Category Archives: Skincare

Why You Need a Low pH Cleanser for Healthy Skin

 

Recently I have been seeking to better understand the science behind our skin and how we care for it. Just because a product is natural, does not necessarily make it safe or effective. I have been reading a lot about Korean and/or Asian skincare practices, and the use of low-pH cleansers is the very foundation – for good reason! Here is what I’ve learned…

Have you ever experienced that tight, dry feeling left on your skin after using a facial cleanser? You might believe that this is your cleanser doing it’s job. However, most standard cleansers are too high in pH, causing damage to the skin.

Our skin is made up of a barrier of skin cells and fatty acids. This barrier is known as the “acid mantle” and it serves to protect your skin. The acid mantle keeps bacteria from getting into your skin as well as holding water within the skin (keeping your skin hydrated). It keeps the good stuff in, and the bad stuff out.

Our skin has a natural pH of between 4 and 6 (acidic). A pH of 7 is neutral and anything over 7 is considered alkaline. Many basic cleansers are too alkaline to help protect and preserve the acid mantle. This leads to skin feeling dry, sensitive, redness, and acne. Your skin will start producing extra oil/sebum to overcompensate. Skin may feel dry immediately following the cleanser, and then turn into an oil-slick later in the day.

In order to protect your skin, prevent acne and irritation, and promote hydrated, glowing skin, you need to use a cleanser that has the same pH has natural skin: between 4 and 6.

Here are some low-pH cleansers:

Cosrx Good Morning Gel Cleanser

 

 

 

 

 

 

SU:M 37 Miracle Rose Cleanser

 

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser

*I use this as a body wash

Hada Labo Tokyo Gentle Hydrating Cleanser

 

 

Give a low-pH cleanser a try and see the results – happy, hydrated skin!

 

Use Facial Oil to Clear and Cleanse Your Skin

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Homemade Tincture” by Nekenasoa is licensed under CC by 2.0

Growing up I was always taught to avoid skincare products that contained any type of oils. The theory was that using oil on your face would clog pores and lead to acne. Having been an adolescent with less than perfect skin, I wasn’t about to put anything on my face that might worsen my acne. I continued to avoid facial oil into my adulthood, and used facial cleansers and other products that were intended to clear acne.

I became frustrated that I was now an adult and still needed to use acne products to keep my acne at bay. Aren’t teenagers the ones who have to deal with this problem? I started to do some research, reading and learning about other adult women who had similar concerns about their skin.

Through my research, I discovered healthy ways to clear my acne at the root of the issue that would provide lasting results. The most important decision I made was to improve my lifestyle and make healthier choices. I write about how I changed my diet and introduced supplements to my daily routine here.

I also discovered how to improve my skincare routine. Here is what I learned:

Oil-Free Cleansers can Damage Skin

Most commercial facial cleansers (especially those geared for acne) contain harsh detergents such as sulphates that strip natural oil from your face and drying your skin. Stripping natural oils (sebum) from your face can cause skin damage and accelerate the signs of aging. It can also further aggravate acne, eczema, and rosacea.

Facial Oil will Help Reduce Oily Skin

Using products that contain high quality oils can actually trick your skin into thinking it has already produced enough oil, and will decrease your natural sebum production.

Facial Oil will Clear Pores

Using oil to cleanse your face will actually help dissolve clogged pores such as whiteheads or blackheads. Water cannot dissolve oil – but oil can dissolve oil, so the oil will mix and clear up clogged pores!

Cleansing with Oil Removes Makeup

Nothing removes makeup faster and more gently than an oil-cleanser – even eye makeup! I use One Love Organics Vitamin B Enzyme Oil Cleanser and Makeup Remover. Some other favorites to use are plain joboba oil or virgin coconut oil. This method is sometimes referred to as the “oil cleansing method.” The key is to massage the oil on dry skin, then wipe away with a warm wash cloth and rinse. You can follow with another cleanser for a deeper clean or just stick with the oil-cleanser.

 

Have you tried cleansing with oil? What are your favorite facial oils? Please share!

 

Three Natural Deodorants that Actually Work

“Homemade Deodorant” by Megan Myers is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Living a healthier lifestyle requires not only taking a look at what you put into your body, but also what you put on your body. Many deodorants, specifically antiperspirants, are filled with toxic ingredients such as aluminum, parabens, synthetic fragrance, and phthalates – just to name a few. These ingredients are linked to Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer, fertility problems, and seizures.

Sweating is one way our body releases toxins. Antiperspirants block the sweat glands. If you stop your body’s natural ability to sweat, your body will end up reabsorbing those toxins – leading to numerous health issues.

Ditch the antiperspirant and allow your body to do what it is naturally designed to do – sweat out unhealthy toxins! It’s actually good for your body to sweat!

Although you may sweat more when you quit using antiperspirant, there is no need to worry about body odor. There are many natural deodorants you can use that provide long-lasting odor protection.

When I initially quit using antiperspirants, the search for a nontoxic deodorant that actually worked turned out to be an arduous journey. I started with several store-bought deodorants (such as Tom’s of Maine, Thai Crystal, and Jason)  and was quickly disappointed with the results. They did not seem to prevent body odor – but rather poorly masked it.

After lots of trial and error, I am happy to say that I have found several nontoxic deodorants that truly get the job done!

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Soapwalla Deodorant Cream

This is probably one of the most popular deodorants among the green beauty community. It’s become a cult favorite! This deodorant is the most powerful in odor protection. It requires finger application. It provides a lavender-citrus fragrance. My only issue with Soapwalla is that my skin can become irritated if used right after shaving. If you have sensitive skin, this deodorant may be too strong for you.

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Green Body Deodorant

Many natural deodorants require finger application. If you love the convenience of a stick deodorant, this is the deodorant for you – and it really works! The best part is that is comes in six different scents!

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Meow Meow Tweet Deodorant Cream

This is my holy grail deodorant. It provides powerful odor protection, yet is sensitive enough to use after shaving. It does require finger application, but is worth the nuisance due to the simple yet effective ingredients. It comes in two scents: lavender and tea tree. You can also order a mini size for travel or sampling the product.

Have you quit using antiperspirant? What is your favorite nontoxic deodorant that actually works? Please share!

Three Must-Have Supplements for Clear Skin

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Looking to improve your complexion, eliminate acne, and feel your best? Inflammation, redness, acne, and uneven skin tone are results of deficiencies in your health and lack of nutrition. In order to improve your skin on the outside, you need to heal yourself on the inside. Topical skin products that promise relief may only temporarily alleviate some symptoms, but to truly make a long-lasting difference in your skin, you need to increase your nutrition. Even when trying to live a healthier lifestyle, it can be difficult to get all the nutrition you need on a daily basis. Adding these supplements to your routine can make a big difference:

Fermented Cod Liver Oil

Fermented cod liver oil is high in omega 3 fatty acids – the healthy fats! It is also especially high in vitamin D and A. It is packed with more nutrients compared to other types of fish oil. When the cod livers are fermented, the nutrients are extracted without being damaged like in other processing methods. The fermentation also allows the nutrients to be more easily digested. This supplement can be a little pricey – but well worth the money since you will get a lot of bang for your buck. Your hair, skin, and nails will GLOW! Green Pastures Cod Liver Oil is a reputable brand, and it comes in yummy flavors!

Probiotics

Probiotics are hugely important for keeping clear skin as well as overall health. “Good” bacteria is needed in your gut to digest food properly and maintain a strong immune system. Many health problems can be linked back to an influx of “bad” bacteria in the gut: yeast infections, acne, diarrhea, constipation – just to name a few. Having too much bad bacteria can result from taking antibiotics and eating too much sugar and breads. We get healthy bacteria naturally from eating fermented foods like sauerkraut, beet kvass, kefir milk, yogurt, and raw apple cider vinegar. However, it can be hard to eat the amount we need daily, so adding a probiotic supplement is a must! Try Garden of Life Raw Probiotics.

Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is one of the most well-known herbs to help support liver function. The liver is essential to flushing out toxins in the body. Having a healthy liver will heal your skin and keep acne away. Milk thistle contains silymarin, a property which supports the liver by increasing glutathione levels and cleaning toxins out of the blood. It also helps regenerate liver tissue and decrease inflammation. Show your liver some love, boost your body’s healing power, and try taking Pure Encapsulation Silymarin.

Have you tried any of these supplements? What supplements have helped to clear your skin? Please share!

DIY Rose Moisturizing Body Oil Spray

Rose Body Oil Spray

I am someone who likes to shower in the mornings, and I am usually in a hurry to get to work. Simply applying body lotion post-shower can be too time-consuming for my hectic mornings. With the dry weather season approaching, I need to take the time to add some extra moisture to my skincare routine to avoid scaly knees and elbows!

I have created an easy, natural, and budget-friendly way to moisturize in the morning.

DIY Rose Moisturizing Body Oil Spray:

Pour it all into an 8oz Glass Spray Bottle and shake it up.

Application: After finishing my shower, while my skin is still soaking wet and standing in the tub, I mist my skin with the oil spray. Then I quickly use my hands to smooth the oil over my skin to ensure an even application. I gently pat my skin dry with a towel. The process only takes a minute!

I love the romantic rose fragrance, and the cacao adds some depth and warmth to the scent. The best part about this recipe is that you can customize it to fit your needs. You can use other moisturizing oils such as sweet almond oil or olive oil. You can substitute other essential oils instead of rose such as lavender.

 

Have you tried a body oil spray before? What are your favorite ways to moisturize?

The Best Natural, Nontoxic Sunscreens

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Marilyn Monroe con bañador blanco en la playa” by Antonio Marín Segovia is licensed under CC BY 2.0

There’s a big debate happening over whether sunscreen is actually causing more harm to our health than we realize. We already know too much sun causes cancer and accelerates aging – thus, protection from the sun is a must! But is the sunscreen your using potentially just as harmful? More research is indicating that certain types of sunscreen are linked to increased inflammation, aging, and cancer.

There are two types of sunscreen: physical and chemical.

Chemical Sunscreens

Chemical sunscreen ingredients such as oxybenzone are absorbed into the skin and cause a chemical reaction that is believed to prevent UV damage. When these ingredients are absorbed into the bloodstream, they are considered endocrine disruptors . Endocrine disruptors interfere with our natural hormones. They tamper with estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, and thyroid. Endocrine disruptors can cause undeveloped testicles in small boys, early puberty in girls, low sperm count and infertility, and breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer…. Hmm, no thank you!

Physical Sunscreens

Physical sunscreens include the minerals titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These ingredients sit on top of the skin and block/deflect UV light. Physical sunscreens can also be dangerous if the minerals are in a form called nanoparticles.  Nanoparticles are small enough to be absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream.

The best, safest form of sunscreen is a physical sunscreen in non-nanoparticle form. Microfine zinc and titanium dioxide are small enough to apply smooth and even on the skin, but not so small that it will be absorbed into the bloodstream. Zinc oxide is also known for being a little more gentle on the skin compared to titanium dioxide, especially for those who suffer from acne and need a sunscreen for the face.

A common complaint when converting to natural sunscreen is that they frequently give a thick, whitish film on the skin. This is especially common in less expensive brands that do not use microfine zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. I have tried NUMEROUS natural sunscreens before finding some that apply smooth, even, and clear – and I am happy to say that they do indeed exist!

Here are my favorite natural sunscreens:

Grahams SunClear Natural Sunscreen:

This is my favorite body sunscreen for those days I spend at the beach or outside at a BBQ. The main ingredient is microfine zinc oxide, SPF 30. It applies more like a body oil, and is a little shiny at first. However, it absorbs into the skin quickly. It leaves no white film at all! It also contains skin-yummy ingredients such as rose hip oil, grapeseed oil, shea butter, and vitamin E. It is also water resistant. This is truly a sunscreen gem!

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BurnOut Eco-Sensitive Sunscreen:

This is my favorite facial sunscreen. It is SPF 35, and applies clean and clear to the skin with a matte finish (which is perfect for under makeup). It is designed for sensitive skin, so it is great for anyone battling with acne! I carry this sunscreen with me in my purse for times when I am unexpectedly in the sun and need protection on my face and body. It is fragrance free, biodegradable, and affordable compared with other high-quality sunscreens!

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Have you tried these sunscreens? What are your favorite natural, nontoxic ways to protect yourself from the sun?

Two Products to Relieve Dark, Puffy Eyes

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Image 322” by Ierdnal is licensed under CC by 2.0

There’s no better remedy for dark, puffy eyes than to eat well, get plenty of sleep, and stay hydrated. However, we all experience those mornings when we didn’t catch enough sleep, indulged in too much sugar or sodium, or had a few too many glasses of wine the prior evening. I have two products to quickly reduce puffiness, dark circles, and give you fresh, bright eyes!

100% Pure Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream:

This eye cream is packed with anti-inflammatory ingredients such as coffee and green tea to quickly reduce puffy eyes on contact. It also contains antioxidants and anti-aging ingredients such as rosehip oil to brighten the eyes and reduce fine lines. Rose hydrosol is another ingredient – one of my all-time favorite moisturizing properties in skincare.

This eye cream is moisturizing without being too greasy, and will work well under makeup. It smells like a vanilla latte! It’s organic, vegan, and safe for sensitive skin. A full-size tube is $25, and they have a smaller size for $13. I typically order the small size – it will last for months! I find 100% Pure’s eye cream to be much more affordable compared to other organic brands without sacrificing quality.

 

100 percent pure eye cream

Studio 78 Paris ‘Off We Go’ Anti-Dark Circles Concealer:

This concealer seems to have become a favorite in the organic beauty industry – and for good reason! This concealer comes in two colors: At Dawn for cooler skin tones, and Moonlight for warmer skin tones. I ordered At Dawn, which matched well for under my eyes. I have very fair skin, so I was surprised that it was a match considering there are only two colors to choose from. This concealer has a way of blending in with the skin to match a variety of skin tones.

The consistency is thicker and seems less creamy compared to other organic concealers I’ve tried. However, it works really well for under the eyes. It will stay put without melting away or gathering in creases or fine lines – yet, it’s not too drying. A little goes a long way. It will last you quite a while. The pigment is perfect for counter-balancing the bluish hues of dark circles. This concealer is vegan and contains antioxidants and anti-free radicals. It comes in a little pot with a mirror – perfect for on the go.

The only drawback for me is that I can’t use this as a concealer for other parts of my face such as on blemishes. It is a little too dark for my fair skin. However, I have read other reviews where women use this as an all-over concealer without any problems. 

 

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Have you tried either of these products? What has worked for your dark, puffy eyes? Please share!

My Miracle Serum for Clear Skin

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Blissoma Solutions Smooth A+ Perfecting Serum has been a wondrous product for me! This little gem is packed with antioxidants that provide ultimate healing power. My skin has truly changed for the better since I started using this product almost a year ago. I have noticed fewer breakouts, more even skin tone, and smaller pores.

The secret ingredient in this serum is Niacinamide: a topical antioxidant that combats oxidation of the pores.

One of the main reasons we get breakouts is due to oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that occurs when oxygen damages the molecules of our sebum. You know how an avocado will turn brown if you leave it out? That is oxidation happening. Our sebum contains squalene, a fatty acid. When squalene oxidizes, it becomes squalene peroxide which will clog your pores. Once the pore is clogged, bacteria accumulates and inflammation occurs… leading to acne.

Niacinamide is essentially a topical Vitamin B3. It is a powerful antioxidant – which is the antagonist of oxidation. When a topical antioxidant is applied regularly, it will effectively decrease the likelihood of oxidation, resulting in less breakouts! Win!

This serum is incredibly light and dries with a matte finish. The fragrance is not potent, and smells like roses. I use only one pump for my entire face while it is still damp after applying my toner. It can be used alone or along with an oil or moisturizer. I allow it to dry before applying my facial oil.

 

Have you tried Blissoma? Do you have a favorite acne-fighting serum? Please share!

Beauty Tips for Women with Red Hair

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Meet my good friend Idgy (the beauty in the photo above)! She is a lover of natural, cruelty-free beauty products. I have known Idgy for many years, and have adapted several of her beauty methods into my own regimen. Recently, a coworker of mine expressed some frustration in finding beauty products that work for her red hair,  so I referred to Idgy –  who was so gracious to put together some techniques that have worked well for her:

 

“Print and television advertisements for cosmetics invariably feature dramatic looks. Applied to someone with unusual coloring, these palettes can appear garish. There are some guidelines that can make choosing make-up and skin-care easier for redheads. Most of the products mentioned here are natural and/or organic; a few of them are not. NONE of them are from companies that allow testing on animals. To reliably locate cosmetics companies that are cruelty-free, mybeautybunny.com is very helpful. My favorite resource for product reviews is beautypedia.com

Skin Care

Beginning with skin (as all beauty routines should), it can be thin and delicate. There is also a tendency toward warm tones; this combination explains why the entire world knows when you blush or have been crying. The first tenet of skin care is to treat it gently. Look for products with soothing ingredients like green tea, honey, aloe, neem, lavender, and rosemary. Known irritants, such as alcohol, sulfur, cinnamon, and peppermint should be avoided. Keep in mind that any ingredient can potentially be irritating to any individual. If it turns your skin red, it’s not for you. One skin-care line worth consideration is all-natural Lotus Moon. The Amaranth Gentle Cleanse cleanser and the Organic Honey Purifying Mask are soothing for most skin types.

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Sun Protection

You already know sun protection is important, but two things worth mentioning are that many commercial sunscreens contain chemicals you may not want on your skin; and there is some controversy over whether sunscreens themselves are in fact harmful. I won’t enter into a debate, but will say that Lotus Moon makes an excellent, gentle sunscreen; and regardless of your stance on the sunscreen quandary, I advise a hat with a brim, and large sunglasses during the daytime. Sunscreen leads us to the next bone of contention: self-tanner.

A tanned redhead is typically an odd-looking creature; it’s been pointed out to me that a tan makes me rather resemble a large penny. The best approach is to embrace your pallor and eschew the self-tanner – with one exception. Pasty legs can benefit from a little color. There are several tanning products that are relatively easily applied, with some practice. Layering light, even coats over the course of a few days is the best method. The lotion can collect and turn quite dark in creases, but a cotton swab can take care of this. Nature’s Gate Sunless Tanner is an inexpensive option and available at a discount at vitacost.com.

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Make-up

When selecting make-up, the first decision regards foundation. Most do not need a full face of foundation, at least not for the daytime. A little finishing powder can tone down ruddiness. I like to use a powder that can double as foundation and have found natural, mineral-based products to be the most skin-friendly choice. Honeybee Gardens Pressed Mineral Powder Foundation is an elegant and inexpensive option. I dust it on lightly with a large brush most of the time, and press it on with either a dry puff or a dampened sponge for more polish on special occasions. If your skin is quite dry, a liquid option or a BB cream might be a better choice.

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Concealer is an important item to have on hand. NARS Radiant Cream Concealer has a nice texture and is available in many shades. It works well on dark circles. For heavier coverage, or for oily skin, try Kat Von D’s Lock-it Tattoo Concealer. (Which actually won’t obscure a tattoo, but it’s great for imperfections.) Speaking of imperfections, see those broken capillaries at the base of your nostrils? Tap a little concealer there; it makes a difference.

Appropriate make-up colors can be described as warm and soft. Black eyeliner and mascara are not the best options: try brown mascara instead. Choose eyeliner colors to complement, but not match, eye color. Blue eyes are most flattered by browns and coppers. Green eyes benefit from plums and purples. Younique’s mineral eye pencils are a worthy product to try; Passionate is a nice mid-tone purple. Those with brown or gray eyes can opt for some fun colors: teal, violet, green. Keep in mind that the lighter your hair and skin are, the lighter and more blended your make-up palette should be. For example, a strawberry blonde would be better served by golden brown liner than chocolate, grass green over moss, turquoise instead of teal. Use a cotton swab or blending brush to blur the line for a softer effect. Kriss Cosmetics makes gel eyeliners that apply flawlessly. Black Cherry is a deep aubergine, with flecks of copper, that would be too harsh for strawberries, but it’s very flattering to darker auburns. Keep eye shadows warm or neutral: nudes, golds, browns, plums.

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Think about peach-based colors for cheeks and lips, instead of pinks. One of my favorite blushes is Mineral Blush in Kitten from Honeybee Gardens. Flattering lip colors will be peach instead of pink, coral rather than mauve, and tomato instead of burgundy. Do not take these colors too deep if you are paler. Stick to apricot, coral, and lighter red.

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Once you are comfortable with the colors that are best for you, feel free to branch out and have some fun. A bright berry lipstick may work, if the rest of your make-up is warm/neutral and minimal. You can still do a smoky eye design, but use mid-tone brown or plum shadows, instead of gray and black. If it looks harsh, try softer, lighter colors, and blend, blend, blend. Emphasize only one feature at a time: a bold lip OR a smoky eye OR bright blush. Apply muted shades sparingly to the rest of the face.”

 

 

Have you tried any of these products? What are your favorite beauty tips for redheads?

 

Gressa Minimalist Corrective Serum Foundation Review

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Finding the right foundation can certainly be a challenge. My skin is very fair, so finding a color that is light enough has been a longtime struggle. I prefer a more natural coverage with my foundation that I can wear daily without looking too done-up. I have generally stuck to mineral powder foundations for the last several years. I like how they are easy to apply and do not look too heavy. However, I found my skin looking a little too dry during the winter months. Liquid and stick foundations sometimes feel too thick to wear everyday, so I reserve such foundations for more special occasions. Tinted moisturizers tend to make my face look greasy, and typically don’t provide enough coverage.

Finding an everyday foundation that provides enough coverage without being “cakey,” works for my fair skin, and has organic ingredients is a lot to ask for!

I read some online reviews for Gressa Skin Minimalist Corrective Serum Foundation, and decided to give it a try. It seems to be the perfect blend between a powder and liquid foundation. It goes on like liquid, and quickly dries to a powder-finish. The consistency is vey runny (be careful you don’t accidentally spill it like I did – it will run out quickly!). It comes with an eyedropper-applicator. I dab the applicator on my fingertips and blend in circular motions. It feels more like a moisturizing serum than a liquid foundation, yet it provides a surprising amount of pigment. I only use about four or five drops for my entire face. What I like most about this foundation is that it gives the perfect amount of coverage (medium) and yet feels very light and airy on my skin. Not too matte and not too greasy – just a gorgeous glow!

This foundation not only provides impressive coverage, but it is packed with nutrients for your skin: milk thistle, neem, horsetail, barberry, sea buckthorn, elder flower, CoQ10, and vitamin C.

This foundation simply makes me smile! It truly is “Nontoxic Glamour!”

Have you tried Gressa? What is your favorite natural foundation?

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