ageing can also make pores appear larger.  Side note:  don’t pick at your pimples.  Picking and squeezing pimples can cause trauma which may permanently damage your skin.  I know it’s hard to do but resist the urge!  There are plenty of Youtube videos out there of pimple poppers so watch those instead.  Here’s a good YouTube channel with lots of good (or gross) pimple popping.

Can You fake smaller pores?

The key is to keep your skin clean and exfoliated so the pores don’t become clogged in the first place.  Wash your face before and after a workout and before you go to bed every night.  Look for products with hydroxy acids like salicylic or glycolic acid in them.  These will help remove oil, dead skin cells, and dirt from your pores.  I would also recommend using a power brush like Clarisonic to cleanse your face.  It is more effective at cleaning your face than using your hands.  I have owned a Clarisonic for years and I love it.  Retinoids are other ingredients to look for.  They increase cell turnover so dead skin cells don’t pile up clogging your pores.  Retinoids do come with their own issues.  See my post on retinoids here.

If you are willing to spend the money, you could have professional glycolic acid peels and laser treatments.  These are more intense but will boost collagen production and tighten pores that may have gotten stretched out.

If you have large pores and want to make them appear smaller you can use a little makeup magic.  This is where primer comes into play.  Look for primers with silicone in them.   Silicone temporarily fills in the pores and makes you look like you have a smooth complexion.  Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer and L’Oreal Paris RevitaLift Miracle Blur  are two that do a good job.  Just keep in mind that if you are prone to acne, silicone may exacerbate it.

Although it’s not likely we will have the skin of a baby our whole lives, we can certainly take steps to keep it as healthy and youthful as possible.

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Vacation

My husband, my son, and I are planning a much-needed vacation this summer.  This will be the first time we have gone on a family vacation during the busy summer months.  We usually try to plan our trips during slower times, when there is less chance of encountering large crowds.   Fewer crowds means less waiting in line, less traffic and just less stress in general.  There are even studies that have been done that show we are kinder and more giving when we have a little room to breathe.  I just finished reading a book called Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces That Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave by Adam Alter that talks about some of these studies along with some other fascinating tidbits about us humans.  It was a fun and revealing read.

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Our son started kindergarten this past year so we are now on his school schedule.  That means we go on vacation when everyone else in the United States goes on vacation.  We are not opposed to taking him out of school for a few days to snag a great deal, but we like to keep his schedule somewhat consistent.

Although I get really excited to go on vacation, especially if it’s someplace warm, I know that I will have to adjust my skin care routine and that has caused me some anxiety.   It makes it even trickier with the fluid and weight restrictions on aircraft.  I try to pack lightly and carry my bag on the plan rather than check it.  This way, I don’t have to get to the airport extra early, hope my bag doesn’t get lost, or wait to pick it up after our flight lands.  I want to spend as little time in the airport as possible.  Luckily, most skin care products can be purchased in a travel size so I don’t have to take my bulky, full size products with me.  I usually have a stash of travel size products kept in what I call my Beauty Bag.  The bag contains Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved baggies as well as most of my travel size toiletries.  Having this bag already stocked makes packing and unpacking much easier and faster.  I periodically make sure my products have not expired (if they have an expiration date on them) and that the containers are full.  My husband and I use the same products so we don’t have to pack 2 shampoos, conditioners, sunscreens, etc.  Believe it or not, but men don’t really need different skin and hair care products than women.  The biggest differences lie in fragrance and cost.  I find that the hair care products we use tend to be gender neutral and our skin care products don’t have fragrance added anyway.

I always pack facial sunscreen as well as body sunscreen no matter where we are traveling.  My facial sunscreen is a full size bottle because there will be 3 of us using it.  The full size bottle of my La Roche-Posay Anthelios sunscreen is only 1.7 ounces (50 ml) and the full size bottle of my Neutrogena Sheer Zinc is 3 ounces (88 ml). The TSA will allow me to pack 3. 4 ounces (100 ml) per bottle on my carry-on.  I will take a small bottle of body sunscreen and buy more if we need it.  When we travel to warmer climates, like Hawaii, we will always need to buy more sunscreen.  I like to use the spray sunscreens like Neutrogena Beach Defense, Supergoop Antioxidant Infused Sunscreen Mist, and Coola Eco-Lux Body Spray for all over body application.  It makes it really easy to reapply especially on a child who just wants to get back in the water.  I also take along a zinc sunscreen stick like Bare Republic Mineral Sunscreen Stick for easy application to ears, nose, and cheeks.

Packing lighter helps to ease a little of the stress of traveling through the airport.  I see so many people on vacation who are angry and stressed out.  I am going on vacation to relax and ease my stress, so I want to do anything I can to make traveling easier.

Bon Voyage!!

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Bath Time

I absolutely love taking baths.  I get a chance to relax and read a good book or listen to some relaxing music.  I don’t get the opportunity to take very many baths because of the many excuses I have, but I would really love to make more time for me and a bath.

When I do get a chance to soak I like to make the most out of it.  I like to incorporate soothing ingredients for my skin and aromatherapy for my mind.  We have a dimmer light in our bathroom (which I would highly recommend) so I will turn the lights down low and light some candles.

I always use salts in my baths, whether they are Epsom or from the Dead Sea.  Both types provide nourishing elements which are absorbed through the skin.

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Epsom salts

Epsom salt originally came from the mineral baths in Epsom, England but is now obtained from anywhere.  It is a mineral compound of magnesium, sulfur and oxygen which makes magnesium sulfate.  Soaking in an Epsom salt bath can have a softening effect on skin and it rinses away completely, leaving no residue behind.  The magnesium can also have a laxative effect although I have not had an issue with this when I use it in my bath.  Soaking in an Epsom salt bath may also help to relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, eczema, dandruff, muscle aches, and warts.  I know that if I have any muscle aches or soreness an Epsom salt bath helps.

Dead Sea salts

Dead Sea salts come from well…… the Dead Sea, which is a salt lake located below sea level in Israel.  These mineral salts contain magnesium, like Epsom salts, but also potassium, calcium chloride, sodium, and bromide.   People travel from all over to the Dead Sea just to soak in the mineral rich water and slather the mud all over their bodies.  It has been reported to help with detoxification, arthritis, fibromyalgia, psoriasis, dry skin, eczema, and muscle aches.  I love soaking in a bath with Dead Sea salts and notice softer skin afterwards.  It also helps with any muscle aches I may have.

Essential Oils

There are many oils I like to use and it really just depends on my mood.  I do have some staples though and jojoba oil and lavender essential oil are two of those.  I choose the jojoba oil because it most resembles the oil that our body naturally produces so it won’t clog pores.  I like to use the lavender oil because it smells good to me and it is supposed to help with rest and relaxation.  There are so many essential oils out there and each one has its own unique qualities.  I have a variety of essential oils so to find the one that most suits my current mood I close my eyes, and smell each one to determine which one smells the best to me at that moment.  I will then put a few drops of that oil in my bath.  Although I haven’t had any reactions to any of my oils I would test a drop on your wrist or the behind your ear before putting any in your bath.

Bed, Bath, & Beyond carries a great selection of Epsom Salts including Dr. Teal’s lavender and chamomile. Ulta carries a variety of dead sea salts including AHAVA and Shea Moisture.  I also have a dead sea salt scrub by The Body Shop that I really love (Ulta also carries this product). Origins has a dead sea salt scrub that sounds invigorating and I will have to try it soon.   Target is another great resource for dead salt and Epsom salt.  They even carry some that include both dead sea and Epsom salts.  Kaiderma also carries some great products.  Essential oils can be found at health food stores, apothecaries, and naturopathic colleges.  Also Amazon is always a great resource for dead sea salts, Epsom salt, and essential oils.

Now go get your relaxation on.

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Beauty Sleep

When I was a little girl I hated bed time.  I thought if I was sleeping I was going to miss out on all the fun stuff.  As I transitioned into my teenage years this relationship with sleep continued; I was a “night owl” never going to bed before midnight.  I am now an adult (even if I don’t act like one) and I have a much healthier relationship with sleep.  Sometimes I get excited just thinking about getting into bed, snuggling up to my husband, and going to sleep.  For a while I had been waking up with a stiff neck and a pretty epic headache that lasted all day.  I changed my pillow and voila, my neck and head pain vanished.

Bedtime-7768After I found the cure for my neck and head pain I realized that I was pretty restless during the night and I wasn’t waking up feeling refreshed any more.  I changed my pillow so what was going on?  Well, when I really started thinking about it, our mattress was about 10 years old.  We bought a good mattress, but 10 years is a pretty good run and that mattress just wasn’t providing the best support anymore.  A mattress will last, on average, 8 years so we managed to squeeze an extra couple of years out of ours. Mattresses are not the cheapest items to purchase, so we tried to make it last as long as we could.  I think we pushed it a little too long and our achy, sleep-deprived bodies were rebelling.  So, we went to the mattress store and spent a good hour lying on all the beds to see what felt the best.  We ended up purchasing a memory foam mattress.  We also bought a really cool adjustable base so we can raise the head and feet.  I am now excited to go to bed and have been sleeping well again.  In fact, I have been waking up before the alarm clock and I just feel good.

 

So what’s my point?  Sleep is important for our entire body to function properly and this includes mood, performance, general health, and of course, our skin.  Our bodies recover and repair themselves while we sleep.  This is the golden time when we make new collagen which is an important structural support.  Collagen is what keeps our skin plump and wrinkle-free.

It’s not just sleep we need but quality sleep, between 7 to 9 hours each night.  Chronic sleep deprivation can result in excess cortisol.  Cortisol is a stress hormone that is produced naturally in our bodies.   It is necessary, but too much and we start to encounter all kinds of problems.   One of those problems is increased blood sugar.  This increased blood sugar causes a process called glycation.   Glycaction damages collagen.  We want to keep building collagen for plump, youthful skin; not break it down.  Excess cortisol can also lead to acne, dark spots (hyperpigmentation), and hair loss.  And, because excess cortisol makes our immune system sluggish it may cause flare-ups of eczema, dermatitis, and herpes.

It really is called beauty sleep for a good reason.   Make sure you get enough quality sleep and always wear your sunscreen.

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For further information:

 The National Sleep Foundation.

The International Journal of Biochemisrty & Cell Biology

 

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Coffee

Ahhh … coffee.  The world runs on coffee.  We drink it (sometimes too much), but can we put it on our skin?  And if we do, what will happen?

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I always want to know if there have been any formal studies on skin care ingredients.  I search these studies out and then try to determine if they have any meaning.  Topical application of coffee extract has been studied, not a lot, but what has been done shows promise.

The extract comes from coffee berries which is from the fruit of the Coffea arabica plant (The coffee we drink comes from the seeds not the fruit).  The fruit is harvested before it ripens and then is roasted.  This process helps to eliminate the risk of contamination by fungi or bacteria.  If you’ve ever seen the name Coffeeberry, it is the legal trademark for this process. The fruit was usually discarded because it spoils pretty quickly, but it is reportedly one of the richest sources of antioxidants, even better than green tea, white tea, pomegranate, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and Vitamin C.  The fruit also contains a lot of polyphenols.  Polyphenols are found in natural plant food sources and have been found to have anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and antioxidant properties.  Two types of polyphenols found in Coffea arabica extract (chlorogenic and caffeic acids) have been found to inhibit UVB –induced skin tumors in mouse skin.  You can find Coffeeberry ® in some topical products as well as in oral supplementation form.

There has been some promising research done using 0.1% Coffeeberry cleanser and 1% Coffeeberry extract day and night creams.  The studies were done on humans instead of animals and they showed improvement in fine lines, wrinkles, pigmentation, roughness, redness, and overall appearance.  These studies also showed that Coffeeberry helped to increase production of collagen.  Collagen is a major structural protein found in our skin.  Our body’s ability to produce new collagen decreases as we age and our skin begins to thin out, wrinkle, and lose its “glue”.   There also seems to be no adverse side effects reported so far.

Coffee is also known for its caffeine content and the stimulant effect we get when we drink it.  Caffeine acts as a vasoconstrictor which means that it causes narrowing of blood vessels slowing down blood flow.  If you have puffiness or dark circles around your eyes caused by vasodilation you could apply a serum, gel, or cream containing caffeine and it will help to temporarily correct those problems.  Caffeine also acts as a diuretic which means it helps to remove excess fluid from the body (we just pee it out).  This can help with puffiness and the appearance of cellulite as well.  This does not mean, unfortunately, that caffeine will eliminate cellulite.

I use Replenix Power of Three serum on my face and neck every day and it contains caffeine along with other great antioxidants.

I also recently purchased KonaRed – Hawaiian Coffeeberry Superfruit Powder, (60 servings in Tub) to put in my smoothies.  It does have 20 mg of caffeine per serving which is less than a regular cup of coffee at about 95 mg of caffeine.   I am not a big caffeine drinker so I felt a little buzz, but my husband did not (he drinks coca-cola almost daily which has 32 mg of caffeine per 12 ounce can).  If you are caffeine naive then I would definitely only use this powder in the morning or you might have trouble sleeping.

I also love body scrubs and the coffee body scrubs help to exfoliate and increase circulation.  You will have fresh, glowing, smoother skin after using one.  I love everything Maui Babe and they have a heavenly coffee scrub.   I also recently purchased a coffee body scrub by C Lab & Co that has coconut oil in it.  This company is out of Australia and I could only find the scrub through Free People and only online.

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For further information on coffeeberry and caffeine: