Strawberries- The New Sunscreen?

Sunscreens and other sun-related products are considered some of the most important in skin care. A recent study has discovered a natural, less oily substance that possesses similar qualities: the strawberry.

The research team, comprised of both Italian and Spanish scientists, tested the effect of strawberry extract on human cell structures in concentrations of 0.05, 0.25 and 0.5 milligrams per milliliter. The study’s results proved that the anthocyanins, which are responsible for the red coloring in strawberries and other plants, protect the skin from UVA rays and reduce long-term skin damage from the sun.

“We have verified the protecting effect of strawberry extract against damage to skin cells caused by UVA rays,” said Maurizio Battino of the Universita Politecnia delle Marche.

“These aspects are of great importance as they provide protection for cell lines subject to conditions that can provoke cancer and other skin-related inflammatory and degenerative illnesses.”

Though the findings are undoubtedly significant, their everyday practicality is still under debate.

Sara Tulipani of the University of Barcelona explained:

“These compounds have important anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-tumor properties. At the moment the results act as the basis for future studies evaluating the ‘bioavailability’ and ‘bioactivity’ of anthocyanins in the dermis and epidermis layers of the human skin, whether by adding them to formulations  for external use of by ingesting the fruit itself.”

 

Spring Cleaning (For Your Skin)

 

Spring is arriving and with it an awakened urge to revamp your image and general lifestyle. The first step to freshening up your look is giving your skin a boost. The skin is the largest organ of the body, and it serves as a barrier between internal systems and the body’s surroundings. Which implies, of course, that the skin is exposed to harsh conditions such as heat, sunlight, wind etc.

Winter is an especially rough season for the skin, because the conditions vary greatly. You walk from indoor central heating into frigid, harsh air, stripping your skin of moisture and reducing its flexibility. Though the face is often the most sensitive, the entire body can become dull, dry, and itchy. Winter is also a time of comfort food and very little exercise, which also affects the skin and the body as a whole.

How can you fix it?

Now that spring approaches, there are a few things you can do to help your skin renew itself. The first is exfoliation.

Emma Hardie, a celebrity facialist, explains: “The skin, like all our organs, slows down during winter as the body conserves energy. The decrease in cell renewal can give the complexion a rough, lifeless appearance.”

Exfoliation means removing the layer of dead skin cells and encouraging the growth of a newer, healthier layer. Dermatologists suggest chemical exfoliants such as glycolic and salicylic acid. Many face washes and shower gels include these ingredients. Others prefer mechanical exfoliants, such as loofahs, sponges and other shower accessories that remove dead skin with their rough surfaces. Many soaps and creams come with small grains, or beads, which work in a way similar to loofahs. These often combine both mechanical and chemical exfoliants. Baking soda can be added to a regular shower gel and achieves the same result.

Next, be sure to moisturize. Many people underestimate the power of moisturizer, but the right formula can be the key element to a clear, healthy complexion. If your skin is oily and prone to blemishes, be sure to choose a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer that is absorbed quickly. Always use a formula that serves as protection from the sun’s UV rays, and protect your eyes with sunglasses as well. The long months without sun exposure can result in a certain sensitivity, and it is important to ease your skin back into the sun in a gradual manner.

Third, the season’s cold temperatures result in slower blood circulation. This can make the skin look pale, dull, and sometimes even gives it a bluish tinge, which is especially common around the eyes. Any kind of exercise can stimulate blood flow and boost circulation, which spreads oxygen to the cells and helps eliminate toxins and inflammation. Facial massage is also an option, according to many face specialists.

Paolo Lai, a facial reflexologist of Neville Hair and Beauty, said “Massaging the face for a few minutes a day can instantly reduce puffiness and banish dullness.

“Using your middle and index finger, firmly massage the skin and underlying muscles in circles. Work upwards and outwards, starting at the chin and moving towards the forehead.”

Lastly, keep an eye on nutrition. Starches and sugars are common winter foods, but they do little for your skin, energy levels, metabolism, immune system, and general health.

Nutritionist Susie Perry Debice recommends stocking up on seasonal fruits and vegetables.

“Stock up on vitmamin C-rich greens to boost the formation of fresh collagen. Cabbage and kale are also in season- their sulphur content helps cleanse the system and restore vitality,” Perry Debice said. Berries, strawberries, and other produce are rich in antioxidants, while omega 3-rich foods will boost the skin from within. Seaweed and green tea are also face-brightening solutions.

And, though it was mentioned before, EXERCISE, EXERCISE, EXERCISE. The overall health benefits of exercise are overwhelming and too broad to list here. But remember: the healthier the body, the healthier the skin.

Natural Face Wash Recipe

Whether you are battling acne, dry skin or the aging process, facial skin care is certainly a topic which often crosses your mind. You read all sorts of articles which suggest visits to the dermatologist, expensive medications and generic face washes, but none of these options really appeal to you. In some cases, a visit to a dermatologist may really be the only solution to your problem. However, many people will find that with a little creativity, they can treat their skin condition in an affordable, natural fashion.

Here is one recipe for a simple face wash which can be used to treat most light skin conditions:

¼ cup of honey,

¼ cup of plain yogurt

2 teaspoons of lemon/orange juice

3-4 fresh strawberries

Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Apply to face (or body) in a circular motion, and let sit for 5-10 minutes before rinsing in lukewarm water. The remaining wash can be stored in a refrigerator for future use.

There are many other natural substances which you can use in the place of some of the ingredients listed here. For example, you may want to add crushed aspirin or baking soda if you have dry or acne-prone skin, for they are both excellent exfoliants which gently remove dead skin cells, and the aspirin is an anti-inflammatory as well. Also, for dry skin, you may want to substitute green tea for the citrus juice.