We all know the importance of choosing skincare, hair care, cosmetics, and almost any other household product in terms of not only trying to “save the Rainforest”…
BUT does that mean that every product that we purchase from this moment forward will basically “suck” in comparison to every product that we have been using right up until that moment when you made the decision to embrace a cruelty free, vegan lifestyle?
As I begin doing my research and adopting a new lifestyle, I find that there are certain “terms and definitions” that I might need to be able to refer back to later. This is one of those posts that will hopefully beaded into one accumulating glossary.
Today’s “terms and definitions” list consists of ingredients to look for when choosing an OTBC product, particularly a OTBC vegan body lotion or cream…
1. Alpha-Hydroxyl Acid…Alpha hydroxyl acids are a group of natural acids that can be found naturally in specific foods, or manufactured synthetically. These acids include glycolic acid, sourced from sugar cane…lactic acid, from sour milk and tomato juice…malic acid, from apples…citric acid, from citrus fruits…and tartaric acid, from grapes. The most commonly used of these acids are glycolic acid and lactic acid because they most easily are absorbed by the skin.
Alpha-hydroxyl acids are quoted as providing amazing results as far as your skin is concerned—including making your skin firmer, stronger, and softer…while at the same time preventing wrinkles, softening wrinkles that already exist, stimulating collagen, treating acne, and improving the look and feel of your skin in general.
As far as aging is concerned, alpha hydroxy acids stimulate the growth of elastin and collagen, both of which become depleted with age, and studies have shown that they may also stimulate the production of skin-supporting collagen and elastin.
Most AHA-containing products sold over the counter usually have AHA concentrations that are below 10 percent, and are gentle as long as you follow the product’s directions.
Look for a product that has the AHA listed as the second or third ingredient. Better yet, check the label to see if the product states the concentration of active ingredients. If not, put that one down and look another similar product.
These products are generally safe when used on the skin, but like almost anything else may cause mild skin irritations, redness and flaking….(pretty much a disclaimer so that we can’t all sue them, right?!)…
2. Ceramides…Ceramides are an oily wax found naturally in the cell membranes of our skin. The waxy or cheese-like coating on the skin of a newborn infant, also known as the vernix caseosa, that serves as a moisture barrier during pregnancy consists primarily of these ceramides.
As we age, our body stops producing as much ceramide, and our skin begins to lose many of the ceramides that had been existing before that point…resulting in our skin becoming thinner, dry, and more susceptible to dry skin and wrinkles.
Skincare products with ceramides help restore moisture, fortify the skin’s natural barrier, and help keep your skin youthful and soft. Most ceramides used in skin care products such as shampoos, shower gels, shaving creams, and body lotions. Even some products labeled “unscented” may contain
3. “Fragrances”…Although the FDA does require an accurate list of ingredients on each product marketed on a retail basis to consumers—whether in stores, on the Internet, or person-to-person…the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act allows manufacturers to protect the ingredients that might be considered “trade secrets.”
However these unknown “trade secrets” could be helping us all trade in our current good health and well-being–not just now, but many years down the road–for cancer, migraines, asthma, gastrointestinal troubles and cardiovascular problems…or even killing us if have particular allergies or sensitivities to certain ingredients.
The term “fragrance” has become a catch-all through which many manufacturers of skincare products can “sneak” an undisclosed ingredient into their container while nobody’s looking.
Even though our nation in general is in the process of becoming smarter, more environmental-friendly, and health conscientious, it will be a long time before companies will ever simply stop slapping the word “fragrance” on their containers
Always take the time to check the ingredient list carefully. Stop buying products that follow the trade norm of using the “F-word” on their ingredient list to conceal over a dozen secret undisclosed ingredients in the container.
4. Humectants…Humectants help hydrate the surface of your skin by pulling water from the deeper levels of skin to the surface of the skin, and delivering hydration and nutrients to the deeper layers. Humectants can also increase the ability of a product’s other active ingredients to be absorbed into the skin.
Humectants are important ingredients in anti-aging skincare because they lock moisture onto the surface of the skin, keeping it moist and healthy and minimizing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin. Humectants also help keeping your skin looking and feeling smoother and softer and your complexion more youthful, supple, and radiant.
Look for products that contain such natural humectants as aloe, honey, hyaluronic acid, and vegetable glycerin.
5. Lanolin…Lanolin is the oil extracted from the wool of sheep after sheep have been sheared. Lanolin enables nourishes and protects the sheep against environmental extremities.
While this may be considered an animal byproduct and therefore not cruelty free, the process does not actually harm the sheep and so can be considered cruelty free.
Lanolin is an excellent emollient that helps soften and soothe skin and resembles the sebaceous secretions of our own skin.
- Fragrance Options…Coconut, Vanilla Bean, Blood Orange, Coconut Lime, Gingerade, Pink Grapefruit, Honey Almond, Mangosteen, French Lavender
- Ingredients…anti-aging antioxidants and nutrients, vitamins, skin softening oils, and moisturizing cocoa and avocado butters
- Kudos…no sulfates or other detergents, chemical preservatives, artificial fragrances, dyes or any other toxins.
- Availability…Kroger, Sprouts, Whole Foods
- Fragrance Options…Aloe, Peppermint, Lemon, Rosemary, Cucumber, Lavender
- Ingredients…include such natural ingredients as aloe vera, shea butter, calendula and nutrient-rich beta-glucan…based on fragrance selected
- Kudos…”Humbled by a profound respect for all living beings, Avalon Organics® products are vegan* and cruelty-free. The Avalon Organics® brand never tests products on animals, and will only source ingredients that the supplier can document are not tested on animals. This commitment to kindness is represented by the leaping bunny logo that appears on product labels.”
- Fragrance Options…fragrance-free
- Ingredients…shea butter, jojoba, kukui nut, arnica, and calendula…
- Fragrance Options…Island Mango, Italian Lemon, Tropical Coconut, Coconut Lime, Bulgarian Lavender, Spicy Vanilla Chai, Pumpkin Spice
- Ingredients…such ingredients asIsland Mango. Coconut Oil, Shea Butter and Jojoba Oil
Because of its high vitamin E and fatty acid content, argan oil is great to use both during the day as a daily moisturizer, or at night as an overnight cream. Argan oil also absorbs quickly into the skin without leaving an oily residue.
One method of using argan oil as a moisturizer is to simply add a couple of drops of argan oil to the carrier oil of your choice—coconut, olive, jojoba, sweet almond or sesame. (more on this to come later)…
Another option is to massage a drop of the oil directly onto any specific dry areas, such as your heels and elbows, to hydrate and soften the skin.
Argan Oil and Acne…Argan oil can both prevent and treat acne.
Argan oil prevents acne and other skin breakouts by helping to control oil production. Argan oil provides natural moisture without being greasy.
Argan oil treats acne because the anti-oxidants found in Argan oil help to heal damaged skin cells and reduce inflammation.
To help clear up mild acne, simply apply one drop gently onto the affected areas twice a day.
2. Argan Oil and Aging Skin…Argan oil is an ideal anti-aging serum because of the fact that is an antioxidant that helps to heal irritated or damaged skin. Argan oil leaves skin feeling plumper and softer and reduces the visibility of wrinkles by increasing the amount of collagen your skin consists of.
3. Argan Oil and Dry Skin…Argan oil is great for skin that is flaky, irritated, cracked, damaged, or itchy…especially skin that suffers from such skin conditions as eczema. The Vitamin E and fatty acids that argan oil contains help not only to repair the damaged skin, but also to prevent further dryness and irritation. The antioxidants that argan oil contains help speed up the healing process.
4. Argan Oil and Exfoliating…In a previous post, I talked about the importance of exfoliating your skin to help remove dead skin cells, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and give you a younger, fresher complexion.
Argan oil can be a great part of your exfoliating routine. Simple a couple of drops of argan oil with 1Tbsp of brown sugar. (The brown sugar helps the nutrients of the argan oil to be more readily absorbed into your skin.) Rub into your face in a circular motion for a couple of minutes, paying special attention to any acne-prone or dry areas. Rinse with warm water. Pat dry.
5. Argan Oil and Feet…Argan oil can help treat cracked skin or your heels, fight foot viruses and fungi, and avoid bad foot odor.
To use argan oil on your feet, simply rub a couple of drops on your feet, paying special attention to the problem areas. Put on a pair of cozy socks. Leave the socks on overnight.
6. Argan Oil and Shaving…Argan oil can be used to soothe your skin after shaving…and could actually replace your non-cruelty free shaving creams.
7. Argan Oil and Stretch Marks…The Vitamin E contained in Argan oil provides the ideal protection against unaightly stretch marks during pregnancy. To use Argan oil to prevent stretch marks, simply warm a couple of drops of Argan oil in the palms of your hands and then gently rub into your breasts, stomach, butt, hips, thighs and any other potential problem areas.
Argan oil has seemed to be a huge buzzword for hair products for quite a while now, but what exactly is “argan oil”?
Argan oil comes from argan kernels, which come from argan nuts, which come from argan fruit, which come from argan trees, which come only from the argan forest of southwest Morroco.
Seriously, argan trees are slow-growing trees found only in the argan woodlands of southwest Morocco. These trees are so revered by the Moroccans that they refer to the trees as “the tree of life.” In 1998 these argan forests of Morroco were officially declared to be the “Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve,” and the region is protected by UNESCO.
For generations, natives of the area have been extracting oil from the two or three oily kernels found inside the nuts of the argan tree…and now more and more products are being produced that have argan oil as one of the main ingredients.
Why Argan Oil?
So what makes argan oil so incredibly awesome for both your hair and your skin?
Argan oil is extremely rich in beneficial nutrients including…
1. Antioxidants…Antioxidants are natural compounds found in plant-based foods—such as beta-carotene and other related carotenoids, minerals like manganese and selenium, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E—that fight harmful free radicals.
Free radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons. These molecules are unstable and chemically reactive, and simply cannot be avoided. They exist in the food you eat, the air you breathe, and the sunlight shining on your skin.
Antioxidants neutralize these free radicals and reduce their harmful effects. These free radicals running rampant in our bodies eventually shows up as aging, fatigue, and even serious ailments like cancer. As you can see, it is important to keep these free radicals at bay in order to maintain good health.
Using products with antioxidants becomes more and more important as we get older…(yeah, I’m getting older, hate to admit it)…because our body’s superoxide dismutase (SOD), the natural defense system against such free radicals, becomes less effective…gives these free radicals more and more freedom to wreck havoc.
As far as hair and skin benefits, products with antioxidants delay the signs of skin aging, fight against wrinkles, prevent hair loss, and improve the overall health of both your skin and hair
2. Linoleic Acid…Linoleic acid, is a polyunsaturated fatty acid, part of the Omega 6 fatty acids, that occurs naturally in the body. Deficiencies in this linoleic acid can result in dry hair, dry skin, hair loss, and acne. For this reason, linoleic acid is often used as an emulsifier in the soaps and quick-drying oils.
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids…Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid, but cannot be sufficiently produced by the body. This acid has to be obtained through proper diet and nutrition…mainly through plant oils—such as flaxseed oil, hemp oil, seabuckthorn seed, and berry oils—and marine oils—such as fish oil, squid oil, algal oil krill oil.
As far as skin is concerned, Omega 3 acids treat and prevent skin diseases such as psoriasis, allergies and acne. It also acts as a natural sunscreen that helps protect your skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun. These fatty acids also are important in maintaining proper skin tone and helping your skin look smooth, radiant, soft and flawless.
As far as hair is concerned, Omega 3 acids are useful for moisturizing dry and brittle hair, treating itchy and flaky scalp or dandruff, preventing hair, maintaining proper blood circulation in the scalp, and keeping your hair strong and healthy.
4. Omega-6 Fatty Acids…Omega-6 fatty acids, just like the omega-3 fatty acids described above, s another element that your body needs, but is unable to manufacture on its own. For this reason, they must also be obtained through either diet or supplements.
Both essential fatty acids are an important component of the cell membranes of each cell throughout the body. A lack of these fatty acids can prevent nutrients from entering these cells and wastes from exiting.
The acids also create a “barrier against the elements.” A deficiency is essential fatty acids can result in dry skin and premature aging.
5. Vitamin A
Vitamin A and Acne…Vitamin A—compounds such as retinol, retinoic acid, retinal and beta carotene—is a powerful antioxidant. Because vitamin A is an antioxidant, it prevent irritants and germs from attacking your skin and causing acne or other infections. Vitamin A helps clear acne by dislodging impurities from pores and slowing excess oil production.
Vitamin A and Collagen…Applying Vitamin A products, such as those products containing retinol and retinoic acid to your skin, stimulates the production of both elastin and fibroblasts, the main connective tissue cells that are responsible for developing collagen.
Collagen is necessary for filling in fine lines and helping your skin stay smooth, firm and healthy.
Vitamin A Deficiency…Vitamin A deficiency results in weak skin cells and dry, withered-looking skin. Deficiency can also cause your hair follicles to become weak and dry, eventually resulting in hair loss and thinning hair.
Vitamin And Hair…As far as hair, eating vitamin A-rich foods nourishes and moisturizes your scalp and helps your hair to become longer and stronger.prevent and diminish age spots by regulating the production of melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin color.
6. Vitamin E…
Vitamin E is another antioxidant that can be used to improve or maintain the appearance of both your skin and your hair. As far as skin, Vitamin E is a great moisturizer, especially for dry and damaged skin. As far as hair, Vitamin E nourishes your hair and repairs any damage caused by the sun’s UV rays or chemical processes.
Once you have finished taking your shower, it is crucial that you take the time to “pamper” your skin and hair. the better and healthier both your skin and your hair will be.
Since a post-shower routine is so important in maintaining the health of your hair and skin, let’s talk about the things that you should take the time to do right after your shower…
1. Hair…It is important to take care of your hair while it is wet because this is when your hair is most likely to fall out.
The heat of the hair dryer can be a great enemy to the health of your hair. So let your hair air dry naturally if possible, at least partially…(more on this later)…
Comb a nourishing leave-in conditioner or detangler gently through your hair, using a wide-toothed comb…(never a brush)…
2. Moisturizers…Warm water may be relaxing, but hot water and steam also leave your skin super dry after showering. For this reason, it is important to always apply a good moisturizer once you get out of the shower.
3. Serums and Oils….Hot showers leave the pores of your skin open, so this is the best time to apply of these skincare products and solutions to allow them to be more completely absorbed.