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There's no doubt tea tree oil has become increasingly popular in beauty products all over the world. Consumers can find it in shampoos, conditioners, ointments, cleansers and even moisturizers. So, what is it about this wonder ingredient that's making it the latest buzz word?
What is it?
Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca, is a natural antibacterial disinfectant. For thousand of years, aboriginal tribes have used tea tree for healing skin cuts, burns and infections by crushing up the leaves and placing them on the affected area. Tea tree oil comes from Austrailia where over 300 species of tea trees naturally grow, although only one of these three hundred species actually produces the medicinal oil.
Tea tree oil is an essential oil extracted from a specific type of tea tree known as "Melaleuca Alternifolia." The oil is light yellow in color, has a scent similar to nutmeg and is made by steaming the tea tree leaves and then squeezing out -- or expressing -- the oil.
So, what makes it so good for you and why can it heal wounds?
Here's the deal: Tea tree oil contains constituents called terpenoids. Terpenoids have been found to have antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. Tea tree oil is known to effectively fight a number of infections that are resistant to some antibiotics; making it an excellent natural remedy for hundreds of bacterial and fungal skin ailments such as :
-rashes and other minor wounds/irritations.
In fact, a 1990 study by the Department of Dermatology, published in the Medical Journal of Australia found tea tree oil to be as effective in treating acne as benzoyl peroxide, but without the negative side effects of redness and peeling. Furthermore, the Australian Army includes tea tree oil in soldiers' first aid kits believing in its great healing power. It's important to note that as with many other essential oils, tea tree should be used diluted with a carrier oil such as almond, and, as with many other products, it's a good idea to check in with a professional to make sure that you're using this product correctly.
So, next time you're looking for a good, pure way to calm down irritated skin or even help out with your acne--look for products that contain tea tree oil and watch your skin heal itself naturally.
Like many women in their late twenties, I have found myself becoming more interested in being healthy and learning how to take good care of myself. With this in mind (and taking Reisa's advice!), I am cultivating the habit of reading ingredient labels and making sure I take note of exactly what I am putting into -- or onto my body. While this is so important with our food, it is equally as important with skin care products, since whatever you put onto your face or body gets absorbed directly into your skin. Knowing this, I want to do my body good and make sure I am putting in only the best ingredients!
During my research, I found that grape seed oil was a very common ingredient in many skin and body care products-- and when I checked the face wash and moisturizer that I was already using, it was there too! I decided to learn why. What exactly is grape seed oil and is it beneficial to use on my skin?
What is grape seed oil? The basics:
Grape seed oil is one of the lightest body care oils. It is a nutrient rich oil derived from-you guessed it- grape seeds. The oil itself is made by cold pressing the grapes after they have already been used to make wine.
What makes grape seed oil good for your skin?
This oil is very rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins and antioxidants. The antioxidants in grape seed oil are known as PCO's (procyanidolic oligomers) which are known for their health giving properties and are more powerful than BOTH Vitamin C and E.
We all know that antioxidants are great for our our bodies and our skin, and due to grape seed oil's high antioxidant count, it combats the free radicals in the environment that cause damage and premature aging of the skin. It also stops some of enzymes that destroy collagen, elastin and other connective tissues.
The antioxidant proanthocyanidin found in grape seed oil provides anti-inflammatory protection and helps maintain healthy collagen. Collagen is the structural protein found in tissues and is essential for maintaining healthy skin. As we age, we produce less collagen and our skin begins to sag. Hence why using products which contain grape seed oil would be beneficial to maintain a healthy and youthful appearance. Grape seed oil also contains polyphenols-which are what we need when it comes to looking younger. Polyphenols help slow the process of aging.
In addition to fighting free radicals, grape seed oil can also lessen allergic reactions on the skin. Unlike other oils, which may tend to sit on top of the skin and leave a greasy film, grape seed oil penetrates the easily and quickly; therefore, it doesn't readily clog pores. Due to these properties, grape seed oil can often be found in skin care products used to help acne.
For those of us who have a hard time with scents, grape seed oil has almost no odor and is non irritating. For these reasons, grape seed oil is commonly added to many hypoallergenic products. Since it doesn't have a scent, it doesn't need to have other scents added to cover. The flavanoids contained in grape seed oil inhibit allergic reactions in skin and may even be able to help with eczema or psoriasis.
A 2010 study by the International Journal of Medical Science found that the flavanoids resveratrol and anthocyannis in grape seeds are phytonutrients (nutrients from plants) which, when ingested provide anti-inflammatory, anti-aging and anti-microbial properties.
Grape seed oil also contains a high amount of linoleic acid-a fatty acid essential for the health of skin and cell membranes. Linoleic acid has also been linked to being anti-inflammatory, acne reductive and moisture retentive.
Wow! See all the things you can learn by picking one ingredient in your beauty care products and doing a little research? Grape seed oil is a wonderful ingredient to be using on my skin. It can help me look younger, fight free radicals, and even protect my collagen and reduce acne. With all these benefits, why wouldn't you pick a product that contains grape seed oil?
Like me, as the seasons change, you may notice changes in your skin's tone and pigmentation. More often than not, when my golden tan from summer fades, I notice certain spots on my skin that stick around. What's up with that?
Well, the answer is simple: hyper-pigmentation. Those "sun spots" that just won't go away? That's also known as hyper-pigmentation.
So, what is hyper-pigmentation anyway?
It is a usually harmless condition where patches of skin can become darker in color than the other "normal" colored surrounding skin. This occurs when an excess amount of melanin is produced.
Huh? What's melanin?
Melanin is a class of pigment responsible for producing color in our bodies. Think: hair, skin and eyes.
Now, let's talk about the melanocytes. These are melanin producing cells located in the bottom layer of the epidermis. Melanocytes are the reason our skin changes color for good or bad, better or worse. When these melanocytes get damaged, they lose their ability to function normally, which results in the hyper-pigmentation of our skin.
Causes of hyper-pigmentation include: unprotected sun exposure, certain medications, hormonal changes, past acne problems, inflammation and other skin injuries.
Symptoms of hyper-pigmentation include : leathery skin texture, dry or rough skin, uneven skin tone and dark spots.
When the remains of inflamed acne scars or lesions are visible, this is something called PIH (Post Inflammatory Hyper-pigmentation). The more inflamed the breakout, the larger and darker the PIH can be. Picking at or popping your pimples (as tempting as that may be) can also lead to PIH. Acne scars are the indentations or protrusions left behind on our skin by acne, while acne marks are flat red or brown dots left behind by pimples. Either way-dont pick, pop or scrape at your skin. If you do, you are welcoming higher chances for post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation.
The good news?
We can in fact lighten these spots on our body with the use of products such as hydroquinone, retinoids and antioxidants. I had never heard of these remedies before so I decided to do some research.
Hydroquinone-this is a skin lightener that has actually been banned in Europe and Asia because of all the cancerous risks associated with it. (No thanks!) However, it is still available in the US, but only by prescription. Here at Living Well, we don't like to use products that contain questionable ingredients. So, let's move on!
Retinoids-these can be topical or oral products. They are chemically related to Vitamin A and help with acne, anti-aging and hyper-pigmentation. Retinoids help get rid of dead skin cells at a "normal" rate so the dead skin cells do not bind together and clog your pores.
Antioxidants-these are molecules that inhibit the oxidation of other molecules. For example Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants in skin care. It slows down the aging process and prevents free radical damage. Also, with long term use, it can regenerate collagen, improve the appearance of wrinkles, lighten skins pigmentation and even brighten all over skin tone. If applied topically it can also provide a small amount of UV protection. Vitamin C is one of Reisa's favorite ingredients - and she even has Vitamin C facial!
So, there you have it. Hyper-pigmentation is treatable, so you can work to restore an even skin tone and lessen those acne marks or scarring. For more information, please contact Reisa at Living Well. As a certified aestheticism she can diagnose and treat your hyper-pigmentation skin problems!
With proper application, lash extensions are a wonderful, natural looking, affordable and easy to-wear addition to your life; however when applied improperly or with low grade materials, they can create big, painful problems. Want to know how to avoid getting into a sticky mess? Read on!
As the word of the wonder of lash extensions has spread, many women are choosing to have them applied. And, as it is with any service, some practitioners are skilled and unfortunately others are not.
I became certified in lash extension application in 2006 after seeing a practical demonstration at a show in Philly, and have been doing them ever since. I have been an independent trainer for years, helping other licensed* professionals learn application procedures. (*In New York State, lash extensionists must be Licensed as a Nurse, Aesthetician or Cosmetologist to perform the service.)
From the standpoint of application, lash extensions are a difficult service to perform - as you can imagine when you think about constructing a set of eyelashes one by-one using a surgical type adhesive - and yet, they are incredibly beautiful when applied well.
Although extremely popular among the rich and famous, lash extensions have taken some time to reach the general public. In my opinion, this is because many women may not want to advertise that they're wearing lash extensions and also that when people see you with them on, they will most likely not notice the extensions but will notice that you look well and say things like, "You look rested."
As the popularity of this service grows, I find myself treating victims of lash botch jobs. These problems are mainly due to poor application like the use of too much adhesive causing natural lashes to stick together that can ultimately have an adverse affect on the natural lash, or poor quality product like low grade lashes, and/or adhesive that is rough and irritating to the eye. Poor application can result in the lashes being too heavy for your natural lash, causing drooping, pulling, and poking of the loose lashes into the tender skin of the lid.
But there are other, stranger problems. Just last week, I treated a lovely woman who had had lashes applied at a nail salon. A nail salon? Since Licensed Nail Specialists may not legally perform lash extension application, it is dubious as to whether the practitioner(s) of this establishment is licensed/trained/certified to put on eyelash extensions.
This problem application included not only an 1/8 inch layer of some kind of adhesive which was almost impossible to remove, but also the use of rows upon rows of knotted flares to create the lash set. People - listen up! This technique (if you can call it that!) is not a lash extension application! Lash extentions are applied one lash to one lash.
Lash extensions are not the same as false eyelash strips. False eyelashes are meant to be applied to the skin above the lash at the lash line - not on the lashes themselves! - with a rubbery glue made for false eyelashes. They are not meant to be applied to the natural lash with a semi-permanent glue where they will gather dirt, dust and other debris. Lash extensions are applied to the lash with a surgical type, semi-permanent adhesive.
My client was in a lot of pain and luckily, I was able to safely and gently remove all the lash clumps without hurting or breaking her own lashes. After a short break, I applied a fresh, new set of single, high quality lash extensions and she was thrilled.
Just yesterday, I saw yet another client who, I suspect, had gone to the same place. After struggling for a day with the same problems as my other clients, she returned to the shop to have the lash botch job removed. In the process, they pulled out many of her own lashes. I would not recommend going back to a place that had done a poor job. Go somewhere else! When I mentioned this, my new client said that she had called other places to have them removed and that none of those establishments were willing to help her, which is really sad to hear. She said that she wished she had found me sooner!
Unfortunately, not all practitioners are skilled, trained, have integrity and, in some cases may not have the proper licensure to perform the services that they offer. It's uber important for you, the consumer, to ensure your safety.
Please keep in mind that you are working around your eyes! We don't want to be fooling around. Proper sanitation, quality product and certified training are of the utmost importance.
The cost should be appropriate and within range of all other places in the specific area! If it's too inexpensive - there's a reason!
So, how do you avoid having a sticky mess? Here are some suggestions:
1. Check out the establishment by searching the web, and set up a time to go to there to see their work.
2. Do some research about the practitioner and ask questions like how many years the extentionist has been practicing lash extensions.
3. Ask for references.
4. Research the cost in your area.
5. Stay away from "deals" or prices that are too low. High quality extensions and adhesives are expensive and experienced lash artists expect to be paid for their expertise AND expert extensionists will be quite busy with happy customers!
6. Ask around and get a recommendation from someone you know whose lashes you like!
Questions? Feel free to ask me anytime online here, or email or call!
Why Do Women Crave Chocolate?
Chocolate lovers unite! An update on the power of chocolate is here! More studies are coming together to support this previously tagged "villain of indulgence" into a healthy supplement recommended by various professionals! Could it be that women knew this well-known secret intuitively for ages?
Chocolate and heart health:
An abstract from BMJ evaluated 4576 references, with seven studies meeting involving 114, 009 participants meeting inclusion data. The analysis included two independent analyzers and a third to reach consensus. Based on the studies analyzed, the researchers concluded that levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a reduction in the risk of cardiometabolic disorders.
Another summary in the journal Circulation supported the above metanalysis giving specific cardiometabolic measures that chocolate seemed to attenuate. Remember if it's good for your heart, it will also affect inflammation and blood sugar- the power triad in health! According to Circulation:
Indeed, recent research demonstrates a beneficial effect of cocoa on blood pressure, insulin resistance, and vascular and platelet function. Although still debated, a range of potential mechanisms through which cocoa might exert its benefits on cardiovascular health have been proposed, including activation of nitric oxide and antioxidant and antiinflammatory effects. This review summarizes the available data on the cardiovascular effects of cocoa, outlines potential mechanisms involved in the response to cocoa, and highlights the potential clinical implications associated with its consumption.
The mechanism behind these heart benefits may be due the flavonoid antioxidants that dark chocolate contains. Antioxidants are powerful compounds that exist in foods, nutrients, vitamins, minerals, supplements, and plants which help disrupt excess free radicals from creating damage to your body. We naturally need some free radicals to help with the balance of breakdown and building in our body, but most people have an excess of inflammation and oxidative stress due to modern day living. According to an article in ScienceDaily:
Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are antioxidants. Antioxidants have positive effects on many different body systems including the cardiovascular system. The high concentration of cocoa in dark chocolate appears to be what offers the flavonoid benefit.
"Dark chocolate has been shown to be associated with lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar levels and improvement in the way your blood vessels dilate and relax," Damp said. Further study is needed to know exactly which type of chocolate and how much of it is the most beneficial, but studies have shown that people who eat chocolate more than once a week have lower risks of heart disease and stroke compare to people who eat it less frequently. "Fat and calorie content of chocolate also needs to be taken into consideration and kept consistent with a healthy, balanced diet," Damp said.
Chocolate and the Brain
According to Brain Neurologist, Daniel Amen, MD:
What is good for your heart is good for your brain, so pay attention to this study. Although it didn't differentiate between dark chocolate and milk chocolate, I can tell you that dark chocolate contains more brain-friendly antioxidants than milk chocolate.
In a study reported by VitalChoice, a UEA team conducted a yearlong trial including 93 postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes. Half of women were given two small placebo chocolate bars daily (poor things) and the other half were given the flavonoid-rick dark chocolate bars. The women continued their regular medications during the trial and 10 year follow up. The good news:
The women in the test chocolate group were 3.4 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack in the next decade. This may sound like a small impact, but it would be considered a very substantial preventive effect for any "dietary intervention". Better yet, their insulin resistance and cholesterol levels were significantly lower than the control (placebo chocolate) group. As Dr. Cassidy said, "These results are significant from a public health perspective because they provide further concrete evidence that diet has a beneficial clinical effect over and above conventional drug treatment." (UEA 2012)
Another study showed the brain boosting of chocolate. The evaluation of chocolate, wine, and tea was studied in relationship cognitive performance amongst 2031 participants, 51% women. The results showed a positive association between all three foods and cognitive performance, in a dose dependent matter!
Stress and Chocolate
Is it the naturally occurring magnesium that calms the brain, the arginine and and other amino acid profile that can build mood supporting neurotransmitters, or the dilatory effects of the theobromine content that bring oxygen to our brain, that explain why chocolate may calm our stressers? It's not conclusive, but the fact that chocolate helps mood can be unscientifically validated by any woman. Now, research is echoing our drive for chocolate:
The "chocolate cure" for emotional stress is getting new support from a clinical trial published online in ACS' Journal of Proteome Research. It found that eating about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day for two weeks reduced levels of stress hormones in the bodies of people feeling highly stressed. Everyone's favorite treat also partially corrected other stress-related biochemical imbalances.
A Cautionary Word
All these positive effects of chocolate! Still, don't go too crazy on processed milk chocolate bars! The studies are all using dark, unprocessed cocoa that has high flavonoid content. Milk chocolate does not contain the beneficial content of these flavonoids and can be full of ingredients that many are sensitive to, such as milk, sugar, and gluten.
Remember to also check out my latest blog at www.dr-lobisco.com!
Yes, that innocuous and popular crimping tool, the eyelash curler, can be dangerous to your lashes.
As a New York State Licensed Aesthetician, I have been applying lash extensions for women in Saratoga Springs, Ballston Spa and the surrounding towns for about five years. As such, I have seen many sets of eyelashes. One thing has become quite apparent - women who have used traditional eyelash curlers are unknowingly harming their own, natural lashes.
What I see are lashes that have been broken and no longer have their tips. The natural shape of an eyelash tapers to a point, whereas these lashes are blunt. I liken it to folding paper over and over again, which results in a weakened fold in the paper where it will eventually tear. I believe this is the same with lash curlers and eyelashes, where the user inadvertently folds the natural lash in approximately the same place over and over again on a daily basis.
Fortunately, there are other options. There is a new type of eyelash curler on the market; one that has coils, which are gently heated by a battery. You press the curler against the lashes, lifting and warming them upwards. It may not be as dramatic a curl as that which is produced by the traditional eyelash curler, but it is much gentler and does not promote lash breakage.
Eyelash extensions are another way to enhance your own lashes with curl, thickness and length and can be applied in a way that is natural or dramatic, depending upon your personal likes. With extensions, you do not need to wear mascara at all.
I ask clients to be gentle when removing eye liner, shadow and mascara as rough handling of our lashes can cause breakage too. It is also important to remove eye makeup thoroughly as bacteria can proliferate and cause infections between lashes where makeup is lodged.
Lashes frame the eyes and make a tremendous difference in our appearance. Women are consistently amazed at the effect that having thick, lovely eyelashes creates.
Please feel free to contact me with questions about lashes, eyelash curlers or eyelash extensions!
It's no secret that most of us want to remain youthful. In order to do so, we make changes to our lifestyle to accommodate health and vigor with exercise, healthful diet, proper rest and maintaining the health and beauty of our facial skin.
As a busy aesthetician who sees clients from Ballston Spa, Saratoga Springs, Glens Falls, Malta and surrounding towns, I see a lot of skin, and one of the main concerns of those clients is stemming the flow of time.
So, here are a few of my suggestions:
Good home care amounts to about 40% of your skin care needs. I recommend using product that is natural or organic to minimize the amount of inflammation and harmful ingredients. Good home care will exfoliate, stimulate new cell, collagen and elastin growth, and add much needed moisture. And serums, like vitamin C, are excellent. Retinols work well to slough off that dead skin too! But remember, for everything there is a season... and over exfoliation can be harmful during times when your skin is exposed to a lot of sun.
And speaking of our good 'ol sol, remember to use sunscreen as sun damage is responsible for about 85% of the signs of skin's aging!
Good eating and drinking habits will also help your skin to look its best. That means leafy green and colorful fruits and veggies along with plenty of water. These days, I rarely drink soda and have substituted bubbly waters with a touch of juice for flavor.
Professional skin care, like having facials, comprises 60% of excellent healthy skin care. How often? Well, for those who are conscientious, every 4 - 8 weeks. One great benefit is that by having professional care, your skin care specialist can recommend products designed for your skin type saving you time, money and the problems associated with using improper, inefficient and possibly harmful products. Deeper solutions to problems associated with aging, like wrinkling, sun damage, skin discoloration, loss of elasticity and plumpness, can be achieved with peels, microdermabrasion and laser treatments.
Eyelash extensions can add lift and oomph, framing the eye and creating abundance and length to the natural lash. They are safe to wear and clients say that they look and feel years younger. An added benefit is that they save time since you will most likely not need to apply mascara.
Adding or updating your makeup can help as well. Mineral makeup foundation, which usually contains some sun screening properties, helps to correct and even out skin tone and comes in liquid, pressed and loose powder. I like to use a cream blush for a dewy, youthful appearance. Concealer, used carefully, works wonders under the eyes and to reduce redness or patchiness in skin tone - again, creating a more youthful look.
Overall, there are a lot of tools we can use to achieve a healthy, lasting glow!
Finding the right product for your skin can be boiled down to one word: ingredients.
Drugstores, supermarkets, department stores, specialty stores or spas: one thing they have in common is that they all sell skin care products. So, what's your best bet and why?
In Part I, we boiled good skin care down to the necessities and answered the question, "What product do I need?" But, as home care is only 40% of the equation, let's move on and discover what is the basic treatment must have.
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As a New York State Licensed Aesthetician, New York State Licensed Nail Specialist, and the Director of Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa, Reisa combines her love of spa services and healing arts to achieve optimum skin and nail health, create greater overall wellness and bring forth our optimal, individual beauty.
"I believe that the day spa should be an instant getaway; a place that is quiet without being stuffy, relaxed, elegant and yet entirely comfy. You should feel warm and welcome, surrounded by people who care about you and what they are doing. This is the environment we strive to create at Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa. Here, you are never just the "next" number; we allow ample time for your services, offer a flexible schedule and can be reached after hours. After all, to me, spa craft is not really a business, it's a lifestyle."