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How healthy will your skin be in 5, 10 or 20 years? Part I - Rosacea

By Ann C Wooledge
on March 19, 2014
2 comments

How healthy is your skin going to be in 5, 10 or 20 years?

And how early should you start to be concerned about that?


Skin health does not always refer to having no wrinkles or even fewer wrinkles, although with all of the glossy photo-shopped magazine ads, that is usually the first thing most people consider - not really the actual health of their skin. What about the typical and pretty common skin diseases such as eczema, psoriasis and rosacea? Interestingly enough, my family has a lot of these issues. I myself have rosacea, my daughter has had eczema since birth and my husband has a type of psoriasis, which we painfully discovered when he had a very bad flareup in November of 2011. So what do you do about these - and how do we keep the wrinkles at bay and our skin glowing and healthy looking?

Can you cure these skin issues or just calm them?

I am going to do this as a series and we'll start with rosacea. Rosacea apparently affects over 13 million Americans and usually causes facial redness and acne-like bumps and pimples. People like myself with rosacea will often blush much more easily or have "ruddy" cheeks. Bill Clinton is said to have rosacea and from looking at his pictures, I'd have to agree.

We've found that all of these skin issues are not "curable", but they can be relieved, calmed and alleviated unless you do something to trigger them. Each of us has our own individual triggers and it is important that we know what they are. I've been able to pretty much get rid of my rosacea; however I used to have red spots that turned into acne almost every day. That was before I started making my own creams and learned what triggers any episodes that I do get. I found that parabens will almost always cause a flareup with a cystic type pimple. I sample any new ingredients I receive because lots of parabens are hidden in other ingredients and are not declared. An example - I recently received a sample of a highly acclaimed and fairly expensive oil called Prickly Pear Seed Oil. It came with all sorts of accolades on how it would prevent wrinkles and other good things for your skin. I was very excited to receive this oil because of all the things I read about it. As I'm constantly searching and researching for new ingredients (part of the fun of being a formulator of skin care products) this one definitely sounded like something I wanted to add to our Skin Renewal Cream. We'll talk more about this particular oil in another blog, but the point I'm making here is - it had to have parabens in it because my face broke out in some pretty ugly cystic type pimples - big yuck for me, especially when my skin care line is our most popular line of products and I was afraid to "face" any of my customers for awhile. Not a very good advertisement. It took a few weeks to get them totally gone, but that's a long time in my experience. I'm super disappointed too because it does sound like a good oil to try. I will get samples from other places and let you know. This one was certified organic and Ecocert certified so how did a paraben get in here? I know some will say it was just the oil itself, but I know my skin and I know and understand the fatty acids in this particular oil and these would not have caused my face to break out to this degree.

Interestingly, the first time someone (a dermatologist) gave me a name for this skin condition was many years ago and she (and I think they still do) told me to use only "oil-free" makeup and creams. Which now makes me laugh whenever I hear that because it is just not true and if anything makes my skin more dry and flaky. Which as most of you know is why I started on this quest of healthy skin and being a skin product formulator.

So what can you do?

1. First of all, find out what your trigger is - it can be any of the usual allergy type triggers such as cheese, chocolate, soy, spicy foods and particularly alcohol can cause flares. I don't find any of these to be a problem anymore as long as I'm using a good skin care regimen and keeping my skin clean. My face does turn a bright red with any strenuous exercise - it just does and it goes away, so I don't consider that a problem except I often have to wash my face and add additional moisturizer after any routine that has caused my face to sweat - including gardening.

2. Secondly, find good organic skin care products. Your skin care products are really the biggest and best thing you can do to help or make worse your rosacea. It is really important to stay away from alcohol-containing products and as I said earlier parabens. I have found that I can use oil-based products and in fact my skin loves it when I use products made from unrefined organic ingredients such as shea butter, olive oil, avocado oil and others. It is important to find products that contain UNREFINED, COLD PRESSED oils because these retain the natural phytonutrients that actually feed your face and keep it healthy. Refined oils can also have solvents still in them, which will worsen the condition of anyone's skin. I recommend always to use products that contain as many natural ingredients as possible and I don't mean a cream that is full of just extracts of this and extracts of that. You need something in there to moisturize, soften and regenerate your skin. It is important if the product contains butters, such as shea butter, cocoa butter and/or mango butter - and this should be close to the top of the list of ingredients meaning it has a larger percentage contained in the total formula for that product, not thrown in at the bottom of the list as what I call eye-candy.

Tamanu oil is probably my favorite oil to use alone and for any breakouts or redness. I again encourage you to find unrefined, cold-pressed and organic and it does work wonders for your skin. Keep it out of your eye area as it will sting your eyes. I like to use it at night before I go to bed so I won't be taking the chance of inadvertently getting it into my eyes during the day. And finally, an oil that is truly a very good oil to use for the skin is neem oil. I did use this in our skin renewal cream from the beginning, but slowly phased it out simply because it does not smell very good - at all. I still use it in the garden as do other organic gardeners, but test it out first to see if the odor is offensive to you or not. Tamanu oil has a wonderful rich, almost caramel like odor, but I have heard some people say they don't like it or like the smell better if it is a refined Tamanu. Refined tamanu just doesn't have the same benefits for your face though, but these are individual choices you alone can make.


All products that contain water need to be preserved, although you will hear otherwise, it is just a fact of nature. So you will usually find phenoxyethanol as a preservative and from our testing with this preservative against many others, this is the one that did the best job, using the least amount and without causing problems with my skin.

3. Are there herbs or essential oils that work?  Lavender, of course, is well known for it's calming properties, both mind and body which includes your skin. We love lavender and tea tree in our products and encourage others to search for those ingredients. My research turned up quite a few of our favorite herbs for calming and adding nutrients to the skin. Rooibos tea is well known also for it's anti-inflammatory properties and I have found that if I include that in our creams, it really does make a difference. I add green tea, calendula, chamomile and helichrysum to that mix for ways to calm your skin and keep it glowing, healthy and young looking. Drinking these herbs as teas is also beneficial. The essential oils from these plants are also very beneficial for healthy skin, especially for their calming and healing properties. Finally, one herb, well I guess it is technically a spice, is turmeric which has been gaining a lot of attention with an incredible amount of research in the past few years. It is highly anti-inflammatory and with lots of research backing up those claims. Turmeric can be taken in capsule form and is probably the most effective way to use it unless you eat a lot of Indian type foods - but then you are getting into "hot" foods, which can cause a flare of your rosacea. I love Indian food, however, and just accept the fact that my skin may be red for a little while. It isn't really the redness that bothers me, it is if and when my face gets those pimple-like spots. I know when that happens, which it very rarely does anymore, that I need to take a step back and figure out what I had done that might have caused that and avoid whatever that was in the future - like the Prickly Pear Seed Oil.


And how early should you start to be concerned about this?

In my opinion it never is too early. I know pediatricians will tell you not to use oil products or creams on your babies, but I also have read research showing when sunflower oil was used to massage newborn babies in a neonatal unit, the survival rates were much higher. This only makes sense for several reasons including the fact that touch is very important for all of us, as is massage, but particularly important for babies. The oil (and this is where the pediatricians I think must get it wrong) if organic, unrefined will soften and protect your babies' skin causing it to be stronger. Any broken, chaffed or red areas are places bacteria can quickly enter and cause problems. Keeping your baby's skin supple and hydrated is very important. I think the medical field thinks only in terms of what they know to be available and those are synthetic type products including mineral oil. Do not put mineral oil on your baby - please!! Baby oil that you buy in the stores is usually mineral (read petroleum) based and is definitely not a good choice. I would rather you used nothing than to use mineral oil - which again, may be why the pediatricians recommend using nothing. Vegetable oils when used without water do not need a preservative. Creams and lotions are a mixture of oil and water and do need to be preserved. However, a lot of vegetable oils need to be refrigerated or have vitamin E added to them to prevent oxidation.

So - let me know what you use to keep your skin healthy? I didn't mention too much about nutrition, but I always tell people that their skin will reflect what they do or don't eat. Another blog for another time. Did your pediatrician tell you not to use any creams or oils on your baby as a newborn? Which of these suggestions did you like best or have you used and why?

Thanks for listening!

 

Ann's mission statement is to provide health and wellness information to you and your family that you may not find in your every-day newspapers or Prevention magazines. Her college studies, certifications and passionate self-study have provided her with a huge spectrum of understanding of the intricate issues and debates concerning health and nutrition. Ann is a Critical Care Registered Nurse, a Certified Clinical Aromatherapy Professional, and has been studying nutrition, aromatherapy, skin care health and medicinal herbalism for at least 13 years. Not so surprisingly, all of these interact for health and wellness at a level we all want to achieve. She is an ardent pursuer of verified research and information and spends huge amounts of time searching for information that is relevant and evidence based. We sincerely hope you benefit from her efforts.

 

 

Absorbed into the blood stream?

By Healthy Planet Blog Your Naturally Healthy Skin
on June 22, 2011
2 comments

Sunscreen, mineral oil, parabens - are they absorbed into the blood stream?

 

Interesting post by Dr. Mercola from a study done in 2009. Although we absolutely don't use any mineral oil, no BPA in our containers and if our creams did actually absorb that easily into your "bloodstream" it would be a good thing. However, I'm not so sure our skin allows that - that's why it's called a barrier. I've asked some experts (other than me of course!) and I'll let you know what they say. Essential oils do, in fact, absorb fairly quickly into the blood stream, but again, that can be a very good thing. But Dr. Mercola makes some pretty bold statements about the permeability of the skin. I've highlighted those statements I find particularly questionable - to quote:

Now these are Dr. Mercola's words not mine: "Remember, your skin is your largest organ -- and also the thinnest. Less than 1/10th of an inch separates your body from potential toxins. Worse yet, your skin is highly permeable. Most items you rub on  your skin will end up in your bloodstream, and will be distributed throughout your body. This is why I'm so fond of saying "don't put anything on your body that you wouldn't eat if you had to..." and a petrochemical is certainly not something you would eat!

Putting chemicals on your skin may actually be worse than eating them. When you eat something, the enzymes in your saliva and stomach help to break it down and flush it out of your body.

However, when you put these chemicals on your skin, they are absorbed straight into your bloodstream without filtering of any kind, going directly to your delicate organs. And once these chemicals find their way into your body, they tend to accumulate over time because you typically lack the necessary enzymes to break them down. When you add up daily exposure over the course of a lifetime, it really adds up."  End of quote!

WHY IS THAT NOT A LEGITIMATE DISCUSSION?:

First and foremost, the reason you should choose a nature-based, earth-based product is NOT because of all the scare tactics and the particularly scary discussion about everything being absorbed into the blood stream and then to your organs! Good grief - and this is a Medical Doctor, who, of course, has his own "certified organic" skin care line - just a thought.

The reason we started our business was that we didn't want the mineral oil, the parabens, the sharp harsh fragrances and particularly because of all the products that were accumulating in the bathroom closet not being used because they DID NOT WORK!  I stopped using parabens when I finally found they were the culprit for my breakouts! We discovered the same thing with my daughter. I'm not saying that's true of everyone, but it is a distinct possibility. I didn't even know about the endocrine disruptor thing back in 2002! I just started looking at the ingredients on some of the most expensive products, and looked each of those ingredients up in one of my first books on cosmetic safety and efficacy. The book is written by a cosmetic scientist, Michael Rutledge, "Product of Misinformation - Demystifying Cosmetics and Personal Care Claims, Terms and Ingredients." 

I wrote an article (before Paula Begoun or Skin Deep) on my first website called "Analyze This", where I took each ingredient individually and "analyzed" a 2 oz jar of "Re-Storation by Z. Bigatti", which cost $150.00 in 2002! I looked up what was said about each ingredient and what exactly was that particular ingredient doing, or NOT doing, for your skin. Was it doing anything bad to your body and, regardless, why would you pay that much for a cream that has this junk in it anyway?!  One of the main ingredients of this expensive cream, at that time, was petrolatum and mineral oil - cheap, cheap, cheap. Regardless of the fact they are petroleum products, the molecules are too big to go anywhere to do any good at all. I'll have to find a way to post that original "Analyze This" article even though I was a rank amateur at the time and had not yet learned about the benefits of essential oils or even what Superoxide Dismutase is (thank you Dr. Perricone), it still gives you a clear indication of why you don't need a lot of synthetic ingredients that cost a lot when nature has already provided you with something much better. With one very important exception - at this point in time, "nature" has not provided you with a lot of good choices for preservatives unless you want the cream to smell like the blend of essential oils that are doing the preservation. Believe me - we are all looking for the Holy Grail. Some think they have found it; I don't think so. They (the preservative system) may be approved for organic certification, but they are still processed. Not saying we aren't testing and hoping, because we are.

BACK TO THEN:

At that time, we also had been through an amazing array of totally worthless yet expensive products developed by pharmaceutical companies. My daughter, who has had eczema since birth, and I needed something better. In my research I became acutely aware that it is always a good idea to use products as close to nature as possible. NO - they do not have to have the USDA seal - only very few product lines have that and the majority of those are just a bunch of oils, maybe some butters, melted down and put in a jar - essentially that's a balm! You can easily do this at home people!!  It takes a lot more expense, expertise, extensive research and testing, testing, testing to make a real cream or lotion that actually affects the health of your skin and doesn't rot in less than 2 weeks! Creams and lotions are emulsions - meaning the oil and the water have to figure out how to get mixed together. Think of homemade mayonnaise or vinaigrette's. So - we use "emulsifiers".  In the beginning I used beeswax and borax - it worked but not always and not for long periods of time, besides borax was getting a bad rap at that time. Most of us use what we call Emulsifying wax NF - we use the vegetable based one. Once you've done your testing, testing, testing (did I say testing, testing, testing?) - you can figure out how much emulsifier and preservative you need for the percentage of oils, butters and water in your formula. It is a science, it's interesting and it's fun. By using water in your cream, you can add all sorts of great ingredients that come directly from botanical sources; i.e., blackwillow bark extract, among many others. Many companies are trying to figure out how to make their products meet the organic standards set up by the USDA for AGRICULTURE! So - they're telling us we have to have an organic emulsifier, an organic or approved preservative, etc. What does this mean to you? It means that almost all products that are creams or lotions and have been "certified organic" by the USDA have sacrificed quality for marketing. Look for yourself - what do most of them have at the top of their list of ingredients? Hmmm - organic alcohol! Yep, it may even be organic grape alcohol - it's alcohol nonetheless. They are using that ingredient as their "organic" and "approved" preservative. Do you know that it takes a very large percentage of alcohol to preserve any cream? David Steinberg, the "preservative guru for cosmetic companies" says that alcohol (denatured in the cosmetic world) is "active against everything but dependent on concentration."  Although actually he's not 100% correct on this, because alcohol isn't totally effective against molds - but that's another blog. He tells us that when the "concentration falls below 15% alcohol actually becomes a growth medium." So, that means we need at least 15 to 20%, and probably more than that, depending on how many botanical ingredients are included and what the percentage of water to lipids is - bacteria grows in water, not oils (lipids). Do you also know what alcohol, regardless if it is organic or not, does to your skin? I think you do.

BACK TO DR. MERCOLA:

I'm just not sure I agree with his bold statements about the permeability of the skin. We learned in nursing school that the skin is a barrier, but it only takes a little bit of knowledge and experience to realize that the permeability of most people's skin certainly depends on the health of an individual (diabetics for sure), their age, their ethnicity, and many other variables. Not saying I totally disagree, but there is still much debate out there and to boldly go where no one has is a bit too much marketing prose.

We changed to "as close to nature" as possible just because that's how we live our lives in general. Dr. Mercola has a profit incentive (his own certified organic skin care line), when he says to look for the USDA seal, that is just a bunch of hog wash! A lot of politics in play I'm afraid. Do look at the ingredients - always look at the ingredients. Look for oils and butters that are natural and are at the top of the list. You NEED a preservative!! Unless you want to use your cream in one week or two (probably less in the summertime) - and it certainly couldn't/shouldn't sit on a shelf for very long if at all. That's why most of the USDA certified organic skin care products are made without water! Water causes the bacteria to grow. So do you really want a greasy balm all the time? It's excellent for some applications and we make a great one. But for every day hand and body cream -  give me a thick, rich cream made from certified organic oils and butters - NOT shea extract, but shea butter! You can't make a CREAM without water - that's why it's called an emulsion. These products actually HEAL skin issues, not just cover them up like the dermatology/pharmaceutical products that are thrown at you. Steroids eventually thin the skin and make it less of an effective barrier.

BOTTOM LINE:

If you want healthy, hydrated, regenerated skin tissue, find products that have ingredients that are plant-based oils and butters at the beginning of the ingredient list, not as extracts at the end of the list. Botanical extracts are awesome and they will often come at the end because you don't need a lot and often they are "tinctures", which are alcohol based extracts. Essential oils will also be listed at the end of the list because there are safety limits for the percentage allowed or needed. You really don't want a large percentage of either of those. Ethical cosmetic formulators research and know the percentage of each ingredient that they need to formulate a particular product to allow it to perform the way they want it to - and that should be to be beneficial for your skin and not harmful to your body. My advice? Look for those formulators and companies who are more interested in the health of your skin than they are about how the USDA certified organic seal will affect their bottom line. Oh - and yes, I do have a profit incentive here, but that is not what motivates our company.

Thanks for listening!

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