Journal

Skin Benefits of Practicing Yoga

By: Manmohan Singh

 

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Yoga teacher Manmohan Singh. You’ll find more details about Manmohan and how to connect with him at the end of this post, but in the meantime, grab yourself a warm cup of chai and read on to learn how your daily yoga practice can benefit your skin.

 

“Yoga for the soul and the skin,” Yes, that is the slogan of the day for all the avid yoga practitioners and those who are practically aware of this authentic statement. As humans, it is natural for us to feel comfortable with the outer self as much as the inner layers of our existence demand us to. Having a healthy skin is a biological necessity as it pretty much verifies how much ‘in the pink’ we are from within. Just as having a sound mind expresses an optimistic lifestyle, a beautiful skin is an expression of our body’s healthy functions.
While the environmental changes in the air quality, climatic conditions, dietary habits, the ageing process, etc., contribute majorly to the skin’s poor health, we cannot undermine the role of ‘stress’ in this equation. Stress is a key element in promoting various kinds of both mental and physical illnesses, while its effects are clearly demonstrated in our skin in the form of acne, pimples, patches, irritation, dullness, etc. Melt the stress away with each breath you intake during a yoga practice. This is the power of yoga, the science of life.
Let us glance at the multifarious benefits of a gentle and regular practice of yoga:

 

Reverse the Ageing Process with Yoga
Ageing is a natural process and the same goes for the skin. With age, our skin tends to lose elasticity and suppleness owing to a loss of muscles and bone density. A regular workout routine comprising of yoga helps strengthen the bone density and muscles density along with boosting the collagen that leads to an age-reversal in the body.
Top Five Recommended Asanas: Tree Pose (Tadasana), Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana), Child’s Pose (Balasana), Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose), Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)

 

Get that Luminous Glow from Within
A poor blood circulation is one of the key factors behind a dull and lifeless skin. You can undo the whole process with Yoga. Yoga is highly beneficial in regulating the flow of oxygen to the entire organs along with improving the blood circulation from head to toe.
Top Five Recommended Asanas: Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Matsyasana (Fish Pose), Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand Pose), Halasana (Plough Pose), Shishuasana (Child Pose)

 

Impart a Beautiful Tone and Fight Cellulite
Melt those fat dimples away with the help of a dedicated yoga routine. By stimulating the subcutaneous layer in the skin under which this cellulite is trapped, yoga works towards a complete elimination of these along with providing a supple and well defined body. The science of yoga exercises balance, focus, breath, and asana—all assimilated towards a fit body and a healthy mind. The wonderful stretch and tone that each asana offers to a practitioner’s body is a testament to the yogi’s hard work and dedication towards the science. The rest follows.
Top Five Recommended Asanas: Garudasana (or Eagle pose), Uttanapadasana (or standing forward bend pose), Gomukhasana (or the cow faced pose), Setubandhasana (or the bridge pose), Upward Facing Dog Pose (or Urdhvamukhasvanasana)

 

Get Rid of Dry Patches 
Extreme weather conditions, stress, insomnia, ageing, ph imbalance can steadily result in a dry and flaky skin which only gets worse, if not managed in time. There is one word for it – Sweat. In order to maintain a healthy ph-balance in the skin, it is necessary for a being to sweat and perspire on a regular basis, call it a natural moisturizer for your skin.Top Five Recommended Asanas: Chaturanga Asana Variation (Push-Up Crunches), Boat Pose (or Navasana), Dolphin Plank Pose (Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana), Natrajasana (Lord of the Dance Pose), Warrior Pose (Veerbhadrasana)

 

Eliminate Pimples and Acne from the Root
Hormonal imbalance, impurities in the blood stream rapidly give rise to acne and various other types of skin problems. We can’t stress this enough how vital it is for a body to detoxify in order to keep a healthy flow of blood and oxygen that is devoid of any impurities. Practice yoga asanas in combination with traditional yogic works (the shat-kriyas) to purify the body from within and to gain a silken, acne-free skin.
Top Five Recommended Asanas: Janu Sirsasana (The Head-to-Knee Pose), Pawanmuktasana(Wind Relieving Pose), Viparita Karani (The Legs Up on the Wall Pose), Trikonasana (The Triangle Pose), Sasakasana (Rabbit Pose)

 

Dietary Tips and Inclusions during Yoga practice to further boost the skin benefits:
•    Make it a habit to consume only clean cuts that are organic and locally sourced.
•    Include a lot of seeds and nuts in your diet.
•    Avoid anything and everything processed.
•    Consume the largest meal during lunch.
•    Include Vedic herbs such as ginger, turmeric, etc., during cooking to promote digestion and boost blood circulation.
•    Stick to sattvic (yogic) food preparations and choices.
•    And always eat with a happy heart and a wonderful smile.

 

Author Bio: Manmohan Singh is a passionate Yogi, Yoga Teacher and a Traveller in India. He provides yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, India. He loves writing and reading the books related to yoga, health, nature and the Himalayas.  For more information about him visit his website.

February 24, 2018  |  Beauty
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dry patchesDry patches of skin are just as uncomfortable as they are unappealing, aren’t they? The worst part about them is they can appear any time of year – during the harsh, cold winter weather as well as the hot, dry summer months. They can also appear on your face, elbows, knees, feet, and anywhere else that falls victim to mother nature and dry skin.

Depending on your skin type and the degree of dryness, these unsightly and annoying patches could be healed with anything from a little extra lotion to a more aggressive (but natural) skincare routine. We’ve compiled a few ways you can fight your own dry patches to help reveal the soft, supple skin that’s dying to break free.

 

Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate

The best thing about exfoliation is that it’s easy, effective, and you don’t have to do it every day. You can even make your own all natural body scrub with equal parts organic brown sugar and coconut oil, and add 10-15 drops of your favorite essential oil for a refreshing scent.

Exfoliation removes excess dead skin cells, which can create a barrier that prevents the moisture you need from being absorbed into the skin. Simply use your rub on the dry patches, rubbing it in until the sugar melts. Pat your skin dry, and moisturize accordingly.

 

Soak in Epsom salts

Soaking in the bathtub is a remedy anyone can get behind, eh? Simply add a cup or two of your preferred Epsom salts to an already lukewarm bath (water that’s too hot can further dry out your skin), and soak for 10-15 minutes. You can also add in your favorite organic almond/jojoba/olive oil to the bath for extra moisture.

 

Moisturize with a little milk

Milk has anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe itchy, dry skin. When you have an itch, you scratch it, right? Right. That’s actually a counterproductive, inflammatory cycle that does nothing to soothe dry skin – it just irritates it further.

If your dry skin patches are extra itchy, grab a quart of your favorite organic milk and pour it into a bowl. Use a washcloth to soak up the milk and apply it gently to your dry skin patches – hold it there for a few minutes, then repeat all over.

 

Post-shower care is important

After a nice shower (remember- not too hot!), your pores are open and your skin is ripe with moisture. If you’ve used an exfoliant while showering, your dry patches are perfectly primed for extra moisture via your favorite body butter, cream, lotion, or oil.

These natural solutions are formulated to seal in the moisture to your skin (especially post-shower or bath), preventing it from evaporating.

 

DIY body butter to use before bed

It’s an old-fashioned trick, but a valid one. Applying a thick layer of moisture to your skin underneath your pajamas before bed can be messy, but it’s also incredibly effective. You can even make your own DIY, all natural body butter that combines our favorite moisturizing ingredients!

Here’s our favorite, simple recipe: Combine ½ cup organic shea or cocoa butter with ½ cup organic coconut oil and ¼ cup organic olive oil in a small pot on the stove. Heat until all ingredients are melted, then pour into a mixing bowl. Set bowl in fridge for 20-30 minutes, until the sides of the bowl begin to re-harden into a solid (this will create a noticeable “O” ring). Pull from fridge, add in 20-30 drops of your favorite essential oils scent (lavender and lemongrass is our fave), and whip until thick peaks begin to form and the mixture resembles a creamy, whipped body butter.

All natural, very effective, and luxurious for your dry skin! Perfect for before bedtime.

 

Bye-bye, dry skin

The good news about dry skin patches (bear with me here) is that they’re almost never irreparable. Hopefully after trying a few of these simple, natural homemade remedies, your skin is as soft as a baby’s bottom soon enough!

If for some reason these remedies don’t work, or if your dry skin becomes scaly or begins to bleed, please make an appointment to see your doctor.

 

 

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Alana Mitchell. Alana Mitchell is the day spa owner at Skincare by Alana, beauty/skincare expert and licensed esthetician. Skincare by Alana is a popular online skincare shop for famous brands like Rhonda Allison, Dermalogica skin care and many more. She doesn’t believe in beauty products that are not tried and researched, rather she is excited about natural organic day spa treatments that actually work.

March 6, 2017  |  Beauty
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abdominal therapy for glowing skin

 

Are you on a quest for glowing skin but never quite seem to get that healthy radiance? Before you blame your lifestyle or skincare regime, learn how this holistic therapy method could help you achieve a healthy glow.

We all know glowing skin comes from within and if your digestion is not functioning properly it can have an effect on your skin. Poor eating habits, stress and other life style factors can all contribute to digestive issues. If symptoms go on untreated they can lead to ongoing problems.

It is now commonly understood that the ‘gut’ is the second brain and can tell you a lot about what is going on in your body. To help decode the messages your body is sending, you may want to book an appointment with Danielle Rickwood.

Danielle Rickwood is an Abdominal Health Coach and Certified Arvigo Maya Abdominal Therapy Practitioner. Abdominal Therapy is all about the health and happiness of your belly and the organs that live there. Through your sessions with Danielle, you will learn to unlock the secrets to ongoing health and wellbeing when it comes to supporting the optimal function of your reproductive and digestive organs.

Her unique approach to healing allows for not only clinic based sessions but, also abdominal coaching sessions via Skype. Danielle encourages all clients to actively participate in their own healing, allowing clients to take ownership of their health
and wellbeing. In a beautiful non-judgemental environment, Danielle creates the space for nurturing and self-care. Her honest approach to wellbeing is refreshing and her beautiful energy allows for an enjoyable treatment. Danielle really takes the time to connect to clients and assess their needs.

We all share similar abdominal health issues but how our digestive or reproductive systems become out of balance is unique to the individual. The stories each and every cell holds lays the blue print for our individual health challenges or what Danielle prefers to call ‘life lessons’.  Clients are treated as individuals and as such, consultations are tailored to suit individual needs.

With over 15 years experience, Danielle has successfully treated a wide range of common abdominal health issues including IBS, menstrual cycle issues, fertility challenges to name but a few. With successful practices both in Australia and in the UK Danielle will be in Australia from October offering sessions from her Melbourne, Byron Bay and Sydney clinics.

Bookings can be made via her website, or simply follow this link.

SPECIAL OFFER – All Metta Skincare customers will receive $20.00 off their first consultation via phone/or Skype (N.B. this does not apply to first consultations being conducted in clinic.)

Want to know more before you book your first appointment with Danielle? Get more details here.

October 7, 2016  |  Beauty
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A Conscious Beauty Review Metta Skincare

Katherine and Ruby of A Conscious Beauty have tested the entire Mettā Skincare range and written an extensive review of each product. Read it here

March 22, 2015  |  Beauty
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Winter Skincare Tips Post Photo

By: Cass Lane

Editor’s note: This month we’re delighted to bring you our first guest post by wellness editor Cass Lane. You’ll find more details about Cass and how to connect with her at the end of this post, but in the meantime find yourself a cosy spot, grab a cup of hot chocolate or fragrant chai, make yourself comfortable and enjoy her tips on how to stay beautiful this winter. Over to you, Cass:

Okay, winter, we know you’re a tough cookie. And yep, you’re the fiercest season of them all; don’t let that magic mirror tell you otherwise. But … do you really have to prove yourself so dramatically? I mean, dry skin is one thing, but the Sahara Desert situation we are dealing with all over our bodies is another. And as for the chapped lips, brittle hair and flaky nails – well, that’s just overkill don’t you think?

And yet, every winter it’s the same. Mother Nature dominates and our skin, hair and nails suffer because of it. But like any good wellness warrior, you can work in sync with Mother Nature to embrace the beauty of winter and come out even more gorgeous than when the season started. Here’s how:

Munch your way to inner + outer beauty

Embracing a healthy, balanced diet that includes foods rich in essential fatty acids (found in food such as walnuts, olive oil, salmon and flaxseed) can go a long way to supporting your body and your cells in retaining moisture and staying hydrated.

For best results, steer clear of refined sugar and junk food, both of which are class A skin and bodycare jerks.

And while drinking a decent amount of water (around eight glasses a day) won’t instantly ease your dry skin, as part of a holistic wellness strategy adequate water intake is crucial. It keeps your digestion running smoothly and your beautiful brain firing away happily. So keep sipping, lovelies! And for a detoxing and alkalizing dose of goodness, add a splash of lemon juice to your water.

Replenish lost moisture

Okay, the truth is that moisture loss is almost a fact in winter, so rather than fighting the inevitable your focus should be on replenishing lost moisture where possible. You can do this by changing the way you approach moisturising. A simple trick is to apply loving amounts of moisturiser immediately after you’ve gently cleansed your face and body to trap in as much moisture as possible by.

I’m a huge fan of the Mettā Skincare Face Balm obviously (it healed my dry, itchy skin in just a day! Check out my review on the Happiness + Wellbeing Magazine blog for more info), but if you’d like some other options I recommend checking out organic, natural + eco-friendly skincare brands and staying away from anything with alcohol or chemicals as they can cause excessive dryness.

For a simple home remedy, try facemasks with honey + oatmeal and natural moisturisers like organic, cold-pressed coconut oil. You can soothe stricken winter locks by massaging coconut oil onto your scalp and then taking it through to the ends of your hair. Leave the oil on overnight and then shampoo + condition in the morning. Voila – Rapunzel’s got nothing on you, babe!

Turn down the heat

And while we’re on the topic of lathering + rinsing, it might be instinctive to savor blissfully steamy hot showers and baths when the temperature drops, but while this definitely feels divine it could actually harm your skin in the long run.

Hot water strips the natural oils from your skin and when you’re already experiencing dry, itchy winter skin this is like adding gasoline to a fire.

This doesn’t mean you have to shiver through freezing cold showers each day, but just tone down the temperature from searing hot to luke warm and spend a little less time than usual singing and daydreaming in the shower. Keep it short, sweet and as warm as luke.

Towel schmowel

It’s also a good idea to avoid toweling off completely after your shower during the winter months. You don’t need to be soaking wet, but you can help your body to suck in some extra water by leaving your skin slightly damp.

Pro tip? Apply your moisturiser when your skin is still a little damp for super powered moisture. And once you’ve got your moisture on, make sure you protect your skin from the elements with warm, comfortable clothes. Speaking of which …

Dress to impress

It’s no secret to my friends and family that winter fashion is my absolute favourite to work with. Between the beautiful scarves, sassy boots, luxurious jackets and cozy sweaters, it’s a veritable heaven for a quintessential ‘layer-up’ girl like me. But while dressing stylishly in winter isn’t a difficult task, you should also take into consideration another element: your skin.

Wearing itchy fabrics like wool can irritate dry, sensitive skin and counteract the good you are doing with your other skincare rituals. Instead, embrace soft fabrics and materials like cotton and go organic (better for you and the environment!) where you can.

And if dancing in the rain is your idea of a good time, make sure you change into soft, dry clothes as soon as possible after your dance fest. Dry clothes can irritate your skin and the less irritation you cause your skin in winter the better.

Ditch summer skincare routines

And just like we switch up our wardrobe in winter, we should change our skincare routines and rituals to adapt to the seasons too. In summer we can embrace lighter moisturisers, deeper cleansers and more exfoliation. But in winter, these skincare rituals can exacerbate irritation, itchiness, dryness and redness.

Instead, approach your skincare with a gently, gently approach. In stark contrast to summer, this will take the form of the following guidelines:

–       Don’t over exfoliate your skin. While you might be tempted to scrub that dry, flaky skin away, this will cause more harm than good. Your skin needs time to repair and heal and excessively exfoliating will only add to its healing load.

–       Use gentle cleansers free from alcohol, chemicals and other nasties. You can even cleanse with oils such as coconut oil (it’s a brilliant little multi-tasker!) if your skin is particularly sensitive.

–       Embrace richer, thicker balms, creams and lotions to soothe your skin.

–       Pay particular attention to the delicate area around your eyes and around your lips when you’re moisturising.

–       Sleep on a silk pillowcase to help prevent the appearance of aging and to give a little love to your locks too.

It’s getting hot in here …

And now that you’re eating to support your winter beauty, embracing nourishing skincare rituals and successfully adapting to the chilly season, it’s time to take care of your home environment too.

We all deserve to step into a toasty warm home at the end of a long day, but did you know that your indoor heating systems might actually be contributing to your dry, winter skin?

Heaters and split-systems (as wonderful as they are) actually sap moisture from the air. This process then dries up your skin’s natural oils and promotes moisture loss.

To combat this effect, pick up a humidifier to replace the moisture lost from your indoor heating systems. This will support your skin’s moisture levels and also ease any sinus problems you might be having. Double whammy!

And finally, listen to your body. Pay attention to the signs it gives you and make an effort to nourish it daily with delicious and healthy foods, decadent beauty rituals and soothing self-care tactics like meditation and yoga.

This gorgeous little vessel is the only body we have and it deserves as much love and attention as the rest of our wellbeing.

Happy snowball throwing season, beautiful!

 

About Cass

Cass Lane is the owner and copywriter at Wild Spirit Co., a creative copywriting agency devoted to helping soulful small businesses, entrepreneurs and bloggers find their voice and communicate their brand with confidence.

She’s also the happy Editor-in-Chief of Happiness + Wellbeing Magazine, a monthly digital mag available on the Apple App Store and via the H+W online store.

You can connect with her on social media at @WildSpiritCo and @HappyWellMag.

July 10, 2014  |  Beauty
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Beach

If you’re anything like me and grew up about 5 minutes away from the beach you carry some kind of primal longing for long hot summer days, sand and salty ocean air. We all know that sunshine makes us feel good and a nice-looking tan has long been considered a must-have to complement one’s summer wardrobe.

Yet the sun can cause major damage to the skin so in this article we are going to explore some ways to look after our skin while still enjoying sunshine, the beach and all the good things that summer has to offer.

Sun and the Skin

Sun exposure is responsible for many skin changes that we think of as a normal part of the ageing process. Apart from sunburn which is immediately obvious, even short-term exposure to UV rays will gradually damage the elastin fibres in the skin, causing it to sag, loose elasticity and tear more easily. Premature wrinkles, uneven pigmentation and sun spots are also unwanted side effects of spending too much time in the sun.

UV rays come in two types: UVA rays are less intense but far more prevalent. They occur during all daylight hours even on cloudy days. They penetrate the deeper layers of skin and are the main culprits for causing wrinkles and sun spots.

UVB rays are less prevalent and their intensity varies according to geographic location, season and daily weather conditions. They are responsible for damage to the surface layers of skin and cause the redness and pain we normally associate with sunburn.

Sunshine and Vitamin D

We all need to spend time outdoors daily as this is the only way that our bodies can produce vitamin D. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient needed for bone and immune system health among many other reasons. Until recently, vitamin D deficiency was believed to be a problem only for those living in countries with long winters and few daylight hours. This is not the case and recent studies show that even many Australians are affected by low levels of vitamin D despite ample opportunities for sun exposure. Our sedentary mostly indoor lifestyles certainly play a part in this, but the overall reasons are more complex and likely to involve other genetic, metabolic and environmental factors as well. This calls for a sensible approach to spending time outdoors during the summer months: make the most of the warm weather in the morning or early evening, but do not ignore traditional advice about the use of sunscreen and staying indoors during certain times of the day.

It’s good to remember that our bodies were designed to cope with a range of weather conditions and the skin is quite resilient, but we have to provide it with the right building blocks in order to stay healthy and repair itself when needed.

Skin care tips for summer

  1. Hydrate – water is vital for healthy skin, so remember to drink plenty throughout the day. But don’t think you have to stick to plain water – it’s no coincidence that so many delicious summer fruit and vegetables have a high water content: stone fruit, berries, melons, cucumbers and tomatoes are some easy options to stay cool and hydrated during hot weather.
  2. Exfoliate regularly to help the skin’s natural renewal process and to prevent clogged pores
  3. Moisturise – the sun, wind and air-conditioning can make the skin feel overly dry. Eating a balanced diet will help with this and using a good quality moisturiser regularly will restore moisture and suppleness to the top layers of skin. A good summer moisturiser should be based on easily absorbed natural oils high in vitamins A, E and F which have soothing, hydrating and collagen restoring properties. The main ingredients in Mettā Skincare Body Butter are shea and raw cacao butter which have been used for centuries as natural remedies against sun damage to the skin.
  4. Antioxidants – vitamins C (found in most fresh fruit and vegetables) and E (found in nuts, seeds and leafy green vegetables), green tea and berries protect against and even reverse sun damage. Remember to feed your skin from the inside out so try to incorporate as many of these into your daily diet as you can
  5. Stay indoors during peak UV radiation hours – these will depend on season and where you live, but during summer in Australia this generally means staying in between 10:00am and 5:00pm. And yes, this also means going to the beach either in the early morning or early evening
  6. Sunscreen – if you must be outdoors in the middle of the day, wear a wide-brimmed hat and long loose clothing. Choose a sunscreen based on natural (such as zinc oxide which protects against both UVA and UVB rays) rather than chemical active ingredients, apply 30 minutes before sun exposure and regularly thereafter.
  7. Use natural self-tanning lotions instead of sunbeds or sunbathing for hours.
January 17, 2014  |  Beauty
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Natural Ingredients

Why natural skin care

Most of us use several skin and body care products on a daily basis. Up to 60% of what we put on our skin ends up being absorbed in the body and when the products we use are made from harmful artificial ingredients these place an unnecessary burden on the body’s detoxification processes and on the entire immune system, including the skin. Some chemicals remain stored in the body for several months or even years before they are completely eliminated.

Harmful ingredients in cosmetics aren’t just a personal issue any more. Every product we use on our skin will eventually end up in soil and waterways, where it can further impact microorganisms and aquatic life.

Natural ingredients are usually a much safer alternative, though we all need to bear in mind that plants can also trigger unwanted reactions in some people. Additionally, many ingredients labeled as natural or naturally-derived have undergone extensive chemical processing which can alter their nutritional profile and reduce their benefits to the skin. The most active, pure and beneficial cosmetic ingredients have undergone minimal processing (look for cold pressed extra virgin plant oils and steam-distilled essential oils) and come from organic or biodynamic plants.

Choosing the best skin and body care products for you will involve not only reading labels and becoming familiar with ingredients, but also learning about how the products are made. Cosmetics companies that truly care about the health and wellbeing of their customers and the environment will always be happy to share details about their ingredient selection and manufacturing processes.

What to look for in skin and body care products

As we’ve seen, choosing cosmetic products might be an important decision, but there’s no need to make it too complicated. There are two essential rules to keep in mind here:

1.     Skin food – think of skin and body care products as edible treats for the skin and take the same approach you would apply to your diet. Healthy food is made from fresh, minimally processed natural ingredients. If you’re finding that you can’t decipher the ingredients in your moisturiser without having to call a friend with a PhD in chemical science, chances are that your body might have trouble knowing what to do with it also. Beware of products with a very long shelf life: vegetable oils are at their best when they are fresh, and while vitamins and natural preservatives can be added to enhance the stability of the product, it’s best to buy only products that you know you are going to use within a few months. Choosing multi-functional products can also go a long way towards ensuring that you are getting the best value out of your products and minimising waste.

2.    Simple is always best – an excessively long ingredient list usually means that the product only contains minimal amounts of each ingredient: they might have great properties, but if only tiny quantities are present they are not going to work as well. It’s best to stick with those products that can define their main uses and benefits with only a few ingredients.

November 28, 2013  |  Beauty
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Journal_Image

Just as the eyes are a window to the soul, it can be said that the skin is a window to our inner health and wellbeing. It is possible to have healthy radiant skin at any age without having to reach for expensive surgical procedures, harmful chemicals or complex photo editing software. In this guide I will share what I have learned through my own personal experience, research and from the people for whom I have created customized products. We will cover some basic rules to keep your skin happy and some useful tips on choosing healthy personal care products.

Your skin is as unique as you are.

It will often change the way it looks, feels and behaves based on your overall health and lifestyle, age, stress levels, and many subtle factors in the environment. The skin is the body’s largest organ and forms part of the immune system. It has a rather complex anatomical structure made up of various types of cells, blood vessels, nerves, glands, etc.

While most of us are usually concerned only with our skin’s cosmetic appearance, it’s good to remember that it actually has many other important functions, such as helping us maintain optimal body temperature, waterproofing, neutralising the damaging effects of sunlight, transmitting injury or pain signals, protecting against infections and helping the body defend against foreign bodies and harmful substances.

Most skin conditions and disorders (such as eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis) are usually a sign of deeper imbalances within the body and while various skin care products can go a long way towards reducing or even eliminating symptoms, a cure will always need to address the underlying causes as well.

Beauty from the inside out

Beautiful skin is really just a reflection of the body’s overall health and of a harmonious relationship with the environment. In order for skin to look and function at its best it needs the same essential elements as all other living organisms:

  1. Food – our diet provides the building blocks all skin cells are made from. A balanced diet which includes plenty of vitamins, antioxidants and healthy fats will always keep the skin happy and healthy. An easy way to achieve this is to stick to seasonal locally-grown produce – it’s not only fresher and tastes better, but it also means there’s less nutritional guesswork for us to do as we trust nature to provide us with the right combination of nutrients at the right time in the right place.
  2. Water – hydration is vital for maintaining a healthy and youthful complexion. The water content of skin cells is 70% and whenever we don’t provide enough the skin responds accordingly by looks dull, lifeless and wrinkled. Filtered water is best, along with herbal teas and freshly-pressed fruit and vegetable juices. Optimal skin hydration is maintained by the liquids that we drink, not by the amount of water that we apply to the skin. Skin and body care products that contain a high percentage of water are usually not very effective at providing long-lasting moisture. While a small amount of liquid helps make the product more easily absorbed, the best types of moisturisers to provide long-lasting results are those based on oils.
  3. Oxygen – we’ve all heard of the benefits of exercise, but few of us realise just how important it is for the skin. Exercise increases blood flow, which carries fresh oxygen and much needed nutrients to the skin
  4. Protection – the skin is always in contact with the environment and constantly affected by the elements. Excessively cold or dry conditions, whether outdoors or indoors, make the skin dry and may even aggravate certain skin conditions. We all need sunlight in order to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D, but prolonged UV exposure causes damage to skin cells, premature aging and wrinkles.
  5. Rest – beauty sleep is definitely not just a myth. During sleep the body’s natural repair mechanisms are actively working to restore balance and heal any damage that has occurred during the day; this is also the best time to apply highly active and concentrated skincare products. On the other hand, lack of sleep causes dullness and fine lines, increased inflammation and loss of collagen, which helps keep the skin smooth and elastic.

 

 

Why natural skin care

Most of us use several skin and body care products on a daily basis. Up to 60% of what we put on our skin ends up being absorbed in the body and when the products we use are made from harmful artificial ingredients these place an unnecessary burden on the body’s detoxification processes and on the entire immune system, including the skin. Some chemicals remain stored in the body for several months or even years before they are completely eliminated.

Harmful ingredients in cosmetics aren’t just a personal issue any more. Every product we use on our skin will eventually end up in soil and waterways, where it can further impact microorganisms and aquatic life.

Natural ingredients are usually a much safer alternative, though we all need to bear in mind that plants can also trigger unwanted reactions in some people. Additionally, many ingredients labeled as natural or naturally-derived have undergone extensive chemical processing which can alter their nutritional profile and reduce their benefits to the skin. The most active, pure and beneficial cosmetic ingredients have undergone minimal processing (look for cold pressed extra virgin plant oils and steam-distilled essential oils) and come from organic or biodynamic plants.

Choosing the best skin and body care products for you will involve not only reading labels and becoming familiar with ingredients, but also learning about how the products are made. Cosmetics companies that truly care about the health and wellbeing of their customers and the environment will always be happy to share details about their ingredient selection and manufacturing processes.

What to look for in skin and body care products

As we’ve seen, choosing cosmetic products might be an important decision, but there’s no need to make it too complicated. There are two essential rules to keep in mind here:

1.     Skin food – think of skin and body care products as edible treats for the skin and take the same approach you would apply to your diet. Healthy food is made from fresh, minimally processed natural ingredients. If you’re finding that you can’t decipher the ingredients in your moisturiser without having to call a friend with a PhD in chemical science, chances are that your body might have trouble knowing what to do with it also. Beware of products with a very long shelf life: vegetable oils are at their best when they are fresh, and while vitamins and natural preservatives can be added to enhance the stability of the product, it’s best to buy only products that you know you are going to use within a few months. Choosing multi-functional products can also go a long way towards ensuring that you are getting the best value out of your products and minimising waste.

2.    Simple is always best – an excessively long ingredient list usually means that the product only contains minimal amounts of each ingredient: they might have great properties, but if only tiny quantities are present they are not going to work as well. It’s best to stick with those products that can define their main uses and benefits with only a few ingredients.

November 19, 2013  |  Beauty
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