Monday, January 31, 2011

4 Quick Tips for Dry Skin

If you suffer from dry itchy skin, today's tips are for you!

1. Use a gentle, moisturizing cleanser. If you use bar soap, make sure the soap is supplemented with oils or uses butters (such as Shea butter) which do not fully saponify and leave a trace of emollient on your skin.

2. Moisturize immediately after showering/washing. When you moisturize within 3 minutes of bathing, you seal in the moisture and prevent it from evaporating.

3. Use a cream or body butter rather than a lotion. Creams and body butters contain much more oils and butters than do lotions (creams are about 50% emollient-based whereas lotions only have about 20%). While lotions may be sufficient for summer oily skin, they just aren't enough to do anything for dry winter skin.

4. Take supplements. Most people think the status of their skin has nothing to do with what they intake. This can't be further from the truth. Even if you eat healthy and exersize, supplement it with a once daily multivitamin. A daily supplement of fish oil (lots of omega-3 fatty acids) can also be great for dry skin.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

4 ways grapes promote health and youth

Grapes contain various types of polyphenols that promote health. The polyphenols in skin, juice and seeds of grapes include resveratrol, anthocyanins, phenolic acids and flavonoids. Grapes also contain high levels of vitamins K and C.

1. Healthy Brain - Polyphenols in grapes, particularly resveratrol, have been linked to prevention of brain neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. Given the anti-oxidant and gene regulating actions of resveratrol, this is perhaps not surprising. Preventing inflammation and providing the brain with plenty of different types of anti-oxidants keeps it in tip top shape!

Healthy Heart -- The polyphenols in grapes also slow the oxidation of bad cholestrol (LDL - low density lipoprotein), decrease blot clots and reduce abnormal heart rhythms. In patients with hypertention (high blood pressure), these polyphenols reduce blood pressure. You may have heard of the French paradox, which refers to the fact that while French people tend to eat high amounts of animal fat, heart disease continues to be low in France, largely due to the polyphenols from commonly consumed wines.

3. Healthy Skin -- Eating grapes is also great for the skin, since the skin is exposed to a variety of environmental factors (sun, pollution, etc). Grapeseed oil also makes an excellent and nutritious emollient for the skin. It is not only moisturizing, but also provides the skin with vitamins, fatty acids, polyphenols and tannins. These promote the health and look of the skin and protect it from environmental damage.

4. Healthy body -- These polyphenols prevent damage caused by oxidative stress in the whole body and preserve many types of cells. Red or black grapes contain more polyphenols than green ones but all of them are great for snacking and incorporating into foods! So next time you are at the store, grab yourself and the family some grapes!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Confessions of a Fruit-aholic!

Hi. My name is B and I'm a fruit addict. It has been approximately 30 seconds since my last fruit intake. I am not here for help, but to simply share my fruit addiction with you!

Why? The answer is simple: fruits are the most delicious foods on the planet. Luckily, they are also easy to prepare (wash and eat usually suffices if you're on the go like me) and they contain vitamins and antioxidants that are great for your body (and skin). They also come in a variety of bright colors, sizes, shapes which makes them ideal for snack making!

This past weekend we had the pleasure of entertaining some guests so I thought I would share recipes (!) of some of the fruit snacks that went over well.

Chocolate covered strawberries:
The only thing better than fruit is the combination of fruit and chocolate!

Directions: Melt semi-sweet chocolate chips in double boiler. Wash strawberries, dry, dip in chocolate and place on parchment paper. If desired, melt white chocolate and drizzle over the strawberries. Total prep time: 10 min.

The Porcupineapple:
I call this one the porcupinapple (It's made of pineapple and looks like a porcupine!) I learned this one from my aunt and modified it a bit and it is ALWAYS a crowd pleaser.

Directions: place chunks of any fruits and cheese on wooden kebab skewers and stick into the pineapple. Usually I do a lot of berries (blueberries, raspberries, black berries and strawberries) but it is winter and these items are not in season. Not to worry, plenty of other fruit are! Here I have used watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, strawberries as well as Colby jack and mozzarella cheese. Total Prep time: 15 minutes

Fruit hor dourves:

I love hor dourves, they are so easy to make, everyone loves them and there are NO rules! well, none that I follow anyway.

Place a thin layer of cheese (here it is fresh mozzarella but it can be any cheese), cream cheese or chocolate spread (Nutella) on a cracker or bread slice of choice (here I used Triscuits) and put some fruit slices on top. You can get really creative and artistic with this one, which I never actually have time to do.
Total Prep time: 10 minutes.

Fruit Salad:
If you make any of the above, you'll probably have some fruit left over. Throw it in a bowl and it's a whole new snack! No rules, as far as I am concerned, all fruits go together!
Total prep time: 5 minutes

Fruit Bowl:
I think there is a certain elegance to having a bowl of fruits on the table. Most people will not eat any, because it's too much trouble to peel an orange when you're at a party! But I always have the fruit bowl out so I can munch (yes, this sits on my table every day, remember, I am an addict!)
Total prep time: 5 minutes.

Look, in 45 minutes we made 5 delightful snacks! Actually, if you make them all at once it should take less than a half hour.

Do you love other fruit snacks I didn't talk about? Share them with me!!

Dr. B of hydrOtion

Monday, January 10, 2011

Petrolatum - Friend or Foe?

Just before our Christmas vacation to the wonderful snowy land that is Michigan, I dug out my heavy winter coat (which had been in a box for two years, thank you Florida). Before sending it to be dry cleaned, I looked inside the pockets and to my surprise there were two items, a $20 bill (I love finding money that I have forgotten about) and a tube of Vaseline Lip Therapy lip balm. I recall buying the lib balm at a gas station out of desperation on our moving trip down to FL. Living in Michigan for me meant having to deal with dry chapped lips for almost all of winter. I used to buy Burt's Bees lip balm but that is not always an option, so I settled for this balm, which claimed to "protect dry, chapped lips" with it's "advanced formula".

I probably didn't even read the ingredient list. As a scientist, when I read "Advanced Formula" I have certain expectations. These expectations are almost never met outside the laboratory so I have learned to lower my expectations as a normal civilian. Still, I was shocked to read the ingredient list. "Active Ingredient: White petrolatum USP (100%)". So this "advanced" formula contains ONE chemical: Petrolatum! I thought to myself: WHAT THE WHAT? how is the company even allowed to make such claims? Petrolatum is KNOWN to cause further drying and damage to the skin! Even more importantly, how could I, an educated person who cares about my health, ever purchase this item???? I almost threw it away in shame but after telling the story to a couple of friends, I decided I should use it to help clear up some misinformation about this mystery substance petrolatum.

Here I will give you only the facts, in bullet points, because frankly you don't have all day!

What is it?
  • Petrolatum is also known as white petrolatum, petroleum Jelly or soft paraffin.
  • As the name suggests, it is a petrochemical (derived from oil).
  • It was discovered in a US oil rig and refined by Robert Chesebrough, a chemist who later founded the Vaseline company.
  • Its molecular structure is a non-polar hydrocarbon, which renders it very hydrophobic (water repelling).
The Good:
  • Because of its hydrophobic nature, petrolatum does not get absorbed but forms a layer of film (a barrier) on the skin and does not allow most things to pass through.
  • This barrier is exactly why the FDA has approved petrolatum as a "skin protectant." Placing petrolatum on a cut can prevent bacteria and dirt from penetrating the wound and decreased the chance of infection (much like a band aid).
  • This barrier can also keep skin hydrated by preventing evaporation of the skin's natural moisture.
  • Petrolatum is also very stable (although it is flammable) and easy to integrate into skin care formulas.
  • It is CHEAP and profitable! The 10g tube of lip balm (100% petrolatum) sells for $2 while I can buy it in bulk for $6/kg, which means only 6 cents for the 10g tube.
The Bad:
  • The barrier formed on the skin by petrolatum can be a double edged sword. If it can prevent evaporation of moisture from the skin, it also prevents absorption of moisture. If it can keep bacteria out, it can also trap bacteria in, etc.
  • The barrier blocks your pores and prevents proper detoxification.
  • The barrier prevents absorption of essential nutrients, vitamins and anti-oxidants by the skin, leading to under-nourished and unhealthy skin. This is why long-term use of petrochemicals can actually cause breakouts and leads to dry, cracked and damaged skin.
  • It is simply a barrier, it does nothing to nourish or promote the health of your skin.
The Ugly:
  • Petrolatum has been proposed by various studies to be a carcinogen (cancer causing agent). As a scientist, I can tell you that just about EVERYTHING has been shown by a couple of studies to be a carcinogen! I am not defending petrolatum, but there is just not enough evidence to label it as a known carcinogen (though it wouldn't be the least bit surprising that rubbing petroleum-based compounds all over one's body would be hazardous!)
  • There is no general consensus on just HOW bad petrolatum is for you. For example, it has been banned for use in cosmetics in the European Union but the environmental working group gives petrolatum a non-toxic score of 2 (scale of 0-10, 10 being most toxic).
  • A more concerning fact to me is that petrolatum is often contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which are KNOWN carcinogens (not much debate on this one, pretty much everyone agrees!). Sadly, the FDA has no rules regarding the purity of petrolatum so you never know if you are putting PAHs on your body or not!
Why care about petrolatum?
  • One of every 14 skin care products on the market contains petrolatum. So you probably DO use it, unless you carefully filter.
  • Surprisingly, 40 percent of all baby lotions and oils use petrolatum so if you have kids, pay attention!
  • Luckily, FDA restricts petrolatum in food to no more than 10 parts per million (0.001%) so at least you don't have to worry about it in food items (although you DO ingest lip balm).
The Verdict:
  • Don't use it! Petrolatum is NOT your friend! Do you know how many healthy alternatives there are to petrochemicals? Just about any natural oil or wax will have the benefits of petrolatum (and much much more) without the harm. I just can not think of any good reason people choose petroleum-based skin care. Probably the same reason I bought the Vaseline lip balm: no time to think about it and it claims to protect with its advanced formula. Well, now you know. So next time you're at the store and grab a lotion or lip balm and see "petrolatum" in the ingredient list, just put it back down and reach for something else.
These reasons are why you will NEVER find petrochemicals in any hydrOtion products. Instead, we use the most skin-compatible natural oils and butters that deliver nutrients while they soften your skin and lips.

--Dr. B of hydrOtion

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Looking back on 2010

I thought this would be a good opportunity to thank all of you for your support in 2010. What an amazing year as we got the company off the ground and passed our expected revenue with just four products!

Let's have a quick look back at 2010, shall we:

Most popular product: The Ultimate Eye Creme.

Best selling lib balm flavor: Chai!! I kid you not, Pineapple coconut came very close but apparently I am not the only Chai addict!!

Product most suggested for addition in 2011: Men's lip balm.

Organizations we decided to donate to: Association for Women in Science and The Girl Effect

We were so lucky to find 1260 Productions for all of our design needs (I love our logo, thank you!).

Also would like to thank my buddy, Dr. Smith of K.E. Smith Photography for taking photos of our wonderful models Kayte and Christina.

And of course, thanks to everyone who has spread the word about hydrOtion. We couldn't have done it without you!

I think this wraps it up! I look forward to stressing over all of ambitious plans we have for 2011!