Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

How to Read a Skincare Ingredient Label And Is That Information Enough In Order To Judge A Skincare Product? June 12, 2014

 

 

Understanding the ingredients listed in the ingredient list of a skincare product and figuring out if those ingredients are actually effective for your skin is an important skill for skincare consumers to have. But interpreting a skincare ingredient label is not easy by any stretch of the imagination.  You need to not only have some basic skincare product formulation knowledge but also be able to recognize different ingredients and their function in skincare products in order to understand what you are reading and if the product will be right for your skin and will do what it claims to do.  I’ve addressed this topic in the past here in my blog, but lately I’ve come across a few interesting articles on the subject and thought it was time to revisit this issue much more in-depth than I did before.

The Basics and Some Examples

So let’s start with some basics about skincare labels that everyone should know.  In his Skin Inc. article Ingredient Labels Explained Robert Manzo writes:

There are basic rules that product manufacturers must comply with in order to list ingredients on their products.

  • Standardized names. Ingredient names must comply with the International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) format. The ingredient names are standardized in this format so that all products can be compared to each other easily and for safety reasons.
  • Descending order. Ingredients must be listed in descending order of concentration to 1%. Ingredients below 1% can be listed in any order

How does this come together for the consumer?  Lab Muffin recently published yet another excellent post called How to Read an Ingredients List: Face Moisturisers in which she takes actual moisturizer labels and explains the ingredients for her readers.  For instance:

When looking at most product ingredients lists, the ingredients will be in order from the highest concentration to the lowest. Typically, when deciding if a moisturiser will suit your skin type, you don’t need to look past the first 6 ingredients or so, since they make up the majority of the product, and will be responsible for the moisturising action. It’s a different story when you’re looking at more potent ingredients that target specific concerns (e.g. anti-aging, exfoliants, antibacterials, lightening), but those tend to be useful regardless of skin type.

With this in mind, I’ll be classifying the top 6 ingredients in each of these facial moisturisers, as well as commenting on some of the notable ingredients further down in the list. If there’s no comment next to the ingredient, I’ve probably explained it in a product further up.

To recap, the main categories of moisturiser are:

Occlusives - block water from evaporating from the skin, especially good for dry and dehydrated skin
Emollients - smooth skin and help repair
Humectants - draw moisture to the skin, effective even at lower percentages.

Jurlique Calendula Redness Rescue Soothing Moisturising Cream

Aqua (water) – The base for most face creams, and the definition of moisture.
Cetearyl alcohol (emollient) – A blend of cetyl and stearyl alcohols, two fatty alcohols that are nothing like drinking alcohol (that is, ethyl alcohol), but are great for smoothing skin down as well as making sure the oily and watery parts of the moisturiser don’t separate (it’s an emulsifier). It can be derived from coconut oil.
Rosa canina fruit oil (emollient) – This is the technical name for rose hip oil from a specific species of rose. It mainly contains oleic and linoleic acids, which are excellent for repairing skin, as well as antioxidants.
Safflower seed oil (emollient/occlusive) – This also contains many linoleic acids and antioxidants.
Caprylic/capric triglyceride (emollient/occlusive) – This also comes from coconut oil, and smooths skin as well as blocks evaporation.
Jojoba seed oil (emollient) – This stuff is a lot like natural sebum.

Glycerin and honey are a little further down in the list, and there’s aloe vera extract as well – these humectants together would probably add noticeable humectant action to the mix (glycerin is typically used in moisturisers at 2-7%, otherwise it feels sticky).

Overall: Lots of emollients, a small amount of occlusives and some humectants. It’s suitable for all skin due to all the skin-repairing emollients, but drier skins might need some more occlusives on top.

Or for example how to interpret a serum label:

Generally, serums are used to deliver active ingredients to skin in higher concentrations in order to generate a specific skin response. Typical serums address skin-specific issues, such as hyperpigmentation, lines and wrinkles, sagging skin, texture, tone, pore size, acne, redness and irritation.

Understanding ingredient listings in serums is often difficult. Active ingredient names can take the form of Latin names for botanically sourced compounds, and more generic INCI names may be used, such as yeast extract, which can mean a multitude of biologically active ingredients. Quite long chemical names are often found.

Understanding the dose of active ingredients is also difficult by trying to interpret ingredient listings. If a particularly active ingredient is very biologically active, it may be dosed in the formula in part-per-million levels and be very low in the ingredient listing, but still be quite effective. Examples of these are epigenetic factors, epidermal growth factors and vascular growth factors.

Serum realities

1. There are more than 16,000 listings in the INCI dictionary. No one can know all the cosmetic ingredients at any given time. If you are unsure what dose and what active ingredient is in particular serum, request that the manufacturer supply that detailed information.

2. Watch out for serum claims and their target biology. For example, if you have a serum that claims it can improve collagen and elastin by stimulating skin, the ingredient would need to penetrate to the dermal tissue. If you need to lighten skin, ingredients must penetrate no more than to the epidermal-dermal junction, where color-producing cells exist. If you want to exfoliate, the serum should not penetrate far below the stratum corneum.

(From Ingredient Labels Explained)

 Putting It Together

Now that you have some basic knowledge about how skincare labels work is this really enough information in order to know if a product is right for your skin or not?  Sorry to complicate things for you, but even the most savvy consumer can get tripped up by a skincare ingredient label.  Renee Rouleau gives a great example in her blog post Can You Judge a Skin Care Product by an Ingredient Label?:

With so much awareness on skin care ingredients (the good, the bad and the ugly), consumers now more than ever are getting educated on what’s used in formulas, so they can make the best choices for their skin when it comes to choosing products to apply to their face. But by looking at an ingredient list on the back of a bottle or jar, can you really determine if it will deliver good results or not on your skin?

The answer is no. You might look at the ingredient list and form assumptions about the ingredients you may have read about or heard of. For example, if you’re prone to breakouts you might see shea butter or sunflower oil listed, and assume it will be greasy and pore clogging. These assumptions can be invalid, because the results a product delivers are based on the percentages of the ingredient used in a product—and this, you’ll never know from looking at the list on the back of a bottle.

Here’s another example of a time when one of my products, Daily Protection SPF 30, was reviewed by a fairly well-known ingredient expert who has written many books on helping you choose the best products when you go to the cosmetics counter. She had requested the ingredient list of my sunscreen to review, yet didn’t request the actual product. When the review was published, she gave it a really good review however, she said based on the moisturizing agents used in the formula, it was best suited for dry and very dry skin types. Really? Our Daily Protection SPF 30 is recommended for oily, acne-prone skin, because it is so light, and dries to a matte finish on the skin. As a matter of fact, when we get a customer return for this product, it’s usually a dry skin client saying it was too drying on their skin. Our oily skin clients absolutely love it because it disappears completely and leaves no residue. This is definitely not a sunscreen moisturizer for dry and very dry skin types, yet an ingredient label reviewed by an ingredient expert couldn’t tell this. (No disrespect to the expert, this is simply my experience.)

(Obviously Rouleau is writing about Paula Begoun here)

So Where Does That Leave You?

It is important to learn about ingredients and how skincare products are formulated in order to be an educated skincare consumer.  The more you know the better choices you can make for your skin, and you can save yourself time and money from buying the wrong products.  Part of that education is learning to read a skincare label instead of just blindly believing the manufacturers’ hype and marketing campaign.  But don’t let the skincare label be your be all or end all in order to know if a skincare product is right for you.  Try products first before rebuffing them.  Ask for samples and find online reviews from people who have actually tried the product before rejecting a product based just on reading the ingredient list or taking advice from someone who reviews products only according to their ingredient list.  Two websites that I like for product reviews combine both information about the products’ ingredients and actually try the products themselves before writing a review.  Those websites are FutureDerm and Lab Muffin.

One last thing – ever wondered what all those symbols (letters, numbers, and pictures) are on your beauty product container?  Into the Gloss has a guide that explains them all.

Image from http://www.rainshadowlabs.com

 

Wrinkles and Pimples At The Same Time: Solutions May 5, 2014

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This post was inspired by something I saw on Facebook.  The reality for many women is just as they start to see wrinkles on their skin (perhaps around the eyes or on the forehead for example) they still get an occasional pimple.  This can be both frustrating and confusing.  Yet it isn’t so difficult to find one solution for both skincare issues.

I would like to point out that the skincare phenomena I am writing about here is not adult acne.  While adult acne is definitely on the rise, I am referring here to people who are probably in their late 30s, early 40s and are starting to see the emergence of fine lines while still occasionally experiencing breakouts (for women perhaps around the time they get their period).  This is also different from women who are undergoing menopause and find that they are all of a sudden breaking out.  I’ve blogged about both adult acne and menopause’s effects on the skin in the past.  Those posts are listed below if you would like to look at them.

In my opinion what is happening here is simple: you are starting to see fine lines because sun damage from years before is now becoming visible, and you are still experiencing an occasional breakout because of your hormones (especially those related to your period) and/or stress.  Just as I see the cause of this skincare issue as fairly straightforward so is, in my opinion, the solution: add a retinol cream to your skincare regime at night, make sure you use sunscreen daily, and use an antioxidant serum every day.  Be sure not to go overboard in order to improve the appearance of your skin.  Do not start using anti-acne products meant for teenagers such as Stridex or Clean & Clear.  These products will be much too harsh for pretty much anyone who isn’t a teenager anymore.

Retinol is the ideal skincare ingredient for people experiencing both fine lines and an occasional breakout because it can treat both issues simultaneously.  I’ve written about retinol and Retin-A before in my blog (you can find the posts below), but I’ll explain again why this is a great skincare ingredient.  As Lab Muffin explains in the post Fact-Check Friday: What Does Retinol Do? :

Retinol is a form of vitamin A. Other forms of vitamin A in skincare that you may be familiar with include isotretinoin (better known as Accutane) and retinyl palmitate (another topical ingredient found in many creams).

Things retinol can help:

- fine lines and wrinkles
- skin roughness and dullness
- skin firmness
- pigmentation from age spots
- acne

Retinoids are skin cell normalizers so that means that they speed up skin cell turn-over which will help clear up breakouts, and retinoids help rebuild collagen so they will minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles over time. As such adding a retinol product to your skincare regime is the perfect solution for both fine lines and breakouts.

Just keep a few things in mind when using retinoids (I’m quoting Lab Muffin again):

Retinols can be irritating to the skin, and cause dehydration. To reduce the chances of this happening, you should introduce it into your routine slowly (don’t use it every day to begin with), and use extra hydrating moisturisers.

Retinol breaks down with exposure to light and air. Pick a retinol product in an airtight, opaque container to improve its shelf life.

Using retinol with other excellent skin treatments like AHAs and vitamin C can speed up the skin renewal process, fading hyperpigmentation and wrinkles faster. However, the activation of retinol by skin enzymes is optimal at a higher pH (5.5-6) than the pH for AHAs (3.5). While there isn’t much research on how quickly the pH of skin readjusts itself, waiting an hour or so in between applying the two is a safe bet, or even using one in the morning and one in the evening.

Retinol, much like AHAs, can make the skin more susceptible to sunburn. Wear extra sunscreen when you use retinol so you don’t completely reverse its beneficial effects!

Lastly, keep in mind that you cannot use Retin-A or retinols when pregnant or nursing.

 

So how would this anti-aging, anti-acne skincare regime look?  I suggest cleansing twice daily with a mild cleanser, applying an antioxidant serum in the morning (such as a Vitamin C serum in order to boost the effectiveness of your sunscreen, further prevent the signs of aging, protect your skin from inflammation), and then using a sunscreen with a spf between 30 to 50 (you can also use a separate moisturizer before your sunscreen if you feel your skin needs it).  In the evening after cleansing apply a retinol cream followed by a moisturizer.  Pretty simple, right?

 

Recommended Products:

  • While I am not familiar with all the recommended products in this article I like the approach of this skincare regime since the recommended products are not too harsh.  Remember there is no need to buy just anti-acne products if you only experience an occasional breakout.
  • Cleanser:  I suggest using a mild cleanser such as CeraVe or even Cetaphil.  You don’t need to use an anti-acne cleanser.  That would be overkill for most people.
  • Antioxidant serum:  See my previous posts below for more information about why you want to use an antioxidant serum and in particular a Vitamin C serum.  There are quite a few good (and even great) Vitamin C serums out there, but at the moment my recommendation is to buy one from South Korea.  OST Original Pure Vitamin C20 Serum is excellent and super affordable (even when you factor in the shipping costs). I am using it now and love it.
  • Moisturizers and Sunscreens:  Choose your products according to your skincare needs and the weather in the area you live in.  Some people may need a richer moisturizer and others not so much especially if you live in a humid climate.  Now that Target is selling some of my favorite skincare lines making them accessible to all I would recommend Laneige Water Sleeping Mask as a moisturizer (don’t be put off by the name; it’s a moisturizer), particularly as a nighttime one, and any La Roche-Posay sunscreen, particularly Anthelios Ultra Light spf 60.
  • Retinol Creams or Serums:  There are also numerous retinol products on the market including ones from Roc and Neutrogena, but for my money I would try either La Roche-Posay Effaclar K Daily Renovating Acne Treatment (if you have blackheads and more than just the occasional breakout) or La Roche-Posay Redermic R (if you only have an occasional breakout).

Further Reading:

 

Winter Skincare Secrets January 6, 2014

I grew-up near Chicago, and though now I live in a much milder climate I have certainly not forgotten those Midwestern winters (and honestly I don’t miss them at all).  Even if you live in a place that doesn’t have winters as harsh as Chicago your skin can still go through a number of unpleasant changes during the colder months of the year.  Luckily with a few easy tweaks to your skincare routine you can make it through the winter with happy, healthy skin.

Change Your Facial Cleanser But Keep Exfoliating

If your skin starts to feel extra dry during the winter one of the first things you should do is look at your facial cleanser.  Now it the time to switch to a gentle, cream based cleanser.  This type of cleanser is even fine for those people with oily or acne prone skin though people with this skin type might want to use a cleanser like this once a day in the morning as opposed to twice a day.  Or if you really can’t give up your regular facial cleanser use a moisturizing toner afterwards in order to help balance out the drying effects of your cleanser.  (I like Epionce Balancing Toner).

Don’t stop exfoliating – just exfoliate less or with a gentler product.  Don’t use harsh scrubs in the winter to exfoliate.  Instead use scrubs with round beads not nut particles which can scratch and damage your skin. Or use a cleanser or serum with gentle acids in it like lactic acid.  Lactic acid not only exfoliates but brings moisture back to the skin as well.  When dead skin cells build up on epidermis (the outer layer of your skin) your moisturizer cannot penetrate and work as well as it should.  As long as you gently remove those dead skin cells you are helping your skin and not hurting it during the winter.

Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

I cannot emphasize enough how important using moisturizer is during the winter.  I’ve seen cracked, bleeding hands too many times to count.  I can spot dry hands from a mile away (I’m only exaggerating slightly).  Step up your moisturizing routine during the winter.  First of all, don’t shower or soak in very hot water.  I know this is a hard one, but hot water actually dehydrates your skin.  Moisturize your body immediately after bathing when your skin is still a little bit damp (damp not wet).  Switch from a lotion moisturizer to a cream based moisturizer.  This is both true for the moisturizer you use on your face and on your body.  Use a thicker and heavier moisturizer such as a body butter with shea butter or cocoa butter (look here for some suggestions for moisturizers to try) for your body.  Put small containers of moisturizer by all your sinks so you can immediately moisturize after washing your hands.  Use gloves when cleaning your house and washing the dishes.  Be sure to have a small container of moisturizer with spf in it in your bag so you can even moisturize on the go.  Gently exfoliate your body as well.  I recommend dry brushing.  Lastly, use a humidifier at home in order to add moisture back to the air around you.  Just using a humidifier at home can make a huge difference for many people’s skin.

My favorite thing that I have read about moisturizing in a long time is a post by Lab Muffin about how to layer your moisturizers for utmost effectiveness.  Follow this advice; it will help you immensely if you are suffering from day winter skin.

Chapped Lips

Many people suffer from chapped, even bleeding lips throughout the winter.  According to Natural Health Magazine this happens because:

“Our lips are very susceptible to drying out because they’re a thin layer of skin that’s exposed to the elements all the time,” says Diane Berson, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at Cornell University Medical College in New York City. “They’re also made up of mucous membranes, which dry out easily.”

(From Lip Service)

So what can you do to prevent or heal chapped lips?  Actually a lot.  Once again according to Natural Health Magazine:

To get your lips back in kissable form, you need to first rid them of dry, flaky skin. After brushing your teeth at night before bed, try gently rubbing your lips with your toothbrush or a damp washcloth, then slather on a thick layer of lip balm to leave on while you sleep.

Look for a balm that contains moisturizing oils to heal your lips along with wax to protect them from further damage. If you’re going to be outside, pick a formulation with an SPF to minimize the impact of the sun.

Additionally, Dr. Jessica Wu recommends:

  • Use a thick ointment instead of a stick lip balm. Ointments help heal cracked skin, while sticks can be waxy and ,when dragged across delicate lips, can make them more irritated. Try Aquaphor (available at drugstores), Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1, or Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25. Some of my patients prefer to use sweet almond oil or coconut oil, which are safe enough to eat.
  • Apply a thick layer before going to bed, especially if you wear a dental appliance at night. Some people who wear a night guard or retainer end up breathing though their mouths, which dries out the lips.
  • Avoid matte and long-wearing lipsticks, which have a drying effect. Instead, rub a thin layer of ointment over your lips when you get up in the morning. Let it soak in, apply another layer, then apply a moisturizing lipstick or gloss. I like Chanel Rouge Coco Shine, Rimmel Moisture Renew Lipstick, and Butter London Lippy Tinted Balm.
  • Avoid licking your lips. While it will temporarily moisten your lips, repeated lip licking will end up drying them out even more as the saliva evaporates. Also avoid picking or peeling off dead skin, since this can slow healing.
  • If the chapping persists more than a few weeks, or if you see blisters or oozing, it’s a good idea to see a doctor. Nonhealing scabs or crusts can be a sign of an actinic keratosis, a potentially precancerous growth, while oozing can indicate an infection.

A Few More Tips

Keep using your sunscreen!  Our skin can still get sunburned and damaged even from weak winter rays.  Keep using your sunscreen and reapply throughout the day as usual.

Eat a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.  Foods such as salmon and nuts contain this fatty acid (DHA) which helps to restore moisture to your skin from the inside out.

Sources and Further Reading:

My Related Posts:

Image from ohioinsurance.org

 

Let’s Talk About Toners – Again June 12, 2013

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Sometimes it is necessary to revisit subjects I’ve already blogged about in the past once I come upon new and/or relevant information about the subject.  So today we’ll be revisiting the subject of toners (see the links below for my previous posts on the subject).

In my first post about toners I explained (back in February, 2010 but the information still holds true):

When you don’t need a toner:    I don’t think that you need a toner every night in order to make sure that you have removed all your make-up or cleanser.  Using  a good make-up remover and the proper cleanser is definitely more than enough in order to make sure that your make-up is all off (the only place you might feel the need to go over again would be the eye area since waterproof eye make-up can be hard to remove).  If after washing your face you feel that you still have cleanser on your face than switch your cleanser.  A properly formulated facial cleanser will certainly wash off your face easily without leaving residue behind.

The claim that toners will close your pores is a silly claim.  First of all, there is no need to seal your pores shut.  Toners will give you a temporary tightening effect but why do you need that anyhow?

The issue of your skin’s pH level being disrupted because of cleansing is really only a problem if you use soap, which is very alkaline, to wash your face.  If you use a facial wash or cleanser you won’t have to deal with the issue of your skin’s pH being disrupted.

When you could consider using a toner:  There are lots of toners available that can actually hydrate the skin and even leave behind a number of beneficial antioxidants.  These types of toner are good for use during the summer when your skin feels more oily and you don’t feel that you need to moisturize (your skin isn’t actually producing more oil during the summer; it just feels that way because of the increased humidity in the air).   In addition, there are some people who don’t feel the need to use a lot of moisturizer ever so using a toner could be a great way to add some moisture to the skin and get some antioxidant benefits as well.

If you have combination skin (oily T-zone, normal skin everywhere else) you might consider using a toner with witch hazel extract, lactic acid, or salicylic acid just on your T-zone.  But don’t go overboard since too much toner with the above mentioned ingredients can be drying.  Use them on as needed basis and no more than once a day.

Some toners have ingredients that can actually soothe the skin and reduce inflammation so using a product like that if you have sensitive skin might be a good option.

Recently I came across two articles to expand on what I had written above.   The New York Times article Toner, Often Met With A Shrug, Is Having Its Moment explains:

As temperatures climb, our thoughts turn to toner: that post-cleansing, pre-moisturizing, cooling concoction treasured in adolescence (Sea Breeze, Bonne Bell Ten O Six) for its ability to remove facial grime onto a cotton ball. Some insist that even in adulthood, their beauty routine would be incomplete without it. Others think it’s an unnecessary step, scoffing that toner, while often refreshing, doesn’t offer any real benefits to the complexion.

“Before cleansers became so effective, people needed to do what cleansers could not, which is why people gravitated towards toners,” said Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of the cosmetic and clinical research department of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical. “But formulation and technology has helped the cleanser evolve to the point that they’re so good, you don’t need the toner.”  …

They may not be the BB cream of tomorrow, but “toners have a bad rap,” said Dr. Paul Frank, a cosmetic dermatologist and the founder of the Fifth Avenue Dermatology Surgery and Laser Center. “They used to be associated with pimply skin and were alcohol-based or made to control the production of oil while rebalancing the skin’s pH levels,” he said. “Like anything else, they’ve dramatically changed. They’re now used as a second stage of cleansing, and treat a variety of issues. They can exfoliate, reduce redness, fight aging and brighten the skin.”

Besides preparing the skin to receive the benefits of products applied after, he said, they can soften and smooth the skin, and serve as a delivery system for antioxidants, vitamin B derivatives, retinoid and even glycolic acid.

And Allure explains just how to use a toner properly in Do You Really Need A Toner?:

When should we use them? “As the weather warms up, even combination skin tends to break out, so toners with salicylic acid can be really helpful for gently unclogging your pores and preventing summer breakouts. They are even great in the winter, when the ambient air is dry,” says [Erin] Gilbert [a New York City dermatologist]. “I like to recommend toning while traveling,” says Harper. “The air in-flight is so drying, and a toner will cleanse, hydrate, and leave you feeling refreshed.”

Can a toner be hydrating enough to replace your daily moisturizer? “They are not exactly a replacement,” says Harper. “I tell my patients with extremely oily skin that they can sometimes get away with skipping a moisturizer in the summertime if they use a toner instead,” adds Gilbert. “A toner can be hydrating enough, but don’t forget sunscreen.”

Recently I rediscovered my toner since my skin was feeling very dehydrated.  Now after cleansing I apply Epionce Balancing Toner to my face with a cotton pad (I hate spritzing my face with toner though that is an option.  I always seem to get toner in my eyes and mouth when I spritz – yuck).  In the morning I apply my Vitamin C serum (currently I am using Tecniche SupremeC Serum) afterwards and in the evening I apply my exfoliating serum after the toner while my skin is still a little damp.  I definitely feel that my skin is better hydrated since I added that step to my skincare routine.

Do you use a toner?  Is this a must step in your skincare routine?  Share your thoughts below!

My Previous Posts:

Products to Consider Trying:

Image from Epionce.com

 

Ayurveda Skincare June 6, 2013

I thought I would use this post as a way to introduce the theory and practice of Ayurvedic skincare to my readers.  Keep in mind that this post is just an introduction since subject and practice of Ayurvedic skincare is complicated and involved.  I hope that this post can give everyone a “taste” of what it means to practice Ayurvedic skincare.

What is Ayurveda?

The Chopra Center website provides an excellent explanation about Ayurveda:

Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of natural healing that has its origins in the Vedic culture of India. Although suppressed during years of foreign occupation, Ayurveda has been enjoying a major resurgence in both its native land and throughout the world. Tibetan medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine both have their roots in Ayurveda. Early Greek medicine also embraced many concepts originally described in the classical ayurvedic medical texts dating back thousands of years.

More than a mere system of treating illness, Ayurveda is a science of life (Ayur = life,Veda = science or knowledge). It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vital while realizing their full human potential. Providing guidelines on ideal daily and seasonal routines, diet, behavior and the proper use of our senses, Ayurveda reminds us that health is the balanced and dynamic integration between our environment, body, mind, and spirit.

Recognizing that human beings are part of nature, Ayurveda describes three fundamental energies that govern our inner and outer environments: movement, transformation, and structure. Known in Sanskrit as Vata (Wind), Pitta (Fire), and Kapha (Earth), these primary forces are responsible for the characteristics of our mind and body. Each of us has a unique proportion of these three forces that shapes our nature. If Vata is dominant in our system, we tend to be thin, light, enthusiastic, energetic, and changeable. If Pitta predominates in our nature, we tend to be intense, intelligent, and goal-oriented and we have a strong appetite for life. When Kapha prevails, we tend to be easy-going, methodical, and nurturing. Although each of us has all three forces, most people have one or two elements that predominate.

For each element, there is a balanced and imbalance expression. When Vata is balanced, a person is lively and creative, but when there is too much movement in the system, a person tends to experience anxiety, insomnia, dry skin, constipation, and difficulty focusing. When Pitta is functioning in a balanced manner, a person is warm, friendly, disciplined, a good leader, and a good speaker. When Pitta is out of balance, a person tends to be compulsive and irritable and may suffer from indigestion or an inflammatory condition. When Kapha is balanced, a person is sweet, supportive, and stable but when Kapha is out of balance, a person may experience sluggishness, weight gain, and sinus congestion.

An important goal of Ayurveda is to identify a person’s ideal state of balance, determine where they are out of balance, and offer interventions using diet, herbs, aromatherapy, massage treatments, music, and meditation to reestablish balance.

Ayurveda and Skincare

Just as all people (and the state of their health) can be divided into the three dosha types – vata, pitta, and kappa – so can our skin.  Once you determine your Ayurvedic skin type then you can start to treat your skin accordingly.  So for example:

Vata Skin Type
If vata is predominant the skin of a person is dry, rough, cold, wrinkled and thin with fine pores. Vata skin may age faster, and tends to be dry, rough and flaky when out of balance.
Vata Skin Care and treatment
Vata skin is typically dry and delicate, and tends to lose tone and plumpness prematurely unless nourished on a regular basis. For Vata skin to stay youthful, skin care products used should be very nurturing and should include some essential oils or herbs in combination, which can nourish the skin and rehydrate it. Some treatment approaches to vata skin care includes having sufficient sleep, eating regular meals that will help balance Vata and nourish the skin and avoiding physical and emotional stress.

Pitta Skin Type
If pitta is predominant, the skin is fair, sensitive, soft, warm, and of medium thickness, less tolerant to hot food and burns easily. When out of balance, Pitta skin can flare up in rashes, rosacea, acne, or sunspots.
Pitta Skin Care and treatment
Pitta skin is generally sensitive, especially to the sun, and needs protection to stay in balance.The Pitta skin type needs both cooling and nurturing. Tanning treatments and therapies that expose skin to steam for extended periods of time should be avoided.

Kapha Skin Type
If the constitution is of kapha dosha the skin of a person is oily, cold, heavy, soft, slow, dense, dull, lubricating and thick with a tendency towards large pores and proneness to cystic acne.
Kapha Skin Care and treatment
Toxins are the bane of people with Kapha skin. This is because of its oily nature which attracts impurities. The skin should be cleansed from the inside and the outside, or else the skin breaks out because of toxin build-up. Kapha skin needs to get both internal detoxification and external detoxification on a regular basis.

(From Skin – Skin Care and Skin Treatments, Ayurvedic Skin Care)

Furthermore, remember that Ayurveda comes to treat the body as a whole not just your skin issues.  So keep in mind that treating your skin according to Ayurvedic principles isn’t just about what you put on your skin, it is also about what you eat and other lifestyle choices.:

Ayurveda’s holistic approach to health aims at treating the entire individual, not just a symptom or specific ailment.

The Ayurvedic approach to health encompasses all aspects of a person’s way of living. From nutrition to mindset and from exercise to sleeping patterns, the Ayurvedic approach takes into account not just the person individually, but also the environment that he lives in.

When it comes to skin care, the quality and youthfulness of a person’s skin is viewed as a reflection of one’s health. A person who has acne will therefore not just be treated to get rid of the blemish itself, but rather the blemishes will be looked at as a symptom of a deeper underlying condition. A treatment plan will then be suggested that correlates the person’s constitution, or his dosha.

Digestion, elimination, nutrition and metabolism all affect the quality of skin, according to Ayurveda. If any of these processes are out of balance, it will show up through the quality of the skin. An Ayurvedic approach to skin care will therefore intend to restore balance to any or all of the systems that are interrupting the body’s natural desire to healthy skin.

The quality of the skin is determined by a person’s dosha, or constitution. The three doshas are vata, pitta and kapha. While each person has all three within herself, usually one or two are more dominant, which creates certain imbalances. Therefore in order to restore health to the skin, the doshas must first be balanced.

The overall concept when it comes to Ayurveda and skin care is to choose a skin care regimen that matches the kind of skin a person has.

According to Ayurveda, if a person has oily skin, it is largely due to an imbalance in the kapha dosha. A treatment of oil-free cleansers and cooling tonics like cucumbers and lemons might be recommended. In addition, heavy and rich foods, and make-up that clogs pores should be avoided and instead should be replaced by light foods and light make-up. Exercise to release toxins through the pores and to get rid of excess oil is also recommended.

If a person has dry skin, a strongly vata condition, the treatment plan looks quite different. Oil-based cleansers and moisturizers are instead encouraged and a diet with a modest amount of healthy fats like olive oil, sesame oil and ghee are also recommended.

When it comes to Ayurvedic skin care, natural is best. Ayurvedic skin care products as well as Ayurvedic skin care practices rely only on natural ingredients, chemical-free processing methods and holistic regimens.

Some of most commonly-used Ayurvedic skin care ingredients are sandalwood, sesame seed oil, macadamia nut oil, lime oil, lemon oil, clary sage, sunflower seed oil, Gotu Kola, other essential oils, herbs and botanicals.

(From Live Strong – Ayurveda Skin Care)

I know this post just provided the briefest of introductions to Ayurvedic skincare.  Below I’ve listed more sources for learning about Ayurveda.  If you’ve ever treated your skin according to Ayurvedic principles please share your experiences below.

Further Reading:

Ayurvedic Skincare Lines:

There are numerous Ayurvedic skincare lines available.  I haven’t tried any, but a simple Google search produced an impressive number of sources:

Quizes to Determine Your Dosha:

Image from http://www.mindbodygreen.com

 

Adding Coconut Oil to Your Beauty Regime May 28, 2013

Lately it seems everywhere you turn you find information about coconut oil – how to cook with it and how to use it as a beauty product/ingredient.  So I decided to do some of my own experiments with coconut oil to see if it lived up to the hype.

I have to say that I had long thought of coconut oil as an ingredient that was very bad for one’s health.  I can’t say when and why this idea got into my head, but it took until last year when I purchased the vegan cookbook Vegan Soul Kitchen  by Bryant Terry that I began to rethink my anti-coconut oil position.  I noticed that many recipes in the book called for coconut oil.  As Myra Kornfeld explains in her forward to the cookbook:

Byrant is not afraid to use the long-vilified coconut oil, an extraordinarily healthy and delicious oil that only in the last decade has been getting attention for its wonderful properties.

What exactly was the controversy about coconut oil and just what are those wonderful properties that coconut oil possesses?  The article Once a Villain, Coconut Oil Charms the Health Food World from The New York Times explains:

According to Thomas Brenna, a professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell University who has extensively reviewed the literature on coconut oil, a considerable part of its stigma can be traced to one major factor.

“Most of the studies involving coconut oil were done with partially hydrogenated coconut oil, which researchers used because they needed to raise the cholesterol levels of their rabbits in order to collect certain data,” Dr. Brenna said. “Virgin coconut oil, which has not been chemically treated, is a different thing in terms of a health risk perspective. And maybe it isn’t so bad for you after all.”

Partial hydrogenation creates dreaded trans fats. It also destroys many of the good essential fatty acids, antioxidants and other positive components present in virgin coconut oil. And while it’s true that most of the fats in virgin coconut oil are saturated, opinions are changing on whether saturated fats are the arterial villains they were made out to be. “I think we in the nutrition field are beginning to say that saturated fats are not so bad, and the evidence that said they were is not so strong,” Dr. Brenna said.

Plus, it turns out, not all saturated fats are created equal.

Marisa Moore, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, a nonprofit association of nutritionists, said, “Different types of saturated fats behave differently.”

The main saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid. Lauric acid increases levels of good HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, and bad LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, in the blood, but is not thought to negatively affect the overall ratio of the two.

She went on to say that while it is still uncertain whether coconut oil is actively beneficial the way olive oil is, small amounts probably are not harmful. The new federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that no more than 10 percent of total dietary calories a day come from saturated fat. For a 2,000-calorie diet, that’s about 20 grams.

Any number of health claims have been made for lauric acid. According to proponents, it’s a wonder substance with possible antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral properties that could also, in theory, combat H.I.V., clear up acne and speed up your metabolism. Researchers are skeptical.

“There are a lot of claims that coconut oil may have health benefits, but there is no concrete scientific data yet to support this,” said Dr. Daniel Hwang, a research molecular biologist specializing in lauric acid at the Western Human Nutrition Research Center at the University of California, Davis.

But, he added, “Coconut is good food, in moderation.”

And just how does coconut oil help the skin?  The article The Surprising Health Benefits of Coconut Oil from the Dr. Oz Show website explains:

Is coconut oil good for my skin and hair?

We tell our patients that from the time of infancy through the senior years,  coconut oil is a wonderful moisturizer for skin and hair. It has good amounts of the antioxidant vitamin E, which is very protective. If you are using on the skin regularly, it is best to try to find an organic coconut oil, to reduce the absorption of toxins and pesticides through your skin.

We even recommend new parents massage infants with coconut oil after a bath. One 2005 study of 120 babies showed that a coconut oil massage is safe and has health benefits.

Allure asked Dr. Jeannette Graf to explain the benefits of coconut oil for the skin (from the article Is Coconut Oil Worth the Hype?):

“Coconut oil is made up of anti-inflammatory dietary fatty acids, which are important for skin health. When applied topically, it has wonderful moisturizing properties for the skin, increasing elasticity and emolliency. In addition, coconut oil enhances wound healing and has antioxidant properties. Studies have also shown that the lauric acid in the oil has antimicrobial activity against P. Acnes [bacteria], so it’s a potential treatment for acne and adult atopic dermatis,” she says.

On his TV show Dr. Oz recommends using coconut oil on your skin if you suffer from eczema, psoriasis, or a fungal infection.

Interestingly enough in her book Heal Your Skin Dr. Ava Shamban advises against using coconut oil on acne prone or oily skin.  Unfortunately she does not explain why.

Personal Experience

I had no trouble finding coconut oil at one of my local grocery stores though I did not realize I needed to purchase virgin coconut oil.  Next time I’ll make sure to buy that kind of coconut oil.  Anyhow, after reading all the beauty uses for coconut oil in the sources listed below I decided to try a few of them out for myself.  Some uses worked better than others for me.

I have very thick, curly, very frizzy hair so I was excited about using coconut oil as a hair moisturizer/conditioner.  I applied the oil onto both wet and dry hair.  Neither application helped my hair.  My hair didn’t feel any softer and my frizz didn’t go anywhere.  (I have been on a search for a product that will control my hair almost my entire life; I have yet to find something)  I have to say I was disappointed that coconut oil did not work for me as a hair conditioner.

I tried coconut oil as a body moisturizer.  The problem with this was getting the right quantity.  Sometimes I put too little, sometimes I put too much.  If I put too much I felt greasy afterwards.  When I did hit on the right amount my skin felt good but no better or no worse than after using my regular body moisturizer.

I tried using coconut oil as an eye make-up remover.  I found it much too greasy and not that effective.  I’ll stick to using my jojoba oil for removing my eye make-up.

I did use coconut oil directly on my face as a moisturizer a few times in the evenings before bed and felt that my skin was soft in the morning.  But I am still completely paranoid that putting coconut oil on my face will make me break out even though I keep reading the opposite is true.  What can I say?  Old ideas take a long time to disappear.   I don’t know if I will use coconut oil again as a facial moisturizer.  (Of course one of the advantages of using coconut oil as a moisturizer is that is it quite cost effective.)

Now for the ways I liked using coconut oil and will continue to use it – in the shower instead of soap or a shaving cream to shave my legs.  Using coconut oil to shave cut down on irritation and my legs did feel very soft afterwards.

As a lip moisturizer.  I’ve been using coconut oil directly on my lips before bed and really like how it both feels and works.

So now it is your turn – do you incorporate coconut oil into your beauty regime?  If yes, comment below and explain how.

Further Reading:

Image from endlessbeauty.com

 

Dry, Cracked Heels: Causes and Treatments April 17, 2013

Dry skin on the heels, even cracked skin, is a fairly common problem that can be treated at home.  Be sure to give your feet some extra TLC year round, not just in the summer when you are wearing sandals.

Causes

So just what causes dry, cracked skin on our heels and feet?  There are more than a few causes for this condition, but first let’s remember everything our feet do for us on a daily basis.  The Skin Inc. article Sole Searching by Vicki Malo gives great overview on this issue:

The amount of pressure exerted on the feet gives a good indication that the skin on the soles must be very different than on the rest of the body.

The skin of the soles

The skin of the epidermis on the soles of the feet is much thicker; up to 1.4 mm and comprised of five distinct layers. It has to be thicker to withstand the amount of stress and pressure placed on the soles with every step. There’s more: The skin on the soles of the feet has an additional layer in the epidermis, and the skin cells are packed together in a strong, congruent membrane. The skin on the bottom of the feet also has four times more sweat glands, but does not have hair or sebaceous glands. Due to these functional features of the skin on the soles of the feet, it does not respond as readily to typical skin care techniques practiced elsewhere on the body.

The outermost layer of the epidermis, known as the stratum corneum, is crucial to the skin barrier. Made up of overlapping layers of cells, the stratum corneum keeps vital nutrients in, and damaging substances and elements out. Healthy skin keeps in moisture and protects against the entry of bacteria, fungus or viruses. Unhealthy or dry skin creates a portal of entry, leaving the skin traumatized and unable to perform its job of protection.

Lifestyle and foot issues

So why do you see so many clients with dry skin on their feet? A lot of the reason has to do with lifestyle. Today’s is a fast-paced, high-stress, super-sized lifestyle. Lack of exercise, and a diet high in sugars and simple carbohydrates can lead to a breakdown in the circulation of the lower limbs and increased incidences of diabetes. Lifestyle is the greatest contributor to developing chronic venous insufficiencies (CVI). Venous insufficiencies lead to a disruption in the function of the skin, breaking it down at an intercellular level. There are no capillaries in the epidermis; however, the skin is nourished by diffusion from the capillaries in the underlying dermis. If the capillaries are compromised, proper blood supply (nourishment) cannot be provided to the epidermis of the skin. Impaired elimination of metabolic waste due to CVI impairs the sweat glands, diminishing sweat production on the bottom of the feet. The tissue disturbances further cause a breakdown of the lipids, which are responsible for holding the cells together. The breakdown of the lipids causes the hydrolipid film to break down, leading to transdermal water loss. The skin loses elasticity and has less potential for regeneration. The intercellular water loss compromises the integrity of the skin leading to micro lesions, such as dry skin. Micro lesions are a portal of entry and can cause skin issues, such as athlete’s foot.

There are many other reasons that one can suffer from dry heels and feet such as cold weather, indoor heating, improper foot care, and standing on your feet all day.  There are even specific Ayurvedia explanations for dry and cracked heels:

Painful, cracked and dry heels is a predominant cosmetic problem and has been termed as Padadari in Ayurveda and has been explained inKshudra Rogas in Sushruta Samhita. There are innumerable remedies for cracked foot in Ayurveda and let’s have a look at the promising Ayurvedic essential oils for healing heel fissures.

Causes for cracks or fissures: Human foot is the powerful part of the body helping one to withstand all severe climatic conditions and roam around, yet it is this part of the body that is often neglected. Cracks on foot have no age limit and it can affect anyone for that matter irrelevant of the sex, color and origin. The major causes for cracks or heel fissures are:

  • Cracks are occupational especially for farmers and other people who are involved in laborious tasks that demand standing always, which lead to huge pressure on the foot forcing it to develop cracks.
  • Prolonged standing on hard floor and this is the reason why most of the homemakers develop cracks.
  • Dry, dull and lifeless skin that lacks moisture, especially during winter has the tendency to develop cracks.
  • Uncomfortable, not so fitting or open back footwear compels pressure on the foot, while widening and deepening the cracks.
  • Obesity or excess accumulation of fat and deficiency of essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals.
  • Dry, hot, humid and tropical climatic conditions make your feet dull, dry and hard paving way to develop cracks.
  • Aging and skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, athlete’s foot etc.
  • High exposure of feet to dust, dirt, germs and other harmful organisms leading to infection in the foot.
  • Excess sweating of feet or other causal illnesses like thyroid and diabetes can also cause cracks on the foot.

Symptoms: Cracks generally appear on the external or outer walls of the heels, when it is thick and dry. The symptoms of cracked foot are dry, itchy and painful heels with flaky and red patches and partition of skin looking like root hairs. When left unnoticed, fissures may start bleeding with excruciating pain and might even lead to developing Calluses, Cellulites, and Lymphangitis etc. Anyone with cracked feet will have greater discomfort while walking and the cracks can act as a dangerous channel for bacteria, virus, fungi and other harmful organisms to enter into the body and complicate the situation.

(From Ayurvedic Treatment for Cracked FootEssential Depot)

Treatment Options

Now that we know the cause of dry and cracked heels what about the cure?

If you simply suffer from dry skin on your heels and feet you need to use a moisturizer with gentle acids in it in order to exfoliate and hydrate your feet.  Apply nightly after soaking your feet or taking a shower.  You can even wear cotton socks during the night if you want to in order to help the moisturizer penetrate deeper into your feet.

For very rough feet you can purchase a callous remover lotion or gel that is applied to the feet for about five to ten minutes.  After that time has elapsed file the skin gently with a pumice stone or foot file.  Finish with a moisturizer.

If your feet are cracked you need to use a product formulated for such a condition so that your skin can heal.

Bottom Line:  Though dry and cracked heels are an unpleasant phenomena this is a common skin condition that can be treated at home.  The key to proper treatment is finding the right product for you and using it daily.

Products:

At Home Treatments:

I found a few different at home treatment protocols that I thought were relevant to share:

Image from nerdygaga.com

 

Product Review: Dr. Spiller Pure Skincare Solutions February 20, 2013

Alpenrausch Organic

Months and months ago I was contacted by Melissa from Dr. Spiller skincare products asking me if I would be interested in trying some of the products from their organic line.  Even though I was in the process of moving back to Israel Melissa still graciously mailed all the products to my new home.  Not only that I also received full size products and an entire product brochure with ingredient breakdown.  I was impressed!  (Truth be told though I have been writing this blog for a little over three years I have very rarely received free products to try.  If I am contacted about receiving free products I always let the person know that I can’t guarantee that I will review their product, and if I do review the product I can’t guarantee it will be a positive review)

Before I get to my product review let me be very upfront about a few things – I see no reason to purchase organic skincare or beauty products as opposed to “conventional” products, I have no problem with parabens in skincare products (truth be told the Dr. Spiller line doesn’t talk about parabens, but I thought I would just throw that out there anyhow since the topic of organic skincare and parabens usually go hand in hand), and I don’t buy into the organic or natural skincare products are better for you nonsense.  (You can read more here and here for my opinions about these topics)  I am more interested in the feel, smell, and above all efficiency of a skincare product.  Does the product do what it says it will?  Yet in regards to the organic claim I was happy to see that Dr. Spiller did not just slap that label on their products without being able to back it up.  It turns out that their products meet strict standards for organic skincare products.  The fact that the products are full of natural ingredients is heavily promoted by the company, but in my view the proof is in the pudding.  If the product doesn’t feel good or make your skin look good then who cares what it has in it.

Here are the products that Melissa sent me to try:

First off take a look at the product information on the website.  Very thorough!  Not only is there a detailed explanation given for each of the main ingredients the product’s pH is stated along with the amount of lipids in the product and the base ingredient are listed as well.  I am all for as much consumer transparency as possible in skincare products so I was happy to see how much information was provided on the website.

After receiving the products I realized that some of them were not ideal for my very oily, acne prone skin, but I tried everything anyhow for the sake of this review.  After trying everything at least once I held onto the cleanser and passed the rest of the products along to my friend Vanessa.  I chose Vanessa as my tester because she has sensitive skin and has had numerous reactions to skincare products in the past.  Since this line is supposed to be good for sensitive skin I thought Vanessa would be the ideal candidate to try out the products.  So what was the verdict in regards to Vanessa’s sensitive skin and these products?  Vanessa experienced no irritation or side effects from using these products so indeed it seems that they really are ideal for those with sensitive or sensitized skin.

As I wrote above I kept the foaming cleanser for myself since I use a mild cleanser daily.  I liked that the cleanser came out as a foam (that was fun), it has lasted me a good four months with twice daily use, and was indeed gentle though a little drying in the winter.

Vanessa actually hasn’t gotten around to trying the toner.  From my use of it I really don’t have much to say.  It was a pleasant toner, and my skin felt fine after using it.  I didn’t notice anything either good or bad after using it.

The soft peeling for me was pleasant, but I am a fan (and my skin needs) of a much stronger exfoliant.  Vanessa, on the other hand, was very happy with this mild exfoliant.  She found it gentle with a good consistency and nice fragrance.  Thumbs up from her on this product.

Both Vanessa and I found the protecting care cream way to thick.  The consistency was almost like an ointment and not a cream.  We both thought it was much too dense and hard to spread on our skin.  This definitely was not the right cream for my oily skin even though my skin is really dehydrated.  Despite my skin dehydration this product was too thick for my skin.  Vanessa did not like the smell of the cream, and she felt it didn’t make her skin soft enough.  If this cream was not as thick I think it would appeal to more people.

The reviving eye care cream was gentle around the eye area and did not cause irritation.  Neither Vanessa or I saw a difference in how our eye area looked after using this cream, but we both found it pleasant and nice.

The last product we both tried was the cooling mineral mask which is really meant more for my skin type than Vanessa’s.  Needless to say we both found the mask strange because after applying the mask it dries and becomes EXTREMELY tight on your face.  So tight it is uncomfortable.  I left it on for the full 15 minutes as instructed, but I did not enjoy those 15 minutes.  My skin did feel soft afterwards but what I had to go through to get to temporarily softer skin wasn’t really worth it.  Vanessa did not like the mask at all.

Bottom Line:  If you have sensitive skin and/or are looking for an organic skincare line with natural ingredients than Dr. Spiller is for you.  I particularly appreciate the fact that these product meet high standards for organic products instead of just slapping a label on the product and that the website shares a plethora of information with the consumer about the products.  Though the products are not cheap they last a long time so you definitely get your money’s worth.

Image from Dr. Spiller website

 

Ingredient Spotlight: Honey January 24, 2013

If you are a fan of DIY facial masks you’ve probably come across more than one recipe for at home facial masks using honey.  Why does this ingredient repeatedly appear in DIY facial treatments?  It turns out for a few very good reasons.   Honey is a humectant, which means it draws moisture to the skin, is antimicrobial, and an antioxidant.

According to Shape magazine honey helps the skin(and your overall health) in a few different ways:

1. Skin ailments: Everything from burns and scrapes to surgical incisions and radiation-associated ulcers have been shown to respond to “honey dressings.” That’s thanks to the hydrogen peroxide that naturally exists in honey, which is produced from an enzyme that bees have.

2. Mosquito bite relief: Honey’s anti-inflammatory properties make it a good option to help reduce the itch and irritation of mosquito bites.

3. It’s an immune booster: Honey is chock full of polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that helps to protect cells from free radical damage. It can also contribute to heart health as well as protect against cancer.

4. Digestive aid: In a 2006 study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers found that substituting honey for sugar in processed foods improved the gut microflora of male mice.

5. Acne treatment: According to preliminary research, Manuka, and Kanuka types of honey can effectively treat Acne vulgaris, the skin condition that is caused by inflammation and infection of the pilosebaceous follicle on the face, back, and chest.

(From 5 Health Benefits of Honey)

Future Derm highlights honey’s beauty benefits thusly:

Honey’s combination of vitamins, antioxidants, sugars and amino make it produce hydrogen peroxide and gluconic acid — acidic solutions that are frequently used to clear dirt and bacteria from wounds.  It is due in part to its numerous antioxidants and hydrogen peroxide that honey is often lauded as an anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal agent — good news if you have oiler skin that could collect dirt more easily, have superficial wounds and scarring, or if you just need something to give your skin a little extra cleaning (Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery).

But honey’s effectiveness doesn’t just stop with being a skin cleanser – there is substantial evidence for its role in wound-healing. Coupled with its hydrogen peroxide, honey provides amoist environment for skin to repair itself, encourages epithelialization (skin cell regrowth), granulation tissue formation, (a type of connective tissue), and wound healing.  Plus, honey can reduce swelling and is a strong anti-inflammatory agent, meaning that it very may well reduce pain and irritation from skin lesions (Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery)

Honey is also good for dry skin, especially skin disorders such as Eczema and Psoriasis. These two skin ailments are characterized by their excessive dryness, itchiness, inflammation and irritation. After using the a mixture of honey, olive oil and beeswax three times a day for two weeks, 80 percent of the eczema patients had reduced symptoms of itching, scaling, and oozing from lesions. 63 percent of the psoriasis patients also reported significant improvement in symptoms (Complementary Therapies in Medicine).

Users should know that there are several different strains of honey whose efficacy can vary, such as the medical-quality Manuka and Revamil. If using pure honey, take caution — honey is able to support the bacteria that cause gangrene and botulism, and are typically treated with gamma irridation to eradicate these bacteria (Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery).

(From Lancome Tonique Confort Rehydrating Toner Review)

Many sources claim that not all honey is the same and you actually need to use raw honey in order to receive all the benefits described above.  In an article from Beauty at Skin Deep the benefits of raw honey are explained:

It should be noted that not all honey is created equal. Most of the honey found in grocery stores has been processed with heat, which kills off healing enzymes and destroys a lot of the nutrient-rich content. But, raw honey hasn’t been processed and will give your skin the healing benefits that it needs. Also, if you have allergies, try a patch test first and/or ask you physician if raw honey is a right for you.

BENEFITS

Raw honey is an amazing natural beauty solution for all skin types because of its healing skin benefits. It does wonders for a wide variety of skin ailments including:

Acne and enlarged pores
Rosacea
Eczema
Hyperpigmentation
Sensitive, mature, and dull lifeless skin

With its natural pH level of 4.5, raw honey falls within skin’s naturally healthy pH range. Its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties make it great for healing cuts and burns by killing bacteria and fungus. Raw honey also contains gluconic acid, a mild alpha hydroxy acid that brightens the complexion, evens out skin tone, and lightens scars and age spots.

Depending on where the honey is collected from, it contains many nutrients and minerals excellent for skin health such as vitamin B, iron, manganese, copper, potassium and calcium. It also acts as a humectant drawing moisture to the skin and is perfect as a gentle cleansing solution for even very sensitive skin. When mixed with water, honey releases peroxide properties which helps heal acne and impede bacterial growth causing more acne

(From Skin Benefits of Raw Honey)

Personally I’ve never tried honey, any type of honey, as a facial treatment, but I do find the information on it intriguing.  If you’ve ever used honey at home as a skincare treatment please comment below.

Sources and Further Reading:

Important read about the benefits of honey and the false marketing claims of beauty companies:

While researching this post I found that a lot of sources repeat the same information about honey over and over so I’ve highlighted just a few resources below.

Image from filmannex.com

 

What I’ve Been Reading January 18, 2013

The Oiran Komurasaki of Kadotamaya Reading a Letter

 

Before you go out and make your own beauty products read this post from The Beauty Brains:   Is DIY Mascara Safe?

Gouldylox Reviews gives you straightforward advice to getting great skin in Gouldylox Beauty Bootcamp 102: How to Get and Keep Great Skin.

Allure presents three simple steps to preventing dry hands in How to Prevent Dry, Cracked Hands in Winter.

The New York Times explores oxygen spa treatments and oxygen based creams and serums in Oxygen Bubbles Into Facial Care Products.  For more information about oxygen treatments see my posts Oxygenation Treatments: The Case For and Against and Does Your Skin Need to Detoxify/Breathe?

New Beauty discusses a sunscreen pill in Sun Protection in a Pill: The Results Are In.

Prevention helps you figure out how to make your moisturizer more effective in Why Your Moisturizer Isn’t Working.

Whole Living tells you how to use coconut oil as a beauty product in 3 New Skin Care Uses for Coconut Oil.

 

And lastly, but certainly not least, Dr. Leslie Baumann shares skin sins in The 10 Biggest Skin Mistakes – this is a must read!

 

 

Image from The Metropolitan Museum of Art – The Oiran Komurasaki of Kadotamaya Reading a Letter by Chobunsai Eishi (Japanese 1756-1829)

 

 
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