Lifes Abundance content relating to 'skin care'

Decoding The Skin Microbiome


woman looking at face in mirror

Understanding your skin’s microbiome

Did you know that there is an entire microscopic world living on the surface of your skin? This natural ecosystem is called the microbiome, a system of microorganisms including bacteria, fungi, protozoa, viruses and more, that is responsible for the health and function of our skin. You may have read or heard the skin microbiome referred to as the “skin flora,” similar to how the system of microorganisms in the gut is called “gut flora.” Why is this natural ecosystem on the surface of skin so important? Read on below to discover more about your own skin microbiome. 

What is its role?

If you think about it, skin - the body’s largest organ - is essentially the biggest shield between us and the outside world. It protects us from things like pathogens (harmful bacteria or viruses that can cause disease), so it’s important that the skin microbiome is healthy, flourishing, and functioning optimally. The microbiome also hosts a slew of impressive functions including but not limited to reducing inflammation, communicating with your immune system and protecting us from environmental stressors, and more. Research into the microbiome is uncovering something new nearly every day!

The skin microbiome and skin barrier connection

As we mentioned, modern science is regularly uncovering new information into the complex world of our natural microbiomes. Although it’s a super complex topic, it’s helpful to have a top-level overview of how two of our vital defenses, the skin microbiome and barrier, function and work in tandem. 

If you’ve been reading our blog posts on skin care, you’re probably familiar with the term “skin barrier,” it’s the outermost layer of skin made up of lipids and skin cells. A functioning skin barrier locks moisture in, and blocks harmful bacteria from entering. The incredible skin microbiome is a vital and essential component of an optimally functioning skin barrier as discussed above by keeping healthy flora at a premium, and pushing the bad guys out. 


woman washing face

How to keep your skin microbiome healthy and flourishing

First, you should know that a healthy microbiome results in skin that’s hydrated, balanced, lacks inflammation and is clear. Microbiome imbalances are often linked to eczema, acne, allergies or dandruff and can also result in sensitized or dry skin. Several factors can all affect the overall health of skin flora including diet and topical products, two factors that are easily in your control! 

If you’re dealing with chronic breakouts and using antibacterial treatments but not getting the results you’re hoping for, consider that those antibacterial creams or washes may be killing the bad and the good bacteria, resulting in a decimated skin barrier. While we can’t emphasize enough the complex science that is microbiome research, we do have a few steps to implement daily to help care for your skin’s microbiome:

  1. Don’t always opt for an antibacterial cream or wash if you’re experiencing acne. As we explained above, antibacterial treatments often kill off the good bacteria that keeps your microbiome balanced and healthy. You also run the risk of bacteria building up resistance to antibiotic treatments with repeated use. Look for natural antibacterial options like tea tree essential oil, blue chamomile essential oil and thyme essential oil to name a few.
  2. Do not over cleanse. Research shows that our natural flora thrives in a more acidic environment (the skin’s natural pH is on average just below 5). We recommend washing your skin with soap once daily at most with a pH balanced cleanser. By not overcleansing, you also ensure that you’re not overly disrupting the natural flora (including all of the healthy, beneficial bacteria).
  3. Introduce probiotics into your diet. As we’ve touched on before, there is an incredible link between your gut and skin flora. When skin is out of balance and experiencing any number of inflammatory conditions, oftentimes, your gut flora is the culprit. Opt for an everyday probiotic. You can also get creative with your diet and introduce natural sources of probiotics from fermented foods like kimchi, yogurt or kombucha.
  4. Don’t over exfoliate. We’re often told that we must scrub away those dead skin cells in order to reveal fresh, bright skin. What if we told you those dead skin cells hold an important purpose? They are what makes up that important outermost layer of the epidermis called the stratum corneum. They are essential for helping to retain moisture and protect newer cells below. Opt for a gentle exfoliator that you can use 1-3 times per week (depending on your skin’s needs).

All skin types are different, but learning how your skin microbiome works is essential to achieving that glowing complexion. 


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Feed Your Skin From The Inside Out

Feed Your Skin From The Inside Out


woman looking at clean face in mirror

You are what you eat. Remember that expression? While the mantra “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” is true when it comes to fueling your body with the earth’s best, it’s also totally okay to have a delicious chocolate chip cookie. We’re all human. Every once in a while we go for the dessert, or the snack food, and that doesn’t make us bad. But, when your diet revolves around nutrient-dense greens and veggies; whole foods that feed and power each and every one of your cells, you tend to feel better overall. Your sleep can improve, your mood is brighter and you get that renewed sense of energy to tackle projects. Even better? Your skin glows too.  

We’ve all had those bouts of breakouts, itchy, dry patches, dullness, bumps or overall sensitized skin. In the end, it’s more than what you apply to your skin; it’s also about what you feed your skin.

A holistic approach to skin wellness

Feed your skin from the inside out. This concept embodies a holistic approach to skincare; it’s a whole body approach, one that takes into account how we nourish our body with food, our daily practices and habits, as well as what we apply topically to our skin (and eventually what gets absorbed into the body through our skin). 

Let’s start on the inside

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Rather than viewing drinking water as something you have to do, start viewing it as something you get to do. Each morning when you roll your sleepy self out of bed, pour a tall glass of water and slowly sip away. This routine ensures that you are starting the day off with room temp fluids, and helps set the intention to continue drinking throughout the day. It’s a simple routine that you can look forward to from the minute your eyes open in the morning. 

When water alone feels repetitive, you can opt for another easy and nutrient-rich option. At least once daily, add a dash of minerals and vitamins to your water. This Greens Blend is a sugar-free drink mix that’s a smart blend of key minerals and vitamins that will all quite literally feed your skin from the inside out. Rich in vitamins A, C and E, all powerful antioxidants that protect skin from damage, plus a host of skin-loving B vitamins and key minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and manganese.


woman drinking water

The gut health + skin connection

Studies have shown the direct link between our gut health and our skin health. When the intestinal microbiome is off balance and we lack the right amount of good bacteria, so goes our skin health, too. Many common inflammatory skin conditions like acne, eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis can be triggered when our gut microbiome is disrupted. 

The flora of the gut microbiome is made up of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa, providing us with vital metabolic and immune benefits (like creating important enzymes & nutrients and fighting off hazardous pathogens). While there is so much more to dive into when it comes to the gut/skin connection and how it contributes to inflammation in the body, a good place to start on your healthy skin journey is by taking a daily probiotic. You can also look for fermented foods rich in probiotics like kimchi, some yogurt and kombucha. 

Curb inflammation

Leaning on additional support from a supplement rich in Omega-3’s can help. An Omega-3 supplement like fish oil has been shown to help reduce inflammation and reduce the effects of skin conditions that result in dryness, flaking and itchiness. While the benefits of omega-3 are vast, supplementing your skin with this nutrient can be particularly useful during times of uncomfortable flare ups. 

Supportive skin care

Each of the suggestions above should be seen as supportive skin care. While skin is inherently intelligent, by providing it with the right nutrients, we’re simply supporting skin to carry out its everyday functions optimally. By opting for plant-based, nutrient-dense skin care, water and smart supplements, we can truly help our skin glow and perform its best from the inside out.  


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lotion on hands

So you’ve done your research; you found your natural, clean skin care go-to’s and you’re on a journey to your best, healthiest skin yet. You’ve built a simple skin care routine based on nutrient-rich, hydrating, skin-barrier-protecting ingredients. Good work! No doubt you’ve spent countless minutes researching products online or asking friends for recommendations while wading through a seemingly endless ocean of skincare products and their claims. We’re so glad you made it here! 

You and your skin are worth the time and investment, so we chatted with Ashley Guttuso, a licensed holistic esthetician, to help you get the most out of your products and daily routine. We have answers for some of our most-asked questions; from “how much facial oil do I use?” to “what order do I apply my products in?” and more. Skincare 101 is now in session!

Q: How do I use bar soap as a facial cleanser? Should I use it twice per day?

Ashley: Cleansing your face with a solid bar of soap can definitely seem like an adjustment if you’re used to more traditional liquid cleansers, and understandably so! Bar soaps have been given a bad reputation. When you hear “bar soap” I bet your mind goes to a cheaply made, mass-produced, overly-drying bar that you’d typically buy at the drug or grocery store. The difference with a natural, hand-made bar cleanser like the Charcoal + Sea Salt Soap is that it’s superfatted meaning that during the soap making process, the soap retains more oils and is ultimately more moisturizing to your skin, unlike traditional bar soaps. 

I love to recommend using a bar cleanser once daily in the evening. When you’re ready to wash, wet your hands and rub the bar until you reach a creamy, sudsy lather. Add water as needed, but don’t hold your bar directly under water (following this method will help your bar last longer!). Check out my video below for another soap-saving tip!

Q: How should I store my bar soap after cleansing?

Ashley: Look for a dish or tray with drainage or deep grooves to help clear water away from the bar. Leaving your bar in water will make it soft and dissolve more quickly. 


woman applying serum drops

Q: I love a sudsy lather when I’m cleansing my face, but I go through my liquid cleanser too quickly. How much should I really be using?

Ashley: To start, a good general rule is to cleanse once per day. I tend to see that people over-cleanse, and ultimately dry out their skin (often leading to excess oil production and congestion or breakouts) or cause skin irritation that can show up as tiny bumps, redness or dry patches. Try cleansing only during your evening routine and rely on warm water, toner, and moisturizer in the morning. While I can’t speak for all cleanser formulations, a dime-sized amount of Life’s Abundance Facial Cleanser will adequately cleanse skin. Watch the video for a good visual!

Q: My face feels oily after I apply my facial serum. Am I using too much?

Ashley: Oil and water; a magical skin duo! Let me explain. If you’re applying a facial oil to dry skin and left with a heavy feeling, or like the oil is sitting on top of your skin, introduce a water-based toner (or simply water) into the mix. Post cleanse, either leave skin damp with water, or mist skin with your favorite toner (nix any alcohol-based toners) and apply 2-4 drops of oil. The water will help your skin to absorb the product. Start with fewer drops of oil and add more as desired until you find your perfect balance. I’m a 3-drop of facial oil kind of gal!

Q: How much moisturizer should I use? My skin is currently oily.

Ashley: This is a great question for a few different reasons; one being that it’s definitely important to take your skin state (aka what your skin is experiencing at a certain point in time) into consideration and the second being that oily skin needs moisturizer, too! Start small - apply a chickpea-sized amount to your fingertips and apply to damp skin. Cover your face and neck. You’ll be able to feel if your skin needs more; add a small amount of moisturizer at a time until you’re feeling adequately moisturized.

For folks experiencing dryness, my favorite moisturizer tip is cocktailing your own! Apply a dime-sized amount of facial moisturizer to your fingers and add 1-2 drops of facial serum. Blend together and let your face and neck drink it up! As you would before applying your facial serum, be sure your skin is slightly damp with water or water-based toner before applying to deeper product absorption. 

Watch the video below for bonus tips!


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Everything You Need To Know About Skinimalism

girl looking in mirror at clean face

There will always be trends that come and go in the world of health and wellness. Most just aren’t worth the hype, but to us, the past year has presented one new trend that we can fully embrace. Meet “skinimalism,” the Marie Kondo philosophy of getting rid of excess from your life, but applied to your skin care routine. There’s something to be said for simplicity; it allows only for what truly serves us, for what brings us joy, and for what actually works. Is your five-plus step skin care routine made up of a cabinet full of products not bringing you noticeable results or is it hurting your budget? Might we suggest it’s time to “skinimize” your routine.

Back to the Basics

It’s easy to be persuaded into buying the new “must-haves’’ or all star ingredient skin care products. We’re constantly bombarded with Instagram or Facebook ads, influencers, and buzzy marketing terms that promise to address all of our skin “imperfections.” Many skin care professionals and dermatologists will tell you that simplicity is key when it comes to caring for your body’s largest organ. Painful, itchy, or red skin irritations that show up on our skin are many times self-imposed. The culprit? Too many products and ingredients.

Don’t feel any shame or beat yourself up - we’re all human and can easily be lured in by promises of perfect, poreless skin. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your current skincare routine and not seeing the results you’re hoping for, we’re here to help you skim down and get back to a simple, effective skin care routine.

Build a basic, effective routine

The goal of this skincare routine is to maintain balance, hydration and overall clarity of your skin. Plus, you might even enjoy the exercise of tossing out what no longer serves you and your skin!
We’ve pulled together some simple steps to help you get started on your “shelfie” clean up.

  1. With clean hands, touch your skin. Is it dry, tight, oily, or rough? Look in the mirror. Do you notice redness, blackheads, or shininess? Take notes of how your skin feels, what you see and then take time to write down what your goals are. We’ll come back to this!
  2. Assess your current products. Is anything expired? Toss it! Follow packaging instructions for best practices on how to discard the expired product and recycle its packaging.
  3. Group together all remaining products by step. Cleansers, toners, facial oils, serums, moisturizers, masks, etc. Revisit your skin assessment from step one and begin to go through each group of products to remove the excess.
    • For example, if you noted that your skin feels and looks oily and you noticed blackheads when looking in the mirror, assess your products and look for those that will help you reach your goal of maintaining decongested pores, balanced oil production, and breakout free skin. Remove any products that are targeted for dry or aging skin, or anything that is too harsh (think alcohol-based products or harsh exfoliants). It’s also important to remove anything you’ve used in the past that has either caused noticeable irritation or hasn’t produced any results - they are simply not suited for you.
  4. Can you narrow each category down to one product? As a general guideline when it comes to a skinimalist routine, keep each category of skin care at one product; one cleanser, one toner, one facial oil or serum, and one moisturizer. When it comes to treatment masks, if you have two that you love, keep them both and alternate their use. You don’t need to be too strict on yourself to start out, but might we suggest one product that’s a multi-tasker and delivers multiple results!

girl cleansing face with cotton pad

Start Your Skinimal Routine!

  1. Cleanse. Skip the suds in the morning and do a simple rinse with warm (not hot) water. Save your cleanser for the PM. Take a step to be extra minimal and opt for a low-waste bar cleanser.
  2. Tone. After cleansing in the AM and PM, gently pat skin dry. Either mist skin generously or wet an organic cotton pad with your favorite toner and pat across your skin.
  3. Nourish. This step might’ve been the hardest for you to narrow down on, but once you find your favorite facial oil or serum, apply twice daily and take notice of how your skin feels and looks. In a truly minimal routine, adopt the practice of looking for one multidimensional product that delivers antioxidant protection, hydration, skin clarifying properties and deep cellular nutrition.
  4. Moisturize. If you’ve opted for a hydrating facial oil above in step four, you may find that this is one step you can remove. If you need that extra layer of moisture, apply a cream twice daily that aims to deliver smoother, balanced and nurtured skin.
  5. Protect. Apply sun protection!
  6. Optional - Treat. Masking is too fun to not indulge in occasionally, and can help you reach your skin goals more easily. If you’ve narrowed down your masks to just one, follow product instructions for suggested use. Looking for one mask that does it all? Opt for our nutritive, hydrating, and gently exfoliating Hibiscus Mask & Scrub and use 2-3 times weekly.

Pro tip: If you’re rotating between two masks, be sure to try each mask solo for at least two weeks and take close notice of results and how your skin reacts. This will help you gauge which works best, or how they work differently. You’ll also be able to assess if either causes any irritation.


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Why You Need Facial Oil In Your Skin Care Routine

serum dropper on hand

If you’re new to the idea of putting oil on your skin, the title of this blog post might just cause you to raise a brow and think, “no way!” But hear me out. For decades, the beauty and skincare industries have preached the concept of “oil free” and even me, a licensed holistic esthetician, has fallen into the trap of this misinformed marketing verbiage in the past. We’re led to believe that our acne or breakouts are best treated with harsh cleansers, drying astringents, and an oil-free moisturizer. Or, that facial oils are solely for folks with dry skin. We’ve been taught that oil is bad, even our naturally occurring oil. To demonize our naturally occurring sebum is to not fully understand the structure and function of the body’s largest organ. Once you have the fuller picture, using oil on your skin to help acne or dry skin, will feel less daunting.

With all of that in mind, it makes sense that many people are left with the wrong impression about facial oils and need help understanding just how transformative they can be for skin. Dive into some common questions and concerns below about using facial oils for all skin types! Let’s start with the fundamentals.

What role does sebum play in skin health and function?

According to a study - one of sebum’s (aka oil) main functions is to lubricate the skin, protecting against friction. Not only that, but our natural sebum helps skin prevent moisture loss while having the ability to transport antioxidants. It also has antibacterial properties and has pro and anti-inflammatory functions. Love your oil a little more?

Why shouldn’t I dry out my breakouts or rely on oil-free products?

Think about all of those beautiful functions above that natural oil provides for our skin. Why strip your body’s largest organ of this essential substance? Contrary to what you may have thought, supplementing your skin with the right types of oils won’t exactly make you break out. When you deny your skin of its natural oils, it works twice as hard to produce more - which can ultimately lead to a breakout or congested skin.

You can also think of acne as a cut. When you have a cut, would you dry it out with harsh ingredients to help it heal? Quite the opposite! You’d deliver antibacterial and soothing ingredients to aid in the healing process. Think of your acne or breakouts like those cuts - they need nourishment and hydration to heal. Healthy skin is hydrated and moisturized, and when skin is healthy, it can heal more efficiently.

woman looking at clear face in mirror

I often experience acne, have oily skin and/or currently have a breakout. Won’t adding more oil cause me to break out more or make my skin worse?

Not always! If you have acne/oily-prone skin, your skin could be experiencing an inadequate amount of sebum if you’ve been over-cleansing or using harsh products that strip your skin of its oil. Your sebaceous glands may be in overdrive to produce what’s been stripped away - producing more than what’s actually needed. Hello breakouts.

Skin can actually benefit from gamma linolenic acid-rich oils like borage seed oil (find it in this facial oil). A few other oil-balancing ingredients worth noting to look for are green tea and squalane oil.

For skin currently experiencing a breakout, a combination of the above oil-balancing ingredients, anti-inflammatory superstars like Clary Sage and Immortelle essential oils, as well as antibacterial essential oils like chamomile and thyme can collectively support the skin’s natural function to heal breakouts.

I have dry skin. Will a facial oil be enough?

Start by applying 3-4 drops of facial oil to your skin twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening. Take note of how your skin feels after; do you still feel dry? Is your skin tight? Do you still experience dry or flaking skin? If so, incorporate a facial moisturizer into your routine and try this: apply a pea-sized amount of moisturizer or cream to your fingertips, add 2-3 drops of serum, and mix. Apply thoroughly to your face and neck.

Pro tip: Commonly experience dry skin? Skip your morning cleanser and opt for just water and your moisturizer and serum. Save your cleanser for nighttime!


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Using Charcoal and Sea Salt Soap on Acne Prone Skin

man washing face in sink

Acne. There’s certainly no “one size fits all” solution that can indefinitely clear up one of the most frustrating and commonplace skin conditions. There are many factors to take into account when addressing the root cause of your acne and skin congestion including but not limited to diet, hormones, lifestyle behaviors like sleep, stress levels, exercise habits, and finally, topical skincare products. We’re firmly rooted in the belief that optimal health is a delicate balance of a few core tenets including nutrition, physical wellness, and mental well-being. So, it’s important that when dealing with your acne, that you assess your overall well being, both physical and mental, and aim to help address your acne through a holistic lens for long-lasting, healthy skin. 

You might be wondering, but where can I start today? While not always the complete solution, beginning your journey to clearer, blemish-free skin can start with what you put on it. While our skin is inherently intelligent and designed to self-cleanse, moisturize and protect us, we can support these natural processes with clean, nutritive ingredients to encourage clearer, happier and optimally functioning skin. 

What is acne?

First, it’s helpful to know what’s happening below the surface of your skin. After all, it is your body’s largest organ! Acne vulgaris is a chronic inflammatory disease of the pilosebaceous unit, collectively made up of the hair follicle, hair shaft and sebaceous gland, your oil-producing gland. Most often, acne is experienced on the face, chest, shoulders or back. Excess sebum production, aka oil, bacteria, and inflammation are a few of the usual suspects when it comes to the formation of acne - which ranges in both appearance and form. It can include comedones, commonly referred to as black or white heads, papules which resemble small, raised bumps, pustules that contain pus and have a white head, and cysts which can range in severity. 

How can I help address my acne topically?

Like we mentioned earlier, skin is smart. We each have a unique skin barrier and microbiome designed to keep pathogens and harmful bacteria out, and the good stuff in. Through years of marketing, we’ve been made to believe that oil is bad when in fact our skin so expertly produces this wax-like substance to coat and protect us. The truth is, healthy skin is in the balance, and our microbiomes and skin barrier are too often under attack by harsh ingredients and products that strip our protective sebum and sweat as well as the healthy bacteria which lives on the skin’s surface. 

Think of your skincare products as supportive rather than replacements for what your skin is naturally designed to do. Let’s dive into one of the key products in our natural skincare line to address acne, supportively. 

woman looking at face in mirror

Charcoal & Sea Salt Soap 

Focusing in on the concept of supportive skincare, our handmade soap deeply and gently cleanses your skin without stripping it of its natural sebum and healthy bacteria to better allow your skin to carry on its natural processes and begin to heal. Topically, acneic skin needs to be treated gently with bacteria-fighting ingredients but it also requires hydration, rather than harsh, drying treatments. 

Supportive

Activated charcoal is extremely absorbent and when applied topically to skin, acts like a magnet for dirt, oil and other build up. By helping to remove this excess build up that accumulates, our pores can better carry out their natural functions like sweating and natural detoxification. 

Hydrating

Our soap is made from a base of organic saponified plant oils (a process that involves the conversion of fat or oils into soap) that are super-fatted (meaning they contain extra fats or oils) to ensure they retain their moisturizing properties. The result? Skin is provided with the moisture it needs to help stay balanced. 

Nutritive

Dead Sea salt is rich in minerals like magnesium, calcium and bromide which help level out some of the root causes of acne like high cortisol production and hormonal imbalances. When absorbed into the skin, these essential minerals can also help stimulate detoxification, reduce inflammation, and improve the skin’s ability to retain moisture.

Bacteria-busting

A star ingredient in this formulation is tea tree oil. This native Australian essential oil been has been shown to possess antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, meaning it can help fight off the bacteria that can lead to breakouts.

How to use it:

It’s important to keep in mind that over-cleansing or drying out the skin can actually further aggravate existing acne conditions. 

On the drier side? We recommend using this soap 4-5 days per week, once daily at night. Be sure to follow up your cleanse with a hydrating, bacteria-fighting facial serum or a moisturizer

Oily to Normal skin? You can use this soap 1-2 times daily. Don’t forget to follow up with a hydrating, bacteria-fighting facial serum or a moisturizer after thoroughly cleansing.


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Skincare Gifting For The Mom In Your Life

woman cleaning her face

Whether you’re looking to treat your own mom or a special motherly figure in your life this Mother’s Day, moms simply deserve the best. Selfless, supportive and loving moms are surely the most deserving of moments of self care - time dedicated purely to themselves to recalibrate, relax, and celebrate their unique beauty. Deciding how best to show your appreciation can be difficult; how can you say thank you to someone who does so much? Like many of us here at Life’s Abundance, we’re regularly sharing our favorite botanical-powered skincare with important women in our lives. We love that our natural skin care products are gentle and clean, but most of all, we love that they help support the natural beauty of the women we share them with. We thought we’d share a few tips on how you can help create moments of beauty for the mom in your life this Mother’s Day.

We’ve pulled together a simple guide for you to make the best skin care picks that will help the mom in your life keep her natural glow radiant. Because our natural skin care products are formulated with clean, natural & plant-powered ingredients, they are extremely gentle and suitable for most skin types, making picking the best one for the mom in your life a bit easier.

For the busy mom

Keep “me time” simple with an easy-to-follow 2-step skin care ritual packed with nutritive plant botanicals and natural actives. As a first step, our Charcoal & Sea Salt bar cleanser will gently cleanse skin to remove impurities and her makeup from the day. Our facial bar soap is formulated with the tea tree and neem oils that fight bad bacteria and Dead Sea salt which delivers earthly nutrients directly to her skin. She can finish off this quick routine with our organic ingredient-filled Facial Moisturizer to boost hydration and keep her skin happy day and night. Fresh, bright skin in a breeze.

For the multi-tasker

Just like many moms who are so naturally gifted with the ability to multitask, give her a gift that works just as hard as she does. Our 2-in-1 Hibiscus Mask & Scrub promises to do just as it says, offering a masking experience that will truly make her feel pampered, and a gentle scrub to keep her skin fresh, smooth and bright. As a mask, it’s the perfect excuse to carve out “me time” for a spa-like treatment, or it can be applied and work it’s magic while she answers emails or handles a multitude of life’s daily tasks. This honey-based mask works as a humectant to retain moisture, leaving her skin smooth and supple after it’s rinsed off.

mom and daughter using skincare

For the mom who misses her regular facials

Unfortunately, living through the past year with Covid-19 has meant much of our normal routines have shifted; including regular haircuts, facials and other appointments that help us to feel our best. Make her feel pampered with the soothing experience of an at-home facial with this four step, spa-inspired skin care ritual that will leave her skin nourished, hydrated and glowing.

  1. Give her the full experience starting with a gentle, calming cleanse using the foamy suds of the Charcoal & Sea Salt Soap.
  2. Just like she’d receive in her professional facials, she’ll love the exfoliating, brightening treatment that is our Hibiscus Scrub & Mask. 98% organic and packed with natural ingredients, this mask can be left on for 15-20 minutes before rinsing.
  3. While her Hibiscus Mask works it’s magic, our Body Lotion can be applied to hands, feet or anywhere that needs a boost in hydration and softness.
  4. Post exfoliating and moisturizing hibiscus mask, she can perform a luxurious facial massage using our Facial Serum as her medium. The end result? Glowing, fresh skin!
  5. The last step to this “almost as good as the spa” facial is crucial to seal in all of those beautiful plant-based ingredients she’s delivered to her skin. Our Facial Moisturizer is a light-weight, easy to massage into skin cream that’s effective at hydrating, plumping & softening skin.

The beauty of our skincare products is that they’re formulated to be gentle and effective for all skin types. Not sure which above routine to choose? Pick and choose your favorite products to create a custom ritual just for her - there’s no wrong way to do it! Whether near or far from the mom in your life this Mother’s Day, the gift of these simple-yet-beautiful skincare rituals will help her feel loved and celebrated everyday.


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This Ingredient Has Sweet Benefits For Your Skin

close up womans face

Sugar. We love it, we crave it & we do our best to avoid it. The human brain can be biologically impaired when it comes to excess sugar intake; our cognitive abilities degrade and our self-control is pushed to the limit. We all know the (many) reasons to avoid over-consuming it - like chronic inflammation, poor dental health, weight gain that can lead to liver or heart disease, & glycation (a natural aging process that’s exacerbated by sugar) - but what if we told you there’s a seriously beneficial way to incorporate sugar into your life? It turns out, sugar may not always be so bad.

Topical Skin Care

You read that right. Your everyday skin care routine is a perfect place to introduce this controversial ingredient. Now hear us out. Not all sugar is created equal - discover how sugar can gently support skin health. How? Let’s explore this sweet ingredient in its many forms below.

Sugar Cane Extract

Saccharum officinarum, or as we’re discussing it here, sugarcane, is a hearty species of grass that originates from Southeast Asia. Beloved by cosmetic chemists and skin care formulators, this plant extract contains humectant (moisturizing) and exfoliating properties.

Sugar cane extract contains glycolic acid, falling under the category of an alpha-hydroxy acid, or AHA. AHAs are water-soluble acids, with their most common sources being fruit, and you guessed it, sugar cane! They work by gently peeling away dead skin cells on the surface to unveil more even-toned skin. AHAs, like the glycolic acid found in sugar cane extract, are an excellent option to help aid skin that has hyperpigmentation or a rough texture.

man looking in mirror

Sugar Maple Extract

Just reading this ingredient name, we’re dreaming of warm morning waffles topped with freshly tapped Vermont maple syrup. But let’s switch gears. This sugar extract is in fact from the very same source as your morning breakfast syrup, but formulated into skin care, this extract can help reduce signs of aging and more. This particular sugar extract is also a member of the AHA family, containing malic & tartaric acids. Let’s break them down:

  • Malic Acid: Most commonly found in apples, malic acid is an AHA beloved for its ability to help reduce the appearance of fine lines, even-out discoloration known as hyperpigmentation & reduce congestion in the skin. But what sets it apart from other AHAs, you ask? It’s molecule size. Larger than other AHAs (like glycolic acid), it is unable to penetrate the skin as deeply, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While this does mean it may not be as effective as other AHAs in its family, it is however a more suitable option for sensitive skin types that have experienced irritation from other AHAs.
  • Tartaric Acid: The largest in molecular size than other AHAs mentioned in this post, tartaric acid is an AHA that’s often added to formulations to help enhance the performance of other AHAs when it comes to sloughing away dead skin cells.

Find these delicate exfoliators in our Facial Cleanser. Gentle enough for daily use, the sugar cane extract & Sugar Maple Extract support skin function by gently exfoliating dead skin cells as you wash, revealing fresh, more even-toned skin.

Sucrose (Sugar) Extract

Consumed through sweet baked goods or sugary beverages (added sugar can be sneakily hidden in many coffee drinks & even gut-healthy drinks like Kombucha), sugar can be detrimental to skin health and appearance. The natural process of glycation (a process in which our skin ages) is excelled with the introduction of sugar, and sugar has also been known to cause breakouts and inflammation. But fear not, when sugar is topically applied, skin reaps many benefits.

Sucrose is most likely the most common form of sugar you may be familiar with. It is naturally a humectant and an exfoliant (an AHA). Humectants work by attracting and retaining moisture in the air to seal in hydration. Similar to the Sugar Cane Extract discussed above, sucrose is a natural source of glycolic acid that helps slough away dead cells at the skin’s topmost later to help uncover smoother, brighter skin. Sucrose takes form in the shape of small, crystalline particles which allow it to perform as a gentle abrasive to remove the top layer of dead skin cells and buildup that can lead to congestion, breakouts, or a dull complexion.

Put sugar to work with our Hibiscus Mask & Scrub. Use it as a gentle facial scrub 2-3 times weekly, or opt for a face mask 1-2 per week. Let sit for 15 minutes & rinse.


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Taking Care Of Your Skin In The Winter

woman with lotion

Winter weather looks and feels quite different across the U.S. For some, winter means below the freezing point with plenty of snow, but for another lucky bunch, sunny skies and warmer temps are the norm. In the same way that switching out your summer wardrobe for fall sweaters is a yearly ritual, your skin can majorly benefit from a similar update when it comes to the skincare products you use each season. Whether you’re in the harsh temps of NYC, or basking in the LA sunshine this winter, your unique skin deserves the best protection it can get!

What does winter skin look like?

Generally speaking, as winter temps drop, so do humidity levels, meaning air becomes drier and naturally, so does our skin. How does this manifest in my skin you might be wondering? Oftentimes, these changes look like flakiness or dullness and skin can feel itchy or chapped. Plus, existing skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis can be exacerbated. In harsh winter regions, like the Midwest or the Northeast, some people may also experience redness caused by the effects of extreme winter conditions.

All of that dry air means that skin is more prone to losing water in a process called Transepidermal Water Loss, or TEWL, so skin may need extra assistance in sealing in water. Our skin relies on a healthy, functioning skin barrier to retain water with ample lipids, so when this natural barrier is out of whack, so goes hydrated skin with it.

What is the skin barrier & what does hydration have to do with it?

The skin barrier is our last natural defense between us and the outside world. It’s a fancy way of saying the outermost layer of our skin, and its function and purpose is vital to maintaining healthy hydration and overall skin health. The skin barrier keeps vital water in and potential pathogens and free radicals out. In order to lock in hydration, the stratum corneum, the skin’s outermost layer, relies on a healthy layer of protective lipids (oil) to coat each skin cell, effectively keeping water in and intruders (like drying winter air for example) out. The bottom line is that hydrated skin and a healthy skin barrier go hand in hand.

illustration of skin

How to pick the right winter moisturizer for you

Knowing your skin type is a helpful place to start when considering what your independent needs may be. Dry, oily, or balanced? Read on.

Normal or balanced skin

This skin type falls in the middle of the skin spectrum; it doesn’t produce excess oil, but it’s not overly dry either. While balanced, this skin type is still vulnerable to winter extremities and can benefit from a protective barrier plus other nutritive ingredients to restore skin. Those with normal skin types can benefit from Life’s Abundance Facial Serum, formulated with essential fatty acid-rich oils and antioxidants to protect skin from harsh, external environmental factors like dry air or cold wind. If skin needs an added boost of moisture throughout the winter months, add a few drops to your facial moisturizer before bed to help prevent TEWL.

Oily skin

This skin type naturally produces excess sebum as compared to normal skin types, so water can be key when looking for a moisturizer. Opt for the Life's Abundance Facial Moisturizer. Containing 7 of the 8 essential amino acids that help skin retain water, dry winter air will meet its match. This lightweight formula easily absorbs into skin and won’t leave behind oily residue.

Dry skin

Dry skin types produce less sebum than normal skin types, meaning they lack lipids. Add dry winter air to the mix, and dry skin types will also lack water, leading to a state of dehydration.  The best way to combat this is to consider a double-dose of moisture using both water and oil. Start with the Facial Moisturizer and add in 2-3 drops of the essential fatty acid-rich Facial Serum. Blend in the palm of your hands to create a creamy emulsion and massage into skin for an ultra-hydrating, protective barrier.

lotion on hand

Plant actives at work

Dive into how each moisturizer works to hydrate and nourish your skin back to health.

  • The Facial Serum is packed with essential fatty acid-rich ingredients to protect, moisturize and restore.
    • Pomegranate oil: High in punic acid (omega-5) to help prevent moisture loss.
    • Chia oil: Contains the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), that’s been shown to help restore the skin's moisture barrier, especially in dry skin types!
    • Prickly pear seed oil: Exceptionally high in the essential fatty acid linoleic acid (omega-6) which plays a key role in maintaining a healthy skin barrier function.
  • The Facial Moisturizer offers skin a hydrating, protective base.
    • Aloe leaf juice: Contains 98% water and helps skin to become more hydrated and improves elasticity.
    • Hemp seed oil: One of the many amino acid-rich ingredients in this moisturizer that helps bind water to the skin.

Beyond skincare

In addition to your winter skincare arsenal to tackle dry, winter skin, here are a few lifestyle tips to help keep skin hydrated and happy this winter:

  • Use a humidifier.
  • Exfoliate regularly.
  • Consume your water (don’t just drink it!) - think soups & bone broths.
  • Avoid hot showers & baths as this can be damaging to the skin barrier.
  • Drink extra H2O! Tip: If you want an extra nutritional boost, add Life’s Abundance Minerals and Antioxidants drink mix.

 



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A Realistic Proposal to Fight Climate Change

planting-trees-for-the-future

As far as problems go, they don't come much larger than the threats posed by global climate change. And yet, instead of engaging in a meaningful debate about the best solution to the problem, we seem to be stuck in a cycle where many remain resistant to the mere idea of tackling the issues we face. Why is it that? Sociologists have an answer to this conundrum that makes perfect sense. Because the problem is so monumental, and the potential devastation too frightening, it almost seems inevitable, as something impossible to fix. But, what if the solution is much simpler than we're expecting? Not only simple but completely doable? And, icing on the cake, what if the fix was something that pretty much everyone views as positive?

In mid-February, a Swiss researcher named Thomas Crowther presented his research findings at the Science Transcending Boundaries Conference, this year's Annual Meeting of the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science). Until very recently, the prevailing wisdom was that a widescale adoption of wind turbines and a mass conversion of diets from meat-eating to vegetarian would have the greatest impacts on the planet's environment. But after Dr. Crowther presented the results of his amazing research project, we now know that a worldwide tree-planting "spree" would have the greatest impact on our planet's environment. That's right, simply by increasing the number of trees worldwide from three trillion to four trillion, we could cancel out more than a decade of greenhouse emissions right away! According to Crowther, trees should now be viewed as “our most powerful weapon in the fight against climate change."

Could restoring the health of our planet be as simple as planting one trillion trees? The longer answer is that a combination of ending destructive farming practices and replenishing our planet's biodiversity through forestation really could be the turning point in our ecological crisis. In a very real sense, planting seedling trees is the first step in a proactive solution to most of our climate problems. On the micro-level, we can help lift people out of poverty, while on the macro-level, we could make great strides towards reversing the proliferation of carbon in the atmosphere.

As part of our Evergreen commitment (Life’s Abundance has been certified as an Evergreen company by the Tugboat Institute), we make decisions based not just on profit, but on long-term sustainability and on being a good steward of the environment. When we launched our line of premium skin-care products, we wanted to do something above and beyond our typical commitment to creating a better world. A reflection of our natural philosophy, we entered into a partnership with Trees for the Future. Every time a customer purchases one of our skin-care products, we make a corresponding commitment to further fund this green initiative by planting a tree.

Trees-for-the-Future

Trees for the Future (TREES) is an international development non-profit that meets a triple bottom line through their tree-planting mission: poverty alleviation, hunger eradication and healing the environment. In addition to planting trees, they train farmers to manage "forest gardens" in order to sustainably feed their families and raise their incomes by as much as four times! And because they utilize sophisticated algorithms and tracking software, our trees are planted are used in areas where they can have the greatest impact. At present, they have trained at-risk peoples in six countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Cameroon, Guinea, Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda. Since they were founded in 1989, TREES has planted over 150 million trees!

According to John Leary, executive director of TREES, "Our planet loses 50 soccer fields worth of trees every minute, and much of this deforestation is occurring in the developing tropics where hundreds of millions of families depend on trees for their survival. Once the trees are cleared, most subsistence farmers in the developing world use destructive farming techniques – including both slash-and-burn and modern agriculture – that inhibit the growth of anything but one or a few temporary crops." Leary's belief is that restoring agricultural lands with a diverse combination of trees and crops is the answer to a whole host of pressing global problems, including: desertification; diminishing access to potable water; hunger and poverty; forced migrations; and, of course, climate change itself.

As a corporate sponsor, you can visit our very own TREES web page to view our current count of tree seedlings planted to date. So far, we've planted an amazing 46,000 trees! To put our participation in perspective, if every registered business in the US were to plant the same number of trees, the trillion number goal would be met with an extra 288 billion on top of it!

The thing that stands out for most people is the idea of planting trees is appealing. Pretty much everyone who has ever planted a tree thinks of it as a positive experience. Anyone can do it. They improve urban environments. They absorb carbon dioxide and generate oxygen. As far as ecosystems go, planting more trees is always a good thing.

Best of all, it would appear people are enthusiastic about Crowther's bold proposal. The UN has already changed the name of their tree-planting initiative to the Trillion Tree Campaign!

So, if you've ever felt like you can't make a difference, now you know you can! We encourage all our readers to visit trees.org and trilliontreecampaign.org and find out more about these initiatives. And, if you're looking for something a little more local, make planting tree seedlings into a regular fun family outing.


For more on the science and the solution, check out these informative links!

https://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2019/meetingapp.cgi/Paper/23744

https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/forests-climate-change-co2-greenhouse-gases-trillion-trees-global-warming-a8782071.html

https://eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-02/ez-pcc021119.php

https://www.wearesalt.org/stopping-the-sixth-extinction-habitat-creation/

https://futurism.com/planting-trillions-trees-cancel-co2-emissions/

http://trees.org/app/uploads/2018/03/One-Shot-Meltwater-Email-PR.pdf