Do I Need an Eye Cream?

The cost of anti-aging skin care products can really add up; are all the creams, serums, and other add-ons really necessary? Do I need an eye cream, adding another $20 to $100 dollars to my quarterly skin care bill, to have beautiful eyes? Isn't a good nourishing, hydrating cream enough for my entire face?

Skin care companies will of course go into great detail about the benefits of using an eye cream or serum. Depending on which product you use, they are said to reduce puffiness, dark circles, and of course, fine lines and wrinkles. When I searched the web (our modern day library of information for better or worse), I found a resounding no when it comes to the eye cream question from about a dozen dermatologists.

What no one disagrees about is that the under eye area is delicate, so no harsh ingredients close to your eyes! I, now that I've reached my 30s, of course think about that anti-aging skin care strategy a lot. Not one wants wrinkles, fine lines, and tired-looking eyes. So, yes, I've experimented with eye creams and I do like them, although I'll admit some have seemed worthless. I ran out of my homemade eye serum (will post on recipes this week) and recently purchased the Acure Eye Cream. It contains a lot of antioxidants from pomegranate, acai, and goji berry. Full disclosure, I have no affiliation with Acure. I do at least imagine a difference with the eye cream. I also don't put my rich and creamy moisturizing cream up to my eye countour, so for me using a homemade serum or reasonably priced, antioxidant-rich eye cream has its advantages.

What is the secret to gorgeous eyes? From my experience, the simple formula to all good health — plenty of sleep, yoga in the morning, a walk in the afternoon, a healthy fruit and veggie based diet, and plenty of water and tea. This formula will do more for your eyes than any high-end product.

Have you had any luck with eye creams? If so, please share; we are all looking for those holy grail anti-aging products!

5 of the Best Teas for Skin Health

Having amazing skin takes more than bi-weekly face masks. You need to nourish and purify your skin from the inside out. This is my list of the best teas for skin health. They are chosen not only because they are great for keeping your skin glowing and gorgeous, but they also score in the taste category.

1. Red clover

Red clover is a staple ingredient found in a lot of detoxing herbal tea blends. It is a cleansing, balancing herb, one of the blood purifiers. It also has a sweet, gentle flavor. Try blending with peppermint and adding a little honey. According to Mountain Rose Herbs, it is recommended to stay away from red clover if you are pregnant or on any blood thinning meds.

2. Burdock root

When I took a healing with herbs class years ago, my teacher spoke very highly of burdock root as a natural solution for acne — wish I had known about it when I was a teenager! It takes time to see results, be patient and enjoy sipping on this tea.

3. Dandelion root

Ahh, I love a cup of dandelion root tea with a little honey and coconut milk or cream. It's a great coffee alternative, and excellent for supporting your body's natural detoxing process by supporting the liver. Blend your burdock root and dandelion root for an amazing skin health tea (one teaspoon of each, steep in one cup of boiling water for about 10 minutes).

4. Oatstraw

Oatstraw is one of the best teas for skin health because it is a great nourishing herb — B vitamins, silica, vitamin A, vitamin C — and because it is great for managing stress. If you have adult acne and could use a bit of stress relief to help keep your body and acne under control, then oatstraw is an excellent option. With excellent nutritional content, I also drink it to help keep my skin smooth and young-looking. This is a great before bed tea.

5. Green tea

Packed with antioxidants, don't forget your green tea. It has a reputation for having anti-aging, anti-inflammatory benefits, and it is supposed to have detoxing benefits. Drink up! Find a type of green tea that you love, there are so many. My favorite right now is green tea with toasted rice. Numi makes an excellent nutty, refreshing version. Matcha is also really fun for adding to smoothies.


Sugar Cane and Lavender Face Mask to Balance Oily Skin

Battling runaway sebum production? Aren't we all! Try this super simple raw sugar, lavender and jojoba recipe. Jojoba oil, which is actually a wax ester not an oil, is great in face masks to balance oily skin. Word on the street is that it teaches your skin not to ramp up the oil production. I like to use it when my skin feels on the greasy side; it absorbs so quickly. Perfect for before bed skin treatments.

Lavender is one of nature's skin normalizers. It balances overly oily or overly dry skin. The essential oil also comes with those oh-so-lovely antibacterial properties to help stop the breakouts that are an inevitable side effect of oily skin.

For a cell renewal boost, this natural face mask also uses raw sugar cane, a source of glycolic acid. Glycolic acid is a type of alphy hydroxy acid that is found in a lot of anti-aging and anti-acne skin care products.

To make this balancing face mask, you will need:

  • 1-2 tablespoons jojoba oil
  • 3 drops lavender essential oil
  • 2 teaspoon raw cane sugar
  • boiling water

First, melt your sugar! Add just enough boiling hot water to the sugar to melt the crystals. Mix with the jojoba oil and then add the lavender. Apply to clean skin, gently massaging into your skin for a little circulation stimulation. Leave this sweet mask on for about 15 minutes. Rinse, pat dry, and spritz with witch hazel.

5 Steps for a Home Acne Facial

I love going to the spa, but, je regrette, it is not always in the budget. When you don't have a spa appointment but your skin is congested, do your own home acne facial. It is not that difficult, actually it is kind of a treat. My advice — go into spa mode and have fun with it.

To give my skin a spa-like super cleansing I get out my supplies (lavender essential oil, blackhead remover, jojoba oil and oats, clay powder and rose water, moisturizers), I dim the lights, put on my comforting aromatherapy blend (ylang ylang and cinnamon is presently my favorite) and pop in my soothing soundscape CD (yes I still use discs!, call me old-fashioned).

1. First is the lavender facial steam

While you bring two cups of filtered water to a boil, prep your skin by washing with a gentle cleanser and lukewarm water. Then pour the boiling water into a glass bowl or pan and add five or six drops of lavender essential oil. Hold a towel over your head like a canopy, and let the steam rise up to your face. You have to get close, so shut your eyes!

2. Next is the extraction 

If you are not comfortable with a blackhead remover, then you can skip this step, although removers are really not that hard to use, especially when your pores are open. Sterilize the tool with your boiling water or a swab of alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Press the small loop end over your blackhead, applying even pressure until the blackhead comes out. If it doesn't work, move on to the next blemish, you don't want to damage your skin, besides, there is always the next home acne facial to try again.

3. Homemade facial scrub

Now it is time to exfoliate to get rid of any dead skin cells. I whip up a quick homemade scrub by mixing ground oats and jojoba oil. You can also use cornmeal or coffee grounds, two other common kitchen gritty substances. Gently massage over your skin.

4. The clay mask

For fighting acne, clay masks are amazing. You can use whatever recipe that you like. My standard is the rose water and green clay face mask. Add enough rose water to the clay powder to make a paste, spread a thin layer over your face, and relax until the mask dries. Rinse with warm water.

5. Moisturize

That's it, you are done. Mist on your facial toner if you like and then put on your serums, moisturizing cream, and eye creams.

Inflammation, Aspirin, and Your Skin: Study Reveals Interesting Link

Spilled PillsI have never been one to pop an OTC pain killer for headaches and the other aches and pains of life, but for those of you who keep a bottle of aspirin handy, you may find this news interesting. Science Daily has reported on research performed by the Women's Health Initiative. The researchers found that taking aspirin seems to be linked with a reduced risk of melanoma, aka the serious type of skin cancer.

Strange, but maybe not that surprising. Sun exposure, inflammation, increased free radical production, a loss of skin elasticity; it's all one downward spiral of skin aging. This study, which involved nearly 60,000 Caucasian women, aged 50-79, found a direct correlation between aspirin use and reduced skin cancer risk, with an overall 21 percent risk reduction for those women who took aspirin regularly.

Should you start taking aspirin to protect your skin? I don't know about jumping to that conclusion, but these findings do convince me to reach for the aspirin over other anti-inflammatory pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), which was not associated with a reduced risk. It also bolsters the argument for a high-antioxidant diet to help protect your skin from photoaging and from skin cancer. Give me the green tea, the pomegranates, red cabbage, and dark chocolate. Antioxidants like vitamin C and flavonoids have anti-inflammatory properties and they help to neutralize free radicals.

Eat well, protect your skin from the sun, and don't forget a great face mask once in awhile to help nourish your skin from the outside. As for aspirin, if you already take it, perhaps you are doing your skin a great favor!

Do Honey Face Masks Really Work?

Sweet as honeyWe've all heard about the skin beautifying benefits of honey face masks, whether you've heard about this magical beauty remedy from a friend or from your great aunt. Do they really work? Should you be putting this sticky, gooey stuff on your face?

Well, honey has proven its benefits in clinical trials as a good antibacterial agent and skin healer — definitely a plus for acne prone skin. It is also known to reduce inflammation and have overall soothing properties; making it useful as a base for sensitive and dry skin diy treatments.

My preference for honey face masks is rooted in the fact that I always have a jar in my cupboard anyway, and I'm a practical girl. I love the stuff, especially a good, thick raw honey, the kind that you know is just loaded with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. I put it in my tea and coffee and have been enjoying peanut butter and honey sandwiches since my college roommate introduced me to this sweet spin off on a lunch time classic.

Here are three recipes that you can try out. And yes, from my homemade face mask experience, honey — the raw, minimally processed, nutrient-packed kind (manuka if you want to spend a little more) — does work.

For a honey mask for aging skin, mix together:

  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil
  • 3 drops carrot seed essential oil

For acne:

  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teapsoons jojoba oil
  • 3 drops tea tree essential oil

For all skin types:

  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon plain yogurt
  • 2 inches of a ripe banana, mashed

Sandalwood and Apricot Face Mask for Younger Looking Skin

organic apricots 2One of the best face mask ingredients for younger looking skin is sandalwood essential oil. I use it in this skin care recipe with apricot kernel oil to help those beneficial constituents penetrate my skin. Apricot kernel is a good skin penentrator, and it is of course a great source of moisturizing fatty acids and vitamin E. I also use coconut milk powder (if you haven't noticed yet, I love coconut for my skin, coconut oil, powder, milk, you name it), for the extra nutrients that mature skin needs; proteins and vitamins to help with cell regeneration.

To make this homemade mask you will need:

  • 1 tablespoon apricot kernel oil
  • 3 drops of sandalwood essential oil
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of coconut milk powder  

Sandalwood essential oil is expensive! Fortunately you only need a tiny amount, so purchase the smallest bottle size that you can find. Mountain Rose Herbs — full disclosure I am an affiliate! (and a customer) — does have a reasonably priced option, 1/4 oz for $32, totally organic. Other retailers, and larger sizes range from over $50 to well over $100. Essential oils do degrade, so go small.

windy beachSandalwood is a dream for face masks for younger looking skin — moisturizing, toning, and excellent for relieving fluid retention (puffiness!). Add 2 to 3 drops to a tablespoon of apricot kernel oil. Stir in just enough coconut milk powder to make a moist paste. Spread over your skin after cleansing with warm water and your favorite facial cleanser. Rinse off after about 20 minutes.

This is a wonderful hydrating treatment to use to help balance the effects of the elements, and to simply help soften, tone, and to fight wrinkles. It is my Sunday night mask during the windy, cooler months. Easy to make, easy to use, and effective — love it!

Disclaimer

While I love my skin, I am not actually a dermatologist or a medical professional. The information on this site is not meant to treat or diagnose any health issues.