Graceful aging is all about embracing your age and the aging process. Empowering you and your beauty naturally, physically and spiritually.

Keep Your Facial Muscles Fit

Is there a healthy, natural alternative to surgery or injections for achieving a more youthful looking face? Do-it-yourself facial exercise programs have been in existence for years. When Gary Sikorski, founder of Happy Face Yoga, first tried to promote his program to the medical community and media, they refused him saying there was no proof that it worked. Several years later he got the proof he needed. Researchers at Northwestern University conducted a clinical study using his facial exercises. Results showed the participants’ faces did appear younger as determined by dermatologists. Participants were women aged 40 to 65 years. The study results were published in JAMA Dermatology. Sikorski says the program strategy is simple: keep your facial muscles fit. Some users have described it as a natural face lift.

Sikorskihas been teaching facial exercises for 13 years to men and women. In this sample video he demonstrates two of his exercises. Because we’re always on the prowl for science-based, natural solutions we called him to learn more about the program and how it might complement a natural skin care routine.


How is Happy Face Yoga different from other programs?

It emphasizes muscle resistance facial exercises. Your fingers, hands, palms apply resistance on the muscles which builds the muscle faster and better. Others use pulsing, light touch, massage. It’s a different technique.

In the study, sixteen participants received the full 20-week intervention, but eleven dropped out. How do people stay motivated to complete the program?

The challenge is to practice on a daily basis. You have to learn the exercises. In the first couple of weeks you will see a difference in your complexion due to increases of blood flow to the face which boosts collagen and elastin, making skin cells healthier.  Between 6 to 12 weeks the more you do it, the better the results. It’s like going to the gym to work out your body. You have to put the time in.


Is the Happy Face Yoga program appropriate for all ages?

Yes. Young people can start early and maintain their muscle tone. Many people in their 40s and 50s notice signs of aging and become concerned. Factors such as heredity, sun exposure, nutrition, and hydration have an impact. But as we age the muscles weaken, so it may be harder to strengthen them if you are in your seventies, but not impossible.


You include yoga type breathing in the exercises. Why?

Some people hold a lot of stress in their face. Yoga breathing helps them relax and slow down. The exercises should not be rushed. It also helps in keeping the poses, some of which are held for 30 seconds.


Is there a regimen or routine you would suggest when using the program?

Everybody is different. Some people want to work on a certain area, so they choose those exercises first to meet their goal. Two exercises are for the whole face that I recommend everyone do. There’s no downside. Just remember that the muscles of the face need to be worked daily. It can be at any time of day. The exercises can be broken up into different segments if you don’t have time to do them all at once.


Happy Face Yoga includes a lot of smiling. Will that form crow’s feet around the eyes?

That’s a myth! Smiling is good for you. Touching your face while applying resistance to your muscles is also okay. Facial skin attaches to your muscles, so toning muscles actually tightens and smooths out fine lines.

The more we talked with Sikorski the more we got interested in seeing for ourselves how well it works. He was kind enough to send us the Happy Yoga Face written exercise card package. We will try it and report back on the experience in an upcoming blog. Until then, keep your smile on.   (photography: Tom Ward)

Natural Retinol Has Arrived

Hello to natural retinol the new alternative to man-made and animal products derived retinol. Natural retinoids (plant-based) are super skin friendly, have serious graceful aging properties and do not contain any animal or animal-by-products.  I have been contemplating for a year now on creating an eye serum to add to the YASOU “a toast to your health” skin care family. What I knew right off the bat was it had to be a natural retinol formula.


Some people swear that there is no replacement for retinol and that may be true, but my research is showing that there are some plant-derived ingredients out there that may change that mindset.  I’d like to share with you some of the ingredients I have found, which I am considering using for my up and coming eye serum. It’s time to educate ourselves on natural retinol.


Beta-carotene or carotenoids are words to look for when exploring natural retinol. What is beta carotene? Basically it’s vitamin A (retinol) which also acts as a powerful antioxidant. It’s a prototype of all other natural retinoids. The human body converts beta carotene into vitamin A (retinol) which we need for healthy skin, mucus membranes, immune system, eye health and vision.


Ingredients (extracts & oils) that are rich in beta-carotene are mango butter, carrot, pumpkin, apricot, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, and green leafy plants (like kale, collards and alfalfa) to name a few.


Cacay Oil is a pure Organic nut oil cold pressed from the nuts of Cacay trees located in Columbia.  The oilhas high levels of retinol content. It is known to have more than three times the amount of retinol present in rosehip oil making it ideal for reducing wrinkles and lines, and evening out overall skin tone. It also stimulates collagen, improves elasticity, and hydrates.


Anogeissus tree bark (African Birch) has been found to have significant antioxidant activity, increasing the skin’s production of fibrillin, a structural protein of skin. Fibrillin is necessary for the skin to build elastin, which keeps the skin firm.


Bakuchiol the new buzz ingredient is a plant extract coming from the seeds and leaves of the “babchi” plant.  It is known to improve fine lines and wrinkles, pigmentation, skin elasticity and firmness, as well as increasing cell turnover, stimulating collagen production. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.


Vegan bakuchiol is the natural alternative to retinol giving you the same results that man- made retinol does (study) published in The British Journal of Dermatology) but without skin irritation of scaling and stinging the skin like retinol may. You can also use bakuchiol in the daytime. It has anti-inflammatory properties and is safe to use during the day unlike retinol that tends to cause mild inflammatory responses in daylight. You still need to apply your SPF.  It is a “win, win” natural ingredient that gives the same benefits as retinol but is vegan, and non-irritant to most skin types.  You may want to do a test to make sure it is agreeable to your skin.


Bakuchiol is a great retinol alternative for everyone that is sensitive to retinol side effects, is vegan, or wants to practice a natural skin care regime.  I am going to consider this ingredient for YASOU skin care’s eye serum. I’ve fallen in love with it!   (photo source: venusian glow)

REPOST: Mary Greenwell: How To Make Up Hooded Eyes

Hello everyone,


As I am aging I am finding that the skin on my eyelids has become super sensitive, maybe you are as well. The skin in this area is known to be the thinnest on the entire body, along with our lips. I am also finding that I need to relearn how to apply my eye make up because I’m getting a bit of what is called “hooded eyes”.  My eyes seem smaller and I’m not fond of this. So, I decided to reach out and booked an appointment with Bridgett the owner of Odalisque Beauty Apothecary, to re-teach me how to apply my eye make up correctly, to achieve my new needs.

Bridgett passed this video on to watch before my appointment and it’s so informative that I thought I’d pass it on to you. I hope you find it useful.

Thank you Bridgett and thank you Mary Greenwell for this informative and helpful video that also talks about skin sensitivities and other issues.


Theodora Ntovas
founder of YASOU skin care

How Sleep Supports Skin Health and Well Being

I have always heard that a good night’s sleep supports well being, and took this advice at face value, without putting too much more thought into it.  Several years ago I faced some serious health issues and remember my doctor asking me if I got enough sleep at night.  Well my husband snored and I was NOT getting a good night sleep. In fact, I was more irritable and not feeling well at all.  My doctor’s advice was to have my husband sleep in the guest room for a while, so I could get a good night sleep. He told me that if I didn’t, I would not get healthier because my body needed sleep in order to heal itself. That is when I took an interest in what it means to get a good night of sleep and why it’s important.

The brain and body do not shut down during sleep; rather they perform important tasks that promote mental and physical health, such as producing hormones that help repair cells and fight off illnesses.

Science tells us that good sleep is essential for repairing, regenerating and restructuring the skin.  Sleep is the foundation for building and maintaining health, well being and guarding against stress and age-related diseases.  The list can go on and on. Since we are a natural skin care blog, we are going to concentrate on skin!

Lack of sleep can decrease collagen production in skin as well as increase water loss.  The loss of intracellular water is the ultimate pathway to aging because it severely impacts skin cells and skin connective tissue (collagen and elastin).

Eight hours of good sleep from the hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. is the best quality time for good skin health.  That’s because every night your skin undergoes a natural rejuvenation process where your cells divide and replicate the fastest.  This process is controlled by a biological rhythm that kicks in around 11:00 p.m., Get your best sleep then and you will reap the maximum skin health benefits!  This is also a good time to apply a good collagen-boosting moisturizing night cream to your skin. The actives in the cream will work synergistically with your skin’s natural renewal cycle for superior, graceful aging results.  Sleep is a period of net water loss in your body. It is important to encourage the body to hold as much healthy water in cells and connective tissue as possible. This is another reason why an extra hydrating night cream should be part of an overall skin care regiment that helps preserve and promote the health and strength of the skin’s barrier.

The concept of beauty sleep is not a myth. Good sleep is essential for good skin health, well-being and overall health!  Here are some quick tips on getting a good night sleep.

  • Turn off all blue-light sources, including smart phones, tablets, TVs and computers one hour before going to bed.
  • If you must nap, do it early in the day and not for more than 20 minutes.
  • Make sure your pillow aligns with the natural curve of your neck.
  • Keep your bedroom temperature between 68 and 72 degrees.
  • A consistent sleep routine helps create a natural sleep-wake schedule

We wish you all good sleep!


Three Of The Best Botanical Ingredients For Your Skin

There are three vegan, anti-aging, botanical skin care ingredients (plant and fruit) that we know help improve wrinkles, skin hydration, elasticity and tone. That’s why we include them in our Greek-inspired, YASOU natural skin care. These ingredients also align with our mission to bring you the best, most effective ingredients for a cruelty-free and sustainable beauty regime. Here are the three power plant ingredients you want to look for.

1) Botanical Hyaluronic Acid: When looking for a hyaluronic acid product for your skin, look for a botanical hyaluronic acid. The reason for this is that much of the hyaluronic acid on the market is derived from horses and roosters, which results in an inhumane and questionable product.
Botanical hyaluronic acid is ethically derived from a plant called cassia angustifolia. It is a clean and cruelty free hyaluronic acid that protects the skin, strongly binds to water, and fills in wrinkles and fine lines. Botanical hyaluronic acid has the remarkable ability to hold and attract more than 1000 times its own weight in moisture and it does exactly this when applied to your skin. This translates into ultra-smooth, uber-plump, and seriously upgraded hydration for your skin.

2) Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA): Hydroxy Acids are some of the most widely used anti-aging skincare ingredients. We use them (plant and fruit) in both our vegan cellular day cream and vegan cell renewal night cream. These ingredients are known to have benefits in reversing the effects of photo-aging and significantly improving wrinkles, skin hydration, elasticity and tone.

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are naturally occurring carboxylic acids found in many foods, including glycolic acid (sugar cane), lactic acid (milk), citric acid (citrus fruits), and malic acid (apples) among others. The most commonly used alpha-hydroxy acids are glycolic and lactic acids. Of course we prefer the glycolic, citric and malic acids. AHAs act on both the epidermal and the dermal levels, traveling deeper into the dermis where they are known to effectively reverse the signs of photo-aging. In addition improvement to the quality of elastic fibers, increase in collagen density, and increase in dermal thickness to the dermis results in a significant improvement in wrinkles, skin hydration, skin elasticity and tone.

3) Hyadisine: is an eco certified, marine-based active ingredient that retains water to smooth the skin. It is one of the newest cosmetic wrinkle fillers based on hyaluronic acid or collagen. It offers a “soft” alternative to injections. It is also one of the latest weapons in anti-aging skin care.

Hyadisine is rich in the same monosaccharide (glucuronic acid) as hyaluronic acid. This means it has a high water retaining capacity so you get immediate and long-lasting moisturization and instant wrinkle reduction.

Below you’ll find some cosmetic properties for HyadisineÒ that were shown in vitro studies conducted by Lipotec, a Lubrizol Corporation that produces Hyadisine:

1) Possesses a higher and faster moisture retaining capacity than hyaluronic acid proving to retain 12.7% more water than the known moisturizing agent.

2) Protects human keratinocytes (a skin cell that produces keratin) from cold stress, increasing their viability up to 60.14%. Making it’s protecting effect higher than hyaluronic acid.

3) Offers an increase of skin hydration superior to hyaluronic acid.

4) Provides immediate moisture to the skin.

5) Presented in studies a moisturizing long-lasting effect showing an average of 37.2% of skin hydration increase 20 days after applying the cream containing this active ingredient.

6) Instantly improved wrinkle appearance showing a wrinkle reduction of 11.1% and 8.4% two and eight hours after using the cream/treatment.

You’ll find this amazing eco-certified marine-based ingredient in our vegan cell renewal night cream. Next time you are shopping for skin care don’t forget to check your product labels for these power house, anti-cruelty ingredients in your skin care products

How to Protect and Enhance Your Lips

Our lips are unique to each of us. They play a special role in eating and expressing how we feel. You can see the shape of lips change when someone laughs, pouts, cries, or smiles. Facial recognition studies show that lips are the first place our brain goes to for identifying gender. While the rest of the face contains up to 16 cellular layers, lips have only three to five layers. Without a tough outer layer and no protective suntan ability our lips are left exposed to the environment in ways other parts of the body are not. Unlike the warm, moist protected environment inside the mouth and nose, lips are exposed to weather conditions and sun. Lip care is essential. Here are some suggestions on how to protect and enhance your lips through proper care.


Con not lick your lips
One of the first things to know when caring for your lips is to not lick them. Don’t lick even when the lips feel dry or before applying a lip balm. Lips are made of proteins and fats. Enzymes in your saliva break these down, and may cause damage to lip skin. If you lick before applying a lip balm you’re sealing the saliva in.


Exfoliate lips
When lips are chapped, exfoliate with a wet washcloth. This removes dry skin and enhances the lips’ natural color. Gently buffing the lips provides a smooth surface for applying lipstick.


Keep lips hydrated
The best way to keep lips hydrated is to drink enough water each day. Add a humidifier if your environment is particularly dry, moisturize and exfoliate.


Protect from the sun
Be aware that heavy oiled balms and lip gloss create a surface that attracts the sun. Lip balms should contain sun block. Too much sun exposure can cause a loss of volume in lips, discoloration and fine lines.


Apply healthy lip balms
Lip balms made with healthy ingredients such as a natural wax and a bit of oil provide a protective shield against weather conditions. Lip balms are not made to absorb into the skin. Balms protect the lips from dry air that’s seeking moisture.

Read the ingredients in your lip balm. Avoid those that contain parabens and known irritants such as phenol and cormol. Experts advise a natural wax such as bees wax to help the balm stick to lips as well as a bit of oil such as almond or coconut oil to moisturize, and a sun block (SPF 15-30) to protect against sun’s rays. Vitamin C and E neutralize free radicals that can damage collagen and elastin.

Apply a balm with a lip brush beyond the lip line to keep lipstick from bleeding into fine lines around the mouth.


Lip enhancement
Experts generally agree that over the counter lip plumpers work by boosting blood flow creating a mild swelling that doesn’t last very long. Ingredients used may irritate the lips and potentially create dryness and scaling. Talk with a dermatologist about thinning lips.


Hyaluronic Acids
We recommend botanical hyaluronic acids the reason, it is ethically derived from a plant called cassia angustifolia, resulting in a clean and cruelty free hyaluronic acid that protects the skin, strongly binds to water, and fills in wrinkles and fine lines maximizing your anti aging skin care efforts allowing you to revel in skin that is softer, plumper, tighter, brighter and healthier.

Our lips are a sensory organ. Stay aware of how you can protect and enhance them with these simple steps.

YASOU Greek-inspired skin care will be launching our new product soon, a vegan lip treatment for women and men we are so excited. Stay tuned!

How LED Light Therapy Revitalizes Skin

It’s no longer a question of whether but how LED light therapy revitalizes our brain and body. We’re excited because it’s a natural, noninvasive, non-toxic way to enhance the look and feel of your skin while boosting energy and imposing calm. Scientific research supports the benefits of LED light therapy. It’s been likened to a sense of well being similar to that derived from meditation.

What makes LED light therapy effective? The simple answer is that the skin absorbs particles of light elevating a cell’s ATP. For those who have forgotten their anatomy class, ATP is the energy molecule within a cell. For skin health, the light stimulates the production of collagen and elastin on a cellular level. Various colors of light emitting diodes (LEDs) are used to relax brainwaves and recharge the body.

We didn’t want to rely on product reviews and reported celebrity use. Instead we culled through some of the scientific research including from NASA. We then talked with Yvonne Hedecker, Co-Founder of Light Health Research, LLC, who manufactures a personal phototherapy system that uses LED light to create energy in the body. Yvonne was an early adaptor of LED light technology and has watched the industry grow from skepticism to enthusiastic support.

YASOU Why are people drawn to LED light therapy now?

YVONNE: It’s a calming, relaxed experience. Demand is coming from those who embrace natural, effective solutions. People are using it for healthy skin, hair, hands, feet and nails. Also to improve sleep, increase energy levels and reduce stress. Hospitals use it in neonatal care units and for healing wounds.

YASOU Where is LED light therapy offered?

YVONNE: To try it out some people go to a medi-spa or a dermatologist’s office to receive treatments that are usually 30 minutes long. When I started in 2007, I provided sessions in my office with a large, very expensive machine. We developed a personal use compact machine that weighs six pounds called DreamSpa™. It’s professional grade with 300 lights including blue turquoise, red and infrared that are programmed at appropriate frequencies for different effects.

YASOU What’s the process?

YVONNE: There’s no pain or heat involved. I recommend people stay hydrated, rinse their face with water, and keep their eyes closed throughout the session. The lights pulse creating a particular range of biophotonic waves that relax the brain and stimulate cells. Even when focused on the face, hands, and feet there’s a systemic effect. Daily use is fine. The effect is cumulative. You can start at any age and reap benefits.

YASOU Is there maintenance or aftercare involved?

YVONNE: I use an all natural moisturizing cream once a day, that’s all.

YASOU What is it about LED Light Therapy that keeps you committed to it?

YVONNE: Our bodies are filled with light. It’s how cells communicate and regenerate. It’s a safe, natural way to enhance energy, beauty and well being. That’s something I want to share with people everywhere. It’s a natural way to be healthier and enjoy life.

Yvonne gets asked lots of questions about DreamSpa™ and LED Light Therapy. She’s included a FAQ page and additional information on the Light Health Research website if you want to know more.

Natural Skincare Suggestions for Sagging Skin

With age comes wisdom and sagging skin. A loss of collagen is one of the age related reasons for sagging skin. Another reason is the loss of healthy facial fat. At around age 35, collagen, elastin and muscle tone start to decrease. By ages 50 or 60 the skin’s outer layer thins, gets rougher and starts to sag. Subaceous glands produce less oil, leaving skin dry and susceptible to wrinkles and sagging.

The layer of fat on the face diminishes. How can you be proactive about preventing skin that sags?

Here are some suggestions.

Age, smoking, sun exposure and quick weight loss all contribute to collagen and elastin breakdown. Skin elasticity will conform better with a gradual weight loss. Hydrate the skin, moisturize, apply sunscreen, and exfoliate.

Get enough sleep. To help prevent sagging skin sleep on your back suggests Dr. Michael Edwards, president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Nutrition is a key component to overall skin health. Protein is beneficial to skin elasticity. Strawberries contain vitamin C, an antioxidant that supports collagen fibers.

Consider a weekly massage or facial to improve circulation. Use a dry brush with natural soft fibers prior to washing your face. It helps exfoliate your skin and increases circulation. Good circulation brings important nutrients to the skin.

Be proactive in protecting your skin. Exfoliating gels, natural scrubs and facial masks may be effective in preventing further damage and delay sagging.

Read ingredients lists on skincare product labels to ensure you are getting the best natural formula to boost collagen.

Don’t bother doing facial exercises. Doctors agree that facial exercises do not tighten or firm sagging skin. It can actually be detrimental by causing expression lines. Yes, over action of facial muscles may cause wrinkles. It doesn’t tighten skin but stretches it out.

Know what works and what doesn’t when addressing or preventing sagging skin. Makeup artists emphasize keeping the skin clean, and using a firming cream by day and a night cream with good active ingredients. Estheticians say keep the skin well moisturized and exfoliate. Some recommend adding a lifting serum to a skin care regimen.

Even plastic surgeons sometimes recommend non-surgical options for sagging skin. The right formula in topical creams can help while also providing preventative qualities. Ingredients that help lift and firm the skin naturally include extracts of green tea, cucumber and grape seed; jojoba oil and vitamin C all of which alert the body to produce collagen naturally. Relying on the body’s natural healing processes can support the internal structure of the skin keeping it firm and elastic.

The Benefits Of Certified Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil In Your Skin Care

YASOU natural skin care takes great pride in using certified organic extra virgin olive oil in all of our products. Why? Extra Virgin Olive Oil is LOADED with nutrients and antioxidants like Vitamin A and E, It penetrates deep into the skin, repairing sun damage while promoting elasticity to your skin. The same qualities and benefits you receive when ingesting extra virgin olive oil, you receive, when used in your skin care regime.

Using extra virgin olive oil on your face, when used correctly, will NOT contribute to oily skin. It can actually help it. In order to understand why olive oil will not make your skin oily, you’ll need to understand why skin becomes oily in the first place. This may be another blog post topic to come in the near future.

We use Certified Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil in all of our products because the oleic acid is 1% higher than regular olive oil. It remains in it’s purest state not going through a synthetic process like regular olive oil. A higher count of oleic acid combined with other ingredients allows our products to achieve a higher level of benefits to the skin. In addition to oleic acid, high quality certified organic extra virgin olive oil is full of linoleic acids, palmitic acids and polyphenols. The acids trap water into your skin, ensuring that your skin is hydrated.

Polyphenols are very beneficial to our skin because they are antioxidants. When absorbed into our skin, they combat free radicals, preventing them from doing damage. Polyphenol also offers protection against ultraviolet rays and encourages new cell growth.

We use certified organic extra virgin olive oil, to minimize impurities in our skincare line and to maximize essential elements for healthy skin.

Fact: Olive oil – sometimes referred to as “liquid gold” – is closer in chemical structure to the skin’s natural oil than any other naturally occurring oil! It penetrates and hydrates efficiently and naturally!

We would love to know your thoughts or experiences about using extra virgin olive oil. Do you have any extra virgin olive oil DIY tips to share?

Skincare Layering Technique for Better, Brighter Skin

Just as a well-prepared canvas can improve a painting, a well-layered skincare routine can improve your skin. Do you know which products should be added first? Or how to blend products to get the result you want? Someone asked me recently how to layer the skincare products she owned for best results. It’s a good question because how you layer will have an impact on the products’ effectiveness.

One mistake people often make in their skincare routine is not applying products in an order that makes them most effective. Another is hastily adding creams and oils before the skin has had time to absorb them. Here’s a simple skincare layering technique that works.

First, add a day cream that works on a cellular level and contains anti-oxidants. Painters often add a solid color to their white canvas to create a toned background. It helps them increase the speed in creating a painting. To avoid extra steps in your skincare routine, your day cream should be a multi-tasking solution providing moisturizing, exfoliation, brightening and firming properties that penetrate the skin’s surface layer. Jojoba and olive oils are ingredients to look for as well in a day cream to enhance elasticity and skin radiance. Wait a few moments to let the day cream absorb. Maybe pick out what clothes you will be wearing while the day cream absorbs.

If you use serums, you can apply them after the day cream. They are thin and efficient in delivering active ingredients. Wait a few moments to let the skin absorb the serum. In the time it takes to brush your teeth, the serums will have been absorbed. In painting, this may be equivalent to priming a canvas with gesso.

After applying your day cream and serums, add sunscreen. The anti-oxidants contained in your day cream, especially vitamin C, will improve the efficacy of the sunscreen. It’s like blending different paint colors to get a desired effect. Instead of a stand-alone sunscreen you may choose to apply a foundation that contains sunscreen (SPF20). You can find it at a favorite department store or apothecary. I get mine at Odalisque beauty apothecary.

At night, remove makeup and wash your face with warm water. Apply a night cream with moisturizing, vitamin rich ingredients that rejuvenate and nourish your skin. If using serums add those after the night cream.

With a palette of multi-functioning skincare products it’s easy to know where to begin and how to end. Step back and appreciate the big picture – healthy, glowing skin.