Face Food: Food for Beautiful Skin!

shutterstock_98434157There is more to skin care and beautiful skin than the lotions and potions applied religiously in the morning and at night.  Having beautiful skin is not just about what you put ON your body it is also about what you put IN your body.  Treating blemishes and fighting wrinkles may not be enough to help you have the glowing complexion you would like.  Many of the nutrients you need to be healthy on the inside also keep you beautiful on the outside.  The best part is that they are readily available and you can pick them up on your next shopping trip to the grocery store!

Here are the top 5 foods you should eat if you want beautiful skin and good health.

1. Tomatoes.  Tomatoes contain Lycopene, a phytochemical, an active compound found in   plants. It makes them red.  It also is important for skin because it helps to eliminate       skin-aging free radicals caused by ultraviolet rays. Tomatoes are the best source of the anti-aging antioxidant Lycopene. The Lycopene in tomatoes is more easily absorbed by your body when it is cooked so have a little extra marinara sauce or tomato bisque.shutterstock_77453923

2.  Spinach.  Dark leafy vegetables like spinach reduces the likelihood of cancer cell growth. The folates in dark leafy greens help repair and maintain DNA improving your cell’s ability to renew and regenerate. These veggies are also full of water that penetrates cell membranes and helps to keep you and your skin hydrated. This makes your skin look plumper and less wrinkled.

3.  Sweet Potatoes.  Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin C which helps to smooth wrinkles. Vitamin C is also essential to collagen production.  The more collagen you have the less noticeable creases and lines will appear. Collagen helps to keep skin firm. Sweet potatoes are also packed with beta-carotene. Like Lycopene, beta carotene is an antioxidant that fights aging.  Of course beta-carotene is found in carrots and Kiwi is rich in Vitamin C so if you don’t like sweet potatoes look for other foods rich in these two important nutrients.

4. Salmon.  Or just about any fish you like rich with Omega-3 fatty acids. The fatty acids in fish help to reduce inflammation and help to keep cells strong. Strong cells are able to hold moisture keeping your skin hydrated. Flax seeds are also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids if you shutterstock_175525007are looking for a vegetarian option. Flax seeds reduce inflammation and attract water to skin cells to plump them up reducing the appearance of wrinkles.  Tuna and Salmon have an extra benefit. They contain selenium, a nutrient that helps preserve elastin, a protein that keeps your skin smooth and tight.  Cooked or raw, add a little more fish to your diet.

5. Nuts. Almonds and Walnut in particular have lots of vitamin E, an effective sun shield.  Just 20 nuts a day can reduce the possibility of sunburn. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps to protect skin cells from UV light that generate free radicals that can cause cell damage. Sun protection is key to having great skin. shutterstock_136862411

Lots of foods offer an extra dose of ‘sunscreen’.  Tomatoes and nuts are two already mentioned.   In addition, dark chocolate, carrots, tuna, and green tea all have properties that contribute to reducing your risk of damage during sun exposure.  That doesn’t mean, however, you can go without wearing sunscreen!  Nutrition is just an added bonus.  Apply sunscreen daily to avoid the risk of sun damage. So, to be beautiful on the outside, start with the inside!  The next time you’re at the grocery store, make one or two healthier food choices.  It’s a win-win for you and your skin!

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10 Skin Care Essentials

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It can be a bit overwhelming with all the skin care rituals out there, some of which are not even needed. To make life easier, here are 10 daily skin care essentials from Discovery fit & Health to know about!

1. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize! It comes as no surprise how important moisturizing is, especially during the winter months! To keep skin looking healthy and hydrated, remember to moisturize.

2. Cleansing may seem like a no brainer when it comes to skin care, but it cannot be emphasized enough. In order to maintain a healthy glow, cleansing is vital. Remember to look for a gentle, soap-free cleanser!

3. Exfoliants are also important for maintaining healthy skin. Exfoliants are great for removing dead skin cells from your face! You can find great natural AHAs in our Alpha-Hydrox product line!

4.  Eliminate those pesky Bad Habits! We all have one or two bad habits and they can get in the way of improving your skin care. Smoking for example, can lead to premature aging of the skin as well as adding extra wrinkles around the eyes. Don’t let bad habits stand in the way of affecting your skin care.

5. Dab on that sunscreen, rain or shine! It is no secret that the sun is harmful to your skin. That is why it is so important to include sunscreen in your daily regimen.

6. H20 is essential to your skin care. Water not only hydrates your body, resulting in  shutterstock_175132964    nourished skin, but also clears away built-up toxins found in skin cells.

7. Get some Zzz! Getting enough sleep is an important ritual to maintain. Sleep is skins time to rejuvenate and especially relax.

8. Maintaining a nutritious diet is not only important for your body and physic, but your skin as well. Balancing antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and nutrients will help in keeping your skin young and healthy.

9. Along with diet comes exercise. Besides being important for good health, exercise aids in removing toxins from the body, fights acne, and boosts collagen. So take a brisk walk and your skin will thank you!

shutterstock_17453136510. Relax! Remembering to take time to rest and relax is essential to healthy skin care. Ultimately, acne will result from high levels of stress, as well as decreasing skins ability to regenerate itself.

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Moisturize From The Inside Out!

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Drinking water is an easy, inexpensive way to keep you skin healthy and hydrated. Topical moisturizers are important but they do not provide enough hydration to keep your skin moist and supple. Skin is an organ and just like any other part of the body, your skin is made up of cells. The cells of the human body are mostly water.  A newborn baby’s cells may be as much as 75% water!  With age, the amount of water in the human body decreases but water is still the primary content in the cells of the human body.  Without water, our organs and that includes skin, will not function at their best.

When skin is not adequately hydrated it loses thickness, can become more sensitive and offers less body protection. Dry skin feels tight and your skin tone may look flaky and dull. The drier your skin, the less resilient and more prone to wrinkling it becomes.  Chronic dehydration can age your skin very quickly and can cause fine lines and wrinkles to appear deeper.  Proper hydration is an important part of keeping skin looking firm and supple. Drinking plenty of water helps to reduce the signs of aging and keeps skin soft and elastic.

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Water also helps the body to utilize essential nutrients, eliminate toxins and maintain a healthy pH balance. Anything that makes you sweat a lot, such as exercise or being out in the sun, causes you to lose fluids. Dehydration can also occur when you have been sick.  All these may mean you need to increase the amount of water you are drinking.  Coffee and alcohol do not count as fluids since they act as diuretics and reduce hydration.   Water aids the natural repair process, helping the body to heal faster when damaged. In the case of severe sunburn, be sure to drink a lot of water!

So how much water is enough to keep our bodies and skin looking and feeling their best?  It may be more than you might think.  Women should drink at least nine cups of plain water every day and men should drink 13! This is important because no matter how much water you are drinking, the water will reach your other organs first before it reaches your skin.

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To have beautiful, healthy skin, try moisturizing from the inside out!  We all know that beauty is more than skin deep.  It’s what’s on the inside that counts and in this case, that means a lot of water and a well hydrated body.  It’s easy, inexpensive and you can start today!  Let’s drink (a glass of water) to your health!

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What’s on a Label?

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Google search alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and you will find pages and pages of information.  Most agree that alpha hydroxy acids are naturally occurring, nontoxic acids that have been used to help improve the appearance  of skin for centuries.  Most also agree that alpha hydroxy acids really work!  Many do not, however, agree on what percentage of AHA is needed to be effective in skin care. There is also little or no consensus on how percentages are expressed.  You will find percentages listed anywhere from 4% to 50%!  Unfortunately, cosmetic labeling can be very misleading. Since AHA’s are the cornerstone of the Alpha Hydrox skin care line, we want to help clarify some label and packaging information. Here are a couple of things you should know when shopping for AHA’s.

For an AHA to be truly effective, the percentage of AHA should be between 8% and 14%.  A product with less than 8% is little more than a moisturizer.  Products that claim to have more than 14% are considered a chemical peel and really should be administered by a dermatologist. There are two other pieces of information to consider when reading labels related to AHA’s.

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Now you know what percentage is effective but, it is a percentage of what? AHA’s are an ingredient in a solution that makes up a cream, lotion or gel.  That means that no AHA solution is made up of 100% AHA’s.  When companies refer to the percentage on labels and packages the percent is usually based on a 70% AHA solution.  Here is an example; 8% of a 70% solution is really 5.6% (70 x 8% = 5.6).  So an 8% AHA  is really 5.6% of the overall formula. Don’t be fooled by misleading claims.

Finally, you should know the importance of pH levels when reading cosmetics labels. To be effective, the pH level for an AHA should be between 3.5 and 4.0. If the pH level that is too low will be too acidic and irritating.  A pH level of more than 4.0 is too alkaline to be effective and acts more like a moisturizer. Be wary of alpha hydroxy acid products that do not list the percentage of AHA or pH levels. They could have too little AHA to be effective or may not be properly formulated.

Two Ways to Use AHAs

From the beginning in 1992, Alpha Hydrox has put the percentage of AHA on the front of the box and pH level on the back.  We want our consumers to be educated and informed.  We believe that if given accurate information people will make the best buying decision possible and in skin care, the best decision is Alpha Hydrox. That’s why we call Alpha Hydrox “The One That Works!

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The Skinny on pH

Do you know what pH stands for?  Why is the pH level important in skin care products? Here is a quick explanation to help you be a savvy skin care shopper.

Those two little letters, pH, stands for “potential hydrogen” and reflects the amount of hydrogen ions in particular solution. More hydrogen ions make a solution more acidic.  Fewer hydrogen ions create an alkaline solution.  The scale for pH level is 0 – 14.  Neutral on the scale is 7.  If a solution is less than 7, it is acidic.  Solutions higher than 7 are alkaline.

Here’s why pH is important in skin care products.  Skin needs to be slightly acidic in order to deal with environmental factors like bacteria and other toxins. Normal skin pH ranges from 4.5-5.5.  The active pH of a product determines its ability to actually penetrate the skin.  A product should be below the pH level of the skin (or less than 4.5) for maximum penetration. If it is not, you may as well be using water.

To be a smart skin care buyer, it is the important to know pH level of the products you are using.  This will help you to determine their effectiveness.  Cleansers should have a pH level higher than 3.5  A cleanser with less than 3.5 will strip your skin and leave it irritated.  The optimum level for AHAs is between 3.5 and 4.  If it is more than 4, an AHA or glycolic solution will do  little to exfoliate or promote cellular renewal.  Products with a pH level of 4 or more act more like a moisturizer.

Those two little letters, pH,  can make a big difference in the effectiveness of a product. To get the best results from your skin care products look for products that are pH balanced.  All Alpha Hydrox skin care products have the proper pH and always have.  Our goal is to make affordable products that really work.  At Alpha Hydrox, we want to help you to get the most from your skin care routine and proper pH is part of what you need to know.

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Three Simple Steps to Glowing Skin

Toners and tonics and serums, oh my! Do you really need 8 steps in your skin care routine? Despite all the advertising and media hype, skin care is really very simple and doesn’t have to break the bank. There are only 3 basic steps needed to have healthy glowing skin; cleanse, refine and protect.

Cleansing is key.  It provides the foundation for using other products. A good cleanser is gentle, soap-free and should remove all dirt, oil, environmental pollutants and make-up.  After cleansing your skin should not be irritated, tight or dry, just fresh and clean.  There are quite a few high quality cleanser available at the drugstore in the $8 -$10 range.

Refinement  is really makes the difference in how skin looks and feels. To refine, you have to exfoliate.  Exfoliation means removing the top layer of dead cells from the skin’s surface. It is one of the primary uses of alpha hydroxy acids or AHAs.  There are a number of ways to exfoliate that range from washing with a rough wash cloth to facial scrubs and dermabrasion.  AHAs are better than other forms of exfoliation because they can be used twice a day. Removing dead skin cells sends a message to the body to produce new skin cells. When using AHAs twice a day cellular turnover is occurring twice a day. This leaves skin fresh and soft with more even tone and texture. AHAs can be used by women of all ages and skin types.  Other methods of refining may not be as effective and cannot be used as often.  The cost of exfoliation is widely variable and ranges from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars.  Alpha Hydrox treatment products cost between $10 and $20.

The last step is to protect your skin. Many women think that using a moisturizer is the only way to get softer, fresher looking skin.  Moisturizers do not affect change in your skin like AHAs. If you have normal to dry skin, a moisturizer will make your skin feel better but not everyone needs a moisturizer.   But everyone needs a sunscreen!  Protect your skin from the sun.  Sun damage causes many of the signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines and dark spots.  To protect your skin from the sun, always wear a sunscreen with SPF15 or higher, even on cloudy days.  There are lots of facial sunscreens available  in the $10 – $20 price range.

So do you need 8 steps in your skin car routine?  No, but if you like the way a toner, tonic or serum feels, go ahead and use it.  Cleanse, refine and protect is all you need to do. Skin care is simple and can be very affordable.  With just 3 products and less than $50 you can have healthy, glowing skin.  All the rest is just hype.

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AHAs – Nature’s Skin Care

Alpha Hydroxy Acids are the corner-stone of Alpha Hydrox skin care products.  But what are alpha hydroxy acids or AHAs as they are commonly known?  AHAs are naturally occurring acids derived from fruit, milk and nuts. Long ago, women took bathes in sour milk and Cleopatra was said to have used old wine on her face.  Later, women in France were also said to have washed their faces with old wine. We all know that masks made with fruit and yogurt have been around for many years.  All of these are examples of alpha hydroxy acids being used to improve the look and feel of skin.  There are six primary sources of AHAs.

  • Glycolic Acid  -  from sugar cane
  • Lactic Acid  -  from sour milk
  • Citric Acid  – from citrus fruits
  • Tartaric Acid  -  from grapes
  • Malic Acid  -   from apples
  • Mandelic Acid  -  from almonds

AHAs are natural ingredients, readily available (making them cheaper) and they have been around for centuries.  But how do they work?  AHAs have two primary uses; as a humectant, to increase the water content in the skin and as an exfoliant, loosening dead skin cells from the skin’s surface. Exfoliation and moisturizing are both beneficial in skin care products. Exfoliation stimulates and accelerates normal cellular rejuvenation.  The results are softer, smoother healthier-looking skin.  AHAs also help to even skin tone and texture leaving skin better hydrated and more flexible.  To make highly effective, very affordable products, we use various AHAs in lots of our skin care formulas.

Alpha Hydrox was the first to make alpha hydroxy acids or AHAs available to all consumers and not just dermatologists. This year, we are proud to say that we have been making for Alpha Hydrox products for 20 years!  Millions of women use Alpha Hydrox and now you know why.

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