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Posts Tagged ‘oatmeal’

I often get the sense  that  my friends have an almost mystical faith in moisturizers.  While they avoid taxis and  stagger home  from Costco  with 10  pounds of rice, they  have faith that a $300 moisturizer  is the key to beautiful  young skin.  If  only it  was that easy.

First, a little back story.   Water is essential  for healthy skin.  It promotes normal  metabolism   and keep skin cells organized and flexible.  The mission of a moisturizer is to simply help the skin maintain a healthy water balance. The  most basic   water and oil formulas act  like Saran Wrap to prevent  evaporation of water from the skin.   And the  simplest moisturizers will do  just that.  But there are three affordable and effective ingredients which  crank up   water attracting and holding powers in a moisturizer.  Hyaluronic acid, ceramides and dimethicone, either singly or in combination,  dramatically increase  the value of a moisturizer to the skin.  These cosmetic   workhorses may not be sexy, but they deliver results.

Flip throught he pages of a magazine and  you will find ads for super spendy moisturizers pumped up with  exotic/expensive ingredients like  arctic cloudberry, marula oil or  alpha lipoic acid.  Some  work some don’t, but  the bottom line is that they are not essential to beautiful skin.  On the No-Nonsense Budget Beauty program  your anti-aging and antitioxidant needs are met with  glycolic acid, vitamin C  and affordable  microdermabrasion kits. 

Here are four nighttime moisturizers that you should apply over the anti-aging  products.   For normal and oily skin, dot on a pea size blob on your cheeks, forhead, chin and neck and blend into the face.  If  your skin  is dry, use the double app technique.  Once the first application has benn absorbed, dot and blend a second coat

I’ve four favorite moisturizers all at less than $15:

1. CeraVe PM ( Coria Laboratories)

This baby hits all the right notes:  Fragrance-free and non comedogenic, its packed with ceramides, and hyaluronic acid.  FYI its one of the few affordable moisturizers to offer this powerful water attracting  ingredient.

2.  Active Naturals Daily ProtectionMoisturizing Lotion( Aveeno)

This light, fragrance-free cream has  colloidal oatmeal to soothe sensitive skin and dimethicone to hold moisture.

3. Sensitive Skin Remedy ( Curel)

This a new product to my tool box.  It offers ceramides, dimethicone, super soothing  allantoin and antioxidant rich citric acid.   All this and fragrance and dye free too.

4.  Aquaphor ( Beiersdorf)

The first three moisturizers  are lighter formulations.  This is what I need and I’m reluctant to recommend products I don’t  use.  But when the weather turns cold and windy, my skin  turns dry and flaky — and I reach for Aquaphor.  Its the moisturizer that doctors give their patients after lasers and peels.  If its good enough for them its good enough for me.

If you  your skin is uber dry, try the double app method with Aquaphor.   Before going to sleep apply generously to  your face.  Allow the first application to sink in, then reapply.

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I’ve been getting some pushback from blog visitors who are getting annoyed with the price tag on the  products and techniques I am recommending– and they’re right.

This is no time to throw money around.  To lower  overall beauty costs, effective and super affordable personal care products  can be  made  in your own kitchen.  Natural ingredients like lemon juice, honey and oatmeal are packed with active agents including fruit acids, antioxidants and soothing colloids. 

But before you squeeze a  single lemon or crack an egg,  you need to organize your kitchen cosmetic set-up. While the basic rules of simple cooking apply to homemade skin care formulations, these freshly made products are preservative free.  This  definately lowers  our exposure to chemicals, but  it can raise  risk of bacterial contamination.  To stay safe take these prep rules seriously:

Kitchen Cosmetics Road Rules

* Wash down your work area with a disinfectant wipe and dry with a disposable paper towel.

* Wash hands with soap and water.

* Wash your work bowls, measuring spoons and cups, stirring spoons and jars for storage in  a diswasher or boil for 5 minutes in a large pot of water.

* Wash all fresh fruits and veggies in hot water before using in beauty care products.

* Store your homemade products  in clean jar with a tight lid and keep in the frig.

* Label and date all jars.

* Don’t dip your fingers in the jar.  Use a spoon or butter knife to take out what you need.

* Check the date on any product before you use it.

* Discard within a week.

Here are two of my favorite all natural skin care produts:

Creamy Milk Mask for Dry Skin

Ingredients:  1 tablespoon organic yogurt or buttermilk, 1 tablespoon powdered  milk, 4 drops of olive oil

Steps:  Combine all ingredients.  Apply to the face and  allow  masks to dry and harden for 20 minutes.  Rinse off with cool water.

The yogurt, powdered milk or buttermilk are rich in lactic  acid  that can exfoliate the top layer of dead skin cells and encourage growth of healthy  fresh skin.

Roman Nail Soak

Ingredients:  1 cup crushed organic tomates, 2 teaspoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons white wine ( but  no garlic)

Steps:  Combine all ingredients.  Divide mixture into two small bowls and soak nails for 20  minutes.  Rinse off, rubbing cuticles with a dry washcloth. 

The tomates are a great source of  lactic acid AND vitamin C  which is a powerful antioxidant and essential for healthy collagen.

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What do Kim Kardashian, Leann Rimes and my neighbor Erica  have in common?  Like almost 8  million Americans they all   have psoriasis.  This  chronic skin condition is caused  by  a dramatically increased speed of  skin cell growth leading  to red splotches coverd with  silvery scales.  Itchy, dry and  painful it usually pops up on the torso, hands, elbows,  and legs.  Unlike eczema, its found on the outside rather than on the underside of  joints.

Like so  many health problems, doctors  don’t  really have a good handle on the causes of psoriasis. It seems to be genetically driven and  about 30%  of people with  psoriasis have at least one family member with the condition.  Psoriasis flare-ups  have been  linked to wheat, stress, weight gain, strep infection cold weather, smoking  and heavy drinking.  Psoriasis can also cause joint  pain and swelling and up to 30% of people with psoriasis experience  some degree of psoriatic arthritis. 

A Bounty of Treatment Options 

The three top rules for psoriasis care  are moisturize, moisturize and  of course moisturize. Daily care starts with a lukewarm bath with a mild soap  like Dove or Aveeno Skin Relief Body Wash.  Adding a handful of colloidal oatmeal to the bath will also reduce  itching and inflammation.  After a nice soak, gently towel dry and  apply a simple but heavy moisturizer like Aquaphor.  Apply a light  layer, let it soak in then apply another layer.

Sunlight  which is usually viewed as  skin enemy #1 is actually helpful for psoriasis  But easy does it.  A daily 15 minute exposure will provide the benefits you want without increasing  skin cancer risks.

Stepping up Psoriasis Care

Lukewarm bath, ointments and a little sunlight are the first steps in managing  itchy, scaly  psoriasis skin care problems.  If you need more help ( and most  people do) doctors “step-up” care, progressively adding treatments:

1. Topical Medications

When more than simple moisturizers are needed, salicylic  acid cleansers and gels  can remove scales.  Steroids can also be prescribed  for flare-ups, but  should not usually be used  long term.   Tazorac ( similar  to Retin A) and coal tar  products can be very helpful  if psoriasis  affects less than 10-20% of the body.

2.  Light Therapy

You can crank up the benefits of UV rays by adding  a type of drug  called psoralens.  Either in a pill or cream, psoralens act by slowing down the turbo charged rate of cell growth that is driving psoriasis.  Psoralens have  problems  of their own.  They can cause nausea, headache and  over time have been linked with  an increased risk of skin cancer

3. Systematic Medications

If psoriasis still persists, doctors still have a number of powerful options in their tool  box.   Usually taken in  pill form,  methotrexate, cyclosporine, and retinoids ( like Accutane) all act  by slowing down skin cell growth.

4.  Biologics

The  newest  categories of care are injectables  that act on the molecular level to interrupt skin cell over production.  Given  in an injection or IV infusion,  biologics like Stelera or Enbrel can be life changing  if you have extensive psoriasis  and/or psoriatic  arthritis. Biologics are extremely powerful  and require close medical monitoring.  They have been  linked to increased risk of  infections and worsening of heart failure  and multiple sclerosis.  Effective  but with potential side effects  they are  usually prescribed when other remedies  have not been able to control   psoriasis.

Living with psoriasis can be frustrating.  All the treatments  from oatmeal baths  to  biologic injectables  need to be used in combination and it takes time and supportive  health care to come up with the most effective combo plan for  you.  Don’t  give up.  The best care is out there.

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Question:  Help!  I’ve got a painful sunburn.

Answer:   Despite our best intentions, sunburns  happen.  Its all to easy to forget to reapply  sunscreen  during the day and by the time  the sun goes down,  you’re red and achy.  To deal with the sunburn I suggest   assembling a little sunburn emergency kit in advance.  You need just five affordable and easy to find items:

1.  Aspirin

2.  A real live Aloe Vera plant

3.  A  jar of Shea butter

4. A box of  Quacker’s Oatmeal

5.  Green tea bags

Here’s the drill:   When you realize that you’re fried, take two aspirin.  This will reduce  the inflammation which is  the root of the pain and damge  to your skin.  Then fill a tub with lukewarm water and swish  a handful of oatmeal into the water.  Get in and soak for 20 minutes.  Oatmeal is one of the best  anti-inflammatory remedies we have and the water will draw out some of the heat.  Out of the tub, dry off gently and smooth on  some shea butter.  In the morning, cut open a leaf of  Aloe plant and spread the fresh gel onto your skin.  Be careful with commercial Aloe gels which may contain alcohol that can irritate your skin and increse dyhydration.

During the day make sure to eat plenty of fruit and drink water.  Cold water absorbs better than warm water and iced green tea will also provide much needed anti-oxidants to counteract the free radical storm of a sunburn.  To avoid further irritation use a 30-50SPF sunscreen  for sensitive skin.  These are physical sunscreens with zinc oxides rather  than chemical  protection which may be irritating to tender burned skin. If you’re going  outside, wear a broad brimmed hat for extra protection.

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While I’m not that impressed by the power of  six glasses of water/day, I am in awe of the value of oatmeal.  There are literally hundreds of peer-reviewed, published studies that demonstrate the benefits of oatmeal, both inside and out. As part of  a  breakfast, fiber rich oatmeal is low in sodium, fat free and can lower cholesterol.  And its not  just for breakfast.  I  use it in meatballs, meatloaf, muffins, quick breads and of course cookies. 

In skin care, oatmeal is a superhero.  It’s high in anti-oxidents, can reduce inflammation and  is a terriffic moisturizer  that never leaves your skin oily.  You can make an effective face mask  by blending  one tablespoon of oatmeal with an egg white for  oily skin or with an yolk for dry complexions.  Oatmeal is used in commercial  skin care products and Aveeno  has a large selection of oatmeal -enriched soaps, cleansers,  sunscreens and moisturizers. 

Oatmeal is safe, inexpensive, more effective and better researched  than  most of the new exotic anti-aging ingredients ( I mean you coffeeberry and roobios tea).  Instead of spending  money on these fads,  have a bowl of oatmeal  for breakfast and save a spoonful for  your face.

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