Skin Care

What’s lymph got to do with it?

Do you know what absolutely blows my mind? In the traditional, clinical approach to skin care, there is absolutely no discussion about the lymphatic system. I mean – none!!  In the normal course of a day, there is almost no discussion about the lymphatic system, unless there is some problem with it like lymphedema, or node removal, or (the worst of all) lymphoma. Even in discussions of serious problems like these, most people have absolutely not comprehension of the vital role this complicated system plays in our daily lives. That’s pretty incredible (read: scary) when you consider that there is 5 times more lymph in our bodies than blood!

“What’s lymph got to do with it?”

Do you suffer from any of these symptoms:

  • chronic neck pain
  • puffy eyes
  • jowls
  • dark undereye circles
  • allergy/sinus issues
  • acne
  • rosacea
  • hyper pigmentation/melasma
  • headaches

If so, read on for the super simplified explanation of how your lymph could be the underlying cause.

Our lymphatic system is our body’s way of cleaning itself.  Think of your body as a self contained ocean.  It shouldn’t seem that far out of the realm of possibility considering we already know our body is 70% water.  Now think about all the life and processes contained in this ocean: billions of cells, metabolic processes, hormone production and distribution, immune response….  There’s a lot going on in there, and each of those bazillion things creates waste, which is identified, filtered, eliminated or sequestered by the lymphatic system.

So, the health of this system is clearly pretty important to the health of our body.  No one wants to be a walking, talking, polluted ocean, but thats what the majority of us are.  What makes the lymphatic system even more complicated is that it doesn’t have the luxury of it’s own pump, like the circulatory system does.  It has to rely on you quite a bit to keep your body moving and to be aware of how your lifestyle and surroundings can put even more strain on an already task-saturated system.

So, how can you help your lymph along, and how does that translate to healthier skin?

  1. Take a look at the products you’re surrounding your body with.  Skin and hair products are particularly important since the majority of our lymph nodes are in the face and neck.  Are they full of artificial fragrances, and colors? How about emulsifiers or preservatives?  Parabens?  Our bodies don’t know how to process these man-made chemicals, and they all damage our microbiome, which is another discussion, but its boils down to this: If your skin can’t function properly (i.e., kill harmful bacteria and keep toxins out) your lymphatic system will have to pick up that slack.  Make the switch to organic, plant based personal care products to significantly lighten the load on your lymphatic system and feed your microbiome.  Your skin will be less irritated, softer, more supple, and less inflamed in no time!
  2. Help your lymph move with gentle exercise practices like walking, deep breathing, stretching, yoga, Tai Chi, or rebounding. While high instensity exercise has its own list of benefits, it isn’t as effective at moving lymph due to increased blood pressure. Ever notice your hands or feet getting puffy during intense workouts? I do! That’s your lymph pooling in your extremities!
  3. Stay well hydrated – when you’re dehydrated, your lymph becomes thicker and harder to move. Proper hydration calls for the consumption of 1/2 ounce of water per pound of body weight with a minimum of 64 oz. So, a 100 lb person = 64 oz. 150lbs = 75 oz. 200lbs = 100 oz.  To maximize the benefit of all that water, make it room temperature or, better yet, hot!   Movement + heat = maximum liquidity. If you were trying to liquefy honey into some tea, you know you would get the best result by adding the honey to hot tea and stirring. Same concept here.
  4. Incorporate dry brushing into your self-care regimen. There are tons of how-to videos online, but the basic concept is to always brush towards the heart. Not only does it stimulate lymph movement but it exfoliates for softer, smoother skin. For the best results, follow with a detox bath!
  5. Take regular detox baths – at least once per week. My favorite recipe is: 2 cups Epsom Salt + 1 cup baking soda + 10 drops Cypress essential oil + a crystal or two (rose quartz and amethyst are my faves). Get that water as hot as you can tolerate and soak for at least 20 minutes. You want to be sweating, and you want to be as submerged as possible. Remember most of your lymph nodes are in the face and neck, so if you can’t get submerged, drape a soaked hand towel around your face and neck. Even better, this is the perfect time to apply a lymph-stimulating mask!
  6. Use a lymph moving mask at least once a week. You can make any gentle mask a lymph-mover by adding Turmeric! A little (1/2 teaspoon) goes a long way, and you’ll want to exercise extreme caution with your good towels, but the results are totally worth it. Extra special bonus: use your detox bath water to hydrate dry masks!! Application is key – be sure to carry the mask down the sides of your neck and onto the chest. Personally, I make a line from behind the ear down to my shoulder, then swoop a crescent across my chest and up to the other shoulder (think old-school dickie, which you may need to Google if you’re 35 or under 😂).
  7. If all of the above sounds like too much work, you could always seek out the services of someone who uses the Vodder Technique for manual lymphatic drainage massage coupled with high quality organic products – LIKE ME! (Come on, I’m not going to write a whole blog without promoting myself!)
Skin Care · Uncategorized

Cleansing for Healthier Skin

Okay, I know that this may seem like an easy one, but it’s not!  So many people have misconceptions about cleansing.  Unfortunately, most of us have been using the wrong products for a long time, which makes it difficult to switch.

Not sure what I mean? Are you one of those people who wants and likes “squeaky clean skin”? If you are, you’re in for a major disappointment.  Squeaky skin is seriously compromised skin!  In fact, that isn’t squeaking  you hear – it’s your skin screaming for help!

Take a look at your cleanser.  What are the main ingredients? Is Sodium Laurel Sulfate or some derivative thereof close to the top? If so, I strongly suggest you give it to someone you don’t really like!   If you’re cleansing twice a day with a product that uses surfactants, it’s no wonder you’re probably running into some challenges.  Your skin is being completely stripped of all of its natural oils, which is how it protects itself.  You have damaged the microbiome – the happy, highly functional community of bacteria that is your body’s first line of defense against all the terrible things it encounters every second of every day.  Dehydration and inflammation are pretty much a guarantee.  Excess oil production, sensitivity, rosacea, and acne will all be exacerbated!

So, here is where the real struggle begins…..you should be using a non-foaming, oil based cleanser!

Say WHAT!?!

Yeah, I can hear you now, “There is no way I can cleanse my acne with oil – I’ll break out!”

WRONG!

Ever heard of the Law of Attraction? We won’t be going too far down that rabbit hole, today, but it’s basically this:

Like attracts like. Birds of a feather flock together. Water and oil don’t mix!

If you’re applying any kind of oil-based product to your skin (which you are!), and your skin is creating oil (which it is!), then it only makes sense that you would use oil to remove it.  Not only will your oil cleanser liquify make-up and bind to the impurities on the surface, but it will help to soften any congestion (black heads) in the follicle.  It will nourish your skin’s microbiome, help to regulate oil production, moisturize and soothe your skin.  Plus, since an oil cleanse is so effective, you only have to do it at night.  Simply rinse in the morning and follow with your toner and moisturizer.

 

While I use Laurel Whole Plant Organics, exclusively, for the added benefit of medicinal whole plants, there are a variety of options out there.  You could even go so far as to make your own – just be on the lookout for high quality organic sourcing.  Jojoba oil is a great place to start, as it is the closest to our skin’s natural oil, but you could use castor, coconut, or grapeseed. A simple online search will reveal a ton of information.

Oil Cleansing How-To:

  1. Make a barber’s wrap by soaking a hand towel with water and ringing it out.  I like to microwave mine for a minute or 2 to get it super steamy.
  2. Rinse your face with warm water, then pat dry.
  3. Dispense a nickel size amount of oil into the palm of your hands, then spread all over the face, neck, and décolletage.
  4. Massage for 1+ minute, focusing on areas of congestion.
  5. Place hot towel over cleansed areas until it cools.
  6. Gently remove oil.
  7. Repeat hot towel if necessary.

It make take a week or so for you and your skin to adjust, but you won’t be disappointed!

XoXo,

Becky

Skin Care

Skin Care 101

Most people find themselves confused about what, exactly, they should be doing at home, so let me break it down for you!

The Minimum

  1. Cleanse
  2. Toner
  3. Moisturizer

Ideal

  1. Cleanse
  2. Exfoliate (3 times per week)
  3. Toner
  4. Serums
  5. Moisturizer

If you’re new to a skin care regimen, it’s totally okay to start with the minimum.  Over time, as you become more accustomed to your new ritual, you can add in more sophisticated products.

I’ll be going into more detail about specific product choices and ingredients in future posts.