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Just Breathe…

breathe

Living on Canada’s west coast surrounded by trees, I was more concerned about daughter’s year-round hay fever and the air quality in my home. I thought about outdoor air quality in the abstract, but never about how it directly affected me or my family. It is so easy to get caught up in our own lives.

This past summer was a wake-up call.  “Summer 2017 has been B.C’s  worst wildfire season on record, & as of Sept 28, more than 100 fires are still burning.”  Many communities have been impacted, like Williams Lake, 100 Mile House & the Elephant Hill fire, near Cache Creek & Ashcroft. The smoke affected the air quality near the fires but it also affected air quality in different areas throughout the province.  One day this past summer, I was outside in the middle of the afternoon, everything was hazy, the air felt thick, & it was hard to breathe.

I have never thought much about breathing other than if I had a chest cold or sinus congestion. From the moment of our birth, our body’s  “autonomic nervous system” controls our breathing; we don’t even have to think about it. Adults breathe anywhere from 12-20 times per minute. If you do the math, (which I did), that adds up to 17,280 – 28,800 breaths per day (depending on your fitness and/or stress levels). While we can’t-do a lot about outdoor pollution personally (well other than voting in governments that have strong environmental protection plans, writing letters/ petitions to your MP or MLA, and recycling! Sorry that was just a little rant), we can do something about the air quality in our homes.

Things you can do:

  • Get rid of chemical cleaners, laundry detergents, fabric refreshers, and Synthetic Room Sprays/ Plugins.
  • Avoid using Incense & candles with synthetic fragrances, or at least limit their use and get some ventilation into the room. (I am finding that these 2 things really bother me.)
  • Go more natural with your Personal Body Care Products. There are a lot of products available, but educate yourself & read the labels to find the best ones. (No one in my house is allowed to use a certain type of Body Spray because it affects my breathing.)
  • Air out your home frequently. Many manufactured items in your home will continue to off-gas to some extent. Older homes were drafty so this wasn’t as much of a problem, but newer homes are more airtight so it is important to open some windows periodically, especially during the winter months.
  • Consider getting some plants in your home. NASA calls plants part of “Nature’s Life Support System”. Peace Lilies, Spider Plants, English Ivy & Weeping Fig plants are a few to consider; they are fairly hardy & are thought to help with air quality due to the photosynthesis process.

And you can also use Aromatherapy in your home. When using essential oils, cheaper isn’t better, quality is. It is important that you find a reputable supplier that sell pure, hopefully, organic &  unadulterated oils; that your suppliers know where their oils come from & they share all the important information with you. (And if someone wants to sell you “100% pure therapeutic grade essential oils, know that this is a registered trademark of the company. There is no organization that oversees the quality of essential oils.) At a minimum you need to know:

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Is it Rosacea?

canstockphoto40922798My recent blogs have been all about Skincare & Essential Oils. I found so much information, that I am continuing this month with a blog about Rosacea… 

This chronic skin condition affects women more than men, & is usually diagnosed between the ages of 30 – 50. Rosacea can be recognized by ongoing facial blushing across the cheeks & on the chin. Your skin may get dry or flaky, feel itchy, or sting. The symptoms of Rosacea have been broken up into 4 sub-categories; they are:

  1. Erythematelangiectatic Rosacea: flushing of the skin, visible or enlarged blood vessels
  2. Papulopustular Rosacea: Swelling & redness of the skin, acne-like breakouts (pimples and/or bumps on the skin, but not black or whiteheads).
  3. Phymatous Rosacea: a thickening or a rough, bumpy texture of the skin; (Men typically get this type of Rosacea, which also may include an enlargement of the nose, a condition known as rhinophyma.)  
  4. Ocular Rosacea: irritated or gritty eyes; eyelids may get red or swollen.

Causes of Rosacea:

The causes of Rosacea are not exactly known. While research is ongoing, what they have found were some common factors that many Rosacea sufferers share.

  • Genetics may be a factor. Some think that Rosacea may run in families.
  • The Rosacea may be caused by an over-reaction of the body’s immune system.
  • The microscopic “Demodex” mite that commonly lives on the skin may be a factor. Studies have shown that some Rosacea patients have a larger than the normal number of this mite on their skin.
  • The body’s reaction & ability to process to a protein called Cathelicidin, may cause the redness of the skin & “determine whether a person gets Rosacea.”  

Common Triggers: Our daily lifestyle choices may also trigger a Rosacea flare-up. These triggers can vary from person to person. These triggers are:

  • Weather conditions like cold & dry winters or hot, dry summers. Sun exposure is also a factor, causing irritation or redness… *** Protect your skin from extreme weather. Apply appropriate lotions to help with dryness & irritation; Sunscreens to protect your skin are highly recommended
  •  Stress may trigger some people’s Rosacea flare ups.  *** Managing your stress is so important in all aspects of our life. Check out my blog on Stress & Self-Care for more info.
  • Extreme exercise along with a lot of sweating may irritate the skin. *** Try less intense forms of exercise. Also, have a cool shower to reduce your temperature & wash the sweat off of your face & body as soon as possible after a workout. 
  • Your Diet may trigger Rosacea; this includes hot caffeinated drinks, spicy food & alcohol especially red wine. *** Keep a food diary to track of your diet, & your triggers. Then modify your diet as needed. This is an important step because everyone’s triggers are different.
  • Make-Up & Skincare may cause Rosacea flare ups. *** Check out the ingredients in your products & avoid abrasive exfoliators. Unfortunately, it is usually by trial & error to find the right products for you. (And you will need to be flexible because your skin triggers can change

When it comes to skincare you may also want to consider using Essential Oils that canstockphoto22894795have been diluted in a Carrier Oil. Like I mentioned in my blogs:  ” Love the “Skin” you’re in…” and  “Love your Skin Part 2 – Carrier Oil.”  Essential & Carrier Oils have different properties that are helpful for different types of skin & skin conditions, which also include Rosacea.

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Essentially Male…

canstockphoto8405954The majority of people that use essential oils are women. Research has shown that women have a better sense of smell so this may be the reason. This being said, essential oils with their many different properties would work well for men, at every stage of their life, for everything from skin & hair care to stress & insomnia.

Skin Care: a man’s skin is different from a woman’s skin mainly due to the hormone testosterone; a man’s skin is approx. 25% thicker, contains more collagen, produces more sebum & is much oilier.

Puberty: Up to 70% of all teens get some form of breakouts. During puberty, a boy’s skin produces a lot more oil & if you add in a buildup of dead skin-cells, it can lead to zits or acne. (Acne can appear on the face, chest or back.) Essential oils can be used as a spot treatment after you cleanse your face or wash your body; they can help dry up zits by reducing inflammation, controlling sebum production & helping to clear up any infection. Consider using Lavender, Juniper Berry, Niaouli, Sandalwood and/or Tea Tree. Dilute your essential oil(s) in Jojoba oil (which is actually a plant wax); it is suitable for oily skin & won’t clog your pores.

Shaving: Scraping a razor over your skin removes thecanstockphoto31945326 hair but can also over-exfoliate the skin, leading to irritation. (There is also some concern about the ingredients in shaving products too.) To soothe your skin, you can easily make your own Shaving Balm using: Shea Butter, Jojoba oil & essential oils like Tea Tree, Lavender or Chamomile. You can also make an aftershave using Witch Hazel, Lavender & Rosemary Hydrosol & Purified Water. Or try a moisturizing treatment using Jojoba oil, Calendula Infused Oil, and the essential oils of Sandalwood, Chamomile or Lavender & a drop of Tea Tree. Shake well before each use.

canstockphoto19966911Beards: Online or walking thru any mall, you will notice that beards & beard grooming products have made a comeback. If you choose, you can make your own conditioning beard oil using a blend of carrier & essential oils. Try carrier oils like Jojoba, Sweet Almond, Camellia Seed, or Coconut. Essential oils to consider are Rosemary, Cedarwood, Patchouli, Lavender or Sandalwood. These oils will condition facial skin as well as beard hair. Shake well before each use.

canstockphoto13661898Your Mid Life Skin: A Man’s skin is thicker than a woman’s & it tends to age differently. Signs of aging like under eye circles & wrinkles appear later in life. (Although, a man may notice some sun damage due to years of outdoor activities like running or golf.)  Read more

Love your Skin Part 2 – Carrier Oils.

 

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Jojoba Oil

Last month, I blogged about using essential oils & Hydrosols for Skincare, & this month I’m continuing with Carrier Oils.  Essential Oil Blends need to be diluted in a carrier oil like Grapeseed, Fractionated Coconut or Jojoba oil before topical use. This is to prevent any irritation, redness or sensitization to your skin. If you have sensitive skin, then you will know that choosing the right carrier oil is just as important as choosing your essential oils.

Carrier Oils have different properties, purposes & absorption rates. They work well in Skin Care,  & Bath Products. Carrier oils are vegetable oils that are defined as lipids & are largely composed of fatty acids. They derived from the fatty part of plants like the kernels, nuts or seeds.

Some Carrier Oils to Consider:canstockphoto21746238

Sweet Almond Oil (Prunus Amygdalus var dulcis): one of the earliest cultivated fruit trees, and are indigenous to the Middle East. Sweet Almond Oil cold-pressed from the nuts, is rich in protein, Vitamin. A, B1, 2 & 6, Vitamin E & minerals. Shelf Life: 1 yr. This emollient oil is good for all skin types, itching, burns & inflammation. Shelf Life: 6 mo – 1 yr. (keep refrigerated) (Avoid if you have nut allergies)

Jojoba Oil (Simmondsia chinensis): it’s actually a plant wax & its chemical composition is similar to our skin’s sebum.  Jojoba oil contains protein, minerals, plant wax & myristic acid.  It is good for all skin types. Jojoba oil is useful easing irritation of eczema & psoriasis. It can be used at full strength or as an additive to your blend. Shelf Life: up to 5 yr.

Apricot Kernel Oil (Prunus Armeniaca):  is cold -pressed from the kernel inside the pit of the apricot. Is a source of polyunsaturated fatty acids, & minerals, Vitamins & GLA.  Its light texture is good for dry, mature, sensitive and inflamed skin, as well as the itching of eczema. Shelf Life: 6 mo – 1 yr. (keep refrigerated). (Use Caution if you have Nut Allergies.)

Grapeseed Oil (Vitis vinifera): is heat extracted from the seeds. (In its natural state, it doesn’t smell great). The refined oil is almost odorless & contains vitamins, minerals protein, and linoleic acid.  May cause sensitivity for some skin types. Shelf Life: 6 mo -1 yr.

canstockphoto18192976Rosehip Oil (Rosa rubiginosa): an oil that is growing in popularity, it’s solvent extracted from the seeds of the rose bush. Try as an additive in an overnight moisturizing treatment for wrinkles, premature aging, burns & treating scars following surgery. Shelf Life: 6 mo. (keep refrigerated) Read more

Love the “Skin” you’re in…

First Posted June 2017

canstockphoto15433244As I have mentioned in my other blogs I have extremely sensitive skin. I have used a variety of commercial skin care products with varying degrees of success. Let’s just say that I know which stores have the best return policies. I have also been using my own essential oil products for years. I have a variety of blends that I use at different times, for different reasons.

Our skin is the largest organ of our body; the total area on an adult’s body is approx 20 sq feet and is made up of the:skin cell

  • Epidermis or the top layer of skin
  • Dermis which contains supportive tissue, hair follicles & sweat glands.
  • Hypodermis which contains connective tissue & fat.

Our skin protects our inner organs from damage & infections from microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, etc. It also helps to regulate body temperature, & the nerves in our skin allow us to feel physical sensations. The skin is sometimes referred to as our 3rd kidney because it helps the body remove up to 30% of the bodies “wastes” (like excess moisture & toxins) thru perspiration. Our skin is also a good gauge of how we live our lives. Stress, not enough sleep or an unbalanced lifestyle will show up on your skin in the form of dark circles under your eyes, dull skin, acne, rashes or hives.

Essential Oils & Hydrosols are wonderful to use for skin care. Hydrosols are the by-product of the steam distillation process of essential oils. They are much milder, have their own set of properties & work really well as toners. If you choose to use Essential Oils & Hydrosols as part of your skincare routine, be sure to use the appropriate ones for the age & health of the client or family member as well as the proper dilution.

Facial Skincare (Adult): Use a  2% dilution (12 drops of essential oil per 30 ml of a carrier oil, an unscented lotion or gel or an organic liquid soap)

Skincare for the Body (Adult): Use a 1% dilution when moisturizing or massaging your whole body. (6 drops of essential oil per 30 ml of a carrier oil or unscented lotion or gel)

Hydrosols for  Skincare (Adult): May be used undiluted for most skin types. (Can be used at a 50% dilution with distilled water for sensitive or irritated skin if need be)

Skincare for a child age 5 & up or the Elderly: Use a .05% –  1% dilution when moisturizing face & body. (3 up to 6 drops of essential oil per 30 ml of a carrier oil or unscented lotion or gel)

Hydrosols for  Skincare for a child age 5 & up or the Elderly: use at a  25% – 50% dilution (with distilled water)

Skincare for a child age 1 & up: Use a .25% – .05% dilution when moisturizing face & body. (1 -3 drops of essential oil per 30 ml of a carrier oil or unscented lotion)
Hydrosols for  Skincare for a child age 1 & up: use at a  10% – 25% dilution (with distilled water)

Skincare for a Baby age 3 mo & up: Use an appropriate Hydrosol at a 1% to a 5 % dilution depending on the purpose. For more info check out my blog about “Children & Essential Oils”.

When using Essential Oils & Hydrosols for skincare, it’s important to choose the appropriate ones for your skin type or skin condition.

Skin Types:

Normal or Combination Skin: Cedarwood (Atlas), Chamomile (Roman), Geranium, Lavender, Neroli, Rose, Ylang Ylang essential oil. Hydrosols: Lavender, Neroli, Rose Geranium.

Dry Skin: Carrot Seed, Chamomile (Roman), Clary Sage, Frankincense, Geranium, Ho Wood, Jasmine, Mandarin, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang essential oils. Hydrosols: Rose, Neroli.

Mature Skin: Carrot Seed, Clary Sage, Cypress, Frankincense, Geranium,     Neroli, Patchouli, Rose, Sandalwood essential oil.  Hydrosols: Carrot Seed, Helichrysum, Rose Geranium.

Oily Skin: Cedarwood (Atlas), Chamomile (Roman), Cypress, Frankincense, Juniper Berry,  Lavender, Lemon, Myrtle, Niaouli, Patchouli, Petitgrain, Tea Tree, Vetiver essential oil. Hydrosols: Clary Sage, Melissa, Rose Geranium.

Sensitive Skin: Carrot seed, Chamomile (German), Frankincense, Helichrysum, Jasmine,  Neroli,  Rose, essential oils  Hydrosols:  Chamomile, Rose, Yarrow. Read more