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Thursday
Dec272012

Is SLS really that bad for you?

Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLS) is treated in the press like a very bad rash.  Well, it is worse than that, because it is often associated with cancer.

SLS is a very efficent detergent and surfactant, which means it breaks the surface tension of water, which is conducive to the creation of foam or lather. In a surfactant, each molecule has a hydrophilic component that is attracted to water molecules and a hydrophobic component that repels water and simultaneously binds itself to oil molecules, bacteria and grease. These opposing forces loosen the dirt or accumulated bacteria and suspend it in the water.  The loose dirt can then be washed out easily.  The other characteristic of SLS, which makes it very popular, is the fact that it is very cheap and easy to manufacture.  

This is why you find SLS in so many shampoos, shower gels, mouthwashes, toothpaste, and personal use and industrial cleaning agents.  Obviously the concentration of SLS in personal care products is much less than what is typically found in industrial cleaning agents.

Like any other detergent, SLS is an irritant when used in concentrated amounts.  This is the case also for many other compounds used in skin care products.

I don't know how it came about, but somewhere, somehow, SLS was linked to cancer and created a mainstream panic.  

Despite many scientific studies, there is no evidence that links SLS with cancer.  That doesn't mean SLS is good for you: as I pointed out before, SLS can be a strong irritant if used in concentrated amounts.  Hence if you notice irritation when using a particular product, an SLS-free alternative may be the way to go.  However, I don't believe you need to be concerned with cancer as this seems to be an unfounded myth.

Monday
Dec242012

The dark and low side of the Sun

My three daughters have gone through the same love for the sun throughout their growing up process.  I believe I understand:  basking in the sun can make us feel and look good in the short-term.   Getting complements from people on your tan is something a teenager or anyone for that matter enjoys, as vane as that sounds.  Cumulative effects of excessive sun exposure are not that fun though, hence we need to put things into perspective.  When you are a teenager, the world tends to run in a more short-term aspect and it is very difficult to see what the future means or what a balanced health-centred lifestyle can do to the quality of life in the future.  

I don't believe you need to live a life of restrictions to nurture your quality of life.  It is all about balance.  It is like that awesome song that says "I refuse to tip toe through life only to arrive safely at death".  I am a firm believer of living life to its fullest, but I don't believe you need to overcommit your body to experience life to its fullest.  That applies to foods, drugs, and the sun.

That golden colour you see and deem as beautiful is the result of injury to the top layer of the skin. It is a defence mechanism of the skin to protect the delicate skin cells of your epidermis from further damage.  A tan doesn't protect you from sunburn if you continue to expose your skin to UV light.  It provides a maximum protection of an equivalent SPF 4, which is not a lot.  

Sunburn, freckles, wrinkles, eye damage and skin cancer are but some of the typical effects of long sessions under the sun without any protection.  To prevent sun damage, be smart and use a sunscreen of SPF 30+, drink plenty of water, use UV-protective clothing and sunglasses and take any other practical precaution when outdoors.

Saturday
Dec222012

Skin care for dehydrated skin

Dehydrated skin has less water than normal skin. This can occur through, among other things, over-exposure to wind, long showers, over-cleansing, and excessive transepidermal water-loss (TEWL).


Often when the skin is very dehydrated it is coupled with increased sensitivity so you’ll need to be gentle and avoid an aggressive approach to treating it.  Hence go easy with the exfoliation. Using harsh products and scrubs can cause inflammation and hence could worsen the dehydration condition.

Some key things you can do to effectively treat dehydration are:

Use a good humectant

A good multi-vitamin humectant will prevent the skin from shedding more water, whilst repairing the skin. I recommend showering with our Glycerin-based shower gels such as the Instituto Español Natural Glycerin Soap or our Instituto Español Chocolate Shower Gel.

Use a good moisturiser

Moisturising is a very important step. The best moisturiser for an impaired barrier function (typically a secondary effect of skin dehydration) is one that is designed to actually repair it. I recommend a multi-vitamin moisturisers such as our Instituto Español Aloe Vera Moisturising Milk or our Instituto Español Aloe Vera Moisturising Hand & Body Cream.  Aloe Vera is able to repair the skin whilst controlling and protecting moisture levels.

Watch what you eat

Make sure you avoid coffee, tea and alcohol as much as possible.  These stimulants typically cause overall body dehydration that reflects on your skin.  Get in the habit of drinking 8 glasses of water a day and remember to ingest water-rich vegetables and fruits.  
    

Saturday
Dec152012

8 ways to save money in the bathroom

Like Benjamin Franklin used to say: "A penny saved is a penny earned."   And the bathroom is a great place to save lots of pennies on a daily basis if we look in the right places.  Have a look at my 8 tips to save money in the bathroom: 

  1. Use a cup of water besides the sink. Use have a cup of water to dip your toothbrush and rinse your mouth.  You can rinse at least twice and get the job done without using too much water!
  2. Turn off the shower while you shampoo and condition.  This simple tip can save you more than 2000 litres every year.   Amazing, isn’t it?
  3. Install a low-flow shower head and stop wasting so much water!
  4. Keep old toothbrushes and use them as general cleaning utensils.  They are good to get to tight places.
  5. Don’t leave lights on when not in use.
  6. Consider purchasing a toilet with 2 different flush settings, one for #1s and one for #2s.  Even after installing this type of toilet, you don't have to flush it every time: "If it’s yellow let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down".
  7. Use less deodorant.  Studies show that most people could get away with wearing a lot less deodorant than what they do.  Overuse can also damage clothing, trigger allergic reactions, and create other  health problems.  The ideal is to just apply one swipe back and forth.
  8. Use less toothpaste.  You don't need to fill in the whole toothbrush with toothpaste to have the right results.  Just try less product until you get to the right level with the desired results.  You will save heaps of toothpaste over time.
Saturday
Dec152012

The beautiful qualities of Cocoa Butter for your skin

It is an all year around affair for me… I love the all-embracing aroma of cocoa butter.  It makes me connect with the tropical feelings of the beach, the sun and the feelings of Summer and the outdoors.

Cocoa butter is a pure edible vegetable fat extracted from the cocoa bean. It is used to make chocolate, and baked goods, as well as pharmaceuticals, ointments, and toiletries. Cocoa butter has a mild chocolate flavour and an all-embracing aroma.

The skin care benefits of cocoa butter are rich and wide. And this is not a coincidence. There are many reasons why cocoa butter benefits your skin.

Cocoa butter is one of the most stable fats known, a quality that coupled with natural antioxidants that prevent chemical decomposition of fats, grants it a very manageable storage life. Its soothing texture, pleasant fragrance and emollient properties of cocoa butter have made it a popular ingredient in products for the skin.

Cocoa butter can be used as a moisturiser and actually penetrates through the top layer of your skin and keeps the next layers healthy and hydrated as well.

The moisturising abilities of cocoa butter are frequently recommended for prevention of stretch marks in pregnant women as it softens the skin so much that it allows the skin to stretch and grow, which stops your skin being sore and leaving you with undesired stretch marks.

The cocoa butter is full of the Vitamins A, C and E. Vitamins have diverse biochemical functions. Some have hormone-like functions as regulators of cell and tissue growth and differentiation (e.g., vitamin A). Others function as antioxidants (e.g., vitamin E and sometimes vitamin C). 

Pure cocoa butter doesn't contain any harsh chemicals and additives like other skin products, making some cocoa butter skin products organic. For these products, the cocoa beans are dried, fermented and roasted and used in the natural state to create natural skin care products.

Instituto Español has a full range of cocoa butter products, including a lotion, a body butter and a coconut oil for your enjoyment.