Empowered in the Face of Menopause

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Menopause is a time when a woman transitions into the next chapter of her life; it is a time when almost everything about her physically, mentally, and physiologically may transform. The population of menopausal women is rapidly increasing. There are approximately 6,000 women in the United States daily that reach menopause, estimating at over 2 million per year. Although menopause is an inevitability for women, it is not something that is typically discussed. For example, not many people know that in the first 38 years of a woman’s life, her skin does not age as much as it does during five years of menopause. Menopause is a natural progression for a woman, but the experience may be radically different; it may be relatively easy for some and difficult for others. The greatest impact a woman can have in the face of menopause is empowering herself through education and knowledge and managing the changes through healthy and appropriate lifestyle choices.

ORIGIN

In the early 1800s, Dr. Charles Pierre Louis de Gardanne, a French physician, created the word “ménopause.” This term is rooted in ancient Greek and was later translated to Latin, which is still the primary language used to name terms in the field of medicine and science. In Latin, “menopausis” came from the Greek word “men,” meaning moon – a point of reference for measuring the months – and “pauein,” meaning to pause or come to a stop.

STAGES

Menopause is a period in a woman’s life when her menstrual cycles gradually cease, typically over a several-year period. From the ages of 48 to 55, women can expect to experience menopause, which is accompanied by erratic hormone behavior, dramatic skin aging, and a plethora of other symptoms. The lower production of estrogen and progesterone, female sex hormones, are the culprits. The percentage of menopausal women is consistently increasing. Women today are entering this period earlier than ever before, perhaps because of increased stress factors, diet, or even environmental effects. Many women begin experiencing menopausal symptoms in their early 40s.

There are three stages of menopause: pre-menopause, perimenopause, and post-menopause. Pre-menopause is the beginning stage accompanied by early signs and changes, perimenopause is the most severe period, and post-menopause is the last stage where hormones begin to level out and the symptoms settle down.

Perimenopause is the period before menopause when estrogen and hormone levels begin to drop. A woman typically reaches this stage in her late 40s. In this stage, women will experience vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes, night sweats, and flushes), sleep disturbances (insomnia and night sweats), elevated heart rate, mood changes (irritability, depression, and anxiety), vaginal dryness or discomfort during intercourse, and urinary problems. Women typically enter menopause between the ages of 51 and 52. A woman is officially in menopause when she has missed a period for 12 straight months. This transition can take up to three years.

Post-menopause begins after 12 months of the absence of a period. During this time, the symptoms are the same as perimenopause, but may increase in intensity. There is also an increased risk of heart disease, osteopenia, and osteoporosis. These symptoms can range from uncomfortable to life-altering.

Menopause can be confirmed medically by a blood test that evaluates hormone concentration. Hormone concentration in the blood alters significantly at the onset of menopause. During the early stages of menopause, there is a sharp drop in progesterone, with the levels remaining low. Estrogen levels decline as well, but have random surges. These irregular hormone fluctuations instigate the many changes in a woman’s mood and in her body before she reaches the post-menopausal, stable hormonal state. Overall, symptoms of all three stages proceed over a three-to-seven year span, which should be an adjustment period devoted to creating suitable skin care and wellness habits.

BIOLOGICAL LAG

The human body is made up of many hormones and receptors. In young people, there is a constant biological flow of hormones activating receptor activity. To illustrate how this balancing act works, picture a lock and key. The hormones are the keys and the receptors are the locks. During menopause, the sharp hormone drop causes a decline in available keys, which leaves a growing amount of open locks. The insufficient amount of hormones causes involuntary receptor inactivity and an exponentially increasing biological lag to develop. As a result, there is a noticeable slowdown in the body’s self-regenerating potential and regression in overall appearance.

SYMPTOMS

Menopausal symptoms are not just an end of the monthly cycle. As a woman approaches menopause, her levels of estrogen begin to drop significantly in a short time frame. The hormone decline causes an internal hormone imbalance, which is a primary contributor to skin aging. It is a difficult process involving many rapid skin changes, including wrinkles, dryness, flakiness, sagging, and thinning.

All layers of skin (epidermis, dermis, and the subcutaneous layer), become progressively thinner. Typically, estrogens are responsible for stimulating fat deposits in the female body and supplying blood flow to the skin. There is loss of supportive fat under the skin of the face, neck, hands, and arms, which makes way for sagging wrinkles to appear. The skin over these areas becomes less easily compressed and starts to lose its mobility. Other major symptoms include sporadic hot flashes, anxiety, irritability, depression, weight gain, joint pain, and even a reduction of muscle mass.

A decline in estrogen also lowers the skin’s natural collagen and elastin production, which is essential in the skin’s ability to self-repair. There is an even greater risk of collagen breakdown and photoaging when skin is exposed to ultraviolet rays, making it particularly important for menopausal women to wear sunscreen daily because of the harmful effects. Ultimately, a person is at their healthiest when their hormones are balanced. After all, these chemicals are responsible for regulating immunity, reproduction, mood, metabolism, growth, and overall physical development. A lack of equilibrium can result in acne, dry skin, hyperpigmentation, and other physical changes.

SKIN CONCERNS

Undoubtedly, skin begins to age more rapidly at the onset of perimenopause. The inflammation genes become more active, causing certain skin disorders to develop or exacerbate, such as rosacea, pigmentation, and eczema. There is also greater risk of skin cancer, so regular and careful self-examination is crucial.

The production deficit of elastin and collagen fibers goes hand-in-hand with decreased skin elasticity. This equates to loss of volume in the lips, a concave appearance surrounding the eye area, wrinkles, and sagging skin. There is also a significant drop in hyaluronic acid in the intercellular layers, which is key to keeping skin looking plump. The overall slower cell turnover rate contributes to thinning skin and a reduction in the barrier function of the epidermis, leading to increased transepidermal water loss and a lack of skin lubrication.

A slowdown of the sudoriferous (sweat-producing) glands impairs the natural detoxification process through facial sweating. In conjunction, the sebaceous (oil-producing) glands are no longer efficient at moisturizing the skin with the body’s own oils. Skin continues to become dry, dehydrated, and lifeless if left untreated.

Women experiencing the hormone fluctuations of menopause also often see an increase in cellulite. This increase occurs when waste products, like fatty deposits, toxins, and fluids, get between the layers of the connective tissue. The worsened blood and lymph circulation is also a contributing factor.

PIGMENTATION

Hyperpigmentation is often the skin’s response to its external environment. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation initiates a defense response from the body, causing a greater production of melanin to absorb the radiation. The increased amount of melanin moves closer to the surface and is identifiable by the dark pigment on the skin. During menopause, there is typically a reduction of melanin production because of the decline in melanocyte activity. As a result, women may begin to notice a pale appearance due to fading skin tone and a loss of luster and glow.

ANDROGEN EFFECT

Although there is a decline of all hormones in the body, there is an overwhelming imbalance of androgens over estrogens because estrogens decrease with greater velocity. With the drop of estrogen, the male androgen hormones may become more pronounced. This domination can result in a sudden development of adult acne. The prominent androgen activity stimulates sebaceous glands to over-produce oils that can clog pores. The excess oils also sit on the surface of the skin and potentially attract bacteria that causes breakouts and acne.

Testosterone, an androgen hormone that dominates during this period, directly relates to menopause-related hair changes. Side effects associated with hair changes run the gamut between the two extremes of hair loss and hair growth. Balding or thinning hair is one side of the hormone issue. The other is growth of new hair in unwanted areas, such as the upper lip and chin.

HEALTH

Menopausal women have to go to great lengths to overcome the multitude of physical reactions from the body. The obstacles for each woman may vary, although headaches, backaches, hot flashes, weakened bones, loose teeth, gum problems, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease are some of the chief concerns.

Heart disease is the leading killer of women in the United States. Cardiovascular disease and stroke are responsible for one-in-three women’s deaths every year, with an estimated 44 million affected. In fact, after age 50, nearly half of all deaths in women are due to some form of cardiovascular disease. On the bright side, 80 percent of heart disease and strokes can be prevented through lifestyle changes, such as avoiding or quitting smoking and secondhand smoke, maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising regularly, and eating a diet low in trans and saturated fats.

The severely increased risk of heart disease in menopausal and post-menopausal women is possibly because of the estrogen decline. Normally, estrogen works to help keep blood vessels flexible and relaxed to easily accommodate and help regulate blood flow. According to Dr. Nieca Goldberg, a cardiologist and volunteer for the American Heart Association, there are other reasons for the increased risk of cardiovascular disease during menopause and post-menopause. For example, the rise of LDL, the unhealthy cholesterol, not being counteracted by the decline of HDL, the healthy cholesterol, in conjunction with increased blood pressure may play a role.

Menopause also puts women at greater risk of osteoporosis, a decrease in bone density and strength, causing higher risk of fractures. This disease often has no symptoms and is not discovered until a painful fracture, which it is known to cause. It is possible to treat and prevent osteoporosis if the person is aware and knows where to look for it. Similarly, osteopenia occurs when bone density is reduced and lower than normal; it is not severe enough to be diagnosed as osteoporosis. Increased risk of osteoporosis and osteopenia in menopause is directly linked to the lack of estrogen that naturally occurs.

It is important to exercise, find time to do the enjoyable activities, and generally be physically active. It will improve overall quality of life while generating the release of endorphins. This source of positivity will help to relieve the hardships associated with menopause.

NEW GENERATIONAL APPROACH

For decades, menopause was the unmentionable period a maturing woman went through alone and in silence. Luckily, today, the Baby Boomers generation, now menopausal, has brought light to the conversation, creating a comfortable, public environment for discussion and support. They are characteristically proud of their pasts and journeys and few are in denial once menopause approaches. They are the target demographic for skin care professionals offering menopausal, age-reversing skin-management treatments.

MEDICAL THERAPY

Many medical professionals have become accustomed to recommending hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) to their patients right off the bat when menopause approaches. The pharmaceutical “traditional” medicine approach of HRT or ERT works to stabilize jumpy hormone levels and helps ease many symptoms of menopause, but is accompanied by certain risks and potential side effects. HRT or ERT is the process of taking hormone prescription pills that contain artificial estrogen and progestin similar to hormones that are naturally made by a woman’s body. Estrogen medication comes either as a patch, daily pill, vaginal ring, gel, or spray, depending on personal preferences.

Some studies show that the overall risks of long-term use outweigh the benefits because the imitation hormones are foreign to the body. Recently, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center revealed that antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can provide similar benefits in comparison to low-dose estrogen and decrease menopausal hot flashes without the inflated risks.

NATURAL REMEDIES

When it comes to easing the rapid hormonal changes of menopause and the havoc they wreak, stabilization is key. Phytohormones are plant-derived compounds that possess estrogen-like characteristics that naturally and gently promote internal balance. Genistein, also known as an aglycon, is a phytohormone acquired through a hydrolysis process of soy isoflavones and has a chemical structure similar to real estrogen. It is not an actual hormone however, so the potential adverse side effects that exist with HRT are virtually eliminated.

Soy isoflavones are made up of large glycoside molecules. When soy is eaten, it is naturally hydrolyzed by hydrochloric acid that exists in the stomach, allowing isoflavones to be absorbed and effective. Skin, on the other hand, does not have any hydrolytic capabilities; in order for soy isoflavones to be beneficial through topical application, they must be in the form of an aglycon. Aglycons are soy isoflavones that have undergone the hydrolysis process, releasing the long sugar molecule originally attached to the glycoside, making the molecule small enough and bio-available to penetrate the epidermis.

Soy-derived phytohormones are smart plant hormones that have a self-sensing ability to influence changes in the body by either initiating estrogen receptor response or blocking androgen receptor sites when necessary. Referring back to the lock and key analogy, estrogen and genistein are so chemically similar that when genistein is introduced to the skin or body, it is accepted as its own “key.” The skin simply responds, once-again commencing the normal “key to lock” or “hormone to receptor” biological flow.

Genistein has tremendous skin benefits, including the unique ability to generate cell membranes. It rebuilds collagen and elastin, increases skin thickness, and hydrates and improves overall wellness while smoothing fine lines and wrinkles. Furthermore, phytosterols, phospholipids, and saponins in soy help increase skin’s immunity and resistance to both environmental effects and inflammation. The saponins’ molecule can absorb toxic buildup, boosting the energy and rejuvenation level of every cell.

Diosgenin is a phytohormone derived from wild yams and has similar traits to progesterone. Diosgenin, like progesterone, stimulates sebaceous glands to encourage greater oil production. Given that a menopausal woman’s skin becomes progressively dry, diosgenin works to improve skin appearance by facilitating the skin’s self-moisturizing action.

DIET AND NUTRITION

A balanced nutritious diet is essential at any stage in life, but especially one that is in line with the growing sensitivities that develop in women during menopause. There are certain types of foods, those that contain gluten, monosodium glutamate (MSG), processed sugars, and trans fatty acids, that can trigger an inflammatory response in the body. Furthermore, omega-6 fatty acids, which are traditionally known to be beneficial, also lead to inflammation. Inflammatory foods raise the level of cortisol, a steroid hormone. In response, histamines are produced in the body to counter the inflammation. During menopause, because of the hormone imbalance, women are especially reactive to histamine-rich foods. This reaction forces all-time high histamine levels and, ultimately, an intolerance.

Some of the common symptoms women have expressed include sleeplessness, crankiness, more frequent hot flashes, and severe itching throughout the body. Diet is critical in promoting healthy moods and wellness. Selecting foods that are low in histamines is important. Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables and other anti-inflammatory foods, such as green, leafy vegetables; tomatoes; and most berries are especially great to counter the body’s histamine response.

Taking an omega-3 supplement daily will have anti-inflammatory qualities for the entire body. Omega-3 is rich with essential fatty acids. It also improves bone density, along with foods that are also rich in calcium and vitamin D. Synergistically, they fight the vulnerability of developing osteoporosis by working to strengthen bones and reducing the risk.

Substances rich with phytoestrogens encourage hormone and receptor balance. A few types of phytoestrogen examples include isoflavones, diosgenin, and lignans. Examples of foods rich with isoflavones include soy, clover, and kudzu root. A diosgenin-rich food example is wild yams. Some common lignin-containing foods include flaxseeds, legumes, whole grains, peaches, strawberries, prunes, pumpkins, and squash.

The Asian population living in Asia is the perfect example of how an isoflavone-rich diet enhances vitality. They have dramatically lower incidences of people with skin conditions; cardiovascular disease; osteoporosis; and prostate, uterine, and breast cancers. With a primarily soy-based diet, they consume an estimated 300 milligrams of soy daily.

Soy is a superfood that contains the richest concentrations of isoflavones, phospholipids, phytosterols, saponins, vitamins, omegas, minerals and protein of any food source. It is becoming a staple in leading a holistic lifestyle. Simply eating soy offers a clean and pure source of protein rich in iron, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, zinc, potassium, copper, and folic acid. In the United States, the highest quality non-genetically modified form of soy is grown in the Midwest.

Besides soy-based foods, a daily soy supplement is also recommended as it will provide additional support in the time of transition. Soy isoflavones supplements will help ease hot flashes and promote clearer, younger-looking skin.

Staying hydrated by drinking a sufficient amount of water is another way to encourage menopause wellness. Water boosts skin hydration and elasticity, facilitates detoxification by forcing toxins to pass more frequently through urine, and improves circulation and metabolism. It also offers a gateway to maintaining a healthy weight.

Certainly, exercise and all forms of physical activity will stimulate the mind and body through the release of endorphins. This forced state of positive emotions will counterbalance the mood swings or possible sadness. Maintaining a personal healthy weight is another tool to being constructively affective during this time.

SPA AND SKIN CARE

The experience of menopause varies from woman to woman and the journey for some may be a difficult one; for others, it is simply the next chapter. One thing is certain for skin care professionals, there is immense market growth and opportunities as Baby Boomers grow older. It is strategically wise for spa owners to offer treatments that support and manage menopausal skin aging.

Treatments incorporating phytohormones, especially soy isoflavones, are ideal for clients distressed by hormonal imbalances. Soy isoflavones work to naturally remedy hormone-associated aging and acne skin changes in synergy with the body’s own processes, as described earlier with the lock and key description of receptor and hormone behavior. The adaptogenic characteristics of soy isoflavones allows for it to be effective in treating both spectrums of skin concerns: wrinkles and dryness or acne-troubled skin.

A powerful way to combat skin aging is with products containing pure hydrolyzed genistein, which is derived from soy isoflavones, the most active and penetrable form. It initiates hormone receptor activity, which jumpstarts the biological lag. Every cell in the body has a memory and by reinitiating receptor action, the cells remember and behave as they did at a younger state. In turn, cells begin to better regenerate and boost overall skin vitality.

A phytoestrogen spa treatment rich with soy-derived genistein and wild yam-derived diosgenin, for example, is a great option for a wide spectrum of clients, depending on their specific skin concerns. Benefits include collagen and elastin renewal, increase in skin thickness, a boost in skin hydration, and smoothing in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Genistein and diosgenin are both effective as a gentle, non-invasive way to reduce the severity and accumulation of cellulite. A phytoestrogen-rich treatment has both immediate and cumulative results, particularly when combined with a daily homecare regimen. Routine treatment and care truly provides a healthy, natural alternative to pharmaceutical-based treatments designed for problem and aging skin.

The recommended homecare routine for age management should include an appropriate daily cleanser, occlusive eye cream, serum, rich potent face complex, and sun protection. Depending on the personal maintenance commitment, an individual set of products for the day and night time may be optimal. In addition, using an exfoliant and a firming mask at least once a week will boost cell turnover and promote facial contour.

Massage is another effective treatment that improves menopausal symptoms. It improves blood circulation and lymphatic drainage. Massage not only helps purge toxins from the body, but also combats cellulite. It also promotes relaxation and is an uplifting experience.

NECESSARY TRANSITION

Menopause in the past has been regarded as a negative occurrence in a woman’s life, making women want to run for the hills. Today, that perspective is changing. Menopause is a natural and necessary transition, but it is a time for a woman to adjust and continue to fully love herself. Although menopause is associated with many psychological difficulties, education about the physical and psychosocial needs helps to alleviate these difficulties. The latest in scientific developments, innovations, and knowledge, coupled with self-care, allows women to have power in the face of menopause to look and feel great.

 

References:

  1. Gardanne, Ch. PL de. Menopause: The Critical Age of Women. 1821.
  2. Singh, A. (2002). A historical perspective on menopause and menopausal age. Bulletin of the Indian Institute of History of Medicine, 32(2), 121-135.
  3. Squadrito, F. et al. (2003). Effect of genistein on endothelial function in postmenopausal women: a randomized, double-blind, controlled study. The American Journal of Medicine, 114(6), 470-476. doi:10.1016/s0002-9343(03)00059-7
  4. Manson, J. E. et al. (2008). The menopause transition and postmenopausal hormone therapy. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, 17, 2334-2339.
  5. Smoller, Allison, J. W. et al. (2009). Antidepressant use and risk of incident cardiovascular morbidity and mortality among postmenopausal women in the women’s health initiative study. American Medical Association. Archives of Internal Medicine, 169(22), 2128-2139.
  6. American Heart Association. (2015, July). Menopause and heart disease. Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MyHeartandStrokeNews/Menopause-and-Heart-Disease_UCM_448432_Article.jsp#.WXa7p4jys2w
  7. Markman L., Shlyankevich, M., inventors; Hydrolysis and purification of active plant compounds suitable for topical application. U. S. Patent 20050037099. February 17, 2005.
  8. US Census Bureau. (n.d.). Projections of the population by sex and age for the United States: 2015 to 2060 (NP2014-T9). Retrieved from https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/popproj/tables/2014/2014-summary-tables/np2014-t3.xls
  9. Verdier-Sevrain, S. et al. (2006). Biology of estrogens in skin: implications for skin aging. Experimental Dermatology, 15(2), 45-46. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0625.2005.00377.x
  10. Kalaiselvan, V. et al. (2010). Current knowledge and future direction of research on soy isoflavones as a therapeutic agents. Pharmacognosy Reviews, 4(8), 111-117. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.70900
  11. Cornwell, T. et al. (2004). Dietary phytoestrogens and health. Phytochemistry, 65(8), 995-1016. doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2004.03.005

 

Written by Victoria Tabak for Dermascope Magazine.
© All Rights Reserved. Published in October 2017 Issue

Aglow or Acne? Pregnancy Changes


Pregnancy brings about a whirlwind of changes to the skin and body. Many of the physiological changes experienced during pregnancy are a direct response to rising hormone levels. Although these hormones are instrumental in the development of the baby, they can bring with them a host of other body and skin changes, which this article will discuss.

Estrogen and Progesterone

Estrogen and progesterone significantly increase over a relatively short period. The amount of estrogen that a woman’s body produces in a single pregnancy is immeasurably greater than the amount produced in a lifetime of a woman when not pregnant. Besides the possible mood swings and nausea, the increase of estrogen boosts vascular­ization of the uterus and placenta. This facilitates the flow of nutrients to accommodate the growing fetus.

The high progesterone levels along with the relaxin hormone weaken the normally solidified joints and ligaments throughout the body. This is why it is important for pregnant women to be especially cautious with exercise and intense physical activity to avoid any potential injuries. At the same time, progesterone helps the development of a thick and strong lining of the uterus that can expand and support the growing size of the baby. It prepares the mammary glands, in conjunction with rising estrogen, for milk production.

Skin During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is often associated with a healthy glow, but that glow is not absolute and is balanced by a long list of not always comfortable or necessarily esthetic side effects. The erratic behavior of the rising hormones can have a negative impact on skin, sometimes worsening pre-existing skin conditions, such as rosacea, acne or atopic dermatitis. Pregnancy can make skin reactive to ingredients or even environments that previously had no effect. Oddly enough, it can also improve pre-existing skin conditions in some cases.

Pregnancy may promote healthier skin, hair and nails, but it is often accompanied by acne, unwanted hair growth, hair thinning, exacerbated existing skin conditions, skin pigmentation, spider veins and stretch marks.

Acne

Progesterone stimulates oil-producing sebaceous glands and sweat-producing sudoriferous glands. This initiates a multiplied production of sweat and oil. This is beneficial to dry skin, as it will be able to naturally better lubricate and moisturize itself. Ultimately, either skin will have that “pregnancy glow,” or a build-up of excess oil on the surface. The latter can become a breeding ground for bacteria and trigger acne breakouts on the face, back and chest.

Each pregnancy is mutually exclusive. The symptoms in any single trimester can vary significantly from one pregnancy and person to the next. Acne is an example. For some women, all the hormone fluctuations can clear up acne. For others, it can worsen the skin condition. To encourage skin wellness and avoid breakouts, it is necessary to stick to a gentle but appropriate home care regimen. This includes daily cleansing and moisturizing with non-irritating products that are rich with antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and omegas that will nourish the skin. Exfoliating and using a masque once a week will smooth and enhance skin texture and complexion.

Hair

Throughout pregnancy, the body and all its systems are in a constant state of juggling to support the rising levels of many different hormones. The shift in hormonal balance can promote healthier and thicker hair by prolonging the anagen (growth) phase of hair. Simultan­eously, it may cause excessive hair growth, even in unwanted places. Every woman’s body responds differently from one pregnancy to another.

On the flip side, pregnancy can cause an increased amount of hair follicles to transition into a telogen (resting) phase of hair growth, which would actually trigger hair loss.

Pigmentation

Skin pigmentation is an undesirable side effect of pregnancy that happens because of melanocyte-stimulating hormones in high gear. Sensitivity to the sun is considerably greater. Even minimal unprotected sun exposure forces melanin, the dark pigment produced by melanocytes, to the surface of the skin with ease. One of the most common forms of pregnancy-related hyperpig­mentation is melasma, also known as the mask of pregnancy or chloasma. This condition is recognized as dark patches most commonly on the forehead, nose, cheeks and chin. This type of pigmentation often clears up on its own within a few months after the baby is born, but skin lightening treatments may be needed. The best precaution is to use sun protection with a minimum SPF 30 and reapply it often. Other areas of the body that typically darken with pregnancy are existing freckles or moles and the skin around the nipple called the areola. The skin color remains dark even post pregnancy until the mother stops breastfeeding the baby.

Linea nigra is another example of a skin color alteration. It is a darkened line of skin that runs from the abdomen down to the pubic bone. The line begins to emerge approximately halfway through a pregnancy and continues to darken. A few months post-delivery, the line usually fades on its own.

Stretchmarks

The obvious physical transfor­mation in pregnancy is a growing belly, with the uterus expanding 500 times its normal size. Simultan­eously, the breasts enlarge as well in preparation for breastfe­eding. Skin is incredibly elastic, and can actually stretch up to at least six feet. Nonetheless, when growth is more rapid than the elasticity of the skin, collagen and elastin fibers become strained causing stretch marks.

Stretch marks commonly develop on the stomach, breasts and hips. Keeping the skin deeply moisturized and nourished throughout the pregnancy will go a long way, and is a good preventative measure.

Spider and Varicose Veins

Pregnancy increases blood flow to the skin. This too contributes to the “pregnancy glow.” It is also responsible for broken capillaries, spider veins and varicose veins that can appear, especially if there is a family history of varicose or spider veins. The higher amount of blood circulating through the veins puts pressure on the capillaries and causes them to burst or bulge. They may not be esthetically pleasing, especially when small bluish-red webs show up in obvious areas like on the cheeks or uncomfortable protruding veins on the legs. Usually, they are harmless and go away on their own several months post-partum.

To prevent or reduce the symptoms of spider and varicose veins, there are some notable safeguards. Having a sufficient amount of vitamin C is essential for vein flexibility. It promotes healthy veins and supports the flow of blood. Moving around, not standing or sitting for long periods of time, avoiding crossing of the legs, and wearing compression stockings or leggings will inhibit varicose vein progression.

Irritation

Severe itchy skin rashes or hives around the abdomen that can spread to other areas of the body are skin conditions unique to pregnancy called pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP). The stretching of the skin, which causes the uncomfortable itching and dryness, may be a culprit of PUPPP. Uncomfortable red raised stretch marks surrounding the belly are one of the most obvious signs of possible PUPPP. It is extremely unpleasant for the pregnant woman, especially that it occurs during the most challenging period, toward the end of the third trimester.

Luckily, most skin irritation goes away on its own after the delivery of the baby. To ease discomfort, inflammation can be soothed with a colloidal oat bath or with a 1% hydrocor­tisone ointment.

Natural Remedies

Herbal and essential oil remedies have been used for centuries throughout the world to ease and lessen pregnancy symptoms and prepare the body for laboring. Many botanical and herbal extracts work to promote a healthy pregnancy. It is always advisable to consult a doctor before introducing any home therapies when pregnant.

Raspberry. One recommended and safe extract that is beneficial in the second and third trimester is red raspberry leaf. The tea supplement strengthens and exercises the uterus in preparation for delivery.

Ginger. Ginger root is great to alleviate nausea or any stomach uneasiness especially in the first and third trimester.

Essential oils. Essential oils can be used to reset the body and the mind during pregnancy. Simply rubbing a few drops in the palms and inhaling the aromas can go a long way: Lavender is calming and assists in relaxation while peppermint or citrus are energizing and uplifting. The medicinal benefits of tea tree oil in combination with a gentle moisturizer will help balance skin and help prevent potential breakouts, but it should not be used in the third trimester.

Prepare Clients

Pregnancy is a delicate time for a woman, and the experience for many is overall positive. For some, it can be stressful and overwhelming with all of the unexpected changes. Being knowledgeable is a sensible preparation. The many physiological changes a woman undergoes through pregnancy often reverse back to a normal state after delivery. One certainty about pregnancy is the miraculous transfor­mational capability of the female body.

Pregnancy increases blood flow to the skin, but it’s also responsible for varicose veins.

 

Written by Victoria Tabak for Skin Inc. Magazine.
© All Rights Reserved. Published in June 2017 Issue

Water Therapy

Dermascope Water TherapyClick Here for PDF

Throughout history and across the world, water has been a valuable source of healing and regeneration. Water is the foundation of all life on Earth; it plays a critical role in atmospheric processes and climate. The human body is made up of no less than 75 percent water and some tissues consist of up to 95 percent water. It is essential to existence.

Water therapy is a powerful form of natural medicine with both internal and external benefits. The word “spa” is often affiliated with water treatments and some sources suggest it is an acronym from the Latin phrase sanitas per aquas, meaning health through water. Some people believe that there is positive energy in water that promotes vitality; whether or not that statement is true, water remedies – which are commonly known as spa therapy, hydrotherapy, and balneotherapy – relieve tension and improve immunity, skin appearance, and overall well-being.

HYDRATION
Sufficient water intake is critical for skin hydration, elasticity, and firmness. The absence of adequate levels of water in the body can lead to accelerated aging, as well as health issues, such as thickening of the blood, which leads to the deceleration of blood circulation and metabolism. As a result, the body cannot properly cleanse and detoxify itself. An appropriate amount of daily water consumption helps purge toxins from the body through sweat and urine, enhances skin plumpness, and promotes a healthy glow.

CONTRAST SHOWER
The practice of dramatically altering the body’s external temperature from hot to cold (and vice versa) offers an instant boost to the circulatory system by increasing blood circulation. This type of shower promotes longevity and a well-balanced immune system and is a significant natural remedy in the fight against cellulite. The change in temperature initiates a response from the nerves located at the surface of the skin and aids in the restoration of energy and even mental alertness. It is one of the most effective natural solutions to enhance the body’s own detoxification abilities. The accelerated circulation enables a more efficient purification of toxins from the body and stimulates lymphatic drainage.

HYDROTHERAPY
Many spas and rehabilitation programs take advantage of hydrotherapy. It is a powerful form of alternative medicine that facilitates recovery post-surgery or injury and supports wellness. Hydrotherapy encompasses neutral baths; water exercises, like swimming; water pressure massage; and steam bathing. Depending on water temperature, duration of treatment, water pressure, and the specific area of concern, hydrotherapy has physiological effects that encourage healing and rejuvenation.

BALNEOTHERAPY
Bathing in hot mineral springs or water enriched with Epsom or Dead Sea salt has great capacity to heal the body, mind, and spirit. Balneotherapy bath treatments are effective in improving the condition of many diseases, including psoriasis, arthritis, and fibromyalgia-related chronic pain. Soaking in hot baths reduces swelling and inflammation, lowers fatigue and tension, and even heightens mood. Studies have shown that natural salty seawater eliminates infection, decreases pain, and reestablishes proper cell function.

Water is widely available and is sometimes undervalued for its powerful benefits and many functions. Water therapy may entail an outdoor experience involving soaking in natural springs or grottos, a luxurious visit to the spa, staying well hydrated, or water exercise. It often brings pleasure and relaxation, but, more importantly, it fosters healing, vitality, and health.

 

Written by Victoria Tabak for Dermascope Magazine.
© All Rights Reserved. Published in April 2017 Issue

Thyme – A Natural Remedy

Thyme Skin is a barrier that serves as one of the body’s first lines of defense against harmful microorganisms. The synergy of several immunity-boosting factors acts as protection for the skin and body. Specialized immune cells within skin tissue are one type of defense, they help fight against invading organisms. Skin is also a host to a diverse group of beneficial bacteria collectively known as skin microbiota. These microbes naturally colonize the skin and are referred to as commensals (normal microflora).

Thymus vulgaris, commonly known as thyme, is a superb plant that enhances skin immunity by improving cells of the immune system and beneficial microflora. Throughout history, thyme has been used for medicinal purposes, having antibacterial, antifungal, anti-infectious and anti-oxidative qualities. Thyme is rich with polyphenols, flavonoids, tannins, alkaloids, thymol, carvacrol, p-cymene, and terpinene.

During the cold, windy winter weather, skin withstands a great deal of assault. Skin tends to feel drier, sensitive and dull without proper and season appropriate care. Hippophae Hydration Balm is an ideal skin immunity-boosting companion to combat the winter skin blues. It is abundant with thyme along with a handful of extra-potent botanical extracts. The combination of hippophae berries, emu oil, rose, shea butter, cinnamon, peppermint, lemon and lavender work together to repair, nourish, moisturize and enhance skin appearance in the face of even the toughest winter weather.

Hippophae Hydration Balm is rich with thyme.

Supercharged: Women and Stress


Fifteen million people are under stress in the United States, according to the American Psychiatric Association, and more than half of these are women. Traditionally women were solely in the role of the stay at home family caregivers, but the modern day woman often is in a position of balancing family obligations and her career, affecting the dramatic disproportion of stress between men and women. When under stress for prolonged periods, depression can develop. Even before the 20th century Hippocrates, the first physician, had a name for clinical depression brought on by stress–melancholia. Every year the issue escalates, with more people at increasingly younger age suffering from depression.

So what actually is stress? Stress is the reaction from the body in response to external influences. For many women, stress is inevitable with the environment changing faster than ever before. Stress has significant impact on skin appearance, health and overall wellness, but there are effective ways to manage stress.

There are different types of stress, positive and negative, both of which result in a change in the hormonal balance. Whether the stress is psychological or physical, it all amounts to a universal reaction in the hypothalamus in the brain initiating the production of cortisol steroid, a stress hormone. An example of a psychological trigger is fear, and physical examples include heat, cold, burns or poisoning. When cortisol levels increase, the immune system weakens and makes the body vulnerable to illness and other health related issues, including skin problems.

Stress and Skin

Stress can bring on or exacerbate many skin issues like acne, eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, and cold sores. Many people who suffer from these different types of skin concerns, often become so distressed that they become locked in a vicious cycle, where their worries are a stress trigger. This is studied by the field of psychode­rmatology–how the mental and emotional state of a person is correlated to skin health and appearance.

In the medical field, psychode­rmatology has been a growing field as more skin conditions are being linked to the psychological welfare of a person. Stress can cause the flare up of acne breakouts, hives, pigmentation, hair loss and skin dryness. It weakens the outer layer of skin, unbalancing the acid mantle that protects the skin from harmful bacteria. Consequently, cells shrink and the lipids between the cells dissolve making the skin more vulnerable to infection.

Stress and Immunity

Chronic stress or even a stressful event can instigate an autoimmune reaction. When there is a threat, it causes fear. Fear sends the body into a state of shock, which lowers blood pressure, causes hypoglycemia, hypothermia and almost immediately forces the adrenal glands to shoot adrenaline and noradrenaline into the blood. Consequently, the increase in heartrate, breathing and blood pressure forces a rise of glucose in the muscles, converting proteins in the body to glucose. The accumulation of glucose in the body sets the body in preparation to fight, hence activating the immune system and inflammation genes regulated by cytokines.

The medulla of the adrenal glands reduces the stress reaction by stabilizing blood pressure with cortisol, which calms the immune system, heart rate and inflammation. If stress continues for long periods of time, the cortisol production in the medulla exhausts, causing chronic hypertension and a weakened immune system. The disruption in the immune system leads to many issues including arthritis, cellulite, acne and wrinkles to mention a few.

Stress and Epigenetics

Ongoing stress has the ability to damage chromosomes that make up DNA. Telomeres are located at the ends of DNA strands that function as a protective barrier for chromosomes. Recent studies reveal that chronic stress shortens the length and decreases the supply of telomeres. This accelerates aging, but researchers have also been examining the influence of stress on future generations. Scientist Elizabeth Blackburn performed an experiment in 2004 demonstrating that when the mind or body is exposed to severe stress such as a traumatic event, it causes changes in the genes. The ends of telomere chromosomes become shorter and accelerate cell aging. Epigenetics is the science of gene activity and regulation according to C.H. Waddington, who established the definition in 1957.

Epigenetics causes genes to perform functions that they are not typically conditioned to perform, but without altering genetic code. Dr. Yosef Zohar treated patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, including family members of survivors of the holocaust. The family members exhibited fears that were passed on from a previous generation. Ultimately, stress related changes in the DNA were inherited by future generations.

Stress Management

Stress has a powerful effect on the mind and body of a woman, but there are effective stress management methods. There are simple, straight­forward ways of achieving inner balance, peace and lowering stress.

Laugh. Laughter causes the release of endorphins by the brain, which elevates mood, boosts the immune system, and is great for lowering stress.

Exercise. Exercise is another way of releasing tension from the body as well as contributing to improving overall wellness.

Talk. Speaking with someone, even a professional if necessary, lessens the impact of stress. It creates a channel of release for the feelings and emotions that accumulate over time consequently from the stress.

Sleep. Women have become quite skillful in balancing all the different aspects of their lives, but often it is at the cost of having a sufficient amount of rest. Sleep deficiency puts great strain on the mind and body. The amount of sleep necessary may vary among people, but an American Psychological Association survey showed that, “adults who sleep fewer than eight hours a night are more likely to report symptoms of stress.” Sleeping more is an effective remedy to lower stress.

Deep Meditation. Continuous high stress can provoke illness and make the body susceptible to colds, infections, and diseases by activating genes that work to counter stress. Fortunately, research has shown that deep meditation activates gene activity and is able to alter them on a molecular level. Through meditation, genes that promote health and healing are triggered. Meditation has an anti-inflammatory effect, and it has the power to restore cortisol levels in the body. It promotes inner balance and peace, while helping the mind and body relax. Meditation is one of the most powerful opponents to offset stress.

Probiotics. An unexpected remedy and best known for supporting gastroin­testinal health, when in balance, probiotic “health friendly bacteria” can elevate mood and help better handle stress. As mentioned earlier, stress leads to internal inflammation, which over time can lead to depression. Probiotics also facilitate a reduction of inflammation in the body by sending signals to the brain that stabilize the necessary output of cortisol. They equip the body to better handle stress and correspo­ndingly improve skin and total well-being.

Closing

Stress has proven itself a growing problem among women with the ever-changing environment. Research reveals that stress left rampant, can have significant ramifications on a women’s health, appearance and mindset. The importance of achieving inner peace and balance is critical in order to positively influence the body’s DNA and boost vitality. Through appropriate stress management, nutrition and lifestyle choices, women can be empowered in the face of stress.

Originally published at http://www.skininc.com/treatments/wellness/alternativetherapies/Supercharged-Women-and-Stress–412557153.html

Written by Victoria Tabak © All Rights Reserved. Published in February 2017 Skin Inc. Magazine Web Exclusive

The Natural Wonders of Tea Tree Oil

The Aboriginal people of Australia believe tea tree oil has magical powers that promote strength and harmony. There is even a tribal legend about the hidden treasure of the tea tree, which is described as an enchanted lagoon where the leaves of the tree were soaked after falling in, infusing and enriching the waters. The village people would immerse themselves in the natural herbal bath to take in all of the physical and mystical benefits that the waters possessed.

During times of war, before pharmaceutical medicine was widely available, tea tree oil was a first aid necessity for the armed forces. Throughout history, tea tree oil has been used for many therapeutic and medicinal purposes. Today, tea tree oil is extensively recognized for its natural antimicrobial and antifungal characteristics, which make it valuable in the treatment of a range of skin, hair, and nail concerns.

Malaleuca alternifolia (Australian tea tree), Leptospermum scoparium (New Zealand Manuka), and Kunzea ericoides (Kanuka) are the three different species of tea trees that are native to Northern New South Wales, Australia, and New Zealand. Tea trees are most valued for their foliage and branches from which the tea tree oil is derived through a process of steam distillation. Manuka and kanuka tea tree oils contain higher concentrations of antioxidants, but are less potent in their anti-germicidal and medicinal properties. They have not been thoroughly studied for toxicity and safety and, therefore, are not as common.

Since the 1920s, Malaleuca alternifolia has been extensively researched and tested. It is the source of the oil that is commercially available and used in the formulation of cosmetic products. Although it originally grew exclusively in the subtropical regions of Australia, it is now grown in other areas of the world, including California. Tea tree oil is abundant with terpinen-4-ol and cineole, which is responsible for the potent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory characteristics of the oil. Tea tree oil has demonstrated antioxidant traits, but, most importantly, an ability to combat a full spectrum of bacterial, fungal, viral and even protozoal infections that affect the body.

ACNE
Papules, pustules, and comedones that accompany acne-related concerns are always directly linked to bacterial infection. Acne is more common among oilier skin types. When excess oil accumulates on the surface of the skin, it becomes an additional contributing factor to the development of breakouts because it can attract and breed more bacteria. Tea tree oil has a remarkable disinfecting and soothing effect on acne. The high concentration of terpinen-4-ol in the oil has strong antimicrobial traits that attack the bacteria and inhibit it from further aggravating the already-sensitive skin. The anti-inflammatory qualities of the oil work to calm and reduce the redness of acne-related breakouts. For safe results and to lower the chance of an adverse reaction, tea tree oil is most effective in a diluted form, such as a well-formulated skin care product.

Studies have shown that tea tree oil is as active in the treatment of acne as benzoyl peroxide. Even though tea tree oil may work slower to repair the breakout than benzoyl peroxide, it is equally as effective. Tea tree oil will not only treat the immediate symptoms of the acne, but also facilitate the healing of the tissue. Regular use will reduce the severity of acne and encourage clearer, healthier skin.

DANDRUFF
Flakiness of the skin, sensitivity, matting of the hair and even a sticky scalp are all symptoms common to those who suffer from dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema. The biological and chemical structure of tea tree oil has qualities that function as a preventative against skin shedding. Studies show that tea tree oil improves dry skin. The oil works as a curative treatment against even the most severe form of clinical dandruff, which may be fungus related. The dominant antifungal action of the terpene hydrocarbons, especially the terpinen-4-ol, works in alleviating infections of this nature.

INFECTION
The diversity of yeast, fungi, and bacteria are the primary culprits of tinea infections. Conditions like athlete’s foot (tinea pedis), ringworm of the skin (tinea corporis), fungal nail infection (onychomycosis), and even yeast infections can be extremely uncomfortable and even painful. Tea tree oil has a significant penetrating ability. The anti-inflammatory, soothing properties of the oil will alleviate discomfort accompanying the infection. The natural and safe antiseptic and fungicide assets of tea tree oil improve and remedy such infections. In the case of a fungal nail infection, pilot-testing suggests that direct application of undiluted tea tree oil two times a day to the affected areas worked as effectively as pharmaceutical medicines.

Although an open wound may be excessively sensitive, tea tree oil rids the tissue of pus, allowing for the germicidal properties of the oil to take full effect. Unlike most germicides, tea tree oil heals without affecting or destroying the tissue. Even before tea tree oil became globally recognized, Australian people traditionally used it as a home remedy for scratches, burns, cuts, and skin irritations caused by insect bites.

AROMATHERAPY
Not only is tea tree oil a phenomenal healing extract, but it is also an important oil to integrate into the practice of aromatherapy. Incorporate tea tree oil into facial or body treatments by mixing a few drops into a massage cream, balm, or oil to initiate a spiritual cleansing. Tea tree oil has long been believed to strengthen, protect, purify, and open blocked channels and chakras, encouraging internal clarity and balance.

CONTRAINDICATIONS
Although there are numerous benefits of tea tree oil, some clients may have an allergic reaction to the oil. According to the May 2006 issue of Food and Chemical Toxicology Journal, topical use of the oil is relatively safe and adverse events are typically minor, self-limiting, and occasional. Contact dermatitis is a common allergic skin reaction that can develop if high concentrations of undiluted tea tree oil is applied directly to the skin.

This reaction can occur if there is no buffer between the oil and the skin. To decrease the possibility of a negative topical response, tea tree oil is best utilized for skin, body, and hair care when complemented by other ingredients in professional products.

Even though tea tree oil is a remarkable remedy for most people, especially those stricken with infection, it is not safe for women to use during childbirth. Contact with the oil can cease contractions and become a major risk for both the baby and mother.

TEA TREE OIL IN BEAUTY PRODUCTS
Many products in the beauty industry take advantage of the benefits of tea tree oil. Creams, shampoos, soaps, deodorants, and even organic disinfectant cleaning products have made their way into spas and salons. Tea tree oil has a distinct aroma with a note of spice and a hint of camphor/eucalyptus-like cooling scent. The presence of the oil can often be identified in a product simply by the hint of the raw tea tree fragrance. The pigment of the oil can vary from clear to yellow, but generally does not influence the overall product color.

Historically, tea tree oil has proven to have strong antiseptic, fungicide, and curative abilities. Until now, Australians have done the primary research and testing, but researchers across the globe are studying its benefits. It is certain that further uses and applications of the oil will be discovered, making the ingredient of the past a modern-day wonder.

 

Written by Victoria Tabak for Dermascope Magazine.
© All Rights Reserved. Published in January 2017 Issue

Hot Spicy Skin Care: The Power of the Cayenne Pepper


CAYENNE PEPPERS are a remarkable fruit with the legendary power to promote holistic health of the body and skin. Best known as a hot spice containing the stimulant capsaicin, the cayenne pepper is packed with vitamins, minerals and beneficial properties that come together to deliver a plethora of skin beautifying benefits!

ULTRAVIOLET DEFENSE

Vitamin E is a significant oil-soluble antioxidant in the body, creating a protective barrier for the skin to lock in moisture and guard it against external environmental assault. Cayenne peppers contain one of the highest, most stable concentrations of vitamin E. When used in conjunction with vitamin C and selenium, it enables a sun-protecting shield for the skin against ultraviolet radiation and inhibits UVBtriggered skin inflammation.

ANTI-AGING

Cayenne peppers help to combat against fines lines and wrinkles in the skin. High concentrations of vitamin A, including beta-carotene, play a significant role in regenerating and maintaining supple skin, and encourage the production of collagen and elastin. The combination of vitamin B, potassium, calcium, iron, manganese and magnesium synergistically work to increase moisture, hydrate, nourish and protect skin against dermatitis, which often affects aging skin, and helps with cellular metabolism and enzymatic function in order for the necessary enzymes to regulate DNA replication and repair. The minerals boost cell growth and renewal, accentuating a vibrant, even textured glow. Properties in cayenne peppers even repair the visible signs of both chronologic and sun-related skin aging.

ACNE CONTROL

The impeccable anti-inflammatory properties of cayenne peppers work to remedy inflammation related skin conditions such as acne. Capsaicin, though topically aggressive (and to be used with caution), is a strong constituent of cayenne that works to eliminate inflammation. When applied to the skin it may feel intense and cause temporary surface redness; but once the hot sensation settles, the ingredient has a calming effect. Magnesium, along with vitamins A and B, work together to control acne and reduce breakouts. The peppers create a healing environment for the skin, allowing for the repair of acne breakouts and blemishes.

DETOXIFICATION

Toxins that sit in the body are destructive to the cells. They trigger acne, pimples and blemishes, and even exacerbate cellulite accumulation. When applied topically, the aggressive stimulant can increase blood circulation throughout the entire body or in localized areas. This boost in circulation improves nutrient and oxygen distribution throughout the body, assisting in better lymphatic drainage and promoting the purge of toxins from the bloodstream.

FIGHTS CELLULITE

Cellulite is localized lipodystrophy, a condition in which specific areas of the body have damaged fat tissue. Because cellulite accumulates over time, it is an ongoing battle. The core problem of fat tissue damage is due to poor circulation in the cellulite-stricken areas of the body. Cellulite progresses due to lack of circulation, accumulation of toxins and free radicals. The high antioxidant content of cayenne peppers, especially the cell metabolism boosting vitamin B, along with vitamins A and C, successfully neutralize offensive free radicals that attack the fat tissue. Capsaicin is a phenomenal blood circulation and lymphatic drainage stimulant. It works to repair damaged circulation and facilitates the removal of toxins from the fat tissue, ultimately smoothing the dimply cellulite appearance.

RELIEVES PAIN

When a person experiences pain, the body sends a chemical messenger called substance P to the brain. Through the action of capsaicin, cayenne pepper has a remarkable ability to lower substance P. By decreasing substance P, there is less of the chemical to travel to the brain, and in turn, less pain. Capsaicin can also serve as a distraction from pain by activating a different kind of intense sensation, taking the brain’s attention away from the original source of distress.

TREATS PSORIASIS

Psoriasis is typically categorized as an inflammatory skin disease that appears in patches throughout the body. These patches tend to be red, raised and with a whitish flaky buildup of keratin from the overproduction of skin cells. Capsaicin is remarkable for soothing and reducing discomfort related to dry, itchy skin. The anti-inflammatory traits of the peppers lessen the redness, irritation, scaling and thickness of the patches.

INTERNAL BOOST

One way to offer your clients the nutritional benefits of this spice is to offer them a cup of hot water with lemon kicked up with a dash of cayenne pepper to complement their treatments. You can recommend they incorporate this into their daily wellness ritual as well. The infusion increases blood circulation, which promotes a glowing complexion. It also heals the body from the inside out, boosting vitality and stamina, improving heart health and enhancing metabolism.

Cayenne peppers are an active and potent extract that possess characteristics to bring about wellness, anti-aging and skin beautifying results. Spice up your treatments with the powers of cayenne!

 

Written by Victoria Tabak for Les Nouvelles Esthetiques & Spa Magazine.
© All Rights Reserved. Published in December 2016 Issue

Emu Oil: Ancient Remedy for Modern Times

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Far back in history live the mysteries of the once existent dinosaurs, yet evidence reveals that their presence is still very much alive in the Australian emu birds. Emu, the second largest flightless bird in the world and part of the ratite bird family, have many similarities to the theropod dinosaurs. Some studies suggest that emu are a transitional species between a dinosaur and a bird, raising the possibility that the healing powers of the emu date back to the Mesozoic Era.

For hundreds of years, the Australian aboriginal people have utilized the benefits of emu oil for medicinal purposes. Emu birds are harvested for nutritional purposes, and the oil is a byproduct that is derived from the stored fat layer. The fat goes through a purification and refinement process, and is then converted to a hypoalle­rgenic and odorless oil. The oil can maintain stability and shelf life for at least two years.

Emu oil is rich in monosaturated and polysaturated fats that are high in omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9. Because of its health benefits, it can even be considered a topical nutritional supplement. The characte­ristic fat content of emu oil makes it uniquely similar in composition to that of human fatty tissue, enabling easy and swift topical assimilation. Emu oil is abundant with essential fatty acids, antioxidants, carotenoids and flavonoids that work effectively to restore, stimulate and beautify the skin.

Reduces Swelling from Inflammation
Emu oil is an excellent natural remedy that promotes healing, calming any injury or irritation related to erythema, which is redness that can occur on the surface of the skin. The skin cells in the lower layers of the dermis, especially the subcutaneous layer, are surrounded by fatty tissue, much like that of the emu. Emu oil can swiftly penetrate up to 3 inches deep into the dermal layers because the skin recognizes it as a familiar substance.

Once the oil is absorbed, the anti-inflammatory properties of linoleic (omega-6) fatty acid enable a calming, pain-relieving effect. In one study performed at the Harner Burn Center in Texas, emu oil was used to treat burn victims only on one side of their body. The study showed that there was faster healing and scar reduction compared with that of a common burn ointment. Emu oil played a significant role in soothing and calming the areas, reducing inflammation and improving skin moisture levels that facilitated an accelerated the healing process.

Improves Eczema, Dermatitis, and Psoriasis
Many skin disorders are accompanied by inflammation, rashes, and uneven skin texture. Emu oil soothes the skin, lessening dermatitis-related redness and irritation. The sapogens concentrate on softening the skin, which disturbs the hard scaly patches that develop as a result of psoriasis. By reducing inflammation and alleviating dry skin, emu oil relieves skin itching and can positively affect the conditions of eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis.

Stimulates Skin Cell Regeneration
Emu oil contains high concentr­ations of oleic acid (omega-9) and palmitoleic acid (omega-7), which play a significant role in boosting cell production and regeneration. With the increased cell turnover rate, skin can better repair itself. In a study that was published in Dermatology Research and Practice, findings revealed that when emu oil was topically applied to skin burns, the healing process was slightly delayed, but had an overall progressive effect on restoring the skin. Emu oil encourages tissue fiber proliferation and increases collagen production, aiding in the healing of wounds and scars.

Repairs Acne
Emu oil does not clog the pores. A small amount of the oil goes a long way. It goes on light and absorbs instantly. It is a non-irritating ingredient, and is gentle on even the most sensitive skin. As acne heals, there is a risk for blemishes and scarring. Emu oil assists in the healing process, and reduces the accumulation of cells that encompass emerging scar tissue. Terpenes, found in the oil, further battle with acne related infections because of their antimicrobial benefits.

Thickens Skin
Studies have shown that regular use of emu oil can increase skin thickness by two to three times. The oil entraps and holds moisture for long periods of time because of the emollient action of palmitic fatty acid. Emu oil also helps oxygenate skin cells. These combined efforts plump the underlying layers of skin and enhance skin elasticity and thickness.

Decreases Age Spots
Emu oil is rich in vitamin A, a type of carotenoid. Through its considerable amount of antioxidants from vitamin A and vitamin E, emu oil can effectively repair skin damage. Age spots and hyperpig­mentation develop as humans get older due to overexposure to ultraviolet radiation or other melanocyte stimulants, such as hormones.

The increased melanin in localized areas of the skin is responsible for the dark spots that develop on the surface of the skin. The restoring qualities of oleic acid (omega-9) and the plethora of antioxidants can easily penetrate into the dermis. Application of emu oil increases the rate of cell renewal of the unhealthy pigmented tissue, resulting in the reduced severity of age spots.

Reduces Wrinkles
Emu oil moisturizes and nourishes the skin, acting as food for the cells deep in the dermis. With unparalleled transdermal capacity, emu oil heightens the potency of any skin care formula. It contains myristic and stearic fatty acids, which are natural emulsifiers, allowing the collaboration of oil- and water- soluble substances.

Emu oil functions as a powerful delivery system—it is able to penetrate through all the layers of skin. As it passes through, it carries along all the nutrients and contents of the oil itself and any other ingredients present. It easily facilitates the penetration of either water or oil soluble substances.

The efficacy of any skin care product containing emu oil becomes significantly enhanced. The oil can quickly and effectively impact and improve damaged, dry, and malnourished skin, directly combating visible signs of aging. The sapogens and oleic acid (omega-9) soften skin and smooth fine lines and wrinkles.

Creates Protective Barrier and Enhances Immunity
Emu birds are known for having a strong and resistant immune system after having to adapt to the extreme climate in Australia. Application of emu oil improves skin quality and health, strengthening the skin’s overall immunity. The oil is loaded with flavonoids, which are abundant in antioxidants working to defend the skin against environmental stress. It is a natural skin protectant against harmful ultraviolet rays. Although emu oil is not an antibact­erial, it does have anti-septic benefits from the terpenes. The oil may not be able to destroy the bacteria, but it stunts potential bacterial growth and reproduction by creating a protective barrier on the skin.

Moisturizes Dry Scalp
The intense nourishing action of emu oil is not only favorable for the skin on the face. It is equally conditioning and moisturizing for the scalp. It is also great for relieving itching related to dry scalp. The joint strength of hydration boosting palmitic fatty acid, omega 3, 6, 7 and 9 facilitate optimal scalp replenis­hment.

Encourages Hair Growth
Application of emu oil to the scalp rouses cell restoration around the hair follicles that can potentially stop hair loss and assist in the growth of new hair. The heightened epidermal hair follicle activity fortifies the development of new and healthier hair keratin. To achieve optimal hair growth results, emu oil would be most effective when it is incorporated in products with other scalp-stimulating ingredients that have vasodilation properties or a dihydrot­estosterone (DHT)-blocking effect linked to pattern balding.

Use in the Spa
A treatment containing emu oil is ideal in the post care of harsh procedures, such as chemical peels, dermabrasion and needling because it reduces itching, redness, peeling and scaling. Emu oil would make a dramatic difference in any dry or dehydrated skin-replenishing facial. It works as a transdermal vehicle, getting all the ingredients faster and significantly deeper into the dermis. Any product formulated with emu oil becomes more potent.

Products with emu oil would be preferential for clients hoping to achieve faster visible anti-aging results. Emu oil has become a modern-day gem in the beauty and wellness industry. It is a remedy that dates back to an era even further back than the existence of humans, yet it is still relevant today. It is most beneficial in encouraging healing, repairing and promoting skin and hair health. Emu oil supports wellness from the outside-in, supplying nutrients to cells in the lower skin layers by way of its phenomenal transdermal delivery system.

Originally published at http://www.skininc.com/skinscience/ingredients/Emu-Oil...

 

Written by Victoria Tabak © All Rights Reserved. Published in November 2016 Web Exclusive and March 2017 Issue of Skin Inc. Magazine

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A Step-by-Step: Cellulite Blasting Treatment

lipomelt-dermascope-articleClick Here for PDF

Cellulite is an ongoing concern for many clients. It is recognizable for its dimply appearance, which is comparable to the skin of an orange peel; severe cellulite can even resemble cottage cheese. Understanding what cellulite is and its primary cause is important in order for skin care professionals to be able to repair affected areas.

UNDERSTANDING CELLULITE
Cellulite is localized lipodystrophy, or damaged fat tissue, that tends to appear in the hips, thighs, and buttocks. Impaired adipose tissue is, ultimately, non-responsive, causing an interruption in the circulation and flow of the lymph, fat, and fibers that exist in the tissue. The key to treating cellulite is to stimulate and trigger a physical response by boosting blood circulation and fat metabolism.

CIRCULATION IS KEY
Enhancing circulation will cause affected areas to become flush and sensitive. The increased flow of lymph and fat will break down the accumulated stagnant fibers and proteins in the fat tissue that cause the uneven texture. By activating a healthy internal fat drainage cycle, professionals will be able to break down cellulite and smooth, tone, and contour the targeted areas.

KEY ACTION INGREDIENTS
There are a variety of actives that effectively enable fast and dramatic results when combating cellulite. Mustard seed powder, capsaicin derived from red chili peppers, caffeine, theophylline, and rhodysterol from red algae are among the more aggressive active ingredients. High concentrations of powerful, antioxidant-rich ingredients – including aminophylline, aloe, and hippophae – are critical in neutralizing free radicals, which are destructive to healthy tissue. They also work to break down fat deposits that accumulate under the skin and accelerate the process of tissue regeneration.

CONSULTATION AND CONTRAINDICATIONS
Assess the client’s specific needs and areas of concern and determine the affected areas. Explain the procedure, being sure the client understands that the treatment will leave the treated areas flush with some sensitivity due to an increase in blood circulation. After the client consents to the treatment, prepare the bed with a plastic disposable sheet. During the service, the client can either remain in their own undergarment or wear disposable underwear.

Some contraindications for this treatment include skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, open lesions or rashes, recently shaven or waxed skin, sunburns, and severe varicose veins.

STEP-BY-STEP PROCEDURE

Put on a pair of disposable gloves to protect the hands from ingredient overstimulation and apply a nickel size amount of an exfoliating body polisher to any areas of dry skin. The body polisher should contain ingredients such as jojoba seeds, citrus extract, aloe, omega fatty acids, and antioxidants. Massage and work the polisher in circular upward and inward motions toward the heart. Continue massaging the skin until all extracts are fully absorbed and only the dry, granular texture remains. With a dry towel, brush the granules off of the skin.

Apply, as necessary, a vitamin-enriched relaxation-promoting, aromatic massage oil and perform petrissage-style massage to the treatment areas. Massage will improve circulation and help the client relax. Oils rich with avocado, squalene, safflower, and vitamins help to nourish the tissue and retain the skin’s natural moisture levels.

Measure approximately a quarter cup of mustard seed powder and mix it with one teaspoon of fir tree oil. Evenly disperse the mixture onto a finely threaded gauze.

Dissolve 500 milligrams of vitamin C into two cups of hot water and place the gauze in one tablespoon of the vitamin C water until the mustard powder has a paste-like consistency.

Apply the gauze over a thin napkin or protective skin liner sheet to the targeted area and press firmly onto the client’s skin. Cover the treated area with a blanket or towel to allow for a thermal reaction and be sure to tuck the blanket under the body to insure insulation of the area. The ingredients will promote deeper adipose tissue heating and stimulation.

Leave the gauze on the skin for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the client’s feedback. Ask the client to rate the severity of the treatment’s intensity. When the client reaches a high intensity level, remove the gauze. For more sensitive clients, 10 minutes will be sufficient. The expected sensitivities should be reviewed during the initial consultation. Performing an upper body massage with the body oil will allow the ingredients to take full effect.

Peel away any remains of the protective skin liner or napkin.

Using the fingertips or a dry brush, manipulate the treated area with long upward and inward strokes to facilitate fat and lymph drainage.

Gently apply a dime to nickel-sized amount of a leave-in contouring and stimulating cream to each treated area. Massage the client’s body using light effleurage strokes until the cream has fully absorbed. This product should contain ingredients that will continue to reactivate and combat cellulite, including capsaicin, theophylline, caffeine, aminophylline, and rhodysterol.

Complete the treatment by applying a teardrop amount of a moisturizing vitamin C and antioxidant-rich product to each treated area to boost the efficacy and strength of the treatment. This product will continue to repair the cellulite fat tissue.

 

Written by Victoria Tabak for Dermascope Magazine.
© All Rights Reserved. Published in October 2016 Issue

Soy In Skin Care

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Soybeans are one of nature’s best-kept secrets to maintaining healthy, youthful skin. Many Asian populations live on a soy-based diet, consuming up to 300 milligrams of soy a day. They also have significantly lower incidents of skin conditions, cardiovascular disease, prostate, uterus and breast cancer, osteoporosis and even hot flashes than any other population in the world. In addition, the residents of Asia are known to maintain clearer and younger looking skin than Western and Eastern European countries.

In the United States, soy grown in the Midwest is the most pure and non-genetically modified form. It’s now making its way into Western diets for its immeasurable health benefits, as well as the skin care industry as a game-changing natural therapy for the skin. Soy contains some of the richest concentrations of isoflavones, phospholipids, phytosterols, saponins, vitamins, omegas, minerals and protein of any food source. As the holistic lifestyle and healing movement continues to grow, the relevance of soy only becomes stronger.

NUTRITIONAL POWERHOUSE

Soy is a highly nutritional plant. It is a clean, pure source of protein rich in iron, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, zinc, potassium, copper, folic acid, vitamins and omegas. Eating soy on a regular basis may boost immunity, strengthen bones, support healthy, younger looking skin, and even potentially lower the risk of many widespread diseases.

WRINKLE REPAIR

During the normal maturation process, hormonal imbalances develop, which for women typically involves a decrease in estrogen levels. As a result, skin becomes dehydrated, thinner and less firm due to a decline in collagen and elastin production. There is also a significant drop in hyaluronic acid in the intercellular layers, which is key to keeping skin looking plump.

To understand how soy addresses this problem, visualize a lock and key. Picture the locks as receptors, and the keys as hormones. Ideally, there are uninterrupted cycles of keys being accepted by the locks. As skin matures, however, a shortage of keys occurs in the body, leading to an interruption in the process, where there are locks being neglected. An interruption in this flow ultimately causes visible signs of aging.

The remarkable ability of genistein, a phyto-hormone and the heart of soy isoflavones, is to promote an internal balance. Genistein is a plant compound that has a human hormone-like composition, but is not an actual hormone. Because of this, it does not cause any adverse effects. Genistein has remarkable skin benefits. Genistein, together with phosopholipids, critical to the lipid bilayer of every cell membrane, has the unique ability to generate cell membranes. They can rebuild collagen and elastin, increase skin thickness, enhance skin hydration and improve overall wellness while smoothing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

To illustrate how the balancing process works, keep in mind the example of a lock and key. The chemical structure of real estrogen and the chemical structure of genistein are so similar that when genistein makes contact with the skin, the body accepts it as its own “key”. The skin can actually respond and reactivate the normal flow of receptors being triggered by the genistein, which otherwise are left lingering due to the lack of estrogen. Without ever actually introducing hormones into the body, genistein has the phenomenal properties to initiate internal balance by shifting the equilibrium toward the body’s natural estrogenic side by reactivating stagnant receptors.

REDUCES ACNE

Acne commonly affects hair follicles, sebaceous glands on the face, chest and sometimes the back. The sebaceous glands secrete sebum, which reaches the skin’s surface coming through the hair follicle. In the case of excess sebum production, blockages in the pores occur, provoking breakouts and acne.

Androgens, the male hormone, are the only hormones that stimulate the sebaceous glands to enlarge and produce greater amounts of sebum, which becomes a culprit that leads to acne. Real estrogen is known for its ability to block the effects of androgens on the sebaceous glands, but that requires a pharmaceutical route, often accompanied by certain side effects. Soy isoflavones have a remarkable adaptogenic ability, and can sense where the internal equilibrium needs to shift, either toward the estrogenic or androgenic side without ever having to implement real hormones. Therefore the skin is able to benefit from exceptional results without the side effects that may accompany pharmaceutical hormone options.

LESSENS REDNESS AND INFLAMMATION

Soy is rich in phytosterols, saponins and phytic acid. Phytosterols and saponins enhance skin’s immunity and resistance to environmental effects and inflammation. Saponins even have anti-viral characteristics, further protecting the skin from external harmful factors. The saponins’ molecule can absorb toxic buildup, boosting the energy and rejuvenation level of every cell.

Phytic acid is an antioxidant rich herbal skin brightener and soother. Phytic acid, along with nourishing topicals omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid) and omega-6 (linoleic acid), counters skin sensitivities and redness, making soy a remedy that can improve rosacea, eczema, psoriasis and other dermatitis related skin concerns. The combined action of B-vitamins and vitamin K enhances overall blood cell quality and resiliency.

DECREASES SEVERITY OF CELLULITE

Cellulite is a metabolic disorder of the connective adipose (fat) tissue. It is described as being composed of waste product such as fatty deposits, toxins and fluid between the layers of the connective tissue. Soy isoflavones are a gentle and non-invasive option to reduce the severity of mild grades of cellulite. Daidzein and genistein inhibit adverse rapid cellular growth and encourage the blocking of estrogen when appropriate, which in turn counters the progression and accumulation of cellulite development.

USE IN THE SPA

Treatments incorporating soy are ideal for clients distressed by imbalances, as soy works to remedy hormone-associated acne and menopause-related skin changes in synergy with the body’s own processes. Products containing pure hydrolyzed soy, the most active and penetrable form, can regenerate cells and boost skin vitality.

A soy-rich facial treatment is a great option for a wide spectrum of clients depending on their specific skin concerns. A typical 60-minute session can range from $95 to $195. A soy treatment has the potential for immediate and long-term cumulative results, especially when combined with recommended daily home care. Studies have shown that routine treatment and use of soy-based products can be effective enough to substitute some pharmaceutical-based treatments for problem skin and aging.

 

Written by Victoria Tabak for Les Nouvelles Esthetique & Spa Magazine.
© All Rights Reserved. Published in August 2016 Issue