Everywhere you look in the health and wellness world these days, turmeric is there. The spice’s bright yellow hue and earthy flavor can be found in everything from traditional Indian food to juices, lattes, desserts – and yes, skincare. Find out why turmeric may just be the answer to your natural beauty woes.
Here’s the good news about turmeric: your skin may benefit from it both when used topically and taken internally. And while recent research has brought into question the validity of some previously published findings on its benefits, there’s no denying that this antioxidant-rich root shows results. Here’s why we love it as part of a skincare regimen.
1. Anti-Aging: Sure, that term gets tossed around quite a bit, but clinical studies have found curcumin, the most commonly studied compound in turmeric, can help to reduce chronic inflammation, which often shows up as bloating, puffiness, and skin conditions like acne and eczema. Its use has also been linked to a reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles associated with aging skin. According to the website Natural Living Ideas, “dark spots and changes in skin pigment were also reduced by nearly 15%.”
2. Balances Skin Tone: If it seems that no matter what the weather or which skincare products you use (or don’t use) that oiliness persists, turmeric may be your almost-literal pot of gold. Consistent use of turmeric has been linked to decreased skin oil production, helping to reduce the occurrence of breakouts. The benefit doesn’t come from the curcumin, though. According to Natural Living Ideas, “this beneficial effect was likely because turmeric contains fatty acids and phytosterols, which have been observed in other studies to reduce excess skin oils.”
3. Sun-Damaged Skin Reparation: Let’s be clear – there’s no magic pill to undo damage caused by excess sun exposure. And nothing except avoiding it can decrease your risk of skin cancer. That being said, turmeric is a bit of sun ninja. It’s got the ability to help prevent damage from ultraviolet B radiation due to its ability to block an enzyme that leads to the loss of collagen.
Want to give your skin a turmeric boost? Start with our Calendula and Neem Soap with Turmeric.
Photo by Ariel Lustre on Unsplash
In the world of natural beauty, there’s a seemingly endless array of skincare ingredients. But some rise up – the cream of the crop – as skincare superstars. They may even serve double (or triple) duty. Many make their way into skincare products, and some you can use straight out of your kitchen. Did your favorite make the list? Check out our top XX skincare ingredient picks.
- Jojoba oil – It’s often listed just as a carrier oil, but jojoba is so much more than that. It’s a highly moisturizing oil that treats a number of skin conditions including acne, psoriasis, burns, and chapping. It’s also great for reducing the appearance of wrinkles and improving skin hydration.
- Aloe vera – The gel of the aloe leaf may be best known for treating sunburn, but it’s also a skin savior in reducing inflammation, itching, and redness. Yes it speeds up wound healing, but not just bug bites or burns. Say goodbye to acne scars, dry, flaky skin, and infections. Aloe is loaded with anti-inflammatories, vitamins, minerals, saccharides, amino acids, fatty acids, enzymes, lignin, and salicylic acids, making it about as multi-purpose as it gets.
- Apple cider vinegar – While you may not see this skin superstar listed on a lot of packaged skincare products, we do recommend you keep a bottle in your bathroom at all times. ACV is an excellent skin cleanser and toner. It can help to heal and prevent breakouts and can keep skin balanced (it’s also amazing on your hair, too). Plus, some research shows that regular consumption of ACV can help to improve gut health, which may lead to healthier skin as well.
- Coconut oil – It’s the yin to ACV’s yang—a deeply moisturizing and hydrating oil that can serve as a base for DIY cosmetics, but it also works wonders all on its own, too. Coconut oil is rich in healthy fats that skin (and scalp) love to soak up. Its antimicrobial properties may also make it an excellent aid in reducing acne breakouts. Like apple cider vinegar, consumption of coconut oil has also been linked to improved gut health, which is good news for your skin, too. And trust: there never has been and never will be a better shaving oil than coconut.
- Tea tree oil – For those who simply think of tea tree as a spot treatment for acne breakouts, you’re only harnessing a fraction of its potency. Tea tree oil is rich in volatile plant compounds including terpene hydrocarbons, monoterpenes, and sesquiterpenes. This makes it excellent at refining the skin, helping it to maintain a youthful and healthy glow.
- Argan oil – This multipurpose oil has been quite popular in recent years and for good reason. Native to Morocco, argan oil has been prized for generations for its high levels of vitamins A and E, antioxidants, omega fats, and linoleic acid, a known skin booster. It’s a jack of all trades from healing acne and bug bites to relieving itching and appearance of dry skin conditions.
- Shea Butter – Up the lux and creaminess of skincare products with shea butter and you’ll be thankful for this African gem. A truly multipurpose healer, shea works wonders for all skin types all on its own, or it’s fabulous as a base for lotions, skin cremes, and more.
Photo by Lex Phil on Unsplash
Dealing with pesky summer breakouts is one thing. But blackheads? That’s a whole other beast altogether.
So, how do you get rid of blackheads? Is it even possible? First, know thy enemy. Unlike pimples, which can be filled with pus and blood deep into (and under) the skin, blackheads are mostly dead skin cells and skin oil clogging pores on the surface. The longer they go unclogged, the more they oxidize and turn black. And the longer they sit, the more dead skin and oil can build up, making them larger and deeper.
But excessive or rough scrubbing (or squeezing) can make the problem worse. Here’s how to safely and effectively get rid of blackheads.
- Exfoliate: It’s a key skincare routine all year round and especially in the summer when oily skin abounds. If you’re out and about all slathered with sunscreen, too, that can make skin even more sensitive to blackheads. Using a fruit-acid-based skin exfoliant can be extremely helpful in preventing the dead skin cells from building up, making pores less likely to fill up. Exfoliate once or twice per week, or talk with your dermatologist.
- Salicylic acid: A popular topical acne medication, salicylic acid may also be helpful in treating and preventing blackheads. While this ingredient is common in many over-the-counter and conventional acne treatments, it’s generally safe for most skin types. Common side effects include redness and dryness. If you’re a regular natural skincare user, look for isolated salicylic acid as many of the products can contain some not so natural fillers and preservatives. Use as directed.
- Charcoal: Activated charcoal is gaining ground as a natural beauty superstar for its ability to help dry up and prevent breakouts. It may also help to pull impurities, like excess dead skin cells and oils, out of the skin, leading to fewer blackheads.
- Don’t overwash: Dead skin. Excess oil. Of course it’s natural to think that you should be washing the heck out of your face to get rid of those offenders. But don’t overdo it. Too much washing can make the skin work to replenish the oil and that can lead to, you guessed it, more blackheads. Wash only when necessary (at least morning and night, but after a workout, beach sesh, etc). Keep water temperature on the cool side and don’t scrub. Wash gently, but thoroughly.
- Sun protection: You might think a tan will help dry the blackheads out, but what really happens when you roast yourself is you create more dead skin, more quickly. That, of course, causes pores to clog and form blackheads. Use a non-comedogenic sunscreen (and one with all-natural ingredients) and your skin will thank you.
Check out our favorite product picks:
Sea Kelp and Charcoal soap
Cleansing Grains Normal/Oily
Dragon’s Blood Cleansing Gel
Argan & Yarrow Sunscreen Mineral Moisturizer
If your sun protection regimen makes you look (and feel) like you’re bundling up for an Icelandic winter while wearing spackle on your face instead of a day of beach volleyball, you’re not alone. There’s no shame is warding off fine lines, wrinkles, age spots and the C word. But summer is meant to be FUN if nothing else – light, easy, and most definitely sunny. Covering up every inch of skin sure takes the pleasure out of long, lazy beach days. Add to that the expense of sun protection (on-trend hats and sunglasses aren’t cheap, and neither is great sunscreen), and you can forget the short shorts and those summer vacay plans. But what if you could have that sun-kissed summer glow while staying protected? Can you tan while using sun protection?
The short answer is: Yes.
While sunscreen, especially the natural kind that reflects the sun’s rays instead of absorbing them, is designed to minimize the damage to your skin, you can still rock a pretty decent tan while being protected from burning, which is where the real damage occurs – not just increasing the aging process, but also the cancer risk.
One of the best benefits of sunscreen is that it allows you to spend more time in the sun than you could without it, which means you’ll tan without the burn-peel-then-tan method of the 1970s and ‘80s. Look for a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects you from both the “burning” rays (UVB) and UVA rays (although there’s no standardized protection rating for those yet). This will help you stay in the sun longer while reducing the burning. Stack your skincare layers with an SPF moisturizer as well, and pay special attention to delicate skin around the eyes (especially those eyelids).
Skin exfoliation is also helpful in achieving your tanning goals. By removing the dead skin cells, your “fresh” skin will not only tan more quickly and evenly, but it will last longer, too. Exfoliating can be done with products like scrubs or cleansing grains, or with fruit acid-based products, which are generally used on the face.
But even though wearing sunscreen allows for more time in the sun, don’t overdo it. Gradual exposure to the sun reduces the risk of sunburn and helps the body boost its own melanin production to help prevent burning in the future (meaning you can stay in the sun longer each time you go out). And no matter how long you’re going out for, be sure to protect your skin every single time.
While oils like coconut, argan, and jojoba are well-known for their skin benefits, there’s another superstar skin oil you’re going to love: apricot oil.
Often called “apricot kernel oil,” apricot oil does indeed come from the seed of this delicious stone fruit, which is especially nice to think of if you’re big on reducing food waste—all those tasty dried apricots see their pits go to amazing use. But its health profile is what should really get you excited about this fruit seed oil.
Benefits of Apricot Oil
- Ultra-moisturizing – The mildly scented oil is rich and emollient, making it an excellent moisturizer—especially for people with sensitive skin. Because it’s non-irritating and super light and rich in oleic acidand linoleic acid. it can moisturize without leaving skin feeling greasy. Because of its light nature, you’ll often find apricot oil as a carrier for massage oils (which can be infused with fragrant essential oils). It’s especially beneficial for dry skin, too.
- Anti-inflammatory – It’s a hot buzzword in health these days for good reason. Our less that pure diets, environmental pollutants, and our overall lifestyle (think sitting all day), can lead to inflammation in the body, especially the skin. Apricot oil may help to reduce the appearance of inflammation—be it eczema flare-ups or just generalized puffiness.
- Antiseptic – Don’t go running for the apricot oil when you cut your finger, but do use it in the healing process. Apricot oil’s antibacterial and antiseptic properties make it excellent in speeding healing. It may help to speed the healing, reduce the appearance of, and even prevent acne breakouts as well. But because it’s mildly comedogenic (pore-clogging), it’s not an ideal oil for people who regularly break out.
- Anti-aging – Okay, so nothing stops the aging process, but with a hydrating and antioxidant-rich oil like apricot, you may be able to suppress it at least a little bit. Because it’s rich in antioxidants, apricot oil can help to prevent the skin from free radical damage, which can keep it looking healthier and, ahem, younger than it actually is.
- Hair shine – Keep a bottle of apricot oil in the shower for gorgeous, healthy hair. Rich in vitamin E, it’s great for enhancing growth and delivering a natural shine without looking greasy or weighted down. When applied directly to the scalp, it may help in reducing dandruff and dry, itchy scalp. And for kids, it’s an excellent detangler without any chemicals or strong odors.
Check out our fave apricot oil products:
Sea-Buckthorn Apricot Herbal Moisturizer
Sea-Buckthorn Apricot Soap
We’re all on the hunt for beauty miracles—potions and lotions our go-to usual suspects. But we may be only reaping half the benefit if we’re not eating the right skin foods. Yes, not only does the absence of refined carbs and excess sugar from the diet do wonders for our skin, but being sure to include bona fide skin foods can make all the difference in your beauty regimen. Bon Appétit!
7 Skin Foods
- Soy: Plant-based eating is on the rise for health, environmental, and ethical reasons. And you can add beauty to the list, too—at least where soy is concerned. Aglycone, an isoflavone found in soy, showed a correlation with fewer lines and wrinkles in a 12-week study.
- Avocado: Everyone’s favorite toast topping is also your secret to gorgeous. Loaded with healthy fats that provide the skin with hydration and oils to keep it smooth and supple, avocados are also rich in fiber, which helps to pull toxins out of the body (and away from your face).
- Coffee: Eating, or drinking, as the case may be, for your health doesn’t have to mean total wheatgrass juice cleanse and good food deprivation. And if you’re a coffee-every-morning kind of person, you’re in luck as regular coffee consumption (in moderation, of course) is connected with a decreased risk of skin cancer.
- Kiwi: This fuzzy green fruit may not look like much, but it’s packed with vitamin C—more than a day’s worth of the recommended daily intake in just one little kiwi! Vitamin C boosts collagen production helping to prevent lines and wrinkles.
- Sunflower seeds: Chomp on sunflower seeds for a snack and you may notice your acne begins to disappear. That’s because the high level of vitamin E in the seeds has been clinically associated with a decrease in acne break outs.
- Carrots: What’s up, doc? Your glow if you’re crunching on raw carrots! They’re loaded with carotenoids, which have been linked to healthier skin less prone to break outs. It can also boost your glow, quite literally—the orange in carrots can boost your skin tone.
- Chocolate: Yes, dreams do come true. In case you haven’t heard, chocolate can be a healthy food when it’s not overly sugary. Look for a dairy-free chocolate with 70 percent cacao solids (or darker) to reap the cocoa flavanol benefits. These little antioxidants not only help to improve circulation to the skin for a healthy glow, but keep it hydrated so fine lines and wrinkles appear less visible.
Warmer weather is finally just around the corner. And while the winter chill may have us thinking about spring with a smile, don’t forget to take off those rose-colored glasses for the whole picture.
Yes, warm weather is welcome reprieve from the snow and ice, but for many, there are allergies to contend with, dry skin outbreaks, and frizzy hair galore as those spring showers dump humidity into the air.
Not to mention your skin may still be in that fight-or-flight mode courtesy of winter—you know what we’re talking about—it’s greasy and dry at the same time as the warm indoor heat and cold outside air treat your face like enemy number one.
So, how do you prep your skin for the shifting season? We thought you’d never ask!
1. Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate! From your head to your toe and (almost) anywhere your skin goes, it’s time to help winter out the door and nothing does this better than a good ol’ scrub down. For a sensitive face, stick with fruit acid exfoliation or a gentle scrub like our cleansing grains. But for the body—rough elbows and heels, hands, etc, a salt or sugar body polish should do the trick. Throw in some dry skin brushing for good measure as well.
2. Amp up the UV protection: While you should be wearing sunscreen year-round, we’re guessing by March you’ve all but forgotten what the sun even is. And even if its return is a bit hesitant, you can quickly let sun damage happen if you’re not on your sunscreen game. Use a sun-protecting moisturizer, foundation, or bust out your best beach sunscreen to boost your protection. And don’t forget those precious lips, too. They need protection as well.
3. Get ready for allergies: Pollen levels can vary from year to year and that means you may not know what to expect for allergy season. But if you’re prone to itchy, red, watery eyes and stuffy noses, start prepping your defense now: Neti pots (nasal irrigation) can help move pollen out of the sinuses so you’re less likely to spend your day sneezing. Eye drops can relieve itchy eyes, and diffusing the air with some essential oils like eucalyptus and lavender can help you breathe better and reduce inflammation associated with allergies. For chronic puffiness or redness, turn to cooling skincare ingredients or go the old-fashioned DIY home remedy: chilled cucumber slices on the eyes.
4. Avoid irritants: It’s bad enough the flowers make your allergies go bonkers, and you want to make sure other items aren’t exacerbating your allergies. Stick to free and clear detergents and soaps especially during allergy season to reduce the risk of heightened sensitivity. Be sure to wash new clothes or apparel before using and stick with essential oil fragrances instead of commercial perfumes.
5. Get plenty of rest: Longer days are thrilling, no doubt, but they can quickly cut into precious sleep. Be sure you aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night to keep your skin looking its best!
If you’re a label reader (hopefully you are!), you’re bound to see vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) listed on more products than not. But what exactly is it in there for? And is it safe?
Vitamin E has long been praised for its moisture-retaining benefits, ability to reduce dryness and irritation due to excess sun exposure, and even protect skin from environmental pollutants like tobacco smoke.
But with pretty much all skincare ingredients, there’s a secret: balance. Going overboard with anything is a recipe for disaster sooner or later, and vitamins in skincare are no exception. While they do offer some amazing benefits—vitamin C for example helps build collagen, and vitamin A has shown an ability to defend against wrinkles—they can quickly turn from friend to foe if overused or used improperly.
So the key to employing vitamin E for glowing skin is to not overdo it and to do it right. Yes, there is a right way to use vitamin E on your skin.
Vitamin E Skincare Best Practices
1. Pair it with vitamin C: Some research has found pairing vitamin E with C can boost its sun protecting ability, which is great for healthy looking skin. Both vitamins fight free radicals, which can help reduce the appearance of aging or lackluster sapped skin.
2. Use it at night: If applying a vitamin E oil to the face, it can sit heavy on the skin making it less than ideal for under makeup. Use it before bed and the oil should absorb overnight leaving skin soft and silky. Use caution with vitamin E if you’re prone to breakouts as it may clog pores and increase the risk.
3. Make it your dry skin go-to: Dry skin can strike at any time of year and can quickly get out of hand, especially conditions like eczema. At the first sign of dryness, start applying vitamin E oil to reduce the dryness and itchiness.
4. Pre and post sun exposure: Because vitamin E improves sun protection, it’s a great vitamin to drench your skin with prior to hitting the beach and its potent moisture-enhancing properties also make it an excellent post-sun recovery oil. Its anti-inflammatory benefits may also help reduce the length or severity of any accidental sunburn.
5. Use on hair: For dandruff sufferers and those suffering with thin or weak, dry hair, massaging the scalp with vitamin E oil may improve the overall scalp condition and increase circulation for healthier hair and scalp.
And yes, eating vitamin-E-rich foods like walnuts or avocados can help to boost your skin health from the inside out!
The quest for flawless skin is often also the quest for pure ingredients. But there may be room for a bit of the exotic, too. Say hello to your new skincare secret: dragon’s blood.
Whether or not you’re a Game of Thrones fan, there’s a mystique to a plant that’s earned such a weighted moniker. Though its biological name is Croton lechleri, it’s best known as dragon’s blood for its rich, red sap that resembles blood (not just that of a dragon).
According to Medicine Hunter Chris Kilham, people of the Amazon have long relied on dragon’s blood to treat skin conditions. From the frequent bug bites, stings, wounds, and rashes common in the jungles, to other ailments that can cause redness and swelling.
“Dragon’s blood contains a broad range of naturally-occurring compounds, many of which have been well studied. The sap is rich in protective antioxidant phenols, and anti-inflammatory compounds of various kinds,” Notes Kilham, who says the dragon’s blood sap helps to protect the skin’s cellular structure by repairing collagen. It’s also antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal, that dragon’s blood seems to be a multipurpose skincare ingredient on the same level as aloe vera—perhaps even more stellar.
So, what does this all mean for your skincare regimen?
That ability of dragon’s blood to boost collagen can work like forming new skin, which, may mean good news for your wrinkles (or bad news, depending on how you look at it).
While there’s no magic trick to getting rid of wrinkles and fine lines outside of plastic surgery, repairing collagen can help to plump up the skin. Combine that with reduced redness and healing blemishes, dryness, and redness, and you’re well on your way to looking—and feeling—younger.
And, it gets better, too. According to Kilham, if dragon’s blood is sustainably harvested, and if “the people who do the hard work of tapping Dragon’s blood trees in the Amazon can earn a decent wage,” then, he notes, “everybody in the system benefits.”
Want to give dragon’s blood a try? Check out our dragon’s blood cleanser.
What lengths won’t most of us go to for great-looking skin? After all, when we look amazing, we feel fabulous, too. Would you consider the benefits of seaweed as an important skincare ingredient worth exploring? Or does that just sound, well, a little too fishy for your taste?
The truth is, marine extracts, such as those coming from seaweed, can bring immense healing, toning, and moisturizing benefits to otherwise lackluster skin. If you think about it, seaweed does thrive in briny, salty water. That’s certainly a #skingoal if there ever was one, right?
But don’t go grabbing sea kelp right off the beach and rubbing it onto your skin. There’s a science and vetting process for quality seaweed safe for use in skin care. These super marine plants are harvested from clean ocean areas and distilled into concentrates that highlight the ingredients’ abilities to bring antioxidant boosting power to skin.
Because seaweeds are so sturdy and resilient, they’re excellent bases for anti-aging products—look for them in potent anti-wrinkle crèmes or products targeting fine lines around the eyes. While nothing short of plastic surgery will make fine lines and wrinkles disappear, seaweeds may be effective in reducing their appearance by bringing tightening and lifting action to aging skin (note: all skin is aging, by the way!).
Seaweeds may also help to reduce the occurrence of pigmentation—redness, scarring, and blotchiness. It’s even been shown to reduce the signs of pigmentation (melasma) during pregnancy. This is excellent news for folks with sensitive skin or normal skin during sensitive times (hello, dry winter skin).
Collagen boosting is a super hot trend in skincare today, but for those avoiding animal products, collagen is a big no-no as it comes from cows and pigs (it’s essentially gelatin, which is made from rendered bones and tissue).
Fortunately, many plant ingredients can help to boost the skin’s natural collagen production, and you guessed it, seaweed may be one such ingredient. Credit there can go to its rich source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that deliver much-needed hydration retaining properties to skin.
Ready to give seaweed a try? Check out our favorite Seaweed & Algae Wrinkle Solution Organic Crème now. And use code newstart at checkout to save $5 when you spend $20 or more by February 28, 2017.