Archives for category: aging skin

All About Vitamin A

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What it is:

Vitamin A can come in two forms: animal-based (fat-soluble) and plant-based (water-soluble).   Vitamin A derived from animal foods can be used directly by the body.  The fat-soluble or retinoids, includes retinol, retinal and retinyl esters, which are the most well-known.

A great example of the plant-derived vitamin A is retinyl palmitate, which is derived from beta carotene.  Beta carotene is recognized for its pro-vitamin activity and its metabolism takes place in a number of organs, including the skin.  With dietary supplementation, beta carotene can be further enhanced in the skin and the bioavailability of pro-vitamin A and retinol can be increased by essential fatty acid status.  Pro-vitamin A is acquired from fruits and vegetables that contain carotenoids.  Carotenoids are converted to retinol by the body after the food is ingested and are effective antioxidants. Dietary sources of Vitamin A include: apricot, beef, butter, broccoli, chicken, carrot, cheddar cheese, cod liver oil, eggs, fish liver, kale, milk, mangos, spinach, pork, peas, pumpkin, sweet potato and turkey.  The maximum recommended daily intake is around 10,000 IUs.

In the Body:

Vitamin A plays an integral role in keeping the body and skin functioning by boosting vision, as an essential component in the protein the absorbs light in the retinal receptors, stimulating the production and activity of white blood cells, helping maintain the health of the cells lining the body’s interior surfaces, taking part in remodeling bone, regulates cell growth and division, and improving the function of the immune system.

Skin effects of vitamin A deficiency affects epithelial tissue, increase keratinization, and facilitates delayed wound healing.  Vitamin A deficiency has been linked to keratosis pillars, sometimes referred to as chicken skin.  It manifests as pesky, red, inflamed bumps that appears on the back, arms, thighs, and even buttocks.  In more extreme cases, a lack of Vitamin A manifests into phyrnoderma, otherwise known as toad skin, which is more intense and includes raised plaques that can appear on all areas of the body.  Supplements high in Vitamin A can work on a number of different skin issues.

Vitamin A is part of the body’s natural repair system.  The body stores vitamin A, or retinol, for use in the production of new collagen.  As the body ages, its ability to produce and store vitamin A is diminished, making topical application all the more necessary.

History of Topicals:

Since its debut in the 1960’s, vitamin A has been a gold standard of the skin care industry.  In 1969, James E. Fulton, Albert Kligman, and Gerd Plewig, medical doctors at the University of Pennsylvania, developed the retinoic acid concentrations for the treatment of acne.  Researchers at the University of Michigan noticed that users in the study group also experienced a softer skin texture and fewer wrinkles.  This discovery led to Retin-A being approved by the FDA for use in the treatment of photodamaged skin, meaning skin affected by exposure to sun resulting in wrinkles, roughness, altered texture, decrease in collagen, hyperpigmentation and decrease of epidermal thickness.  Because of its tendency for irritation, this Retin-A formulation is available by prescription only in a strength of .01-.05%.

Gentler all-trans retinols, vitamin A palmitate and vitamin A propionate, are commonly found in over-the-counter products.  The skin has the natural ability to transform all tretinion into retinoic acid (Retin-A), but because the skin acts as a guard gate for the body, it is very partial about restricting large molecules with long-carbon chains from passing through the outer layer of the skin.  Vitamin A palmiate was commonly found for many years in over-the-counter cosmetic products and heavily marketed as the cousin of Retin-A.  It has a very large molecule and a 36-carbon chain that oxidizes quite slowly.  Poorly converted by the skin into retinoic acid, it is easily degraded by oxygen and sunlight.

In 1990, James E. Fulton patented vitamin A propionate.  It contains a 23-carbon chain and, with use over a longer period, this short-chain retinol gives similar results to Retin-A without the excessive redness and irritation.  Vitamin A propionate accelerates the body’s natural cell renewal cycle from 30 days to between 10-14 days.  With its shorter chain, the results are far superior to vitamin A palmitate.  In a strength of 1%, it is about as effective as a .01% retinoic acid, or Retin-A.

For the Skin:

Vitamin A is a pivotal player when it comes to treating acne.  It helps reduce the thickening of the skin due to retention hyperkeratosis, or holding onto too many skin cells, and it can help balance oil production.  Vitamin A reduces the process of hyperkeratinization, which is an abnormal clumping up of cells in the hair follicle, leading to impactions.  This reversal of comedogenesis, a primary factor in acne, can clear up acne and, with continued use, halt the acne process.

While vitamin A is a highly effective treatment for acne vulgaris, it is also an incredibly potent anti-aging treatment.  As it ages, the skin’s cell turnover rate begins to decline rapidly, leaving a dull and devitalized skin tone, as well as visible fine lines and wrinkles.  Vitamin A can help speed up skin cell turnover rate and create a smoother, more even skin texture.   In the skin, retinol is converted to retinal and then to retinoic acid.  Retinoic acid modifies gene expressions and influences cellular processes in both the dermis and the epidermis.  Vitamin A influences epidermal variation, controlling growth factors, inhibiting sebacecous gland activity, and suppressing androgen formation.  Severely photodamaged skin has an abnormal thickening of the stratum corneum, or outermost layer of the epidermis.  Applying a topical vitamin A normalizes this.  This reduction of keratin cells in the stratum corneum gives the skin a rosy, healthy glow and reduces the appearance of fine lines.  The thinning of the stratum corneum also enhances the ability of topical products to better react with the skin.

Retinyl palmitate will increase collagen and enhance DNA, skin thickness and elasticity.  Retinol boosts collagen production and increases cell renewal.  Prolonged application of topical vitamin A derivatives have been demonstrated to increase dermal thickness and stimulate collagen production, significantly reducing facial wrinkles for a youthful complexion.  Believed to aid in exfoliation, topical retinol products can also be sensitizing.  Advise clients when first starting with this to use once or twice a week initially to up the skin’s tolerance.  Vitamin A is an extremely effective ingredient for anti-aging.  It diminishes fine lines and wrinkles, significantly improves uneven skin tone, smooths and refines the skin surface, and increases the appearance of firmness.  Vitamin A is a smart addition to your night regimen.

Check out our awesome Vitamin A products!

Retinol Night Creme, Matrix Oil, Vit A & Retinol Night Masque

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The most popular active ingredients used in today’s skin care products.

There are so many ingredients used in skin care it’s hard to keep track and up to date.  This is a comprehensive introduction of a 14 part series of the most frequently used active ingredients.  In each of the following parts there will be a detailed explanation of the ingredients below; what they are, where they come from and what their benefits are.

The Vitamins:

  • Vitamin A (Retinols):  Vitamin A is an extremely effective ingredient for anti-aging, helping diminish fine lines and wrinkles, significantly improving uneven skin tone, smoothing and refining the skin’s surface, and increasing the appearance of firmness.  There are widely known derivatives of Vitamin A, like Retinol, and occur is popular products, like Retin A and Accutane.
  • Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid):  Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant.  It is often used to treat sun damage, promote collagen formation, and slow collagen degradation.  It is, also, helpful in repairing acne scars and decreasing inflammation.
  • Vitamin E (Tocopherol):  Vitamin E is a major antioxidant nutrient.  It slows cellular aging and aides nourishment to cells.  It blocks free radicals, reduces wrinkles and helps skin to remain looking youthful.

The Acids:

  • AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid): AHAs are water-soluble, the most common types are Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid.  Their ability to exfoliate the skin helps repair dryness, aging and sun-damage.  They allow newer, softer and healthier- looking skin to emerge.
  • BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid): BHAs are lipid or oil-soluble,  the most common type is Salicylic Acid.  They get down into pores to cut through oil that clog them.  They, also, have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and are great for the treatment of acne.
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid: Alpha Lipoic Acid or ALA is a water and fat soluble antioxidant, often referred to as ‘the universal antioxidant’.  It is an anti-inflammatory, reducing swelling, puffiness, redness and blotchiness.  It, also, shrinks pore size and decreases the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Glycolic Acid:  Glycolic Acid is an AHA, derived from plants like sugar cane and pineapple.  It is an exfoliant that removes dead cells, revealing a brighter complexion.  It can treat scarring, discoloration, and fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Hyaluronic Acid:  Hyaluronic acid naturally occurs in your body.  It keeps collagen synthesis up, as well as retaining skin moisture, contributing to the skin looking younger and diminishing the appearance of wrinkles and discoloration.
  • Lactic Acid:  Lactic Acid is an AHA, it is derived from fermented dairy.  In low concentrations it is a nourishing agent, increasing oil and fat productions.  In high concentrations it is exfoliant, improving skin’s texture, stimulating cell turnover and brightening the appearance of the face.
  • Salicylic Acid:  Salicylic Acid is a BHA, derived from willow bark (the same place we get aspirin).  It not only unclogs pores and helps clear acne but also prevents the formation of new acne and blackheads.

 

  • DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol):  DMAE is a powerful anti-inflammatory.  It causes muscles to contract and tighten under the skin, therefore helping maintain muscle tone preventing sagging of the face.  It increases firmness, lifts and reduces fine lines and smoothers the surface of the skin.
  • Enzymes:  Enzymes are chemicals that speed up the rate of chemical reactions, making them very effective as exfoliants and anti-inflammatories.  Some of the most common enzymes used in skin care include pineapple, papaya, kiwi, fig, mango and banana extracts.
  • Peptides:  Peptides are portions of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.  All peptides have a skin-restorative ability.  Some peptide use have resulted in the soothing of skin and reduction of expression lines.
  • Stem Cell:  Stem cells are the building blocks of skin.  They are able to replace damaged cells, helping to fight the look of fine lines, wrinkles, age spots and renew elasticity in the skin.

Next Up: Part 1: All About Vitamin A

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Honey has been used in ayurvedic, or whole-body, medicines dating back over 3,000 years.  It has been a favorite of nutritionists, dietitians and naturopaths due to its extraordinary health benefits. It is also widely used for its therapeutic effects.  Honey contains nearly 200 substances; it is rich in natural sugars like fructose and glucose along with essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, fructo-oligosaccharides, and amino acids.  It also contains flavonoids, phenolic, acids, ascorbic acid, tocopherols, catalase, superoxide, dismutase, reduces glutathione, and peptides.  Honey is anti-viral, wound healing; it is used to treat chronic skin ulcers.  It increases cell growth and provides antimicrobial activity.  Honey promotes cell proliferation and anti-aging of the skin.

The Bellanina Honeylift Invigorating Massage Lotion improves hydration and exfoliates the skin while bringing cellular rejuvenation to dull, lackluster skin.  Through tappotment massage strokes, blood and oxygen is circulated, tissue is cleansed and a rosy glow is imparted to the face.  Tapping on major acupressure points gives a deeper level of relaxation while clearing energy meridians of stagnant chi and providing healing benefits to other organs of the body.  Honey is an antibacterial and has been found to provide immune system support.

A key component of the Bellanina Facelift Massage treatment, Bellanina Honeylift Invigorating Massage Lotion is made from pure, organic honey and orange blossom essential oil.  This sophisticated massage lotions softens and revitalizes the skin while providing antibacterial benefits and immune system support.  Honey stimulates the regrowth of tissue, strengthens capillaries and the fibroblasts needed for healing.  It also encourages the dermis to develop new connective tissue and speeds up the growth of epithelial cells.  Honeylift is designed to delight your senses and provide wonderful, natural face-lifting benefits.

This natural and delicious ingredient could only be referred to as liquid gold.

Changes in your skin should be examined by someone with extensive knowledge of proper skin care and conditions. But how do you know who to contact?

A dermatologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the treatment of skin. This means they have attended medical school (just like your regular doctor) and have received extra training to care for the skin. They are capable of prescribing medications and medical treatments for skin conditions. They are able to diagnose skin conditions and perform surgery.

An esthetician (sometimes known as a skin care therapist) has attended a trade school and passed a state board exam. Schooling requirements range by state (usually 3-6 months). Estheticians have received training on skin care treatment such as facials, body wraps, skin analysis, microdermabrasion, peels and other skin care techniques to improve the look and feel of your skin. They cannot diagnose skin conditions or prescribe medications however they can recommend over-the-counter treatments for common skin care concerns.

Now, how do decide who to see first?

That depends on your skin concerns, symptoms and medical history. These are all factors to consider and should not be taken lightly. A good rule of thumb is:

If you’re seeking skin care maintenance or cosmetic concerns, start with an esthetician. Estheticians can help with acne, dry skin, maturing skin and even some common concerns such as rosacea or hyperpigmentation. An esthetician may recommend specialized treatments or skin care products to help reduce or eliminate your problem.

If you have persistent symptoms despite home treatment, pain, sudden development of symptoms or reactions to chemicals, medications or anything your skin came in contact with, see a dermatologist. A dermatologist can help to rule out any underlying medical condition and prescribe medications that will be more aggressive for the treatment or persistent issues. For example, if you have painful acne that will not clear up using standard over-the-counter remedies, a dermatologist can provide a higher dosage (prescription) to help treat it.

Unsure?

If you develop a skin concern and are still unsure who to see, check with your primary care physician (PCP). They can either refer you to a dermatologist if they believe it is necessary or advise you to consult an esthetician.

Conclusion

Never ignore any skin concerns you may have or develop over time. Your skin is the largest organ and requires as much care and treatment as your heart, lungs or any other organ. Do not assume that conditions will “clear up on their own” as this can lead to more serious conditions developing. If you are concerned, ask.

Learn more about better skin care at www.bellaninainstitute.com.

We all know that wrinkles come with age. They are a natural part of the aging process and no matter how well we take care of our skin, eventually fine lines and wrinkles will begin to form.

Is age the only reason we start getting wrinkles?

Not even close. It doesn’t take much digging to realize that seemingly harmless activities we engage in every day can cause wrinkles to develop over time. Repetitive behaviors are actually a major source of most signs of premature aging. The best defense? Knowing what these are and making a conscious effort to stop doing them!

Sleeping patterns: How you sleep can make a major impact on how you look when you wake up and how you age. If you like to sleep on your side or stomach, you are holding your face against the pillow and helping wrinkles to develop. Remember – even if you are sleeping only for a couple of hours at a time, you are holding your face pushed up against something in one position.

Straws:  Just like sleeping holds your face in one position, so does sipping a straw or chewing on objects like a toothpick or pen. This leads to lines developing around the mouth (usually caused by pursing your lips or grimacing frequently).

Not Wearing Sunglasses:  If you are out in the sun and not wearing sunglasses you might start squinting frequently. This is also common for people who spend a good portion of their day looking at a computer monitor. Frequent squinting means lines will develop in the delicate eye area (which is especially prone to early aging).

So what’s the lesson?

Always be conscious of what you are doing and avoid falling into bad “aging” habits.

Want to learn more about how to reverse the signs of aging? Visit us online at www.bellaninainstitute.com. We offer a full line of Bellanina Cosmeceuticals which are specifically formulated to reverse or minimize wrinkles, sagging, fine lines, dryness and sun damage.

Here at Bellanina we receive messages every day from women (and men!) looking for ways to look and feel better about themselves. The most common complaint we receive is just looking “tired” and “worn”. It seems that this New Year is the perfect opportunity to invite people to try something new and different, shake up their routine and not accept aging gracefully. After all, your age is just a number and at Bellanina we think people only improve with age.

Start by taking command. Look into the mirror after a shower and before you apply any make up or lotions. Really look at your skin and ask yourself, “What do I want to change?” Are you looking for smoother skin? Do you hate the sight of lines around your eyes or mouth? Or do you just want to feel and looked refreshed?

It is important to take this step because in order to truly take control, you must take action with this first step.

By being honest with yourself and your goals, it will be easier to target the best way to achieve them. Most people can’t afford or do not want to pursue drastic and invasive medical procedures (such as plastic surgery) and at Bellanina, we don’t think you should have to do this at all. With proper skin care and the right products, smoother and younger looking skin is not just a dream. It is a reality we can all have for our own.

Here is a simple checklist of areas to consider:

1) Eyes: Are there fine lines beginning to form around the corners or lids? This could be from squinting or rubbing this area. The tissue around the eyes is especially fragile and can be easily damaged or show premature signs of aging.

2) Mouth: As we get older the expressions we hold our faces in most often will eventually develop into lines around the face. “Laugh” or “frown” lines are especially common once people reach their mid thirties. This can be caused by a reduced elasticity in the skin and lowered collagen production.

3) Neck: As the skin begins to lose elasticity it can begin to “droop” in certain areas, especially the neck and chin.

4) Hands: The most overused and abused area of the body. Your hands are exposed to chemicals, weather, water, bacteria and all sorts of germs that can affect how their appearance. Lines, dryness and flaking are all common culprits of “old” looking hands.

5) Thighs and Stomach: At any age a common skin problem is cellulite. Small “dimpling” of the skin that can lead to a cottage cheese appearance. This can be minimized with corrective skin care products.

6) Uneven Skin Tone/Pigmentation: Brown spots, freckles or even patches of skin that don’t match your overall coloring can be minimized. If you have been living with these common issues but unsure of how to deal with them, take charge this year!

7) Facial/Body Acne: Blemishes can be an irritating and ongoing struggle. Don’t let this problem go on for another day!

We invite everyone to contact us and let us help you achieve your goals this year. Our highly trained staff welcomes questions and will help you design a daily routine that will reduce fine lines, smooth skin and replenish lost moisture. By taking the time to incorporate this into your morning routine you will begin to see the results faster than you can imagine.

So contact us today and let us help you achieve your New Year’s resolution! E-mail us your questions at operations@bellanina.com to receive expert advice on how to achieve your skin care goals in 2011!


Like most common but harmless skin problems, rosacea is a chronic (ongoing) condition that is characterized most commonly by facial erythema (redness). Although it is harmless and mostly a cosmetic problem, rosacea can flair up frequently without warning and may require repeated treatment to keep under control. The good news is that several topical treatments are available today to help calm this inflammation and reduce the appearance over time.

The “What”

Rosacea is actually broken down into four “subtypes” that may occur on their own or in combination with each other:
1) Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea: This type is permanent redness in people with a tendency to appear flushed or blushing easily. Small blood vessels may be visible along the skin surface and in some cases; the skin may experience an itching or burning sensation.

2) Papulopustular rosacea: This type is most easily confused with acne as it is classified by red papules (bumps) on the skin that may be pus filled.

3) Phymatous rosacea: This type is actually associated with another condition called rhinophyma which is an enlargement of the nose. This has many symptoms such as thickening skin, irregular surface nodularities and enlargement. This can affect the chin, forehead, nose, eyelids and ears. Small blood vessels may be visible along the skin surface as well.

4) Ocular rosacea: This will cause red, dry and irritated eyes and eyelids.

Although these are the four main subtypes that occur in most people, there are variations and any condition should be consulted by a doctor (such as a dermatologist) before pursuing any treatment options.

The “Why”

It is natural to want to understand why a certain condition has developed. Although some conditions can be prevented with proper skin care and diet, others are inherited or develop because of factors beyond our control. Rosacea has many sources that have been identified by researchers over the years including: sun exposure, emotional stress, hot weather, wind, heavy exercise, alcohol consumption, hot baths, cold weather, spicy foods, humidity, indoor heat, certain skin care products, some foods, etc.
It is easy to see that sometimes identifying the exact source of rosacea can be problematic. But since it is an inflammation of the skin, most topical treatments can assist in controlling the condition and reducing the appearance and symptoms. Severe conditions may require prescriptions from a doctor for treatment.

The “Who”

Rosacea primarily occurs in Caucasian or fair skinned people of North Eastern European descent but it is not restricted to this. It occurs in both men and women but women are three times more likely to develop this condition. Primary onset occurs between the ages of 30 and 60.

The “How”

So how can you treat rosacea once it occurs? From the list of causes you have probably surmised that the initial onset will need to be treated after the fact and not as a preventative approach. Topical treatments are most common and applied directly to this skin to reduce the inflammation and soothe any irritation. Depending on the severity of the condition, normal cosmetics may be sufficient to cover the redness with no additional treatment required.
Rosacea is not a “curative” condition and may go through periods of inflammation and flair ups. Short term treatments may provide short term relief but the condition could reoccur as soon as treatment has been discontinued. Long term treatments are usually required to maintain control over rosacea.

What to Try

Try a simple but effective topical treatment that is applied directly to the face for relief from the inflammation. A wonderful choice is the RosaCalm, a unique marine complex combined with willow herb and oat beta-glucan help to reduce the appearance of facial redness and calm reactive skin with continued daily use.

Final Thoughts

Although rosacea is an irritating an ongoing condition for most, there are ways to control the problem and find relief. Remember that proper skin care is a lifelong commitment and needs to be fine tuned and developed for your individual skin type and needs. Consult with a dermatologist or esthetician to find the products that will best suit your needs and take control of your rosacea today!