Friday, August 29, 2014

Project Skin Deep: Healing from Rosacea and Dermatitis

Here's a recent sweaty selfie after a run. This
is a no make up and no filter look.
They say that a woman's skin cannot hide her secrets. Had she been sleeping late, bingeing on chocolates or stressing over an issue, a pimple breakout would tell her story. Had she taken a little too much margarita on a Friday night out, her lackluster skin on the following day would give it away.

When I had the first signs of dermatitis late in 2010, I was quick to attribute it to a skin allergy and its medication without any sound basis. Scaling near the hairline was a skin problem that popped up from time to time yet, it did not bother me as much as when the scaling worsened and appeared on other parts of my face. Adding to the problem was what later on appeared as mild rosacea, which caused some itching and stinging sensation on my cheeks and between my brows.

Out of worry, I went on a product trial spree---changing my 10-year daily skin regimen to other drug store products and organic finds known to be effective on sensitive skin. None of them solved the scaling and flare ups.

It was only in February this year when I finally saw a skin expert in the name of Dr. Vermen Verallo-Rowell, Makati Medical Center's Chair of Dermatopathology and Founder of VMV Hypoallergenics. She diagnosed my skin problems as mild rosacea, and seborrheic and photocontact dermatitis. Dr. Verallo's approach to managing my skin problems was holistic. She inquired about my activities and sources of stress as a way to internally address the cause of my woes. Externally, her prescription included washing my face with Oil So Well Virgin Coconut Oil in the morning and at night time; rubbing Red Better Daily Moisturizer on areas affected with rosacea; and putting on Skintangible, a BB cream with SPF 30, every morning.

After six months of consistent use, coupled with healthy lifestyle activities that she advised me to sustain, I am already reaping the benefits of a clearer and healthier skin.

Sharing how I did it with what worked and what did not through the following tips:

1. Get an expert's advice - Here's something that you should not do: Google your skin woes.

At the onset of my rosacea, I relied on Google to take me to popular medical websites that offered descriptions of common skin problems and their corresponding medications. Despite insistent reminders to see a dermatologist, I still chose a DIY approach to solving my skin problems only to realize much, much later that none of my solutions ever seemed to work.

2. Opt for sustainable skin care - I have always lived by the philosophy that skin care should be affordable (within one's budget), accessible (can be easily bought) and always available (self-explanatory). When Dr. Verallo recommended VMV Hypoallergenics, I had no reservations because they were well within my personal skin care budget---not to mention that VMV stores offer occasional 10-15% discounts, and their well-stocked stores are present in malls that are near my home and workplace. I should also say that VMV allows product reservations by phone so if a shop happens to have run out of a preferred item, you can always reserve from another store and agree on a reasonable date or time for pick up.

3. Observe good hygiene - Even the best products in the market can be ineffective when used inconsistently and when good hygiene is not practiced. I would have been cleared from dermatitis earlier had there been no times - rare ones - that I fell asleep with my make up on.

4. Practice healthy lifestyle - The introduction to this post best explains why one should eat healthy and exercise. To eat healthy does not require depriving one's self with the foods we love; all it takes is a conscious effort to eat clean at least 80% of the time. Eating clean means choosing fresh and organic fruits and vegetables - especially those that nourish the skin - over processed food or it can simply be choosing healthy home-cooked meals over some oily fastfood.

Getting enough exercise also helps keep many skin problems (and other diseases) at bay. A good cardio like running, brisk walking, biking and zumba can help improve blood circulation and cleanse pores.

5. Drink lots of water - Water cleanses our body from toxins and other impurities. A well-hydrated body reveals better complexion and helps us feel revitalized after a stressful day at work.

6. Catch the zzzs before they bite - Without enough sleep, our body releases more cortisol -- the stress hormone that can break down skin collagen. Lack of sleep can result in dull skin, fine lines and those hard to rid dark circles under the eyes. Lastly, sleep facilitates cell regeneration, which is essential to curing both skin and emotional problems.

7. Center in your core - Common skin infections with external causes can be easily cured with topical medications; however, persistent problems such as rosacea and dermatitis are said to be more complex than what they seem to be. Studies suggest that stress is a strong factor as such, treatment should be administered more than skin deep.

A lot of this inner work can be addressed by regular meditation, mindfulness and yoga. Being aware of the sources of stress and taking steps to abate them with a calm and focused mind can make wonders not only on our skin but on our whole well-being.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Environmental Side of VMV Hypoallergenics

When I decided to change my line of skincare products early this year, one of the things that I first noticed about VMV Hypoallergenics products was their packaging. They came in elegantly-crafted glue-free boxes that made me just want to keep them.

After some Googling, I learned that there's more to these boxes than what meets the eye. VMV uses soy-based ink printing, 100% post-consumer waste and "environmentally-friendlier" components.

Later, I was informed that everything that VMV sold was indeed reusable... and they reward their customers with a Club VMV point for every bottle/container and packaging that is returned through their stores!

For me, that gives me more reason to love VMV for not only bringing skintelligent care to their customers, but also for involving them in their eco-friendly initiatives.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Buy Local: Island Basics Fresh Bamboo Room & Linen Spray

I'm hoping to get a good night's rest with the scent of fresh bamboo on my pillows.

A 100 mL bottle of Island Basics Room & Linen Spray that is made of natural alternatives can be bought from Echostore for only P160.

Island Basics is a sustainable enterprise with locally-made and sourced products (whenever possible). It also supports groups such as Green Earth and World Vision thus, every purchase of Island Basics product contributes to the local economy and the education of Filipino children.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Health Benefits of Grapes

Red grape shake at Franco's Power Plant Mall
Grape fruit shakes make perfect summer drinks. They're sweet, they're cool, and most of all, they're healthy!

I made a quick web research on the potential health benefits of my favorite drink and I'd like to share them with you through Green and Well.

What's in a grape?

Flavonoids – Flavonoids are chemical substances that are found in plants. Potentially, they are good anti-oxidants, which can help prevent heart disease by lowering the levels of bad cholesterol, relaxing blood levels, and reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. (Source: WebMD)

Resveratrol – Resveratrol is a phytoalexin, a natural antibiotic that is produced by plants, including vines. This substance is abundant on the skin of red grapes. Studies show the potential anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and blood sugar-lowering characteristics of resveratrol. (Source: French Scout)

Why should I make grapes a part of my regular diet?

Some immediate benefits of consuming grapes include instant hydration due to their high water content. Grape juice is also a popular home remedy for migraines and constipationI guarantee this! 

On a long-term basis, regular consumption of grapes can help
  1. protect the heart
  2. lose weight
  3. improve brain function 
  4. prevent the formation of plaque that may damage the brain (associated with Alzheimer's disease)
  5. protect the skin from cancer
  6. protect the body from radiation
  7. support diabetic cases
  8. relieve inflammation
  9. encourage muscle recovery
  10. affect longevity
Read more: Care2 and Healthy Food House

How much grapes should I consume to attain optimal health benefits?

Medical News Today recommends an average serving size of one cup or an equivalent of 32 pieces of grape. It provides the following nutritional content per serving:
A selection of grapes One cup of red or green grapes contains 104 calories, 1.09 grams of protein, 0.24 grams of fat, 1.4 grams of fiber, 4.8 milligrams of vitamin C, 10 micrograms of vitamin A, 288 milligrams of potassium, 0.54 milligrams of iron and 3 micrograms of folate.
In what ways can I serve grapes to my family?

Grapes can be consumed as snacks, fruit shakes or as ingredients in salads and fruit cocktails. For children, consider freezing grapes or making delicious slush drinks that are perfect for warm weathers!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Natural Healing with Echostore's Lagundi Tea

I <3 herbal teas with healing properties!
Echostore's Lagundi Tea sweetened with Pure Honey from Sonya's Garden
Let's see if this combination works!
From the product label:

Lagundi (Vitex negundo) - Traditionally, lagundi is one of the most effective remedies for cough and colds. It is also used for the relief of asthma, rheumatism and fever because of its expectorant, analgesic, and antipyretic properties.

Friday, February 21, 2014

No SPEED Limit 2014

I ran for someone special this month of hearts at the Ateneo SPEcial EDucation (SPEED) Society's annual fund-raising run.

I am quite happy with the results despite the insufficient training: finished 5k in 27:54, ranking 70th out of 272 female and male runners (14th out of 79 female runners).

Looking forward to running another 10k soon until I make it to a half marathon.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Natural Medications for Psoriasis and Seasonal Allergies

Psoriasis occurs in a small percentage of the general population. It is a chronic skin condition characterized by scaly red patches of skin, which are usually itchy. Stress and changes in weather/temperature are said to cause skin flare ups. There is no found cure yet for psoriasis but there are natural ways to keep it at bay.

Home Health's Psoriasis Medicated Scalp and Body Wash have good reviews from those who have used it.  The medication consists of 2% Salicylic Acid, a topical agent known to work with common skin problems, mixed with Carrot Oil, Jojoba Oil, Aloe Vera, Allantoin and herbal extracts.

For the past two to three months, I have used the product as shampoo and facial wash together with a good moisturizer from time to time. It helped in removing scales and providing some relief to redness and itchiness. However, I do not advise prolonged and continuous use of the product as it may cause some dryness in unaffected areas of the skin. (Update 2014-0221: After seeking for a second opinion from a dermatologist, I learned that my skin conditions fall under dermatitis, not psoriasis.)

Psoriasis Medicated Scalp and Body Wash is available at Healthy Options outlets and online at iHerb and Amazon.

* * *

The -ber months and the first few two months of the year bring cool winds and lower temperatures that may lead to seasonal allergies with symptoms that include sneezing, wheezing, runny nose, and watery and itchy eyes.

One naturopathic cure for allergies is Quercetin Complex. Quercetin is a naturally occurring plant pigmentation that gives fruits, vegetables and flowers their color. It acts as an anti-histamine and an anti-oxidant, as well as assists in anti-inflammatory activities. There are studies that indicate Quercetin's healing properties for heart diseases and cancer.

Suggested use is one to six capsules daily, taken between meals. So far, Quercetin has been effective in curing my seasonal morning sneezing and runny nose. I take two (2) capsules in the morning after breakfast.

Quercetin Complex is also available in Healthy Options.