Monday, June 29, 2009

Stress & Skin Health

Is stress wreaking havoc with the appearance of your skin? It probably is! If you're like most Americans, you find yourself feeling stressed quite often. We tend to stress out about our health or lack of it, our diet, insufficient exercise, our weight or body image, the economy, our job, finances, our relationships, our kids, upsetting news - war, crime, death, global warming, etc. The list could go on and on.

Not only can stress lead to fatigue, tension headaches, and irritability, but prolonged stress can have long-term negative effects on the body and skin. Acute stress of any form will cause a lowering of the immune system's defenses - albiet a temporary one. Chronic stress, on the other hand, whether due to lack of sleep, poor nutrition, tension at work, loss of job, severe illness, daily hassles such as long lines, traffic congestion, road rage, ill-behaved kids, lack of exercise, overwork, emotional challenges, outdoor pollution, heavy metal exposure, indoor chemical pollution, or noise will, over time, significantly lower the immune system's defenses or response mechanisms. This puts us at greater risk for health problems down the road, for sure!

Stress can and does have a significant impact on your skin's health and appearance. A stressed out mind or body can exhibit this "distress" on the skin's surface with a wide range of symptoms. What are these symptoms? Red, itchy, mysterious rashes; myriad inflammatory reactions; roseacea on the face; acne; eczema; psoriasis; a dehydrated complexion; accelerated formation of "liver spots or age spots" on the face, arms, legs, or chest; accelerated aging of the face - sagging jowls and deepening creases; and lackluster tone to the skin.

Stress can either cause your skin to flare up and look red and "angry" or it can have the opposite effect and lead to a sallow, pale, lifeless complexion that makes you look as if you will wither away and die. I'd rather learn to deal with my life's stresses than opt for one of these looks - wouldn't you? Don't let stress zap / sap your energy and good looks!

What is a stressed-out individual to do? Here's my list:

- Slow down - life is not a race to the finish line.
- Breathe from your lower diaphragm - remember life is too short to run around exhausted.
- As the saying goes, "Don't fret the small stuff"!
- Eat right and exercise regularly - treat yourself as the king or queen that you are.
- Be cheerful - it calms those who are stressed-out around you.
- Unwind your mind. Take a moment and focus on something that makes you smile.
- Always remember . . . someone else's situation(s) are worse than yours.
- Handle the heavy and important tasks first - when energy is greatest - and do the minor tasks later in the day.
- Be flexible - a flexible mind and body are healthier in the long run.
- Don't get too stressed when your expectations are not met.
- Take a yoga class once a week - at least.
- Pamper yourself - you're all you've got.
- No one is perfect - not even you - so quit pressuring yourself. Just be your best.
- Remember, you can only change your own behavior - quit trying to change others.
- Laugh, love, and hug more.
- Kiss your kids and your mate everynight before you fall asleep.
- Watch what you say to others and how you say it. Tongues can be sharp and cutting. Master your communication skills.

On the nutrition side of things . . . I will recommend that you add goodly amounts of a quality barley grass powder to your daily diet, plus chlorella and blue-green algae tablets or powder, omega-3 oils from raw, fermented cod liver, and eat plenty of cold-water, fresh fish. I love what mega-amounts of chlorophyll does for the skin. Chlorophyll is concentrated sun energy and loaded with vitamins A & D and micro-minerals. Quality fish oils help soften and heal the skin. A diet of 50% or more raw foods will do wonders for your energy level and appearance. If you add all of these ingredients to your daily diet, I guarantee that you will see a significant improvement in the texture, tone, and color of your skin. It will "youthify" right before your eyes. Be consistent with a good diet, supplements, daily exercise, and practice low-stress living. No one is immune to the negative effects of stress, but you can fortify yourself so that you can successfully deal with the big blows that life will inevitably toss your way.

NOTE: This article is by Stephanie Tourles, lic. holistic esthetician, herbalist, and certified aromatherapist, and author of, "Organic Body Care Recipes". This information is for educational purposes only. The author does not assume any liability in relation to the information given. Please use your common sense when adding supplements to your diet or altering your lifestyle and seek professional guidance if you have any questions.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Your Skin's Functions

We just marked the summer solstice yesterday, June 21, 2009. The longest day of the year. Can you believe it, already?! Here in northern, rural, coastal Maine, it is daylight at 4:00am . . . the birds sing to herald the morning, the wild turkeys run through my slowly growing garden - wreaking havoc on my seedlings as they gobble with delight amongst themselves! - the local red fox, sitting atop the massive granite boulder in my back yard, decries with his eerie voice, that he's caught yet another rabbit and all is well in his fat belly, and the tree frogs give up a throaty trill. Early morning is full of life. The sun sets nigh 9:00pm, with a trace of orange in the sky remaining at 9:30 - if the night is clear. Amazing place . . . northern Maine!

Well . . . that has nothing to do with skin or its functions, I realize, but I just had to tell you about my surroundings that I am blessed to be able to inhabit. I might add, that living in a beautiful, peaceful setting, with minimal stress (most of the time), can do wonders for your skin's health, though. Think about how you look and feel after a long weekend spent hiking or camping, or attending a yoga retreat, or strolling the beach searching for rocks or seashells - doesn't your skin just exude a healthy glow? Something to think about . . . minimizing stress.

In the last blog, I discussed the structures that are contained in one mere square inch of skin. This weeek, I'm going to tell you about the skin's functions. Think of your skin as a beautiful, satin robe that you wear night and day. It presents your external beauty and health to the world and at the same time protects your inner being. The skin, or integumentary system, is an actual living system, that also comprises the hair and nails, various glands, and several specialized receptors. As a complex structure, it performs nine essential jobs for the body. The skin:

- Protects us from physical, chemical, biological, thermal, and electrical damage.
- Helps the body maintain a steady temperature.
- Acts as a moisture regulator, preventing excessive entry and evaporation of water.
- Prevents excessive loss of minerals.
- Converts ultraviolet rays into vitamin D3, part of the vitamin D complex that helps us maintain strong bones by enhancing absorption of calcium and other minerals.
- Serves as a highly sensitive sensory organ, responding to heat, cold, pain, pleasure, and pressure.
- Metabolizes and stores fat.
- Secretes sebum, an oily lubricating substance.
- Assists in processes of excretion of salts, urea, water, and toxins via sweating.

Pretty amazing, your skin. Remember to treat it as the important bodily organ that it is. Give it daily care and it will reward you with a lifetime of beauty and comfort.

NOTE: Portions of this blog were adapated from the book, "Organic Body Care Recipes", by Stephanie Tourles, Storey Publishing, 2007. The information provided is true and complete to the best of my knowledge. The author, disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information. It is for educational purposes only.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What's Contained In One Square Inch Of Skin?

If you regularly follow my blogs and have visited my website,, then you know that I'm a licensed esthetician - a skin care specialist. I write books and articles about holistic skin and body care, create chemical-free skin care and personal care products, and teach and lecture about proper skin care plus the topics of herbalism, nutrition, and aromatherapy as they relate to skin care. I'm all about skin, you see.

I thought that in this blog, instead of talking about a particular skin / health concern or offering you a nutritional tidbit or recipe to feed your skin, I'd give you the inside scoop on what one square inch of your skin contains. The following is pure structural information - anatomy and physiology 101. I'm sure you will find it fascinating! Your skin performs so many jobs - a good reason to always keep it in tip top shape.


The complex structures of the skin contained within one square inch:
- 65 hairs
- 9,500,000 cells
- 95 to 100 sebaceous (oil) glands
- 19 yards (17 meters) of blood vessels
- 650 sweat glands
- 78 yards (70 meters) of nerves
- 78 sensory apparatuses for heat
- 19,500 sensory cells at the ends of nerve fibers
- 1,300 nerve endings to record pain
- 160 to 165 pressure apparatuses for the perception of tactile stimuli
- 13 sensory apparatuses for cold

(Adapted from Joel Gerson, Milady's Standard Textbook for Professional Estheticians, 8th edition)

NOTE: Portions of this article have been adapted from the book, "Organic Body Care Recipes", by Stephanie Tourles. The information is true and complete to the best of my knowledge. Ms. Tourles disclaims any liability in connection with this information. It is for your educational purposes only.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Edible Skin Care Recipes - Part V

Hello All . . . This is the last blog in the series of "Edible Skin Care Recipes". The following recipe is super yummy and great for your skin, energy, and health. Hope you enjoy it!


Convenient and portable. One hundred percent better for you than a candy bar or chips! I often keep a baggie of this mixture or a similar one in my purse so I don't feel tempted to visit the nearest drive-through window when the munchies hit! If you frequently travel via airplane, this makes a terrific snack to carry with you on the plane. Beats airport food any day!

This dried fruit and nut trail mix contains the essential fats, proteins, and complex carbohydrates your body craves just before that midafternoon slump kicks in and all the nutrients your skin demands to stay in tip-top shape.


1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raw hazelnuts
1/2 cup dried, unsulfured, pitted cherries (cut in half if large)
1/2 cup large, unsulfured raisins
1/2 cup raw Brazil nuts
1/4 cup lightly salted sunflower seeds, toasted (or use raw and unsalted)
1/4 cup lightly salted pumpkin seeds, toasted (or use raw and unsalted)
1/4 cup dried, unsulfured, chopped, apricots
Dash of cinnamon or nutmeg powder (optional)

To Make: Place all ingredients into a plastic freezer bag or food storage container and shake well. Keep tightly sealed in the refrigerator unless consumed within 2 weeks as raw nuts become rancid quicker than roasted ones.

To Use: Consume a handful or so whenever the snacking mood strikes. Try to remember portion control here as nuts and seeds contain a lot of oil and if you are trying to lose weight, these calories can add up quickly. One serving is generally a 1/4 cup or so.

Yield: Approximately 3 1/4 cups of snack mix.

To Toast or Not To Toast

Toasting nuts, seeds, and coconut does enhance the flavor of cookies and this snack mix, but also diminishes their nutritional content. If you decide to toast, here's how:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the ingredients in an ungreased baking pan - in a single layer - and bake for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the contents of the pan begin to turn slightly golden brown. Your kitchen should smell quite yummy!

NOTE: This recipe was adapted from the book, "Naturally Healthy Skin" by Stephanie Tourles, Storey Publishing, 1999. The information is true and complete to the best of my knowledge. All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of me, the author, and are for your enjoyment and educational purposes only. I disclaim any liability in connection with the use of this information.