Medium 9781591202295

Return to Beautiful Skin

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This book tells readers all about sun care, how to minimize wrinkles, clear up acne at any age, and keep skin radiant.

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1. Your Shell

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The skin is not just the body’s wrapper. While it’s true that the skin is the outermost layer between you and your environment, it is much more than just a simple cover for your bones and organs. The skin is the largest organ of the body. You may not think of the skin as an organ, but it is, and it plays an essential role in overall health.

    Not only does our outer shell encase us, it serves many significant functions including:

Protecting us from injury and parasite invasion

Providing us with our sense of touch

Regulating our body temperature and preventing dehydration

Aiding in detoxification and elimination

Assisting with vitamin D synthesis when it’s exposed to sunlight

Helping our immune system fight infection

   Yes, the importance of our skin goes way beyond wrinkles and age spots. Our skin comprises an intricate array of cells and systems that work together to keep us vibrant and healthy while contributing to our overall wellness.

Our skin weighs approximately eleven pounds (5kg) and measures about twenty-one square feet (2m2) as it wraps its way around our bodies. The skin’s blood vessels, nerves, and various glands make this one of the most complex organs in the human body. The skin of the average adult contains around two hundred sweat glands and thirty sebaceous (oil) glands. The thickness of the skin varies, depending on its location in the body. The skin on the face—particularly under the eyes, eyelids, and on the lips—is the thinnest of all, and therefore the most vulnerable.

 

2. The Problem

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In a fairly short period, we’ve managed to saturate our world with toxic chemicals. According to a report by Laura Orlando in Dollars & Sense magazine, before World War I, half of the United States’ industrialized products were made from renewable plant-, wood-, and animal-based materials. By 2002, a whopping 92 percent of the materials used to make our products were synthetic and not renewable. Not only are many of these human-made materials dangerous to our health, the process used to produce them creates additional toxins.

“Few people understood the dangers to life that these new chemicals presented,” explains Orlando. “Sickness and death among chemical manufacturing workers was sometimes the first indication that the material they worked with was toxic.” Orlando also reports, “Among the most lethal of these products were synthetic pesticides.”

Worldwide, pesticide production continues to be big business. The United States accounts for more than 20 percent of pesticide production and more than 25 percent of herbicide production. In the United States alone, more than 1.2 billion pounds (500 million kg) of pesticides are used each year. And that figure doesn’t include wood preservatives and other toxic chemicals. It also doesn’t include other harmful substances like lead, solvents, xenoestrogens/estrogen mimmickers (foreign estrogens), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and the many chemical by-products that are so liberally introduced into our environment, our water, and our food supply on a daily basis. Estrogen mimickers are especially harmful because they can cause cancer. They disrupt normal estrogen metabolism by occupying reserved estrogen receptor cites on our cells. This can lead to an excess pooling of estrogen in the body. There is a direct link between excess estrogen and certain cancers including breast, ovarian, and prostate.

 

3. The Meaning of Natural

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For more than two decades I have been involved in the natural health industry. Even before I started working in the industry, I was committed to maintaining a natural and holistic lifestyle. Thanks to my mom, when I was just twelve years old, I started eating a healthy diet. Because of her influence, I was a granola-eating, organic-food shopping, supplement-taking hippie at a very young age. I do spring cleanses, I drink wheat grass, and I buy organic whenever it’s available. Over the years, I have supported the natural foods industry while trying to get even more people to embrace natural approaches. So eating natural foods and adopting disease prevention strategies are huge parts of my life.

Yet, I have been asking myself recently, what does it really mean to be natural? The word has become a cliché—almost devoid of meaning. It’s sad when I think of the power and influence the word used to have. To me, natural is synonymous with nontoxic. Today, however, it’s vastly overused and has been hijacked by manufacturers who don’t even know what it means to live a natural life. Remember one of the product labels in the last chapter? That well-known brand manufacturer decided to jump on the “natural” bandwagon by adding minuscule amounts of jojoba oil and vitamin E to its moisturizer. And yet, the product still contains numerous ingredients that are toxic. Product ingredients are listed in the order of greatest to least amounts used in manufacturing the product, with the most prominent ingredients at the beginning of the list. The jojoba oil and vitamin E are listed far below the chemicals. The reality is, upon close inspection, that product isn’t natural at all. Don’t feel bad: I myself was a victim of these so-called “natural” products, thinking I was using safe, effective skin care preparations. No more!

 

4. The Solution

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In the first chapter I gave you an overview of the skin. In this chapter, I’d like to delve a little more deeply into the science of the skin it relates to bioactive skin care ingredients. Understanding the skin i scientific perspective helps us understand how we can achieve both safe and effective results from cutting-edge technology and nontoxic ingredients.

There is a widespread misconception that if a product is natural, it is not effective—that it’s not strong enough to do the job. Conversely, some people feel that if a product is effective, it can’t be natural—that it’s more of a drug than a natural product. Research demonstrates that not only are many natural and nontoxic ingredients safe, they can also be very effective. In most cases, these ingredients are even more effective than toxic chemicals. Typically, chemical ingredients are chosen merely because they are cheaper than the natural, nontoxic alternatives. The fact is, we don’t need drugs to keep our skin looking and feeling healthy. Nature, when combined with the best science has to offer, can provide us with everything we need.

 

5. Determine Your Skin Type

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Our world is filled with all kinds of people—unique individuals each with their own personalities and attributes. We are all physically, emotionally, and biochemically different. It is our individuality that makes life interesting, and at times, complex. The same is true with skin care.

You’ve probably heard someone say, “Oh, I know the type.” They are most likely referring to a personality type. The problem with skin care is that we often don’t know the “type.” To be more specific, we don’t truly understand our own skin type. The type of skin we have can add a level of complexity to our skin care routine. This is especially true with the skin on our face. As experts have learned more about the skin, they have also discovered that understanding skin type is critical.

Individualizing your skin care routine for optimal effectiveness begins with determining your skin type. “Some women are quite aware of their skin type; for other women, it’s a complete mystery, an elusive conundrum of changes that never settles down in one specific direction,” according to Paula Begoun, author of The Beauty Bible. “Skin type strongly influences our decisions about our skin care routines.”

 

6. Effective Acne Treatment

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Most people are surprised when I tell them that more than 60 million people are affected by acne. After talking with many people about their skin over the years, I am not surprised at all; however, there was a time that I would have been shocked.

As a teenager and young adult, I suffered with acne. Every morning my acne stared back at me as I looked in the mirror. It was not only physically disfiguring, but also emotionally depressing. I would never have believed there were 60 million other people just like me. When you have moderate to severe acne, you feel as if you are the only one in the world with pimples. I felt alone and isolated, branded with bad skin that everyone noticed. It was the first thing I saw in the morning and the last thought I had at night. I felt helpless and ugly, and always shied away from the camera.

But I am persistent. I was determined to heal my acne and I did not stop until my skin was clear. Since that time, I have perfected my acne treatment plan and I have seen it work on thousands of people over the years. I hope it can help you, too.

 

7. Sun Care

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The sun fascinates me. Sunshine is vital to life and yet its power can do so much damage. Although most of us like to spend time outdoors, the sun is your skin’s worst enemy. Sun exposure is the primary cause of premature aging, brown spots, wrinkles, and skin cancer.

If you are a trivia buff, here are some interesting facts about the sun you can share at your next dinner party.

The sun is located 93 million miles from the earth.

If you could drive to the sun from the earth at sixty miles per hour (97 kmph), it would take you 176 years to get there.

It takes more than eight minutes for sunlight to actually reach the earth once it leaves the sun.

The sun is so far away and yet some days it appears as if it’s right on top of us. With such an expanse between the earth and the sun, how can it do so much damage? The power of the sun should never be underestimated. The sun itself is sixteen times hotter than boiling water. But it’s not just the heat: It’s what else the sun emits that can do the most damage—ultraviolet (UV) radiation. There is no question that ultraviolet radiation from the sun is dangerous. The ozone layer near the Earth’s surface can deflect ultraviolet radiation; however, it cannot absorb all the radiation emitted by the sun. In addition, pollution (greenhouse gases) continues to deplete the ozone layer, exposing us to more ultraviolet radiation than ever before.

 

8. Age-Defying Skin Care

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I have always been surprised by the popularity of the term anti-aging. It seems like an odd thing to promote. Aging means to change with time. Sure, we would all like to slow down the aging process or age gracefully with as much vitality as possible, but I’m not sure it is appropriate to say that we are “anti” aging. I prefer the term healthy aging.

If you search the term anti-aging on the Internet you will get millions of hits. As it turns out, to be “against” aging is big business. There are antiaging academies, networks, guides, creams, supplements, procedures, books, and countless other ways to supposedly stop the aging process. Baby boomers throughout the world are desperate to live longer and look younger. Most of us want even more than that—we want to feel younger.

We have all seen people who have had undergone Botox treatment or plastic surgery: They have smoother skin but they don’t necessarily look younger (for more information on Botox, see page 118). That’s because they have merely ironed out their surface wrinkles; they haven’t done anything to address the underlying issues of aging skin. The solution is not a quick fix; it’s a comprehensive approach that supports and heals the infrastructure of the skin. Before we examine the solution, let’s take a closer look at the problem.

 

9. From the Inside Out

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Nontoxic, effective skin care products are critical to achieving and maintaining healthy, vibrant skin. But while the skin may be a surface” organ, which often responds to topical treatments, achieving and maintaining healthy skin requires us to consider the inside as well as the outside. It is irresponsible to simply promote products as skin-saving miracles and wrinkle cures without endorsing a healthy lifestyle that complements those products. If you want radiant, healthy-looking skin, you must address your skin care from the inside out. It’s a package deal.

The skin is like a mirror for our internal organs and body systems, reflecting the status of our overall health. The opposite is also true: Our overall health can directly influence the health of our skin.

Extensive research has clearly demonstrated that a healthful diet, regular exercise, and other positive lifestyle factors can prevent a variety of diseases. What many people don’t realize, however, is that the same principles will not only help fend off illness, they will also help you achieve the youthful skin you desire. Dealing with diet is a perfect place to start.

 

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