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skin health

Featured, Skin

A Fresh Start With Spring In Japan!

Sakura, or the cherry blossom, is Japan’s national flower. Celebrated by Japanese people of all ages, sakura are found in everything from textile patterns to a curious dessert flavor. Sakura blooms in March or April, and is even part of the daily weather forecast as the reporter announces where the “Cherry Blossom Front” has started. The Japanese business and school year starts in the spring, so Sakura also represents “graduation, “commencement,” “blessing,” and “joyous.” 

FreshStart-SakuraSpringInJapan

This joyous abundance signals that it’s time for a fresh start, a spring cleaning of the things that do not, as Marie Kondo would call it, “spark joy.” Take your skin care routine. Your skin, like the rest of our bodies, evolves over time. Take the cue from the blossoms — perhaps it’s time to transition back to the essentials. Re-evaluate what your skin needs (maybe even ask your doctor for a patch test if you’ve had a nagging skin issue for years), what your skin goals are, and redesign your targeted skincare regimen. 

Start with a Skin “Detox” to help your skin get back to its most non-irritated state. Then, choose from among our most popular regimens, or ask us to help customize a regimen for you! Give us a call at (212) 217 2762 or drop us a private message on Facebook, Ask VMV, or if you’re in Japan, shop at vmvhypoallergenics.jp.

Featured, Healthy Living, Skin

Eating Right for Your Skin, Health, and Mind

“Inflammatory dietary pattern linked to depression among women,” says a study out of the Harvard School of Public Health. While more research needs to be done, it is clear that, while inflammation is important to our immune systems, excessive inflammation is linked to a truckload of health concerns (“heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and other conditions”) and skin concerns (acne, eczema, psoriasis, aging).
What foods are pro-inflammatory? Pretty much everything you know you shouldn’t be eating:
– Sodas, colas, other sweetened and processed drinks, like pre-packaged juices or iced teas
– Refined, processed foods: white rice, flour, pasta, bread
– Junk food
In addition to reducing pro-inflammatory foods, we need to up our intake of anti-inflammatory foods like “wine, coffee, olive oil, and green leafy and yellow vegetables.” Wine, of course, in moderation — we’re talking a glass or two a day not weekend binging.
In this study, women who ate more of the pro-inflammatory foods and less of the anti-inflammatory foods showed “up to a 41% greater risk of being diagnosed with depression than those who eat mostly the less inflammatory diet.”
It’s a basic tool, but the checklist below may help you get started with simple reminders to do every day.

Skin, body, dress sizes, heart health, setting a good example for kids…and now happiness. There really is no downside to getting healthier.

Featured, Skin

VMV Hypoallergenics: The Superman of Skincare

 EmmaWerner

By Emma Werner

The Fashion HotBox in New York City | Jul 11, 2016

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I recently had an amazing spa experience with VMV Hypoallergenics, a skincare company that prides themselves on being the “safest, most proven effective care on the planet,” and it certainly holds up to that mantra. They specialize in sensitive skin and have even developed the first and ONLY hypoallergenic “grading” system–they are the only brand to actually validate and rate its hypoallergenicity. In fact, VMV’s claims of safety and efficacy are backed by over 75 published clinical studies (they NEVER test on animals!), and their products are free of most or all of the 76 top allergens that are present as ingredients in cosmetics. VMV tracks everything that goes into or near a product, and the product itself is patch tested for skin safety. Check out the rest of this post to learn about my personal experience with VMV’s spa (spoiler alert: heavenly) and the products I use.

My Spa Experience

VMV Hypoallergenics - Best Facial in NYC

The location itself is absolutely ethereal. The aesthetic is light, charming and intimate. The sales associates are attentive, welcoming and knowledgable–their willingness to share their knowledge and assess your unique needs is truly unparalleled. VMV (and their associates) are so amazing at not only helping to identify skin conditions and/or skin type, but also finding the perfect product(s) that work for YOU. After my facial, I left with several products that I wouldn’t have thought of trying before my esthetician explained my skin type and what I needed for it (hint: I would never have looked for these products myself because I honestly was clueless about my skin and its needs!).
After arriving at the store, I filled out some quick paperwork (including noting any skin conditions I had), and was quickly whisked into the back room by a lovely esthetician. I was told to remove my top, cover myself with a terrycloth towel, and relax on the table. From the first moment the aesthetician shut the door behind her to begin the facial, I felt like a QUEEN. I was constantly pampered for the entire experience–and I would really choose to call it an EXPERIENCE, because it wasn’t just a facial…it was truly a luxurious hour of complete and total pampering on all ends of the spectrum. I was so relaxed that my body wanted to fall asleep, but my mind wanted to stay awake to continue enjoy the amazing feelings of complete and utter QUEEN-NESS (I know that’s not a word, but it’s the only adjective I can think of to describe how amazing this spa experience was)! I have been to many different spas in my life, and never have I had such an amazing time– VMV truly is on another LEVEL when it comes to pampering.
SO, on to the actual facial I received, which is called the Classic Superskin Facial. This facial is actually designed to be kind a maintenance upkeep “cleaning” for your skin–it is recommended that you get these every few months to give your skin the crucial cleaning and deeper upkeep that it needs to keep it glowing and healthy! My esthetician gave me an initial consultation to see if there were any impurities or irritations she needed to address, and to assess my skin type in order to pick the best products to use on on it during my facial.
I think what makes this facial (and VMV Hypoallergenics itself) so amazing, is that there is a very safe and clinical approach to everything they do. The facial is expertly created and regularly reviewed by the VMV Skin Research Center + Clinic, ensuring clinical safety and effectiveness! The facial has in-depth analysis, consultation and customization components, including a relaxing face, neck and hand massage, pore-opening steaming, light comedone extractions, and one of their special, invigorating, anti-inflammatory masks — freshly mixed on site just for you!

My Recommended Products

VMV - Best Anti-Aging Crea

My esthetician ultimately left me with a “skinvestment” plan customized to my skin’s needs after our session–she let me know what products she used on my skin and why, what my skin’s unique needs are, asked me what my own concerns were, and then recommended several products for me to use at home. She recommended the Hydra Balance Gentle Cream Cleanser, Know-It-Oil, ID Gel, and the Red Better Spot Corrector.
The Hydra Balance Gently Cream Cleanser ($22) is perfect for me because I have combination oily/dry skin–it whisks away excess oil, helping to control acne, while simultaneously moisturizing drier areas. I tend to be oily in my T-zone and get acne around those areas, but then drier on other parts of my face and neck, so this has been a really great product for me!
The Know-It-Oil ($17) is clinically-validated, 100% USDA-certified organic virgin coconut oil. It’s an amazing moisturizer because it includes fatty acids that are native to the skin, and it helps repair damage from environmental factors, reducing inflammation and irritation (which I needed, especially in my cheeks). Good news, girls (and boys)–this can be used on ALL skin types!
The ID Gel ($30) is a unique , skin-safe, coconut-derived antibacterial that can provide treatment for all forms of acne on the face, chest, back, arms, thighs, etc.. It also disinfects skin and works as a mattifier to control shine an keep skin feeling cool and fresh! It basically acts as a sanitizer without drying out the skin (the worst).
VMV - Best Anti-Aging Crea

*FAVORITES/MUST-HAVES*

The Red Better Spot Corrector ($25) is one of my FAVORITES. The gel itself is uniquely non-irritating, not drying (even soothing and hydrating!) for ultra-sensisitve skin. This thing zaps away zits and any redness on the face like magic–literal MAGIC. Once you try this you will never go back to using any other brand’s spot corrector; it’s just that good.
The gel’s ingredients include coconut-derived monolaurin, which targets microbes and is an effective anti-inflammatory. Antiflammatory antioxidants and silicones also help prevent scarring. I tend to get redness easily, and when I get acne, it’s RED. I like to put this on at night and when I wake up in the morning, the redness is next to gone. If you choose to buy anything from this post, I would recommend this as a life-long MUST-HAVE.
The Re-Everything Cream ($95) is something I actually asked my esthetician about because I was looking for a new anti-aging ‘potion’. I have kind of bounced, trying out different retinol night creams, and the one I was currently using was actually irritating my skin quite a lot (it turned out the redness in my cheeks was from using it), and so my esthetician recommend the Re-Everything Cream (pricey, I know, but TOTALLY worth it). This stuff is, again, MAGIC. It’s so gentle on my skin and I definitely noticed my skin looking more healthy, glowing and line-free just days after starting to use it. Also, only a little bit is needed so this bottle will last me at least 6 months.
How it works: This is a clinically-proven cellular renewal and regeneration anti-aging therapy forces new and younger cells to the surface. Kinetin growth factor promotes cell rejuvenation, causing skin cells to act younger and is proven to stimulate fibroblasts to produce more elastin + collagen. Ultimately, it minimizes the appearance / severity of fine lines, wrinklesand other signs of (photo) aging, helping to rejuvenate, retexturize and refirm skin.
***
So, there yah go: VMV is essentially an all-in-one-stop-shop to heavenly spa-ville AND school of skincare, with knowledgable employees that guide you along the often confusing and complicated path of aging and troubled skin to a fresher, healthier relationship with your face and body! Worried that this is all too complicated and unsure about how to use the products once you get them? Not to fear! Each product comes with detailed instructions, and the labels themselves even include a super detailed description of ingredients and uses for the product. How thoughtful, am I right? VMV is kinda like my superman of skincare. I can’t wait to book my next appointment with them…
If you’re interested in booking your own super amazing spa experience with VMV, you can call them at (212) 217-2762, book online, or visit them at their NYC boutique location (227 Mott Street NY, NY)!
[Spa services and products c/o of VMV Hypoallergenics, but honest review of such is provided in this article (I promise!)]
 

P.S. Use code “VMVFHB20” for 20% off all VMV products and services!


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This article originally appeared on Fashion HotBox, Emma Werner’s blog on fashion and lifestyle.
Reposted with permission.

Featured, Skin

My Dermatologist Has X-Ray VisionFeatured

Or, How My Skin Doctor Found My Thyroid Problem.

My dermatologist isn’t Superwoman (although I think of her that way). No doctor can see through you, to your blood, thyroid, heart, or bones. I’m not sure anyone would want that. But my dermatologist took one look at my skin and knew something was off with my insides.
It was, frankly, fascinating. My doctor (a dermatologist and dermatoPATHOlogist) “saw” my endocrine system in the state of my skin. I’d gone to her for some dark spots on my neck that I thought were a reaction to a new necklace (metals are common allergens). Assessing the size of my pores and the presence of facial hair (the bane of my waxing aesthetician), she asked if I had Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS. My Ob-Gyn had only recently diagnosed me with the same condition based on other symptoms, so my dermatologist was spot on. From there, she looked some more, paused, and suggested I consult an expert endocrinologist for Insulin Resistance Syndrome (often tied to PCOS) because the hyperpigmentation that started appearing at the back of my neck looked like Acanthosis Nigricans. I went to see her thinking I just needed a chemical peel or stronger prescription medication for the dark spots — and came out concerned about my pancreas! True enough, after some lab work, I found out how urgent the management of my insulin had become. And who suspected it? My dermatologist. From looking at my SKIN.
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Dermatologists help us look good. They also help manage some pretty serious skin diseases like psoriasis and eczema, and some very serious ones like melanoma and pemphigus vulgaris. But a dermatologist can also be the first person to spot signs of internal problems.
The skin is our largest organ and it is also the most immediate, most visible monitoring system we have for the state of our internal systems. Before a blood test, ultrasound, x-ray, or MRI can reveal an issue, dermatologists can recognize signs on your skin that may point to an internal problem. For instance, before blood sugar values are elevated, diabetes can show tiny distinctive scarred patches on the leg or small areas of numbness; a slow thyroid gland can be indicated by a form of skin thickening in various parts of the body; tiny red spots can signal inflammation of blood vessels both in the skin and in the body’s internal organs. In my case, my pore size and facial hair implied Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS — the addition of my dark spots to the puzzle led to the suspicion of Insulin Resistance Syndrome and an endocrinologist referral.
For other internal health issues that dermatologists can spot just by looking at you, check out What Doctors Can Tell About Your Health Just By Looking At Your Skin, and for more inspiring dermatology-detective stories, search “Ace Skinvestigators” in skintelligencenter.com.
We tend to forget that dermatology isn’t all Botox® and peels and creams and fillers. Dermatologists are so fantastic at helping us look good (wonderful, don’t get me wrong!)…but their talent at this can sometimes make us forget that they are trained to do much, much more. I was so thankful that my dermatologist’s know-how was a cut above most. Her Sherlockian diagnosis sent me to an endocrine specialist before it ever would have occurred to me to see even a GP! Remember, the only symptoms I thought I had were dark spots. And I work in skincare — a photo-allergic reaction to metal was not a stupid guess (we see this quite a bit in our line of work as we cater to some of the most sensitive skin conditions). If lesson number one was don’t think of dermatologists as “just” skin doctors, lesson number two is: don’t think you know it all. No matter how smart you think you are about skin care, nothing beats a proper diagnosis by a specialist.
Lesson three? Be picky. Don’t let the beautification promise trick you into choosing a dermatologist who’s just about beauty. Dermatologists who research, teach and publish, who treat people who are hospitalized, can spot signs in your skin that can alert you to a potential internal problem (and other specialists) before you even think of getting a blood test or other exams. Top dermatologists may seem less glamorous but, in a very real way, the best of the best can save your life.
 
Ask Karen more about her experience or share her globe-trotting, music-stalking, surfer-loving, skin-healthy life by following her on Instagram/Naranwoah.

Featured, Skin

Combining Actives: Customize Your Skincare Regimen Like A ProFeatured

First, some basics.

IS MORE…MORE?

YES AND NO.
Combining different actives in one regimen can give you multiple benefits but you up the risk of irritation and you can definitely over-treat. If you’re going to combine, keep the following in mind:

  1. Hypoallergenic: Choose products with minimal or no allergens to up the safety factor.
  2. Sensitive Should Simplify: For sensitive skin, less is more, period. Use fewer products and choose gentle but multi-beneficial ones.
  3. Date wisely. If you’re going to increase the risk of irritation by adding actives, add what’s proven to be good and reliable. Sexy, sci-fi-sounding claims that seem too good to be true probably are — big talk and broken promises are never fun. Stick to what’s backed up by studies published in peer-reviewed journals.

DO I NEED A TONER? 

NOT NECESSARILY
WHY: Not all skin types should use a toner. Very dry skin and sensitive conditions like rosacea, eczema and psoriasis do better with less cleansing overall.

CAN I USE MULTIPLE ACTIVES IF I HAVE SENSITIVE SKIN?

IT DEPENDS ON THE ACTIVES
WHY:  “Active ingredient” is often an alpha- or beta-hydroxy acid, another type of microscopic exfoliant (hastens the shedding of old cells), or a drug (like an antibiotic). While effective, too much of these good things can be too much for sensitive skin. There are excellent actives that are less irritating and some that are even anti-inflammatory such as virgin coconut oil (anti-aging, barrier repair, antimicrobial); monolaurin (anti-acne, antimicrobial), and green tea (antioxidant). As long as the rest of the ingredients in your products are free of allergens, combining anti-inflammatory actives may not only be ok but beneficial.

How to Combine Actives the Right Way

Think: Extra Slow, Extra Gentle. Protect.
1) GO SLOW. With any active product, start with once-a-week applications, then twice-a-week, very slowly increasing frequency to three times a week and so on until you achieve once- or twice-a-day usage, which should be no earlier than eight weeks after your first application.
Get to once- or twice-a-day usage of one active product before starting another. Do this for each new active product that you add. That’s eight weeks or more per new active product — for example, you would only be using three active products together by week 24, at the earliest.
2) BE GENTLE. It is crucial to use a pH-lowered cleanser (such as Id, Illuminants+, Re-Everything) to prevent irritations. Active treatments are more acidic, which the skin can easily adjust to (the skin’s natural pH is slightly acidic) but low-pH active treatments plus a high-pH cleanser can spell disaster.
3) PROTECT: Actives tend to make the skin more sensitive to sun and light. It is important to use an Armada Sun + Light Screen every day, indoors and outdoors, even if actives have not been applied on a given day.


4 MOST COMMON COMBOS

Can I combine Id and Illuminants+ for my acne and dark spots? What about a Pore Minimizer? Presenting our most popular “how-do-I-combine…” regimens at VMV Hypoallergenics:

Healthy Living, Skin

Al-mond, Dieu! This Superfood Makes For Super SKIN, tooFeatured

Almond As Superfood

Studies show that eating almonds decreases your risk of heart disease, helps you feel full faster, and helps with weight loss and diabetes prevention. Other studies suggest benefits for arthritis, cancer and Alzheimer’s. Packed with antioxidants, eating them is great for your skin, too.

What About On Skin?

Don’t go rubbing almonds on yourself. Do check out mandelic acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid derived from almonds.

What’s So Great About Mandelic Acid?

Like the almond, from which it is derived, mandelic acid is a powerful health multi-tasker, addressing:

  • Photo-aging (wrinkles, loss of elasticity),
  • Acne, and
  • Dark spots.

It’s also far less irritating than many other effective actives out there.
Mandelic acid (present in VMV Hypoallergenics Superskin Toners) has a larger molecular size which makes it penetrate the skin less…but more evenly, performing excellently as a keratolytic.

On AHAs and Irritation

But isn’t the holy grail of efficacy how well an active penetrates the skin? Like lots of things skin, it’s more complicated than simply: penetrating deeper is good, more superficially is bad.
Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) mostly work by keratolytic action or “pKa”…basically microscropic peeling — forcing old, dead cells to the surface and encouraging bright, healthier, newer cells to the surface. This process is highly effective but is generally irritating, which is why relatively few cosmetics use actives in effective concentrations or in unbuffered (undiluted) form.
If an effective active is highly irritating, it becomes difficult to use and could cause other problems such as reactions, redness and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (dark splotches after a skin trauma like a pimple or rash).
And while a smaller molecular size does mean faster penetration into the skin (allowing the active to micro-peel at a deeper level), the general rule is: the smaller the molecular size of an ingredient, the higher the risk of an irritant or allergic reaction. For many actives, a tiny molecular size means they can penetrate the skin more readily, but they do so unevenly and increase the risk for irritation.
Mandelic acid pulls off a neat trick in that it remains highly effective even if it penetrates the skin less.
In clinical studies (our own and others), mandelic acid is the least irritating when compared to other actives such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid, retinoic acid, and hydroquinone. All are effective micro-exfoliants, but mandelic acid is better tolerated even by compromised skin. This makes it ideal for drier, more sensitive skin, younger skin (Superskin can be started at age 9 for prophylactic care), skin that is prone to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or people who want the most benefits with the least amount of product.

Inside and out, the almond is a quintessential superfood.

Superfood in Superskin: Get your almond goodness in you…and on you!

Allergy Info

Allergic to tree nuts? You might still be able to use mandelic acid. Food and skin allergies do not always correlate. A prick test or blood test is specific to food. Make sure to get a patch test to confirm your skin allergies.