From acne and pimples to dry skin and wrinkles, our skin is constantly challenged — and our medicine cabinets are packed with lotions and creams designed to combat those signs of aging, irritated skin.
But Dr. Rusalina Mincu, an internal medicine physician at Swedish Covenant Hospital, said natural treatments, such as avocado, vitamins and aloe, along with plenty of sleep and a healthy diet, can soothe the skin — and in some cases, erase years from our faces.
At an event last week at Whole Foods Sauganash, Dr. Mincu discussed simple, natural solutions to the skin issues many of us face as we age. Below are her general skin care tips.
The 20s: Acne and pimples
• Don’t pick at your skin
• Ice, basil leaf or basil oil works well to dry out acne and pimples
• Do not scrub your face to clean it. A half piece of papaya, mashed and applied to the face for several minutes, is a gentle, effective exfoliant/cleanser
• Tea tree oil is also a recommended facial cleanser
• Vitamins A, E, B6, along with selenium and zinc, are good supplements for healthy skin
The 30s: Dry skin, rosacea, eczema
• Make sure your skin isn’t reacting to your skin products. Many people are allergic to lanolin, a base for numerous creams and ointments
• Moisturize immediately after your warm (not hot) shower or bath
• The best way to moisturize is from the inside out. Eat healthy foods, especially organic fruits and veggies
Rosacea: A common skin problem that causes facial redness, especially affecting fair-skinned women in their 30s
• Keep a food diary because certain foods, especially spicy ingredients, can redden the face
• Use sunscreen (up to SPF 30 is fine) and apply frequently, as sun exposure can trigger rosacea
• Vitamin B12 can help
• Meditate and use other relaxation techniques to handle stress, which exacerbates rosacea
Eczema: A condition causing the skin to be itchy and very red, patchy and thickened in spots
• Visit your doctor to rule out allergies
• Eat fatty fish (mackerel, salmon, herring) twice a week
• Evening primrose oil applied to skin can help, as can Vitamins A and C, zinc, rose hips and bioflavonoids (found in berries and other foods)
• Use chamomile-based skin creams or creams with comfrey and marigold (calendula), all of which are soothing to skin
The 40s and beyond: Psoriasis, wrinkles
Psoriasis: A condition causing skin redness, irritation, thick white patches or white, blistered skin
• Stress can aggravate it. Meditate, or try yoga or other stress relieving techniques
• Sun (phototherapy) treatment can help
• Eat fatty fish (mackerel, salmon, herring) two to three times a week
• Aloe Vera is helpful. Dr. Mincu grows aloe vera at home and keeps the leaves individually wrapped in the freezer to break open and apply to skin when needed
• Oatmeal baths can soothe the skin, as can milk thistle
• Chamomile tea is calming to the skin
• Echinacea extract and licorice extract can be applied to soothe the skin
• Avoid the sun. Wear sunscreen (up to SPF 30) and wide-brimmed hats
• Eat healthily and drink plenty of water (8 cups per day)
• Gently exfoliate with an oatmeal/water mask, papaya scrub or other natural products
• An egg yolk mask (see recipe below) will temporarily tighten your face and help you appear younger
• Foods that might cause wrinkles: milk, margarine, red meat, soft drinks, butter, ice cream and potatoes
• Foods that might fight wrinkles: eggs, cherries, yogurt, grapes, spinach, melons, eggplant, prunes, asparagus, dried fruits, celery, apples, garlic, pears, onions, multigrain bread, nuts, jam and lima beans
Make your own skin and hair treatments
Dr. Rusalina Mincu, internal medicine physician at Swedish Covenant Hospital, provided these recipes using natural, everyday ingredients that you can try at home.
Natural, homemade moisturizer
2-3 drops of lavender, lilac or rose oil
1 cup of water in an atomizer (an instrument for spraying)
Refrigerate overnight. Spray and blot dry face daily.
Temporary lifting mask
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon sugar
Whisk yolks until firm, then add sugar gradually and mix well. Apply to face and leave for 25 minutes. Wash with warm water and washcloth.
Mask for hair (to soften and shine)
2 egg whites
Mash avocado and combine with egg whites. Leave in hair for 15 minutes. Wash and condition.