Is Nail Polish Safe? Understanding Labels and Ingredients

Many of us have become avid label readers, or more aware of what our labels are actually saying. You may like to know what we put into and onto your body and are concerned about safety. When it comes to beauty products, many have asked: is nail polish safe?Organic is a term used frequently on labels but unfortunately is not regulated by any government entity for control. The term "natural" is also commonly used but many substances found in nature are not good for us and can actually be toxic. While some may be benign, when in combination, these things can become harmful, and are oftentimes found on nail polish labels. There are typically three substances that you will find in nail polish products.This is a chemical that makes products flexible and is often called a plasticizer. Tests have been performed with this substance but no human testing has been published. The studies have been on animal exposure. So far, there seems to be no significant long or short term toxicity. There may be some side effects like nausea and irritation in the facial area. In animals there seems to be indicators that male reproduction can be affected.Toluene is a colorless product used to even out color. It is also an element used in making glue, and is the toxic element that some sniff for a high. Because of its use in sniffing, it has been the subject of many studies. Side effects are dizziness, numbness, dry skin, and irritation in the nasal and throat passages. Toluene in its liquid form is more dangerous than the gas but most nail polish uses levels well below the danger level.You may remember formaldehyde from high school biology. That is what the frog you may have experimented on was preserved in before your dissection. It is also used as a hardening agent in nail polish and is well known carcinogen that can lead to cancer in humans. This is one of those “natural products” that is found in very low levels in some fruits and are basically harmless. However, in nail polish the limit can still be well above safe limits.Also found in some types of polish, triphenyl phosphate (TPHP) is a chemical that disrupts hormones in the body. The most frightening part of this substance is that it is absorbed into the body every time nail polish is applied.Even more alarming is that sometimes these chemicals are not listed on the product label. If they are listed, it is likely that they are concealed among the other harmless materials. If that weren’t enough, side effects are not listed on the tiny labels necessary on a bottle of nail polish.Another important thing to remember is that any of these ingredients can be included in not only the colored polish, but top coats, thinners, nail art, and combination products.Before you buy your next supply, you might want to check out reliable sources for a list of safe manufacturers. Then you can bring your own choices into the salon or for use at home.
3 min read

What are stretch marks?

Stretch marks are lines that appear on the skin in parallel to each other and look different than the surrounding skin.  Usually they can be purple to pink or a light gray.  The texture is different and you might feel a ridge or indentation.  They can be itchy or sore. These lines appear after a sudden change in weight like during pregnancy or during growth spurts in adolescence.  They are not dangerous and frequently disappear over time.  They can be anywhere but usually on the stomach, thighs and buttocks.  Sometimes on breasts and upper arms. Like their name suggests, they are the skin stretching and are generally accompanied by an increase in cortisone.  Too much cortisone will cause the skin to lose elasticity.  They can be caused when a pregnant woman's skin is stretching to accommodate a growing baby.  Rapid weight gain or loss can cause the skin to change.  Sudden growth spurts can result in marks.  Overuse of corticosteriod creams, lotions and pills.  Medically there are some disorders like Cushing's syndrome, Marfan's syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome that can result in stretch marks.  Stretch marks are most prevalent in Caucasian (especially pale skinned) women, or a family history of stretch marks.Stretch marks generally fade over time.  However, if you want to improve your appearance sooner you can try some of these remedies.  Just realize they will never disappear completely.•         Collagen restoring cream like Retin-A or Renova.  This is a fibrous protein that helps with skin elasticity and works best on recent marks that are red or pink.  Pregnant women should not use this product.•         Pulsed dye laser treatments will encourage the production of collagen and elastin and it works best on newer marks.  People with darker skin color may notice a discoloration.•         Fractional photothermolysis is very much like dye laser.  The laser is used to target smaller areas of skin and will result in less damage.•         Microdermabrasion polishes the skin with tiny crystals.  This exposes skin that under the marks. This is used for older stretch marks.•         Excimer laser stimulates melanin production, which is the element that produces skin color. This process will make the marks look more like the surrounding skin. These can be quite expensive and there is no guarantee of a cure.  Most procedures are considered cosmetic and not covered by insurance. Check with a dermatologist to see if they would be beneficial for you. There are some less expensive options.•         Vitamin A found in many over-the-counter cosmetics especially creams•         Sugar scrubs•         Aloe Vera as a skin softener applied after a shower.  Use pure aloe vera from a plant.•         Coconut oil has been shown to reduce the healing time in wounds.  Unless you have an allergy to coconuts, use virgin oil to remove the red appearance. As in so many other situations, prevention is the best treatment.  Keep your skin hydrated to prevent loss of elastin.  Use topical creams to keep your skin moisturized.  Over time most stretch marks fade and will be less prominent. 
3 min read

Vaginal Skin Tags - What are they and how to treat them

Vaginal skin tags are benign growths of skin made of loose fibers of collagen. These can be quite uncomfortable and embarrassing when they appear in and around the sensitive area of the vagina. Skin tags can also contain blood vessels and usually can look like a mole, wart, or a piece of skin that is hanging loosely.The proper diagnosis of any unusual skin lesions in the genital or vaginal area is a must. This is because the appearance of vaginal skin tags often gets confused with genital warts or other things which can be infectious or cancerous. Also, the places where vaginal skin tags grow are quite sensitive and need a proper diagnosis. Causes of Vaginal Skin Tags·         There is no certainty of why do skin tags appear, but some researchers suggest that people with human papillomavirus get skin tags.·         The other risk factors which can cause skin tags include being overweight, due to pregnancy, or having diabetes and insulin resistance.·         According to a 2010 study, most people with skin tags had insulin resistance. It also suggests that vaginal skin tags can also be related to a high body mass index. ·         Friction is another cause of vaginal skin tags. Friction from clothing or underwear under legs can favor the growth of skin tags. ·         During pregnancy, hormonal changes may increase the risk of developing vaginal skin tags in women. Diagnosis Of Skin Tags On the VaginaSkin tags usually have no prior symptoms and are not commonly painful. But if they get caught in clothes or scraped while shaving, then it may cause skin irritation or infection. If you see any bleeding on the skin tag or if it is painful, then you need to consult a doctor.Proper diagnosis of the skin tag includes a quick visual examination. A doctor can ask you to take a test for HPV if there are quite a number of skin tags near your genital area and they are concerned about genital warts. The doctor may perform a pelvic exam and may take a biopsy or culture of the tissue to check the growth out further.How to Get Rid of Vaginal Skin TagsVagina skin tags are loose and can be found in an area where the skin is folded or an area with dry skin. As they are usually harmless, if you don't feel any irritation and having it on your body doesn't bother you, there is no need for treatment if your doctors deems it harmless. But if it does bother you, you should consult a doctor for its treatment or removal. There are several ways to remove it safely from your skin. Do not try to remove a skin tag at home as it can be dangerous and can cause infection, scarring, or bleeding. ConclusionVaginal skin tags may occur in any woman of any age. Most of the time, these are harmless, but if you are concerned or it is bothering you, do consult your doctor immediately. Do not wait for the problem to grow or to turn into something serious.  
3 min read

Is Nail Polish Safe?

For most of us we have become avid label readers.  We like to know what we put into and onto our bodies and are concerned about safety.  Organic is a term used frequently but unfortunately there is not a lot of governmental regulation to control it.  The term natural is also used but many substances found in nature are not good for us and can actually be toxic.  While some others may be benign, in combination, they become harmful.  This post will deal with nail polish. There are three substances that you will frequently find in nail products. This is a chemical that makes products flexible and is often called a plasticizer.  Tests have been performed with this substance but no human testing has been published.  The studies have been on animal exposure.  So far, there seems to be no significant long or short term toxicity.  There may be some side effects like nausea and irritation in the facial area.  In animals studies there seems to be indicators that male reproduction can be affected. This is a colorless product used to even out color.  It is also an element used in making glue and is the inhalant in glue sniffing.  Because of its use in sniffing, it has been the subject of studies.  Side effects are dizziness, numbness, dry skin, and irritation in the nasal and throat passages.  Toluene in its liquid form is more dangerous than the gas but most nail polish uses levels below the danger level. You may remember this substance from high school biology.  That is what the frog was preserved in before your dissection.  It is also used as a hardening agent in nail polish and is well known as a carcinogen that can lead to cancer in humans.  This is one of those “natural products” that is found in very low levels in some fruits and are basically harmless.  However, in nail polish the limit can still be well above safe limits. Also found in some types of polish, triphenyl phosphate (TPHP) is a chemical that can disrupt hormones in the body.  The most frightening part of this substance is that it is absorbed into the body every time nail polish is applied. Even more alarming is that sometimes these chemicals are not listed on the product label.  If they are listed, it is likely that they are concealed among the other harmless materials.  Also, side effects are not listed on the tiny labels necessary on a bottle of nail polish. Another important thing to remember is that any of these ingredients can be included in not only the colored polish, but top coats, thinners, nail art, and combination products. Before you buy your next supply, you might want to check out reliable sources for a list of safe manufacturers.  Then you can bring your own choices into the salon or for use at home. And always ask your dermatologist before using any new products!
3 min read

Sun Spot Removal: The Helpful Methods to Try

No one likes seeing sunspots, which are also called solar lentigines or liver spots. They are quite common though, with anyone able to get them due to sun exposure. However, they are much more common in those with fair skin, as well as those who are 40 years old and older. 1.    Intense Pulsed Light TherapyAlso known as IPL or photofacial, this utilizes laser technology, targeting one’s pigmented cells. It works with different wavelengths, focusing on removing the dark spots by heating up the cells and clearing it from your body.  Once cleared from the body, new skin cells appear and develop, replacing the dark spots. This method doesn't only remove dark spots, but it also removes unwanted tattoos or improve acne scars, too. Some clinics offer IPL with radio frequency, which evens out sunspots while giving a smoother and glowing skin.   2.    Chemical PeelWith chemical peels, it would encourage the skin to shed the top layer, including any damaged skin cells. This would help reveal the new and healthy skin underneath. Chemical peel would stimulate the body's collagen production, which is a protein giving skin structure, preventing any fine lines and wrinkles. During this procedure, a gentle acid solution will be applied on the face, and over the next few days, damaged skin cells begin to fall, so your skin gets a fresh start! There are different intensity levels for chemical peels, and your dermatologist will be the one to determine what you need based on your individual skin type. Besides removing sun spots, chemical peels can also help give you firmer and healthier skin, looking more vibrant with even skin texture and fewer acne scars.  3.    MicroneedlingThis is another treatment that helps in stimulating the body’s natural healing response, improving various skin conditions, like sunspots. This method uses a handheld roller that has fine needles, gently penetrating into the skin at a safe depth.  The penetration will help stimulate skin cells, encouraging it to produce collagen while repairing any affected areas from UV rays, among other factors or triggers. A lot of people prefer microneedling, which is said to be one of the most effective skincare solutions. It can also help fight against acne scars, aging, fine lines, stretch marks, among other skin issues. 4.    Microdermabrasion/DermabrasionThis treatment exfoliates the skin professionally. Using a handheld device, it will spray your face with fine crystals, polishing away your sun-damaged skin. It’s similar to a chemical peel, as it removes your skin's top dermal layer, getting rid of skin cells that have sunspots or show signs of aging. Throughout the process, it will encourage new tissue production, as well as the improved presence of collagen. I recommend using microdermabrasion, which is the gentlest option, as it’s the lighter version of dermabrasion.  But if you need a more intense method of removing sunspots, dermabrasion is a good option. With that said, it isn't suitable for all skin types and not necessary in most people. This will require a consult from your dermatologist to determine which method is safe and suitable for your current condition. Wrapping It UpI hope that this list of methods and treatments for sunspot removal can help you find the most suitable one. Head to your dermatologist for them to make the right recommendations and weigh the pros and cons of each.
3 min read
skin elasticity

Skin Elasticity: Reducing the Onset of Elastosis

The human skin has an elastic quality to it. This skin elasticity allows it to stretch out and then bounce back to its original condition. Over time, this elasticity will falter as part of the natural aging process. This loss is called elastosis and will make the skin sag, wrinkle, and appear leathery.Collagen is a protein that is produced naturally in the body. It helps keep the skin plump and youthful looking. Elastin is another protein found in the dermis (the middle and thickest layer of skin), inter-connective tissues, and other parts of the body. This gives the tissue a rebound or snap back into position. As the body ages, cells die and over time the collagen and elastin are simply not produced in sufficient quantity to maintain the elasticity we would like.Besides the aging process, there are some other factors that will accelerate the loss of elasticity. These include sun exposure, smoking, rapid and extensive weight loss, air pollution, and poor nutrition.There are some things that you can do to help reduce the onset of elastosis.There are ways to help your skin look better.  Some of these are:There are other treatments like hyaluronic acid, genistein isoflavones, hormone replacement treatments, creams, chemical peels, and laser treatments. However, before embarking on any changes or treatments, it is best to consult with your primary care physician and dermatologist. These are qualified professionals who can make recommendations based on your skin type and condition as well as overall health and any genetic or medical issues that may be present.
3 min read
dry hair

Dry Hair: Causes and Treatments

Dry hair affects both men and women and can happen at any age, but is most likely to develop with age. When your hair and scalp don’t get enough moisture through the oil it naturally produces, you will notice that your hair is not as shiny and is frizzy and dull. Hair is comprised of three layers. The outer layer produces oil to protect the other layers. Because it is oil, it will reflect light so healthy hair will look glossy and shiny. As hair becomes dry, the outer layer breaks down and you will notice that it has lost its sheen.There are two main causes of dry hair: environmental and hair care practices.EnvironmentalHair CareSince hair relies on the oil that is made at the roots under the scalp, both dry hair and dry scalp go hand in hand.  As the scalp dries, it flakes off and sheds creating what we term dandruff. Giving your hair some protection from sun and wind, like wearing a hat, can help retain the moisture both need.Age is also a major factor. As we age, the hair follicles make less oil. Hormone changes can also affect the production of oil.  There are a few things you can do to combat dry hair. Washing your hair less frequently is one of them.There are some pretty simple things you can do to help with dry hair. Washing your hair less frequently is one of them. Consider shampooing every other day or even as little as twice a week. With fewer washings, should come less frequent blow drying and styling with heated curlers or relaxers.When you do shampoo choose a product made for dry hair and finish with a moisturizing conditioner. Check with your hair stylist about deep conditioning and keeping your split ends trimmed.Eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly. There are also vitamins and minerals that will help keep your hair in good condition like iron, vitamins D and B12, selenium and others.Especially if the dry hair persists and is accompanied by fatigue, mention it to your primary care physician. There are some medical conditions that manifest themselves in the hair’s inability to retain moisture.  Issues with your thyroid can also be a factor. If your thyroid production is too low (hypothyroidism), hair will become dry and brittle. This can be discovered through a simple blood test and corrected with medication.  More serious conditions are eating disorders like anorexia nervosa or bulimia. These may take work through personal and professional interventions, but can be controlled. At that point, hair will start to return to its healthy condition.
3 min read
dry skin

Dry Skin: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

The top layer of skin is called the epidermis and it is considered the least important layer. When there is a lack of natural skin oils and lubricants or the body is not hydrated, this layer becomes dry and will flake off. Sometimes it will be itchy and if it persists, cracks can appear.Anyone at any age can experience dry skin. Usually it is a result of low humidity and the skin will simply not retain enough water. The epidermis is composed of fat and protein.  The lipid, or fat portion together with specific proteins help keep the skin moisturized and supple. If the proteins and/or fats are diminished or missing, the natural moisture will disappear. The exact term is xerosis.There can be internal or external causes for dry skin. External forces include cold temperatures and low humidity. Internally age is a factor since the body produces fewer cells overall and that will include the oils necessary to keep us lubricated. Also genetics and other medical conditions including thyroid problems will affect the skin.  Some medications used to control blood pressure, high cholesterol, and acne will contribute the skin dryness. Some fibers used in the manufacture of clothing will cause an allergic reaction including dry skin. This includes wool and some synthetics.handwashingOver-washing the skin can cause dryness, but that doesn’t mean you should stop showering or washing your hands. Bathing actually adds water to the skin, but when it evaporates, the oils dissipate and the skin feels tight. Just follow up with a good moisturizer. Be sure to follow the package directions on using moisturizing products and to use enough to do the job properly.If you notice rough, dry, and even red, patches on your arms hands, and lower legs, you probably have dry skin. Other areas can include the abdomen and areas that are prone to rubbing like ankles and the soles of feet. It is common for the itchiness to occur during sleeping and the individual will scratch the area without even knowing it, which will only aggravate the situation.Excessive scratching and rubbing will make the skin thicken and feel leathery. Sometimes there are small red bumps which can become irritated by scratching.  In fact, too much abrasion can open the areas and leave them prone to infection.If left untreated, dry skin will become more sensitive and will be more apt to develop a rash. Serious complications can include eczematous dermatitis, bacterial infections, cellulitits and skin discoloration.The best prevention is to shy away from harsh soaps and chemical cleansers. Treatment is usually using lotions and moisturizersIf you have serious concerns, discuss it with your primary care physician or consult a dermatologist.
3 min read
hormonal acne

What is Hormonal Acne? Everything You Need to Know

Acne is common, it occurs in most people to some degree at some point in their lives. However, you may notice that it happens mostly during puberty and times of stress or other changes, such as before periods, during pregnancy or during or after menopause. This is likely to be hormonal acne.  Hormonal acne happens because your hormone levels are rising or fluctuating, which affects your skin health and cell activity.  But what is hormonal acne and how can you treat it properly? Read on to find out! Hormonal acne is exactly what it sounds like, which is acne connected to hormone fluctuations. It’s usually associated with hormone fluctuations in puberty, though it can affect adults throughout any age, especially in women. Various factors contribute to hormonal acne, particularly menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. There may also be underlying medical conditions that affect your hormone levels as well, thus causing acne. During puberty, hormonal acne might appear around your forehead, nose, and/or chin. In hormonal adult acne, it usually forms on the lower area of your face, such as around your jawline or cheeks.  The symptoms of hormonal acne include seeing whiteheads, blackheads, cysts, nodules, papule, or pustules around your face. There may also be lesions on your face other parts of your body, such as the neck, back, chest, and shoulders. The hormonal acne can be mild, moderate, or severe, with the intensity depending on various factors such as genetics, diet, environment, as well as the way you care for your skin.              •           Menstruation            •           Menopause            •           Increased androgen levels            •           Polycystic ovarian syndrome When hormone levels fluctuate, it aggravates acne issues as it increases skin inflammation, oil/sebum production in your pores, clog skin cells around the hair follicles and even increases the production of acne-causing bacteria. Hormonal acne IS treatable and can be prevented with the right tips and products. Here are some ways you can manage hormonal acne regardless of your age: Wrapping It UpHormonal acne is irritating, but treatable with the right knowledge and tips. The timeline differs from person to person, but if you use the right treatments, it can take 8-10 weeks to lessen acne and prevent it from coming back.If your hormonal acne persists and worsens, do talk with your doctor for a long-term treatment plan for better results.
4 min read
what causes dark circles under eyes

What Causes Dark Circles Under Eyes? What to Watch Out For!

There are common and various reasons why dark circles develop, and finding out why can help you know what solution to follow. So, what causes dark circles under eyes?This is the most common reason why people have dark circles under their eyes. A lack of sleep and too much sleep can cause dark circles. Oversleeping or extreme fatigue, as well as even just staying a couple of hours past your typical bedtime, may end up with you waking up with dark circles.This is because sleep deprivation causes the skin to become dull and/or pale, which allows dark tissues and blood vessels underneath the skin to show. Furthermore, lack of sleep may cause fluid build-up under the eyes, which is why they sometimes look puffy. The dark circles may be shadows from puffy eyelids.Another common cause of those dark circles under your eyes is aging. When you turn older, the skin becomes thinner and you begin losing fat and collagen, which are required to maintain skin elasticity. As a result, the dark blood vessels under your skin will become more visible, which causes the areas under the eyes to darken.If you are in front of a computer or television screen for hours on end, without any breaks, that can be straining on your eyes. This strain would result in enlarged blood vessels around the eyes. This may cause the surrounding skin of the eyes to darken.Both allergic reactions and dry eyes may trigger dark circles.If you experience an allergic reaction, the body will release histamines, responding to the harmful bacteria. As this occurs, you’ll experience a few symptoms, such as itchiness redness, and/or puffy eyes. Histamines may also cause the blood vessels to dilate, making them look more visible from under the skin.Also, because allergies may increase the urge to scratch and rub your eyes, it can worsen the symptoms and cause inflammation, swelling, and even broken blood vessels. This is what causes dark shadows under the eyes. This is another common reason why people have dark circles under their eyes. When the body doesn’t receive the right amount of water, the skin under your eyes will begin to dull, with your eyes looking sunken. Sun overexposure may cause the body to produce too much melanin, which is a pigment providing the body with color. Too much sun around the eyes might cause the pigmentation in the surrounding skin to darken further.Your family history can play a part in the dark circles developing under the eyes. It might be an inherited trait that shows in childhood, which might worsen or disappear with age. Inheritable medical conditions may also result in dark circles under the eyes.Wrapping It UpHopefully, this list of the reasons why you might have dark circles under your eyes helped you out. Identify the root cause of the dark circles under your eyes and see what you can do to help them disappear now!
3 min read
how long for scars to fade

Skin Care: How Long for Scars to Fade

Tumbling off a bike, surgery, acne, or burn will all leave scaring.  In fact, each of these scars presents itself differently.  How long for scars to fade depends on a number of factors.  First, we need to discuss what a scar is and how it forms. When there is a break in the skin, it is perceived as a likely target for infection. The body immediately starts to produce collagen to close up the gap. Over time, that collagen will remain, so the scarred area will never be pristine again. Small abrasions will probably never be noticeable, but the remnants of surgeries can be more visible.Areas of the body that are muscular will scar more deeply than those areas with thin skin like around the eyes. Also, some people are simply predisposed to replacing scarred skin with smooth.  While they may never completely go away, the appearance of scars can certainly be diminished.To help aid this process, it is important that you stay away and protect yourself from ultraviolet (UV) rays. A scar is more likely to become sunburned and when that happens it will appear more prominent and often with a brownish tinge.Major elements toward scar recovery is maximum blood supply and oxygen.  If you are a smoker, you will be depriving the body of both.There are some over-the-counter creams that help reduce the excess collagen and help. Mederma is probably one of the most well known. The process is to gently rub the scar repairing cream over the scar about twice a day.  The combination of the ingredients in the cream and the gentle massage will help the collagen remain smooth and soft. Less thickening of this collagen will help diminish the visual appearance of your scar.Particularly dreadful scars can be treated by a dermatologist. Using a pulsed dye laser, the doctor will treat the area to reduce the redness and encourage the production of normal collagen instead of scar collagen.  Another laser treatment is the use of a Fraxel laser.  This is used for an indented scar like the remainder of a surgical procedure.To reduce the appearance of scars:The initial phase of healing will take place within the first twelve hours and will last less than a week.  The bottom line is a scar will take from a few months to two years to fade.  A lot will depend upon the cause of the scar, its severity, hygiene, and treatment.If you have specific questions consult with a qualified dermatologist.
3 min read
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