Tag Archives: skin-care

COCONUT LOVE

We have all met this versatile and delicious nut (actually it’s called a drupe), I think every person has some kind of memory associated with the scent of coconut. Sorry to say, the scent is contained in the fruit and can’t be isolated. The coconut scent that you all know is made by manufacturing the 6-pentyloxan-2-one molecule, more commonly known as delta decalactone. In other words, totally synthetic 😦

In Latin coconut is called Cocos nucifera. The word is thought to originate from the Portuguese “coquo” which means skull. When you look at a coconut you can see a little face. It originates from islands in the Indian Ocean and is cultivated in Indonesia, Malaysia, South India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Since coconut will float on water, it has spread, via the ocean, to many other countries and continents. It will thrive wherever it’s sunny, hot and humid. It grows at low altitudes and along the sea; think beautiful beach pics with palm-trees…They are coconut trees. The tree is 20-30 meters tall with palmy serrated leaves that can grow up to 8 meters long and it carries tiny flowers that develop into the coconuts. The tree starts bearing fruit after 7 years and from 15-70 years of age it produces about 50-100 coconuts a year. The nuts mature gradually and are picked by youths who can easily climb the tree, due to “scar tissue” where old leaves have fallen off, creating hand- and footholds for them Coconut facenimble kids.

The fruit, or nut, is slightly elongated and somewhat smaller than a human head. It is covered by a thick, fibrous material which protects a 1-2 cm thick layer of white fruit and a hollow inside that contains the bacteria-free sterile juice, called coconut milk. The oil is derived from the white fruit. The whole fruit is used; roofs and mats are made from the leaves, the fibres from the shell are used to make ropes, hats, mats and mulching material.

After removing the fibrous layer, the nut is cracked and the pieces are dried until the fruity inside loosens from the shell (this dried fruit is called copra), which is then pressed to release its oil; 65-70% oil from 1 kg copra. Most of the fat is refined and used by industry for soaps, creams, emulsifiers, margarine, ice-cream, frying oil…

The oil is a saturated fat and has a consistency like a butter with a melting point of about 25 degrees Celsius and a long shelf-life. Thanks to high levels of lauric acid it is easily digested by the body, helping to lower cholesterol and boost metabolism and immunity. It converts easily to energy instead of being stored as fat in the body. Being a saturated oil means that it is very heat-stable, making it a good cooking oil. This is a great food-oil ❤

food-refreshment-coconut-fruit_36270HAIR: In the pacific it has traditionally been used as a hair-oil as it conditions, strengthens and gives shine to the hair. For long, curly, thick hair (as mine) it is the best product, making the hair lustrous and smooth. Definitely a must for dry hair, just rub some fat between your hands and smooth it into your hair. If you take just a little bit, it won’t leave a greasy film. For use as a deep conditioner, massage into hair and leave for 30 min- 1 hour before washing with a mild shampoo.

SKIN: Best ever! Use it as a cleanser; warm the oil in your hands and apply to your face, wipe off with tissue or cotton. It will even take away waterproof mascara…For real. Remove any residue with a toner or, preferably, a hydrolat. Then you can massage more coconut oil into your skin for moisturizer. When you use it in the morning, massage into your skin and wait 5-10 min for it to sink in before you do make-up. For longer and thicker eyelashes, use coconut oil. My daughter, who is a model, swears by it. All the make-up and loose eyelashes that are used in modeling is really destructive and her make-up artists always ask how she can have such thick and long eye-lashes 🙂 Use coconut oil as a moisturizer for your entire body (don’t forget the feet), it will keep your skin soft and supple. It is also excellent for massage.

coconut oilSince this oil is usually refined or fractionated, you have to pay attention to get the real thing. If the label says “fractionated” or “light”, don’t buy. Your best bet is to get coconut oil from a reputed seller of organic natural substances or a health food store. Since it is quite inexpensive, you can enjoy all the benefits even if you don’t have a thick wallet. What’s not to love about coconut!

What you readers seem to like

"A Girl Reading" Pierre-Auguste Renoir

“A Girl Reading” Pierre-Auguste Renoir 1891

Over the last weeks, when I haven’t been writing so much, I have tried to get a handle on what you guys like to read about. Lately it is mostly Essential oil profiles and skin care, so that is what I will be concentrating on for a while. This fits beautifully since I am working intensely with EO’s in different ways at the moment. As I have mentioned before, I write about the stuff I am working with, or on, at the moment and interestingly enough it seems to fit with what you want to read about. So stay tuned for my next post.

Care for Skin care

Your foods needs care; you put perishables in the fridge, keep foodstuffs away from direct heat and light. If you don’t, you know it will go rancid, rotten, sour…Bad and you don’t want that because you know it will affect your health. If you find that something just doesn’t go bad, you know it is full of chemicals and should probably not be eaten at all. Think about the milk that will last for 6 months in room temperature, or the baked goods you forgot in the cupboard and on finding it 1 year later it looked exactly the same?

Jump to skin-care: We feed our skin exactly as we feed our bodies; with nutrients that will sustain the cells and keep them healthy. What kind of care do we take of our skin care products? Truth is, none at all. They are carried in bags during long hot sunny days, left with the lid off, are exposed to direct light and heat. They are expected to be inert, have no reaction at all and constantly stay exactly the same – sometimes for years. Look, texture, scent…It never changes. FAIL! Something that never changes no matter what you expose it to is DEAD or filled with such an amount of chemicals that it will probably do you harm. At best, it will do nothing at all.

There is a rave for natural skin care products; real fats and herbal extracts, preferably organic and sustainable. We want the REAL THING and lobby against chemicals. “Parabens will give you cancer, petroleum chemicals are dangerous and non-sustainable, animal fat is disgusting…” Different bodies are creating lists upon lists on what is not allowed in skin care, which is as it should be.

BUT, if you want all that yummy, natural, nutritious stuff, you need to care for it: Fats melt and go rancid in heat and light, herbal extracts deteriorate. If it is alive and vibrant, it is susceptible to deterioration. Take care of your products; put the cap on, keep it away from heat and light, store it cool and dark. A natural product has about 6 months lifespan in your bathroom cupboard, 12 months if stored cool and dark.

And trust me; if it doesn’t go bad when kept in bad conditions, it is not natural. Think of milk, butter and fruit…

THE SIMPLER IT GETS – THE HARDER IT GETS

Years ago, when I first started making natural skin-care and health products, I would get all caught up in every newbie ingredient that came on the market. Over time my products got so complicated and the INCI-list so long; herbs, tinctures, essential oils, maceration, vitamins and what-have you. One day I realized that I had no idea what kind of reaction all those substances had with each-other, even less when mixed with many others. All natural substances are alive, they react with each-other; sometimes they create synergy and will do great things. Other times they enhance more negative aspects, doing harm.

So, 10 years later, I down-scaled – big time! I went back to my origins with very simple formulas; as stable as possible and needing the bare minimum. I started working on a deeper level with the natural compounds and found beautiful synergies; less is truly more. There came a time for another kind of studying, understanding the magic within nature, and how it can be used. Feeling the product instead of thinking it, making it do whatever it is you want it to do.

Making formulations and products is a very precise matter, never mind how much you “feel” the proportions are right, if they’re not you will end up with some worthless goo fit only for the bin, and the margins aren’t that large. I’ve binned plenty in my day. 🙂 So you have to be precise and use your head, scales and measures to make it happen. But the magic that truly makes it come alive is in the combination of compounds. This is the real science. And here you have to “feel”. Natural compounds change from year to year, depending on weather etc. Every time you get a new oil or plant it will be different from the last and in a way you have to “start over” every time.

It has taken me 20 years to simplify, to learn to understand these beautiful compounds I work with and how to use them. The stuff I do now looks so simple and easy – it’s not.

It’s like mixing colors; too many in the blend and it ends up brown-greyish. Same, same.

MINERAL OIL

One of the most controversial substances in skin-care is mineral oil. Mineral oil is derived from the petroleum industry, it is one of many substances derived from crude oil that is pumped up from the bowels of the earth. Crude oil is, by definition, a natural product since it is created by the earth itself as opposed to man-made, it is even an organic product…crude oil, that is. (See earlier posts on natural substances under skin-care)

Crude oil in its natural state can’t be used so it is refined by chemical and physical processes. By fractionating the crude oil with different temperatures a variety of substances are obtained:

  • 25-100 degrees celsius; propane and gasoline
  • 100-180 degrees celsius; heavy gasoline
  • 160-250 degrees celsius; paraffin
  • 220-350 degrees celsius; diesel
  • 360-400 degrees celsius; heating oil and lubricating oil
  • >400 degrees celsius; asphalt, tar and paraffin oil

From the paraffin oil other substances are derived such as: paraffin oil, paraffin, paraffin-wax in different levels of firmness; vaseline is a half-firm paraffin-wax. Other products that originates from some of these fractions are: plastic, solvents, emulsifiers, medicine, cloth, aromatic substances for food and perfume and much more.

(this information is taken from the book “Guldet från växterna” by Finn Andersen.)

Many now banned substances in skin-care come from the petroleum-industry and have been found to be hazardous to humans. Everybody agrees that they should be banned and laws have been passed to give more insight in what goes into skin-care. (see earlier posts under skin-care) But the controversial mineral oil ( vaseline, paraffine) is still on the market… There are 2 schools of thought; pro and anti:

PRO mineral oil:

  • Cheap (about 1 us dollar/kg)
  • Stable – will not go bad…ever…
  • Protective layer
  • Inert
  • Lubricating

ANTI mineral oil:

  • Our bodies do not recognize it
  • Clog the pores
  • Stops skin-breathing and hinders elimination of waste-products through skin
  • Diminishes natural sebum-production in skin


There is research that show negative effects of mineral oil. see here and here There is also research showing it to be non-toxic at normal doses for most people. When a substance is so easily acquired (goes automatically when fractionating all the other stuff) at such a low cost, never goes bad and can do thousands of different things…I do not trust the pro that much…of course industry wants to keep this very versatile product on the market… It’s all about the money.

Mineral oil is used widely as a laxative and there have been reports of negative side-effects. Castor oil (Ricinus communis) is a much better alternative; affordable, natural and works with the body.

And the oilspills? Nature dies, people get sick… For more info on health hazards from crude oil look here, where it actually says:

“Although a variety of hydrocarbon products produced from petroleum have specific toxic effects, the toxicity of crude light petroleum itself to humans is relatively low. (Stellman 2007) This may be due, in part, to the lower concentrations of individual fractions in crude oil as compared to the higher concentrations expected in refined products.”


Personal experience:

Vaseline once had a publicity stating; “softer skin in 8 days or your money back“. There is no problem making this statement; vaseline (mineral oils) will give you softer skin in 8 days. The problem is that skin-conditions cannot change that fast, it is only a cosmetic and superficial change; it takes 28 days for a new-born skin-cell to reach the surface, and only then will you see any kind of result.

I never ever use mineral oils for skin-care or lip-balm or anything to do with my skin-health. I refused all store-bought baby-products for my children because of the mineral-oil which is used in almost all baby-products.

I have used vaseline in other ways with brilliant results…it’s like liquid plastic and it keeps the area soft:

  • Horses: For mudfever (I think it’s called in English) when the leg above the hoof gets infected because of humidity. The condition is not easily treated and can turn very serious. I mix essential oil and other active substances in vaseline. The vaseline works as an efficient protector against humidity and the active substances are released into the wound (skin).
  • Necrosis; where infection eats away the skin and creates craters. To ensure healing from within the crater I stuff compresses with essential oil and vaseline in the wound before dressing it. The vaseline stops the compress from getting stuck in the wound and the active substances work their healing on a deep level in the crater. Without the compress in the crater, risk is superficial healing in the top skin-layers, leaving bacteria to grow beneath.

At the end of the day; do we want to use something that comes from such a horrible industry; 1)it is non-renewable and nobody knows what happens to the planet when we empty her bowels. 2) Look what it does to nature when there are spills. This alone is enough for me to choose other options, even if they may be costlier.

ISOLATES

In many products isolates are used for enhanced effect. Isolates are the main molecular constituents in an essential oil, such as menthol in peppermint-oil, linalool in lavender, methyl salicylate in wintergreen or limonene in lemon. This means that the main constituent in an essential oil has been isolated and removed to be used on its own. The problem is that some of these isolates can be harmful to the body as the synergy is lost.

Synergy is when different parts together make up a whole. In most plant-matter there is a natural balance between activating and calming substances. For example essential oil of Clove Bud (Syzygium aromaticum): Its main molecular constituent is eugenol, up to 77%. It stimulates circulation and is anti-infectious. It is also a known skin-irritant in high doses. In proper dilution the whole essential oil is very useful for sore muscles, painful areas and as an anti-infectious agent. Clove oil is used in dentistry thanks to its anti-infectious and analgesic properties. The isolated eugenol is corrosive and toxic to the liver.

IN PRODUCTS:

  • Nutrition: Isolates are widely used as flavour-enhancers.
  • Perfumes: They are mostly made up of synthetic aromas which are cheaper and more stable. Sometimes isolates are used. (eugenol in Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent)
  • Sports-products: To warm and stimulate muscles before training and to cool and sooth aches and sprains. Most widely used isolates are menthol, camphene, methyl salicylate. It is not always clear if isolates or synthetics are used. Most of these isolates are strong skin-irritants in high doses – hence the warming / cooling effect on the skin. There have been a lot of discussion about the use of methyl salicylate, found in Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) up to 98%. (Article)
  • Skin-care: Isolates are used as perfuming-agents in many skin-care products. Sometimes, especially in natural or bioproducts, both essential oils and isolates are used. Isolates are much cheaper to use than essential oils. Here is a list of perfume-agents in a hand-cream: Citral, citronellol, eugenol, farnesol, geraniol, limonene, linalool. All of these are noted to come from certified organic growers and from natural essential oils… (Check out earlier posts on natural & organic skin-care)

What is definite is that there is no way of knowing if the aromatic ingredients in a product are from natural sources (unless stated) or if they are produced synthetically…which means that there is no way to know if they will be harmful or not.

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.