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Essential Vitamins for Perfect Summer Skin

Beautiful young woman in white dress in the garden

When summer comes, you know you have to make some changes. Lighter clothes, more sunscreen, less foundation, more air conditioning. But what about your vitamins?Going from cool weather to intense heat means your body has different needs, and different needs mean different nutrients. The right nutrition can help to protect your body for summer specific dangers like sun exposure, wrinkles, and skin cancer, and even help the body fix daily cell damage. Read on to find out how the right vitamins may help you to outsmart summer heat.

Vitamin C

Research support in the fact that vitamin C helps the body handle heat stress stems back to the 1930’s. For decades, vitamin C has been known to reduce the likelihood of heat related ailments like heat rash and heat exhaustion, and can also be used to treat already existing heat rash. Daily vitamin C intake also allows the body to adapt to the heat more quickly by lowering body temperature.

Additional research shows that vitamin C may also be a natural anti histamine, and may help lessen seasonal allergic rhinitis symptoms, while its antioxidant effects may help protect against cell damage by stimulating collagen production for cell growth and repair. These antioxidant benefits may also assist in protecting skin from sun damage and photo aging.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E has antioxidant benefits to help prevent UV damage to skin when topically layered under sunscreen, before sun exposure, as well as on its own after. It has been shown to have similar anti allergy benefits to vitamin C, especially in relation to nasal symptoms and asthma.

Vitamins D

Vitamin D increases the density of the skin, which means fewer wrinkles, and  explains its regular addition to anti aging skin car products. The most common way to get vitamin D is through sun exposure. Too little sun exposure may result in a vitamin D deficiency, which increases the risk of skin cancer. Recent research shows that vitamin D3 may prevent cells from growing and dividing, protecting us from breast, colorectal, and skin cancer. In fact, according to a recent study, women who took vitamin C supplements daily had a 57% reduction in risk of developing melanomas.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A (retinol) may also protect against melanomas. Researchers found that people who took daily vitamin A supplements had a 60% lower risk of developing melanomas than those who did not.

Vitamin A is also one of the best options for combatting photo aging, fine lines, and hyper pigmentation. Those who use vitamin A  in its compound form, retinol,  will already know the benefits it can have on the skin. Vitamin A can help the body make much needed repairs, including those from sun related damage, helping skin maintain elasticity and restoring collagen.

What changes are you making to help you get through the summer? Let us know how you survive when the mercury goes up.

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Do You Know the Signs of Skin Cancer?

Doctor examining patient's back for skin spots

Danielle Janofsky was originally diagnosed with melanoma in 2015 after having a suspicious mole removed from her shoulder. She was given a “good prognosis,” and continued to visit the dermatologist for tri-monthly checkups. On February 8, she went to the hospital, six months pregnant, complaining of abdominal pains. Doctors found the melanoma had spread to her kidney, stomach, liver,  and brain. The only treatment option was immunotherapy, which is not advisable for pregnant women. Danielle went on to give birth to healthy baby Jake before dying three days later.

Pregnancy and Melanoma Detection

How was it that it such a deadly form of cancer managed to go undetected for so long? According to Dr. Sapna Patel, a melanoma oncologist, pregnancy may have something to do with it. “It’s possible that pregnancy is a type of immune suppression. Your body is really focusing on its efforts on growing another human being, so it’s a little distracted on really taking care of itself.”

She explains that in most cases, after a melanoma is removed from the body, the immune system surveillance system goes into action, recognizing cancer cells and preventing them from harming you. However, when you are pregnant, the surveillance system can go down because it is more focused on fostering new life, making detection difficult.

Melanoma Detection

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, with over 87,000 Americans diagnosed each year. However, the spread of the disease can be greatly minimized with early detection. If melanoma is detected in stage 1, when it is still confined to the outer layer of skin, patients can do well. Deeper melanomas involving lymph nodes, on the other hand can metastasize more than 50 percent of the time. As Patel notes, “Melanoma is the only cancer that’s deadly in millimeters.”

Self Check

If you’re doing a self melanoma check, look out for:

  • Itching or bleeding moles
  • Spots that don’t heal
  • Dark spots under the finger and toenails
  • Flat red spots that turn scaly and rough
  • Painful and tender spots

Be sure to check thoroughly, between finger and toes, under arms, below breasts, behind ears and on genitals. Use a blow dryer to check scalp. If you notice a suspicious lesion, contact your dermatologist immediately.

Yearly Exams

You should also seek yearly professional skin exams in which your dermatologist will examine your entire body for moles and legions. Some practices will keep a photographic record of moles to track changes between appointments.

Are you conducting self-exams for melanoma? Let us know how you’re keeping safe in this season of sunburns and weigh in on Danielle’s story.

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What Science Says About Skin Care

Scientists conducting research in the lab

The science of skin care. You may have heard this expression being tossed around, and indeed there seems to be something to it. After all, don’t all of us want to find a product that is proven to work? It would avoid a lot of wasted money and dashed hopes spent on cosmetics that don’t work. But is it for real, or are skin care companies just gambling on the fact that their customers are just easily impressed by scientific terms?

What To Put On Your Face

Austin based comedian Kath Barbado  is a woman daring to combine the yin with the yang. On her skincare blog, “What To Put On Your Face,” the comedian defies stereotypes by uniting the traditionally male associated  aptitude for science with the traditionally female associated quest for the perfect skin care product. It is here that she answers readers questions about the most daunting scientific elements of skincare to bring clarity to the subject.

Barbadoro’s early motivation for unlocking skin care secrets was similar to most of ours. She wanted to look her best. However, her interest led her to an exploration of the science behind it. The comedian began to browse the Reddit thread “skin addiction” in order to clarify information on beauty sites such as “Beautypedia” and Caroline Hirons. This is where I started learning about the importance of skin pH and the acid mantle, for example,” she explains.

Barbado’s take on all of this seems to be a positive one. “You can be a lot more judicious with your purchases when you can look at the list of ingredients in something and actually understand what you’re reading.”

The Scientific Beauty

“The Scientific Beauty’ is a beauty and skin care blog focused on simplifying the scientific language of cosmetic companies – a sort of “Skincare for Dummies” if you will. Founder Sophie explains her aim as being able to satisfy her wish to have “the science…explained in plain English to help decode the chemicals and separate the facts about beauty from fiction.”

Visitors to “The Scientific Beauty” wishing to satisfy their desire for lighter reading material will not be disappointed. Readers will find articles interspersed with lipstick kisses and Chanel brushes, so as not to alienate visitors to more traditional beauty sites.

The Upshot

So what is the final word on “skin care science?” Well, it sure doesn’t seem to be doing any harm. Sure, it’s worthwhile to remember that any skin care advice found on the internet should be clarified by a professional, but combining enthusiasm for cosmetics with an enthusiasm for science may be a step in the right direction. And, if skin care science can provide a social media community for women to share their experiences and answer their questions, so much the better.

What do you think about what science is saying about skin care? Let us know and tell us what you’re learning.

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Hormonal Changes Can Lead to Skin Changes

Pensive young woman resting her head on a log outdoors

You may be familiar with the expression, “kill the messenger.” However, when you take into account that the main function of hormones is to deliver messages, the expression takes on a whole new meaning. Hormones are chemical messengers in the body created in the endocrine glands. They control most bodily function, including reproduction, emotion, and mood. When they’re in proper balance, hormones can be very beneficial, but when they go out of whack, we do too, and sometimes that shows on our skin. Having a full understanding of how these hormones affect skin is key to finding solutions to hormone related changes. Read on to find out how these messengers operate and what you can do about it.

Estrogen

Estrogen affects the thickness of skin, moisture and wrinkle formation. The hormone can increase glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), such as hyaluronic acid to maintain structure of skin and balance of fluids. Estrogen boost s collagen production, allowing skin to remain plump, wrinkle-free and hydrated.

When hormone activity is elevated, as it is by the use of oral contraceptives and pregnancy, skin pigmentation in sun exposed area (like the forehead and cheeks) increases, resulting in a phenomenon known as melasma.

Female Menopause

When women transition into menopause, anti-inflammatory estrogens are lost, leading to increase inflammation. Female skin may become red and blotchy, and certain skin conditions, like rosacea, may result. The decrease of estrogen also means a lowering of collagen production, causing skin thinning, and loss of elasticity, leading to the formation of wrinkles. Estrogen loss also means the number of blood vessels in our skin is reduced, giving skin a pale wan appearance, and the GAGs in our skin, without regulation from estrogen, cause itchiness.

Thyroid Hormones

The thyroid hormones affect brain development, breathing, muscle strength, bone health, skin dryness, menstrual cycles, weight, and cholesterol levels. An overload of the hormone can cause skin to become warm and flushed. Too little can make skin dry, thick, and coarse, with a low level of perspiration.

What Can Be Done?

Hormonal replacement therapy is the latest possible solution to menopausal skin. Topical and oral steroid hormones have been shown to show improvements in  elasticity, skin thickness, and moisture. However, more work is needed to determine whether or not the treatment is fully beneficial.

Since collagen production is dramatically affected during hormonal loss, it is important to use collagen producing ingredients. Retinoids, Vitamin C, and peptides can all benefit hormone affected skin by controlling pigmentation, boosting collagen production, brightening skin, and increasing the production of GAGs. Oils such as Jasmine and Rosewood can provide hydration, while Carrot Seed, Rosehip, and Argan improve elasticity and support the lipid barrier of the skin.

Are you dealing with skin changes caused by hormones? Let us know how you’re handling it!

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Happiness is the Key to Inner and Outer Beauty

Smiling young woman outdoors

Perhaps the reason we are so happiness-obsessed is because inner happiness is the key to outer beauty. Celebrity doctor Deepak Chopra believes that beauty is not necessarily a genetic gift, but that it can be a choice. He believes that beauty can be accessible to all of us if we simply make the right decisions. Chopra revealed how in a recent interview with The Huffington Post.

The Pursuit Of Beauty

It’s no secret that beauty is a highly valued attribute in our society. We often equate it with the ability to receive special privileges and feel that only very few of us are fortunate enough to possess it. According to Deepak Chopra, beauty is not as elusive as many of us would think. He believes that the key to beauty is to stop thinking, “if I am beautiful, I will be happy.” Rather, it is more beneficial to think, “If I am happy, I will be beautiful.”

Finding Beauty From The inside

So, if we need to achieve happiness in order to achieve beauty, how do we go about finding this rare gem? According to Chopra, “There is a rising tide of evidence to show that our cells immediately respond to the inner events in our lives.” He believes that unhappiness affects both the mind and the body and refers to examples of depressed people who find themselves suffering physical illness as a result of their emotional woes. However, it is not this phenomenon that impresses him; rather, it is the fact that shifts in mental activity can affect our physical well-being. While he allows that situations can affect our mental well being, we will eventually recover.

Positive Psychology

Chopra uses two findings of positive psychology as the basis for his suggested strategy. The first is the idea that a happy life is made up of happy days. Hence, we need to start being happy today. If you put off happiness, as in, for example, working at a job you dislike in anticipation of retirement, he believes, cellular changes will amass that imprint misery on your brain. Therefore, by the time of your retirement the damage will have been done. The misery will be so deeply imprinted that it will be hard to think positively.

Happy Days

So what makes a happy day? According to Chopra, happy days consist of pure food and water, good sleep, healthy relationships, helping others, yoga and meditation, a general sense of control, and of loving and being loved. He suggests keeping a journals to track the positive and negative aspects of your life and realizing that you have the power to control most of the things on the list.

The second discovery of positive psychology involves meaningful decisions. It is estimated that 40 to 50 percent of an individual’s happiness depends on the choices he or she makes. Chopra encourages us to grow happy by making conscious and positive choices. And the result? You will be beautiful.

We hope that you achieve both happiness and beauty. Let us know how you weigh in on the subject and keep making the right choices every day!

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Clean Eating Equals Clear Skin

Smiling young woman eating healthy salad while texting on the phone

Lately, there have been a lot of new improbable food combinations out there that mix the savory with the sweet.  Donut burgers, chocolate coated potato chips, pretzels and ice cream; sometimes it can seem hard to resist.  However, in nutritionist lingo, savory and sweet translates into grease and sugar, and that can be a nightmare for your skin.  If you want to clear up your skin, you need to start by cleaning up your diet. Here are some tips for doing both:

Diet and Your Skin

According to Dr. Jessica Wu, dermatologist and author of “Feed Your Face,” What you put in your mouth is just as important as what you apply to your skin. She explains, “Foods get digested and broken down into vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that your body can use to build healthy skin. If you crash diet or eat highly processed foods, your skin won’t be as strong and supple as it could be. For example, if you don’t eat enough protein, you are depriving your skin of the amino acids that go into making collagen and elastic tissue.”

Avoiding Sugar

Nutrition expert Alex Caspero recommends a low glycemic diet for acne prone skin and tells his clients to reduce sugar as much as possible. He says, “I replace refined sugary foods with nutrient dense foods, like fruit, vegetables and healthy sources of Omega-3.”What should you avoid specifically?  Protein bars, according to Dr. Wu.

She considers them glorified candy bars warning that, “The sugar will quickly get into your bloodstream, making your insulin levels spike, which can aggravate acne, wrinkles, and rashes.”  The fix?  Dr. Wu suggests a handful of almonds and a piece of whole fruit eaten after a workout, saying, “You’ll be eating better for your skin and you’ll feel more satisfied.”

Dairy

So what’s the deal with dairy?  Although the link between dairy and acne has not been definitively proven, Caspero doesn’t recommend dairy, saying, “Just like sugar, I see great results when I remove dairy from the diet,” and adds that, “If people must have milk or yogurt, I recommend non-dairy alternatives, or goat’s milk.”

Healthy Skin Diet

So now that you know what you shouldn’t eat, let’s talk about what you should. Celebrity esthetician Joanna Vargas says that, “The best skin diet is one that involves eating vegetables of different colors for every meal and a green juice every day.” Her top pick? Avocados. Vargas advises throwing these green berries into your smoothie as a source of phytonutrients and healthy fats.Dr. Wu says that when it comes to picking vegetables, red, yellow, and green are the most skin friendly.

According to Wu, “Tomatoes are good for helping reduce sun damage,” adding that, “they’re high in the antioxidant lycopene, (which) is more easily absorbed when the tomatoes have been cooked.” She also advises clients to use the color of vegetables as an indicator of antioxidant levels. “In general,” she explains, “the redder the tomato, the more lycopene it has,” and similarly, when it comes to green and yellow veggies, “The darker and brighter the color, the more the nutrients.”

Spices

As for Caspero, he cites omega-3 rich foods, like sardines, flaxseed, and chia seeds, and foods with vitamins A, C, and E for luminous skin, however, he adds some revealing information.  “Most of us think of fruits and vegetables as antioxidant sources, but, surprisingly, herbs and spices pack the most punch.  Turmeric, a spice often found in Indian cuisine, is one of the best.”
So, what are you doing to clean up your diet and clear up your skin?  Let us know.  We love to hear from you.

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Top Habits of Those Who Age Well

Senior woman with white hair relaxing on a chair

They Get Beauty Sleep

The National Sleep Foundation advises that you get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, and people who age well follow this advice. It isn’t called beauty sleep for nothing; during sleep your body releases a growth hormone that is responsible for restoring healthy collagen and elastin, both of which your body needs to maintain a youthful appearance. When you don’t give your body the rest that it needs, you put yourself at a higher risk for health problems such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease, and some recent research indicates that insomnia is linked to a more rapid decline in brain aging. Dr. Jeffrey Benabio, Physician Director of Healthcare Transformation at Kaiser Permanente Primary Care, encourages you to get more sleep saying, “[t]oo many of us treat sleep as a luxury instead of a need. If I could encourage people to make one healthy change this year, it would be to sleep more.”

They Watch What They Eat

Diet plays a critical role in your overall health throughout your entire life, but as you age you need to be more careful in selecting what foods you eat. “The latest research shows that a low-glycemic diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein is best,” advises Benabio. Harvard Medical School recommends the Mediterranean Diet for those who want to age well. This diet consists of eating fish twice a week, significantly reducing sodium levels and focusing on fresh produce and healthy fats. Plant-based foods are an important part of the Mediterranean Diet as are whole grains, nuts, olive oil and red wine. Eating a diet that resembles the Mediterranean Diet also benefits your skin by providing omega-3 fatty acids which help to protect your skin maintain its youth.

They Stay Active and Social

You know that exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but if you want to age well, exercise is crucial. Muscle loss accelerates as you age and the average woman loses just under 25 percent of her muscle mass between the ages of 30 and 70. People who age well combat muscle loss by increasing their resistance training workouts. Maintaining a healthy social life can is also a factor in aging well – studies indicate that those with strong social ties have up to a 50 percent chance of living longer than those who have poor relationships or are isolated.

Living a long, healthy and full life is a goal many of us have, and by following the top three habits of those who age well, it is within our reach. Staying aware of what and how much you eat, continuing to work out and go out and being sure to get plenty of rest so your body can recharge are things you can start doing today to ensure that you age well and with great health.

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Smooth Skin Secrets

Unknown woman touching her smooth legs

Enjoying flawless looking skin without putting in a lot of hard work is next to impossible. But, along with putting in a lot of hard work, you also need to use the right ingredients in your skin care products, eat the right kind of food and follow the right skin care routine. This Vine Vera Infographic uncovers the best secrets to smooth looking skin.

Infographic on the secrets of smooth skin

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All About Antioxidants

Unknown woman with a halved pomegranate

Antioxidants are compounds that are usually associated with saving your skin from the damage caused by the free radicals present in the environment. Antioxidants are very important for your skin health, it is very important to know how antioxidants benefit the skin because most of your skin care problems can be solved by adding the right antioxidants into your diets and your skin care routines. The secret to success lies in determining which antioxidants are beneficial for your skin and how should you add them into your regular routines. Check out Vine Vera‘s infographic to learn more!

Infographic on antioxidants for the skin

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Skin Age

Mature woman checking skin in the bathroom mirror

Skin age does not necessarily have to be the same as your chronological age simply because it is not dependant on genetics alone. In fact, the whole essence of skin care is to ensure that your skin age is lesser than your chronological age. This infographic helps you to determine your skin age, understand the problems that affect you and learn simple skin care solutions to reduce and control your skin age. Read our skin age guide to learn more about your skin age and how you can improve it.

Infographic on skin age