Friday, May 31, 2013

Shea Butter and it many uses...

Shea butter is so wonderful for the skin, which is why it is in so many skincare products and so recognizable.
Shea-Karite Tree

The Shea-Karite tree grows wild in the savannahs of west and central Africa.   It takes 15 years before a tree will bear the nuts that the shea butter is harvested from and about 30 years before the tree will produce quality nuts.   It is commonly referred to as the “tree of life” because of its many uses.   The nuts, root and bark are used for food and medicine.  Shea butter and it use dates back to the Egyptian queen Nefertiti and the Queen of Sheba.  The Shea tree is so revered it is forbidden for anyone to cut down or damage a Shea tree and, thanks is still given to it in many religious ceremonies.

Shea butter is an all natural product that varies in quality, appearance and smell.  This all depends on where the tree is grown and how the butter is extracted and refined.  Shea butter is solid at room temperature but will quickly liquefy near body temperature. It is best to store Shea butter in a cool, dry place.  Refrigeration is not required.

Unrefined Shea Butter

Refined Shea Butter
Raw or unrefined shea butter is creamy in color like whipped butter and has a nutty smell to it.  Refined Shea butter is white and the smell has been removed.   If you buy refined shea butter make sure it is filtered through clay and is not refined using hexane or other solvents.  Unrefined shea butter smell will diminish over time and in about 2 or 3 years it will lose it nutritional value.  If the butter begins to have a bad odor it is probably too old to use or has gone rancid.   
Shea Nut
Women are usually responsible for the process of making Shea Butter. This process takes place in the rainy seasons from May to August when the Shea nuts are harvested. Shea nuts are extracted from the fruit by crushing and boiling. Shea nuts are picked, cracked, grilled and pounded to extract the butter which is then boiled in water until the fresh shea butter rises to the surface. It is then scooped into gourds and left to cool and set. This many sound easy but it is very labor intensive.   Traditional extraction is a very long process.  It can take between 20-30 hours to extract 2.2 pounds, but through this process, shea butter retains more of its nutritional, skin care and medicinal benefits.

Some benefits of Shea Butter…

  • Soothing for many skin issues like eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis
  • Helps with premature facial lines and wrinkles.
  • Helps protect against the sun
  • Contains five essential fatty acids, (a major amount coming from stearic and oleic acids), phytosterols, vitamins E and D, allantoin and vitamin A.
  • Stimulates collagen production.
  • It helps with cracked and peeling skin
  • Great as a skin moisturizer
  • Helps with dry scalp
  • Aids in diaper rash
  • Soften skin on feet
  • Helps with stretch mark during pregnancy
  • Absorbs quickly without leaving a greasy residue
  • Helps restore elasticity to skin
  • Restores luster to hair
Not all Shea trees produce the same quality of butter. The varieties found in Northern Uganda and the Southern Sudan are of better quality but are very expensive due to political reasons and civil unrest in the areas.  Trees that produce a lower grade of butter that cannot be used in cosmetics or food are still put to good use.  This butter is commonly used as lamp fuel, candles, lubricants and weather-proofing. 

If you have never used Shea Butter it is worth giving it a try.  Make sure you do your research on the quality of Shea Butter you are purchasing.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Wonders of the Aloe Vera Plant

I can say I am guilty of only knowing aloe vera as a topical treatment for skin.  I really knew very little about its benefits when taken internally until just a few years ago.  There was never a time there wasn’t an aloe vera plant in the house.  If I had a cut, scrap, burn, name it,  mom would break a part of the plant off and apply the gel to skin.  It never failed, it brought immediate relief and the sore was better in just a few days.  
I always preferred the aloe gel over the bottle of Mercurochrome…ouch!

Aloe Vera is another one of those wonder plants.   Ancient Egyptians called it the “plant of immortality”.  Now that is saying something!  It contains more than 20 minerals.  A few of them being: calcium, magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium, sodium, iron, potassium, copper, manganese.  It is also loaded with several vitamins:  A, C, E, folic acid, choline, B1, B2, B3 (niacin), B6 and B12 which is very uncommon in plants.

Other health benefits include: 
  • Helps lower cholesterol.
  • Helps stabilize blood sugar 
    • Studies have shown that those who drank aloe vera for 3 months saw a drop in their blood sugar levels and a boost in circulation.  Those who suffer from peripheral neuopathy, numbness of the feet and hands, could find aloe vera beneficial.
  • Eases inflammation and soothes arthritis pain.
    • For those making a dietary change by moving away from red meat, sugar, white flour, fried food and other foods that cause joint inflammation, will find aloe vera helpful in reducing joint pain.  However you have to make the move away from certain foods to make the aloe effective.
  • Helps with many types of kidney stones and will aid in some kidney problems.
  • Helps with ulcers, IBS, Crohn's disease, constipation and other digestive disorders.
    •  Aloe Vera is a gelatinous plant.  Like seaweed and chia as it moves through the intestinal track the gel absorbs the toxins and are eliminated through the colon.  It is great for the detoxification of the body
  • Aids in reducing high blood pressure naturally by treating the cause.
  • Aids in boosting the cardiovascular system and boosts the oxygenation of your blood.
  • Aloe Vera is a disinfectant, anti-biotic, anti-microbial, germicidal, anti-bacterial, anti-septic, anti-fungal & anti-viral.  All this means it is great for the skin.  Unless you are allergic to aloe vera it is great to heal whatever skin issue you may have.
    • Helps with acne, psoriasis, and eczema as it contains two hormones called auxin and gibberellins.  Both of these hormones have anti – inflammatory properties and help stimulate the growth of new skin cells.
    • Keep the skin hydrated and elastic.
    • Helps the skin fight aging because of the vitamins and minerals it contains.

You can drink aloe vera juice daily.  It is recommended to drink between 2 to 8 ounces in the morning daily.  However you need to be the judge of that.  It can be added to your juice or smoothies or can drink it “as is”.  Some people love the natural taste of aloe vera gel.  As for me it has to go in something… the morning freshly made juice.  The most important thing to remember is to drink it in its purest form.  Be careful of the brand you buy.

***Remember if you are on any medication and want to add aloe vera to your diet or treat a skin issue you much check with your doctor to make sure the change is safe for you.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ever considered using Hemp Oil?

I discovered Hemp Oil early in my research when I started my skincare line.  I wanted to make a lip balm that would glide on without dragging across your lips leaving a waxy feeling behind.  Hemp oil quickly moved to the top of my list to test in my lip balms.

I discovered Hemp Oil is nearly identical to our own lipids.  It has great natural penetrating qualities which enable to lubricate the surfaces between the skin cells.  It helps tone and detoxifies the skin while it moisturizes it without clogging the pores.

It evens skin tone and increases skins elasticity and helps calm irritated skin.  This makes it great for those who have eczema.  When used straight out of the bottle in it natural form it will bring relief to the itching and dryness that are the symptoms of eczema. 
Hemp oil comes from the Cannabis sativa plant and is high in vitamin D which helps absorb calcium; it contains anti-inflammatory properties not found in other oils and is high in vitamin E.  Also all 20 amino acids are found in hemp.  This includes the nine our bodies cannot produce.  

In a recent study conducted in Finland by researcher J. Callaway, those suffering from dermatitis saw significant improvement after using hemp oil for 20 weeks.   This is due to the balance of the Omega 6 & 3 fatty acids. Hemp seed oil is 80% essential fatty acid, the highest amount of any other oil.  

Like the other oils I have written about, Hemp Oil is also good to take internally.  Since it is high Omega 6 and 3 fatty acid with the ideal ration of 3 to 1, it is great for strengthening the immune system.  It also help with who suffer from anemia and cardiovascular diseases.  When you consume the proper amount of essential fatty acids they will help correct oxygenation and skin hydration, counteracting aging.

Hemp Oil has pleasant nutty flavor.  It is commonly used in place of olive oil in salad dressings.  For those watching their cholesterol levels it is a great replacement oil since it is helps lower cholesterol.   It is also low in carbohydrates which is beneficial for those who are diabetics.

Remember to always consult your doctor if you are considering changing your diet and are concerned if what you using is safe for you.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Upcoming classes this summer...

Some have been asking about upcoming classes I am teaching.  Here is what is happening May, June and July. 

Swanstone Garden in Green Bay, Wi

Phone # to sign up: 920-866-9367

"Artfully Crafted Skin Care Products"

Cost - $55
May 26th @ 10:00am
June 2nd @ 10:00am
July 20th @ 10:00am
July 28th @ 10:00am

Catalog is available online:  Spring/Summer catalog 2013


Sweet Willow Natural in Green Bay, Wi
Phone# - 920-608-0348

"DIY Facial Trio"
Cost - $45
June 5th @ 6:00pm
Click here to sign up online: DIY Facial Trio

Soap/Shampoo Bar Making
Cost - $55
July 17th @6:00pm
Click here to sign up online: Soap/Shampoo Bar Making

Make it a fun and great summer!!!

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Nutty Worlds of Almonds

Roasted Salted Almonds
Almond Oil is my favorite oil to use in my skin care line.  It works well for all skin types.

But first let’s talk a little history.  Almonds date back as far as biblical times (1400 BC).  In the “Book of Numbers” it tells the story of Aaron's rod that blossomed and bore almonds. Almonds were seen as a symbolism of divine approval from God.  In Ancient Egypt it was considered a delicacy to use almonds in bread.  The Romans (100 AD) believed they had fertility power and would shower newlyweds with them.   In Swedish tradition it is common to hide an almond in pudding at Christmas time.  The person who finds it will receive good fortune for a year.  
Almond tree in bloom

Almonds ripening 
By 600 – 900 AD traders traveling the Silk Road between the Mediterranean region and China planted almond trees along the route where the trees flourished.   In the mid 1700 AD Franciscan Padres introduced the tree to California from Spain.  In time the ideal growing conditions were developed.  As a result Sacramento, and San Joaquin CA, has become the dominant production leaders of almonds.  It is ranked as the 7th largest US food export.

Almonds have wonderful nutritional value.  They contain vitamins E, A and B, manganese and magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, and iron. The fats in almonds are mostly monounsaturated , which is the makeup of olive oil.   They are low in carbohydrates so for those watching their carb intake this is a popular snack.  Almond helps reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure and other heart issues.  Almonds have a sweet taste to them but do not contain all those unwanted sugars, which makes it great for those who suffer from diabetes.
Almond Butter

Almonds are a great alternative when maintaining your protein intake as they are high in protein.  Because protein takes longer for the body to absorb it will help your body maintain its energy level and control your metabolism.

Almonds are also good for your skin because of the vitamins E, A and B it contains.  These vitamins are great for damaged skin and signs of aging.  Almond Oil is good for all skin types.  It is light in nature and easily absorbs into the skin without clogging pores and does not leave an oily residue as it rehydrates the skin.  It contains high levels of oleic and a linoleic essential acid which helps the skin stay smooth and supple and restores the skins natural elasticity. Almond oil and ground almonds are great in facial/body scrubs since they help exfoliate the skin and replaces oils the skin needs to stay healthy. 

Different forms of almonds to buy.

  • Whole almonds, raw, roasted and salted – great for eating.
  • Almond slivers – great for cooking and baking.
  • Almond butter – nice change from peanut butter.
  • Almond oil – great for scrubs, creams and massage oils.
  • Almond flour – great for baking.
  • Almond milk – great for sauces or to drink as is.

Almond Oil
Make sure you are purchasing almonds/oil/butters that are fresh and organic.   Most grocery stores with a natural section carry almonds in bulk, which is less expensive and a better quality.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Buzz About Coconut Oil!

Coconut Oil is all the buzz these days and is gaining momentum in the culinary and health worlds.  Several years ago coconut oil got a bad rap when claims it increased cholesterol and had a negative effect on the body.  Much of that has now been disproved.

Coconut Oil has proven to be a heart healthy food that helps the body run smoother.  When consumed in moderation it aids the body in resisting viruses and bacteria that cause illnesses.  It helps fuel the hormones of thyroid and controls blood sugar.   Studies have shown those who take coconut oils see an improvements in their blood sugar levels.  When the thyroid functions properly it increases a person metabolism, energy and endurance.  Coconut oil has a saturated fat called lauric acid, a type of MCT (triglycerides). Lauric acid helps increases the good HDL cholesterol in the blood to help improve cholesterol ratio levels.  When the thyroid does not function properly it produces higher levels of cholesterol.

Coconut oil is great for the skin and hair.  It is able to penetrate deep into the skin naturally without any harmful chemicals.  It helps strengthen the skin and tissue while it removes the excess dead skin cells that make your skin feel rough and look flakey.  Many over the counter skin creams contain a great deal of water that give the appearance of moisturizing your skin along with many harmful chemicals. (See the 5 part series "Do you know what is in your skincare?")  It is ok to have water in a skin cream.  However it is important to know what kind of water is being used and that it is not the main ingredient. When the proper ratio is used with other oils it can help create a silky smooth lotion.  Make sure you are using a natural skincare cream or use coconut oil right out of the bucket!

Hair loves coconut oil!   It helps with dandruff and scalp flaking.  Many dandruff creams and psoriasis treatments contains coconut oil since it promotes healthy and shiny hair.  Coconut oil helps repair dry and damaged hair.  It also helps control frizzy/curly hair, which is what I have when the warm weather hits.

Here is a treatment my friend does nightly before going to bed.
  • Take small sections of your hair and rub in the coconut oil. Make sure the hair and scalp are coated evenly.  You do not need much!
  • Wrap your hair in a shower cap or plastic wrap.
  • Keep treatment on overnight.
  • Shampoo and condition as usual in the morning.
  • Repeat this process daily until your hair reaches the desirable look and feel of your hair.  It could take 1 – 2 months depending on how damaged the hair is.  Be patient… it will be worth it in the end!

You can also put a very small amount on your hair after styling.  Remember… a little goes a LONG way!

Allergies are considered to be rare with coconut oil.  However it is important to check with your doctor if you are concerned about an allergic reaction or are concerned about including it to your diet.  Remember you know your body.  It will tell you if it doesn’t like something.

Coconut Oil!!!!!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Circle Anu And Clairalience

The first package of goodies from Clairalience has been sent to Circle Anu in St Cloud Mn.  If the postman is correct the package should arrive on Thur.  We are very excited to be part of Circle Anu.  There is so much positive energy surround them!

If you havent been to Circle Anu (click on name to see their website) this is a great time to stop in and say "HI".  Check out the great things they have going on....

Belly Dance
Anu Tribe Dance Gatherings
Red Tent
Meditation Room
Book Clubs
New Moon Drum Circles
Reiki Healing
Discussion Groups
Class Gatherings
Holistic Parenting
Home School Groups
Wellness Living
Sage Womyn
Goddess Gatherings
Moon Celebrations

Now on the gift shelf you can find the following Clairalience items....

Sea Salt Soaps
Natural Soaps
Peppermint Lip Balms
Natural Lip Balms
Aloe Lotion Bars
Shea Lotion Bars
Shea Cream
Signature Cream

***Circle Anu . Holistic Wellness & Dance Center . 44 North 28th Ave suite M Saint Cloud, MN 56301 ~ 320.217.8584

Monday, May 6, 2013

What carrier oils are good for healthy skin?

I am always asked which carrier oils are the best to use for your skin.  A carrier oil is a vegetable oil produced from the fatty portion of seeds, kernels and nuts.  Each carrier oil offers a combination of therapeutic values.  Depending on your needs and how your skin reacts to the oil, will determine the value it can provide you.  There are many oils to pick from and a wide range in price. When deciding which one you want to use, make sure you are working with oils that are not overly refined because they will lose the healing properties.  

Here are a few I tend to like:
Hemp seed oil is anti-inflammatory and anti-aging, helps heal skin lesions, has antioxidants, prevents tissue damage, offers some protection against UV sun exposure and contains moisture balancing properties.  Hemp seed oil is 80% essential fatty acid, the highest amount of any other oil.  It contains the ideal ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6, which make your skin happy and leave it feeling soft.  Because hemp seed oil closely matches our own lipids, it is able to penetrate and lubricate the surface between each cell, allowing the essential fatty acids to enter our body.  For this reason hemp oil will not clog your pores like other oils, which makes it great for moisturizing your skin without a greasy build up.  All 20 amino acids are found in hemp.  This includes the nine our bodies cannot produce.  

Jojoba oil became important in the 1970s when whaling was banned and sperm oil became illegal to use.  The chemical composition of jojoba closely resembles that of the skin’s natural oil, so it is easily absorbed and rarely causes allergic reactions, even in the most sensitive individuals. Because it contains antibacterial qualities, it is a good choice for acne prone skin.  Jojoba oil has a very long shelf life, which makes it ideal for skin creams. 

Sweet almond oil is one of the most useful of oils. It contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and E, and is very rich in essential fatty acids. It is great for all skin types and softens and conditions, helping reduce wrinkles.  Sweet almond oil is high in vitamin E, which the skin loves.  Vitamin E is known to help skin damage from ultra violet lights, prevent cell damage, and help fight some skin disorders.  It is a favorite among massage therapist because it helps maintain the moisture in the skin, but also helps relieve muscle pain.  Almond oil is a great treatment for dry skin; it relieves itchiness, soreness, rashes, dryness, irritation and burns. 

Sunflower oil is deeply nourishing with high amounts of vitamin A, D and E. It is easily absorbed and helps skin regeneration, which makes it good for damaged skin.  It is also good for treating dry and mature skin.  Sunflower oil contains a very high amount of vitamin E, which helps prevent skin cell damage caused by ultraviolet light, or UVA, from the sun. Additionally, studies have shown that vitamin E may prevent scarring, smooth the appearance of existing wrinkles and generally improve the appearance and health of your skin.

Olive oil is highly compatible with our skin and is an excellent moisturizer.  The use of olive oil dates back 5,000 years and it is a favorite among soap and skin care product makers.  It aids in skin cell regeneration and cell membrane repair.  Olive oil is an effect treatment for skin and its elasticity.  It can be used to soften hands and feet, and is also great for scrapes and scars, particularly acne scarring.  Add a quarter cup to your bath or a small amount to your foot bath to relieve dry, itchy skin.   

There are so many more oils to pick from.  Depending on your price range and your intended use, you can pick from grapeseed, coconut, palm, avocado, apricot and pomegranate seed oils, and many, many more.  

Have fun experimenting to see which ones work best on your skin!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Hair Conditioner Bars

Need a little extra moisturizing for your hair?  These all natural conditioning bars are perfect for all hair types.   No chemicals to damage your hair, only natural ingredients to help  heal, moisturize, regenerate, and strengthen hair.    The natural ingredients used will not coat and weigh your hair down.   They are great for travelling. You will not have to worry about spills and messes.  Plus you will not have to worry about liquid restrictions when flying.

The Conditioner bars contain the following ingredients:
Incroquat BTM 50 & CR, Cetyl Alcohol, Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil, Cromoist, Honeyquat, Panthenol, Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Optiphen, Cetrimonium Chloride 

Peppermint: Peppermint Essential Oil

Citrus:  Sweet Orange, Grapefruit and Lime Essential Oil

Unscented: No essential oils used

Size: 2.5 oz bar

Conditioner Price

Shampoo Bars

Shampoo in a bar form that cleans and conditions your hair.   The bar makes thick cleaning suds that will not leave a residue.  Your hair will be left feeling clean, healthy and thick, while rising out of your hair completely.  They are great for travelling. You will not have to worry about spills and messes.  Plus you will not have to worry about liquid restrictions when flying.

The shampoo bars contain the following ingredients:
Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Palm Kernel Oil, Caster Oil, Eggs, Tussah Silk

Peppermint: Peppermint Essential Oil

Citrus:  Sweet Orange, Grapefruit and Lime Essential Oil

Unscented: No essential oils used

Size: 5-6 oz bar

Shampoo Prices

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Treating Your Skin with Care.

Caring for our skin is always hard at work.  Along with it being the largest organ, it also protects us in all our activities.  It is always undergoing change as we go about our day. The part of the skin we see every day is called the epidermis.  It is the thinnest of the three layers of skin.  There are five layers to the epidermis.  As the five layers develop, each one pushes up causing the top layer to flake off.  This process takes about two weeks.  Every minute we lose about 30,000 to 40,000 skin cells, which add up to nine pounds a year!

The second layer of skin is called the dermis, which contains nerve endings, blood vessels, oil glands and sweat glands. The nerve endings tell the brain what we are touching.

The third and bottom layer of the skin is called the subcutaneous.  It is mostly made of fat, which helps the body regulate its temperature and absorbs the shock when you bump yourself.

With all that the skin does for you, it is important to treat it well.  Just as it is important to be mindful of what you put in your body, it is important what you put on your skin.  You need to feed your body from within.  Processed food, fast food and those high in fructose play a factor in the appearance of your skin, and not in a good way.  

Everything we eat appears on our skin at some point.  If you eat junk food, it is easy to predict what your skin will look like.  The stress the chemicals play on your skin will show through.  It is hard to remove processed food from our diet, but in the end it will be easier than dealing with the aftermath of eating it.

Whether you think you have good skin or not, it is important to nourish it because of all the changes it goes through.   Avoid processed food and drink plenty of water.  Drinking a glass of water in the morning with a freshly squeezed lemon helps remove toxins from the blood and stimulates your digestive system.  Lemons are loaded with vitamin C, proteins, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and fiber.  All of these will give your skin a healthy glow.

Make sure you nourish and hydrate your skin from the outside as well.  Moisturizing daily is so important.  Find something that works for you; just make sure you read your labels.  Know what you are putting on your skin.  

Here are a few ingredients to stay away from …
  • Isopropyl Palmitate, Benzophenone-3, Isopropyl Myrstate, which can clog pores.
  • Triethanolamine, which is derived from ammonia.
  • Phenoxyethanol, which is a coal-tar ingredient. 
  • Any preservative that contains parabens.

Find a moisturizer that has ingredients you recognize:  shea butter, aloe, jojoba oil, hemp oil, coconut oil and a paraben-free preservative like optiphen.
Moisturizers come in different forms.  They are not just lotions or creams.  Sugar and salt scrubs are excellent moisturizers and wonderful exfolients.  Scrubs normally do not contain a preservative.  Another alternative is a lotion bar, which, like a scrub, does not contain a preservative.