Moving Away From “Anti-Aging” Skincare

“Anti-aging” is a term that isn’t as embraced by the beauty industry as it used to be. Instead, people are praising the aging process and seeking ways to age gracefully. Allure Magazine, along with many other brands, is ushering in the age of “pro-aging,” a time to embrace the years we’ve been given and not dwell on wrinkles and fine lines. In this blog, we will explore the use of the moniker “anti-aging,” Allure’s terminology pledge, celebrities who celebrate their age, and how to take care of your body and mind for a beautiful and healthy aging process.

Goodbye “Anti-Aging, Hello “Glow” and “Radiance”

The modern anti-aging industry started in the early 20th century, when two female beauty pioneers, Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden, competed to get their potions into women’s skincare routines. In his book, Branded Beauty: How Marketing Changed the Way We Look, journalist Mark Tungate writes of this competitive duo by saying,

“On the one hand, their products pleased, pampered, and, yes, beautified millions of women. On the other, their advertising copy contrived to persuade their customers that aging was not only undesirable but somehow shameful.”

Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden

Pictured: Elizabeth Arden (Left) and Helena Rubinstein (Right)    Source: NY Post

Elizabeth Arden, which is now owned by Revlon, set the tone for how skincare was sold for the next century. However, in 2010, an analyst told the Wall Street Journal, “Many women out there won’t buy anything with “anti-aging” on it.” This is also when “anti-aging” began to be phased out in place of more positive terminology.1

While there wasn’t necessarily a huge pushback to the idea of “anti-aging,” there was an abundance of indie brands, like Saturday Skin and Herbivore, which use more holistic and positive language like “glow,” “radiance,” and “luminosity,” rather than positioning skin as something that requires a fight to maintain.2

In 2016, the beauty industry regrouped after data suggested that individuals were not buying traditional anti-aging products, according to the trade publication WWD.3 Two years later, with more positive terminology, the sales of products meant to provide glowy, radiant results were up 44%.4

Allure Banned “Anti-Aging” Within Its Pages

Michelle Lee

Pictured: Michelle Lee    Source: Forbes

Michelle Lee, the former editor-in-chief of Allure, felt pressure that the term “anti-aging” had negative connotations and was not inclusive. She’s compared the term to phrases like “dieting” and “throws like a girl,” which both had underpinnings in shaming and sexism. Lee saw the term “anti-aging” similarly, albeit for ageism.

“The world has really moved into this space of acceptance and not shaming people,” she says. “We see so many things like hashtags about acne acceptance and size acceptance and gender and hair texture and everything else. But for some reason, the conversation around aging still hadn’t necessarily been there.’”

In a skincare context, Lee viewed “anti-aging” as a marketing construct. She once said, “When you’re talking to your friends, you say, ‘What vitamin C serum are you using?’ or, ‘What eye cream are you using?’ You don’t ever say to somebody, ‘What is the anti-aging product that you’re using?’”

There are still brands that use “anti-aging,” but many, like Allure, have moved away from the term. In fact, in 2018, Lee made the decision to ban the use of the moniker from Allure’s pages. She wrote in an editor’s letter, “Changing the way we think about aging starts with changing the way we talk about aging.”

You can take a look at Allure’s official statement on getting rid of “anti-aging” terminology here.

Celebrities Unabashed to Show Their Age

While Hollywood is notorious for being an ageless city, not all celebrities have bought into the hype of staying young forever. Many have even voiced their love for aging naturally and gracefully. Here are a few examples:

Jennifer Connelly

Jennifer Connelly

Pictured: Jennifer Connelly   Source: She Finds

Jennifer Connelly, who is 51 years old, isn’t afraid of the natural changes of growing older. She told People Magazine, “We equate beauty for women with youth, and that’s sad. It’s a shame it’s so hard for so many of us to appreciate the beauty of an older woman and to accept it in ourselves. I don’t want to erase my history on my face.”

Mädchen Amick

Mädchen Amick

Pictured: Mädchen Amick    Source: Shutter Stock

Mädchen Amick, who will be celebrating her 52nd birthday this year, is all about embracing the years as they come at her. “I’m a big advocate of aging gracefully and embracing beauty as it evolves,” she told SolCal Pulse.

Lauren Hutton

Lauren Hutton

Pictured: Lauren Hutton    Source: Harper’s Bazaar

Lauren Hutton, 78, has accepted that women age, so why fight it? “I’ve let go that I look like a miniature Shar-Pei. The wrinkles are going to be there, and they really are the badges of your life,” she told People.

Julie Chen

Julie Chen

Pictured: Julie Chen   Source: Parade

Julie Chen, 52, has always been an advocate for loving each stage of life you’re in. “If you’re trying to be something you’re not, whether it’s an age or a certain type of personality, you’re just going to be in misery,” she shared with Prevention. “You have to own who you are, and part of who you are is your age.”

Christy Turlington Burns

Christy Turlington Burns

Pictured: Christy Turlington Burns    Source: San Francisco Chronicle

Christy Turlington Burns, 53, wants to look her age. “Everybody is so anti-aging, but I don’t want to look younger than I am. Our face is a map of our life; the more that’s there, the better,” she told ELLE.

How to Take Care of Your Health and Well-Being to Age Gracefully

Many factors influence healthy aging; some of these, like genetics, are not in our control, but others — like exercise, eating healthy, living stress-free, and visiting the doctor — are within our reach. Here are a few steps you can take to promote healthy longevity:

Get Moving

Whether you enjoy it or despise it, physical activity is an important part of healthful living at every age. Scientific evidence has found that people who exercise regularly not only live longer but also may live better, meaning they enjoy more years of life without sickness or pain.

A study on adults found that taking 8,000 steps or more daily was associated with a 51% lower risk of death from most natural causes. You can increase the number of steps you get each day by doing activities that keep your body moving, such as walking the dog and taking the stairs instead of the elevator.5

Check out this article highlighting ways to motivate yourself to work out, and stay in that motivated mindset.

Eat Healthy

Eating healthy food can improve brain function, while also keeping your body in good shape. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides healthy eating recommendations for each stage of life and suggests eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins.

Even if you haven’t thought much about healthy eating until recently, changing your diet can improve your well-being as you age. If you are concerned about the foods that you eat, chat with your doctor about ways that you can make better food choices.

Interested in learning more about foods that promote healthy aging? This article touches on seven foods that’ll keep your stomach full and your body happy.

Live Stress-Free

While stress is a natural part of life, it comes in many different forms. Sometimes stress arises from difficult events or circumstances, but positive changes, like getting a promotion, can also cause stress. Research shows that constant stress can change the brain, affect memory, and increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.6, 7

You can help manage your stress through meditation techniques, physical activity, and participating in activities you enjoy. Keeping a journal is also a wonderful way to help you identify and challenge negative and unhelpful thoughts. 

Looking to de-stress? This article outlines ten ways to help you through stressful situations.

Go to the Doctor Regularly

Going to the doctor for regular health screenings are essential to a healthy life. A 2021 study found that regular check-ups help doctors catch chronic diseases early and can help patients reduce risk factors for disease, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. People who went to the doctor regularly also reported improved quality of life and feelings of wellness.8

Check out this article to learn how to make the most of your doctor’s appointments. 

Enrich Your Self-Esteem With Clarissa Burt

Clarissa Burt

Pictured: Clarissa Burt    Source: Yahoo

Clarissa Burt is the founder and CEO of In The Limelight Media, along with being a media personality, producer, director, writer, author, public speaker, former supermodel, and self-esteem advocate.

Clarissa is passionate about helping people build self-esteem. Her book The Self-Esteem Regime is an action plan for becoming a more confident person.

Jennifer Norman, founder of The Human Beauty Movement, recently spoke with Clarissa on the podcast, Role Models. The interview is chock-full of great ways you can reveal and embrace the essence of your greatness. 

Eager to learn more about Clarissa and how you can improve your self-esteem? You can listen to the Role Models episode featuring Clarissa Burt here. Enjoy the listen, and remember, you can boost your self-esteem no matter your age!

References: [1] [2] [3[ [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]

What Is A Serum?

A serum is a skincare product that you can apply to your skin after cleansing but before moisturizing with the intent of delivering powerful ingredients directly into the skin. Serums are particularly suited to this task as they’re made up of small molecules that can penetrate deeply into the skin to deliver a very high concentration of active ingredients, which makes them a great tool for targeting specific skincare concerns like wrinkles and dark spots. In this blog, we will explore serums, their benefits, and how to use them, along with spotlighting EWG-Verified serums that may be perfect for your skin type.

A Look At Serums

A serum is a lightweight, quick-absorbing skincare product that contains a large amount of active ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, or vitamin C. Due to their concentration, serums are typically the most effective and fast-acting skincare products available.

Well-designed face serums are lightly viscous, which means they have a thinner consistency than creams and lotions, to absorb into the skin quickly, delivering beneficial nutrients and hydration at the cellular level. They also contain fewer fillers, thickeners, and lubricating agents than moisturizers, so the beneficial ingredients can absorb faster to optimize performance.

“Often, a serum can hydrate more effectively than even the heaviest creams. The molecules can truly penetrate the skin and hydrate on the deepest level, while the heavier creams more so sit on those top layers.” says celebrity esthetician Karee Hays. “Serums do not necessarily replace your moisturizer, but can boost the hydrating effects of your moisturizer.”

In fact, a study featuring thirty-two women aged 25 to 55 years with Fitzpatrick skin types I to V and normal or self-perceived dry skin, found that layering facial serum with a moisturizer provided rapid and long-lasting benefits in maintaining skin hydration. Additionally, 82% of the participants believed that the serum and moisturizer combo improved the appearance of their skin overall.1

A participant before trying the serum layered with moisturizer (left) and after two weeks of treatment (right)

Pictured: A participant before trying the serum layered with moisturizer (left) and after two weeks of treatment (right)  Source: National Library of Medicine

Reductions in investigator-graded dryness

Pictured: Reductions in investigator-graded dryness Source: Source: National Library of Medicine

The Benefits of Serums

When you use a serum that’s well suited for your skin, it can have numerous benefits. Here’s a closer look at some of the key benefits of adding a serum to your skincare routine:

Serums Can Deliver Vitamins and Nutrients

For starters, a face serum, by definition, is a skincare solution that includes core vitamins and nutrients your skin cells can use to thrive. The exact ingredient make up of a given face serum will vary from product to product, but most face serums use these common ingredients:

  • Vitamin C and E are antioxidants and may contribute to long-term skin health, especially protection from free radicals.2
  • Niacinamide reduces inflammation, which may help ease redness from eczema, acne, and other inflammatory skin conditions. It also minimizes pore appearance and keeps skin smooth and moisturized.3,4
  • Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, is a gold-standard ingredient in skincare as can increase production of collagen in the skin. This results in a reduction of fine lines and wrinkles by improving elasticy.5,6
  • Glycolic acid stimulates fibroblasts in the dermis to produce increased amounts of collagen. Additionally, its small molecular makeup also allows it to penetrate the skin and treat acne and other skin concerns.7,8,9
  • Hyaluronic acid is a powerful humectant commonly found in face moisturizers. It helps hydrate the outer layers of skin, thereby improving the skin’s appearance.10,11

While our skin cells get a lot of nutrients from our diets and sunshine, as in the case of vitamin D, giving your skin cells additional nutrients through topical absorption may allow those vitamins to be more directly usable by those cells.

In other words, a face serum directly provides your skin cells with core nutrients without those nutrients being absorbed by other bodily tissues first. Plus, since serums are applied topically, your skin cells may receive those benefits more quickly.

Serums Can Improve Hydration

With the use of cleansers and exfoliators, your skin can easily dry out, leaving your face more susceptible to wrinkles and dehydration. Many serums are formulated to improve hydration, and by using them, they can potentially alleviate these side effects or prevent them from happening all together.

Serums with hyaluronic acid, for example, can help your skin’s hydration level. “Hyaluronic acid can draw moisture from the air and keep your skin moist, holding almost 1000 times its weight in water,” explained Kerry Benjamin, esthetician and the founder of best-selling hyaluronic acid serum creator, Stacked Skincare

Serums May Reduce Acne Flare-Ups

Serums could contribute to a long-term solution if you suffer from regular acne flare-ups, which result from hormonal shifts or an overproduction of sebum. When your skin produces too much sebum, it can collect debris and clog your skin’s pores. Over time, this can form blemishes like pimples and pustules. However, the right serum could prevent your skin from producing too much sebum.

Serums formulated with retinol, for example, can reduce acne flare-ups by literally getting under your skin as retinol consists of tiny molecules that penetrate the middle layer of your skin and stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. Both of these compounds reduce the appearance of pores and acne scarring over time.

Serums May Protect Skin from Certain Damage

Many of the core ingredients in serums are antioxidants, which are known to neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that can damage skin cells and other tissues as they bounce around in your body.

Antioxidants like CoQ10 can stabilize those free radicals by donating an electron, preventing them from causing damage. Free radicals are responsible for skin irritations and may contribute to many signs of aging or general skin cell degradation.

Some serums may also provide ancillary protective benefits against harm from toxins, environmental pollutants, and even UV radiation from the sun. If you use a face serum, you may be at less risk of sun damage to your skin, including burning, but you should always read the label of your specific product to confirm this.

Serums May Reduce Signs of Aging

Many signs of aging, including wrinkles, aging spots, and sagging skin, result from long-term skin cell degradation and dryness. While face serums can’t prevent your skin from aging overall, they may help to reduce the severity of some of those symptoms. Serums that contain vitamins C, B, and E with ferulic acid and hyaluronic acid, especially, can help to deeply hydrate skin and minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

How to Apply Serum

Everyone’s skin is different, but on average, you should use a serum for about seven weeks to see how your skin responds. Depending on the serum and the current state of your skin, you might see initial results — like slightly more hydrated skin — in just a few days, according to Dr. Craig Kraffert, a board-certified dermatologist.

It’s important to note that before applying a new product, you should perform a patch test. Try the product on a small area of your skin to see how it reacts, such as the inside of your elbow. Keep in mind that some serums will naturally leave your face slightly pink, but this should subside after about 10-15 minutes. If you’re having a reaction, consult your doctor.

 Pictured: How to perform a patch test   Source: Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve

Step 1: Cleanse

To allow the key ingredients to be effectively absorbed, a serum should always be applied to clean skin. Before applying serum, cleanse with a gentle face wash to help dissolve makeup, impurities, and pollutants.

Step 2: Tone

A facial toner plays an important role in preparing the skin for serum application. Not only will it help to rebalance the skin after cleansing, but it can help sweep away remaining traces of dirt and makeup, removing all barriers on the skin’s surface, and allowing the serum to effectively penetrate the different layers of the epidermis.  

Apply the toner onto a cotton pad, then sweep it over your skin in an upward motion. Toners can also help reduce the appearance of pores and even out skin tone. 

Step 3: Apply Serum

Dispense a pea-sized amount of serum into your palms, then gently rub your hands together to warm and activate the serum. Lightly press your palms onto your skin and pat in outward and upward motions until fully applied to your face and neck.

Step 4: Moisturize 

Allow the serum to absorb into your skin for at least 90 seconds, then massage a moisturizer over your face and neck to lock in those key ingredients. This also helps protect and hydrate the skin’s surface. 

Serum Spotlight

From fine lines to the most sensitive skin types, adding a potent serum before your moisturizer can help boost the healthy look and feel of your skin. However, there are hundreds — if not thousands — of different serum types on the market, making choosing a single one for your skincare routine a daunting task. 

“The key is to look for serums that deliver a ton of botanicals, antioxidants, and hydration — they can deliver a concentrated dose of nutrients, and when applied on just-cleaned skin, the serum will penetrate more deeply,” said Dr. Kraffert.

To make choosing a serum easier, check out these EWG-Verified, nutrient-rich serums that’ll make an excellent addition to your skincare regime:

Be Natural Organics Hyaluronic Serum:Created for all skin types, this product is formulated with hyaluronic acid, which can offer a more immediate visual effect on the complexion as it hydrates and softens lines. It can improve the look of skin’s texture, firmness, and suppleness, while also providing high-performance hydration for problematic skin without clogging pores.

To shop the Be Natural Organics Hyaluronic Serum, click here

Live Ultimate Camu Advanced Youth Recovery Facial Serum:Perfect for all skin types, this lightweight, fast-absorbing, and nutrient-rich formula of superfruit antioxidants, rejuvenating plant stem cells, wrinkle-smoothing peptides, vitamins, and skin brightening botanicals is designed to soak deep into the cellular level where it nourishes, heals, and strengthens the skin from the outside in for a more youthful and radiant look.

To shop the Live Ultimate Camu Advanced Youth Recovery Facial Serum, click here

Sea Kind Elysium Perfecting Facial Serum: Formulated for all skin types, this serum has the highest concentration available today of marine actives extracts derived from algae, micro-nutrients, and sea plants fermented to provide unmatched restorative powers. Both laboratory and volunteer tests confirm that this product can improve skin hydration, firmness, resilience, complexion, and smoothness.

To shop the Sea Kind Elysium Perfecting Facial Serum, click here.

To shop Sally B’s Peptide Collagen Booster Serum, click here

Versed Sunday Morning Antioxidant Serum: Ideal for all skin types, this antioxidant oil-serum hybrid can strengthen the skin’s barrier, moisturize, and deliver an all-day glow. Chamomile extract, vitamin E, and sodium hyaluronate help to keep skin hydrated and calm. For an added glow that's never greasy, this serum can also double as a subtle, moisturizing highlighter.

To shop the Versed Sunday Morning Antioxidant Serum, click here

In Conclusion

Serums are lightweight products that contain a high concentration of active ingredients. They are often seen as one of the more rewarding steps in your beauty routine as they come with major skin benefits and absorb quickly into your skin . If you’re not sure if a face serum is right for you, or which type to use for your skin, talk to a board certified dermatologist for more information.

What’s your favorite serum? Let us know in the comments. [1],protect%20skin%20from%20sun%20damage.&text=Vitamin%20A%2C%20also%20known%20as,as%20a%20topical%20antiaging%20treatment.&text=Coenzyme%20Q10%2C%20also%20known%20as,helps%20protect%20cells%20from%20damage. [2] [3],in%20pore%20size%20over%20time. [4] [5],skin%20a%20fresher%2C%20plump%20appearance. [6] [7],for%20new%20skin%20cell%20generation. [8] [9],more%20radiant%20and%20youthful%2Dlooking [10] [11]

The Ancient Practice of Gua Sha

Gua Sha (pronounced gwa-shah) is a tool, or tools, used to scrape the skin to promote circulation. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) utilized Gua Sha tools thousands of years ago to increase blood circulation and heal the body. Today, the practice continues to evolve into a sought-after addition to people’s beauty regimen to tone and tighten skin. In this blog, we will explore the origins of Gua Sha, its benefits, and the tools and techniques used for this ancient skin practice.

What Is Gua Sha?

Gua Sha is a traditional Eastern and Southeast Asian healing technique in which a smooth, credit-card-sized “board” is pressed along the body’s skin; however, in more recent years, it’s been adapted for the face and neck, as well. The idea behind Gua Sha is that light pressure releases fascial and muscular tension and moves sluggish lymph fluid to tone the face.

Originally, Gua Sha was used to release different aches and pains in the body. For example, in TCM, it was commonly used on the upper back to invigorate blood flow, release heat toxins, stimulate lymphatic drainage, activate various acupressure points of the body, and stimulate an immune response bringing beneficial cells to the area.

Gua Sha works by promoting blood circulation. When you scrape the skin gently on the face or body, you’re stimulating a certain meridian point, which corresponds to an organ in the body that’s responsible for your skin’s overall health. In turn, you’re sending a signal to your body that this area needs more circulation.

The Origins of Gua Sha

Back-view illustration of Gua Sha treatment from Fangyi chuyan (A Modest Proposal for Epidemic Prevention)

Pictured: Back-view illustration of Gua Sha treatment from Fangyi chuyan (A Modest Proposal for Epidemic Prevention)    Source: Gua Sha Massage

With its origins in the treatment of abscesses in the Warring States period (475-221 BCE) of ancient China, Gua Sha has been a mainstay as a folk medicine since antiquity. 

Theories of “sha” disease gradually developed based on the premise that a pathogen was to be cleared and dispersed from the body and this was combined with a scraping technique, initially involving a hemp rope rubbing method using water or sesame oil in the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368 CE).

By the Qing dynasty (1644-1912 CE), the method of scraping had become more precise and expanded towards the entire body. A working framework for the treatment of sha was also developed at this time which enabled a wider application of scraping and included instructions for headaches, numbness of the face, and head shaking.

It was not until the Song dynasty (960-1279 CE) that anything resembling the practice of cosmetic scraping appeared, which was in the form of jade rubbing to treat facial scars. Many of the ideas behind facial Gua Sha have been influenced by traditional Chinese cosmetology, which from the Warring States and Qin and Han Dynasties, came ideas of how the human body and skin color changes are directly related to changes in people’s temperament, age, health, and qi.

Ancient doctors rarely recorded the specific methods, time, and treatment of Gua Sha but in the 20th century with the work of Jiang Jingbo and later Lu Jiru, Gua Sha was reinvigorated and an adapted, modernized style of Gua Sha therapy was promoted.1

The Benefits of Gua Sha

Implementing Gua Sha into your self-care routine may offer these potential benefits:

Gua Sha May Help Reduce Inflammation and Puffiness

Similar to other types of massages, gliding a Gua Sha tool across your face or body can promote microcirculation in your soft tissues, aka blood flow in small blood vessels. This increase in blood flow might help physical symptoms of inflammation like puffiness and swelling.2 The practice may also help lymphatic drainage by moving fluid away from swollen areas.3

Gua Sha May Boost Your Skin’s Collagen Production

Every year, our skin produces 1% less collagen; collagen keeps our skin strong and elastic.. Giving yourself regular Gua Sha facials can help ramp up your skin’s collagen production, thereby reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.4

Gua Sha May Increase the Efficacy of Skincare Topicals

Gua Sha can increase the efficacy of the skincare you’re already using. If you apply your moisturizer or serum and then give yourself a massage, the Gua Sha tools helps push the product deeper into your skin. This can help your serum absorb better and allow you to experience the full benefits of the formula.

Gua Sha Can Alleviate Tech Neck and Other Pains

If you feel the aches and pains from uncomfortable work posture or constant scrolling, a Gua Sha body massage might help. In a small 2014 study involving 60 regular computer users with neck and shoulder pain, researchers found that Gua Sha helped reduce pain and improve range of motion.5 Individuals in a small 2011 study also reported that Gua Sha helped reduce neck pain when compared with people who used heating pads.6

Gua Sha Can Improve Headache and Migraine Symptoms

If you’re dealing with migraines or headaches, Gua Sha might help relieve pain and tension in your head and neck. A 2007 case study of a 72-year-old woman reported that Gua Sha helped relieve migraine symptoms over a 14-day period.7

Gua Sha Can Aid in Muscle Recovery

Gua Sha’s ability to promote blood circulation might also help move the buildup of lactic acid that accumulates from your workouts. In a small 2017 study involving 65 male weightlifters, people who had Gua Sha treatments reported that lifting weights was easier post-treatment. Researchers concluded that Gua Sha might also help speed up muscle recovery and be a potential alternative to other sports recovery methods.8

Gua Sha May Help Tourette Symptoms

Tourette syndrome is a condition that affects the nervous system and causes sudden involuntary movements or sounds. While Gua Sha is not a miracle cure, limited research shows it might help reduce symptoms when combined with other treatments.

A 2017 case study of a 33-year-old man found that a combination of Gua Sha and other therapies appeared to reduce his Tourette syndrome symptoms. 9 

Gua Sha May Help Perimenopausal Symptoms

A small 2017 study involving 80 perimenopausal women found that people who had Gua Sha treatments for 8 weeks experienced fewer symptoms compared with the control group receiving only traditional therapy. 10

Gua Sha Tools

Some of the most common Gua Sha tool shapes are:

The Wand-Shaped Tool

Gua Sha S Shaped Tool

Pictured: Wand Gua Sha tool  Source: Eastern Currents

This long, slender tool has 2 pointy ends that are best to use for specific areas where you want to apply pressure and relieve tension in the body. These areas are primarily in the hands, feet, laterals, back, neck, and shoulders. The challenge with this shape is the limited maneuverability around the face and smaller areas of the body.

If you’re interested in adding this tool to your regime, check out the LEOSENSE Gua Sha Bian Stone Wand Tool.

The Dolphin

Gua Sha Wing or Fin Tool

Pictured: Dolphin Gua Sha tool    Source: DH Gate

This tool shape is one of the most popular and commonly purchased Gua Sha tools available on the market. It’s easy to hold due to its small size and is perfect for contouring different areas of the face including the jawline, nose bridge, chin, and under-eye area.

While the heart-shaped tool is great for the face, neck, and hands, it might be less effective to use in other parts of the body as its edges are not long enough to hold onto, and therefore less workable for applying firmer pressure.

If you’re interested in adding this tool to your regime, check out the MEEKU Gua Sha Stainless Steel Dolphin Tool.

The Spoon Tool

Gua Sha Spoon Tool

Pictured: Spoon Gua Sha tool    Source: Amazon

A Gua Sha spoon is a sculpting tool that helps you target acupressure points along your face and neck to gently release any muscle tension. Its spoon-like shape helps to target smaller areas as well as harder-to-reach areas like those around the nose and eyes.

If you’re interested in adding this tool to your regime, check out the Top Sewing Gua Sha 100% Jade Spoon Tool

The Comb Tool

Gua Sha Comb Tool

Pictured: Comb Gua Sha tool    Source: Amazon

This shape is exactly what it sounds like: a Gua Sha scraper equipped with comb-like prongs. On one side of this tool, you have the classic curved edge, perfect for a facial treatment. On the opposite side, the stone is shaped into a comb so you can give your scalp a nice, deep massage.

If you’re interested in adding this tool to your regime, check out the FORUHEALTH Gua Sha Jade Comb Tool.

Gua Sha Materials

Here’s a look at the most common materials used in Gua Sha:

  • Rose quartz is one of the most popular stones for Gua Sha tools. It’s said to be the stone of compassion, love, and emotional healing. Likewise, it supposedly has calming properties, which makes it ideal for people with sensitive skin and those who suffer from acne, rosacea, or other skin issues. According to some, rose quartz is also the best material for reducing signs of aging. In addition, as a healing stone, it’s used to drain toxins and negativity from the body.
  • Jade is a widely-used stone in the world of Gua Sha. Jade is known for its cooling effect, as well as its ability to balance the body and our inner energies. Similarly, some people claim that it helps relax the nervous system. If you’re looking for a tool that will reduce facial puffiness, jade might be your best bet. Plus, it’s known to promote lymphatic function. 
  • The Bian stone is also lauded for its healing properties. It’s an ancient stone with a wide range of uses, and one of those happens to be Gua Sha. According to certain studies, the Bian stone may help regulate blood pressure. Also, when used in a full-body Gua Sha treatment, it’s ideal for treating lower back pain.
  • Amethyst may help reduce stress and negative energy. Like jade, amethyst is perfect for cooling down the skin. Moreover, some people claim that it fights bacteria and targets the pores. 
  • Clear Quartz is among the rarest of these materials. It’s often referred to as a “master healer.” Many fans believe that it balances the mind, body, and spirit, providing a feeling of calm and clarity. Clear quartz is great for all skin types.

DIY Gua Sha

Once you choose the perfect shape and material, you can start using your Gua Sha tool every day or at least two to three times a week. To prevent any rashes or irritation when doing a Gua Sha massage, make sure to always use a facial oil first.

After using your Gua Sha tool, be sure to clean it with soap and warm water.

Facial Gua Sha: A Step-by-Step Guide

Always begin with your neck to release tension and assist with lymph drainage. Repeat each step three to five times. For a more detailed look at this technique, you can check out this video.

  1. Hold the skin at the base of your neck with your hand that isn’t holding the tool. Using the divot in your tool, use upward strokes, and glide up the cervical spine (the middle of your neck) from the base of your neck to the base of the skull and give it a wiggle. 
  2. Turn your Gua Sha tool to use the long flat edg. Gently glide down the side of your neck next to your shoulder. Hold your skin taut a few inches down from where you are gliding the Gua Sha.
  3. Repeat on the other side of your neck.
  4. Using the divot on your tool, glide up from the center of your collarbone to your chin. Use feather-light pressure.
  5. Choose the side of your face you would like to work on first. Use the divot of the tool to go from the middle of your chin towards the ear along the jawline.
  6. Use the long side of your Gua Sha and hook the tool under the cheekbone drawing out and up towards the ear.
  7. Using light pressure, slowly sweep from the side of your nose, under the eye, out towards the temple
  8. Next, using lighter pressure, going along the brow bone, use the long side of the tool to sweep from the center of the forehead to the temples.
  9. Starting at the space between the eyebrows, stroke up to your hairline. Move over to the right eyebrow and repeat.
  10. Finally, you can scrape from the center of your forehead towards the earlobe and down to your collarbone using a downward motion to help flush your lymphatic system.

The Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom® Facial Oil Is Perfect For Gua Sha

The Herban Wisdom Facial Oil

The golden rule of Gua Sha is to always apply facial oil before using your stone. You need enough slip so that the tool can easily glide across the contours of your face — without it, you can pull or tug at your delicate skin.

The Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom® Facial Oil is a high-vibrational facial oil that will compliment your Gua Sha routine perfectly. This exceptional formula is a powerful skin treatment fusing clean plant nutrients rich in antioxidant, adaptogenic, rejuvenating, and moisturizing properties.

Just a few drops incorporated into your own Gua Sha ritual can help visibly recharge skin to appear calm and balanced, radiating with a gorgeous natural glow. 

You can shop the Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom® Facial Oil here

References: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]

Exploring Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin with several forms; its main role is to act as an antioxidant, scavenging free radicals that can damage cells. Vitamin E came to public attention in the 1980s when scientists began to understand that free radical damage was involved in the early stages of artery-clogging atherosclerosis, and might also contribute to cancer, vision loss, and a host of other chronic conditions. In this blog, we will explore the types of Vitamin E and its antioxidant properties, along with foods rich in Vitamin E and the health benefits they provide in both skincare and through consumption.

What is Vitamin E?

Vitamin E is an antioxidant compound obtained from plant sources in the diet. Vitamin E is not a singular substance; it’s a collective term for a family of eight homologous molecules that are synthesized naturally by plants from homogentisic acid.

Vitamin E is a series of organic compounds consisting of various methylated phenols. These compounds can act as an antioxidant by donating a hydrogen atom to reduce free radicals and have a hydrophobic side chain, which allows for penetration into biological membranes.

The eight homologs are split into two groups: tocopherols and tocotrienols. The tocopherols and tocotrienols have four homologs: alpha, beta, gamma, and delta. Each form has a slightly different biological activity. However, all of these various derivatives are referred to simply as “Vitamin E.”

Historically, only one out of the eight has appeared to have the most nutritional importance: the d-alpha-tocopherol isomer form. The d-alpha-tocopherol isomer form is commonly called Vitamin E on nutrition/supplement labels and is also the only form that can be referred to as the RDA, or Recommended Daily Allowance, for Vitamin E.

The alpha form of tocopherol was originally designated d-alpha-tocopherol on the basis of its optical activity. This means that you can “see” more of this specific compound in your body’s chemical signature. It makes up about 90% of the tocopherol found in humans. Even in your blood plasma, around 83% of the Vitamin E found is d-alpha-tocopherol.

It’s been found that long-term supplementation with just a d-alpha-tocopherol Vitamin E supplement results in blood plasma levels of d-gamma-tocopherols being lowered by 30 to 50%. Since your body still needs this other form, some researchers now recommend to select one with mixed tocopherols.1

Types of Vitamin E

Commercially available sources of Vitamin E can be classified into several distinct categories or types, such as 2, 3:

Natural Vitamin E

This is what most people refer to as Vitamin E; it’s the non-esterified form of d-alpha-tocopherol and occurs in nature, primarily in vegetable oils like soy and sunflower oil.

Semi-Synthetic, Esters

Manufacturers commonly convert the phenol form of the vitamin, with a free hydroxyl group, to esters, using acetic or succinic acid. An ester is a salt formed by a carboxylic acid and an alcohol (tocopherol is the alcohol in this case). These esters are more stable as they are less susceptible to oxidation during storage. In their stored form, they are not classified as antioxidants.

You have to consume these ester forms to “activate” them and unlock their antioxidant properties. Your gut produces an enzyme called esterase that de-esterfies the compound and allows your body to absorb the compound as free tocopherol. Several studies indicate the rate of absorption of these forms of tocopheryl esters and free tocopherol have similar bioavailability.


Current literature suggests the primary role in the body of Vitamin E is to function as a major lipid antioxidant for free radicals formed from normal cellular metabolism. Free radicals are destructive to the cell membrane and other body components.

Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, a molecule capable of inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules, which makes the free radicals unable to damage your cells. Other antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, are capable of regenerating the antioxidant capacity of alpha-tocopherol. Additionally, alpha-tocopherol also protects the fats in low-density lipoproteins (LDL) from oxidation, possibly reducing risk of cardiovascular disease in the process.


Gamma-tocopherol is the major form of Vitamin E ingested in the U.S. diet. It was previously assumed that this form was not important as the body naturally has much higher concentrations of the alpha form. The blood levels of gamma-tocopherol are generally 10-times lower than those of alpha-tocopherol.

However, more recent studies suggest that gamma-tocopherol picks up the slack left by the alpha form. It appears to scavenge different types of free radicals which can damage proteins, lipids, and even your DNA.

Additionally, gamma-tocopherol can inhibit inflammation by reducing cyclooxygenase activity. Studies have also shown higher plasma concentrations of gamma-tocopherol are associated with reduced incidences of prostate cancer.


Studies on on tocotrienols indicate they may have significant antioxidant and anti-cancer effects. Tocotrienols appear to act on a specific enzyme called HMG-CoA (3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase) that’s involved in cholesterol production in the liver. Tocotrienols suppress the production of this enzyme, which may result in less cholesterol being manufactured by liver cells.

The Benefits of Vitamin E in Skincare

Some potential skin benefits of Vitamin E include:

Vitamin E is Moisturizing

Researchers have found that products containing Vitamin E can very effectively moisturize the skin. A few studies have shown that the topical application of Vitamin E can improve the skin’s water-binding capacity after two to four weeks of use.4,5  The research also found that Vitamin E can be more moisturizing than other common ingredients used in skincare.

Vitamin E Can Help Fight UV-Related Skin Damage

Oregan State University highlights several studies suggesting that Vitamin E could fight skin damage from sun exposure. Though it’s been shown that it’s possible that adding Vitamin E to sunscreen provides some additional skin benefits, it is important to note that Vitamin E itself is not an effective sunscreen.

Multiple studies have found that the combination of Vitamin C and Vitamin E protects the skin against UV damage.6 Human subjects orally co-supplemented with Vitamins C and E show increased Minimal Erythemal Dose (MED), which is a measure of photoprotection from UV light on the skin.7

Vitamin E Can Promote Wound Healing

The author of a review article in the International Wound Journal suggests that Vitamin E can promote wound healing. The theory is that because Vitamin E deficiencies can slow wound healing, a good amount of this nutrient could have the opposite effect.8

Vitamin E Possesses Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Inflammation is the body’s reaction to an injury or infection; it can cause pain, discoloration, and swelling. Many common skin conditions cause inflammation, including acne. A 2020 study reviewed 26 clinical trials and found evidence that Vitamin E can reduce inflammation in adults.9

Vitamin E May Reduce Hyperpigmentation

Dark patches on your skin can be caused by too much melanin, which is triggered by hormones or other causes. Called Melasma, this condition is believed to be treatable through the use of topical Vitamin E. Studies show that hyperpigmentation may be only moderately affected by using topical Vitamin E oil, but the most effective way to use Vitamin E to treat hyperpigmentation is to pair it with Vitamin C.10

Vitamin E May Prevent Aging And Wrinkles 

Vitamin E affects blood circulation, which is why many people notice a difference in the firmness and structure of their skin after the topical use of Vitamin E. A 2013 review tells us that Vitamin E and other natural ingredients rich in antioxidants are generally accepted as a treatment for delaying wrinkles due to photoaging.11

Foods Vitamin E Is Found In

Numerous foods provide Vitamin E. Nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils are among the best sources of alpha-tocopherol, and significant amounts are available in green leafy vegetables and fortified cereals. 

Here are 10 foods that contain large amounts of Vitamin E: 

Sunflower Seeds (Vitamin E per 1 oz handful:( 7.4 mg or 49% DV), Vitamin E per 100g (26.1 mg or 178% DV) Vitamin E per 200 calories (9 mg or 60% DV)


Almonds (Vitamin E per 1 oz handful:( 7.3 mg or 49% DV), Vitamin E per 100g (25.6 mg or 171% DV) Vitamin E per 200 calories (8.9 mg or 59% DV)


Avocados (Vitamin E per 1 oz avodaco):( 4.2 mg or 28% DV), Vitamin E per 100g (2.1 mg or 14% DV) Vitamin E per 200 calories (2.7 mg or 17% DV)


Spinach (Vitamin E per cup cooked):( 3.7 mg or 25% DV), Vitamin E per 100g (2.1 mg or 14% DV) Vitamin E per 200 calories (18.1 mg or 121% DV)


Butternut Squash (Vitamin E per 1 cup cooked)l:( 2.6 mg or 18% DV), Vitamin E per 100g (1.3 mg or 9% DV) Vitamin E per 200 calories (6.5 mg or 43% DV)


Kiwifruit (Vitamin E per cup:( 2.6 mg or 18% DV), Vitamin E per 100g (1.5 mg or 10% DV) Vitamin E per 200 calories (4.8 mg or 32% DV)


Broccoli (Vitamin E per cup cookedl:( 2.3 mg or 15% DV), Vitamin E per 100g (1.5 mg or 10% DV) Vitamin E per 200 calories (8.3 mg or 55% DV)


Trout (Vitamin E per fillet:( 2 mg or 13% DV), Vitamin E per 100g (2.8 mg or 19% DV) Vitamin E per 200 calories (3.3 mg or 22% DV)


Olive Oil (Vitamin E per tablespoon:( 1.9 mg or 13% DV), Vitamin E per 100g (14.4 mg or 96% DV) Vitamin E per 200 calories (3.2 mg or 22% DV)


Shrimp (Vitamin E per 3 oz:( 1.9 mg or 12% DV), Vitamin E per 100g (2.2 mg or 15% DV) Vitamin E per 200 calories (3.7 mg or 25% DV)

The Health Benefits of Vitamin E

Vitamin E plays many roles in your body. While it’s best known for its antioxidant effects, Vitamin E is also needed for proper immune function and cellular signaling. Here are a few potential health benefits of Vitamin E:

Vitamin E May Reduce Markers Of Oxidative Stress And Improve Antioxidant Defenses

Oxidative stress is a condition that occurs when there’s an imbalance between your body’s antioxidant defenses and the production and accumulation of compounds called reactive oxygen species (ROS). This can lead to cellular damage and increased disease risk.12

Because Vitamin E acts as a powerful antioxidant in the body, studies have shown that supplementing with high doses of it can reduce markers of oxidative stress and boost antioxidant defenses in some populations.13

For example, a 2018 study in 54 people with diabetic nephropathy — kidney damage caused by high blood sugar — found that supplementing with 800 IU of Vitamin E per day for 12 weeks significantly increased levels of glutathione peroxidase (GPx) compared with a placebo.14 GPx is a group of antioxidant enzymes that protect your cells from oxidative damage.

Vitamin E May Reduce Heart Disease Risk Factors

Having high blood pressure and high levels of blood lipids such as LDL cholesterol and triglycerides may increase your risk of developing heart disease. Promisingly, research suggests that Vitamin E supplements may help reduce heart disease risk factors such as these in some people.

A 2019 review of 18 studies found that, compared with placebo treatments, Vitamin E supplements significantly reduced systolic but not diastolic blood pressure — the top and bottom numbers of blood pressure readings, respectively.15

Some studies also show that taking Vitamin E with omega-3 supplements may reduce LDL and triglyceride levels in people with metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions, including high blood fat levels, that increases the risk of heart disease and other health conditions.16

Vitamin E May Benefit Those With Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

NAFLD includes a number of conditions that cause an accumulation of fat in the liver in people who drink little or no alcohol. According to research findings, Vitamin E may improve some aspects of health in people with NAFLD.

A 2021 review of eight studies found that supplementing with Vitamin E reduced levels of the liver enzymes alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST), decreased blood lipid levels, and improved liver health in people with NAFLD.17

Elevated AST and ALT levels can indicate liver inflammation and damage in people with NAFLD, so lower levels are favorable.

Vitamin E May Help Manage Dysmenorrhea 

Dysmenorrhea is a condition characterized by severe and frequent menstrual pain, such as cramps and pelvic pain. Promisingly, research suggests Vitamin E rich foods and supplements may reduce pain in women with this condition.

In a 2018 study of 100 women with dysmenorrhea, taking 200 IU of Vitamin E daily relieved menstrual pain more than a placebo. The effects were even better when the vitamin was combined with an omega-3 supplement containing 180 mg of EPA and 120 mg of DHA.18

Additionally, a 2021 study showed that supplementing with a combination of Vitamin E and Vitamin C daily for 8 weeks helped reduce the severity of pelvic pain and dysmenorrhea in women with endometriosis.19

Vitamin E’s Other Potential Health Benefits

Vitamin E had also been linked to several other health benefits:

  • Vitamin E may improve lung function. Studies have shown that Vitamin E supplements could improve lung function and certain symptoms of asthma in children and adults.20
  • Vitamin E may benefit older adults. Because Vitamin E plays an important role in health, such as reducing inflammation and improving immune function, supplements may benefit people who have increased needs or don’t get enough in their diets, such as some older adults. 21
  • Vitamin E may benefit cognitive health. Maintaining optimal Vitamin E levels and taking supplements may help protect against cognitive decline, but it’s still unclear whether the supplements benefit people with cognitive conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.22

The Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom® Facial Oil Features Vitamin E

The Herban Wisdom Facial Oil

Tocopherol plus Vitamin E rich plant extracts are integrated into the Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom® Facial Oil for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, photo-protecting, and moisturizing properties. Cranberry, Coriander Seed, Cucumber Seed, and Rosehip Oil combine to defend skin from oxidative damage and bind moisture to the skin.

The Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom® Facial Oil is non-irritating and well tolerated; it’s suitable for all skin types. It supports overall skin wellness and may assist with its healing.

You can shop the Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom® Facial Oil here.


References: [1] [3],recognized%20to%20meet%20human%20requirements [2] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22]

A Look at Skincare Clays

Made from volcanic ash, and created deep within the earth as ancient-rich deposits of minerals, clay is renowned as one of the purest natural skin beautifiers in the world. It’s been celebrated for centuries, across many different cultures and civilizations, for its anti-inflammatory, purifying, and nourishing properties — and relied upon to detoxify, beautify, and refresh when applied as a facial mask since the times of Cleopatra. In this blog, we’ll explore the history using clay for skincare, why clay is used, the types of clay commonly used in skincare, and a few clean products containing clay to take note of.

The History of Using Clays for Skincare

From “band-aids” made from wet clay placed over a wound to mud baths frequented socially in ancient Rome and Greece, the topical use of clay for soothing and healing skin leaves its mark throughout ancient history. Aristotle even recommended the consumption of clay for internal medicinal uses as far back as the 4th century BCE.

Five thousand years ago in India, according to ancient Ayurvedic tradition, clay was used in the form of face and body masks as a skin treatment and during Indian religious rituals and weddings. Clay was also popular in Egyptian skincare as Cleopatra used it twice a week on her face to draw out impurities.

In ancient China, Yang Guifei, a notorious beauty and concubine of the great Tang emperor Xuanzong, often mixed pearls, jadeite, lotus root, and ginger into clay mud masks. These masks are among the first clay mud masks reported in history.

Clay has also been used by cultures spanning the Australian aboriginals, South and North American natives, and Central African tribesmen as an external and internal cleanser, known colloquially by names such as “the mud that heals.”

In more modern times, before the French Revolution, mud masking was featured in the famous health spas of Europe frequented by the rich and noble. In the 1920s, clay masks became even more popular when the first commercially-manufactured cosmetic face mask gained widespread use.

Today, backed with clinically-tested scientific proof, this ancient skin remedy remains a beauty staple and go-to detoxifier.

Science-Backed Benefits of Clay for the Skin

Clay is one of the most cleansing and detoxifying ingredients you can use on your skin. Rich in minerals, the benefits help to clear blemishes, draw out impurities, and leave you with a brighter complexion. Here’s a deeper look:

Clay Is an Anti-Bacterial

Hydrated clay binds with not just toxins but also harmful bacteria and pathogens. When hydrated clay is applied to the skin and left to dry, as in the case of a clay mask, it binds to bacteria on the surface of the skin and deep in the pores. It brings the dried-up bacteria to the surface of the skin to then be washed away.1, 2

This act reduces the overpopulation of pathogenic bacteria to friendly microflora, which is responsible for bacterial skin problems, acne, and even poison ivy. In other words, clay works as a natural antibiotic that can heal skin infections and even remedy issues like eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis. It’s known to be even more effective than most antibiotics, as it will not entirely wipe out the colonies of friendly bacteria that promote healthy skin immunity.3, 4

Clay Can Detoxify and Purify the Skin

Clay has a strong negative electrical charge, which binds to negatively charged toxins and pulls them from the skin when used topically. Any form of an environmental pollutant, nanoparticles, cacogenic, heavy metal, chemical, and essentially any unnatural impurity you could think of – can be eliminated from the body with the use of clay.5

Clay Can Oxygenate the Cells

Clay can not only pull toxins out of the skin’s pores but also hydrogen from the skin cells, which allows more room for oxygen to benefit the skin tissues and rejuvenate them. This leads to improved circulation and overall healthier skin.

Clay Can Regulate Sebum Production

The skin naturally produces oil, known as sebum, to protect and moisturize it. When the immune system is over-activated, be it from an infection, autoimmunity, stress, or toxic overload, the skin can overproduce sebum. This overproduction can result in acne, blackheads, whiteheads, and other skin blemishes.

While treating the root cause of sebum imbalances is an internal job accomplished via diet and lifestyle, clay is an incredible remedy for oily and acne-prone skin. Clay can “soak” up excess sebum and clean out clogged pores.

Clay Can Leave Your Skin Soft, Smooth, and Glowing

Clay is loaded with an essential beautifying nutrient known as silica. This trace mineral is one of the most abundant minerals in the body; it’s responsible for manufacturing connective tissues such as the muscle, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, collagen, skin, and bone. Silica also happens to make your skin very soft and smooth.

Clay Can Rejuvenate and Regenerate the Skin

Clay can be used to rebuild damaged skin fibers as well as promote youthful skin and prevent or eliminate wrinkles. Bentonite Clay specifically has been shown to promote blood circulation to the skin, thus increasing the healing and regenerating of skin tissue. 

Clay Is Completely Natural

Many skincare products today contain very harsh ingredients. These ingredients like BPA, synthetic fragrances, parabens, phthalates, and other unnatural, toxic substances are linked to everything from chronic disease to skin irritation. Clay is a completely natural way to detoxify, cleanse, purify, exfoliate and beautify your skin without any negative side effects.

Types of Clay and Their Benefits

Depending on your skin type, one clay may be better suited for you than another. Here’s a look at a few of the most commonly used clays in skincare, along with their mineral type and specific benefits:

Bentonite Clay

Pictured: Bentonite Clay   Source: Jindeal 

Bentonite Clay is formed from the weathering of volcanic ash in seawater, which converts the natural glass present in the ash to clay minerals. It produces a negative electrical charge upon contact with fluid which bonds to the positive charge of many toxins, heavy metals, impurities, and chemicals.

Mineral Profile: Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Copper, and Zinc

Benefits: Bentonite Clay is particularly impressive due to its ability to absorb up to 700% of its mass in water from your skin. It’s perfect for absorbing deep oils and dirt and is the best clay for oily skin types. Bentonite’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties also can help heal breakouts. 

Kaolin Clay

Kaolin Clay

Pictured: Kaolin Clay  Source: Those Graces

Kaolin Clays are some of the most commonly used clays for face masks. In its purest form, it has a bright white color, though other varieties include shades of red, pink, brown, and yellow. This color change owes itself to the mineral content and where it’s from globally. 

Mineral Profile: Kaolinite, Quartz, Mica, Iron, Muscovite, Illite, and Feldspar

Benefits: Kaolin Clay is one of the best options for sensitive, dry, or acne-prone skin. White Kaolin Clay is exceptionally mild and great for absorbing oils and deep impurities without causing irritation or redness. Longer-term, routine use of Kaolin Clay can restore the skin elasticity and reduce fine lines.

Rhassoul Clay

Rhassoul Clay

Pictured: Rhassoul Clay   Source: Farnatchi Spa

Meant for oily or acne-prone skin that also suffers from mild pigmentation, the cleansing action of Rhassoul Clay can almost be described as industrial-strength. In fact, it’s often used in kitty litter and to absorb oil spills on pavements; hence the reason it’s perfect for those who suffer from excessively oily skin. 

Mineral Profile: Magnesium, Sodium, Zinc, Iron, Phosphorus, and Potassium

Benefits: Rhassoul clay draws out oils, dirt, dust, and pollutants deep within pores while reducing redness and inflammation. Long-term use can also help balance sebum production. Rich in magnesium and potassium, some studies show that the skin’s absorption of these minerals can help form a barrier to prevent breakouts.

Product Spotlight

There are an array of products on the market that utilize different clays for their benefits. From cleansers to masks to shampoo bars, the options are endless, making it easier than ever to add products formulated with clay to your regime. Here are a few to take note of:

NENA Natural Face Wash

To shop the NENA Natural Face Wash, click here

Honest Beauty Magic Gel-to-Milk Cleanser

To shop the Honest Beauty Magic Gel-to-Milk Cleanser, click here

ERIGERON All-In-One Pink Clay Shampoo Bar

To shop the ERIGERON All-In-One Pink Clay Shampoo Bar, click here

C’est Moi Mellow Marshmallow White Clay Cloud Mask

You can shop the C’est Moi Mellow Marshmallow White Clay Cloud Mask, click here

To shop the Acure Brightening Facial Scrub, click here

The Humanist Beauty Handcrafted Bar Soap Features ClayHumanist Beauty Handcrafted Bar Soap

Elevate your mood as you cleanse your skin. Humanist Beauty’s 100% vegan botanical bar soaps are artisan-crafted, essential oil-infused, and eco-conscious with no plastic wrapping or labels. While there are five different aromatherapeutic recipes to choose from, two are formulated with Kaolin Clay, Rhassoul Clay, and Bentonite Clay. 

Humanist Beauty Detox Handcrafted SoapThe Humanist Beauty Detox Handcrafted Soap is a purifying melange of crisp eucalyptus, rosemary, lemon, and activated charcoal. Formulated with Rhassoul Clay and Kaolin Clay, the Detox Soap acts as a gentle cleanser and can help absorb excess sebum, purify and detoxify pores, soothe sensitive, irritated skin, and gently exfoliate dead surface cells

Humanist Beauty Soothe Handcrafted Soap

The Humanist Beauty Soothe Handcrafted Soap can vaporize away the feeling of sore achy muscles and congestion with cooling notes of cedarwood, peppermint, balsam, and menthol. Formulated with Bentonite Clay, the Soothe Soap can help remove excess oil and toxins from the skin, address acneic conditions, gently exfoliate, and fight bacteria. 

You can shop the Humanist Beauty Handcrafted Soap here


References: [1] [2] [3] [4],negative%20charge%20toxins%20(7). [5]

Schisandra: An Ancient Adaptogen

You may have heard of Schisandra as a super ingredient that is loved and praised by health enthusiasts. The adaptogen is often ingested as a supplement or added to smoothies as a way to bring the mind and body to equilibrium. Schisandra, also known as Chinese Magnolia Vine, Five Flavored Fruit, and Wu Wei Zi, is a woody vine that produces red berries in the forests of Northern China and the Russian Far East. It’s considered a Harmonizing Tonic or “King” remedy beneficial to qi in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) due to its well balanced energetic nature. In this blog, we’ll discuss the history of Schisandra, along with its medicinal and skincare benefits.

How Schisandra Gained Its Names

Schisandra berry’s Chinese name, Wǔ Wèi Zi, means “Five Flavor Fruit.” It earned this name as it’s the only fruit known to contain all five fundamental tastes — bitter, pungent, salty, sour, and sweet. According to TCM theory, this unique composition supports the five Zang Organs, or the liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, and spleen. This cooperative of Zang Organs produces and stores qi, the vital energy or life force that flows through all living things.1

The western botanical name, Schisandra, comes from the genus Schisandraceae, which was named by French botanist André Michaux in his Flora Boreali-Americana, published in 1803. Sometimes it’s incorrectly spelled Schizandra, which is a misunderstanding of origin. According to the American Herbal Pharmacopeia, “The name Schisandra is derived from the ancient Greek schisis meaning “crevice” or “fissure.”

Many writers have incorrectly written this as Schizandra presumably from the Greek schizo meaning “split” or “separate” which has resulted in inconsistencies in the literature. This is further confused as the Manual of Cultivated Trees, which was published in 1954, reported that the name Schisandra was in fact based on the verb schizo.”2

Schisandra Fact Sheet

Source: The Alchemist’s Kitchen

The Historical and Cultural Significance of Schisandra

Indigenous peoples of the Asian continent have used Schisandra berries medicinally and ceremonially since before recorded history – over 2,000 years. To make use of all the benefits, the Schisandra berries were most commonly dried in the sun and consumed as part of food and medicinal practices. 

TCM says that Schisandra berries “calm the heart and quiet the spirit.” Indigenous Siberian hunters, known as the Nanai, have traditionally consumed the Schisandra plant’s berries to help improve stamina and reduce fatigue in the rugged terrain during the long winter months.3

Recorded use of Schisandra dates back to the Tang dynasty, described in China’s first known herbal encyclopedia: Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, or The Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica, written and compiled between about 200 and 250 CE. It’s considered one of “50 Fundamental Herbs” in TCM. Chinese, Korean, and Russian cultures have used its berries in a number of ways; in beauty tonic blends, as an ingredient in soups and stews, and infused into wines. 

Awareness of Schisandra reached the European and American countries relatively recently; the first monograph on it can be found in The American Pharmacopoeia from 1999.4 Today, Schisandra is a popular ingredient in skincare products and foods, shining a light on the berries’ myriad of benefits.

Medicinal Benefits of Schisandra

Schisandra berries are known to have a wide range of health benefits and have been used in traditional medicine to treat a number of illnesses. From helping to heal yourself by clearing toxins out of your body to aiding with specific maladies, the medicinal benefits are nearly endless.

Schisandra can: 

Aid Those Suffering From Alzheimer’s Disease

Schisandrin B is a mineral found in Schisandra berries, which may have a positive effect on Alzheimer’s disease. A recent study found that Schisandrin B has the ability to block the formation of peptides in the brain.5

The specific peptide, amyloid-beta, is found in excessive amounts in all Alzheimer’s sufferers. Schisandrin B is an anti-inflammatory mineral, which can assist further to reduce neurotoxicity and the severity of Alzheimer’s disease.6

Increase Physical Health

Schisandra was studied by Russian scientists and shown to provide an increased physical working capacity. The study’s findings found that Schisandra can create a stress-protective effect in animals. This included protection from heat shock, frostbite, immobilization, irradiation, and heavy metal intoxication.7 

Reduce Blood Pressure

Schisandra has been used for centuries in oral form as a relaxant. Studies conducted showed an increase in blood circulation by relaxing cardiac blood vessels. This results in lower blood pressure and ties in with a reduction in stress.8

Be Effective Against Liver Damage

One study showed that the Schisandra Chinensis Pollen Extract (SCPE) had an antioxidant effect on carbon tetrachloride (CCI4) toxins in the liver. The higher antioxidant activities and the abundance of polyphenols found in SCPE was also proven to be effective against liver damage caused by Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.9,10

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) can be the result of numerous liver diseases, such as hepatitis and cirrhosis. There are more fatty acids and inflammation of the liver in people with NAFLD. Researchers found that Schisandrin B reduced these fatty acids, while also acting as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.

Reduce Menopause Symptoms

A randomized controlled trial completed at the end of 2016 showed that Schisandra can reduce the severity of menopausal symptoms. It concluded that Schisandra is effective and safe at minimizing hot flashes, sweating, and heart palpitations.11

Be Effective Against Asthma

A study from Korea published in 2014 found that Schisandra berries exert anti-asthma properties. The berries do this by inhibiting immunoglobulins, which are antibodies that incite allergy reactions. The berries also temper hyper-responsiveness by the body. This hyper-responsive effect to allergens is what causes airways to spasm and close, creating asthma attacks.12

Work As An Energy and Adrenal Tonic

Schisandra has long been prized for its energizing and vitality-enhancing properties. Countless studies have shown the measurable increased physical performance of subjects taking it. Since it’s a tonic herb, it can strengthen and tone many organs in the body, benefiting the flow of qi.13

Schisandra can increase the contractibility of the heart and enhance the exchange of oxygen in the tissue cells. This ultimately means your muscles will enhance the utilization of oxygen and improve the gaseous exchange in the lungs and in peripheral cells to reduce the production of acidic metabolic waste while simultaneously increasing the removal of acidic waste in the cells, blood, and lungs.14

Combats Stress and Depression

There is a significant amount of evidence, in conjunction with its long-standing traditional use as a tonic, that as an adaptogen, Schisandra can be effective against stress and depression. Adaptogens are substances believed to reinforce the nonspecific resistance of the body against physical, chemical, or biological stressors.

Schisandra is most well-known in the West as an adaptogen facilitating a response to unproductive stress by modulating endocrine and immune functions. As an adrenal-cortical restorative, Schisandra can overcome the chronic loss of stamina, fatigue, over-work and chronic illness.15

Promotes Longevity and Vitality

For millennia, Schisandra has been known as a herb that promotes longevity and acts against aging. Schisandra’s berries are rich in antioxidants, but they also have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Both of these actions help to improve cellular function and promote a longer life. In TCM, the ability of Schisandra to promote longevity and vitality is attributed to its tonification of the three treasures: qi, Jing (essence), and Shen (spirit).

Schisandra in Skincare

Schisandra has an array of medicinal benefits that have been touted for centuries; however, it has also been highly regarded for its potential skin benefits in China, especially among the wealthy. The berries were used to promote beautiful skin and provide protection from sun and wind damage. 

Packed with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, including key vitamins C and E, Schisandra’s strong astringent qualities enable the skin to hold in moisture for more fullness. Additionally, its action on the liver can largely be attributed to improvements in skin issues including hives and eczema. 

Researchers at Badische Anilin und Soda Fabrik (BASF) have also discovered that Schisandra berry extracts, at the molecular level, specifically target two chemical processes linked to skin anti-aging. The extract stimulates the synthesis of these “tension molecules,” called collagen XVII and ladinin-1.16

In general, Schisandra’s benefits on the skin can include:

  • Rejuvenating and revitalizing the skin
  • Reducing the skin’s natural inflammation and the vascular swelling produced by anxiety and stress
  • Protecting against external damage like wind, sun rays, and pollution
  • Improving skin strength and resiliency
  • Promoting overall skin wellness

The Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom® Eye Cream The Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom® Eye Cream

Schisandra berry extract is integrated into the Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom® Eye Cream for its adaptogenic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, tonic, and astringent properties to promote overall skin wellness and to keep your skin looking and feeling its absolute best.

Remember: Your eyes are the windows to your soul, so take special care of them so they can convey the happiness and joy you feel inside.

You can learn more about the Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom® Eye Cream here.


References: [1] [2] [4] [3] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13][14] [15] [16]

3 Moisturizing Agents That Raise the Bar

One of the easiest ways to get glowing, healthy-looking skin is to make sure your skin is effectively moisturized. Throughout the day, skin loses moisture, and as we age, our oil-producing glands lose productivity. This leads to drier skin that’s more prone to damage. These effects can easily be counterbalanced through the use of moisturizers, which help treat the skin when it’s dry and prevent it from drying out again. Knowing and understanding what key moisturizing agents are in products can help you reverse dry, patchy skin. Shea butter, coconut oil, and sustainable palm oil, for example, are excellent moisturizing ingredients that can leave skin feeling refreshed and soft all day long.

All About Shea Butter

Shea butter has been used as a cosmetic ingredient for centuries. Its high concentration of vitamins and fatty acids — combined with its easy-to-spread consistency — make it a great agent for smoothing, soothing, and conditioning your skin.

Shea trees are native to West Africa with most shea butter still coming from that region. Shea butter is fat that’s extracted from the nuts of the shea tree. It comes from two oily kernels within the shea tree seed. After the kernel is removed from the seed, it’s ground into a powder and boiled in water. The butter then rises to the top of the water and becomes solid. Shea butter is solid at room temperature, and it has an off-white or ivory color.

Shea Butter

Source: SkinKraft

The Benefits of Shea Butter

Shea butter has made its way into the formulas of the most tried-and-true skincare products due to its moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties. Here’s a more in-depth look at the benefits of shea butter:

Shea Butter Boosts Skin Moisture

Shea butter works as an emollient to soften and condition the skin. Because it contains several types of fatty acids — including linoleic, oleic, palmitic, and stearic acids — shea butter improves the skin’s natural barrier and also protects skin from transepidermal water loss (TEWL).

Shea Butter Possesses Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Research from the Journal of Oleo Science notes shea butter’s anti-inflammatory compounds, which make it beneficial for soothing and nourishing upset skin. According to the Hong Kong Medical Journal, it’s often included in products that help heal inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, as well as sunburn-soothing products.

Shea butter is thought to have mild sun protection benefits — though it’s not strong enough to replace your sunscreen. Still, you might notice shea butter sneakily adding moisture to your suncare products. Shea butter alone has an estimated SPF of 3 to 4, so you can always layer it over your favorite sunscreen for added protection.

Shea Butter Can Help Fight Breakouts

Dry, acne-prone skin tends to overproduce sebum, which can clog pores; however, shea butter stops this cycle in its tracks by helping to prevent your skin from drying out in the first place. Shea butter is rich in different kinds of fatty acids, making up a unique composition that helps clear your skin of excess sebum.

At the same time, shea butter restores moisture to your skin and locks it into your epidermis, so your skin doesn’t dry out or feel “stripped” of oil. The result is a restoration of the natural balance of oils in your skin — which may help stop acne before it starts.

Shea Butter Is Full of Anti-Aging Antioxidants

According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, shea butter also contains quite a few antioxidants, including vitamins A and E, along with many of the same ones found in green tea, which is a known antioxidant powerhouse. While more research is needed to prove shea butter is an anti-aging ingredient, antioxidants (especially vitamin A) have been shown to prevent free radical damage when applied to the skin.

Additionally, shea butter contains triterpenes, which are naturally occurring compounds that are thought to deactivate collagen fiber destruction. By boosting collagen production and promoting new cell generation, shea butter may help reduce photoaging — the wrinkles and fine lines that the sun and environmental stress can create on skin.

All About Coconut Oil

Coconut oil comes from the nut (fruit) of the coconut palm. It contains medium-chain fatty acids, including capric acid, caprylic acid, myristic acid, palmitic acid, and lauric acid. These acids make up between 52% to 85% of coconut oil and provide a moisturizing effect when applied to your skin.

Coconut oil can be produced through dry or wet processing. Dry processing involves drying coconut meat to create kernels, pressing them to extract the oil, then bleaching and deodorizing them. This process forms refined coconut oil, which has a more neutral scent and higher smoke point. In wet processing, coconut oil is obtained from raw coconut meat — instead of dried — to create virgin coconut oil. This helps retain the coconut scent and results in a lower smoke point.

While refined coconut oil may be better suited for cooking at high temperatures, virgin coconut oil is a better choice for skin health. Not only does most of the existing research focus specifically on the effects of virgin coconut oil, but there’s also evidence that it may have added health benefits.

Coconut Oil

Source: Treehugger

The Benefits of Coconut Oil

By reputation, coconut oil is a magical elixir, used in both the kitchen and the bathroom for a multitude of different applications. From natural hair and skincare products to culinary recipes, coconut oil can be used almost anywhere for an array of benefits:

Coconut Oil Is a Great Moisturizer

Applying coconut oil to your skin can help keep it hydrated. One study in patients with mild to moderately dry skin compared the effects of coconut oil to mineral oil, a type of oil made from petroleum that’s often used to treat dry skin. The two-week study found that coconut oil significantly improved skin hydration and was just as effective as mineral oil.1

Coconut oil has also been shown to help treat eczema, a skin condition characterized by scaly, itchy rashes. A study comparing the effects of olive oil and coconut oil in 52 adults with eczema found that applying coconut oil helped reduce dryness, in addition to helping treat the ailment.2

Another study found similar results, showing that coconut oil led to a 68% decrease in eczema severity, making it significantly more effective than mineral oil in the treatment process.3

Coconut Oil Can Help Treat Acne

While some think coconut oil clogs pores, considerable research shows it might help treat acne due to many of its components reducing inflammation in the body. Furthermore, the antibacterial properties of the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil could also help reduce acne.

Numerous studies have shown that lauric acid, which accounts for nearly half of the fatty acids in coconut oil, has been shown to kill off the strain of bacteria linked to acne. Studies have shown that lauric acid is more effective than benzoyl peroxide at preventing the growth of acne-causing bacteria.4

Along with lauric acid, capric acid has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. A 2014 study showed that both lauric and capric acid were successful in reducing inflammation and preventing acne by killing off bacteria.5

Coconut Oil Can Help Reduce Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is a major component of many different types of skin disorders, including psoriasis, contact dermatitis, and eczema. In one study, researchers applied virgin coconut oil to the inflamed ears of subjects. Not only was coconut oil found to have an anti-inflammatory effect, but it relieved pain as well.6

What’s more, coconut oil may ease inflammation by improving its antioxidant status. Antioxidants work by stabilizing free radicals in the body, neutralizing the reactive atoms that can contribute to inflammation. A 2013 study found that in 45 days, virgin coconut oil had improved antioxidant status and prevented oxidative stress to the greatest extent.7

Coconut Oil Promotes Wound Healing

Several studies have demonstrated that coconut oil may also aid in wound healing. One study looked at how coconut oil applied to the skin affected wound healing. It found that treating wounds with virgin coconut oil sped up healing, improved antioxidant status, and increased levels of collagen, which is an important protein that aids in wound healing.8

Another study showed that coconut oil, combined with an antibiotic, applied to the skin was effective at healing burn wounds.9 In addition to improving wound healing, coconut oil’s antimicrobial properties may also prevent infection, one of the major risk factors that can complicate the healing process.

All About Sustainable Palm Oil

Palm oil can be found in everything from snacks and household cleaners to cosmetics. Versatile, affordable, and useful, palm oil is the most widely used vegetable oil in the world. But it has also caused deforestation and community conflict in the tropical countries where it’s cultivated. About 58.84 million tons of palm oil are produced every year, with Indonesia and Malaysia accounting for 85% of total output.

Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil that comes from the fruit of oil palm trees. Two types of oil can be produced; crude palm oil comes from squeezing the fleshy fruit, and palm kernel oil which comes from crushing the kernel, or the stone in the middle of the fruit. Oil palm trees are native to Africa but were brought to South-East Asia just over 100 years ago as an ornamental tree crop.

Sustainable Palm Oil

Source: Treehugger

The Ugly Truth Behind Palm Oil

It’s vital to ensure that the palm oil in the products you buy is sustainable. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) indicates that about 300 football fields of forest are cleared every hour to make way for palm oil plantations.10

The problem is especially acute in Indonesia, the world’s biggest producer of palm oil, where a large proportion of palm oil plantations are situated on peat; a swampy, waterlogged soil that must be drained before companies can plant crops on it. Dry peat is extremely flammable. Given that many smallholder oil palm farmers can only afford to clear land by burning it, massive and uncontrollable peat fires engulf Southeast Asia in a choking haze every year.11

Boycotting palm oil is not the answer, considering that globally, palm oil supplies 40% of the world’s vegetable oil demand on just under 6% of the land used to produce all vegetable oils. To get the same amount of alternative oils like soybean, coconut, or sunflower oil you would need anywhere between 4 and 10 times more land, which would just shift the problem to other parts of the world and threaten other habitats, species, and communities.

Future demand for palm oil can be met without further forest and ecosystem conversion, notably by sustainably increasing productivity on existing plantations and expanding plantations to degraded land. To achieve this, palm oil majors have adopted policies that promise no deforestation, no peat development, and no exploitation (NDPE).

These policies are usually applicable across the company’s supply chains, including third-party suppliers and smallholders. They require farmers to stop burning land to clear it, assess land for high carbon stock and high conservation value before developing new plantations, and obtain land use permission from communities using a process known as “Free, Prior and Informed Consent.”

Palm Deforestation Bar Chart

Pictured: Deforestation from the production of palm oil is decreasing due to sustainable palm oil efforts.   Source: European Palm Oil Alliance

The Benefits of Sustainable Palm Oil

Palm oil is an extremely versatile oil that has many different properties, functions, and benefits that make it incredibly useful. A few of the most common benefits of palm oil for your skin include:

Palm Oil Is Anti-Aging

Palm oil contains tocotrienols, which are members of the vitamin E family. The common form of vitamin E, tocopherol, has long been used to treat many skin ailments and is found in many anti-aging products. Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant that helps your skin fight free radicals that damage the skin and cause fine lines and wrinkles.

As a stronger antioxidant than tocopherols, tocotrienols have been proven to be more effective in preventing aging and damage from free radicals. Used topically, as with tocopherol, tocotrienols can penetrate deep into the skin’s layers to enable healing and protection from the base up.

Palm Oil Is Cleansing and Moisturizing

Palm oil is found in many shampoos, conditioners, soaps, lotions, creams, and foundations. In shampoos and soaps, it’s used for its ability to remove oil and dirt from your hair and skin. It also contains a refatting agent that helps restore your hair and skin’s natural oils that most soaps and shampoos strip away. It’s also a conditioning agent and is added to skincare products not only for its anti-aging properties but also because it deeply moisturizes to help make skin softer and more supple.

Palm Oil Helps Promote Heart and Brain Health

Tocotrienols may also support brain health. Animal and human studies suggest that the tocotrienols in palm oil may help protect the delicate polyunsaturated fats in the brain, slow dementia progression, reduce the risk of stroke and prevent the growth of brain lesions.12

Palm oil has been credited with protecting against heart disease. Although some study results have been mixed, palm oil generally appears to have beneficial effects on heart disease risk factors, including lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol and increasing “good” HDL cholesterol.13

Humanist Beauty’s New Hand-Crafted Bar Soap

Humanist Beauty has recently introduced 100% vegan botanical bar soaps that contain all of the above-mentioned moisturizers: shea butter, coconut oil, and sustainable palm oil. The Hand-Crafted Bar Soaps are aromatherapeutic as well as moisturizing, so they help to elevate your mood as you cleanse and condition your skin. The bars are small-batch made with essential oils, artisan-crafted in the US, and eco-conscious with no plastic wrapping or labels.

Humanist Beauty Hand-Crafted Bar Soap

The 5 different aromatherapeutic Hand-Crafted Bar Soap recipes are:

  • Detox – cleanse deeply with a purifying mélange of crisp eucalyptus, rosemary, lemon, activated charcoal, and clay.
  • Arouse – feel supremely sensual with a hedonistic blend of patchouli, rosehip, orange, cinnamon, amyris, and clove.
  • Soothe – vaporize away the feeling of sore achy muscles and congestion with cooling notes of cedarwood, peppermint, balsam, and menthol.
  • Invigorate – enliven your senses with a refreshing blend of eucalyptus, fir needle, clove, spirulina, and exfoliating poppy seeds.
  • Relax – experience spa-like calm with a pacifying touch of shea butter with lavender oil and flower buds.

You can shop the new Humanist Beauty Handcrafted Bar Soaps here.

References: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13]

A Guide to Antioxidants

You’ve probably heard that antioxidants are good for you, but what exactly are they, and what do they do? The word “antioxidants” is often found on the package labels of salad mixes, kombucha bottles, dietary supplements, and of course, many topical skincare products. They are indeed beneficial for a plethora of reasons, most notably cellular protection. In this article, we’ll cover the basics of antioxidants, how they work, and the best way to get them.

What Are Free Radicals?

To fully understand antioxidants, we’ll first start with free radicals. Free radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons that are unstable and highly reactive. They’re created through normal body processes like metabolism and digestion, but they are also produced through the body’s exposure to excess sun, radiation, pollution, cigarette smoke, and more.

Free radical activity in the body is completely normal, however excessive free radical activity is known as oxidative stress which can compromise one’s health. Too much oxidative stress can trigger chain reactions that attack healthy DNA, proteins, and lipids.1 According to the free radical theory of aging, oxidative stress causes unwanted inflammation that damages cells, destroys collagen, and causes premature aging.

Some conditions caused by oxidative stress include:

  • Acceleration of the aging process, leading to fine lines, sagging skin, and wrinkles
  • Deterioration of the eye lens, which contributes to vision loss
  • Inflammation of the joints (arthritis)
  • Damage to nerve cells in the brain, which contributes to conditions such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Increased risk of coronary heart disease
  • Certain cancers triggered by damaged cell DNA

a cell with oxidative damage

Pictured: Cell under oxidative stress
Source: Serving Seniors

What Are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants, sometimes known as “free radical scavengers,” are like peacemakers to free radicals. They neutralize free radicals by donating an electron to each of them. This stabilizes the free radicals from running amok and prevents them from damaging nearby cells.

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of different substances that can act as antioxidants. The most familiar ones are vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, selenium, and manganese. Others include glutathione, coenzyme Q10, lipoic acid, flavonoids, phenols, polyphenols, and many more.

It is important to know that the term “antioxidant” refers to a chemical property, namely, the ability to act as an electron donor in a given situation. It does not refer to the substance itself. Why? Some substances can act as an antioxidant in one situation and as a pro-oxidant (electron grabber) in a different situation. Another important note is that antioxidants are not interchangeable. Each one has a unique chemical behavior and biological property. They almost certainly evolved as parts of elaborate biochemical systems with each different substance (or family of substances) playing slightly different roles.

Antioxidants came to public attention in the 1990s when scientists began to understand that free radical damage was involved in the early stages of artery-clogging atherosclerosis.2 Since then, a multitude of clinical studies have been administered to test the impact of antioxidants as weapons against chronic diseases, along with the benefits of an antioxidant-rich diet and skincare routine.

Some nutrients with high antioxidant potency include:

  • Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an extremely powerful antioxidant that your body can’t manufacture, yet is necessary for the growth, development, and repair of all body tissues. It’s involved in many bodily functions, including the formation of collagen, absorption of iron, the immune system, wound healing, and the maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.3
  • Vitamin E, also known as tocopherol, is important to vision, reproduction, and the health of your blood, brain, and skin. Having a vitamin E deficiency can cause nerve pain (neuropathy).4
  • Selenium is a trace mineral found in the soil and also appears in certain foods. It’s important for reproduction, thyroid function, DNA production, and protecting the body from infection.5
  • Quercetinis another antioxidant found in certain plant foods that has many well-researched health benefits. It doubles as a plant pigment, which means only plants manufacture it.

how antioxidants work - they donate an electron

Pictured: Antioxidants donate an unpaired electron to free radicals
Source: Greatest

How Antioxidant Content is Measured – The ORAC System

There are several ways the antioxidant potency of food can be measured, but the ORAC value system is the most widely used. ORAC, or Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, is determined by placing a specific amount of food sample in a test tube with (1) molecules that generate free radical activity and (2) molecules that are vulnerable to free radical activity. The food sample is scored by how well it protects the vulnerable molecules from oxidative damage. The higher the score a food has, the higher its protective properties and total antioxidant capacity are. Hence, a food that has an ORAC value of 1000 will have 5 times more antioxidant capacity than a food that has an ORAC value of 200.

Antioxidants in Your Diet

Antioxidants are essential for the survival of all living things. Our bodies generate their own antioxidants, such as the cellular antioxidant glutathione. Plants, animals, and all other forms of life also have their own defenses against free radicals and oxidative damage. Therefore, antioxidants are found in all whole foods of plant and animal origin.

Adequate antioxidant intake is vital for proper biological functioning. In fact, our bodies require the consumption of certain antioxidants, such as vitamin C and E, for optimal health. For example, men who eat plenty of lycopene (found in tomatoes) may be less likely than other men to develop prostate cancer.6 Additionally, flavonoids, such as the tea catechins found in green tea, are believed to contribute to the low rates of heart disease in Japan.7

Antioxidant-Rich Foods

Many of the phytochemicals (plant chemicals) found in the foods we eat function as antioxidants. These nutrients work by inhibiting the formation of free radicals and reducing the damage they would otherwise cause in the body. This is thought to be at least part of the reason why a diet rich in vegetables and fruit has been linked to a lower risk of many diseases.8 However, meat, dairy, and eggs also contain antioxidants, which mainly come from the nutrient-rich plants the animals feed on.

Here are some common foods rich in various antioxidant nutrients:

  • Milk, butter, salmon, cheese, animal liver, and eggs are great sources of Vitamin A
  • Broccoli, cantaloupe, honeydew, leafy greens (turnip, mustard, collards, beet), kiwi, lemons, oranges, and bell peppers are great sources of Vitamin C
  • Almonds, leafy greens (turnip, mustard, beet), sunflower seeds, peanuts, and avocados are great sources of Vitamin E
  • Carrots, apricots, peaches, and mangoes are great sources of beta-carotene
  • Tomatoes, grapefruit, and watermelon are great sources of lycopene
  • Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, acai, pomegranate, and red cabbage are great sources of the flavonoid anthocyanin
  • Dark chocolate, red wine, cranberry juice, and red delicious apples are great sources of the flavonoid procyanidin
  • Brazil nuts, fish, shellfish, poultry, barley, corn, wheat, and brown rice are great sources of Selenium
  • Beef, poultry, shrimp, oysters, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, chickpeas, cashews, and lentils are great sources of Zinc

Eating antioxidant rich foods is preferred over taking antioxidant supplements because foods are enriched with other nutrients that work biologically with each other. For example, one cup of fresh strawberries contains about 80 mg of vitamin C. But a 500 mg of vitamin C supplement (667% of the RDA) lacks the robust plant chemicals (polyphenols) naturally found in strawberries like proanthocyanins and flavonoids, which also possess antioxidant activity and may assist vitamin C in fighting disease. Polyphenols also have many other benefits besides antioxidant activity.

Curious if your favorite foods have high levels of antioxidants? Check out this antioxidant food chart to find out.

Skincare Benefits of Antioxidants

Many topical skincare products incorporate antioxidants to deliver skin health benefits directly to the skin. Savvy skincare consumers read ingredient lists and look for antioxidant-rich ingredients. They do this despite the fact that the FDA does not allow traditional cosmetic skincare products to make structure-function claims, because doing so would classify these products as drugs.

Prevent Sun Damage

Antioxidants give skin a protective effect against UV damage when used alongside sunscreen by curtailing skin’s inflammatory response to the sun’s harmful rays, preventing sunburn, and providing enhanced protection against damage and photoaging.8 It is important to know, however, that antioxidants are not a replacement for sunscreen ingredients such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide which have been approved and are regulated to provide UV skin protection.

Help Skin Repair Itself

Inflammation from free radical damage creates an environment of harm, not healing. By working to reduce inflammation, antioxidants help skin cells stay healthier longer. Cells are better able to retain their natural ability for repair to defend against further damage. Additionally, some antioxidants like vitamin C help stimulate collagen production for a firmer appearance.9

Brighten Skin Tone

Frequent sun exposure and free radicals can trigger changes in your skin’s melanin production, which causes dark spots and uneven skin tone. Antioxidants help prevent abnormal skin pigmentation, and some antioxidants, like vitamin C, work to inhibit tyrosinase, which is an enzyme that stimulates melanin production.10

Defend Against Premature Signs of Aging

Oxidative stress can break down skin’s collagen fibers resulting in fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin. By scavenging free radicals, antioxidants can help prevent visible signs of premature skin aging for a smoother, more youthful look.11

Antioxidants in the Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom™ Facial Oil

At Humanist Beauty, we are fully transparent about every ingredient that goes into our products. Our comprehensive ingredient glossary gives assurance of our formula quality.

The Herban Wisdom™ Facial Oil is teeming with antioxidant-rich ingredients that were carefully selected to provide well-rounded skin benefits. Just a few drops incorporated into your skincare ritual twice daily helps visibly renew your skin so it will appear calm, soothed, and balanced.

Ingredients that have potent antioxidant activity in the Herban Wisdom™ Facial Oil include:

  • Tamanu Seed Oil: Shown to have wound-healing and skin rejuvenation properties. Plays a role in anti-aging and skin regeneration by promoting collagen and GAG production.
  • Seabuckthorn Oil: Soothes and replenishes skin. Topically, it addresses anti-aging, skin rejuvenation, eczema, acne, and rosacea.
  • Black Cumin Seed Oil: Helps to nourish, moisturize, protect the skin from oxidative stress, and support overall skin health. Used to address eczema, psoriasis, and acne. Learn more about Black Cumin Seed Oil on our blog.
  • Fermentoil Glycyrrhiza: Addresses anti-aging, improves skin tone, brightens the skin, and provides UVB protection. Leaves skin feeling non-greasy due to its improved emulsifying capacity. Learn more about Fermentoil Glycyrrhiza on our blog.
  • Fermentoil Complex: Known to moisturize the skin, address anti-aging, fight acne, and increase collagen production. Learn more about Fermentoil Complex on our blog.
  • Pomegranate Seed Oil: Promotes the regeneration of the epidermis and inhibits the growth of acne-causing bacteria. Commonly used to address eczema and psoriasis.
  • Red Raspberry: Inhibits enzymes that lead to visible discoloration and loss of skin firmness, helps skin defend itself against UVB light, and addresses inflammatory conditions (such as eczema).
  • Blue Tansy Oil: Helps to calm, soothe, and cool the skin. Commonly used to address sensitive or problem skin.
  • Kakadu Plum: Supports healthy collagen, helps to reduce the appearance of dark spots and dullness, boosts radiance, and promotes overall skin health.
  • Tocopherol (Vitamin E): Protects skin from UVB damage, brings moisture to the skin, supports anti-aging, assists with wound healing, and promotes overall skin health.
  • Cranberry Oil: Provides a youthful glow to the skin.

Want all these antioxidant benefits for yourself? Shop the Herban Wisdom™ Facial Oil here.

References: [1],maintain%20the%20health%20of%20cells. [2],and%20the%20maintenance%20of%20cartilage%2C%20bones%2C%20and%20teeth. [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]