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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.

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This hydrating mask is great for any season and a variety of hair concerns.  It can help rid summer sun, chlorine, chemical hair dyes and styling products that can make hair damaged dry and straw-like.

What you’ll need:

-One egg yolk

-One tablespoon of melted coconut oil

-One tablespoon of olive oil

Warm the oils (15-30 seconds in the microwave should do it), then add the yolk and whisk together.  Coat your hair and massage it into your scalp.  The mixture will become stiff as the coconut oil cools down.  Cover your hair with a towel and let the mask work its magic for 30 minutes.  After the 30 minutes is up, shampoo and rinse hair well.  Your result: shinning, hydrated, bouncing, rejuvenated locks!  Now go rock it!!

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Rosewater is created through steam distillation of rose petals and is often used in toners and facial spritzes, like our Bellanina Rosewater Mineral Toner.  Rosewater has a high concentration of Vitamin A and C and antioxidants that help to hydrate the skin.  It is often recommended for clients with sensitive skin or conditions like rosacea because of its anti-inflammatory properties that help to calm and soothe skin irritations and flare-ups.  Rosewater, also, has antibacterial properties that make it beneficial for clients with acne.  Additionally, it can help to uplift the mood and increase spirits!

Our Bellanina Rosewater Mineral Toner is unique in containing hydrating and astringent components such as witch hazel, Dead Sea salts and aromatic rosewater.  The witch hazel reduces inflammation, soothes, and heals and the Dead Sea salts purify and re-mineralize.  The rosewater softens, reduces inflammation, refreshes, moisturizes and soothes the skin; tones, cleanses, and has a regenerating effect.  Clients love the natural rose fragrance and often mist it over their entire bodies after bathing before applying moisturizer for even more hydration.  Stay Rosy!

 

Celebrities everywhere seem to have the flawless, gorgeous skin we are all looking for. How is this possible? There are many reasons but first and foremost it is important to remember that celebrities are not immune to the same skin concerns that frustrate the rest of us. In fact, they may be more irritating since celebrities are under scrutiny 24/7 and the slightest flaw is brought to everyone’s attention.

So what is the magic potion they use to look so great? A large team of estheticians, dermatologists, personal trainers and a healthy amount of technology are all that’s needed. Anyone can look flawless when they have that kind of support.

But what about regular, every day people who don’t have the time and money to invest in a “beauty squad”? Is all hope lost?

Not at all. In fact, with a little determination and dedication, you can keep your skin looking more youthful and vibrant all the time.

How we treat our skin when we are young plays a major role in our appearance later on. Sad but true. Hours spent tanning or forgetting to moisturize daily when you are 20 can directly impact how your skin looks at 40. Although this impacts your whole body, facial skin is perhaps the most delicate because it is much thinner than the skin on your back, hands, legs or chest. Remember- just because you can’t see the damage right away doesn’t mean it’s not there.

If you have begun to notice small lines around your eyes or mouth, it is time to get serious about taking better care of your skin. Develop a daily skin care routine designed for mature skin and make sure to follow it every day.

Here are a few basic tips:

1)     Cleanse daily. Every morning, every night. If you do nothing else, do this. Your skin collects dirt, debris and bacteria. It is build up that clogs pores, leaves skin looking tired and creates other skin issues later on.

2)     Protect your skin: when you garden, drive, swim, whatever. Always wear a sunblock of at least SPF 30 and re-apply often. All too often we apply once and assume we are covered for an entire day. This is not so. Sunscreen should be re-applied every two hours.

3)     Moisturize: Just as it is important to remove the bad from your skin, you should always maintain the good. Hydrated skin looks and feels better. Use a cosmeceutical grade moisturizer to penetrate the surface layer and really help your skin cells to build collagen and elastin.

There are simple tricks to looking your best like eating healthy, exercise and keeping a happy and stress free life. Believe it or not the health of your skin can be affected by everything you encounter! But just because you may have celebrated (or scorned) your last birthday because you turned 50, it doesn’t mean you have to act or look like your 50.

Learn more about anti-aging skin care at www.bellaninainstitute.com.

“If you hold your face like that, it will get stuck!”

As we age, our skin slowly loses its elasticity. Add to that repetitive facial holding patterns (such as scowling, frowning, eyebrow furrowing) and you get deep lines around the mouth, eyes and nose. As children, those lines would disappear as soon as we stopped making faces but as an adult, those lines soon show up all the time. What can you do?

Stop making faces.

This may seem like a no-brainer but it’s actually much harder than it sounds. When you stare at a computer screen for long periods, read for hours on end or concentrate on a single task, it is easy to forget to relax your face. Think about it: how many times have you realized that you have been staring at a computer screen while squinting your eyes for several minutes? It may seem like nothing but all those minutes add up fast!

Quick fix: Make an effort to take frequent breaks while working. This doesn’t need to be a long break to get a cup of coffee. Just make an effort to look away from the computer screen for 30 seconds every few minutes and allow your face a chance to relax. This goes for any other project requiring long periods of concentration.

Long-term solution: Facial lines are not necessarily permanent but do require an active effort to smooth out. Deeper lines, once they have formed, may never disappear entirely. Remember that skin care is a daily responsibility and with an active effort, you can keep your skin looking smooth and vibrant.

            Choose a good moisturizer: A loss of elastin as we age is a main culprit of lines and wrinkles. Choose a good daily moisturizer that is designed for mature skin. A moisturizer combined with an SPF of at least 30 (Sheer Moisturizer SPF 30) will not only protect your skin against harmful damage but also provide hydration at the same time.

Serums: Finding the correct products for your needs can seem like a daunting task but remember there are trained estheticians available who can help you develop a customized skin care system. Corrective products will help your skin to restore its natural functioning (which can deteriorate with age) and keeps it looking healthier. Products like our Alpha Lipoic Serum penetrate the outer layer of the skin (which is what you want in a corrective product) to help achieve long-term results.

The earlier you begin a daily skin care routine, the better your chances are to keep your skin looking better. Mature skin has special concerns and may require more targeted skin care products to achieve lasting results. Consult with your esthetician to develop your skin care routine. Learn more online at www.bellaninainstitute.com.