If you’ve ever tried a skin brightening skin care product or home remedy to improve the appearance of melasma, dark circles, or other forms of hyperpigmentation and got no results, you are NOT alone. The truth is that a LOT of people are struggling with this. In fact, the majority of the emails and Facebook inquiries I get are from people who ask what skin brightening herbs they can use to lighten dark spots.
To put things into perspective, hyperpigmentation in general is the second most common skin complaint in the United States (acne is the first). Roughly 6 million Americans struggle with some form of hyperpigmentation (whether it is melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, chloasma, sun damage, etc); the majority of them being women. While hyperpigmentation can affect all skin tones, they are more common in Fitzpatrick III and higher (medium to darker tones than light).
Conventional hyperpigmentation treatments may have limited efficacy, but have safety concerns.
Hydroquinone, retinoids, and corticosteroids are still the “gold standard” topical medication for hyperpigmentation both in conventional OTC products and prescription topicals. As I stated in this article (which is one of the most-read articles on this blog of all time, AND on a daily basis), while these drugs may appear to alleviate symptoms during use, they present very real risks to long-term skin and overall health.
Many more holistically-minded dermatologists and aestheticians have begun to recommend more natural ingredients such as kojic acid, and other specific phytochemicals like ellagic acid, and alpha arbutin. While these are shown to be safer than the pharmaceutical options, there is still a risk of long-term skin damage from applying highly concentrated doses of isolated phytochemicals to an area. The skin’s receptors can be overwhelmed and eventually shut down, which could then, in defense, produce a melanin reaction, which defeats the purpose of using them in the first place.
The safer, but still effective approach, is to use skin brightening herbs in a properly formulated, balanced skin care regimen.
As I mention in this article, though certain components of plants may show more benefit than others, those “others” may in fact be important nutrients which serve co-factors for the vitamin or phytochemical desired in the formulation. As my friend and colleague, Dr. Trevor Cates teaches in the Herbal Skincare Summit, “A lot of the time, we think if we see a little benefit in one thing, more is better. So we isolate it and boost it up–but then we’re missing the more balanced benefits that nature allows for us by using the whole plant.”
Nature has a way of providing us with what we need, and for protecting us by making sure nutrients are offered in a way that aren’t too overpowering, but still have the ability to get where they need to go in the body so they can do their jobs.
While scientific literature is quick to point out that there have been few clinical trials that evaluated the treatment of hyperpigmentation with natural ingredients (not to oversimplify the matter, but DUH. There is far more research on pharmaceutical treatments because they are where the most profit is, AND they have greater safety risks which warrant this type of testing than natural remedies do), research has shown that several phytochemicals did show efficacy as de-pigmenting agents.
The conventional approach would be to treat these phytochemicals as pharmaceuticals, by isolating them from the plant and concentrating them into extracts or active ingredients. These would then be formulated with preservatives and stabilizers to prevent degradation, and packed into a delivery system to be able to penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin where melanocytes (melanin-producing pigment cells) live. This raises the cost of the ingredient, and also creates an ingredient that could be too strong for skin that is already inflamed and immune-compromised.
The more holistic approach I’m offering you today, is to use products that are made with skin brightening herbs and oils that naturally contain these studied phytochemicals. This way you are still getting the benefit of the “science based active ingredient” (that’s the term the “professional” skin care companies usually throw around). However, now get them in a dose that is safe for daily use, and with the support of the plant’s OTHER many therapeutic properties which help that active component absorb and perform optimally. This presents less risk of inflammation, less risk of interference with the skin’s natural functions (herbs support structure and function, not hinder or alter), and less risk of sensitization from overwhelmed receptors. While these compounds are noted to “inhibit” certain functions having to do with melanogenesis, in the whole plant form, they do so without risk of melanocytotoxicity (damage to the cells themselves). That is not the case with isolated or synthesized actives that inhibit or suppress these functions.
Here are 10 phytochemicals science has shown to help with hyperpigmentation, and the skin brightening herbs and foods that contain them:
Found in the leaves of the aloe vera plant (Aloe barbadensis miller is the preferred species), this compound has shown to act as a tyrosinase inhibitor. Fun fact: Tyrosinase is the enzyme that oxidizes the amino acid, tyrosine. This action is what triggers the melanocytes to produce melanin pigment (AKA melanogenesis). Aloesin is also known to prevent melanin overproduction in the presence of the sun’s UV rays. It works synergistically with arbutin.
This aromatic compound is found in the essential oil (steam distilled from the aerial parts) of German chamomile (AKA “blue” chamomile). It is also found in the essential oil from the bark of the Candeia tree (Eremanthus erythropappus), the Peakel (Smyrniopsis aucheri), the leaves of the Pogostemon Speciosus Benth, and the leaves of Salvia runcinata (a sage native to South Africa). It is effective on brightening hyperpigmentation caused by excessive sun exposure by inhibiting MSH (melanocyte stimulating hormone)-induced melanogenesis. Alpha-bisabolol is also one of the terpenes present in cannabis.
This is one of the more commonly isolated skin brightening herb compounds (also seen as alpha-arbutin and deoxyarbutin) in some of the safer hyperpigmentation treatments on the market. However, it is found naturally occurring in bearberry, California buckeye, pear, cranberry, and blueberry. This one is mostly effective for sun-induced hyperpigmentation (sun spots), and works by inhibiting both tyrosinase and DHICA polymerase (which is an intermediate in the biosynthesis of melanin)
This compound is found in Rockcress (Arabidopsis), wheat, rye, and barley. It works to prevent defensive melanin responses by inhibiting mitochondrial oxidoreductase, DNA synthesis, and tyrosinase.
This polyphenol antioxidant is one of the easiest to find in common fresh fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, grapes, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, guava, pomegranate, beefsteak fungus, and pecans. It is also one of the components of green tea, which has been studied along with catechins for improving the appearance of sun damaged and hyperpigmented skin.
Found in licorice root, this isoflavonoid acts as a tyrosinase inhibitor for dark spots caused by UVB-induced sun damage, and also has been shown to disperse built-up in melasma.
Also known as Vitamin P, this phytonutrient is widely available in fresh fruits and vegetables, and is the most active bioflavonoid antioxidant in citrus fruits. It is a tyrosinase inhibitor that facilitates the formation of Vitamin C; an important antioxidant which is protective of the melanocytes, and also must be present for collagen and elastin production. Other fruits that contain hesperidin are grapefruits, plums, bilberries, and apricots. You can also find it in green and yellow peppers, broccoli, and buckwheat.
One of the main active constituents of licorice root, liquiritin also has been shown to disperse melanin in cases of melasma similar to glabridin. One 2009 study found that liquiritin was more effective in visible depigmentation and melanin dispersement than the standard prescription and OTC dosages of hydroquinone.
Not to be confused with proanthocyanidins, there are both A and B-type procyanidins which have shown to improve melasma with their strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They are also tyrosinase inhibitors and scavengers of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and other free radicals. The most prominent food source of A-type procyanidins are found in cranberries, while plums, avocados, cinnamon, and peanuts also contain them. B-type procyanidins differ due to their content of catechins and epicatechins, and can be found in “blueberries, blackberries, marion berries, choke berries, grape seeds, apples, peaches, pears, nectarines, kiwi, mango, dates, bananas, Indian pumpkin, sorghum, barley, black-eyed peas, black beans, walnuts, and cashews.”
Milk thistle (AKA silybum) seeds are the main source of silymarin. It is also abundant in wild artichokes, turmeric, coriander seeds and leaves (cilantro); and trace amounts can be found in dark-skinned grapes, beet greens, black cohosh, peanuts, brewer’s yeast and most berries. Silymarin is mainly known for its liver protective benefits, but directly benefit melasma and other forms of hyperpigmentation by inhibiting tyrosine from hydroxylating into L-DOPA along the thyroid hormone pathways.
There are other phytochemicals that found in skin brightening herbs, fruits, and vegetables, which you can find in some of the sources below. Please note that I’ve used the cosmetic term “skin brightening” instead of “skin lightening” or “skin whitening.” These are medical claims and terminology that suggests that the ingredients alter the structure or function of the body, which are drug/health claims.
Care for hyperpigmentation inside out and outside in.
After reading through the above (and information sourced below), you will notice that in some cases, several of these compounds can be found in the same fruits and vegetables and that some of them work together. I always recommend to my Create Your Skincare students that they choose multitasking ingredients that share common constituents across multiple categories whenever possible.
It’s also very important to note that while melanin production, function, and dysfunction absolutely are influenced by the sun and what happens to the skin topically, the cells themselves depend on the right nourishment from within to form and function the right way. Melanin production is also closely tied to liver function and thyroid function (as noted above, and also discussed in my bestselling book, Love Your Skin, Love Yourself). So if you struggle with hyperpigmentation, I recommend adding a wide variety of the fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes mentioned above to your diet, in addition to finding ways to incorporate them into your topical skincare regimen.
To learn how to create and customize all natural herbal skin care products for yourself or for your clients, check out my Create Your Skincare online courses, and start with a free class today!
*The content in this article is for educational purposes only, is not intended to prevent, diagnose, or treat any disease or disorder; and is not a substitute for medical advice or care. Please consult with your own licensed healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet or regimen, and for advice on your own individual condition.
**Image 1 credit: Elord from Wikidocs [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]. Image 2 credit: Jfgouzer [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]. Image 3 credit: blumenbiene Echte Kamille (Matricaria chamomilla) via photopin (license) . Image 4 credit: William Felker on Unsplash. Image 5 credit Orfeu de SantaTeresa on Unsplash
Dry skin is no fun, whether its due to a change in weather or climate or due to other reasons such as genetically alipidic skin or chronic dehydration. It can feel constantly itchy, unevenly textured, appear prematurely aged, and feel tight to the point that you feel like your skin might tear from smiling (and for some severe cases, it can). Even washing dry skin with plain water can be painful–especially in the winter.
I’ll be honest with you–I never thought I’d experience dry skin. As someone who, for the majority of my life had oily, clogged, acneic skin, I used to actually envy people with dry skin. People with pores so tiny, they’d never show blackheads or sebaceous filaments. People who never had to carry around blotting papers, or worry about looking like a sweaty mess in a group photo or while giving a presentation. People who never had to worry about a big ole’ nasty zit popping up right before a special occasion.
Of course later on I learned a lot more about skin both on the surface (as an aesthetician and formulator) and below (as a health coach, herbalist, and functional nutrition practitioner) and realized that oily skin actually does have perks and isn’t a cause of acne. I also learned that dry skin doesn’t mean no acne, and it comes with a whole slew of other uncomfortable skin issues. So I began to appreciate my oily skin–especially when my acne cleared and I began to see that my skin was not showing signs of age as quickly as my dry skinned friends.
For years, my skin did really well with a minimalist regimen of just an oil cleanser, simple toner, and facial oil serum for my moisturizer. I used more saturated, expansive lipids in my winter blends, and less saturated, “drier” oils in my summer blends to adjust my skincare to my skin’s seasonal needs. If I felt like experimenting with new water-soluble ingredients, maybe I’d make a cream–but I never liked layering products on top of products in complicated skincare regimens. Maybe that’s because I believed the marketing hype I was sold years ago with the acne “systems” I used to buy–and even what I was taught at trade shows and manufacturers’ product education classes taught by professional skincare companies. Once I realized that my skin–and my wallet–didn’t like all those different products, I stripped my regimen WAY down. And until this fall, that was enough.
Until it wasn’t.
This past fall, I switched up my oil serum as usual, and made a really lovely blend that I loved using, but for some reason, it wasn’t enough. For the first time in my life, my skin felt dry all day long, to the point where it was uncomfortable. I made sure all my ingredients were fresh and hadn’t gone rancid. Yup, all fine. I made sure I hadn’t introduced something new or toxic into our household cleaning products or other personal care products. Check, all good.
I made sure I applied my oil serum while my skin still had water on it from the shower, or from my hydrosol toner, and still, I woke up feeling like my pillowcase was sandpaper on my skin. I started adding a layer of shea nilotica butter on top of the oil serum, thinking my skin needed an even MORE saturated lipid to keep in the moisture. Nope, no dice. I also started using a wellness tracking app to me sure I was getting enough sleep and drinking enough water for my weight. My skin still felt dry–even in the notoriously oily t-zone area.
What changed to make me all of the sudden have such dry skin?
I’ve gone through 40 other Northeastern/MidAtlantic US falls and winters. But in this 41st one, my skin has changed to the point where my normal seasonal oil blend tweaks were no longer enough. As I mentioned in my last post (which you can read HERE), the skin needs both water AND oil to be thoroughly moisturized at any time of year. The skin also does not get enough water from the water we drink, and I’m going to say this again, while oils help to seal hydration into the skin, they DO NOT HYDRATE the skin on their own.
So, I needed to mitigate this new dry skin situation by adding more water into my topical skincare regimen.
Here are 4 steps I took to achieve balanced moisture on my 41 year old skin this season:
1. I switched from cleansing with a cleansing oil to cleansing with raw honey. Honey is a powerful humectant, and it also is rich with natural sugars that nourish the skin’s microbiome, enzymes, and antioxidants. It cleanses effectively, and does a great job of hydrating–and contrary to what you might think because of its stickiness, it is very easy to remove with a warm, soft cloth.
2. I changed up my hydrosols from rose and witch hazel which are both tightening/astringent to chamomile and geranium, which are less intense on drier, more sensitive skin. Instead of preserving it with alcohol, which can be drying, I switched my preservative to a low percentage of a lactofermented antimicrobial (I teach you how to do this correctly and safely, by the way, in my Create Your Skincare online courses).
3. I made a thick, rich, luxurious, humectant-rich cream. I chose my ingredients according to my Skin Sequencing® method (which I teach exclusively in Create Your Skincare Professional Edition), and instead of distilled water which is actually too alkaline for the skin, I used lower pH hydrosols, and humectant-rich aloe and one of my handmade glycerites. I also added nourishing oils and demulcent/mucilaginous herbal extracts, along with natural emulsifier and antimicrobials. The formula is simple but each ingredient was chosen for a specific purpose for my unique skin, because I didn’t want to overwhelm my already-freaking-out skin with an overly complicated formula. I apply this underneath my oil serum.
4. I sleep with a humidifier, and we also have hepafilters in the house. Humidifiers are a great way to counteract drying forced air heating systems and fireplace air’s effects on the skin. However, with humidifiers, you really have to be careful to clean them properly and change the filters often, as they can breed mold. Our hepafilters are to help clean the air of potential mold spores, and other irritant, drying particles.
These changes have restored my skin’s moisture and glow, and have made it look and feel as good as it does in the summer when there’s an abundance of humidity.
What if you don’t want to add a lotion or cream?
I know a lot of purist holistic aestheticians and skincare enthusiasts who don’t like to use creams or lotions, because they don’t want products with emulsifiers or preservatives. I strongly believe that there are safe, and even beneficial emulsifiers available these days–and new ones continue to enter the market. But I get that some people just don’t want to go there.
If that describes you, then you might be fine applying a tepid herbal compress of a demulcent/mucilaginous herb blend (marshmallow, hibiscus, elderflower, and oats are lovely), or apply a one-time use DIY mix of this blend with some fresh aloe vera gel as a hydrating serum under your oil. If you want to take the time to do that, and it’s giving you the results you want, then go for it! But if you’d like something that’s shelf stable that you don’t have to whip up every day, then it’s a great idea to learn how to make herbal creams and lotions safely.
Do you have dry skin?
What’s worked for you to help it stay hydrated, especially during the winter or if you live in a desert climate? Please share your best tips in the comments below!
Want to learn more about how to use herbs inside and out for gorgeous, glowing skin all year round?
Check out the Herbal Skincare Summit. You can now purchase anytime access to all 18 herbal skincare classes, get awesome bonuses, plus the exclusive Herbal Skincare Summit Companion e-Book!
**Althaea officinalis image by H. Zell – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9008527
Don’t you just hate it when you have an event coming up and a big old zit pops on the most obvious part of your face? Today’s guest post from Emma Hanson shares with you three quick ways to kick that unwelcome visitor out. I particularly like these three remedies, because I’ll be honest with you–many of the “get rid of the zit quick” remedies (and DIY skincare remedies in general) I see online may do more harm than good because even though they are using natural ingredients, they aren’t ingredients that are necessarily appropriate for topical application (lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and aspirin, are some of the most common offenders). The overnight pimple remedies listed below are safe for topical application, but keep in mind that they are intended for short-term spot treatment, and should not be considered as part of a daily regimen. Enjoy!
Sudden breakouts are such a common issue for women (and men too) of all ages. A pimple can pop due to a number of factors which we often aren’t aware of.
Fret not! Here are 3 simple overnight pimple remedies that really work.
Even if the pimple doesn’t disappear, completely it surely will reduce in size and look less inflamed.
1. Aloe vera icing
You might have heard about icing the pimple, which definitely helps to calm down the redness and may help reduce the size on its own. If you want to double the effectiveness, try frozen aloe vera. Aloe has the anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that are add serious therapeutic action to the coldness of the ice. It also packs serious skin nutrition, and pimple fighting properties such as Vitamins A, C, and E, minerals such as copper and zinc, enzymes, and bioavailable salicylic acid (which is a famous solution to acne).
To make your aloe vera ice, simply add aloe vera gel (learn how to safely extract the gel from the plant HERE) to your ice cube tray and then ice your pimple down for up 2 or 3 minutes with it twice a day everyday, leading up to the big event.
2. Tea tree oil and clay spot treatment
This tried and tested treatment is one you won’t commonly see on the DIY blogs (which is why I happen to love it!). Take a teaspoon of bentonite clay and add diluted tea tree oil to it (Rachael’s note: I recommend castor oil or aloe vera gel with about a 3% concentration of tea tree oil) for this particular blend). Add enough to make a paste out of it and apply the solution to the affected area only. Let it dry and then remove it with warm water. You’ll be shocked at how fast this remedy will dry out the blemish and reduce it in size.
Tea tree oil and bentonite clay both have the ability to draw out impurities, and kill the bacteria. For these reasons, this spot treatment is a powerful overnight pimple remedy.
3. Toothpaste magic
The toothpaste spot treatment is nothing new, but it is important to understand that conventional toothpastes on the market contain ingredients that you typically wouldn’t want to put on your skin, even for a spot treatment (like sodium laureth sulfate and artificial flavors). However, you can use a natural, earth-based toothpaste. These are particularly effective because most brands contain ingredients like baking soda, Himalayan or sea salt, bentonite clay, charcoal, and other earthy goodies that are known for their drawing, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Avoid other gel-based and colored toothpastes, because they can cause irritation to the skin.
Apply the toothpaste on affected areas only before going to bed and leave it on for a night. Wash your face in the morning and see the pimple almost vanished.
Again, these are all meant to be used as short-term or overnight pimple remedies.
They are simple, yet very strong, and using them in too large of an area on the face, too often, or for too long, can cause more harm than good. If you’re looking to create safe, natural, simple skincare products that you can use every day, check out my free skincare class, Boutique Skincare Basics. Thanks to Emma for this contribution!
About the author:
Emma Hanson is a mother of two, a skincare freak and an avid reader. She loves trying out new products and treatments for healthy and glowing skin. She shares her knowledge and experience by writing regularly on her blog. She is one of the co-founders of http://www.clearawayacne.com/.
Have you tried any of these overnight pimple remedies?
Or do you have one of your own that always works for you? Please share in the comments below!
*Aloe vera gel image by ER and Jenny via Flickr. Toothpaste image from Amazon.
**This post contains affiliate links. Purchases made after clicking on a link in this post may result in me earning a small commission (at no extra cost to you). These commissions help me continue to bring you top quality free holistic skincare resources and educational events like this. I appreciate your support!
It is everyone’s wish to age well. Aging is inevitable, and while it may come with certain undesirable effects, how the process affects your appearance and overall health is largely up to you. The aging process can be slowed if your body adopts certain healthy habits before it gets too late!
Adopting good habits early on will help you to enjoy aging with a positive attitude and grace. For you to be able to control aging, it is important to know the agents and factors that can hasten the process of aging. Apart from genetics, most cellular processes that accelerate the aging process are affected by exercise, stress, lifestyle, and diet. It’s not possible to reverse the signs of aging completely–it takes time to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle regimen help your body age gracefully. When you start early–in your twenties or thirties–you’ll be able to enjoy your glow for years to come (although it’s NEVER too late to start!).
Here are 10 healthy habits to adopt to help slow the signs of aging:
Water is essential to help the body’s processes–including removal of waste and perspiration–run smoothly. Drinking plenty of water every day helps keep your skin looking moist, supple and plump. Well-hydrated skin will appear glowing and look younger, and any visible fine lines and wrinkles look less pronounced.
Additionally, adequate hydration promotes skin circulation, which aids in the repair of damaged skin cells. Drinking enough water also helps flush out toxins from your body and give you a healthy glow. Health benefits of drinking water are countless, and most people benefit from drinking 8 glasses per day.
An active social life helps lower stress levels, which in turn, can help you live a long and healthy life. Social support will also help you age gracefully, prevent cognitive decline, and depressive symptoms that can hasten the aging process. Even for introverts, there are many ways to create a positive and supportive social network, whether online, or in person!
Lack of sleep can cause premature signs of aging, such as facial wrinkles, fine lines, and unevenness of skin texture and tone. Poor sleep quality weakens the skin’s ability to repair itself, which in turn, accelerates the aging process. As you age, it is helpful to increase nighttime sleep (most people require 7-8 hours per night), as it will make your body and skin feel rejuvenated and replenished the following day.
Adequate sleep has numerous health benefits, as well, as it helps to improve memory and lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It also improves your skin health, as it allows the body to release hormones that help to restore elastin and collagen levels.
Daily use of sunscreen will protect your skin from damage caused by UV rays and other harmful effects caused by prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. Liberally applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or higher will help to slow down the aging signs and reduce the risk of skin cancer. Ensure you apply liberal amounts of sunscreen daily at least 2 hours before going out to the sun, and then again every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating while still outdoors.
Feeding on nutritious and high-quality food will help to improve your overall health. Reducing sugar intake will prevent premature aging of the skin. Eating a diet of fresh, whole foods rich in skin-healthy nutrients like zinc, selenium, vitamin C, and carotene provides antioxidants, which promote cellular repair, increased production of elastin and collagen, keep the skin firm, increase cellular regeneration and reduce visible signs of aging like fine lines. In addition to a more vibrant appearance, eating healthy, whole foods will make you feel rejuvenated.
While the aging process affects the entire body, often the first place that people notice signs of aging enough to take action is the skin. Making proper skincare part of your routine will help to slow down the aging process and significantly improve the most visible signs of aging. Keeping the skin hydrated and moisturized will make it look soft and glowing. Incorporating all natural, organic (and preferably handmade!) skincare products in your daily skin routine will help to restore the proteins of youth, and help you look younger.
Refrain from smoking and drinking
Stopping drinking and smoking will help you age gracefully and improve overall health. While some studies show that some people benefit from drinking a glass of wine with dinner, others contradict that, and there is enough evidence to show that more than moderate alcohol consumption can have pro-inflammatory effects on the skin, which speeds up the aging process. Reducing alcohol consumption prevents dehydration, promotes healthy sleep, and is otherwise protective of the skin and health. And when it comes to smoking, we’ll keep it simple and just say that there is nothing at all healthy about smoking for the skin or health, and there are very few things worse for the skin and overall health than smoking. Just quit. Now.
Exercise your body
Regular exercise will help to improve your overall health and reverse the signs of aging. Facial yoga exercises prevent premature thinning of the dermis, and may help your skin appear younger than your actual age. Regular workouts reduce stress and help your body eliminate built up toxins, which also help keep premature aging and acne breakouts at bay. Physical activity allows the supply of fresh oxygen in your body, which makes you look and feel younger.
Being positive towards life will help you stay physically and emotionally healthy. Choosing a positive attitude when handling challenges is more likely to help you create a successful life and stay healthy. By positively embracing aging, you will be able to take care of your mind, body, and skin, consequently slowing down the aging process. One simple way to help shift your mindset from negative to positive is to work with affirmations.
Practicing meditation regularly–even if it’s for 5 minutes a day–is the easiest road to less stress and more ease in life. Daily meditation will keep your mind relaxed, clear and focused. It also helps to provide emotional balance, increase immunity, and lower blood pressure. It helps to prevent depression and other mental health issues, thus improving the overall quality of your life. The beauty benefits of meditation also can’t be ignored–there are numerous accounts of acne, eczema, and other skin issues improving after meditating regularly for just a couple of weeks, in addition to visible improvement in signs of aging like fine lines.
Aging is a process that cannot be avoided, and it affects everyone despite your health status or your lifestyle. It is a natural process that should be appreciated for the privilege it is, rather than attacked as it is in mainstream culture. Many factors accelerate the aging process and being familiar with them will help to slow down and reverse the aging process. You cannot completely stop the aging process, but there are healthy habits that you can adopt to help you age gracefully and stay a healthy life.
About the author:
Margaux Diaz has been writing about health, beauty, skincare, and fitness for many years. In addition to her writing, she recently got a chance to assist in the research and development of Idol Lash. Connect with her Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.
*All images provided by Margaux Diaz.
No skin condition is fun or easy to live with, but some tend to be tricker than others to overcome. Skin rashes–especially those associated with eczema or psoriasis–fall into that latter category. Part of the reason for this is that unlike acne, premature skin aging, and even rosacea, eczema and psoriasis are both autoimmune diseases.
Eczema and psoriasis are widespread, especially here in the United States. Did you know that 31.6% of Americans have some form of eczema? And while 3% of world’s population has psoriasis, 2% of the US population has been diagnosed.
It’s not just about the numbers for me though. In my work, I see how profoundly skin issues affect people on an emotional and spiritual level. Those with eczema have higher risks of developing asthma, depression, anxiety, and skin infections. (source) Psoriasis quality of life surveys have found that more than 50% of sufferers have had their physical activities affected, and experience social relationship disruptions. (source) As a mother, I’m also concerned about the fact that young people with skin disorders are often targeted by bullies.
For all these reasons and then some, I am really happy that my friend, clinical nutritionist and former eczema sufferer herself, Jennifer Fugo has organized the first ever Eczema and Psoriasis Awareness Week, which happens April 16-22, 2018. I was honored that she asked me to be a speaker for this event, and to help spread the word, we did a little broadcast together on Facebook.
Watch my interview with Jennifer Fugo to get a sneak peek at 2018 Eczema and Psoriasis Awareness Week!
Or read the highlights from our interview here:
Rachael: Welcome, Jennifer. It’s so great to have you here.
Jennifer: Thank you. I want to thank you first for being willing to do this, because one of the things that I love about you is that you’re very focused on helping people understand there’s a lot of complexity in skincare. The thing that I recognize and that I learned a lot from you, Rachael, was that there’s a lot of stuff in skincare products that actually makes chronic skin rashes worse. I find it so troubling when people go to the drugstore, for example, and see all these products that are marked for eczema or psoriasis or severe dry skin. They buy it, try it, it burns terribly or it doesn’t work or it makes it worse–and then they end up with this box of products that they can’t return, that were very expensive. Thousands of dollars of ointments, salves, all this other stuff.
Rachael: Yeah, I see it a lot. It always drives me so nuts when I see ingredients on the products that are intended to treat eczema or psoriasis or extremely dry skin that actually make it worse. Eczema and psoriasis are not the same as acne, in that they are considered autoimmune diseases now. Can you speak a bit about that?
Jennifer: Yeah, absolutely. It’s interesting. We have to thank the drug companies, actually, funny enough, for that information. Big pharma has made it official that these are autoimmune processes. We’ve known for a long time that psoriasis is an autoimmune disease. Eczema’s a lot more complicated, unfortunately, because it’s not just the immune system and gut health–there are a lot more triggers for eczema, and it’s more complicated. I think one lesson I’ve learned is that, with eczema especially, it’s really a two-pronged approach. It is outside in and inside out at the same time to simultaneously see resolution. Biologic treatments are also not always the best or most effective way to treat these conditions. In case you’re wondering, “What’s biologic?” biologic is involved in stopping these inflammatory processes. But one year’s worth of that biologic, Dupixent specifically, is like something around $35,000 a year. The other ones that they use, like Humira and such that are used off label for skin issues, are closer to $50,000 a year. I know because I pay for my own health insurance and other people do, the deductibles are going up, the co-insurances are going up. So if you’re on a medication like that, it is hard to oftentimes even get them approved because they’re so expensive. So you could look at it from a financial standpoint, but then you also have to be on them for life. It’s not like you do it, the skin resolves, and then you can just go off them. It’s a life-long halting of a process in your body that’s then triggering the skin.
Rachael: Right, and that’s what I want people to understand, is that these treatments, they’re treatments. They’re not cures. They’re not going to make it go away. They’re intended to help you live with the condition and manage the condition, but it’s not going to make it go away. I believe that there is a place for Western medicine in certain instances. But I have to say, when it comes to chronic situations, and when we’re talking about the skin, the skin usually shows us something when the rest of our body’s systems have tried and we haven’t listened. So by the time the skin is like, “Hello, you can’t ignore me anymore because I’m looking right at you and you’re going to see it,” we’ve already ignored other symptoms that have been going on on the inside that I think as chronically stressed, overworked, tired people we’ve kind of just come to accept those as normal.
Jennifer: One of the things I’ll share too is that I’ve been doing all this research over the past so many months and discovered that there are at least 15 different skin triggers for eczema. Eczema alone. That includes genetics, because you can’t ignore the genetic implications of certain proteins that are produced in the skin to keep the barrier healthy. So if you have a problem producing those proteins, then naturally, you may be more prone to eczema or psoriasis. There are genetic triggers, but also environmental triggers. It could be your cat, your dog, or maybe the carpeting that’s throughout your house, the chemicals in the paint, the fumes off gassing, mold, or food. We feel like we have some control over food allergies, but in looking deeper, you then have gut dysfunction, gut infections, gut dysbiosis. You can have allergies to things like nickel, which you’d go, “I don’t eat nickel. Why would that matter? I just won’t wear cheap jewelry.” But guess what, there’s an awful lot of nickel in some very healthy foods. So it becomes more complicated than just saying, “I’m going to throw some Vaseline or Crisco on my skin,” which you and I were laughing about.
Rachael: Yeah. We’re not advising you do that. Spoiler alert.
Jennifer: No, but there’s an awful lot of triggers that people are not … We’re not given that information, and it’s buried and scattered. I, in no way, shape, or form want to be all conspiracy theory, but when you look at it purely from a financial standpoint, what impetus does the drug company, for example, even have to want anybody to stop getting rashes? Because then you don’t buy their products anymore, and they have spent millions and millions of dollars not only paying physicians, by the way. There’s some really disturbing research out there about how much money dermatologists are getting from drug companies and also how much they spend on developing these drugs in the first place. So if the customer base goes away, if the drugs work too well, what happens to your bottom line?
Rachael: Right, and never mind the cost of those expensive TV commercials that they’re now marketing to everyone and their children. My kids are even like, “Why on Earth would somebody risk cancer to get rid of a rash?”
Jennifer: That is a side effect, by the way, of biologics and those that suppress the autoimmune system. It’s important to understand that we all, to some degree, have cancer cells at any given moment, but it’s more about the state, the amount of cells that have been produced that are not healthy, and your body’s ability to maintain that. When your immune system is suppressed, that army, or force, that’s meant to be there to protect you by getting rid of those cells that your body accidentally produces that are not as healthy or appropriate as they should be goes away. So there’s no check and balance, and that’s why there’s a side effect of cancer for those drugs. I had eczema, so I understand very well how awful of an experience this is. I got sick and tired of dealing with, “Here’s a cream, here’s an ointment. Try this.” And it was frustrating from an integrative approach, because I’m already gluten free, I’m already dairy free, I’m already egg free.
Rachael: I find that eczema and psoriasis, as you said, there are more triggers, there are more combinations of things going on, and when you’ve done what you’re supposed to do but you’re still having symptoms that’s when people get really frustrated and they give up, and that’s when they feel like they have no other choice but to go on these biologics and risk these horrible side effects. I think that that’s a big difference we see with eczema and psoriasis versus some of the other skin conditions that occur on a chronic basis.
Jennifer: I think that’s also a good heads up for people who are listening to this that are like, “My doctor told me to go on a gluten-free diet and maybe that’ll stop the rashes.” Sometimes it does, but when I developed my own hand eczema, I was already gluten free, like seriously 100% gluten free, for six years. I was gluten, dairy, and egg free, and it still developed. So you can’t assume that it’s just always tied to food. Food is one piece, but there’s also the complicated matter of what caused the food sensitivities in the first place, and you need to look underneath those. For me, it was like, “Okay, number one, is my skin getting enough of the nutrients?” We need raw nutrients to come in and make sure that we’re not depleted anywhere else, because the skin is the least important … Isn’t it so funny? We spend so much money on making our skin look beautiful, but it is the lowest priority on the totem pole of organs.
Rachael: I know, which is crazy, because it’s the biggest one and it’s our first line of defense against the outside world. The nutrients and hydration that come in all go to nourish and hydrate the internal vital organs first, and then the skin gets the leftovers.
Jennifer: I had to figure out what my unique combo of triggers was and address that because my solution is not necessarily somebody else’s solution. Part of it was food, part of it was nutrients, part of it was stress. There was a big stress component to it. I want to give people hope because there are so many facets to this, whether it’s hormonal, environmental, food, or gut-related. I want to give people the tools that I was blessed to have available to me, so that they can find actual resolution, not just management.
Rachael: Right. Let’s get to the bottom of it. Let’s find your unique bio-individualized solution by doing a little bit of self-detective work here, because that is required. There’s some trial and error required, but really, we’re here to give you hope that this can resolve. You don’t have to live like this, for real. Jen, you’re proof of that.
Jennifer: I have to be more aware of my skin than a normal person, but my level of awareness around my skin now is not nearly as hyper-focused as it was when it felt like my hands had a thousand paper cuts. It’s just so painful. For me, it’s like if I just have to be a little aware, like, “Oh, I’m starting to get a little bit of dryness. Oh, I got to get back on. I just got to do a little bit extra,” and it goes right away. Right now I have zero eczema, and it’s amazing. It changes your life in so many ways. That’s why, Rachael, I’m so excited too because your presentation is just so fantastic and you offer this completely unique view of why skincare products don’t work that are out there on the market and why they’re so bad. You talk about it in a way that’s so relatable, so I’m really excited to have you as one of our presenters, because there’s never been another event like this, ever.
Rachael: No, it’s really unique. I want to talk about that, because it’s not just … this is not a webinar or a course. This is an awareness week that you’ve created. This is the 2018 Eczema & Psoriasis Awareness Week. We’ve talked about some of what’s not working, but as you’ve said, what is going to work is so dependent on each person, so you have put together this entire event with speakers, but with resources that people get as soon as they sign up. Let’s talk about that.
Jennifer: Register (USE THIS LINK) and you’ll get a free seat to this event. It happens between April 16th and April 22nd. What we’ll have every day is presentations that will be shown. I really tried my darnedest to keep the presentations consistent and concise, because I also know that you’re busy. You have a life, especially if you’re a parent and this is for a kid or just even for yourself. You want the good stuff. You don’t want fluff. So we tried to keep everything to about 30 minutes for each presentation, focusing on what works and why it works and what the next steps are for you from a functional and integrative approach, as opposed to just slapping more medication on and giving it a try. There are 25 different presenters. Rachael is one of them, and I’m so, so excited to be able to share what has worked for me and for other people. It’s not just, though, the how to and why. There is some mindset to this, because I recognize that this makes you feel really alone. We want to address that emotional component, the emotional wellbeing, and the impact that these issues can have, because you’re walking around, essentially, with a red scarlet letter on you making you look different, and people do treat you differently when they see that your skin is not clear. They’ll say you’re infected or diseased or whatever, so we want to address this from all pieces, all facets of how it affects us, people who suffer with this. When you sign up, you’re also going to get immediately a copy of the Eczema & Psoriasis Awareness Week Skin Supporting Cookbook. It has 34 recipes that I’ve conglomerated from all the different presenters of things that they recommend to their clients. These are practical, great recipes to try, and there’s a lot of different flavors and all sorts of stuff, so you’re not going to feel like you’re eating weird diet food or anything. We want people to be happy. Something for everyone. We also have over $2,000 in giveaways from natural skincare companies and food product companies of things that I use in my kitchen and things that have helped me and my clients.
Rachael: I want to thank you for coming on today to share about 2018 Eczema & Psoriasis Awareness Week. Jenn, before I let you go, what is one bit of a preview, like your favorite thing, that you gleaned as you went through all of these materials that you want to give people as a little sneak peek?
Jennifer: One thing that’s been really interesting and fascinating is the piece on mold, because we’ve had these huge natural disasters in the U.S. specifically, but people have had hurricanes and typhoons and things all over the world. We don’t realize that when our home is exposed to water, the mold that can grow behind the walls where we don’t see it can actually cause a really big problem. One way you know if mold is a potential trigger is if when you go on vacation and everything seems to start clearing up, and then you come back home and, you get another flare. That’s usually a sign that it’s something in your home, and it may be mold, because actually is a suppressor of the immune system. We’re going to talk about that and what the implications are and how you can test and whatnot. That’s one little preview.
2018 Eczema and Psoriasis Awareness Week happens from April 16-22.
Click HERE to secure your free ticket to the presentations (including mine!), your complimentary recipe book, and entries to all the amazing giveaways Jennifer mentioned.
And on a personal note, I really do hope you share this event with anyone you know who might be struggling with skin rashes, extreme chronic dry skin, eczema, or psoriasis. This is information that is going to help a LOT of people!
*This post contains affiliate links. Purchases made after clicking on a link in this post may result in me earning a small commission (at no extra cost to you). These commissions help me continue to bring you top quality free holistic skincare resources and educational events like this. I appreciate your support!
For all of us who love a good beauty DIY trend or brand new cosmetic item, there’s a fresh game-changer in town. The name is activated charcoal, and it’s been making headlines in the beauty world. While it’s not new, per se, it’s definitely on trend. Don’t be fooled by the name: although charcoal might bring along thoughts of being on Santa’s naughty list, there are many beauty benefits to this lightweight black carbon.
An ounce of activated charcoal powder is as cheap as three dollars and can be the perfect ingredient to many DIY beauty projects. Whether you want to concoct your own beauty project or you’d prefer to head straight to the store, one thing is for sure: activated charcoal has plenty of cosmetic uses and won’t break the bank in the process. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular uses.
Activated charcoal for pearly whites
When we think of having nice white teeth, we certainly don’t imagine a fog of darkness smeared across them, do we?
Oddly enough, activated charcoal has been hitting the shelves of many retailers for its teeth whitening advantages. Activated charcoal is known for pulling toxins and removing stains, so it only makes sense to apply it to your teeth, where unwanted staining can occur from delicious hot coffee, tea, a glass of red wine, or nearly anything else.
Surprisingly, after using activated charcoal on your teeth, all of the blackness washes away and will leave your teeth feeling clean, polished, and smooth. It might look unpleasant when you stare into the mirror, but after continued use, you’ll more than likely notice results.
Many popular toothpaste brands have even included charcoal in some of their products. Examples include:
If you’ve been experiencing less than desirable skin conditions, you’ll be amazed by the multitude of benefits that activated charcoal can provide. To begin with, this miracle carbon draws out some of the nasty things that negatively impact your skin, such as an overabundance of the wrong types of bacteria, dirt and built-up dead skin cells.
With activated charcoal, you can easily draw out oil, dirt, and any other substance that is causing clogged pores. It does this through its mighty powers of adsorption.
A fresh and glowing face is completely achievable thanks to this super-ingredient for your skin. Applying this product to your face in the form of a facial mask, scrub, cleanser, or on-the-spot treatment like black drawing salve will quickly draw out dirt and other skin imperfections.
Now, you might be tempted to stop reading this post and go order some charcoal powder for your face right now; but before you do that, you should know that like the previous hack, some popular brands have also taken advantage of the rave and created their own charcoal mask products.
These commercially prepared masks have different ingredients that may make them better or worse for your skin type and goals, so it’s best to read reviews to help you determine which activated charcoal mask is perfect for you before jumping in.
For gorgeous hair
Now that we’ve covered teeth and skin, it’s time to review how activated charcoal can make a difference for your hair.
Just like how it removes toxins from your teeth and skin, activated charcoal does the same to your hair. If you’ve experienced anything unpleasant such as clogged hair follicles, dandruff, or even scalp infections, activated charcoal should be one of the first beauty items you reach out for.
Did you know that using activated charcoal on your hair not only improves its overall appearance, but can encourage hair growth as well?
That’s right – charcoal works its magic by pulling out toxins and pollutants that restrict and compromise the health of your hair, making it grow faster and look healthier. Dirt and other substances weigh down your hair and regular shampoos are not only incapable of removing as much as activated charcoal, but they actually leave back more residue as well.
Final word on activated charcoal
Although activated charcoal has been around since practically the beginning of time, we’re now finally appreciating its detoxifying advantages on teeth, skin, and hair. Whether you decide to opt for a fun DIY project or premade mask, toothpaste or shampoo, you can rest assured that you’ve made the right decision for your pocket and your beauty – which is rare!
Pro tip: when going the DIY route, you might want to opt for the activated charcoal in capsules. They’re less messy and make it easier to gauge proportions.
About the author:
Thanks to today’s guest writer, Trish Sutton for this fabulous article! Trysh is a wife, mother, strategic leader and teacher. She runs a website called Pure Path, which is a naturopathic wellness site that promotes healthy living and healing through the use of essential oils and sustainable living.
You can follow her on social media to learn more about the benefits of essential oils, and healthy living practices.
Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Youtube | Google Plus
Is activated charcoal part of your skin, hair, or oral hygiene routine?
How do you like it? Please share your experience in the comments below!
*This post contains affiliate links.