Wonderful Review of my Clarifying Serum on Hot Ink

January 9, 2012

Clarifying SerumWhat a Treat! I just read a wonderful review of my Clarifying Serum on a product review site called Hot Ink.  The reviewer has been using the serum for a year, and though she started with skin that was dryish in places, but also prone to oiliness, acne, and sensitivity, all of these issues have been resolved from using this serum as her primary moisturizer. I made a fresh batch just a week ago and can attest to how chock-full of goodness it is. I now infuse the oils with organic thyme (antiseptic), chamomile (anti-inflammatory), and calendula (healing) to further bolster the power of the oils. Yay! I love to hear  success stories with what I believe to be a great product, and I really wanted to share this with all of you, my dear readers. (I know you likely thought I had dropped off the edge of the planet, but fear not, I haven’t, and trust me: I am getting back on board with devotion to my blog. Lots of news to update you on! And I will! Soon.) For now, read this awesome review. 🙂

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

Home Spa: Beauty Blossom Facial Part II

March 25, 2009

facial_mask_4 Part II:  The All-Important Facial Mask

Ah yes, the facial mask. Quite possibly the most intantly transformative part of your home facial. Facial masks should be applied to a very clean face and are wonderful when preceeded by an herbal facial steam, such as that outlined in Part I. Clay masks have been used for refining delicate facial tissue for ages, as it serves to detoxify, smooth, reduce the appearance of pores, and balance facial tone, including the reduction of redness and even flakiness.

What you need here are 1) good quality facial clay, and 2) botanicals that will help address any facial issues you might have. Below, I will help you in this process by giving you a sample structure for creating your own simple facial mask, depending on your skin type.

Facial Clays:
Cosmetic clays of different varieties are quarried from mines all over the world. Some examples of facial clays are French green clay, Moroccan Rhassoul red clay, Fuller’s Earth clay, Dead Sea clay, Bentonite clay, and Kaolin (white) clay. Having good quality clay is important, as you don’t want a mask that is filled out with lesser quality ingredients, and different clays can provide a different outcomes. Good sources for fine clays include Mountain Rose Herbs, Essential Wholesale, and From Nature with Love. In the following paragraphs, I’ll talk about two good quality, often used, and highly effective facial clays: French Green Clay and Moroccan Rhassoul red clay.

Fench green clay is heavily used in the cosmetic industry as a facial clay, but that said, it is difficult to get significant quantities of any effective clay in over-the-counter facial masks. You are better off making your own, purchasing masks from a reputable, quality-driven seller (a-hem), or attending a good spa for a professional facial. If a clay is purchased already ‘wet’, it must be used quickly once opened or is subject to mold or bacteria growth. It is for this reason that I sell my facial clay & herb masks as powders.  This way, we can avoid high levels of preservatives in a facial treatment, and you can also control your ‘wetting agent’ to better suit your skin type.

French green clay is a great clay for all skin types, but you might want to mix it with French white (Kaolin) clay if you have sensitive skin, as it is a ‘strong’ clay, in terms of its drawing power. A wonderful detoxifier for the skin, green clay draws out impurities, toxins, and pollutants from the skin, all the while tightening pores and smoothing the facial tissue. This drawing action also serves to stimulate circulation, bringing blood to the surface of thes skin and thus, revitalizing and ‘awakening’ facial tissue. French green clay is also rich in minerals and nutrients, and thus adds additional skin nourishing power to a facial application. Try using this clay with some of the herbs or fruits for normal to oily skin below to help balance oily skin and treat acne issues.

ayurv_mask2Moroccan Rhassoul red clay:
Drawn from below the Atlas mountains in Morocco, rhassoul clay is a centuries old, but also a newly popular facial clay with Western spas. This fine, red clay has wonderful skin-balancing properties. It is suited for all skin types, but especially loved among those with mature, dry, and/or sensitive skin. It acts as a gentle exfolliant but is also rich in minerals such as Silica, Magnesium, Iron, Calcium, Potassium and Sodium. Clinical studies have found (www.irsi.org) that rhassoul clay reduces dryness (79%), reduces flakiness (41%), improves skin clarity (68%), improves skin elasticity and firmness (24%), and improves skin texture (106%). I am not even sure how 106% is even possible, but this clay definately does good work! My own Moroccan Rhassoul mask incorporates healing myrrh, the humectant honey, oat starch, and mineral-rich dead sea salts for a nutrient-rich powerhouse that has moisturizing, healing, and soothing properties on top of the clay’s detoxifying properties.

Herbal, Vegetable, or fruit additions for various skin types:
1) Normal to Dry ~ irish moss, chamomile, apple, oranges, avocado, pear, melon
2) Normal to average or combination skin~ lavender, rose petals, chamomile, tangerine, carrot, peppermint, banana, peach, zucchini
3) Normal to oily skin~ kelp, lemongrass, lemon peel, orange peel, cherry, strawberry, peach, apricot, tomato
4) Troubled skin in need of healing~comfrey root, calendula blossoms, lavender, chamomile, holy basil, red sandalwood, myrrh, neem

Other helpful additives:
Oatmeal (soothing, softening, moisturizing), Honey (antibacterial, humectant, hydrating), Rosehips (exfoliant), Apricot Kernal meal (exfoliant), Yoghurt powder (nutrients, moisturizing, smoothing), Buttermilk powder or Milk powder (nutrients, moisturizing, smoothing), Dead sea salts (minerals, exfoliant), Vinegar (pH balancing, antiseptic), coffee grounds (exfoliant) 

Wetting Agents:  As the facial powder will be dry, you will need to choose a ‘wetting agent’ according to the condition or needs of your skin. Of course, regular filtered or spring water can be used, but you could also choose your favorite (non-alchohol) astringent, natural cleanser, or heavy cream, milk, or yoghurt for more moisturizing effect. Botanical hydrosols, or distillates, are the water by-product of steam distillation, when the essential oil is extracted from a plant. Some distillers work specifically to produce incredibly good quality distillates that can also be used for aromatherapeutic use because the hydrosol retains many of the same beneficial properties as the essential oil or indeed, the plant itself. Hydrosols or pure aloe vera are my favorite choices for facial mask applications.

Aloe Vera gel is a fabulous wetting agent, but be sure to get the good stuff! You want the natural, liquid type of gel that is also drinkable (though not the kind sold as a kind of pop drink in Asian countries). Aloe is a bit ‘drying’ and also tonifying, so it’s great for oily skin, in addition to its well-known skin healing properties.

Rose Distillate or Hydrosol is another wonderful wetting agent that has age-old tonifying properties, also blessed with a heavenly fragrance. It is also said to reduce the appearance of capillaries, and thus can be fabulous for mature and/or damaged skin. Real Bulgarian rose hydrosol is a wonderful treat to the senses with tremendous benefit to the skin.

Lavender Distillate or Hydrosol seems to be helpful for rosaccea but is also effective for all other skin types. It’s tonifying strength makes it a good choice for oily skin. It smells nice but not the same as the essential oil, so be prepared for the difference! I use this in my Lavender facial cream to address the tonifying needs of normal to oily skin types, but because it also appears to help address the needs of those with rosacea, or an inflammed, reddish, sensitive skin.

Orange Blossom (Neroli) Distillate or Hydrosol is a lovely, fragrant and very safe hyrosol. Yes, it’s tonifying, but it is also appropriate for sensitive, dry skin, as well as children! You can use this very gentle hydrosol in myriad ways. I make my Orange Rosewood facial cream, and its mate, the Orange Blossom (unscented) cream with this hydrosol because of its therapeutic effect. The Orange Blossom cream is called thus because though it is unscented, it is still gifted with the lovely, light scent of the neroli flower.

Some other hydrosols: Lemon balm (uplifting, fragrant, tonifying), Rose Geranium (gently astringent, tonifying), Sandalwood (healing, balancing), Cucumber (soothing, cooling), Chamomile (soothing, sensitive, anti-inflammatory), Witch hazel (tonifying, astringent)

NOTE: For herbs, use powdered herbs or grind them into a fine powder by using a clean coffee or spice grinder. For fruit and/or vegetable additions, you can just squeeze out the juice and add the juice to the clay to wet it, and then mix in the pulp and apply directly to the face)

Add 1 – 2 Tbsp. facial clay
Add 1 tsp powdered herb (or herb blend)
Add 1 tsp additonal additive, such as powdered oatmeal, milk, or honey
Add wetting agent a little at a time until the powder becomes a smooth paste. Don’t add too much!

Apply to clean face, avoiding the eyes, and leave application on until it dries and becomes tight, aiming for 15-30 minutes. Use a warm, wet washcloth to gently remove mask and behold the radient glow of your refreshened skin! You may indeed experience some redness for a little while after the application, so it’s best to do this at night, before bedtime. By morning, the redness should be gone.  Facial masks should be done up to once a week, but it’s good practice to do a mask at least once a month to refresh the skin and rid it of environmental pollutants and toxins, particularly if you live in an urban environment.

Home Spa: Beauty Blossom Facial – PART I

March 18, 2009

facial_steam_loose_3Do you dream about that fabulous facial you had…oh, once upon a time? Most of us can’t afford a facial these days, especially at $50-$150 for an hour long treatment. The good news is that anyone can do an incredibly luxurious, spa quality facial in one’s own home! A facial is just what we need this time of year ~~ it will quickly revitalize skin, give you a lovely glow, tighten pores and smooth the texture of your skin. There are so many great ways to accomplish a beautiful facial and scads of recipes out there to follow. In this post I am going to give you the outline of the “perfect” facial, including Herbal Steam, Clay & Herb mask, & Simple Home Spa Toner.

Take the time and effort to do an herbal facial steam. You can check out my facial steams for drier or oiler skin types in my etsy shop, and that will give you more specifics about what different herbs will do for your skin, but I would also encourage you to put together an herbal steam from herbs you might have handy or would be able to obtain fairly easily. Try this recipe below for STEP ONE of your facial in order to open your pores, deeeeply cleanse your skin in the most gentle manner available, and allow the herbs to do their good work on your facial tissue. It’s a quiet, meditative practice and really necessitates you taking some time out just for yourself!

STEP ONE: Herbal Facial Steam.

Gather together small amounts of herbs rich in volitile oils that smell heavenly and will also greatly benefit your skin. Some examples are mints (spearmint, lemon balm), scented geraniums, chamomile, lavender, lemongrass, orange peel, or even thyme or rosemary.  Citrus-smelling herbs are often useful for oily or acne prone skin, and indespensible herbs like thyme and rosemary have some antiseptic properties and so can be additionally helpful for troubled skin. In addition, you will want to use an emollient (skin soothing) herb and a healing herb in order to balance any skin issues that may exist. Comfrey root is both emollient and healing, so this beneficial root shows up in most of my steams. You can always try a bit of licorice root (emollient) along with calendula blossoms (healing) if they are on hand.

Beauty Blossom Herbal Steam:
1. 1 tsp rose petals (aromatic, astringent)
2. 1 tsp chamomile flowers (anti-inflammatory, calming)
3. 1 tsp hybiscus (emollient)
4. 1 tsp calendula blossoms (healing)

Directions: combine herbs and place in a non-metal pot, fill with 2 cups of filtered water and bring to a simmer on the stove. Cover tightly and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and find a comfortable spot to sit. Put your face over the steam and drape a towel over your head to trap the steam. Move your face from side to side and steam it for 10 minutes. When the water begins to cool, blow into the steam to direct it back into your face, where you can attempt to target more troubled areas. You can bring the water back to a simmer and do it again if you’d like!

A facial steam is the ideal preparation for a home spa clay & herb facial mask, which should always be applied to a very clean face. Part II of my home spa facial series will explain how to make your own facial mask at home! Stay tuned…

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.

What is Sea Buckthorn Berry?

October 21, 2008

A popular new ingredient in many quality facial care products, sea buckthorn berry is all the rage but what does it actually do? Seabuckthorn Berry  (Hippophae rhamnoides) has been a highly prized natural resource in both China and Russia and is was even considered a “holy fruit” by Chinese emperors for its restorative benefits. We even hear stories of Ghengis Khan feeding the berries to his soldiers and horses before battle for additional strength and resiliency in healing afterward.  It is nutritionally packed with over 190 bioactive substances, including Vit C, which appears at dozens the levels found in other fruits & berries, and Vit E which tops that of all fruit. Used for centuries as a medicinal food in Asia and Europe, Sea Buckthorn Berry is considered an immune tonic, restorative, regenerative, and growth promoter.

Sea Buckthorn Berry

Sea Buckthorn Berry

In topical applications, Sea Buckthorn Berry Seed is often extracted using CO2 and this extract is commonly called (not surprisingly a CO2 extract!). A CO2 extract is different from the steam distillation of the pure essential oil, in that more of the ‘nutritional’ components of the plant are also extracted. In that sense, for example, Calendula CO2 is closer to the actual plant than its essential oil would be.  It is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids such as oleic and linoleic acids, tocopherols and carotinoids.

As an oil or CO2 extract, Sea Buckthorn Berry has been found to have vulnerary action (help heal wounds), regenerative properties for the skin , the ability to help protect the skin from UV damage, to reduce premature aging of the skin through radiation, sun damage, etc.

In this sense, sea buckthorn is mostly used topically to treat damaged skin, scar tissue, wrinkles, skin conditions such as eczema, and burns. The oil, as opposed to the CO2 extract, is cold extracted from whole berries and can be applied directly to the skin or included in various topical applications. The oil itself is a very concentrated oil and should be used sparingly, and even small percentages of the oil or CO2 extract in lotions and creams can have a very beneficial effect.

I use Sea Buckthorn Berry in my facial serum line for all of these reasons, regardless of skin type, not only because it’s a nutritional powerhouse, but because we could all use a little help counteracting sun damage, aging, and wrinkle formation! I’ll probably start introducing it into other products such as my Green Tea Eye Potion and other applications where such assistance is most needed.  

The Herbal Gram, America’s most respected scientific herbal journal recently published an issue with Sea Buckthorn Berry’s therapeutic uses highlighted. The Herbal Gram is published by the Americal Botanical Council, and more information can be found at their website: www.herbalgram.org. There you can access their Herbal Library which provides you with many monographs and published clinical studies about various herbs and nutritional supplements.