All posts by Amy Halman

Surprise Those Puffy Eyes! 3 Ways to Improve the Skin

Most people forget or never realized the role your skin plays in the body’s natural detox process. It is designed with over 3 trillion pores to secrete fluids from the body…sweat to cool, oils to lubricate and protect, and toxins to help purge unhealthy substance from the system.

I educate every day on how your internal digestion and body function has a direct impact on the appearance of the skin and one sure way to see how your body is cranking in the detox department is the under-eye area of the face. Do you wake up puffy? Deal with dark circles more often than you like? Constantly struggle with dehydration in the delicate skin around your peepers?

According to traditional Chinese face reading, the eyes are connected to your kidneys and your kidneys filter and facilitate removal of excess water and unwanted waste from the body. Coagulated blood and lymph, the fluid in your body that carries toxins, pool under the eyes and contribute to darkening, tone and texture change.

So, if you have a lot of alcohol during your night out, expect a couple of puffy presents under your eyes when you wake up the next day. The same can happen with excessive salt or sugar intake, processed foods, long-term stress and lack of sleep. These things place added pressure on your kidneys and adrenal glands.

Here are some excellent Soap Hope tools you can use to help keep the kidneys kicking, the skin purging and those eyes bright and tight!

ACURE Brightening Eye Contour Gel – licorice root, cucumber and arnica cool and depuff while red and brown seaweed extracts work to inhibit leaky, dilated capillaries and improve texture of the delicate skin (aka smooth your fine lines…yay!). Additionally, a special argan extract has shown immediate tightening boost in 15 minutes. This gel is the best to put on the minute you wake up and let it soak in, refresh, and boost. TIP: Toss it in the fridge for added cooling benefit upon application…you’ll thank me later!

Timber and Coal Blackland Soap – activated charcoal and bentonite clay are the best at not only drawing impurities but also re-mineralizing the skin at the same time. Give your body a swift once-over with a dry brush, using quick upward strokes towards the heart. This helps shed dead skin cells (another form of detoxification) and stimulate healthy lymph and blood circulation. Hop in the shower and follow with this power bar to facilitate deep cleansing of the skin. Be sure to concentrate in the underarms and creases of the thighs where your lymph vessels and detox pathways are most concentrated.

Pukka Herbs’ Cleanse Tea – nettle leaf, dandelion root, fennel seed…all the best to support kidney function in the maintenance of healthy fluid levels and effective elimination of waste. Nettle leaf is a master at enhancing blood purification and contains lectins that help neutralize toxic agents, and it also helps with allergies.  While you relax and sip, slap a couple of the used, cooled tea bags on the eyes for added support!

Amy Halman is an award-winning skin therapist, speaker and product development specialist. As the owner of EcoBlend Therapies, she connects each client’s diet, lifestyle, body wellness and stress levels to imbalances reflecting on the skin. Utilizing this information, she designs topical, nutrition-packed treatments to feed the skin’s ability to re-engage and optimize. Learn more about her services at ecoblendtherapies.com

5 Top Picks to Win the Free-Radical Battle on the Skin

Oxidative stress is a constant in the body…otherwise known as free radical damage. What is a free radical exactly?

It forms when oxygen in your body splits into an individual atom that has an unpaired electron, making it unhappy and very unstable…which sounds like the making of a romantic drama, actually! The unstable atom floats around the body in search of a partner electron, most often stealing them from other stable atoms. Home-wrecker! This triggers a domino effect called the Free Radical Cascade where we now have another unstable atom on the search for an electron, and so on, and so on. Though free radicals are a necessary part of the body’s ability to turn things like food into chemical energy (like when you work out, for example), when they build up it causes havoc…inflammation, cellular damage, and aging. Gasp! This build up interrupts our healthy DNA structure, causing skin cells to regenerate poorly or incorrectly.

This oxidative stress activity can come from normal body function related to poor diet, stress, excess alcohol or smoking, and inflammation but can also be a response to sunlight, air pollutants and toxins in your products and environment.

Never fear…Antioxidants are here! Antioxidant-rich ingredients are such keywords in both optimal diet and topical skin care because they help to deliver the goods to these unstable atoms before they come after your cells, helping to break the cascade and supporting the body from accelerated aging and breakdown. Having a rich supply of antioxidants in your diet and skincare routine, combined with regular exercise, is extremely effective and beneficial.

Here are 5 amazing products with clean anti-oxidant power:

ACURE’s Facial Cleansing Gel not only has an acidic pH to maintain healthy barrier function, which is crucial in protecting against free radicals, environmental pollution, and bacteria, it also has an antioxidant base loaded with highly-targeted superfoods like acai (rich in Vitamin C), pomegranate, and rooibos tea.

Zum Face’s Argan Oil Facial Serum is a luxurious lipid or oil-based serum that contains Vitamin E from nutrient-packed Argan oil, as well as high concentrations of Vitamin A through Carrot Seed, which contains beta-carotene, as well as vitamin B.

Andalou’s Goji Peptide Perfecting Cream contains a goji peptide to smooth and refine texture in the skin but also touts antioxidant-rich resveratrol from grapes, white tea extract, and CoQ10.

The Seaweed Bath Co’s Hydrating Seaweed Bath is loaded with salts from the Dead Sea. These salts contain multiple minerals that not only ward off pro-aging free radicals but also help exfoliate, hydrate, detoxify and soften skin.

Pukka Herbs’ Clean Matcha Green Teaneed I say more? In addition to its impossibly yummy flavor, this tea blend contains powerful matcha powder that cannot only lend up to 10x the antioxidant support of a single cup of loose green tea, it also contains vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc, magnesium, rich fiber and chlorophyll. Dandelion Root is also featured, which is one of my favorites for aiding healthy detoxification!

Amy Halman is an award-winning skin therapist, speaker and product development specialist. As the owner of EcoBlend Therapies, she connects each client’s diet, lifestyle, body wellness and stress levels to imbalances reflecting on the skin. Utilizing this information, she designs topical, nutrition-packed treatments to feed the skin’s ability to re-engage and optimize. Learn more about her services at ecoblendtherapies.com

Navigating Healthy Sun Exposure

This may seem contrary to what we are commonly told, but the sun is actually good for you!

According to vitamincouncil.org, your body is designed to get the vitamin D it needs by producing it when your bare skin is exposed to sunlight. Skin synthesizes vitamin D through solar UVB radiation, the factor sunscreen is designed to protect against and the rays that can cause burning.

Vitamin D production is vital to many healthy functions of the body. To list a few:

  • The immune system, which helps you to fight infection
  • Muscle function
  • Cardiovascular function, for a healthy heart and circulation
  • Respiratory system –for healthy lungs and airways
  • Brain development
  • Anti-cancer effects

“People are spending less time outside and when they do go out, they’re typically wearing sunscreen, which essentially nullifies the body’s ability to produce vitamin D. While we want people to protect themselves against skin cancer, there are healthy, moderate levels of unprotected sun exposure that can be very helpful in boosting vitamin D,” says Kim Pfotenhauer, D.O., a researcher on the recent study published by The Journal of American Osteopathic Association.

That being said,  exposure can and should be done strategically. There is no need to tan or burn your skin to get the vitamin D you need. Vitamincouncil.org recommends exposing your skin for a short time (sometimes as little as 6 minutes for the fairest complexions), which will make all the vitamin D your body can produce in one day! According to Pfotenhauer, “a simple walk with arms and legs exposed is enough for most people.” Additionally, Vitamin D supplements can also provide support, if small exposure to the sun is not available.

Check out this source for recommendations on healthy sun exposure for Vitamin D.

Though research now shows that moderate, frequent sun exposure is healthy,  overexposure and intense exposure can increase your risk of skin cancer. With overexposure, you begin to burn and inflammation occurs. The inflammation triggers the skin’s natural melanin production which is what creates a tan. Though a tan seems pretty, it is actually functioning as an umbrella to cover and protect the trauma happening underneath that leads to accelerated aging, hyper-pigmentation, and potentially deadly cancers.

According to esteemed sunscreen expert Brian Diffey, Ph.D., D.Sc., “Apprehension about vitamin D status should not be a reason to withhold sunscreen application during extended periods of exposure to strong sunlight.”

So let’s talk about effective application:

  • Enough sun exposure could lead to sunburn and even skin cancer regardless of race and skin tone. Everyone should wear sunscreen when in prolonged sun exposure. 
  • The American Academy of Dermatology recommends SPF be applied 15 minutes prior to sun exposure. Reapplication every 2 hours is important and even more frequently if you are swimming or sweating. 
  • Sun protection is no longer allowed to claim “waterproof” or “sweat-proof”. Read the application directions carefully for most will say something like, “water resistant up to 40 minutes even after the skin gets wet” which means you still need to reapply every 40 minutes and definitely once you have come out of the water. 
  • A higher SPF number is not always better. Sunscreens with an SPF of 30 will block 97% of the harmful ultraviolet rays. Anything additional has only slightly higher protection and does not make the sun protection last longer. 
  • SPF sprays are rarely my go-to. They are definitely convenient, but an application can be uneven and often not enough.  Additionally, they should never be used on the face. Inhalation of SPF and propulsion ingredients can be potentially harmful. However, if this is your application of choice, it is important to apply a thick layer and rub into dry skin. For face, go to a lotion or stick application.

Last but not least, here are a few of my Soap Hope favorites for great sun protection!

Derma-E Natural Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum Spf 30, Face and Body Formulas

This formula utilizes clear, nanoparticle-free Zinc Oxide, for chemical-free broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection without irritating skin or clogging pores. No silicone’s! Plus, it’s fortified with antioxidants like Vitamin C and Green Tea, which are shown to offer an additional layer of UV protection and antioxidant support.

Badger SPF 35 Sport Sunscreen (Unscented)

Known for their solid formulas that support the skin against harsh elements, Badger makes some of the best protection in a simple formulation. Pure Zinc Oxide loaded in a blend of nutritious oils and butters, gives you a healthy, full-spectrum mineral protection with no toxins and no silicones. Not my choice for application to the face but definitely powerful for the body when planning a long day in the sun.

Kiss My Face Mineral Sunscreen Lotion 30 SPF Spray

For those who love a spray application, this one utilizes full-spectrum mineral protection in a pump…no potentially toxic propulsion ingredients! It is also chemical free and loaded with yummy antioxidants to boost the skin’s protection and recovery from prolonged exposure.

Amy Halman is an award-winning, holistic skin therapist, speaker and product development specialist in the natural beauty industry. As owner of EcoBlend Therapies, she is dedicated to a Deeper Beauty Conversation, connecting each client’s unique body wellness, nutrition, lifestyle, stress and energy levels to optimal health of the skin.

What’s Up with This Sheet?!  Sheet Masks vs Traditional Masks

Ever wonder what the big deal is about sheet masks?

When you have a million options for traditional masks (and probably a few hanging out in your bathroom), what makes a sheet mask so dynamic?

With the right ingredients, and maybe even some excellent ones you can find in your own kitchen, traditional masks (or paste masks), are most often a great way to cleanse and exfoliate the skin.

However, they typically require more time, more water, and more steps after its removal to replenish the skin with further moisture and ingredients that re-nourish.

Additionally, how often do you buy a mask, apply it a few times a year, and then the container of a product simply goes bad in the process? Likely, more often than you realize!

Sheet masks, however, provide many ways to infuse, optimize and boost the skin, intensely and easily. No water, no waste, no extra steps. Sheet masks utilize the power of serum delivery, which is my very favorite option to feed the skin.

Serums are made of small, concentrated molecules of active ingredients that have a much easier time penetrating the surface epidermis to fuse moisture, vitamins, and antioxidants back into the skin.

Additionally, the sheet itself, is super-drenched in nutritional serum-based infusion, so that when applied and molded to the contours of the face, creates a seal that deeply pushes nutrients and moisture in, quickly. It can also be removed and repositioned if necessary.

To top it off, it is individually packaged to go with you anytime, anywhere, for a sanitary application that requires no water, no extra steps, and no wasted product.

Here are a few amazing sheet masks to give you the perfect boost!

ACURE Seriously Soothing™ BIOCELLULOSE GEL MASK (With rose, argan & plant peptides, for normal to sensitive skin)

Helpful with inflammation, stress, and irritation of the skin. Supplements with high vitamin, mineral and antioxidant nutrients to boost collagen, help ward off free radical damage and supplement moisture Vitamin C to even and brighten tone while facilitating recovery.

Andalou Naturals Instant Brighten & Tighten Hydro Serum Facial Mask

Vitamin C, tamarind, and fruit stem cells immediately help to brighten, tighten, and lighten by aiming for UV sun damage, and then activating elastin and collagen to bring about bright and smooth complexion.

ACURE Radically Rejuvenating Under Eye Hydrogel Mask™ AGE PERFORMANCE ELIXIR (With cucumber & silk tree, for age performance)

Cooling and brightening to dark and puffy under eye. Relief to inflammation that can encourage pooling under eyes and detoxification support to tissue. Hydration and mineral content to boost and plump. Tip…follow with Brilliant Brightening Eye Contour Gel!

Check out all our natural facial masks and find the right one for what you are trying to achieve. Naturally, we’ve got something for everyone!

Three Steps to Quench Winter Dryness

3 Steps to Quench Winter Dryness

Moisture, moisture, moisture! Where does it go and how can you get it back?

I wouldn’t be doing my job as a healer if I did not clarify that diet is fundamental. The less healthy fats you have in the diet, the worse it gets. In the body, each skin cell is wrapped in a protective fatty membrane that helps to seal in moisture and ward of irritation from chemicals and toxins in our environment. If you don’t have enough fatty acids nutritionally supporting your body, you cannot effectively replenish this protection in the skin. This leads to faster evaporation of moisture from the skin and dryness. This also depletes elasticity, which is what allows your skin to snap back like a rubber band and remain smooth and supple.

Step #1: Eat your moisture-makers!

Loads of beneficial Omega-3s, otherwise know as Alpha-linoleic acids (ALAs) can be found in delicious fatty fish like wild-caught salmon and sardines. Eggs have the perfect balance of omegas (yolk and all) and the perfect touch of useful protein. Grass-fed butter and ghee are fabulous sources of healthy fat without all the antibiotics and toxins. Coconut oil is one of my very favorite cooking oils and sources for healthy fat because of its natural anti-fungal properties, healthy omega ratios and high heat capabilities during cooking. Avocado, hemp, flax and sprouted walnuts are also fat-fabulous!

Another moisture-major factor is to address your environment. Weather, indoor heating, and pollution can really deplete. As your skin’s capillary system works hard to accommodate the blood flow response from extreme cold and heat, higher levels of moisture are lost from the skin in the process. The light, oil-free moisturizer you use in summer may not be the best fit for winter. A refreshing gel cleanser might be a smidge too astringent once the weather turns cooler and you are not producing quite as much oil.

Step #2: Listen to your skin and adjust your regimen based on seasonal needs and environment.

If you are experiencing more depletion in winter months, look for cleansers with a creamier consistency versus a gel. I feel the cleansing step is often the most stripping culprit. Avalon Organics Wrinkle Therapy Cleansing Milk With Coq10 & Rosehip contains soothing components like lavender, arnica, and my favorite…licorice root extract. For moisture, you find rosehip, sunflower seed, borage, and kukui nut oils all in one pump, to deliver high plant-based omega fatty acid content. CoQ10 supports healthy cellular replication and Aloe makes up the base of the product, giving an added boost of nutritional and hydrating efforts. All of this protects the skin’s barrier function and natural oils while deeply cleansing.

Use a toner to support healthy acidity in the skin, hydration and optimal product penetration. Your skin is best at a more acidic 4-5.5 pH. Those natural sweat and oil secretions in the skin create your natural barrier function, called the acid mantle. Even water can be too alkaline and strip the skin! So the best action is to fortify with a refreshing, hydrating blast of toner after cleansing and before applying your moisturizing products. Andalou Naturals Clementine + C Illuminating Toner works to acidify the skin while delivering loads of humectants, which pull moisture from the air into the skin. Additionally, you get the added benefit of vitamin C to boost radiance and help protect the skin from pollution, weather elements, and other free-radical attacks.

Add a humidifier to the room. Indoor heating is the worst at drying the skin and moisture resources. A good humidifier can be an inexpensive way to put a bit more moisture back into the air and help to alleviate dry skin, chapped lips, nose bleeds and other pesky cold-weather conditions. It’s even been known to reduce some snoring! Just be sure to clean them properly and refresh the water often.

Most heavy moisturizers tend to have a very fat molecular structure. The crazy thing is, those fat molecules are often too big to penetrate the pore! That means, your “nourishing cream” is simply sitting on the surface, hydrating dead skin cells, but never efficiently delivering nutrients to where your skin can actually use it to balance and change its moisture concentration. That’s why many folks have used the same heavy cream for years and their skin is still dry!

Step #3: Heavier isn’t always better!

Look for hydrators and moisturizers that absorb readily but embody powerful nutrition to support the way the skin is functioning and retaining natural moisture. One of my favorites is ACURE’S Incredibly Clear Mattifying Moisturizer. It penetrates easily and relies on the power of essential fatty acids from argan oil and lilac extract, in combination with powerful plant cultures like chlorella, clinically proven to support moisture, cellular rejuvenation and optimal collagen and elastin.

Add nutrient-dense face oils like Avalon Organics’ Intense Defense Antioxidant Oil With Vitamin C to your moisturizer. I call it cocktailing in its highest form! Before applying your favorite lotion or cream, add 2-4 drops of this oil to create a more beneficial boost to the skin’s moisture value and support system. Apricot, raspberry and argan oils, all rich in vitamins and essential fatty acids, absorb quickly to reinforce the skin’s natural lipid barrier and lock in moisture. Absorbable vitamin C protects the skin against environmental stressors.

As an added treatment while you sleep, layer on ACURE’s Magical Wonderfluff Hydrating Booster Mask before going to bed. With gardenia and argan extracts and a concentration of high omega-rich oils, you get a light-weight treat that replenishes while supporting more rapid turnover and healthy collagen regeneration.

 

Get Glowing Protocol

Are you ready for this? I have selected some specific Soap Hope products that work together to support the skin’s optimal turnover, circulation, healthy boost, and supple balance. Sound good? Then follow this AM/PM protocol 1-2 times a week to revive the skin, even out the tone and get it glowing for the next holiday party, special occasion or just because you’re feelin’ it!

P.M. ROUTINE:

At night, your skin is solely focused on rejuvenating itself while you sleep. The following heroes set the stage for success, starting with a super yummy pre-cleanse…my favorite part!

The Pre-Cleanse with Badger’s Sea Buckthorn Face OilSea Buckthorn CO2 Extract, which contains vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, along with Omega 3, 6, 7, and 9 fatty acids, is awesome to soften and soothe. Massage 2-3 pumps of oil into damp or dry skin to loosen makeup, dirt, and soften debris in the pores. Use light, upward strokes to the face, neck, and chest to stimulate healthy blood and lymph flow, which helps the skin hydrate and detox more efficiently.

Full Cleanse with Andalou Naturals Meyer Lemon + C Creamy Cleanser. Lather up a nickel-sized dollop of cleanser with water and work it over using only your fingertips. Rinse with luke-warm water and gently pat dry. Vitamin C and juice from Meyer Lemons naturally work to brighten and Manuka honey protects moisture balance and healthy microflora on the skin.

Enzyme Exfoliation is never better than with ACURE’s Brightening Vegetable Peel. Pineapple and papaya fruit enzymes digest and loosen the dead, damaged layers, and decongest the pores. Chlorella Growth Factor And Kale dive deep to feed active skin cells firming superfood power to even skin tone and boost collagen regeneration. Apply a thin layer to face, neck, and chest for 4-8 minutes (depending on your sensitivity level). Rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.

Tone with Zum Face’s Lemon-Geranium Zum Face Gentle Facial Toner.  A good toner is key to bring your skin pH back to a more acidic happy place. This one engages aloe, marshmallow root and rosemary to help soothe inflammation, redness, and bring lovely hydration. Apply to an organic cotton ball or cotton round and lightly spread to face, neck and chest.

Moisturize using Olivina Age-Defying Day & Night Face Rescue (a line designed for men but excellent for ladies too!). As the skin works hard rejuvenate while you sleep, it’s also losing a lot of hydration in the process. That’s why I love this light application of omega 3,6 and 9 through two of my favorite oils…Olive and Hemp Seed! They help draw moisture from the air into the skin with their humectant properties. Also full of essential amino acids they help support younger, smoother-looking skin and reduce inflammation. Plant-derived squalene acts as a natural lubricant and skin barrier to protect and slow moisture loss. It also helps boost penetration of other ingredients.

Now sleep tight, beautiful!

A.M. ROUTINE:

Once you wake, it’s key to cleanse all that your skin has shed and purged overnight, and apply optimal acidic protection and support for the day.

Cleanse/Exfoliate with the ACURE’s Pore Clarifying Facial Scrub. Moroccan red clay helps gently draw impurities from the pores as black jojoba beads softly slough away the dead skin cell layers you loosened the night before. It helps improve skin clarity and elasticity, stimulate collagen support, and most importantly, soothe inflammation to moisturize, remineralize, and brighten!

Tone once again with Zum Face’s Lemon-Geranium Zum Face Gentle Facial Toner. Remember, the skin is happiest at a more acidic pH. Even water can be too alkaline and stripping, so a toner like this helps to re-establish your acid mantle and pull more hydration into the skin with aloe and glycerine. Apply to an organic cotton ball or cotton round and lightly spread to face, neck and chest.

Moisturize using Olivina Age-Defying Day & Night Face Rescue. A bean-sized amount will do and don’t forget to apply to your neck and chest too…hey, that rhymed!

Seal the deal with an additional pump of Badger’s Seabuckthorn Face Oil. This extra kick of nutrition in a lightweight oil delivery adds brightening, plumping and skin firming radiance. 1 pump pressed into the skin on top of your moisturizer, protects your hydration and supplements your barrier function for optimal support from the weather, pollution, and irritations of the day….now that’s what I call the perfect cocktail for the skin!

You are ready for the day…glow on with your bad self!