Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sensitive Skin: What It Is & How To Make It More Comfortable

Hello Everyone . . . fall has arrived quite early here in mid-coast Maine - extremely early, in fact!  Many of the maples are already shocking red and orange - 3 weeks ahead of time.  This does not bode well for winter weather lurking around the corner.  Mother Nature may behave badly again this year with below zero temps, lots of ice, and arid wind chills that reach depths of minus 38F.  BRRR!  I certainly hope not . . . had way too much of that last year!  Since we're on the subject of winter weather with its accompanying dry indoor heat and moisture-sapping outdoor environment, let's address how to take care of skin that often becomes sensitive at this time of year. Whether you have skin that is sensitive all-year-round, or is just seasonally sensitive, there are tips that you need to follow to keep it comfortable and moist.

Sensitive Skin - What Is It Exactly?

 Environmentally reactive is how I like to refer to skin that is sensitive.  It tends to overreact to outside forces such as commonly used skin and hair care products; over-use of something as simple as water; sunlight; fabric conditioners; detergents; and changes in temperature and humidity.  Excessive stress and/or a poor diet can also contribute to sensitivity.  This skin type easily blushes, sunburns, develops rashes, and becomes irritated.  Especially when more mature, it typically displays couperose conditions - that is, it's characterized by dilated or expanded capillaries.  A diffused redness, or erythema, is generally concentrated on the nose and cheeks.  If not treated with an extremely gentle hand, sensitive skin will simply appear "unhappy" or "unsettled".  This skin type loves warm air and humidity . . . which often doesn't occur in winter - unless you live along the southern coast or in the tropics.

Crisp, dry winter air can further upset already irritated, sensitive skin, leaving it drier and more prone to disturbances.  Summer's heat, humidity, and increased exposure to sunlight can also wreak havoc, leading to itchy, blotchy skin, possible blemishes, and general ruddiness.

Sensitive Skin - How To Make It More Comfortable

When choosing any treatment product or ingredient for sensitive skin, gentle, calming, soothing, hydrating, non-abrasive, alcohol and fragrance-free are key words on which to focus.

You must avoid soap on your face and body at all costs (unless skin is oily - then only use a mild, unscented goat's milk soap or pure olive oil soap such as Kiss My Face brand or my absolute favorite olive oil soap, handmade in Greece by Olea Estates, www.oleaestates.com.)  Using soap on normal, dry, and mature skin is much too drying, instead use a moisturizing lotion or creamy cleaner, such as Soothing Starflower Cleasing Milk by NYR Organic www.us.nyrorganic.com/shop/herbs (I recommend the entire Starflower line, actually!), or an extremely finely ground oat or sunflower seed or almond meal cleanser that you mix with water or yogurt.  Never scrub your skin with a regular wash cloth or loofa pad . . . instead, I recommend purchasing a skin shammy or skin chamois cloth.  You can find these online.  They're just a thin, rubberized "wash cloth" that is ever-so-gentle on the skin - never abrasive - even slightly.  Hospitals often use them to cleanse the skin of burn victims.

For toning and hydrating, use a classic herbal hydrosol such as lavender, rose, chamomile, or lemon balm to soothe and rehydrate skin.  A quick spritz will alleviate thirsty skin any time of the day.  Organic hydrosols are available from www.mountainroseherbs.comNYR Organic's White Tea Facial Mist or Rose Water work wonderfully well, as does the Soothing Starflower Daily Essence which is loaded with intensely soothing and hydrating, ultra-moisturizing hyaluronic acid - which can hold up to 1,000x its weight in water!!!

Your moisturizer should be creamy, lightweight, and easily absorbed.  Soothing Starflower Daily Moisture by NYR Organic is a good choice, but a simple application of pure jojoba oil is also a go-to ingredient to seal in moisture.

Never forget to moisturize your body, as well.  A rich cream or lotion or your favorite organic body oil, applied while skin is still damp, provides a protective barrier against dehydration and keeps moisture in the skin - where it belongs.  In winter, underneath my moisturizer and on top of my Soothing Starflower Daily Essence, I use a layer of NYR Organic's Rehydrating Rose Facial Oil.  The natural rose essence is sooooooo lovely.  When you've lived through a number of arid, cold, moisture-sapping New England winters as I have, you quickly learn to layer moisturizers, much as you layer clothing - the more layers, the more protection from the biting cold!  Makes sense, doesn't it?

Special Intensive Treatments For Sensitive Skin

If you like to bathe in the tub, you can cleanse your body with a small, drawstring bath bag filled with ground oatmeal.  Once wet, the oat flour covers your skin with moisturizing and soothing oat milk.  Alternatively, you can purchase "colloidal oatmeal" in a box from the local drug store.  It is very finely ground so that it practically dissolves in bath water.

A mucilaginous fennel seed, marshmallow root, or comfrey root facial steam once a week helps to hydrate the skin and cleanse the pores.  Use a moisturizing mask once or twice a week as needed.  For gentle facial exfoliation, try a weekly yogurt or fruit acid mask made from apple or raspberry pulp.  At least once or twice per week, using a light touch, exfoliate your entire body (sans face) with a fine sugar scrub, or oat, nut, or seed scrub to remove buildup of dead skin cells.  This is necessary to promote the absorption of your moisturizer, otherwise, all of the product's moisture/active ingredients remains on the surface of the skin and you'll wonder why it's not doing its job.  The nightly use of an emollient eye cream or thin application of your favorite base oil such as jojoba or apricot kernel or hazelnut or rosehip seed, moisturizes the delicate tissue in this area, which is prone to premature wrinkling.

Drink Up!!  I can't emphasize this enough . . . you must hydrate your body from the inside, too!  If you're thirsty, then your skin will be wrinkle-prone and age before its time - guaranteed. Plus, it will be ultra-sensitive. Your best bets are lubricating herb teas that include such ingredients as fennel seed, marshmallow, oat seed, rosehips, raspberry leaves, nettle, and/or licorice.  Plain water with a squeeze of lemon, lime, or cranberry juice is wonderful, as well. 

I hope you find these tips useful for the upcoming winter season.  May your skin remain calm, cool, hydrated, clear, and collected allowing your inner radiance to shine through!  Until next time . . . be happy, healthy, and whole my friends!

NOTE:  Blog is by Stephanie Tourles, Lic. Esthetician, author of the best-selling Organic Body Care Recipes (Storey Publishing, 2007). The information is true and complete to the best of her knowledge.  All recommendation are made without guarantee on the part of  Ms. Tourles.  She disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information.  It is for educational purposes only.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Frankincense: The Amazing Skin Rejuvenator

Hello All!  September's here . . . can't believe it!  Where is the summer going?  The older I get, the faster time speeds along . . . that's for sure!  If you're over 45, I know you'll agree with me!  Soon it will be time to harvest pumpkins and winter squash from my garden up here in Maine, but for now I'm still getting plenty of cukes and sweet orange "sugar baby" cherry tomatoes - nature's veggie candy!

Well, now that summer is on the wane and the kids are back in school, it's time to really take a good long look at your skin . . . deal with possible environmental damage from overexposure to the summer sun, wind, chlorine, and sea salt and begin a good revitalizing and conditioning program for the upcoming fall and winter months - the seasons that can suck your skin dry.

What if I told you that there was an age-old, wild-crafted, precious herbal resin that had the following rejuvenative and medicinal properties - and that regularly applying it topically via purely organic serums, oils, and creams would lead to rapid improvement of your skin's texture and condition like you'd never seen before??  Would you want to use it?  I bet you would!!  Here's what this resin can do for you:
1.  Soothe inflamed skin conditions - even stubborn eczema
2.  Speed skin cell regeneration and preserve the degradation of collagen
3.  Aid in healing wounds (cuts, scrapes, bug bites, burns, and boils; even hard to heal sores)
4.  Provide antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and astringent actions upon the skin
5.  Help fade scar tissue
6.  Excellent for ALL skin types . . . oily, normal, dry, sensitive, mature, wrinkled, couperose, sun-damaged, acneic (including pustular and cystic)
7. Tighten skin tissue like no other herb!
8.  Used by the ancient Egyptians in the preservation of the bodies of the pharaohs. Liquid Frankincense was their embalming fluid - and can help protect yours!
9.  Still used today in the best natural cosmetic lines for skin rejuvenation
10. Serve as a potent antioxidant - preserver of youth
11. Totally natural - non-chemical
12. Plus, on the spiritual side . . . it is excellent for the base or root or 6th chakra - promoting mental stability and grounding.

Whew . . . that's a lot of beneficial properties for one herbal resin, isn't it?  If you haven't guessed by now, this miraculous resin is called Frankincense - one of the first spices brought back from the East - thousands of years ago.  It's hand-gathered from the stems and trunks of small trees - usually by women's cooperatives - which grow in India, northern Africa, and the Arabian peninsula.  It was one of the original gifts to the Christ Child - Jesus.

In my best-selling book, Organic Body Care Recipes (Storey Publishing, c2007), I have an "elixir" recipe (a naturally formulated skin serum) that highlights Frankincense essential oil.  It's called, "Evening Luxe Elixir", and is quite popular with my readership.  Give it a try, I think you'll like it . . . BUT, if you don't want to make it, then skip the recipe and read the paragraphs that follow it below.

Evening Luxe Elixir

This elixir is designed for all skin types in need of light pampering and balancing.  Hazelnut and jojoba base oils are chemically compatible with human skin and will leave no oily residue.  It softens, moisturizes, heals, rejuvenates, and tones the skin and speeds cell regeneration.  Each of the essential oils has a gently calming effect on the psyche and body.  Applying this just before bedtime can help lull you into restorative sleep.  Good skin care combined with ample rest - the dynamic duo of  beauty enhancement!

- 8 drops neroli essential oil
- 4 drops frankincense essential oil (CO2 extract)
- 4 drops rose otto essential oil
- 4 drops lavender essential oil
- 1 tablespoon hazelnut base oil
- 1 tablespoon jojoba base oil

Use:  1x per day, right before bedtime

Prep Time:  Approximately 15 minutes, plus 24 hours to synergize

Blending Tools:  Shake storage bottle before each use

Store In: 1-ounce, dark glass bottle with glass dropper top

Shelf-Life:  No refrigeration is required, but for maximum freshness & potency, use within 6 months

Yield:  2 tablespoons or 1 ounce  

Directions:  Add the essential oils, drop by drop, directly into your 1-ounce storage bottle.  Next, add the base oils.  Screw on the dropper bottle top, wrap your hand around the bottle, and shake the formula vigorously for 2 minutes to completely blend all ingredients and gently warm them to body temperature.

Set bottle in a dark location that's between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours so that the oils can synergize.  Label and date bottle.

Application Tips:  Immediately before bedtime and after cleansing your face, apply the appropriate toner, astringent, or hydrosol for your skin type.  While skin is still damp, lightly massage 4 to 6 drops of elixir into skin, beginning with the decollete, throat, then face, using upward, outward, and circular strokes.  Wait 5 minutes before applying additional moisturizer, if desired.  That's it!

If you want to discover the most superior organic skin care company, then go to my NYR Organic website https://us.nyrorganic.com/shop/herbs where you'll find some of the absolute best organically-produced Frankincense skin care products in the world today. Read about the company, too.  They are environmentally conscious, practice Fair Trade, advance the protection of our important pollinators (the bees), and use only pure vegan and vegetarian ingredients in all their products (PETA endorsed).  I wouldn't be a Senior Consultant for this company if I didn't believe in them 100%!

September 2014 Frankincense Skin Care Promotional Special:  September 1st thru 30th -  you can get 4 full-size Frankincense nurturing, skin care products - from NYR Organic - for only $99 - that's an amazing offer!  It's a fraction of the retail cost.  Why not try the line and see for yourself how amazing your skin can look and feel??!!  The products are blended using advanced technology and include a tissue toning/lifting peptide complex and plant-derived stem cells!  There's nothing like this skin care range on the market today . . . and, it's made in small batches with near-100% organic ingredients! You owe it to yourself to nourish and pamper your skin - your "living hide".  Remember - you're all you've got, so why not make the best of who you are and put your best face forward??  If you've got questions about what products to try for your skin type, just email me and ask: stourles@gmail.com. I'll be happy to assist you!

Disclaimer: This blog was written by Stephanie Tourles, Lic. Esthetician, Herbalist, Certified Aromatherapist, and author.  Portions of this blog were excerpted with permission from her best-selling book, Organic Body Care Recipes, (Storey Publishing, c2007). The information is true and complete to the best of Ms. Tourles' knowledge.  All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of Ms. Tourles.  She disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information.  It is for educational purposes only.