Hand and nail care blog post

Hand And Nail Care

Now more than ever, you may find it necessary to practice a little hand and nail care. Constant hand washing, exposure to excess sunlight and other irritants, can leave hands dry, red and irritated. Learn what to do and what not to do when it comes to your hands and nails.

The skin on the hands

The skin is one of the largest organs in the body, with three layers – the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis. While the skin on the palm of the hands is thick, the skin on the back of the hands is the thinnest on the body. Because it is the most frequently exposed part of the body, it is a common area for photoaging and conditions like eczema and psoriasis from exposure to environmental stressors.

Preventing and treating dry hands

While dry, chapped hands are a very common condition, there are many ways to prevent and/or treat them. It is particularly important for those whose professions require them to have their hands in water all of the time – from dishwashers to nurses and surgeons. Many of the detergents and solvents used in washing and disinfecting the skin also tend to dry it out. Here are a few suggestions for maintaining healthy skin on the hands:

  • Wear gloves – There is a vast assortment of gloves designed to protect hands from the elements, from latex rubber to cotton. Rubber gloves are best whenever you are working with toxic solvents (turpentine, wood stains, pesticides, etc.). If your skin is sensitive, there are latex-free gloves available. Keep in mind that even though you are wearing glove, it’s important to know how to put them on and take them off. You should still wash your hands before and after wearing them in the event that the gloves have small leaks or tears. Cotton gloves are a good choice before going to bed if you are treating dry, chapped hands.
  • Use a moisturizer throughout the day – the best prevention is to use a soothing hand cream or balm (like our All-Purpose Body Balm) after working with water or irritating ingredients. You may have been washing your hands more frequently lately due to the CoVid19 virus pandemic, which may have left you with red, irritated hands or even contact dermatitis. Balms are recommended for more intense/nightly hand treatment once the skin has been stripped of its protective lipid layer. If not, hand creams can help prevent this from happening, but only if they are applied regularly.
  • Protect your hands from the sun – sunlight can create problems for your hands. Too much sunlight causes sunburn, dark spots, and a breakdown of collagen, not to mention the threat of skin cancer. Use a barrier sunscreen to prevent sun damage; wear driving gloves or use a UV filter on your car’s windows if possible.
  • If skin damage is severe, consult a physician. They are able to prescribe treatments like prescription creams to treat more serious conditions that don’t respond to home remedies. If you have an open sore or severe burn, you should seek professional attention, as these can lead to infection or worse. A physician can also diagnoses other skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
  • Use products with ingredients like shea, mango, and cocoa butter, glycerin (plant-based), Vitamin E and pure aloe. Oil-based products are great for restoring the skin’s lipid layer.

The Basics of Nail Anatomy

Like the skin on the hands, fingernails can suffer from too much exposure to environmental stressors. Frequent hand-washing, for example, can leave nails thin and prone to tearing. Exposure to solvents like acetone and gel manicures can also weaken the nail. Like hair and other parts of the body, nails are composed of keratin, a fibrous protein that grows out from the lunula, or the visible portion of the matrix. Caring for nails helps them serve their function of protecting the nail bed from foreign substances and pathogens. It also protects the fingertips. What many people don’t know is that the nail is even more permeable than skin. While our skin can absorb 50-70% of what we put on it, the nail can absorb substances, too. It’s important to know how to care for this important part of our anatomy. We’ve included a few suggestions below to get you started:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet – that’s right; the same diet that may leave your hair dry and brittle can do the same to your nails. Vitamin B12 deficiency can leave nails dry, dark and/or curved. A diet containing sufficient protein will promote keratin production. And hydration is important, too- our nails contain as much as 12% water.
  • Keep nails neatly trimmed/filed – This can prevent them from catching on objects, resulting in painful tears.
  • Use a nail/cuticle oil regularly – when nails are dry, they readily absorb oils, which work well to soften and condition dry nails and cuticles.
  • Don’t cut your cuticles – not only can this raise the risk for infection, but it can result in nail ridges. Instead, use a cuticle stick to gently push the cuticle back and keep cuticles conditioned.
  • Watch what nail products you use – solvents like acetone can wreak havoc on nails. Many nail polishes contain ingredients like formaldehyde, toluene and other organic solvents that can dry nails out. They are also being absorbed into the body, which is not so good. Try nail products that are 10-free (free of the 10 major harmful ingredients). We love Zoya nail polish. For a list of some good ones, click here.
  • Instead of nail polish, try buffing your nails – not only will it leave your nails naturally lustrous, but it helps to increase circulation to the nail bed, which is a good thing.
  • Seek professional help if you see anything that shouldn’t be there – fungal infections are common and sometimes require prescription medication. Even skin cancer can appear in the nail area, so don’t wait. Contact your doctor for a consultation.

By taking just a few steps to keep hands and nails healthy, you can avoid the discomfort of dealing with dry, cracked skin and nails. A little care can go a long way.

Why Do A Nightime Routine Blog Post graphic

Why Do A Nighttime Routine?

You may love a good night-time skincare routine, but do you know what its benefits are? Read below to learn why a night-time routine can really benefit your skin.

What happens to your skin while you sleep

Your skin is the second-largest organ in your body, and as such it performs many functions. So what is happening to your skin while you sleep?

  • Your skin loses water – or “sweats” – while you sleep due to less oil production, which means that it’s important to counteract this moisture loss with a moisturizer. Oils like jojoba imitate the skin’s natural sebum, while oils like hemp and olive supply much-needed fatty acids to maintain elasticity.
  • Skin becomes drier due to this moisture loss, which makes an extra-emollient moisturizer all the more important. If your skin is normally dry, then slather it on!
  • Your skin needs the right amount of sleep in order to replenish itself. If you’ve ever pulled an all-nighter, you’ll notice that your skin is more sallow and your eyes are puffier. Lack of sleep also raises cortisol levels, which contributes to inflammation. Higher stress hormones can contribute to breakouts and other skin problems, as well. Hormones like Melatonin and Human Growth Hormone increase during sleep, making a good night’s sleep all the more important.
  • Skin is warmer at night, which can make it easier for skincare products to be absorbed. So why not take advantage of this and apply products like AHAs or BHAs to speed cell turnover while you sleep? Turnover tends to occur between about 11pm and 4 am, before body temperature drops to its lowest level during sleep. Skin is also more permeable, so products can be absorbed more easily.

What should your skincare routine look like?

We already know that a good moisturizer can counteract moisture loss while we sleep, but what else can we do to enhance our nighttime skincare routine?

  • Be sure to remove all traces of makeup and accumulated dirt gently before bed. A light oil-based makeup remover like Whole Earth Body Actives Facial Cleansing Oil and Makeup Remover is rich in Vitamin E and contains geranium oil to help balance sebum production. A gentle exfoliator will remove any dead skin cells.
  • Use products with ingredients like AHAs, BHAs, retinol and Vitamin C to help “detox” your skin, increase collagen production and reduce inflammation while you sleep. We like our Whole Earth Body Actives Age Defying Vitamin C Creme with Niacinamide. It’s gentle enough to use day and night for botanical-based antioxidant protection.
  • Get the best quality sleep that you can. Avoid electronic devices, caffeine, alcohol, and heavy meals before bed. If you’re a side sleeper, a silk pillowcase can help prevent wrinkles while you sleep. Products like melatonin (which decreases as you age), or valerian extract (which can help you fall asleep) are non-habit forming and effective for some. Use a humidifier in winter and a dehumidifier/air purifier in the summer if needed to maintain a humidity level of about 45 percent and keep mucus membranes from drying out.

By spending just a little extra time at night, you can go a long way towards helping your skin to be its very best. And isn’t waking up to healthy skin worth it?

The one device you need this winter blog post

The One Device You Need This Winter

What Is The One Device You Need This Winter?

Today I will talk about the importance of using a humidifier in the home during colder months.

Living in a colder climate brings its own set of challenges. Outdoor sports enthusiasts can run the risk of developing frostbite, hypothermia, sunburn and even an asthma attack. It’s important to protect skin, lips and hair when spending time outdoors.

However, often little thought is given to indoor relative humidity and its impact on skin and hair. So what is relative humidity? In simple terms, it describes the percentage of water vapor in the air compared with how high the water vapor could be at that temperature. A relative humidity between 30 and 50% produces a comfortable interior while preventing the growth of mold, mildew and bacteria. It’s easy to measure relative humidity – just get a hygrometer. You can pick up an inexpensive one here.

Colder air is drier than warm air. When you heat your home, the temperature increases but the relative humidity does not. The result is dry skin and hair. This often causes static electricity and cracked lips. It can also dry out mucus membranes (sinuses and eyes), which can leave us vulnerable to sinus infections, nosebleeds, etc.

So how to we solve this? The easiest way to do this is with an ultrasonic cool mist humidifier. Designed to add moisture directly to the air, all that is left is to choose the right size for your particular room. Small, desktop humidifiers are fine for small rooms – up to 300 square feet. Medium size humidifiers cover up to 500 square feet. For a larger room, a floor model may be necessary. Companies like Aircare and Honewell make good ones. There are other features to consider, such as the ease of use, whether it has a timer, etc. A desktop model that we like can be found here.

Staying hydrated is also important. Barrier moisturizers can help prevent evaporation from the skin and hair. We produce vegan body balms and lip balms that provide targeted moisture while maintaining a moisture barrier. The body balm can also be used in the hair to reduce static electricity.

If you buy nothing else this winter, make it a humidifier. Your family will thank you.

References:
Reader’s Digest article on humidifier types
WebMD article on managing indoor air

Sponge Loofah or Washcloth - Which is best?

Sponge, Loofah or Washcloth – Which is Best?

Sponge, Loofah or Washcloth – Which Is Best?

Most would agree that exfoliation is an integral part of practicing daily hygiene, whether it be in the shower or in the bathtub. The question remains whether to use a sponge, loofah or washcloth to get the job done.

There are many products to choose from these days. I’ll be discussing a few of them below.

Sea Sponges

If you are looking for a natural product, it’s hard to beat the sea sponge (Porifera). It is classified as an animal that eat small particles as they pump water through their bodies. There are thousands of varieties, but only a handful are harvested for use in the bath and body industry. We have been doing this for over 100thousands of years. One popular variety is the wool sea sponge, which can be purchased at places like the Acme Sponge Company, based in Florida. A few reasons for choosing the sea sponge:

  • They become soft when wet and are suitable for young children
  • They contain natural enzymes that help prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew.
  • They are sustainably harvested by leaving the stalk attached so that it can regrow. If not harvested, they have a lifespan of about 10 years.
  • Sea sponges tend to last longer than synthetic ones.
  • Sea sponges are biodegradable, minimally processed and do not contain added chemicals.

Loofah Gourds

Unlike sea sponges, loofahs are easily grown from seed in warm, sunny climates. They are part of the gourd family and have many uses. Young loofah gourds are actually edible. If grown for sponges, they are allowed to mature (turn brown), and their skin removed to reveal the fibrous portion. A few reasons to use them:

  • Their versatility. They can be grown for food as well as for bath and body use. They need a long growing season (about 200 days).
  • They may appeal to those who would prefer to use plant rather than animal material.
  • They are biodegradable, compostable and fairly inexpensive. They can be purchased online at The Luffa Farm, based in California. Their low cost makes it easy for you to replace them often.
  • They come in various shapes and sizes, including bath mitts.

Washcloths

The humble washcloth has been a staple in homes and hotel rooms throughout the U.S. since the dawn of the towel. In other countries they are known by other names; in England, they’re called “flannel” or “face flannel.” In Europe, they have “face cloths” and wouldn’t think to use them on their bodies. These are over-generalizations, of course, the point being that different cultures give different names to this small towel that is used with soap or shower gel. The material also evolved, from small flannel squares to the more common terry cloth. There are, however, handmade versions of this bath item – crocheted, like our own Cotton Washcloth, or knitted. These are great loofah alternatives that provide the exfoliation you seek without too much effort. Reasons to use them include:

  • Their earth-friendliness. Our washcloth, for example, is made from 100% organic cotton in the U.S.A.
    This makes it biodegradable, long-lasting and almost endlessly reusable.
  • They do not contain any added chemicals, dyes or other questionable additives, as do some commercially-available synthetic poofs.
  • Their versatility. They can be used in the bath, the kitchen, and to clean floors and pets.
  • They can be easily disinfected by microwaving or by tossing them in the washer/dryer.
  • They can get into places where the sponge or loofah might not, and are useful for generating lather.

Believe it or not, there are many other options for personal cleansing. One worth mentioning is the synthetic poof or sponge. They are usually made from nylon and come in many sizes and colors. I would shy away from these, however, for the following reasons:

  • Nylon is a man-made plastic polymer derived primarily from coal or petroleum, and as such is not at all earth-friendly. There are eight types of nylon – Nylon 6 does not biodegrade, but Nylon 4 is more biodegradable. However, its manufacture releases much greenhouse gas and uses a lot of water.
  • Synthetic poofs contain artificial dyes and other additives that you may not want in your bath.
  • Synthetic poofs are not as durable as the natural alternatives mentioned above.

Which cleaning product you use (or none at all) is a very personal choice. I hope that this makes it easier for you to choose one that is safe, durable, and does the job without harming the planet.

References:

Wikipedia’s Sea Sponge information page
Are sea sponges greener than synthetic shower poofs?
All About Nylon