Geeking Out over EFAs like Omega 6

Omega-6, a.k.a linoleic acid, is an essential building block for lipids called ceramides and is one of the main moisturizing elements in the skin. Since our bodies need it but can't make it the term essential fatty acid (EFA) is used; we need get it from food or put it on our skin topically.

Linoleic acid helps makes the skin's barrier stronger so it can effectively keep water in and irritants out. Plant oils used in skincare that are rich in linoleic acid include safflower, sunflower, borage, rosehip and evening primrose. Crocodile oil is an animal source that is a rich source of linoleic acid that can be applied topically though it is currently difficult to find skincare made with it if you live in the US.

A study done at Oregon State University, written in February 2012 by Giana Angelo, Ph.D. at the Linus Pauling Institute noted that “after 12 weeks, subjects consuming 1.5 g of evening primrose oil per day had significant improvements in skin moisture, TEWL, elasticity, firmness, and roughness compared to placebo.”

Sensitive skin issues like eczema and dermatitis can be related to a compromised skin barrier that makes it difficult to heal properly. Skincare products, foods and supplements rich in linoleic acid can all help support this main function of healthy skin.

Borage flower

Borage flower

Balinese Skin Healing & Yoga Retreat - March 10 to 13, 2018

Balinese life is full of traditional rituals, daily offerings, temple ceremonies and jamu (traditional Balinese medicine). Bali is probably the best place on the planet to learn about traditional rituals to care for sensitive skin. I've been going to Bali at least once a year since 2008 and have discovered the many traditions and practitioners that support healthy skin; yes they're tucked away from the tourist crowds.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are in abundance in Bali and these will help support our skin via detoxification. The warm climate facilitates doing yoga in fresh tropical breezes which also help the skin detox through gentle sweating. The ancient sacred temples and waterfalls will purify our skin, heart and minds. We'll participate in an ancient fire ceremony led by Balinese Hindu priests to release negative emotional patterns that no longer serve us.

There will be daily Yoga for Skin classes, workshops to learn to make our own skin care products to nourish our dry or inflamed skin, as well as a facial and massage using pure local products specifically formulated for those with sensitive skin. 

Paris' Classique Juice & Smoothie Bar - BOB'S JUICE 10th arrondissement

One of the main principles of the Zen Skin philosophy is to drink fresh vegetable juices and to have skin nourishing smoothies. Juice Bars have sprung up all over Paris in the last three years but Bob's Juice is the first one I went to in Paris back in 2008. IT'S STILL THERE and they have Bob's Kitchen in the Marais and Bob's Bakery in Monmartre.

Monica and Patrick made some menu suggestions for me; a green juice, tomato cashew soup and a mouth-watering chocolate pecan molten baked good. Awesome recommendations! 

This is not shishy-chic like other Parisian juice bars, this is real food and friendly service. It's like a little bit of Portland, Oregon hidden in Paris for those that can relate to that, i.e. earthy-crunchy, healthy, hip and relaxed-friendly. You can hear the juice machine buzzing while you wait. English is the common language and the customers are mostly French though Monica said there are about 30% US, UK and Australia customers who find them.

If you're needing some skin healthy juices to keep your skin hydrated naturally, go to Bob's. If you're looking for an omega-3 rich treat for your skin with zero skin irritating ingredients, try their Blue Protein Shake. It is almost identical to the Skin Quenching Superfood Smoothie Recipe in my book Zen Skin Care. It has blueberries, avocado, organic pea protein and organic almond milk. My recipe adds some spirulina, maca powder, flax seed, banana and fish or coconut oil to nourish the skin further, otherwise it's very similar.



Green juice & tomato cashew soup

Green juice & tomato cashew soup

Note - It doesn't say 'Bob's'. Actually the American owner's name is Mark, but he wanted a more American sounding name - SHHHH

Note - It doesn't say 'Bob's'. Actually the American owner's name is Mark, but he wanted a more American sounding name - SHHHH

A Paris Spa for Sensitive Skin - La Maison Dr. Hauschka

The fourth step in The Zen Skin Philosophy is to NOURISH SKIN. That means using products that don't contain ingredients that irritate sensitive skin conditions like dermatitis. For an eczema-prone person like me that loves to get spa treatments that's always been a touchy subject.

Spas offering facials and massage services may use conventional products that contain irritants. [Sign up for the newsletter and I'll send you the NEVER LIST-The Top 10 Ingredients to Avoid in Skin Care Products for free.] A spa may not be forthcoming about the ingredients in their 'house brand' of massage oil or the exfoliating, cleansing, toning and moisturizing products used during a facial. My goal has always been to find a spa that is transparent about the ingredients used in their products for facials and massages and one that knows how to specifically address the needs of someone with sensitive skin.

A friend of mine highly recommended  La Maison Dr. Hauschka in Paris because of its ambience. Truth be told Vanessa is an interior designer that specializes in Feng Shui and she designed the layout, colors and elements in the spa to create the most Zen-like atmosphere possible. That was great in terms of the Zen Skin Philosophy's principle of Calming the Nervous System, but what about the products?

I remember seeing this Dr. Hauschka brand at Whole Foods and other natural food stores in the US and in France but then I did more research about the German-made line of products. I liked the transparency and full disclosure of how they are made, how the plant-based ingredients are grown in their gardens vs. being outsourced, but mainly that Dr. Hauschka products are approved by the strict NATRUE non-profit certifying agency which means:

Natural Ingredients, Minimal processing, Free of synthetic fragrances, colors and dyes, No petroleum-derived synthetics (parabens, propylene glycol, silicones), Exclusively non-toxic processing methods (no PEG’s or Sodium Laureth Sulfate), No GMO ingredients, and No irradiation at any stage of production. 

Once I knew that there were no synthetic ingredients (known to be irritants to those with eczema), I wanted to find out how their spa specifically catered a facial to people with sensitive skin. I booked the Soin Plénitude two hour facial with Emelie. Quite simply she explained that all the products she would use on me were very gentle and designed (and labeled) to be used by persons with atopic dermatitis!

Two hours of BLISS! The ambiance in the treatment room, the sounds in the room and smells of all the natural products, Emeilie's soft and precise description of each step along the way; all heaven! I lived in Seattle and then Bali for two years and have had hundreds of spa treatments, this was the best facial experience I've ever had! 

I don't always like the sales push to buy products once the facial treatments are over (at least that's how most American and European spas operate). Emelie presented me with a list of four products I could use at home that were the same as she used during the treatment. I was shocked to see how affordable they were. (I'd been to the famous/shi-shi Biologique Recherche's L'Ambassade de la Beauté on the Champs-Élysées two other times and there was a hard sales push and each of the recommended products was at least 120€). 

I bought three products for a total of less than 100€: Cleansing Cream, Soothing Intensive toner treatment for reactive skin, and Ice Plant Face Cream. I've been using this routine for a month at home and my face looks the best its ever been; no reaction to the ingredients at all. I attribute this to the cleanser being 'oil based' instead of detergent based. The philosophy is that like attracts like in the field of chemistry so the oil in the product absorbs the dirty sebum on the face and mimics natural viscosity of naturally produced skin oils. 

I'm not affiliated with La Maison Dr. Hauschka in any way, but if you're ever in Paris, go there!