Summer is just around the corner and for those of us who have been cooped up in cold-weather locations, it is a glory to behold. There are so many ways we can treat our body well this season and counter-act the effects of all that rich, heavy food over the holidays that might have not only added a few inches to our waistline but also added some unwanted skin reactions on our face.
If you have never eaten a fruit or vegetable in your life - never fear. You have only to try one or two of the hundreds of delicious fruits that summer offers to get your waistline back and shape and clear that skin in no time. If you don’t want to eat them, then try applying them directly to your skin as a facial mask or body scrub!
First lets looks at some of the seasonal fruits that might still be available, depending on what zone you live in. These fruits are chock-full ofnutrients and lots of phyto-chemicals to help build collagen and re-build acne-scarred skin.
Nearly everything will be in bloom soon, so you have no excuse to not try at least of some of this delicious harvest or at least experiment with a new facial mask. Most fruits and vegetables have great propensity to eliminate toxins and flush your system of all those - pore-clogging bacteria and excess oil that creates acne flare ups and breakouts.
Yellow and orange produce items are typically high in beta carotene, potassium and Vitamin C, and thus reduce the impact of aging, prevent against macular degeneration and prostate cancer; they also lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and support collagen and bone growth. Enjoy orange and yellow peppers, pumpkins, plus acorn, delicara, spaghetti and butternut squashes to receive these benefits.
BERRIES: berries are the first thing one might think of in the summer - all those delicious colors and fragrances to take in - AND they are excellent for your skin - not only on the inside but on the outside as well. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, boysenberries, any berries you can think of - Naturally blue and purple foods contain additional nutrients including the super anti aging reservatol (famous for itshigh (concentration in red wine) and other flavonoids that fight inflammation and cancer, plus ones that support immune and digestive function and mineral absorption. Find can find high concentrations of these age-fighting phytonutrients in grapes or purple bell peppers (found at your local farmers’ markets), purple yams or sweet potatoes and pomegranates also have these amazing phyto-nutrients to protect cellular DNA, slow the aging process and heal acne flare ups and scars.
For a direct treatment, simply crush the berry mix into a pulp and add directly to the face for an instant fruit facial mask and anti-acne fruit acid treatment.
These amazing fruits also slow the aging process by impeding oxidation, combatting dryness and strengthen the barrier for improved elasticity and long-lasting beauty. Taking in large doses, they can also reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and inhibit the breakdown of elastin that causes sagging. the free-radicals will also help to prevent overall premature aging.
With all these benefits, what have you got to lose?
Acne is a common skin condition and there are many ways to treat it. However, some treatments should be used with caution. Acne treatments can be varied from chemical-based peroxides, or acids, to herbal facial masks or even hormones and medication. Many studies have now shown most over the counter acne medication to be harmful to pregnant women - even to the point of causing birth defects! So, use extreme caution when choosing your acne treatment. When in doubt - go for the most natural or herbal method available; treatments like anti-acne herbal facials and clay-based or herbal based anti-acne facial masks can do wonders without all the abrasive chemicals.
HOW ACNE STARTS
Acne is common in young adults, teens and pre-teens and may cause emotional and self-esteem problems. In severe cases, medical treatment may be needed. There are many over-the-counter products that can help treat acne.
Acne is caused by inflammation of the oily glands in the skin - they are called sebaceous glands - that contain a fatty material called sebum. When the duct of the gland becomes blocked either by layers of skin, fatty secretions or dirt, a mini-cyst or pimple forms. The cyst can become infected with acne bacteria.
Treatment of Acne
Just as acne can range from mild to severe, acne treatments also vary, depending on how serious the problem is. The basic treatment is to remove what is plugging the duct of the gland and, if necessary, kill the acne bacteria. This is done either by applying a product to the skin or by taking medication internally. A treatment applied to the skin is called a topical medication; treatment taken internally is called systemic medication.
The simplest treatment for acne is the daily use of ordinary soap and water. Many topical medications are available over the counter without a prescription. They include:
- medicated soaps;
- salicylic acid ointments and washes; and
- benzoyl peroxide.
Topical prescription products may contain antibiotic ingredients such as erythromycin that help control inflammation associated with acne. Topical prescription products may also contain ingredients derived from vitamin A. These products are designed to clean the area, dry up the oiliness, peel the skin and eliminate the acne bacteria present.
When in doubt, choose a natural facial mask to help heal acne scars and prevent further breakouts.
Do you suffer from problem skin or acne breakouts? If you stick to a regualr skin-cleansing and toning regime, it may not be enough to keep your acne breakouts at bay. There are many great facial masks on the market today and some are better than others when it comes to treating acne.
First off, you want to make sure you are helping yuor skin heal and regenerate - not killing it with toxic chemicals or preservatives.
Anti-Acne facial masks come in all forms and types to help clear current acne breakous and heal old scars from previous acne erruptions. Many anti-acne facial masks may contain harsh chemicals or parabens that might not be safe for your skin or can actually cause more damage. harsh chemicals like salycidic acid and benzoil peroxide can actually increass redness and inflammation and increase your chances of breakouts and acne erruptions.
If you use a skincare regime, try to find ingredients that will gently cleanse your skin and allow inflammed tissues to regenerate naturally, without shocking them into submission.
Natural ingredients like Chamomile, Marshmallow, Confrey, Calendula and other herbs are the best way to papmer acne-prone skin and relive redness. Acne erruptions are caused by excess oil and clogged pores, so you want to find an acnti-acne mask that will also help pull the dirt and oil out of the clogged pores - clay based masks work well. if you can, look for an all-natural option or a 100% herbal option to meet both requirements, to heal skin herbally and remove toxins.
Acne scars are created when tissues are not allowed to purge toxins or harsh cleansing or picking has created a groove or indentation in the skin tissue. Acne scars and acne breakouts are treatable and skin cells can regenerate with the proper treatment like herbal facial masks or herbal gentle treatments.
If you suffer from dry, irritated skin, acne-prone skin or wrinkled skin, you might want to try a face mask to help alleviate your symptoms and create a smoother, more beautiful complexion.
If you don’t know what a face mask (or facial mask) is and how to use it - keep reading. It’s really quite simple. Once you get your routine down and find the best face mask for you, you will be amazed at the results.
• Clay or Herbal (Dry Ingredients)
• Peel off
First let’s start with the clay masks or herbal masks. These are typically found in a powder form and you have the opportunity to custom-blend them with water, or facial toner, any ingredient you like. Most clay masks are detoxifying and also very good for all skin types. If you have oily skin, the clay will reduce the amount of oil by absorbing it. If you have dry or wrinkled skin, you can adjust the mask by adding a natural moisturizing agent - like oatmeal or Aloe Vera. These masks are sometimes sold in specialty or “whole food” stores as they tend to be the most natural lines you can buy. Also, since they are dry, they won’t go rancid or spoil the way other natural / organic masks might.
Next we have moisturizing masks. These are typically found in most stores and are a cream-based mask. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from, just look for the ingredients that suit your skin type the best - whether that is dry, oily or wrinkle-prone. Look for healing agents like, Aloe Vera, Calendula, Comfrey, Marshmallow or Lavender as these are all excellent herbs to heal skin and “plump up” skin cells.
Gel Masks are a great alternative if you suffer from really oily skin or have acne problems. The gels won’t be as thick as the standard moisturizing agent and will still help remove toxins from your skin without clogging your pores. Look for facial masks with natural acids or enzymes like papaya, pumpkin and fruits to gently loosen and dissolve dead surface cells.
Finally, we have “peel-off” facial masks - which aren’t as common as they used to be. Some believe that “peeling” the mask off the face actually tears the skin tissue, making wrinkles more noticeable. Its up to you. Some like to use them for the “fun” factor. They come in gel-form that usually has a fruit-acid base like cucumber or grape seed. The gel transforms into a thin transparent film that picks up dead cells, dirt & impurities. Once dry, you then peel off the film after 15 minutes.
Depending on each mask the set times and after-care instruction may vary. Usually you leave the mask on for 10-20 min. Then rinse off with warm water. Follow with moisturizer or toner. And that’s all there is to having fresher, more radiant skin!
Many of you may be new to understanding skincare and how to properly treat your skin with a face mask. Consumers today are bombarded daily with hundreds of ads and promotions, making it extremely difficult to know what the right face mask can be for them.
First, many of you might not know what a face mask is. It’s simple. Face masks (or Facial Masks) come in all types, but they are basically a skin treatment that you leave on your face for a certain amount of time then wash off. Face Masks can remove toxins from your skin, help pull the dirt and impurities out of your clogged pores - like blackheads, lighten your skin, reduce wrinkles, moisturize or balance your skin. Depending on the mask you choose, it can perform a variety of skin treatments. The best face mask - is the one that’s right for YOU.
First, decide what type of skin you have so you can better choose the mask that suits you. Do you suffer from oily skin or dry skin? Do you breakout easily and have sensitive skin or redness or roseacea? Maybe you have combination skin - its all ok. There is a specially formulated mask out there to help all skin types.
Even if you suffer from acne, your face mask should be calming and balancing - meaning they contain ingredients that help reduce redness and allergic reactions. Natural face masks tend to solve these problems best. Acid Peels and harsh chemicals are typically NOT a good way to treat your skin.
Key ingredients to look for in a good facial mask would be:
Oatmeal - natural anti-inflammatory and skin softener
Chamomile - a natural anti-inflammatory, reduces redness and inflammation
Rosemary - Natural antibiotic, anti-microbial, astringent (great for acne)
Aloe Vera - natural skin healer, helps repair damaged cells or acne scars
Lavender: natural anti-microbial and astringent
Marshmallow ( the herb - not the desert) - helps reduce redness and inflamattion
Green Tea - helps repair cellular damage to skin cells
Vitamins - A, C, E - all help repair skin and nourish
And that’s it! not too much to worry about - just remember these quick tips to find the best face mask for you!
Many of you may not be aware how much a facial mask can help your bad skin. If you suffer from ace, Rosacea or dry skin, there are loads of face masks out there that you can use to alleviate your skin problems.
While many of you may remember the face masks of years gone by - those gelatinous masks that you put on your face and let them dry, then “peeled” them off? And maybe your experience was the same as mine - they hardly “peeled” off, more like they came off in chunks and clumps - then you watched your skin PULL from underneath the newly dried plastic you were trying to pull off? Then you eventually just washed the whole thing off?
Well, today’s facial masks are much different. The best face masks now are formulated to be extremely gentle and helpful for your skin instead of “pulling the nutrients out of your skin. You can choose from a wide variety of masks now: herbal, clay, moisturizing, and even masks for oily skin.
One of the main things to be aware of is your skin type. Do you have acne-prone skin? You might need an anti-inflammatory herbal mask or a clay mask. Do you suffer from oily skin? Then you might be best off choosing a non-oil-based mask that will help your skin reduce its natural oil production while also keeping your skin in balance.
If you have aged or sun-damaged skin - your best choice would be a moisturizing mask - full of rich emollients and herbal botanicals to reduce redness and lighten your skin.
Again, there are lots of choices for the best face mask for you. If you want to know more, do some research on your skin type and find the mask that suits you best.
Try to stay away from chemicals as these can do more harm than good. Soon, you will be on your way to brilliant, beautiful skin!
While we can all appreciate a good concealer or botox, ignoring the underlying problems by covering them up is no answer. Truly beautiful skin can only come from a good basic skin care routine.Clear, beautiful, healthy skin doesn’t just ‘happen,’ it comes effort and a good skin care routine. Surprisingly, many women today rely on cosmetics and surgical procedures to hide or repair the damage that has occurred from years of improper skin maintenance.
Most dermatologist and skin experts recommend consistently following a daily skin care routine. This does not have to be complicated or time-consuming. Your daily routine can be performed in as little as five to ten minutes.
* Tone / Treat
A typical skin care routine includes the following steps: washing/cleansing, toning / treating (optional depending on skin type), moisturizing and sun protection.
Optimize for your skin type
The steps of the basic routine should be adjusted to fit your skin type. Your skin type may change with the season, diet and age. Skin tends to be oilier in the summer and drier in the winter. Menopause often brings about a change from oily or normal to dry skin. Conversely, a shift from a low-fat diet to that rich in certain fats (particularly essential fatty acids) may turn dry skin to normal. Skin pigmentation affects the degree to which you need sun protection. While sun damages any skin, the damage is far less in dark-skinned people. Conversely, fair skinned people need to be particularly meticulous about sun protection by minimizing sun exposure, choosing an effective sunscreen and applying it frequently and consistently.
Depending on your skin type, you may want to use your routine once in the morning and again before you sleep. Those with dry and/or sensitive skin may do better with once a day washing/cleansing while moisturizing two or more times a day. Exfoliation, to remove excess oils and prevent acne or blackheads, is also recommended in some cases, but exercise caution as daily exfoliation may be excessive and can lead to chronic irritation. Exfoliation once or twice a week is usually sufficient. Younger skin, like that in your 20’s and 30’s will have a fast natural epidermal turnover may need little to no exfoliation.
Cleaning facial skin is even more important than cleaning your body. Your face, unlike your body, is exposed to elements all day long. Dirt, pollution and oil from hands all accumulate on the epidermal layer and can clog pores and cause acne eruptions or inflammation. Like all skin care products, the best cleanser for you will be determined by your skin type. If you suffer from oily or acne-prone skin, you may benefit from an oil-free gel cleanser or one containing salicylic acid. Mature or dry skin will do best with a cream cleanser to help retain moisture. Once your face and neck are cleansed, rinse with lukewarm water and pat your skin lightly with a towel.
Toning / Treating
Toning can consist of using a store-bought toner, astringent or simple Witch Hazel. Toning or treating will balance the ph level of the skin and remove any residual dirt or oil not picked up from your cleanser. For those over the age of thirty, adding a well-selected treatment or two with scientifically proven active ingredients can further improve your results. Treatment can mean anything from skin rejuvenation products, skin discoloration items and oil absorbing agents to applying medicines for acne or eczema. If you suffer from multiple skin conditions, select an initial treatment aimed at the broadest improvement and then fine tune things from there.
Be aware of applying products to un-cleansed skin as the penetration of active ingredients will be greatly reduced. If you cleanse, moisturize and then apply advanced products, the penetration of active ingredients may still be reduced because the moisturizer has blocked some the entryways.
Moisturizers are essential to keep skin cells plump and hydrated. Hydrated skin will show fewer lines, wrinkles and imperfections. Even if you have oily or acne prone skin, you may still need some hydration. Look for gel-based moisturizers or lightweight formulations. Many medications and treatments appropriate for dealing with acne or oily skin automatically are drying. Don’t make the mistake of drastically drying out your skin until it is a challenge to repair. During the fall and winter months your skin may be even more vulnerable thanks to reduced humidity from indoor heating and excessive hot showers or baths.
Apply your moisturizer when your skin is clean, warm and still slightly moist. Since many active treatments have moisturizing ingredients, you may be able to skip a separate moisturizer. If you feel that you need additional moisturizing, wait a few minutes for the active treatments to absorb, and then apply your favorite moisturizer over it.
Wearing sunscreen or sun protection EVERY DAY is the proven best way to block harmful UV rays and diminish formation of wrinkles, skin discolorations and to reduce your chances of developing skin cancer. A good UVA+UVB sunscreen should be applied on top of your moisturizer or other treatments as a final step of your routine whenever sun exposure is expected. Sunscreens come in a wide variety of bases, from those meant for oily skin to hydrating versions. Those with sensitivities to chemical sunscreens can choose natural Zinc Oxide formulations. Protective clothing can also now be improved thanks to new laundry treatments with UV protectant for widespread areas of the body mistakenly thought to be protected by your clothing.
Some skin care products or cosmetics contain added UV blockers, but they may not be enough, using a separate, specially formulated sunscreen is proven to be more effective.
And that’s it! Cleanse, Tone / Treat, Moisturize and Protect. Use these four simple steps to achieve beautiful, healthy skin. For a lifetime of skin care that can help leave your skin looking its very best, see your healthy skin as a clean canvass upon which to paint any improvements.
Author: Rachelle Dupree
Vivoderm Natural Skincare
How many of you have woken up in the morning only to see a stranger in the mirror looking back at you? Years of good or bad choices can contribute to the quality of not only your body, but your largest organ - your skin. The epidermis - or outer layer of skin- can be the first sign of how well you take care of yourself. As the evidence of our lifestyle choices will eventually show up in far more than our skin, it behooves us all to take the best care of our body and skin that we can.
If your motivation for good skin care is to look more youthful, than taking proper care of your skin will have the added bonus of creating a healthier body. If you wish to reduce acne breakouts, then a slight modification of diet might be necessary as well. Whatever your desired skin result, your overall health will be much improved by following a few easy steps.
Your everyday decisions shape how healthy you and your skin will be - it is that simple.
Here are some simple tips for basic skin care and a healthier body:
- Keep your skin clean so that it can breathe
- Give your skin plenty of moisture to keep it looking young and healthy
- Feed the skin key nutrients that it requires to rejuvenate and repair itself repeatedly
- Rid only the top layer of dead cells to promote rapid birth of new cells
- Protect against outside elements to prevent deterioration and/or damage
- Live a healthy life style
Skin is a living, breathing organ that regularly moves thousands of layers of skin cells each day. The skin is comprised of three layers - the subcutaneous layer - where fat cells are produced; the dermis - where you can find sweat glands, nerve endings and hair follicles, and the epidermis - the final outer layer of skin where pores and oil glands reside.
When new skin cells are ready, they start moving toward the epidermis. This trip takes about 2 weeks to a month. As newer cells continue to move up, older cells near the top die and rise to the surface of your skin. So what you really see on the surface of your skin are dead skin cells.
Keeping your skin properly cleansed and moisturized is vital to healthy, glowing skin. It is the basic of all skincare routines. Be sure to choose a cleanser and moisturizer best suited for your skin type. If you aren’t sure what that is, ask your friendly pharmacist or dermatologist for help. You skin can be acne-prone, oily, dry or a combination of the two. There are hundreds of specialized products out there to suite every skin type.
Feeding the skin means feeding the body. A good skin care regime will always include a healthy diet full of nutrients and vitamins. Whole, organic foods are best if you can get them. Leafy greens, fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains will keep your skin in top shape. Try to avoid junk foods or processed foods as much as possible. These foods rarely contain any real nutrition and can actually overload your skin with sugars and toxins to process.
A weekly light-exfoliation or facial scrub will do much to slough off the top layer of dead skin cells and reveal newer, healthier skin underneath. You can use a soft facial brush found in cosmetic counters, a rough washcloth or a light scrubbing pad as well as pre-packaged facial scrubs or facial masks.
Avoid Excessive Sun Exposure: While some sun exposure is necessary to produce vital Vitamin D, excessive sun exposure is very harmful to the skin. Without protection from the sun’s rays, more than 10 minutes of exposure each day can cause freckles, age spots, and spider veins on the face, rough and leathery skin, loose skin, a blotchy complexion and even skin cancer. If you must go outside, be sure to wear a good UV-blocking sunscreen like Zinc Oxide or wear protective clothing such as hats and long sleeves.
LIVE A HEALTHY LIFE STYLE
Although you have no control over intrinsic factors of aging, such as genetics, you are largely in control of the extrinsic factors. This is where you can make life-altering choices.
Don’t Smoke. You cannot have truly vital skin if you smoke, period. Smoking depletes your body of essential vitamins, which means you can’t have a healthy body either. If you do smoke, try your best to quit. Plenty has been reported and verified on the dangers of smoking and there are now numerous programs, patches and nicotine replacement therapies that can help you quit.
Exercise: Exercise gives you vitality. If you want fresh and youthful skin, physical activity is a must. It not only tones your muscles, but it increases blood flow to all areas of your body, especially your skin. Regular exercise reduces your stress levels, increases levels of oxygen circulating throughout the body, promoting rejuvenation and repair.
Avoid or Moderate Alcohol: Overindulgence of alcohol causes a decrease in the body’s level of vitamin A. This is a very important antioxidant vitamin that supports body and skin health. Alcohol also dilates small blood vessels in the skin’s surface, creating blemishes and red blotches. Drinking too much alcohol can exacerbate acne-rosacea. Due to the dehydrating effects of alcohol, skin wrinkles can occur after an extended period of alcohol abuse because the water in the body and skin is continually evaporated.
Reduce Stress: A good skin care routine and way of life can include meditation, yoga, relaxation, saunas, regular steams, exercise and most importantly, self love.
Get Plenty of Rest: Lack of sleep shows up on the face in forms of dark circles, baggy eyes, and saggy skin. Research has shown that most adults function best with eight to nine hours of sleep each night. While we sleep, our skin gets a chance to rest and rejuvenate. Your skin truly does need its “beauty sleep.”
You’ve only got ONE body. Healthy choices that you CAN make every day will have tremendous effect on the quality of your life and health. The body has amazing repair capabilities, and once you stop or reduce toxic behaviors, it will be better able to heal itself. Taking good care of yourself is the most important step in your skincare routine.
Author: Rachelle Dupree
Vivoderm Natural Skincare
Who would want to put acid on their face?
If you follow trends in skincare and skin products, you most likely have seen numerous references to ‘acids’ – names like, Alpha Hydroxy Acid, Glycolic Acid or Ascorbic Acid to name a few. While the term “acid” may seem harmful or irritating, when used in the proper products and in controlled amounts, it can actually heal and rejuvenate skin – much the same way the acid mantle protects it. The trick in proper skincare is to find the right balance between acid and alkaline maintenance of the skin.
You may not know exactly what these acids do for your skin and how they might help you. Understanding skincare ingredients is key to selecting the right products for your unique skin type and skin concerns.
So, what are all these acid ingredients doing in your skincare and how are they beneficial? Acids have become tremendously popular as anti-aging ingredients. Let’s take a look at some of the more common or widely used acids in skincare today.
The Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
You may have heard the term “alpha hydroxy acid” whenever skin care is mentioned. Many skin care products today boast that they contain AHAs. Alpha Hydroxy Acids are naturally occurring acids, derived from the sugars in particular plants or fruits. Alpha hydroxy acid can include Glycolic, Citric, Lactic, Malic and Tartaric. These acids, when used correctly, can help to smooth the skin, enhance the effects of other skin rejuvenation treatments, keep problem skin under control, attract moisture to the skin, even texture and complexion of skin and reverse some of the effects of UV damage.
AHAs in skincare products help break up the “glue” that holds dead skin cells to the surface of the skin, exfoliating the epidermis and leaving a silky texture. Removing this external barrier enables partner skincare ingredients to deeper penetrate the skin, making them more effective. Using an AHA product can benefit dull, lifeless or uneven skin tone. AHA products are also great for softening rough elbows, knees, hands and feet.
Each AHA is derived from a different source. While the following AHA derivatives all share a similar molecular structure, they each perform a different function.
Made from natural fruit acids (alpha hydroxy acids or AHAs) glycolic acid helps rejuvenate the skin by encouraging the shedding of old, sun-damaged surface skin cells. Due to its small molecular size, it retains an excellent capability to penetrate skin. Glycolic acid is most often used as a chemical peel in concentrations of 20 to 70% by dermatologists or at-home kits between 10 and 20%.
Once applied, glycolic acid reacts with the upper layer of the epidermis, weakening the binding properties of the lipids that hold the dead skin cells together. This allows the stratum corneum to be exfoliated, exposing live skin cells. Glycolic acid will dramatically improve skin texture and appearance and may also reduce wrinkles, acne scaring and hyperpigmentation. By reducing the surface skin oils, it can also help remove blackheads and other skin impurities.
A powerful anti-oxidant used for collagen building, and skin bleaching, citric acid exists in a variety of fruits and vegetables, most notably citrus fruits. Lemons and limes have particularly high concentrations of the acid. A skin rejuvenating AHA, Citric Acid, or Vitamin C, acts as an antioxidant as well as helps stimulate collagen fiber production within the dermis. Citric acid has astringent and antioxidant properties, and is a natural preservative that helps to adjust the pH of skincare products. Citric acid can also bleach unwanted skin discolorations that accompany the aging process. Some pure Vitamin C powder formulations boast skin rejuvenation and antioxidant properties.
Lactic acid comes from sour milk and is an ideal skin softener frequently used by dermatologists to cut through thick, rough skin. It works both as an exfoliator as well as helping to hold water within the skin. Lactic acid may be combined with other AHAs to boost product effectiveness.
Malic AcidMalic acid, an alpha hydroxy fruit acid, is a natural skin exfoliator. It is commonly used in skin care products to rejuvenate and improve skin conditions. Mandelic acid and malic acid are two alpha hydroxy acids increasingly used in skin care formulations where harsher acids or chemicals may irritate sensitive skin types. Malic acid can be found in apples, grapes, pears and bananas.
AHAs are safe when used with caution and according to directions. The amount of AHA in the product and the pH are the determining factors of a product’s strength and irritation you may experience. Remember, this is still an acid and too much can cause redness, irritation or burns. Medical strength AHAs start at a concentration of 8%. This is the baseline of where truly effective results will be noticeable.
If you use an AHA, pay attention to any reactions you have, and stop using the product immediately if you have any irritation at all. Reintroduce it slowly at lower concentrations or stop using it completely. It may also increase sensitivity to the sun, which increases your chances of skin cancer, so always wear sunscreen, cover your skin, or avoid direct sunlight when possible.
Amino acid peptides comprise the latest entry into the skin rejuvenation scene. Amino acids are the chemical units or “building blocks” of the body that make up proteins. Peptides consist of a small number of amino acids linked by a “peptide” bond. These bonds enhance cosmetic suitability and efficacy.
Collagen makes up 75% of our skin. As we age, the collagen- and elastin-producing cells known as fibroblasts, which keep skin tight and youthful, become less abundant and effective. One percent of the skin’s collagen is lost each year after the age of 40. This is where amino acid peptides come in, jump-starting lazy fibroblasts and encouraging new ones to return to the aging dermis.
Skincare treatments that contain amino acid peptides mimic the very end fragments that send out the distress signal to fibroblasts, chemically signaling skin to become firmer by stimulating collagen. Most amino acid peptides offer a non-irritating, non-drying, skin firming option for all skin types. And when formulated with other “friendly” anti-aging agents, can solve many of your skin rejuvenation needs.
Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)
In cosmetics, the term beta hydroxy acid refers specifically to salicylic acid, which is used in some anti-aging creams and acne treatments. Beta hydroxy acids are simple organic acids found in nature or synthesized in the laboratory. They are somewhat different from alpha hydroxy acids in structure and mode of action. The difference here is called “lipid solubility,” aka a substance’s ability to dissolve in oil.
AHAs are water soluble, meaning they’re able to dissolve in water. BHAs, on the other hand, are lipid soluble, meaning they’re able to fully dissolve in oil (or fat). This distinction makes BHAs better at penetrating pores. If you have oily skin, frequent blackheads or whiteheads, then products containing BHA will be your best choice. But if breakouts aren’t your big skin problem, and you’re looking for help dealing with sun damage or wrinkles, consider AHAs instead.
Alpha Lipoic Acid:
An antioxidant that is made by the body and is found in every cell It is both fat- and water-soluble. Antioxidants are depleted as they attack free radicals, but evidence suggests alpha-lipoic acid may help regenerate these other antioxidants and make them active again. In one small-scale study, high potency lipoic acid reduced mild-to-moderate wrinkles by up to 50 percent, whereas fine lines have almost disappeared. In another study, lipoic acid significantly improved the appearance of certain types of scars.
If further studies corroborate skin benefits of lipoic acid, it may become one of the mainstays of today’s anti-aging skin care. In fact, lipoic acid will be especially welcome in the family of proven wrinkle fighters because it is less irritating than tretinoin (Retin A, Renova) and hydroxy acids. It can be used, albeit in lower concentrations, in delicate and wrinkle prone area around the eyes.
Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C):
Also known as ascorbic acid, this antioxidant is known to aid cell repair and help to stop free radicals. When use topically, it may help reduce lines and wrinkles, promote healing, aid in the development of collagen, and can even increase your natural sun protection factor (SPF) to decrease sun damage. It is also a free-radical fighting anti-oxidant. It is no wonder that Vitamin C is a primary ingredient used to combat wrinkles and aging skin. Ascorbic Acid (or Vitamin C), is an essential nutrient found mainly in fruits and vegetables. The body requires it to form and maintain bones, blood vessels, and skin.
Used as an antioxidant in its L-ascorbic acid form, it can also have skin lightening effects in certain preparations. Ascorbic acid helps produce collagen, a protein needed to develop and maintain healthy skin and blood vessels. Ascorbic acid also promotes the healing of cuts, abrasions and wounds and helps fight infections. The Vivoderm Anti-Aging Mask and Anti-Acne Mask both contain Ascorbic Acid.
A powerful humectant that draws moisture to the skin. Dry, damaged skin with a compromised lipid barrier will flake off more rapidly, resulting in excessive peeling. This can leave the surface of the skin more susceptible to bacterial infections and environmental damage. The added anti-irritation technologies and hyaluronic acid help heal the lipid barrier, improving the health of the skin and minimizing unnecessary, excessive peeling – without sacrificing results.
Some acids may simply be included in your skincare as a preservative to keep the product fresh and to prevent spoiling. Not to be confused with Ascorbic Acid, Sorbic Acid is derived from the berries of the mountain ash tree and is an antimicrobial agent. Sorbic Acid has traditionally been used as a preservative for food and wine due to its ability to prevent spoilage caused by yeasts, fungi and molds, as well as some other bacteria. This unsaturated fatty acid is used primarily in the formulation of facial and eye makeup, skin care and hair products.
Stearic acid is the saturated fatty acid or waxy solid used as a hardening agent or lubricant. This acid helps make skincare creams and lotions “spreadable.” This ingredient can be derived from animals or vegetables. Stearic acid can be found in many vegetable fats, such as coconut or cocoa butter.
Even More Acids
As you can see there are many, many types of acids and acid derivatives to be used in skincare. Here are a few other acids you might encounter in your skincare regimens:
- Alum: a chemical compound, usually used in crystal or powder form, it has strong astringent properties and is found in aftershaves, toners, deodorants and depilatory waxes. It is also sometimes applied to cuts to prevent or treat infection.
- Cyclic Acid: A new term for Hyaluronic Acid, a strong hydrating complex that holds 1000 times the water in skin.
- Ellagic Acid: Present in many red fruits and berries. This naturally occurring ingredient helps to inhibit the formation of sun and age spots. Ellagic acid has antioxidant, anti-mutagen and anti-cancer properties.
- Kojic Acid: is primarily used to lighten freckles and other dark spots on the skin.
- Linoleic Acid: Research points to linoleic acid’s anti-inflammatory, acne reductive, and moisture retentive properties when applied topically on the skin. Often referred to it as Vitamin F, it can be found in most vegetable oils such as safflower and grape seed.
- Panthothenic Acid: helps to increase moisture content in the hair and skin.
- Poly Hydroxy Acid: PHAs are really AHAs that do not penetrate quite as deeply into the skin. Gluconolactone and lactobionic acid are two acids that lift tired, dead skin, but because their molecules are larger than the AHAs, they do not penetrate as deeply.
- Salicylic Acid: Made from the bark of the willow tree and classified as a BHA (beta hydroxy acid), it is medically used as an exfolliant and debriding agent and cosmetically used in some chemical peels and to treat many skin disorders, such as acne, dandruff, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis of the skin and scalp.
The Vivoderm Natural Skincare line uses the following acids: Stearic Acid, Lactic Acid and Sorbic Acid, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C). They can be found in these products:
Body Butter: Stearic Acid, Lactic Acid and Sorbic Acid
Zinc Cream: Stearic Acid and Sorbic Acid
Facial Cleanser: Sorbic Acid
Intense Moisturizer: Stearic Acid and Sorbic Acid
Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream: Stearic Acid and Sorbic Acid
Foot Cream: Stearic Acid and Sorbic Acid
Author: Rachelle Dupree
Vivoderm Marketing and Communications
Over The Counter and Spa Treatments
One medi-spa option is Microdermabrasion, a skin-care technique that uses tiny rough grains to buff away the surface layer of skin. It can improve many unwanted skin conditions such as; sun-damaged skin, blotchy skin, acne scars and dark spots, or melasma. It also reduces fine lines, wrinkles.
There are also a wide variety of natural and formulated topical skincare products that help remove skin discoloration and even out skin tone. They range from straight bleaching and lightening solutions to cleansers and lotions. Many of these topical creams until recently used an active lightening ingredient called Hydroquinone in varying percentages. Buyers beware if using these chemicals in your facial care. Hydroquinone has been categorized as a toxic chemical and one of the most common active ingredients in skin lightening creams. It is still legal in the US despite having been banned for use in cosmetics in the UK. Hydroquinone has not only been known to irritate skin, but can also cause permanent skin damage and hyperpigmentation in rare cases.
You can also find bleaching creams containing steroids without searching too hard, and some manufacturers even stoop so low as to use mercury, a highly toxic heavy metal.
Straight skin bleaching is designed to turn off melanin production and eliminate unwanted pools of pigment already present in the skin. As with any chemical-based product, use with caution.
In 2006, the United States Food and Drug Administration revoked its previous approval of hydroquinone and proposed a ban on all over-the-counter preparations. (1) The FDA stated that hydroquinone cannot be ruled out as a potential carcinogen.
Consequently, many manufacturers have begun to produce natural alternatives which mimic the skin lightening properties of hydroquinone. Ingredients such as kojic acid and licorice have become quite popular along with more advanced ingredients like Alpha-Arbutin. When combined, these ingredients can often produce results that even surpass hydroquinone but without the associated risks.
Natural Skin Lightening
If you choose to bleach your skin and are concerned about harmful reactions, look for “paraben-free” and “Hydroquinone-free” options for lightening dark discolorations such as age and liver spots.
Natural skin brighteners such as those listed below, can dramatically improve cellular renewal in addition to firming and brightening the skin. Look for products whose main components are:
- Alpha Arbutin
- Kojic Acid
- Licorice Extract
- Mulberry Extract
- Glycolic Acid
- Lactic Acid
- Lemon Juice Extract
- Vitamin C
- Camellia Sinensis (green tea) Leaf Extract
- Peucedanum Graveolens (Dill) Extract
Here’s a great natural at-home mask you can make with a green papaya to brighten your skin. Enrich and beautify your skin with honey, yogurt, and papaya.
1/2 cup unripe papaya, diced
1 teaspoon plain yogurt
1 teaspoon raw honey
1 large glass or ceramic bowl
1 bath towel
1 small spray bottle
1. One-half cup of unripe, diced papaya. This contains natural alpha-hydroxy acids and high levels of papain, an enzyme that helps dissolve dead skin cells.
2. One teaspoon of plain yogurt. The yogurt adds lactic acid (another alpha-hydroxy) and gives the mask a creamy texture.
3. One teaspoon of raw honey helps the skin to retain moisture.
4. Blend the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Apply to clean skin using fingers; leave on for 8 to 10 minutes. When left on, the mask should tingle slightly. If you have sensitive skin or prefer a gentler exfoliation, use ripe papaya, which has less papain. Rinse off using cool water and pat dry. Finish by applying a gentle moisturizer.
You will see some immediate results with skin bleaching/brightening products, but the best results will be achieved after six to 12 months of continued use.
Natural Zinc Oxide moisturizers will also restore hydration and defend against free-radical skin damage, protecting skin from further damaging (and darkening) UVB and UVA rays.
Looking for Something Stronger?
As you can see, there are many ways to naturally lighten or brighten your skin. But what if you have tried them all with little result? Then you may want to consider more advanced options such as micro-dermabrasion, IPL laser treatments Retinoids. Following are some basic explanations of products and procedures currently on the market and how the treatments work.
Retinoids are derived from vitamin A but contain a different chemical structure; retinoids may limit oil production, reduce skin oiliness, and prevent acne and pigmentation. In addition, retinoids improve visible wrinkles and dark spots for pigmented skin types, and can even act to prevent further acne outbreaks in oily skin. Dermatologists recommend you start retinoid use slowly, beginning with the lowest strength available, sparingly, especially if you have rosacea, acne or skin redness. Expect two weeks of use before your skin can tolerate the treatment without redness or flaking. Despite the initial reactions, many find the end results to be well worth it.
TIP: HOW TO PROPERLY USE A RETINOID
1. In your hand, mix a pea-size portion of retinoid with a couple of
drops of Vitamin C serum if desired to smooth the mixture.
2. Apply to face and neck using upwards strokes – don’t forget the back of your hands.
3. Place a trace of product on your fingertips and apply gently on the skin area under the eye (never on top of the eyelid or around the eye).
4. Use once every three days for two weeks or until no redness or dryness is visible.
5. At the end of two weeks, apply the mixture every other night for another two weeks
6. After the first two weeks of use, you can use the cream nightly and indefinitely.
IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) and Vascular Lasers
Dermatologists use Intense Pulsed Light, or IPL (a combination of different colors of light) to remove the dark spots, broken blood vessels and enlarged oil glands that produce excess oil and cause acne. There are various types of IPL, some more powerful than those used in salons. IPL can also be used in combination with a topical medication called Levulan that makes the skin sensitive to light and intensifies the treatments effect. When used in a combination with Levulan, the light therapy becomes know as Photodynamic Therapy, or PDT. This treatment is effective for dark spots and oiliness and is also a highly effective treatment of flushing, redness, visible blood vessels and other symptoms on the rosaecea spectrum.
The effectiveness of any treatment will vary according to one’s skin type, how often the product is used and in what amount and how often it is applied. It is normally advised to use the same treatment for 4 -6 weeks to determine the effectiveness.
(1) United States Food and Drug Administration (2006) Skin Bleaching Drug Products for Over-the-Counter Product Use; Proposed Rule. Docket 1978N-0065. (Report).
Author - R. Dupree