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

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

Product knowledge; NEW CrowdControl 10+ Complete

DSC06451CrowdControl 10+ complete Concentrate is a non-irritating thin serum that smooths onto the skin penetrating the skin follicles to break-down hyper-trophic skin-cells & black-head build up, kill acne bacteria and halt the manufacture of stress hormones that stimulate cysts.  A dry gel finish of active ingredients protects the skin to reduce inflammation & redness, heal damaged tissue and prevent hyper-pigmentation scarring.  An all-in-one product, this is a synergistic blend that balances and heals the acne & keratosis prone skin over time in a holistic manner* eliminating the need for harsh peeling products.

In a base of water, vegetable glycerin and grain alcohol, salicylic, glycolic, lactic, tartaric and citric acids are dissolved.  These extracts derived from fruit and herbs work to break down keratin, the protein of skin cells, to allow the build up of skin cells to slough off the surface of skin and from within follicles to clear clogs and prevent them from occurring again.  In addition, these acids in the grain alcohol are naturally anti-bacterial so help keep pimples at bay.

Essential oil of Helichrysum in included in the blend.  This precious extract from the African and Australian plants aids in preventing and healing bruising in addition to being naturally anti-bacterial.  Essential oil of french lavender is also added well-known to stimulate the healing process.  Applying unadulterated pure lavender essential oil directly to burns, for example, takes away all the sting and redness so thusly aids injured acneic tissue to be soothed and regenerate.  Lavender is naturally anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral.

The sophisticated peptide Argireline (Acetyl hexapeptide-3), normally used as an anti-wrinkle ingredient, is included in Crowd Control because of its ability to inhibit the release of adrenalin and noradrenaline in the neuronal skin cells. One of the triggers for closed comedone cystic acne is the over-flooding of these hormones associated with stress; eliminate the adrenalin and the swelling/infection cycle is stopped.

Niacinamide, Vitamin B-3, is included to provide it’s well documented ability to lighten scarred tissue and to provide and anti-inflammatory effect which reduces redness.  The sophisticated ingredient Alpha Arbutin (4-Hydroxyphenyl-α-D-glucopyranoside) is also included to reduce inflammation and to suppress the over activity of melanin formation which results in hyper-pigmentation scarring.

* Holistic methods work with the natural body functions, retraining them to function normally when they are disfunctioning and strengthening them to do what they do normally allowing the body to heal itself.

Product knowledge; MeadowMilk Gentle Cleanser

DSC05788MeadowMilk Gentle Cleanse is a soothing honey-scented face cleansing lotion that glides on silky smooth to dissolve all make-up and dirt while balancing the immune-system flora present on the surface of the skin leaving it moist and conditioned.  It incorporates the natural enzymatic action in meadow-harvested honey to break down dead skin cells while essential nutrients in Meadowfoam seed oil offer anti-aging cleansing.  Cold processed, this is truly like active nutrition for your skin and most skin types will benefit from it used as part of a routine.  (NOTE: many of you will prefer this to the Bio-Tanical Cleanser as it goes on similar to the previous Conditioning Biotic Cleanser).

The main active ingredient in this cleanser is local honey from the North Family Farm in Canterbury, New Hampshire.  Harvested from bees that forage the non-polluted meadows of the 1792 North Family Shaker farmland, this is a gorgeously scented, luscious honey teaming with healthy flora and active enzymes.  Enzymes work to break down proteins and debris thus it is as good for the surface of the skin as well as our gut.  Introducing the essences of plant material contained within also helps keep our immune system boosted (the skin is the largest part of our immune system!)

The second main ingredient is Meadowfoam Seed oil.  This highly stable anti-oxident oil is cold pressed from the seeds of Limnanthes Alba plant noted for its superior nutritional quality and its ability heal the skin.  Oil is the best solvent for grease so while conditioning the skin, the Meadowfoam seed oil also breaks down & emulsifies sebum, perspiration and make-up to wash away with a warm cloth.  Like the C.B.C. many of you will enjoy spreading it on, leaving it in place like a masque then just adding water later to whiten it up to remove.

 

Product knowledge; Outdoor Body Mousse

Outdoor body mousse composite

Introducing my latest concoction; Outdoor Body Mousse, a skin conditioning & soothing mousse-creme that provides natural, chemical-free sunblocking while additionally repelling bugs. It is sweat resistant, non-greasy with a subtle mineral-tinted glow that ends with a silky, dry finish. Along with zinc oxide, plant extract Eucalyptus Citriodoro creates an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin while providing an uplifting citrus/eucalyptus scent.  And FYI, the National Center for Disease Control lists Eucalyptus Citriodoro as a suitable replacement for DEET.

If you’ve read about my personal skin history you’ll know I get a rash in a flash.  I love my gardens and I love my walks but in New England the bugs love me even more.  And because I am highly allergic to DEET and sunspot so easily I have worked at creating something that allows me freedom to be outside.  This new version of an earlier product is a slam-dunk due to some new ingredient technology developed through olive oil chemistry allowing for the non-sticky formula.  Sitting in the yard side by side with David, black flies are all over him while not a one is touching me when wearing this. The smell reminds me of summer!

Water, argan oil, zinc oxide, essential oil Eucalyptus Citriodoro, Olivem (natural thickener produced from olive oil), citric acid, iron oxides, titanium dioxide, mica.

NOTES: Please note that the tint is fairly invisible so rather than creating a suntanned effect it simply masks the white of the zinc oxide.  The mica makes the skin look “moisturized” rather that matte from the oxides.  Please apply liberally for maximum insect repellent and for an SPF of around 25. You can use this alone or over another body lotion.

Introductory size 50ml/1 2/3oz $40.00 Jane’s clients discounted price – $24.00

To purchase or sample – 603-491-7305  jbalshaw@comcast

 

 

Natural bug repellents that cause sunburning

sun sensitivity plant oils For those of us in New England who love the outdoors, the biting insects that show up at this time of year can be annoying! And if we have concerns about using chemical bug repellents on our bodies, using plant fragrance oils give us natural protection and peace of mind. But beware; many of the common oils used in natural bug repellents can increase your risk of sunburn and allergic reaction!

natural-vs-chemical-ingredientsPlant fragrance oils (called essential oils) are the volatile essences of various plant materials. Extracted from the plant in a concentrated form, these oils contain the assorted organic components of the plant.  As a visual, think of the viles in a chemistry lab; like these, essential oils are intensely active and flammable combinations of chemicals.

The chemical constituent coumarin occurs in many common plants and is responsible for lending a particular sweet smell.  However, when coumarin is applied directly to the skin it absorbs UV light then releases it into the dermis creating photosensitivity (reactivity to UV light).  Wearing any of the following plant oils that contain coumarin while in the sun greatly increases your risk of sun burning, sun spotting or developing an allergic rash.

WHILE IN THE SUN, AVOID WEARING BUG REPELLENTS (or body lotions & perfumes) THAT CONTAIN:

  • lavender
  • common orange
  • mandarin orange
  • bergamot
  • lemon
  • cassia “cinnamon”
  • Calendula
  • angelica

And if you happen to be experimenting with rare and unusual essential oils or bathing in herbs ( 🙂 ), parsley, tarragon and celery also contain coumarins!

It is further interesting to note that coumarins have been synthesized in the laboratory for use in making perfumes adding that particular sweet smell.  This could explain why many/most synthetic fragrances create photosensitivity!  The ramifications are endless; fragranced soaps, shampoos, sunscreens, body lotions… this is one of the reason why I am an advocate for avoiding synthetic fragrance.

The most effective essential oil I have found to repel bugs is Eucalyptus Citriodoro.  The Nation Center for Disease Control has classified this as a suitable replacement for DEET.  You may have noticed the postings at some of the trail heads in New Hampshire mentioning this.  Stacia uses this on her horses to repeal flies.

You might enjoy my Outdoor Freedom, a skin conditioning & soothing lotion that provides natural, chemical-free sunblocking while additionally repelling bugs. Sweat resistant and non-greasy with a silky dry finish. Along with zinc oxide, plant extract Eucalyptus Citriodoro creates an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin while providing an uplifting citrus/eucalyptus scent. SPF around 30-40; apply liberally for best protection. Sitting in the yard side by side with David, black flies are all over him while not a one is touching me when wearing this. The smell reminds me of summer!

I also sell the oil alone by the 1/2 oz.

603-491-7305   jbalshaw@comcast.net

Product knowledge; FruitCocktail moisture fluid

DSC04830FruitCocktail moisture fluid is an anti-aging moisturizer that goes on thin yet finishes with a satiny, protected feeling.  It incorporates plant stem-cell technology and active extracts from fruit to provide new ways of protecting the skin from aging while helping it to renew itself more perfectly.  This non-comedogenic formula is an answer for acne sufferers as a solo moisturizer over treatment products and it also great for any skin type used alone or layered with other moisturizing treatments.

The starring ingredient in this formula is apple stem cells.   Plant stem cells, like human stem cells, have the ability to regenerate other cells when co-mingled.  Laboratory in-vitro (test tube) tests have shown this to be true with this ingredient.  These apple stem cells have been extracted with a new PhytoCellTech™ process from a rare swiss apple, Uttwiler Spatlauber, noted for its longevity and active botanical properties.  This is ingredient is now popular in many over the counter products but the way it is combined to be most accessible to the skin is what makes this formula more active.

To enhance the activity of the formula is the addition of rhubarb root extract.  It contains the rhaponticin molecule the activates PPARy, a receptor that stimulates the growth of skin cells and also stimulates the production of skin lipids to protect against moisture loss.  These actives are suspended in coconut endosperm, the embriotic fluid from coconut rich in RNA, growth factors, minerals and vitamins to revitalize the skin and maintain its fluids.  Sodium hyaluronate, the key moisture binding component of skin cells, helps “fix” the moisture into the skin.

To protect against losing this increased moisture, Blueberry seed oil from the high bush berry, vaccinium corymbosum from the state of Washington, is added.  It is fresh harvested, cold-pressed and naturally filtered through diatomaceous earth. Full of nutritious Omega-3 fatty acids, skin healing chlorophyll and vitamins A & E, it has added benefits of soothing and nourishing the skin.  Karite Fruit oil, the remaining oil from the refinement of shea butter, adds silky protection against moisture loss also.

Extracts from the olive are used to emulsify and add silkiness to the product along with fine, non-hazardous silicones.  More importantly, these two help to penetrate the primary ingredients of the formula into skin causing them to remain active.  This moisture fluid is very different then the normal stearate-laden waxy moisturizers that just lay on the skin; it actually becomes part of the skin’s natural protective layer.

 

Product knowledge; Bio-Tanical and EmolUlite cleansers

DSC04872Bio-Tanical Conditioning Cleanser is a cleansing lotion that softens, calms and improves the skin’s ability to renew itself all the while deep cleaning away dirt, excess skin oil and/or make-up.  This highly unique formula massages in creamy then, when splashed with water, foams to allow all to be rinsed away.  The skin feels smooth, protected, not-tight yet super squeaky clean.  Recommended for all skin types.

Healing rosehip oil extracted from the wild rose Rubinginosa is the starring active ingredient in this formula.  Highly prized for its ancient tradition of healing, its natural vitamin C content soothes the skin and promotes skin cell renewal.  Co-starring is organic Amaranth grain protein (gluten-free) as a natural foaming peptide that is nutritious for the skin.  Peptides are mini-proteins that occur naturally in the body as a by-product of cellular breakdown and act as redirectors telling the skin to renew itself.  Introducing additional peptides signals increased renewal.

The formula is also bumped up with plant extracts to help sooth and heal.  Olive leaf, Epilobium, and Plantago Laceolata extracts act as natural antibiotics, anti-oxidants and moisturizers.  Horse Chestnut, Birch bark and Ginkgo Biloba support the production of collagen and elastin in the skin, that supportive, anti-sag lower layer.  All ingredients together help maintain and encourage healthy, firm and lively skin.

DSC04882EmolUlite Lipid Cleanse is a non-comedogenic “oil” cleanser that deeply cleanses and softens the skin while maintaining and restoring the skin’s natural protective barrier.    Styled in the fashion of old world cleansers, this natural shake-n-pour formula is unusual in that it is self-emulsifying allowing all the benefits of conditioning, protective lipids yet leaves the skin feeling clean.  It is recommended for normal to dry skins, as a make-up removal first cleanse and also for impacted acne skins as it helps to soften and dissolve blackheads.

This very simple natural product features squalane, a non-oil lipid that is extracted from olives.  Squalane occurs naturally in our own skin’s sebum and is key in helping to form the protective lipid barrier in our skin that wards off potential infection and environmental damage.  Another helpful lipid that is included is blueberry seed oil.  The high bush berry, vaccinium corymbosum from the state of Washington, is fresh harvested, cold-pressed and naturally filtered through diatomaceous earth. Full of nutritious Omega-3 fatty acids, skin healing chlorophyll and vitamins A & E, it soothes and nourishes the skin while helping with the cleaning process.  Think; oil dissolves oil in the same way that one would clean the oxidized dirt in a cast iron pan with some vegetable oil.

To emulsify the oils to help remove the excess and heavier oils, organic vegetable glycerin is included.  As a natural sugar it forms a lotion consistency when mixed with oil.  Also included is sulfosuccinate, a very gentle foaming emulsifier derived from naturally occurring succinic acid.  This grassy, blueberry smelling product is as delicious to smell as it is to use.

Pumpkin and Maple masques; cold weather skincare

pumpkin maples

In the cool weather we are attracted to eating all those spicy, golden hued foods.  There is a reason for that; spices warm up the body and the beta-carotene that makes that golden color strengthens our inner workings.  And so it is with the care of the skin; warming it up in cool weather helps it to stay strong and less dry.  Just in time and just released for the season are my two at-home facial masques that enliven the skin for the coming months of cold.

Pumpkin masque photo

The Pumpkin Creme Masque is an at-home “peel” that dissolves the build-up of dead skin cells while moisturizing & warming the functions of the skin to energize natural cell renewal.  How does it do this?  Pumpkin contains natural enzymes that recognize protein and consume it (ever notice how smooth your hands are after carving a jack-o-lantern?).  Concentrated organic pumpkin puree targets dead skin cells to dissolve them leaving the skin super-smooth and ready for action.  A blend of alpha-hydroxy fruit acids – glycolic, lactic, tartaric and citric from grapes, lemons, passionfruit and pineapple –  work at loosening the dead cells first by dissolving the glue that holds them to the skin.  Sugary triglycerides extracted from coconut and palm kernel oils sooth and moisturize the skin while organic essential oil of cinnamon and extracts from autumn spices stimulate blood flow and warm the skin.  Moisturized well afterwards, the skin just glows!  See an at-home facial protocol at the end of this post.

maple masque dual imageMaple Jolt Masque energizes the skin to renew itself, softens the appearance of age and increases hydration.  How does it do this?  Maple syrup contains natural enzymes that, when applied to the skin, soften the upper layer “plumping” the skin to receive the benefits of additional ingredients.  This masque contains concentrated maple enzymes to triple up on the work.  Extracts of coffee and cacao (chocolate) are blended in to stimulate blood flow; more rapidly circulating blood carries oxygen to the skin and healing nutrients through the tissue that helps delay age and fight off environmental damage.  Also included are Glycoproteins, a combination of amino acids and peptides derived from yeast, that boast the oxygen content in the skin as well as energizing new cell production by enhancing the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the skin’s natural get-up-n-go electrical charge.  Additionally the GPs are moisturizing along with Beta-glucan, a sugary substance extracted from mushrooms.  Applied to clean skin and left in place for 10 minutes, this is a delicious and calorie-free cold weather treat!

AT-HOME FACIAL:

  1. Cleanse skin well using the cleanser suited to your skin type; Purify Frothing Cleanser, Bio-Tanical Conditioning Cleanser or the EmolUlite Lipid Cleanse.
  2. Smooth on a light layer of Pumpkin Creme Masque avoiding the eye area and lips.  For sensitive skins leave on no longer than 5 minutes.  For other skin types, up to 10 minutes.  Splash off rinsing completely.
  3. While skin is still damp, smooth on a medium-thin layer of Maple Jolt Masque.  Leave in place up to 15 minutes.  NOTE: this masque is enhanced by wearing in a steamy environment; reclining in a bath, wear in the shower or put your face over a bowl of hot, steaming water.  Splash off.
  4. Moisturize immediately while skin is still damp.  Suggestion:  Use a pumps worth of Glow followed by your moisturizer of choice.  WOWWIE!

NOTE:  it is normal for the skin to redden a bit or a lot with either of these masques as they stimulate the flow of blood-which is the point!  Redness will disappear within 1 hour.