About janebalshaw creative

I am a multi-media artist and modern alchemist practicing through personal aesthetics and the visual arts.

Aromatherapy 101

Aromatherapy” is such a buzz word these days.  The current popularity seems to be part of the throw back movement to the patchouli scented 1970s when we all tried to be “natural”.  But the fact that for ten bucks you can add-on some fake “aromatherapy” to a massage or pedicure tells us that main stream doesn’t really know what they are doing and is using the trend for the mass market. We need to educate ourselves.

Aromatherapy is the ancient art and science of healing through the use of essential oils, which are delicate plant extracts considered to be the ‘blood’ or ‘essential’ life-force of plants. As such, essential oils are abundantly rich in complex nutrients much like human blood. Each essential oil carries its own unique botanical profile of healing nutrients, providing a host of therapeutic possibilities to the aromatherapy practitioner.

Although essential oils may vary greatly in their nutrient profiles and specific usage, one quality they all have in common is their cytophylactic nature. Cytophylaxis is a biological mechanism in which cellular activity increases to prevent cells from being damaged. This mechanism, in part, is due to the inherent oxygen carrying capacity within the oils. Like human blood, essential oils transport oxygen and key nutrients to tissues for health and healing.  Cellular oxygenation is touted amongst many scientists as the premise of age and disease-reversal, more commonly known as The Fountain of Youth. It is interesting to observe that essential oils, when handled and stored properly, have extraordinarily long shelf lives, as their regenerative qualities are also naturally self-regenerative!

Due to the remarkable cytophylactic nature of essential oils, seemingly intractable health conditions can be addressed with great success. In Europe, where aromatherapy is commonly employed by physicians, essential oils are used with superlative effects in treating serious conditions such as 2nd and 3rd degree burns, infectious diseases, organ and gland malfunction, psychological conditions, as well as many other issues.

Perhaps the most common method of use with essential oils is in topical skincare. Here, severely damaged skin can heal through the potent regenerative qualities of this liquid phytonutrition. Burns, growths, wrinkles, cysts, pimples, age spots, skin discoloration and rough texture all respond to essential oils, which are safely and easily absorbed through the skin.  While some oils help skin regenerate by stimulating its natural sloughing and rebuilding process, other oils may slow this process to allow for healing from wounds. Each oil heals damaged skin tissue in its own way and offers additional unique qualities that are selected for a specific condition by the practitioner.

When practicing or utilizing aromatherapy, choosing high quality essential oils is of top priority. Due to their highly concentrated nature, it is critical to use oils that are organic or wildcrafted, minimally processed and properly stored. If a plant is treated with exogenous harmful chemicals, those chemicals get concentrated into the plant blood (essential oils), which then transport into the extraction process and into bottles! This chemical transfer process is the same with human consumption of harmful chemicals in food, which get stored in the fatty tissues and blood once they are ingested.

Understanding the complex nature of essential oils and the processing of them will guide a person to a reputable dealer and/or practitioner that can help them choose what is best for their particular skins needs.  

I use various essential oils in my skincare products and also offer certain blends that compliment our daily lives.  See more here…

Eastern medicine and your skin

The health-care practices in Asia have existed for centuries and are still a guiding principle for many medicinal disciplines, including the care of the skin.  Modern western dermatology has made many advances and is the right solo choice for many cures but understanding how body types vary through the principles of Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine allows practitioners to customize treatment of skin malfunction.

Using a holistic approach to skincare—understanding how an individual body is bio-chemically functioning—is key to remediating conditions such as acne or eczema or aging skin.  Some people are naturally warm bodied, some people are naturally cool, some people perspire a lot, some people never sweat; all of these distinctions are addressed in eastern medicine.  Therefore when prescribing skincare products, it is important to know that key ingredients also carry their own unique properties such as warming or cooling which will enhance or complicate the natural functions of the skin.  This is why one acne treatment may work for one person and not another, and why trendy remedies don’t always work.

Along with understanding the natural tendencies of an individual’s skin, it is important to understand how environment and life style can alter these for the good or for the detriment.  A naturally reddened skin can become chronically infected when exposed to constant adrenaline surges and heat.  Cool, thin skin can become brittle and wrinkle if one eats primarily salads while under moisturizing.  A naturally tight complexion can become angry and red in frigid weather just like an oily red skin type can become calmed down in the same weather.  This is why as a skincare practitioner I constantly am reminding people for the need to update & swap out their skin care routine at the change of the weather.  This is not so much an issue in temperate climates like California, but in areas with a distinct four seasons it is crucial.

As a general guide, here are a few active ingredients and their properties.  But please NOTE: none of these ingredients are a cure applied directly on their own!  With some exception, they MUST be combined into a product suspended within other ingredients that allow the benefits to be absorbed.  And conversely, a synergy may be achieved when a formulator is blending counter intuitive ingredients. Consulting with a skincare professional is always best when attempting to improve your skin.

Good for dry, tight, lack-luster skin Good for dry,  flakey easily reddened skin Good for moist, even skin toned skin Good for moist, reddened acne and/or peeling skin
Acid, AHA glycolic

X

X

Acid, AHA lactic

X

X

Acid, AHA tartaric

X

X

Acid, BHA salicylic

X

Actives, alpha lipoic acid

X

X

Actives, amino acids

X

X

Actives, ceramides

X

X

Actives, glutathione

X

X

X

X

Actives, L-carnitine

X

X

Actives, peptides

X

X

X

X

Actives, resveratol

X

X

Botanical, aloe vera

X

X

X

X

Botanical, kelp/seaweed/algae

X

X

X

Botanical, pumpkin

X

X

Botanical, quince extract

X

X

X

X

Oil-like, fractionated coconut, triglyceride

X

X

X

Oil-like, squalene from olives

X

X

X

X

Oil, Almond

X

X

X

Oil, Argan

X

X

Oil, castor

X

X

Oil, Coconut

X

X

Oil, fruit seed

X

X

X

Oil, Jojoba

X

X

Oil, olive

X

X

Oil, Rosehip

X

X

X

X

Oil, Sesame

X

X

Oil, shea butter

X

X

Oil, shea oil

X

X

Vitamin A, retinol, RetinA™

X

Vitamin B3, Niacinamide

X

X

X

X

Vitamin B5, Panthenol

X

X

X

X

Vitamin C, fat soluble

X

X

X

Vitamin C, water soluble

X

X

X

Vitamin E, all forms

X

X

X

Vitamin, co enzyme Q10

X

X

X

X

How much water does your skin need?

originalHydrate, hydrate, hydrate. This fad-ish conversation of drinking more water has really got us thinking. Being properly hydrated helps our joints and helps our digestion but no where in this recent dialog am I hearing about how much we need for our skin.

“Back in the day” diet counselors and skin clinicians said to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. That 64 ounces felt like swimming in a 100 lb. woman but to a highly active 180 lb. man it bordered on dehydration. Most modern health advocates give us the formula of dividing your body weight in half and drinking that number of ounces. But where the skin is concerned there is more to consider.

Given that our bodies are 75% water it does make sense that we need to constantly replenish it to keep it going. Our skin specifically needs water to remain plump but interestingly only around 15% of what goes in our mouth ever makes it to the surface. This lack is compounded by the fact that as we age some of the bio-chemical components within the cells that are responsible for holding water in place diminish and our natural skin oils that form an evaporation protection barrier lessens.

Only 15% of the water we drink ever makes it to the surface of the skin.

This means that perhaps we need more water and definitely need to prevent dehydration. Once a cell flattens from lack of water it is very difficult to plump it back up and prolonged dehydration crystallizes some of those bio-chemicals leaving shards that can cut and damage cells. Damaged cells = wrinkles.

So how much is enough? That modern formula is seems to be pretty perfect but consider that if we are consuming dehydrating liquids or are exposed to wind & sun, or heat our homes with wood and forced air, or are perspiring daily with exercise, or flying on airplanes, we need even more. You know what they say; if you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated. And if your skin looks crepey like a desert floor then you are way, way past dehydration.

To keep your skin plump, in addition to the water consumption formula above, here are some replenishment calculations to help you understand your skin’s need for water:

  • Coffee, black or green tea, caffeinated sodas, alcohol.  These are all diuretics which means they cause the body to expel as much water as they put in.  For each ounce consumed replace with an equal amount of water.
  • Laxatives, magnesium.  These draw the water from the central parts of the body to the bowels and in the process dehydrating the outermost part of the body.  Drink several glasses of water for each one taken.
  • Hormonal therapies.  These block hormones that regulate the production of skin oil so skin dehydrates very quickly.  Drink as much extra as you can with water beverages that increase your electrolytes for better maintenance.
  • Flying on airplanes.  The air in the cabin is de-humidified to lighten the load of the plane so bodies dehydrate quickly.  For every hour on the plane drink 8 oz. of water.  Additionally misting the skin with water hourly is helpful.  My Rehance Mist is excellent for this.  NOTE: Most air sickness is due to dehydration.
  • Perspiration.  If you perspire a lot, many health advocates are recommending consuming up to a gallon of water.  I calculate that for every hour of perspiration I need an addition 16 oz. of water.
  • Exposure to the outdoor elements or over-heated homes.  Wind and sun dehydrate the surface of the skin as does air-blown heat in our homes.

THIS IS KEY: to help your skin maintain the water you give it, consider how the skin itself is designed to do so.  Sodiums and sugars within the cells are responsible for holding water in place and sebum produced in the oil glands released to the surface of the skin helps the bio-components themselves from drying out.  As I mentioned previously, as we age all of these become diminished thus the need to help our skin.  Moisturizing your body daily before the skin dries out is important.

  • Look for body and face moisturizers that contain water retaining ingredients like sodium PCA and sodium hyaluronate, beta-glucan and beta-fructan or polysaccharides.
  • Look for moisturizers that contain sebum-like oil such as squalane and oils that have nutritional omega-3  fatty acids like almond and olive and oils that help seal/sooth the skin like shea or sesame.

This is how I formulated my body lotion.

NOTE: a properly hydrated body should produce 6 to 8 cups of clear to slightly yellow urine per day.  If your urine is very yellow you are dehydrated.

At-home facials for winter dry skin

tigycevkxcfkv8mdpnr3hmujFor those of us who live in cold winter climates, the life gets nearly sucked out of our skin on a daily basis. Below freezing temps & wind coupled with over-heated homes & offices halt the production of our naturally protective sebum [skin oil] and evaporates the water from our bodies. The result is skin that looks like the Bonneville Salt Flats, is irritable and prone to red rashes.

Simple measures at home, though, can erase this effect.  Keeping a good moisturizer on morning and night help maintain the skin but once it has lost it’s natural protective barrier then it needs treatment.  There is a mistake made by scrubbing away the visible dead skin cells; this only irritates the skin further.  The reintroduction of water to the surface cells then sealed in with sebum-like oil is what is needed.  The dry, dead skin cells will naturally release once the foundation of the skin is conditioned.

Following are a few facials that you can give yourself at home using my therapeutic products but you can also use substitutions if you are not able to acquire them from me.

DSC04882Quick Fix Shower Steam

  1. Apply a thick layer of Emolulite Cleanser to the face & neck while showering.  The glycerine in it absorbs the water from the air to plump the skin, the squalene oil in it clings to water too & conditions the skin naturally [because our skin’s own sebum contains squalene] and the blackberry seed oil feeds the skin with antioxidant protection.
  2. Remove cleanser with a warm wet washcloth.  Skin will feel soothed and plumped!  Apply moisturizer of choice.
  3. Substitutions: a mixture of honey and oil (be careful of thick, fatted oils that will clog the skin causing breakouts).  This will produce a similar effect yet not as pleasing nor as scientifically beneficial.

Relaxation Tub Facial

  1. Draw a bath for yourself, step in and, if possible, pull the curtain or close the door around you to allow steam to build up in the air.
  2. Wash face/neck with Purify Frothing Cleanser.
  3. Apply a medium-thick layer of Pumpkin Creme Masque.  Leave in place as your skin can tolerate, up to 8 minutes.  This will gently remove dead skin cells and stimulate blood flow to encourage healthy skin renewal while keeping the skin moist.  Remove product with a wash cloth and set aside.  Splash face with tub water to remove entirely.
  4. Apply a medium-thin layer of Lemon Honey Butter masque.  Leave in place for up to 15 minutes then splash off.  Towel dry face/neck when leaving tub.  Skin will be incredibly full and moist and rosy!  Apply moisturizer of choice.
  5. Substitutions: On clean skin apply a mixture of honey and oil (be careful of thick, fatted oils that will clog the skin causing breakouts) then remove by scrubbing a bit with a warm wet washcloth. This will produce a similar effect yet not as pleasing nor as scientifically beneficial.

Walk-around in-a-hurry facial

maple masque dual image

  1. On clean skin apply a medium-thick layer of Maple Jolt Masque.   Leave in place for up to 15 minutes.  This masque is great used in the tub or shower but when in a hurry it is enhanced by body movement and even exercise! Benefits include stimulating blood flow to detox skin & encourage new cell growth and increase hydration in skin.
  2. Splash off with warm water and immediately, while skin is still slightly damp, apply 2 pumps of Glow and 5 drops of Top Dressing Oil.  Once dry apply moisturizer over this as needed.  Skin will be glowing and plumped.  Any redness will dissipate within one hour.

Enjoy!

Slow Food for your skin

Quick fix vs savored ritual. Our society is split over this. The Slow Food movement that started a while ago is becoming main stream now embracing local farmers and a proper table to sit down to. Yet our attitude towards the feeding of our skin seems to be the polar opposite. We want instantaneous results so we are drawn to the artificial quick fixes when in actuality, slower skin care rituals at home produce more lasting long-term benefits.

Holistic science does not support this idea of quick fixes to on-going skin conditions. Just like a rubber band and one of the laws of the universe, if you push the skin to its further most point, its immune functions engage to produce an equal and opposite reaction. This is the paradox of modern medicine; to treat one area often means we need to treat another area that reacts to the first treatment.

The value of slow home-care for your skin is measurable. The act of daily of applying skin topicals allows tissue to absorb, fill up and remain supported when it works to renew itself or has a crisis. Cosmetically, this looks differently than a one-time blast of creme (ie: because your skin felt lackluster)—the skin is rounded, smooth, translucent, and plumped full of dewy moisture. Scientifically, it looks different because it is different. Skin cells that are “fed” with the nutrients they loose with environment assault, are able to fight infection and are less likely to develop cancers.

Injecting fluids in the face to mimic this effect is just that; a mimic. It needs to be done over & over depressing each time in-between loosing the effect.

Taking epilepsy medication or antibiotics to avoid infected follicles [pimples] mimics healthy skin while causing ill-health in the whole body. The skin will continue to dysfunction without retraining it or eliminating the offending cause thus the need for meds becomes indefinite.

Continually peeling the skin may give a smooth appearance but depletes the skin; without support it continues to flatten thus forcing the perceived need to keep peeling.

And if you let those pre-cancerous keratosis form instead of keeping them at bay with good home care, the only answer is burning them off all the while damaging the skin and creating scaring.

The idea of taking some time each morning and night to care for one’s skin may seem foreign to some but the very act of slowing down, creates a ritual of self-care that nurtures the mind as well as the skin resulting in a peaceful glow that no needle can ever produce.

Thanks for reading, Jane

If you would like to receive my personal emails I send out each season outlining my own skin care routine with suggestions for others, please contact me directly and I will add you to my list!  jbalshaw@comcast.net

DAILY RITUALS:

Massage your face with a cleanser every morning to enliven and condition the skin.  Apply a serum that corrects and feeds the skin.  Moisturize on top if more is needed making sure that either your moisturizer or your make-up contains mineral SPF.

Remove all make-up every night, massage skin with cleanser followed by another serum and/or nourishing creme.  Your skin renews itself at night so don’t feed that process with stale make-up, treat it to a fresh helping of slow food.  🙂

 

TRUE aromatherapies for the season

DSC04127It’s a festive time of year full of sights, sounds and smells that, at their best, trigger memories of good cheer.  But did you know that synthetic scents can actually trigger ill feelings and fatigue then create depression?

Our olfactory system of nose, sinus and throat is part of how our body monitors wellness.  Artificial scents that are not compatible with our body’s chemistry will trigger our histamine responses in an effort to keep that fragrance from penetrating our entire system.  Too much histamine in the body contributes to “the blues”; in fact early anti-psychotic medicines were actually strong anti-histamines.

So during this season when we are already stressed and perhaps eating too many foods that in themselves trigger histamines [wheat, sugar, alcohol…] why not embrace true aromatherapies for the home and for personal care.  Read more about aromatherapy here…

Here are some of the healthy seasonal Festives that I make with true, non-artificial aromatherapy, now in the studio available for shipping and in the Canterbury Barn Store.

Sensible Room Scents sprays in a holiday fragrance.  True essential oils of cold pressed orange peel, bay laurel and balsam fir.  2oz.   $15.00IMG_2693

Natural lip care.  Coconut Maple exfoliating lip paste.  Rub on dry flaky lips to remove dead skin cells and to condition lips.  Coconut oil, maple sugar, beeswax.  Orange Pumpkin penetrating lip balm.  Made to soak in, heal and protect while not leave waxy residue for true lip conditioning.  Shea butter, vitamin E, pumpkin seed oil, kukui nut oil, sweet almond oil, vegetable oil with soothing orange peel wax.   $10.00 eachIMG_2616

Order by contacting me directly…603-491-7305  jbalshaw@comcast.net

All about skin peels; what’s best for you?

Apple-peeling_prevention-com

Several decades ago pioneering Estheticians began experimenting with topical solutions that would cause the surface of the skin to peel away with the benefit of creating a new complexion. Not unheard of, dermatologists had been providing strong chemical peels for many years prior to that but these new “paramedical” peels were less invasive and more consumer friendly. Thus became America’s love affair with Peels.

With continuing interest, today, the word “peel” is marketed to include simply over-the-counter scrubs as well as general exfoliation in the facial room. So if we have an interest how do we know what is best for is best for ourselves?

Although we are in an enlightened era of self-empowerment aided by the accessibility of instant products and information, only a professional can truly tell you what is best for your skin. The likes of “Olay micro-peels” are simply dumbed-down exfoliants geared towards the masses; yes they do something but a real “peel” released to the general public would have too much liability associated with it. Peels that create lasting change can only be administered by a trained professional.

Here is how I like to describe the various levels of peels:

Level one: OTC exfoliation. Removal of the already dead skin cells by manual means at home; over-the-counter scrubs or fruit enzyme masques, wash cloths, ultra-sonic & rotary brushes.
PROs: Cleans up the skin, gives a shine to the complexion, helps new skin to form more easily, helps moisturizers to work better. No visible peeling.
CONS: Dry or thin skin can be irritated if moisturizing is not associated with the exfoliation.

Level two: Aesthetic exfoliation. Disturbs the skin cells that are still attached during the natural shedding process causing them to release earlier and faster with product at home; cosmeceutical enzyme peels or scrubs usually with added glycollic, lactic or salicylic acids purchased through a licensed salon or spa.
PROS: speeds up the cell renewal process, helps to keep mutant skin cells from malforming (like keratosis), gives a shine and smoothness to the complexion. No visible peeling.
CONS: can irritate the skin or, with over-use, can create burns or rashes if product is not specifically suited to your skin type.

Level three: Micro-resurfacing. Disturbs still attached shedding skin cells plus disturbs live skin cells causing them to prematurely die then to release, thinning the skin to remove surface imperfections and diminish fine lining; acid, vitamin, retinol and pancreatic enzyme peels, micro-dermabrasion. Administered in a medical spa or private esthetics studio. Usually not in a resort or day spa.
PROS: can remove superficial scarring and keratosis, helps reduce hyper-pigmentation, plumps tissue, stimulates elastin and collagen production for a more firm complexion, encourages more healthy skin renewal.
CONS: If administered improperly can cause permanent hyper-pigmentation.

Level four: Paramedical peels. Kills all surface skin cells causing skin to possibly darken then shed off; Jesner, TCA, various blends of acids, vitamins and retinols. Administered in medical spas, dermatology practices and some private paramedical esthetic practices.
PROS: Can remove deep scarring and deep lining, remove hyper-pigmentation and remove many years of skin damage due to environmental aging.
CONS: Uncomfortable to painful, can cause hypo-pigmentation (complete loss of pigment in skin) if not administered properly and resulting esthetic can look “odd” if adjoining areas of skin still look aged.

Level five: Medical peels. Removes all epidermal skin cells plus touches into the underlying dermis; laser, deeper TCA, phenol.
PROS: Once skin grows back, it looks entirely new.
CONS: Extremely painful, allergic immune responses are triggered and resulting new skin looks somewhat artificial.

From a holistic perspective, I am concerned that the body’s immune system and wound healing process is gently stimulated and not over-whelmed when a Peel is administered. Over whelming these systems with toxic solutions or aggressive procedures can trigger the skin’s emergency responses resulting in rashes, painful swelling, clustering of too much melanin and improper healing. And timing is everything; if the skin is exfoliated too often within a 30 day cycle and not allowed to rest in-between, the new freshness that is desired will be illusive replaced instead with a rough or burned appearance.

So take it easy with your peels. Exfoliate manually at home no more than twice a week, use moderation with your serum exfoliants and trust your esthetician to give you the best advice for your skin.