Thursday, November 29, 2012

Helpful Herbs: Clove

Today's Helpful Herb: Clove
Clove is a popular spice used in foods and aromatherapy around the world.  The dried buds of the plant are ground to create the common spice we use in cooking.  The stems, buds, and leaves of the plant are steam-distilled to create an richly aromatic essential oil.  Both the spice and the essential oil have been found to have numerous health benefits.

A Nutritional Spice
The spice clove is a good source of dietary manganese.  It also provides a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin K, vitamin C and magnesium. (Source)

Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
Clove contains a compound called eugenol that has been found to have numerous benefits.  Clove essential oil contains a concentrated amount of eugenol.   This study shows that eugenol/clove oil is an immune booster that reduces inflammation in the body.

Anti-Cancer Benefits
Eugenol has also been fount to be a promising anti-cancer agent in numerous studies, potent against melanoma, skin tumors, osteosarcoma (bone), leukemia, cervical, breast, colon, and gastric cancers.

Pain Reduction
Clove oil is commonly used as a mild analgesic (pain-reducer) in dental products such as temporary dental fillings, toothpaste and mouthwashes, and has also been shown to improve memory.  (Source)

This study found eugenol to be an anti-oxidant and DNA-protector in liver cells.

This study found eugenol to be antibacterial, fighting the harmful bacteria Streptococcus mutans.

Feeling guilty for that pumpkin pie and gingerbread cookies this season!  Well, you can at least now rest assured that they contain one healthy component--the helpful herb: clove!

We use clove in a number of our deodorants, and in our Cool Cucumber Facial Cleanser!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Are You Giving Yourself Dry Skin?

I'm a bath girl. Always have been. As a child, a shower was traumatic for me!  Shampoo burning my eyes.  Water constantly dripping in my face.  Tiny little water droplets teasing me with their warmth, but never really helping to warm me up on a chilly night. But baths--quite the opposite. You get to sit down. No water constantly spraying in your eyes. You can warm up every part of your cold, cold body. Plus, you get floating toys!

So, it was a habit that I continued from childhood.  9.5 out of 10 times I choose a bath over a shower!  But, the other night I was in a hurry and had to take a shower. It was chilly in the house, so I turned up the heat in the shower, got all clean, and got out.  As soon as I got out, it felt like my skin was tightening up. Soon I felt itchy and so so dry and my skin was red all over! This was weird--I don't typically get dry skin. Was I having some kind of reaction to something? Then I realized it--that darn shower! I wanted to get warmed up, so I overcompensated with the heat of the shower! It was almost a first-degree burn that I gave myself. 

So, I learned an important lesson: hot showers = dry skin!

With heat, your pores open up and you lose hydration.  Plus, the hot water strips your skin of vital oils that keep hydration in. If you have dry skin that seems to get drier in the winter, of course the dry air in your home heating system is one culprit.  But an overly-hot shower could be to blame. No matter how gentle your soap is, a shower that's too hot will strip your skin of moisture.

So, here are some tips for preventing that itchy, dry, tight-feeling winter skin!

Bathe Instead
Take a nice warm, but not too hot, bath.  While you soak, your skin will absorb some needed hydration.  You'll relax and because you'll actually get warm, you won't have to overheat your water. 

Using a bath salt with moisturizing oils can do wonders.  Our bath salts have a small but noticeable amount of oil that you'll notice totally softens your skin and creates a small lipid layer on your skin that will seal in the hydration you took on in the water.

Of course, there are times when you may not have time to bathe and just need to take a quick shower.  Make sure that you keep the water just barely above lukewarm.  

Look At Your Water
Hard water deposits turn in to soap scum on your skin, and that can lead to that dry, itchy feeling.  We're all about water softeners here.  But also, water filters.  Using a shower head filter that removes chlorine can work wonders for dry, irritated, or sensitive skin. 

Using a humidifier can help to compensate for the dry air running through your furnace.  More moisture in the air means more moisture for your skin!

Of course, after showering or bathing, applying a rich, water-free body butter (like ours!) will help to hold in that hydration and moisturize your skin all day long.

Follow these tips and dry, itchy, flaky skin will be a thing of the past!