Tag Archives: natural skin care

Oil Cleansing – Your Skin Will Thank You For This!

Oil cleansing is one of those things I’d heard people talking about for years before I actually worked up the nerve to try it. Let’s face it, smearing oil on your skin to clean it just seems counter-intuitive.  Several years ago, in a fit of boredom, I decided to give it a whirl and I’ve never looked back.  After oil cleansing my skin literally felt softer than it has ever felt. Soft and smooth and it looked kind of dewy – you can’t buy that. It was an amazing transformation after oil cleansing just once so for all you skeptics out there who have used every product imaginable and are utterly jaded on the whole “miraculous difference” thing – just wait until you’re having a bored day, and slather up!

Why Does Oil Cleansing Work?

The basic idea behind oil cleansing is that oil is natural to your skin, where soap isn’t.  Oil naturally travels deep into your pores, because it’s pretty much what is meant to be in there, where water stays outside because oil and water don’t mix, and they’re already filled with oil.  So if your pores are filled with oil (which seems bad) but then you’re adding it on topically (supposed to be good) then what is the real story?  Essentially we’re  pulling out the gross, dirty oil from your pores and replacing it with oils that are beneficial to your skin and clean so that your skin can stay smooth and soft and lovely. This is great for acne-prone skin, dry skin or combination skin and it’s amazing for anti-aging because it keeps your skin hydrated and nourished.

What Oil Should I Use?

This is where it gets fun because you get to play kitchen chemist. First, let’s start with the base:

Oil Cleansing Base:50% Castor Oil
50% Jojoba

This base has the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of the castor oil as well as the stability of jojoba oil.  It also penetrates deeply into pores because the castor oils ha very small molecules and the jojoba is the most molecularly similar to your skin’s natural sebum. This base by itself is a great mixture and if you’re just starting out and not sure you’ll like it, it’s a great place to start. You can always add things to the mix later on.

Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c

Great add-ins for Dry Skin

Kukui nut oil – high in essential fatty acids, readily absorbed into the skin to nourish the deeper layers.
Argan oil – rare, high in vitamin E which absorbs quickly and adds a level of luxury.
Baobab oil – light, rich in vitamins A, E and F which absorbs quickly and is specifically used for hydrating and protecting dry skin.
Sea Buckthorn OIl – exceptionally rich and healing for deeply dry, chapped skin. A small amount goes a long way.

Add-ins for Oily or Blemished Skin

Meadowfoam Seed OIl – healing and nourishing and high in natural salycilates, which reduce inflammation.Hazelnut Oil – highly suited for oily skin because it has astringent properties and helps to reduce excessive oil production.

Meadowfoam - of course this beauty would help your skin.

Meadowfoam – of course this beauty would help your skin.

Great additions for Anti-Aging

Pomegranate Seed Oil – it isn’t hard to imagine that this is highly prized for skin care and nourishes the skin while it provides antioxidant benefits. Promotes skin regeneration.
Rosehip Seed Oil – one of my favorites this is the predominant oil for wrinkled and aging skin.Black Seed Oil – highly nutritive and restoring to the skin. A little goes a long way.

Beautiful rosehip seed oil. My favorite.

Beautiful rosehip seed oil. My favorite. Mountain Rose Herbs is a great source for all of these exotic goodies.

So How Do I Oil Cleanse?

This is the best part:

  1. Get a headband to pull your hair back because stray hair gets oily really quickly.
  2. Put a dime sized amount of your oil mix in your palm and use the fingertips of your other hand to gently massage it into your face – don’t forget your lips, under your jaw line and your decollete, those are highly visible areas that often have the same problems as your facial skin, and your lips will just love the moisture. Use gentle upward strokes or light taps to encourage collagen production because god knows we all want more collagen.
  3. Leave the oil on your skin for five to ten minutes if you have some time, or you can skip straight to washing it off if you’re in a hurry.
  4. Run a washcloth under super hot water and wring it out then put it over your whole face and use the heat to dissolve and liquify the oil.  Don’t scrub, just use the heat to almost steam the oil off your face and wipe up what is left with the still hot washcloth.
  5. Marvel at the beauty of your newly lovely skin. Seriously, it’s amazing.
  6. Use a tiny amount of an oil based moisturizer – I love MiraCell Skin Relief and Support (for a premade product) but you can also make a lighter skin oil and use a few drops as a moisturizer. We’ll talk about that in a separate post.

    Miracell - a nice moisturizer after oil cleansing.

    Miracell – a nice moisturizer after oil cleansing.

The only part about this that I don’t absolutely love is the washcloths – simply because it’s hard to get the oil out of them.  The best trick I’ve found is soaking them in a bowl with baking soda in the water to dissolve the oil before you put them in the washing machine. In general it shortens the lives of wash cloths, but so spectacularly worth it for such lovely skin.

This is a totally different approach to skin care that has entirely changed the way I view soaps, and not for the better.  I source all of my carrier oils from Mountain Rose Herbs and keep them in the fridge to prolong their shelf life.  I mix up small batches (usually just an ounce at a time) of the facial cleansing oil, and then also end up using it as an after-shower moisturizer because it feels amazing.  Typically I use about 80-90% carrier oil, almost always a larger portion of rosehip oil because I’m pretty sure it’s addictive, and then experiment here and there.  I love changing it up a little bit and am always trying new combinations.  I have added essential oils before, but I honestly like the simple oils better by themselves. I hope you love oil cleansing as much as I do – let me know what you think!

Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c

Honey Beats MRSA and Other Reasons to Love Honey for Health

As if there weren’t enough reasons to love honey, it’s also showing a staggering array of health benefits, in fact honey for health might just be this years new buzzword (shameless pun, I know.) Seriously honey is kind of a miracle anyway; the awesomeness of bees flying 55,000 miles and visiting two million flowers per pound of honey is pretty staggering, but as it turns out every day we have more and more reasons to be amazed by honey health benefits as well.  Today’s amazement includes a fully stocked arsenal of weapons against against antibiotic resistant bacteria.

honey for health dreamstimefree_192457

Hard at work for your honey health benefits… Gorgeous shot from © Olga Vasilkova | Dreamstime Stock Photos

One of the most immediate problems modern medicine is facing right now is the epidemic of antibiotic resistant bacteria.  Of course MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)  is all over the news, but equally distressing are the antibiotic resistant strains of tuberculosis, syphilis, gonorrhea, and Clostridium difficile that are popping up all over the world and the U.S.  We’re calling these new big bads the “Superbugs” and really, we’re at a bit of a loss trying to figure out how to kill them. The whole concept of antibiotic resistance is distressing because it is the evolution of organisms into newer, more dangerous, better adapted pathogens.  These bacteria create conditions that we thought we knew how to treat, except the old treatments aren’t working anymore because the bacteria have become “smarter” in their own way. Seems kind of astounding that something as simple as honey might be the answer, but the way it’s looking now, honey could be a big part of the solution.

How bacteria become antibiotic resistant

This is a complex process that has happened partially because of the way we hand out antibiotics like candy for humans, and partly because we use antibiotics in our livestock’s food – not just to keep them from getting diseases in unhealthy living conditions, but also because antibiotics are proven to help fatten animals faster (humans too. Sigh.) Mechanisms for antibiotic resistance include:

  • Genetic resistance – Some bacteria have mutated (or evolved) to resist antibiotics, and bacteria have a very free and easy swapping of genes, so gene segments can jump from one bacteria to another in a slightly scary form of information sharing. Bacterial genetics can change very quickly, which makes them highly adaptable (and makes the human error of antibiotic overuse that much more serious).
  • Evolution – Darwin would be gleefully saying “I told you so” if he were here to see this. We have unintentionally created an experiment in natural selection.  If you blast a person who is sick with antibiotics and they don’t quite get better, the bacteria which have survived are naturally the strongest members of that colony.  Quite literally the ones best adapted to survive that harsh environment.  They then go on to breed happily with each other enhancing those survival traits so that in the future that harsh environment is just another walk in the park for that particular bacteria. Essentially we’re breeding and cultivating better pathogens.
  • Antibiotic overuse in humans – Obviously medicine has been on a bit of a field-day with antibiotics. Doctors have given them for everything from ear infections (usually viral -which antibiotics won’t help) to acne (really? We should put teenagers on systemic antibiotics for months? Really?) The more we use them the more likely it is that our bacteria evolve to avoid them. Plain and simple.
  • Antibiotic overuse in livestock – In the effort to make fatter farm animals (which is clearly what this culture needs) we feed them antibiotics. The good news is that it works – they fatten right up. The bad news is that they become factories for drug-resistant bugs.  The other bad news is that the humans consuming those animals get exposure to the antibiotic resistant bacteria, and also low doses of the antibiotics themselves, thereby nudging their own internal bacteria towards drug resistance.
  • Biofilms – one of the things bacteria have learned to do to avoid dying in an antibiotic-rich environment is to create what is called a biofilm.  It is exactly what it sounds like, a sticky, gooey mass of bacteria that literally cement themselves together to make it harder for you to kill them.
Staph aureus biofilm. Did you know honey can help you fight this??? Honey for Health! Thanks to wikimedia commons for the image.

Staph aureus biofilm. Did you know honey can help you fight this??? Honey for Health! Thanks to wikimedia commons for the image.

How honey helps fight antibiotic resistance in bacteria

Outside of being utterly amazing and yummy and rich in minerals, polyphenols, antioxidants and bioflavenoids, honey is also a pretty amazing bacterial killer (not to mention wound healer – honey is used in hospitals on severe burns and wounds that won’t heal).  Honey has many overlapping mechanisms for killing bacteria, which makes it much harder for bacteria to develop resistance – honey really is a miracle health food. Here’s what it does to bacteria:

  • Kills them with kindness – The high sugar concentration in honey actually does kill bacteria through osmotic effects. Essentially it’s like pouring salt on slugs – it just draws all the water out of the bacteria and dries them up. Incidentally, this is a big part of what happens to human cells in diabetes – think about that the next time you buy a giant bucket of soda.
  • Kills them with cruelty – Honey is designed to prevent bacteria growth because it’s long-term storage food for bees. This means it contains substances that are toxic to bacteria like hydrogen peroxide, polyphenols, and acids that are actually directly harmful to bacteria.
  • Isolates bacteria – New research shows that honey disrupts something called “quorum sensing”, which is the method bacteria use to communicate with each other. This makes the bacteria less virulent by stopping them from communicating enough to release toxins and also increases their susceptibility to conventional antibiotics.
  • Prevents biofilms – Without quorum sensing, bacteria have a much harder time forming biofilms (you can’t gang up if you can’t talk with your buddies). This takes away one of the bacteria’s main defenses against drugs and toxins.
  • Honey is tricky – Honey doesn’t kill bacteria by targeting the essential growth processes, it eliminates bacteria on many fronts, which makes it much harder to develop a genetic resistance to this kind of damage.

Honey for health: The best things about honey

Honey for health isn’t a new idea – it’s been used for centuries as a healing tool. Honey isn’t just antibacterial, there are a host of other great benefits as well. Here’s a quick list, but we’ll probably revisit this issue because there is always more to tell.

  • Honey prevents everything – In addition to being antibacterial, honey is also antiviral and antifungal
  • Honey is a tremendous antioxidant – That’s all we need to say about that.
  • Honey is healing – Honey is extremely soothing to tissues and helps wounds and burns heal with less scarring. Because it’s also antibacterial and antifungal it’s being used in hospitals for this purpose.
  • Honey is a cough suppressant – a mug of hot water with honey and lemon juice helps to relax your bronchial tree and loosen up a tight cough.
  • Honey helps a sore throat –  My grandmother (and mom too, but I remember it best at Nana’s house) used to give me honey and fresh squeezed lemon juice when I’d have a sore throat and have me eat it as slowly as I could (which was not very slowly because it tastes awesome). Worked like a charm.
  • Honey makes a great mixed drink – I know in Texas we don’t have many cold nights, but if you ever need quick warming up, try a shot of spiced rum in a mug with honey and hot water. So delicious and warms you right up.
  • Honey is soothing to the stomach and esophagus – honey can help to heal gastritis, ulcers and mild erosions in the upper GI tract.  This effect is especially well documented with manuka honey.  A teaspoon two to three times daily between meals really helps.
  • Honey may help with allergies – Eating raw, seasonal, local honey gives you traces of the pollens from the local area and can help to reduce your symptoms from airborne allergens.
  • Honey makes you radiant – Honey is just as nourishing to your skin as it is to the rest of you, and helps to nourish your skin from the outside.  Honey in your skin care routine can help to provide antioxidants, kill harmful bacteria and rejuvenate skin cells, as well as return your skin to it’s naturally slightly acidic pH. Here’s a favorite honey mask:

1 tsp whole milk
1/2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp sea salt

Mix the ingredients together and apply to your face in gentle circular motions.  Leave it on for five minutes and then rinse with warm water. The salt is gently exfoliating, the milk has lactic acid which helps to dissolve old or dead skin cells and the honey and milk proteins and fats nourish your skin to leave it soft and smooth and lovely. Once or twice a week will give you noticeable improvements in skin tone and texture and is just a lovely way to pamper yourself. Honey does tend to lighten the skin subtly, so it can also help with sun spots over time.

I’m obviously a big fan of honey, especially raw organic honey.  Honey for health isn’t a new idea, but it’s easy to overlook. Your pantry is often the most useful medicine cabinet in the house, and in truth I’m not sure how I would make my life work without honey (or vinegar – we can talk about that one later.)  In the interim – just give honey a try. Honey for health is simple, gentle and effective and best of all it’s one tool that does many jobs. No need for many different types of remedies and potions, just a few really great basics.  If you’re looking for even more great information, here’s a great article called 13 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Honey.  Totally worth a look!