Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Be Nice to More Than Just Bunnies

I just love seeing all the cruelty-free personal care products out there. It really warms my heart knowing so many new companies are going for the PETA "Be Nice to Bunnies" or their BNB label. Safety testing on animals is not only cruel but also needless. Allowing for animal ingredients in products is barbaric, disgusting, and useless. Collagen from a different species of animal will not produce more collagen in a woman's aging face. The alternatives to animal testing are quicker, smarter, cheaper, and more efficient saving taxpayers enormous amounts of money as well as animals lives. In vitro, genomic, human population volunteers, donated human cadavers and computer modeling can all substitute for defenseless creatures not even within the same species as the testing results are created.
Let's talk about the body's largest organ. Our skin is one of two methods for ingestion. Covered with trillions of pores it allows for gas exchange and absorption. Whatever you place on your skin will enter your body. Detergents used to wash your clothing, deodorant, skin creams, medications, etc. If we care about what we eat, we should care about what we put on our skin because that too ultimately will be ingested. In all actuality, we should not only be able to pronounce but eat our skin care products.
While purchasing new products, do you include concern for yourself as well as the animals? You should. Most personal care products that we use everyday and have for years are actually very harmful to your body. I do not intend to overwhelm you with hard-to-pronounce laboratory derivatives. Instead, I will list the most dangerous and most common ingredients that you should stay away from. This goes for everyone in your family, men and women and children.
Emulsifiers - disguised as the following: emulsifying wax, polysorbate, stearate, steareth, cetearyl and ceteareth. They are added to your product to bind the oil and water based ingredients so you don't have to constantly shake your product prior to use. The problem with emulsifiers: these are left behind once the oil is absorbed into the skin and the water has evaporated. Emulsifiers can destroy the protective outer layer of your epidermis.
Parabens - are preservatives aimed to prolong the shelf life of your product. Such as methylparaben, ethylparaben, butylparaben. Parabens are considered endocrine disruptors and cause your hormones to become unbalanced. They have also been linked to breast cancer.
1,4 dioxane - the byproduct of emulsifiers. Labeled with the EPA as a known carcinogen you won't find it on the back of your product as is. Look for:
• Polyethylene 
• Polyethylene glycol, also PEG 
• Polyoxyethylene 
• Any word ending with "oxynol" 
• Any word ending with "eth" like ceteareth

Petrochemicals - derived from crude oil such as petroleum, paraffin, and mineral oil. Forms a barrier on the skin and does not allow it to breath.
Ureas - preservatives that have the potential to release a small amount of formaldehyde & one of the primary causes of contact dermatitis.
Phthalates - synthetic chemicals used to stabilize fragrance and make plastic more pliable. Endocrine disruptors that may mimic hormones. Avoid the word "fragrance" on the label unless it states it's from essential oils.
Sulfates - such as sodium lauryl and sodium laureth are harsh detergents produced from petroleum used to give products their lather.
Synthetic Color - usually made from coal tar. They are heavy metal salts, which deposit toxins in the bloodstream. A known carcinogen they are labeled as FD&C or D&C followed by a color and number.
Had enough yet? There are more offenders, I just don't want to overwhelm. The average consumer will not remember each of these ingredients. What is the easiest way to make sure you're getting the most natural skin care product out there? Read the labels and make sure you can pronounce and understand what each ingredient is. And better yet ask yourself, "Can I eat this product?" I know that sounds pretty crazy. Remember what you put on your skin is ingested and enters your cells and bloodstream. If these toxins are entering your bloodstream then they will travel to every organ in your body. What you put on your skin is just as important as what you put in your body because essentially it's the same thing just two different routes.
Very popular, affordable, and common skin care products contain at least one if not all of the above ingredients. If you are ready to clean up your act and detox you must stop using them and pay just a few more dollars on the natural, good-for-you products. Below are natural products that received the Kristen Award:
Best deodorant: I'm a shweata so it's hard for me to find a natural deodorant that stops my sweating and keeps me smelling fresh. It's a tie between Crystal roll-on and Alba.
Best face wash: Avalon's products are well known for excellent skin care. I give an A+ to their Coenzyme Q10 face wash, the gel not the milk. Something about cleaning milks that weird me out and just don't feel like they're doing the job.
Best body wash: Has to go to Jason especially their Rosewater body wash. Sudsy without the sulfates.
Best shave cream: Kiss My Face has everything: the lather, the scents without the razor burn.
Best shampoo/conditioner: I really like Aveda's hair products. They work well and smell divine. I usually buy online because they offer great deals and free shipping.
Best skin cream - It's a tie between Avalon (I like their Vitamin C creams) and Alba. Alba too has a fantastic face "scrub" that uses fruit enzymes instead of the harsher ingredients like walnuts and apricot seeds. These tear your skin at the microscopic level and can lead to irritation and redness.
Best makeup - think mineral in this department. Bare Escentuals is a very reputable award-winning company and Honey Bee Naturals is new to the scene with affordable and chic makeup.
These are my favs however there are a lot more companies with natural skin care products out there. And the best part is that more keep popping up each month. They're easy to find just do some research. It's a fine time we live in where au naturel is trendy, beautiful, and sexy. Remember you are what you ingest and don't eliminate. This holds true not only for eating but also for what you put on your skin. Please don't neglect your own health when it comes to buying anti-cruel products. It's moral and just however, the most important animal to be nice to is you.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Understanding Skin Layers

In thisarticle, we discuss some of the functions of the skin's layers. Once you understand how the different layers of the skin work, you can determine how to treat the skin conditions related to each layer, particularly those related to wrinkles and aging.
Stratum Corneum
The stratum corneum is the outermost layer of skin, the last of the epidermal layers. This layer of skin is made up of dead, smooth skin cells that shed approximately every couple of weeks and are then renewed. The main function of the stratum corneum is to work as the skin's outer barrier, keeping water out and shaping the appearance of the skin by adding strength and elasticity. This layer is strong, able to absorb and release energy, and elastic, so it can hold its shape and resist any forced change.
The stratum corneum is made up of a keratin protein filament network and lipids, forming five connected layers that interact with one another. When this functional network is disrupted, as happens when we age, we see an increase in dry skin, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, or other skin conditions.
The epidermis is the most superficial of the skin's layers. It is composed of the five layers, including the stratum corneum. The bottom, or basal layer, produces the keratin by which dead skin cells are replaced on the upper layers. It takes two weeks for the new cells to move to the top layer of skin. Melanin is found in the basal epidermal layer.
The second layer is the stratum spinosum or the prickly layer. It is held together by prickly cells and is where protein (keratin) is synthesized. The next layer is the granular layer where melanocytes, precursors to keratin, are found. The stratum lucidum is the fourth layer, which is very thin. It is found almost exclusively in the palms of the hand and soles of the feet.
The dermis is the skin that lies below the epidermal layers. It is comprised of two layers: the papillary and the reticular layers. The papillary layer is composed of connective tissue, collagen, and elastin. The reticular layer contains thick connective tissue and collagen fibers. Collagen fibers are very strong and give the skin its durability and toughness. Elastin fibers keep the skin flexible and pliable. The dermis also contains hair follicles, sweat and sebaceous glands, blood vessels and fibroblasts. Fibroblasts are an integral part of the skin's structure. They produce collagen and deposit it where it is needed for growth and additional strength in the dermis. Loss of dermis can cause the epidermis to atrophy, leaving the skin thinner and more wrinkled.
Subcutaneous Tissue
Hypodermis The subcutaneous layer is located just below the dermis. It is a layer of fat also known as subcutaneous tissue or the hypodermis. It is made up of loose connective and adipose tissue. The hypodermis aids in metabolism and insulates the skin. Inflammation in the hypodermis can cause skin dimpling or cellulitis.