3 great uses of tea (camellia sinensis) for your skin

August 4, 2010
Black tea

Black Tea from Mountain Rose Herbs

I think most people know about the traditional use of soaked tea bags on the eyes for beauty-care. Why? Because of the astringency of tea, it makes a perfect mild toner for the skin and is especially good for keeping the complexion clean, smooth, and bright. That same astringency also reduces eye puffiness. Tea contains high amounts of polyphenols, which research suggests has protective effects against free radicals and toxins. Applied externally, tea, probably by way of these same compounds, also helps prevent against sun damage by squashing free radicals and reducing inflammation (not by blocking UV rays!). These properties also help prevent signs of aging by reducing the inflammation that can lead to wrinkles. Using green tea, and other tea (Camellia Sinensis) preparations with freshly brewed concoctions, taken internally or used externally, is the best way to receive the benefits from this wonderful plant!

Tea Toner
1/4 cup boiling water
2 tea bags — (green, white, oolong, or black)
1/4 witch hazel distillate

Pour boiling water over tea bags.
Steep at 30 min – 1 hr or longer for a strong infusion.
Combine cooled tea with witch hazel. (the distillate is better to use than commercially prepared witch hazel preparations found in drug stores)

Tub Tea
Large muslin bag or extra-large tea-ball
1/4 cup dried herbs (optional)
1/4 cup dried tea (green, white, oolong or black)
1/4 cup sea salts (optional)

The same properties that make tea so lovely for the face, also make it great for a full-body bathing ritual. Some herbs you can add to the tea blend include rosemary (stimulating), chamomile (relaxing), lavender (relaxing), raspberry leaves (invigorating), mint (stimulating), sage (cleansing, thyme (cleansing), lemon verbena (stimulating, cleansing), and rose (relaxing, comforting).

Sweet Feet Tea
Astringency at its best! Keep your feet smelling fragrant and clean. Soaking feet in black tea helps reduce foot odor and perspiration. How? The tannins in tea actually change the skin’s pH!

2 black tea bags
2 cups boiling water
2 quarts cool water

Make a very strong infusion: steep tea bags in boiling water for 30 min – 1 hour
Fill a large bowl or plastic pan (rectangular plastic dishwashing tubs work great for this) with cool water and mix in tea infusion.
Soak feet for 20-30 min. Repeat treatment daily for a week to achieve a decrease in foot odor.

If you have some favorite tea beauty rituals, share them with me!
If you are a tea lover, you might also like a post I wrote a little while ago on various blends of Indian Chai Tea


CALM your skin: what the ingredients actually do

February 12, 2010
Red Tea

Red Tea, courtesy of Mountain Rose Herbs

 

In product descriptions in my Etsy shop, I often write about ingredients that act to “calm” the skin. What does that mean, exactly? For one thing, someone might turn to ingredients that calm the skin because she experiences redness, puffiness, dark circles, potentially inflammatory conditions such as rosacea or acne, and needs the harmonizing power of doubly calming & regenerative ingredients for more mature skin. 

Some of the ingredients used in the skin care industry include those that contain ANTI-OXIDANTSESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS (ESFs), and ANTI-INFLAMMATORY compounds.  In fact, many of these ingredients contain all three qualities, as anti-oxidants and essential fatty acids both work to reduce inflammation, and certain extracts or oils contain both anti-oxidants and essential fatty acids. 

Cinnamon

Cinnamon

 

We can get these compounds in our diets, and certainly that is the best way to bring these nutrients to your skin, that great filtering organ that can benefit –or suffer from–whatever we put into our bodies. Antioxidants are found in colored fruits, leafy greens, and colorful vegetables, as well as green, white, and black tea, red (rooibos) tea, cinnamon, coffee, and black pepper. Essential Fatty Acids include Omega 3,6, & 9′s are found in fatty fish, flaxseed, and walnuts, among other sources. Dietwise, we get plenty of Omega 6 & 9′s regardless, so what you want to focus on are getting those Omega 3′s from good, fresh sources (i.e. keep your walnuts in the freezer to prevent rancidity). Anti-inflammatory qualities are found in superfruits like blueberry, mangosteen, goji berry (or chinese wolf berry/lyciium fruit), acai, and powerhouse herbs such as turmeric, lavender and chamomile.  You can get a great solid blueberry extract at Herbalist & Alchemist. The benefit of these superfruits is that they contain both antioxidants AND anti-inflammatory compounds, as these qualities often come from the same source. 

  

Blueberries

Blueberries

 

Anti-oxidants reduce free-radical damage and help repair the skin and protect it from long-term damage. In your skincare products, when you see extracts or oils from fruits & vegetables such as blueberry, carrot, or kelp, you know you’re getting something that is high in anti-oxidants. Extracts are usually alcohol “tinctures” which act to chemical extract these active compounds. You might see CO2 extracts, which can closely resemble the original plant, or alcohol extracts. It is preferable to have extracts made from grain alcohol instead of ethyl alcohol. Another type of extract can be created from glycerin, which adds additional moisture content to the product.  Oils used in bath & beauty products can also be high in antioxidants, including carrot, coconut, and meadowfoam seed oil. These high anti-oxidant oils not only protect your skin but they prevent further damage. There are many herbs that are rich in anti-oxidants as well, including Tea leaf (black, white and green), Rooibos, Cinnamon, and Rosehips. 

Essential Fatty Acids (ESFs) are usually found in oils that are rich in Omega 3, 6 & 9′s. Some of these oils include sunflower seed, safflower seed, rosehip seed, borage, evening primrose, camellia seed, sweet almond, and walnut oils among others. Borage oil is a fabulous source of the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), and as the GLA of borage oil is 24% , it  is actually the richest known source in the world. Amazingly, GLA is needed by the body to produce the anti-inflammatory protaglandins believed to strengthen cell membranes & combat diseases such as eczema, arthritis, and other inflammatory conditions.  Essential Fatty Acids are superior moisture-grabbers. Research suggests that some of those with eczema or severely dry skin may have an ESF deficiency and would benefit from ESF-rich diet and skin care attention. Therefore, it is important for anyone with dry skin issues, especially dry, flaky and reddened skin to make sure they use products rich in ESFs both externally and internally. 

lavender

Lavender

 

Some favorite anti-inflammatory herbs are Turmeric and Chamomile. Turmeric is the anti-inflammatory herb of choice in Ayurvedic medicine and is also high in anti-oxidants. Chamomile is another favorite anti-inflammatory that I often use in the treatment of skin conditions such as eczema, as it seems to have clinically proven benefits as great as that of topical steroids. Holy Basil, or Tulsi, my ‘herb of choice’ for 2010, also has mild anti-inflammatory qualities. Essential oils and distillates/ hydrosols, the by-product of steam distillation, can also contain potent anti-inflammatory qualities in skin care products. Helichrysum hydrosol and essential oil, for example, is a strong anti-inflammatory often called ‘Imortelle’ or ‘Everlasting’ because of its wonderful anti-inflammatory and regenerative properties. Lavender is another herb that is wonderful to use as an essential oil, distillate, or extract for its anti-inflammatory compounds, and its calming activity on the skin has been seen in individuals with rosacea and acne. 

I hope that helps clear up a few questions! Are there ingredients that you’ve noted lately and have wondered about? If so, let me know!


Natural Remedies Tip #2: Honey mask for oily, blemished skin

August 12, 2009

honey_herbal_4Raw, unprocessed honey is ideal for treating oily, blemished skin. Even better, an herbal-infused honey can add more ‘punch’ to the already wonderful qualities of raw honey. Generally speaking, honey’s antibacterial properties, combined with being a wonderful humectant, serves to moisturize the skin without clogging pores or contributing to excess oil production. A ‘humectant’ attracts moisture, actually drawing water right out of the air, and thus, honey has fabulous hydrating abilities.  Jeanne Rose, the famous essential oil distiller and aromatherapist, recommends a “honey pat” or a facial mask (best done in the bath tub!), wherein raw honey is applied to the face and then tap-tap-tapped with the fingers until it becomes tacky (‘type your face like a keyboard’). When you remove the mask with warm water, best done with a warm washcloth, you will find your skin to be supple and soft. Adding cosmetic clay to the mask provides more drawing & detoxifying properties, thus increasing the cleansing potential of the mask.

Honey & Clay Mask

2 Tbsp raw, unprocessed honey or an herb-infused honey (with antiseptic herbs like rosemary, thyme, or sage)
1 tsp cosmetic clay (French Green, Bentonite, Fuller’s Earth, Rhassoul, or Dead Sea)
2 drops lavender essential oil (soothes inflammation, antiseptic, healing

Bonus: If you have it, try adding a tsp of seaweed (powdered or ground in a coffee grinder) to benefit from seaweed’s balancing, mineral rich properties too!


Natural Remedies Tip #1: Heal Skin Rash with Clay

August 5, 2009

Welcome to my new series of weekly tips introducing some easy, home-made, DIY tips for handy remedies using natural, inexpensive, readily available ingredients. These might include remedies for your body, pets, home, natural environment, cooking, or garden. Thank you for visiting to read my first tip. For these posts, I also welcome you to ask me random questions that could be addressed in future tip posts, so please do comment!

Green Clay: Mountain Rose Herbs

Green Clay: Mountain Rose Herbs

Clay! Waaaaay more useful than you might think. Yes, you can make pots with it, but it also helps clear up skin conditions such as rashes, even those caused by bacteria, including MRSA. French green clay is a cosmetic clay that is especially good for bacterial infections, including Methicillin-Resistant Staph. Aureus (MRSA) and is also useful for killing salmonella and E.colli when used internally.

If you have a skin rash caused by a poisonous plant and/or insect bite that is red and inflammed, apply a poultice of cosmetic clay (including bentonite, french green, dead sea, fuller’s earth, kaolin, and other cosmetic clays, though the first two listed are probably the best choices), aloe vera gel, and peppermint essential oil. The clay is drying and draws out toxins, aloe vera promotes healing, and peppermint oil is cooling and temporarily relieves itching. Add a few drops of lavender for added anelgesic (pain-relieving) strength.

Directions:
2 Tbsp cosmetic clay
Aloe Vera Gel
2 drops peppermint essential oil
2 drops lavender essential oil.

Mix the clay with just enough aloe vera to make a paste. Add the essential oils, spread the paste on the rash, and let it dry (15-30 min). Reapply the poultice mixture as often as you wish until symptoms subside!

My favorite source for French Green Clay is Mountain Rose Herbs, and thank you MRH for the photo above!


A word about the divine Body Polish

March 16, 2009

I’d be remiss in not at least once bringing up the pure luxury of a simple salt or sugar scrub. First of all, you don’t have to pay huge amounts of money for this kind of product, as it’s something you can easily make in your own home! That said, of courseit’s worth the $12 to buy my beautiful essential oil blended scrubs with premium dead sea salts, a diverisity of high quality therapeutic oils, and nice packaging. (I had to say that, I’m running a business) But seriously, $12 is a totally reasonable price. Many companies charge upwards of $25 or more for such a product. And again, you can do this yourself!

Salt or sugar scrubs are absolutely marvelous. There are many versions out there, some which contain soap or ‘whipped’ soap, some that are emulsified with other oils and waxes (such as my brown sugar scrub) and many that are simple combinations of salt or sugar and oils. Cheap versions –such as some chain bath & body stores that I won’t name outright–use petroleum-based oils as the primary ingredient in these products. Not helpful. The point of a body scrub is to provide exfoliation to slough off the outer dead skin sells and thus ‘polish’ the skin into a healthy, revitalized glow. Not only does this get rid of the dull outer skin cells, but it also increases circulation and invigorates the tissue. The oils then sink into the fresh layer of skin to provide nourishment, moisture, and protection from the elements. Indeed, oils not only provide SPF protection against UV rays, but the oil also acts as a natural barrier to keep the skin from getting too dry or chapped. Scrubs are great in the summer because they keep your skin glowy and fresh, and somehow, even more necessary in the winter because they keep your skin protected and well-moisturized. I find that I don’t need a moisturizer when I use a polish towards the end of a shower or bath, and my skin doesn’t get that winter itchy, dry feeling that is the norm.

For those who don’t like applying oils directly to the skin in this way or like something a bit smoother in texture, an emulsified scrubis ideal. This is a bit more high-tech to make and so it’s better purchased, but emulsified scrubs do eliminate the slippery oils that can often coat the floor of the bath tub in the former. Some people hate those oils and also find the salts a bit too harsh if they have extra sensitive skin. The oils are actually in a solid state, adhered to the fine sugar crystals, so the texture is like fine breadcrumbs. A handfull of this can really do the trick in gently exfoliating and moisturizing the skin.

So how do you make something like this at home instead of spending a lot of cash on the so-called ‘upscale’ spa version?
Well, it’s simple.
DIY – Simple Sugar or Salt Scrub.
1. Find a nice container – plastic or glass – and make sure it is clean and dry. It’s very important that you keep the container as dry as possible and try to avoid getting water in the scrub unless you intend to use it up quickly, as the introduction of water can create a potential for mold growth, especially if the scrub sits around with water in it.
2. Fill the container with salts or sugar – it doesn’t matter what kind, though an extra course texture of salt or sugar will be more ‘scratchy’. I find that the finer the texture, the better, in most cases. Leave a little of room on the top but not more than 1/2″ – 1″.
3. Add a little Vit E (squeeze out one capsule or add 1/2 tsp oil) to prevent rancidity (if you have it on hand).
4. Add the fragrance. Start with 20 - 30 drops of your favorite essential oil. I generally advise away from most fragrance oils because of the presence of pthalates and because only true essential oils offer aromatherapeutic benefit. That said, some essential oils are extremely expensive, so you might have to use a fragrance oil to get the scent you want. For true essential oils that are readily available and affordable: Try ylang  ylang for intense, heady floral notes; orange for a lovely citrus fragrance: peppermint & rosemary for something zesty and refreshing (don’t overdo the e.o.s on this); lavender for its beautiful, relaxing qualities; or patchouli for it’s earthy, sensual scent.
5. Fill the container with a skin-nutritive, natural oil or blend of oils. Jojoba, Sesame, Olive, Grape seed, or other oils, many of which you may be able to find in small quantities at your grocery store. Do NOT use mineral oil, J&J “baby oil” (How can J&J actually market this for babies?), or other petroleum-based oils, as these are equivalent to putting saran wrap on your skin. The petroleum oil creates a barrier but doesn’t provide any true moisturization or nutrition for your skin cells. It’s basically a useless oil slick, as far as I’m concerned.

Voila! Pure luxury for the bath time ritual and an absolute must for regular skin exfoliation and moisturization.
See my store for various salt scrubs, including my Ayurvedic Healing Scrub for those who suffer from skin conditions such as psoriasis.


Secret Ingredient: Carrot Seed Oil (daucus carota sativa)

February 9, 2009
Colorful Carrots

Colorful Carrots

The oil derived from Carrot seed (daucus carota sativa) is a premier skin healing, rejuvinating oil. It is this wonderful oil’s high carotol content that gives it it’s reknowned skin-regenerative properties, which is why it is a key ingredient to skin special products such as my Rejenerative Skin Serum and eye creams like my Chamomile and Green Tea Eye Potion. (visit http://www.lilithsapothecary.etsy.com)

Carrot Seed Oil is a thin, yellow oil distilled from ground seeds is rich in Beta-Carotene. Not only beneficial for mature skin, sundamaged skin, or skin that is exposed to harsh weather conditions, it is also valued for its soothing, relaxing properties. Part of its strength is that it not only helps sun spots or other signs of age or damage fade over time, but it also helps to prevent wrinkles from forming in the first place! Look for this ingredient in top class facial care products aimed for skin regeneration or repair.

Try this on for size!

DIY Rejenerative Treatment Oil
* This can be used as a facial treatment moisturizer, make-up remover, or oil cleanser.

15 drops Carrot Seed Essential Oil
10 drops Rosewood Essential Oil
5 drops Geranium Essential Oil
2 Tablespoons Carrot Seed Oil (different from the E.O. ~ an infused or mascerated oil made from the pulp)
4 Tablespoons Jojoba oil or sweet almond Oil

Shake well, store in a dark, glass bottle or jar.


Check out my new Clarifying Skin Serum

October 20, 2008

Facial oils have been in use for centuries, and present the most pure moisturization available. Oil has gotten a bad rap and I’m not sure why, except that most commercial products are created with petroleum-based products that are more like saran wrap on the skin than a nourishing body oil. (Yes – in fact, you should go look at the Real Ingredients listed on most commercial products…petroleum/”mineral” oils all over the place!!)  In fact, natural vegetable, nut, seed, other plant oils can help heal blemishes and acne, and many pure botanical essential oils are also used for just this purpose.

Precious ingredients are included to promote healing and provide extra nourishment and each essential oil was carefully chosen for its specific properties for this skin type. These are those same precious ingredients we’re going to look into more and find out exactly what they are and what they do! This is going to be fun.

My new line of facial serums are packaged in 85ml cobalt blue glass bottle with dispenser pump. Use one or two drops on the face at bed time and/or in the morning as needed. I especially love to follow application with a clean spray of my white peach & rose facial mist for extra hydration. Any hydrosol will do, and it seems to just revive and refresh in all the best ways. This bottle of skin serum will last you a very long time when you’re only using 2-4 drops a day!

INGREDIENTS:
Jojoba oil infused with organic calendula blossoms (much like the skin’s own natural sebum; healing),Hazelnut oil, Meadowfoam seed oil (rejuvinating), Rosehip seed oil (anti-wrinkle), Vit E (antioxident), Rosemary oil extract (antioxident), seabuckthorn berry oil (prized for damaged skin; anti-aging, anti-wrinkle), evening primrose CO2 extract (nourishing), helio carrot (root) CO2 extract, calendula CO2 extract (healing); essential oils of patchouli (anti-acne, regulates oil production), vir. cedarwood (toning), palmarosa, tea tree (healing, anti-acne), lime (toning), ylang ylang, lemongrass (balancing oil production)

My next post will start looking more closely at some of the CO2 extracts (and what that means)…

Clarifying Skin Serum

Clarifying Skin Serum


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 479 other followers