“I like to party. And by party, I mean diffuse oils and take naps.”

Fall is my absolute favorite season. I love the crisp air; I love the beautiful fall foliage; I love bundling up in my warm chunky sweater and fuzzy socks and enjoying a nice, warm cup of tea. And I especially love the scents of fall. I remember from my childhood growing up in the Sussex countryside the smell of the open-hearth fires in the brisk air; of a rainy cool day. Smells like this bring a huge wave of memories and nostalgia back for me.

Unfortunately, this is also a time of the year where temperatures drop, the days are noticeably shorter, the sun’s rays are less and less, and we get the fall sniffles. All of these changes can affect our mood with lots of people experiencing depression and melancholy.

Good news is we can deal with the autumn blues in the most healthy, natural, and delightful way… with the use of essential oils. Here are some ways to enjoy them this fall season:

For the home:

  1. Add aroma to your fireplace by applying ten to twelve drops of essential oil to a dry log. Cedarwood, sage and pine are ideal for this purpose. Let the oil permeate the wood for at least a couple of days before burning.
  2. Refresh the air by adding twenty drops of your favorite oil to a small spray bottle filled with water. Peppermint, juniper berry and ginger are wonderful choices. Shake before use and spray as desired. This natural air freshener won’t irritate your sinuses.
  3. Relax your mind at the end of the day with chamomile, lavender, bergamot or cedar in your bath water or a diffuser.
  4. And talking of diffusers, they help in the kitchen too, and pretty much every room in the house. Clove and peppermint in a diffuser blend work wonders in the hallway and offers a warm welcome at the end of a busy day.

For the office:

  1. A diffuser on the desk containing a blend of spearmint, rosemary and lavender will keep you focused and able to concentrate on the most challenging of tasks. At the same time it keeps the air around you clean and safe.
  2. For better and safer car commutes, lemongrass and sage is best to keep you alert. Dab a few drops on a Kleenex or on your wrists or temples or on the car’s heating vents.

For self-care:

  1. Include an essential oil with any massage — the citrus oils are mood enhancing and lavender is super relaxing. Ylang-ylang and jasmine add a romantic touch. And grapeseed oil is an ideal base oil to use with essential oil blends.
  2. To sooth a headache, use peppermint, chamomile, and lavender.
  3. To hydrate dry skin, use a blend of rose and geranium and apply under your night crème.
  4. For more effective meditation, combine frankincense, cedarwood and geranium.
  5. Finally, with the holidays around the corner, take a blend of lavender and tea tree on board when you fly and dab a little under each nostril. It will keep those winter germs at bay!

You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy essential oils and that’s kind of the same thing.

For more wellness tips, call us at Skinsense Wellness at (323) 653–4701, or check out our other blogs on Medium. And for skincare services, please visit us at 8448 W. Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048. We have re-opened our doors and are happy to welcome you all back.

“I just rescued a pair of shoes. They were trapped in a store.”

I must have been Cinderella in my past life because my go-to fashion accessory is always shoes… those tall, skinny three-inches (or more) high heels. They may be painful to wear but my shoes have gotten me cool jobs, allowed me to meet amazing people, taken me to awesome places, partied with the well-heeled crowd, impressed my dates, and so much more. But at the end of the day, I’m exhausted. My dainty, little feet are just begging me to take those killer shoes off and give them a break.

Pretty as they are, those sky-high heels when worn too long can actually cause long-term pain not only on the feet but also on the knees and back which then leads to discomfort when standing and walking. Stilettos challenge the body’s ability to balance, and all of the muscles of the legs must work to stabilize the ankle.

Walking is split into two phases. The swinging phase and stance phase. Any shoe that inhibits the weight from falling where it should as we walk, can lead to pain. Clearly high heels are the main culprit because both ‟push-off” and ‟heel-strike” happen mainly on the ball of the foot with little or no support at the ankle. But even those cute little ballet flats, mules, or sandals that don’t offer support to the ligaments of the arch, toe joints, or ankle will throw off the rhythm of your natural gait.

Bunions, hammer toes, and pump-bump (that bony enlargement at the back of the heel bone) can make even the prettiest of shoes lose their luster and let’s face it, when your feet hurt the whole body hurts. So, it’s important not to tiptoe around the importance of looking after your feet not only for aesthetic purposes but for overall health.

Here are some tips to avoid foot pain when wearing high heels:

  • First off, buy shoes that are the right size. There is no shame in a size 11 except when it is crammed into a size 8 and there are toes falling over the front edge. It’s best to try on shoes after a full day because your feet are already hot and swollen. This will give you a much more realistic idea of how those shoes will feel long-term.
  • Try to look for 2 to 2 1/2-inch heels. This is about the elevation when we stand on our toes therefore our body can still find it’s center of balance.
  • Look for a wider toe box with a shape that matches your toe shape — the more pointed the toe of the shoe, the more the toes are crowded together, with more pressure on the ball of the foot.
  • Wear those spiky, pointy numbers for as little time as possible with down time in between. Let’s call those dinner shoes — you wear them to the restaurant and kick them off under the table until the meal is over.
  • And if you know a pair of shoes becomes uncomfortable after a few hours, have a back-up. It seems quite customary now for flatter shoes to be worn at weddings after the main ceremony is over and the eating and dancing has started.
  • And to make dressy heels more comfortable, invest in foot accessories that cushion body weight inside the shoe.

When you get home and can finally give your tired feet some attention, sit down, take off your shoes and swing your ankles in slow circles. Gently massage your arches and Achilles tendons on both feet.

A foot soak is also a great idea. Start with cool water for about 10 minutes. This will diminish any swelling and discomfort. Then add hot for another ten. Follow that with more circular stretches. Then reward yourself with a light layer of any foot cream with Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Bayberry, or Juniper. Aaaaah!

Here’s a few foot-pampering soak recipes

Fill a bowl with enough hot water to cover both feet to ankle height. Add ½ cup Epsom salts and 1 cup of Baking soda then select one of these three recipes according to your needs. Add about 10 drops of oil collectively to each soak.

For Aching feet:

4 drops of chamomile, 4 drops of lavender, and 2 drops of peppermint.

For Foot warming:

5 drops of rosemary, 3 drops of clove bud, and 2 drops of ginger.

For Cooling swollen feet:

6 drops of peppermint, 1 drop of rosemary and 3 drops eucalyptus.

So, go ahead, wear those gold lamé sling backs with the singular sequined strap around the big toe and the lime-green fur along the insole. But also remember to take care of your feet before and after. That way when you say that your dogs are barking, you’ll be talking about the one’s in your backyard!

For more skincare and wellness tips, call us at Skinsense Wellness at (323) 653–4701, or check out our other blogs on Medium. And for skincare services, please visit us at 8448 W. Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048. We have re-opened our doors and are happy to welcome you all back.

“All you need is love but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

Hi, my name is Marion Simms… and I’m a chocoholic.

In America, we love any excuse to eat a lot of chocolates, Valentine’s Day being one of them. Who can refuse those sweet treats in heart-shaped boxes? If your chocolate consumption concerns you, then it’s worth examining what the impact of all that indulgence will have on your skin.

While it’s true some women may notice a breakout a few days after eating a chocolate bar, sugar is to blame in this case, not chocolate. A diet high in fat and refined sugars, like those found in candy and chocolate, can kick sebum production into high gear and trigger inflammatory responses in the body — both of which are known to increase the risk of breakouts.

To get some clarity let’s start with a couple of interesting facts. A lethal dosage of chocolate for a human being is about 22 lbs (or 40 bars of Dairy Milk). On the other hand, one Smartie or an M&M would be enough to kill a robin or a blackbird. And if you eat a chocolate bunny every day you obviously run the risk of becoming uhm… well rounded.

However, David Asprey in his Bulletproof blog, explains many benefits of chocolate. Here are a few of them…

  1. Chocolate can improve your mood, cognitive performance and give you an energy boost.
  2. It is good for your cardiovascular health because of the polyphenols in cacao which can increase HDL cholesterol (or good cholesterol).
  3. And chocolate can help you maintain glowing skin by modulating healthy blood flow.

In a study, two groups of women consumed either a high flavanol (dark chocolate) or low flavanol (milk chocolate) cocoa powder for a period of 12 weeks. While the low flavanol group showed no change in markers of skin health, subjects in the high flavanol group had on average 25% reduction in UV-induced erythema (sunburn) after exposure to a solar simulator. The high flavanol group also recorded increased skin density and thickness, as well as better hydration and less transepidermal water loss — the evaporation of water through the outer layer of the skin.

Milk chocolate is definitely high in sodium and cholesterol but contains more calcium. Dark chocolate has less calcium but also much less cholesterol and sodium.

One of my favorite facials is a chocolate enzyme treatment which includes a blast of oxygen as well as an application of pure cacao powder. With the combination of the antioxidants (when you indulge!) working from the inside and the brightening, tightening benefits happening on the outside, you are guaranteed a healthy, glowing complexion.

As my dear Granny used to say: “A little of what you fancy does you good”. I say enjoy a moderate indulgence of darker chocolate — anything above 65% cacao — and reap the benefits of this much-loved treat. When eaten in the right quantity it can actually be considered a health food.

“Chocolate comes from cocoa, which is a tree. That makes it a plant… so chocolate is a salad.”

For more skincare tips, check out my other blogs on Medium, call us at Skinsense Wellness at (323) 653–4701 or visit our website. We offer a virtual consultation, in-salon treatments, and home service facials to our valued clients.

“I guess chemistry is just another word for love.” — Scott Thompson

Do you remember in 7th grade science where we would test vinegar and milk with a litmus paper and the paper would turn light pink or purple? Depending on the color that the paper turned that was it’s pH value. That’s how we first learned about the pH scale — the acidity and alkalinity of substances. We learned too how all these different acids and alkalines work together in our environment as well as our bodies to keep things running smoothly. Well, it’s the same thing with skin. That’s why it is not unusual to talk about the pH level of a skincare product.

The letters pH stand for potential hydrogen, as hydrogen is the element that controls the levels of either alkalinity or acidity in a formulation. Acidic products range from 0–6.9 and are often used to exfoliate or peel the skin; alkaline products range from 7.1–14 and can be used in cleansers or to neutralize acidity. Very often moisturizers are formulated to be neutral (a pH of 7) to bring the skin back into balance. Too much acid or alkalinity is irritating for the skin, so the pH is always carefully calibrated.

The optimal pH value of skin on most of our face and body lies between 4.7 and 5.75. As mentioned above a pH of 7 (that of pure water) is considered neutral. Anything below that is acidic and above it alkaline, so skin’s natural pH is mildly acidic. Skin maintains its barrier best around 5.5 — slightly acidic. At the ideal pH (5.5), the skin is able to maintain a good barrier (the acid mantle) and, together with natural oils, moisturizers and bacteria, function as a true protective defense organ.

More recently, the principle of pH balancing has been applied to our general wellbeing. This holistic approach believes that the foundation of healthy digestion is built on a simple eating system that maintains an ideal acid/alkaline (pH) balance in the body. 70% of the immune system is based in the abdomen and 90% of the tryptophan needed to make serotonin for the brain — essential to ensure we feel good — is made here. So in order to live a long and happy life it obviously pays to keep our abdomens happy!

As we all know, in the case of romance it is often quoted “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” But what we are talking about here may not involve the foods and habits we are recommending!

And how does all this reflect in the skin? Well, too much acidity triggers eczema, inflammation, acne, boils, rosacea and wrinkles. So all of these conditions could be greatly improved by maintaining a more alkaline system. Obviously, exercise and relaxation are essential as well as drinking the right amount of water. Men need more water than women on a daily basis. If you eat plenty of vegetables and two or three fresh fruits a day, you can fill half your required fluid quota easily.

How do we do that? The suggested pH ratio would be a diet of two-thirds alkaline and one-third acid-forming foods. This takes some adjustment. So, to take a step in the right direction, let’s outline a few alkaline foods that we can incorporate in greater quantities and some acidic foods we can eliminate.

Raw, green leafy vegetables like chard, kale and spinach are all excellent alkaline-rich foods. So are avocados, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, coconut, cherries, grapefruit, lemons and watermelon. A healthy way to start and end each day with an alkaline system, for example, would be with a cup of warm water flavored with half a lemon. Also adding turmeric, garlic, ginger and flax seeds to your diet along with a good probiotic will keep the gut healthy and the skin glowing.

Things to avoid would be white flour, coffee, red meat, too much alcohol and artificial sugar. Also minimize your intake of fermented foods — they are acidic in nature. Stick to moderate amounts of sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles. These will add vitamins to your diet and anti-inflammatory benefits too.

For more information on the science behind beautiful glowing skin, call us at Skinsense Wellness at (323) 653–4701 or visit our website. We offer a virtual consultation and home service facials to our valued clients. Let’s talk!

“Nature itself is the best physician.” — Hippocrates

I always look forward to hikes with my dear friend, David, along with his dogs every weekend. Aside from bonding with him and getting my dose of puppy love, it brings me closer to nature. Something about nature always soothes whatever ails me, takes away my stress, rejuvenates my body and makes me feel somehow stronger. And I truly believe a healthy body and mind leads to fabulous skin!!!

So, when I first heard about this natural health trend that has taken over Instagram chatting about Adaptogens, I just had to find out more.

What are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are herbs and plants with special properties that are naturally occurring in nature and can help the body resist emotional or physical stressors.

The medicinal practice of using these herbs can be traced back to 3000 B.C., in Ancient Chinese and Ayurveda practices. Russian toxicologist Nikolay Lazarev, who coined the term, defines an adaptogen as a plant that increases the “state of non-specific resistance” when applied to stress. Meaning it can help protect the body against a range of stressors.

The idea that a pill could improve mental and physical performance in healthy people was devised during World War II with various stimulants given to pilots and members of submarine crews. For instance, the first studies on the stimulating and tonic effects of Schisandra chinensis were published in Soviet Union WWII military journals.

How do they work?

They work by targeting the body’s three stages of stress: Alarm, resistance, and exhaustion (which is what happens when the stress alarm stays on). As their name suggests, adaptogens support and adapt to the body in its present state rather than imposing a new remedy that may or may not work.

How do you take adaptogens?

Adaptogens can be taken in several ways — powder, capsule or tincture. They can be added to a beverage or yoghurt to make it easy to get them into your daily routine.

If you decide to incorporate adaptogens into your health care regimen, start slow — a little at a time. Consult your doctor if you’re on any prescription drugs and maybe talk to a homeopathist for guidance. That will help you craft a plan that is specifically for your needs.

Always follow instructions in terms of usage and be patient with your body’s response. It can take a few weeks to feel the difference in your energy level. When using tinctures, it is sometimes recommended to hold them in the mouth for a few seconds before swallowing.

Here are some popular adaptogens to research. All of them are powerful antioxidants that help to fight free radical activity but there are many additional benefits.

Schisandra: Boosts memory, focus and mental performance and helps calm irritated skin.

Ashwagandha: Protects the body against stress and anxiety, acts as a humectant and has antimicrobial and skin lightening benefits.

Tulsi/ Holy Basil: Reduces anxiety, stress and inflammation and can be used to treat acne and itching.

Maca Root: Boosts mood and energy levels and fights free radical activity.

Reishi Mushroom: Helps the body create a healthy sleep pattern allowing the Circadian cycle to repair and restore balance to the skin.

Cordyceps Mushroom: Balances hormones and reduces breakouts.

Turmeric: Can help with uneven texture and dark spots.

Nettle Leaf: Acts as natural astringent, tightens and firms the skin, regulates natural sebum production, treats acne, promotes flawless skin. accelerates the healing process of wounds and burns.

Licorice: A powerful antioxidant that has been shown to lighten dark spots.

Passionflower — Helps to stimulate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy source of living cells, and has anti-aging benefits.

Ginseng — Has been shown to help increase collagen production.

Goji berry — Excellent for wound healing and reducing scarring.

Chaga — Protects the cells against DNA damage.

Adaptogens have not been approved for use by the FDA, and some question the methodology of the studies that have been done on the subject. But these ingredients have been used for centuries and there is a lot of empirical evidence to show that they work.

For more wellness and skincare tips, check out my other blogs on Medium or call us at Skinsense Wellness at (323) 653–4701. We offer a virtual consultation, in-salon treatments, and home service facials to our valued clients.