Featured Healthy Living Skin

Junk Food Is Junk For Your Skin

It’s called “junk” for good reason.

Dump the junk. NO MORE JUNK FOOD. Get rid of it, don’t shop for it, don’t store it.

Unless that isn’t clear yet: while you can lessen some less-than-healthy foods, junk food does your body, brain, and skin ZERO favors, period, and needs to not have a role in your life. At all.

Trans fats, for example, cannot be processed by the body and are linked to many health concerns including lowering our “good” cholesterol and raising our “bad cholesterol;” heart problems; obesity, diabetes, immunologic conditions, and asthma. Because they cannot be processed by the body, they can build up in the brain; they can even be transferred from nursing mothers to babies, with effects that can remain for years.

Feeling good because you’re eating chips labeled “zero trans fats?” Be careful. Some FDAs allow “zero trans fats” as a claim when a food product contains less than 1% trans fats…but because trans fats are in so many thing that we eat, even 0.5% trans fats can add up very quickly (and again, the body can’t process them so even minute traces can build up in the body for decades.)

Dumping the junk can contribute to dramatic improvements in skin, from helping to lessen acne and psoriasis or atopic flare-ups — junk food is pro-inflammatory, after all — to giving your skin a natural, lit-from-within radiance:

• Opt for fresh-squeezed juice or fresh fruit over pre-packaged, longer-life options. Throw out colas and sodas altogether.
• Choose whole-grain, nut-filled, wilder or rawer options over white counterparts: sugar (try coconut sugar, which has some nutritional value and a low glycemic index), pasta, rice, breads.
• Got a sweet tooth? Instead of flavored yogurt, buy raw Greek yogurt and add fresh fruits and raw honey to taste. Look for coconut-sugar and complex-flour pastries. Instead of pancakes, drizzle organic, pure maple syrup over fruit or yogurt. It may take a while but your palate will adjust — and relearn to love — to how natural foods actually taste!
• Need a snack? Try dried or baked root or kale chips, or just raw nuts (incredibly good for you and far more filling).

Stuff to watch out for in ingredients lists:

• If the ingredients list is long.
• If the product can last a long time, it may have lots of preservatives.
• Any mention of trans fats.
• “Hydrogenated” anything.
• Safflower, sunflower, rapeseed and vegetable oils — most of these oils need some hydrogenation to stay stable.
• Preservatives and dyes (some dyes in drinks, chips and candy can cause acne and rashes around the mouth, in addition to other flare-ups).
• Look for “organic” (this claim is strictly regulated by most FDAs).


For more quick tips on how to choose healthier food, check out Eat Right & Move!

Featured Healthy Living Skin

Your Skin Needs Sleep

How to get healthier skin in 30 days?

Sleep more.

Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Less than that is pro-inflammatory which worsens inflammatory skin conditions like acne, eczema, rosacea, psoriasis…and can even hasten aging!

Adequate sleep also helps you stress less (which lessens inflammation) and eat more nutritionally (less inflammation…seeing a trend here?)

For more on how stress and sleep can affect your skin, check out these articles:


Featured Healthy Living

Sun Exposure Tips For Triathletes

by Miguel Feuermann

Unless you decide to do an indoor triathlon (there are some), it is guaranteed that you will spend a large amount of time outdoors training and during the race itself. Depending on the triathlon distance you are training for, chances are you will be exposed to the sun rays for a minimum of 5 hours to upwards of 15 hours per week.

Should you be concerned? Yes!

Is there anything you can do? Yes!

With several years racing in the sport of triathlon from sprints to the Ironman distance, I take sunscreen seriously. As there are not so many secrets in our sport, I share a few that have worked for me.

1: Reapply. Again.

And again.


You need to get into the habit of reapplying approximately every couple of hours. Anything longer than this and your exposure increases as the time goes by.

Apply near the start of the race or training session. At transitions after the swim and the bike, reapply thoroughly. Both at the Canada and Melbourne Ironman races, they had sunscreen stations where attendants offered to  apply endless amounts of sunscreen for you!

2: Don’t Be Shy.

Ask for help.


Ask friends for assistance to apply sunscreen on hard-to-reach areas.

3: Think Clothing.

Prioritize protection.


Due to the nature of our sport, we sweat constantly, we play in the water, and are exposed to the wind. With this in mind, it is ever more critical to maintain adequate levels of protection.

Sun rays pass through clothing. More and more, sports wear manufacturers offer garments with a some UV protection. Something to consider.

4: More Is More.

Double up where you need it.


If you are like me, im quite exposed on my head. As such, I put on a nice layer of sunscreen on my scalp.

5: Wipe Your Hands.

Keep your grip dry.


Important for safety. Make sure to wipe your hands well after applying: you don’t want to get sunscreen on your handlebars as it will make your grip near impossible! Also, careful about getting it on your goggles as it will create a nice oily mess.

6: Bring Mini-Me.

Take sunscreen with you.


Take a mini tube with you for those periods where you plan to go longer than 2 hours so you can reapply while cycling (stopped on the side of the road) and while running.

If you plan to enjoy this beautiful sport for as long as you can, you’ll need to take care as much as possible. Everyone talks about training, coaches, equipment and nutrition. Sunscreen protection is right up on the list for me and a habit I pass down to my children. Get outdoors, get protected! #TriArmada

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— and even kids’ triathlons! —
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Featured Healthy Living Skin

The Bride With A Zillion Allergies

by The Allergista

Photography: Curtis Lehmkuhl


There once was a girl who watched wedding television shows endlessly. She dreamed of lace, pearls, diamonds and trying on dress after dress after dress until ultimately the perfect one brought her to tears. Flowers, diamonds and fresh linens danced through her head, and every imaginable moment was bursting with love and glitter…fast forward to me sitting in a conference room on my lunch break, practically getting hung up on by a bridal shop employee. She didn’t want to take the time to think of options for navigating around my polyester allergy. This is one of the most well known names in bridal store chains, by the way.

It was my very first phone call about wedding dresses, which I made sure to mention….I was so excited! I wanted them to know they were my very first choice. Yet, the excitement wasn’t echoed. I was rushed off the phone after being told “there’s polyester in every single dress.” She hadn’t even looked… or thought…and while most wedding dresses have a polyester lining, not all dresses are made of 100% polyester. If the only occurrence of polyester is in the lining, that’s an easy fix. I’ve had more than one lining replaced since developing this allergy (among many others).

So there I was, my allergies once again standing in my way…leering at me. This obstacle (my WEDDING) was one of my most daunting…but I knew it was time to put on my proverbial war paint and take care of business. I would NOT give up on our wedding. Giving yourself ample time to figure things out is of the utmost importance. I gave myself just under eight months and I managed to pull off an outdoor rustic bohemian wedding and reception with the help of a handful of staff people and a bunch of friends.


As I was on a budget, I narrowed the potential dress shops down to a handful of places. I figured I’d start out with one day of dress shopping and do two shops. If I didn’t find anything, I’d add a second day. I chose one dress shop that is well known in my area and another that I found online. The second one was supposed to be very budget friendly. A few of my bridesmaids met up with me and we headed out to the first shop. SO FUN! The first shop had been kind enough to email back and forth with me beforehand and send some options they thought could work.

The first dress I tried on was lace and while I love love love lace, there was too much polyester that couldn’t be covered up on the outside of the dress; a cotton lining wouldn’t help. When I put that dress on…tears! I absolutely loved it…seeing myself in a wedding dress was everything I thought it would be. I couldn’t wait to walk down the aisle toward my future husband.

I tried on a couple other dresses and they just didn’t do it for me. THEN… I tried on one more. This dress was included in the photos the shop had emailed me and didn’t think I’d like it at all. The amazing employee at the shop convinced me to try it on, though. Plus, it was backless which I DID want and it was 100% silk aside from the lining, which was perfect. I put it on and was so surprised that I loved it! It needed some adjusting to hide a section of one of my tattoos, but other than that, I knew it was the one. The view from the back was to die for and the silhouette was beautiful. It had a beautiful train that rippled along the floor as I moved.

The most important thing was that I knew I could wear it without being itchy and uncomfortable. Plus, the last thing I wanted was to head out on our honeymoon with allergic reactions all over my skin. After developing allergic contact dermatitis (a form of eczema) in 2010, my priorities have definitely shifted. They had to if I didn’t want my skin to be the giant oozing, painful mess that it once was.

So, I put the silk dress on hold while we headed over to the second shop. We walked into the second shop and knew instantly that it probably wasn’t going to work. Polyester was EVERYWHERE. After years of searching for 100% cotton clothing in stores, I’ve gotten pretty good at being able to tell which fabrics are synthetic just by looking at them. I always read the labels, though, just to be sure. I tried on a few dresses and there was one that I liked, but the whole thing was made of polyester. Besides, it was a bit more formal than what I was going for.

As expected, I ended up with some allergic reactions from my day of dress shopping, but after dreaming about that day for so long, it was worth it!



I had my makeup done by a friend of mine who owns her own salon, which was perfect. I knew I could trust her. She was very accommodating and did a bunch of emailing with me beforehand about my chemical allergies (check out for more details on my wedding day makeup!)

Next, we scheduled a trial run. I wanted to do this earlier than most brides because if I DID have a negative reaction, I needed time to heal and time to try something else after the healing was complete.

The thing we were most nervous about was the glue for the eyelashes. My skin HATES adhesive…band aids, tape, you name it, it’s a no-no. So, instead of taking the risk on my face, we put the glue (by Duo Adhesive) on my arm and left it on for about thirty minutes.


With no reaction, I was willing to go for it and she applied the lashes by La Femme Cosmetics. So cool! And so weird-feeling. They take a few minutes to get used to, but then you forget they’re even there. I left the lashes on until I went to bed and was still without an allergic reaction. I. Was. Thrilled. The lashes ended up looking GREAT in the photos, by the way.


I wanted to do something simple with my hair since we were going for a more casual theme. I wanted it to be down with some loose curls. I bought a great flower crown off Etsy as opposed to going for the more traditional veil. The night before the wedding, I washed and braided my hair and made sure to use zero product as my stylist instructed. The day of, my maid of honor and I headed to the salon. All I brought with was my hair spray that was literally the only product we used. But even though I can control what products I bring, I can’t control what they use on other people in the salon…and oh my gosh do those hair dryers blow EVERYTHING around.


My old stylist recently left the company and her chair happened to be more toward their nice big open entryway. Now, I’m closer to the back of the salon. I end up having coughing fits that can only be helped by slugging down some water and trying not to take deep breaths of hair spray-filled air. I know that hair stylists have their designated chairs, so I’m kind of afraid to make waves by asking her to move her chair just for when I come in. Maybe I’ll try next time!


Aaaaah the jewelry. With my nickel allergy to take into consideration, I think my poor husband must have been terrified! There is often nickel in gold as gold is soft and when nickel is added, the gold gets a little more tough. The other option is platinum and let’s not even get on the subject of how expensive that is! I’d rather have more sparkle than a platinum setting. I ended up with a white gold ring which is coated in rhodium. The jeweler warned me that I may have to get it re-dipped more than once a year, depending on how sensitive I was. With the whirlwind that our engagement and wedding was, I don’t even know if they tested the gold for nickel, but the coating was put on just in case. I’ve had the engagement ring since December and have been anxiously waiting for my ring finger to get incredibly itchy but it hasn’t happened! I don’t know about you, but I’m not taking extra maintenance trips to ANY store if I don’t have to!


The earrings I wore were a pearl-drop style and made out of sterling silver. My bracelet was loaned to me by my lovely bridesmaid and was made of sterling silver and pearls. For our outdoor wedding, something more natural like pearls was PERFECT.


We went with a more affordable caterer who specializes in BBQ and comfort food. I pretty much couldn’t eat any of their normal items, but I WAS able to have their roasted chicken. That was the only entree that didn’t have the various chemicals I’m allergic to, or lactose.

Not only do my food additive allergies/intolerance give me digestive issues, but they can wreak havoc on my skin as well. It’s more of a cumulative thing. If I eat five string cheeses a day every day (which I’d love to do and maybe have done in my past), I get a bit itchy all over. The same seems to go for my food additive allergies.

My dinner consisted of roasted chicken, a plain baked potato and a salad which I drizzled extra virgin olive oil on. For dessert, we had cupcakes. I wanted them from a local bakery which is famous in our area and makes such yummy things. They don’t do cupcakes without dairy and frankly I didn’t feel like tracking down a baker who would. I knew I wouldn’t be horfing down cupcakes at my wedding, so I wasn’t concerned. I had the tiniest bite out of my cupcake, but we didn’t do a cake cutting ceremony, so nobody was the wiser…and they loved their cupcakes! I barely even ate my dinner because I was so excited, so I didn’t feel like I was missing out at all.

With food comes…drinks! There was no champagne toast because I’m allergic to champagne. No biggie, though! Everybody had drinks in their hand the whole time anyways. We had more than one successful toast that was in no way tarnished by the absence of champagne. Beer kegs were ordered from a local brewery and their beer is the GOOD stuff — no yucky chemicals that bring on my allergic reactions.

All in all, our wedding was special beyond words. I will never ever forget it and will always cherish it. Starting this new chapter of my life with my unbelievably awesome husband is a dream. I may have had to make sacrifices for my allergies regarding the dress, but I still love my dress more than I could love any dress in the world. I plan to save it and one day, I will have it hung in a box frame in my dream walk-in closet.


It may be a struggle, but the bit of extra work was worth it! I was able to live my dream and you can too! You will probably have to make some compromises, but so what? The most important things are that you’re alive, loved, and happy. Learning to be ok with these compromises will make you a better and more patient person. It will make you focus less on yourself and more on the important things…and I think we could all use that, couldn’t we?


Featured Healthy Living Skin

3 Reasons Why A Facial Makes You A Better Person

Can Something So Delicious Be Good For You?

If you break down what really goes on during a facial, the answer is a resounding, YES!

We normally think of spas as pure indulgence…which sounds wonderful but also like a waste of time. Relaxation is down time, but it is anything but a waste of time. Downtime is when the mind processes and cements learning, when “eureka” moments happen, and when both brain and body reboot. And relaxation, in a very real, physical way, is a necessity — arguably as fundamental to your health as a balanced diet. While the discoveries continue, the link between stress, inflammation and  health problems as diverse as acne, aging, eczema, obesity, depression, and cancer, is well established. Decreasing stress is not a luxury. It is a priority.

But why a facial? Believe it or not, for how much good stuff happens in an hour, a facial might be the most efficient health practice next to regular exercise and proper nutrition that you can do. In just 60 minutes, you get a deep de-stressing session, inflammation reduction…and even brain function improvement. You can legitimately tell your boss that your facial makes you better at work, and your family that it makes you a better person.


1. Give Your Brain A Facial


Could your facial make you smarter?

Based on a growing body of research, Ferris Jabr writes, “Mental breaks increase productivity, replenish attention, solidify memories and encourage creativity” in the “Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime.”  Downtime doesn’t just reduce stress; it allows the brain to become more effective.

Downtime is not sleep which entails different, while also very important, brain functions. Downtime is mental idleness, getting the brain to its “default mode network” (DMN), a mental state of complex functions that allow the brain to digest what it has recently learned and reflect upon itself more profoundly. Being asleep, it seems, is too unconscious for this brain work. Being awake, the brain is too busy for it. When idle in DMN, the brain is in a productive limbo where lessons cement themselves and where we do the deeper work of reflection and self improvement. The brain needs sleep, of course, and undergoes vital reparative and memory work during this time — as an aside, many of our facial clients fall asleep, too! And when we’re awake, we need our brain sharp for obvious reasons — we wouldn’t be able to perform the most basic functions otherwise. But evidence suggests that we should be prioritizing DMN idleness, or waking rest, too, for the powerful work that the brain does during this time.

How does a facial promote DMN? Downtime includes meditation or mindfulness, vacations and naps. A facial is all three. During a typical facialmassage or body treatment, your mind wanders, it slows down. you escape from daily worries and, often, you nap — in perfect increments (studies show that 7-10 minutes of sleep is ideal to reenergize without needing to recover from the “sleep inertia” that follows longer naps).

In addition to relaxation and escape, the research shows that “downtime…is essential to… achieve our highest levels of performance;” downtime can help you become more effective at work and problem-solving. As Jabr writes, “studies have demonstrated that the mind obliquely solves tough problems while daydreaming — an experience many people have had while taking a shower. Epiphanies may seem to come out of nowhere, but they are often the product of unconscious mental activity during downtime.”

If going to the gym gives you 40-60 minutes of sustained physical work that helps lower cholesterol and promote heart health and overall fitness, a facial could be the equivalent for your brain: 60 minutes of Default Mode Network downtime that sharpens your brain and helps you with problem solving. Your Eureka moment might just be waiting for that facial.


2. It’s Therapy


A facial can help you as you work to become a better person.

In the same article, Jabr writes that downtime could be considered a form of self improvement. Citing “Rest Is Not Idleness: Implications of the Brain’s Default Mode for Human Development and Education” by Mary Helen Immordino-Yang of the University of Southern California, Jabr writes, “when we are resting the brain is anything but idle…far from being purposeless or unproductive, downtime is in fact essential to mental processes that affirm our identities, develop our understanding of human behavior and instill an internal code of ethics—processes that depend on the DMN.” Self affirmation, understanding our behavior and strengthening our moral code…if this sounds familiar it’s because we do many of the same things in therapy.

As the mind is freed of distractions, it can make sense of recent learnings and explore unresolved issues that the brain may not be able to focus on during the course of a busy day. Jabr adds, “A wandering mind unsticks us in time so that we can learn from the past and plan for the future…we shuffle through all those neglected mental post-it notes listing half-finished projects.” Hello, goal setting!

“We mull over the aspects of our lives with which we are most dissatisfied, searching for solutions. We sink into scenes from childhood and catapult ourselves into different hypothetical futures. And we subject ourselves to a kind of moral performance review, questioning how we have treated others lately.” Self reflection, check. Self improvement, check.

Therapy is considered a valid practice: focused time for self improvement and to work through problems. Unlike talk-therapy (valuable for different reasons), during a facial, your mind begins to drift and self-reflection happens peacefully and organically. You don’t need to work so hard to let go, you just do. You don’t think, “now I’m going to focus on my life and how I can be a better person” — this, plus surprising perspectives and even solutions, just “pop into your head.” And it’s an altogether pleasant experience: self improvement that doesn’t feel like work.


3. It Keeps You Younger


We’re not talking the cult of youthful beauty, but energy and cellular, systemic health.

Other studies such as “Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators” have shown a link between the positive emotional or psychological results of meditation (downtime) and an increase in the longevity of telomerase, an enzyme that is fundamental to the long-term health and youth of cells. While the notion that meditation reduces stress might be an old one, that meditation could affect proteins related to aging, possibly prolonging our cellular health and youth, is relatively new and compelling.

A facial can certainly help you look younger, but (nice as that is) we’re not just talking about aesthetics. A facial’s inherent ability to encourage DMN could promote youth at a more cellular level. The link between stress and inflammation is well proven, and inflammation is linked to a slew of skin, mental and health problems. In addition to the allergen-free, antioxidant-rich and anti-inflammatory nature of our products, it is the great-mind-escape downtime promoted by our facials that is deeply reparative to skin, brain and, studies imply, more cells throughout the body.


Vacations are considered important for your health and well being, as is therapy and reducing stress. A 60-minute facial, in addition to feeling divine, gives you a sustained, uninterrupted DMN session that promotes brain efficiency and heightened performance, self improvement, and anti-inflammatory cellular health. Looking all glowy afterwards is about as awesome as icing can get on an already incredibly-yummy, surprisingly healthy cake!

Featured Healthy Living Skin

How To Look Good? BE Good.

We all age. That’s just what living organisms do. But what more and more research is showing is that we can affect how we age — how quickly, how severely, how visibly.

We know, for example, that even if you have diabetes in the family, improved nutrition, careful monitoring and daily exercising may keep you from developing it yourself. More kids are getting acne at younger ages and children as young as age 9 are now given simple acne treatments and regimens, reducing the severity of or even preventing acne altogether, even if both parents had it. Genes are not the all-powerful, written-in-stone determinants that we once thought they were. Stunning new studies in epigenetics are showing how gene modifications might be influenced by our actions, too, and that these changes may even be passed along to future generations.

study in the journal Nature and Neuroscience [1] shows how a mother rat’s nurturing can imprint her pup’s DNA with biological characteristics that can be passed on to future offspring. The Learn. GeneticsTM Genetic Science Learning Center of the University of Utah breaks it down:

“Mom’s behavior actually programs the pups’ DNA…The epigenetic code allows certain types of information to be passed to offspring without having to go through the slow processes of random mutation and natural selection. At the same time, the epigenetic code is sensitive to changing environmental conditions such as availability of food or threat from predators…So take heart – your epigenetic destiny is not written in permanent ink.” [2]

Another study [3] showed a link between meditation and an increase in telomerase, an enzyme that is fundamental to the long-term health of cells, meaning their youth. While it might have been obvious that participants would feel less stressed after meditation, that this could also affect our bodies — and specifically proteins related to aging — is compelling. The study showed that these positive “emotional” or “psychological” results can impact how telomeres behave, promoting their longevity, and thereby possibly prolonging our cellular health and youth, too. Even if we don’t go down the seemingly sci-fi road of genetic influence, there is an already solid body of research linking inflammation to several skin concerns from acne to eczema, psoriasis and, yes, aging. And what’s linked to inflammation? Stress.

We know that smoking, a poor diet, comedogens, allergens, pollution and unprotected sun exposure can influence skin. We know that proven active ingredients applied topically can improve the skin’s health and appearance. Now we know that stress management is another key to slowing down the aging process.

While we wait for the cream-pill-yoga pose combo that turns us into a 25-year-old version of ourselves overnight, there are right now, right this second, multiple, totally achievable things we can do to keep us looking younger for longer. And they all (spoiler alert) have to do with being good — to yourself and to others. We’ve chosen the top five here:



Photo-aging, skin-damaging, immunosuppressive UVA penetrates windows and windshields.

You’re great about sunscreen use at the beach, slathering it on and reapplying every one to two hours. Fabulous. What you’ve done, however, is the minimum you need to prevent skin cancer, but not necessarily to fight aging. And fighting aging — or at least slowing down the natural aging process — is something that sun protection can definitely do. In interview with CNN, Mayo Clinic professor of dermatology Dr. Lawrence Gibson notes, “photoaging is not part of the natural aging process — it’s avoidable.” [4] A recent study [5] published in the Annals of Internal Medicine proves that daily sunscreen use “protects against photoaging: wrinkling, spotting and loss of elasticity.” [4]

But why all year? Because you’re getting more sun than you think. It’s not just the hard core tanning-baking-hours-outdoors that causes photo-aging and skin cancer, it’s the daily exposure that you don’t even think about. Sun damage is cumulative so even the incidental exposure you get from crossing the street counts. What about winter? You might be getting hit by double exposure from snow glare. And while not much UVB gets to you on cloudy days, a good amount of UVA does — rain or shine, summer or winter, UVA is present and it is very damaging. In addition, UVA passes through window glass and windshields. Think of all the sun you get driving to and from work or sitting next to a window at work or at home when reading a good book.

Finally, photo-aging includes dark spots. While the sun causes them, visible and infrared light from indoor sources such as halogens, fluorescents and even computer screens, saunas and stoves are proven to cause melasma and other dark spots which increases the aged look of skin. To learn more about what else causes hyperpigmentations (surprising things like cooking!), check out Shining The Light On What Causes Dark Spots & Blotches.


The benefits of a daily, active regimen are multiple and cumulative, making skin look younger and more vibrant almost immediately, with dramatic results over time, and keeping skin healthier as we age.

What should I expect from a good anti-aging treatment?


A good at-home regimen isn’t a one-shot deal: it’s meant to keep your skin healthier over time.

As the photographs above show (taken at baseline and week 4 of using Re-Everything Anti-Aging Cream with unbuffered glycolic acid, kinetin, virgin coconut oil and antioxidants in a regimen), at a minimum, you should expect to see brighter, more vibrant-looking skin. Fine lines should appear less pronounced and possibly deeper wrinkles as well. The skin should feel and appear more firm and youthful. With the right actives in the appropriate concentrations, many people report noticing improvements almost immediately. Continued use and proper prevention can deliver more dramatic results in as little as four weeks. And as with exercise and a healthy lifestyle, consistency continues to pay off.

Actives like unbuffered glycolic acid, retinoic acid, and mandelic acid as well as virgin coconut oil and antioxidants like green tea are some of the best studied and most reliable age fighters.



Deep cleaning + stress management. Win-win.

So here’s the thing: you brush your teeth daily but see your dentist for deeper cleanings. Your daily at-home skin regimen is like brushing your teeth, and facials are your deeper cleaning at the dentist’s. Which your skin needs. The skin on your face is naked — even with sunscreen, it is (like your hands) the part of your body that is unclothed. Your face gets the most direct and regular exposure to the sun’s damaging rays, indoor light and heat, plus pollution and airborne allergens. Therapeutic facials provide a good, deep cleaning through steaming and a proper extraction to purge it of accumulated dirt and debris that topical products cannot wash away. VMV Facials are allergen-free, feature effective active ingredients — which, with the steaming, pore cleansing and gentle massage, are absorbed better — and end with a therapeutic mask, usually with higher concentrations of actives than what you could use at home, and in a formulation that heightens the absorption of actives and provides barrier therapy, intensive hydration, and anti-inflammatory benefits. If your daily regimen is like taking your vitamins, think of this as getting a booster shot of concentrated actives.

If you’d like to up the therapeutic benefits even more, add a chemical peel (high concentrations of powerful actives applied for a short, very controlled amount of time) — ours also feature allergen-free peels we formulate ourselves plus anti-inflammatory products to reduce downtime and the risk of irritation without sacrificing efficacy. A monthly or quarterly laser procedure can be more expensive and may not be doable as regularly as a facial but can be more instantly dramatic.

Still, nothing replaces your daily regimen — again, think of it like brushing your teeth. You wouldn’t stop daily oral hygiene because you see your dentist every few months, would you?

The fantastic icing on this very healthy cake: facials and spa services are healthy, and not just for your skin. They “dew” double duty as concentrated treatments and stress reducers…which is so, so important for your skin, mind and body! To learn more about how a spa session can physically benefit your brain, check out  4 Reasons You Need Spa Hour.

For more information on VMV’s clinically-sound, allergen-free therapeutic facials and spa treatments, give us a call at (212) 226 7309 or book online at



Stress ages you and makes you sick. Stress management isn’t a luxury: it’s a health priority.

As the studies above show, stress reduction can influence our proteins, cell behavior and possibly DNA. The link between stress and inflammation is proven and a growing body of research is strengthening the links between inflammation and a library’s worth of skin and health problems, from depression to obesity, acne, psoriasis, rosacea and eczema to cancer and, again, aging.

It may not be the most obvious thing to think about but for preventing the visible signs of aging, it’s important to avoid skin stressors, too. For example, did you know that irritations, rashes, pimples, allergy flare-ups, itching, severe dryness, and reactions to products are all types of inflammation and are skin stressors? Whether or not you already have sensitive skin, avoiding known allergens can help prevent irritations — even subtle ones which may not yet be obvious— which can thin and stress the skin and contribute to aging.

We know that you know but it’s really important: aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Sleep deprivation alone accounts for multiple skin, mental and physical problems. It might seem impossible but it is more achievable than you think. An article that made the rounds online (“If You’re Busy, You’re Doing Something Wrong: The Surprisingly Relaxed Lives of Elite Achievers”) has gotten quite a bit of attention for its promotion of “deliberate practice.” [6] A few of us at VMV Hypoallergenics have tried this stricter schedule of less hours but more focused work, and have found it remarkably effective at both upping our productivity and giving us more time for relaxation, fun, families, a social life and sleep! To read more about deliberate practice, check out Laura’s (our CEO, a big fan of deliberate practice and balance in life) Happiness Inventory of Five.

Make stress reduction a priority, too. Meditate, keep a gratitude journal, practice yoga, pray — experiment with what works best for you, your schedule and your lifestyle. A quick side note: cocktails with your BFFs can be an awesome way to end a stressful day but don’t make alcohol your go-to de-stressor. While a glass a day can actually be good for you, excessive alcohol can be pro-inflammatory and a depressive. A glass of wine a day should be fine but try other, healthier practices to manage stress on a regular basis.



Your skin shows the state of your body.

Want to know the state of your body? Look at your skin. Frequently, sometimes even before a blood test or MRI, your skin mirrors how your insides are doing. Poor health shows externally in the form of acne, dull skin, dry skin (which can lead to loss of elasticity and a more aged appearance) and even hair loss. Certain signs on the skin can even point to thyroid problems, diabetes or other internal issues (check out My Dermatologist Has X-Ray Vision for a great example of how a good, investigative dermatologist can point a patient in the direction of a specialist for a suspected internal problem, just by looking at her skin). A healthy body, on the other hand, is reflected in glowing, younger-looking skin, nails and hair.

Talk to a nutritionist if you’d like help understanding portion size and if you need assistance choosing healthier alternatives to your favorite foods (like coconut sugar, fresh-squeezed juices or whole grains). As a general rule, banish junk food altogether — the chips, candies and pre-packaged juices and sodas. Cut down on processed, “white”, and pre-packaged food and drinks. Load up on fish (smaller fish like sardines and herring for more good oils and less toxins), nuts, and fresh vegetables. Get your antioxidants from fresh fruits (they don’t tend to survive well in pills and supplements) to help combat the oxidative processes that are huge contributors to aging. And don’t forget your healthy oils like virgin coconut oil (excellent for use on salads, as well as in cooking, in your coffee..and on your skin and hair!)

Exercise is vital for your heart, metabolism and pretty much every aspect of your health. Plus, it’s an excellent stress reducer and mood lifter. In addition, new studies are showing that it’s not about extreme exercise three times a week. Constant activity is the new objective. Some studies are even showing that sitting down for more than a few hours at a time is extremely unhealthy — hence the rise of treadmill desks and the “fad” of standing more at work. Set a timer, get up, and walk around the block if you have to, but get moving. [7]

Mix it up: cardio one day and weights the next, yoga or pilates another day, then perhaps a hike outside. Mixing it up keeps it interesting and keeps your body challenged. Aim to work out every single day — again, you don’t have to kill yourself with a mega soul cycle burn each time, but you do need to do something every day. For example, if you had a hard workout on Monday, make Tuesday a “rest” day but instead of spending an hour in bed watching TV, catch up on your favorite shows while pedaling slowly on a stationary bike.

If you’re having one of those weeks where finding time to brush your hair has you exploring advanced physics for alternate dimensions, try the Scientific 7-Minute Workout [8] which a published study shows can give you maximum results in minimum time. [9] It’s awesome because it takes no time at all (no matter the week, there’s no way you don’t have seven minutes) and all you need is a chair and a wall (unless you’re extreme camping in the Gobi dessert, there’s no way this isn’t doable either). An app that we know a lot of people use is UOVO’s The 7 Minute Workout. It comes with instructions for the simple exercises — all of which you’ve probably at least tried, even in high school gym class — and links to videos so you can practice before you start, voice instructions and timed intervals. Another great, free app is Sworkit, which allows you to choose your workout (strength, cardio, yoga and stretching) and workout duration (5-60 minutes). They’re motto is “no gym, no excuse” so you can “sworkit” anywhere, too (they even have Sworkit options for kids so the whole family can get in on it).

On days so lazy you can’t think let alone manage the pep required for Zumba, do ANYTHING. Pedal like a sloth on valium on a stationary bike while watching a Scandal marathon. Take the slowest walk around one block. Or grab that 7-Minute Workout app and repeat to yourself: everyone has seven minutes. The point is to prioritize some purposeful activity each and every day.

Pay It Forward


Rescue cat Ming-Ming. Kindness and happiness promote good health.

Here’s something else to remember. Do all the above and the rewards are self perpetuating. One of the more amazing things that all this incredible new research is suggesting, is that you could be influencing far more than your mood and general health — you might be influencing your mind, body and skin at  chemical, protein, biological, and even genetic levels, far more powerfully than previously thought possible. The consistency of all these healthy practices may be teaching your body to maintain a healthier, younger state for longer and longer. If you’ve got kids, here’s the other plus: you might be influencing your genes enough to pass all this good behavior and its benefits along to your kids…and their kids!

Referring back to that study on maternal behavior in rats, another excellent article in Discover Magazine puts it this way: “Call it postnatal inheritance: With no changes to their genetic code, the baby rats nonetheless gained genetic attachments due solely to their upbringing — epigenetic additions of methyl groups…gumming up the works and altering the function of the brain….They found that inattentive mothering in rodents causes methylation of the genes for estrogen receptors in the brain. When those babies grow up, the resulting decrease of estrogen receptors makes them less attentive to their babies. And so the beat goes on.” [10] This applies to bad habits, nutrition and behavior, as well as to good. “If your grandmother was adopted by nurturing parents, you might be enjoying the boost she received thanks to their love and support. The mechanisms of behavioral epigenetics underlie not only deficits and weaknesses but strengths and resiliencies, too.” [9]

Kindness and care could therefore not only impact your health now, but positively influence the health those you love…on a biological, genetic level.

Daily sunscreen, a daily regimen, regular facials, stress management and “skinside-out” health — for your own health and age-resistance, and possibly for your children’s, being healthy is the gift that keeps on giving!



For more on how to achieve and sustain younger-looking skin, enter “aging” in the search field at


  1. Weaver, I.C.G, Cervoni, N., Champagne, F.A., D’Alessio, A.C., Sharma, S., Seckl, J.R., Dymov, S., Szyf, M., & Meaney, M. (2004). Epigenetic programming by maternal behavior. Nature Neuroscience, 7, 847-854.
  2. Lick Your Rats. Teacher Resources and Lesson Plans, Learn. GeneticsTM Genetic Science Learning Center, The University of Utah, 2013.
  3. Jacobs, T.L., et al., Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators. Psychoneuroendocrinology (2010), doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2010.09.010 and Positive psychological changes from meditation training linked to cellular health. UC Davis News and Information. Nov. 3, 2010.
  5. Hughes M.C., Williams, G.M., Baker, P., Green, A.C. Sunscreen and Prevention of Skin Aging: A Randomized Trial. Ann Intern Med. 2013;158(11):781-790. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-158-11-201306040-00002.
  6. Cal Newport, If You’re Busy, You’re Doing Something Wrong: The Surprisingly Relaxed Lives of Elite Achievers. Study Hacks.
  7. Susan Orlean, American Chronicles, “The Walking Alive,” The New Yorker, May 20, 2013, p. 44.
  8. Gretchen Reynolds, The Scientific 7-Minute Workout, New York Times, May 12, 2013, p. 20.
  9. Klika, B, Jordan, C. High-Intensity Circuit Training Using Body Weight: Maximum Results With Minimal Investment. Health & Fitness Journal. 2013; 17:3. Accessed May 10, 2013.
  10. Hurley, Dan. Grandma’s Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes. (Trace Vs. Fate). Discovery Magazine. May, 2013.



What do you swear by to stay healthy and slow aging?

Featured Healthy Living Skin

It’s “Oil” The Same, As Long As It’s Coconut…Right?

Like all food options, there are differences between coconut oils. Read on to learn what’s what, and what to splurge on.

What are the different coconut oils?

The most common for cooking and industrial use is RBD (Refined, Bleached, Deodorized). Then there is virgin coconut oil, extracted by heat, enzymes, centrifuge, or manually. You can read more about the differences between each in “Are All Coconut Oils The Same?” but it comes down to this: a) while less ideal, RBD coconut oil is still better than other oils for cooking; b) any virgin coconut oil is good to eat and for less sensitive needs, but c) splurge on organic, manually cold-pressed virgin coconut oil, particularly for your freshest salads (to get the most of the healthiest stuff), when caring for sensitive skin, and for oral care.


Why organic?

Unlike “natural,” the term “organic” is strictly regulated. Farms are inspected annually to ensure conditions as natural or “wild” as possible for the soil, trees and the coconuts, and that water and waste are managed in a manner that is safe and environmentally responsible. Organic certification includes how the oil is processed — no artificial additives can be used to extract the oil.

What is Know-It-Oil?

Know-It-Oil is a certified-organic cold-and-first-pressed virgin coconut oil. It is prepared within hours of optimum age (the longer a coconut stays out in the sun and heat, the more important antioxidants and phytochemicals are lost). It is pressed entirely manually, without centrifuge, heat or additives.

It is the oil we used for our randomized, double-blind clinical studies which have been published in peer-reviewed dermatological journals. What you may not know is this same oil is in any VMV Hypoallergenics product that contains virgin coconut oil, from moisturizers to baby careshaving creams, and makeup. It’s what we use in our facials and spa treatments, too!

Family Blog Featured Healthy Living

Sweet Potato & Coconut-Caramel Crisps

This sweet treat is packed with antioxidants, fiber and healthy oil!

“Kamote-cue” is what we’d call this traditional tropical-provincial treat (variations of it, particularly with banana, abound in Southeast Asia). My family has snacked on it for generations. The sweet potatoes are right at home any time of year, and the surprise of coconut warms up even the chilliest of days 🙂 I hope you enjoy it as much as we have…and do! Regularly!




  • Sweet potatoes.
  • Know-It-Oil virgin coconut oil.
  • Coconut sugar. Choose organic if you can.


Slice sweet potatoes into thin crisps about 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick (thicker gives you more sweet potato yumminess; thinner gives more crunch).

Pour Know-It-Oil into a frying pan over medium heat. Add in sweet potato slices. Sprinkle coconut sugar — which will start to caramelize quickly — onto each slice. After some browning, flip crisps over and repeat coconut sugar sprinkling.

Remove crisps when browned to your liking. My family is notorious for loving crunch, so we like these with very browned, slightly burnt edges. Strain, then pat dry on paper towels.

Serve as a midday pick-me-up, movie night snack, or for dessert!


Beauty Featured Healthy Living Skin

Age LESS: Six Things To Do Now To Stay Younger, Longer

There are many things we can do that are proven to keep us younger, longer — not just looking it but physically being it. Simple steps, sans needles or “miracles.”

Skeptical about how much anything you do can affect your biology? New studies are showing that our actions can influence our genes so much as to alter their behavior, slowing the aging process, preventing diseases we “should” get based on our genetic profile, extending life spans…changes so profound we might even pass them on to our children. We’ve chosen the top six most rewarding, most effective ways to truly, systemically age less.

Featured Healthy Living Skin

Is Natural Hypoallergenic? The Answer May Surprise You (But Shouldn’t)

Is Natural Hypoallergenic?

The short answer: no.

And that really shouldn’t be surprising — think of how many allergy medication commercials you see when it’s pollen season.

But does this mean natural is bad? Absolutely not! Eating natural, less processed foods is a must for your health. Using skin care with more natural, less processed ingredients is also a good idea (chemicals used in processing can be even more allergenic than the ingredient itself). But in both cases, natural does not mean hypoallergenic.


Hypoallergenic means less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Many natural substances, no matter how organic, are top allergens (substances known to cause allergic reactions). If you are allergic to peanuts, dander or pollen, you would avoid eating, touching or inhaling them, no matter how natural or organic they are. If you have sensitive skin, using products with natural ingredients could be making things worse if those natural ingredients are common allergens — tea tree oil, citruses, fragrances, ylang-ylang, lavender, mint are all common allergens.


That said, it helps to know what you, in particular, are sensitive to. Just because something is an allergen doesn’t mean it’s one of your allergens. For example, nuts, lemons and shrimp are allergens but if you aren’t allergic to them, you shouldn’t avoid them (in fact, they’re very healthy foods). Vitamin E and tea tree oil are top allergens but great ingredients. If they’re not your allergens, you might still be able to enjoy their benefits.


To find out your allergens, avoid trial and error, which is highly unreliable. Get a patch test instead — not a prick test or blood test (the correlation between food/bronchial allergies and skin allergies is not cut and dry.)


If your patch test shows you are sensitive to certain ingredients, natural or not, avoid them. If you haven’t yet had a patch test but have sensitive skin, you’re better off choosing hypoallergenic over “natural” to prevent irritations and even acne and chronic dryness.


IMPORTANT: Food allergies and skin allergies operate differently. Lymphocytes are cells related to allergies. There are two types: T cells are associated with delayed response reactions, a good example of which is contact dermatitis. Your body needs to learn to react to the stimulus which can take a while. This is why you can use an ingredient for years without a problem and then “suddenly” become allergic to it. The other lymphocyte type are B cells. They are immediate responders producing immediate allergies such as food reactions, hay fever, asthma, etc.

Need Help?

VMV Hypoallergenics® formulations contain none, or as close to none, of all of the 109 most common allergens (based on over 25,000 patch test results). Our VH-Rating System (the first and still the only sensitive skin “grading system”) shows you at first glance how many allergens are not in a formulation…or, if there is an allergen present, which one (if it’s not one of your allergens, you can use the product with confidence). Plus, we can customize recommendations for you based on your patch test results! Call us at (212) 217 2762 or submit a request on Facebook or