Skin Brushing How To: The Century Old Technique Turned Modern Day

I’lll admit it, I bought a dry brush and then it took me 3 months to use it because I had no clue how, why, or when to use this scratchy looking tool.  It wasn’t until the harshness of winter came and my legs started getting super dry that it occurred to me that I may have the solution already in my bathroom.  Upon further research, and experience I discovered dry brushing is for more then just getting rid of dead skin and when done with the right amount of pressure, feels great too.  Many spas are not incorporating this ancient technique into their modern day offerings.

Your skin is the largest organ in your body and is responsible for insulating the body, blood and lymph circulation, and storing nutrients and energy.  Skin brushing sustains these natural functions while providing many more benefits. The process of skin or dry brushing has been used for centuries by everyone from the Greeks, to the Indians and and even ancient Ayurvedic Medicine employed the technique to achieve healthy, glowing skin.

 

Long Handle Dry BrushFace Dry Brush

 

Benefits of Dry Brushing

  • Exfoliates skin and removes toxins
  • Stimulates circulation and increases blood supply
  • Stimulates lymphatic system
  • Helps to break down fat reducing the appearance of cellulite
  • Improves digestion
  • Stimulates the immune system
  • Slows the skins aging process
  • Regulates sebum production, de-clogs pores and helps prevent acne

 

How to Dry Brush Your Skin

You should brush when your skin is dry, shower and then use an organic body oil to moisturize afterwards.  Because of the energizing effect dry brushing has on the body, I recommend you dry brush in the mornings.  Work the brush in a circular, upward motion.  The technique is best done by starting with the feet and working upwards towards the heart.  Be sure to use a brush that is made out of 100% natural bristles like the ones sold at Hanu Skin Care.  This brush has a detachable handle so you can reach your back.  The process is great for preventing Acne in the back area.  Use Hanu Blemish Treatment oil on your back after the process for added healing benefit.

 

Hanu Skin Care Skin Brush and Body Oil

 

Be sure not to press too hard, use gentle but vigorous motions.  After you brush your legs, arms, chest and back use a brush specifically made for the face like the one sold at Hanu Skin Care.  While daily dry brushing of the body is recommended, I only recommend dry brushing the face once a week and in place of an exfoliator.  Follow the brushing with a moisturizing facial oil for a beautiful glow.

 

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Hanu Skin Care Facial Brush and Face Oil

 

Helpful Hints

  • Always brush in a clockwise motion on the stomach area to mimic digestion
  • Do not dry brush sensitive skin, open wounds, burns or rashes
  • Clean your skin brush with soap and water once every 2 weeks
  • After cleansing always allow brush to dry thoroughly

 

Stress and Aromatherapy

I was sitting at a table at a local eatery with two sets of presumable moms on either side of me having lunch.  On one side, the moms were discussing how their teenage kids were travelling abroad and they couldn’t get the medicine they needed to them.  One child had ADHD and the other was depressed.  On the other side of me, the moms were discussing how much anxiety their two teenage daughters had and how hard it was trying to find the right treatment for them. I sit and think how sad, scary, and wonder how realistic it is that 4 out of 4 teenage stories around me are dealing with emotional disorders and pharmaceuticals?  Is this the future?   

According to INeedALighthouse.Org, the reality of it is that about 20% of teens will deal with depression before becoming an adult.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders affect over 18% of the adult population.  My thoughts of course immediately turn to the tremendously powerful and diverse ability essential oils could have in healing some of these emotional issues.   Why can essential oils be so helpful?  When you use your sense of smell, the scents bypass the cerebral cortex and go right to the limbic system- the thinking and feeling portion of the brain.  The limbic system controls the emotions which is why smelling certain oils can often trigger a sense of relaxation.  Besides triggering emotions, the limbic system is directly connected to the parts of the brain that controls blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, memory, and stress levels.  Giving the limbic system relaxing and calming essential oils can balance emotions having a positive effect on stress levels.

Relaxation Aromatherapy Diffuser Blend

One way to use essential oils to relax would be to scent your space by putting oils in a diffuser.  I really like the diffusers that don’t use heat or water and instead nebulize like the hand blown glass diffuser pictured, available for sale at Hanu Skin Care.   They have the added benefit of having an automatic shut off timer which is great for those teenage years when remembering to shut off your devices is the last thing on your mind.  I would recommend making a ritual out of the process of putting the oils into the diffuser, similar to  lighting a candle, after you put the oils in the diffuser read a poem that means something to you and concentrate on relaxing as you breath in the relaxing scents.  There are lots of essential oils that can be used for relaxation.  The  focus of this particular blend addresses the mental and emotional stresses that are encountered with everyday living.   Mental stresses caused by for example trying to achieve in school; taking exams; emotional stress caused by for example managing difficult relationships.  

Diffuser

Use 10 drops nightly in a diffuser.

Bergamot- Citrus bergamia 

This specific scent is helpful at restoring the hypothalamus to a state calmness.

Lavender – Lavandula angustifolia 

While lavender has anti-inflammatory properties, in this blend, it is used primarily for relaxation.  

Black Pepper – Piper nigrum 

Black pepper helps with concentration.    Black Pepper is full of vitamins and minerals one of which is selenium which is required for proper functioning of the brain.

Geranium – Pelargonium graveolens 

Geranium can relax your entire body as well as boost your mood.  It also helps to balance hormonal levels.   

Sandalwood – Santalum spicatum 

Sandalwood can help you achieve a sense of mental clarity and calmness and has the added benefit of being a memory booster.

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Relaxation Nourishing Body Oil Blend

Another way to relax would be to use a body oil scented with lavender and lime daily.  You can put the body oil over your entire body or just on your hands and feet.  I would recommend a mixture of nourishing Sunflower Seed Oil and Sweet Almond Oil like the one sold at Hanu Skin Care.  Sunflower Seed Oil,  is high in oleic acids and vitamins A, D, and E, it also has beneficial amounts of lecithin, and unsaturated fatty acids. It is deeply nourishing and conditioning for the skin.   Sweet Almond Oil is rich in vitamins A, B and E.  Sweet almond oil locks moisture into the skin helping to soothe skin.  You use this body oil like you would a daily cream based body moisturizer.  It will penetrate deeply leaving skin soft and silky but you will have the added benefit of aromatherapy.  Before putting it on your skin, rub your hands together and breathe deeply, inhaling the aromatic benefits of the lavender and lime.  If you’re going for a massage Hanu Skin Care also has organic massage oil available – bring your own oil so you know what’s in the products being put on your body.   

 

hanu-best-organic-body-oil-4-oz

 

Wake Up Blend for the Shower

One way to wake up in the morning and to start with a refreshing shower that can stimulate while relaxing you is to put several drops of essential oils in the shower and inhale the oils with the steam of the shower.  I like to put the oils on a washcloth on the floor of the shower and let the steam help the oil vapours fill the shower.  There are many combinations of oils that can be used depending on what your goal is for your mood for the day.  Here’s a recommended blend again for the teenager who is going to start the day ready to go to school, needing to concentrate but not wanting to start full of anxious thoughts.  

 

Lemon – Citrus limon 

Used to increase focus and memory.  

Rosemary – Rosmarinus officinalis

Rosemary is best known for its aid in memory and mental fatigue  and can increase memory by 75%.  Rosemary can also help with headaches.  

Ginger –Zingiber officinale 

Ginger helps with concentration as it stimulates the brain.  When mixed with Rosemary, it can be used as a wake-up inhalation.  It eases mental confusion and it is said to “warm the heart”.

Black Pepper – Piper nigrum 

Like Ginger, Black pepper helps with concentration.    Black Pepper is full of vitamins and minerals one of which is selenium which is required for proper functioning of the brain.

Lavender – Lavandula angustifolia 

While lavender has anti-inflammatory properties, in this blend, it is used primarily for relaxation.  

 

Finding What Works for You

We discussed lots of examples on how to use essential oils for their aromatherapy benefits on stress and anxiety, it’s important to find a scent, and a ritual that works best for you.   Sipping a cup of relaxing herbal tea while you breathe in the benefits of a diffuser blend or saying your favorite poem or motivational phrase as you breathe deep and inhale the aromatic vapours from the shower can help you relax in itself.  The stresses of daily living, is a heavy weight these days and doing what you can to take some stress off of yourself by relaxing is important.

Hanu Skin Care offers the custom diffuser blends discussed in this article as well as sells beautiful glass diffusers.  If you are interested in learning more about this custom offer, please email karen@hanuskincare.com

There’s Food on Your Face

Not in the “why didn’t you tell me I had leftover bits of lunch on my face?” sense; what I’m referring to is the amazing food ingredients we should be taking advantage of in our skin care routine. I’m talking about pomegranate seed oil, carrot seed oil, and turmeric oil to name a few. These oils are packed full of vitamins, anti-oxidants, and nutrients. Why didn’t we think of putting food ingredients on our face before? Well, I’m not sure but it’s time now.

Before we get into some of the great health benefits of these ingredients we need to talk about one important fact to pay attention to when considering ingredients and that’s the word organic. We’ve all heard of it because it’s one of the most used words these days in the food industry. Commonly used to mean grown without using artificial chemicals. Most people think the word refers to food but more and more these days we’re seeing it refer to things like the cotton our clothes are made out of and the ingredients our skin care products are made from. When you’re buying cosmetics, make sure they’re made of organic, non-GMO ingredients.

Now, back to the good stuff, here’s some of the organic, food-based ingredients that are amazing for your face.

Sweet Almond Oil– An oil high vitamins A, B, and E and is known for it’s ability to maintain healthy moisture levels.

Hazelnut Oil– An oil full of beneficial antioxidants that will also tone and tighten the skin as well as protect against sun exposure.

Pomegranate Seed Oil— A cold pressed oil that reduces inflamed skin while regenerating new skin and improving skin tone and elasticity.

Sunflower Seed Oil– An oil high in oleic acids and vitamins A, D, and E, it also has beneficial amounts of lecithin, and unsaturated fatty acids. It is deeply nourishing and conditioning for the skin, without causing an oily sheen.

Coconut Oil— Contains vitamin E and fatty acids that are naturally found in the skin. Coconut oil helps provide a protective barrier for moisture.

Turmeric Essential Oil– A great anti-oxidant and an anti-inflammatory, turmeric helps fend off free-radicals, which age your skin prematurely. Turmeric will help normalize uneven skin tone.

Carrot Seed Essential Oil—Another great anti-oxidant and detoxifier for your skins cells, carrot revitalizes, tones and has anti-wrinkle benefits.

Orange Essential Oil– Improves skins brightness (smells good too!).

Fresh Ginger Essential Oil— Stimulates circulation and nurtures dry skin.

Lemon Essential Oil— Can be used to combat dark circles and wrinkles under eyes.

Maracuja Oil (Passion Fruit) – An amazing oil rich in vitamins and minerals A and C and linoleic acid which restores the lipid layer of the skin while it deeply moisturizes.

Rosemary Essential Oil— Contains the anti-inflammatory agents ceffeic acid and rosemarinic acid, has rejuvenating effects and can act as a mild diuretic to reduce swelling.

We are all very conscious about what we put into our bodies, we need to be conscious about what we put on our bodies as well! Imagine the powerhouse of multi-vitamins and anti-oxidents in a smoothie of just pomegranate, sunflower, and turmeric could do for your face? When you’re choosing products to put on your body make sure it’s packed with as many beneficial vitamins and minerals as it can be and don’t hesitate to put food on your face! For some ideas check our Hanu face and body oils.

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The Transition to Oils From a Lifetime of Oil-Free

The most frequently asked question I get when I tell people about my switch to using facial oils as a moisturizer is, ‘won’t oil clog your pores causing you to break out?’ The great news is NO! But I don’t blame anyone for asking. Our whole lives we’ve been told that we should use oil-free products and now I’m saying you should put oils all over your face? Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. You can wear oils during the day, you can wear oils at night (they won’t get all over your pillow!) and you can wear them under your makeup. You can wash your face with oils, you can take your makeup off with oils. Can you tell I love oils? Let me tell you why.

 

Your Skin

Here’s the deal— your skin is made up of sebaceous glands that produce a protective oil called sebum. Not surprisingly, you have the most sebaceous glands on your back, forehead and chin and none of these glands on the palms of your hands or  the soles of your feet. For your skin to be healthy, you need to maintain healthy levels of sebum.

 

But what’s healthy? We all know that skin types vary between dry, oily and those lucky ones who have normal skin. What we may not know is the reasoning behind this is partly due to acids found in the skin’s oils. Sebum has, among other things, two types of acids; oleic and linoleic acid. Skin’s natural sebum is high in oleic acid. Oily and acne prone skin is shown to have low levels of linoleic acids. The good news is that there are oils out there that can mimic the skin’s natural sebum, and that contain high levels of linoleic or oleic acid depending on what you need for your skin type.

 

Daily Factors and Skin Care

Besides the fact that your skin is more oily in some areas than others, there are so many daily factors that can make the natural oils of the skin freak out. When you wash your face, you are actually washing away the protective oils from your face. Also, and this is going to get deep, the skin harbors a bacteria that consumes the natural oil found on the skin. This is why some people actually wash their face with oils and why facial oils will restore the skin’s natural oils.

 

Here’s another untruth we’ve been following our whole lives— alcohol based toners and cleansers are good to dry out oily skin. I bet you can guess from what I’ve been saying that they’re not. We’ve talked a lot about the skin’s natural oil content and how important it is, so can you imagine what putting alcohol on it would do to it? It would cause it to become dry and irritated and in fact, most dry or irritated skin is a result of an oil imbalance. This could be because of a product you are already putting on your face that’s drying it out or could be because your skin can’t absorb the oils it needs properly. A quick fix for that would be to exfoliate daily to slough off the dry skin cells, regenerate new cells and allow the oils to absorb properly. Another bit of advice I have for normal to dry skin is to not wash your face in the mornings. Since you washed your face at night and didn’t do anything but sleep, just wet the area with warm water and use an alcohol free toner in the morning. I use a microfiber cloth like this one to gently exfoliate with warm water in the mornings instead of washing. Not washing your face, exfoliating and using an oil based moisturizer will help your skin retain its natural oil balance.

 

Oils vs. Moisturizers

Still not convinced you should switch from your tried and true lotion-based moisturizer? Start paying attention to the ingredient list on your moisturizer or on all of the products you use for that matter. You’ll notice that you probably can’t pronounce most of the ingredients and that there are probably a few preservatives, fragrances and other harmful ingredients thrown in there. You can use the Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s Skin Deep Database as a great resource for looking up products and deciphering their ingredients.

 

There are so many different oils, most of which will be common names you may even have in your house, each with different vitamins and minerals that are so beneficial for just about every skin type. Usually, facial oils are a blend of carrier oils and essential oils.

 

A carrier oil is a very unassuming way of describing a category of fabulously beneficial oils. Carrier oils  are derived from the fatty portion of a plant–– usually from the seeds, kernels or the nuts.  Carrier oils get their name because they are often used to dilute essential and other oils prior to application to the skin.  For example, hazelnut oil is an astringent and has some natural sun protectant. Rosehip seed oil has amazing anti-aging properties and pomegranate seed oil improves skin’s elasticity.

 

Essential oils are amazingly diverse oils derived from the aromatic portion of plants such as the leaves, bark, and roots, and can be used for medicinal purposes such as skin treatments, aromatherapy, cleaning agents and deodorizers.  For example, carrot seed essential oil has been known to revitalize, tone and provide anti-carcinogenic benefits while geranium essential oil is known to facilitate blood circulation just below the surface of skin which helps diminish scars, marks and other fine lines.

 

There are benefits to using oils that go beyond those your skin will reap and that is the lack of fillers, emulsifiers and preservatives needed to make the product effective. Of course there are some safe, paraben-free lotion based moisturizers out there, don’t get me wrong. It’s just easier to look at the ingredients in oils (usually, just oils) and know exactly what you’re putting on your face.

 

Overcoming Conditioned Behavior

As long as the oils you are putting on your face are organic, plant-based and well chosen they will be very easily absorbed, not greasy, and noncomedogenic (noncomedogenic is a fancy way of saying it won’t clog pores). By balancing the skin’s natural oil production, the oil actually helps maintain healthy skin.

 

Our fear of oils may be a case of Pavlov-like behavior with oil-free moisturizers, alcohol based cleansers and shunning oil based moisturizers. Oils have been used for skin ailments since the early Egyptians and allow for lots of flexibility with what benefits you’ll give your skin and are the future of safe cosmetics and skin care products.

Nourishing Your Body From the Outside In

Lots of you love your skin care products and while I don’t blame you, I would recommend taking a look at them to make sure they’re safe and skin-worthy. Someone recently said to me, “There’s such a big push to eat organic, why wouldn’t you also want to nourish your body from the outside in?” I couldn’t agree more. We pay a lot of attention to what we eat and where it comes from. Why aren’t we paying such close attention to the origin of the products we’re putting on our body. Are the ingredients safe? What’s the shelf life on the product? Are they organic?

There is a great organization I’ve mentioned a few times now (ok, in every blog post I’ve written, meaning I clearly like this organization) called the Environmental Working Group (EWG) which created and maintain a database called the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. Here you can search the products you use and find out whether the ingredients in these products are actually beneficial or harmful. The EWG also regularly publishes articles and other consumer guides on topics like choosing the right sunscreen, guides to healthy cleaning, and healthy home tips. Check out their site here. As I’m researching products and talking to some of my family and friends, I start to realize that a) we really need to start paying attention to ingredients because they’re not regulated by the government and b) no matter how much money you’ve spent on your products, you still need to check the ingredients with EWG because there are harmful ones lurking in everything from the inexpensive to the (very) expensive brands. Let’s dissect a few and you’ll see what I mean.

Sorry Mom
We’ll start by looking at my mom’s skin care cream. Oil of Olay is a well known age-defying cream with sun protectant. When we decipher the ingredient list, we find out it has two ingredients that are known to be carcinogens and a chemical potentially toxic to the organ system!

Oil of Olay – about $10

Active Ingredients:
Octinoxate (sunscreen) 6.0%, Zinc Oxide (sunscreen) 3.0%

Inactive Ingredients:
Water, Glycerin, Isohexadecane, Acrylamide/Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Laureth -7, Cyclopentasiloxane, Peg/Ppg-20/20 Dimenthicone, Steareth- 21, Tocopheryl Acetate, Stearyl Alcohol, Sucrose Polycottonseedate, Behenyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, Fragrance, Dmdm Hydantoin, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Steareth-2, Disodium Edta, Oleth -3 Phosphate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Niacinamide, Panthenol, Ascorbic Acid, Zea Mays (Corn) Oil, Beta-Carotene, Yellow 5, Red 4.

The bold ingredients are known carcinogens. DMDM Hydantoin for instance is a formaldehyde releasing chemical. This ingredient, along with 6 others, are not restricted by the FDA however the EU does restrict their use in skin care products. The U.S. government and World Health Organization do however classify formaldehyde as carcinogen.  It is also a potent skin sensitizer and allergen.

The italicized ingredients are ranked a 5 out of 10 in terms of organ system toxicity and considered risky to use. If it’s risky and there are alternatives, why use it? Another example of a chemical found in skin care products that falls into this category is petrolatum. Petrolatum is mineral oil jelly (i.e. petroleum jelly) used as a barrier to lock moisture in the skin. It is considered low risk as a possible carcinogen, however the EU limit the chemical usage due to it’s potential carcinogen property. If the EU doesn’t like it, I say don’t use it!

I’ve bolded and italicized ‘Fragrance’.  The major concern with fragrance is that the law does not require companies to disclose exactly what ingredients make up a ‘fragrance’ as it’s considered a trade secret. Up to 3,000 fragrant ingredients could be included in skin and personal care products to add scent or to mask odors caused by other chemicals in the formula. As a result, many ingredients are lumped under the word ‘fragrance’ and may be harmful and worse, are omitted from the label. I personally stay away from fragrance at all costs.

Dollar Signs Covering Up Harmful Ingredients
Next, let’s take a look at a very well known skin care line by Chanel used by a good friend of mine. While Sublimage Essential Regenerating Cream doesn’t contain any known carcinogens, other products in the line do, and the regenerating cream does contain harmful endocrine system disruptors.

Chanel Sublimage Essential Regenerating Cream – about $400

Ingredients:

Aqua (water), Squalane, Simmondsia Chinesis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Octyldodecanol, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, C13-16 Isoparaffin, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Phytosteryl Canola Glycerides, Beheneth -25, Dimethicone, Canola Oil, Camellia Kissi Seed Oil, Jojoba Esters, Ammonium Acryloydimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Pentylene Glycol, Cetearyl Glucoside, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Urea, Glucosamine HCL, Methylparaben, Parfum (Fragrance), Propylparaben, Benzophenone-3, Centella Asiatica Extract, Vanilla Planifolia Fruit Oil, Xanthan Gum, Algae Extract, Faex (Yeast Extract), Propylene Glycol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Tocopherol, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Cl 15985, (Yellow 6), Cl 19140 (Yellow 5), Cl 14700 (Red 4).

The italicized ingredients above are parabens and preservatives. They affect immunotoxicity and are endocrine disruptors as well as cause many people to have allergies. The endocrine system regulates many of the body’s functions, including growth, development and maturation, as well as the way various organs operate. Parabens are deemed agents that mimic estrogen consequently they may factor in on issues relating to early pubescent development in girls (around 10 years old now versus 13 years old years ago), breast cancer and reproductive issues.

My Products Have a Shelf Life?
We talked about parabens and preservatives how they harm the body. We didn’t talk about why they were included in a lot of products. It’s straightforward: to increase the shelf life. If you’ve ever noticed an open jar symbol with a little number followed by a M (for Month) on the back of your product, that’s the Period After Opening (PAO). So a 12m in an open jar symbol indicates that the product shouldn’t be used any longer after 12 months.

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Hanu oils don’t have any preservatives or parabens in them because there is no water in the ingredients. This means there is no need for a preservative to prevent mold or mildew from growing. There will be a shelf life however, so pay attention to the PAO. The PAO will indicate when the product will lose its effectiveness.

Organic Applies to Beauty Too
Organic food has been on the forefront of everyone’s minds for quite some time now, but beauty products are only starting to get the same sort of attention. The push for an organic existence is to be pesticide- and chemical-free, which some beauty products inherently aren’t. Now that you’ve done your research and gotten rid of all the harmful ingredients, it’s time to buy products that are produced organically — using plants, nuts, and seeds that were not sprayed with harmful pesticides and chemicals. Check your labels, know what you’re putting on your skin, and if you can: buy only organic products and nourish your body from the outside in.

Weekend Reset by World Threads Traveler

This weekend’s weather is shaping up to be less than great! Hello Hurricane Jaoquin! Really, we aren’t expecting anything other than some rain but it provides the perfect excuse to spend the weekend in relaxing and resetting. I am a firm believer that we all need time to our selves even if it’s just for an hour. For this Weekend’s Lust List I have compiled some of my personal favorites to make a weekend at home comfortable, luxurious, and seriously relaxing.

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