02/14/2012 03:11 pm ET Updated Apr 15, 2012

Valentine's Day Skin Tips -- Loving Skin Is In!

I have to admit, as much as I think it would be cooler to say that I don't like all the Hallmark holidays, I do. I like them because it gives us a chance to step back from our busy lives and take a moment to remember what's important. It is true that we should love and be kind to our significant others, family and friends every day, but sometimes we need that reason to go above and beyond. Sometimes we need that nudge to let our loved ones know how we feel and the motivation to make it through the day without nagging, complaining or forgetting how lucky we are.

Beyond loving each other, it's a time to remember to love ourselves. It's a great time to pamper ourselves and commit to treating our bodies and skin to healthy nurturing ingredients.

It's Valentine's Day that brings out love and thankfulness for each other, as well as the desire to look our best. It's date night taken to the extreme. With the traditional pre-date pampering -- hair color, manicures and facials -- and products we slather on the day of -- cologne, aftershave, makeup and face creams -- we are being anything but loving to ourselves!

We spend all this time and money to make ourselves look and feel our best, and the very things we are using to accomplish this are aging us faster and slowing us down. Even if green and chemical-free is not your thing, think twice this Valentine's Day before you slather scented lotion or spray on cologne. The chemicals in these products can clog pores, destroy collagen -- causing premature aging -- enter your blood stream, polluting your body, and can irritate skin and cause skin sensitivity, rashes, redness, itching and swelling. This wastes time, money, energy, and puts your skin, looks and health in the hands of chemical cocktails.

Chemical concerns for skin include "cones" (the chemical family that ends in c-o-n-e, such as dimethicone and silicone) that clog pores and act like a plastic film on skin and in pores, suffocating it and preventing anything you are putting on from penetration and blocking any waste from leaving. This can cause all the natural dirt and oils in your skin to create a plug and fill your pores, which in turn can cause stuck oils to go rancid, break down collagen and accelerate the aging of skin. Concerns also include surfactants such as sodium lauryl sulfate that can irritate skin, imbalance your pH and strip skin of its natural oils and protective barrier.

As a consumer it seems illogical for a cosmetic company to use the same ingredient -- silicone -- that is used in such things as plastic bakeware or caulking on your skin. Or sodium lauryl sulfate, which is a known skin irritant. But to a cosmetic chemist hired to create a product based on cost and what I call "consumer comfort" ("if it doesn't lather it is not working!") and "hand feel" (the feeling the customer gets when they touch and apply the product. This "feeling" that consumers fall in love with is a huge marketing tool and carries enormous sell-through and buying power for products. "My skin feels so smooth and soft") these billion dollar companies and their labs know what they are doing. Sodium lauryl sulfate is one of the most available and inexpensive lathering agents, and there are no substitute cones. Any woman who has tried a make up primer (pure cones) knows what I am taking about. It truly fills in all the gaps and feels so smooth and soft, you think it is doing wonders. When put in lotion it gives that slick slide, perfect smooth feel. I have heard women say "feel my face" after the sales associate applied a face cream filled with cones. I understand their popularity, but I also see their damage and shortcomings. To be fair, sodium lauryl sulfate and "cones" are not the worst offenders to your overall health. Neither, however, should be used when there are so many wonderful substitutes for healthy glowing skin.

Things You Can Do:

- Swap it out: After you finish your current skin care products try swapping them out for a more natural alternative. Look for a product that is not only natural but has active ingredients that garner results.

- Reduce your chemical load: Simply by using less you will reduce the amount of chemicals that are attacking your skin's health. Reevaluate your daily routine. Do you really need four face creams, three leave-ins for your hair or two serums? Most people overuse product.

- Multi task: Try to use your products for more then one thing. For example a lip balm high in shea butter is good for both lips and cuticles and pure oils such as jojoba, avocado and pistachio are great moisturizers for your face, body and work as a bath and massage oil.

- Take a breather: Give your skin the week off. Wash with homemade skin cleanser and use pure olive oil to remove make up and for moisturizer.

- Learn what "natural" really means: In an industry that sells us, but does not tell us the truth, and at a time where "green-washing" is the new hot marketing tool, become a label detective. Learn for your self exactly what is in a bottle of "all natural" shampoo.

-Rock it: Switch to a natural mineral make up. Products that stay on your skin all day as opposed to products that you wash off have continued exposure. Really know your ingredients, most of the "natural" mineral make ups are anything but. Additionally, stay away from bismuth oxide. It is natural, but not good for your skin.

- Hydration helps eliminate chemicals and waste: To keep your skin properly hydrated you need to have both the fluid content (look for products with actives like Hyaluronic acid) and oil content (look for products with Jojoba, olive, avocado and other pure oils).

Ins & Outs

- Out: Excessive buying and drawers, cupboards, shelves and shoeboxes stuffed with tons of different lotions, creams, lipsticks, make up and other personal care products. Trying every new "miracle" cream, shampoo, scent and lotion that hits the market.

- In: Less is more. Buying products that work, that you like and stick with them.


Hydrating mask:

1 teaspoon goat milk
1/2 teaspoon avocado
1/4 teaspoon soymilk
1/2 teaspoon honey

Place all ingredients in a mini blender and mix on high till smooth and creamy.

Ask Deborah: Post your questions. I love to hear your thoughts! I can't answer them all, but I will do my best.

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