Sunday, October 27, 2013

Simple DIY Nourishing Face Mask

Simple DIY Nourishing Face Mask with Ripe Papaya, Yogurt and Honey


As a healthcare professional, I try to avoid using products with chemicals whose effects on humans are unknown and may potentially cause damage to our skin rather than protect it. This past year, I have been experimenting with different DIY skin care recipes using ingredients in my kitchen. Not only are the results satisfactory but the savings I make by not going to expensive spas and salons as much as I used to are significant. Taking care of our health and physical appearance is a must and shouldn't cost a fortune. If budget is an issue, there are practical ways to achieve a beautiful and healthy complexion that you can do yourself in the comforts of your home. 

I always keep Manuka honey in my pantry which I regularly put in my green tea beverage and even spoon out as a delicious dessert. While all honeys offer antibacterial properties, as discussed in a previous blog, New Zealand's Manuka honey with a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) rating of at least 10 is found to have greater healing powers because of its Methyglyoxal and Hydrogen Peroxide components. Manuka honey may also offer antioxidant protection from free radical damage. These antibacterial and antioxidant components make Manuka honey a powerful aid in treating simple or complex and acute or chronic wounds and burns and in skin care in general. When applied topically, Manuka honey draws fluid and other nutrients into the skin which aid in faster wound healing and the growth of new tissue.   

Another item that I normally have in my refrigerator is plain yogurt. Yogurt is not only tasty but it also has great health benefits. Yogurts with "live and active cultures" are an excellent source of probiotics, the good bacteria that can aid gastrointestinal health when eaten in adequate amounts. They are also a good source of other important nutrients that include Calcium, Protein, Potassium, Magnesium and the B-Vitamins. Yogurt may help prevent osteoporosis, decrease risk for yeast infections, and even lower cholesterol. Their health benefits are abundant which make them a perfect anytime snack. Because yogurt comes from milk, it contains lactic acid, a form of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that can help improve skin's texture and hydration level, slough away dead skin cells, moisturize dry skin and prevent formation of lines and wrinkles. 

As a child, I had always enjoyed ripe Papaya fruit as a snack. This deliciously sweet, low-calorie tropical fruit is packed with powerful nutritional and medicinal properties. It is one of the fruits with the highest Vitamin C content, an antioxidant with free radical scavenging, protective, immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties. It is an excellent source of other nutrients that include Vitamin A, another powerful antioxidant that contributes to healthy skin and eye sight; B-Vitamins that play a major role in our body's metabolism; and Potassium and Calcium, minerals that help maintain a healthy blood pressure and are essential for proper smooth skeletal and cardiac muscle functioning. It is also rich in dietary fiber making it beneficial for digestive health. Papaya fruit's papain enzyme content has been used as an ingredient in enzymatic debriding preparations for the treatment of chronic wounds, sores or ulcers with overlying dead tissue. All these components make ripe Papaya fruit a wonderful skin care ingredient that exfoliates and removes dead skin cells to reveal a smoother, healthy-looking and radiant complexion free from blemishes and unwanted discolorations.    

Having discussed the numerous benefits of these three food items, they make wonderful natural skin care ingredients. Here's a simple Do-It-Yourself recipe for a face mask that you can apply to your skin about once a month. Ripe papaya skin has somewhat of an orange color and has soft spots when pressed. You may buy green papaya, put it in a brown paper bag and wait until it ripens which is a fairly quick process, about 3-4 days. Once it fully ripens, peel the skin, cut it up and remove the seeds. Set aside a small piece and store the rest (if you're not cooking or eating it) in the refrigerator for about a week or in the freezer for about a month. Make it a habit to use sunscreen and avoid over exposure to the sun especially after using any product that contains Alpha Hydroxy Acids to prevent sun sensitivity and ultraviolet damage. 

1. Mash the papaya fruit with a fork and place a spoonful in a small bowl.
2. Mix mashed papaya with 4 spoonfuls of plain yogurt.  
3. Add half a teaspoon of (Manuka) honey to the mixture and blend well. 
4. Wash your face with lukewarm water and a sulfate-free cleanser. Pat dry. 
5. Apply the mixture evenly on your face. If you have easily irritated skin, leave it on for about 15 minutes. Otherwise, leave it on for 20-25 minutes. Rinse well with lukewarm water.
6. Apply moisturizer or cream.     

Friday, July 26, 2013

Stress and Aging

Stress and Aging
Stress is a typical component of our daily lives that can have either a negative or a positive impact on one’s well-being. It is the body’s response to a stimulus that disturbs its mental or physical equilibrium or balance. When our body reacts to a stressful situation, hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are released that can either be useful or detrimental to our health. Acute stress does not usually pose serious health complications - it makes life exciting. Chronic stress, on the other hand, can be damaging to the immune system and to overall health. In chronic stress, immune function is altered where cortisol is over produced, triggering an inflammatory process that results in a multitude of physical, psychological and mental manifestations and the acceleration of the aging process.      

While there are several unavoidable factors that cause aging, chronic stress abnormally hastens its process. As a result, our skin is deprived of necessary nutrients and this wreaks havoc on our appearance. Our skin may prematurely show fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, loss of elasticity, and excessive dryness. Acne may even develop as a result of an inflammatory response. There are ways we can halt the aging process by learning how to handle stress effectively. We may never be able to eliminate life’s stressors but we can learn to manage them or alter the way we react to them.  
  • Smile, or better yet, laugh - The saying ‘Laughter is the best medicine’ never gets old. Incorporating a good sense of humor into our daily lives makes us feel better whether we’re going through stress or just dealing with our normal routines. We can’t control a lot of things that happen in our life so instead of stressing excessively over them, why not spend time, talk and laugh with a loved one, watch a funny movie, or browse through some jokes. Shared laughter unites people during tough times. Go out and smile at others. It is infectious, lightening your burdens. Humor and laughter help improve immune function, promote the release of endorphins - our body’s natural painkillers, relax our muscles, and protect the heart.

  • Put pen to paper - Expressing yourself by documenting a stressful event or situation is an effective outlet for stress relief. Journaling has a positive impact on physical, mental and psychological well-being. It helps reduce anxiety and worry; gives you a chance to sort out your thoughts and feelings; allows you to release negative emotions like sadness, anger, resentment, guilt and disgust without hurting a loved one; and leads the way to reflect upon your life. Find a quiet, private place where you find peace the most and start writing anything that comes to mind. In this process, you may be able to find some clarity on the situation and a sensible solution to the problem at hand. Try to write daily for about 20 minutes for journaling to become effective.        

  • Listen to music - Listening to music, particularly slow, quiet music, has a soothing power that can evoke positive emotions, slow the pulse and heart rate, lower the blood pressure, and minimize your levels of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, preventing acute stress from becoming chronic. Music has been used as an effective therapy for hundreds of years to treat symptoms of pain, depression, anxiety and mood disorders. When we listen to music, it helps the mind slow down, distracts us from what is bothering us, and relaxes our very core. You can listen to music anywhere you are and you can either use a radio, a CD player, or a portable media player. Relaxation music with the sounds of nature, e.g. sounds of water, is particularly helpful especially at night when trying to go to sleep.     

  • Enjoy green tea - This very pleasant beverage that has been enjoyed by many cultures for thousands of years is packed with antioxidant polyphenols and catechins and amino acid theanine that help boost immune function and relieve stress. Theanine, which is found in green tea leaves, has a positive effect on the neurotransmitters in the brain which help produce a sense of relaxation without inducing drowsiness. This compound also increases the brain’s alpha waves that are responsible for keeping us naturally alert but relaxed. Since green tea does not make you drowsy, you can enjoy a cup any time of day.     

  • Keep gadgets away - In this day and age, almost everyone has a cell phone or any other mobile communication device that keeps buzzing with notifications and text messages. When you’re stressed, there is a lot going on in your mind and it’s harder to calm it down. It may be a good idea to turn your devices off for several hours and leave them out of your bedroom at night to give yourself a break.     

  • Take a walk - When you are stressed, the last thing you’d probably want to do is exercise. Making an effort to step out of the house and walk either a short or a long distance seems like a daunting task but it is surely going to make you feel better after you’re done with it. Exercise helps the brain release endorphins, which, again, are the body’s natural narcotic that helps us achieve a sense of euphoria. If you have a portable media player like an iPod, take it with you and listen to any type of music you like.

  • Breathe - Taking deep breaths when it feels like nothing is going right is another proven and effective way of relieving stress. Deep breathing has a profound impact on the body’s physiological functioning by decreasing heart rate, respirations and blood pressure. Deep breathing exercises are not difficult to learn nor do they take a lot of your time. All you have to do is sit comfortably, close your eyes, focus on your breaths, and breathe in deeply and slowly through your nose and out through your mouth. Do this process for about 5 minutes several times a day or whenever you like. 
    Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Best Skincare Ingredients

The Best Skincare Ingredients To Look For

There are a multitude of ingredients used in beauty and skincare products and making the right choices can be overwhelming if you don’t know which ones truly offer the most desirable benefits. There are three naturally occurring ingredients that I particularly care about when making a determination about the best products to include in my skincare regimen.  


This clear substance is naturally produced in our body to lubricate our eyes and joints. Its synthetic version is used as an effective ingredient in beauty and skincare products as a humectant to help plump the skin by drawing a significant amount of water to the skin. Hyaluronic Acid also plays an important role in tissue repair making it an ideal treatment for acute or chronic wounds, burns, pressure ulcers, and eczema. This substance may also possess a free-radical scavenging property which may help significantly protect the skin from sun damage. It is non-irritating, lightweight, and compatible with any other beauty ingredients or products. For best results, use it in addition to a moisturizer or cream and apply a liberal amount to dry areas at least twice a day. It may also be safely mixed with your skin care products as its topical form does not cause any known harmful side effects. It can be found in products under the names Hyaluronan and Sodium Hyaluronate as well.


AHAs are mostly naturally occurring compounds that are derived from fruits like apples, papayas, pineapples, grapes, lemons and strawberries; sour milk; and sugar cane. They have become popular and effective beauty product ingredients because of their ability to exfoliate or slough off dull, dead cells on the skin’s surface which accumulate as we age. Glycolic acid, a safe and non-irritating form of AHAs that comes from sugar cane, penetrates the skin’s top layer easily and effectively. Used in low concentrations of 5-10%, AHAs in products are safe to use on a daily basis to help manage acne, melasma, sun damage, keratosis pilaris, fine lines and wrinkles, and other discolorations or pigmentary issues. Look for creams, moisturizers or lotions, soaps or cleansers, toners, and scrubs that contain either the ingredient name glycolic acid or AHAs and follow instructions on use. If you have sensitive skin, find one with the lowest concentration (5%), test product on your skin before continued use, use sunscreen regularly, and incorporate aloe vera or allantoin in your skincare regimen to avoid and treat irritation.


Antioxidants are probably the most important and sought after skin care ingredients and there are lots of great reasons why. Free radicals cause oxidative damage which leads to a dysfunction of the body’s and skin’s cells, a process that leads to premature aging and possibly cancer. Since antioxidants are packed with nutrients that include Vitamins A (retinoids and retinoic acid), C (L-ascorbic acid)  & E (tocopherol), Selenium, Ferulic Acid, Coenzyme Q-10, and polyphenols (from green tea), they offer the most benefits to protect the skin from and combat free radical damage and to achieve and maintain healthy skin by promoting cell and tissue growth. These wonderful benefits include skin rejuvenation and firming; treatment of existing fine lines and wrinkles; protection from and repair of sun damage (UVR); reducing inflammation from acne, psoriasis and eczema; minimizing scarring and promoting development of new skin; and boosting collagen production. Antioxidants are found in a lot of natural and organic skincare products including creams and lotions, serums and soaps. Make sure they are a part of your daily skincare routine for satisfactory long-term results.   

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

All That Foam Is Toxic

All That Foam Is Toxic

An increasing number of consumers are becoming more aware 
of the dangers of certain chemicals to our health and are therefore making an effort to read ingredient labels on food and personal care products. On average, an individual uses about ten different personal care items on a dailly basis each of which may contain at least two ingredients that are now known to pose potential health risks that include sulfate (SLS or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, SLES or Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate and ALS or Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate), parabens,  phtalates, fragrance, triclosan, talc and petrolatum. A number of scientific studies have strongly indicated that these chemicals are hormone disrupting toxins that can potentially increase someone's risk of developing serious health problems. These negative effects of chemicals on our health which can range in severity do not occur overnight. They are a result of repeated, long term exposure to those toxins that gradually pollute the system and contribute to acute and even chronic diseases. 

Although the skin is almost waterproof and is designed to protect the human body against infections and mechanical damage, it is still able to absorb toxic substances and materials which end up in the bloodstream and in major body organs like the liver, lungs, kidneys, and the brain. With the rising incidence of chronic diseases that are suspected to be caused either primarily or secondarily by environmental factors and certain exposures, it is becoming more important to educate ourselves about the health hazards of even the most common product ingredients that were once believed to be safe and unable to penetrate the skin. For now, I'm going to discuss SLS and its cousins which are one of the most common ingredients present in many cosmetics, cleaning, and personal care products. 

SLS is an inexpensive synthetic surfactant and detergent that is used as a lathering or foaming, cleansing and emulsifying agent in a lot of products including shampoos, face and body cleansers or washes, liquid soaps and soap bars, bath salts and oils, bath powders, bath bomb fizzies, toothpastes, and laundry detergents. SLS has been widely scrutinized by both scientists and health advocates and for good reasons. There have been scientific findings strongly linking SLS to certain health problems such as:

1. Skin, scalp, oral, and eye irritation
2. Cataracts in adults 
3. Delayed eye development in young children
4. Eye irritation and blindness in animals
5. Neurotoxicity involving nerve tissue damage and cognitive dysfunction
6. Endocrine disruption and reproductive toxicity
7. Possibly Cancer despite claims it is not carcinogenic 

SLS is a systemic chemical agent that can penetrate and be retained in vital body tissues or organs. Several studies involving SLS found that it is rapidly taken up and accumulated by eye tissues and that it causes changes in some eye proteins, a strong indication that this surfactant has potentially harmful long-term effects on the eyes of both children and adults and even among animals that may include acute or permanent corneal damage. 

SLS is an irritant that causes damage to oral mucosa and skin. A lot of toothpastes and mouthwashes contain SLS for more effective cleansing of the teeth and mouth. Susceptible individuals may experience desquamation and burning of the mouth's mucous membranes that may persist with repeated use and lead to the formation of ulcers. These localized ulcers can become infected and the infection can potentially become systemic that would require extensive therapy. Personal care products like soaps, cleansers, shampoos and other bath and body products that have SLS as a degreaser strip the skin of its protective oils and moisture leading to excessive skin, hair and scalp dryness and the damage may even extend beyond the outermost layer of the skin, penetrating circulation and causing long-term systemic effects. These effects are similar to those caused by sulfate contained in laundry detergents where sufferers may complain of skin itching, redness, rash, and possibly inflammation. This process of damage to the skin is called denaturation of the skin's proteins which results in disruption of skin cell's activity and, ultimately, cell death. This process also allows SLS to be absorbed into the body and mimic the activity of the hormone estrogen which may lead to reproductive health problems including infertility, menstrual symptoms among women, breast cancer in both men and women, and other potentially serious disorders. Hormonal levels reach an uncontrollable state resulting in a turmoil of endocrine function. 

These potentially adverse effects of sulfate on our health are a major concern. They wouldn't be so highly controversial unless there isn't cause for worry. With the growing incidence of certain diseases, it makes us wonder if what we put on our body goes in our body and either helps or ruins its proper functioning. My guess is that IT DOES! Take control of your health and use products that are free from sulfate and other unnecessary chemicals. You could even make your own at home using ingredients you normally use in the kitchen. There are unlimited resources available for homemade recipes for personal care products. The peace of mind you get out of trying to live healthfully could make a huge difference in your life.    

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Green Tea with Honey

Green Tea with Honey - An Anti-aging Concoction

Do you love drinking green or black tea? If you do because you’re aware of its health benefits, good for you! Green teas have ten times the amount of antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables. With the number of times I have mentioned the word antioxidant in terms of anti aging, you may have already picked up exactly what I’m getting at. Antioxidants are your best defense against a host of health problems including premature aging! Who wouldn’t want to look and feel young for a very long time?

Having originated from China, green tea has been used by Asians as an alternative medicine to prevent and treat diseases for thousands of years. It contains large amounts of catechin polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that are responsible for providing those numerous wonderful health benefits. Unlike black and oolong teas, green tea is minimally processed thereby preventing those potent polyphenols from being oxidized. This makes green tea the best choice out of all caffeinated beverages for those caffeine drinkers who are serious about fighting free radical damage.  

Several studies concluded that green tea inhibits the growth of cancer cells including those in esophageal cancer without harming healthy tissue. A large percentage of Japanese men are smokers but it is believed that because they are among the biggest consumers of green tea, their risk of heart disease is amazingly low. Green tea can also help lower one’s risk of stroke, infection, hypercholesterolemia or hyperlipidemia, and obesity. It has also been found to be helpful in treating rheumatoid arthritis.      

There have also been studies suggesting that green tea applied to the skin can be as effective as drinking it in terms of treating skin ailments like acne and premature signs of aging. It is not that easy to find a natural skin care product with green tea so making your own concoction in your kitchen may be just as effective if not better. Do you have Manuka honey or any raw honey? Due to its antiseptic or antibacterial and anti inflammatory properties, honey can be a perfect addition to a homemade toner if you are prone to acne or eczema and psoriasis, all of which involve inflammatory processes that result in a disturbance to the epidermal barrier. Honey is also thought to stimulate production of special cells that can help repair tissue damaged by infection. Produced in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the native manuka bush, Manuka honey is believed to be 100 times more potent than regular honey because of its high concentration of methylglyoxal (MG), a compound that gives honey its antibacterial property. Other regular types of honey still contain this compound although in less concentrations but if you’d rather use what you have in your kitchen, you may still benefit from honey’s amazing skin care benefits. Having said all that, let’s create a recipe you can add to your skin care regimen. You won’t regret it! Just make sure you are not allergic to honey.

Get yourself a package of 100% all natural green tea, raw honey (or Manuka honey which can be very expensive depending on its UMF or Unique Manuka Factor, a measure of its antibacterial strength), and purified water (or deionized water) from the store if you don’t have any in your kitchen. You will also need a small glass or plastic container with lid to put the toner in. Boil half a cup of purified water and add in a tea bag. Wait about 3-5 minutes then remove the tea bag. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of (Manuka) honey with the tea and transfer to a container with lid. Refrigerate toner for 1 week and apply generously on cleansed skin with a cotton ball twice a day before your moisturizer. Make a new batch every week. You should feel a difference in how your skin looks and feels in about a week or two.     
Ancient Skin Care Remedies

Monday, April 8, 2013

It's Monday! It's Zumba

It's Monday! It's Zumba Fitness Day!

Have you heard of exercise being great not only to control weight; combat stress and depression; tone muscles and boost endurance; promote better sleep; treat or relieve pain; prevent heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, and other health problems; but also to maintain healthy skin?

Exercise helps increase blood flow thereby nourishing skin cells. Blood carries oxygen and other nutrients to the body’s cells and helps remove waste products that include free radicals from those cells. We have talked about the skin being the largest elimination organ. In case of exercise, cellular debris is flushed out of the body via the skin. In other words, exercise helps cleanse our skin from the inside out. I have also discussed how insulin can cause inflammation and trigger acne breakouts in a previous article. By exercising, normal blood glucose levels can be maintained which correlates with achieving clear healthy skin.  

Just make sure to shower before and after exercise to prevent clogged pores that can lead to acne breakouts. Avoid wearing makeup but apply moisturizer to your skin after shower. To prevent excessive sweating or perspiration that can result in skin irritation, try to exercise in a cool environment and wear moisture-wicking workout clothing. Wear sunscreen if working out outdoors and remember that it’s extremely important to hydrate yourself by drinking a lot of water throughout your exercise routine.

Find an exercise program that suits you well and talk to your doctor before starting a program if you have health concerns. 

Zumba is an exhilarating, highly energetic, calorie-burning dance and aerobic fitness program led by an instructor and is performed to international music including Latin, hip hop, and even Bollywood music. It has become a very popular fitness program with millions of people joining in the party worldwide. This program is a great way to become fit and toned and is highly recommended for those who want to have a real blast while exercising. It really is like partying with the added benefits of getting in great shape.

Yoga is a stress-relieving, disciplined method performed on a mat that focuses on learning physical poses, breathing techniques, meditation and relaxation. It is known as an effective complementary intervention for various medical conditions including cancer, asthma, heart disease, musculoskeletal problems, and mental illness. If you like to relax and meditate and at the same time develop flexibility, strength and balance, yoga may be for you. 

Pilates is a program that helps build flexibility, muscle strength, endurance, coordination and balance. It involves the use of either an exercise mat or a variety of equipment. By practicing Pilates regularly, a sleek, toned body with slender thighs and a flat abdomen can be yours. It is increasingly becoming popular with millions of participants all over the world. 

Aerobics is similar to Zumba that can be done with or without music and focuses on stretching and strength training routines. Participants perform different dance-like routines of varying levels of intensity and complexity. While performing an aerobic activity, the heart beats faster which in turn increases blood flow to the muscles and then back to the lungs. Endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, are released resulting in an increased sense of well being.

There are other exercise programs that are available to everyone. Depending on your goals, getting at least thirty minutes of physical activity through exercise 3 to 5 times a week is recommended to maximize its benefits. As you progress your exercise routine, try to work harder and longer than your normal comfort zone. And remember, doing it regularly is key to enjoying those benefits.    
Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dry, Oily, or a Combination

Dry, Oily, or a Combination - They Are Obsolete Skin Type Definitions  

Natural and holistic treatments have been found to be extremely beneficial for maintaining healthy skin and supporting the natural healing and regenerative processes of the skin. Treatments such as herbal and homeopathic remedies are a safe and gentle alternative without the harmful side effects of synthetic chemicals often found in over-the-counter products and prescription medications.

It's time to do away with outdated definitions of skin type. By limiting the field to dry, oily, or a combination, - then we do not take into account many crucial factors. Let's look at the four parameters that really define your skin type:

• Dry (D) vs. Oily (O)

Dry skin may appear dull and rough - dry skin types find moisturizer soothing and gravitate toward creamy makeup. Many people assume this parameter is solely affected by oil production, but the condition of your skin barrier - the moisture-retaining outer layer of skin - is equally important. Oily skin appears shiny, and those who have it may prefer gel or powder-based cosmetic products, as moisturizers tend to feel greasy.

• Sensitive (S) vs. Resistant (R)

Sensitive skin flushes easily and may become red and irritated at the slightest deviation from its standard routine - it may also be prone to acne and eczema. While resistant skin sounds like an unqualified blessing, people with this type often need to use stronger products to penetrate their skin and achieve the desired effect.

• Pigmented (P) vs. Non-Pigmented (N)

Some people believe that pigmented types are always dark-skinned, which is absolutely not the case. Anyone who experiences unwanted dark spots (melasma, sun spots, or freckles, for example) is a pigmented type - in fact, 21 percent of visits to the dermatologist are for treatment of dark spots.

• Wrinkled (W) vs. Tight (T)

Short of a crystal ball, this parameter is the best indication of how your skin will age, based on both genetic tendencies and lifestyle. You can't do much about your genes, of course, but your daily routine can significantly affect your score on the wrinkled-tight scale - sun exposure, smoking, and poor nutrition, for example, all contribute to skin aging.

Put them together, and you get 16 skin types - a far more realistic picture. (For example, my skin type is DSNT, which means that my treatment focuses not only on moisturizing my dry skin, but on preventing irritation. 

Your skin is your body's largest organ. It plays an important role in elimination and detoxification. Your skin reveals what's going on inside you, therefore, it is important to detox for beautiful skin, inside and out. When the colon becomes overloaded, by over eating for example, skin will attempt to compensate and release toxins. If the liver cannot efficiently filter impurities, the skin will try to release the excess toxins.

Poor skin coloring could indicate a build up of wastes in the liver or drug residues. Poor skin tone is a sign of antioxidant deficiency. Free radicals affect skin collagen and elastin proteins causing wrinkled and dry skin. Rashes and Skin Bumps that aren't healing are also a sign of wastes not being properly eliminated. You may have to detox internally, for beautiful skin.

We have all seen the results of dry skin, but what's going on beneath the surface? Your top layer of skin, the epidermis, is actually made of four layers - in the middle, lipids (basically, fats) surround your skin cells and help to retain moisture. When that barrier is disturbed, your skin cells aren't held together as well, and their edges curl up - hence dry skin's rough, scaly, and dull appearance.

So what disturbs your skin barrier - and what can you do about it?

While congenital factors influence some cases, dry skin is typically caused by one or several of the following culprits:

• Harsh Detergents: Anyone with dry skin should avoid products that foam, as they can remove more of your skin's valuable lipids and impair its natural ability to hydrate. Don't just look in your shower - harsh detergents are lurking around your kitchen sink or laundry. Gentle, sulfate free products cleanse effectively and safely without stripping or irritating skin.  

• Low Humidity: Dry environments - desert or wintry climates, for example - draw more moisture from your skin. If you're uncomfortable, invest in a humidifier or at the very least, leave containers of water around the house to rehydrate the air.

• Bathing: Frequent showers limit the skin's ability to replace natural oils. Furthermore, bathing often encompasses two other causes of dry skin - hot water and harsh detergents. After bathing, apply moisturizer while you're still damp to trap moisture on your skin.

• Weather: Particularly the sun plays a major role in damage to the skin so protect your skin accordingly and be sure to use SPF.

Regardless of what skin type we have in our youth - skin becomes drier as we age! Don't hesitate to re-evaluate your skin type and the products you use.

Your mother probably didn't worry about collagen treatments or the right antioxidant serums for her skin type, but she may very well have had glycerine in her medicine cabinet. So what's behind this impressive longevity in a field that's constantly evolving?

Simply put, glycerine is an ingredient that closely resembles your skin's natural moisturizing factor, or NMF. The naturally occurring chemicals of the NMF can absorb large amounts of water, even in low humidity environments. Glycerine, a humectant and an emollient, mimics that super-hydrating effect while smoothing your skin. Not only does glycerine quickly hydrate your skin, there is also evidence to suggest that it increases your skin barrier's ability to hold moisture. In other words, glycerine can actually make your skin more resistant to future drying - more than almost any other ingredient! Many creams, lotions, and even soaps contain glycerine, and there's an option for every skin type.

No element of skin care evokes more questions and claims than anti-aging products. It makes sense, right - If collagen loss causes skin sagging and wrinkles, then replenishing collagen should stop aging in its tracks. But it's not that simple.

There's absolutely no scientific evidence that collagen or elastin, the main components of your dermis - can penetrate the epidermis. Even "nanotechnology" has not proven to be able to return these substances into the skin. The molecules are simply too large. (The epidermis is the topmost layer of skin. The dermis is the next layer of skin where wrinkle-causing changes take place.) Be wary of creams and lotions that claim to topically replace collagen or elastin.

If you're going to spend money on skin care and skin treatments, antioxidant serums are the products to indulge. Look for products in an amber or aluminum tube or jar with a small opening that reduces exposure to the air. Look for ingredients such as Vitamin C and Ferulic Acid. Talk to a dermatologist about a Retinoid Treatment (proven to diminish existing lines, and help prevent new ones from forming).

Skincare and Skin Treatment 

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome (MCS) - What Is It?

That sounds a little too technical but is self explanatory. It basically means a group of symptoms caused by a hypersensitivity to environmental chemicals or substances that may include synthetic fragrance or scented products like perfumes, agricultural chemicals, petroleum, ammonia and bleach in cleaning products, fabric softeners, laundry or dishwashing detergents, air fresheners, hair care products, and even food additives like MSG (Monosodium Glutamate).  

In the field of Medicine, this chronic condition does not have a valid diagnosis and remains highly controversial. It is, in fact, regarded as a psychological illness or just plain hypersensitivity issue despite a large number of sufferers who report unpleasant symptoms that can range in severity from nausea and/or vomiting, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, weakness, memory loss, skin rash and itching or irritation, runny nose, palpitations, upset stomach or abdominal cramping, difficulty breathing and, possibly, seizure. Several medical associations do not recognize MCS as a disease because of the lack of scientific evidence that supports a cause-and-effect relationship between exposure to those chemical compunds and the widely varying symptoms reported by sufferers. With the absence of pertinent studies on this syndrome, it is quite challenging to explain its pathophysiology especially with the involvement of multiple organ systems. It is, sadly, highly unlikely that this syndrome would receive more medical attention that it deserves with its increasing incidence because of the lack of financial funding from federal agencies for further research. It has been causing occupational health hazards among some employees who are subject to persistent exposure but are unable to file disability claims or demand proper medical treatment.

Most people who complain of the above chronic symptoms have not had prior problems when exposed to those chemicals which are commonly used in the household, for personal care, in public facilities, medical buildings including hospitals and clinics, and in the workplace. With constant exposure to those substances, over time, some people start presenting with symptoms that vary from individual to individual and may be either mildly, moderately, or severely disabling.  

Getting medical treatment may include psychotherapy and/or a prescription for antidepressants since this syndrome is often diagnosed as an anxiety or depressive disorder. Antidepressants, like a lot of prescription drugs, pose some risks because of the potential for adverse effects. You may also go see an Allergist to be tested for specific allergies that may be treated with antihistamines and/or corticosteroids. Because symptoms always manifest after an exposure to certain substances, there are ways to prevent or to manage symptoms. While symptoms may not completely be eliminated, your suffering may decrease significantly if you regularly practice self care by limiting exposure to known triggers.   

1. At home - Avoid buying and using cleaning, laundry and dishwashing products with dyes, fragrance, bleach and ammonia. There are all natural alternatives that do the job just as effectively. Fabric softeners are a big culprit and even unscented ones may potentially cause health risks especially to the respiratory system so if you can do without them, don't use them. Choose unscented, green, and sustainable soy candles if you like lighting them in your home. 

2. In public places - A lot of liquid hand soaps and lotions you find in public facilities contain harsh chemicals including fragrance. It may be a good idea to carry your own fragrance free sanitizers or a tiny bottle of soap and lotion in your purse wherever you go. If unsure of the level of pollution in a place where you're going, keep a mask on hand. It will be a lifesaver. If MSG in food is a problem, always ask food servers if they cook with or without it. A lot of Asian restaurants particularly Vietnamese and Chinese add MSG to their dishes. 

3. In skin care/hair care - Choose fragrance free personal care products. When buying perfumes or colognes, look at the ingredient list and select ones with essential oils versus synthetic fragrance. A lot of times, you may not know how you would react to a perfume until after having it on your skin for hours. Most department stores provide samples so it is recommended to test out some mild ones while at the store and take home samples that you can try individually so you will have sufficient amount of time to check yourself for reactions that may include respiratory and neurological symptoms and then decide which one(s) to purchase after making this determination. 

4. In the workplace -  This is the most challenging situation especially if your occupation requires handling substances that are problematic for you. If it is absolutely impossible for you to transfer to another department within your organization or to change career where exposure wouldn't be an issue, wear a mask to work everyday. This may be against facility policy but advocate for yourself by talking with supervisors and those that have the authority to permit its use. It is your health that is at risk, not theirs, so protect yourself before protecting organizational policies.