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Written by Marge Clark of Nature's Gifts
As the summer sun beats down, the need for some sort of natural sunscreen becomes more and more urgent. Unless a product has undergone long and costly tests, it may not legally be marketed as a sunscreen. One can not state that a product has an SPF (Sun protection factor) of 5, 15, 30 etc. without the specific product having undergone the tests.
Consequently, we make no claims about any of the oils in the following list. However, if you are tempted to try your own sunscreens, these are the oils that you might want to include:
- Red Raspberry Seed Oil - Cold Pressed: tested to have an SPF of between 28 and 50. (Oomah et al, 2000.)
- Cranberry Seed Oil - Cold Pressed: sited in various patent applications, further research ongoing.
- Seabuckthorn berry co2 - Absorbs UVB rays, may act as a powerful sun screen. (Beveridge, T., Li, T. S. C., Oomah, B. O. and Smith, A., J. Agric. Food Chem., 1999,)
- Helichyrsum essential oil/hydrosol - (Shaath, et al)
- Hazelnut Oil - strong sun filtering action (Price, ITR Chile)
Further research shows that any oil high in tocopherols may add at least some protection. This would, of course, include Moroccan Argan oil, Pomegranate CO2, Seabuckthorn Berry CO2, and the Cranberry Seed Oil mentioned above.
Blends of any and all of the above ingredients might help to protect your skin from the burning rays of the sun.
All of the above products are available at http://www.naturesgift.com/anb.htm
Dry Skin Care and Mask during the Summer Holidays
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Written by Jeanne Rose
How To Care for Dry Skin
Cleanse gently by rinsing first with warm water. Then wash with a good quality handmade soap. Touch your face gently. Follow a bath or a shower with a mild application of Calendula infused oil.
Beauty Mask for Dry Skin
Once a week, use a facial mask to clarify the skin and remove dull, dry surface skin cells. Apply a mixture to your face, avoiding the eye area. Leave it on for fifteen minutes, and then rinse well with lukewarm water. While your skin is still slightly damp, apply a Calendula infused oil.
A simple mask can be made with a bit of egg, 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and Rose hydrosol or Owyhee hydrosol. Mix the ingredients thoroughly, apply with gentle pats, take your shower, and rinse off with warm water.
Once a week take a milk bath. It will nourish and smoothen your skin. As much as possible, stay out of the sun. Wear a hat. Always apply a good sunscreen to all exposed areas of skin if you must be in the sun.
Calendula and Comfrey herb have skin-softening properties. They can be used in a facial sauna or to make herbal or floral waters. Comfrey also reduces redness and soothes irritated skin. Add water from making your breakfast oatmeal for additional skin conditioning.
Herbal Facial Sauna
(See pages 170-171 and 234-235 in The Herbal Body Book available at http://www.jeannerose.net )
A weekly facial sauna using the herbs Chamomile, Lavender, and Calendula is good for dry skin. Conifer needles are available now and can be added to the pot.
Using a glass or enameled pot, bring to a boil 1 quart of water; add 2 to 4 tablespoons of dried or fresh herbs. When the pot is steaming, place it on thick potholder on a table, and sit with your face at a comfortable distance over the steam for fifteen minutes. You can use a towel to trap the steam if you wish. After fifteen minutes, splash your face with cold water and allow your skin to air-dry or pat it dry with a towel. After the sauna, you can allow the herbal water to cool and save it for use as a toning lotion for the next day or two to be dabbed on your face with a cotton ball after cleansing.
Diet Recommendations for Dry Skin
• Eat a well-balanced diet that includes fish, vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds, and nuts, especially walnuts.
• Consume plenty of yellow and orange vegetables. These are high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant. Carrots are especially good.
• Take an Omega-3 supplement for your skin as well as for a healthy heart. Flax seed oil is a good oil as it contains the essential fatty acids omega-3 alpha linolenic acid and omega-6 linoleic acid. These are converted in the body into hormone-like substances called prostaglandins that support skin health.
• Eat foods that are rich in the vitamins A and C for dry skin because they are important for a supple, smooth skin. Eat foods / fruits whole not juices. There are many components to the whole fruit and vegetable that is not in the juice alone.
• Drink a good quality mineral water every day to keep the skin hydrated.
Essential Oils For Dry Skin
Chamomile, Grand Fir, Geranium, Lavender and Owyhee and others are all good essential oils for dry skin.
Get them in the Jeanne Rose Woman’s Kit
. [Jeanne Rose has special skin care soap only available for her students. Contains a gentle citrus blend and SkinCare and bug-repellent essential oils. Cost is $7.50 per bar plus $1 S&H.]
Contact: Jeanne Rose at http://www.JeanneRose.net and
Essential Oil Kits & Books • Aromatic and Herbal Education - Healing Information and Distillation •
• PH 415-564-6785; FAX 415-564-6799
• http://www.aromaticplantproject.com •
Is SPF Overrated?
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Written by Michael Russ of Oceana Naturals
When I mention MelanSol 100% Natural Sunscreen, one of the first questions people ask is “what’s the SPF?” As if the SPF is the only factor to consider when choosing a sunscreen. When you run the numbers, a higher SPF does not equate to better protection. In order to understand why, we first need to define SPF.
The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is the amount of sunburn protection that a sunscreen can provide an average user, when used correctly. One SPF is equal to the amount of time you can spend in the sun without protection before you start to burn. The specific amount of time will be different for everyone, because skin tones don’t process UV rays in the same way.
Using this definition, if you spend 30 unprotected minutes in the sun before experiencing the effects of sunburn, these 30 minutes would be equal to 1 SPF for you. If you multiply your SPF by the SPF number on the bottle, you arrive at the approximate amount of time you can be exposed to UV rays without getting skin damage.
This is the point where sunscreens begin to lose their credibility. Because if your personal SPF is 30 minutes, choosing an SPF 25 should allow you to expose yourself approximately 12 ½ hours. In reality, the conditions upon which you would be able to do this don’t’ really exist. Chemical sunscreens need to be reapplied because they breakdown in 2 to 4 hours, physical sunscreens can be wiped or washed off and UV levels vary.
This is why sunscreens with 50, 70, 85 and 100 SPF don’t add up. So why do sunscreen companies keep reaching for higher and higher SPF’s, because the sunscreen industry has trained people to relate higher SPF numbers with an equally higher amount of protection. Nothing could be further from the truth because the SPF scale is not linear. As the SPF scale moves higher, the amount of increased protection diminishes.
What’s shocking is that the difference in UV protection between a 100% natural zinc oxide sunscreen like MelanSol® SPF-25 and an SPF-100, made with chemical active ingredients, is just 3%. Higher SPF numbers can create a false sense of security and lead to over-exposing you and your family unnecessarily.
Unfortunately, making the SPF the deciding factor when buying sunscreen draws your attention away from what’s equally as important as the damaging sunburn you are attempting to avoid- the amount of chemical ingredients used to reach a high SPF.
The back label of every sunscreen is required to list the percentage of “active ingredients” used in the product. Active ingredients are the FDA approved UV absorbers or reflectors that make the product a sunscreen.
The chart below compares the percentage of UV protection to the amount of active ingredients that are required to achieve the SPF.
Percentage of UV Filtering Percentage of active ingredients
Necessary To achieve the SPF
MelanSol® SPF-25--96% 10% natural zinc oxide
SPF 30 –96.6% 20.8% chemicals
SPF 45 –97.7% 35.5% chemicals
SPF 50 –97.9% 30% chemicals
SPF 70 –98.7% 31.8% chemicals
SPF 100 –99% 39% chemicals
Before you say that the percentage of chemical active ingredients don’t matter, remember this—
--The most popular chemical active ingredients used in sunscreen have estrogenic properties that mimic the hormone estrogen in your body. When you put these ingredients on your skin, the estrogen can enter your body.
--Two of the most used chemical active ingredients, avobenzone and oxybenzone, display “bio-accumulative properties—which means they have been shown to accumulate in your body over time.
These two facts highlight the reason why it’s important to keep chemical sunscreens away from your eyes and mouth, and those of infants and children.
In this day and age, there are all natural sunscreen alternatives, with biodegradable ingredients, that work with your body and perform just as well, if not better. MelanSol® 100% Natural Sunscreen is one that approaches sunscreen from a completely different direction--one designed to nourish, rejuvenate, protect and honor your skin and your body.
For more information about MelanSol 100% natural antioxidant sunscreen, visit http://www.puresunscreen.com/.
How to Green Your Beauty Routine 2 - Toners: Worthwhile or Wasteful?
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Written by Elizabeth Domnisch
So we are going to jump right into the fire on this topic. After many years in the mainstream beauty industry, I know how hotly this subject can be debated among “experts.” You may have been told conflicting information as well. There is much disinformation out there and we hope to help you learn more about these products so that you can determine what is best for you. At MOI, we firmly believe that you are the final “expert” on your skin, only you can determine what works best. We have partnered with ANB Mall tol help provide the information and product recommendations, but you are the ultimate judge on what works and what doesn’t.
Let’s start at the beginning. Toners have a lot of names. But don’t be overwhelmed by this. Basically, the names change with the type of skin they are targeted to. Some other names they go by are clarifying lotions, toning lotions, refiners, tonics, balancers, astringents, skin purifiers, cleansing waters, fresheners, floral waters, tonic, hydrators and hydrosols. Hydrosols are a little different in that they contain actual plant material that have been distilled and even in their completed state, they still contain the properties of the plant. Hydrosols are very effective due to the fact that they are so concentrated.
"Hydrosols are a unique product, a true part of distillation and cannot be manufactured synthetically. The micro-drops of essential oil are left intact in the hydrosol. The hydrosol is the first 20% of the distilled non-alcoholic waters. They are used 100% pure as they come out of the still with a strong taste, strong scent and a perfect acid balance of 5.5 -to match human skin, "says Jeanne Rose of Jeanne Rose.net. For more information on hydrosols check out the article "'Hydrosols: 101 uses' - Hydrosols and 101 ways to use them.” See the entire article here:
Toners have gotten a bad rap due to the harsh nature of toners from a generation ago. When our mothers were being told to use toners, they were all alcohol based and very harsh. Due to this fact, they fell out of favor. But toners today are very different. They serve a variety of purposes that can prove to be very beneficial for your skin. But we’ll get into that later. First things first.
So what exactly is a toner? Despite its name, it doesn’t tone anything. If that were the case, I would skip the gym and bathe in the stuff every single night. It does not, I repeat does NOT firm or tighten skin. Toners also do not deep clean pores or reduce oil production. Many of us have bought toners under these pretenses and when we didn’t see the promised results, we also concluded that toners were worthless. This is not what toners do.
It has also been said that toners help to balance the skins’ pH level. And this is sort of true. What it actually does is return the natural pH to skin after cleansing. Cleansers disrupt the pH of the skin so toners help bring it back to its normal state. By maintaining the correct pH balance your skin has a much better chance of resisting dryness and infections.
Also, a good toner adds lightweight moisture to the skin, helps to remove last traces of makeup, helps reduce inflammation, and adds natural moisturizing ingredients to the skin. Not to mention that some can offer anti-oxidant and anti-irritant protection. See? Some good stuff happens when you use toners.
Now that you have all this great information and know what they are used for, let’s get into how to use them. As promised, this will not be hard. There are different application methods for toners. If you get one in a spray bottle, just spritz on your face AFTER cleansing but BEFORE moisturizing. If you have a bottle of without a spritzer, don’t panic. Just wet a cotton ball with the toner and stroke over entire face and neck. Remember, toners should be soothing and gentle, if it burns, find a new one…now.
To choose a toner, look for one that is specifically formulated for your skin type so that you can avoid as many irritants as possible.
But for you gals who are more adventurous and want to make your own at home, here are a couple of toners that you can try at home.
This first recipe has a softening effect on the skin and can also be used as a hair rinse. BONUS! Recommended for all skin types except sensitive, sunburned, windburned, irritated or acneic skin.
2 cups distilled water
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
10 drops of your favorite essential oil (lavender, lemon and geranium are popular choices)
Combine ingredients in a 3 cup or larger container and shake well to blend. Pour into storage container. No refrigeration required. Use within 1 year. Easy, peezy, lemon squeezy…..
A little note here: when you are purchasing your essential oils be sure to read the labels and know how they affect skin. The first time I did this, I went strictly on aroma (just like a rookie) and ended up buying an oil that had an astringent effect, when I have dry skin! Not good.
This next recipe is very refreshing and can also be applied to women’s legs, underarms and bikini area after shaving to prevent ingrown hairs. I must warn you, only do this as much as you can tolerate on your bikini line…it will sting a bit. This toner is recommended for those of you with oily, combo, acneic or balanced skin.
2 tablespoons fresh crushed peppermint, spearmint or lemon balm (adjust to 2 teaspoons if using dried)
½ cup plain vodka (that means unsweetened and unflavored, not the citrus version you were whipping up martinis with last weekend)
½ cup witch hazel
Using a mortar and pestle, crush the fresh herb and then combine all ingredients in a ½ pint jar (or larger) with a tight fitting lid. Allow the mixture to steep for 2 weeks in a cool, dark, dry area shaking vigorously every day.
After two long weeks of waiting, strain the liquid and pour into storage container. No refrigeration required. Use within 6 months.
Written by Alexandra Avery
While attending the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland last month, I took a train ride to Jungenfrau in the alps, the tallest mountain in Europe. On the way up to this mammoth glacier, I rode past fields and fields of wildflowers. Guess what I discovered? ALL of the blooming plants are the same healing herbs of Oregon that I've incorporated into my product line over the last 35 years! There they were, singing in the alpine breezes, as if to remind me that the unifying force of the plant kingdom is alive and well. Among the plants in flower were comfrey, butter cups, blue bonnet, chamomile, lavender (everywhere!), wild roses, borage, wild carrot, and St. Johnswort. It was an herbalists dream to be in the Heidi Hills of Switzerland.
I also visited the home clinic of La Prairie to see the latest in skin care treatments. This is the Swiss company that made a name for itself with its sheep stem cell injections before botox, etc. flooded the market. Now, they have formulated the treatment in an oral capsule. I'm still not interested, but it was a real treat to see the highest end Swiss spa in action, on the shore of Lake Geneva in Montreux.
Visit Alexandra Avery
Written by Lisa Testa for Shear Miracles Organic Products
Everyone loves the commercial when the model turns to face you with her luscious head of shiny, silky hair falling all over her shoulders. Have you longed for hair like that? Do you go through phases when your hair feels brittle and dry, or do you seem to lose clumps of hair at a time in the shower or when brushing? Part of this phenomenon can be due to the season and weather, but oftentimes it is due to various forms of hair damage that has occurred.
Hair damage can occur in five main ways:
1) Heat – hairdryers, hotcombs, hot curlers, straightening irons
2) UV Rays – over-exposure to sunlight and tanning salons
3) Mechanical Devices – overuse of combs, brushes, curling irons, etc
4) Chemicals – hair coloring, perms, relaxers, swimming pool, air pollution
5) Poor Diet – Lack of protein and essential fatty acids
These elements all contribute in different ways to the amount of damage in your hair. There are many things that we can do to lessen the damage, and also help our hair to rebuild and be strong and healthy again.
One thing that you can do is to search out a salon that uses an organic hair coloring/treating system before your next appointment (Check the website for a Shear Miracles Salon near you!). This will ensure that your hair will not be laden with harmful chemicals (This is especially important if you are pregnant or nursing!) like ammonia. Ammonia is one of the most dangerous chemicals we can be exposed to, yet it is found in nearly all conventional hair colors and dyes.
The second thing you can do is make sure that your diet is fortified with essential fatty acids (EFAs). Deficiencies of EFAs are surprisingly very common in affluent countries, due to the typical diet of processed foods, refined sugars and flours, and refined fats. Our bodies need plant sources of essential fats likes Omega-3s and Omega-6s in order to function properly. These fats can be found in foods like flaxseeds, hemp seeds, leafy greens, raw pumpkin seeds, raw sunflower seeds, raw walnuts, olives, sprouts, and all cold-pressed vegetable oils. Including more of these foods will allow your hair to receive all the healthy nutrients it needs to shine with health.
Finally, using a shampoo and conditioner that is protein fortified will result in great improvement to damaged hair. 88% of our hair is proteins, so it stands to reason that a protein-rich shampoo/conditioner would help rebuild a lack of proper protein in our hair. A wonderful product is Shear Miracles Tuff’N Up Organic Protein Boost shampoo and conditioner. These products are fortified with silk and hemp proteins which help with hair that has been damaged from color and perms. They also build up thinning hair and help to prevent hair loss. Hemp protein is a great source of complete plant protein, and one that is easily absorbed and used by our bodies. From the moment our Tuff’N Up products hit the scalp, they begin to revitalize, rebuild, and restore dry, brittle, and damaged hair, putting you directly on the path towards hair that is vibrant, shiny, and smooth.
Taking good care of our hair requires us to make healthy choices on the inside AND the outside. What we eat shines through in our hair and skin, what we expose ourselves to shows results in the way in which we look, and the products we use either damage our hair or strengthen it. Make healthier choices for the inside and outside of your body…and your hair will surely thank you for it with a lustrous glow!
Shear Miracles Organic Salon & Products
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Written by Gina Rafkind of VedaSun
When I think of a ritual, I think of an action performed to bring more mindfulness into my day - this is what a ritual means to me. I use them daily to bring more awareness into my life. The frequency with which they are done is your choice; daily, weekly, monthly. It's up to you.
A ritual does not have to be a lengthy ceremony. It could be as simple as saying an affirmation when you wake up in the morning to start your day. Or it could be taking a deep inhale and exhale before getting out of bed. Of course it could be something that takes longer such as a nice warm hot bath.
~In a nutshell, a ritual is something you do to bring your awareness into the present moment.~
Whatever ritual you choose, aromatherapy can enhance it. Using essential oils adds a little sacredness. These natural essences from nature help to raise the energetic vibration of our intention.
~When you perform a ritual, there is usually an intention behind it.~
For instance, one ritual I do almost every night before I go to bed is massage my feet and hands with an aromatherapy body oil. My intention behind this act is to bring my awareness into the present moment by using my senses as a pathway to presence. I pay attention as I work the oil into my feet and hands, being grateful that they are here to allow me to do the work I do. I also inhale the amazing scent from the essential oils which calms my body and mind. It takes me all of about 2 minutes to do this, but adds so much to the quality of my sleep. I can feel the difference when I do not do it.
Meditating is also a ritual where essential oils can benefit. Certain essential oils calm the mind such as Frankincense, Myrrh and Sandalwood. You can inhale one of these essential oils right from the bottle or make an aromatherapy mist or oil to annoint yourself with before meditating to quiet the mind and reach a deeper place within.
Starting your day with a ritual can help set the tone of your day and ending with one can help you prepare for a good night's sleep. Try adding some essential oils to deepen your intention and pave your way to your pathway to presence.
*Important Note: Before using any essential oils, check with your medical practitioner if you have any health concerns or conditions or if you are pregnant or nursing.
Gina Rafkind is founder of VedaSun--using your senses as a pathway to presence. If you are ready to reawaken to your true inner being and know profound freedom and deep peace, then visit http://www.vedasun.com to sign up and get your free report, Break~Out, Be~Free. You will be inspired to start your journey of unleashing your vibrant inner self by implementing Gina's 4 empowering techniques. Plus, feel free to browse and discover VedaSun's naturally--sourced Aromatherapy skincare.
Written by Lisa Testa for Shear Miracles Organic Products
Exposing our skin to natural sunlight is a vital part of maintaining good health. When sunlight interacts with our skin, our bodies produce Vitamin D. Although natural Vitamin D is found in a few food sources (egg yolk, shrimp, salmon, tuna, and cod liver oil), it cannot be properly assimilated or utilized without the help of some sunlight. Even in ancient times it was widely known that sunbathing was healthful and restorative for the body. Modern studies support this tradition, with findings stating that exposure to the sun can increase energy levels, lower blood pressure, and enhance the immune system.
Modern studies also tell us that the ozone layer, a protective shield in the upper atmosphere which absorbs the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation, is thinning and even non-existent in many places. Polluting the air with CFCs and other harmful chemicals has deteriorated the earth’s natural sunblock over time, which means that we need to provide our own protective barrier in the form of sunscreen.
Parents have been lathering sunscreen on their children for years, regularly re-applying throughout the course of a hot, sunny day. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the fact that many commercial sunscreens are laden with harmful chemicals that are directly absorbed into the skin. These chemicals have been shown to have three devastating effects on humans:
1) They generate free radicals which increase cellular damage and lead to cancer.
2) They have strong estrogenic activity, which means that some of these chemical interfere with normal sexual development.
3) They are synthetic chemicals which are foreign, and therefore toxic to the body. These toxins accumulate in the body’s fat stores and what’s worse, travel from generation to generation. DDT, Dioxin, and PCBs, for example, have been banned in the United States for many years yet when a newborn baby’s blood is tested, it will have alarmingly high levels of these toxic substances…Scary!
In order to protect yourself and your family, you must carefully read the labels of any products going directly onto the skin. Check sunscreens specifically for the following chemical ingredients: Avobenzone, Benzophenones, PABA and PABA esters, Cinnamates, Salicylates, Digalloyl trioleate, and Menthyl anthranilate. At first sign of these names, the sunscreen should be disposed of, and a natural replacement should be sought out.
Everyone loves summer fun in the sun…but there’s nothing fun about skin damage, cancer, DNA damage, and toxic build-up. Protect your family from the sun’s radiation AND sunscreen’s harmful chemicals…Use a natural sunscreen and relax in knowing that you can be safe and stress-free while you have your fun in the sun!
Shear Miracles Organic Salon & Products
Overexposed: Tips for Staying Sun Safe in the Dog Days of Summer
Written by Donya Fahmy of Dropwise Essentials
As a formulator and manufacturer of all natural plant-based personal care products, I often get asked if any Dropwise products contain sunscreens. The answer is no. Sunscreens are considered over-the-counter drugs regulated by the FDA, and except for two ingredients, all the sunscreen ingredients currently approved by the FDA are synthetic chemicals --some of which are known to be irritants and toxic.
I’ve researched sun care and sunscreens for some time now in the hopes of finding a breakthrough in natural ingredients that could replace the chemical sunscreens that are prevalent in
today’s sun care products. While there are promising developments on the horizon and valid science to support them, we are not there yet.
In the past, having a golden tan was a sign of beauty and health, and sun protection was all about maximizing opportunities to tan while avoiding the pain and discomfort of getting burned. Now, valid or not, the consensus among dermatologists and doctors seems to be that any exposure to the sun is harmful and can lead to cancer.
Yet in spite of the proliferation of products with SPF 30 and greater, and the over blown dire warnings not to ever leave your house without sunscreen, the incidence of skin cancer in the U.S. continues to grow at an alarming rate. So how can you find out what your true risk is?
There are many factors that determine your risk level including what your skin type is; hereditary factors that could make you more risk-prone; where you live (i.e. altitude and latitude); the amount and type of fats in your diet; whether you are taking certain meds; the time of day and length of exposure; and the biggest predictor of all: how much over-exposure you had as a child and young adult.
If you regularly and religiously apply some form of sunscreen, how much you apply, when, where, and how often all affect the product’s ability to successfully filter out the different ultraviolet (UV) rays that damage skin and can cause skin cancer.
Here’s a quick summary of what you need to know:
UVA vs. UVB Radiation. There’s still a debate over which type of exposure is more harmful. UVB rays are what cause sunburns and are also what your body uses to convert sunlight into Vitamin D. Most sunscreens primarily protect against UVB, which was originally thought to be the main cause of skin cancer. Now there is reason to believe that UVA rays cause more skin damage in the long run and play a larger role in skin cancer. There is currently no standard for formulating “broad spectrum” sunscreens that protect against both. Ironically, the Vitamin D that your body gets from UVB exposure plays a vital role in keeping bones and teeth strong, and helps protect against breast, prostate and colon cancers --making a strong case for a minimal amount of daily unprotected exposure.
Diminishing Returns of Higher SPFs. There’s a lot of confusion over how effective higher value SPFs really are at providing more protection. Most consumers think that stepping up from an SPF 15 to an SPF 30 doubles your protection and the amount of time you can stay in the sun. But in fact, because of the way SPF is calculated, this step up actually offers less than a 4% increase in protection! No SPF will absorb 100% of UV rays, so don’t even bother with any product boasting an SPF higher than 30. There’s also growing concern that the lab testing methods used to establish SPFs are not consistent enough to reflect the vagaries of usage and actual conditions created by real sunlight.
Knowing that SPF values may not be entirely accurate, you shouldn’t rely on sunscreen as the sole method of protecting yourself.
Sunscreen vs. Sunblock. Sunscreens fall into two categories: chemical types and physical types. Chemical sunscreens generally absorb UVB radiation (the so-called “burning rays”) and then disperse that energy through chemical reactions --some of which can actually generate those dreaded “free radicals” that lead to cancer. Physical sunscreens –commonly known as sun blocks—come in the old-fashioned form of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, white creams that reflect radiation rather than absorb it. Sun blocks are the preferred form of sun protection but because of their texture many consumers don’t like them.
Nanoparticles and Micronization. In an attempt to make traditional sun block ingredients more palatable to the consumer, manufacturers have started to micronize the ingredients so they are readily absorbed into the skin and are no longer visible after application -- avoiding the whole pasty white war paint effect that make them so unappealing.
Unfortunately, this use of nanotechnology is currently unregulated and has some potentially serious health consequences. A 2006 Friends of the Earth report on the dangers of nanoparticles in skin and sun care products cited scientific research that showed many nanoparticles to be toxic to human tissue and cell structure. Their presence in the body can lead to oxidative stress, DNA mutation, and free radical generation --all risk factors for cancer. It’s best to avoid this form of sunscreen and stick to the traditional forms of zinc and titanium dioxide.
Natural vs. Synthetic. In addition to the toxicity posed by some chemical sunscreens, you should be concerned about all the other potentially harmful ingredients contained in many sunscreen products. The question to ask yourself is am I simply trading one poison for another?
Here are some additional tips to help you stay sun safe in the dog days of summer:
- Whether you use sunscreen or not, avoid prolonged exposure during the peak hours of 10 AM to 2 PM. Limit your initial exposure to shorter stretches (15 to 30 minutes at a time depending on skin type) until you build up a bit of a base tan, then you can gradually increase the amount of exposure.
- If you’re fair-skinned, wear protective clothing (long sleeves, pants) and a wide-brimmed hat whenever possible, and use a sunblock when in the sun
- Use a plant-based body oil made with coconut, jojoba, grape seed, rose hip seed, carrot and/or hemp seed oils as a pre-sun and after sun moisturizer. Research shows that moisturizers made with Vitamin E and C can help fight the free radicals produced by sun damage.
- Increase your intake of antioxidants through food and supplementation. Again, consuming foods that are high in Vitamins A (Beta Carotene), C and E can also help fight free radicals. This is especially important if you spend a lot of time in the sun!
- Avoid putting citrus essential oils on your skin when going out in the sun as some of them are photo-toxic and can increase your chances of getting burned.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and remember shade is your friend!
Copyright 2009 Dropwise Essentials
Donya Fahmy, is a green business owner and the creator of Dropwise Essentials' spa-quality aromatherapy body products that help you safely relieve stress, increase vitality, improve confidence, or simply manage your emotional state any time or place without popping a pill. For more free tips and valuable information visit www.dropwise.com and subscribe to the Dropwise Health & Beauty News Ezine or blog feed.
How to Green Your Beauty Routine: Cleansers 101
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Written by Elizabeth Domnisch
This is the first in a series of articles dedicated to exploring each step of our beauty routines; Cleansing, toning, exfoliating, moisturizing, sunscreens, and other specialty products such as serums, masks and scrubs. Now before you run the other direction screaming " Who has time for a 12 step system twice a day?" hear me out. I don't share all this information to overwhelm you, on the contrary. I hope to simplify this process for you. This series is a tool to help women understand what each step does, why it is important and then let each of you be the judge of whether or not you need to incorporate each step into your routine.
Your beauty routine is just that….yours. It should reflect your needs, not what your girlfriend uses or what the hottest new product is. Your needs are going to be based on a variety of different factors like what you eat, how much water you drink, what kind of climate you live in, even how hot or cold you keep your house, your natural skin type, your normal sun exposure, your stress and hormone levels and the list could go on and on. I use these examples to show that your skin care routine is VERY personal. Your beauty needs are NOT one size fits all as many companies and sales people would have you believe. It is a little art and a little science to get the right combination of products for your skin.
If you don’t use a product line from top to bottom, don’t feel bad. By the same token, don’t feel like you have to mix it up if one product line works really well for you. The point is to do what works for YOU. Finding the right products is often intimidating and misleading and I hope to help de-mystify this process and help women to understand the different kinds of products on the market so that YOU can decide what your needs are. My sincere hope and desire for this series is to use my experience from the beauty industry to approach this topic with humor and sincerity to help you feel more confident in the choices you are making and not to be “sweet talked” into buying something that you don’t need or doesn’t work for your skin. You will be able to shop smarter and fend off the fast talking smooth salespeople. See? I bet you already feel smarter....
The first step is cleansing. Most women are aware that we need to keep a clean face to keep dirt, oil and makeup from clogging pores which can lead to untold horrors. But a lot of us still don't know that we can clean TOO much. I'm afraid it's true. A lot of the detergents in main stream beauty products actually strip our skin of the GOOD oils on our face (did you know there was such a thing as good oil for your face?). Ingredients like sulfates, phthalates are to be avoided. Look for products with plant based ingredients that suit your skin type. For instance, someone with dry skin (like myself) would not find much use for a cleanser that is targeted for someone with oily skin. Ideally you should wash your face twice a day, once when you get up and once before you go to bed. Most of us wash our faces in the morning as we are getting dressed, but it's the night time that trips us up. After a long day, sometimes you just wanna crash. Buy yourself a spa CD ( I think I got mine from Target for $9), light a candle and make your night time beauty routine very relaxing. This way your night time routine is something you look forward to and it becomes less of a chore. But remember to be consistent.
Next, what some consider to be the “hard” part… going through the different kinds of cleansers so that you will know whick type of cleanser works best for your skin. Reminder! Wash your hands before you begin to wash your face. It doesn’t make sense to just switch out old dirt for new dirt.
Glycerin soaps and cleansing bars - And by cleansing bar, we don’t mean normal soap. If you are using normal soap right now, return it to its place in the shower (we won’t tell anyone, it will just be between us) and promptly find a facial bar. Normal soap is much too harsh for your face. There are specially formulated bars for delicate facial skin for those of you who like the feel of soap and water. You would use this like normal soap and water. Just lather up and scrub a dub dub (not too hard though) and then rinse with water. And glycerin soaps can be found in all sorts of pretty colors making shopping for these even MORE fun! These can be found for all skin types but generally work better for skin that is balanced or combination.
Cream or milk cleansers - These types of cleansers are definitely targeted for mature or dry skin. Don’t try these at home if you have oily or combination skin. The results will be less than spectacular. These cleansers have the double duty of moisturizing while they cleanse. They are very creamy and emollient. For the best results, apply with fingertips and allow to sit on the face for a few minutes and they wipe clean with clean moistened cotton balls or facial tissues.
Foaming cleansers - Ahhhh, there is nothing better than a good deep facial cleanse and that is where foaming cleansers come in. They are suited for deep cleaning, removing thick applications of makeup or for summertime, those thick layers of sunscreen that I know we are all wearing. As stated above, foaming cleansers are suited to deep cleaning so are typically better for oily, hormonally reactive or combination skin. If used on dry or mature skin, the cleansing might strip away the precious little oil on your face causing more drying, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have occasion to use a foaming cleanser.
Castile Soap - Yes, the same Castile Soap that is used for mopping, fruit washes, and bubble bath to name a few uses. That is one of the virtues of Castile Soap, not only does it work great for some as a facial cleanser, it can be used a ton of different ways. Now, like I said, there are plenty of people who cringe at the thought of using this kind of soap on your face, but I know plenty of people that it works wonders for! Do what works for YOU! These soaps are generally made with vegetable and herbal oils with specialty additions for different varieties. For example, some have aloe vera, some have lavender, etc. I have found that this type of cleanser works best for balanced, combination or oily skin.
Cleansing Wipes - While these are terribly convenient, I have not found a suitable one for daily use. These still tend to be mainstream thus utilizing an array of questionable ingredients. However, if you are traveling and need to keep something close by, then these would serve that purpose. Just as long as you keep their use to the short-term.
Cleansing Clays - There are several different kind of clays that get a lot of attention for their cleansing abilities so I will outline those. These can also be used as masks. To use these clays, mix with a small amount of water until mixture becomes a smooth paste. Oily, combination, reactive skin should leave the mixture on for 10-15 minutes. Dry and sensitive skin should rinse the treatment after 5 minutes, before it completely dries. Herbal water or essential oils can be added as well.
Bentonite Clay (aka Montmorillonite) - This clay is one of the most effective and healing clays on the market. It actually comes from volcanic ash sediments and the largest and most active deposits are in Wyoming and Montana. Bentonite is also edible! It has the ability to absorb toxins, impurities and heavy metals from the skin making it a great purifier and cleanser.
French Green Clay – A marvel! French Green Clay stimulates blood and lymph circulation ( making it great for masks on our thighs as well!), removes dead skin cells, absorbs impurities and fats and tones and strengthens connective tissues. French Green Clay products a fresh, smooth, radiant and soft skin! It also has a great reputation for helping to clear problem areas. Is gentle enough to be used weekly or even daily on problem spots.
Rhassoul Clay - An exquisite spa quality clay from Morocco. Rhassoul has a very high content of trace minerals, astringent and absorption properties. It also enjoys a reputation for effective cleansing and detoxification. Clinical studies have even shown Rhassoul clay to be effective on skin elasticity, removing dead skin cell layers, removing surface oil, unclogging pores, improving skin clarity and appearance and reducing flakiness and dryness of skin and scalp.
Kaolin – also known as White Cosmetic Clay. This is the mildest of cosmetic clays and gently draws out impurities without removing natural oils. Simultaneously, kaolin exfoliates, cleansing and stimulates circulation. Kaolin is suitable for all skin types.
A few other tips for night-time beauty:
- Buy yourself satin pillowcases. They absorb less oil from your skin, leaving it more supple and they are better for your hair as well, causing less breakage.
- Don't forget to wash your neck as well as your face. Our necks and décolletés are often overlooked in our beauty routines but age as fast or faster than our face.
- Wash your face with warm water, which “opens the door” to your pores to release dirt, oil, etc. Warm water also brings blood to the skin. Once you are done rinsing your cleanser off, rinse your face approximately 20 times with cool (not cold) water. The cool water “closes the door” on your pores to prevent any dirt, oil, etc from re-entering your pores. Cool water also sends the blood away from the skin. The back and forth of bringing blood close to the surface and then sending it away again improves circulation, which is the key to a glowing complexion!
The following is a homemade beauty recipe that I hope you'll enjoy making for yourself...
Herbal Facial Wash
- For normal,combination or oily skin
1 16 oz. bottle unscented liquid Castile soapAdd all of the oils to the bottle of Castile soap. Shake vigorously. Store the finished product right in the Castile soap bottle.
5 drops each of these essential oils:
1 teaspoon jojoba base oil