Author Archives: Michelle Leong

woman removing makeup with cotton pad

How to Transition Your Skin from Winter to Spring

With flowers poking their heads through the ground and the sun making more of a regular appearance, the signs that spring is on its way are everywhere.

While you may have your wardrobe all ready for the arrival of spring, make sure that you do not forget about your skin either, which will need some help preparing for the upcoming season.

Wondering how you can help your skin to transition from winter to spring without any problems?

By following these steps…

Start Switching to Lighter Products

In the winter, your skin needs multiple layers of product, finished off with a thick and greasy moisturizer, in order to stay soft and supple.

Why?

Because the air is so much drier in the colder months, and this means that the moisture from your skin ends up evaporating into the air at a much faster rate.

However, once the weather begins to warm up, humidity levels in the air start to rise…

This means that moisture remains in your skin for longer, and a heavy moisturizer will only end up clogging your pores, resulting in oily skin and acne.

Your skin still needs to be moisturized, but, on warmer spring days, you will find that a lighter lotion, rather than a rich cream, may be all that your skin requires.

Vine Vera How to Transition Your Skin from Winter to Spring lightweight lotion

The weather, and humidity levels, do fluctuate quite a bit in the spring, depending on where you live, so your skin care practices need to reflect this. During drier spells, reach for your winter moisturizer, but go with lighter weight products when you know that the air is more humid.

Be More Diligent About Sun Protection

The sun’s UV rays can cause damage to your skin throughout the year, but since people tend to spend more time outdoors in the spring and summer, now is the time to begin getting into the habit of regularly applying, and re-applying, a sunscreen.

Don’t have a go-to sunscreen?

You have two main options available to you…

The first is a physical sunscreen, which makes use of ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to physically block and reflect the sun’s rays away from your skin. Your next option is a chemical sunscreen, which makes use of various chemical formulas that absorb the sun’s UV rays and break them down.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both types, so it is well worth researching this further before deciding on a sunscreen. 

Cut Back on Exfoliation

With the air in the winter being so dry, dry skin is commonly experienced during the season. With this dryness comes flaky patches, and exfoliation can often seem like the only effective way to remove these, especially since natural cell turnover can often slow down in the winter months.

However, the arrival of spring will see your skin becoming less dry, and cell turnover speeding back up again, meaning that you will likely not need to exfoliate quite so often.

Are you planning on spending quite a bit of time outdoors this spring?

If so, you may want to exfoliate even less, because many experts believe that exfoliation can increase sun sensitivity by up to 45%

Surprised by this?

Well, if you think about it, exfoliation removes parts of the outer layer of your skin, so it only makes sense that this would then make your skin much more vulnerable to the elements.

Vine Vera How to Transition Your Skin from Winter to Spring exfoliation vector

A Skin Care Spring Clean

In the same way that you give your home, and even your life, a spring clean each year, the same should be done for your skin care products.

All you need to do is place all of your beauty and skin care products in front of you, and then ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the expiration date of this product? Just like with food, skin care products come with expiration dates, and it is important to follow these as you do not want to be smearing a handful of bacteria across your face each night
  • How long has this product been open? Even if a product has not technically expired yet, one that has been open for many months, and has come into contact with air and light on a frequent basis, will likely be useless. Its active ingredients will have degraded to the point of no return by now
  • Will I actually use this? There is something to be said for de-cluttering, and while you may enjoy having a spectacular array of products in front of you each morning, there is no doubt that simplifying these down to the products you actually use will make your skin care practices much more efficient
  • Is this a product for the winter months? There are many skin care products out there that you would only really need to use in the winter months. If you come across these in your cupboards, and you know that you will not be using them until the winter, you may as well throw them out, as they will have either expired or degraded by then

In addition to spring cleaning your skin care and beauty products, you should also take a look through your makeup brushes.

When was the last time these were washed?

Your makeup brushes need to be washed on a regular basis, as they otherwise end up becoming a breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria.

If you know that you have neglected washing your makeup brushes, now is the time to change this. Simply using some baby shampoo and a bowl of warm water will do the job and help to remove so much of the dirt and bacteria that was clinging to your brush.

cleaning makeup brush in a lather

Check Your Medications

Are you currently taking any medications?

Whether this may be an antibiotic, an antihistamine, a cardiac drug, or even just a painkiller, many common medications out there actually cause sun sensitivity.

Also known as photosensitivity, this condition manifests as inflammation of the skin, and is caused by the reaction that occurs when certain medications are combined with sunlight. The actual symptoms look and feel similar to a sunburn, and, as you can imagine, this is something best avoided. 

How do you know whether or not your medications are going to cause photosensitivity?

Take a look at the health advice and warnings leaflet that came with it. If you cannot find this, a quick search on the company’s website should tell you all you need to know.

Give Double Cleansing a Try

As you may have guessed from its name, double cleansing is a cleansing technique that makes use of two different cleansers. While it has definitely become quite the trend lately, this is something that has long since been practised in parts of Asia, as it does have its benefits.

The first cleanser you use needs to be an oil-based cleanser, as these are best for breaking down sebum, make up and sunscreen. Once you have rinsed this off, you then follow it up with a water-based cleanser, as this will then break down any sweat, bacteria and dead skin cells. 

Since you will have already removed the outer layer of dirt from your skin with the oil-based cleanser, the second cleanser will also be able to travel deeper down into your pores, clearing it of bacteria.

Double cleansing is especially important for those who commonly experience breakouts in the spring and summer.

Why?

Well, your skin produces more oil in the warmer months, meaning that there is a much higher chance that your pores will end up clogged. The double cleansing technique really gives your pores a deep clean, preventing any blockages from forming.

Another reason to try double cleansing at this time of the year is because your skin is much more sensitive and fragile in the winter months, and needs to retain its natural oils. Double cleansing can often be too much for it in the winter, which is why the months of spring are the perfect time to give it a try.

Build Up Your Skin’s Protective Barrier

It is so easy for your skin’s natural protective barrier to end up damaged in the winter months, and you will likely find yourself fighting to maintain it.

However, now that the harsh weather is retreating, you can put yourself in the offensive, rather than the defensive, and take the necessary steps to build and strengthen this barrier back up.

How?

Here are a few tips:

  • Opt for chemical or enzymatic exfoliation, rather than physical exfoliation
  • Use a toner after cleansing, as this will help to re-balance your skin’s natural pH level, optimizing its processes
  • Avoid coming into contact with excess heat or hot water
  • Keep stress to a minimum, as cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, has been linked to poor skin barrier recovery 
  • Add more essential fatty acids to your diet, such as oily fish, flax seed and walnuts

There are also specific ingredients that you can look for in skin care products to help build up your skin’s natural barrier, such as:

Sort Through Your Makeup

In the same way that your skin care products need to change in the spring, so does your makeup. Certain formulas are more suited to the warmer months, and using these will be far better for your skin.

Do you wear a heavy foundation?

If so, you may find that this ends up clogging your pores and causing breakouts as the weather gets warmer.

Fortunately, there are many alternatives that you can opt for, including:

Not only will these give your skin some coverage, but they will also moisturize your skin, with many formulas also providing some sun protection. 

Don’t Forget About the Rest of Your Body

When it comes to skin care, many tend to focus on their face and upper body, with the skin on the rest of the body being neglected.

However, from your elbows to your knees to your feet, these areas can really end up suffering in the winter months. Since you are likely to have them on show more now that the weather is turning warmer, it is time to give the skin on these parts of your body some extra attention.

Vine Vera How to Transition Your Skin from Winter to Spring elbow moisturizer

How?

Try applying a cream to these areas each night, as this will help to restore moisture. If your skin is especially dry in certain areas, add a layer of petroleum jelly over your cream, before covering the area up with some plastic wrap or a thick pair of socks or gloves. Do this each night for a week or so, and you will soon notice that your skin has become so much softer, and ready for spring.

Plan Ahead

Once spring is upon us, it will not be long before summer is here, and this is a season that brings with it its own set of skin care problems.

Rather than waiting for these to suddenly hit you, spend the months of spring planning and preparing for all that summer will bring. For example, if you know that acne is always a problem in the warmer weather, start looking at natural ways and ingredients to prevent acne breakouts and reduce the oiliness on your skin. 

On the other hand, if you are trying to minimize wrinkles and fine lines, then purchase a few hats and other items of clothing that will help to keep your face away from direct sunlight, since the sun is responsible for up to 90% of facial wrinkles.

You likely already have plenty to think about when it comes to the arrival of spring, but it is so important to make sure that you do not neglect your skin. By following these steps and helping your skin to have a successful seasonal transition, you will be setting your skin up for health and success for the rest of the year.

woman in grass

What’s a Holistic Approach to Skin Care?

Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and is a true reflection of how healthy your body currently is. This means that any skin conditions that you experience could actually be a symptom of something else that is going on within your body.

Rather than simply treating specific symptoms with harsh, chemical-laden products, a holistic approach to skin care addresses any underlying root problems, treating your skin, as well as your body, from the inside out.  

While a holistic skin care approach may not offer the same quick fix that modern skin care provides, it will not only benefit your complexion in the long run, but will also give your overall health a huge boost.

Interested?

Here are a few steps that you can take to care for your skin in a more holistic way…

Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet

When trying to think and live more holistically, you need to pay attention to the ingredients that you put into your body. By eating a healthy diet that is filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and healthy fats, your skin will directly benefit, and it will not take long until you notice the improvements. 

So, what exactly should you be eating?

At least five portions of fruits and vegetables a day, preferably ones of different colors.

Wondering why this matters?

Because different colored vegetables and fruits contain different antioxidants. For example, red vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, contain beta-carotene, while leafy green vegetables, such as kale and spinach, contain lutein. Both of these are key antioxidants when it comes to skin health.

Another important element to your diet should be healthy fats, which work as an internal moisturizer for your skin. From oily fish to avocados to nuts, there are so many sources of essential fatty acids out there. Many of these also contain high amounts of vitamin E, which is another vital vitamin for the skin.

Do not forget about omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as both of these are essential, but your body is not able to produce them itself. These can be found in oily fish, as well as chia seeds, walnuts, linseeds and more. This is especially important for those who are suffering from inflammatory skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema.

Different foods can benefit your skin in different ways, so, if you suffer from a particular skin condition, it would be worth researching which foods you should be eating more of. For example, those suffering from hormonal acne should try eating more soya bean products, as these contain phyto-estrogens, which have a similar structure to oestrogen in the female body and help to prevent hormonal fluctuations. 

Have you ever wondered about taking oral supplements for your skin?

This would definitely fall under the holistic approach, as you would be treating your skin from within.

Here are a few supplements to consider:

  • Probiotics – these help to balance the good and bad bacteria in your gut, resulting in happy and healthy skin
  • Fish oil – contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
  • Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) – another source of essential omegas

It helps to plan your diet and supplements ahead, so you won’t miss out on essential nutrients. Try making a weekly food plan that you can follow loosely. This way, you won’t have to worry about what best to eat when you’re rushing out the door.

planning ahead

Stay Hydrated

There are many who claim that staying internally hydrated makes no difference to your skin’s health and appearance, but this is not true…

Just like every other part of your body, your skin is made up of cells, and these cells consist primarily of water. Without enough water, the cells within your body will not be able to function to their full potential.

How does this manifest in your skin?

Through dry skin, which will feel quite tight and flaky.

Your body loses large amounts of water each day, and you need to be replacing this. Sadly, because your skin is on the outside of your body, water will travel to all of your other organs before it reaches your skin. This means that you really need to be drinking the maximum amount of water each day in order for your skin cells to really stay hydrated

How much do you need to be drinking?

About eight glasses a day. But don’t forget, teas and infused waters also count towards this, while giving you a boost of antioxidants at the same time. 

Avoid Unhealthy Lifestyle Habits

Unhealthy lifestyle habits are not only bad for your skin, but also your general health.

Do you smoke?

If so, you are likely aware of what this is doing to the inside of your body, but did you know that smoking is one of the worst habits that you could have for your skin?

Smoking basically suffocates the tissues within your skin, by preventing oxygen from reaching them. This leads to everything from damaged capillaries to an increase in free radicals, resulting in a wrinkled and sallow complexion.

quit smoking

Drinking too much alcohol can also have a severely detrimental effect on your skin. While you do not need to give this up completely, you should still strictly moderate your alcohol intake.

When you do decide to indulge in a drink, here are a few tips to ensure that you cause as little damage to your skin as possible:

  • Clear spirits on the rocks are the best option, as these will not have sugar, salt or anything else added to them
  • Red wine actually contains high levels of antioxidants, and can be good for you when consumed in moderation 
  • Drink a glass of water in between each alcoholic drink to dilute the amount of alcohol in your body

Regular Exercise

You probably already know that regular exercise is essential in order to maintain your physical and mental health, but did you know that regular exercise directly benefits the skin too?

New research backs this up in a big way, showing that exercise can boost a person’s skin no matter what age they may be.

To begin with, exercise can really help with acne.

How?

It helps to bring toxins to the surface of your skin, preventing them from causing breakouts, so long as you wash them away as soon as you are done working out. Exercise also triggers the body to produce endorphins, which help to decrease the level of cortisol, the stress hormone that can often trigger acne, in your body. 

Here are a few of the other ways in which regular exercise will benefit your skin:

  • Causes blood vessels to dilate, resulting in a vibrant, energized appearance
  • Stimulates the body to produce more collagen, which is one of the main structural proteins in your skin
  • Encourages the body to sleep better at night, which is the time during which your skin repairs itself
  • Exercising outdoors puts you in the fresh air, boosting your endorphins even more

Quality Sleep Each Night

While you may think that your whole body is resting while you are asleep, this is not at all true…

As mentioned above, the time during which you are asleep is when your skin cells repair and regenerate, and often do this up to three times faster than they do during the day.

It begins at around 9pm, when you start to get sleepy…

Your skin does wind down a little at this time too, making the time between 9pm and 11pm the hours when your skin is best able to absorb topical products.

woman sleeping

Once you go to sleep, your body releases a hormone called HGH, otherwise known as the human growth hormone.

What does this do?

HGH is responsible for speeding up the rate at which your skin cells repair themselves, with cell production doubling, or even tripling, depending on your quality of sleep.

You likely already know whether or not you are getting quality sleep each night, by how tired you are during the day.

If you know you are not sleeping well enough, you need to do something to fix this.

Wondering what you can do?

Here are a few tips:

  • Create a calming bedtime routine, with everything from a hot bath and some chamomile tea to soft music and aromatherapy
  • Remove any electronic devices from your bedroom, as these emit a blue light that suppresses the melatonin in your body, which is responsible for helping you get to sleep 
  • Try breathing exercises to help relax your body and induce sleep 

Minimize Stress

Each time you feel stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol, and this can severely affect the skin in a few different ways:

  • Causes glycation, which damages the collagen in your skin, resulting in wrinkles and fine lines
  • Causes dry skin by decreasing the skin’s production of hyaluronic acid and by damaging the skin’s natural protective barrier
  • Causes adrenaline to be produced, which decreases blood flow to the skin, robbing skin cells of essential nutrients
  • Prevents quality sleep, meaning skin cells cannot properly regenerate

So, what can you do about this?

There are so many ways in which you can reduce stress in your life. Give a few of these methods a try:

  • Breathing exercises and meditation
  • Physical activity
  • Socializing with friends and family
  • Having some “me time”
  • Writing your thoughts down in a journal
  • Listen to music
  • Get a massage
  • Spend time with animals
  • Spend time in nature
  • Do something creative, such as cooking or make some art 

woman lying in grass

There are so many other things that could be added to that list, but, as you can see, there are many ways in which you can tackle stress. Rather than letting it fester in your body and continue causing damage to your skin, and so much more, take proactive steps to reduce your stress, and therefore minimize the cortisol in your body.

A Healthy Sex Life

Sex is a natural part of life, and actually brings with it quite a few health benefits, many of which are related to the skin.

Here are a few of the ways in which a healthy sex life could help your complexion:

  • Improves blood circulation, meaning that more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the skin
  • Reduces cortisol levels in the body
  • Triggers HGH, the human growth hormone, which boosts skin elasticity
  • Improves the skin’s ability to absorb and make use of nutrients
  • Encourages quality sleep thanks to the oxytocin that floods the brain, therefore helping to boost skin health 

Make Holistic Choices With Your Cosmetics

There are so many skin and beauty products out there that are laden with harmful chemicals, and these are not something that you want on your skin and in your body when trying to care for your skin more holistically.

There are many ingredients out there, from parabens to fragrances, that will do nothing but damage your skin. Take a look at the ingredients lists on the products that you already own, and decide whether or not they are actually benefiting your skin. 

You may be tempted to only opt for completely natural skin care products, but this would not be a good move.

Why?

In an ideal world, you would only be applying the freshest, most natural ingredients to your skin. But, when purchasing skin care products, formulas vary hugely from brand to brand, and just because a product contains natural ingredients does not mean that it will be effective.

Synthetic ingredients are also not always bad. Skin care companies spend years researching into new ingredients, many of which are ones that you would not be able to have access to on your own.

Try to aim for products that are as natural as possible, but do keep your own skin’s needs in mind. For example, if tea tree oil does not seem to be helping your acne, do not be afraid to move on to something stronger.

As you can see, a holistic approach to skin care encompasses every single aspect of your life. By following all of the tips mentioned above, you will be boosting your skin in so many different ways, and will no doubt notice an improved complexion in no time at all.

woman picking out products

11 Unusual Skin Care Ingredients Worth Trying

Those who know their skincare ABC are probably already trained to read the labels and spot ingredients that are relevant to their skin issues and woes, especially when it comes to the naturally-derived holy grails.

But have you heard about some of the lesser known ingredients that can be equally effective in improving the overall appearance of your skin?

Check out our list of unusual skincare ingredients that might be worth a try.

Donkey Milk

donkey galloping in field

Even though donkey milk only recently resurfaced in the sphere of modern beauty products, it has actually been used for cosmetic purposes since the ancient times.

For example, it’s a well known fact that Cleopatra used donkey milk for her luxurious baths, while Hippocrates, the famed ancient Greek physician, was fond of prescribing it for a number skin-related issues.

Nowadays, donkey milk has been increasingly present in cosmetic products, in great part thanks to its rich proteins and fatty acids, which can noticeably improve moisture in the skin.

Moreover, due to its markedly gentle properties, products containing donkey milk could be beneficial for people who suffer from dry skin, flakiness or even eczema.

Sake

sake

Most of us are familiar with sake, the delicious Japanese rice wine we all like to treat ourselves with after a round of sushi.

However, did you know that this liquor is also a powerful multi-purpose skin care ingredient?

And its popularity is on a steady rise, both in Japan and internationally.

Why is that?

Well, for one, it is said that the yeast found in sake is laden with minerals, amino acids and vitamins, all of which can greatly contribute to supple and more balanced complexion.

What’s more, sake essence also reportedly contains powerful enzymes that can act as natural exfoliants without robbing your skin of its natural moisture.

If you want see if this magical ingredient from the East is really all that it’s cracked up to be, you’re in luck: sake extract can now be found in both Japanese and Western skin care lines, ranging from serums to exfoliations to shower gels.

Caffeine

coffee beans

We all know that caffeine is a life-saver for those of us who suffer from insufficient sleep or chronic fatigue, but did you know that this powerful ingredient can also energize your skin care routine?

This all-natural ingredient is chock-full of antioxidants, which are the number one weapon in the battle against fine lines and loss of elasticity in skin.

Due to their effective properties, caffeine-infused products have the power tackle the free radicals that are accelerating the aging processes in your skin and eradicate them. Sounds pretty neat, no?

Moreover, caffeine is a godsend for sleep-deprived individuals as it can successfully reduce under eye circles. Anti-inflammatory properties of caffeine can help soothe your under eye area and eliminate the annoying puffiness you might experience in the AM.

Bee Venom

bee venom

In recent years, bee venom has become one of the most buzzed about ingredients in the world of beauty and cosmetics.

It first gained traction when it was reported that Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, used it to achieve that luscious glow she was sporting on her wedding day.

Throughout the history, honey has been used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes, due to its incredible antibacterial and moisturizing properties.

Bee venom is said to share some of these skin-boosting benefits, while also being rich in enzymes, peptides and amino acids that can help accelerate cell turnover and increase collagen production.

This is why bee venom-infused skin care products can be a valuable addition to your day-to-day routine if you want to combat premature signs of aging and keep your complexion plump and radiant.

Activated Charcoal

fine charcoal

Throughout the history, activated charcoal has been used for medicinal purposes due to is ability to quickly absorb harmful toxins before they enter the bloodstream.

These same properties have caused activated charcoal to take the beauty world by storm: these days, you will find it in a variety of cosmetic products, from hand washes to rinse off masks.

So, what are these superpowers that activated charcoal possesses?

First and foremost, this potent ingredient is next to unbeatable when it comes to sucking out all the pollutants that are causing your skin to look dull and break out.

Not only can activated charcoal help eradicate all those damaging substances that are harming your skin, it can also help with dehydration and signs of aging.

Activated charcoal and products that contain it are ideal for people who live in big cities, as their skin tends to be more exposed to various toxins due to traffic and pollution.

Algae

algae

The slimy green stuff found at the bottom of the sea (or the top of a lake) might be the least appealing ingredient on this list.

And yet, so many brands, including the super-fancy ones, are using algae in their skin care lines.

There must be a good reason for this, right?

Absolutely. Research shows that algae (and seaweed) can help improve your complexion in many different ways.

First, algae are packed with Vitamin E, as well as humectants, both of which replenish your skin with moisture and help lock in the hydration.

Next, this marine ingredient is rich in Vitamins B and C, which can help brighten up dull skin tone and reduce signs of aging.

Finally, goodies found in algae, such as magnesium and zinc, will help form a protective shield for your skin and keep it safe from environmental pollutants.

Yuzu

yuzu

Yuzu (or yuja in Korean) is a citrus fruit that grows in East Asian countries, namely Japan, China and Korea.

It is similar to grapefruit, only smaller in size.

In the East, yuzu has been used for all sorts of purposes, mostly because of its stress-relieving fragrance and aromatic flavor.

Recently, yuzu’s popularity as a skin care ingredient has been on the rise as well. This is in great part due to its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, which can be incredibly beneficial for people who have dry, sensitive and irritation-prone skin.

Moreover, yuzu is packed with vitamin C, which can be of great help in combatting hyperpigmentation and evening out skin tone.

When these benefits are taken into consideration, it is no wonder that products containing this all-powerful fruit just keep popping up on drugstore shelves.

If you want to test out the powers of yuzu, you can try out one of the many K-beauty products (like ampoules, serums and moisturizers) which contain this sensational citrus.

Birch

birch bark

Once a favorite subject in the works penned by the American poet Robert Frost, these days it is the skin care aficionados who are singing words of praise to birches.

This tree species, which mostly grows in northern Europe, has become all the rage in the beauty world due to its amazing, multifold cosmetic benefits.

Namely, birch sap (also known as birch water) is rich in amino acids, minerals, antioxidants and proteins, making it a potent agent in reducing inflammation, but also soothing the skin and replenishing it with moisture.

This is why products containing birch water are generally recommended to people whose skin is prone to irritation and breakage.

As obscure as birch sap in form of beauty treatment may sound, it is not unusual to find it on the ingredient list of many skin care products. This forest-derived remedy was pioneered by the Korean brand COSRX, but it can now be found in skin care lines put out by a variety western brands, including Origins and Dr. Hauschka.

Snail Mucus

snail roaming on freshly-rained ground

A king among wacky skincare ingredients, snail mucus has long been popular on the Korean beauty market, where in recent years it even reached cult status among cosmetics enthusiast.

Stroll through the aisles in one of Korea’s many skin care shops and you will notice all sorts of products branded with snail slime, including serums, moisturizers and toners.

This sudden rise in products containing slime essence is not unfounded, either.

Mucin, substance found in slime that snails excrete from their body, is said to be chock-full of nutrients that can instantly boost your skin’s moisture levels, but also slow down signs of aging.

Among these skin-charging goodies are proteins, hyaluronic acid and antioxidants, all of which can sooth the skin and promote hydration in the cells.

So, it’s no wonder that more and more women are curious to try out this unusual skin care substance.

However, if you are still feeling too squeamish to commit to an entire packaging of snail slime-infused product, you can always ease yourself into it by trying out a mucin-enriched sheet mask.

Licorice

licorice

Licorice, a root derived from a legume of the Latin name Glycyrrhiza glabra, has been used since the dawn of time in both East and West due to its intense medicinal properties.

Its value as a skin care ingredient was first noticed by Geishas, who used this natural remedy to brighten up their complexion and remove dark spots.

Today, the power of licorice as a cosmetic ingredient is becoming more and more recognized on the beauty market.

Due to this ingredient’s calming and gentle properties, products containing licorice root (such as serums and masks) can be a great natural alternative for people whose skin tends to be on the more sensitive side.

Moreover, licorice extract can also be powerful for reducing dark spots, melasma and improving the overall texture of the skin. This is why licorice-infused products can be incredibly beneficial for people who suffer from hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone.

Bamboo

bamboo forest

Bamboo is tree-like grass species which has the ability to grow anywhere, but is mostly associated with East Asia.

In countries like China and Japan, it has been used for centuries as a powerful medicinal tool with anti-bacterial and soothing qualities.

Recently, bamboo’s healing capabilities have been gaining more traction in the world of beauty and skin care, too.

Namely, bamboo’s anti-inflammatory properties make this ingredient a welcome addition to beauty regimen of anyone who has sensitive or damaged skin.

Moreover, bamboo extract is said to contain lots of antioxidants, which are crucial when it comes to reducing or eliminating fine lines, wrinkles and age spots.

And with this, we complete our list of some of the most curious ingredients that have been gaining the attention of beauty enthusiast around the world.

If you tend to stand firmly in the conservative skin care camp, this roundup has probably helped cement the fact that beauty experimenting is not for you and that you would rather stick to the good ol’ tested stuff.

On the other hand, we may have tickled your curiosity and prompted you to go out and try some of these cosmetic obscurities. Who knows, perhaps it turns out that it was birch sap or donkey milk your skin has been aching for this entire time!

examination of scalp using UV technology

8 Pre-Treatments to Save Your Scalp

Scalp problems are extremely common, and come in so many different forms. No matter what scalp issues you may currently be battling, here are 8 pretreatments that are likely to be able to help.

1. Pretreatment for Scalp Acne

While scalp acne may not actually be noticeable unless you have short hair, it is still unpleasant to deal with, as it can be painful, annoying, and lead to hair loss.

Scalp acne can be caused by a number of different things:

  • Junk food
  • Hormones
  • An oily scalp
  • Hair products
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Constipation
  • Medications

The acne that forms on your scalp is exactly the same as acne that would form on your face, or other parts of your body, and can significantly vary in severity.

To treat scalp acne, use a medicated shampoo, as recommended in the section above for oily scalps.

Since your scalp acne is the same as any other type of acne, you can also use over-the-counter acne treatments to clear breakouts, although you are best off avoiding any products that contain benzoyl peroxide, as these can cause discoloration in your hair. 

Even if your acne is not being caused by the hair products you use, it would still be worth making sure that everything you apply to your hair is lightweight and free of petroleum. You should also make sure to wash any hair products out of your hair at the end of each day, as leaving these in will only lead to more breakouts.

2. Pretreatments for a Dry and Itchy Scalp

People usually think that a dry and itchy scalp is the same thing as dandruff, but this is not actually true

While both conditions can cause itching and flakiness, dandruff usually requires the use of a medicated shampoo to be treated, while dry scalp can be treated by rehydrating the scalp. 

So, what actually causes dry scalp?

woman scratching her dry and itchy scalp

This occurs when your skin is not receiving enough moisture, which can happen for a few different reasons:

  • Cold and dry air
  • Aging
  • Contact dermatitis

If you have a dry scalp, you will likely also notice other dry and itchy areas around your body.

If left untreated, dry scalp can lead to hair loss, so it is important that you take the steps necessary to rehydrate your scalp.

A scalp massage is a great way to begin, as this helps to lift away dirt and redistribute your natural oils around your scalp. Hair masks are also effective, as these remain on the head for quite some time, allowing the moisture to really penetrate into the scalp. Try using one that contains shea butter, as this will bring so much goodness to your scalp. 

In terms of shampoo, moisturizing shampoos are key, while medicated shampoos can also help.

Exfoliating your scalp could also help.

Wondering how to do this?

Dedicated products containing fruit enzymes or salicylic acid are the gentlest, as well as extremely effective. There are also many scalp scrubs out there, but be careful that these do not end up exacerbating your dryness.

3. Pretreatments for Allergic Contact Dermatitis

As mentioned above, contact dermatitis can lead to a dry and itchy scalp, and can also cause inflammation and redness.

What exactly is allergic contact dermatitis?

This is caused when certain chemicals irritate the skin. One common irritant is paraphenylenediamine, also known as PPD, which is often used in permanent hair dyes. Fragrances in shampoos and conditioners are another common cause.

While steroid gels and creams can help to decrease the inflammation and reduce the symptoms, the problems will never really go away until you identify the exact cause, and then eliminate it from your routine.

4. Pretreatments for Scalp Ringworm

While it may sound frightening, scalp ringworm is not actually a worm, and instead refers to a fungal infection, the same as athlete’s foot.

Wondering what this actually looks like?

It usually appears as scaly spots and hairless patches, often with black dots in them. These black dots are actually hairs that have broken off at scalp level.

Ringworm is surprisingly common…

But many people mistake it for bad dandruff, and therefore opt for the wrong treatments.

So, what are the right treatment options?

An anti-fungal shampoo is key, and should be taken alongside an oral antibiotic. If you share a home with other people, they should also start using the shampoo, as ringworm is easily contagious, and can also reinfect a person. You should also have any pets checked out, as ringworm can pass from humans to other animals, and vice versa.

But what actually causes ringworm in the first place?

It is spread through contact with infected people, animals and soil, and can be caught through sharing everything from pillowcases and hairbrushes to clothing.

5. Pretreatments for an Oily Scalp/Seborrhea

An oily scalp, also known as seborrhea, will soon leave you with greasy hair, while also contributing to outbreaks of dandruff, neither of which anyone wants to deal with. No matter how much you seem to wash your hair, you will never be able to really clear away this oil.

Do you know what actually causes an oily scalp?

woman with oily scalp

Well, your scalp contains sebaceous glands that produce oil, and these provide your scalp with an important layer of protection that helps to keep it hydrated.

However, for a number of different reasons, sebaceous glands can sometimes produce excess oil, resulting in an oily scalp.

This tends to affect men more than women…

Why?

Because male scalps naturally generate up to 50% more oil than female scalps.

So, what can you do about it?

The first step is a medicated shampoo, Look for one containing either salicylic acid, tar or selenium, because these ingredients will help to clear away excess oil while rebalancing your scalp’s natural oil production.

It can sometimes be helpful washing your hair twice, because all of the excess oil present in the first wash can prevent the medicated shampoo from properly lathering up, which you need in order to cleanse your scalp.

In addition to a medicated shampoo, you could also look into traditional remedies, such as apple cider vinegar. This can be used as a hair rinse to reduce oiliness. Tea tree oil is another effective one, and can be mixed into your regular shampoo.

6. Pretreatments for Scalp Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that results in dry, itchy and flaky skin. This is frustrating no matter where on your body it appears, but, when it is on your scalp, it can seem even harder to beat.

Psoriasis actually affects around 2% of the population, with around half of those people experiencing it on their scalp.

These are a few of the symptoms:

  • Red, scaly patches, especially along the hairline
  • Itchy and painful areas
  • Flaky skin

Unfortunately, there is nothing that can actually cure scalp psoriasis, but there are a few pretreatments that can help to prevent flare-ups from occurring.

To begin with, you should be using a shampoo that has been designed for scalp psoriasis. These will contain ingredients that will soothe the skin, while loosening any scaly patches so that they can be washed away.

There are two main types of psoriasis shampoos out there:

  • Tar Shampoos – the active ingredient in a tar shampoo is, as you may have guessed, coal tar, which is a by-product of coal. This helps to reduce inflammation and itching, while restoring the skin’s appearance. However, keep in mind that many tar shampoos have quite a distinctive smell to them
  • Medicated Shampoos – these can contain a variety of ingredients, from topical steroids to salicylic acid to algae 

Don’t forget…

A psoriasis shampoo is designed to treat your scalp, not wash your hair, so you need to ensure that you really massage it into your scalp well. Leave it in for up to ten minutes before washing it out.  

Another pretreatment for scalp psoriasis is…

The use of organic oils topically. Whether this may be argan, coconut or tea tree, these oils can really help to calm the skin and minimize itchiness. The effects of this tend to be boosted when paired with omega-3 fatty acid supplements, as this helps to treat the skin from within as well as externally.

7. Pretreatments for Dandruff /Seborrheic Dermatitis

Otherwise known as seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff affects up to 50% of the population at some point in their lives. This usually occurs between adolescence and the age of 50. 

Why?

Because this is when the sebaceous glands, which produce oil, are at their most active.

dandruff under a magnifying glass

So what actually causes dandruff?

Usually, dead skin cells are naturally shed by the body, but when this does not happen, they end up building up on the scalp. It does not take long for the scalp to become irritated by this, leading to inflammation and peeling. An overly oily or dry scalp can also cause dandruff, as can certain skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema.

Before even thinking about pretreatments, you need to first go through all of the products that you currently use on your hair. Sensitivity to certain ingredients can irritate the scalp, leading to dandruff, so you need to stop using these immediately.

Here are a few of the things that you should be looking out for:

  • Hair dyes, especially those that contain paraphenylenediamine
  • Shampoos that contain harsh chemicals, such as sulfates
  • The use of too many styling products

Unfortunately, dandruff is a condition, not a disease, meaning that it cannot be cured. However, there are pretreatments that can help you to manage it.

Use an anti-dandruff shampoo that contains some of the following ingredients:

  • Selenium – reduces fungus and slows down the rate at which skin cells die off
  • Coal tar – slows the growth and shedding of skin cells
  • Zinc pyrithione – an antifungal drug, but gentle enough to be used everyday
  • Salicylic acid – removes scaliness from the scalp before it has the chance to flake off
  • Ketoconazole – kills the fungus that causes dandruff. Can be purchased over-the-counter, as well as in prescription-strength

Make sure that you are leaving your shampoo on for at least five minutes, so that the ingredients have enough time to properly penetrate the scalp.

You should also shampoo your hair more frequently, massaging your scalp for five minutes before stepping into the shower. This will help to loosen the skin, allowing it to be washed away.

An alternative remedy for treating dandruff is tea tree oil, which has natural antifungal properties. You need a shampoo that contains around a 5% concentration of tea tree oil, but do make sure that you are not allergic to the ingredient before you use it.

When it comes to treating dandruff internally, a diet that contains plenty of antioxidants, which are mostly found in fresh fruits and vegetables, is key.

If none of this seems to be working for you…

You may need a prescription-strength steroid lotion, or even oral medications, both of which only a doctor can prescribe to you.

8. Pretreatments for Scalp Cysts

Cysts occur on organs, and since the skin is your body’s largest organ, it only makes sense that you will experience cysts on your skin at some point in life.

They are extremely common, easy to identify, and, in most cases, are absolutely no cause for concern.

What do they look like?

They are usually about the size of a marble or a grape, and are small sacs of skin that are filled with fluid. Most people first feel them when they run a brush or comb over the cyst.

Since cysts are no cause for concern, they can be left where they are. However, if they are bothering you, or are at risk of infection, surgical removal may be necessary.

Nevertheless, a new growth on your skin is something that should still be looked at by your doctor. Even though chances are low, some scalp cysts can turn out to be cancerous, so it is best to get a professional opinion.

6 different women as they age

How Your Skin Changes Through the Decades

It is common knowledge that your skin changes as you age, but do you know why this is?

From your 20s to your 70s, this guide will take you through the many changes that your skin will experience as you progress through life, while explaining exactly how you need to care for it.

In Your 20s

young woman smiling

As you leave your teens and move on into your 20s, your face will start to take on more of a mature, womanly look.

Why?

Because this is when you begin to lose your “baby fat”, and while this happens quite gradually, you will start to notice your face taking on more of a defined shape as you continue through your 20s. However, this loss of fat does also mean that your skin will start to be more susceptible to wrinkles and fine lines, and you may even notice a couple of fine lines in certain areas of your face, especially as you progress through your 20s.

If you used to suffer from teenage acne, you may notice this start to decline, with some people experiencing dry skin as they reach their 20s.

Sound like a blessing?

It may be for some, but this does mean that you need to quickly become acquainted with how to care for dry skin, as this is completely different than caring for teenage, acne-prone skin.

Your 20s is also when your body’s natural antioxidant production begins to decline, meaning that you need to begin supplementing these topically, as well as ensuring that you are consuming plenty through your diet.

Although you still have plenty of growing up to do when you are in your 20s, and will make many mistakes, which you will learn from, along the way, you need to keep your lifestyle choices in check if you want to prolong the youthfulness of your skin.

Did you know that heavy smoking, as well as worshipping the sun, can add around 20 years to the natural age of your skin?

This means that you need to be limiting everything from sun exposure to smoking to stress to excessive alcohol intake, all while maintaining a healthy diet and a regular exercise regime.

When it comes to anti-aging skin care routines, many people decide to adopt one in their mid to late 20s, as this is the ideal time to begin including anti-aging ingredients, such as retinol, into your skin care routine. You do not need to use this every day, and just once or twice a week should be sufficient.

In Your 30s

woman smiling outdoors

Your 30s are likely to be when you really begin to notice a few differences in your skin…

To begin with, this is when your production of collagen and elastin begin to decline.

Wondering why this is important?

Because collagen and elastin are the main structural proteins that give your skin its firmness, smoothness and elasticity, meaning that all of this will begin to decline from your 30s onwards.

If you have not yet started to use a retinol product, then now is the time to do so. Retinol and retinoids are forms of vitamin A, and have been proven to be the most effective anti-aging ingredient out there. In addition to doing several other wondrous things for your skin, retinol is able to increase your natural production of collagen and elastin.

This is also the time in life when sun damage has really started to accumulate, meaning that you may notice some dark sun spots appearing on your face, as well as your body.

dark spots on woman's cheeks

Dark spots, caused by sun overexposure, begin to show up in your 30s.

What can you do about this?

Well, to begin with, you need to increase the frequency at which you apply sunscreen, because sun exposure is only going to make these dark spots even worse, especially over time.

Did you know that up to 90% of premature facial aging is actually caused by the sun? This means that protecting your face from UV rays could really have a huge impact when it comes to the visible signs of aging that you experience. Studies have shown that those who use sunscreen are 24% less likely to show increased signs of aging, compared to those who do not wear sunscreen. 

Back to sun spots, here are a few other steps that you can take to clear them:

  • Use skin care products that contain plenty of antioxidants, such as vitamin C and green tea, both of which have been proven to help heal sun damaged skin 
  • Use a chemical or enzymatic exfoliant to help slough off the dead skin cells that contain the extra pigment
  • Use a brightening product, such as one containing hydroquinone or kojic acid, the latter of which is a natural brightening ingredient

The 30s are often a decade when people try to make healthier changes in their life, and this could really benefit your skin in later stages. Try to stick to a healthy diet, while making other positive lifestyle choices.

In Your 40s

woman smiling on sofa

If you have not made the best lifestyle choices throughout your life, then your 40s is when this will really begin to be reflected in your skin. For those who smoke, you will start to notice the fine lines around your mouth deepening quite a bit, whereas those who have experienced quite a bit of stress will notice visible furrows in their forehead.

There is still time to change this, whether this means actually quitting smoking or learning a few stress management skills.

One of the reasons why your skin is no longer able to really hold up to all of this is because your cell turnover rate will really start to slow down in your 40s.

Wondering what cell turnover is?

This is the process at which your body naturally sheds its dead skin cells, replacing them with fresh, new ones. Since your body will now not be able to shed these dead skin cells at the rate it used to, these will end up settling on the surface of your skin, contributing to a dull, lacklustre complexion.

Fortunately, stimulating your natural cell turnover process to speed back up is not too difficult…

Want to know the secret?

Exfoliation! Not only does this clear away the dead skin cells sitting on your skin, but it also helps to speed up the rate at which new skin cells travel up to the top layer of your skin.

exfoliation

Something else that will help is the use of a night cream. While your body is asleep, your cells work to heal and regenerate, and this is the time when many new skin cells are created. A quality night cream will contain the necessary ingredients to boost this process.

Retinol is another ingredient that can help with cell turnover, and if you have not already started using a retinol product, now is the time to do so. Take it slow to begin with, and then gradually build this up so that you are using it two to three times a week. 

In your 40s, you will also begin to go through some hormonal changes, and, in terms of your skin, this will cause dryness, and will also make your skin thinner. However, for some women, this can bring about acne flare-ups, which may require the use of benzoyl peroxide treatments to clear.

In Your 50s

woman taking a selfie

Due to a dramatic decrease in estrogen levels, your 50s is when you are likely to go through menopause, and this will have quite the impact on your skin.

Here are a few of the changes that you can expect to experience:

  • Oily skin and adult acne, due to the decreased levels of estrogen no longer able to mask the testosterone in the body
  • Facial hair, caused by the same as above
  • Sagging skin, because one of the roles that estrogen played was to evenly distribute fat cells around the body. Without estrogen, the face, neck, hands and arms end up lacking in supportive fat, resulting in sagging skin with a loss of mobility
  • Thinner skin, as the lack of estrogen means that blood flow slows down, resulting in less nutrients and oxygen delivered to the epidermis, which is the outer layer of your skin
  • More prone to sun damage, due to a decrease in the amount of protective melanin that your skin produces 

Since your skin will be thinner, using rich and thick moisturizers is absolutely essential. Moisturizers are designed to form a thin film over the surface of the skin, meaning that they will help to make up for your thinning epidermis.

You should also pay attention to the ingredients in the other skin care products that you use, especially items such as your cleanser. Make sure that these do not contain any drying ingredients, as these will only end up thinning out your skin even more. You need to be using products that hydrate the skin, as this will help to give it a plumper and brighter appearance.

You will hopefully already be using a retinol product, and, if you are only using this three or four times a week, it is time to increase this to five or six times a week.

In Your 60s

woman smiling in her home

Your skin in your 60s will really reflect the amount of care that you have given it in its earlier years.

For those who have not been treating their sun spots, these will significantly worsen now, and new ones will appear extremely quickly. As always, exfoliation can really help with this, so make sure you keep this up.

Your skin will be lacking in quite a bit of structure by now, due to the decline in collagen and elastin, but there is one way that you can add some definition back to your face.

The secret here is…

Face yoga! While this may sound slightly wacky, many have experienced natural face lifts thanks to face yoga. There are a number of exercises out there to try, as well as video tutorials for those who would like some step-by-step guidance. 

You could also try using skin care products that contain stem cells and growth factors, as this will help your body in producing new skin cells, since your natural skin cell production rate will have declined quite a bit.

While it may sound all doom and gloom, there is a positive side to entering your 60s when it comes to your skin…

Your hormones will have been fluctuating quite a bit over the past 20 years or so, but they will now have finally calmed down. This means that your skin will become much more stable, making it easier to identify and deal with any issues. However, this could also mean that you end up becoming sensitive to skin care products that you have been fine with all your life, so do keep this in mind if you experience any skin irritation.  

In Your 70s

woman smiling on sofa

If you haven’t already, you will likely begin to notice some of your wrinkles developing into even deeper folds as you progress through your 70s. This is due to a further loss of elasticity and plumpness in your skin, since no more estrogen is being produced.

It is important to continue on with an anti-aging skin care routine, as this will contain ingredients to help make these folds less severe.

Keep your skin hydrated as much as possible. If you seem to be applying layer after layer of moisturizer to no avail, try giving your face a spritz with some rose water first, and then applying the moisturizer to your damp skin. This will mean that the extra moisture gets trapped into your skin, helping to plump it up.

Reading about all of these skin care changes can be quite frightening, but, while a part of your aging process is down to genetics, the majority of it is actually related to your lifestyle. From your diet to your commitment to sun protection, by taking care of your skin from an early age, you will be able to maintain a healthy, youthful complexion for far longer.

woman eating yogurt

How Your Diet Affects Your Skin

The food that you eat has a direct impact on the health and appearance of your skin, meaning that a change in diet may be all you need to improve your complexion. From the foods that you should avoid to the way in which different types of diets will affect your skin, this guide will help you to nourish your skin with the foods that you eat.

Soda, Candy and Baked Treats

From sugar-topped cupcakes to tall glasses of fizzy soda, these sweet treats have quickly become a large part of the average person’s diet.

You probably already know that these are no good for your health, but do you know how they affect your skin?

These foods contain simple carbohydrates, such as refined sugars, and these raise insulin levels, which then creates inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation then begins to break down your collagen and elastin, which are the two proteins that give your skin its strength and suppleness. 

The sugar itself also attaches to important proteins within the body, resulting in everything from sagging skin to a dull complexion.

If all of that wasn’t bad enough, there’s more…

Sugar intake has been linked to acne breakouts, because the spike in insulin levels that they create also trigger an increase in oil production. There are several studies out there that show that those who consume a diet low in simple carbohydrates experience significantly less breakouts.

woman refusing cake from her friend

Salty Foods

Just like sugar, salt is another ingredient that has found its way into everyday meals and snacks, and while it may be great for intensifying the taste of certain foods, too much salt is really bad for your skin.

Wondering why?

Salt causes your skin to hold on to water, and not in a good way, meaning that you end up puffy and bloated rather than hydrated.

Even if you do not usually sprinkle extra salt over your meals, you should still check the ingredient lists of all of the foods that you buy, as you will likely be surprised at the amount of salt they contain.

Having a serious salt craving?

Try snacking on some raw nuts instead, as these will not only help to satisfy your cravings, but will also nourish your skin.

Dairy

Dairy products alter the way in which your body regulates testosterone and estrogen, two hormones that play a huge role in your complexion.

Dairy can also increase the levels of androgen within the blood, which then leads to excess oil production, resulting in breakouts.

However, this does not mean that you have to completely avoid dairy…

Moderation is key in this case, especially since dairy products are a great source of other nutrients. Try to stick to just one or two servings of dairy a day, and opt for raw dairy products, rather than processed, whenever possible.  

Is Caffeine Good or Bad?

There are two opposing schools of thought when it comes to whether or not caffeine is good for you, and there are studies to back both of these up.

On one hand, some believe that caffeine can cause dehydration, while also triggering the release of cortisol, which is the stress hormone, in the body. Cortisol is a hormone that is definitely not good for your skin, as it can lead to breakouts, and a breakdown in collagen. 

However, there are also multiple studies out there to back up the many health benefits that caffeine can have. These include:

  • The possibility of reducing chronic age-related inflammation
  • Could potentially prevent skin cancer
  • Protects against Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Boosts the memory
  • Increases stamina during exercise

However, the key here is to remember that everything should be in moderation. Excessive caffeine consumption will most likely lead to negative effects for both your overall health as well as your skin.

Skin-Boosting Foods

While there are some foods out there that can pretty much immediately cause a negative reaction in your skin, there are others that will quickly help to boost its health.

Antioxidants are really important when it comes to your skin, especially as you age. These are compounds that are able to neutralize free radicals within the body, which would have otherwise caused a breakdown in collagen and elastin, resulting in accelerated skin aging. Studies have shown that those who have higher levels of antioxidants in their skin enjoy a much smoother skin texture. 

antioxidants working against free radicals

So, where do antioxidants come from?

Colorful fruits and vegetables are a huge source of many different antioxidants. Generally, the darker and deeper the color of the fruit, the more antioxidants it will contain.

However, if you want to get more specific, these are some of the most beneficial antioxidant-filled foods out there, along with their rough antioxidant count per serving:

  • Wild Blueberries – 13,427 antioxidants, or Farmed Blueberries – 9019 antioxidants
  • Goji Berries – 25,000 antioxidants
  • Black plums – 4873 antioxidants, or Prunes – 7291 antioxidants
  • Red grapes – 2016 antioxidants, or Raisins – 2490 antioxidants
  • Pecans – 17,000 antioxidants
  • Artichokes – 9400 antioxidants
  • Kidney Beans – 8400 antioxidants

In addition to consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables, you should also be including a variety of nuts and seeds in your diet.

Why?

Nuts and seeds are a great source of healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which do everything from regulating oil production to hydrating the skin to preventing wrinkles.

Fatty fish is another great source of these fatty acids, and these include varieties such as salmon, mackerel and sardines. Fish is also high in protein, and since the building blocks of your skin are made from proteins, quality protein sources are important to maintain skin health. 

However, try to limit your intake of fish to two to three meals a week, as too much fish can also have negative health effects, due to the mercury and pollutants found in many of them.

Of course, there is still one extremely important part of your diet that has not yet been mentioned…

This is your fluid intake, because your skin cells, as well as the rest of your cells in your body, depend on water in order to survive and thrive.

Wondering how much water you should be drinking?

The general advice is eight glasses a day, but this could be more or less depending on everything from the climate you live in to the amount of exercise you do to your age and general health.

Need something a bit more flavorful than water?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Tea – black tea, as well as herbal teas, are just as hydrating as plain water
  • Fruit-infused water – try adding slices of fruit, such as citrus fruits and berries, to your water
  • Homemade fruit and vegetables juices – these still do need to be limited, as they can be high in sugar
  • Coconut water

fruit infused water

While some store-bought fruit juices can be good, the majority of these contain so much sugar. If you do tend to drink quite a lot of these, try diluting them with water, as this will help the juice to better hydrate your body.

How Your Skin Will React to Different Types of Diets

If you are already following a specific type of diet, or are thinking of doing so, it is important to understand how they can affect your skin:

  • A Vegetarian/Vegan Diet – Vegan and vegetarian diets are becoming increasingly common, largely due to the health benefits that they bring. By excluding animal products from the diet, most vegetarians and vegans tend to eat more fresh produce and whole grains, resulting in a higher intake of antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients.

    However, the fat intake of your diet should still be monitored, as your skin needs healthy fats to thrive, so make sure you are including plenty of oils and seeds in your diet.
  • High Protein/Low Carb – Many carbs out there, such as white bread and pasta, really damage the skin, so cutting these out of your diet is always a good plan, especially when they are replaced with whole grains and healthier sources of carbs.

    However, a high protein diet also tends to include a large amount of meat, and this can lead to an increase in free radicals within the body, accelerating the aging process. 
  • Low Fat – There are so many people out there who try to limit their fat intake as much as possible, and while consuming less saturated fat is always a good thing, your skin does need good fats in order to thrive.

    Why?

    Good fats help your body to absorb antioxidants and fat-soluble vitamins, while strengthening your cell membranes. So, while you should continue limiting your intake of animal fats, do not avoid the fats found in nuts and oils, as these will do so much good for your complexion.
  • A Raw Diet – As you would imagine, those who follow a raw diet eat foods that have not been cooked, while some do eat cooked foods as long as the temperatures have not risen above 118 degrees Fahrenheit. The main diet here would consist of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, sprouted grains and beans and, in some cases, raw eggs, meat, fish and unpasteurized dairy.

    While this diet does contain so many nutrients, since they have not been lost through the cooking process, it can cause a deficiency in vitamin B12, as well as an increased risk of foodborne illnesses due to the raw meats.

How to Eat Healthier

It is easy enough to read about how you should be improving your diet, but actually putting these intentions into action can be much more of a challenge.

To begin with, focus on the things that you should be eating, rather than the foods that you should not be eating. For example, when it comes to leafy greens, try to find some that you really enjoy. If you hate kale and cabbage, give spinach a try.

Begin by adding one extra fruit or vegetable serving into your diet each day, and slowly build this up. While fresh vegetables do often tend to be best, frozen vegetables can sometimes be quite beneficial too, as these are often frozen quickly after being harvested, meaning that they retain a large amount of nutrients.

If you tend to snack a lot throughout the day, try placing some healthy snacks, such as nuts or granola, around your home and office, and even in your car, so that you are less tempted to reach for junk food.

woman eating healthy granola bar in office

One effective way to cut back on snacking is by eating a breakfast that is high in protein, as this not only helps to keep you feeling full for longer, but will also slowly release energy throughout the day.

If you do not already plan out your meals for each week in advance, then this is something else that could really help you. All you need to do is set aside half an hour a week to plan your meals, before creating a shopping list. If you really wanted to go the extra mile, you could spend some time preparing a few ingredients in advance, such as chopping onions or mincing garlic, so that the hard work is already done when you need to cook a meal at the end of a long day.

For those who eat meat every day, you could consider having one meat-free day a week, as this will help to cut back on the unhealthy animal fats that you consume. Vegetables can make a great main course, and can be cooked in so many exciting ways, so try to spend more time experimenting with this.

It can often be much healthier, and more convenient, to stick to an unhealthy diet, but this will only have negative effects when it comes to your skin, as well as your overall health. If you have noticed that your complexion has been lacking lately, try paying some extra attention to your diet, as this could be an easy way to solve your skin problems.

Tips for Controlling Common Skin Conditions

Dr. William’s Pink Pills For Pale People,” “Dr.Scott’s Electric Corsets and Belts, “Dr. Ayer’s Pectoral Plaster,” “Dr. Watson’s Worm Syrup.” It seems like, since time immemorial, there have been people ready to cash in on the belief that “for every problem, there is a solution.” However, attractive as it the phrase may sound, unfortunately it is not always true, and skin conditions are no exception. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to make to make them better. Here is some expert advice on how you can handle some common skin conditions under control.

Under-eye bags

Under-Eye Bags
Under-eye bags are the result of fat that gathers in the lower eyelids, and become more prominent with age. According to Curology founder, David Lortscher, gravity, loss of collagen, and genetic factors are all responsible for the these pillow like protrusions, and the bad news is, they cannot be permanently eliminated and masks and eye creams usually don’t help. However, there are ways of minimizing the puffiness.

According to Lortsher, “proper head elevation during sleep, sleep itself, and decreased dietary ingestion of salt and alcohol are simple lifestyle changes that can help.” He adds, “Topical creams can also reduce swelling.” If more intense treatments are an option, the doctor allows that, “Surgical correction or blepharoplasty can lead to a semi-permanent solution. But, remember, with age and volume loss the under-eye bags can reappear.”

Melasma
Melasma is characterized by dark facial pigmentation. It is triggered by sun exposure, hormone treatments and pregnancy and may last for decades. While melasma research is still ongoing, topical treatments, such as the prescription medication Tri-Luma, are looming on the horizon and experts recommend sun avoidance and protection to keep the condition to a minimum.

Dermatologist checking skin

Stretch marks
Stretch marks appear when the tissue below your skin, called the dermis, tears after being stretched by rapid growth or weight gain. Lortscher explains that, “Stretch marks are difficult to treat because they are actually scars,” and, like most scars, may fade with time, but never fully disappear. But there is hope.

Lortscher says cosmetic fractionated layers offer the “best hope at improving the depressed and thinned texture of the skin and topical tretinoin may help to some extent through its collagen stimulating effect.”

Rosacea
Rosacea is the general term used to refer to the appearance of redness of the face, small, acne like bumps and dilated blood vessels. Rosacea affects the capillaries under the skin surface and, “As you might imagine,” Lortscher says, “there is no topical treatment that will remove these little blood vessels.”

Although rosacea is not completely curable, there are several ways to manage it. One way is to avoid triggers such as sun exposure, spicy foods, stress, and hot showers. Redness can also be decreased by using topical products containing metronidazole, tacrolimus, azelaic acid, and glycol acid.

Woman scratching her arm

Eczema
A catch all phrase applied to most skin inflammation, eczema can be caused by almost anything from stress to food allergies. Although not curable, eczema is easily controllable with topical antibiotics, emollients and steroids.

Keratosis Pilaris
About 50% of the population suffers from the genetic acne- like skin condition known as keratosis pillars. KP is usually found on the thighs and upper arms and consists of dry, rough bumps resulting from the accumulation of dead skin cells, and, as Lortscher says, is,”incurable and persistent, even with treatment.”

Thankfully, alpha hydroxy acids are helpful in sloughing off dead skin cells and allowing them to shed, so glycolic and lactic acids can be effective, as can coconut oil, although coconut oil should not be used on the face. More good news: the condition also tends to go away when the sufferer reaches his or her late 20’s or early 30’s.