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Real Beauty

Tips and tricks for natural body care

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4/26/2013

Dark under-eye circles plague many of us. While short-term under-eye circles may be caused by lack of sleep, if the problem is consistent for you, it’s probably a cause of one of two things: genetics or allergies. Most under-eye circles are a result of genetically programmed pigmentation. The tissue around our eyes is also delicate, and as we age that skin becomes thinner and the fat from behind our eyes detaches and moves forward, pushing the pigment out. (Fair-skinned people and people with deep-set eyes tend to experience this problem more.) Dark under-eye circles can also be caused by allergies, which can create a congestion of fluid underneath the eyes and may also cause us to rub our eyes, which can worsen the appearance of dark circles. To keep your face looking refreshed, try these home remedies for dark under-eye circles.

Home Remedies for Dark Under-Eye Circles
Photo By Elena Stepanova/Fotolia

Home Remedies for Dark Under-Eye Circles

Treat your allergies. If you suspect that allergies may be worsening your dark under-eye circles, start by treating them. Find gentle treatments for your symptoms by checking out the article "Natural Remedies for Seasonal Allergies."

Sleep with extra pillows. Gravity causes fluid to collect under your eyes, so changing the position in which you sleep can affect how your eyes look the next day. If you sleep on your back, try adding an extra pillow under your head to encourage fluid away from your eyes.

Wake up tired eyes with caffeine! It works for your mind, so why not your eyes? Dark under-eye circles are hard to treat topically, but a few types of eye creams can help. One option is eye creams containing caffeine, such as this Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream from 100% Pure. Caffeine constricts blood vessels around the eye and reduces water retention, helping to reduce the appearance of dark under-eye circles. While not a long-term cure, caffeine-enriched eye creams can remedy dark under-eye circles on a day-to-day basis.

Eye creams made with vitamin A or vitamin C, such as this 2 in 1 Correcting Eye Cream from NOW Foods, are another good option as they can help firm up the skin around eyes and reduce the thinness that makes dark under-eye circles so prominent.

Stay hydrated. Dehydration can make skin appear dull and lifeless and can even thin it. Drinking plenty of fluids can contribute to a healthy glow and can help your skin remain elastic.

Use cooled tea bags. If your circles are also combined with puffiness, try placing cooled tea bags over the eyes to reduce swelling.

Have you tried any home remedies for treating dark under-eye circles? What have you found to be effective? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section!



4/25/2013

Dr Hauschka Daily Revitalizing Eye CreamIn my quest for an effective eye cream that will diminish some of the dark circles and fine lines that have started creeping up, I’ve been testing a number of different products. One of my favorites is definitely the Daily Revitalizing Eye Cream from Dr. Haushcka’s holistic skin care line.

Dr. Hauschka claims that its Daily Revitalizing Eye Cream will prevent signs of premature aging while hydrating the skin and refining delicate lines around the eye. A quick look at the ingredients list reveals a number of components that help make this possible: nourishing avocado, jojoba and sweet almond oils; skin-soothing calendula extract; moisturizing shea butter. It also contains pineapple extract, which has antioxidant and exfoliating properties, both of which can help diminish fine lines.

On a personal note, I’ve been pleased with the performance of this product. I use it daily and definitely have noticed that the skin under my eyes seems brighter than normal—making me appear less tired. And those fine lines are looking smaller, too! (Or at least, they’re not getting any deeper.) Apart from its effectiveness, there are three things I love about Dr. Hauschka’s Daily Revitalizing Eye Cream: its formula is smooth and fast-absorbing, meaning I can apply it immediately before putting on makeup; the squeeze tube makes it easy to get exactly as much product as I need without wasting any; and the tiny tube doesn’t take up much space in my tiny bathroom! The only drawbacks? At $52 a pop, the Daily Revitalizing Eye Cream is a little pricey for me—although one tube will last the better part of a year, so it’s a good investment. The product also contains fragrance, the ubiquitous and mysterious ingredient that is usually a sign of chemical involvement.



4/25/2013

NOW Solutions 2 in 1 Correcting Eye CreamBecause of my fair skin and deep-set eyes, it often appears that I have dark circles under my eyes. To combat this problem—and to keep people from telling me that I look exhausted all the time—I’ve started adding an eye cream to my daily skin care routine. I’ve tried other products and have been less than impressed with the results, so when NOW Foods sent me a sample of their 2 in 1 Correcting Eye Cream from their new NOW Solutions personal-care line to test, my hopes weren’t high. Whether a result of my low expectations or excellent product performance, I was pleasantly surprised, however.

I tend to feel sheepish using skin care products labeled “anti-aging,” but as the skin around my eyes is extra delicate, I appreciate the boost that products like the 2 in 1 Correcting Eye Cream provide. NOW Solutions claims that the product tightens and brightens. While tightening isn’t yet a concern for my not-yet-mature skin, brightening was high on my list of wants from an eye cream—and the 2 in 1 Correcting Eye Cream didn’t disappoint. I’ve been applying the cream under my eyes (and occasionally to my eyelid and brow bone when I get a little too much product on my finger) both morning and night, and I’ve noticed a definite lightening of the usual dark circles under my eyes.

Ingredients such as vitamin C and vitamin K, which help to firm up the skin and reduce thinness, contribute to the product’s ability to lighten under-eye circles. The safety and quality of ingredients is always a concern for me when considering any kind of personal care product. While Skin Deep, my go-to resource for info on safe products, hasn’t reviewed NOW Solutions 2 in 1 Correcting Eye Cream, a quick search of all the ingredients resulted in only one red flag: Retinyl Palmitate, or vitamin A. When exposed to sunlight, vitamin A breaks down to produce toxic free radicals that can damage DNA.  



4/15/2013

Lately, I have been moisturizing my face with botanical oils. While this may seem strange to many people, this is a centuries-old practice from ancient Rome that is actually beneficial to the skin—and it’s becoming popular once again.

Despite the misconception that oils cause breakouts, facial oils actually reduce sebum production (oil production), cutting down on oily complexions by “tricking” your skin into thinking it already has enough. Plus, many botanical oils are naturally enriched with skin-benefiting properties. To use, massage a few drops of your oil into your face, giving the oil plenty of time to absorb into your skin before going to bed (about 30 minutes). Try oils like jojoba, Argan, coconut, squalane—and even olive—by themselves, or buy facial oil blends from a natural beauty company you trust. Here are a few of my favorite facial oils right now.

Please leave me a comment to let me know if you are following the facial oil trend and which facial oils you recommend. I'd love to consider it for a future natural beauty review.

Rosehip Facial Oil Serum 

Deep Rosehip Facial Oil Serum by Aura Cacia, $20

I love how this rosehip-infused serum feels on my skin. Rosehip oil naturally hydrates the skin and has a fresh floral scent that makes it a wonderful addition to my morning beauty routine. Massage a few drops of this serum into your skin for a dewy glow, and let it absorb into your skin (10 to 20 minutes) before putting on your makeup for the day. Rosehip oil is loaded with omega 6 (an essential fatty acid also known as linoleic acid), and offers natural anti-aging benefits, helping to reduce fine lines and inflammation. This blend from Aura Cacia is also loaded with vitamin E, which is a great skin nutrient.

Derma E Soothing Facial Oil 

Soothing Facial Treatment Oil by derma e, $24

This facial blend, which is enriched with Argan oil and kukui oil—two timeless skin favorites—is a great moisturizer for sensitive skin. Argan oil, a rare oil found in Morocco, is an antioxidant that helps soften dry skin and reduce skin imperfections. Kukui oil, which can be found in Hawaii and some areas of Polynesia, is loaded with essential fatty acids that help it naturally soothe and soften skin. This facial treatment from derma e was a big help during the final months of winter. Use it to soothe and hydrate dry skin.

Squalane Oil 

Squalane Facial Oil by Indie Lee, $32

While most squalane oil was originally obtained from shark livers—and sometimes it still is—this Indie Lee oil is derived from olives. Squalane oil is an antioxidant-rich moisturizer that helps treat sun-damaged skin, promotes skin elasticity and helps diminish age spots. Although this is the most expensive pick on my list, this product from Indie Lee is 100 percent pure, olive-derived squalane oil. Plus, a few drops from this little bottle go a long way. I love how light the oil feels on my skin—it absorbs into my skin fairly quickly and doesn’t leave my face feeling greasy. Just massage a few drops of this oil onto your face at night to benefit from this ancient skin aid.


Gina DeBackerGina DeBacker is the assistant editor at Mother Earth Living. She loves that part of her job entails testing beauty products enriched with natural ingredients.



1/23/2013

Everyone loves lavender. At least, that’s what I’ve been lead to believe working for The Herb Companion and Mother Earth Living. Whenever we feature this lovely herb in our print publication, our website or even our social media outlets, we receive praised responses from readers. And what’s not to love? Lavender is a strikingly beautiful plant with a refreshing scent. Plus, its health benefits seem never-ending: it’s a natural antiseptic, it soothes the skin, it calms the senses, it induces sleep … and so on and so on. Needless to say, I was stoked to discover a new lavender-infused body care product for my beauty arsenal.

Lavender Toner

The Lavender Toner from emerginC is a light, refreshing and gentle face toner, perfect for sensitive skin. In addition to lavender, its active ingredients include chamomile, witch hazel and green tea; and its other ingredients (azulene and polysorbate-20 being the worst offenders) show very low concern from the Environmental Working Group’s massive cosmetics database Skin Deep.

While toning is the second step in the traditional three-step routine for healthy skin—cleanse, tone and moisturize—many beauty experts agree that using a toner is optional. I have never been one to pay much attention to toners, aside from enjoying a hydrating facial mist every now and then. Many classic toners contain a small percentage of alcohol, leaving my skin feeling a bit icky. (Alcohol-based toners can increase the production of sebum, as the removal of oil from the skin can lead to excess oil as the skin tries to compensate for this.) But after trying this product, I’m beginning to come around to the idea of using a gentle toner on a daily basis. A good toner conditions, nourishes, soothes and calms blemishes. My favorite thing about this particular toner is its subtle lavender scent. In the evening, after cleansing the skin, I like to apply this light and cooling toner with a cotton pad. Its light and refreshing scent helps me feel relaxed and ready for bed.

Try this toner for $29; click here to buy it online.


Gina DeBackerGina DeBacker is the assistant editor at Mother Earth Living. She loves that part of her job entails testing beauty products enriched with natural ingredients.



1/16/2013

We all want great skin and a gorgeous face, but who wants to shell out the big bucks for top-dollar products? Thankfully, natural beauty (and great skin) is close at-hand—as close as the kitchen, in fact! Many foods commonly found in the pantry are brimming with nutrients beneficial for skin. So next time your skin feels dry or those wrinkles look too deep, raid your pantry for these seven skin-improving foods.

7 Foods for Skin

Turmeric

Prized for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and astringent effects (among other health benefits), turmeric is great for skin. In Asia, turmeric is used in natural beauty treatments to tighten skin and reduce inflammation. Try turmeric for yourself by mixing this herb with flour and water to make a paste. Rub the paste on your skin while in the shower, then rinse off.

avocado on cutting board
Avocados can help lock in moisture on skin. Photo By Jon Chiang/Flickr.

Avocado

Avocados are loaded with healthy monounsaturated fats that can help stimulate production of our skin’s own natural oils, help lock in moisture, reduce inflammation and heal skin issues. Take advantage of the goodness in avocado with this two-ingredient Avocado Facial Mask recipe, Tropical Body Polish recipe, or Lavender-Avocado-Honey Mask recipe.

Honey

A natural humectant, honey can attract and trap in moisture for softer skin. Honey also possesses antioxidant and antimicrobial powers, making it a great treatment for cuts, scrapes and burns. To use its natural healing powers, apply just enough quality honey (we recommend unpasteurized and from a local, trusted source) to cover the wound, then cover with a bandage. Change daily. To take advantage of its skin-renewing powers, try these five easy honey-based beauty recipes, from a honey cleanser to a smooth-skin treatment.

Yogurt

A natural source of lactic acid, yogurt can help refine pores and exfoliate rough skin while calming and moisturizing. And unlike other exfoliants, yogurt is suitable for even sensitive skin. Yogurt also contains protein that makes the skin firmer and more resistant to wrinkles. Try this moisturizing yogurt mask.

carrots
Tighten aging skin with a homemade mask made from fresh carrots. Photo  By Shutterstock.

Carrots

Carrots aren’t just good for your eyes. Thanks to its treasure trove of vitamins A, B and C, carrots are also beneficial for your skin. When used topically, carrots can provide tightening, anti-aging effects, helping to restore skin’s elasticity and reduce inflammation. To take advantage of this root vegetable’s beauty benefits, try this Vita-Carrot Anti-Aging Mask recipe.

Olive Oil

Oil works wonders for skin, but many beauty oils can cost a pretty penny. Instead of spending lots on expensive oils like argan, turn to your cupboard for olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is rich in vitamins K and E, which can help reduce dark circles and protect skin from photoaging. Olive oil can be used as a nightly moisturizing treatment—just spread a few drops over your skin (olive oil is so thick that a little will go a long ways). You can also use olive oil to remove makeup, condition hair and moisturize cuticles, among other beauty uses.

Vinegar

Because it effectively removes soap residue from skin and hair, rinsing with vinegar is a great way to get rid of shampoo buildup—not to mention leave your hair shiny and soft. Another perk of rinsing with vinegar: its acidity can help kill the bacteria that cause dandruff. Always dilute vinegar before using—one tablespoon of vinegar to one cup of water should do the trick. To take advantage of vinegar’s beauty benefits, check out this collection of herbal vinegar treatments, from a hair-softening rinse to a soothing foot soak.



12/20/2012

An unsightly condition most often seen in the legs, varicose veins are the result of blood pooling in the veins. When leaving the heart, blood can rely on the pumping action of this organ to propel it through the body. For the return trip, however, muscles surrounding our veins must contract and relax in order to pump the blood back. Special valves in our veins help the process by prohibiting the blood from flowing back the way it’s being pumped.

Varicose veins can be caused by a number of factors. As we age, our veins stretch and enlarge, which allows excess blood to accumulate in them. This in turn can cause the valves in our veins to malfunction, preventing the proper flow of blood back to the heart. As the blood accumulates, it causes the veins to appear enlarged and raised. Varicose veins are often seen on the legs, where the muscle contractions have to fight the pull of gravity. Because veins weaken with age, varicose veins are often seen in middle-aged people and older, although any sort of condition that puts extra pressure on the veins such as a high-fat diet, inactivity, obesity, pregnancy or standing or sitting for long periods of time can also contribute to varicose veins.

Varicose veins are most often a cosmetic issue only, although occasionally they can cause pain and discomfort and may be a sign of larger circulatory issues. If the pain of varicose veins is intense, consult a doctor. For cosmetic-only issues, however, try these natural home remedies for varicose veins.

horse chestnut
Horse chestnut is one of several herbal remedies you can take to treat varicose veins. Photo By Rhisiart Hincks/Courtesy Flickr

Natural Home Remedies for Varicose Veins

Horse chestnut is widely prescribed in Germany for the treatment of conditions associated with varicose veins. Horse chestnut helps strengthen vein walls and valves by preventing damage to the capillaries. Take a standardized extract containing 100 mg of aescin (horse chestnut’s main active compound) daily.

Butcher’s broom can reduce inflammation and cause blood vessels to constrict, tightening up and strengthening the veins, helping blood to flow more smoothly. Because of its blood vessel-constricting properties, butcher’s broom is not recommended for people with high blood pressure. Take an extract with 200 to 300 mg ruscogenins (the compound responsible for butcher’s broom’s helpful properties) daily.

Grape seed extract contains a type of flavonoid known as proanthocyanidins, which enhance collagen linkage to help strengthen and tone blood vessels. Take 720 mg of grape seed extract daily.

Bilberry, like grape seed extract, contains proanthocyanidins. Bilberry can thin blood, so don’t take this herb if you are on blood-thinning medications such as warfarin or aspirin, or if you’re taking a prescription diuretic. Take 80 to 160 mg three times daily.

Witch hazel: The tannins in this astringent can constrict the blood vessels and help to reduce swelling and inflammation. Witch hazel works best when used externally. Try a cold compress, or add 1 ounce of witch hazel to a bath daily.

bilberries
Bilberries can help strengthen and tone blood vessels. Photo By tin G/Courtesy Flickr

Lifestyle Treatments for Varicose Veins

Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time. Changing position every half hour or so will improve circulation in your legs.

Exercise. Frequent exercise can also stimulate blood flow. Try walking or cycling.

Watch what you wear. Tight clothes restrict circulation, especially when they’re tight in the waist, groin or leg area. Avoid panty hose, and high heels—low-heeled shoes work the calf muscles more, helping to improve circulation.

Elevate your legs. Putting your legs in a position higher than your heart will help blood flow back to heart, decreasing pooling in the veins in your leg.

For more natural and herbal remedies for treating varicose veins, check out these articles:

Treat Varicose Veins Naturally

Q&A: Herbal Remedies for Varicose Veins

Astringent Herbs for Varicose Veins





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