Jan 25, 2013

A Great Stretching Routine to Reduce Stress

Ever notice how good you feel for a second or two after a good stretch in the morning? There’s good reason combining mindful stretches with deep breathing can actually help to reduce stress levels.

Stretching has other benefits, too, including better circulation, less joint pain and improved flexibility.

You can stretch anywhere you like. Some people enjoy stretching in the great outdoors, at the beach or a local park, some prefer the privacy of home, while watching TV or accompanied by soothing music.

Whatever your preference, stretching for 15 to 20 minutes, three times a week, is an ideal elixir for the stresses we suffer every day in this hectic modern world.

Here’s a simple stretching routine to get you started. First, some tips:

  • Always ease into a stretch. Use slow, controlled movements, and never bounce or push your body into position.

  • Hold each stretch for 30 seconds. It takes time to safely lengthen muscle tissue.

  • Remember to breathe! Concentrate on feeding oxygen to your muscles.

  • Don’t overdo it. You should feel tension while you’re stretching, but not pain.

Now the routine:

  1. Standing about 15 inches from a wall, place the backs of your forearms against the wall, bend one knee toward the wall and move the other foot back about a foot, then slowly lean forward. You should feel the muscles of your straight leg gently stretch. Hold for 10 seconds, then switch legs. Repeat 2 times for each leg.

  1. Using a sturdy chair or a wall for balance and support, bend your left knee slightly, then lift your right foot up toward your buttocks. Reach back with your right hand and grasp your right foot. Pull gently. Hold for 5 seconds, release, and switch to the left side. Repeat 2 times for each leg.

  1. Lie flat on a mat or padded surface. Keeping your legs together, slowly raise your knees and bring them close to your chest. Reach both arms behind your legs and grip tight. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 2 more times.

  1. Kneel down on a mat or padded surface. Keep your buttocks close over your heels. Start with your hands on your knees and slowly “walk” your hands forward until your arms are fully extended. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 3 more times.

Jan 22, 2013

Why You Should Never Use Hydroquinone

What price would you pay for beauty? Would you put chemicals on your skin that are used to develop X-ray films or used as additives for industrial monomers?

We hope not. Yet, thousands of women with darker complexions do exactly that — many without even realizing it — when they use products containing a chemical called hydroquinone in an attempt to lighten and brighten their skin.

The results aren’t always beautiful. In fact, according to the Food and Drug Administration, and multiple studies, hydroquinone sometimes produces very ugly side effects.

The FDA claims that the chemical has been associated with yellow growths on the skin, discolored spots and a condition known as ochronosis.

Even worse, The Environmental Working Group has classified hydroquinone as a carcinogen, an immunotoxicant as well as a developmental and reproductive toxicant.  

In addition to its possible carcinogenic effects, the chemical bleaches the skin, stripping away naturally protective melanin and making its user more susceptible to skin cancer. In studies, hydroquinone has been shown to contribute to tumor growth in mice.

The health dangers associated with hydroquinone prompted to issue warnings about the use of products containing the chemical and calling it one of the most harmful substances that can be put on the skin.

Hydroquinone has already been banned in Japan, Europe and Australia, yet remains legal — and widely used in skin products in the U.S., especially those marketed to women with brown skin. The FDA did propose a ban on hydroquinone in 2006, but industry lobbying groups successfully blocked the effort.

Today, there are still dozens of products available that contain this harmful chemical. We want you to be aware that it’s out there, and to know the dangers so that you can protect yourself and the people you love.

Always check product labels and ask about the ingredients in any salon treatment before allowing it to be used on your skin. And tell your friends, too … because Hydroquinone just isn’t worth the price.

Jan 17, 2013

Serums, Lotions & Creams — What’s Best for Your Skin?

There’s a lot of confusion about the differences between facial serums, lotions and creams. Is one better for your skin than the others? Do you need all three?

First of all, no — one is not better than the others. They just serve different purposes. Deciding whether you should use all three depends on your skin’s needs.

Here’s a quick guide to help you understand the three primary differences between serums, lotions and creams:

1. Consistency/texture: Serums are water-based/liquids. They are lightweight and absorb quickly and easily into skin. Lotions are a bit denser and creams as the name suggests, are thick in consistency. Some creams are oil based and feel heavy or gooey on the skin.

The difference in consistency is not just superficial — it actually affects the delivery of functional ingredients. Since serums are thinner, they penetrate deep into the skin and are very effective in delivering actives. For this reason, serums are usually highly concentrated and extremely potent.

2. How and when you apply them: This is pretty simple — always go from thinnest to thickest. In other words, serum first, then lotions, and finally creams. Apply in layers. Wait until each product absorbs (dries) so that you don’t wipe away the functional ingredients, then apply the next product.

3. What they do: Serums usually have specific functions; for example, reducing the appearance of skin redness, discoloration or sagging skin. They help to repair skin damage, especially pigmentation issues and wrinkles due to aging and sun exposure.

Lotions are often focused on prevention, such as exfoliating acne lotions.

Creams work excellently to moisturize skin and lock in functional ingredients — both in the cream itself as well as the actives from serums and lotions you’ve applied earlier in your skincare regimen.