The Miracle World of Peptides

The world of skincare seems to get buzzier by the minute. From CBD to crystals, it’s hard to keep up and know what’s worth the hype. We’re here to proclaim, once and for all, that peptides are 100% worth the hype. In fact, we think they’re worth their weight in gold. Here’s why.

Collagen 411

Collagen is naturally occurring in your skin. We love it because it’s essentially like scaffolding for your skin – it holds everything in place and prevents sagging, wrinkles, and dull skin. Skin abundant in collagen is plump, firm, and a sign of youth. 

Unfortunately, collagen breaks down over time due to pollution, DNA damage from exposure to UV light, movement (like facial expressions), excessive sugar intake ( step away from the Halloween candy), and smoking. To make things worse, not only are you losing collagen over time, your body produces less collagen as you age. 

Enter: Peptides

That’s where peptides come in. Peptides are small chemical compounds composed of short-chain amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein and collagen. Simply put, peptides applied topically send a signal to our skin to produce more collagen. Here’s a deeper dive into the benefits of peptides:

  • Collagen, collagen, collagen. Peptides aid in the production of collagen to keep your skin plump, firm, and wrinkle-free. 
  • Strengthened barrier. Strong, healthy skin starts with a strong barrier of fatty acids on the top layer of the skin. Peptides create proteins that strengthen these bonds. 
  • Hydration station. A stronger skin barrier means greater natural moisture. Not only does a strong barrier keep bad bacteria out, it keeps good, natural moisture in, right where it belongs. 
  • Complexion booster. More collagen in the skin means clearer and more even skin. 
  • Anti-oxidants? Yes please. If you know anything about us, you know we love topical anti-oxidants. Thankfully, peptides contain natural anti-oxidants that reduce disease-causing inflammation.

5 Tips for Halloween Makeup

With shows like “The Walking Dead,” it’s no wonder that everyone is clambering to be some variety of zombie for Halloween: a zombie nurse, a zombie army officer, a zombie cheerleader. For those who prefer something a little less gruesome, the elaborate Día de los Muertos getups are also wildly popular. 

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Unfortunately, both of these costumes—and a host of others—require significant amounts of makeup. We’re not talking about a little eyeliner and blush, but layers and layers of thick, cake makeup. Here are a few tips to keep your reflection the next morning from being scarier than your costume.

  1. Invest in your makeup. Don’t buy the cheap makeup palettes you find at Halloween stores. These products are often “comedogenic,” meaning they clog pores. They are also laden with toxic metals like lead and cadmium as well as nasty ingredients like toluene, styrene, ethylbenzene, and vinyl acetate. Instead, purchase higher quality theatrical makeup (we suggest Elegant Minerals). It might cost a little more in the beginning, but think of the money you can save on an extra trip to the dermatologist.
  2. Test it out. Before you begin plastering your face with makeup, test it out on a small area of your skin other than your face, like the inside of your elbow. This will alert you to any sort of allergic reaction or inflammation the makeup may cause.
  3. Get a barrier. Before slathering on that thick green makeup base, apply a barrier cream. This will prevent even non-comedogenic products from getting into your pores.
  4. Remove it! When All Hallow’s Eve is coming to an end, it can be temping to climb into bed, telling yourself that you will wash your face (and your pillowcase!) tomorrow. If you do this, however, you have more to worry about than laundry. Be sure to remove all makeup as soon as the festivities are over to avoid potential irritation. 
  5. Deep cleanse! Don’t just rely on your normal end-of-day routine for cleansing your face. Oil is the ultimate cleanser, so get on board! Pre-cleanse your skin with an oil (we suggest “THE OIL” by GR8 Skincare) and remove with a pH balanced cleanser (like CLEAN by GR8 Skincare).

The most important rule? Have fun!

Tag us (@gr8_skn) in your Halloween makeup pics! #IAMGR8.

Stock Up On Fall Foods Enriched With Skin-Loving Vitamin A

It’s hard to believe, but it’s that time of year again, when the wind starts to feel a little chilly, and the leaves turn an assortment of sunset-hued colors. With fall comes some exciting holidays, Thanksgiving at the top of our list!

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This is also the time of year when your skin can feel a little blah,and you can thank the dry air for that. It may be tempting to cover yourself up in a scarf, with just your eyes peeking out, but why not rather tackle your skincare woes head-on so you can enjoy radiant and bright skin, no matter how dark and gloomy the weather gets?

This is the season for PSL (pumpkin spiced lattes) and everything nice, including an array of fall foods that your skin will simply love! The one vitamin that most fall fruits and veggies have in common is Vitamin A. You may not know much about this vitamin now, but by the end of the article, you’ll be talking your friends’ ears off about the awesome benefits for your skin!

Keep reading to find out which fall foods rich in Vitamin A will do double duty at this year’s Thanksgiving feast – being equally delicious and seriously improving your skin. 

What’s the Big Deal About Vitamin A?

Vitamin A is absolutely essential for healthy skin, end of story. You may have heard of a retinol cream, but been unaware that retinol is actually Vitamin A derivatives that have some excellent benefits for your skin. In fact, did you know, that if there’s one product we recommend starting as soon as your early twenties, it’s a retinol cream? 

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Remember, it’s what you do now that sets the foundation for how your skin ages. Prevention is better than cure, so start now before you spot your first pesky wrinkle!

We could write an essay about the benefits of Vitamin A for your skin, but all you need to know is that it will hydrate your skin cells, smooth your skin texture, increase blood flow, regulate sebum production, and normalize cellular turnover. The exciting thing about increased blood flow is that not only will your skin start to rival Jennifer Lopez’s famous glow, you’ll help promote the formation of collagen in your skin, so your skin will stay firm and plump as each birthday rolls around.

Try our Rebooting Night Serum, rich in Vitamin A and probiotics and wake up to happier and brighter skin!

Fall Foods Rich in Vitamin A

Our top fall veggies, rich in this antioxidant vitamin include:

  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Butternut Squash
  • Apples

Be sure to include these foods in your diet as often as you can through the chilly season; your skin will thank you.

What Happens When You Don’t Wash Your Face

We all know somebody who has perfect skin and claims to never wash their face. Or they wash with bar soap (eek) and moisturize with coconut oil (double eek). Their best skincare advice to you is probably, “Drink more water.” To someone who is breakout-prone, this sounds like the stuff of unicorns and other mythical stories. 

Because you know that good skincare encompasses Calibrated Cleansing, Essential Exfoliation, Vital Vitamins, and Proper Protection, you have to wonder if these perfect-skin peeps are lying.

No, they’re not lying; they just have good genes. Genetics play a majority role in determining whether or not someone is breakout-prone. Other lifestyle factors can either alleviate or exacerbate the presence of acne in those who are genetically acne-prone. These factors include: 

  • Makeup. Frequent use of makeup, particularly heavy & occlusive products can block pores and make breakouts worse. Those with flawless, low-maintenance skin likely don’t wear much makeup. 
  • Exercise. While exercise followed by proper cleansing typically helps to improve skin overall, exercise followed by poor or no cleansing can worsen acne. Sweat can block pores, and bacteria-laden gym equipment can wreak havoc on the acne-prone, fast
  • Time in the sun. It’s a common myth that a heaping dose of sunlight can help acne. While moderate exposure to Vitamin D is good for the skin, it’s important to recognize that too much sun can dry out the skin, reducing the skin’s barrier function. Too much sun also damages skin and causes thickened skin that can disrupt cellular turnover, thus aggravating acne. 
  • Smoking. Just, no. A million times, no. Not only is smoking terrible for lungs, heart, brain, the environment, and bystanders, it’s terrible for skin. Cigarettes contain toxins upon toxins, and they accelerate aging. Those with naturally-great skin are likely non-smokers. 

Acne is on the rise,due to lifestyle, more screen time, increased use of pore-blocking sunscreens, pollution, more rigorous exercise, and increased processed foods. Unless you have great genes and don’t participate in the above, your skin will likely need Calibrated Cleansing.

Without thorough cleansing, your skin will accumulate dead skin and grime, blocking pores. Breakouts, blackheads, and dull skin are on the horizon. Skin that hasn’t been properly cleaned is also unable to absorb Vital Vitamins that nourish, enrich, and protect the skin. 

No matter what you hear, daily Calibrated Cleansing is the first step in proper skincare!

5 Foods for Healthy, Hydrated Skin

We all know how important it is to take special care of your skin by applying sunscreen and cleansing regularly, but what about what’s on your plate? Your skin is what you eat, so let’s talk about nourishing the skin from the inside out!

1. Watermelon. This juicy treat is mostly water, so chow down for some much-needed hydration. Watermelon also has plenty of Vitamin C, which aids in collagen production as well as anti-oxidants, which bust up nasty free-radicals from the sun.

2. Salmon. Known as a superfood, this popular seafood dish is brimming with Omega-3 fatty acids, which are excellent for collagen production and oil regulation.

3. Coconut Water. Put down that sugary juice drink! Coconut water is full of electrolytes, and it will hydrate your skin. Hydration is key! 

4. Cucumbers. It’s nice to lay cucumber slices over your eyes to soothe puffiness, but cucumbers are also a refreshing treat for your skin. Again, this green veggie has a super high water content, so you can feel good about replenishing your hydration levels. Super Hack: Freeze cucumber slices and add them to a glass of water – it works as a delicious, refreshing drink chiller!

5. Kiwi. This hairy (yet delicious) little guy is bursting with Vitamin C, which is your best defense against the sun’s free radicals. Just like watermelon, the Vitamin C in kiwifruits will also aid in collagen production to help keep your skin looking its best. 

Bon appétit, my friends! 

How the Gut-Skin Axis Affects Your Skin

Think your gut health and skin health aren’t connected? Think again! The connection is real, and it’s called the gut-skin axis. In case you need a little convincing, you might have seen this connection in action when a food allergy caused someone to break out in hives.

Common Threads

To understand this gut-skin axis a little better, let’s look at what the gut and the skin have in common:

  1. Both the gut and the skin work as “bodyguards” to keep pathogens from causing harm to the body.
  2. Both the gut and the skin communicate with the brain through the neuroendocrine messaging system. This is why the gut-skin axis is also referred to as the gut-brain-skin axis. (Mental health conditions like stress and anxiety also affect the gut and the skin, big time.)
  3. Both the gut and the skin have their own, intricate microbiome systems that impact overall health.

Examples of Gut-Skin Axis in Action

Probiotics Save the Day

People have turned to probiotics to influence gut health for a long time, but let’s take a look at how probiotics (in the gut) influence skin health.

The 5 R’s to a Healthier Gut-Brain-Skin Axis

If your gut health isn’t perfect, follow these 5 steps to help balance your gut-skin axis for healthier, clearer skin: 

  1. Remove. Get rid of anything that could be causing inflammation (sugar, stress, etc.)
  2. Replace. In this step, it’s important to replace enzymes that properly facilitate digestion and absorption. 
  3. Reinoculate. Good bacteria is reintroduced to the gut. 
  4. Repair. The gut gets repaired by a diet high in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients (specifically zinc, antioxidants, fish oil, and glutamine)
  5. Rebalance. Think about how stress and sleep affect your gut and skin, then make adjustments to create calmer, more restful environment for yourself. 

In the Kitchen

A healthy gut-skin axis starts in the kitchen with a well-rounded diet full of these goodies:

  • Vitamins A, C, E, and D. Carrots, broccoli, kale, spinach, citrus fruits, kiwi, mangoes, nuts, seeds, eggs, salmon, milk, cheese, yogurt, and many more!
  • Anti-oxidants. Dark chocolate, blueberries, strawberries, kale, beetroot, apples, carrots, to name a few. 
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. Mackerel; salmon; chia, hemp, & flax seeds; walnuts; avocado, so chow down!
  • Protein, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, selenium, copper. Lean meats, beans, nuts, fish, dairy, bananas, leafy greens. Yum!

Skin health is so much more than simply using the right serums (as important as that is). It’s about a holistic approach to a whole body and whole mind that is happy, healthy, and well-nourished.

What Happens When You Pop a Pimple?

Essentially a pimple is a combination of sebum, fatty acids, and bacteria contained in a little sac called the sebaceous gland. Squeezing a pimple incorrectly, or when it’s not ready, can cause this sac to rupture into the surrounding tissue, causing inflammation, infection, and even long-term scarring.

A pimple that is very yellow and really superficial can be gently squeezed with clean hands, preferably by lancing it first. Ideally, this should be done by a professional. When left alone, a pimple will generally run its life cycle of 3-7 days; squeezing it causes inflammation and takes longer to heal.

Using gentle products with anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory ingredients (like tea tree oil, mandelic acid, willow bark, and vitamin A) will not only help a pimple heal more quickly, but help prevent the long term complications of scarring and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

It is also helpful to use a cleanser with the same pH of the skin. This stops the acne bacteria from moving deeper into the sebaceous gland where the are no longer commensial flora but foreign bodies triggering the development of the pimple.

Looking for a secret weapon that shortens the life span of a zit AND helps prevent new ones from popping up?

If your answer is “duh,” try CLEAR, a multi-use toner and spot-treatment in one, powerful bottle.

It contains tea tree oil, mandelic acid, and willowbark to reduce inflammation and stop pimples in their tracks.

BONUS: It minimizes blackheads while it evens skin tone. This little guy does it all!

Tanning Beds Are Worse Than You Thought

MYTH: Tanning beds are safer than outdoor tanning because it’s less time.
MYTH: Before going on a vacay, you should get a base tan from a tanning bed.
MYTH: Using a tanning bed juuuust a few times won’t to do anything in the long run. 

While tanning bed use is on a significant decline (which is ah-mee-zing), there are still plenty of people who falsely believe that using a tanning bed is a good idea. 

Worse than natural sunlight. Not all light exposure is the same. Tanning beds can emit 12 times (that’s 1,100%more UVA light than natural sunlight. Can’t quite remember the difference between UVA, UVB, and UVC? We forgive you!

Here’s a crash course on the different types of rays and what they do:

As you can see, UVA rays are responsible for causing melanoma, which is widely-regarded as the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Because it can spread fast and far in the body, melanoma is dangerous and deadly. A few minutes in a tanning bed might not seem like much, but increasing your UVA exposure by over 1,000% is NOT something you want to do. 

The risk in numbers. One study paints an alarming image of the strong correlation between melanoma and tanning bed use. Researchers studied 63 women who had been diagnosed with melanoma before the age of 30. Of the 63 women, 61 of them said they had used a tanning bed at least once in their life. That’s nearly 97%!!! [1]

Just once won’t hurt. YES IT WILL. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, just one (single, solitary, uno) tanning bed session will increase your risk of melanoma by 20%!!

Tanning beds & premature aging. Not only are UVA rays responsible for melanoma, they also cause premature aging in the form of wrinkles, dark spots, and thickened, leathery skin. We don’t need to tell you why you don’t want that. 

Alternatives to tanning beds:

  1. Fake it. Sunless tanning lotions are popular and much more advanced than in the old days of orange palms and streaky lines. However, be very wary that many sunless tanning lotions contain toxic chemicals that can disrupt hormones. We recommend using the Think Dirty app to find a safe sunless tanner. NKD SKN brand sunless tanning products consistently have a 0 rating (safest) from Think Dirty.
  2. Skip it altogether! We think you’re beautiful just the way you are. Whether your skin is white as a ghost, black as night, or anything in between, you should feel free to flaunt it just the way it is! 🌈

[1] Lazovich D, Vogel RI, Weinstock MA, et al. Association between indoor tanning and melanoma in younger men and women. JAMA Dermatol 2016; 152(3): 268–275. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.2938

6 Questions to Ask Your Moisturizer

Not all moisturizers are created equal. Bad moisturizers are a dime a dozen. They line the shelves of drug stores and are full of empty promises.It’s time to have a heart-to-heart chat with your moisturizer and see if it’s up for the job or maybe it’s time to find a replacement.

1. Are you mostly just preservatives?
Poorly-made moisturizers in cheap, wide-mouth jar containers are almost entirely made of preservatives to prevent the serum from spoiling or growing mold. How do we know this? Because wide-mouth jars are a breeding ground for mold: as soon as you open the container, the product is exposed to air and light; when the lid is replaced, the result is a dark, damp, bacteria-friendly environment, ripe for mold growth. Don’t see any mold? That’s because the product is filled to the brim with preservatives. Why pay for preservatives?

2. Will you disrupt my natural hormones with harmful ingredients?
Many moisturizers contain hormone-disrupting chemicals like parabens, sulfates, and fragrance, to name a few. These hormone disruptors can lead to issues like organ toxicity, cancer, infertility, and more. If all you wanted was moist, supple skin, why increase your risk for disease?

3. Do you have added ingredients to nourish and strengthen my skin?
A good moisturizer will not only moisturize your skin but also deliver Vital Vitamins like Vitamins A, B, C, and E. Even better are moisturizers that contain anti-oxidants and probiotics. Each of these over-achieving ingredients has its own benefits to strengthen and support your skin.

4. Do you prevent transepidermal water loss?
Transepidermal water loss is just a sciencey way of saying: “dehydration because water is leaving the body through the skin.” This is something our skin does naturally, and some of it is good (like sweating to keep cool), but too much can leave your skin dehydrated. Structural fats (like ceramide, sphingomyelin, and phospholipids) in a good moisturizer prevent transepidermal water loss, so your skin can stay hydrated longer.

5. Will you support the barrier function of my skin?
Structural fats mentioned above also support the barrier function of the skin. The skin barrier is important because it not only keeps moisture in, it also keeps bad things out (bad things like bacteria, disease, UV radiation, free radicals, pollution, smoke, etc.).

6. Will you enhance my NMF?
Okay, what is NMF? NMF stands for Natural Moisturizing Factor. Our skin naturally moisturizes itself, but structural fats mentioned above (yeah, they’re that important) can increase the skin’s ability to moisturize itself. That means that a good moisturizer is the gift that keeps on giving! Not only does it moisturize you for the day, but it conditions your skin to moisturize itself.

How did your conversation with your moisturizer go? If you’re looking for a moisturizer that has all the right answers, we recommend having a chat with HYDRATE

Everything You Need to Know About Sunburn (But Didn’t Know You Need to Know, Ya Know?)

Sunburns. We’ve (pretty much) all had at least one. We know that sunburns are bad because *ouch* but there’s a little more to it than that. Ever wondered exactly how the sun can cook your skin like a cheese pita on the wrong setting in the toaster-oven? We’ve got the rundown here:

☀️ The Process of a Sunburn

It all starts with UV radiation, which comes from not only the sun, but also tanning beds. Too much exposure (which can vary from person to person) sets forth a process that results in these 3 things:

  1. Damage to the skin’s DNA.
  2. Death of skin cells.
  3. Erythema, which is a fancy word for acute redness/inflammation of the skin. This is the actual burn that you can see on your skin. Sunburns are usually classified as first degree burns.

Why does that matter? Typically, we only think about item #3 above. However, we should be very concerned with every part of UV effects. Changes in the skin’s DNA and cell death are permanent and stay with us forever.

🕒 Timing Matters

  • Within 1 hour, skin cells release enzymes that cause inflammation, in an attempt to protect your skin from more UV exposure.
  • Within 2 hours, damage to skin cells is visible.
  • At 24 hours, you will see peak erythema.
  • Damage continues for 72 hours.

📈 What Increases Risk of Acute Sunburn?

  1. Time of year. UVB rays are more prone to cause erythema, and they are much stronger in the spring and summer. 
  2. Time of day. UV rays are more dangerous from 10:00 in the morning to 2:00 in the afternoon. Good rule of thumb: if your shadow is shorter than you are, seek sun protection!
  3. Cloudy days. This sounds counterintuitive, but UV rays penetrate straight through all clouds. This increases the risk for sunburn because people forget about protection on cool, cloudy days. 
  4. Oily and/or wet skin. Skin that is wet from oils, sweat, and water is more likely to burn. That calls for extra protection while swimming!
  5. Children (and anyone who spends more time outdoors). Kids are more likely to pick up a sunburn due to the fact that they generally spend more time outside. 
  6. Fair skin. In the last year, 50% of adults reported at least 1 sunburn, but among fair skinned folks only, that number jumps up to 65%. 
  7. Products and medications. Many things can increase sun sensitivity including essential oils, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen and naproxen, diuretics, retinoids, antifungals, oral contraceptives, and medications for diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure, heart disease, and epilepsy.

🔥 Got Burned? Now What?

Too much fun in the sun? It happens. Follow these steps to minimize further damage and begin the process of repairing your skin:

  1. Fluids, fluids, fluids. After a burn, your body draws water to the skin in order to help the healing process. Give your body extra fluids in order to prevent dehydration.
  2. Cool rules. Take a cool shower or cool bath (and toss in a bag of rooibos tea perhaps?) to soothe skin. 
  3. Curb inflammation by taking an anti-inflammatory drug (as appropriate to the individual) and also eating anti-inflammatory foods like broccoli, turmeric, ginger, berries, salmon, leafy greens, avocado, green tea, and so much more. YUM!
  4. Blast free radicals by applying topical serums full of anti-oxidants and aloe. Also incorporate anti-oxidants in your diet like berries, dark chocolate, leafy greens, pecans, apples, and green tea. YUM!
  5. Throw shade – on yourself. Prevent further sun damage by staying indoors as much as possible. After an acute burn, wear sunscreen and/or cover the burned skin EVEN WHEN INDOORS. If you can read a book without a light on, ambient UV rays are still reaching your skin.