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.

 

DSC_0585

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.

hanu-best-organic-diffuser-blend

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.

21008396300_8d176bc9e1_z

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.

PAO_Symbol-247x300
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.

A Skin Care Guide for Even the Manliest Man

A good friend of mine, tired of being told he looks well…tired,  decided to try his wife’s under eye oil.  People noticed a difference.  This guy is a beer drinking, football watching, work boot wearing man who decided it was time to start caring how he looked and it actually made him feel better about himself.  I’m not saying everyone needs an extensive skin care routine that includes under eye oil but I am saying that understanding your skin type and using something that is not a bar soap to clean your face will benefit you in the long run. Paying attention to your skin will cause it to be less irritated when you shave, make you look younger, and you’ll have an even tone (less breakouts, dry spots or oily areas).

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.

Wash

The first step in good skin care is to wash your face.  Don’t deny it, you skip this step all the time.  Bar soaps dry out your skin and are usually not safe as they contain toxic chemicals like triclosan, DEA, parabens and even formaldehyde.  I would recommend a clarifying face wash like this one from La Roche (available at CVS) which is fragrance and preservative free and ranked safe by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).  If you shave, I’d recommend a preservative free shave oil that softens skin leaving less irritation like the one we sell at Hanu.   Sunflower oil’s deeply nourishing makeup of oleic acid, linoleic acid, carotenoids and vitamins A, D, and E work to condition the skin without leaving an oily sheen. Argan oil, contains vitamin E, essential fatty acids, carotenes and squalene which allow it to heal damaged skin while protecting from signs of aging and combating free radicals. Sweet almond oil is rich in vitamins A, B and E which lock in moisture while helping to sooth skin irritations. The combination of sage and frankincense essential oils will sooth the skin while providing a great shave.

hanu-best-organic-shave-oil-men-4-oz

 

Moisturize

Beard oils are all the rave these days.  If you grow a beard, I’d recommend Hanu beard oil.  This oil consists of several oils combined to make this lightweight blend that will make your beard and skin underneath hydrated and conditioned. The kukui nut tree is the official tree of Hawaii and has been used by natives for thousands of years for it’s soothing and healing properties.   Argan oil contains vitamin E, essential fatty acids, carotenes and squalene which condition your hair and moisturize the skin underneath. Almond oil is high in vitamins A, B, and E and is known for it’s ability to relieve dry and irritated skin and maintain healthy moisture levels.  Fresh ginger, rosemary and oakwood absolute are used in combination to make a spicy, deep scent.

hanu-best-organic-beard-oil-men

 

Last, after shaving or applying a beard oil, you should moisturize your face.  Argan oil contains vitamin E, essential fatty acids, carotenes and squalene which allow it to heal damaged skin while protecting from signs of aging and combating free radicals. The combination of sandalwood, carrot, turmeric and frankincense provide more antiaging and skin restorative properties while facilitating blood circulation and detoxification just below the surface of the skin.  If you’re really motivated, you could try Hanu’s under eye oil which, amongst other ingredients has coffee in it to give your eyes some pep.

 

About-face

Even if you’ve never done it before, now is the time to start paying attention to your skin.  Those sebaceous glands are going to behave like they want to behave but you can use products that work to combat dry or oily skin and improve normal skin.  There are plenty of skin care gimmicks out there so don’t be fooled by the products that contain harmful chemicals.  Be conscious about what you’re putting on your skin.

Skin Care Tips and Tricks

You’re running here and there, so tired at night that you barely have the energy to drink a much-needed glass of wine and your skin care routine is rushed or skipped entirely. I get it. I usually choose wine too. I was trying to find a quote to inspire you but when you Google “keeping your head high and your neck strong” (you’ll see where I’m going with that later in the post), pictures of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s muscles and large horses come up.  So, <insert inspirational quote here>  and instead here’s some skincare hints I’ve found to save you some time and your skin from the daily grind.

 

Natural Makeup Remover

Use organic coconut oil (the emulsified kind you get in a jar from the grocery store) to take off makeup at night. Just use your fingers and a Kleenex to wipe the coconut oil on your eyes and face. You only need a little bit and your makeup will come off easily.

 

To Wash or Not to Wash?

If you have dry to normal skin, don’t wash face in the morning, just use warm water and a microfiber cloth to gently exfoliate and then apply your favorite skin oil. Here are some more details.

 

Night time: Wash and dry your face with a product that does not contain alcohol. Consider using an oil based product or a clarifying product. I like this one. After cleansing your face, use an alcohol-free toner on your face. Moisturize your face, neck and under eye area. Use Hanu facial oil and you’ll have the added benefit of aromatherapy as you fall asleep, breathing in all the relaxing essential oils in the blends.

 

Day time: Only wash the areas that you feel are oily. If your skin is dry or normal, just wet it and use a microfiber cloth to gently exfoliate with warm water. I really like these microfiber cloths. Next, use an alcohol-free toner like Thayer’s Witch Hazel Toner (they have rose, lavender and cucumber!) on your face. Moisturize your face and neck using Hanu Facial Oil and put on Hanu Eye Oil.

 

Use Your Face Oil as a Face Mask

Hanu’s Facial Oils, whichever one is your favorite, work great as face masks. Just apply the oil liberally before entering the shower and leave it on your face for your entire shower. Use a clean microfiber cloth to remove the oil once you’re done. Presto, the combination of the carrier oils, essential oils and the steam will have given your skin a deep, pore-penetrating, moisturizing face mask.

 

Protect Your Face’s Natural Oil Content

I’m sure you’ve heard this before so this is just a reminder— don’t sit with your hands propping up your head.  It’s heavy, I know but read back to my blog post about the skin’s sebaceous glands here and you’ll remember you need to protect the skin’s natural oil content and keep harmful bacteria away.  By putting your hands all over your face (especially the chin area where you have the most sebaceous glands), you are asking for a breakout.

 

Tea Tree Essential Oil; Don’t Leave Home Without It

Organic Tea Tree Essential Oil is one of only two essential oils (the other one is Lavender) that you can apply directly to your skin without diluting it in a carrier oil. I’ve got to be honest with you, it doesn’t smell as heavenly as lavender but its antiseptic properties are well worth enduring the smell. Tea Tree possesses a high germicidal value and can penetrate pus (sorry for the gross factor but this is a must know) and by mixing with it, the pus liquifies and sloughs off leaving a healthy surface (credit book: 375 Essential Oils by Jeanne Rose). You can use this oil directly on blemishes, cuts and scrapes, and bug bites. If your skin breaks out, use Tea Tree oil directly on them immediately. You can get organic tea tree oil from my favorite essential oil company Mountain Rose Herbs. Make sure you’re only buying organic essential oils!

Conscious Cosmetics

Conscious Cosmetics

Ever since I got rid of “fragrance” in my skin care routine, I have emotional and physical reactions anytime I’m around it. Emotionally, I miss it. Physically, I sneeze. The emotional reaction is clear to me—I miss the musky scent achievable with synthetic perfumery. The physical side is my body now reacting to something I haven’t been exposed to in a long time. I used the same perfume and the same moisturizer for the last, well, as long as I can remember. It makes me sad that I can’t wear my perfume anymore. But, what makes me more sad (or mad really) is that the FDA considers “fragrance” to be a trade secret, one that manufacturers aren’t required to disclose on their labeling or anywhere else. I put the word “fragrance” in quotes because when you see it listed as an ingredient in your products it is not necessarily just one ingredient and it could be a wide range of different chemicals. The skin care industry doesn’t mandate that products are certified with the FDA, “fragrance” is a host of undisclosed ingredients— I feel like there are a lot of secrets going on in the cosmetics industry and I don’t like it one bit.

 

My Journey

I started creating skin care products because of my desire to create safe products for myself and for my family and I believe that adding “fragrance” to a product is just one way we are putting ourselves at risk. Once I started reading labels and using the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep database to look up ingredients in products this became even more apparent to me. The database explains each ingredient in a particular product and calls out any harmful side effects each ingredient has.

 

What I read really scared me, I stopped using artificial facial products altogether and started using coconut oil mixed with frankincense essential oil. That’s it. It seemed safe enough to me. Frankincense had been used for centuries to treat all forms of skin ailments and coconut oil had recently been touted as the “cure-all, everything” oil. I felt great, my skin looked great. I was prepared to climb up a tree and start boycotting more things—toothpaste in favor of coconut oil, shampoo (ok, I haven’t tried the no-poo thing yet but I’m sure I will someday!). I realize I was being a little extreme here, but at the time it’s how I felt. Don’t worry, I have since researched products and found what I consider to be safe products for my family. I did enjoy the feeling of the oils on my skin though so I decided to continue making my own facial products.

 

I took some time to start researching oils and I became even more excited about the flexibility I’d have with ingredients I could put on my skin for different ailments. There are oils that can treat everything from aging skin to varicose veins and inflammation. There are oils that can moisturize, provide astringent properties, and balance uneven skin tone. I started buying oils, mixing them together and trying them on my face and neck.

 

Creating Facial Oils

Sometime after I started wearing my own oil mixture someone asked me about my complexion and when I told them what I had been doing they mentioned I should start a company. At first when I broached the subject with my friends they got excited about it for me. And for themselves— because what inevitably happened was they started telling me about their ailments. I immediately started dreaming about how I could fix them! Things got a little crazy at this point and I started mixing formulas for every ailment that came across my path.

 

Focus and Aromatherapy

When you decide to start a company and consult and pay for a lawyer, things start to get real. First, you just spent a lot of money for someone to tell you where to sign (oh, and all the things you should be worried about). My coffee-charged, super excited, all-or-nothing self needed to focus. So I started to hone in on what people really needed for a few products, readying the formulas and using many of my friends and family as testers.

 

I started taking basic aromatherapy classes, clinical aromatherapy classes and learning everything I could about formulating and mixing oils. One of the interesting things I learned was that your sense of smell bypasses the cerebral cortex, the intellectual part of the brain, and goes directly to the limbic system – the part of the brain that perceives smells and processes memories and instincts. This is one of the reasons why I now know that my old perfume will always give me an emotional response. I have so many personal memories stored up for this scent, but I also know wearing it is not worth putting on “fragrance”.

 

Eyes Wide Open

I want to know what’s in the products I put on my own skin. I really want to know what’s in the products I put on my two little girls’ skin. What all this means is now that I’ve been making oil based products for awhile it just seems like common sense to me that if the skincare industry doesn’t want you to know what’s in their products, then you definitely don’t want to put it on your body.  Let’s all join together and be sure we understand about what we put on our entire bodies — Conscious Cosmetics for all!