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Monday, June 28, 2010

Skin Safety Update: What You Should Know About Risky Ingredients

Exposure to environmental toxins is a major cause of premature aging and serious diseases, including cancer. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to minimize your risk, including eating organically grown foods, avoiding cigarette smoke and industrial pollutants—and choosing skin-care products that meet the highest standards of purity. Here’s why…

Why the Quality of Your Cosmetics Is a Matter of Health
Numerous scientific studies confirm that our skin serves as major port of entry for potentially dangerous topical skin-care ingredients. In fact, many experts believe that swallowing these chemicals is actually less dangerous than absorbing them through our skin. While powerful enzymes often detoxify ingested chemicals in our digestive tract, those that enter our bloodstream through the skin retain their full potency.

Unfortunately the protective barrier formed by our skin isn’t leak-proof. The permeability of the skin’s surface layer varies across different areas of our body. Areas where skin is thinnest, such as our face and neck, are particularly vulnerable to invasive toxins. Both the composition of the topical chemical involved and the structure of an individual’s skin also help determine the amount of that substance that enters the circulatory system. According to one toxicology study, the hairiness of our skin may also affect the rate at which our skin absorbs certain chemicals.

Don’t Let Toxic Invaders Get Under Your Skin!
Unfortunately, many of today’s mainstream skin-care manufacturers—including makers of popular baby-care products—continue to ignore the public health risks of exposure to not only chemical irritants but also "hidden carcinogens." These silent, potentially lethal invaders include DDT-like pesticides, carcinogenic manufacturing residues, and ingredients that are chemical precursors to carcinogens or that can release cancer-causing agents as they degrade. Even many so-called “natural” brands fail to live up to their comforting claims. Just because the label boldly proclaims the product is 100% free of the most notorious troublemakers (i.e., parabens, mineral oil, petrolatum, and polyethylene gycol) doesn’t mean it’s devoid of unsafe ingredients or harmful contaminants.

As “new, improved” beauty creams and personal care items continue to flood the market, the list of chemical hazards you should be aware of continues to grow.  Here are a few of the less publicized but increasingly prevalent chemical offenders:

  • DEA (diethanolamine)/MEA (monoethanolamine)/TEA (triethanolamine): Already restricted in the European Union, these potential liver and kidney carcinogens are still commonly used in the U.S. and Asia to adjust the pH of cosmetics or to increase the foaming of action of cleansers. Their toxic effects include allergies, eye irritation, and dryness.
  • Silicone-derived emollients: Stay clear of dimethicone, dimethicone copolyol, and cyclomethicone. Manufactured from the same material used for breast implants, these popular lubricants are widely used in skin creams that claim to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and to “lock in” moisture.  What the product makers fail to mention is that this sticky goo coats your face like a layer of Saran wrap, trapping sebum, dirt, and bacteria, while preventing your skin from breathing and releasing metabolic waste.  Research has shown that silicones are stored in our livers and lymph nodes and contribute to the development of cancerous tumors. 

  • Midazolidinyl urea: A wide variety of cosmetics, from exfoliants, eye creams, and anti-aging and rosacea treatments to sunscreens and makeup remover, contain this synthetic preservative. Typically derived from ammonia, midazolidinyl urea is currently under study as a possible carcinogen and has been shown to release the potentially deadly chemical formaldehyde during the manufacturing process. Formaldehyde can also cause eczema, blistering, contact dermatitis, and severe allergic responses.

  • Lanolin: Who would imagine the old standby of our mother’s generation could increase our exposure to toxic chemicals? An “organic” oil derived from sheep’s wool, this seemingly harmless natural moisturizer is often contaminated with carcinogenic pesticide residues.

  • Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS): A common ingredient in shampoos, body washes, and other bath products, this industrial-strength detergent is made up of lightweight molecules that quickly penetrate into the deeper layers of our skin. Scientific studies indicate that SLS can accumulate in the brain, as well as in the heart and liver. SLS is so caustic that according to Judi Vance, author of Beauty To Die For (Promotion Publishing, 1998) it not only can impair the functioning of skin cells and hair follicle, but also frequently serves as the chemical irritant of choice in clinical skin-care studies. 

A Word to the Wise Consumer
The best way to protect your skin from chemical risks is to choose a skin care provider you can count on to care about your safety. My commitment to the health of your skin and your total well-being ensures every Lavie Organique™ product is 100% free of synthetic irritants and meets the rigorous quality standards of the Natural Products Association.

Image: Andy Newson /

Image: healingdream /

Image: Andy Newson /

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Truth About Vitamin C Creams

One of the biggest breakthroughs in anti-aging skin care was the discovery of the remarkable power of vitamin C to help restore luster and resilience to aging complexions. This super-antioxidant can do just about everything required to repair and protect damaged skin: reduce wrinkling, fight inflammation, stimulate collagen renewal, lighten brown spots, and brighten skin tone. According to some studies, vitamin C may even serve as a mild photoprotectant that helps boost the effectiveness of sunscreens.

No wonder the skin-care market is flooded with vitamin C anti-aging treatments. With so many choices ranging from inexpensive drugstore moisturizers to deluxe serums and night creams that cost hundreds of dollars an ounce, you may be puzzled about the differences between products.

Are all vitamin C treatments the same? Or does the steepest price tag automatically guarantee the best results?As it turns out, the scientific facts behind vitamin C's widespread reputation as a miracle skin-care ingredient are more complicated than they appear at first glance.

Vitamin C: The Downside
What’s not to like about a compound that’s proven to repair and revitalize environmentally damaged, lifeless complexions? First of all, topical vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid can cause skin irritation and redness. Second, ascorbic acid is highly susceptible to oxidation—the same destructive process that rusts metal and spoils fruit. As a result, ascorbic acid often degrades to the point where it not only fails to reverse free-radical damage, but can actually increase the cell changes that speed premature aging. Even the longer-lasting stabilized forms of vitamin C used in  many super-expensive anti-aging formulas may oxidize during storage or on the store shelf. Unfortunately, many cosmetic manufacturers take precautions against this risk by adding artificial coloring to their products to mask the telltale yellowing that indicates spoilage.
The Good News: Vitamin C Derivatives
Skin-care scientists have recently discovered several vitamin C derivatives that avoid many of the drawbacks of ascorbic acid, while delivering comparable anti-aging benefits. One of the most effective and easily tolerated of these derivatives is magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. Upon application, the skin’s own enzymes convert this more stable compound into active vitamin C.
Maximize Skin Rejuvenation with All-Natural Skin Foods
Research has shown that treatments that combine vitamin C derivatives with other antioxidants such as vitamin E and beta-carotene are not only more beneficial, but also gentler on your skin. The reason? In combination, antioxidants have synergistic effects. In other words, the total benefit of a group of antioxidants is greater than the sum of effects of the individual nutrients. 

Synergy explains why eating oranges will do a much better job of keeping you healthy and youthful-looking than vitamin C tablets. The dosages in synthetic vitamin C supplements are typically far too high for our bodies to use and, in some people. may even cause unpleasant side effects, such as stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea.

Vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, are designed by nature to replenish depleted skin cells with the perfect balance of  ascorbic acid and other complementary nutrients. That’s why plant-derived face creams are such a safe and efficient way of capitalizing on the rejuvenating effects of vitamin C.  The best choice? A 100% green vitamin C cream that not only feeds your complexion a healthy blend of phytonutrients, but also provides the added risk protection of natural preservations to retard spoilage.

Image: Daniel St.Pierre /

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Friday, June 4, 2010

Restoring Radiance to Dull, Dry Complexions

Although the fundamentals of a disciplined skin-care routine are the same for every skin type, their specific application should be tailored to your individual complexion challenges.

TLC for Thirsty Skin

Like an oily, acne-prone complexion, dry, itchy, flaky skin requires a holistic wellness regime to restore and maintain the proper level and efficient flow of sebum. In addition to supporting skin health from the inside, you should cleanse, tone, exfoliate, moisturize, and nourish your complexion on the outside with safe, effective all-natural skincare products to normalize cell function, encourage collagen and elastin renewal, and protect against environmental damage. Above all, your daily and weekly skin-care program should focus on your dry complexion’s two most urgent needs: hydration and lubrication.

To optimize the health and appearance of dry skin make sure you…

 1. Handle with care. Use lukewarm or cool water and a gentle touch to wash your face. Dry skin also tends to be sensitive, so stay away from products that contain synthetic fragrances, alcohols, moisturizers, and preservatives.  
2. Apply liberal amounts plant-derived humectants and emollients to your skin while it’s still damp to lock in moisture. Botanical humectants and. lubricants, such as aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, and squalene, that closely resemble the components of human skin will keep your complexion soft, moist, and supple throughout the day. .
.     3. Drink enough water—but don’t overdo it. As a general rule, eight 8-ounce glasses are sufficient to flush out toxins and ensure healthy cell function. According to the latest research, drinking water will not cure dry skin and consuming excessive amounts can be dangerous.

4. Use a humidifier in the winter. Low humidity is a major contributor to parched, cracked skin.
5. Consume enough healthy fats. Monosaturated fats from sources such as olive oil and avocados, as well as omega-3 fatty acids from fish, nuts, and seeds are vital skin foods. Rich in vitamin E, anti-inflammatories, flavenoids and other age-fighting nutrients, these beneficial oils are one of the keys to radiant, youthful skin. 
6.    Use an extra-rich face cream at night. Gently massage your face with a luxuriant face cream enriched with botanical oils, healing herbs, and natural antioxidants, and silk amino acids before bed to soothe, revitalize, and restore resilience to your skin as you sleep.
7.    Talk with your doctor if your dry skin is persistent and severe. Dry skin may be a sign of a medical problems, including eczema, psoriasis, a vitamin B or A deficiency, a genetic syndrome, allergies, or an underactive thyroid. Reduced oil production is also a side effect of certain medications.

Combination Skin: Help for Confused Complexions
If you’re troubled by dry, flaky patches and breakouts give your skin the extra help it needs to recover and thrive. For an informed approach to your complexion’s erratic behavior, see my “Crazy, Mixed-Up Skin” post. For a personal consultation, please feel free to send your questions to the blog or contact me by email at, or phone at (617) 734-5523. I look forward to hearing from you!
Image: Francesco Marino /
Image: m_bartosch /

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