Thursday, November 20, 2014

Essential fatty acids—yum

Human beings can make nonessential fatty acids. This means we don’t have to get these particular nutrients from our food. There are, however, a group of essential fatty acids (EFAs) that, as their name implies, are essential for our health and vitality although they are not produced by our bodies. Therefore, we must get EFAs from outside sources, either in our food or through supplementation. If you are not getting enough EFAs, deterioration, inflammation, and improper functioning of certain systems of the body can begin to occur. Day after day, year after year, this will lead to your body’s downfall. Just like a car that has run out of oil, your body will eventually break down. Essential fatty acids are necessary in order to maintain not just physical health, but also mental and emotional wellness.

Two of the classifications for essential fatty acids are omega-3 and omega-6. Within these categories are both short- and long-chain acids. It is important to remember that you want to concentrate your efforts on getting the long-chain omega-3 essential fatty acids more than any other. Short-chain EFAs have to be converted in the body into long-chain; therefore, depending on whom you ask or what book you read, taking anything but long-chain omega-3 is a waste of time. However, there are many sources that recommend flax oil, for instance, as a good way to get omega-3s even though it is the short-chain variety. Long or short, another important point is to get twice as much omega-3 as omega-6, or a ratio of 2:1.

I’m a huge Barry Sears fan.
The best source for long-chain omega-3 fatty acids is cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an important component of the brain and also a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid, is found in fish oil (from food or supplements). Dr. Barry Sears, in his book The Omega RX Zone, likens trying to maintain proper brain function without enough DHA to trying to build a sturdy brick house without enough bricks—it just can’t be done. So if you take anything away from this article, I hope you will research DHA and figure out how much you are currently getting in your diet. Not enough? Consider supplementation with fish oil capsules.

Cod liver oil is an excellent source for omega-3 fatty acids. I take a lemon flavored cod liver oil from Norway that contains the omega-3s DHA 500mg; EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) 460mg; and ALA (alphalinolenic acid) 45mg. It also has vitamins A, D, and E. Taking cod liver oil, to me, is the easiest way to supplement these all-important nutrients into your daily diet. The recommended dosage is one or two teaspoons daily. (I highly recommend taking a lemon flavored brand. Cod liver oil on its own tastes very fishy.)

Because you need to get twice as much omega-3 than omega-6, you want to limit the amount of foods you eat that contain omega-6 fatty acids—especially the “bad” kind. These foods include red meat, dairy products that are high in fat like butter, fatty cheeses and ice cream, along with margarine, and partially hydrogenated oils found in many snack foods. Corn, safflower, soy, or other hydrogenated oils are also high in omega-6 and should be limited or avoided when possible.

Sometimes I take flax oil; it is rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids. Even though they are short-chain omega-3s, I still think it is beneficial to take this supplement. Flax oil is unique because it contain both omega-3 and -6, but in the correct 2:1 ratio. The flax oil I take is high in lignans. These are fiber-like substances that are also powerful antioxidants. Lignans help balance the metabolism of estrogen, so for women this can help with PMS; it may even help with hot flashes and other conditions associated with perimenopause.

For those of you who take evening primrose oil, although it is a source of omega-6 fatty acids, it is one of the “good” omega-6s, unlike the undesirable omega-6s from hydrogenated oils and fatty foods. Among its many other attributes, evening primrose oil is high in gamma linoleic acid (GLA), another fatty acid that is hard to come by in the average diet. GLA is vitally important for healthy cells (including skin) and cell function. Borage oil and grape seed oil are two more good sources for this essential nutrient. It is doubtful you are getting enough in your diet, so supplementation may be required.

Essential fatty acids is one of those subjects where the more you learn, the more complex the subject seems to become. I am just skimming the surface in hopes of giving you the most important points when it comes to EFAs, but I highly recommend reading up on this subject.

There can be no doubt that for most of us living in America (surely for anyone reading this) there is no lack in the quantity of food available. It is the quality of food that might be lacking. Genetically you may be blessed, but if your cells are not healthy, you are not going to be healthy. Good health is not an accident, so expand your awareness of the quality of your diet and if you need to, supplement—for your health.

EFAs at-a-glance:
  • You want to get a 2:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.
  • Whenever possible, you want to get long-chain omega-3s vs. short-chain omega-3s.
  • You want to avoid “bad” omega-6 fatty acids, like those found in snack foods and hydrogenated oils. Start reading labels!
  • DHA is super-important to the brain. Unless you are eating coldwater fish every day, taking high-grade (pharmaceutical grade) fish oil is a good way to get enough DHA.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Makeup De-Cluttering Quick Tip

Does this look like your makeup/skin care drawer?

Simplify your cosmetics drawer. Get rid of all those half-filled jars and bottles of potions you never use anymore. I know it’s hard to throw those precious products away—they were expensive! Use any remaining moisturizers on your body instead of tossing them. Just think how wonderful it will be to open your drawer or cabinet and have less clutter.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Trends & Fads

There will eventually be many posts written here about the products and procedures that are available for “fighting” the aging process under the category trends & fads. Some of them may indeed bring you the desired results, while others may give you a negligible payoff and possibly put a large dent in your pocketbook. I am not a proponent of dramatically changing the appearance you were blessed with. However, there are many ways that you can do this if you are so inclined. I recommend reading as much as you can about any new miracle treatment before you decide to indulge in it. Since there are new products and procedures coming out almost daily, I have tried to include those that are the most popular today.

I am a steadfast believer in taking care of the skin. It is my profession, and it’s what I teach my clients to do. Over the years, I have seen trends come and go; fad products become popular, then fade into the void. Throughout the marketing of new products and the public’s quest for even better procedures, I have plodded along—unbending. The skin is a delicate organ, resilient as it is. Because we are looking to have beautiful skin for a lifetime, steady, proven care seems the best way to achieve this. If you look back five years to what the most popular skin care trends were, few, if any, of those procedures and products are still the rage today.

There will always be a new miracle treatment to halt the aging process as well as new diets where you can lose inches in days. I want to provide an environment and an opportunity for you to let that aspect of the world pass on by. You don’t have to give in to the latest trend and give up a lot of money in the process. Even if you choose to try the latest and greatest in anti-aging miracles, hold true to your skin care maintenance program (The Basics and The Extras). Taking care of your skin on a daily basis will bring you the most consistent and long-term results. I would investigate and proceed with caution if you decide to try any of the many skin care procedures available. Trends and fads come and go, but your skin must last a lifetime. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Pregnancy & stretch marks

I have a feeling you’re hoping I’ll tell you how to get rid of stretch marks or avoid them altogether. But I’m sorry to say I can’t do that. Some people are predisposed genetically to the formation of stretch marks, while others may escape their plight. Like so many other things, when it comes to the body, it boils down to genetics.

Stretch marks are actually scars. As the skin of the belly is stretched during pregnancy (or weight gain in general), so too are the collagen fibers. Collagen is the supporting structure of the skin (of the dermis or inner layer). As the skin stretches to its capacity, new layers of collagen fibers are laid down to add strength to this ever-expanding tissue. This stretching action, along with the addition of new collagen, results in striae, or common stretch marks.

There are several creams on the market that claim to prevent stretch marks. They must be “miracle creams” because if you are prone to stretch marks, it will take nothing short of a miracle for your body not to produce them. Using creams and ointments on the areas that are most likely to develop stretch marks will help to keep the skin soft and supple, but it is doubtful these products will deter them from coming. If you are not genetically predisposed, you may not get stretch marks. It’s kind of the luck of the draw, and it is predominately genetic. (What isn’t?)

It’s always a good idea to pay attention to areas you’re concerned about. Just don’t start paying a lot of money in hopes of preventing the unpreventable. But do massage your skin—all over—with creams that soothe and moisturize. Your skin will respond favorably to the care you give it. In fact, skin that is stretching tends to itch. Using moisturizers on these areas can help alleviate this side effect.

Massage is an excellent way to stimulate circulation, and our skin can always use this extra boost. Maybe taking care of your expanding skin on a regular basis—before the stretch marks have begun—will actually help to minimize their appearance. It certainly can’t hurt, and who knows, maybe it will really improve your chances of keeping stretch marks away.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Yonka toners: Which one should I use?

Lotion PS
Even though I have oily skin, should I use the pink toner [Yonka’s Lotion PS] since I have redness from capillary damage?

In a word: No! The pink toner is wonderful—for true-dry skin—skin that does not emit enough oil on its own. If you have normal, normal to oily, or oily skin and especially if you have problems with breakout, you want to use the white toner, Lotion PNG.

Lotion PNG
Even though you have some capillary damage, using the pink toner will only increase the oily feel of your skin. The main difference between the two toners is glycerin. Glycerin is a great moisturizing, hydrating ingredient and is contained in the Lotion PS and not in the Lotion PNG. The glycerin in Lotion PS would be way too much for an oily skin; too much of a good thing.

Regardless of the redness in your skin, which can be addressed by using other Yonka products, if you have an oilier skin type stick to Lotion PNG. It has a higher concentration of essential oils (thyme, lavender, rosemary, geranium, and cypress), which helps to regulate oil and congestion—obviously beneficial for an oilier skin type.

Both of these toners are wonderful. If you are not currently using a toner, I highly recommend incorporating one of these aromatic spritz toners into your daily Basics routine. Click here for more information about Yonka toners.

Emulsion Pure
Yonka has a third product that can be used as a toner. This one does not spray. It has the highest concentration of essential oils, which makes it most effective for problem skin as well as inflammation from acne and infections. If you click on the post Problem Skin Helpers: Yonka + more it explains how to use Pure as a compress, something that works wonders for "spot" treatments.

Pure can be use over the entire face as a toner or even mixed into your creams and applied that way. It really is best for problem skin and acne. The higher the concentration of essential oils, the better the effect on inflammation and infections (essential oils have strong antibacterial properties). In a more diluted form, like in Lotion PS (the lowest concentration of essential oils of the three products), essential oils are more soothing for sensitivities yet still have the beneficial properties of stimulating circulation, helping with cellular respiration.

Here’s another client question to further explain:

I was wondering about the difference between the pink toner [Yonka’s Lotion PS] (which I have been using) and the Emulsion Pure?  

The pink toner has the lowest concentration of essential oils of the three toners: Pure = highest concentration, best for problem skin and blemishes. Lotion PNG (white) = medium concentration for normal to oily skin. Lotion PS (the pink one) = lowest concentration, best for oil-dry skin. The pink toner has glycerin in it, the other two do not. Glycerin is a humectant, helping to hydrate skin. If you have an oilier skin type, you would not want to use the dry skin toner. It will cause more oil and possible breakout. The pink toner, however, is essential for a true-dry (oil-dry) skin. 

Because of the essential oil content of these wonderful Yonka toners, they are an integral part of your Basics 1-2-3 Program.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Removing eye makeup: Part I

What’s the best thing to remove eye makeup with?

Your facial cleanser will probably adequately remove your eye makeup. However if you are wearing waterproof mascara (and some non-waterproof brands), you will need to use an oil to remove this “glue” from your lashes. Baby oil is an inexpensive option. (Make sure not to get that or any oil in your eyes.) I don’t recommend Vaseline® (petroleum jelly), however. It might take off a lot of the makeup, but because of its gooey nature, you might inadvertently pull the delicate undereye tissue when using it to remove your eye makeup or when trying to remove the Vaseline from your skin.
Obviously you want to be careful not to use anything that will irritate your eyes. Also you really want to be sure not to rub or pull the skin around your eyes when removing your eye makeup. Assuming you wear makeup every day, you can really do a lot of damage day in and day out with excess pulling and tugging at this tissue in order to remove makeup. So, be careful!

In an upcoming post: Removing eye makeup: Part II, I’ll go over how to remove mascara specifically. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sensitive Skin explained

What is sensitive skin? 

There are two different kinds of sensitive skin. There is the kind that is sensitive to the touch and the kind that feels sensitive. If you have the kind that is sensitive to the touch, it just means your skin tends to turn red merely by being touched. I have several clients who turn bright red merely by lightly touching their faces. This type of sensitive skin is of little concern when figuring out your skin type. Reactive skin or skin that feels sensitive will itch, burn, or feel irritated when certain disagreeable products are applied. There are many ingredients in the world of cosmetics that can irritate even nonsensitive skin, let alone someone with sensitivities.

You usually know if you have sensitive skin. You’ve experienced it firsthand over the years. You’ve tried dozens of products and skin care lines and have probably reacted to many. If you’ve finally discovered something that doesn’t cause a reaction, you’ll be prone to sticking with what you’ve found for fear of getting “burned”—literally.

It’s hard to determine exactly what products and which ingredients are causing your skin to turn red, burn, or breakout. In case you haven’t discovered the ill effects of the following ingredient on your own, let me advise you: stay away from products that contain fragrance. Many companies add fragrance to their products. A lot of the department store product lines started out as perfumeries and then branched out into skin care and cosmetics. They tend to add their signature fragrance to all (or most) of the products in their line, distinguishing them at least aromatically as their own. These products may smell good, but if you have sensitive skin, watch out. Perfumes and fragrances are not good (or desirable) ingredients for skin care products. If you are sensitive, your skin will no doubt let you know. Along with skin sensitivities, many people are simply allergic to fragrance.

Why is it sensitive? Sensitivities can be caused for many reasons. You may have inherited sensitive skin from one or both parents. You may have spent a lifetime using harsh soaps and drying products on your skin that will inevitably lead to sensitivities. If you have or are currently using Retin-A and/or AHAs, or have had strong glycolic or chemical peels, your skin will no doubt be sensitive. Laser resurfacing may also bring about long-term sensitivities. Couperose skin tends to be sensitive because the capillaries sit so close to the surface and can be reactive. Thin skin is usually more sensitive than thick skin. Thin skin is less impervious to irritants than thick, more protective skin. And finally, skin that has been abused in the sun can become sensitive over time.

What to use on sensitive skin. It may be easier to list what not to use on sensitive skin since what you can use will vary greatly depending on how sensitive you are.
  • You want to avoid abrasive scrubs. Although exfoliation is vital to healthy skin, you don’t want to cause more sensitivity by using a harsh scrub. Just imagine rubbing abrasive particles on sensitive skin. It doesn’t even sound good, and it will feel even worse. The gel-type gommage I talk about (and use in my salon) is the best alternative to an irritating scrub.
  • Soap is another undesirable product. People with sensitive skin want to be especially careful to use only non-alkaline products on their skin. This is very important. 
  • Once again, avoid fragrance as an ingredient in your face products. Fragrance will almost always cause a reaction even on skins that aren’t considered sensitive. 
  • Heat will further exacerbate sensitive skin. As with burns, you want to treat the skin gently, never using anything extreme. 
  • You must avoid strong peels. These will do little to benefit the skin and can go a long way to furthering any sensitivities and redness you may already have. It is doubtful a person with very sensitive skin would be able to tolerate a strong peel, but high-percentage acid peels should definitely be avoided. 
  • The sun and wind can cause irritation with any skin, especially sensitive skin. Try to cover up as much of your face as possible in cold and/or sunny conditions.
Recommending what to use on sensitive skin will vary based on the oil content of your skin and the origin of the sensitivities. Most product lines address sensitivities, but a sensitive skin type will probably go through more trial and error using products than other kinds of skin. See Determining Skin Type for information about how to determine how much oil your skin is producing, which is where you want to start as far as determining what products you’ll use and for what skin type.