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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.