Skin Care Basics | Oranges

I don’t know about any of you but I am a huge citrus lover, especially for oranges with their acidic sweetness and bright color.

I love incorporating citrus such as oranges into my skin care for their many properties and skin lightening abilities.

However, with any citrus it is very important to keep in mind that they are very light sensitive and can cause you to burn or blister in the sun.

You can still enjoy the benefits of citrus in your skin care but only use any citrus products several hours or even overnight before you will come into any direct sunlight.

Anti-Aging | Oranges are very high in antioxidants and vitamin C which means that they can protect your skin against free radicals which can help to slow down signs of aging such as age spots and fine wrinkles.

The amount of vitamin C can also help your skin to produce more collagen and elastin which will create more supple, youthful looking skin.

Oranges also contain citric acid which acts as a natural exfoliant which can also help skin to appear more youthful as old, dead skin is removed and improves the overall look of your skin.

Skin Blemishes | The citric acid in oranges can help to treat acne by removing excess dirt and oils as well as acting as a drying agent on breakouts.

The natural vitamins in oranges not only helps with anti-againg but the encouragement of collagen and elastin production can also help to speed the healing of breakouts and skin blemishes.

Collagen and elastin also help to create less scarring from acne.

Skin Whitening | As most people know oranges are naturally lightening to the skin and can act as a toner to even out skin tone and to remove dark patches over time.

The abundance of vitamin C and antioxidants in oranges help them to maintain the balance of natural oils on the skin, making them a wonderful option for oily and dry skin types.

Orange toner also acts as a way to freshen up dull looking skin and giving it a natural glow and suppleness.

 

 

All About Infused Oils

Today I wanted to do a little introduction of sorts that has to do with infusing oil and why many people do it.

I am in no way an expert in the art of infusing oils but I have done it upon numerous occasions in many different ways and have collected a few insights into how a beginner might experiment with it.

First of all if you are new to the term infused oils, it is simply a carrier oil of your choosing, such as olive oil, sweet almond oil, and so on, that has been infused or steeped with herbs and spices.

Infusing Methods | Two ways of infusing oil is solar infusing and stove top infusing.

Solar infusing is the age-old method of infusing oils and takes quite a bit more patients and time than the other method mentioned.

Once you have formulated your infusion, put it in an airtight jar and place it on a window seal where sunlight shines often to allow the suns gentle heat to slowly infuse your oil over the course of a few weeks or even months.

To infuse over a stove top place your jar of oils and herbs in a water bath on a stove top on a very low setting for several hours over the course of a few days.

Take care that you do not overheat or get water into your infusion while using this method.

Some prefer to use a crock pot over the stove top method which also works very well.

Why Infuse? | There are several reasons why someone might decide to make an oil infusion but I will only list a few of them.

Many decide to infuse a carrier oil with herbs and spices for their beneficial properties. Whether that be chamomile and lavender for relaxation, peppermint and eucalyptus for stimulation, or white willow bar for its healing properties.

Another reason that some will infuse oil is to extract a certain scent, this is more commonly used for spices such as star anise, cinnamon, clove. But can also work for herbs such as rose, lavender, and spearmint.

Those who make soap even occasionally infuse their oils to extract a certain color but this only works for certain herbs such as alkanet and green tea.

Using Infused Oil | Now that we have talked about the ways to infuse and why you may want to infuse its time to talk about the ways that you can use your infused oil.

Infusing is a wonderful way to get a fragrant and beneficial massage oil to help ease the tension of the day that you are storing in your muscles or to create a relaxing, winding down habit before bed with a calming infused oil.

If you enjoy experimenting with your natural skin care, infused oils just might be your next obsession.

Perhaps you want to make an infused oil for acne you might choose herbs such as calendula and rosemary. If you are looking for an infusion to help with those pesky scars perhaps try infusing some marshmallow root and lavender.

Infused oils are even good on your hair to promote healthy, growing hair. Herbs such as horsetail, rosemary, peppermint, and stinging nettle are a good option for an infused hair oil.

How To | To create your own personalized infusion simply pick out your choice of oil and your desired herbs and spices according to what you plan to use it for.

Put your dried herbs or spices into a sealable jar, like a mason jar, and pour your oil over the top making sure to have at least an inch of oil covering the top.

Once you have done that and have infused with whichever method you prefer, you can strain and bottle your infusion until further use.

 

Skin Care Basics | Cocoa Butter

Cocoa butter has been a long time favorite of mine and I have used it in a broad amount of skin care products since several years ago.

It is one of the main ingredients in chocolate and has a very noticeable chocolate-y scent as well as a light brown color.

It is a very brittle butter which makes it a perfect addition to soap, lotion bars, and any kind of oil based product that you would like to thicken up or add a pleasant scent to.

Moisturizing | Cocoa butter is naturally moisturizing since it is filled with fats that help to heal dryness and cracking all over the body.

Cocoa butter is also an emollient which means that it adds a protective layer over the skin, sealing in the moisture as it does so. This ability makes it an excellent choice for a homemade lip balm.

This particular butter is a popular choice amongst those with skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis since it deeply moisturizes while still being gentle on sensitive skin.

Anti-Aging | There are many skin care related ingredients that have numerous claims of being anti-aging and what it usually comes down to is using simple ingredients on your skin.

As I mentioned earlier, cocoa butter is an emollient which allows it to create a protective and nourishing layer over the area of skin that it is applied to.

It acts as a very mild, natural sunscreen which helps to preserve young and supple skin and it also contains three types of fatty acids that help to keep pollutants and free radicals off of your skin.

The antioxidants in cocoa butter can help to lighten age spots, even out skin tone, and help to reduce the appearance of scars.

Cocoa butter is also popularly used to treat stretch marks though there is no positive testing to back that theory up.

 

Cocoa butter is an all around, wonderful ingredient to have around whether you are a creator of your own skin care or you simply need that extra bit of moisture for your skin.

Even all of my soaps contain a small percentage of cocoa butter because it’s just that good.

Ways You Shouldn’t Use Essential Oils

One thing that I have talked about quite a bit and plan to continue to talk about on this blog is essential oils.

I love essential oils as do many other people and have learned about different ways to use them as I have grown to understand their benefits.

There are an endless amount of ways to use these potent oils but there are also a few ways that you should not use them and sometimes that is a topic that can be overlooked by those who have yet to properly understand them.

Baths | Essential oils can make an amazing addition to your weekly bath but caution and rules should always be followed when it comes to adding essential oils to bath water.

Never add drops of essential oil straight into your bath, water and oil do not mix and those essential oils will stick directly to your skin which can cause irritation and a good amount of discomfort.

Essential oils need to either be combined with something absorbent like baking soda or a dehydrated milk powder. You can also add the essential oil to something fatty like coconut milk or a butter.

The amount of essential oils should also be closely monitored as well since too much oil no matter how greatly dispersed can cause irritation and itching.

Photo-Sensitive Oils | Citrus essential oils such as lemon, grapefruit, and bergamot oil are all commonly know as being very photo-sensitive and any other oils will usually come with a warning on the label.

Photo-sensitive oils can be very damaging to skin when exposed to sunlight so any of these oils are best used at night or several hours before you will be exposed to any kind of sunlight.

Use With Care | The areas in which you put essential oils should always be chosen with care.

Undiluted essential oils should never be applied to places with rashes or open wounds and sores and no essential oil period, should ever come in contact with your eyes.

Private areas and areas with particularly sensitive skin should in general be kept from any essential oil use since even diluted essential oils can be irritating to those kinds of places.

It is recommended that children under the age of two, not be exposed to essential oils unless you are very experienced in the use of essential oils. And essential oils used on children of all ages should be greatly diluted and closely monitored for any reactions or adverse affects.

Ingesting Essential Oils | Though I do plan on eventually moving on to taking essential oils internally, it is not something that I recommend people do.

Some essential oils are toxic if taken internally or just too irritating in any dose and should never be taken directly and undiluted or even taken with water as, again, water and oil do not mix.

You should never ingest essential oils that have not been labeled as safe to use internally and you should never buy essential oil pills from questionable brands.

If you do buy essential oil pills that are from safe and reliable brands you  should always follow the directions and keep a close eye out for any reactions.

 

Hopefully this list of warnings hasn’t completely scared any of you away from the idea of using essential oils.

With a proper understanding of the oils you use and careful handling you should never have to experience any negative issues with essential oils and can have as much fun as you like with them.

 

 

Calming Herbs for Sensitive Skin

There are a lot of people out there who either have sensitive skin, myself included, or have sensitive skin conditions.

Many commercially made skincare products are not fully designed to cater to skin sensitivities since they are often loaded with synthetic ingredients and preservatives which are not always as skin friendly as they claim to be.

Making your own gentle skincare for your skin’s specific needs is much more productive and much less expensive in the long run and its completely customizable.

Calendula | Calendula is a bright, yellowish orange colored flower that is widely used in skincare for those with sensitive skin.

It is anti-inflammatory which makes it a great option for those who suffer from allergic reactions on their skin or even for sunburns and bruising.

Calendula helps to produce collagen which makes it useful for any cuts or acne since it reduces scarring and softens dry or thin skin.

 

Lavender | Lavender is also a herb that is widely known for its skincare abilities and is usually a crowd pleaser amongst everyone.

With anti-septic and anti-inflammatory properties lavender is soothing to wounds and helps the process of skin healing. It is anti-aging with its ability to stimulate skin and tone pigmentation.

It plays well with all skin types, specifically oily skin and helps to treat skin conditions such as dermatitis, acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

It also helps to calm irritated, red skin or breakouts.

If you’d like to learn more about what lavender can do for you and your skin, you’ll want to check out my last post specifically about

 

Chamomile | This herb isn’t only good as a nighttime tea it also has several benefits for skin, specifically irritable skin.

Like lavender, chamomile is an amazing option for those with skin conditions such as dermatitis, acne, eczema, and psoriasis since it is calming.

Chamomile helps to gently ease pain and irritation in acne sufferers, boils, skin wounds, and rashes or allergic reactions including sunburns.

It is a great option for all skin types and is the most widely used herb in skincare when it comes to sensitive and easily irritated skin types.

 

Green Tea | Though green tea might not be specifically thought of as a herb I decided to include it anyway since it also has many positive qualities for those with sensitive skin.

Like the other herbs on this list, green tea is anti-inflammatory and is soothing to skin conditions such as acne and rosacea and psoriasis.

Green tea fights against free radicals and sun damage on skin and is anti-aging because of the natural antioxidants that it contains. It promotes skin cell reactivation which helps to reduce the signs of aging such as wrinkles, age spots, and skin sagging.

It is also a natural astringent which makes it a great toner as well as an option for those with oily skin.

As with all natural skincare it is important to always do a spot test with the herbal products that you are trying out to ensure that you will not have an allergic reaction to any of them.

 

Skin Care Basics | Peppermint

Peppermint is one herb that could be considered to be widely popular and can be found in almost any household tea drawer.

Peppermint however, has many benefits besides its lovely taste in tea form.

Invigorating And Stimulating | Peppermint is a very refreshing herb and has a distinct tingling, cooling effect on the skin.

Peppermint contains menthol which gives it that cooling feeling and helps to brighten up skin tone and also helps to relieve ache muscles and cramps.

It is also an amazing herb to use for hair because it stimulates growth, cleanses your scalp, and refreshes dry and dull hair as well as to aid in removing dandruff.

Skin Saver | Peppermint also helps to reduce excess oil on skin and in hair as it balances your natural oils and helps to reduce the excess which can prove to be extremely useful for those with oily skin types.

It also has a soothing and calming effect on the outside as it does the inside as it helps to reduce redness and irritation. It even helps to numb the itching from bug bites and poison ivy.

Peppermint’s stimulating qualities help to improve circulation which can treat spider veins, varicose veins, cellulite, and more.

Some other good qualities that peppermint has for the skin is its ability to sooth sunburns, shrinks large pores because of its astringent properties, and its ability to tighten and firm aging skin.

 

Some of my favorite ways to use peppermint is to infuse the leaves into witch hazel as a toner and use a few drops of peppermint oil in my nightly facial oil for cool and clear skin.

 

An Honest Talk About Essential Oils VS Fragrance Oils

As a soap maker I wanted to talk about the differences between fragrance oils and essential oils in soap making.

The argument between the safety and efficiency  of natural oils vs fragrance oils can spark quite a reaction from many and as a soap maker who has chosen to only use essential oils and resins, I wanted to be able to go into detail about the pros and cons of both options.

As long as the person handling the oils is making sure to use skin safe oils, then both fragrance and essential oils are considered to be safe for most skin types which begs the question of what the difference between these two oils really is.

Fragrance Oils | First of all lets take a look at what fragrance oils are exactly.

Fragrance oils are a combination of various chemical components, some are natural, being extracted from plants and even animals occasionally as well as some synthetic components.

Pros | Fragrance oils are very cheap which means that anyone who uses them in their products will most likely be able to provide the most affordable options of products.

Fragrance oils often smell amazing and come in an endless variety of scents that do and do not come naturally in nature such as apples and lavender or sugar cookies and winter wonderland.

Most fragrance oils are much stronger in smaller quantities than essential oils are and also have a longer shelf life when it comes to scent fading.

Cons | Fragrance oils however, are not natural which not only exposes the user to more chemicals, whether they are considered bad or not, but also makes them more likely to be irritating to sensitive skin types or people with serious allergies.

Sellers of fragrance oils are not required to give out a full disclosure of the ingredients that are used in their fragrances which can not only gives the person making the soap less control over their product but also the customer. Someone who is allergic to specific things will most likely have to avoid products scented with fragrance oils since no one can be certain about the specific ingredients included.

 

Essential Oils | Essential oils are steam distilled plant extracts that come from the natural oils in plants such as cinnamon bark and orange rind.

Pros | Essential oils as you might have already guessed, are all natural and are considered by many to be the least harmful way of scenting products.

Essential oils not only scent soap but they also provide a number of natural health benefits that fragrance oils cannot provide such as tea tree which is anti-bacterial as well as many other oils that provide their own specific health benefits.

Much like the ability to provide health benefits, essential oils can also provide a variety of mental wellbeing and aromatherapy benefits that synthetic fragrance oils have yet to achieve. For example, a lavender fragrance oil has not yet been created with the same ability to relax and sooth like the origin lavender essential oil.

Cons | Since the extraction of essential oils is a lengthy process that provides a small amount of oil, they are more costly and so create more costly products.

Essential oils in their undiluted state are considered to be irritating to certain skin types which make the formulating and measuring of the oils very important for soap makers. Certain oils should be avoided by individuals who have a history of irritation but thankfully most soap makers will give a full ingredient list with no irritating oils hidden.

 

I hope that this list of pros and cons of fragrance oils vs essential oils has been found useful to some of you and has perhaps, helped you to better understand which oils you prefer.

 

Winter Bath Salts

I don’t know about you but once the weather starts to get chilly and its grey and rainy outside, all I want to do is soak in a hot bath before curling up in bed with something warm to drink.

December is by far my favorite month so I always try to fill it with the most enjoyable of things and make it as cozy and relaxed as possible.

One might think that bath salts are merely meant to be an added bit of luxury to an already luxurious treat but in reality they do much more than that.

Sea salt as well as epsom salt add much needed minerals to your bath water as well as helping to cleanse and soften your skin as well as aid in the relieving of sore or cramped muscles.

Not only do the bath salts have benefits for your bath but the essential oils do too.

Lavender and peppermint essential oil both help to relax and stimulate blood flow to your skin while cedarwood essential oil has a relaxing scent and helps to heal minor skin abrasions or breakouts.

I hope that perhaps this winter bath salt recipe will inspire you to set some time aside for yourself this blustery season or will give you an idea for a lovely handmade gift for a loved one.

Recipe |

– 2 Cups Epsom Salt

– 2 Cups Sea Salt

– 15 Drops Cedarwood Oil

– 10 Drops Peppermint Oil

– 12 Drops Lavender Oil

 

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well until all of the essential oil has been dispersed amongst the salt.

This bath salt recipe is simple which makes it very easy to customize so you can add in extra ingredients in at this point if you prefer. Such as baking soda for added bulk or lavender buds for prettiness.

Once it is to your liking you can pour it into an airtight jar for later use. It should last three to four baths depending on the amount that you prefer.

Skin Care Basics | Shea Butter

Today I decided to write about one of my favorite natural butters, which is shea butter.

The term butter can be quite confusing if you’re not used to hearing about hard oils such as cocoa butter, shea butter, and mango butter.

They are mostly the same as soft oils such as olive oil and sweet almond oil, only they become solid at room temperature and tend to feel more heavy and indulgent on the skin.

The texture of these butters are perfect for whipping up into a lotion like consistency without the slippery feel of soft oil or the stickiness of lotion.

Intense Moisturizer | Shea butter is known for its intense ability at being moisturizing, so much so that it can also be used to treat very a dry scalp and hair.

It has a natural SPF factor which makes it a perfect ingredient to go into your natural sunscreen for extra protection and it provides a barrier of moisture to keep your skin protected and nourished.

Skin Superfood | Shea butter is also known for being a natural skin super food with its richness in vitamins A, E, and F.

It provides the necessary fatty acids and nutrients needed for collagen production which in time helps to reduce wrinkles and strengthens and softens the skin.

Shea is also very healing to the skin which can help with acne, small wounds, and skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

Repairing | The anti-inflammatory properties in shea butter help to not only sooth but also to repair inflamed skin and skin conditions such as dermatitis and rosacea.

It can also work wonders to gently repairs skin damage such as sunburns and rashes.

Shea is considered to be one of the best anti-aging remedies for skin either to help reduce aging in mature skin or to prevent premature aging and fine lines.

It helps to increase circulation to the skin and encourages cell renewal to help replace damaged skin cells.

 

Butters can for some skin types, be a bit heavy so some of my favorite ways to use shea butter is as a heavy-duty moisturizer for areas with drier skin such as feet, elbows, and hands.

Any kind of butter can be combined with softer oils to create a smoother texture at room temperature if so desired.

I personally always buy my shea butter from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Why You Should be Using Magnesium

Today I wanted to talk about the numerous benefits of magnesium and why you should be using it right now.

Magnesium flakes are often extracted from brine or sea water and is the second most abundant element in our bodies which means that most, if not all of us are deficient in magnesium.

Taking magnesium internally and using it externally are two different topics so for today I will only be focusing on how to use magnesium externally.

Magnesium Baths | Taking magnesium baths are one of the most common ways of replenishing some of your bodies natural magnesium.

It is a well know remedy for muscle aches and general body pain as well as helping the body recover during an illness.

A magnesium bath is a wonderful way to wind down before bed since it helps to improve quality of sleep.

Skin issues such as acne, eczema, or even skin reactions such as poison ivy and rashes can drastically improve with magnesium baths. Magnesium is hydrating to the skin unlike normal bath salts and helps to speed up wound healing.

Magnesium Foot Soaks | Foot soaks are a great option for anyone who either doesn’t have a bath, doesn’t like baths, or who simply just doesnt have the necessary time to soak for an hour.

In many ways foot soaks could be considered just as beneficial if not more so, then baths since most muscle issues in the body begin at the feet.

Between exercising and working and just doing necessary daily tasks can begin to wear on the part of your body that takes the most beating on a regular basis.

Foot soaks don’t just help to relieve tired and achy feet they also help to treat other areas of pain in the body such as toothaches, headaches, cramps, chest congestion, and general cold and flu symptoms.

There are so many more benefits to foot soaks that I could go into but I’ll save that for another time.

Magnesium Oil | The easiest and by far the quickest way to use magnesium is in oil form.

Magnesium oil can be purchased in many places but can also be made quite easily at home by using equal parts magnesium flakes to water.

It is most commonly used by athletes since magnesium oil is highly concentrated which improves flexibility, relieves pain from muscle injuries, and speeds healing.

Magnesium oil helps to relieve migraines, reduces the symptoms of stress, and is a wonderful sleep aid while still being a realistic remedy for even the busiest people.

The high concentration of magnesium oil can cause slight irritation and itching in those with sensitive or dry skin so always do a small skin test before hand.