Love it all! Coconut Water vs. Milk vs. Oil

When I’m thirsty in Indonesia, the first thing I look for on the menu is a fresh young coconut. There’s really nothing that beats the clean, pure, and completely satisfying thirst quench that happens when the delicious juice fills your mouth. It’s a bit of a norm where I’m from, like in the same way that in a restaurant in the US you ask for an orange juice, if I’m in Indonesia at a local restaurant, I ask for a coconut.  
 
The coconut is a pretty standard ingredient of Indonesia used in very many different ways, for inside and out, beauty and health. One interesting tidbit is that Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of coconuts. We use the coconut fruit itself to make coconut milk for curries and desserts, the actual to grate as well and season to cook in savory dishes, or to roll little desserts in (called Kueh Basah – “wet cake”) and the water to drink. We use coconut oil in cooking, to eat as a health supplement, and to use in our hair to make it silky soft – and in the US, I also cook with the oil and milk, drink the water, and even use the oil in our JUARA products – like our JUARA Radiance Vitality Oil
 
There are so many uses for a coconut, but 3 main components we all talk about: the Oil, Water, Milk… do you know the difference in their health benefits? I’m curious myself!
 

COCONUT WATER

This is the water found in the young coconut before it ripens into the coconut meat itself. Coconut water has a slightly sweet taste (so not sugar-free,) contains about 94% water and very little fat. It also contains electrolytes – important in helping your body maintain its proper fluid balance. It contains potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium, so next time you want to reach for that Gatorade, if coconut water is handy at the store, try for that instead! Last but not least, coconut water contains antioxidants that fight free radicals and hormone called cytokinins which help with anti-aging, so it’s a great overall health beverage that only has 45 calories a cup!
 

COCONUT MILK

Contrary to what some may think, coconut milk isn’t really a milk but water added to the grated coconut flesh. Leave it too long, and it will separate; the cream from the water – and the cream that rises to the top is also known as coconut cream. (Fun fact: Coconut milk can be made from boiling 1 part grated coconut with 1 part water. You can make coconut cream by boiling 3 parts grated coconut with 1 part water.)  It is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6, and contains minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. The interesting thing is that you hear good and bad things about coconut milk. It’s high in saturated fat (bad), however the specific fats in coconut also contain a fatty acid called Lauric acid that has several benefits which may include weight loss, and may also help protect your body from viruses and illnesses (good). So as with living a balanced healthy life, consume in moderation. 
 

COCONUT OIL

The oil is what you get when you press the fat out of the coconut meat. About 84% of the calories of coconut oil come from saturated fat, vs 14% of olive oil and 63% of butter. This is why coconut oil gets hard easily at room temperature. Neat factoid, right? However, the MCT fat in coconut oil (as well as the meat) actually has the benefit of boosting your HDL, aka your good cholesterol and being burned off as energy vs being stored like other saturated fats, though it doesn’t exactly lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) either. Repeating the moderation mantra, one should limit intake to about 13 grams a day, which is around 1 tablespoon. Cooking tip – Don’t fry or cook at high temperatures with coconut oil, as it has a smoke point of 350 degrees. (Likewise, butter and olive oil have similarly lower smoke points.) Frying has a temperature of about 350-400 degrees – so select other high-temperature tolerant oils for that, like avocado oil for best results and better health!
 

EASY HOLIDAY RECIPE

So – coconut is an all year treat – and my current obsession perfect for holidays – making my own coconut milk pumpkin spice latte! How? SUPER EASY: 
  • Combine 2 teaspoons of pumpkin puree from a can (like what you make pumpkin pies out of with 1 teaspoon of agave/sweetener and a pinch of cinnamon. Stir. 
  • Add to a hot cup of coffee – best be a stronger dark roast for a rich flavor; it just blends better with the pumpkin. Trader Joe’s has a great Gingerbread Coffee that’s just a dark roasted coffee blend mixed with holiday spices, but a good French roast will do too.  
  • Add the puree to the coffee and mix, add more sweetener as needed. 
  • Add warmed coconut milk (not from a can, but in the dairy-substitute section of milk, where the have Almond, Soy and other alternative milk) and stir. Enjoy!

Cinnamon: For Health & Holiday Cheers!

‘Tis the season for all things Cinnamon!  Ahhh…what would the holidays be without Cinnamon’s signature aroma.  Whether we’re talking aromatic cookies, spiced cakes or hearty stews, Cinnamon is one of the most popular spices, loved and revered around the world.  Its use originates as far back as Ancient Egypt as a key ingredient in the embalmment ritual.  While Cinnamon is readily available in regular grocery stores today, it was so highly prized and considered so precious in the past, it was a gift reserved only for royalty or deity.

Not surprisingly, like many popular spices, humans began using Cinnamon primarily for medicinal purposes first, before it became a popular flavoring agent.  Native to South Asia and South East Asia, Cinnamon has a long tradition in Jamu, Indonesia’s traditional herbal medicine.  What ancient healers have known all along, modern medicine has only begun to discover are the many health benefits of Cinnamon.

CHEERS UP YOUR METABOLISM

While Cinnamon has well-documented antimicrobial and antioxidant properties (…hence a key preservative-like ingredient when the Ancient Egyptians embalmed their kings & queens), a particularly exciting discovery has been that Cinnamon can improve metabolic diseases such as glucose intolerance, high cholesterol and triglycerides (1).  While more studies are necessary, in one study volunteers ate half a teaspoon of Cinnamon daily for 40 days, which cut their cholesterol by about 18% and blood sugar levels by 24% (2).  The theory is that Cinnamon increases insulin sensitivity while also reducing the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream after a carbohydrate-rich meal.  And unless you have an allergy Cinnamon or liver disease, this spice can be consumed safely daily in food, drink or as part of a meal.

GOOD FOR SKIN INSIDE & OUT

A healthy glucose metabolism is crucial for healthy skin from the inside since high blood sugar causes inflammation and premature aging in the skin in a process called “glycation”.  What about applying Cinnamon  topically?  Cinnamon is rich in polyphenols and antioxidants, which makes it a great ingredient to prevent skin aging.  Its antimicrobial properties also help break-out prone skin, where proliferation of acne bacteria cause acne blemishes.  JUARA Sweet Black Tea & Ginger Oil-Free Moisturizer combines anti-aging, oil-control and break-out-fighting benefits all in one refreshing gel-crème that contains a potent Jamu combination of Kombucha, Ginger and Cinnamon plus Hyaluronic Acid.

EASY TO INCLUDE IN YOUR DAILY LIFE

Having gone through gestational diabetes and fluctuating blood sugar issues myself, I try to stick to a balanced diet that avoids blood sugar spikes and dips. Cinnamon has become part of my daily ritual – not just in my skincare.  A dash on my morning oatmeal combined with nuts and apples – delicious!  A dash in a cup of Ginger Tea – so soothing!  And in the occasional cookie to indulge…because it’s all about balance!

Body Shaping Ginger – Eat it up or Massage it in!

When winter holiday cheer arrives, the weight gain blues often follow. Did you know that January 2nd is often the fattest day of the average American – gaining an average of 5-10 pounds over the lovely holidays? Who can help it? – less outdoor time, hearty meals with desserts, (oh, desserts!) and shorter sun-filled days inducing sleepy appetite gains. Good news though, the good earth has blessed us with slimming GINGER filled with powerhouse anti-inflammatory gingerols. Although the weight gain is a natural byproduct of the seasons, and we tend to lose most of it once spring arrives, having a little help along the way in the form of ginger certainly doesn’t hurt.

EAT IT UP

One research study showed that the consumption of just 2 grams of ginger (1 teaspoon of ground ginger) a day for 12 weeks significantly decreased body mass index (BMI) (1). And this was a gold standard human, placebo-controlled, double-blinded study. Not a BMI fan, ginger was also shown in gold standard meta-analyses to significantly decrease weight loss. (2) Yay- support for the idea that consumption of a simple natural earth provided ingredient can make a change. Ginger tea for winter, yum AND easy! Even the powder works, not just the fresh root. Plus, ginger helps to ease that indigestion we all get from too much holiday food by helping to empty the stomach faster. (3)

MASSAGE IT IN

Ginger is a major Jamu ingredient. And that traditional use for its well known benefits, is now supported by science, not just for ingestion, but topically too. JUARA’s Ginger Coffee Firming Treatment smooths and firms orange peel thighs, post baby stretch marks, and flabby underarm wings. Although I always remind my children (and myself) that beauty is who you are, not how you look, a little help from ginger never hurts.

This winter, I have a plan – 1 teaspoon of ground ginger tea a day, and Coffee Ginger Firming Treatment for …pretty much, all over!

Ingredient Spotlight: Avocado – Inside & Out!

Oh the weather outside is snowing… well almost. Wherever you are this holiday season. One thing for sure is winter can bring about dryness and dehydration – whether it’s the cold air or the cozy heaters inside. Humidity goes down, dehydration goes up! What’s one ingredient we all know and love which helps with hydration and rich fatty acid nourishment? It’s one of humanity’s favorite foods (for both body and skincare)… the avocado! This particular fruit has been used for centuries in Indonesian food and beauty traditions. Avocados are affordable and abundant in Indonesia, used for anything from the famous “cremebath” hair treatments to avocado juices and beyond. In fact, avocado drinks are a staple in Indonesia. And we LOVE it for JUARA. No matter how it’s used, avocados are renowned for their wealth of health benefits for not just your body, but your skin and hair too… here’s a rundown of all sorts of benefits – inside and out! 
 

FOR SKIN

  • Rich in fatty acids that deeply moisturize the skin.
  • Potassium, lecithin, and more to nourish on a cellular level.
  • Antioxidants that soothe dry, irritated, and flaky skin.
  • Prevents (and even treats) acne, thanks to avocado’s superb anti-inflammatory effects.
We give hats off to the great uses in this skin softening, hydrating leave-on mask, our JUARA Java Plum & Avocado Mask, our Radiance Vitality Oil, our Sweet Black Tea & Rice Facial Moisturizer, and the Miracle Tea Eye Creme! Curious? Details below…
 

FOR HAIR

  • Rejuvenates and moisturizes the scalp – where healthy hair begins.
  • Vitamins A, D, E, and B6 nourish hair and scalp while promoting speedy growth.
  • Antioxidants rescue hair from free radicals.
  • Unclogs follicles and stimulates new hair growth from dormant follicles.
There is a traditional and common treatment we regularly partake in at the salon called the creme bath where you get a legit amazing deep conditioning hair treatment that includes a 45 minute (yes 45 full minutes!) of a head, neck and shoulder/arm massage while undergoing deep conditioning. You can choose which kind of ingredient is used in the deep conditioner based on hair needs: Rich Candlenut for shiny black hair, Hydrating Avocado for dry hair, Protein-filled Egg for fine hair, and Aloe Vera for thin hair. If you’re even in Indonesia, you MUST ask for a cremebath at the spa or salon!
 

FOR BODY

  • Keep your weight in check: Munch on avocados daily to maintain a healthy weight and boost digestion.
  • Prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even obesity thanks to avocado’s dietary fiber.
  • High in Fat. Low in Carbs: Avocados are nutritious and delicious, packed with vitamins and nutrients that have even more potassium than bananas!
 
Honestly, we could go on all day – but we’re sure you get the picture. If you don’t, follow in Indonesia’s footsteps and let avocado into your life today. The nation continues to choose sweet over savory, unlike Westerners, blending it into just about everything – shakes, milky drinks, coffee, and even chocolate syrup. Indonesians also fill their bathtubs with avocado to boost circulation and soften the skin. So, next time you stock up on avocados, reimagine what you can do with them. We at JUARA certainly did and we love them in our products! See what we do with Avocado in our products, and experience what they can do for your skin!
 
Java Plum & Avocado Moisture Mask – $38, 3.0oz
Moisturizes, soothes, strengthens, plums, softens & is age-delaying. Give your skin an extra moisture boost and renewed vitality! Replenish dry, parched skin with this rich, nutrient-packed combination of Avocado Oil, Java Plum, Banana & Mango that deeply hydrates, soothes and plumps skin, leaving behind a soft, dewy complexion.
 
 
Miracle Tea Eye Creme – $53, 0.5oz
Firms, brightens, minimizes fine lines & wrinkles, reduces puffiness & dark circles. Our multi-tasking eye treatment is the complete package! Featuring our Radiance Complex and “Miracle Tea” a.k.a. “Probiotic Kombucha”, this eye cream boosts Radiance, firms and hydrates while minimizing the appearance of fine lines, dark circles and puffiness. Don’t trust us? Ask Drew Barrymore – she thought so!  
 
Sweet Black Tea & Rice Facial Moisturizer – $60, 1.7 oz
Maintains elasticity, boosts radiance, hydrates, firms, smoothes. Re-energize dry, dull skin. This silky antioxidant-rich moisturizer featuring our unique Radiance Complex, “Kombucha” and nourishing botanical oils, boosts hydration and Radiance and helps reduce the look of fine lines & wrinkles for smooth, healthy-looking skin.
 
 
Radiance Vitality Oil – $70, 1.0oz
Brightens, firms, nourishes, revitalizes. 
After just 1 use: 
97% felt the oil nourished and hydrated their skin, and loved the texture of this gentle but powerful oil.
90%+ felt their skin was protected, soft, silky smooth, healthy and hydrated.
Radiance redefined! Light-as-air, smooth-as-silk, this award-winning* face oil addresses all signs of aging by boosting Radiance, increasing elasticity, and minimizing fine lines and wrinkles with its 12 pure & precious oils and extracts.

 

Get your avocado on with JUARA in in our FACE PRODUCTS here!
 

Ginger and Turmeric: A Healthful Combination for Your Holiday Cuisine

Delicious, hearty and smooth soup with a little zing.

The holiday season is here. It is time to celebrate and enjoy nourishing food with your family and friends. There are many foods and recipes out there but if you are like most people, you want something special for Thanksgiving.

What if you can enjoy a great meal and also be nourished at the same time with a little jamu-ingredient inspired dishes? It might be a lot to whip up some Indonesian herbal tonics for the family to share, but we can use some of the ingredients  in our dishes to give it a little zing?

Indonesia has been a spice island for centuries. Located among ancient trading paths and wealthy with botanical sources, these distant islands quickly became a global interest centuries ago. Spices were valued not just for their flavor, but also for their capacity to disguise spoiled foods, freshen breath, and remedy health issues. These local spices and ingredients also evolved to be the backbone of Indonesia’s herbal healing tradition – jamu, which has been a secret health give for centuries. In addition to other herbs, it features two simple but powerful ingredients: Turmeric and Ginger. Turmeric and ginger have some scientifically-backed health benefits which we will explore below, so why not include it with the meals?

Health Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric active component is curcumin and it has the following health benefits.

1. Anti-inflammatory Effect

Inflammation occurs in your body all the time. It helps to fight foreign bodies and also repair tissue damage. But prolonged inflammation can cause chronic conditions such as cancer and heart disease. Turmeric can help fight inflammation without the side effects common with prescription drugs.

2. Anti-Oxidant Properties

Your body’s biological processes generate some molecules known as free radicals which can attack cells and tissue to cause chronic diseases. Curcumin in Turmeric can help your body neutralize these radicals so you can live a healthy life.

3. Fights Aging

Many chronic diseases reduce longevity. By preventing the development of such disease turmeric will reduce the effect of aging. It can also keep your organs healthy and functional.

Health Benefits of Ginger

1. Relieves Nausea

Some diseases and drugs induce nausea. Ginger can help fight nausea and related conditions such as morning sickness and vomiting. It is a safe alternative to antinausea drugs.

2. Lowers Blood Sugar

For people suffering from diabetes, food choice is a challenge. Ginger’s strong ant-diabetic effects and can help lower blood sugar after meal.

3. Relieves Indigestion

Indigestion is a common ailment caused by a delay in emptying the stomach. It is more common in the festive period when people eat more food than usual. Ginger can help you speed up the transit of food out of your stomach. In the process, it helps prevent the accumulation and fermentation of undigested food.

Ginger and Turmeric Recipes

Now that you know some of the health benefits of turmeric and ginger, you may be wondering how to use them in your dishes this coming Thanksgiving.
No problem, we have compiled some recipes for your enjoyment.

Turmeric-Ginger Soup

This is a delicacy you can enjoy with friends and family for Thanksgiving. Turmeric and ginger provide a lot of flavor to the soup without the added sodium or fat that is common with seasonings. The hearty vegetables also provide fiber and a smooth, comforting & delicious flavor.

Ingredients
Serves 4
1. 4 medium carrots
2. 4 sweet potatoes
3. 3 cups of water
4. 1 can of chickpeas
5. 1 inch fresh ginger
6. 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
7. 1 tablespoon salt

Directions
1. Slice the carrots in half and cube the potatoes
2. Peel and dice the ginger
3. Combine all ingredients in a pot and cook for two hours on high
4. Serve and enjoy with a variety of food

Turmeric Black Beans and Rice

This staple food recipe is great for entertaining your family and guests on Thanksgiving or related holidays. Plus, this recipe uses rice, which is Indonesia’s staple food, dating as far back as early as 2300 B.C.!

Ingredients
Serves 4
1. 3 ounces smoked turkey sausage or vegetarian sausage
2. 1 cup sliced onion
3. ½ can rinsed black beans
4. ½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
5. ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
6. Half cup brown rice
7. Half ripe chopped medium avocado

Directions
1. Add sausage to a frying pan and cook for 2-3 minutes until browned. Transfer the sausage from the pan.
2. Add onion to the pan and cook for 3 minutes
3. Boil the beans and broth in a pot over medium heat, add sausage and stir.
4. In a saucepan, add water, turmeric, and rice. Cook till done.
5. Serve the dish by mixing the beans and rice preparation and add avocado as a dressing

The Indonesian Jamu stood the test of time because it is an effective tradition. This is why we based our skincare line JUARA on the Jamu’s principles backed by science. JUARA products are made with turmeric, ginger and other proprietary herbal and spice blends to help you achieve a healthy and glowing skin, but it’s great to remember not only can ginger and turmeric nourish your skin, it can also nourish our tummies and add to our enjoyment this coming Thanksgiving!

Post-Halloween Skin Savers

On October 31st, your sexy clown Halloween costume seems like the PERFECT idea.

On November 1st… not so much.

All of that clown makeup, candy and booze wrecked your skin.

So What Do You Do?

Here are 5 simple steps to detox your skin (and body) after a so-much-fun-it-bordered-on-too-much-fun Halloween!

1. Cleanse with a Gentle Scrub.

Let’s be honest, you probably aren’t going to wash your face when you get home at 2am. When you wake up, you’re going to look like a very, very sad clown. Reverse the damage by cleansing with a scrub! The exfoliation will help to lift the makeup, sweat and dirt out of your pores to ready them for the next step. Our JUARA Radiance Enzyme Scrub does double duty as a cleansing scrub with all natural jojoba and bamboo beads PLUS quick fruit enzyme mask, so skin is freshly clean, healthy, and ready to receive further treatment!

2. Detox with a Mask…or Two!

So now your face is red, blotchy, and that pimple on your chin that’s been plaguing you since middle school is back with a vengeance. Apply a deep pore cleansing mask to detox your skin, allowing those nasty blemishes to surface and then fade away. The JUARA Rose & Willow Bark Purifying Mask will purify skin while calming it down, so say bye-bye to that red zit and hello to refined pores.

Blemish free already? Try our Turmeric Antioxidant Radiance Mask to clear your pores of the same dirt and makeup, but also give it a healthy, “I wasn’t at a party but at a yoga class…” type of radiant complexion. Feeling doubly ambitious? Use the Rose & Willow Bark Blemish-Free Mask, and after, follow with the Turmeric Antioxidant Radiance mask for a true deep clean and rejuvenated glow.

Skin feeling dehydrated and depleted?  Give your skin an extra dose of nourishment and moisture by applying our Java Plum Avocado Nourishing Mask.  Too tired and sluggish to take it off?  This skin comforting mask you can just leave on overnight, so enjoy your well-deserved rest while the mask does all the work!

3. Flush Out Toxins with Ginger & Turmeric

Once your face is taken care of, it’s time to address your body. That Halloween party was such a blast that it left you bloated, dehydrated and hungover. Your liver is working overtime to flush all that booze out of your system, so give it some extra loving support with a Ginger and Turmeric.  While the mask is treating your skin, mix up a soothing ginger-turmeric tea to detox and de-bloat. Make sure to keep drinking water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated and happy. We’re loving the easy-to-find Trader Joe’s Ginger-Turmeric Tea, just add a pinch of Turmeric powder form your spice rack or add Turmeric drops from the healthfood store.  Or if you want to go homemade, just chop equal parts of ginger and turmeric, boil, and sweeten with honey!

4. Tone, Tone, Tone!

After the deep pore cleansing mask, you’re going to need to tone and hydrate your skin to allow blemishes to subside, or skin to rehydrate after festivities! Our JUARA Tamarind Tea Hydrating Toner is a skin soothing thirst quencher – with a chock full of oil-free hydrating ingredients including Tamarind and antioxidant teas.

5. Treat & Seal!

Once your skin is cleansed, purified and re-hydrated, it’s time for a concentrated super-juice infusion.  JUARA Clove Flower Turmeric Anti-Aging Serum is chock-full of botanicals to nurse stressed skin back to its balanced state.  Energize skin and lock in all that hydration with a Kombucha-based moisturizer, Sweet Black Tea & Rice Moisturizer for normal to dry skin, and  Sweet Black Tea & Ginger Oil-Free Moisturizer for oily to combination skin.  The sleep-deprived, delicate eye area will get extra TLC with JUARA Miracle Tea Complete Eye Creme.

Halloween may be a great reason to do a deep cleanse routine, but this is also a great any other time you have to wear lots of makeup, (aka for a stage, party, or everyday). Actually, whenever you feel the need for a love-my-skin recovery routine, feel free to give these steps a go so say bye to the “BOO!” in your skin and say hello to “YAY!”

 

You can see the JUARA products here.

The First JUARA Conference – Detroit. A Beautiful Community…

When you meet a diverse group of people who leave a warm feeling in your heart and mind, it’s worth talking about. After I returned home from the first ever JUARA conference in Detroit, I couldn’t stop talking about what a wonderful group of people were present, really “present”, and the feeling of happiness and comfort that I had felt there.  It’s that feeling you get when you meet people who exude a sense of acceptance, kindness, curiosity, growth, strength, and collaboration. Each person in Detroit exuded the character of a “champion” and that is hard to come by, but worth chasing and cultivating.

I have to first give thanks for what I have had the opportunity to experience in this lifetime. The partnership and support that I have received, and hopefully given, in just this skin care venture that has turned into a self care and self discovery adventure has made me feel blessed ten times over. Of course learning and growth are not without their stressors, and full of ups and downs, but I have learned that it is better when you are surrounded by strong, thoughtful, and scrupulous women and people. I experienced a taste of the same in Michigan.

Our gathering was of all ages, backgrounds and personality types.  We had come from states as disparate as Kentucky, California, and Connecticut. Daughters, nieces, cousins, long-time friends, even friends who had recently met over the internet, each person had made a commitment to teach and learn without judgement. Keynote Shandra Woworuntu’s dynamism and optimism started the meeting with inspiration as she shared her personal story of not only climbing out of a pit of despair and exploitation, but also working for others who have experienced the same plight. One might think ‘that’s a hard act to follow’, but the individual stories that were shared over the course of the day and weekend showed me that tenacity and heart is something that we all possess, and each story should be celebrated in its own right.
Andrea Bednar led us through discussion and self analysis, to better consider the meaning of wellness and self care to ourselves, but she also challenged us to set goals and attainable tasks to go home and continue the search and practice ourselves. Nancy Wilcox guided us on her journey of motherhood and sharing, showing us that sisterhood or personhood is possible beyond blood lines, and friendships can coexist with conscientious commitments.
And that is exactly what happened during our conference.  Guides reached across the table to work with each other and share tips; people gave and people received on equal footing. Being able to participate and be amongst such a dynamic, generous, and energetic group makes me feel more motivated to share, contribute, and help build. Truly getting to know everyone and experiencing the common bond of people working to improve themselves and their surroundings was an inspiring moment that I am sure we can recreate and multiply as time marches forward with this beautiful group!

How Oil Can Help Break-Out Prone Skin

Ever since I was a teenager with pimples all over my face, I was told to AVOID oil on my face at all cost.  Even today, our instinct is still to run away from oil, when we are battling break-outs.  At best, we look at a non-comedogenic oil as something that won’t make our problem worse provided of course we use it sparingly.  But can oils actually – GASP –  improve break-out prone skin…?  Let’s look at how an acne pimple is formed.

At the beginning of a break-out is a pore that’s clogged with a sticky combination of sebum (your own skin’s oil), dead skin cells (and maybe some other external debris), that forms a plug.  Add to the sticky plug the proliferation of acne bacteria, a.k.a. Cutibacterium Acnes, plus the resulting inflammation, and, voila:  You get a break-out!  How can an oil help when oil is part of the problem?

1.  The Role of Linoleic Acid (Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acid)

The presence of oil alone does not explain a break-out.  There are plenty of people with oily skin that don’t get break outs, and people with dry skin that do.  It turns out applying an oil rich in Linoleic Acid, which is an essential fatty acid, can help reduce break-outs.  Why?  It has been shown that the surface of break-out prone skin tends to be low in Linoleic Acid.  Interestingly, this is independent of having a Linoleic Acid deficiency inside your body.  Apparently the deficiency on the skin’s surface leads to your skin not self-exfoliating properly and dead skin cells accumulating inside the pore.  Hence applying Linoleic Acid aids the skin’s own pore-clearing process.  Oils high in Linoleic Acid include  Candlenut (Kukui) Oil, Passionfruit Oil, Hemp Oil, Rosehip Oil, Safflower Oil and Rice Bran Oil.

2.  The Role of Your Skin Barrier Function

Our skin barrier is our skin’s own defense structure, of which Linoleic Acid is a key component.  A weak skin barrier (which can be due to genetics, use of harsh products or hormonal changes) makes skin more prone to dryness, dehydration, irritation and inflammation, which in turn can make break-outs worse.  Imagine having break-out prone skin that is also dry and sensitive!  Applying an oil high in Linoleic Acid not only helps reduce the cause of break-outs themselves , it also strengthens the skin’s own defense structure, making it less vulnerable to external stressors and irritation.

3.  Targeting Acne Bacteria

While a number of moisturizing oils like Jojoba or Passionfruit have natural antibacterial properties and help balance skin flora, there are several essential oils that target the acne-causing Cutibacterium Acnes specifically.  The most famous one is Tea Tree Oil, but Lavender and Rosemary Oils have been shown effective as well and offer a natural alternative to salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide if you have mild acne.  If you have persistent break-outs or moderate to severe acne, however, it is best to also consult with a dermatologist.

So next time you are shopping for your skin wondering which products can help with break-outs, take a closer at those skin oils.  You might find one that will become your skin’s best friend!

Acne in your 40s: 4 Ways to Fight it Naturally

Is that a pimple in my wrinkle? Does my concealer even hide that topography? Acne at 40…REALLY?  Is my future going to be filled with time spent hiding mountain ranges and molehills on my face.  Maybe I should delve into the art of living incognito with big sunglasses and scarf wrapping. Then I realized that fear is no way to live, it would probably be easier to figure out what are the causes of adult acne and how do I fight it naturally?

STRESS

We all have deadlines, people to take care of, errands, relationship woes, etc. It’s surprising I don’t have more acne if I think about my daily life. But did you know that with stress comes the adrenal hormone cortisol, and with cortisol comes a little bit of testosterone that in women can cause oil gland overactivity?

Resist: Meta-analysis  shows that yoga asanas decrease cortisol production. And meditation practice decreases your body’s physiologic response to stress.

HORMONES

Perimenopause, post pregnancy, and pre-period (did you know that women over 33 are more likely to get pre-period pimples?), along with hormone related health issues like PCOS all affect hormone levels and thus increase oil production, pore clogging, inflammation then pimples.

Retaliate: Use non-stripping cleansers along with salicylic acid treatments that exfoliate gently to unclog pores. Then follow with oil-free, inflammation fighting moisturizers. Finding the balance in your skin is key. And see your doctor for the health issues.

FOOD and ENVIRONMENT

I don’t mean fried foods and chocolate, but sugar.  Sugar increases your insulin which has been found to also bump up the oil provoking hormones. Although the link between pollution and acne is still being established, there’s no denying that the particulates of pollution are probably not good for your skin.

Resist: Cut out high glycemic foods. Not sure what causes that insulin high, check out the estimated glycemic load of your foods.

SKINCARE ROUTINE

Overwashing, as in more than twice a day, or harsh cleansers and exfoliants can dry out skin and cause overproduction of oil. And with aging and sun damage, the collagen of your skin breaks down and pores become bigger making them easier to clog.

Retaliate: Exfoliate gently and regularly to remove the build up of dead skin cells. Gentle cleansers with oil free or non-comedogenic moisturizers keep your skin healthy and hydrated. Boost that healthy skin with collagen building, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory actives.

Knowing that pimples are just a normal part of life make having them much easier. Also knowing there are a few ways I can control breakouts by changing some things in my daily life make me freakout less. All in all, these problems and solutions are manageable and easy to employ.  Maybe now my mountain will turn back into that molehill. Do you have any other tips for managing breakouts?

What Happens When You Go to Bed Without Washing Your Face?

We all do it once in a while (and I have certainly done it more often since I had kids…).  It happens!  Yes, I know it’s bad to leave make-up on your skin overnight, and no, I don’t like how my skin looks the next day, but the world won’t end if it happens once in a while, right?  But…I do wonder: What actually does happen when I don’t wash my face before I go to bed at night?

1.  Fertile Ground for Clogged Pores & Pimples

While pretty much all make-up or sunscreens these days are non-comedogenic and won’t break you out per se, it is still “stuff” that, when it remains on the skin for an extended time, will mix with our skin’s own sebum, as well as dirt and bacteria (how often do you touch your face throughout the day?) to increase the risk of clogged pores and bacterial proliferation, resulting in new pimples or existing ones getting worse.  Even if you don’t wear make-up, the mix of dirt, sebum and added bacteria can lead to pore congestion over time.

2.  Skin Irritation and Inflammation

Throughout the day, we are exposed to micro-particles, pollutants and allergens that can more or less stick to the skin unless we wash it off.  And depending on your immune system and how well your skin’s own protective barrier functions, those allergens, micro-particles and pollutants can irritate and sensitize skin.

3.  Less Efficient Natural Exfoliation

Your skin sheds naturally all the time, although you wouldn’t see it with your eyes.  But having a sticky mix on your skin at the end of the day and through the night impedes the natural exfoliation process, making your skin look dull and possibly clogging pores.  Washing your face with a regular cleanser at night helps your skin’s shedding process, even if it does not contain any actual exfoliators agents.

4.  Skin Dehydration

Even with proper moisturizing, we loose water through the skin throughout the day and night in what is called transepidermal water loss (TEWL).  Not washing your face on a particular night probably also means that you are not applying any treatment products either, that would replenish hydration.  I’ve always wondered why my skin feels grimy, yet parched the morning after not washing (and treating) my face.  Well…after 24 hours of TEWL without replenishment, skin will loose its suppleness…

5.  Missed Opportunity

Your skin acts differently at night than it does during the day.  If not washing your face at night also means not applying any treatment before bed, that means you are missing out on nourishing your skin in a major way during a time when its in peak recovery mode.  If have issues with break-outs, you are also missing out on helping your skin battle pimples and other issues without the typical day-time interference like sunscreen and make-up.  So even if not-washing your face once in a while isn’t a big deal, not treating your skin is still a missed opportunity.

Lately, to motivate myself to wash my face at night, even if I am super tired, I try to visualize how it will help my skin breathe more freely.  And knowing how much better my skin looks and feels the following morning if I go through my skincare ritual usually gets me moving toward the sink as well.  What helps motivate you to wash your face even when you are tired or feeling lazy?