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.

More Uses for Body Balm photo

More Uses For Body Balm

A few years ago, I posted an article on the Ten Uses for Body Balm. Since then, balms have grown in popularity mainly because they are 1) waterless, 2) all natural, 3) multipurpose, 4) travel-friendly and 5) deeply moisturizing. Many of our customers agree; our All Purpose Body Balm with Lavender and Tea Tree Oil is one of our most popular items.

Balms are definitely here to stay. Today I would like to include a few more uses for our bestselling body balm:

  1. Cleansing balm – For those with sensitive skin, a cleansing balm can provide gentle cleansing while providing targeted moisture. It’s especially good at removing oil-based makeup like eye makeup without irritating the skin. Of course, it helps that our balm contains naturally-derived ingredients like olive and sweet almond oils and the antioxidant benefits of Vitamin E. If you use a cleansing oil like our https://webanaturalproducts.com/product/whole-earth-body-actives-facial-cleansing-oil-and-makeup-remover/, it provides a spill-proof, travel-friendly package when you need to remove makeup and dirt on the go.
  2. Beard balm – Balms are great for the guys, too. Beards can become dry and brittle, too, and balms are a good way to keep them shiny, smooth and soft. The lavender and tea tree oils also are also anti-bacterial. They are also good on razor stubble.
  3. Eyebrow conditioner – Brows are delicate things, and using a little balm to keep them shiny is a good way to highlight them. The castor oil in our balm helps soften them and provides a nice base for eyebrow products. You can use the balm to remove brow makeup, as well. Cleansing products that are too harsh can cause brow loss. A little balm goes a long way, so don’t use too much.
  4. Paint remover – believe it or not, oil-based balms can help remove paint from your skin. It’s always a good idea to wear gloves when painting, but if paint has had a chance to dry on your skin it can be tough to wash off. Just rub some balm all over the affected area, then use plain soap. It will create an emulsion that should remove the paint without irritating your skin.
Benefits of using essential oils

The Benefits of Using Essential Oils

What Are Essential Oils?

Before we can get into the benefits of Pre essential oils, let’s duscuss what essential oils are. They are highly-concentrated essences derived from different parts of aromatic plants, including bark, leaves and flowers. Essential oils have been in use for thousands of years, dating as far back as Egyptian times where they were used in mummification. Frankincense and Myrrh are but a few examples.

A number of methods are used to concentrate the plant’s potent compounds into an essential oil. There is the cold-process method, which invlives applying high amounts of pressure to the plant material and collecting it (much like cold pressing olives). Other methods include steam distillation, CO2 extraction, solvent extraction, and others. The first two involve the least amount of manipulation and do not involve the addition of solvents.

Benefits of Using Essential Oils

Today, essential oils are used in the beauty, spa and perfume industries for their aromatherapeutic properties and to impart natural scents to products. They have been found useful and effective as insect repellents and are included in everything from pain relief ointments to cleaning agents to toothpaste. Many herbalists and holistic practitioners find essential oils useful to their clients. Properties of specific essential oils are listed below.

Precautions with Using Essential Oils

While truly natural, pure essential oils are very potent, concentrated oils with hundreds of bio-active compounds. As such, they should never be applied directly to skin in their undiluted form. They are usually combined with a carrier oil before being sold for personal use. It is also important to do a patch test to determine whether or not one is allergic to a particular essential oils. Many oils can cause sun-sensitivity, or are inappropriate to use if one is pregnant or nursing. Finally, check the labels to see what the standardized concentrations are and what carrier oil is used, in order to avoid allergic reactions. If any oil causes redness or irritation, it should be discontinued. Essential oils are also expensive due to the work required to gather huge amounts of plant material for distillation. As a result, synthetic oils have been developed that do not contain the many active ingredients found in pure essential oils. Moreover, pure essential oil composition can vary depending on many factors, so standardized and synthetic versions are created to maintain consistency.

Phytoestrogens vs Xenoestrogens

There’s been some talk about the “estrogenic” activity of plants vs that of synthetic compounds. Many roots, seeds and grains contain what’s known as “phytoestrogenic” compounds – plant-based compounds that serve to reduce the amount of estrogen in the bloodstream. This can result in a reduction in menopausal symptoms in women, for example. “Xenoestrogens”, on the other hand, are synthetic compounds (like BPA) which can increase the body’s store of estrogen, with deleterious effects. If you have any doubts about using an essential oil, consult an herbal practitioner, particularly if you wish to use essential oils on young children.

Favorite Essential Oils

  • Eucalyptus Oil – A native of Australia, it contains the compound eucalyptol, a menthol found in rubs, inhalers, liniments, rash creams and mouthwashes.
  • Lavender Oil – There are a few varieties, with Lavendula Angustifolia being the most often used in aromatherapy. Its sweet, floral and herbaceous scent has been found to relax, sooth and refresh. It is very highly regarded in the beauty and perfume industries. It is also a wonderful culinary herb that likes sunchine and well-drained soil. It is the main essential oil in our best-selling “Relax” Botanical Handmade Bar Soap with Lavender and Rosemary Oils.
  • Lemongrass Oil – Cymbopogon Flexuosus has a light, fresh citrus aroma with earthy undertones. Rejuvenating, stimulating and balancing, it has been shown to improve mental clarity. It is also a popular culinary herb in Thai cuisine. It is the main essential oil in our “Purify” Botanical Bar Soap with Lemongrass Oil.
  • Sweet Orange Oil – Citrus Sinensis is naturally cold-pressed from fresh orange peels. It has a rich citrus scent that can be uplifting. It is high in the powerful antioxidant d-limonene and other antioxidants. It is the main essential oil in our “Indulge” Botanical Bar Soap with Orange Oil and Cocoa Powder and our “Awaken” Body Smoother Sugar Scrub.
  • Peppermint Oil – Mentha Piperita has a strong, clean, fresh minty aroma. Renowned for soothing digestion, it is popular in toothpaste and breath mints. It is one of the essential oils in our All Purpose Body Balm with Eucalyptus and Peppermint Oils. Avoid using on infants and young children.
  • Tea Tree Oil – Melaleuca Alternifolia is indigenous to Australia. It has been shown to contain compounds that can help soothe bites and other irritations, and has a wide range of uses. No medicine cabinet should be without it! It is one of the essential oils in our All Purpose Body Balm with Lavender and Tea Tree Oils and in our popular “Heal” Botanical Bar Soap with Tea Tree and Oatmeal.

References:
Organic Facts website
Essential Oils in the Ancient World, Part 1
Planta Medica paper on essential oils and estrogenic activity

Disclaimer: Statements made here are not intended to diagnose or treat diseases or medical conditions. Please consult a medical practitioner for assistance with these issues.

Lavender Tea Tree Body Balms group of four

Ten Uses for Body Balm

We’ve received many compliments on our body balms, but some might be wondering just what a balm is. Other common names are “salve” or “cream” depending on who you ask. Essentially, a balm is a waterless cream designed to soothe, heal, and/or protect in some way. Because they don’t contain water, little to no preservation is required. We help the oils retain their potency with the help of Vitamin E and rosemary resin. We are very proud of our balms, which do all three and serve multiple functions. We’d like to list some of them below:

1) Facial moisturizer

– Our balm is non-comedogenic and can be applied directly to the face as a spot treatment for dryness before makeup, or at night before bed. A little goes a long way. Balms are particularly good for individuals with normal to dry skin.

2) Hair and scalp conditioner

– For those with dry, flyaway hair, the balm helps to coat the hair shaft. Ingredients like shea butter, olive and sweet almond oils quickly add moisture and shine. A little can be massaged into the scalp to soothe itching and irritation. Again, a little goes a long way.

3) Bug repellent

– A number of essential oils like lavender, tea tree and eucalyptus are effective bug repellents. Peppermint and neem oils are also effective against pests. We use only pure essential oils, not fragrance oils, in our balms. Fragrance oils do not contain the same botanical properties as essential oils.

4) Lip gloss

– Why buy a separate product when a balm will do just as well? Use it alone over your favorite lipstick for a little shine. It also soften and protects lips with candelilla wax and castor oil.

5) Cuticle cream

– Soften and protect dry nails and cuticles throughout the day. At bedtime, you can enhance the softening effect by smoothing balm on dry hands and donning cotton gloves. In the morning, your skin will be super-soft!

6) Barrier balm

– Smooth on one of our balms on your hands before washing dishes or working in the garden to protect skin and nails from harsh chemicals and other irritants. Excess water can cause nails to thin, while detergent cleaners can leave skin dry. Balms are a quick solution that repel water for optimal protection.

7) Natural lubricant

– Instead of synthetic-based products, you can try an all-natural and sustainable alternative to help relieve chafing, diaper rash, cradle cap and other skin conditions. Re-apply as needed.

8) Skin Salve

– Use a little balm to soothe insect bites, razor burn, athlete’s foot and other skin irritations. Our Ache-Relief Balm can help reduce redness and inflammation. Apply 3-4 times and as needed for immediate relief.

9) Bear balm/hair groom

– Our balm is fine for the guys as well. Use to condition hair and soften an itchy beard. It’s great for protecting skin after shaving.

10) Wood/shoe/bag conditioner

– Yes, our balms work on wood, shoes and bags! Just rub a little onto the item with a soft cloth. It leaves a protective shine and conditions without the need for toxic sprays or expensive finishers and petroleum or animal-based waxes.

Perhaps you will think of other uses for our balms. If you do, please let us know.