Category Archives: Beauty

Pros and Cons of the Charcoal Skincare Trend

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Visit just about any drug or department store and you’re likely to come across charcoal skincare products. From black body sponges infused with it to face masks containing the ingredient, this intriguing beauty item seems to be turning heads. After all, activated charcoal has been said to do wonders for other parts of our body, cleansing the stomach and flushing toxins from the digestive system. And if it’s good for us internally, then it must be amazing for our skin—right?

Not so fast. There are pros and cons to the charcoal skincare trend. As with anything else that falls outside the usual routine (e.g.. diets and exercise regimens), it’s important to understand the full picture. Charcoal products may be the best things you’ve ever tried, or they might be part of a silly fad worth skipping. Here’s the low-down.

Charcoal skincare pros

This active ingredient can come in the form of soaps, scrubs, masks and foaming cleansers. Several experts tout the benefits of using activated charcoal (i.e. oxygen that’s been added to charcoal) on skin. In fact, so popular is this trend that numerous spas have such treatments on their list of services, some charging upwards of $260 dollars for a charcoal facial. Many who have had one say they’re likely to do it again; they say their mood and appearance improved significantly afterwards.

Even if they haven’t indulged in such a costly facial, a lot of people say that more affordable department store purchases have given them more glowing, acne-free skin. Many people also suggest using activated charcoal products to help diminish cellulite from stubborn areas such as the belly, buttocks or thighs.

Indeed, science does show that activated charcoal draws impurities out of the body, allowing them to exit through the skin. Chemicals, toxins and poisonous micro-particles that build up in our bodies due to environmental and personal stress (along with improper eating and exercise habits), are said to be extracted and vastly eliminated by turning to activated charcoal. Applying it on the skin therefore acts as a magnet, sucking out harmful toxins and resulting in a healthier system and unclogged pores.

Spa professionals, major beauty brands and tons of consumers are advocates of using this method to treat skin. For example, Wendy Brooks, director of global product development at mega beauty brand Origins, explains that charcoal absorbs upwards of 200 times its weight in impurities. She believes it’s an ideal way to purify skin naturally and effectively.

There are even suggestions for homemade skin products involving mixing some of the powder from an activated charcoal supplement capsule with various oils and sea salt, then applying topically. Browse the internet and you’re bound to find tons of articles and videos about how to combine certain ingredients with this powder in an effort to achieve gorgeous skin.

Is it worth it, though? Some people aren’t feeling the trend and have no qualms about explaining why.

Reasons to shun the charcoal skincare trend

While a number of consumers have noted improvements in their skin, others aren’t so quick to recommend jumping on the charcoal skincare bandwagon.

In fact, Dr. Craig Kraffert is a dermatologist who says that just about the only interesting aspect of this trend is its unusual appearance. Using a very dark black product stands out from the typical, creamier and lighter colors and is therefore appealing to many individuals. Otherwise, he says this is more hype than help. “Truthfully,” Kraffert says, “there isn’t solid clinical data one way or the other… the uniqueness of the ingredient itself, especially its color, is likely the main driver behind the recent surge in popularity of activated charcoal facial cleansers and masks.”

Furthermore, many people who have used products containing activated charcoal note that their face was left slightly blackened. Clearly, this isn’t ideal if you’re heading out on a date or to a family gathering, and it certainly defeats the purpose if you have to cover up the darkened skin with tons of pore-clogging makeup. Still, plenty of users maintain that it’s worth the temporary darkening, saying that it has worked wonders for their skin.

A look at similar skincare trends

In addition to the activated charcoal skincare trend, several others exist. Between celebrities who swear by certain routines, DIY creams found on social media, and clever product marketing strategies, the popularity of various trends ebb and flow. For example, several people (myself included) enjoy occasionally putting coconut oil on their face s, saying it hydrates their skin and leaves it supple. Others, frankly, don’t like walking around smelling like a coconut with legs.

Another popular natural skincare method involves applying olive oil like moisturizer. It’s also not uncommon for people to turn to homemade mixtures involving sugar scrubs, uncooked oatmeal and honey, or to apply an egg white face mask or essential oils.

Final thoughts

As always, it’s best to find what works for you. If your skin appears to be improved by using activated charcoal products, then go for it. But be aware that everyone’s skin reacts differently and that you may be buying more into hype than anything else.

The Dangers of Eyelash Extensions

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When it comes to having long, thick eyelashes, the beauty industry has hundreds of products for you to try. There are dozens of brands of mascara, multiple kinds of false eyelashes and medicated growth serums. In recent years, eyelash extensions have become particularly popular.

Eyelash extensions promise to be the best combination of mascara and false eyelashes. Long, dark and practically permanent, they’re ready to go every morning, last for months, and are designed to look fantastic in photographs.

But what exactly are they? And are they safe to use?

What are eyelash extensions?

Eyelash extensions (also known as semi-permanent lashes) are made of synthetic fibers. Unlike standard false eyelashes, which are attached to the eyelid, extensions are individually glued onto your natural lashes. Consequently, the glue used to attach them is also extremely strong.

Eyelash extension do not need to be removed every night—in fact, removing them is practically impossible. The glue is designed to hold until your real lash falls out, which happens naturally to every lash. Because they require a particular type of glue and very careful placement, eyelash extensions must be applied by a professional aesthetician or cosmetologist.

Are eyelash extensions safe?

Semi-permanent lashes can be annoying for several reasons. When you wear them, you cannot pull at them or rub your eyes; if you do, you risk pulling out your own eyelashes or rubbing irritating chemicals into your eyes. You also cannot remove them yourself. If you don’t want to wait for them to fall out on their own, you must have them removed professionally, as the glue is too strong to be dissolved without chemicals.

However, the biggest reason to avoid eyelash extensions is the danger they can pose to the health of your skin and eyes.

The dangers of eyelash extensions

The glue used to apply eyelash extension is incredibly strong and often contains irritants like formaldehyde—a known carcinogen. It is very harsh and can cause allergic reactions in the sensitive skin around your eyes. These reactions may include redness, hives, swelling, and even blistering that can temporarily damage your vision and leave permanent scarring on your skin.

In some instances, eyelash extensions can cause you to completely lose your natural lashes. This condition is known as traction alopecia; unlike standard alopecia, which is an autoimmune disorder, traction alopecia occurs when the eyelash follicle is so irritated and damaged (in this case, by the application and removal of extensions) that it loses the ability to grow hair altogether.

Others dangers include bacterial or fungal infections of both the skin and cornea; these can be due to the glue or irritation from the eyelash extensions themselves.

The bottom line

Both the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Consumer Reports warn against using eyelash extensions. Even beauty magazines like Cosmopolitan are starting to tell consumers that they are too risky to be worthwhile!

While long, beautiful eyelashes are great, there are safer ways to achieve them than with eyelash extensions.

5 Key Ingredients Your Moisturizer Must Have

Moisturizing is arguably the most important step in your daily beauty routine, keeping your skin supple, elastic and younger-looking. So, when choosing a face lotion, you want to make sure it’s packed with vital ingredients that will really make a difference over time.

No matter your skin type or age, here are the five essential components that should be in your daily face cream in order to help you maintain optimal skin health. Make sure to double check that label before making your next skincare purchase!

Sun protection: This should go without saying, but sunscreen needs to be worn daily — and ideally, you should be slathering on an SPF of 30 for the best effects. Sun damage not only causes wrinkles, age spots and broken capillaries, but it can also turn deadly. No excuses, ladies.

Antioxidants: Renowned dermatologist Dr. Jeannette Graf says that antioxidants actually work synergistically with SPF to further protect your skin from damaging UV rays. She explains that antioxidants also fight free radicals, which are small molecules that disrupt healthy DNA of skin cells and lead to premature aging.

Retinoids: Retinoids are a form of highly effective vitamin A, Graf says, and include over-the-counter products like retinol and retinaldehyde, as well as prescription-strength retinoic acid like, Renova or Retin-A. She explains that Retinoids are the most well-researched and understood anti-aging ingredient — yes, there are nearlythree decades of medical research behind their effectiveness. “Retinol stimulates cell turnover, which in turn helps increase collagen production,” she says. “It also helps with fine lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.” If you’re worried about how this ingredient may react with sensitive skin, know this: The newer formulas are formatted differently than the old ones, she explains, meaning that they can penetrate your skin on a deeper level and don’t cause as much irritation as older versions.

Peptides: These chains of amino acids act as messengers, Graf says, signaling your skin to set off a series of various reactions that can lead to collagen production and elastin stimulation, among other good-for-your-skin actions that help slow the physical aging process. “They are most useful at night when the skin is in renewal mode because they heal and regenerate the skin,” she explains.

Hyaluronic Acid: “Hyaluronic Acid is a must for any moisturizer,” says Graf. “It’s a humectant that keeps the skin hydrated by drawing water to the skin.” When the skin is dehydrated, its natural exfoliating enzymes stop working, leading to a build up of dead, clogging skin cells. (Gross.

A Simple Natural Effective Homemade Dry Shampoo

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There was a time in my life when I was one of those people who washed my hair every single day. I took a shower every morning, dried my hair, and straightened it with a flat iron. I did that all through high school and college, even though it took me at least half an hour each day. Looking back, I can’t believe how much of my life I’ve spent drying my hair.

Part of the reason that it used to take me so long to do my hair is that my hair is thick. Seriously, hairstylists marvel over how much hair I have. (That’s always a hard thing to reply to, by the way. Do I say thanks? Are they even complimenting me? Are they actually kind of complaining because my hair is more work? I can never tell.)

After a few different hairstylists styled my hair and then said something like, “Wow, I hope you don’t wash this every day! That would take so much time!” it occurred to me that perhaps I really should start skipping a few showers.

So I did. I started washing my hair every other day. It was a little oily at first, and sometimes it was really hard to make it through that second day without giving in and washing it. But I was determined to give it a good try at least, and within a few weeks my hair had adjusted to my new schedule and was hardly getting oily at all between showers.

In fact, it went so well that I started fantasizing about going even longer without washing my hair. Could I wait three days? Four? A week? I had won back so much time in my life, and if anything, it made me detest styling my hair even more.

Dry shampoo was the obvious solution to my problem. When a friend suggested it to me I went and picked up a can from Target immediately. I tried it the next day and was sadly unimpressed. It smelled weird and it felt weird, and those are two deal-breakers for me when it comes to products that I use on my body. (I don’t even want to think about what the ingredients were. I’m sure they weren’t all-natural!)

Still, I was intrigued by the idea of dry shampoo, and it occurred to me that I could probably make some form of it on my own. Thus began my quest for a natural dry shampoo that I could make myself.

Homemade Dry Shampoo Recipe

There are many different substances that you can use as the base of dry shampoo. Ground-up oatmeal, arrowroot powder, and a variety of other fine, absorptive powders can be used. I like organic cornstarch because it’s easy to find and it’s something that I always have around the house anyway.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup organic cornstarch

Optional Additions

  • 3-4 drops essential oil for the scent
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder–for people with darker hair
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon–for people with red or auburn hair

Directions

Combine all ingredients well and store your all-natural, homemade dry shampoo in the container of your choice. Some good options are a mason jar with holes poked in the lid (the method I used), a large, un-used salt shaker, or a recycled parmesan cheese container.

Application

Dry shampoo is always applied at the roots of the hair. Use a brush or a comb and separate sections of your hair, shaking the powder onto your scalp. Massage it into the surrounding hair and let it sit for approximately two minutes–just enough time to absorb all that oil! When you’re finished brush the dry shampoo through your hair until it is no longer visible.

Results

I was eventually able to cut my styling time down to nearly nothing, by the way. It mostly involved giving up on straight hair forever and embracing my natural curls, but I have to say that dry shampoo helps too. It hasn’t replaced my regular hair-washing routine, but it does help me get an extra day or two when I need it.

For something that’s simple and inexpensive to make, all-natural dry shampoo is very effective!

Everything about body piercing

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People from many different cultures have pierced their bodies for centuries. If you look in a history book, you will find that Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans decorated their bodies with piercings and tattoos. Many pierced their bodies to show their importance in a group, or because they thought it protected them from evil. Today, we know much more about the risks of body piercing. Body piercing is a serious decision. Before you decide to get a piercing, ask your parents, trusted adults, and friends what they think.

What are teens saying about body piercing today?

Ask other teens who have been pierced what they thought of the entire experience. How much did it cost? Was it painful? How long did it take to heal? If they had the chance to do it over again, would they still get the piercing?

Some tips teens have passed along to us:

  • YOU do NOT have to pierce your body to “belong”.
  • YOU can ALWAYS change your mind or WAIT if you are not sure.
  • If YOU do decide to have your body pierced, NEVER pierce your own body or let a friend do it because you can end up having very serious health problems.

Are there any medical reasons why I should not get a piercing?

Yes. There are medical conditions (see the list below) that could interfere with the natural healing process after a piercing, which makes getting a piercing under these circumstances not only a bad decision, but a risky one.

The Association of Professional Piercers recommends that you should not get a piercing if:

  • You have a skin irritation or an unusual lesion or a rash, lump, cut, moles, or lots of freckles and/or abrasions (where you want to get pierced).
  • You have diabetes, hemophilia, an auto-immune disorder, certain heart conditions, or other medical conditions that might interfere with the healing process.
  • You have a job or participate in an activity that would make having a piercing risky.
  • If you have plans to become pregnant and want a nipple, navel, or other piercing.
  • If you’re already pregnant.
  • If a licensed professional piercer feels that it would be a bad idea.

Bottom line, if you are wondering if it’s safe for you to have an oral or body piercing, you should talk to your primary care provider and/or your specialist health care provider (for example, your cardiologist).

What are the risks of body piercing?

The most serious risks are infections, allergic reactions, bleeding, and damage to nerves or teeth. Infections may be caused by hepatitis, HIV, tetanus, bacteria, and yeast. If the piercer washes his/her hands and uses gloves and sterile equipment and you take good care of your piercing, the risk of infection is lowered (but can still occur).

Did you know that:

  • You CAN get and/or spread a serious infection (including Hepatitis B or C, HIV), and other infections if the piercing equipment has not been sterilized properly.
  • Infections caused by bacteria getting into the puncture of the piercing can happen later, even after the piercing has healed.
  • If the studio uses a piercing “gun” to do body piercings, LEAVE! Piercing guns cannot be sterilized and should NOT be used for body piercing.

Another cause of problems from piercings is using the wrong kind of jewelry for the area pierced. If the jewelry is too large, it can actually cut off the blood supply to the tissue, causing swelling and pain. If the jewelry is either too thin or too heavy, or if you’re allergic to the metal, your body may reject the jewelry.

Know the risks before you have your body pierced:

  • Bacterial infection (where you had the piercing)
  • Excessive (a lot of) bleeding
  • Allergic reactions (to certain kinds of jewelry)
  • Damage to nerves (for example, you may lose feeling at the area that gets pierced)
  • Keloids (thick scarring at the piercing site)
  • Dental damage (swelling and infection of the tongue, chipped/broken teeth, gum trauma, choking on loose jewelry)
  • Some people who have not looked at the pros and cons about getting a piercing may regret their decision. You should never feel pressured into getting a piercing.

Is the healing time the same for all body parts?

Healing time is different depending on the part of your body that you get pierced. Some parts are more likely to get infected or have problems. Piercings on your ear lobes usually take about 6-8 weeks to heal. However, piercings on the side of your ear(cartilage) can take anywhere from 4 months to 1 year to heal. The reason for this is that the type of tissue in each area is different, and the amount of pressure placed on the pierced area while you are sleeping is different too.

Tongue piercings swell a lot at first, but heal fairly quickly if the right type of jewelry is used. However, metal jewelry in the tongue may damage your gums and chip the enamel surface of your teeth. In fact, the ADA (American Dental Association – a group of dentists that set professional standards for dentists in the United States), is against any type of oral piercingsbecause of the possible health risks.

In some cases, nipple piercings can damage some of the milk-producing glands in a young woman’s breasts. This can cause infections or problems later on if the woman decides to breast-feed her baby. Some pierced areas, such as the navel (belly button), are more likely to become infected because of irritation from tight clothing. A pierced site needs air to help the healing process.

Body Piercings & Healing Times

Pierced Body Part: Healing Time:
Ear lobe 4 to 6 weeks
Ear cartilage 3 to 6 months
Eyebrow 9 to 12 weeks
Nostril 2 to 4 months
Tongue 4 to 6 weeks
Lip 2 to 3 months
Nipple 3 to 6 months
Navel (belly button) 9 months to 1 year
Female genitalia 4 to 10 weeks
Male genitalia 4 weeks to 2 months

If I decide that a piercing is important to me, where should I go?

You should ask friends and relatives with piercings where they went and if they liked the place. Look for a place that does a lot of piercings and that only employs piercers with piercing licenses. Some states make piercers get a license, while other states do not. So there are actually people who are doing body piercings with very little training! As you can imagine, this can be very dangerous for you. However, the APP (Association of Professional Piercers – a professional organization of piercers), makes safety rules for people who do piercings, and has a list of piercers who comply with the standards of their organization.

What should I look for in a piercing salon?

When you go into a salon, look around. Make sure that there is a certificate on the wall that says the piercer is registered with the APP. Is the place clean? The shop should be kept clean and sanitary. The lighting should be good so that the piercers can see well while working. Does the staff wash their hands and use sterile gloves and instruments? All the instruments should either be brand new and disposable (meant to be thrown away after one use) or be sterilized in sealed pouches. If the piercer uses disposable needles, you should see him/her open sealed packages. The piercers should throw away the needles in a biohazard container after using them. Make sure your piercer provides after-care instructions.

What do I need to bring to the piercing salon?

You may need to bring a copy of your birth certificate. If you are under 18 years old, you may need your parents’ or guardians’ permission. Your parent/guardian will need to go with you to the piercing salon and sign a consent form. Since the law is different from state to state, you’ll need to find out what the law in your area says about whether or not you need parental permission to get a piercing.

What kind of jewelry should I buy?

The Association of Professional Piercers has revised the minimum standard for jewelry for new piercings (February 5, 2009) and recommends the following:

  • Jewelry made from steel that is ASTM F-138 compliant or ISO-5822-1 compliant
  • Jewelry made from steel that is ISO 10993-6, 10993-10, and/or10993-11 compliant (EEC Nickel Directive compliant is generally reasonably priced and safe to use for new piercings. American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM), is an organization that isn’t related to the government, but sets high standards for all kinds of materials that are manufactured in the U.S. The European organization that is similar to the ASTM is called the “ISO”.
  • Titanium (Ti6Al4V ELI) that is ASTM F136 compliant or ISO 5832-3 compliant
  • Titanium that is ASTM F67 compliant
  • Solid 14 karat or higher nickel-free white or yellow gold
  • Solid nickel-free alloy
  • Niobium (Nb)
  • Fused Quartz glass, lead-free borosilicate of lead-free soda-lime glass
  • Polymers (plastics) as follows:
    • Tygon® Medical Surgical Tubing S-50HL or S-54HL
    • Polytetrafluoroethylene that is ASTM F754 compliant
    • Any plastic material that is ISO 10993-6, 10993-10 and/or 10993-11 compliant and/or meets the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) Class VI material classification

All threaded or press-fit jewelry must have internal tapping (no threads on posts).

For body jewelry purposes, surfaces and ends must be smooth, free of nicks, scratches, burrs, polishing compounds and metals must have a consistent mirror finish.

Implant grade stainless steel is least likely to produce a foreign body reaction or infection in the skin. Other safe choices for new piercings are metals such as gold, titanium, or niobium. All of these cost more than implant grade stainless steel.

Gold jewelry should be at least 14 karat or higher (solid gold, nickel-free white or yellow gold) for new piercings. Gold-filled or gold-plated jewelry should never be used in any piercings because the metal is very thin. The finish wears away easily and it chips with slightest contact of the body. Some people have difficulty with white gold because it contains “nickel” – a metal that many people are allergic to.

Titanium (Ti6Al4V ELI) that is ASTM F136 compliant or ISO 5832-3 compliant and Titanium that is ASTM F67 compliant can be used for new piercings. Titanium is also used for surgical implants in the body. For example, titanium implants are used for shoulder replacement surgery because they are lightweight and porous. There are actually tiny pores in the metal that allow tissue in the body to attach to it. For this reason, it’s recommended that titanium jewelry be highly polished to reduce the “porosity” (pores or very tiny holes in the metal).

Look for a salon that has a wide variety of jewelry to choose from. The salon should not tell you to use a certain type of jewelry just because it’s the only kind they have.

What’s up with all the different kinds of jewelry?

Any type of jewelry used for piercings should be smooth, without scratches or chips.

  • Bars; straight or curved with removable beads on either end. This type of jewelry is often used in the tongue, eyebrow, nipple, and navel. When the piercing is first done, a longer bar will be used. When the piercing heals, a shorter bar is used.
  • Ring jewelry is measured by diameter, or how wide the ring is and is most often used for navel, nipple and high ear piercings.
  • Gauge means the thickness of the jewelry. The smaller the gauge number, the thicker the jewelry. The APP says that jewelry no greater than 14 gauge should be used below the neck. This is because of the risk of a foreign body reaction and the possibility of the ring cutting the skin.

How are piercings done?

An experienced piercer uses a hollow needle to create a hole by passing the needle through the body part you want pierced. The jewelry is then inserted through the hole. Sometimes there can be a small amount of bleeding. You should not take aspirin or any pain medication that contains aspirin the week before any piercing is done, since these medicines may cause you to bleed a little bit more than usual. Remember, piercing guns should NEVER be used since they can damage tissue and cause infection. Anesthetic medicine which puts people to sleep and dulls or relieves pain, isn’t used for piercings.

How much will a piercing cost?

There are actually 2 costs with piercings – the site cost and the jewelry cost. The site cost depends on where on your body you get pierced. For example, ear and nose piercings usually cost less than tongue, nipple, or genital piercings. Gold jewelry costs more than stainless steel or another metal. You should shop around and check prices at different piercing salons before you decide on where to have your piercing done.

How should I clean my new piercing?

Follow these steps to prevent infection:

  1. First, wash your hands well with soap and water before touching or cleaning the pierced area. (Don’t let anyone else touch the pierced area until it is healed.)
  2. Remove any crusty material from the site and from the jewelry with warm water.
  3. Gently wash the area around the piercing with a fragrance free mild liquid soap and water every day.
  4. When showering, use a drop of fragrance-free antibacterial liquid soap to clean the jewelry and the piercing. Do not leave it on the piercing for more than 30 seconds.
  5. Gently rinse all of the soap and any crusty scabs, leaving no suds or residue – DO NOT rub or pull the crusty material as the skin around it may bleed. As the piercing heals, the material will dry and fall off on its own. You do not have to turn your jewelry around the piercing.
  6. Gently dry the area with a paper towel or plain white napkin. Do not use towels as bacteria can be a problem. Also jewelry tends to get caught on towels but won’t on disposable paper products.
  7. Avoid over cleaning. This will likely break down your skin and delay healing.
  8. Do NOT use antibacterial ointments because they don’t allow air to get to the area and they trap bacteria.
  9. Do NOT use hydrogen peroxide, Betadine®, Hibiclens®, Bactine® (and other products containing Benzalkonium Chloride or BZK), rubbing alochol, or strong antibacterial soaps because they can irritate the skin around the piercing and prevent the tissue from healing.

How can I prevent infections after I get pierced?

Preventing infections isn’t hard. It shouldn’t take a lot of your time to keep your piercing clean, and if you keep it clean you’re less likely to have complications. The following recommendations are especially important during the healing process. However, you can also follow these safety measures even after your piercing has healed completely.

  • Rinse the pierced skin after exercising, since sweat may irritate the piercing.
  • Avoid touching and/or playing with the jewelry, friction from clothing, and rough cleaning.
  • Keep the pierced area from coming in contact with other people’s body fluids, such as saliva and sweat. Do not have oral sexual contact for 4-6 weeks if you have a tongue, lip, or genital piercing.
  • Do NOT let anyone touch, kiss or lick the piercing (ex. earlobe) while it is still healing.
  • Keep “things” clean that come in contact with the body part that has been pierced. For example, your phone, ear buds, glasses, hats, and bike helmet. Be careful when using hairspray and try not to apply makeup close to piercing sites.
  • Wear clean clothing with soft fabric for navel piercings. Avoid wearing jeans because the material can be irritating.
  • Don’t wear pantyhose, leotards, belts, or tight clothing while a navel piercing is healing.
  • Wear loose fitting clothing with a navel piercing to let the air help with healing. Constant and rough friction can cause scarring and longer healing time.
  • Don’t smoke, chew tobacco, or eat spicy foods while your oral piercing is healing.
  • Avoid using cosmetics, lotions, hairspray or other kinds of beauty products around your piercing.
  • Check your jewelry many times during the day to see if any parts have become loose, especially if you have a tongue piercing. If a bar becomes loose, you can accidentally swallow it or damage a permanent tooth. Do not hang charms or pendants from any piercing that’s healing.
  • Do NOT use a hot tub or swim in a pool or lake until your piercing has healed. If you must swim, cover the piercing with a waterproof bandage such as Clean Seals™ (which you can buy in any pharmacy).
  • Avoid direct sunlight, tanning beds, sand, tanning oils, and lotions as they can burn and irritate the piercing (which can cause scarring).
  • Try to lower your stress, avoid smoking, drugs and alcohol as they can negatively affect healing.

How do I care for a piercing in my mouth?

  • Rinse tongue or lip piercings after every meal, snack and before bed (4-5 times a day) during the entire healing period. Rinse for 30 to 60 seconds after eating with an antibacterial, alcohol-free mouthwash, or a warm salt water rinse.
  • Avoid kissing or contact with other’s body fluids like saliva while you are healing.
  • Avoid sharing cups, plates and utensils (forks, knives, spoons, etc.).
  • Eat small bites of healthy food. Foods rich in vitamins and minerals help your body heal.
  • Don’t eat spicy, salty or acidy foods or drinks while you are healing.
  • Avoid hot drinks such as hot chocolate, coffee, and tea.
  • Eat cold foods and drinks as they lessen swelling. Be extra careful when eating crunchy foods.
  • Be on the lookout for signs of infection that may include one or more of the following: redness, swelling, discharge, bad smell, a rash at or around the piercing site, or a fever. If you think you have an infection, DON’T try to take care of it by yourself. Make an appointment to see your health care provider.
  • See your dentist for regular checkups and if you think you have a problem. Studies have shown that people who have piercings in their mouth are much more likely to have injuries to their teeth and gums.

7 Dry Skin Remedies for Your Entire Body

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It’s zero degrees and zero humidity, and suddenly your precious parts have zero tolerance. Help is on the way! We called on winter skin whisperers—top spa pros and dermatologists—to help you ease the dryness and get soft and smooth all over.

Winter Woe: Chapped Cheeks

Your flaky, flushed face is a telltale sign that you’ve been braving the elements. “When you’re outside for long periods, the cold air extracts moisture from your skin,” says Francesca Fusco, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. The result: cracks in the skin’s barrier.

Smooth moves: Because exposure to harsh detergents and even water can strip moisture from your skin, switch to a creamy, sudsless cleanser like Aveda Botanical Kinetics Purifying Creme Cleanser ($21, aveda.com) or a no-rinse formula like Perricone MD Blue Plasma Cleansing Treatment ($39, perriconemd.com). Then slather on a barrier cream, which contains ceramides that fill in the tiny cracks in the skin. Try Avène Hydrance Rich Cream ($30, aveneusa.com). Still flaky? Use a 10-percent-glycolic-acid serum twice a week (after cleansing; before your night cream). We like Renée Rouleau AHA Smoothing Serum 10% ($42, reneerouleau.com). “Acids eliminate dead skin without causing irritation and help repair your barrier,” says Renée Rouleau, a celebrity esthetician in Dallas and a FITNESS advisory board member.

Winter Woe: Sore Lips

This time of year, your lips take a licking. It’s a vicious cycle: Your pucker feels dry so you wet your lips, which makes them dry out even more and eventually crack.

Smooth moves: Give your lips a mini facial, says Rachel Bachayev, the lead esthetician for the Bliss Spa in New York City. Put a drop of olive oil on lips. Gently rub them for one minute with a soft-bristle toothbrush to buff away dead skin. Top with a superhydrating balm. Skip the waxy sticks, which don’t penetrate and hydrate, and go with an emollient formula that contains nourishing shea butter or grapeseed oil. Try First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Lip Therapy ($12, sephora.com).

Winter Woe: Rough Elbows and Knees

These areas get a lot of wear and tear because they’re always moving and rubbing up against your clothing, says Regine Berthelot, the North America treatment manager for the Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa in New York City. This causes a buildup of dead skin cells that can get thick, dry and even discolored.

Smooth moves: Rub elbows and knees with a lemon wedge, Bachayev says. The acid in it not only helps dissolve dead skin, but it also brightens darkened areas. Use a moisturizer containing ingredients that remove dead skin, such as urea, ammonium lactate or lactic acid. We like Curél Rough Skin Rescue Lotion ($8, drugstores). As you apply it, pinch the rough skin with your fingers to help push the active ingredients deeper into thickened skin, she explains.

Winter Woe: Scaly Legs

The skin on our legs gets particularly parched because it has fewer oil glands than other parts of the body. Plus, we tend not to exfoliate legs in winter because they’re under wraps, and “the dry, dead skin builds up and looks flaky and whitish or gray,” Fusco says.

Smooth moves: Hot showers can strip skin of moisture. Limit your time to 10 minutes. While you’re in there, give legs a daily rubdown with an exfoliating puff topped with body wash, Fusco says. Try Olay Fresh Outlast Body Wash ($6, drugstores). Apply body oil before you towel dry. “That will lock in all the moisture,” Berthelot says. Try The Body Shop Wild Argan Radiant Oil ($25, thebodyshop-usa.com). Seal the deal with a body lotion that’s rich in fatty acids, such as La Roche-Posay Lipikar Body Milk Lipid Replenishing Lotion ($40, laroche-posay.us).

Winter Woe: Battered Feet

Whether you’ve been pounding the pavement in running shoes or snow boots, your feet are under a lot of pressure. Overworked soles can develop thick calluses that can peel and crack, especially in winter.

Smooth moves: Soften the buildup by using a pumice stone or foot file daily. Step up your game with a battery-powered one such as Silk’n Pedi ($29; silkn.com). Finish with a generous coating of a thick ointment. Apply Cuccio Naturalé Hydrating Heel Treatment ($10, hbbeautybar.com) and slip on a pair of cotton socks overnight. For truly tough soles, Fusco suggests using Baby Foot ($25, babyfoot.com), an at-home treatment that’s the equivalent of a chemical peel for your feet.

Winter Woe: Sandpapery Hands

Washing your hands frequently and OD’ing on hand sanitizer help prevent colds and flu, but they also do a number of your skin, leaving you with roughed-up knuckles and ragged cuticles.

Smooth moves: Soften hands with a scrub. “Choose a sugar formula over a salt-based one,” Berthelot advises. “Salt has abrasive, sharp edges and absorbs water, so it dehydrates the skin,” she says. “Sugar crystals are rounder and they bond with water, so they’re hydrating.” Try Caudalie Divine Scrub ($38, sephora.com). Afterward, try this trick from Vinotherapie Mani at Caudalie spas: Cut a grape in half and rub it over your nails and cuticles. “The acid in the fruit helps exfoliate the dead skin,” Berthelot says. File down any ragged cuticles with a nail file. Finish with a generous application of a quick-absorbing moisturizer. If you can’t reapply it after every washing, look for a formula that lasts at least 24 hours, Bachayev says. “It will stay on for several washes.” A good one: Nivea Extended Moisture Body Lotion ($8, drugstores), which hydrates for 48 hours.

Winter Woe: Flaky Brows

Just like your scalp, the skin under your arches gets dry and is at risk for developing seborrheic dermatitis, aka dandruff.

Smooth moves: Apply a gentle (fine-grain) scrub to eyebrow skin. Try St. Ives Nourished & Smooth Oatmeal Scrub + Mask ($5, drugstores). Then work it through with a disposable mascara wand, which you can pick up at any beauty supply store. “Brush brows up and down and side to side to thoroughly exfoliate,” Berthelot says.

7 Things That Can Ruin Your Smile

Popular-cosmetic-dentistry-services-that-people-can-getYour smile is one of your best assets, so, of course, you want to keep it sparkling.

But even if you brush, use white strips, and visit your dentist twice a year, it may not be enough.

Here are some factors that can wreak havoc on your teeth and gums, and put a serious damper on your smile.

Sports drinks

In the last decade, sports beverages have become increasingly popular, but they aren’t great for your teeth.

“Scientific research has found that the pH levels in many sports drinks could lead to tooth erosion due to their high concentration of acidic components, which could wear away at the tooth’s enamel,” says David F. Halpern, DMD, FAGD, president of the Academy of General Dentistry.

Additionally, these drinks are often high in sugars that act as “food” for acid-producing bacteria, which then sneak into the cracks and crevices in your teeth, causing cavities and tooth decay.

Bottled water

Tap water often contains fluoride—about 60% of people in the U.S. have fluoride in their water supply.

However, most bottled waters contain less fluoride than recommended for good oral health (it will be listed as an ingredient on the label if it is an additive).

“Fluoride makes the entire tooth structure more resistant to decay and promotes remineralization, which aids in repairing early decay before damage is even visible,” explains Academy of General Dentistry spokesperson, Charles H. Perle, DMD, FAGD. “Studies have confirmed [that] the most effective source of fluoride is water fluoridation.”

Diabetes

Diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection, so you’re at a risk for gum disease. Brushing, flossing, and monitoring your blood sugar can help.

“Diabetes is directly related to periodontal disease, so seeing the dentist and having your triglycerides and cholesterol levels checked on a regular basis is also crucial,” stresses Perle.

Perle also points out that research has shown that diabetics can reduce the amount of insulin they need to take by maintaining good gum health.

Tobacco

Smoking turns your teeth yellow, but it can be much more damaging than that.

“Using any form of tobacco can harm your teeth and gums in a number of ways,” says Halpern.

“It can cause throat, lung, and mouth cancer, and even death. Additionally, the tar from tobacco forms a sticky film on teeth, which harbors bacteria that promote acid production and create irritating toxins, both of which cause gum inflammation, tooth decay, and loss.”

Wine

Wine drinkers beware: Regular wine consumption can harm tooth enamel.

According to Halpern, wine’s acidity can dissolve the tooth structure, and both red and white wine can increase dental staining. Still, you don’t have to give up your regular glass of vino to save your smile.

“Enamel erosion develops when wine drinkers swish the wine, keeping it in constant contact with the enamel, so instead, take small sips and rinse with water when you’re done drinking,” advises Perle

Pregnancy

It’s especially important to take care of your teeth and gums when you’re expecting, since studies show a link between untreated gum disease and pre-term and low-birth-weight babies.

“Changes in hormone levels during pregnancy, particularly surges in estrogen and progesterone, can cause inflammation of the gums, which can lead to gingivitis (red, swollen, tender gums that are more likely to bleed) and put you at risk for infection,” says Academy of General Dentistry spokesperson, Gigi Meinecke, DDS, FAGD.

If you have morning sickness, rinse your mouth with water or rub your teeth with a paste of baking soda and water to neutralize the acid caused by vomiting, since it can lead to tooth decay.

Diet pills

Even though they may seem like a quick way to trim your waist, diet pills can also be a fast track to gum disease and tooth decay.

“Like many over-the-counter and prescription medications, diet pills decrease salivary flow, which causes dry mouth and puts you at risk for gum disease, tooth decay, cavities, and discomfort,” says Halpern.

Bottom line: A balanced diet and exercise are the safest way to lose weight and protect your smile.

Blush 5 Ways: Which Is Right for You?

devushka-model-makiyazh-profilWe like to think of blush as pretty foolproof. There’s no detail work to master, no lines to stay inside of, and it looks great on everyone. But we also think that there’s a little more to applying blush than just dusting it on. Carefully placed blush can manipulate the appearance of your face shape in sneaky ways, and without much effort (we’re not talking about those trendy seven layer step systems). Play around with the looks below to find what application meets your own beauty needs. The results may surprise you!

 

Center Blush

For those who wish to soften their bone structure or have a square-shaped jawline, this can be a game changer. Apply rounded bursts of blush to center of the cheek– right on the apple. It will have a rounding effect on your entire face. What’s more, center blush can have a widening effect on the eyes. Done correctly, you’ll look like a doll.

 

Lower Blush

If your face features a long or prominent chin, you can even things out by placing your blush just below the apples of your cheeks– over the bone. This creates the subtle illusion that the apples of your cheeks rest a bit lower, and will elongate the upper part of the face to keep you looking balanced.

 

Upper Blush

Popular in Japan, blushing underneath the eyes can create an either sickly, or youthful appearance that might be seen as an extreme for some. However, applying your blush up high can make a short face appear extra long. For those with small or round faces, it’s worth a try– keeping the blush just above the apples is a happy medium to blending it into your eye makeup.

 

Outer Blush

Contour blush (shading around the cheekbones and temples) can draw focus to the center of the face– a plus if your face is on the wider side. Do too much and you’ll look like a Ziggy Stardust revivalist (no complaints here!), but do a little and you’ll find it to be a subtle way to add structure without joining the contour club.

 

Full cheeks

It’s not for everybody, but BIG BLUSH can work magic on those with large or long faces. Coloring outside the typical blush lines can shorten the face significantly and even shape it, depending on whether you apply rounded pats or sweeping strokes. Try it with a subtle shade and skip the heavy eye and lip looks. That will keep your cheeks the major statement.

How To Understand Cosmetic Labeling. Decoding the Cosmetic Label

How can you be sure your shampoo that claims to have all natural ingredients does not also contain some synthetic chemicals? Or that your hand lotion actually does contain the vitamin it claims? The logical response should be, “Read the ingredient label on the back of the product.” Logical, if you happen to be a chemist or a cosmetic scientist. Perplexing, if you are the average cosmetic consumer.

A quick glance at the back of the cosmetic label is all it takes to see that the ingredients are written in the language of chemistry. Unless you chemical terms for the ingredients, you may never be able to check the claims against the contents.


The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act
(FD&C Act) defines cosmetics by their intended use, as “articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body…for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance” [FD&C Act, sec. 201(i)]. Among the products included in this definition are skin moisturizers, perfumes, lipsticks, fingernail polishes, eye and facial makeup preparations, shampoos, permanent waves, hair colors, toothpastes, and deodorants, as well as any material intended for use as a component of a cosmetic product.
What are Cosmetics?

Federal regulations require ingredients to be listed on product labels in descending order by quantity. Consumers can check the ingredient listing to identify ingredients they wish to avoid. Based on the amount used, an ingredient such as water is usually found at the beginning of the product’s ingredient listing while color additives and and fragrances, used in small amounts, are normally seen at the end of the ingredient listing.

Cosmetic ingredient declaration regulations apply only to retail products intended for home use. Products used exclusively by beauticians in beauty salons and labeled “For Professional Use Only,” and cosmetic samples, such as those distributed free at hotels and department stores, are not required to include the ingredient declaration. However, these products must state the distributor, list the content’s quantity, and include all necessary warning statements.

How to decode cosmetic labels:

As we are learn more about our skin, the public is becoming more ingredient conscious. Understanding what substances make up a product can be helpful. If you have a known allergy, your dermatologist or allergist can help you determine other related ingredients. It will also help you to understand what makes a product greasy, irritating, acne-flaring, drying and hopefully those that are effective, too! This is not meant to be a complete list of every ingredient used in the industry, but will attempt to cover the most popular individual ingredients and categories that have gained recognition as of late. Use this as a handy reference by which to gain information as you learn more about your skin through our site. This list shall be continually expanded.

Aloe Vera Butter (Cocos Nucifera Oil / Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract) – A soft solid butter produced by extracting aloe vera in a fatty fraction of coconut, which is completely oil miscible. Aloe Butter melts on contact with the skin. It aids in rapid hydration of dry skin caused by eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, sunburn, wind burn, and general chapping.

Aloe Vera Gel (Aloe barbadensis) – The properties of the aloe plant are well known for their soothing and healing qualities. Aloe Vera is said to encourage skin rejuvenation, healing of wounds, reducing scarring, and treatment of sunburn. Regenerating and healing agent (penetrates skin stimulating the immune system and increasing blood circulation), anti-inflammatory effects, anti-aging effects (increases collagen synthesis & skin elasticity).

Aloe Vera Oil (Aloe baradensis miller) – Unique beauty oil that penetrates easily. All natural aloe vera oil is light and delicate. It is excellent for normal to oily skins, yet mild enough for sensitive skins. Aloe Vera oil has recognized healing and restorative properties, and is widely utilized in many high-end lotion, cream, and gel products. Aloe Vera is also a great skin moisturizer that helps to keep skin supple by bringing oxygen to the cells, and therefore increasing the synthesis and strength of skin tissue.

Apricot Kernel Oil (Prunus armeniaca) – Apricot kernel oil comes from the large pits of apricots that yield up to 45% oil. The apricot tree is cultivated throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Apricot kernel oil has 30% unsaturated essential fatty acid content. The oil is similar in weight to human sebum. Extremely nourishing to the skin and excellent around the eyes and neck. Apricot kernel oil is an emollient. According to the AMA’s committee on Cutaneous Health does help make the skin feel softer and smoother, reduce roughness, cracking and irritation. And may possibly retard the fine wrinkles of aging. A perfect all around oil, it can be used for mature skin because of it’s high Vitamin A content. It is particularly helpful for dehydrated, delicate, mature and sensitive skin, and it helps to sooth inflammation.

Avocado Oil (Persea americana) – Avocado oil is made from the pulp of the avocado fruit. It is a rich, heavy but penetrating oil that is full of nutritive and therapeutic components. Avocado oil contains more than 20% essential unsaturated fatty acids. It contains vitamins A, C, D and E, proteins, beta-carotene, lecithin, fatty acids and the “youth mineral” potassium. Avocado oil is high in unsaponifiables (sterolins) which are reputed to be beneficial in reducing age spots, healing scars and moisturizing the upper layers of the skin. Excellent for dry or mature skins, or people suffering from eczema or psoriasis, and is very useful when treating sun or climate damaged skin that is dehydrated and undernourished as it is said to help with regenerating the skin and softening the tissue.

Beeswax (Apis mellifera) – Beeswax comes from the honeycomb of virgin bees. Bees process honey form the nectar and then convert it into wax. Ten pounds of honey produces one pound of wax. It has a honey like fragrance. Used as an emulsifier to soften and protect the skin. Emulsifiers keep the skin care product from separating.

Beta-glucan – A polysaccharide, meaning it is a sugar (such as starch and cellulose) that can be derived from yeast. It has some antioxidant properties and is a strong anti-inflammatory agent. There is one study that suggests this substance can have some revitalizing effects on aging skin. Among 150 female volunteers, aged 35 to 60, those given a cosmetic preparation containing yeast beta-glucan were said to have significantly reduced number, depth and length of wrinkles, compared with controls. Dryness and elasticity of skin were also improved. Further research is needed to confirm or refute these findings.

Botopical™ – A Botox-like active ingredient for a skin relaxing effect. An anise extract rich in mineral salts, reduces the phenomena of microtensing and visibly smoothes expression lines. It relaxes the features while at the same time conversing the natural mobility of the face.

Candelilla Wax – A vegetable wax of Mexican origin. It is derived from a wild growing herbaceous plant of the family “Euphorbia Ceriphera” The wax is obtained by boiling the plant and skimming the wax from the top. In experiments, it was found it to be a superior replacement for beeswax. With Candelilla, you use less than beeswax, in products such as lotion bars lip balms, solid perfumes. It has excellent glide and it’s color is that of natural beeswax, a light golden yellow. Great for vegan applications.

Castor USP (Ricinus communis) Castor oil is extracted from the sees of the castor plant. Commonly used commercially in 50% of lipsticks in the United States. Creates a protective barrier on the skin and is soothing. Castor oil is part alcohol and part oil. It is mainly composed of ricinoleic acid (87%), a fatty acid with an unusual molecular structure. Also known as Palm Christi Oil.

Ceramide 3 / Ceramide III / Lacto-Ceramide – Ceramide III is a potent anti-aging & regenerating ingredient. Using ceramide replenishes the loss of own skin-produced ceramides; therefore, recovering the barrier function and minimizing skin irritations. Lacto-Ceramide nourishes skin with milk lipids which are also a potent moisturizer.

Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera) – A very rich emollient used to smooth and protect the skin in all seasons. Coconut oil will not only bring temporary relief to the skin, but it will aid in healing and repairing. It will have lasting benefits, unlike most lotions. It can help bring back a youthful appearance. The coconut oil will aid in removing the outer layer of dead skin cells, making the skin smoother. The skin will become more evenly textured with a healthy “shine”. The coconut oil will penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin and strengthen the underlying tissues. Helps prevent premature aging and wrinkling of the skin. Helps protect against skin cancer and other blemishes.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)Potent antioxidant with effective anti-aging & anti-wrinkle properties, reinforces collagen & elastin production of connective tissue, potent moisturizer (liposomes penetrate into skin preventing water-loss). When applied topically, it can provide extra protection for your skin and produce a dramatic anti-wrinkle effect.

Colours, Liquid –  FD&C colours are approved for use in food, drugs and cosmetics. D&C colours are approved for use in drugs and cosmetics.

Cornstarch (Zea mays)  Used as an abrasive, adsorbent and to increase the viscosity in aqueous products. Can be used in emulsions to improve the feel or decrease greasiness. Widely used food starch product. Food Grade.

Cucumber – Known for its astringent and soothing properties it is an ingredient often found in facial creams, lotions, and cleansers. It can also be used as an anti-inflammatory agent (slices placed over puffy eyes can reduce swelling).

Cucumber Extract (Cucumis sativus extract)An extract with anti-inflammatory actions and skin tightening properties.

Cucumber juice – A juice with moisture binding, soothing and tightening properties.

Emu Oil – Emu Oil is one of nature’s natural oils with unique qualities that can replenish and maintain the skin’s natural moistness and suppleness. It is one of nature’s own natural skin care treatments with no harmful additives. It is an effective skin conditioner. It will condition, soothe, moisturize and protect any skin type from dryness and moisture loss. Perfect for age treatment aid that helps restore a younger-looking skin appearance. Softens harsh facial expression lines and is very effective for use around the eyes. Restores rough, chapped and dry skin to a soft, smooth and more youthful appearance. It does not leave a heavy oily film on the skin. It has deep penetrating qualities for long-lasting effects.

Emulsifying Wax (Emulsifying Wax NF) – A product that is used as a binder in toiletries made with oil and water to bind (emulsify) the oil and water together and keep them from separating.

There are several products on the market now being sold under the common name of emulsifying wax or as “ewax”, but unless these products meet the NF (National Formulary) specifications they cannot be listed as Emulsifying Wax NF in your ingredient declaration. Those products being sold as “emulsifying wax” could be anything, but most likely they’re blends of a fatty alcohol(s) and some ethoxylated fatty alcohol. Sometimes these materials could be blended with other emulsifiers. Some common waxy substances that are used to emulsify water and oils include: Cetyl Alcohol (and) Stearyl Alcohol (and) Ceteareth-20, Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Ceteareth-20, Stearyl Alcohol (and) Ceteareth-20, Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Polysorbate 60, Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Steareth-30 (and) Ceteth-20. So be sure to determine what it is exactly you are using.

Estrovone (Iris Florentina Extract) – A new, all natural, active ingredient obtained from the Iris to combat the harmful effects of hormonal deficiencies on the skin. It slows the rate of skin aging that accelerates at the time of menopause.

Germall Plus – This preservative is highly effective in inhibiting the growth of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, yeasts, and molds. One of the newer preservatives, Germall Plus Liquid is water soluble and works wonderfully with virtually all Oil and Water emulsions. This preservative is highly effective in inhibiting the growth of bacteria, yeasts, fungus and molds even at very low concentrations, making it extremely cost effective. Also, it contains no parabens. Liquid Germall Plus can be used when you have more water than oil, and when you have oil than water.

Glycerin, Vegetable – Vegetable Glycerin is obtained by adding alkalies to fats and fixed oils. Glycerin is a soothing, humectant, which draws moisture from the air to the skin. Glycerin is an emollient, which makes the skin feel softer and smoother, reduce rough feeling, cracking and irritation. Glycerin has a high hydrophilic (water) factor and a low lipophilic (fat) factor. Non-toxic, non-irritating and non-allergenic.  A valuable cosmetic ingredient as a solvent, humectant and emollient.

Grapeseed Oil (Vitis vinifera)  – Especially good for people with problem skin, as it almost never causes any adverse reactions for those with delicate skin. Grapeseed oil has regenerative and restructuring virtues, which allow better control of skin moisturization. Grapeseed is especially useful for skin types that do not absorb oils too well, and it does not leave a greasy feeling. Wonderful for those with skin sensitivities, because of its natural non-allergenic properties. Very beneficial for skin that is dehydrated and under nourished. It is said to help with regeneration of the skin and softening of the tissue. Ideal in lotions and other skin preparations for oily skin. A light carrier/base oil used widely in aromatherapy, massage and cosmetics. A rich and economical source of linoleic acid (Omega 6).

Hazelnut Oil (Corylus avellana) – Hazelnut oil is known for its astringent qualities and because of this, it is best used for those who have oily skin but do want to abstain from using oils. It penetrates the skin easily. It has some vitamin E content. Cold pressed hazelnut oil is a wonderful light, penetrating oil that is slightly astringent making it a good oil for acne prone skin. It is high in the essential fatty acids and is soothing and healing to dry irritated skin. Studies have shown that it can filter sunrays and is therefore commonly used in sun care products.

Hemp Seed Oil (Cannabis sativa) – Hemp oil is known as “Nature’s Most Perfectly Balanced Oil.” It contains 81% of the hard to find polyunsaturated Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs). Aside from their unmatched nutritional value, these oils have the ability to enter directly into the lipid layers of dry skin cells and replenish the oils missing due to sun exposure, poor nutrition or other abuse. THE EFAs, vitamins, and enzymes are easily absorbed by the skin and contribute moisturizing qualities to cosmetics and soap. Dermatologists claim that EFAs replenish dry skin, preventing cell loss and causing younger looking skin. Hemp seed oil has been used to soothe and heal dry skin and minor burns.

Hyaluronic Acid (HA) (Sodium Hyaluronate) – Hyaluronic acid is the most effective humectant available and has been scientifically proven to stimulate new cell growth. The only way to treat and prevent fine lines and wrinkles is to restore your body’s natural compounds that are lost as we age. Hyaluronic Acid is a naturally occurring substance in the body that binds to water to lubricate and hydrate tissue. The loss of skin elasticity that comes with aging is the result of decreasing HA levels in the body.

Hydrosols Flower Waters (distillate water) – Flower waters also known as hydrosols, hydroflorates or distillates are products from steam distilling plant materials. They are wonderful and inexpensive as a facial splash, as a deodorant, an air freshener, in the spa, great for dry skin, as a compress, during massage or therapy sessions, and in your culinary creations. They are moisturizing, fragrant, cooling and contain similar properties as essential oils but in much less concentration.

Lanolin – Also known as wool fat, or wool wax. It is a product of the oil glands of sheep and is used in many cosmetic skin care products. It can cause allergic reactions and skin rashes. It does not have any particular advantages in treating wrinkles. Lanolin is not very helpful in treating topical skin rashes.

Liquid Silk (Hydrolyzed Silk)Imparts a wonderfully silky feel to cosmetics, soaps and skin care products. Plant extract oils and phospholipids make this silky serum a must have for dry skin. Apply it under or over and moisturizer for a “rose petal” feel to the skin. Make-up goes on smooth and skin looks radiant. Protects all day from moisture loss.

Petroleum Jelly – A colorless-to-amber semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons obtained from petroleum and used in lubricants and medicinal ointments. Many over-the-counter salves, ointments, and cosmetics have petroleum jelly as a base.

Provitamin B5 (Panthenol) Participates in the release of energy from carbohydrates, fats and protein, aids in the utilization of vitamins; improves the body’s resistance to stress; helps in cell building & the development of the central nervous system. On the skin it acts as a penetrating moisturizer and smoothes..

Rose Water (Rosa damascena) – Rose Water is the byproduct of producing rose essential oil.  It is a wonderful toner for all skin types, and makes a practical and suitable body splash, anti-anxiety spray, deodorant, room freshener, and for one of those days when we feel sensual. This is an aphrodisiac with embedded roots dating back thousands of years. Flower waters also known as hydrosols, hydroflorates or distillates are products from steam distilling plant materials. hey are moisturizing, fragrant, cooling and contain similar properties as essential oils but in much less concentration. These floral waters make a wonderful scented base in your cream and lotion recipes and we strongly suggest their use in lieu of essential oils for people with sensitive skin. It has skin softening, toning, soothing and healing properties. Was used during Victorian times to soothe the skin. Can be used as is on the skin, mixed with glycerin or to replace all or part of the water in formulations. A skin conditioning agent used in skin fresheners, moisturizers, body care products, masks, cleansers and more.

Shea Butter (Butyrospermum Parkii Fruit) – A product of the Shea Karite tree which grows in West Africa. Shea butter is revered in Africa for its almost mystical skin-nourishing properties. More popularly known in the West as Shea butter, this yellow-white to ivory-colored paste has been used by African healers for thousands of years to alleviate maladies of the skin and scalp. Traditional uses of shea butter include: treatments for dry skin, blemishes, skin discoloration, scars and wrinkles, a relaxer for stiff muscles, as an aid for pain from swelling and arthritis, even as a sun screen. The high content of fatty acids and vitamins A, E, and F make it a rich and powerful moisturizer.

Shea Oil (Butyrospermum parkii) – Is obtained by cold pressing of the fruits (seeds) of the karite tree followed by a full refining process. During the pressing of the butter, a liquid fraction appears as SHEA OIL which offers an exceptional skin feel. Shea is well known to assist coetaneous dryness, dermatitis and dermatoses, eczema, solar erythema and burns.

Skin Flow C – A fine particle-sized modified wheat starch that is aluminum-free, hydrophobic (water-repellent), has free-flowing properties and imparts a soft and velvety feel. It will improve the aesthetics of skin care products, and it removes greasiness of creams, ointments and lotions.

Stearic Acid – Emulsifying and thickening property.

Tartaric Acid (white crystalline dicarboxylic acid) – A type of glycolic acid (fruit acid) derived from grapes. Improves skins texture and tone.

Titanium Dioxide Titanium Dioxide is an inorganic natural material, which functions as a sunblock to both UVA and UVB rays. A non-chemical, common agent used in sunscreen a product that works by physically blocking the sun. It may be used alone or in combination with other agents. It is available as normal and micronized form.

Water (Aqua)De-ionized water.

Vegetable Glycerin (Glycerine, Glycerol) – Glycerin is obtained by adding alkalies to fats and fixed oils. Glycerin is a soothing, humectant, which draws moisture from the air to the skin. Glycerin is an emollient, which makes the skin feel softer and smoother, reduce rough feeling, cracking and irritation. Non-toxic – non-irritating – non-allergenic.

Virgin Coconut (Cocos nucifera) oil is the premium of Coconut Oils with a fresh coconut odor like you just cracked it open. Virgin coconut oil is cold-pressed, pure, natural and unrefined. It is an excellent cooking oil that enhances the flavor of many foods and bakery items, such as biscuits, cookies, pastry, etc. It is fabulous in protein shakes, broiling, salads and popcorns. It is also one of the safest most effective natural body moisturizers available. Use it for aromatherapy in soap, body/massage oil, and shampoo moisturizer adding sheen and preventing dry hairs, or a nail and cuticle treatment.

Vitamin A (Beta Carotene)Helps maintain smooth, soft disease-free skin; helps protect the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, throat lungs, which helps reduce our susceptibility to infections; protects against air pollutants and contaminants; helps improve eye sight and counteracts night-blindness; aids in bone and teeth formation; improves skin elasticity, moisture content and suppleness; and helps reverse the signs of photo-aging. A lack of vitamin A can cause skin to become dry and hardened.

Vitamin A derivatives (Retinoids: retinol, retinyl palmitate, retinyl linoleate, retinyl acetate) – Vitamin A derivatives such as Retin-A can help prevent and reverse sun damage. They have exfoliating and skin strengthening properties. They are used clinically in the treatment of severe cystic acne, psoriasis, and other disorders of keratinization.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)Vitamin C is essential for healthy teeth, gums Bones; helps heal wounds, scar tissue, Fractures; prevents scurvy; builds resistance to infection; aids in the prevention treatment of the common cold; gives strength to blood vessels; aids in the absorption of iron. It is required for the synthesis of collagen, the intercellular cement which holds tissues together. It is also one of the major antioxidant nutrients. It prevents the conversion of nitrates (from tobacco smoke, smog, bacon, lunchmeats, some vegetables) into cancer-causing substances. Moreover, Vitamin C has been shown to help slow the production of hyperpigmentation (age spots ) while providing some UV protection.

Vitamin E (Tocopherol Acetate) – The Vitamin E family is well known for its antioxidant capabilities. Antioxidants protect vital cell structures by neutralizing molecules called “free radicals”. Free radicals are unstable molecules produced from sources like air pollution, radiation, and peroxides.

Wheat Germ Oil  (Triticum vulgare)A natural preservative. Very high in Vitamin E and also contains Vitamin A and D. It supports the skins natural process of regeneration; aids muscle and lymph function and is particularly valuable for treating dry, aging skin. Good for stretch marks and scar tissue, and for dry rough skin. It leaves the skin very smooth while nourishing and helping heal the skin. This ultra rich, unrefined Wheat Germ oil is a great ingredient high in natural source Vitamin E, A, D, proteins, Lecithin, and Squalene. Wheat germ has been applied externally for numerous irritations including roughness of the skin, cracking, chaffing and many crafters of cosmetics use it successfully to help reverse the effects of wrinkling.

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) – Made from the leaves and twigs a common wild scrub found in the woods. Witch hazel was used by the Native Americans. In the 1840’s, a Oneida Medicine man introduced it to a patent medicine entrepreneur. It has a long history of traditional and alternative medicine uses. Also used in the treatment of hemorrhoids, burns and fevers. Known to be soothing skin freshener, used as a local anesthetic, astringent, pore tightening and anti-inflammatory. Relieves itching, and soothes skin irritations. Witch hazel also is good for stings. The active ingredients are tannins. Witch Hazel is a strong anti-oxidant, great for mature skins, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal. Pure witch hazel reduces redness, rashes, itching, swelling, and scaling of skin. Especially recommended for acne, mature, or damaged skin. Heals cracked or blistered skin and is extremely good for soothing eczema and psoriasis. An anti-inflammatory, scar preventative, and is an effective wound wash and antiseptic. Works well on bug bits and stings.

Xanthan Gum – Thickening agent.

13 tips to help your hair flourish and look its absolute best

healthy-hair-foods-0Though it may not seem that way, your hair is constantly growing. Generally, hair grows approximately half an inch per month, or about six inches per year. So, why isn’t your hair growing? Length retention is an important factor for many and is often overlooked. “Some women are guilty of over-processing their hair with chemicals (straighteners or color) and daily heat styling without proper protection. This type of abuse and lack of care can lead to breakage and prevent the hair from reaching its full length potential,” says Motions celebrity stylist and RiRi’s mane gal Ursula Stephen. Thus, it may look like your hair isn’t growing, but since it keeps breaking, the breakage counteracts the growth.

Genetics plays a factor, too. Not everyone is able to grow hair down to their waist, but that doesn’t mean yours can’t grow to its healthy, maximum length. It takes time, commitment and effort to grow your hair. Here are 13 tips to help your hair flourish and look its absolute best.

Good Nutrition Is Important

A healthy diet can aid in hair growth. Hair grows best when it’s being treated from the inside out. “Eating natural, whole foods makes a huge difference in the appearance and the health of your hair. Opt for nutritious foods like iron-rich dark green leafy veggies, omega-3-rich salmon, fruits of all colors, a high-protein diet from lean meat, nuts or beans, foods rich in B vitamins and biotin like whole grains or eggs,” says Diane C. Bailey, celebrity stylist, author and SheaMoisture beauty ambassador.

Vitamins Can Help

Vitamins and supplements can also aid in the growth of healthy hair. Many hair supplements help to fortify your hair system by feeding the follicle, which helps to encourage healthy growth. Biotin, a B vitamin, has been shown to promote growth in thinning hair. Many dermatologists and hairstylists also recommend Viviscal to those seeking thicker, longer manes. The supplement contains amino acids and marine extracts and has been shown to help with hair thickness and regrowth.

Use a Suds-Free Cleanser

Most shampoos strip the hair of natural oils. Suds-free cleansers don’t contain sulfates, which are harsh on dry, textured hair.

Look for Hydrating and Energizing Ingredients

Stephen recommends using products that contain ingredients such as avocado and coconut oils because they help to keep the hair conditioned by penetrating the shaft and moisturizing at the core — thus preventing breakage. “Spearmint and peppermint oils are also great. They help energize the scalp, increasing circulation and promoting healthy hair growth.”

Moisturize

Moisturizing the hair is key. Textured hair is often dry and brittle. It requires hydrating ingredients that coat the cuticle to seal in moisture, reduce breakage, promote elasticity and help retain length. Moreover, hair is prone to dryness from daily stressors, including styling, chemical treatments and atmospheric elements. To counterbalance the effects of these stressors, Stephen recommends “using moisturizing products on a daily basis — ensuring that your daily stylers have conditioning agents and using leave-in conditioners, hair lotions and other treatments. Also, a weekly deep moisturizing regimen is a must. Take some time to sit with a deep conditioner specially formulated for your hair type.”

But Don’t Over-Moisturize

Too much of a good thing can be counter-effective. “A lot of haircare products contain proteins. And while these can be great for your hair, if not used properly (read: too much protein) it can lead to breakage. Used in moderation, though, proteins can be very helpful in maintaining hair health,” says Stephen.

But over-conditioning with only moisture-based conditioners has its problems, too. It leads to hygral fatigue. Hygral fatigue is when the hair’s protein binding structure is weakened, causing the hair to stretch beyond normal and eventually leading to breakage. The hair shaft works overtime with too much water penetrating and exiting the hair quickly, causing porosity issues. The hair then begins to feel dry, weak and limp, no matter how much additional conditioning is done to it. Hence, the key is to find the proper ratio of protein and moisture to keep your strands at their optimal best.

Avoid Alcohol

Avoid products that contain too much alcohol and not enough conditioning agents. Alcohol dries out the hair and, in turn, leads to breakage.

Stop Abusing Your Hair

Heat styling and chemical processes may seem like a great option for a smooth, silky finish, but extreme heat and over-processing will break the protein bonds of the hair, and once the bonds are broken, they can never be repaired. Thus, limit your use of chemical processes and heat appliances. “The flat iron can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Use a heat protectant before all heat styling and use reduced heat, 350 degrees or lower, to prevent heat damage. Turn it down for healthier hair,” says Bailey.

Use the Right Tools and Accessories

It’s vital to have the correct tools for your hair type. The correct tools will reduce breakage, increase manageability and aid in ease of styling. Bailey recommends using a large-tooth tail comb for dividing, parting and directing textured hair. A wide-tooth comb works well in detangling and distributing smoothing products to the hair and scalp. And a wooden natural boar hairbrush is ideal for distributing nurturing oils to the temples and scalp. Also, utilize hair accessories that are gentle and don’t pull on your textured hair. Tight headbands and rubber bands should be avoided since they often lead to breakage of curly/coily hair.

Minimize Friction

Sleep on a satin pillowcase or with a satin bonnet or scarf. This will cause less friction, tangling and breakage of your hair while you sleep. Plus, as an added bonus, it also helps preserve your blowout or hairstyle.

Detangle Your Hair Properly

Be gentle. Textured hair requires a gentle touch; with every twist and turn, this hair has a fragile point where the strand can break. Use wide-toothed combs that don’t yank on your hair or pull out strands of hair when combing. Try finger combing; it is a great method for women with natural hair.

Stephen reminds us that it’s also important to detangle hair in sections prior to washing it using a wide-tooth comb. “When your hair is wet, it’s at its most fragile state. So when you detangle while wet, you’re more at risk for breakage.” She likes massaging Motions Pre-Wash Detangling Butter ($6.69) onto dry hair and using a wide-tooth comb to loosen the tangles. “If your hair is super tangled, start from the bottom of the sections and work toward the top. This should make washing your hair much easier — and you get the added bonus of extra conditioning.”

Protective Styles Can Help

Using protective styles are helpful when trying to achieve great lengths. It’s a perfect way to give your hair a break from daily styling, which can lead to breakage. Twists, buns, braids and wigs are some options to try. Protective styles should be worn in moderation, however, as they too can sometimes cause breakage from the tension that they put on the hair.

Trim Hair When Necessary

Don’t avoid the dreaded trim. Trims are necessary because when a split end starts, it then gradually travels up the hair shaft. Stephen recommends getting your ends snipped when needed. “If you don’t trim regularly, that split end can travel all the way to the root and cause breakage and possibly bald spots — negating all of your hard work.”