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Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Combination Skin
 Essential Oils and Aromatherapy  
Sun Damage












One of the most common questions we have received from our guests is: "What can I do about the wrinkles forming around my eyes and mouth?" That question is followed closely by, "How can I improve the texture of my skin?". This is a concern shared by many of us, who find the sun and time are taking their toll.....

California Concept has focused much of our attention on this concern. We have developed products that address this issue in a delicate, yet effective manner.

In low concentration and with regular application, Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) gently and gradually loosen the bond that holds together the top layer of dead skin cells. Thus, they speed up the body's natural exfoliation of the excess build-up of dead skin cells on the surface, stimulate the production of natural collagen and allow newer and healthier skin to emerge. Remember....under the surface skin that we can see is the skin we all want to have: well textured, soft, supple, with an even complexion, which makes wrinkles much less apparent. This process of exfoliation is one the cosmetic industry has been trying to duplicate by the use of synthetics and chemicals since the beginning of skin care awareness. California Concept offers you Cell Repair Complex... our alpha hydroxy treatment that will encourage the exfoliation of those surface layers of skin.

Cell Repair Complex is also available in our Rejuvenation Trio, together with Natural Hydrating Factor, A true-to-life duplication of a tissue fluid found between skin cells in the intercellular matrix. Our special, unique formula contains virtually all of the identifiable natural components of that fluid in ratios that resemble the "real" thing, but it is primarily its Collagen & Elastin that give it the remarkable structure and elasticity. It boosts and maintains the skin's own natural moisture content at "younger" levels, which makes the skin naturally softer, smoother, more supple and healthier.
Also in this Rejuvenation Trio, is our Antioxidant Defense Serum... a powerful antioxidant compound based on Pycnogenol®, a natural complex of antioxidant flavonoids that protect skin from free radicals which attack the collagen and elastin support systems, degrade DNA, damage vital enzymes, impair immune functions, and often cause general tissue deterioration.

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Combination Skin

Combination Skin seems to be troubling many of our customers who are struggling to find just the right routine to manage occasional problems with this skin type. In answer to many questions we have received, this month we feature an overview of a California Concept approach to Combination Skin Care.

Combination Skin is probably the most common skin type…many people find that their skin is oily in some areas and normal to dry in others. Most frequently the oiliness is found in the "T-Zone", across the forehead, down over the nose and including the chin. Having both skin types over a rather small surface area can be somewhat of a challenge to care for. Some products meant to clean oily skin can be too harsh on the more sensitive areas of the face. But rest assured, with a proper skincare regimen, your skin can be radiant and healthy.

People with this skin type must control oil, treat the problem areas and moisturize, all without over-drying the skin. Periodic breakouts are common for people with combination skin. Dehydration can also be a problem and is evident in dry, flaky even sensitive areas. It is often the case that people with this skin type will over-cleanse their skin by washing too often, or by using very strong cleansers.

California Concept has formulated a variety of products to meet the needs of people who have Combination Skin….first of all we offer our cleansers:

Neutro Facial Cleansing Foam is beneficial and naturally advantageous to both oily and sensitive skin. It is a hypo-allergenic product made of the purest ingredients. The distinctive blend of cleansing agents and moisture safeguards reinstates the correct pH in the outer skin layer and performs reliable deep-pore cleansing by flushing out excessive build-up of natural oils that may become a breeding ground for bacteria associated with a wide variety of skin blemishes.

Daily application of Apricot Cream Scrub is a vital step in basic skin care.  Microscopic flakes of dead skin are the product of natural skin renewal and if not cleansed regularly, they can clog pores, make skin look dusty and coarse and lead to the emergence of blackheads and breakouts. A build-up of the stratum corneum cells contributes to a number of skin conditions such as dehydration, suffocation and uneven texture. Apricot Scrub removes dead skin cells, unclogs pores, cleans up blackheads and pimples and leaves behind a pleasing visual effect of the "scrubbed" look, while making the skin most receptive to additional treatments.

Our Skin Tonic is a non-alcoholic concentrate which stimulates circulation and helps reduce enlarged pores by using citrus extracts. Our Tonic breaks down complex oils and enables them to rise to the surface of the skin long with the attracted waste. It freshens and revitalizes the skin by stimulating circulation while at the same time closes enlarged pores and prepares skin for the application of specific treatments.

We offer two masques appropriate for Combination Skin:
Pure Clay Masque
contains exceptionally pure California clay reputed for its moisture absorbent properties that show remarkable effect of the basic function of standard clay masque: to absorb skin’s excessive secretion and thus help draw out deeply imbedded impurities. As a result, it tightens enlarged pores and stimulates circulation, which inevitably sustains a firm complexion with the proper moisture and pH balance. It also contains top quality plant extracts such as lemon grass, rosehip, chamomile, sage, clover, and others which prevents the masque from over-drying on the skin.

Black Magic Masque provides another type of invigorating treatment that tightens the skin, contracts enlarged pores and improves blood circulation. This masque contains tar obtained expressly by distillation of organic substances whose antiseptic properties blend especially well with Aloe Vera’s soothing and anti-inflammatory effects. The result is a powerful stimulant to both skin cells and blood circulation.

Cell Repair Complex contains glycolic and lactic acids, whose molecular size guarantees faster and deeper penetration, but not further than the uppermost part of the skin. These acids speed up the body’s natural exfoliation process of the excess build-up of dead skin cells on the surface, and allow newer and healthier skin to emerge.

For extra moisture we recommend:
Our Moisture Cream light and truly effective emollient with elegant texture and lasting performance that restores the skin’s natural moisture balance within seconds of application. It creates an integral two-way organic shield that retards evaporation of existing moisture outwards, while fighting assimilation of pollutants from the air. Our moisture cream is a perfect base for most make-up brands.

A daily program of cleansing, toning, treating and moisturizing will provide you the best opportunity for healthy, radiant skin. It is important that you experiment with products to find what is just the right routine for your individual skin. We offer you options to consider but you must decide which products are most needed by your skin.

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Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Is AHA here to stay?
Many of you have asked about Alpha-Hydroxy Acids.....they are seen commonly on drug store shelves in facial cleansers and body scrubs. AHA is here to stay, and for good reason.
These natural acids have been used for centuries...women have reportedly bathed in sour milk (lactic Acid), while women of the French court bathed their faces in spoiled wine (tartaric acid). Other alpha-keto/carboxlyic acids and beta-hydroxy acids are derived from sugar cane(glycolic acid), fruits (citric acid), and apples (malic acid).

Why do they do it?
Because topically applied alpha-hydroxy acids have several ways in which they make skin look younger and more vibrant. Intrinsic aging and sun damage lead to the development of fine and coarse wrinkles, irregular pigmentation dryness, loss of elasticity and hyperkeratinization which creates a thickened stratum corneum. As Dr Laura Shellcock states: In addition, the hyaluronic acid or "ground substance" of the dermis degenerates with aging. AHAs reduce rhytids, dehydration, solar lentigenes, melasma, and loss of elasticity and collagen. AHAs act by increasing collagen substance and stimulating production of the glycosaminoglycan and intercellular ground substances that fill the spaces between collagen fibers and give support to the dermis. The quality of elastic fibers is improved as well. AHAs decrease the thickness of the hyperkeratotic stratum corneum by reducing corneocyte adhesion in the lower epidermis. This leads to epidermolysis and desquamation of the damaged epidermis. There is also a normalization of keratinocyte metabolism, which reduces dry skin, promotes more uniform texture, reduces the appearance of fine lines, and lightens irregular pigmentation."

In addition to improving photodamage and intrinsic aging of the skin, AHAs are used for several other dermatologic conditions. An abnormal pattern of keratinization is one factor in the development of acne. AHAs can reduce the cohesion of follicular corneocytes thereby dislodging comedones and unroofing pustules. This allows the sebum to flow to the skin more normally, reducing the formation of new acne lesions.

Melasma is an irregular hyperpigmentation of the skin usually seen in women who are pregnant or on oral contraceptives. Brown patches develop on the cheeks, forehead or around the mouth. Topical bleaching products containing hydroquinones have historically been the only treatment. Recently, the addition of topical AHAs to the hydroquinones has produced much more effective lightening of these areas. In addition, fine lines are improved at the same time, AHA peels, in experienced hands, have also resulted in dramatic improvements of melasma.

Since there are so many preparations of AHAs on the market, many want to know which ones they should use. Factors which affect the efficacy of AHAs are its concentration, pH, and amount of free acid. Generally speaking, higher concentration means better results. There is increasing evidence that pH is a more important factor than concentration for both safety and efficacy. A pH of 3.5 seems to be the threshold above which skin irritation drops off dramatically. Irrespective of the concentration, as the pH increases toward neutrality at 4.4, irritation potential decreases.

Our Cell Repair Complex is right at that threshold of pH 3.5. Our formulation is as strong as one can get without causing major irritation. We use glycolic and lactic acids, whose molecule size guarantees faster and deeper penetration. These two natural fruit acids, combined with fresh Aloe Vera Juice, provide the optimum benefit to all skin types without invading the deeper layers, which could lead to irritation.

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Do Antioxidants slow the aging process?
Currently, a great deal of consumer interest is being focused on scientific reports about antioxidants and their value in helping to slow down the aging process of the skin.

It has been established that significant skin damage is being caused by so called "free radicals", highly unstable oxygen molecules with unpaired electrons that must seek other molecules with stable electrons to achieve their own stabilization. Attaching to the stable electrons of other molecules does accomplish their stability, but as a result the "good" molecule is then transformed, damaged and/or deactivated.

Free radicals work quickly. In mere seconds, one radical can trigger a chain reaction that produces thousands of additional free radicals. The results of this transformation can range from simple cell damage to eventual death of the damaged cell. Such cellular breakdown manifests itself in lines, wrinkles, extra dry skin, loss of elasticity and skin discoloration.

On a deeper level, free radicals may significantly damage the collagen and elastin support system, degrade DNA, damage vital enzymes, impair immune functions, and cause general tissue deterioration. Sun is the leading proponent of these unstable pieces of molecular debris in the skin, but they can also be produced by a number of other ways. Radiation, air pollution, smoking, pesticides, asbestos, cured meats, dietary fats and even heavy exercise contribute to "free radical" formation.

How do antioxidants work?
Breakthrough research conducted by the eminent biochemist Dr.Denham Harman at the University of Nebraska School of Medicine, strongly suggests that most forms of aging are caused by the cumulative effect of "free radical" damage. And those substances termed as antioxidants have the capability of interrupting or even preventing this cellular onslaught. The molecular structure of such substances provides the electrons that render "free radicals" harmless before they can attach themselves to a healthy molecule and begin their destructive work.

Three important antioxidants in the body are the protector Vitamins A, C, E. Other antioxidants are glutathione, a tiny protein made of three amino acids, zinc, which protects cells against oxygen damage, selenium, which produces an enzyme that turns toxic substances into harmless water, and an enzyme called superoxide dismutase, or SOD.

Research scientists now recognize the great anti-aging potential of topically applied preparations containing antioxidant agents and cosmetic chemists all over the world are presently developing antioxidant substances which in conjunction with liposomes can penetrate deep into the stratum corneum, and perhaps beyond, into the living epidermis.

The California Concept Approach
We have been using antioxidants in many of our preparations for many years, namely vitamins A,C and E. But we have always kept a watchful eye on the latest developments and the newest research results in that particular field.

In 1995, we did our own extensive research not only on incorporating the latest knowledge about antioxidants into a brand new product, but also on using it to enhance the effects of antioxidants already present in fresh Aloe Vera.

Pycnogenol® is a registered trademark of Horphag Research, Ltd. It is extracted from the bark of the French maritime pine and according to Dr. A.W.Martin D.C., PhD (The Truth About Pycnogenol, R&T Press Ontario, Canada, 1996) Pycnogenol is the most powerful antioxidant known to man.

Due to its unique ability to scavenge free radicals and to its smaller molecular structure, it has been scientifically proven to have antioxidant capabilities 50 times more powerful than Vitamin E, and 20 times more powerful than Vitamin C. Nevertheless, it still maintains a synergistic relationship with Vitamin C, encouraging its penetration into the dermis, which results in the growth of collagen. Apart from that, it has also shown to retard aging, to reduce wrinkles and allergies, and to reduce damage to the skin cells caused by UVB radiation.

We have done our own extensive research not only on incorporating the latest knowledge about antioxidants into a brand new product, but also on using it to enhance the effects of antioxidants already present in fresh Aloe Vera. California Concept's exclusive Antioxidant Defense Serum is a unique and powerful antioxidant compound based on Pycnogenol® combined with a natural complex of antioxidant flavonoids that protect skin from free radicals which attack the collagen and elastin support systems, degrade DNA, damage vital enzymes, impair immune functions, and often cause general tissue deterioration. We offer it in 10 ml sample size in the Rejuvenation Trio or in the 30 ml size pictured here. Applied daily as a topical treatment, it protects the skin from the harshness of daily living environments. 

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Essential Oils and Aromatherapy

The Power of Essential Oils
Modern aromatherapy was born at the turn of the century from the works of French chemist R.M. Gattefosse and has since attracted interest worldwide. Many studies have been made by laboratory scientists and by practicing therapists. Most of this research, somewhat constrained by the dominant scientific ideology, almost exclusively concerns the antiseptic and antibiotic powers of essential oils and their allopathic properties. Since the early 1980s, however, with the work of Dr. Schwartz at Yale University and of Professors Dodd and Van Toller at Warwick University in England, a better understanding of the mechanism of olfaction has opened new, exciting avenues for research and experimentation in aromatherapy.

After Pasteur, belief in external agents (microbes, spores viruses) as the cause of diseases became the basic assumption of official medicine. It was natural, in this context, that the first studies of essential oils should concern their antiseptic properties. Koch himself studied the action of turpentine on “Bacillus anthracis” in 1881; in 1887 Chamberland studied the action of the essential oils of oregano, cinnamon and clove buds. Other studies by Rideal, Walker, Kellner and Kober proposed different methods of measuring the antiseptic power of essential oils in direct contact or in vaporized state.

Aromatherapy and the Holistic Perspective
The human body is a whole, and the interactions taking place between the whole, its parts and the environment are regulated according to a principle of equilibrium called homeostasis. Homeostasis is an autoregulation process that is ensured by such substances as hormones, and the secretion of endocrine glands, controlled by the corticohypthalamo-hypophyseal complex. Any external or internal aggression brings a compensatory regulation (hyper- or hypo-functioning) and an imbalance that provokes a defense reaction. The ingestion of chemicals is often an aggression. In disease, chemotherapy consists in answering one aggression with another, creating a state of war highly prejudicial to the battleground - the human body! States of stress brought on by cultural and environmental factors can weaken our immune system and leave us vulnerable to disease. If we can use the elements around us to counteract the stress, we may find ourselves prone to a healthier state.

Aromatherapy acts at different levels. There is first an allopathic action due to the chemical composition of the essential oils and their antiseptic stimulant, calming, antineuralgic or other properties. There is a more subtle action at the level of information, similar to the action of homeopathic or anthroposophic remedies. Last, but not least, essential oils act on the mind. In fact, they are most traditionally used as basic ingredients of perfumes. Generally speaking, pleasant odors have obvious beneficial, uplifting effects.

The sense of smell is very sensitive: we can detect up to one part of fragrant material in 10,000 billion parts of more. A trained nose can differentiate several hundred different odors. However, we have no proper vocabulary to talk about odors. We say that something smells like a rose, strawberry or whatever. The olfactory nerves terminate in a part of the brain that does not use the same kind of logic as our intellectual centers. Although odors form a kind of communication system, they cannot be developed as a language; they work through associations and images and are not analytical.

In "Perfumery: the psychology and biology of Fragrances", E. Douek describes various olfactory abnormalities. According to the author, anosmia, the total inability to smell, is always accompanied by some elements of depression, which can often become severe. With loss of the sense of smell people also lose the sense of taste, the world becomes dull and colorless.

Since the olfactory system is such an open gate to the subconscious, one would expect that psychotherapy could benefit from the use of olfactory stimuli for the cure of psychological disorders. Very little research has been done in this area, possibly because it is hard to systematize a therapeutic procedure. The sense of smell is very private and each individual’s associations are different. Dr. A.D. Armond, for instance, reported the case of an anxious patient who worked on motor bikes and kept an oily wash cloth in his pocket for comfort in times of stress.

Still Aromatherapy can offer some valuable tools to the practitioner. Oils such as lavender, marjoram, rose and ylang ylang have been traditionally used for their calming effects in stress reduction. Jasmine is a wonderful, uplifting oil for the treatment of depression and anxiety, and there are many more. Diffusion is probably one of the best methods of using essential oils in this way.

A procedure often used by therapists is to develop a blend of oils to use during the therapeutic session, which the patient can also use at home to further the treatment. This method is particularly efficient when used in conjunction with any technique conductive to deep relaxation such as hypnosis, meditation & yoga, as the olfactory stimuli are then more likely to have a deep impact on the patient. Obviously, psycho-aromatherapy is still a wide open field, where experiments are encouraged.

Essential oils and fragrances have been extensively used for well-being - one of the main keys to health - since the beginning of civilization. It cannot be analyzed by any scientific method, and yet it can be experienced.

Aromas, even if they cannot change an individual, may help to create a favorable ground if properly chosen. Fragrances stimulate the dynamic and positive aspect of the being by an effect of resonance.

In conclusion, even though it can relieve symptoms, aromatherapy primarily aims at curing the causes of diseases. The main therapeutic action of essential oils consists in strengthening the organs and their functions and acting on the defense mechanism of the body. They do not do the job for the body; they help the body do its own job and thus, do not weaken the organism. Their action is enhanced by all natural therapies that aim to restore the vitality of the individual. Consequently, the use of aromatherapy for skin care is one of the best applications and the effect can be seen both on the surface of the skin and in a feeling of well-being.

Essential Oils in the Plant
Essential oils are present in tiny droplets between plant cells where they act as hormones, regulators and catalysts. They appear to aid plants in adapting to their environment and thus increase their yield in adverse situations, such as extreme climates. For instance, in the Arabian desert certain plants use essential oils as a protection against the sun. There are bushes surrounded by a very thin cloud of essential oils, which filter the sun’s rays and freshen the air around the leaves. Also, essential oils often protect plants from diseases and parasites.

Most essential oils available on the market today are of poor quality for two main reasons. The first reason is that the chemical composition of the essential oils of a given plant can vary greatly, depending on the variety, the time, the soil and the methods of cultivation and distillation. When the main components of a given essential oil are known, it is possible to reconstitute it using either cheaper essential oils or their components. Rose, for instance, is often imitated with geranium, lemongrass, palmarose, terpenic alcohol or stearin.

The second reason is that recent advances in chemistry have flooded the market with synthetic essential oils. These synthetic reconstitution are used mostly in the food and cosmetic industries, but also in perfumery and pharmacy. The chemicals in the oils are in perpetual interaction, and the kind of interaction depends on the way these substances are put together. The action of essential oils depends also on the processes taking place in them, therefore, natural or synthetic reconstitution will never replace the natural oils. For Aromatherapy as well as for perfumery or cosmetics, one should only use the best quality of essential oils, California Concept guarantees that quality. Oils extracted by cold pressure resemble most closely the products present in the plant, but only a few oils can be extracted by this method. Steam distillation yields the next best quality. Oils extracted by solvents are of poorer quality and purity. Wild plants growing in unpolluted areas or plants grown organically yield the best quality of oil. Nonorganic products are not recommended, as many synthetic pesticides are soluble in the plants’ aromatic substances and may be concentrated in the oil.

California Concept Essential Oils
California Concept has created three synergies for the three basic skin types that has proven to be very effective by itself as well as when enhanced with the single prescribed essential oils for certain skin problems and disorders. The following serves to explain how this has been achieved.

Like almost anything that is influenced by life forces, Aromatherapy does not abide by mathematical law. The whole is not the sum of its parts: 2 plus 2 does not equal 4; it might equal 3 or 5, or sometimes even 10!

Whenever the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, it is called a synergy. Some essential oils have mutually enhancing power, while others may have inhibiting power on each other. The combination of mutually enhancing oils is a synergy. Synergies allow the therapist to be accurate in treatment.

Creating synergies is a most important part of blending. It requires a deep understanding of the essential oils, a fair amount of experience and a lot of intuition. In order to create a good synergy, you must take into account not only the symptom to be treated, but also the underlying cause of the disorder, the biological terrain and the psychological or emotional factors involved.

First of all, there should never more than 3-5 oils blended at a time, and oils with opposite effects should not be blended (like a calming oil and a stimulant oil). Then the properties of each oils have to be checked very carefully to make sure they complement and enhance each other in order to multiply the desired effectiveness.

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Our newsletter topics are based on the questions and inquiries we receive from our online clients. This month we feature a topic that is important to 80% of the public... the condition of Acne. Most of us suffer from this skin condition at various time in our lives and though it cannot be cured....the effects of acne can be minimized if treated early and with discipline.

What is Acne ?
Acne is a common skin condition which consists of blackheads, whiteheads, red spots, and sometimes deeper boil-like lesions called nodules or cysts.

It afflicts most people during the teenage years. However, the problem sometimes continues into adulthood. It develops in the oil-producing structures of the skin called pilosebaceous follicles, which are present in large quantities on the face, chest, upper back and shoulders.

What causes acne ?
The exact cause is unknown. One theory is that when hormone levels increase during puberty, the skin of the acne prone person reacts by producing excess sebum (oils). The bacteria on the skin alter these oils to produce substances that cause acne. The hair follicle, the site of acne, gets plugged by dead skin cells, bacteria and sebum. This obstruction leads to swelling and development of acne. So.....the causes of acne can be classified into bacteria, genetics, hormones, and clogged pores. Emotional stress, fatigue and cosmetics can aggrevate acne.

What are the types of acne?
These include blackheads, whiteheads (comedones), the larger papules (pimples) and later, pustules and large cysts. Scars occur after papules, pustules and cysts. They are often permanent. The key to avoiding more serious damage is to treat acne early.

Get the Acne Facts!
Bacteria is the key element to all forms of acne.
Did you know there are many varieties of acne? In fact, there are over fifty types of acne. However, the most common form is acne vulgaris.
Although many individuals believe the sun makes their acne better, the reality is ultraviolet rays that penetrate the skin's surface can damage the follicles, closing them off and triggering acne two to four weeks after sun exposure.

Universal Acne Treatment Methods
Acne treatments, techniques and acne tips prevent acne through one or more of the universal methods utilized for treating acne. The methods are:
    Killing or avoiding bacteria responsible for acne infection
    Reducing the oil (sebum) production
    Exfoliating dead skin cells to prevent clogged pores

What should I do when I have acne ?
Treat your acne early. Waiting to outgrow acne can be a serious mistake, since treatment can improve your appearance and prevent the development of scars. To reduce the possibility of formation of scar tissue, never squeeze or scratch lessions, keep hands off the face as this can spread infection. Do not attempt to cover spots on the forehead a special "hairdo".

Basic Acne Washing Routine
Micro organisms of all kinds live on the skin and in fact some are resident there.
Before you attempt other acne treatment techniques you must be sure that you are currently using the proper washing routine. Keeping your face clean requires that you wash it two times per day, three times at the most. You must be very careful to avoid overdoing it. Skin must maintain the proper pH levels to remain healthy. Over washing will make your face dry and irritated causing more breakouts. Many times individuals will vigorously scrub their skin when they wash it. I do not recommend this because such treatment will only serve to irritate the skin causing more breakouts.

Note, acne is not caused by "dirty" skin it is the result of clogged pores infected with bacteria. Therefore, washing alone does not prevent acne. Washing is no mystery treatment, in fact washing alone will not prevent acne. It simply serves to remove dirt and oil at the surface level. Although washing alone may not prevent acne, the wrong type of washing can aggravate acne making it worse.

The California Concept Approach....
We recommend a program that will minimize the acne promoting environment. A routine that offers cleansing, toning, treatment and moisturizing to maintain a healthy balance to promote optimal health.

Experiment with acne treatments and acne tips. Note, that some of these treatments take time, allow 2-4 weeks before discounting any acne treatment technique. While normal soap and water will remove some of the bacteria a more effective cleaning agent containing biocides may be necessary..... Biocides are substances which may be used to stop the growth of bacteria on the skin surface and are available at your local pharmacy.

Can I use cosmetics when I have acne ?
Avoid oily and greasy cosmetics. Use water-based, oil-free cosmetics sparingly. You can use eyeliners, eyeshadows and lipsticks.

Specific foods have not been proven to affect acne. However it is important to note that good nutrition helps the body maintain healthy skin. There have been some scientists suggesting that caffeine products and excessively salty foods aggravate acne in certain individuals. If you notice that certain foods aggravate your acne then the best advice is to limit or avoid them in your diet.

Perhaps one of the most often overlooked remedies. Stop putting your hands by your face! Also rubbing or bracing your chin is another common problem when thinking. Avoid rubbing, touching, or itching your skin with your hands. Your hands contain alot of bacteria that can cause acne flare-ups. Also be careful of the telephone. Clean them often with rubbing alcohol because they sometimes come in contact with the face causing more acne.
It is probably one of the most difficult things to avoid since much of the hand to face contact throughout the day we are unconscious of. Make it a habit to avoid hand contact and be conscious of it during the day to avoid bacteria.

Exercise is good for your overall health. It will increase your blood circulation and bring more oxygen to your major organs including the skin. The benefits you get from exercise are not only physical but to a large extent mental benefits.
Just make sure that you wash your face after an intense exercise session to remove any oil or sweat on your skin that may harbor bacteria, resulting in more acne.

Research has indicated that our hormone levels increase when our sleep patterns are disturbed. Increased hormone levels results in increased sebum production which leads to more acne. It is during our time of sleep that our skin cells begin to be nourished and regenerating takes place the most as the body repairs itself from a long day. Get to bed earlier! Go to bed at least 1 or 2 hours early than you usually do and in a couple of days you will notice your face getting clearer and more healthy.
Individuals have also reported severe acne outbreaks due to prolonged sleep deprivation.

Ice Cubes
Aestheticians as well as some other individuals have reported success from this technique. The trick is to try and catch the pimple before it fully arrives on the surface of the skin. As soon as you feel a pimple forming, ice it! Take an ice cube wrapped in saran wrap and place on the skin portion where you feel a pimple about to form. Hold it there for a few minutes (no longer than 5). Avoid prolonged holding as you can get frostbite skin. Perform the above steps three times daily. This technique is effective only on newly forming pimples and rarely useful for existing pimples.

Stress is something that needs to be reduced in your life since it tends to aggrevate acne in many people
So, how do you lower your stress levels? Aside from eliminating things that cause you stress in your life, look into relaxation techniques. Relaxation techniques are great for stressful situations. You may even look into practicing meditation or yoga to further reduce your stress levels.

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Sun Damage

It's the first warm, sunny day after a long winter. You step outside for a deep breath of fresh air, close your eyes and turn your face to the sun. It feels so good.

The soothing warmth of the sun on your skin . . . the healthy look of a suntan . . . the deep wrinkles and age spots . . .

That's right, wrinkles and age spots.

Despite the image of a tan being "healthy," excessive exposure to the sun is responsible for much of the skin damage associated with aging. It's a lifelong process, as over time your skin slowly accumulates the drying and damaging effects of the sun.

Much of the damage is merely cosmetic, but some can be deadly. Excessive sun exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer, by far the most common form of cancer diagnosed today. Almost half of all Americans who reach age 65 will develop a skin cancer at least once.

Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is a disease in which cancer (malignant) cells are found in the outer layers of your skin. Your skin protects your body against heat, light, infection, and injury. It also stores water, fat, and vitamin D.

The skin has two main layers and several kinds of cells. The top layer of skin is called the epidermis. It contains three kinds of cells:
  • flat, scaly cells on the surface called squamous cells
  • round cells called basal cells
  • cells called melanocytes, which give your skin its color.
The inner layer of skin is called the dermis. This layer is thicker, and contains blood vessels, nerves, and sweat glands. The hair on your skin also grows from tiny pockets in the dermis, called follicles. The dermis makes sweat, which helps to cool your body, and oils that keep your skin from drying out.

There are several types of cancer that start in the skin. The most common are basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer. These types of skin cancer are called nonmelanoma skin cancer. Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that starts in the melanocytes. It is not as common as basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer, but it is much more serious.

Skin cancer is more common in people with light colored skin who have spent a lot of time in the sunlight. Skin cancer can occur anywhere on your body, but it is most common in places that have been exposed to more sunlight, such as your face, neck, hands, and arms.

Skin cancer can look many different ways. The most common sign of skin cancer is a change on the skin, such as a growth or a sore that won't heal. Sometimes there may be a small lump. This lump can be smooth, shiny and waxy looking, or it can be red or reddish brown. Skin cancer may also appear as a flat red spot that is rough or scaly. Not all changes in your skin are cancer, but you should see your doctor if you notice changes in your skin.

Like most cancers, skin cancer is best treated when it is found (diagnosed) early. If you have a spot or lump on your skin, your doctor may remove the growth and look at the tissue under a microscope. This is called a biopsy. A biopsy can usually be done in your doctor's office. Before the biopsy, you will be given a local anesthetic to numb the area for a short period of time.

Most nonmelanoma skin cancers can be cured. Your chance of recovery (prognosis) and choice of treatment depend on the type of skin cancer you have and how far it has spread.

Other kinds of cancer that may affect the skin include cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system, and Kaposi's sarcoma. See the patient information statements on cutaneous T-cell lymphoma or Kaposi's sarcoma for treatment of these cancers. Cancers that start in other parts of the body may also spread (metastasize) to the skin.

Types of skin cancer
Once skin cancer is found, more tests may be done to see if the cancer has spread. This is called staging. Your doctor needs to know the stage and type of your skin cancer to plan treatment. The following types are used to plan treatment:

Basal cell cancer
Basal cell cancer is the most common type of nonmelanoma skin cancer. It usually occurs on areas of your skin that have been in the sun. Often this cancer appears as a small raised bump that has a smooth, pearly appearance. Another type looks like a scar, and it is firm to the touch. Basal cell cancers may spread to tissues around the cancer, but it usually does not spread to other parts of the body.

Squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell tumors also occur on areas of your skin that have been in the sun, often on the top of the nose, forehead, lower lip, and hands. They may also appear on areas of your skin that have been burned, exposed to chemicals, or had x-ray therapy. Often this cancer appears as a firm red bump. Sometimes the tumor may feel scaly or bleed or develop a crust.

Squamous cell tumors may spread to the lymph nodes in the area (lymph nodes are small bean-shaped structures that are found throughout the body; they produce and store infection-fighting cells)

The incidence of squamous cell carcinoma is thought to be on the rise in the general population, but few prospective studies have addressed possible risk factors. To fill the gap, researchers at Harvard University followed subjects in the Nurses' Health Study, whose cohort of 107,900 female, predominantly Caucasian nurses had been 30 to 55 years old in 1976.

The eight-year project included 197 women with histologically confirmed squamous cell carcinoma diagnosed between 1982 and 1990; it analyzed possible risk factors, including hair color, number and severity of sunburns, and U.S. state in which the subjects had been born and lived at ages 15 and 30. The results confirmed many of the risk factors suspected by most dermatologists.

These included:
  • red or light brown hair color
  • living in California or Florida at birth and age 15
  • number of severe sunburns
  • childhood tendency to burn after two or more hours of sun exposure.

Current -- but not past -- cigarette smokers also had increased risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma. There was no correlation between risk and number of cigarettes smoked..

Malignant Melanoma
Melanoma is a disease of the skin in which cancer (malignant) cells are found in the cells that color the skin (melanocytes). Melanoma usually occurs in adults, but it may occasionally be found in children and adolescents. Your skin protects your body against heat, light, infection, and injury. It is made up of two main layers: the epidermis (the top layer) and dermis (the inner layer). Melanocytes are found in the epidermis and they contain melanin, which gives the skin its color. Melanoma is sometimes called cutaneous melanoma or malignant melanoma.

You should see your doctor if you have any of the following warning signs of melanoma:
  • change in the size, shape, or color of a mole
  • oozing or bleeding from a mole
  • a mole that feels itchy, hard, lumpy, swollen, or tender to the touch

Melanoma can also appear on the body as a new mole. Men most often get melanoma on the trunk (the area of the body between the shoulders and hips) or on the head or neck; women most often get melanoma on the arms and legs. If you have signs of skin cancer, your doctor will examine your skin carefully. If a mole or pigmented area doesn't look normal, your doctor will cut it out (called local excision) and look at it under the microscope to see if it contains cancer. Our dermatopathologist will then determine a diagnosis.

Actinic keratosis
You have surely seen an actinic keratosis. The name may be unfamiliar, but the appearance is commonplace. Anyone who spends time in the sun runs a high risk of developing one or more.

An actinic keratosis, also known as a solar keratosis, is a scaly or crusty bump that arises on the skin surface. The base may be light or dark, tan, pink, red, or a combination of these... or the same color as your skin. The scale or crust is horny, dry, and rough, and is often recognized by touch rather than sight. Occasionally it itches or produces a pricking or tender sensation.

The skin abnormality or lesion develops slowly to reach a size that is most often from an eighth to a quarter of an inch. It may disappear only to reappear later. You will often see several actinic keratoses at a time.

A keratosis is most likely to appear on the face, ears, bald scalp, neck, backs of hands and forearms, and lips. It tends to lie flat against the skin of the head and neck and be elevated on arms and hands.

Why is it Dangerous?
Actinic keratosis can be the first step in the development of skin cancer, and, therefore, is a precursor of cancer or a precancer.

It is estimated that up to 10 percent of active lesions, which are redder and more tender than the rest, will take the next step and progress to squamous cell carcinomas. They are usually not life-threatening, provided they are detected and treated in the early stages. However, if this is not done, they can grow large and invade the surrounding tissues and, on rare occasions, metastasize or spread to the internal organs.

The most aggressive form of keratosis, actinic cheilitis, appears on the lips and can evolve into squamous cell carcinoma. When this happens, roughly one-fifth of these carcinomas metastasize.

The presence of actinic keratoses indicates that sun damage has occurred and that any kind of skin cancer -- not just squamous cell carcinoma can develop.

What is the Cause?
Sun-damaged forehead and bald scalp with multiple keratoses seen as small red bumps and small tan crusts.

Lower lip with fissures filled with dried blood and large keratosis covered with horny scale.

Cheek and ear with multiple crusted lesions, ranging in color from red to brown.

Sun exposure is the cause of almost all actinic keratoses. Sun damage to the skin accumulates over time, so that even a brief exposure adds to the lifetime total.

The likelihood of developing keratoses is highest in regions close to the equator. However, regardless of climate, everyone is exposed to the sun. Ultraviolet rays bounce off sand, snow, and other reflective surfaces; about 80 percent can pass through clouds.

How To Stay Safe From the Sun
A suntan is a warning. It tells you that your skin has been burned. Ignore repeated warnings, and you may end up with wrinkles, age spots and skin cancer. Here are some tips to protect your skin:

Limit your time in the sun - Avoid the strongest ultraviolet (UV) sunlight, which is between midmorning and midafternoon. Be aware that UV light reflected from water, sand, snow and cement can be as intense as direct sunlight. Sunlight intensity increases as you get closer to the equator. It also increases about 4 percent with every 1,000 foot increase in elevation. Clouds can block brightness but may allow up to 80 percent of UV light to reach your skin.

Wear protective clothing and sunglasses - Loose, long-sleeved cotton shirts and hats with at least a 4-inch brim offer good protection. Sunglasses should have at least 99 percent protection against both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B sunlight. Wearing sunglasses is particularly important when you're around water and snow, where failure to use eye protection can result in a painful burn to the outer layer of your eye (cornea) and temporary blindness.

Use sunscreen - Many moisturizing and make-up products now contain nongreasy sunscreens with a sun protective factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. They're good to use all day, every day, even if you live in a cloudy climate. Children and teens who use sunscreen regularly can significantly decrease their lifetime risk of basal and squamous cell skin cancer.

Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher 15 minutes before you go in the sun, and use a sunscreen on your lips. Use water-resistant sunscreens and reapply every 2 to 3 hours - more often if you're swimming or sweating.

If you're in intense sunlight, use a total sunblock (such as zinc oxide) on your lips, nose and ears. Sunblock comes in "sunsticks" for children.

Even with sunscreen, protective clothing is a good idea. Recent evidence suggests that sunscreen alone may not be adequate protection against melanoma. Some researchers theorize that because sunscreens allow you to stay in the sun longer, they may actually increase your risk of melanoma. However, the research is very controversial. In addition, sunscreens do help protect against basal cell and squamous cell cancer.

Don't use tanning beds or tan-accelerating agents - Tanning beds emit ultraviolet A rays, often touted as less dangerous than ultraviolet B rays. But ultraviolet A light penetrates deeper into your skin, causes precancerous actinic keratoses and increases your risk of skin cancer. As for "suntan accelerating" products, the FDA warns against their use. Artificial tanning agents, which essentially stain your skin, are generally safe.

Ask your doctor about medications you take - Many drugs can increase your sensitivity to sunlight and your risk of getting a sunburn. Some common ones include thiazide and some other diuretics, tetracycline and sulfa antibiotics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, in dosages used to treat arthritis.

 If you do develop a sunburn, take aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin) for pain (follow precautions on the label), apply cold compresses, and avoid further exposure until the burn heals. A sunburn spray may help relieve pain.

As you already know....Pure Fresh Aloe Vera Gel and Pure Aloe Vera Masque are a wonderful way to relieve the discomfort from sunburn. Apply it often to cool and moisturize the skin.

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Some have asked what can be done for psoriasis. a common inflammatory condition characterized by frequent episodes of redness, itching, and thick, dry silvery scales on the skin. Our newsletter this month will focus on this condition and suggest ways in which the symptoms might be treated. Psoriasis is very common, with approximately 3 million Americans affected (or about 8 out of 10,000 people). It can appear suddenly or gradually. It may affect any age but most commonly begins between 15 to 35 years old. It occurs most frequently in Caucasians. Psoriasis is characterized by frequent episodes of recurrences and remissions.

Psoriasis seems to be an inherited disorder, and it appears to be related to the immune or inflammatory response. It is most commonly seen on the trunk, elbows, knees, scalp, skin folds, or fingernails, but it may affect any or all parts of the skin. Normally, skin takes about a month for its new cells to move from the lower layers of skin up to the surface. In psoriasis, this process takes only a few days, resulting in build-up of dead skin cells and formation of thick scales.

Psoriasis may be aggravated by injury or irritation (cuts, burns, rash, insect bites), and it may be severe in immuno suppressed people (such as with chemotherapy for cancer, or with AIDS) or those who have autoimmune disorders (rheumatoid arthritis).

Medications, viral or bacterial infections excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, lack of sunlight, overexposure to sunlight (sunburn), stress, general poor health, cold climate, and frequent friction on the skin are also associated with flare-ups of psoriasis. Psoriasis is not contagious.


  • Skin patches

  • dry and/or red

  • usually covered with silvery scales

  • raised patches of skin

  • with red borders

  • may crack and become painful

  • usually discrete, demarcated patches

  • usually located on the elbows, knees, trunk, scalp, hands/nails

  • skin lesions, including pustules, cracking of skin, skin redness or

  • inflammation

  • itching

  • small scaling dots on the skin (especially in children)

  • joint pain/aching

Treatment is focused on control of the symptoms and prevention of secondary infections. It varies with the extent and severity of the disorder.

Severe or resistant cases, or cases involving large areas of the body, may require intensive treatment. Psoriasis lesions that cover all or most of the body are an emergency symptom that require hospitalization. The disorder may be acutely painful. The body loses vast quantities of fluid and is susceptible to severe secondary infections that can become systemic, involving internal organs, and can progress to septic shock and death. Treatment includes analgesics, sedation, intravenous fluids and antibiotics.

Mild cases are usually treated at home. Topical medications include:
- prescription or nonprescription dandruff shampoos
- shampoos or lotions that contain coal tar
- cortisone or other corticosteroids
-  ubricants
- antifungal medications
- antibiotics
- phenol
- sodium chloride
- other ingredients

Oral or injected immunosuppressive medications (such as corticosteroids or methotrexate) may be prescribed, but only in very severe cases. Other medications may include retinoids or cyclosporine.

Other treatments may include moderate exposure to sunlight or phototherapy. The skin is sensitized by the application of coal tar ointment or by taking oral psoralens (a medication that causes the skin to become sensitive to light). The person is then exposed to ultraviolet light. Avoid sunburn, which can worsen the condition.

Maintain good general health to reduce the risk of flare-ups. Obtain adequate rest and exercise, eat a well-balanced diet, and avoid stress.
Treat respiratory and other infections promptly.

Maintain good skin hygiene to prevent secondary infections. Daily baths or showers are recommended. Avoid harsh scrubbing, which can irritate the skin and cause new outbreaks.

Oatmeal baths may be soothing and may help to loosen scales. Commercial preparations may be used, or mix one cup of oatmeal into a tub of warm water.


  • skin cancer

  • rapid skin aging

  • cataracts

  • complications secondary to treatments

  • secondary skin infections with spread to internal organs

Expectations (prognosis)
Psoriasis is a chronic, lifelong condition that can be controlled with treatment. It usually does not adversely affect general health, unless it is neglected or occurs in the elderly or very young.

Calling your health care provider
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if symptoms indicate psoriasis.
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if psoriasis recurs frequently despite treatment.
Also call if pustules, fever, muscle aches, fatigue, or other new or unexplained symptoms develop.

California Concept approach
While we do not have products that treat psoriasis specifically, our products do offer some relief for the symptoms of psoriasis. We have Soothing Cleansing Milk and 100% Pure Aloe Vera Gel, products that offer a means to cleanse the area without harshness and irritation while also providing needed soothing moisture to calm the discomfort of inflammation.

Go Back to Frequently Asked Questions


To view previous newsletters, click on one of the following topics:

  [ Wrinkles | Combination Skin | Alpha Hydroxy Acids | Antioxidants | Essential Oils and Aromatherapy | Acne | Sun Damage | Psoriasis ]