Archive for Beauty Talk and Tips

Why Your Skin Needs Carotenoids

Carotenoids are good antioxidants for the skin and are found in a number of plants. They are  yellow, orange, or red colored, fat-soluble pigments that give color to plants including autumn leaves. There are over 700 different carotenoids identified by chemists. Plants use these molecules to help absorb light that is then used for photosynthesis as well as for antioxidants.

You may have been hearing since you were a child to eat your carrots so you can see better.  Lutein and the two zeaxanthin isomers are actually part of the retina of the eye where they protect the retina,  help prevent macular degeneration, and enhance vision.

Vitamin A is important for skin as it assists in the regeneration of tissue, preventing the degeneration of the epidermis. Sunlight causes damage to the skin and carotenes can help protect the skin against this damage. Carotenoids can stimulate collagen and elastin in the skin to increase its density, elasticity and firmness. In addition carotenoids can repair and regenerate these protein fibers after damage by UV light. Carotenoids help stimulate epidermal regeneration helping to soften and smooth skin. They also reduce water loss so help hydrate. Carotenoids can help reduce skin pigmentation by decreasing the size of melanocytes and melanin levels.  Thus addressing hyperpigmentation caused by UV radiation, hormones or even acne.

Overall, carotenoids can help protect skin against premature aging caused by UV exposure.  Some types of carotenoids can actually absorb UV light thus protecting skin against burning. All this makes carotenoids a powerful anti-aging and skin repair ingredient in cosmetics.

Two broad classifications of carotenoids are carotenes (orange)  and xanthophylls (yellow). But they can also be classified as compounds that can be transformed by the body to create vitamin A (retinol) or those that do not. Provitamin A carotenoids include alpha-carotene, beta carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin.  Other carotenoids such as lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene are not transformed into vitamin A but have other important roles.

We use herbs that are rich in carotenoids in our products including calendula. Over 19 different carotenoids have been identified in calendula including lycopene, gamma carotene, flavoxanthin, lutein, and beta carotene. This may explain why calendula has such a history of use in skin care. You’ll find calendula extract in our Springtide Face Creams, Mountain Mist Hand and Body Lotion, Sole Pleasure Foot Butter and Knuckle Balm. Another herb rich in carotenoids is parsley. You’ll find this in our Parsley Eye Serum.

Calendula Basket

Smoking, lack of sleep, alcohol consumption, illness, UV light and infrared radiation (heat) all decrease the levels of carotenoids in the skin.  Studies have shown that skin that is high in carotenoids looks considerable younger than skin depleted in carotenoids.  Skin benefits from both topical and oral carotenoids.

How to Revive Skin After Being Outdoors

For most of us, living in Colorado (and elsewhere) means an active, outdoor lifestyle.  But exposure to the elements takes a toll on skin causing redness, irritation, dry skin, hyperpigmentation and wrinkling. All of this results in premature aging.  But don’t let these skin problems keep you from enjoying a healthy outdoor lifestyle. There are many reasons to enjoy the outdoors, be it summer or winter, and Colorado Aromatics skin care can help enhance your healthy, outdoor lifestyle.

 

You wear a sunscreen, but what can you do to revive your skin after being outdoors?

Cleanse. Be sure to use a cleanser to remove sweat from your face. Follow this with a  pH balanced face mister to help restore and recover your skin’s natural pH. Colorado Aromatics makes both Meadow Mist milky cleanser and Yarrow oil cleanser. And you’ll love our aromatic Face and Body misters distilled from herbs (including lavender) that we grow on our Certified Naturally Grown farm.

Use Antioxidants. Antioxidants are important for repairing skin damage caused by the sun. Besides eating a diet rich in antioxidants, use skin care products that are rich in antioxidants. Colorado Aromatics uses herbs that are rich in complex antioxidant polyphenols to help repair skin damage.

Use Mild Exfoliation. Mild exfoliation can help brighten skin by removing the outer layer of dead skin cells and pigmentation. This can help your moisturizer work better by improving its penetration. It can also help reduce hyperpigmentation and that leathery appearance caused by too much sun. Too much exfoliation, however, can damage the skin barrier function and lead to redness and inflammation (so go easy).

Hydrate. Moisture must reach the skin from both the inside and outside. Drinking water is vital to staying hydrated. Use a good moisturizer topically such as Springtide Face Cream to moisturize from the outside and keep the epithelium moist. A good moisturizer is a balance of water and oil to both hydrate and hold that water to your skin and protect the barrier function of your skin.

And don’t forget your neck, chest and hands; they are exposed to the elements as well.

Being outdoors helps us regenerate and relax. Don’t let your skin care concerns keep you from enjoying the outdoors.  Good skin care is not a luxury but something to consider on a daily basis. Colorado Aromatics Cultivated Skin Care products are formulated by a biochemist and herbalist who understands skin physiology.

Should I use Coconut Oil on my Face?

Using coconut Oil on the face seems to be a ‘fad’ right now. We often get customers and clients who ask about its use. I do not recommend that people use just coconut oil on their face for several reasons.

coconuts

Coconut oil consists of triglycerides that are mainly composed of short and medium chain fatty acids such as lauric acid. Lauric acid has 12 carbons. There is nothing innately wrong with lauric acid and it has benefits for the skin, but your skin needs so much more than JUST lauric acid.

An important part of the skin barrier function is the matrix of lipids (including fatty acids) found in the stratum corneum (outer layer of the epidermis).  The skin barrier functions to protect the skin from water loss, and to protect the body from the outer environment.   Linoleic acid, an 18 carbon fatty acid found in olive oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil and rice bran oil is an important component of the skin barrier system and has been found to help relieve dry skin. Palmitoleic acid found in macadamia nut oil has 16 carbons. It too plays an important part in the integrity of skin. A variety of longer chain fatty acids that are not found in coconut oil are crucial for the the integrity of the skin.

Coconut oil does not provide moisture to the skin as some people think.  Moisture means water. An oil alone, such as coconut, can help trap water in the skin but it cannot add water or moisture to the skin. Only water can do that. A good moisturizer is the perfect combination of water to hydrate and oil to help moisture stay in the skin – but you need both.

Coconut oil has fewer sterols and phenolics that act as antioxidants, compared to other oils such as sunflower and rice bran oil.

Coconut oil also has a lower level of vitamin e (tocopherols) compared to other oils.

Coconut oil is considered comodegenic. This means that it clogs pores and makes it particularly harmful for acneic skin but can cause any skin type to become congested.

Just as we are encouraged by nutritionists to eat a wide variety of foods for proper nutrition and functioning of our body in whole, it is just as important to give a variety of nutrients to our skin. This can be done by using a product that contains a variety of different plant based oils as well as added nutrients.

We of course recommend Springtide Face cream with rice bran oil, olive oil, raspberry seed oil and meadowfoam oils. Or if you prefer an all oil product, try Parsley Eye Serum with olive oil, sea buckthorn oil and Macadamia nut oil. This way you are getting a variety of fatty acids, as well as added antioxidants delivered to your skin.

 

Why Should I Use an Oil Cleanser?

Great question.   Although opposites may attract in most cases, this is not one of them.  Oil will actually attract oil.

What does this mean?  Ingredients like Grapeseed Oil, Olive Oil and Jojoba Oil used in our oil cleanser will attract the oil and junk on your skin and break it down for removal from your face, without stripping the skin. Herbs help contribute antioxidants and cleansing activity. You can use our Yarrow oil cleanser alone or use a two step cleansing method and follow with our Meadow Mist milky cleanser.

Really?  Really.

Yarrow Video

 

Decollete Skin Care

Do you take care of your Decollete? Do you know what it is? Decollete is a French term given to the upper chest, neck, cleavage and shoulder areas. It is one of the first places on a woman to show age and so should be cared for in a similar way as we care for our faces.  If you spend much time outside, this area is often exposed to sun too but we tend to not pay so much attention to putting sunscreen here.  The Decollete is prone to hyperpigmentation and degradation of collagen that occurs due to exposure to UV light.

decolette

There are important physiological differences between the face and decollete.  Skin on the face contains more sebaceous or oil glands that help lubricate and protect skin moisture. The skin on the neck and chest is thinner and has less adipose tissue.  The dermis also quickly thins in the chest area. Together this means the chest is more prone to dry skin and ultimately results in a sagging, crepe – like appearance. Melanocyte activity also results in hyperpigmentation spots.  Erythema (redness) and telangiectasias are also common. Telangiectasias are dilated blood vessels or spider veins.  A common formation of wrinkles on the neck are those that occur in horizontal lines across the neck and are known as ‘necklace’ wrinkles.

Another condition found on the neck and chest is Poikiloderma of Civatte (PC). This refers to a combination of hyperpigmentation and dilated blood vessels that occur on the sides of the neck but avoids the front of the neck or throat area.  It causes a mottled appearance to the skin. This condition is related to sun exposure but also to cosmetics or perfumes that are worn in that area of the neck. It is also related to hormones and increases with menopause.

So how do we care for the decollete?

Be sure to apply your sunscreen to the neck and chest area as well as your face.

Remember to always moisturize your decollete area and massage the moisturizer into the skin.

Focus on ingredients in moisturizers that address firmness and elasticity – hyaluronic acid, palmitoyl tripeptide-5, vitamin A, vitamin C.

Focus on ingredients that address hyperpigmentation and redness – vitamin C, kojic acid, lactic acid (fruit extracts), green tea, algae, niacinamide. This may mean using a mask several times a week in this area as  you would on your face.

Products that we recommend for this area are Springtide Gold Face Cream, Razz Tightening Serum, Starbright Mask and Oasis Spray Lotion. Its not too late to care for your decollete! So go ahead and wear that great low cut dress and a necklace or earrings that draw attention! Realize your skin!

Enjoy the Harvest Facial Mask

One way to enjoy the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables at this time of year is to use overripe produce in a facial mask. Just about any type of fruit or vegetable can be used and they are all packed with goodness for the skin including antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents.

Here are three fruits/vegetables easily found at farmers market this time of year that you can try:

watermelon

Watermelon contains vitamin C, vitamin A and pantothenic acid among other nutrients. Eating watermelon is a great way to get those skin benefits, but you can also make a face mask and apply the watermelon directly to the skin.

Peaches are rich sources of alpha hydroxy acids for exfoliation, vitamin A related compounds that include beta carotene, zeaxanthin, lycopene and lutein to support skin cell regeneration and vitamin C to support collagen in the skin giving it more structure and reduce wrinkles as well as to help fade sun spots.  Peaches also contain vitamin K to help fade dark circles under the eyes and vitamin B to help skin maintain moisture and decrease redness.

Even that zucchini that you can’t seem to get rid of is high in vitamin C, vitamin B-6, vitamin K, vitamin A, copper and magnesium – all good nutrients for skin.  Zucchini also contains anti-inflammatory polysaccharides like homogalacturonan to sooth skin.

When choosing produce for a facial you can use overripe and bruised produce, save the very best for snacking.

To make a facial from your produce, cut a piece about 1/2 the size of your palm. How much you need is really dependent upon how juicy the fruit is. Place this in a small blender and add about a teaspoon of facial clay. Mix well. Check to see if the consistency is good for spreading. If not ajust accordingly. If it is good, apply to the face in smooth strokes. Sit back for 10 minutes or so and enjoy a fruit snack! Rinse off with warm water and enjoy how smooth your skin feels.

You can get your herbal clay mask base here.

Herbal Clay Mask

For more information about using farmers market produce on your skin see these posts

Peach Facial

Kale Facial Mask

Radish Vinegar Hair Rinse or Foot Soak

 

Why Antioxidant Rich Skin Care?

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are compounds that bind to free oxygen radicals preventing them from damaging healthy cells.

What do free radicals do?

Free Radicals are unstable and cause oxidative damage to DNA, lipids, and proteins in the cells as well as damage to cellular structures including membranes.

Free radicals increase the rate of cellular aging and cause cell death. Free radicals also cause additional free radicals in a cascade like fashion.

Free radicals result in inflammation.

An excess amount of free radicals is called oxidative stress.

rosemary

Rosemary is rich in antioxidants

 

Where do free radicals come from?

Free radicals can come from intrinsic sources meaning inside the body and extrinsic sources meaning outside the body. They are formed naturally by the body through metabolism and increase with increased exercise. Most of the time the body can handle this, but when external factors come into play the stressful environment is more than the bodies natural defenses against free radicals can handle and oxidative stress occurs.

Extrinsic free radicals come from UV light, cigarettes, and pollution. People who spend a lot of time outdoors are exposed to many sources of free radicals.

The skin is particularly subjected to free radical damage because it is constantly exposed to the environment and works to protect the rest of the body. Although getting enough antioxidants in your diet is important for health, it is also necessary to apply them topically so that they benefit the outer layers of skin, the stratum corneum. Skin must constantly be repaired to combat oxidative damage and requires the necessary nutrients and antioxidants to perform this regeneration.

Antioxidants and Regeneration

Oxidative stress leads to accelerated aging of the skin by breaking down proteins including collagen and elastin which leads to wrinkles. Premature aging also decreases the skin’s immunity which can lead to increased risk of infection as well as cancer.

Antioxidants that are made by the body include glutathione, lipoic acid, and CoQ10. Levels of these antioxidants decline with age. Vitamins C and E are not produced by the body and must be obtained from the diet or applied topically to the skin.

Vitamin C content in the skin decreases with age, another reason to look for vitamin C in your skin care. Exposure to UV light, pollutants, cigarette smoke and ozone can also lower vitamin C content, primarily in the epidermis.

Antioxidants to look for in skin care include vitamin C, vitamin E (also known as tocopherols), alpha lipoic acid, green tea extract, and flavonoids. Flavonoids as such will not appear on the label, but are abundant in herb extracts such as calendula, rosemary, parsley, lemon balm, mint and raspberry leaf.

When applied topically, these antioxidants act in the epidermis to help revitalize skin that has been exposed to extrinsic oxidants including UV light (sunlight), elevation, wind and more. For people who love to be outside using antioxidants to combat this is very important. Damage to the epidermis can lead to more severe problems including a break down of the skin’s barrier function. The barrier function not only helps to keep skin moisturized but also helps to keep toxins out of the body.

At Colorado Aromatics we think that using herbs as one of the primary sources of antioxidants in skin care is important for skin health and recovery. Herbs contain a multitude of highly effective antioxidants to reduce the oxidative stress of skin.

 

 

Beer in the Spa

I love a pint of  a good American IPA and find that it does help relax me and brings me stress relief. Hops have been known for years by herbalists to be a nervine herb that supports the nervous system.  It has pain relieving properties, is sedative and promotes sleep.

In fact, we grow hops on our farm and use them in our dream pillows to help promote sleep. Hops are also very useful for skin care because they decrease inflammation and promote skin hydration. The phytoestrogens in hops help reduce wrinkles and improve collagen.

Beer Spa

Some skin care professionals have taken note of these, both in Europe and the US. We do use hops in several of our products including Coolness Aftershave and Red Rocks Beard Oil, but some spas also use beer in treatments. I find this so intriguing and appealing that I am going to give a presentation on Beer in the Spa next month at one of our local micro breweries, 300 Suns. Can you imagine sitting in a tub filled with beer as you pour yourself a pint from the spout? Ahhh. Ok, maybe that is a figment of my imagination, but please, let me have my fantasy. Here’s the details on the talk that you are going to want to attend!

For a mere $15 you can attend the presentation, have a pint of your choice and give yourself a beer facial mask!

This happens on Wednesday April 13 from 6:30-7:30 pm at 300 Suns,  335 First Avenue (they are practically our neighbors), Longmont.  You can purchase your tickets here. No time for dinner? Did you know 300 Suns now serves food?

We’ll see you there!

I’ve previously written about hops here.

New Product: Allure Lip Conditioner

Colorado Aromatics Cultivated Skin Care, releases its new Allure Lip Conditioner (anti-aging Lip Balm) formulated to help your lips look their best despite your love of being outside.

lips

Coloradans who love to play at high altitude realize that their lips show early signs of aging. High altitude and severe weather often seen in Colorado can make lips dryer and more easily chapped and damaged. Allure lip conditioner is intended to help condition and plump lips, especially for people who love to be outdoors.

Allure Anti-Aging Lip Balm has antioxidant rich herbs including lavender, geranium, horsetail and violet to repair sun and wind damaged lips. We also use ingredients to support collagen production and to plump the lips.  Emollient oils, including Cupuacu butter, soften and protect the skin while improving elasticity. Keep your lips looking younger with Allure Lip Conditioner from Colorado Aromatics. We recommend using Allure Lip Conditioner twice daily. This product is also suitable for use by estheticians as part of a Colorado facial.

These products are formulated by Dr. Cindy Jones who brings a scientific perspective to the field of herbalism and natural products formulating. Colorado Aromatics Cultivated Skin Care products are formulated for the outdoor lifestyle that Coloradans love. Women and men who love being outside hiking, gardening, biking and more now have a highly effective skin care line made from all natural ingredients.

You can buy Allure Lip Conditioner here. You can order Allure online or buy it in our store. Unfortunately, we will not have it at the Farmers Markets because of its softer texture. But you can still buy our lip balm tubes and Herbal Relief Lip Balm at the Market.

Allure Lip Conditioner

 

 

Day vs. Night Moisturizers

What makes a good moisturizer and do you need a separate day and night moisturizer?

The function of a good moisturizer should be to hydrate the skin and protect the skin barrier function.  One of the most important ingredients of a moisturizer is water; only water can hydrate. A moisturizer needs should be a good balance between water to hydrate and oils and other ingredients to help prevent water loss from the skin.

face care

Oils are great for softening skin, preventing water loss from the skin and providing the skin with fatty acids. Vegetable oils are best as they are far more nutrient dense than mineral oil.  We use a blend so that there are many different fatty acids. Humectants are also an important ingredient in a moisturizer to help hold water. Good humectants include be glycerin, hyaluronic acid, herb extracts, proteins, sorbitol, or algae extract. There is a wide range of humectants that benefit skin.

A good moisturizer should also contain antioxidants because they can help repair skin damage. There are many antioxidants, but some that we like to use include vitamin C, alpha lipoic acid, green tea, vitamin E, and a variety of herb extracts.

There are no absolute differences between a day cream and a night cream so you really don’t need two different moisturizers for day and night.

An important thing to note though is that a day cream should not contain ingredients that might cause photosensitivity or make the skin more sensitive to sun damage. These include alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid), and retinoids (retinyl acetate, retinol).

Texture is also a big difference. Night creams tend to contain heavier emollients and be oilier than a day cream. A day cream should be light enough and soak in well enough that you can apply makeup immediately after using. But this also is a matter of preference as well as climate. In a drier climate you may want a heavier cream during the day as well as night. Some day creams will also contain a sunscreen ingredient. If yours does not you may want to consider applying a sunscreen on top of your day cream or wear a hat.

Many companies will formulate a night cream to be more of a repair product containing actives to repair and rejuvenate skin. Skin is always undergoing repair processes though so these ingredients are just as beneficial in a day cream.  Colorado Aromatics Springtide Face Cream has humectants, antioxidants and repair ingredients that might be found in a night cream but has a nice light feel for day.