Hair styling products are a must for me. in the last newsletter I wrote about my Leo Sayer tendencies…maybe one day I will do a video showing before and after styling shots…on the other hand that is probably something no-one needs to see! Of one thing I am sure, I love that I can find a natural alternative to synthetic hair styling products. I this video blog I discuss two products, the Third Stone Botanicals Hair Wax I use and Nature’s Symphony Pure Lustre, a product Natarsha our center manager uses.
I would love to hear the products that you use, natural or not and the results you are after for your hair.Twitter It!
On the last day of my holiday recently I suffered a head injury. I banged my head against a tile bench top while cleaning. In my dazed and bleeding state I then worked out that cleaning and me were not a good match…but then that’s nothing new! After a few days the egg on my forehead went down and I was left with a nasty gash. I started applying manuka honey & calendula balm (Calm Magic Balm) and 10 days later my forehead is almost clear with no likelihood of a scar. I am very pleased and now carry my Magic Balm with me everywhere. Below I have written about the benefits of honey and calendula as two wonderful healing agents.
Effective healing of a wound is the primary concern following injury or surgery. Wound healing is a complex process and supporting the natural regeneration process of skin cells is important to minimise or eliminate scarring and to help heal and repair damage. Wound management begins with ensuring lack of post-trauma infection and the use of the most effective products formulated to help heal and repair damaged skin. Topical support for wound healing is one way to ensure an effective healing process and minimise the risk of scarring. Even mild cuts and abrasions will benefit from the use of medical grade honey and calendula.
For centuries, calendula has been used to treat many types of skin conditions. A systematic review of the use of calendula in wound treatment concluded that it is still one of the most favourable wound healing agents to date. The topical application of calendula is excellent for all stages of wound healing. Initially it prevents tissue degeneration and slows bleeding allowing the body to start the wound healing process. In addition, calendula has an antimicrobial effect and helps reduce excessive inflammation which if prolonged can delay wound closure and increase pain. Once wound healing is underway, calendula stimulates the regeneration of tissues, increases wound strength and improves wound contraction. Generally calendula is applied to the open wound as a cream.
Of significant note in recent wound management techniques is the use of medical grade antibacterial honey, particularly for chronic and poorly healing wounds such as ulcers. Not all types of honey are effective for wound healing and the differences related to the floral source. Manuka honey from New Zealand along with honey from the Leptospermum tree found in Australia, are considered the most effective medical honeys. Similarly to calendula antibacterial honey is beneficial for wound healing because it has such a broad range of therapeutic effects. It offers wound protection by proving a physical barrier to antibiotic resistant strains of microorganisms thereby preventing cross infection. It promotes clean wounds by removing necrotic (dead) tissue and debris. Finally it promotes wound healing by maintaining a moist wound environment and encouraging tissue granulation. Medical honeys are available in typical honey form which is ideal for oral use or incorporated into creams or lotions and even bandages for easier application to external wounds.
As part of my healing process I used Calm Magic Balm which contains 16% medical grade Manuka Honey. I also use it at night as a lip balm. It keeps my lips moist and tastes great!
Read more about Calm Magic BalmTwitter It!
This blog is unrelated to skin health and more about total body health. I have had the flu and so have been using the principle of “food as medicine” particularly with grated ginger, hot water, lemon and honey. The other reason I thought of these ingredients is that a friend dropped around some food for me (bless!) and he used cinnamon sticks in a savory meal. It was fantastic. So below are some tips about some common kitchen spices and their medicinal benefits. I have also put one of my favorite winter dishes at the end.
This spice comes from the underground rhizome of the ginger plant. Traditionally, ginger has been used to remedy symptoms arising from
gastrointestinal issues. It works primarily by relaxing and soothing the intestinal tract. Ginger is also warming to the digestive system so useful for sluggish digestion.
Research has shown that ginger effectively reduces all symptoms associated with motion sickness including dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and cold sweating. This action is also helps to safely reduce nausea in pregnancy. The good thing is that ginger is extremely safe, and only a small dose is required.
Ginger has also shown a reduction of inflammation and swelling in trials for arthritis. Regular cooking with ginger will help reduce generalised inflammation within the body.
Fresh Ginger contains more of the anti-inflammatory gingerol compounds than dried so use fresh ginger in cooking rather than dried ginger. Used in tea, mixing the ginger with honey and lemon juice, its pungent effect may help to relieve sinus congestion and assist with digestion.
From the root of the Curcuma longa plant comes Tumeric. Traditionally called “Indian saffron” because of its deep colour Tumeric has a history of use as a spice, therapeutic remedy and clothes dye.
The deep yellow or orange flesh of Tumeric are largely responsible for its
therapeutic effects. The active constituent in Tumeric is known as curcumin and it has shown in many studies to have a powerful antiinflammatory effect. When compared to drugs such as hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone, curcumin has exerted similar anti-inflammatory activity without the same risk of side effects.
Recent research Curcumin has shown to be a safe and effective treatment for inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. This effect has been seen in doses as low as the amount required for a good curry!
Another great benefit of including Tumeric in cooking regularly is that it has a powerful detoxifying effect. It works by enhancing the liver’s ability to detoxify chemicals.
Keep fresh Tumeric in the fridge and the powdered form in a cool, dark cupboard. Use it for soups, curries and bean dishes such as Kedgeree (see recipe below). Be warned, Tumeric will stain if it comes into contact with your hands or clothes.
The berries of the pepper plant (Piper nigrum) are picked when half ripe and dried to create Black Peppercorns. Pepper has a stimulating effect on the
digestive system which is why it is often added as a spice to foods. It works by stimulating the taste buds which has the effect of increasing hydrochloric acid (HCl) secretion in the stomach. An increase in HCl leads to more effective breakdown of foods and therefore increased bioavailability of nutrients. For this reason, pepper has been used in some traditional Ayurvedic herbal combinations to increase the absorption of the other herbs.
Black pepper also acts to reduce pain and gas build up in the gut which is likely also a result of increased HCl production. The hot taste of pepper has the effect of increasing sweating which promotes toxic elimination through the skin.
Pepper used to add flavour to food however, as with everything, too much of a good thing can be detrimental. A good guide is that you can taste the heat of added pepper but your mouth doesn’t feel hot or burnt.
Cinnamon is a well known spice with an extensive history of use as a pungent and sweet flavouring agent as well as a medicine. It is the inner brown bark of the cinnamon tree, which is available as a form known as a quill or as ground powder.
New research has shown that cinnamon may significantly help people with
type 2 (non-insulin dependent) diabetes improve their ability to regulate their blood sugar.
Studies have found that cinnamon improved the ability of fat cells in diabetics to respond to insulin and greatly increased glucose uptake by the cells.
In a human clinical trial published in Diabetes Care, 2003 volunteers with type 2 diabetes were given doses of cinnamon powder, in capsules after meals. All volunteers in the trial responded to the effects of cinnamon with an average blood sugar level of 20% less than the control placebo group, some even achieving normal blood sugar levels.
The results of this study demonstrate that intake of 1 (equivalent to ¼ – ½ teaspoon daily), 3, or 6 g of cinnamon per day reduces serum glucose, triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes. The long term implications of this study suggest that regular inclusion of cinnamon in the diet of people with type 2 diabetes will reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Cinnamon research in a completely different area has also yielded positive results, this time for brain function. In one study chewing cinnamon flavoured gum or just smelling cinnamon enhanced study participants’ brain activity by improving cognitive processing. The specific outcomes were that tasks related to attention processes, virtual recognition memory, working memory, and visual-motor speed were all improved.
Cinnamon can be added to cereal, shakes, stewed apple and other sweets as well as savoury dishes such as lamb casseroles.
Like Tumeric and Black pepper, cumin seeds have a beneficial effect on the digestion. Cumin works to stimulate the secretion of pancreatic enzymes,
compounds essential for good digestion and nutrient absorption. It is no surprise that these three spices are so commonly used together to create delicious dishes that have the added benefit of supporting the digestion.
Add Cumin to curries, bean and lentil dishes, vegetables and dukkah.
Kedgeree is a spicy flavoured lentil dish without the heat of a curry. It is light enough to eat in spring and summer and contains lots of delicious spices.
• 1 cup of mung bean lentils
• 4-6 cups of water
• 1 onion
• 1 teaspoon minced garlic
• 1 teaspoon minced ginger
• 2 teaspoons coriander powder
• ¼ teaspoon astafoetida powder
• 1 teaspoon tumeric powder
• 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
• 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
• 2 tablespoons of ghee
• 1 cup of chopped, mixed vegetables eg. broc, cauliflower, carrot, Brussel sprouts, zucchini, eggplant etc
• Salt and pepper to taste (usually a good dash of each)
• Fresh coriander as garnish & yoghurt
• Soak mung bean lentils overnight in water. Scrunch them in the water before rinsing to get rid of the woody flavour.
• Put the lentils in 4-6 cups of water with the ginger, garlic, bay leaf and spice powders.
• Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add the tomatoes and other vegies. Cook for half an hour.
• In the meantime chop the onions and fry in the ghee until almost soft and clear. Add the mustard and cumin seeds to the onion and ghee and fry for an additional 5 minutes on a low heat. Make sure the seeds don’t burn.
• Add the ghee mix to the lentil & vegie mix. Take care as the fat hitting the water may spit. Stir through.
• Serve into bowls. Top with yoghurt and fresh coriander leaves.
When it comes to shampoo it seems that bubbles are what counts. Why? Because the bubbles show that the shampoo is cleaning our hair effectively.
Bubbles are created when the surface tension of the water is broken by a surfactant and air is trapped within the film of the soap. Unfortunately while bubbles may represent clean hair, more bubbles aren’t necessarily better for our hair or scalp. Some of the surfactants used in shampoos have the potential for scalp and skin irritation and hair damage.
We use many surfactants in our daily life, soaps and detergents, cleaning compounds, shampoos and a host of personal hygiene products. This article will look at two commonly used surfactants used in shampoo namely Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, and Decyl Glucoside. Both serve the same function in removing oil and dirt from skin and hair and being the base on which the hair cleaning products are built. That is where the similarity ends.
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate other wise known as SLS and other Sulphates are the most commonly used ingredients in shampoo. They are cheap, easy to formulate and provide plenty of bubbles and foam that we expect and like. Unfortunately this synthetic surfactant is the cause of many of the hair, scalp and skin problems that occur.
A study of the Material Safety Data Sheet of SLS provides us information about the hazard status of this product. It is moderately toxic and its contact hazard is also moderate however the issue is repeated exposure, such as regular use of a shampoo or body wash, which can lead to skin issues such as dermatitis. It has been used in medicine as a standard, or as a scale, to measure skin irritancy in comparing other chemicals. The irritation occurs even at concentrations of 0.5%.
Originally from plant origin, the starting material for this surfactant is Lauric acid, which is a coconut oil fatty acid. While the starting material may be
natural (it also may be synthetic), during the conversion process to SLS, petrochemicals are added which means that the end product is nowhere near natural and may also retain contaminants such as 1,4, dioxane, a potential carcinogen. While the levels are minuscule, the potential for toxicity arises with repeated exposure.
From an environmental perspective, SLS is not biodegradable which may present wider issues for the ecology of our waterways.
In some soaps and shampoos the concentration of SLS may be as high as 30%. This is cause for alarm, considering the risk of dermatitis and skin irritation due to exposure at such high concentrations. In children this threat is enhanced due to the softer skin and it is advisable to look for SLS free products and products using mild surfactants.
In addition to the direct contact effects of SLS, many shampoos contain nitrate compounds. These compounds can react with SLS with the potential to form carcinogenic nitrates. Given the potential, however small for the creation of carcinogenic compounds, it is advisable to choose personal hygiene products that do not contain SLS.
Glycosides and poly glycosides, also called saponins are present in most
plants. Some of these saponins are toxic however there are many saponins which are safe for topical or medicinal applications and even for human consumption as food. A wide variety of species, their geographical distribution, their applications and use by mankind are documented. Soap Bark (Quillaya), Soap Nut, Yucca Plant, Soap Wort, Horse Chestnut, Bracken and Soap Lily are a few examples of soap plants, from different parts of the world
Decyl Glucoside is a surfactant derived from two natural products, decyl alcohol and glucose. Decyl alcohol (Deca means ten) is produced from Capric acid. Capric acid itself is a fatty acid with a ten member carbon chain and is a constituent fatty acid of coconut and Palm oils (Coconut sources are preferable as the palms are sustainable). Capric acid is present to the extent of around 7% and 4% in coconut and palm oils respectively. Glucose, the other ingredient is produced from corn, maize and other starch based products.
It is important to clarify that a natural starting material does not necessarily equal a natural ingredient at the end of the manufacturing process. As pointed out with SLS, the addition of synthetic or petrochemical ingredients during the process of manufacture can completely change the starting material. While decyl glucoside is similarly changed from it starting material during manufacture, it does not carry the same risks of contamination as SLS so the end material is a very mild nonionic surfactant produced from corn, maize and other starch based products. Decyl glucoside is classified as ether in chemical terminology. It is produced by reacting decyl alcohol with glucose in the presence of an acid. The product is then purified and extraneous ingredients and reactants removed. Purified decyl glucoside is a liquid, which dissolves in water in any proportion.
Due to its mild nature on skin and its bio degradability, it is used in
shampoos, hair creams, lotions and other personal hygiene products including baby products. Generally decyl glucoside is much more expensive and labour intensive to produce and described as “tricky” to formulate with. Many products use decyl glucoside as a primary or secondary surfactant. It is a good emulsifier and has excellent foaming and lather properties. For this reason, the lack of potential for irritation and the absence of potential carcinogicity, decyl glucoside is a better choice in personal care items than SLS.
Some of the characteristics of Decyl Glucoside are
Decyl glucoside is by no means the only alternative to SLS however it is more and more commonly seen in shampoo and other personal care items and when it comes to choosing what to use on a daily basis, the more you know about the ingredients, the better. It also creates lots of lovely bubbles so lather away!
Author: Maree Watson, hairdresser and creator of the Eko Organica range of hair care. Edited by Ananda Mahony, naturopath and skin specialist.Twitter It!
Over the weekend I went to Panyiri, the Greek Festival in Brisbane. I ate so many honey puffs, I am sure I looked like one by the time I left. Yum! There
were people from all ages at the event and lots of teenagers dressed to the nines. One thing I did notice and just have to comment on is the number of teenage girls and young women to wearing foundation that too dark for their natural skin tone. Correctly colour matched foundation can hide flaws and smooth out skin tone. By contrast, foundation in the wrong shade can create a sharp contrast between the skin tone of the face when compared to the neck and body. It can also leave obvious foundation lines along the jaw and hair-line.
The reason I comment is that so many of these young women have gorgeous skin and it is such a shame to see it being masked by layers of the wrong colour foundation in an attempt, I can only think, to look more tanned. So this blog looks at some of the myths associated with choosing the correct coloured foundation and how to choose the best shade for your skin.
1. Skin Tone
It is important to have an idea of your underlying skin tone so that you choose foundation that suits. For instance, yellow toned foundation makes me look like I am about to be sick which isn’t a look I aim for.
On their website, Lavera describes how to work out your skin tone:
If you belong to the cool types, your skin has a cool, bluish foundation tone. The hair has a cool ash tone and can also range from blonde to dark brown. A simple test: Place a silver-coloured cloth under your face this allows your complexion to glow, whereas a gold-coloured cloth makes the skin look tired. If you belong to the cooler type, these colours, for example, will suit you: black, light grey, pink, cold rose, lilac, claret, ice blue, marine, silver, mint, stone grey
If you belong to the warm types, your complexion has a yellow – golden foundation tone. The hair always has a warm gold shimmer or honey tone and can range from middle blonde to gold-brown, from red to brown. Your personal test: Hold a gold-coloured cloth under your chin – if your complexion appears noticeably fresher, you belong to the warmer type. In contrast, a silver-coloured cloth makes you appear pale and washed-out. If you belong to the warmer type, these colours for example, will suit you: tomato, chocolate brown, cream, salmon, apricot, olive, brick red, orange, moss green.
2. Testing Foundation
The most commonly myth about choosing foundation is that you can match it to the back of your hand or your wrist. If you hold up the back of your hand to your face you will see that they are quite different in tone and colour. Often hands have more sun damage and so the skin is darker than facial skin.
To test your foundation you should do so along the jaw line as this will give the best indication of your skin tone. You have to have a clean face to test foundation so don’t try and test over your existing foundation shade. Another no-no is trying to match to your foundation bottle. Try it on your skin. Foundation can look very different in a pallet or a bottle than it does on your skin.
3. Matching to your neck
Now this is controversial as most make up artists will tell you to make sure your make up matches the skin tone of your neck as well as your face. However in Australia many women have sun damage on the sides of their necks, which means that the skin on your neck may not be the same tone as the skin on your face. Match to your jawline first, then to your neck if you can.
4. Fake Tan or Vampires
I often see young women using very dark foundation in an attempt to match
the fake tan on their bodies. This may be ok within the first few days of having the tan applied but after a week or so the foundation starts to look too dark. The alternative is to have fake tan lightly applied to your face and forego wearing any foundation at all. You can apply some bronzer or blush to give you colour which will give a more natural look. Or have two shades of foundation, one for use when tanned and one for use when your skin is natural.
The vampire look is another mistake often made and one that I have been guilty of in the past. It may not be immediately noticeable at first but will show up dramatically in photos. So if you see a photo of yourself looking like you have just popped out of a coffin for a midnight feast, time to change your make up.
5. The Eyes Have it
Another popular trend is to use light concealer around the eyes and then plenty of darker foundation or bronzer over the rest of the face. This look is fine if you want to look like you have been sun bathing in your sunglasses. Otherwise, match your concealer to your make up as well using the same techniques discussed above.
6. Professional Help
If you still feel that you need assistance with choosing a foundation shade, do yourself a favour and have your foundation shade colour matched by a cosmetics consultant. Drop into Vitale and we will happily test both Mineral or Natural Liquid foundations for you.
If you have a story about the wrong foundation or have had a positive experience please let me know.Twitter It!
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