“You get what you pay for.” We hear that about so many things in life, don’t we? Cars, clothing, food, and of course skincare. While I believe that this is true for many things (like organic, whole foods for sure), but is it the truth for the other things? Are luxury priced cars really safer and longer lasting? Are designer clothes really better quality than clothes from discount stores? Are premium priced skincare products really better than products sold at drug stores or made at home? For these last things, my answer is a definite MAYBE. The reason for that is because pricing is not always based on cost or quality of raw ingredients. Often pricing is based on marketing–how the brand is positioned, how and who it is advertised to, packaging, how it’s sold, whether there is a celebrity or influencer endorsement, etc. Because of this, it is common for sub-par products to be dressed up and sold as luxury. But there are still the cases where quality does win out and is genuinely responsible for a high price tag. In skincare particularly, high prices of some luxury or professional skincare products are due to fact that they are made with rare, expensive skincare ingredients.
I recently had the opportunity to contribute my knowledge of expensive skincare ingredients to an article that was published on Insider.
In this article, 7 Ingredients in Your Skincare Products That Are Making Them So Expensive, I, along with other skincare experts, talked about the reasons why ingredients such as rose essential oil, jasmine essential oil, arginine, and gold are expensive to source, and what overall benefits they bring to the skincare party.
Click HERE to read about those!
In addition to the expensive skincare ingredients listed in the article, I wanted to share four others that might be hiking up the price of your skincare products, and whether they are worth it:
1. Hyaluronic acid
I consider hyaluronic acid to be the “mother of all humectants,” since it can hold 1000 times its weight in water, and therefore (in theory) can deliver extreme hydration to the skin. It also contains antioxidant benefits. It is expensive for two reasons. First–production. Top quality HA is produced from rooster combs. There are lower quality versions, less potent out there that are used in cosmetics that are either made from sugar beets, are synthesized, or bacteria-fermented. On the retail side though, the price typically would imply the animal-sourced HA. The bigger reason for the high price though, is that it is VERY difficult to formulate with as it is known to deactivate the effects of some of the other ingredients in the formula, and is extremely difficult to preserve.
2. Argan oil
Argan oil is extremely rare because the Argania Spinosa trees that produce the fruit from which it is produced only grow in a specific part of Morocco, between Marrakesh and Essaouira, by Berber women’s cooperatives. The process to produce the oil is extremely time consuming and labor intensive, and it takes the fruit of 8 argan trees to produce a single liter of the oil. Another factor that drives up the cost of argan is that it is very susceptible to damage from exposure to heat and light, and is also prone to rancidity. It must be stored properly, but even so, has a shelf life of only about a year, unless other stabilizing and antioxidant ingredients are added. However, many women will say the price and the effort are worth it. It is incredibly beneficial for helping to support skin elasticity and maintain skin hydration, is also known to help improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as scarring. It is also known to help aid in sun protection and help the skin recover from sun damage, though it is not a substitute for sunscreen.
3. Prickly pear seed oil
Prickly pear seed oil (Opuntia ficus indica) has quickly gained favor among natural skincare enthusiasts for its gentle astringent (tightening) properties, high mineral content, and high antioxidant content (it contains more Vitamin E than other carrier oils) which help to neutralize free radical damage and protect delicate skin cells from oxidative and environmental damage. It is also known to help soothe and improve the appearance of acne-prone skin, and balance oil production. While prickly pears themselves aren’t uncommon (they grow abundantly in Mexico and the southwestern US but have have also migrated elsewhere in the US and overseas), the high price comes from the fact that the oil is cold pressed from the tiny seeds, and we can’t ignore the fact that the cactus’ spines make the process slower!
Retinaldehyde–also known as retinal–is one of the Vitamin A derivatives that’s commonly used in professional skincare products as an alternative to less expensive forms of Vitamin A such as retinol palmitate or stronger forms like retinoic acid. It is a preferred ingredient because it is less inflammatory and gentler to the skin when applied topically, and has been studied for its benefits for skin issues such as acne, rosacea, and premature aging. What makes it expensive is that it is expensive to produce, and it is also difficult to keep stable once bottled. Its benefits are known to degrade quickly which makes formulation more laborious and expensive, and though more stable forms of the ingredient have been synthesized, all that has done is raise the cost on the ingredient itself.
Are people are more likely to buy products with expensive skincare ingredients?
This is a question that many of my Create Your Skincare Professional Edition students ponder, when deciding what ingredients to include in their formulations. In general, I think that yes, people across all markets are more inclined to buy products made with expensive skincare ingredients, even if the product itself doesn’t contain very much of it. Once an ingredient becomes famous for common skin complaints such as dark spots, scarring, fine lines, or wrinkles–it does seem like everyone wants to try it and will pay extra for it.
But do products made with these expensive skincare ingredients really work better?
It really depends on several factors. First, you have to consider what is the quality and purity of the ingredient? Is it the real deal? Has it been sourced, processed, and stored properly? How fresh is it? Is it the right species of the plant that’s known for the purported benefits?
If it’s been cut, diluted, or otherwise adulterated (which unfortunately does happen), it’s not going to provide as much benefit. It also depends on what else happens to be in the product–how much of this “star” ingredient is actually in it, and are there other ingredients present that might compete with it for absorption?
Lastly, it depends on the person. Not every ingredient works for every person, so unfortunately, many of the people who buy products with these star ingredients won’t receive the desired benefits, not because the ingredient or product doesn’t work–just because that person’s unique needs require something other than that ingredient. What’s great about plants is that many of them contain similar benefits, so we can often experience many of the same benefits of a rare and exotic plant by using a more common one that’s less scarce, easier to harvest/produce, and therefore, less money.
Often the price of a skincare product has nothing to do with the ingredients at all.
Typically when a commercial skincare product is designed, the formulator will pick one star ingredient, and focus the packaging, advertising, etc on that ingredient, but in truth, the product itself often contains a very low percentage of that ingredient. Sometimes that’s OK. In the instance of essential oils or other potent extracts or actives, too high a concentration is not necessary, and can even cause harm.
Honestly though, I don’t think a star ingredient is enough of a reason for someone to shell out a ton of money if the rest of the product doesn’t also deliver in quality. In these cases, pricing has more to do with packaging, positioning, how/to whom it’s sold, marketing, etc–an example would be how a mass produced product with a celebrity endorser vs a small indie brand. The big brand with the celebrity’s endorsement usually contains mostly water, synthetic emollients, then functional ingredients like emulsifiers, stabilizers, and preservatives, and a very tiny amount of the star ingredient. It’s expensive because of the advertising campaign, packaging, etc.
On the flip side, an artisan or indie brand might make a product that contains no water at all, and high quality plant-based emollients with a very low concentration of functional ingredients like emulsifiers and stabilizers, but without the celebrity endorser and expensive ad campaign and simple packaging–and both products might cost the same.
So I encourage everyone to read labels and look for quality over quantity! And even consider making your own products so you control your costs, and your ingredients.
Do you want to learn how to make top quality natural skincare products or start a skincare business?
I can teach you that! In my Create Your Skincare Professional Edition course, I teach ingredient selection in terms of purity, quality, and efficacy extensively. I also teach you how to choose ingredients purposefully, so that they are smart choices for the person you’re making products for, as well as for the formulation as a whole. And I also teach you how to brand and market your product line based on your skincare business goals. Our next semester starts soon!
Click HERE to learn more, enroll, or schedule a call today.
*Image 1 credit Loyal Naturals, via Wikimedia Commons. Image 2 credit Aaron Patterson.
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.
In the world of skincare, the revolving lists of ingredients are nothing short of fantastical. One day we’re touting the power of stem cells, the next we’re lauding the benefits of seaweed. At the latest International Congress of Esthetics and Spa show, I noticed an abundance of metals–particularly gold in skincare. It can be hard to sift through the trends to find the ingredients that will truly improve your skin’s appearance. Which ingredients work? And when is it worth paying more for those truly sophisticated products?
The use of metals in skincare perfectly exemplifies this phenomena. Copper is needed by the body, but what does it do when applied topically? The idea of using 24K gold in skincare has its characteristic allure, but is it worth shelling out for said allure?
As you know, I custom make all my skincare, so my main question when I started researching this was… should I consider including precious metals in my skincare formulations? In this article, I’m breaking it down according to each metal, because they offer different qualities. Then, I’ll touch on nanoparticles, which have become important (and controversial) in skincare recently.
Copper in skincare
The most electrically conductive of all the metal elements, copper, has a long history of being used to make tools and jewelry, sterilizing water, and now, as an ingredient in skincare.
Its use as a purifying agent is one of copper’s most popular applications. Hospitals even use copper surfaces to reduce the spread of germs. So it’s not surprising that one of copper’s effects on the skin is as an antimicrobial. These germ-reducing properties aren’t what most companies are promoting, however. Products containing copper are instead touting its ability to reduce redness, minimize wrinkles, and get rid of dark circles under the eyes. There’s even a pillowcase infused with copper that promises to reduce wrinkles while you sleep!
The peptides in copper may be responsible for these skin-rejuvenating properties. Oregon State writes, “Another [copper enzyme], lysyl oxidase, is required for the cross-linking of collagen and elastin, which are essential for the formation of strong and flexible connective tissue. The action of lysyl oxidase helps maintain the integrity of connective tissue in the heart and blood vessels and also plays a role in bone formation.” This sounds promising.
Aesthetics Journal notes, “Copper metal ions have been found in higher concentrations around healing wounds and thus are implicated in wound healing and inflammatory processes. The topical application of copper ion-containing ointments has been associated with improved wound healing.” Another compelling piece.
Both of these excerpts point to some validity in the claims that copper in skincare formulations could help give it a more youthful appearance. Given its long history of use, as well as these studied effects on wound healing and connective tissue, copper stands out as an ingredient worth including in a skincare regimen.
Silver in skincare
Like copper, silver has a long history of use–it has been used for medical purposes for thousands of years. Lately you might have heard of colloidal silver being used to fight infections or used in skincare formulations that claim anti-aging properties.
First off, “colloidal” refers to a solution of microscopically dispersed insoluble particles suspended throughout another substance. Those who endorse silver for these purposes explain that it is only beneficial or absorbable in its colloidal form. Colloidal silver was banned as a medical ingredient in the 1990s because it was being overprescribed and overhyped, which caused some pretty crazy adverse reactions. However it is still available in natural formulations, and is considered safe when used appropriately.
Medical journals do confirm silver’s antibacterial activity, with a study published in 2013 noting that “It is widely recognized as an effective broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent… effective against a broad range of aerobic, anaerobic, gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria, yeast, filamentous fungi and viruses,” also appearing to have anti-inflammatory properties. This makes silver appealing as a preservative, perhaps, or an acne-fighting ingredient– but does it live up to the hype as a skin-transforming ingredient?
Let’s transport ourselves to the world of biochemistry for a moment. There are some compelling cases for silver as a skincare ingredient, namely a study on silver nanoparticles at a particular size protecting skin cells against UVB radiation-induced DNA damage, which lends some credibility to its use as an anti-aging ingredient. I’ll touch on nanoparticles at the end of this article, but just know that there is some controversy behind their safety. For now, let’s talk about our first place prize metal.
Gold in skincare
Gold is perhaps the most enchanting of these three metals. Companies that utilize gold in skincare tout its youth-enhancing and luminizing effects. But is gold in skincare all it glitters to be?
The Huffington Post’s review of gold in skincare concludes that its main attributes are that it’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Because it’s not soluble, the article explains, you don’t need to worry about side effects.
Yet Allure’s comparison of different precious metals in skincare notes that gold was named ‘Allergen of the year’ in 2001. And many people can’t even tolerate wearing gold jewelry. How’s that for going for the gold?
Well, a study published in 2010 found that gold particles stimulated the proliferation of keratinocytes. They concluded that at a low concentration, gold particles could be useful in biomedical skin tissue engineering, but that at high concentrations they were toxic to cells. I think it’s safe to assume that skincare companies would not use high enough concentrations in their products for them to have a toxic effect; and while these results are in scientific jargon, it does seem to point to gold’s ability to revitalize the skin.
Just last year, a study of metal in skincare confirmed that gold encourages the proliferation of skin cells. They also noted that gold does have ability to penetrate into the skin, which may be a good thing, or may be a bad thing, depending on what else is in the formulation; because essentially, having gold in your skincare may increase your skin’s absorption of the other ingredients in that product, helping your skin to soak all the goodness (or not-so-goodness). Also, its benefits and effects on the skin depend on whether or not it’s compatible with the bioindividual chemistry of the person using the product.
Is the idea of metals in skincare a little bit too Marie Curie when it should be more Marie Claire? Stick with me, because I want to touch on one more science-oriented thing that’s rather important…
Several years ago I wrote about Kabana Skin Care and why I steer clear of nanoparticles in skincare. It’s a topic thick with opposing views and uncertainty. You may have heard of nanoparticles, which means any particle under 100 nanometers, because they are often used in natural sunscreen formulations. Zinc oxide and titanium oxide in nanoparticle size have less of the characteristic white chalkiness. Since the technology has become available to achieve nanoparticle size, companies and scientists have been using it because it allows for easier assimilation into products and medications.
Because nanoparticles are often able to enter the bloodstream, there are concerns about their interactions with cells and bioaccumulation in the body. Indeed, the aforementioned study about gold particles being toxic at certain concentrations was looking at nanoparticles. They write, “It has been found that AuNPs of 14 nm can easily penetrate through the cell membrane and accumulate into the vacuole.” But also that, “the unique properties of NPs: high surface area relative to the size as well as the ability to penetrate biological membranes and barriers greatly reduces systemic dose thus potential side effects and toxicity. Recent studies show very promising clinical potential of NPs to serve as controlled release and delivery systems for drugs/active substances.” Alas, the double-edged sword of nanoparticles.
I don’t find nanoparticles appealing enough to ignore the evidence that they could bioaccumulate in the body. Given how many healthy, natural, nontoxic ingredients there are available, I don’t see the point in risking it.
To Indulge or Not to Indulge?
Gold, silver, and copper each have merits when it comes to skincare. Gold can help increase the effectiveness of other ingredients in your skincare, while also acting as an antioxidant. Heck, the simple shine and color of it can add a beautiful luminosity to your skin.
And silver? Its antimicrobial actions are totally legit, and it’s possible that it also protects against UVB damage, which would be a great bonus.
Copper, also verifiably antimicrobial, also contains peptides that can stimulate collagen production.
Overall, each of these metals have qualities that make them worth including in your skincare. But be cognizant of nanoparticles! There is a potential risk associated with them, and companies don’t have to disclose if they are using them (never hurts to ask!).
And it’s probably not a good idea to spend all your coins on these precious metal formulations. They’re beneficial, but not magic 🙂
*Photo credits: Copper by Qaqqaqtunaaq, Silver Crystal By Alchemist-hp (talk) (www.pse-mendelejew.de) – Own work (additional processed by Waugsberg), CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7394995, Gold Leaf Eye Makeup by pumpkincat210, Gold Face Mask by Alison Shaw
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!
Life is full of polarities, doesn’t it seem? There’s so much “this OR that,” and people get so caught up in whether THIS is right or THAT is right–and the “thises” fight so hard to prove the “thats” wrong and vice versa. Wouldn’t it be nice if in all aspects of life, there was room for this AND that? That both could be right? Or that this might be right for some people, while that might be right for others…right?
Want to know what I think?
I think most people benefit from a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Today, I want to take that idea to skincare–and talk about how we no longer have to have the debate of DIY skincare vs professional skincare. At first, I’ll be honest–I believed what I was taught in aesthetics school that DIY and OTC skincare were less effective, and even were potentially dangerous. But that view changed quite a bit after I dove deeper into herbalism, making my own skincare, and using my own skincare creations on my clients and seeing the results that happened. I talk about that more in this article.
I also wrote a post about professional skincare that was considered a bit controversial among aestheticians at the time (and still is, if I’m being totally honest!), where I debunk the idea that the “professional” skincare products that most aestheticians use in their practices and sell to their clients are more effective, higher quality, and more concentrated than skincare products that are sold to the general public (which aestheticians refer to as “OTC products”, or DIY skincare products. Aestheticians have been sold the idea that only they can sell these products because they are licensed, and therefore can handle and “prescribe” more “active” ingredients which supposedly have a more dramatic effect on the skin. Sorry to tell you, friends, but none of that is actually true, “Professional skincare” is a marketing term, just like “cosmeceutical.” It’s meaningless when it comes to defining the quality of the actual ingredients and formulation. All it means is that these are products that are marketed to professionals, rather than to the general public. If you’re an aesthetician, before you get mad at me, read the rest of that post HERE–because I promise you, it makes a lot of sense.
Back to my initial point of this post: in professional skincare–meaning in the aesthetic treatment room and retail spa, I believe there is room for both DIY skincare (which I now prefer to call boutique or herbal skincare) and products that are marketed to professional. And quite frankly, if I make a product line and market it only to professionals, I’ve then made professional skincare.
I had the opportunity to shed light on DIY skincare in the professional skincare setting in my latest article in Dermascope Magazine, “10 Things about DIY Skincare.”
Click HERE to read it.
I’ll give you of the 10 things here–you’ll have to read the article to get all the details:
1. Whole foods and plants can benefit the skin.
2. Fresh ingredients are nutrient dense.
3. There are other forms of DIY skincare than kitchen DIY.
4. A properly formulated DIY skincare product can be just as, or more, concentrated as professional products.
5. There is a big misconception that DIY skincare puts people more at risk of developing allergies than synthetic skin care.
6. Not all DIY skincare is safe.
7. DIY skin care that contains fresh food, plant matter, or water must be preserved to be safe.
8. Natural preservation is not a simple topic.
9. Even anhydrous products can become contaminated.
10. The most common natural preservatives found in online DIY skincare recipes are not actually preservatives.
But the bottom line is that DIY skincare is awesome, safe, super-effective, and is legal to use and sell in the professional setting. That being said, there are guidelines and laws to follow, and there is certainly a lot of information you need to know to ensure that you’re doing it right in terms of ingredient selection, formulation, safety and stability testing, packaging, and more. If you’re an aesthetician and you still love a certain professional skincare line, then by all means–continue to sell it! But I also encourage you to offer your clients a little bit of DIY too–because you never know when a client might need a little more of this than that.
And I teach you how to create and customize all natural, boutique skincare for your clients in my online course, Create Your Skincare Professional Edition!
If you’re a skincare professional, check out our Professional Edition, and if you’re not a skincare professional but want to make yourself professional DIY skincare the right way, check out our Personal Edition.
You can even start either skincare journey today with a free class HERE!
What’s your experience with DIY skincare in the professional setting?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share in the comments below!
It’s no secret that I am obsessed with roses, I’ve written about my love for roses and using roses for skincare many times, and I also named rose as my favorite plant during my Herbal Skincare Summit talk. And I wasn’t alone, because MANY of the other Herbal Skincare Summit teachers and attendees also named rose as their favorite.
Today I’m not going to tell you why I like using roses for skincare in general because I wrote an Ingredient Spotlight about rose several years ago, which you can read HERE, though I will add that the petals absolutely do have soothing and astringent skin benefits, in addition to their signature aromatic and aromatherapeutic properties. The Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance also wrote a Carrier Oil Close-Up of rosehip seed oil which you can check out HERE.
Instead, I want to answer a question that many people have asked me over the years and emailed in about during the Herbal Skincare Summit–what’s the best way to use roses for skincare? I don’t think there’s really a “best” way to use roses for skincare, because they all have value–different extraction methods and solvents extract different properties from the plant; but I definitely wanted to tell you some of my favorites. Here we go!
My favorite ways to use roses for skincare:
Rose glycerite is a type of rose extract that uses glycerine as the solvent, rather than alcohol or something synthetic. Glycerine is a water soluble, natural byproduct of the soapmaking process in case you didn’t know. The glycerine is able to extract the water soluble properties of the rose petals and/or hips (depending on which parts you use in your glycerite), including rose’s cooling, soothing (rose is a natural anti-inflammatory), astringent properties, tannins, and B vitamins; and the majority of the vitamin C found in the hips. The glycerine is also able to capture the aroma of the rose petals, and is gentler than extracts made from stronger solvents. I use rose glycerite in the water phase of many of my lotion cleansers and creams, as part of the base to my gels, and also add it to some toners.
This is not the same as rose essential oil or rosehip oil–what this is is a carrier oil (I usually use jojoba for this) that has been infused with rose petals and rosehips for 4-6 weeks in the hot summer sun–or, if it’s winter, I use my Magical Butter (affiliate link) machine. Since this oil is not steam distilled and has not been cold pressed from the seeds, it will not have all of the essential fatty acids or antioxidant profile of rosehip seed oil (unless you use rosehip seed oil itself as the base). However the combination of the jojoba oil plus the gentle heat will gently extract any oil soluble properties from the rose parts, including its fatty oils, organic acids, flavonoid and carotenoid antioxidants (carotenoid antioxidants are precursors to Vitamin A), and Vitamins D and E.
Rose and rosehips infusion.
There’s no simpler way to use roses for skincare than making a cup of tea! Making tea with rose petals and rosehips brings out the water soluble constituents of the rose similar to how rose glycerite does, with the addition of boiling water, which in some cases may bring out more properties, or conversely, may kill off others. Rose infusion is a versatile ingredient because you can take it internally to help build healthy skin from within–rose tea is known to deliver strong amounts of Vitamin C (especially if rose hips are used), and also help support healthy digestion which is crucial for healthy skin. Topically, though, rose tea is a lovely addition to any water phase, or may be used as a toner or to reconstitute a dry clay mask.
Rosewater or hydrosol.
The term “rosewater” is a fairly loose one. It can refer to a rose infusion, or a rose flower essence (rose petals soaked in spring water overnight under the full moon), or water that has been scented with rose essential oil, where the oil soluble components have been broken down into tiny droplets, which have been suspended into the water. It’s also possible that it’s a water that has been artificially scented with synthetic rose fragrance, or even with the natural phenyl ethyl alcohol derivative of rose petals, which is a known perfume fixative, though it’s naturally derived. Rose hydrosol, on the other hand, is one of the byproducts of the steam distillation process used to make rose essential oil. It retains rose’s beautiful aroma, and the water soluble benefits obtained from the distillation process, while the volatile compounds are what go into the essential oil. Rose hydrosol is an excellent way to get many of the benefits of rose essential oil, in a less concentrated and safer way. I use rosewater and rose hydrosol as toner, replacement for distilled water in my water phase for lotions and creams, as a cooling compress, and to reconstitute masks.
Rose C02 extract.
Supercritical C02 extraction is a newer way to extract phytochemicals and aromatic compounds from plants in a form that is concentrated like essential oils. It does not use heat, so it is able to extract some of the constituents that are normally harmed by the high heat needed for steam distillation, and the aroma is often closer to that of the actual plant. While it does not extract all of the same compounds as steam distillation, because of the lack of heat, it is a more sustainable way to obtain a concentrated oil soluble form of the plant, as it uses much less plant matter than is required for steam distillation. While rose C02 still should be diluted, it is often considered a safer topical application than steam distilled rose essential oil, and comes at a lower price. Unlike rose absolutes, waxes, and concretes, it contains no potentially harmful chemical solvent residues. I use rose C02 extract to add more natural rose scent to my herbal skincare products and soaps.
Want to learn how to make even more herbal preparations to use for skincare, and choose the right herbs for your skin specifically? I teach it in my Create Your Skincare online courses! Check them out HERE.
Rose is just one of the many amazing plants nature has provided to help us maintain healthy, clear, gorgeous skin. What’s your favorite way to use roses for skincare?
Please tell me in the comments below! And by the way, I offer a fabulous herbal skincare recipe that uses roses in different ways in the Herbal Skincare Summit Companion e-Book, which you can get along with all the Herbal Skincare Summit videos, audios, and bonuses when you purchase the Herbal Skincare Summit Kit. Get yours HERE!
Hydrosols vs Floral Waters – What’s the Diff?
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