Prevent Dry Skin During Cold Weather Months

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Prevent dry skin this winter

Are you looking to prevent dry skin?

During cold weather months, there is a tendency for many of us to develop dry skin and hair. We can blame this on forced air heating, tightly enclosed spaces, and/or a tendency to drink less water. A combination of factors can result in a humidity level of 40% or less. When this occurs, we risk drying out mucous membranes, as well, which can lead to a higher risk of developing respiratory tract and sinus infections. Our hair can also become drier which can lead to more fly aways or static electricity.

Fortunately, there are a few things that we can do to prevent dry skin and hair resulting from these and other factors. They don’t require fancy equipment or expensive products, either. Here are a few tips:

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

It may seem obvious, but colder weather often results in more sedentary behavior, diminished perspiration, and a tendency to drink less water. Alternatively, we may also drink more hot coffee, cocoa, or tea which have a diuretic effect. Alcohol has the same effect. The result is dehydration. To counteract this, it’s important for us to monitor our water intake and to drink a glass of water for every cup of coffee or glass of wine that we imbibe. We know we’re adequately hydrated when our urine is the color of light straw. This can also be affected by the foods we eat and drink (e.g., beets, cranberries juice). It is merely a rough measure of our level of hydration. If we pinch our skin and it does not retract immediately, it is also an indication of dehydration. Be sure to take into account the fruits and vegetables with a high water content that can also contribute to proper hydration.

Avoid hot water baths and showers.

This removes protective oils that keep our skin and hair pliable. Use lukewarm water instead and apply a barrier balm like our Body Balms or our Dry Oil to skin and hair immediately after bathing or showering. These products contain humectants like candelilla wax (trapping moisture) or glycerin (drawing water) which serve to trap water in the skin. Just lightly towel-dry and apply products while skin is still warm and damp. Natural oils can also help to preserve the skin’s acid mantle which can be impacted by harsh detergent cleansers and shampoos. A small application to dry hair can also help to preserve its cuticle.

Buy a hygrometer

It reads the relative humidity in any room. If the humidity level nears 40%, you have dry air that can sap moisture from skin and hair. To prevent dry skin, you can purchase a humidifier. Personal steam inhalers are also becoming popular and can help moisturize mucus membranes. We are undecided on facial mists. While refreshing during hot summer months, they are primarily water, relatively expensive, and the water evaporation may leave skin drier than before.

Use a natural moisturizer throughout the day as needed.

Be sure to read labels and avoid products containing silicone and petroleum by-products. These are neither nourishing nor earth-friendly. Products containing glycerin, castor oil, olive, jojoba, argan or other quick-penetrating oil can be beneficial for skin and hair over the long term. Coconut oil, while great to have on hand, can be drying for some when applied directly. And yes, even oily skin can benefit from oils. If you are acne-prone, try grapeseed or pumpkin seed oil. Oils that don’t clog pores (non-comedogenic) include argan and hemp seed oils. Results vary by individual, so you’ll need to experiment; a little goes a long way. Hemp, pumpkin seed, argan, and olive oil tend to become rancid easily, to it’s best to refrigerate them, or buy them in small quantities.

Moisturize while you sleep.

Many find it beneficial to use a hand cream or a foot balm with cotton gloves and socks. This gives the product a chance to sink in and soften rough areas overnight.

With a little effort, you can treat your skin to nourishing oils while preventing dry skin during the cold weather months. (Disclaimer: This information is not intended to prevent or cure disease. See your doctor if you are having respiratory, dermatological, or other symptoms of illness.)

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New Year’s Resolutions Worth Making

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New Year's Resolutions Worth Keeping

Another New Year’s Eve has come and gone.

It’s only human for us to see the new year as an opportunity to shed bad habits and learn new ones. More often than not, we are invariably disappointed as we see our resolutions fade after just a few weeks. We chastise ourselves for not having more willpower. We wonder why, year after year, our efforts are thwarted by tight schedules, family responsibilities, illness, and other distractions. And so the cycle repeats itself every year.

But there are a few New Year’s resolutions that are worth making each and every year. Those are the ones that require little effort on our part, but which yield big rewards in terms of more knowledge, better health, and what we call “conscious consumerism.”

What is “conscious consumerism”, anyway?

According to the Network for Business Sustainability, a conscious consumer purchases products or services that are produced in a more socially and/or environmentally responsible way. Surveys show that most consumers would like to consider themselves “conscious consumers”, but they may not know where to start.

So what does this have to do with our New Year’s resolutions? Here are a few ideas:

1) Learn to read labels.If you’re accustomed to reading your food labels, this may sound easy, but personal care labels are not like food labels (as complicated as those might be sometimes). Cosmetic manufacturers may only use the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) names, which leaves consumers wondering what these ingredients actually are. Most, however, will also include the common names in parentheses. These are generally familiar to us (like oils, butter, alcohols, and essential oils). The Consolidated Label website has a few good articles that help to decipher the mysteries of label-reading when it comes to personal care products. In addition to ingredients, many symbols like the Leaping Bunny or the Certified Organic label are used by companies to GMO-free, etc.

2) Know what the ingredients do. Does this sound simplistic? Well, it bears mentioning, because most normal people are not walking encyclopedias. It would impossible for us to be familiar with the thousands of ingredients and their uses. What’s more difficult is knowing which of them actually cause potential harm. Consumers can find information by going to the Environmental Working Group’s website. Not only do they print useful pocket guides, but their database lists many commonly used personal care products and levels of toxicity for the ingredients that they contain. You may have heard of the common culprits – parabens, phthalates, triclosan, BPA, sulfates, formaldehyde, toluene, and others. Studies on umbilical cord blood have found sometimes higher levels of industrial chemicals in the blood there than in their mother’s blood. “Body burden” – the study of chemicals stored in the human body and their composition – has also been studied. You can read about Bill Moyer’s body burden test by visiting this article on the PBS website. Between 40 and 60% of what we put on our bodies is absorbed into our blood stream or stored in our fat cells, never to leave our bodies. This accumulation can spell trouble if what we’re being exposed to has negative side effects.

3) Don’t keep personal care products for long periods of time. Many of our products have numbers stamped on them which indicate their shelf life. Regardless, however, products that touch your eyes should be replaced every few months. If a product has changed color or if it has a strange odor, throw it out. Naturally derived products, in particular, which do not use parabens can be refrigerated or labeled so that they don’t sit for longer than 6 months-1 year. If in doubt, throw it out! Alternatively, small jars/bottles will be used up more quickly.

4) Simplify your personal care routine. These days, many men and women are tempted to try the latest personal care “system” with multiple products for face, body, hair, etc. Use them if you must, but be sure to follow 1 and 2 above! Keep in mind that you can also find products that are multi-purpose, like our body balms. Not only are the ingredients identifiable, but they can be used from head to toe, on all family members, and year-round. This can save valuable time and money at a time when you’re looking to limit the number of potentially harmful products coming into your home. In that way, you can purchase products targeting specific problems only when you need them.

5) As questions. Responsible companies will welcome any questions regarding their products, their ingredients, or how they are sourced. For example, ingredients and products coming from China MUST be tested on animals. It may not be obvious from a label whether or not a product is manufactured in the USA or abroad. And with all of the companies being bought up by multinational corporations, it’s more important than ever to find out if this means that the formulas have been changed or if a product is no longer vegan or cruelty-free.

By taking just a few steps towards making more enlightened purchases, we can go a long way towards providing cleaner, safer, and simpler personal solutions for ourselves and our family members. We can’t think of a better New Year’s resolution than that.

References:
Network for Business Sustainability; Conscious Consumerism article
Consolidated Label webpage label reading articles

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Acne Causes and Remedies

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Blusen.com Staff "Blausen Gallery 2014"

What causes acne?

Acne is brought on by a number of causes. These can include an excess of dead skin thata clogs pores, excessive oil production, and trapped bacteria, which leads to infection and inflammation. Genetics may also contribute to the risk for developing acne.

Other factors have been found to make acne worse. An in crease in hormones in the bloodstream tends to create an excess in sebum production. Certain medications such as corticosteroids and lithium have been known to affect acne development. Diet has long been suspected of making acne worse; chocolate, refined carbohydrates and in some cases dairy, have been implicated. Excessive amounts of sugar create system-wide inflammation. Excess sun exposure can make acne worse by increasing the amount of sweat on the skin. Finally, stress can trigger an acne flare-up.

Acne Remedies

Gentle cleansing is effective in removing excess oil and sweat from the skin. You can use cleansing oils, if they are formulated to be light and mildly astrigent, as well.

Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are well-known treatments for acne flareups. Oil-free moisturizers and toners that restore the skin’s acid mantle can help to prevent further breakouts.

Never squeeze blemishes. This can cause any underlying infection to spread, and it can lead to scarring.

Natural Acne Remedies

If you are searching for natural acne remedies, tea tree gels consisting of a 5% concentration of tea tree oil can be as effective as a 5% benzoyl peroxide solution. Tea tree oil is an essential oil that is distilled from a tree native to Australia. It has antibacterial and antiviral properties and it is astrigent, which can help dry up blemishes. In fact, it should be in everyone’s medicine cabinet. If the essential oil is too drying when applied directly to skin, it can be diluted with a carrier oil like jojoba or grapeseed oil.

Lotions and creams containing alpha hydroxy acids can help the skin shed dead cells, thereby minimizing clogged pores. Azelaic acid, found in whole grain cereals, contains anti-bacterial properties. A 20% solution has been found to be effective. An example is Aziderm cream, available online. Creams containing zinc can help to reduce breakouts, and aloe vera gels (50%) can help soothe inflammation. An example is Ole Henriksen’s Vitamin Plus Mattifying Cream, available at Sephora and online.

Eating more omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish, purslane, and fish oil supplements) can contribute to lower levels of inflammation throughout the body. Maintaining recommended levels of Vitamins A and E, as well as eating antioxidant-rich foods like colorful (organic) vegetables and berries, help the skin to heal and reduces oxidative stress to the skin. Vitamin E capsules can be opened and applied directly to skin, as well.

What’s important to remember is that acne is a common ailment, even in adulthood, but there are many things that you can do to help minimize its effects. You may wish to experiment until you find the remedies that work best for you.

References:

  • http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/acne#1
  • http://www.naturalnews.com/027237_acne_dairy.html
  • https://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/Acne/
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Three Ways to Relieve Holiday Stress

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Holiday stress

There’s no doubt that the holidays can be a stressful time.

It seems as though once the first week of November rolls around, everyone jumps right into the “Holiday Spirit.” Christmas carols can be heard on the radio, and holiday decorations are everywhere. While this should be a festive time, you might find yourself feeling rather frazzled. We may slowly begin to feel the dreaded “Holiday Stress.”

The holidays are wonderfully exciting for our children, who anticipate stacks of gifts and snowball fights, but as adults it means hosting or attending endless holiday parties and thinking about last minute shopping, all while trying to still juggle your regular responsibilities. While stress is often a normal part of life, holiday stress can leave you feeling drained and even depressed at times.

Why not make this time of year a little different? By doing just three simple things, you can spend more time enjoying the small things that make this time of year so special! So put on your comfiest clothes, whip up a mug of warm cocoa (why not add a candy cane to get in the holiday spirit?), and keep reading to find out a few simple ways you can relieve your holiday stress this year!

Start Early

Most of us are guilty of leaving our Christmas shopping until the last minute, and hey, we aren’t judging! Unfortunately, as the holiday draws near, the malls become jam-packed with frantic shoppers scrambling to purchase gifts for everyone on their list. Holiday shopping can be stressful enough without all the shoving and pushing that takes away from what the holiday is really about.

Why not plan to set a specific day or two aside this month to take care of everyone on your Christmas list, so you can avoid the malls altogether come December. This allows you to spend quality time with friends and family, to travel, or to do whatever you enjoy doing during the holiday season.

Shop Mindfully

Instead of purchasing novelty gifts that may soon be forgotten, why not spoil the special people in your life with loving, thoughtful gifts. Perhaps the skincare maven in your family would appreciate one of our gift boxes that you can feel good about giving them, as they are free from all harmful chemicals. Or why not give your loved one a gift certificate to that spa day you know she would truly appreciate and definitely deserves!

You can shop mindfully online and reduce the stress of shopping at the mall, while feeling good about supporting a business that creates handmade goods with love! And when you know that a business gives back, you can feel even better.

Don’t Forget About Yourself

It’s easy to neglect yourself when rushing around to take care of everything on your holiday list, but by taking time out for yourself you will be able to tackle challenges in a calmer, more relaxed manner.

Start your day with a short meditation, here is a great app to help you get started. Try and squeeze in a quick 20 min cardio workout to rev up your metabolism and keep you burning calories all day. Not only will this help to reduce your stress levels, but it will allow you to enjoy that extra holiday cookie without feeling too much guilt!

End your day with a long soak in the tub or ask that special someone to give you a relaxing massage with our Dry Body Oil; after all, you’ve earned it!

We hope that these three simple yet effective steps can help you have your best holiday season ever. Happy Holidays!

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