Monday, September 30, 2013

September Reader Questions

I'm trying my best to answer all of your e-mails but it can be challenging to answer product specific questions for things that I have not used before, and I try to frame my answers as objective and well researched as possible. From your questions it definitely seems that citrus oils and sun protection is a big question in the green beauty market. Please note, these are simply my views.

"My sunscreen contains citrus oils, is this okay?"
From: A lot of you!

The answer is that this depends on the product. What is the the sun protection factor, is it a physical or chemical sunscreen, what is the concentration of citrus oils in the formula? A lot of companies use citrus oils because it provides natural fragrance, otherwise many people might be turned off by the natural scent of the cream. Obviously, I would like to use a product that didn't contain citrus oils in my sun protection, but I don't think it will be make a sunscreen bad (especially if it contains a high degree of physical blockers which will guard the photosensitizing ingredients from UV rays).

"I read that ascorbic acid is a cheap form of Vitamin C that isn't complete, is this true? It is in many of the vitamins I take and skincare products that I use."
From: Lara, Mark, and Meghan

I received variations of this question and I just want to get this out there: Ascorbic Acid IS Vitamin C, there is nothing wrong with it and not all forms of ascorbic acid are cheap. This type of erroneous information is why there is perhaps no green beauty company I'm more frustrated with than La Bella Figura. I know that this was part of their campaign to publicize their "non-synthetic" Vitamin C from Kakadu Plum Extract but I've mentioned before how this is a fallacy (see active vs concentration question). While Kakadu Plum Extract does contain a high concentration of Vitamin C, it would be like saying rubbing a lemon on your face is going to be better than using a Vitamin C serum because "it's a non-synthetic, whole source". It's just wrong.

Here are a few of the reasons:
1. Not all of the extract is absorbed into skin and the amount that is contains non-Vitamin C as this is a food product. In fact fiber rich fruits such as this contain mostly cellulose and fiber which is present in nutritional content even in extracts, so a good chunk of the extract is most likely not even active. Versus pure-active Vitamin C ascorbic acid which is shown to deeply penetrate skin.

2. You can't control the concentration of vitamin c in food extracts, and you need a certain percentage concentration to make it effective in topical products.

I really really urge you to think about the qualifications these ladies behind the brand have for developing these products because their haphazard marketing and research has caused so much confusion in the space. So please, the next time before you start calling out perfectly reasonable ingredients, ask yourself where your beliefs came from and how reliable the source is. 

"I read about the concern people had for May Lindstrom's The Youth Dew for its citrus oils. May says that the amount isn't significant to cause damage and she has never received a complaint about it. Can you provide some guidance?"
From: Mary, Elise, and Susan

I have tried The Youth Dew and it is a wonderful face oil. Not too heavy, moisturizing, and smells great! In fact when I use it at night, my skin feels very balanced in the morning, can't complain! I probably wouldn't use it during the day time just because there are so many great oils you can use that contain zero photosensitizing ingredients compared to her small but still existent amount. May probably has never received a complaint about this before because it isn't an immediately perceivable issue, like a blemish or skin rash. Dark spots and sun spots can take months and years to form, so by the time you get those spots, you've probably already moved onto another product or you don't even realize what caused it, erroneously attributing it to natural effects. Many many of the patients my parents see come from using products that contain citrus oils across the line such as Ren and they wonder why their skin is so much more prone to developing sun spots - this is why.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Review of Vered Herb Infused Toner

My first full product review! When it comes to toners, we're fortunate to have many types to choose from but it also means the definition of a toner is different for everyone. The purpose of a toner is to tone the skin, ideally to prime it for the serums and moisturizers that follow. For some, toners are make-up removers, for others they're the alcohol-heavy astringents that remove layers of oil, and more recently, they've become facial mists. But this isn't a post that will attempt to define what a toner is, instead I'm going to review Vered's Herb-Infused Toner which reminds me of a throwback to the classic toners that you apply with a cotton ball and have a significant alcohol content.

This product is described as "a non-drying face toner that thoroughly cleansers, balances, and nourishes all skin types." Reading this, I believe Vered may have intended this to sort of be an all in one: cleanser, toner, moisturizer. With that said, I don't believe this will be suitable for all skin types, and those with drier skin may likely find themselves reaching for a moisturizer. For my skin, which is relatively normal yet prone to oiliness (men tend to have largers pores, thicker skin, and produce more oil than women due to testosterone), this worked well when used once a day. During my trip with limited supply to water, I saw wonderful benefits to using this twice a day in the morning and before dinner due to the heat/sweating as there was always enough oil/grime/dirt to remove. However at home, I felt that using it more than once resulted in my skin feeling dry and slightly stripped of healthy oils.

Part of the reason for this is because this product relies on a mixed base consisting of alcohol, water, and glycerin. To give her credit, the alcohol is sourced from organic grain alcohol which is a clean form of alcohol but it is an alcohol all the same. I like alcohol for its anti-bacterial nature but it is not the best ingredient for sensitive skin as it can easily disrupt the moisture and lipid barrier. I much preferred the other ingredients Vered chose to use such as the calming calendula, healing echinacea, astringent orange and lemon peel, and soothing comfrey.

For those who might have oily less sensitive skin, I think this would be wonderful. In fact, you'll enjoy the grape juice scent mixed with the very attractive burgundy color of the product. When applied on a cotton round, you can easily see the oil and grime coming off without applying much pressure that may get your face red. I prefer to use this as a pre cleanse after the gym to remove everything while I'm getting ready for a shower, then I use a gentle cleanser to remove whats left of the toner and impurities.

This is a purists toner, a throwback to those days when toners meant alcohol, cotton pads, astringents but that doesn't mean it is a bad thing especially when wrapped in a attractive package that includes organic ingredients that are ethically sourced, high quality essential oils, and a beautiful scent that is sure to put a smile on anyones face. So for anyone transitioning from their La Mer and Clarins make-up removing, astringent toners, look no further: Vered Herb Infused Toner

Thursday, September 5, 2013

My Skincare - Aug/Sept

L to R: Osmosis Shelter SPF 30, Vered Herb Infused Toner, YÜLI Cocoon, YÜLI M.E. Skin Fuel, Dr.Alkaitis Organic Soothing Gel, Dr.Alkaitis Organic Nourishing Treatment Oil

I haven't really been updating my blog because I was accepted into a volunteer program for medical students so I have been working at what the team calls a "pre-doctors without borders" environment. It is extremely tough work but not to sound cliche, the feeling of accomplishment in providing medical aid to those without healthcare is even more amazing.

There is a 3 room clinic so most of us work outside in the make-shift tents all day and we have limited source of clean running water that we have to ration. I thought this would be a good post to show how my green skincare regimen provides the versatility and performance that shows how amazing these green products are when put to the test.


This is a terrible shot but I was trying to shoot this with my phone in one hand and The Clean Dirt in the other, not easy! The Clean Dirt is great because you just need to splash your face a little bit and ration a little trickle of water to mix the dirt into a paste. It helps to exfoliate skin and break through the dirt. I use this probably three times a week so prevent my skin from looking dull or rough. I didn't bring the full bottle because I tried to travel lightly so I poured these into smaller containers.

Quick Clean: I was sent a full size of Vered's Botanical Herb-Infused Toner which I will review shortly. I find that when water is scarce or I just need a quick clean (often after working an entire day then going directly to a dinner), I dab this liberally over a cotton pad and it takes all the excess oils and dirt off my face. 

Sunscreen: My mom carries Osmosis in her office and it is a solid line, though not one for green beauties (for instance, while they don't use parabens, they use a lot of honeysuckle which contains a natural form of parabens that impacts the body in the same harmful way). I like their Shelter SPF30 sunscreen because it's a great physical block that also moisturizes skin. It's one of the only sunscreens that doesn't sting my eyes if I get some in through sweating. 

Face Mist: I knew that I would be in a hot and dry climate so I needed something cooling, refreshing, but that could also relieve my skin of sunburn, heat, and environmental irritation so YULI's Cocoon Elixir was the perfect choice. True to it's word, redness and inflammation is calmed down quickly, and let's just say if I ever find this bottle gone, it's usually with one of my fair skinned cohorts who have taken a liking to this. Oh and it feels and smells so good.

Night time: At night I like to use the Dr.Alkaitis Soothing Gel to help keep breakouts from forming and also provide a little moisturization. I also think it's important to have an anti-bacterial product just because things aren't as clean here. If my skin is ever feeling a little warm or exhausted, using this with Cocoon is a sure bet to calm everything down.


Body - I like to use Dr.Alkaitis Nourishing Treatment Oil as it is a thicker oil that can feed my depleted, sun-drenched skin. The oil helps dry/damaged skin which is perfect for extremeties that can often be neglected in the heat.
Face - I really enjoy YULI's ME Skin Fuel, which besides the superb ingredients which I mentioned here, is very light and balancing. It's perfect for providing skin with nutrients and moisture without weighing it down. I try to put a few more drops around parts that have high sun exposure as this has natural UV protectors. There are a lot of blemish calming ingredients in here and even angry red flare-ups seem pacified after applying this. At the end of a long day, my skin absolutely drinks this stuff up and I wake up with really happy skin. 

So this is my routine, relatively low dependence on water and very versatile. Most of all, the performance is amazing. I'm able to finish my routine in 1-2 minutes while everyone else is waiting in line for water. I've also noticed that I'm the only one who hasn't suffered sun burns, acne, or skin flaking this entire trip, so I give a lot of credit to these products.