What Vitamin E Can Do For You

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Almost every product Martha formulates contains tocotrienol and/or tocopherol, both highly concentrated Vitamin E supplements. Vitamin E goes in and out of vogue but it remains one of the most effective topical treatment for scars, burns and collagen damage.

When you consider what quality skin care products ought to be doing for your skin, you think of wrinkle prevention and healing. What those boil down to are protection from UV damage and anything that may compromise the lipid barrier. Both of these needs are met by vitamin E. According to a 2009 article in Skin Inc called Vitamin E : A Skin Care Ally, by Doctor Pugliese, Vitamin E has two major functions: 1) protect the skin from ultraviolet rays and 2) maintain the skin’s protective barrier.

The body naturally creates alpha tocopherol but it gets depleted with any exposure to UV rays, causing temporary imbalances that can cause serious skin damage. When skin is exposed to harmful UV rays, it creates free radicals and skin goes through oxidative stress. Applying and ingesting vitamin E are essential to keeping the skin protected from sometimes unavoidable exposure to UV rays. Having an ample supply of vitamin E on the skin protects against this damage and prevents the skin from losing water. This is why vitamin E should be a staple ingredient in all sunscreens.

Besides using the full OHA system on your skin, another way to get Vitamin E in your life is to eat foods that have naturally occurring vitamin E, like, wheatgerm, sunflower and olive oils and nut oils, like almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and peanuts. According to Skin Inc, “Using both oral and topical vitamin E can help prevent, or markedly reduce, damage from free radicals”.

The Super Powers of Licorice

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There are few foods as polarizing as licorice. I fall into the “no, thank you” camp while others happily consume it on a regular basis. The beautiful thing about licorice, besides providing the world an illustration of living peacefully amongst differing opinions, is that it comes from a plant (with the hardcore title of Glycyrrhiza glabra, but I’ll just call it ‘licorice’) with impressive super powers for your skin. Let’s review some of those here:

1. Are dark spots from acne, eczema, aging and scars bothering you? Studies show that licorice can naturally lighten pigmented skin to give it a more balanced, even look.

2. Suffer from psoriasis? Have no fear! Licorice Root Extract is here! Slather the Vitamin C Infused Hand Cream over your psoriasis-addled skin and watch it get better in no time.

3. Are you battling itchy dermatitis? In a study by the Department of Pharmaceutics, “Two percent licorice topical gel was more effective than 1% in reducing the scores for erythema, oedema and itching over two weeks. The results showed that licorice extract could be considered as an effective agent for treatment of atopic dermatitis.” Lucky for you OHA customers, Martha formulated the Vitamin C Infused Hand Cream with a 7.5 % concentration of licorice root extract to provide even more scientifically proven healing power.

4. Best of all, applying licorice root extract topically helps prevent skin cancer and consumes free radicals to slow down the skin’s natural aging process. The Department of Medical Elementology and Toxicology did a study whose results showed, “that glycyrrhetinic acid (a “major active component of licorice roots”), an antioxidant, is a potential chemopreventive agent that can inhibit… cutaneous oxidative stress and tumor promotion.”

 

Basically, licorice root extract is awesome. It’s a potent extract that will not only balance your skin tone and soothe what ails your skin but it also prevents future skin troubles, like skin cancer and wrinkles. Now, when you use your favorite OHA hand cream, you’ll know you’re applying the real deal.

 

 

The Secrets of Smells: Fragrance vs Essential Oils

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In my blog about lavender, I mentioned a variety of lavender that didn’t actually come from a plant, but from a blend of synthetic fragrance oils. While it seems strange to call something “lavender” that’s made with anything but, this is super common in the world of smelliness. I want to share with you how essential oils and fragrance oils are entirely different beasts and what those differences mean for your skin.

Fragrance Oils:

The sole purpose of fragrance oils is to be smelly.  They’re created in labs to mimic aromas, like vanilla, lavender, jasmine…etc, using as many as hundreds of ingredients, mostly synthetic.  Having worked in skin care for over three years, I’ve found that way more people falsely think they are allergic to essential oils than actually are, due to an allergy to one of the hundreds of ingredients in a fragrance oil.  On another unfortunate note, certain widely available synthetic fragrances have skewed our noses to link completely unnatural smells to naturally occurring plants, like cucumbers, sweet peas and grapes.  Their synthetic imitators have changed consumer expectations to the point that the real smell of those products smells wrong.  Martha calls this “nose washing”.  Get it?  Like “brain washing” but for the nose?  Okay.  You get it.  Moving on.

When it comes to candles, incense, and any other products not for the skin, fragrance oils may work just fine. For skin/hair/body products, watch out for ingredient lists citing “fragrance oils”, “essential fragrance oils” or “nature identical”, unless you’ve found that you’re allergic to the real thing.

Essential Oils:

Essential oils come from nutritious and beneficial plants, like flowers, barks, stems, leaves, roots and seeds. Even though they’re called oils, they don’t feel oily in the way olive oil or almond oil would. They actually evaporate when they come into contact with air. They have the ability to soothe, heal, rejuvenate, lift, and brighten, just to name a few super powers. What’s especially lovely about essential oils is that they do so much for our skin but also have a naturally occurring fragrance. A gifted formulator will use essential oils for their therapeutic properties while also artfully balancing the final aroma.

Speaking of gifted formulators, Martha has a lot of stories from working and playing with essential oils for most of her life. One of my favorite stories is where she was teaching an aromatherapy course and most of her students, upon first sniff of pure essential oils, were appalled. After about a week of smelling, however, her students made a complete turn-around and became essential oil snobs. They could even sniff out synthetics like they’d been smelling the real essential oils their whole lives. I have a theory that our noses are better equipped to recognize aromas from real life and these students just needed to be reminded of how pure oils smell.

When applying essential oils, it’s important to dilute them with a carrier oil like olive, jojoba, or almond oil. Unrefined essential oils straight to the skin are a bit too active and potent. Think of it this way: just one drop of rose oil takes 67 rose blossoms. That’s a lot of love in one drop and it can get a little intense if applied directly. The massive amounts of the original plant needed for an essential oil is the main reason that essential oils are more expensive than their fragrance oil counterparts. If you’re ever tempted to buy an essential oil from the grocery store and the price seems too good to be true (like $10 for a small bottle of rose oil), it probably is. You’d better move on, no matter how badly your wallet wants that rose oil to work as well as the pricier ones.

In sum, there’s really no contest when it comes to deciding what kind of oils your skin would generally prefer. I hope this helped demystify the different benefits of these two very different oils. I’d love to hear about your experiences with fragrance oils and essential oils so feel more than welcome to leave a comment!

Until Next Time,

Meg

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