Hand and nail care blog post

Hand And Nail Care

Now more than ever, you may find it necessary to practice a little hand and nail care. Constant hand washing, exposure to excess sunlight and other irritants, can leave hands dry, red and irritated. Learn what to do and what not to do when it comes to your hands and nails.

The skin on the hands

The skin is one of the largest organs in the body, with three layers – the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis. While the skin on the palm of the hands is thick, the skin on the back of the hands is the thinnest on the body. Because it is the most frequently exposed part of the body, it is a common area for photoaging and conditions like eczema and psoriasis from exposure to environmental stressors.

Preventing and treating dry hands

While dry, chapped hands are a very common condition, there are many ways to prevent and/or treat them. It is particularly important for those whose professions require them to have their hands in water all of the time – from dishwashers to nurses and surgeons. Many of the detergents and solvents used in washing and disinfecting the skin also tend to dry it out. Here are a few suggestions for maintaining healthy skin on the hands:

  • Wear gloves – There is a vast assortment of gloves designed to protect hands from the elements, from latex rubber to cotton. Rubber gloves are best whenever you are working with toxic solvents (turpentine, wood stains, pesticides, etc.). If your skin is sensitive, there are latex-free gloves available. Keep in mind that even though you are wearing glove, it’s important to know how to put them on and take them off. You should still wash your hands before and after wearing them in the event that the gloves have small leaks or tears. Cotton gloves are a good choice before going to bed if you are treating dry, chapped hands.
  • Use a moisturizer throughout the day – the best prevention is to use a soothing hand cream or balm (like our All-Purpose Body Balm) after working with water or irritating ingredients. You may have been washing your hands more frequently lately due to the CoVid19 virus pandemic, which may have left you with red, irritated hands or even contact dermatitis. Balms are recommended for more intense/nightly hand treatment once the skin has been stripped of its protective lipid layer. If not, hand creams can help prevent this from happening, but only if they are applied regularly.
  • Protect your hands from the sun – sunlight can create problems for your hands. Too much sunlight causes sunburn, dark spots, and a breakdown of collagen, not to mention the threat of skin cancer. Use a barrier sunscreen to prevent sun damage; wear driving gloves or use a UV filter on your car’s windows if possible.
  • If skin damage is severe, consult a physician. They are able to prescribe treatments like prescription creams to treat more serious conditions that don’t respond to home remedies. If you have an open sore or severe burn, you should seek professional attention, as these can lead to infection or worse. A physician can also diagnoses other skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
  • Use products with ingredients like shea, mango, and cocoa butter, glycerin (plant-based), Vitamin E and pure aloe. Oil-based products are great for restoring the skin’s lipid layer.

The Basics of Nail Anatomy

Like the skin on the hands, fingernails can suffer from too much exposure to environmental stressors. Frequent hand-washing, for example, can leave nails thin and prone to tearing. Exposure to solvents like acetone and gel manicures can also weaken the nail. Like hair and other parts of the body, nails are composed of keratin, a fibrous protein that grows out from the lunula, or the visible portion of the matrix. Caring for nails helps them serve their function of protecting the nail bed from foreign substances and pathogens. It also protects the fingertips. What many people don’t know is that the nail is even more permeable than skin. While our skin can absorb 50-70% of what we put on it, the nail can absorb substances, too. It’s important to know how to care for this important part of our anatomy. We’ve included a few suggestions below to get you started:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet – that’s right; the same diet that may leave your hair dry and brittle can do the same to your nails. Vitamin B12 deficiency can leave nails dry, dark and/or curved. A diet containing sufficient protein will promote keratin production. And hydration is important, too- our nails contain as much as 12% water.
  • Keep nails neatly trimmed/filed – This can prevent them from catching on objects, resulting in painful tears.
  • Use a nail/cuticle oil regularly – when nails are dry, they readily absorb oils, which work well to soften and condition dry nails and cuticles.
  • Don’t cut your cuticles – not only can this raise the risk for infection, but it can result in nail ridges. Instead, use a cuticle stick to gently push the cuticle back and keep cuticles conditioned.
  • Watch what nail products you use – solvents like acetone can wreak havoc on nails. Many nail polishes contain ingredients like formaldehyde, toluene and other organic solvents that can dry nails out. They are also being absorbed into the body, which is not so good. Try nail products that are 10-free (free of the 10 major harmful ingredients). We love Zoya nail polish. For a list of some good ones, click here.
  • Instead of nail polish, try buffing your nails – not only will it leave your nails naturally lustrous, but it helps to increase circulation to the nail bed, which is a good thing.
  • Seek professional help if you see anything that shouldn’t be there – fungal infections are common and sometimes require prescription medication. Even skin cancer can appear in the nail area, so don’t wait. Contact your doctor for a consultation.

By taking just a few steps to keep hands and nails healthy, you can avoid the discomfort of dealing with dry, cracked skin and nails. A little care can go a long way.

Haircare mistakes and curly hair

Haircare Mistakes And Curly Hair

Which haircare mistakes to we tend to engage in? A lot can depend on your hair type and lifestyle. For those with curly hair, a little TLC is often required due to the nature of the curl strands and their susceptibility to damage. Wavy and curly hair are created by the presence of an oval hair follicle. Curly hair is softer and more susceptible to breakage. It also tends to have less sebum present, making it drier. Hence, it’s important to know which practices can negatively impact on curly locks, and what to do instead. Below are some of the most common haircare mistakes.

Shampooing too often

As mentioned before, curly hair tends to be drier. This can also extend to the scalp. Therefore, it’s not necessary to hit the shampoo bottle every day, or even every other day. A lot depends upon how active you are and what condition your curls are in. According to the experts at Ouidad , it’s ok to wash or co-wash your hair between 1 and 3 times per week. As a general rule, the drier your hair and scalp, the less often you should wash it.

Using the wrong shampoo

There are a mind-boggling number of shampoo formulas out there, and it’s important to use one that is tailored to your hair type. If your hair is extra curly, it will benefit from an extra-moisturizing formula. Or opt for what is called co-washing (conditioner-only washing). Most conditioners contain a few cationic surfactants (cleansers) like benhetrimonium chloride, which remove dirt without stripping the hair. If your hair and scalp tend to be dry, this may be the best option for you. Also avoid shampoos containing a lot of foaming agents like sodium laureth sulfate and cocamide DEA, which can cause allergic reactions and tend to be drying. Believe it or not, you don’t need lather to get hair clean. If in doubt, read the ingredient labels before buying. For a list of common shampoo ingredients read this Newsweek article.

Using the wrong styling products

It’s important for people with curly hair in particular to use styling products. They help with frizziness, dryness, tangling and other issues. Even if you air-dry your hair, it’s a good idea to add protection and definition with styling products. However, the wrong styling products can wreak havoc on your hair. For example, styling gels containing alcohols can dry out your hair. Opt for alcohol-free cream formulas that add definition and shine. Another problematic ingredient is silicones. On the label, they usually end in -one or -oxane. They are synthetic polymers that create slip and providing some heat protection. While not all silicones are created equal, they all do have a tendency to build up on your hair, ultimately leaving it dry and dull. They are hydrophobic, which means they are hard to wash out. You’ll then need a clarifying shampoo to remove them, which causes more drying, and on and on. This is especially true for thick silicones like dimethicone. It’s a cycle that you just don’t want to get into.

If you still want to use silicones, opt for a water-soluble one like cyclomethicone.

Not protecting your hair from the elements

Whether or not you color your hair, this is a common mistake that can really cost you down the line. Things like heat, humidity, chlorine, and ultraviolet light have an especially strong impact on curly hair. Aside from avoiding pools and sunlight, there are few things that you can do before hitting the pool or the beach. Yes, you can apply your barrier sunscreen to hair. Usually the ingredients found in sunscreens for the skin are ok for the hair, too. (Yes, you should be using sunscreen on your skin, too.) You can also try products containing oils like jojoba, carrot seed oil, red raspberry oil, almond oil, and shea butter. These ingredients provide natural sunscreen protection. Look for brands like Alba Botanica, or take a look at our All Purpose Dry Oil. If you don’t have any products available, wear a hat.

Too much heat styling

Let’s face it, we all life hectic lifestyles that often necessitate quick hair drying. However, it’s important that we give our curly hair a break from heat styling whenever possible. Even with a diffuser, hair dryers can damage the hair cuticle and dry out curly hair. Sometimes we can avoid heat styling by getting the right haircut. Also buy the best blow dryer you can afford, usually an ionic or ceramic hair dryer, or a combination of both. They tend to cost more than regular hair dryers, but it’s worth it to get less frizz and a shorter drying time. However, air drying is best for curly hair. The right styling product can make your curly hair wash-and-go.

Over-manipulation of hair

Again, a good haircut makes over-manipulation of hair less likely to occur. One should also never comb out curly hair when it’s dry. Use a conditioner or cowash that detangles and use a wide-tooth comb to detangle gently. Separate tight curls with the fingers if possible. Don’t over-brush.

Not protecting your curls while you sleep

It’s so easy to protect your curly hair at night. Just buy a satin sleep cap or a silk pillow case. The fabric helps to reduce friction, reducing damage to your curls while you sleep. Also avoid wearing tight bands or other restraints in your hair while you sleep. Curlers are a no-no! A silk pillowcase is also kinder to your face.

References:
http://coveteur.com/2019/03/29/silicone-hair-products/

Tips for Soft Healthy Lips Blog Post

Tips for Soft Healthy Lips

Tips for Soft Healthy Lips

In honor of National Lipstick Day, we’d like to provide some tips on maintaining soft, healthy, kissable lips. After all, they are a prominent form of expression and one of our erogenous zones. With a little extra care, they can remain softer, smoother and healthy for life. But first, let’s learn a little more about this important part of our anatomy.

Facts About Our Lips

The lips consist of three major components – the labius superium oris, the labius inferium oris, and the vermillion border (the outermost margins of the lips). The main muscle that moves the lips is the Obicularis oris muscle. The unique features of the lips include:

  • The skin is very thin compared with the rest of the body.
  • The lips do not have hair follicles or sweat glands. In this way they are similar to the soles of our feet and the palms of our hands.
  • The lips do not have oil glands, so they dry out more quickly than the rest of the body.
  • The lips are very sensitive to touch, warmth and cold.
  • Lips tend to have fewer malanocytes than the rest of the body, which allows blood vessels underneath to give them a pinkish hue.
  • Lips tend to get thinner as we age, due to the decreased production of collagen.
  • How To Care For Our Lips

    Because of these unique properties, it is important to protect our lips from the effects of the environment, harsh chemicals, and sunlight. The same environmental forces that can cause our skin to age is magnified on our lips. Hear are a few ways that you can keep your lips soft and healthy:

  • Moisturize regularly. Without oil glands, our lips are especially prone to drying and cracking. A moisturizing shea butter lip balm or other barrier balm can go a long way towards trapping moisture to prevent cracking.
  • Avoid products that can dry lips out, like alcohol, camphor, phenols, menthol, perfumes, salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid (which in low humidity can pull moisture from your lips).
  • Rethink using products that don’t actually moisturize like 100% petroleum jelly (which is highly refined and may contain other contaminants) and mineral oil. Choose moisturizing, penetrating oils like shea, olive and coconut oil instead with a natural wax like candelilla instead.
  • Exfoliate lips gently, especially during the winter months. The skin on the lips sheds, too, and regular exfoliation with a gentle scrub or a washcloth can help maintain a smooth appearance and helps lip care products absorb better.
  • Wear a sunscreen on your lips! Of course, it’s wise to wear sunscreen on all exposed areas when we’re outdoors, but the lips are especially vulnerable. A barrier sunscreen containing zinc or titanium oxide is best.
  • If you smoke, stop. After sun exposure, nothing ages skin more than smoking. It accelerates the breakdown of collagen and causes our skin to age prematurely. For the same reason, avoid excess sugar in the diet.
  • Use products that are proven to enhance collagen production. The jury is still out on whether or not supplements and powders can improve the skin. However, ingredients like antioxidants, peptides and ingredients like niacinamide have been shown to help with collagen production. For example, our Age-Defying Vitamin C Face Creme contains both antioxidants and niacinamide without the high price tag of other Vitamin C creams.
  • Stay hydrated. The same thing that can dry your skin also dries out your lips. If you suffer from chronically dry skin, lips, hair and nails, then it’s time to drink more water.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Foods rich in collagen precursors like glycine and proline include foods like fish, dark leafy greens, beans, cabbage, bananas and many other foods. Eating foods rich in these amino acids help the body maintain healthy skin, hair and yes, lips too.
  • Don’t lick your lips! It’s tempting to do when lips are cracked, but it only speeds dehydration.

    In addition to these tips, we also recommend that you read labels before applying any product to your lips. Many lipsticks, for example, contain synthetic dyes, lead, and other ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction or worse. After all, many of the products that we put on our lips can end up in our bodies. Let’s make certain that they are products that won’t do more harm than good. So pucker up and be smart about your lip health!

    References:
    Huffington Post article about lip facts
    Wikipedia article on lip anatomy

The Importance Of All Year Round Sun Protection

With Fall here and winter approaching your first impulse might be to ease up on your sun protection. Don’t. Sun safety and protecting your skin against UV damage is a year-round commitment. According to Bruce E. Katz, the director of JUVA Skin & Laser Center in New York, “The sun’s harmful rays are just as strong and damaging despite what your thermometer says— particularly the UVA rays which are responsible for aging skin. UVA radiation reaches deeper into the skin and contributes to wrinkles and skin cancer risk. Nearly all (95 percent) of the UV radiation that we are exposed to is UVA.”

What is UVA?

To break it down, Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is part of the electromagnetic (light) spectrum that reaches the earth from the sun. UV radiation has wavelengths shorter than visible light which make it invisible to the naked eye. Ultraviolet A (UVA) is the longer wave of the two and the UV ray that causes lasting skin damage, skin aging, and can cause skin cancer. The shorter UV wave is Ultraviolet B (UVB). Ultraviolet B rays are what cause sunburns, skin damage, and possible skin cancer. By damaging the skin’s cellular DNA, excessive UV radiation produces genetic mutations that can lead to skin cancer. Both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization have identified UV as a proven human carcinogen.

UVA and Skin Cancer

The rise in the incidence of skin cancers over the past decades is strongly related to increasingly popular outdoor activities and recreational exposure. According to Alex A. Khadavi, the founder of Advanced Skin & Hair, “Reflection of radiation from snow requires aggressive sunscreen protection, maybe even more than summertime as individuals participate in snow activities like skiing and snowboarding. Almost 80 percent of UV radiation is reflected from snow while only 25 percent from sand.”

About 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers and about 86 percent of melanomas are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun. Overexposure to sunlight is widely accepted as the underlying cause for harmful effects on the skin, eye and immune system. Because UV damage is mostly avoidable, experts believe that four out of five cases of skin cancer are preventable. Because sun damage builds up over time sunscreen should be applied liberally and evenly to any exposed skin. Sunscreen should be used everyday, even if it’s cloudy and sun does not appear to be present or in the forecast. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF), up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays can pass through clouds. The SCF also reports that this is the reason people often end up with serious sunburns on overcast days if they’ve spent time outside with no sun protection.

Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB radiation. Other types of sunscreen may help prevent sunburn, but they will not protect against skin cancer. Repeated sun exposure is the leading cause of premature skin aging. This is known as photoaging. It occurs because the sun’s ultraviolet rays alter the normal structure of the skin, causing the appearance of wrinkles and brown spots.

For more information on Vitamin D and what types of sunscreens to use, click here.