Archive for January, 2014

iStock_000006979322MediumThe absolute best way to purify air in the winter is through aromatherapy (as in the use of essential oils, not to be confused with the misused marketing term of smelling stuff). Air gets stagnant and polluted in indoor spaces and this is one of the reasons why there is so much illness this time of year. When we are exposed to fresh air, we naturally inhale the essential oils from the plants and trees around us. Their therapeutic molecules are comprised of many antiseptic and medicinal properties that we miss out in when we become shut-ins with closed windows. The best way to recreate this air inside is by using essential oils as much as possible.

When choosing essential oils for the home, there are a few things to consider.

Antiseptic properties: Essential oils have amazing anti-bacterial properties (even against viruses). This is why they are ideal for purifying air and are also perfect for cleaning floors and surfaces. The strongest anti-bacterials are oregano, thyme, cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, lavender, pine and savoury. Choose at least one of these.

Medicinal properties: Some of the most therapeutic oils for the respiratory system come from trees – eucalyptus, tea tree, pine, spruce etc. Choose at least one of these for cough and colds.

Psychological properties: Essential oils are all very grounding and uplifting but some are more specifically for relaxation (lavender, neroli) and some are more energizing (rosemary, peppermint). Consider your needs.

How to get them in the air:

Room Spray – DIY a room spray by adding drops of essential oils to a spray bottle filled with water. Spray every room in your house first thing in the morning and throughout the day.

Cleaning – Clean with essentials oils by adding drops to your mop buckets, cloths, sponges, toilet bowl water, glass cleaner and basically any surfaces (dilute them first because they can be corrosive to some materials).

Diffusing – There are many diffusers on the market for spreading essential oil in the air but you can also make your own on the stove with a pot of water (extremely low heat). A crockpot works even better.

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If you’re going south this year, something to think about is your sunscreen. The ingredient Oxybenzone is a very common chemical found in many products, even some natural brands. It is so common that it is found in 97% of Americans according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is easily absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream and it is persistent and accumulates, meaning it doesn’t degrade and will pollute the body as well as animals and water systems. It has the potential to interfere with hormones which can lead to a multitude of health problems.

It is also a huge water pollutant and the main source of human-caused reef damage because it bleaches algae, rendering the area lifeless. If you go to a protected reef area, your sunscreen will be confiscated and you will have to buy a safe formula.

You will find this ingredient listed on the bottle usually under ‘active ingredients’. My advice for buying sunscreen is getting a physical formula, one that deflects the rays off of your skin. Ingredients such as zinc and titanium dioxide do a great job at this. I also think it’s a good idea to stay in the shade and wear big hats and airy long-sleeved clothing (like tunics or sexy Hugh Grant-style shirts for men).

Share your favourite physical sunscreens in the comments.

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Myth: Rosehip oil causes your skin to be more sensitive to the sun i.e. it’s phototoxic
Fact: There are absolutely no studies that indicate this. The confusion may be because rosehip oil contains a natural retinoid (vitamin A) so some would assume that it would have the same characteristics as isolated, synthetic versions such as Retinol. This is false and we must understand that chemicals found within nature do not act the same as synthetic or isolated versions.

Myth: Rosehip oil has a short shelf life – 3 to 6 months.
Fact: The rosehip oil that we just received was produced in October 2013 and has an expiry date of October 2016 so it’s more like 3 years.

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1. Stress – When you get stressed out or anxious, it raises your cortisol levels (a hormone produced by the adrenal glands). This causes inflammation in your body and can tax your skin. Not to mention the fact that when you are worrying about something, you are likely scrunching up your face or frowning, which will create lines. 

2. Smoking – Inhaling toxins creates free radicals in your skin that break down collagen and mess with the elasticity. This will cause skin to droop and will deepen wrinkles. The area most vulnerable is skin around your mouth which will get lines from puckering consistently.

3. Tanning – Please don’t. Not only do you put yourself at risk of skin cancer but you are damaging your skin every time you do it. It takes its toll and will create sagging and chronically dehydrated, wrinkly skin. If you must have a glow, go for a spray tan. There are non-toxic ones available now because the actual ingredient that changes your pigmentation is an amino acid that is safe.

4. Unhealthy food – What you eat is going to have a direct effect on your skin. If you are eating foods that cause inflammation in your body, it will also cause inflammation your skin (i.e. aging). Avoid heavily processed sugars, wheat, meats and dairy. Eat LOTS of fresh vegetables and fruits high in antioxidants.

5. Chemical cosmetics and skin care products – When you put harsh synthetics on your skin, it causes inflammation. I’ve observed this in many women who swear by the popular chemical brands. They have rough, sagging skin that is constantly covered up by makeup. If you are using the right skin care, you won’t need foundation. Choose natural products if you want truly healthy, beautiful skin.

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Quite a few of us are escaping to a tropical locations this winter so I want to warn you about something someone just wrote me about. I was told that a woman severely damaged her skin when she was in Mexico by getting lime juice on her hands and by using an eye cream that contained a citrus essential oil. Photosensitivity occurs when certain components react on your sun-exposed skin and cause it to be extra sensitive to the rays. It can cause severe burn damage that will take months to repair. Be careful with limes and lemons AND when you are buying lotions, creams, oil, gels etc make sure they don’t contain any citrus oils – orange, bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, lime etc. Anything with a peel. I personally don’t formulate with citrus essential oils exactly for this reason but I know quite a few companies that do so beware.

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