Monthly Archives: May 2010

FEED YOUR SKIN

(picture from: catwalkfashion.co.uk/…/healthy-skin-month.jpg)

Skin Acid Mantle – sound familiar? It should, it is the largest and first protection we have. SAM is a layer of bacteria that covers our entire body. There are plenty of different bacteria, all specialists in their fields. For example, we have the little guy (the lash-sweeper) who comes out and cleans our lashes during the night, leaving the waste in the inner corner of our eyes…ever wonder how it got there?

These bacteria create a protective barrier against the surroundings. They are really tiny, much tinier than pathological (disease) bacteria, like a small roman army they let nothing pass. Each persons SAM is as individual as a fingerprint. When we are newly born, we have not yet developed our SAM, but it develops quickly:

  • Baby 1 day old:         6 000 bacteria/square centimeter
  • Baby 9 days old:     80 000  b./sq.cm
  • Baby 1 month old: 3 million b./sq.cm  which is a normal SAM.

The SAM needs to be protected and fed to stay healthy. Damaging agents are anything that dries out the skin or in any way has a to low or high pH. (applied on the skin):

  • Soap
  • Too much water
  • Chemicals
  • Alcohol

To stay healthy we need to feed our SAM:

  • Fats, essential fatty acids as in vegetable oils. The oils have to be cold-pressed and fresh, otherwise the essential fatty acids are all destroyed and the product filled with free radicals (BAD for the skin/body).
  • pH-friendly substances; hydrosols, essential oils, macerations, herbs, clays, waxes…

The more chemical stuff there is in your skin-care, the more you are destroying your SAM. When you have the “squeeky” clean feeling it means that your SAM is seriously destroyed and the skin dried-out, resulting in…

  • Pathological bacteria enters and the result can be non-hormonal acne and clogged pores.
  • The skin might overproduce sebum, giving the impression of oily skin.
  • Fine lines and wrinkles, premature aging of skin.

So lets look at the babies: When I read the labels of baby-products, they are full of chemicals, mineral oil, soaps, synthetic perfumes and conserving agents – all the stuff that seriously damages the SAM. And this on little babies that don’t even have fully developed SAM’s. No wonder that skin-disease, eczema and allergies are increasing in children! (and adults too).

In Ayur Veda babies are cleaned with an oil-infused dough-ball (whole-wheat flower mixed with water and almond oil)  every day for the first 6 days, from the 7th day the babies are massaged with this dough-ball until they are one month old and massage with the hands (and oil) commences.

If you are interested in some more info about SAM, check here.

Advertisements

DERMATITIS

(picture from: www.medical-look.com/Skin_diseases/)

Many people suffer from dermatitis (eczema) on small or large areas of their bodies,very often on the hands and arms.  (You can read more about dermatitis here.) One type of dermatitis, contact dermatitis, is a reaction to a substance which the body part is in contact with for a prolonged time. This can be brought on by most any substance that can be an irritant to the skin, even essential oils – especially in high doses. Over the years, two of my aromatherapy pupils have developed contact dermatitis to essential oils after 2-4 years of exposure and this condition seems to be irreversible. I am not saying stop using the oils, just be aware of the fact that they are strong substances and need to be used with care.

The skin-cells have a life-span of about 28 days. They are “born” in the lowest level of the skin, epidermis, at which point they are round and plump, filled with fluid. On their journey up towards the surface they get flatter and drier, depositing the protein keratin which  cements the cells together and creates the upper, protective layer of skin, epidermis. When this “journey” is out of balance, it will show as skin-problems – dermatitis.

The most used substance to deal with dermatitis is cortisone which is a steroid hormone. By suppressing the immune system, cortisone reduces inflammation, pain and swelling. It is extremely effective but it only suppresses, it doesn’t heal. Once you stop using cortisone the problem re-occurs. Over time cortisone causes the skin to become very dry.

ALTERNATIVES: (always see a therapist if your problems are serious or get worse. Don’t use essential oils if you are not sure that they won’t irritate your skin.)

  • Castor oil (ricinus officinalis) A client of mine, a builder, told me that he always had problems with hardened skin and deep cracks on his hands. Then they started keeping the bolts for the scaffolding in jars of castor oil so they would not rust. Since then his hands were much better. I started using castor oil on cracked, dry skin with great results. Very heavy texture, needs to be blended.
  • Shea butter (butyrospermum parkii), Shea butter oil. Anti-inflammatory & protective
  • Coconut oil (cocos nucifera) more a butter, solid in room-temp, melts on skin.  Protective film on skin, softening
  • Macerations (herbal infused oils) such as Marigold (calendula officinalis), St Johns Wort (hypericum perforatum)
  • Jojoba-oil (simmondsia chinensis) resembles the skins sebum and helps protect the skin.
  • Bees wax (cera alba) Protection, creates a protective film.
  • Cocoa butter (theobroma cacao) Solid in room-temp. melts on skin. Softening & calming.
  • Vegetable oils with anti-inflammatory properties; Andiroba oil (carapa guianensis), Argan oil (argana spinosa), Borage oil (borago officinalis), Cashew nut oil (anacardium occidentale), Evening primrose oil (oenothera biennis), Kukui nut oil (aleurites moluccana), Olive oil (olea europaea).
  • Vegetable oils with calming properties that can be used as bases for blending: Apricot kernel oil (prunus armeniaca), Peach kernel oil (prunus persica), Sunflower oil (helianthus annuus), Walnut oil (juglans regia)
  • Essential oils; Lavender (lavandula augustifolia), Chamomile (matricaria chamomilla), Yarrow (achillea millefolium).

When working with beeswax, you need to melt it in a bain-marie together with butters or fats such as shea butter, coconut oil, cocoa butter and vegetable oils. Add special vegetable oils last, together with essential oils (if you use them), when the liquid starts to cool. You can see a basic recipe for a balm here.

OUD PERFUME

In Paris I found a shop the specializes in Oud-perfumes; blends, pure oils and wood-chips. On the shelves were the most luxurious  perfume-bottles I have ever seen, like glorious gem-stones glittering in the light. They cost a kings ransom. I love the oil of Oud (Agar-wood; Aquilaria malaccensis) and entered this beautiful realm for a sample. I asked the man for oil of Oud, and he made me try a couple of different perfume-blends. I said no thank you, I want the pure oil.

Finally he went to a cupboard in the corner and brought out a discreet crystal bottle and gave me a sample to smell. Finally! The man smiled brightly and said it was the first time anybody ever asked for the true oil of Oud in his shop. We discussed oils for a while and he poured me a small bottle (above) for a very humane price (humane as opposed to ridiculously expensive), seeing as we were both “in the business”.

I now own a small bottle of Oud which I use as perfume. 2 drops in the morning lasts forever. During the day and heat of my body, the scent changes from earthy musky to a deeply sensual floral scent. It is not obvious as a perfume usually is, more like it is a part of my personal body-scent. Delicious!

Tao te ching

Tomorrow I start living the Tao. I will document this in a special blog:

http://annastao.wordpress.com

In this blog I will chronicle every aspect of the journey; frustrations, learning and understanding. I believe it will take about a year. If anybody else is doing, or about to do, anything like this, please share.

ORGANIC SKIN-CARE?

(Sorry about the bad picture, took it with photo booth and I don’t want to point at any brand in particular)

I have studied and formulated skin-care for almost 20 years; first for my own pleasure and then professionally.  I have always wanted to keep my products as natural and pure as possible which is quite easily done, but the “shelf-life” of the product is very short and it has to be kept in the fridge. Natural skin care is like fresh food – you need to use it within a certain time, depending on what you have put in there; Herbs, for example, naturally makes the product more sensitive to mold….you get the picture.

To make a creme or a lotion an emulsifier is needed to mix the fatty substances (oil) and water. The only purely natural emulsifiers are eggs and cream (compare it to cooking) which go off quickly…wouldn’t want that in your cream… All emulsifiers used are chemically changed to be able to combine oil and water. The ones I use are the same that are used by the food-industry for making ice-cream and bread. I figure, if you can eat it, you can put it on your skin.

Almost everything is natural; poo is natural, as is mineral oil (derived from the petroleum industry). That doesn’t mean it’s good for us. So the labeling of purely natural is misleading on 2 points: Natural does not necessarily mean good. If it is emulsified (oil + water) it is not natural, even if the original product for the emulsifier comes from a natural source.

BIO or organic is also interesting to find on products. I picked up a hand-creme (oil+water)  the other day which says: 95% of the plant ingredients come from organic farming (and how many % of the total product is plant material?) 17% of the total ingredients come from organic farming (so maybe that means that there is 17% of plant material in the product?) 100% of the total ingredients come from a natural origin (can be absolutely true – remember what I said about natural…?)

FEAR

Fear is the most effective way of control. Fear is one of the strongest emotional drives within every individual; Fear of dying, fear of failure, fear of being shunned, fear, fear, fear.

One of the biggest fears in society is about money and economy; to not have enough. Upon this fear one of the biggest institutions in society is built; the banking-system, the great ruler of wealth. But look what happened; the banking-system crashed and actually not that much changed for most people. They still go to work, collect their pay-check, pay their bills… The monster was slayed, and the expected crisis to every last person didn’t materialize. And now, a couple of years later, there is already talk about a rising of the economical system…this crash was apparently quite easy to “heal”.

So what happens when we are ruled by fear: We stop taking chances, stop dreaming, stop changing, stop advancing. We stay in our place and hope that nothing bad will happen to us. We are afraid to lose our belongings, status and security and we are totally prepared to close down our creative inner sources to stay in the illusion of safety. Fear breeds jealousy; towards the people who have more, or the ones that follow their dreams and, most of all, towards those who keep their freedom and joy.

So let’s strip away fear; its like the onion, layer upon layer of excuses, programming and ideas: Start with the obvious fear and question yourself through the layers: For each question there is an answer that needs to be questioned, until you reach the very core where release will be your prize. You will learn so much about yourself and you will start seeing possibilities like never before. You can do anything you like, usually the only thing stopping you is – fear. So go for it; start questioning yourself.

FEARLESS:

THE BRAIN

Previously I have talked about how we react to scents and how essential oils can interact with us through the limbic system of the brain. We constantly program our brains (subconscious) with different information; the more emotional the information is, the stronger the programming. Every time we are subjected to an impulse we immediately go to our archives and do a rapid search to find a correlation. Once some kind of correlation is found, we judge the latest impulse from this.  By doing this we are re-acting on impulses instead of acting upon them as something new and unknown, which hinders us from learning and experiencing. Another result from this is that we stop being in the present which lowers our ability to learn because the mind is associating to a known past or unknown future. Children are amazingly good at being in the present,  learning and remembering continuously.

Children learn better than adults on average not because they have better brains, but because they are still using their brains in the way they were designed to be used, and have not yet taken on board so many incorrect formulas” Tony Buzan

I have looked at the work of Tony Buzan and I like the simple way he structures thought and learning. By doing the mind-map work you stay in the present and by working creatively you enhance the memory. The mind-map is nothing new, I have done this off and on in my life, and I am sure plenty of you have done too, especially when you were kids!

Here is an interesting page where Tony Buzan tells his story, it’s well worth a read.