Tag

stress

Featured, Skin

A Skincare Regimen Isn’t One-Size-Fits-AllFeatured

You spend time choosing your food and clothing, why not your skincare?

Like working out, it helps to know what your goals are, what you like/don’t like, and what may work best for you.
Basic skincare is fairly, well, basic: Cleanser, Toner (not if your skin is already dry), Moisturizer, Sunscreen.
But even a basic regimen improves significantly when you customize it to your skin type:

And that’s just when choosing a basic regimen!
If you have specific skin concerns, a more targeted skin care regimen may give you better results, faster, and for longer. In one of our most popular regimens for acne and acne scars, for example, we combine both acne treatments (salicylic acid and monolaurin) with pigmentation-lightening therapy and a daily, indoor-outdoor sunscreen made specifically for treated skin and opaque enough to help lighten dark spots.
Don’t be afraid to ask us for a skincare regimen targeted to your specific needs and skin goals — and even customized to your patch test results! Give us a call at (212) 217 2762, or click here to submit an inquiry, or drop us a Private Message on Facebook!
For more on how to customize your regimen and some of our most popular combined regimens, check out Combining Actives: Customize Your Skincare Regimen Like A Pro
Not sure how to apply skincare products? Check out Which Comes First, The Toner Or The Lotion? How To Apply Skincare In The Right Order

Healthy Living, Skin

Less Is More In Skincare, Too!Featured

Less Is More In Skincare, Too!

SIMPLIFY.

“Less is more” is a healthy philosophy for pretty much everything in life.
In food, less processed means more nutrients and less junk. Studies show that mindfulness — clearing the mind of clutter and focusing on the now — has significant health benefits for the brain and aging. In skincare, simple formulations with as few ingredients as possible minimize the risk of cross reactions — it’s a golden rule of hypoallergenicity. Plus, sticking to fewer products from fewer brands means there’s less guesswork involved when identifying what could be causing a reaction or acne.
“Less is more” helps doctors more easily identify what could be the cause of a problem. Frequently, the first step of allergy or contact dermatitis management (often, along with a patch test) is an “elimination diet” (our popular, ultra-reliable 7-Day Skin Fast). In the Skin Fast, you’re asked to stop using all products — except a very, very controlled few — for 7 days. This helps skin return to its most non-irritated state, so that when new products are slowly introduced (one every three days or so), problem products can be more accurately isolated.
The same applies to acne: acne can have several causes and certain types of acne can take days to develop…making it almost impossible to accurately identify which product is causing the acne when using many different ones.
Having fewer ingredients in a formulation is a best practice in hypoallergenicity…so much so that one of the quickest ways to spot a high-risk product is to look at how many ingredients it has: the longer the list, the higher the likelihood of reactions.
In addition, using multiple products can lead to over-treatment and drying of the skin…getting it to a borderline-irritated state so that anything new applied (whether or not you are actually allergic to it) could trigger a reaction.
This is why doctors tend to recommend sticking to few products and, ideally, from the same brand. It is impossible to ensure how products are made from one brand to another, ingredients can have different raw materials (some pure, some with additives such as trace amounts of preservatives or allergens), and many formulations are outsourced to third-party manufacturing facilities where vats can be used for mixing many different formulations, including those with allergens. Check out Why Sticking to One Brand Is Safer (an interview with EczemaBlues.com) for more on why using products from different brands can make the management of complex skin conditions difficult.

For more on hypoallergenicity and how less is more, check out:

HYPOALLERGENIC: What is it Really?
Why Sticking to One Brand Is Safer

For more on reactions:

Reactions: About, Allergic, Irritant, Sudden, Prevention, Using VMV & Other Products, etc.
Mythfoliation: If I Get a Reaction, The Last Product I Applied Is The Problem

Skin

Your Skin Needs You To Stop StressingFeatured

Make stress management a priority.

Like, now.
Set an alarm to meditate for 10-20 minutes a day. And schedule a facial to zone out for an hour. And keep a gratitude journal. And do yoga. And turn your phone off on the weekend. That’s “and,” not “or,” by the way. Your skin, body, and mind will reward you for it.
An increasing number of studies is showing that stress has profound, widespread, and lasting effects on many aspects of our health, from depression, to obesity, how our brain becomes “trained” to function, and even cancer. Stress is so linked to skin that in many practices, stress management and therapy are standard in the management of psoriasis. Stress is inflammatory and tends to trigger acne, premature aging, psoriasis flare-ups, and eczema.
For more on how stress can affect your skin, check out these articles:

Tip: a remarkably efficient way to hit anti-stress and skin goals in one hour? Book a facial!

Skin

Your Hair Care Can Help (Or Hurt!) Your SkinFeatured

Let your hair care help, not hurt, you.

Believe it or not, your hair care matters to your skin.
Comedogens in shampoos, conditioners and styling products can trickle down onto skin, clogging pores and causing acne. Allergens can cause acne, too: while they don’t clog pores the way comedogens, do, they can irritate pores, causing an infected pore, aka acne. If your problem is sensitivity, flaking or rashes, allergen-free hair care can prevent flare-ups…sometimes dramatically!
For more on how hair care can affect your skin, check out these articles:

Beauty, Featured, Healthy Living, Skin

5 Habits To "Spring Clean" For Healthy SkinFeatured

Skin care is never just about the skin’s surface. Your diet, stress levels, amount of sleep, and exercise all contribute to your skin’s clarity and health. As you spring clean your closet, take these 5 habits out to the trash to make room for vibrant, fresh, healthy skin:

Junk The Junk

There just is no redeeming factor to junk food (processed candy, chips, colas, juices, energy drinks, snacks). The body doesn’t know how to process several of the ingredients used to preserve, color, or flavor many of these products, and excesses get stored as fat or, as new research is showing, potentially harmful buildup in the brain. Skin-wise, colorants are common allergens that are known to cause rashes or acne around the mouth and chin, and in some severe cases, all over the body. The junk is addictive, too, so it’s best to get off it and stay off it.

Treat Perfection As Passé

Sugar, pasta, rice, bread, crackers: avoid the pristine uniformity of white options and look for healthy variants like whole wheat, wild, brown, coconut, and other more fibrous, less processed alternatives.
Check out the farm-fresh produce in the photo below: imperfectly perfect, just as nature intended. Choose organic produce as often as you can. And consider growing your own! If you have kids, window or garden growing is an excellent activity to do together that gets them outside (more healthy activity, less tech!) and teaches them not only about nature but about where their food comes from. If you don’t have kids, gardening is a soothing activity and many plants like kale, tomatoes, and several herbs are surprisingly easy to grow. Just don’t forget the sunscreen when working outside. In addition to UV rays from the sun, many plants are photo-allergens, meaning they react with light to cause skin darkening. You don’t want your skin to suffer as you get healthy: slather on your UV protection before you get down and dirty!
tomato-imperfect

Don’t Drink Your Nutrients: Chew ‘Em

Because you need so much fruit and veg to make a single serving, fresh, cold-pressed juices are wonderful to supplement your intake of fruits and vegetables…but sipping shouldn’t replace eating. Chewing through raw, whole fruits and vegetables gives you all the fiber and nutritious benefits that these miracle foods have to offer. Juicing, even at home, can mean getting more sugar and water than anything else. Add, don’t replace.

Stop De-Prioritizing Movement

Don’t make exercise an option, or something to do just a few times a week: make it a daily ritual. Enroll in a class that forces you to do 3 days of more intense work — spinning, aerobics, zumba, bootcamp, whatever you find fun. Do two days of hiking or walking with the kids, the dog or your partner. That leaves two more days of yoga, other classes, the treadmill or even stationary biking while watching your favorite TV shows. Aim for a minimum of 45 minutes no matter what you’re doing. Free apps like Sworkit help you customize workouts according to the time you have — no gym or equipment required. There are loads of free dance and zumba routines on YouTube, too. And if you have a crazy-busy week, try this Heart-Thumping 10-Minute Workout, this 10-Minute Pilates + Barre Workout, or the famous 7-Minute Workout.
Try to be less sedentary in general, too. At work, set an alarm to get up and walk around. Look for opportunities to move more: take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator, and get off at a stop a few blocks from your normal station so you can walk the rest of the way.
Just getting started? Don’t let the trendiness of ultra-extreme workouts intimidate you. ANY movement is better than none. Especially if you’re not naturally active, prioritize the habit of daily exercise over the actual activity. Set an alarm to make sure you do something — anything…one minute of jumping jacks and some crunches, for example — at the same time every day. At the end of a week, try two minutes of any activity. By the third week, try five minutes (this is where Sworkit comes in handy…you can choose the time you have). Soon enough, you’ll find that getting started won’t be so hard: you’ll have set the habit your mind and body. Keep it up and you’ll start naturally looking for longer or harder exercise routines. The most important thing, however, is that you’ll have made exercise a DAILY habit.

Stop Thinking Sleep Is For The Weak 

Prioritize sleep. Your skin and body need it. Sleep helps with learning, stress management, depression, skin, lessening inflammation, even controlling hunger pangs and helping you choose wiser foods to eat.
Less stress, a leaner, stronger physique, and gorgeous, glowing skin…we don’t see the downside, do you?

Healthy Living, Skin

Afraid Of Your Skin's Tantrums? Try These 3 Tips To Keep "Problem Skin" Happy & Healthy

Do you live in fear that any little thing — a “gentle” new moisturizer, a hotel pillow, your hair — could set off your skin? Some discipline and lots of love keep “problem skin” happy and healthy. Practiced diligently, and combined with with good nutrition and exercise (the building blocks of health), these three to-do’s can even enable problem skin to “glow” out of its “terrible tantrum” stage entirely.

1) Get Your Problem Skin’s Support System In Place

Like many multifactorial health concerns, successfully managing problem skin (very sensitive, allergic, or reactive skin, atopic skin, contact dermatitis, psoriasis, cystic acne, rosacea, skin cancer, etc.) requires juggling several things, and the right support system of specialists is important.
Your team of caregivers should consist of the following:

1. Dermatologist who is a specialist in your condition.

Many physicians provide excellent care but might specialize in aesthetic services or dermatologic surgery. Seeing a specialist in your problem skin’s exact condition increases your chances of success.
Not every dermatologist is an expert in contact dermatitis. We’ve had fragrance-allergic clients who were given products labeled “fragrance-free” by their doctors even though the products contained ingredients closely related to fragrance. Contact dermatitis specialists are more updated on allergens, cross reactions, ingredient names, and relationships between different chemicals and ingredients. Allergic skin specialists tend to take very detailed histories to factor in what you might be exposed to in foods, at work, in your hobbies, etc. and help you identify triggers you might otherwise miss. Prevention is one of the most powerful, effective, and safest tools at your disposal, and it’s within your control. For it to work for your problem skin, make sure that you know exactly what to avoid.
A specialist will also be able to order the right diagnostic tests such as a biopsy or patch test. The latter is helpful for several problem skin conditions as it helps you identify which particular substances you need to look out for in everything from cosmetics to clothing, electronic equipment, and more. To find a doctor near you who offers patch tests, visit contactderm.org or ask your country’s dermatological society.

2. Allergist, if you also have food allergies.

Food allergies and skin allergies are not the same (different cells are involved). But if you also have food, bronchial or other allergies (determined by a prick test, not a patch test), you need an allergist on your team.

3. Make sure your doctors “play well together.”

If you have other health concerns, it is a good idea to put your specialists in touch with each other so that they work as a team, seeing your skin as part of a whole. For example, your allergist may have prescribed you an inhaler that has steroids or is another drug that is known to cause allergic or photo-allergic reactions. This is key information for your dermatologist. If you are taking neurological drugs and cystic acne is a concern, your dermatologist may want to ask your physician for possible alternatives.

4. Nutritionist, Trainer, Health App.

This may seem like an odd addition but proper diet and exercise are so important at reducing inflammation (a big factor in many skin problems) that it needs to be a priority. A nutritionist or gym trainer can help you with food choices in addition to exercise and motivation, but there are loads of free health apps that you can use on your phone to explore healthy recipes, to use as a food diary, and even for guided workouts at home.
 

2) Avoid “Instant Gratification” (Steroids)

Steroids are serious drugs that, while necessary for emergency cases and quick relief, are not meant for long-term use. Sustained steroid application can result in thinning of the skin (which increases sensitivity and other problems), decreasing efficacy of the steroid (so you apply more of it, more frequently, which compounds the problem), severe rebounds when you’re finally taken off of them (which may require hospitalization), and, in some years-long cases, Cushing’s disease or even death. Yes, we’re talking “just” from topical steroid creams.

No matter how severe your skin condition seems, there’s a good chance it can be managed by an accurate diagnosis (this isn’t as easy as it sounds — dermatology has a staggering number of conditions), accurate identification of allergens, and consistent, conscientious allergen avoidance (which also can be difficult because allergens can be listed under names you’re not familiar with).

Try to avoid the “instant gratification” of a steroid by using alternatives like virgin coconut oil, monolaurin, or a steroid-free anti-inflammatory for milder reactions. and tell your team of specialists that one of your goals is to manage your problem skin without the (regular) need for steroids.

3) Be Disciplined About Avoiding Triggers.

Don’t be guided by claims of “natural” or “for sensitive skin”: be guided by your patch test results and be disciplined in your product selection. While it might be tempting to try new things with fabulous-sounding promises of safety, carefully study ingredients (and jewelry, clothing, electronics cases, etc.) for your particular allergens. It might be a challenge at first but this strictness is the most important foundation you can give your skin so it can “glow up” into self-maintaining health and calm.

Establish a strict sleep schedule: studies show that 7-8 hours of sleep is ideal. This not only goes a long way towards preventing inflammation (a major trigger of skin problems), but can mean profound changes in other aspects of your life, too, from increased efficiency to more peace and happiness.

Speaking of happiness, be disciplined about stress management: now, not some day. Like sleep deprivation, stress is closely linked to inflammation. And it’s not just mental or emotional stress: anything that stresses your skin or body (like allergens and junk food) count, too. Set “quiet time” each day to recenter. Keep a gratitude journal. Even a facial can have surprising de-stressing benefits! And see a professional (add her or him to your support system team) if you feel you need additional help.

To shop our selection of hypoallergenic products, visit vmvhypoallergenics.com. Need help? Ask us in the comments section below, contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook.

Featured, Healthy Living, Skin

Drink Lots Of Water: 30-Day Healthy Skin ChallengeFeatured

Your body needs water. Your skin needs water. Drink water.

It really is that important. 
While water alone can’t keep skin healthy — enough sleep, good nutrition, plus a good skincare regimen that includes proper cleansing, a moisturizer to prevent water loss (you’re seeing how important it is to prevent water loss, yes?) and strengthen the barrier layer…plus a daily sunscreen are needed, too — adequate hydration is crucial for your entire body’s proper functioning.
Among many, many other things, water flushes out toxins, keeps the membranous areas of our bodies moist, and brings nutrients to our cells.
You constantly lose water by breathing, sweating, and in urine, and to replenish, you need more than you may think: women need to be drinking about nine 8 oz. cups (a little over 2 liters); and men about thirteen 8 oz. cups (about 3 liters) of water a day.
Our body weight is about 60% water. Water…not juice or milk (which the body treats as food). This vital fluid is so important for our cells and our overall health, so make sure you’re drinking enough of it every day.
TIP: Not sure if you’re drinking enough water? Measure your intake by carrying around a water bottle that has an ounce or liter fill specified on it. For example, if your water bottle says that it takes 18oz, you know you need to refill it (and drink all of it) about 4 times throughout the day. Down a bottle after working out or at breakfast. Down another at lunch. Down a third in the afternoon. And down another at dinner.

Featured, Skin

Wash Your Face Before Going To BedFeatured

…unless you want dirt and bacteria to build up at night.

You brush your teeth at the end of the day because they’ve been exposed to food and bacteria. Now ask yourself: what has your skin been exposed to?
Most of your skin spent the day protected from the elements (and general grossness) under clothing. But your face and hands have been taking in all the dirt and pollution. If you wear makeup, your face has been mixing it up with sweat plus all that dirt and pollution. In other words, your face isn’t just your most visible skin — it also, along with your hands, is the skin that gets the most abuse throughout the day.
Here’s the thing, too: chances are, you’ve washed your hands throughout the day…at least (we hope) after using the bathroom and before eating. But your face hasn’t gotten the same periodic cleansing.
Don’t allow the bacteria, pollution, makeup, and dirt to stay on your face for another 8 hours. In addition to rolling around in the filth of the day, those contaminants can irritate sensitive skin or cause acne.
You don’t go to sleep without brushing your teeth or washing your hands…you really shouldn’t to to sleep without cleansing your face. Your pores, partner, and sheets will love you for it.
 

Featured, Skin

Your Vitamins Or Meds Could Be Causing Your Skin Problems

Your Medication Is Important, But Could Be Affecting Your Skin

A surprising variety of medications can cause acne, hyperpigmentation, and even skin sensitivity.
Some vitamins and drugs known to be…
…Acnegenic:

  • T3 and T4 hormone supplements
  • Vitamin B12 (alone or in multivitamins)
  • Certain hair growth supplements
  • Some neurologic medications and anti-depressants

…Photosensitizers (can make skin sensitive to light and cause hyperpigmentation):

  • Certain sedatives
  • Some antihistamines
  • Ibuprofen
  • Some cholesterol management medication

…Sensitizers:

  • Chemotherapy drugs can make skin very sensitive and photo-sensitive, or can dry out the skin.
  • Patients undergoing chemotherapy can also become immune-compromised and be more prone to infections.

Do not stop taking your vitamins or medications without your doctor’s ok, but if you’ve got acne, hyperpigmentation or other stubborn skin conditions, talk to your physician about whether your medication might be contributing to the problems.

Featured, Healthy Living, Skin

Your Skin Wants You To EAT Your AntioxidantsFeatured

“Dinner in the sunshine. Natural fiber place mats, retro tin camping plates, spinach soup, lotsa veggies, grilled fish. #healthyeats #eatarainbow” via @LauraAtVMV

It’s not just what you stop eating — great skin comes from what you DO eat.

The junk is gone, yay for you! Now what?
First, let’s over-emphasize how thankful your skin is (and body and brain are!) for dumping the junk. Junk food is pro-inflammatory and so many health and skin problems are linked to inflammation, including acne, psoriasis, eczema, rosacea, and aging. Considering how addictive bad food can be, cutting it out of your diet is an achievement worth the extra pom-poms.
Leveling up means not only not eating bad food but choosing powerfully healthy foods for even more dramatic benefits — you’ll feel better, sleep better, have more energy and your skin will look its best, ever.
A great “skinvestment” is to talk to a nutritionist who can help you plan a menu that works with your lifestyle — work, kids, travel, whatever. If you can’t or prefer not to, you can go by some basic rules of thumb to make your diet work more powerfully for your skin (and body and brain!):
• Eat your antioxidants and anti-inflammatories: there are several studies now showing that many antioxidants and vitamins do not survive even minimal processing, and do not make it into pills, capsules or other nutritional supplements (and many are too delicate even for skincare). You get the actual goodness by eating the actual foods — nothing beats fresh vegetables and fruits.
• Multitasking works with power foods: sweet potatoes, for example, are great vegetables and packed with antioxidants…that also make for yummy desserts and potato substitutes!
• Having trouble getting the kids to eat raw veggies? Try sweeter options like sweet potatoes. Or, blend veggies into a soup with some chicken stock and coconut cream. Or, get even “naughtier” by blending spinach with cheese into a delicious dip.
• Up your intake of omega 3 oils — find them in small fish like sardines and herring…which also have great protein.
• Moderate intake of wine and pure coffee (sweeten with a bit of coconut sugar) may have antioxidant benefits.
• If you eat meat, look for smaller fish and free-range, organic meats with less or no antibiotics, no growth hormones, and raised in healthier, hygienic, humane conditions.
• Healthy proteins can also be found in Greek yogurt, goat’s milk, coconut milk and cream, amaranth or quinoa and other complex grains (which are great for fiber, too).
Your skin is an excellent reflection of how your insides are doing. So much so that your skin can sometimes reveal internal health problems before a blood test or MRI can. Similarly, if you’re healthy on the inside, it shows — really beautifully — on your skin! On absolutely every level, it pays to eat well.