Berries for antioxidants
Vitamins, minerals and enzymes are all antioxidants for skin that can prevent or repair damage. Antioxidants can counteract the effects of oxidant radicals or free radicals. Antioxidants bind to the free radicals and deactivates them before they can cause harm.
One source of antioxidants can be found in berries. Ellagic acid is a antioxidant found in berries like raspberries, strawberries, pomegranates, and cranberries. This acid protects skin from UV damage by blocking MMP (matrix metalloproteinase) enzymes that break down collagen in damaged skin cells and reduced inflammation.
Green Tea has also been shown to possess anti-inflammatory activity. It contains polyphenols. The main polyphenol in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Scientific studies suggest that EGCG and other green tea polyphenols may prevent skin tumors from starting or growing.
Researchers continue to study the effects of how topical antioxidants for skin can help with wrinkles, wound healing and skin cancer.
Jojoba oil is actually a liquid wax produced in the seeds of the jojoba (a woody shrub). Native Americans extracted the oil to treat wounds and skin conditions centuries ago. Jojoba oil benefits consist of:
- Soothes and softens the skin
- Restores elasticity
- Conditions the hair and scalp
- Absorbs easily into the skin.
- A good source of vitamin E
- Moisturizes chapped and dry skin
Jojoba oil has a mild nutty scent and is a bright, gold color. It closely resembles the natural sebum within our own skin. Jojoba oil benefits inflamed skin, eczema and psoriasis. It is very mild and gentle on the skin. Look for face creams, lip balm and lotions with jojoba oil as an ingredient.
It is estimated that 14 million Americans have rosacea. What is this skin disorder and what are some rosacea symptoms?
Rosacea is the inflammation of the small blood vessels in the capillaries of the face. Symptoms can include:
- Small solid bumps (sometimes inflamed).
- Redness on the checks, nose, chin or forehead.
- Small visible blood vessels on the face.
- Watery or irritated eyes.
Rosacea symptoms usually appear between the ages of thirty and fifty. There is no proven cause for rosacea. Early signs may come and go unexpectedly, but over time the redness becomes ruddier and more permanent if left untreated. The skin of rosacea sufferers is usually very sensitive and easily irritated. A good rule of thumb is to select non-irritating skin care products that are super mild and free from harsh chemicals.
Natural botanical oils may lessen the symptoms.
- Chamomile oil relieves inflammation and soothes the skin.
- Rose hip oil is high in essential fatty acid which helps to maintain healthy cellular membranes.
- Jojoba oil is non-irritating and keeps your skin moist.
Look for products with these natural ingredients to soothe rosacea. They can be a gentler option than over the counter creams which can contain synthetic chemicals that may irritate skin.
Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) is a chemical used to help make plastics soft and flexible. Some of the products that are made with DBP are shower curtains, car interiors, vinyl fabrics, plastic wrap and rain coats. This chemical is also used in popular nail polishes, top coats and hardeners. Other products include shampoos, conditioners, lotions, antiperspirants and sunscreen.
This dangerous toxin is banned in Europe and they have classified it as a suspected endocrine disruptor on the basis of evidence that it interferes with hormone function. Health Canada is now banning six phthalates (including DBP) in soft vinyl children’s toys and child care articles. The State of California has classified DBP as a reproductive and developmental toxicant.
Chances are you won’t find dibutyl phthalate on any label of ingredients. It is often hidden in the ingredient “fragrance” which can contain hundreds of untested chemicals. Look for products labeled “fragrance free” to keep your exposures down from unwanted hidden toxins.
There are clean, healthy skin care products available. Many times products will have a mixture of healthy ingredients but also include synthetic chemicals as well. Read the labels and research the ingredients to make sure they are a healthier option.
What Causes Wrinkles?
There is not much we can do about stopping the aging process. Over time, our skin cells just get tired and don’t turn over as fast as they used to. There are many factors that lead to aging skin. Let’s take a closer look at what causes wrinkles as we age.
- Collagen and elastin, which give skin it’s firmness, decreases.
- Skin becomes thinner and is more susceptible to damage. It tends to be dryer and more transparent.
- Sun exposure and sun damage are the biggest contributors to wrinkles. Sunburn will dehydrate your skin and make the collagen fibers less flexible, diminish and harden.
- Muscle fibers become more relaxed.
- The sebaceous glands pump less oil.
It may seem overwhelming, but there are steps you can take to repair some of the damage and protect your skin from further premature aging.
- Protect your skin from the sun! This will help to prevent future wrinkles. Use a sunscreen, especially on your face. Many face creams have sunscreen already in them. Look for titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as the active ingredient as they are a mineral blocker. They do a great job protecting your skin from UVA & UVB rays.
- Use a chemical free moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated. Dry skin magnifies fine lines and wrinkles. Hydrating skin won’t prevent wrinkles but can lessen their appearance. Synthetic chemicals in skin care can cause irritation and dryness. Look for products with natural botanical oils.
- Antioxidants such as vitamins E or C can help prevent skin cancer and keep skin firm and younger looking. Free radicals (caused by sun exposure and pollution) can damage DNA, create age spots and wrinkles and increase the risk of skin cancer. Antioxidants safely interact with free radicals and terminate the chain reaction before vital molecules are damaged. Other effective antioxidants that are in face creams are acai berries, pomegranates, green tea, and coffee.
It’s important to know what causes wrinkles but it equally important to take action and take positive steps to minimize future skin damage and wrinkles.
Certified organic shea butter
Shea butter is natural fat extracted from the fruit of the shea or karite tree. This tree grows naturally in the wild in West Africa. This hydrating oil has been used for centuries to heal dry, cracked skin. Shea butter uses include:
- itchy skin
- dry skin
- insect bites
- small skin wounds
- chapped lips
- cracked heals
- sunburn and other minor burns
It is also an excellent hair conditioner. Apply shea butter (about the size of a quarter) to your scalp and hair then wrap in a towel for 15 minutes. Comb and style.
Look for certified organic shea butter. It is filtered using earthen clay to remove impurities and not refined with chemicals. Shea butter uses are almost limitless. Keep a tub handy especially in the winter months when skin can be drier.
Ingredients in soap
Why get all lathered up about ingredients in soap? Because, not all soap is created equal. All soap is made with some form of fat. Many soaps use tallow which is a rendered form of animal fat, mainly beef fat. Think about what is stored in fat. Toxins and hormones end up in the fat of animals and then that fat is used to make soap! That’s not all. Synthetic chemicals are also used in creating soaps, many have not been proven safe.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – SLS is used in car wash soaps, as an engine degreaser and cleaning garage floors. Unfortunately, it is used in many personal care products like bar soap, body wash and shampoo. It is a suspected liver toxicant and skin irritant.
- Synthetic Fragrances - The ingredient “fragrance” can contain up to 200 chemicals, most of which are untested and harmful. The National Academy of Sciences reports that 95 percent of the chemicals used in fragrances today are petroleum-based synthetic compounds. These toxins are capable of causing cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders and allergic reactions.
- Triclosan - This antibacterial ingredient, which is used in bar soap, hand soap, hand sanitizer and dish washing soap, has been studied in animals and human cells and has shown to be an endocrine disruptor. The EPA has registered triclosan as a pesticide and claims it to be a risk to human health and the environment.
The Cleaner Alternative
Ingredients in soap don’t have to be toxic. Look for plant based ingredients like olive oil, sunflower oil, shea butter, healing herbs and essential oils. Take the time to read the label to see what the soap is made of. It might have “natural” on the front label but the ingredients list might prove otherwise.
Scaly skin is a common condition. It is usually more noticeable in the winter months when the humidity and temperatures are low. Plus, we are inside with the heat on and that can further add to our skin drying out. Scaly skin could be caused by:
- Psoriasis – thick, flaky red skin. It is an autoimmune disease.
- Eczema – red, dry skin that itches and burns which can result in skin that is scaly.
- Ichthyosis – mostly an inherited skin disorder. Symptoms are scaly, dry skin.
- Severe, dry skin – dry air, low humidity and age can cause skin to loose moisture and dry out.
It is always wise to see a dermatologist to determine what is causing the skin condition. If severe dry skin is the culprit, there are a few steps you can take to nurture and improve your scaly skin.
- Synthetic chemicals in soaps, cosmetics and detergents can irritate and dry out your skin. Choose products created with all natural and organic ingredients. Less is more when looking for mild, gentle soaps, lotions and cosmetics.
- Use warm (not hot) water when showering. Hot water removes natural oils from your skin. Limit your shower time to 10 – 15 minutes.
- Apply a natural moisturizer after your shower. Shea butter, mango butter, cocoa butter are a few excellent botanical oils for dry skin and will help trap water in the surface cells.
Wearing breathable fabrics like cotton and installing a humidifier in your home will also aid in relieving dry, itchy, scaly skin. Fall might be a great time to initiate a few of these steps to ward off dry skin before it starts or to keep it from getting worse.
Green tea for skin
The key to fighting free radicals (pollution, sun, etc. that cause damage to cells and tissues) are antioxidants. They bind to and deactivate free radicals before they cause harm.
There may be some benefits of green tea for skin, reports Hasan Mukhtar, PhD., a professor and the director of research in the department of dermatology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Green tea contains large amounts of polyphenols which are a class of bioflavinoids which possess antioxidant and anticancer properties. The polyphenols in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Scientific Studies suggest that EGCG and green tea are highly effective against skin inflammation and cancerous changes in the skin and may even prevent the onset and growth of tumors.
More research is needed for the antioxidant benefits of green tea for skin but initial studies look promising. Your skin will respond to a natural approach to skin care. Green tea, white tea and coffee are just a few of many powerful antioxidants that are available in products today to help fight free radicals to protect your skin.
Homemade Lip Balm
Cooler weather is setting in and with that comes chapped lips. Homemade lip balm is fairly easy to make if you have the time. There are many different combinations of oils to use when making lip balm. Here are a few to consider:
- Almond oil – a good all purpose oil that is great for dry skin. It is full of vitamins and minerals.
- Jojoba oil – a thick oil that is excellent for inflamed skin.
- Olive Oil – high in vitamin E.
- Hazelnut oil – high in vitamin E and fatty acids. Good for anti-aging.
- Rosehip seed oil – excellent for dehydrated, dry skin.
Here is an easy homemade lip balm recipe to try:
- 5 tablespoons Jojoba oil
- 1 tablespoon beeswax
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 10 drops of lemongrass, peppermint or orange essential oil
Combine the oil and beeswax in a small saucepan over low heat until wax is melted and remove from heat. Add honey and essential oils and blend well. Pour into 1/4 – 1/2 oz. tins while still hot. Makes 3 ounces.
Homemade lip balm is a great healthy gift for anyone!