skincare blog

Eating Trends and Your Skin

strawberries and carrotsWe all want good skin but sometimes rigorously following a skin care routine of cleansing, using sunscreen daily and exfoliating isn’t enough if we ignore the lifestyle part of the solution.

The old adage of “garbage in, garbage out” certainly applies to our skin as well. Regardless of how well we take care of our skin from the outside in, neglecting the inside and how it reflects on our overall well being won’t allow us to achieve our skincare goals. What makes it even more complicated now are the innumerable eating options that keep trending. Some of the more popular ones now include:

  1. Raw Food Diet: Made up of mainly fresh uncooked fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and sprouted grains, the raw food diet promotes eating foods in their most natural, unprocessed state. Raw food proponents believe that important enzymes in uncooked food allow for easier digestion and a lower acidity level in our body (high acidity lowers our immune system). For the skin, a raw food diet reduces the intake of sugars and dairy, both of which can contribute to acne, puffy eyes, fine lines and wrinkles. Increasing our intake of good fat, like the ones found in walnuts and avocadoes, can help to keep the top layer of our skin strong and intact.
  2. Paleo Diet: Commonly referred to as the “caveman diet”, following the Paleo way of eating consists of consuming fruit, vegetables and meat while avoiding grains, legumes, dairy products, processed foods and refined sugars. Loren Cordain, the founder of the Paleo diet movement, has completed extensive work linking diet and acne and presenting the Paleo method of eating as a cure.
  3. Whole Food Diet: Choosing foods that contain a single ingredient and eating foods that are as close to their natural state as possible are the goals of this diet. Fruits, vegetables, eggs, fish, meat, nuts and seeds all qualify as whole foods as long as they are unprocessed. Many of the convenient but processed foods that we have available to us are high in fat, sugar and salt while providing questionable nutritional value. The body works hard to rid itself of ingested toxins, so it should be no surprise that those efforts can show up as blemishes, puffiness and wrinkles on the skin.

Before we get hung up on whether or not we are vegetarians, vegans or flexitarians, know that our food choices have a definite impact on the appearance and health of our skin. Regardless of the eating trend we follow, all of them focus on plant-based foods while eschewing as much of the processed stuff as possible. Just like a skin care regimen tailored to your specific needs, you don’t have to stick to just one eating trend. Choose what makes sense for you and just start. Baby steps.

Want to keep up to date on the latest in skin care and anti aging information? Visit this skin care blog updated 3 times a week. Sign up for our weekly newsletter with exclusive info and discounts on new products. Sign Up Here

Astaxanthin – A Marine-based Super Antioxidant

woman in mirror2Here’s a pop quiz for you. Is Astaxanthin:

a) a flowering vine that uses tendrils to twine its way up fences, lattices and walls?
b) an artificial sweetener used as a sugar substitute in foods and beverages?
c) a naturally occurring carotenoid that acts as a powerful antioxidant?

If you answered C, you deserve a prize. Astaxanthin has been touted as a super-antioxidant for a number of years now. Natural, non-synthetic astaxanthin is only available from two marine-based sources: microalgae called Haematococcus pluvialis and from sea creatures, like salmon and krill, who eat the microalgae.

As a daily supplement, its benefits are wide and varied:

  • Relieves pain and inflammation. Studies have shown that astaxanthin can have positive effects on inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Promotes eye health by fighting free radicals that can lead to retinal damage and macular degeneration.
  • Boosts endurance by improving muscle recovery. Astaxanthin has been used as a supplement by athletes to speed up recovery after workouts, to increase strength and stamina and to reduce joint and muscle discomfort after exertion. Vigorous exercise can actually generate free radicals. When taken as an oral antioxidant supplement, astaxanthin works by hunting down and destroying the free radicals in the muscle tissue.

As a topical treatment, astaxanthin minimizes UVA damage to the skin by neutralizing free radicals, which in turn can help slow down premature aging. As a free radical scavenger, astaxanthin is 54 times more powerful than beta carotene and 65 times more powerful than vitamin C. And you know how much we love vitamin C! Astaxantin also increases hydration to minimize appearance of wrinkles and acts as an anti-inflammatory to calm skin. As more and more research points to inflammation as the reason that skin ages, astaxanthin is looking even more attractive as an anti-aging weapon.

With all those things going for it, it would be a missed opportunity to not incorporate into our treatments. Find astaxanthin in our Apothekari Bespoke Vitamin C+++ 10% and 15% where it supports Vitamin C and other actives to protect and rejuvenate skin.

Want to keep up to date on the latest in skin care and anti aging information? Visit this skin care blog updated 3 times a week. Sign up for our weekly newsletter with exclusive info and discounts on new products. Sign Up Here

Dry Skin Solutions: 6 Tips From Head to Toe

41802200 - body care. woman applying cream on legsAs temperatures drop and the wind whips up, heaters crank on, leading to dry skin that many of us have to contend with. Dry air/low humidity is one of the most common causes of skin dryness. It occurs when the water content of skin declines and lipids are depleted resulting in irritated, itchy and flaky dry skin.

Aside from feeling uncomfortable (and perhaps being less than aesthetically pleasing), when dry skin becomes severe, it can crack, making a perfect entryway for germs, thereby increasing the risk of infection. You’ve probably noticed that your skin tends to be drier in winter and may find that despite slathering on the moisturizer, there’s little relief to be had.

In addition to low humidity, lipid depletion may be exacerbated by harsh soaps, itchy clothing and long, hot showers or baths. Some drugs, such as diuretics or topical and systemic retinoids, may also temporarily cause dry skin. Generally, the dryness resolves once treatment is stopped. Xerosis, another term for severely dry skin, often worsens in the winter, resulting in decreased amounts of water in the skin’s uppermost layer.

Don’t despair! We’ve got 6 tips to help manage dry skin from head to toe:

1. For dry scalp:

A dry scalp can be worsened with certain medicated shampoos which may strip your hair and scalp of their natural oils, leading to dryness and flaking. Massaging oils like olive oil and coconut oil can help. Warm oil treatments – leaving the oil on the scalp for a few minutes or overnight then shampooing with a gentle, moisturizing shampoo like Cliniderm Soothing Scalp Shampoo – may also be beneficial.

2. For the face, the overriding rule is to be gentle:

  • Wash with warm (not hot) water.
  • Avoid drying cleansers, abrasive scrubs and overdoing it with cleansing devices. Too much of this can strip away skin’s natural oils, leaving dryness behind.
  • Apply a good moisturizer when face is damp to lock moisture in.

We’re partial to Apothekari Daily Infusion Moisturizer for restoring the skin’s moisture content – it’s suitable for all skin types and won’t interfere with your other skin care treatments.  For you multitaskers, Anthelios KA SPF 50+ is a daily protective moisturizer that offers long-lasting moisture and broad spectrum SPF 50+ protection in a comfortable and non-greasy emulsion. Finally, Cliniderm Soothing Cream and Cliniderm Soothing Lotion are both irritant-free and a boon for all those with sensitive skin. View our full range of moisturizers here.

3. For the body:

Once out of the warm shower or bath, pat skin dry (avoid rubbing) and massage moisturizer all over while skin is slightly damp. If you’re planning on wearing tights or skinny jeans, let the lotion absorb for five to 10 minutes before dressing. Repeat at night, just before bed. For rough areas, such as knees and elbows that need extra TLC, treat them with a heavy balm with soothing ingredients to help reduce itch and irritation and create a protective barrier. We love Impruv Barrier Cream, which features ceramides and is suitable for the whole family. For an extra bit of pampering, try Apothekari Shea Body Butter. Made with organic shea butter and infused with healing herbs, fresh oils, natural vegetarian waxes, it contains an intoxicating blend of essential oils to heal dry, cracked and callused skin.

4. For the hands:

Keeping a hydrating hand cream and cuticle oil in your desk drawer (and in the car, in your purse, by the sink – you get the picture) is key to maintaining soft hands and healthy nails. Again, look for soothing, moisture-retaining ingredients such as shea butter and urea to keep skin supple and soft. Try Ureaka Hand Cream, which contains elements similar to those naturally found in healthy skin.

5. For the feet:

If your feet feel irritated and show signs of disrepair (such as cracked heels), you’ll need specialized care: try Eucerin Repair Foot Cream formulated with 10% urea or Flexitol Heel Magic with its convenient stick application to intensively moisturize and soothe dry feet and cracked heels.

6. Beauty from within:

One of the must-have foods for healthy skin? Omega-3 fatty acids. These are the “good fats” that are credited with increasing heart health as well as helping your skin look healthier. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include seafood (especially tuna and salmon), walnuts and ground flax seed. These fatty acids are responsible for the health of the cell membrane, which not only acts as a barrier to things that are harmful but also as the passageway for nutrients to cross in and out of the cell. Since the membrane is what influences the cell’s ability to hold water, having a healthy skin barrier yields softer, supple and more wrinkle-free skin.

Be consistent and you’ll be rewarded with well-hydrated and silky skin,  just in time for spring. Which, according to Punxsutawney Phil, is still a good 6 weeks away…

Want to keep up to date on the latest in skin care and anti aging information? Visit this skin care blog updated 3 times a week. Sign up for our weekly newsletter with exclusive info and discounts on new products. Sign Up Here

Chocolate – The Answer We’re Looking For?

43271048 - closeup of woman eating chocolateWith Valentine’s Day around the corner, the stores are quickly filling up with chocolates of every shape and form. Although the health benefits of chocolate may have been overstated in the past, there’s no reason not to indulge once in a while.

I’m certainly no stranger to this treat in moderation, needing no more motivation than its incomparable taste, but wouldn’t it be great if chocolate was the answer to some of our more common concerns?

Chocolate and Weight Loss: Sound too good to be true? The University of Copenhagen published a study showing that dark chocolate decreases the craving for sweet, salty and fatty foods that typically throw dieters off the track. And neuroscientist Will Clower made headlines in 2014 when he stated that eating chocolate 20 minutes before a meal would cut appetite by 30%-50%. Before you head to the store, keep in mind that recommendations call for dark chocolate of at least 70% cacao with portions of no more than 1 ounce per day.

Chocolate and Sun Damage: Some foods rich in antioxidants can actually boost your skin’s natural abilities to protect from sunburn damage.  Add chocolate to that list. Cocoa beans contain flavonoids which act like antioxidants. A London University study published in 2009 found that test subjects who consumed a 20g portion of high-flavonol chocolate daily over a period of 12 weeks took twice as long to burn from sun exposure than test subjects who consumed chocolate with low levels of flavonol. The conclusions, however, did not warrant abandoning conventional sun smart practices like wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen. The experiment, however, was most likely delicious.

Chocolate and Wrinkles: Anti-aging chocolate has been in the news before  and continues to be a niche-product for those who are hoping to regain the skin of their 20 year old selves, but the jury is still out on whether it will make much of a difference to someone who already eats right, leads a healthy lifestyle and takes good care of their skin. There are still some out there, however, that see the potential of chocolate in fighting wrinkles. A group of Malaysian scientists recently found that cocoa pods, normally discarded during processing, contain active compounds such as malic acid and ellagic acid, both of which are found in skin care treatments. To test the commercial viability of their discovery, a gel formulated with cocoa pod extract was applied to the skin of 12 subjects. The results were promising: a 12% reduction in wrinkles after 5 weeks with the added benefit of increased skin hydration.

Alas, chocolate may not be the answer to all our woes. But the good news is that consumption of dark chocolate can help decrease stress by releasing dopamine, endorphins and serotonin, all which contribute to boosting our mood and making us feel happier. Well worth it, don’t you agree?

Want to keep up to date on the latest in skin care and anti aging information? Visit this skin care blog updated 3 times a week. Sign up for our weekly newsletter with exclusive info and discounts on new products. Sign Up Here