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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Magic of Aloe Vera

It sure is heating up out there, yeah? I hope everyone is taking precautions* to keep your skin safe while frolicking in the sun! Despite caution, I am the first to know how easy it is to lose track of time and get burned when having fun outdoors.  My Dutch-Irish decent means I am, essentially, translucent and will burn within 3.5 seconds outdoors if I'm not completely vigilant.

For post-sun care, before you go running off to the drug store to purchase "aloe vera gel" filled with who knows how many icky additives**, consider purchasing yourself an aloe vera plant instead.  A bottle of "aloe vera gel" averages $7-10 at the market, whereas an aloe vera plant will set you back less than $5 at your nearest nursery; and, lets face it, the plant is way cooler to look at than the bottle! Aloe is hands-down the easiest houseplant to care for: just give it sunshine, well-drained soil, and only moderate water, and your aloe will thrive, rewarding you with an endless abundance of healing leaves!

Aloe is truly a remarkable healing agent for burns, both superficial and serious. Applied topically, the thick gel that oozes from the cut leaves is soothing and pain relieving, and it contains rich concentrations of anthraquinones, B vitamins, vitamin E, selenium, enzymes, and aloin, which promote rapid healing and tissue repair. A thick application of aloe vera gel not only soothes and cools a kitchen burn or really bad sunburn but also quickly reverses the blisters and prevents scarring and tissue damage. Some additional fun facts are that aloe contains a natural sunscreen that blocks 20-30% of ultraviolet rays, and that it perfectly matches the natural pH of our skin, making it a near-perfect skin tonic!

To prepare the gel: Cut a large, firm leaf from your aloe plant. Slice it open; it's best to do this on a plate, because as soon as you slice into aloe, it will begin to ooze its gel. Use a tablespoon to scoop out the inner gel. If you want a smooth gel (optional), puree it in a blender. Store the gel in a small bottle in the refrigerator, where it will keep for at least several weeks.

To use: Apply the gel directly to a burn, wound, or skin irritation. It will feel cooling and soothing and will begin immediately to repair and heal damaged tissue. As the aloe dries, it will begin to pull and tighten the skin. This is part of the healing process, but if it becomes uncomfortable, gently rinse the aloe off. Repeat the application several times a day.

If this sounds too high-maintenance for you, you can also leave the gel in the leaf, cutting off only as much as you need for each application. Keep the leaf in a baggie to keep it fresh and to keep the gel from oozing out. Stored this way, the aloe leaf will remain fresh and active for several days or even weeks.

*SkIndulgence offers both a sunscreen lotion and a solid sun stick in the shop!

**The most common is typically alcohol so the gel will appear to soak into your skin faster - its not, btw, its just evaporating - which is actually incredibly harmful for a burn!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Calling Techie Friends!

 I am officially throwing in the towel on trying to resolve a techie problem myself, and sending a request for assistance out into the interwebs!

As you all know, I recently opened a direct-checkout shop on the site in an effort to move away from Etsy and allow people to purchase products directly. I do this by using PayPal "add to cart" buttons, which I love because buys can use either their PayPal accounts or just a credit/debit card without logging into any account, AND I can customize the button appearance and embed it directly into my website. I'm just having one teensy problem with this, and that is that I LOVE to offer discounts. To date I have been unable to find any way to generate discount codes for the PayPal "add to cart" function.

Solutions offered by PayPal have ranged from applying a stationary/permanent discount (um...isn't that just changing the price?) to 3rd-Party providers that seem no different than Etsy to me. So, long story short, I'm done trying to find the solution on my own (I'm better at making skin care products than techie-type things), and I'm asking the Friends of SkIndulgence if they know the answer.

If you can point me in the right direction of being able to generate discount codes (ie 20%-off when you enter the code XXX in the discount code redemption text box at checkout*), I will make sure the first code I generate is 100%-off just for you!

Thanks in advance, techie friend!

*If they have the box for it, why don't they have a way to make the code that goes IN the box?!?

Skin Care for the Jet Setters

Hello Friends! I'm so happy to be back in the SkIndulgence kitchen (and to reopen the stores!) after my amazing month with Build.Create.Kenya in East Africa! It occurred to me, after spending a cumulative total of about 48 hours in the air, that I should share some tips on how to keep your skin fresh and beautiful when traveling. Cabin air is incredibly drying, and its easy for our skin to suffer as a result. Heed this advice on your summer travels, and I promise you'll arrive all a'glow and ready for those vacay-pics!
  • As much as I love my makeup, I go without while on the plane as I know that the recycled and drying air will destroy the look anyway.
  • Before the flight, cleanse thoroughly with the Foaming Facial Cleanser and the Cleansing Grains. If you have time, do a Facial Steam, too. After cleansing, tone and moisturize.
  • Make sure to get plenty of fluids pre-flight by drinking at least a pint of water. Add the juice of half a lemon for extra-oopfm and system-cleansing qualities. Avoid caffeine as it will dehydrate you and your skin. Whenever that beverage cart comes by, guzzle water, water, and more water!
  • If its a long flight, keep some mild toner and moisturizer handy.  With all that recycled air, who knows how many germs are infiltrating your pores, and its a good idea to tone and moisturize (while your skin is still damp) soon after take-off, then again near the end of the flight.
  • If I know I'll be heading right out into public after landing, I'll apply some light makeup right before landing (concealer, a tinted moisturizer, lip balm and, of course, mascara).
  • If you're traveling light, remember SkIndulgence offers the full facial line in travel-size containers. I took mine to Kenya (of course!), and the 1-ounce sizes were more than enough to last me and the fiance the entire month!
Wishing you all safe travels and happy skin!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Last Minute Orders

Hello friends!  The shops have now been placed on vacation/hold until July 1st while I am in Kenya with Build.Create.Kenya.  However, I will still be around until this Thursday, June 6th, so if you didn't get a chance to place your order, please send me a message via the contact form here, and I will see if I can get your products out to you before I board my flight.

See you next month!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Notice: Store on Vacation!

Hello and happy Tuesday friends!  Next Thursday I will be leaving for my annual trip to Kenya with Build.Create.Kenya*!  This is super exciting, but it also means that I will have to put the store on "vacation" for a few weeks.  Both the Etsy and Direct Checkout stores will temporarily close at 8:00 pm on Sunday, June 2nd.  As such, the last day to submit orders until July is Sunday, June 2nd at 8:00 pm.

To celebrate the upcoming expedition, please note that 100% of the proceeds from all orders placed between now and June 2nd will be donated to the Build.Create.Kenya 2013 Expedition!

Happy shopping!

*BCK will be FaceBooking, Blogging, Instagramming, YouTubing and Tweeting while in Kenya on this year's Expedition! Follow us on all social media to receive live updates of our progress!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

New Website!

I am so excited to announce the launch of the new SkIndulgence website!  The entire product line is now available to purchase directly on this new website!  However, I am still working out the details on how to get discount codes to function; so, if you have a code I suggest continuing to use the Etsy store until further notice (hopefully within a few days).

Happy shopping!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Meaning of "Handmade"

Hold onto your hats my friends, coz I'm about to take you for a ride down the hippy, soul-speaking river!

This past weekend I was invited to present the SkIndulgence line to "Wine and Wrinkles", a woman's group that honors entrepreneurial women working in the health and wellness industry.  The experience was so awesome for me, and I walked away filled with so much encouragement!

At one point the conversation turned to vegetarianism.  I've been a vegetarian for most of my life, and I choose to be as such for countless ethical and environmental reasons; the whole health aspect is just an added bonus.  I was sharing with the women that one of these reasons relates to "energy", and I don't mean "I feel so energetic"!  I described that I feel the animals know when they are about to be slaughtered, and, as such, fear and stress are coursing through their bodies.  When we eat this meat, I feel that fear and stress are then taken into our own bodies.  There is enough fear and stress in the world to go around, and I can't fathom voluntarily taking more in through the consumption of fear-drenched flesh.

I then went on to say that I feel this type of energy also translates to the products we use.  When I use a commercial product, I feel the disconnect in it; I feel the cold machinery and disgruntled factory workers. By contrast, when I make my products I envision skin healing and beauty being revealed by whoever will use that product.  I only craft my products when I am feeling positive; if I am hurried or cranky I put it aside so my negative energy won't get added as an unwanted ingredient.  The same goes for the hats and blankets I crochet; with each stitch I envision love and warmth.

Yeah, I know there isn't any scientific proof to back any of this up, but I still like to think it adds a little sumpin-sumpin!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tax Relax Promotion

With tax day upon us we could all use some stress relief, eh?  SkIndulgence has a full line of bath and body products designed to help melt that stress away.  Check it:

For the next 48 hours any sale of $25 and up (excluding shipping) will receive any full size relax product!  Just let us know in the comments which product you'd like, and we'll get it to you lickety split!

Happy shopping!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

"All Natural" vs. "Made With Natural Ingredients"

This weekend I was at the drug store, and I wandered down the skin care aisle to check out the competition.  I saw countless products claiming to be "natural". In recent years, with a growing conscious to the environment, it's become "trendy" for mainstream brands to market "natural" products.  While I think the idea of this is totally awesome, obviously, I find that it is, unfortunately, more often than not just a gimmick to increase sales.  All too often the bottles that boast "made with natural ingredients" contain mere drops of a natural ingredient or two amidst their usual combination of chemicals.

Take this moisturizer, for example.  The front label claimed it was "natural", but when I turned it over and read the ingredients, this is what I found:

Um, what's "natural" about this? The only ingredients I know for sure are natural or are even words I can pronounce with any certainty are "glycerin" and "water". 

Years ago I made a commitment to not put anything in or on my body if it had ingredients that I couldn't picture in my head*.  Mother Nature knew what she was doing and gave us everything we need.  In the words of Louis CK, all we need is just laying on the floor waiting for us to use it!  What the heck is "Cyclomethicone"!?!?  I've never seen one, have you?  When I Google it, rather than seeing a plant or clay, I see a scary chemical compound diagrammed out that brought back dreaded chemistry classes.

By comparison, here are the truly all natural ingredients of SkIndulgence's Night Cream for Normal to Dry Skin:

See the difference?  Even if you don't know what "calendula" is off the top of your head, you can Google it and see that it's a flower.  This is the difference between "all natural" and "made with natural ingredients".  You've gotta turn that bottle over and check out what's really in it!  Remember, what we put ON our bodies goes INTO our bodies, and if it would be dangerous to eat, why would you wanna smear it on your face?

*Not that I always adhere to this commitment (I AM human after all), but I try!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Exciting New Products!

The last few weeks we've released some really exciting new products, and I thought it was a fantastic time to update you all and give a coupon code to the store!  Now about those products:
  • I absolutely love hiking and backpacking, and I’ve been waiting so impatiently all winter long for spring so I could release this product!  It’s an outdoor survival set including a carabineer clip with travel size tubes of insect repellent, first aid balm and an SPF 30 sun screen – all made with natural ingredients, of course! This palm-size set is handy for hikers, backpackers, and pretty much all outdoor adventurers. Find this product by clicking here.
  • The next new product is an eye serum formulated with the highest quality botanicals to combat fine lines, wrinkles, and puffiness around the eyes.  I package this serum in an easy-to-use roller ball bottle that eliminates the need to pull and tug sensitive eye area.  I’ve been using mine every night for the last two months, and I just got carded at a Rated-R movie…so it appears to be working perfectly! Find this product by clicking here.
  • The third and final new product is a blemish stick to gently yet effectively fight off blemishes and acne.  This handy product is formulated with several sought-after ingredients including black walnut hull and tea tree oil.  It, too, is packaged in an easy-to-use roller ball bottle so you can quickly swipe it on blemishes without transmitting oils from your hands to the blemish.  I carry this around with me in my purse and use it throughout the day whenever I see a blemish popping up.  Find this product by clicking here.
To celebrate these new products, I’m offering a great deal of 15% off your entire order with the coupon code NP15PER!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Home Spa Experience

The primary goal of the SkIndulgence Bath and Body collection is to provide a spa experience at home.  Who doesn't love a day of pampering and relaxation at the day spa?  I know that's MY idea of a perfect time!  The state of this economy has created more stress, but greatly impaired our ability to fund its relief.  Solution? Bring the day spa home with you.  Under the right settings, using spa products at home benefits your body and your spirit just as much as at a fancy spa, but without the stress-inducing price tag that comes with it.

My perfect home spa item is the Salty & Sweet Body Scrub. Prep your items in the bathroom, light some candles, turn on some relaxing music, perhaps even brew a cup of strong chamomile tea and get to it!

The body scrub mimics a salt glo at any day spa.  Use it on dry skin and rub in a circular motion over the entire body.  Those who have used the SkIndulgence scrub (and my own vast experiences) have told me that it completely removes dry patches after just one use and leaves the skin feeling super nourished.

If you are up for an extra step (make time for it, it's so totally worth it), you can extend this into a body wrap.  Start by placing a blanket in an empty bathtub. Next, lay an old sheet (one that can get icky) over that. If you have one, aim a space heater at the bathtub and set it just a tad higher than what's comfortable.  Stand on the sheet and massage in the salt glo.  Then lay down (use a rolled-up towel as a pillow), and wrap the sheet around you, then the blanket. If you brewed some herbal tea, now would be a great time to place a tea bag over each eye.  The herbs don't only taste great, but they will soothe tired and stressed out eyes, too!  Chill like a mummy for about 20 minutes.  The ingredients in the scrub combined with the heat, will help to draw impurities out of your body while simultaneously replenishing vital minerals and moisture.

After using the scrub, shower as usual (or keep on relaxing in a hot bath - try the Bath Pack!) and don't forget to moisturize (I recommend the Body Butter, of course)!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

All About Lavender

You'll notice I use a lot of lavender in my products.  This is because it is one amazing herb with a rich history and many uses from culinary to medicinal to cosmetic, not to mention it smells absolutely amazing.

The use of Lavender goes back thousands of years, with the first recorded uses by the Egyptians during the mummification process. Both the Greeks and the Romans had many uses for it, the most popular being for bathing, cooking, as an ingredient in perfume, healing wounds, and as an insect repellent. Lavender was used as an after-bath perfume by the Romans, who gave the herb its name from the Latin lavare, to wash. During the Great Plague of 1665, grave robbers would wash their hands in a concoction called "Four Thieves Vinegar", which contained lavender, wormwood, rue, sage, mint, and rosemary, and vinegar; they rarely became infected.

English folklore tells that a mixture of lavender, mugwort, chamomile, and rose petals will attract sprites, fairies, brownies, and elves.  Lavender has been thought for centuries to enflame passions as an aphrodisiac, and is still one of the most recognized scents in the world.

In SkIndulgence products I include lavender in my First Aid Balm for its pain and burn relief properties, in my Insect Repellent to keep the bugs at bay naturally, and in the entire Facial Skin Care for dry skin collection for its gentle antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Email Request: Acne Skin

I received the following email this past weekend from S:

I have been using the Moroccan face mask, and I absolutely love it.
I have pretty bad skin, I always seem to have a layer of dead skin which I scrub off nightly, and my acne is starting to come back. Eeek!  I was wondering if you have some sort of scrub or something else that will help me have smooth clear skin..... Minimizing my pores would be nice too :)
As this is a very common concern, I wanted to answer it publicly.

It seems that when someone is experiencing blemished skin they almost want to "punish" it by scrubbing it daily and/or using very drying cleansers (ie with various acids).  Whenever my fiance has a breakout he tells me "I need to dry it out so it will go away!".  Sound familiar?  This, however, is the exact opposite of what you want to do!  Blemished and acne skin needs to be treated very gently.

First, what causes acne?  For some it can be a case of over-drying the skin.  When we strip the skin of its natural sebum by using harsh cleansers, we dry out our skin causing it to go into overdrive, actually producing even more oil than before.  We need to keep in mind that acne is caused by bacteria infecting the skin, not by oil.  Additionally, when we use a facial scrub over a blemish, it runs the risk of breaking the blemish open and tracking the bacteria all over the face - making the acne spread.  For some the cause of acne is internal, we call this "hormonal acne".  This is the case for those who tend to break out when stressed or at that certain time of the month.

For those experiencing acne, I recommend:
  • A nightly regime of cleansing with a clear and gentle liquid cleanser.  After cleansing, remove any leftover residue and balance your skin's pH with a toner, and finish with a moisturizer.  Many people with oily or acne prone skin forgo this last step, but when you skip moisturizer completely, skin produces more oil to try to hydrate itself - leaving you with even slicker skin than before. The following morning simply rinse well with water, pat dry, and be on your way.
  • Every other day gently scrub with a gentle scrub like my Cleansing Grains.
  • Once a week or twice a month if you're short on time, do a full facial.  Start by cleansing and gently scrubbing, then do a facial steam, followed by a mask (the Cleansing Grains double as a clay mask, and we also offer a spa-quality Moroccan clay mask), use a toner and finish with a moisturizer.
The SkIndulgence shop offers all of these products in one set!  Click here for normal to dry skin and here for normal to oily and acne-prone skin.

Additionally, treat your skin from the inside out!  Vitamins A and C, zinc, and protein are all important for wound healing, which is what a breakout essentially is.  Load up on omega-3 fatty acids (found in flax seeds, walnuts, and avocados, among other foods), which will help reduce inflammation in the body and skin.  Try adding a pinch of thyme or oregano to your meals as well; they contain agents that help fend off the bad bacteria that can be a factor in skin irritations.  SkIndulgence offers an herbal tea that balances your hormones, and is awesome at preventing hormonal breakouts.

For more information on preventing acne, check out these other posts I've written on the subject:
Thank you, S, for the great question!  If you have a question about how to handle your particular skin care concern, please feel free to email me!  My contact info is available via that "Contact" tab up at the top!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Launch Party & Sale!

Join us on Saturday, March 9th from Noon - 4 PM at 433 W Garfield Avenue in Glendale, California as we officially launch this all natural skin care line with lots of free samples and great savings on the entire product line!

For more info and to RSVP via FaceBook click here!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Creating New Products

It's a rainy day here in Los Angeles, and rainy days always inspire me to play with my herbs.  While I am doing that, I thought I'd share with you all my process of creating new products.

The inspiration for a new product is typically initiated from either a personal need or at the request of a friend.  Currently I am working on a daytime moisturizer and a wrinkle serum, so stayed tuned for those additions to the shop!

My first step is to research ingredients.  For instance, for the daytime moisturizer, I need ingredients that feel light on the skin, and work well with makeup.  When researching the wrinkle serum, I am looking for ingredients that contain a lot of vitamins, nutrients and fatty acids.  I also research costs. For instance, will I be able to create a product that maintains a comparable cost in the marketplace?  I survey what's on the shelves in the shops and determine if I can beat that, and survey my friends for what they costs they would expect to pay. I might research and evaluate the idea of a product for months before I even make the first batch!

Once I have a list of ingredients I'd like to play with, I plan what type of product would be the most effective and efficient means of application: liquid spray, oil, salve, cream, etc.  At this point I create a first draft formula and test it on myself for a few weeks during which time I journal and photograph changes to my skin to see if it yields the results for which I was looking.

At this point I either hate it (or just know it can be better) and go back to revising my formula, or I send it out to friends for testing.  I ask them to use it for a few weeks and let me know what they think about the effectiveness, color, smell, etc.  Based on their observations, I might (and usually do) go back to revising my formula and start testing all over again.

Sometimes I like a formula right off the bat and receive positive feedback, so I can add it to the store fairly quickly.  Other times, I might not love the formula until the 15th revision or so.  Before I started SkIndulgence, I spent years creating the formulas for the initial six products; my night cream went through nearly two dozen trials before I found the formula I absolutely love.

When I do find the perfect formula, the rest is rather simple.  I just create the packaging, have a photographer shoot it, and then add it to the store!

So there you have it, from conception to sale, my process.  If you are interested in becoming one of my testers, definitely send me an email!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Bathtub: Therapy in your Home

Powdered Kelp
I've talked a lot about how much I love the bathtub.  Check out posts here, here and here for a refresher.  Don't just take it from me; my teacher, world-renowned master herbalist Rosemary Gladstar has the following to say about "Therapy in a Tub":
Beauty begins in the bath.  A centuries-old ritual, herbal bathing is not only a soothing cosmetic affair it also has important therapeutic applications...It's unfortunate that the bath has been replaced with the shower, another of those quick conveniences of modern times.  Though certainly a quick way to freshen oneself, showers are no replacement for a long, luxurious soak.  I've heard people reflect that they don't like the idea of soaking in their dirty bath water.  Heavens, rinse off first if you're so dirty!  But don't forgo the pleasures of a bath.

Herbal baths can be extremely therapeutic.  The addition of specific herbs, essential oils, sea salts, or oats can be used to treat skin disorders, headaches, stress, anxiety, and congestion.  There have been several well-known herbalists whose preferred method of treatment was via the bath.  When bathing, the pores of the skin are open and receptive to the healing properties of the herbs.
Bathing in herbs is like immersing one's body in a giant cup of tea.  All the pores are open and skin, our largest organ of absorption and elimination, absorbs the healing essences of the herbs allowing you to emerge renewed and refreshed.

The SkIndulgence shop offers a variety of bath additives including salts, herbal blends, and oatmeal combinations.  I've formulated these products to assist in relaxation, sore muscles, and with anxiety.  In addition to these, I've previously posted several at-home recipes for preparing your own healing baths (links up at the top).

Talking about baths so much, I think I'm gonna jump in one right now!  Today I am going to add 1/2 cup of powdered kelp and 1/4 cup of aloe vera to the water for a perfect thalassotherapy (seawater) therapy treatment.  Seaweed is very rich in iodine and protein.  These nutrients are directly absorbed by the pores of the skin, affecting the body on a cellular level, and in the process will help detoxify, revive, remineralize and stimulate my body as a whole.  Aloe compliments the effect of the seaweed in that the gel helps regenerate and soothe damaged and dry skin.

If you try this seaweed bath yourself (please do, it's incredible), it is best to not overexert yourself immediately afterwards as seaweed baths can be draining.


P.S. You can purchase kelp seaweed powder at most health food stores.  If you wish to purchase online, I recommend Mountain Rose Herbs.  The same for aloe vera gel - make sure to get pure aloe vera gel (no alcohol or other additives) from your health food store, or find it at Mountain Rose Herbs.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Product! Balancing Act Herbal Tea

In last week's post about sensitive skin I shared about the importance of "internal skincare".  That is, that 80 percent of our skin is the dermis, which is fed and nourished via internal means, so what we eat is very important to the quality of our skin.  I thought this was a perfect time to add my Balancing Act Herbal Tea to the shop.

I originally formulated this tea about 10 years ago when a very close friend started chemotherapy.  In addition to the endless myriad of horrid side effects, she was finding that the chemo lead to horrible breakouts because it was throwing her hormones totally out of whack (I believe that is medical phrasing, yes).  I gave her about a pound of loose tea (pretty much enough to last 100 years), and told her to drink at least a quart a day.  That may sound like a lot, but it totally isn't; it's a large mason jar.  She did, and the tea totally did its magic, and her skin cleared up almost instantly.  You gotta love herbs!

Since then, I've given this to anyone I encounter who tells me they just can't get rid of their acne.  And then I give it to anyone who says they have a lot of stress in their lives, since that throws your system all out of whack, too.  Then I give it to anyone who breathes...because I think this tea is the bee's knees, ya'll!

It contains Raspberry Leaf, Spearmint, Nettle Leaf, Alfalfa, Dandelion, Licorice Root, Motherwort, and Lemongrass. Like all of my products, the ingredients are certified organic by the Oregon Tilth.

The listing on the shop is for four ounces of loose tea (visualize half of a lunch sack filled with loose tea) for the bargain price of $8.00 + S&H.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Fix Those Chapped Lips!

Wicked winters are taking a toll on all our lips.  A few readers have emailed asking how they can help their sore chapped lips.  Easy!  All you need is a smidgen of your favorite natural lip balm and a sprinkle of white sugar.  The best lip balms are those that have very few ingredients; essentially all it needs is a wax and an oil.  In a small dish pinch off some of the lip balm, add a bit of sugar and mix into a paste.  Scoop some of this paste up with your finger and gently rub on your lips in a circular motion.  Rinse and apply a thin layer of balm.  Repeat every other day as necessary.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Skinny on Sulfates

I'm sure you've all noticed over the last few years the growing number of products boasting to be "sulfate free".  SkIndulgence is definitely proud to be on this bandwagon.  Not so readily advertised, however, is why it is important to be sulfate free.  Hopefully the following will help explain this:

What are Sulfates?
Sulfates are chemical detergents that produce lather. They are found in a variety of beauty products, including soaps, body washes and shampoo. 

Sulfates are the ingredients that make liquid soaps thick.  If you've ever used Dr. Brommer's or SkIndulgence liquid soaps you've noticed that these products are noticeably thinner.  As such, I package the liquid facial cleansers with a foaming-pump top, which makes the product much easier to use.

Why Sulfates are Bad for your Skin
Sulfates break up grease, allowing it to be rinsed away; however, they can be rather harsh and may strip away your skin's natural sebum (which locks in moisture).  As such, products containing sulfates can be known to be overly-drying to your skin and hair.  If you have sensitive, or easily-irritated skin, sulfates may compound the irritation. 

Why Sulfates are Bad for the Environment
In a nutshell, sulfates occur as microscopic particles resulting from fossil fuel and biomass combustion. They increase the acidity of the atmosphere and form acid rain...which we generally frown upon.

Fun Barely-Related Dori Fact
In 8th grade my science grade was less than stellar, so I worked out a deal with my teacher to do little experiments for extra credit.  Always the environmentalist, I used the "Try This!" exercises in my copy of "50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth" book as a basis for these experiments. One such lesson was on the effects of acid rain: it instructed us to get three small house plants and feed one straight water, the second a 50-50 solution of water and lemon juice, and the third straight lemon juice.

I ran down to the drug store, purchased the three cheapest house plants I could find and eagerly started this experiment.  Within days, plants two and three died horrible, suffocating deaths due to the acidity of their diet.  Though I had predicted this outcome as my experiment's hypothesis (obviously), I was still wracked with guilt over the demise of my two house plants.  Here we are, 20 years later, and I still totally can't walk by houseplant displays without guilty memories of my murder-spree days flooding back.

Yes, I've been told I have an overactive imagination...why do you ask?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Custom Products by Request

Hello friends!  Occasionally while perusing my Google Reader, I will read of some ailment or another experienced by one of my bloggy friends.  As an herbalist, it is always my first instinct to offer an herbal/natural solution for whatever ails them, whether it be a skin condition or a cold.  I love it when I get calls from my nearby friends asking what they should take for a throat infection, or if I can whip them up a little something special for their eczema.  I love knowing that I can be of service to them, and that my love of herbs can help in some little way.

As such, I wanted to take my offerings beyond my inner circle of Los Angeles friends and throw it out into the blogosphere ;-)  Somewhere on my Etsy shop it says that I am open for custom orders, but that info is pretty well buried, so I'm gonna make it more clear now.

If you are feeling under the weather and wonder if there is a home remedy that may help (and there usually is), ask me!

If you are in need of a special product and don't see it in my store, ask me!

If you click on that "contact" tab up at the top you'll find various ways of contacting me.  Pick your favorite, and I'll hit you back lickety split! this country doesn't recognize herbalism as the science it is, no matter how many certificates you have proving your education, I am legally required to post the following disclaimer, which you will also find permanently in place on the "About" page: The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only: it has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and it is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

5 Quick Skin Fixes from the Kitchen

Your kitchen holds a multitude of surprising treatments for your skin.  Here are five such quick fixes:
  1. Slice a ripe tomato and rub it all over your face.  Let the juice soak in for about 5 minutes.  The tomato's mild acid will bring dirt and other impurities to the surface of the skin.  Rinse thoroughly with water.
  2. Crisco is an excellent and mild make-up remover.
  3. Beat an egg white until it is frothy, apply to face and leave on for 5 minutes.  The mask will tighten. Rinse off thoroughly, first with warm water then with cool.
  4. An avocado pit makes a natural massage tool: rub it and roll it against your skin to soothe tired muscles.
  5. If ever you wake in the morning and your eyes are puffy, throw two spoons in the freezer then jump in the shower.  After your shower place the frosted spoons on your eyelids and relax for 10 minutes.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Water is the Cure for Sensitive Skin!

There is more to water than just drinking your eight cups a day.  Cells lose the ability to retain water as we age.  For instance, look at your skin as the roof of a house.  If your roof has holes in it, it's going to let in all the rain and the wind and the snow and everything else.  When you have a barrier that's diminished, it can become sensitive by using harsh products.

Obviously, just wetting your skin - or even using a super-rich moisturizer - isn't enough.  SkIndulgence recommends a water-rich diet for top results.  Most people think of skincare as what they put on their skin, but only about 10 to 20 percent of the skin is the epidermis.  The other 80 percent is the dermis, and that gets fed by what you eat.  Pros call it internal skincare, which means eating foods that have antioxidants - raw fruits and vegetables.  Other than that, don't scrub your face; use a mild cleanser and always wear sunscreen.  Hydrate yourself by eating fruit like berries, or something that's as water-rich as a fruit or vegetable.  This way, you hydrate your whole body.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Pineapple & Olive Oil Mask

Pineapple contains bromelain, a protein-digestive enzyme which helps rid the skin of dead cells and dirt.  In addition, it helps counteract histamines and has anti-inflammatory properties. The fruit is also a mild astringent and skin freshener.  Olive oil, which has excellent healing properties and is a good source of vitamin E, will help restore the skin's surface.  Make sure you use the highest quality cold-pressed extra-virgin oil.

4 large pineapple chunks or
1/2 cup canned, drained pineapple
3 tablespoons olive oil

Place ingredients in blender and blend until almost smooth.  Apply mixture to face with fingers and leave on for 15 minutes.  Rinse face with warm water and pat dry.
"Double Peace": the boyfriend and I chillin' with pineapples in Hawaii
Years ago the boyfriend (he is technically now "the fiance", but I still haven't gotten used to saying that) and I were backpacking in Hawaii and we visited the Dole Plantation.  I don't remember learning absolutely anything at all about pineapple, least of all that it totally rocks the complexion, but the human maze was super fun and the flower garden was totally beautiful...of course stuffing my face with the pineapple whip froyo was my favorite part though!

...and that concludes the end of "random stories by Dori"...

Friday, January 18, 2013

Dealing with Acne

Follow these simple tips to banish post-acne scars.
  1. Understand - An acne scar is any change in the skin's texture following a breakout; it can be a divot, dent, or even a large pore.  It forms when severe inflammation  - what makes a pimple red and irritated to begin with - breaks down the collagen in that area,  A scar can range in color from red to purple in lighter skin tones to brown in darker complexions as inflammation causes this type of mark by turning on the cells that make extra pigment.
  2. Prevent - The first line of defense against post-acne scars and spots is to prevent new pimples from forming. Use a deep-cleansing face wash every morning and night, but don't scrub too hard because this will irritate the skin and increase breakouts.  Follow up with a good moisturizer.
  3. Treat it Topically - Dotting a small amount of Tea Tree essential oil directly on the breakout can improve spots.  Don't expect the blemish to disappear overnight, though.  Mine, personally, disappear in 3-4 days.
  4. Inside Out - For best results, treat skin internally, too.  Vitamins A and C, zinc, and protein are all important for wound healing, which is what a breakout essentially is.  Load up on omega-3 fatty acids (found in flax seeds, walnuts, and avocados, among other foods), which will help reduce inflammation in the body and skin.  Try adding a pinch of thyme or oregano to your meals as well; they contain agents that help fend off the bad bacteria that can be a factor in skin irritations.
  5. Don't Pick - Just don't do it; period.  If you absolutely need to pop that zit, schedule an appointment with a facialist as he or she will use a sterile tool for the job.  When you do it yourself, your dirty nails end up digging into the skin and changing the pustule into a scab, which will then scar.
  6. Bring in the Pros - Sometimes acne is just too severe to treat yourself.  Cystic acne, for example, has a greater risk of sever scarring, so if you're dealing with very painful and inflamed bumps, it's wise to enlist the help of a professional, so make an appointment with a reputable dermatologist.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dry Hair Conditioning Treatments

Harsh winters can leave our hair brittle and dry.  The most simple and effective method for keeping your hair nourished is with a hot oil treatment.  All you have to do is raid your cupboards for some sweet almond or coconut oil.  If you don't have either of these, olive oil will work A-OK.  Warm the oil in a double boiler* to 100 - 105 degrees Fahrenheit...this means not very long at all and way before boiling!  Head on over to the bathroom and get your hair damp.  Long or thick hair typically uses 1-2 teaspoons of oil, and short or fine hair will typically need less than 1/2 teaspoon.

Begin by massaging the oil into the scalp, and then work down through the strands of the hair, covering all of the hair completely.  Put a shower cap or plastic bag over the hair, then cover with a towel.  As heat facilitates the conditioning process, sit in the sunshine or by a fireplace and/or take a hot bath, if possible.  Leave on for an hour or two, then shampoo and rinse.

Your hair may feel a bit more oily than usual at first, but the extra oil is quickly absorbed by your hair.

*I heat up some water in a small saucepan, then put a small mug containing the oil in the saucepan for a few minutes.  Voila!  Hot oil :-)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

We Have New Products!

If you've checked out the shop recently you'll see that I've added some luxurious new products!  Photos will be up as soon as I can get my trusty photographer to shoot them (herbalist I am, photographer...not so much!).  Let's learn all about these fun new items, shall we?

One of my top-selling products has been the Bath Pack which combines oatmeal, bath tea and bath salts.  I've gone ahead and separated these into two products to offer some variety:
  • Bath Salts - these are now available in two varieties, Stimulating to relieve post-workout and sore muscles, and Relaxing to calm your senses.  Bath salts work by replenishing depleted minerals to restore your body and the essential oils within them work both aromatherapuetically and through the power of the herbs to either calm your senses or relieve sore muscles, depending on which salt you chose.
  • Bath Tea - these, also, are available in Stimulating and Relaxing, and we've added one more combination: Revitalizing. Like the Bath Packs, the Bath Tea comes packaged in easy-to-use large tea bags to toss in the bath.  We all know that drinking chamomile tea aids in sleep; the bath tea works in much the same way. By soaking in the essence of herbs and flowers, our bodies absorb the seemingly magical qualities of these herbs.  Use the Stimulating combination to relieve over-worked muscles, the Relaxing to do just that, and Revitalizing will calm nerves while simutaneously invigorate your senses.
To round out the bath time experience I also now offer cleansing and moisturizing products for your whole body:
  • Body Wash - I've created two herbal combinations of body wash: "Sweet Dreams" with an infusion of chamomile and lavender to relax you after a long day; and "Oh Hello Day" formulated with an infusion of peppermint and lemon peel to invigorate you for the day ahead.
  • Body Butter - This luxuriously thick moisturizer is also available in the Stimulating and Relaxing formulas and is designed to penetrate deep through the epidermis to nourish your skin's dermis layer.
To celebrate these new products, I will be offering 15% off all order for the next week with the coupon code NP15PER.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My Top Skincare Tips

Over the years I've developed a list of personal skin care guidelines that I live and swear by to keep my complexion fresh and blemish-free:

  • Never let your unwashed face hit the pillow; make sure to wash the day off your face every single night!
  • If you wear makeup, consider lathering up twice at night: once removes the makeup, twice cleans deep down.
  • The two keys to a glowing complexion are moisture and exfoliation: use a gentle facial scrub every other day or so, stay hydrated with plenty of water, and seal that water in with a great moisturizer.
  • Treat your face as you would a baby's: always be super, extra gentle! Try using your ring and pinky fingers to apply your moisturizer as those fingers pack the least punch.
  • Never let the sun's rays hit your precious skin - always, ALWAYS wear sunscreen!
  • Steaming your skin is the most effective way to clean out those pores. If you're short on time and can't do a full facial steam, capture hot water in a wash cloth and hold it about a half inch from your face for a few seconds, then repeat a couple of times.
What are your favorite tips? Let us know in the comments below!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Oatmeal Bath for Dry Skin

Let's get back into the skin care game, shall we? I'm sure that the holiday season has left all of us in need of some luxury, am I right? Try this very simple oatmeal bath to restore your skin and your senses STAT!

To prepare the bath:
Make a large pot of runny oatmeal using four to six times more water than oats. Cook for 15 minutes, then strain, reserving both liquid and the oats. Fill a bathtub with warm water, then add the cooking liquid directly to the bathtub. Scoop the cooked oats into a nylon stocking and knot tightly closed. For added benefit, add a drop or two of lavender essential oil to the bath to enhance the relaxing effects.

To use:
Get in and enjoy the relaxing, soothing effects. Use the oats bag as a gentle scrub by massaging it over your skin.