Skincare rituals

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My philosophy on skincare has always been a holistic one. Beauty is harmony in body, mind and spirit. The face is usually just a reflection of what is going on inside our bodies, our hearts and our minds. Your diet, your lifestyle, your environment, your thoughts, your emotions…they all show on your skin. Just slapping some cream on your face will not really solve your skin problems. Diet and lifestyle are crucial when it comes to healthy skin, even more than skincare.

When it comes to skincare, my philosphy is to nurture the skin with healing, good quality products through beautiful rituals, like massage, mindful meditation, and setting intentions…

How do you usually apply your skincare? Do you just apply your cream in 2 seconds and off you go? What is your dialogue with yourself when you are caring for your skin? Does it come from a place of judgement or one of a love and acceptance?

Here is my advice.

In Chinese medicine, the heart meridian passes through the tongue where it spreads out to the face. This is maybe one of the reasons why we have that glow when we are happy and in love. 

First, center yourself. Be here, now. Even just for 2 minutes. Have the intention that this is a time to pause and nurture.

So when you look in the mirror, before you apply your products, set your intention. Don’t say something with a negative connotation like… ‘I want to get rid of my wrinkles’… Opt for something like ‘May my skin be healthy, nourished and balanced’ or ‘may my skin glow with vitality’…Whatever it may be, make it something positive.

Then apply your products. Choose products that are healing and nurturing, that make you feel good. I am not a fan of any products or procedures that wound the skin in order for it to heal and as a result produce more collagen. First, all those products and procedures do more damage in the long run. Everytime you wound your skin with strong acids and overexfoliation, overly drying products, lasers and everything else that promises that ‘quick fix’, you increase inflammation, damage DNA, and distroy your skin’s immunity. I could write an entire book on this, but I will just sum it up and say that I personally believe in strengthening and nourishing practices instead.

This brings me to my next point, and that is massage. It can drain lymph, stimulate blood circulation and therefore bring more nutrients to the skin, increase skin function, relieve tension, relax, firm and lift muscles, release toxins, help products penetrate better into the skin…the list goes on and on…and let’s not forget: it feels AMAZING! I posted a few techniques on facial massage and acupressure in the past, so feel free to take a look at those, or try out others that are out there on youtube.

This doesn’t have to take long. It can be 2 minutes….or, if you have the time and feel like it, you can make it 30 minutes. The main idea here is to just carve this little time for yourself, and make it feel good.

Of course, topical application is just a small part of healthy skin. A healthy diet (good digestion, good quality, organic whenever possible – ingredients, supplements when needed, lots of water, a healthy microbiome), a healthy lifestyle (avoiding toxic products and environments whenever possible, staying active, practicing yoga or another type of physical activity you may prefer, practicing pranayama, spending time in nature, fresh air), and a healthy mind and spirit (through meditation, expressing and practicing gratitude, connecting with others) are all important parts of healthy, beautiful skin.

I hope this inspires you to approach skincare from a holistic level and that we all stop buying into the quick-fix, no pain no gain philosophy.

Here is to a healing, nurturing journey to healthy, glowing skin!

Ps:

One last thing…on botox…as you probably guessed by now…I am not a fan. I don’t judge anyone who does it, of course, but please if you are planning on doing it, consider the following:

Botox atrophies muscles. As we age, our capillary bed in our skin (the blood flow) decreases significantly. When you weaken muscles, you decrease circulation even more. This literally starves your skin. So the skin, although it has no wrinkles, it looks lifeless. Also, it slackens a lot. It may be wrinkle free, but gravity still pulls on it, and since muscles are weak due to atrophy, everything just droops even more. This is why most botox users end up having fillers and other procedures after a while. And those are a whole other mess.

Another thing to consider is that there has been quite a bit of research on muscle memory. When we are happy, we smile and we contract certain muscles. This goes the other way around as well. When we smile, we tend to feel better. There have been several studies showing how if certain muscles are not triggered during facial expressions, the emotion associated with those expressions is not felt to its full extent.

And one last thing that I learned in a natural skincare seminar…there is a whole book about this actually, but for all new moms out there…babies, before they learn how to speak, they look at their parents and read their facial expresions. They learn how to read emotions and it is a way for them to understand the world and most importantly the people around them.  Something to keep in mind.

DIY Nourishing, brightening face mask

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I was in need of a face mask yesterday to help my stressed out, hot skin! I remembered of a recipe I learned a while ago, from an old spa book I had from years ago. (The book is ‘Spa Living’ by Sunamita Lim)

The recipe is for an Ayurvedic Fragrant Nutritive Mask:

2 tbs colloidal oatmeal (I didn’t have colloidal oatmeal, but I ground organic oats in my blender till they turned into a superfine powder) – oatmeal is anti-inflammatory

2 tsp goat milk powder (I used my organic whole cow milk powder instead)- milk is brightening and softening due to its lactic acid

1/2 tsp white kaolin clay – detoxifying and softening

1 tsp rose petal powder (I just ground dry rose petals) – rich in vitamin C

1 tsp sandalwood powder ( I order mine on amazon…I LOVE sandalwood powder!!! It has the most beautiful fragrance!) – cools the skin and balances all skin types, relieves skin rashes and allergies, it is anti-bacterial, cooling and soothing.

2 drops rose attar (essential rose oil from India infused in a sandalwood base- I didn’t have this either, but improvised- I just added 2 drops of my all-time favorite ila spa glowing radiance face oil, which has the highest quality of rosa damascena oil as well as sandalwood, it is completely natural and smells absolutely divine💗💗💗)

Mix all DRY ingredients in a jar, then take half of the powder, add a bit of water to reach the desired mask consistency, and then add the 2 drops of rose/sandalwood oil (in my case Ila oil). Leave the mask on for 15-20 minutes and rinse off with warm water. It feels a bit exfoliating when you remove it.

I followed with my jasmine white tea mist (I make my own just by making a really strong cup of really good quality white jasmine tea, let it cool, put it in a spray bottle and store it in the fridge- I will make its own blog post one of these days and go over the details, because tea mists are really simple to make and the polyphenols in tea are very beneficial for the skin).

I moisturized with my ila oil at the end. My skin (which is combination, lots of freckles in the summer and has a lot of heat) felt cool, really soft, smooth and brighter.☺

Please note: If you are pregnant or have a medical condition, consult with your doctor first before trying this mask. If your skin is very reactive or sensitive, I recommend doing a test patch first. Everyone is different, so please be mindful when trying somthing new.

 

Don’t just count on your sunscreen

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I really wish everyone read the article in this link:
http://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/imperfect-protection/

Since where I live feels like summer is in full swing, I wanted to share some great information on sunscreen. When I used to work as an esthetician, I got this question a lot: What is the best? Chemical? Physical? What SPF number? I think the problem is that the public is not really educated on sunscreens. Media and companies try to sell you their products, but they don’t fully educate their customers on how to use it properly. I actually find it very misleading.

Today I wanted to shine some light on this subject, and most importantly, share some great articles (based on science and extensive research) on sunscreen.

One of the big problems is that consumers don’t really know how much product you really need to use in order to get the level of SPF advertised on the bottle. When they test SPF in a lab, they apply 2mg of product per 1 square cm of skin. That is a really, really thick layer! Almost nobody applies that much! (And remember, after 80 minutes-2 hours (depending on the sunscreen), you need to reapply…unless you sweat or wipe and then you need to reapply immediately).
I love this general guideline on how much sunscreen to use: ( http://www.skinacea.com/faq/sunscreen/s04-how-much-sunscreen.html#.WVLvsmip5SA )

Face: 1/4 teaspoon of sunscreen
Neck (front and back): 1/4 teaspoon of sunscreen
Arms: 1/2 teaspoon of sunscreen per arm
Legs: 1 teaspoon of sunscreen per leg
Chest: 1 teaspoon of sunscreen
Back: 1 teaspoon of sunscreen

(If you are interested in the Math, here is a great link: https://www.futurederm.com/how-much-exactly-is-2-0-mgcm2-the-amount-of-sunscreen-necessary-to-achieve-the-labeled-spf-rating/ )

So if you go to the beach for a couple of hours with your family (let’s say family of four), each adult of averge size needs 5 tsp of sunscreen…and I am talking real, measuring teaspoons. Let’s say the children are younger…so let’s say about 5 tsp for both. I measured 15 tsp out of curiosity and to me it looks like about 90 ml. My Eminence sunscreen bottle is about 150 ml, so if I go to the beach with my family for a couple of hours, I should be using more than half that bottle of sunscreen. If i decide to spend the day at the beach, or we get in the water, there wouldn’t even be enough for us to reapply in order to get the level of SPF advertised on the bottle.

So I guess what I am trying to say is that most of us are not getting the SPF level that says on the bottle. And keep in mind, suncreens, no matter what the SPF, cannot fully block the sun even when applied in the ridiculously thick layer. Even if they prevent you getting burnt, the UV light that does penetrate through will still damage your skin. This is why, it is SO IMPORTANT to also seek shade, wear protective, light clothing, big sunglasses, wide brimmed hats, and try to avoid sun exposure at peak hours, when the UV rays are the strongest. Don’t just count on your SPF to protect you from sun damage, because it is never enough!

Please, read these articles on sunscreen. They are very helpful in understanding how sunscreen works and also talk about the dangers of combining chemical sunscreens. They also talk about how some sunscreens contain active ingredients that break down in the presence of UV rays which result in free radicals that actually HARM surrounding cells.

The best article on the subject is here:
http://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/imperfect-protection/
And these are also great:

http://www.suncarelab.com/Blog.html
https://www.futurederm.com/true-benefit-layering-spf/
http://www.cosmeticsandtoiletries.com/testing/spf/premium-Adapting-SPF-Testing-Methods-for-Mineral-Sunscreen-Density-211063281.html

I hope this helps! Let’s all be SunSmart!

 

DIY Soothing Sugar Scrub

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I was in a DIY – pamper myself – spa at home mood yesterday. I had a fun weekend that involved hours spent at the beach on Saturday and 2 hours of canoeing and 2 hours of hiking on Sunday, so Monday I really felt the need for some TLC. I decided to make my own body scrub. Scrubs are great to remove dead skin cells, increase product absorption, increase micro- circulation and also stimulate lymphatic drainage. The skin is softer, brighter and just glows after! Since it is summer right now where we live, I wanted something sweeter and more soothing for my skin.

Here is what I used:

– 3/4 organic powdered whole milk (contains lactic acid, which is a natural chemical exfoliant and skin brightener)
– 3/4 coconut sugar (a physical exfoliant as well as humectant-attracts moisture)- any granulated sugar would work, I just chose coconut
– 3 tbs of Manuka Honey (humectant, antibacterial, rich in vitamins and great enzymes that soften, nourish and help heal the skin)
– 5 ml vanilla essence ( I used the one I got from an Oleum Vera kit)- I love the smell of vanilla – calming and delicious at the same time
– 60 ml of almond oil (also from Oleum Vera-they use high quality, pure, organic ingredients and make some great DIY face and body kits)
– 3 g dried rose petals (again, from and Oleum Vera kit) – for their scent, for their power to heal us emotionally and also because according to Ayurveda, roses calm the pitta dosha.

(Note: You can play around with the consistency. You could add more oil to make it runnier. I prefer it as a thick paste personally, because you can make it into a ball and scrub yourself with it on damp skin. The product just starts to melt into your skin, and the rose petals are all that you are left with in your hand-leaving their beautiful scent behind. )

Mix all ingredients together into a thicker paste and Voilà! Take about 2 tbs of the scrub, hop in the shower and scrub your entire body – on damp skin. I like to leave it on the skin for a few minutes, and in the meantime apply hair conditioner and give myself a scalp massage. Then rinse off and you are done (don’t use soap after)

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After this scrub, I don’t feel like I need to use any moisturizer, but I like to spray on some refreshing rose water.

Finish with a cup of herbal tea and relax for a while💗

 

 

True Beauty

I have been thinking a lot lately about beauty…true beauty, what it really means and how to find it or achieve it… I have a post coming up on this, but until then, I wanted to share this beautiful page from ‘Enchanting Beauty’ by Dr. Manisha Kshirsagar.

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I wish you all a blissful day!