Winter has a way of drying out even the youngest and most supple skin, but nobody likes walking around looking like an alligator…all scaly, itchy and dry. However, it’s about more than just vanity and comfort. It's
about your health!
Your skin is your best defense of infection, it absorbs moisture(keeping your body hydrated) and nutrition (this is why essential oils can works so well) and it plays a large role in your body’s ability to get rid of toxins (through sweat). For these reasons, it is important to keep you skin healthy and properly moisturized, without introducing any unwanted bad stuff (a.k.a . chemicals).
When I was younger, I was told to apply baby oil to my skin while still damp from a shower. This does indeed make your skin feel soft and moist; but in truth, it actually does more damage than good. Baby oil is mineral oil and mineral oil coats the skin and actually interferes with all of the skin’s functions, such as its ability to absorb nutrients and rid the body of toxins. Mineral oil actually prevents moisture absorption from the air and instead causes the outer layers of skin to draw moisture from the inner layers, which actually leads to unhealthy skin in the long run.
So are there better options? You bet there are. If you aren’t someone that wants to deal with homemade options, you can find sesame oil in the beauty aisle. Neutrogena has a nice one, although it does contain a fair amount of fragrance, so it’s probably not the best if you have really sensitive skin. Sesame oil feels similar to mineral oil, just a little lighter. Apply it to damp skin and it properly hydrates your skin, without clogging it all up…allowing your skin to do all its normal functions.
While a commercial sesame oil product is a good option, there are of course better ones. Rather than shop in the beauty aisle, take a walk over to the baking aisle. Here you will find 2 great options; olive oil and coconut oil. Both of these make great moisturizers and are cheaper in the long run. One important thing to note, the coconut oil found in the baking aisle is often solid at room temp, so you can melt some in the microwave or simply rub a small spoonful of it between your hands. Just like with the sesame oil, apply it when you first step out of the shower, before you towel off.
If you frequent a good herbal store, you can often find other all natural plant based oils/creams such as Jojoba oil or Shea butter. These are great options as well, but often just a little more expensive.
Give one of these a try…your skin will surely thank you for it! And check back soon, for some ideas on how to jazz up these oils!
This time of year, much of North America is experiencing drier and colder climate conditions. Those of us that live in the Northern half of the continent experience it even more, although this year has brought cold, dry and snowy weather to many areas that aren’t particularly used to it.
The result? Dehydration is spreading like wild fire and the annual epidemic of dehydration is upon us. I jest, but it is indeed an important issue to address.
Proper hydration is important for a number of reasons. Your body is mostly water, so it makes sense that becoming even slightly dehydrated will have an effect on how your body functions. Take a moment to think about how you have felt during the last couple of weeks…
-Have you been tired? Had a mild headache? Notice your skin is dry and flaky? Have you had any cold symptoms? Have you been moody? Have you lacked energy? Have you been constipated?
All of these are symptoms of mild dehydration. Annoying, but hardly life threatening. However, if you could feel better with just a couple small changes, why wouldn’t you?
And please don’t let me down play dehydration. More severe dehydration can be life threatening and even mild dehydration over a long period of time can cause significant issues such as high cholesterol, kidney stones and severe constipation.
So what can we do?
Here are 10 simple ways to stay hydrated:
1) Take a glass of water to bed with you. If you wake up in the middle of the night, sip some water. When you wake up in the morning, drink whatever is remaining. Often we start our day already dehydrated. This solves that problem.
2) Make breakfast healthy and hydrating. Start your day off with ½ a grapefruit. Grapefruit is very juicy, and that juice is filled with all sorts of great nutrition (and it tastes great too).
3) Lay off the caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it dehydrates you. I know it is unrealistic to ask most people to give up their daily caffeine…so I won’t do that. Simply drink a little less.
4) Drink herbal teas. Most herbal teas are caffeine free and are a welcoming treat when it’s cold and snowy outside! Maybe consider substituting some of your caffeinated drinks with herbal tea). If you don’t enjoy tea, try a cup of hot water with lots of lemon.
5) Eat soup. Another great way to stay warm and hydrated, a good soup can also be delicious. Consider making your own home-made soup or look for low sodium versions in the stores.
6) Make water delicious. If you aren’t a fan of plain ol’ water, jazz it up a bit. Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator and add cut up fruit and herbs to flavor it up. Some of my favorites: lemon & rosemary/ cucumber & mint/ melon, cucumber, strawberry.
7) Carry a water bottle with you at all times, so you can sip throughout the day.
8) Avoid long, hot showers. I know they feel great when it’s cold outside, but the hot water actually robs skin of moisture. Quick, warm showers are a much healthier option.
9) Moisturize your skin properly. I will have a whole post on this soon!!
10) Cover your skin when you are outside. The cold dry air of winter will suck your skin dry. Wear gloves to protect your hands, even when it’s not frigidly cold.
I’m sure there are more great ideas out there, but I think this is a good start. But now comes the important part. It is all well and good to read the list and say to yourself “oh yes, these are simple enough, I could do these”…you have to actually do them for them to work. So please, take another look at the list and pick 1 or 2 that you want to implement, and then take steps right now to make sure they happen. If you think, yes my hands are always dry and I often forget my gloves – go find your gloves and put them in your coat pockets. Find that big water pitcher and fill it up. Locate that water bottle your banks gave you when you opened a new account, stock your herbal teas etc. Just take one step to ensure you get back on the road to good hydration. Your body will thank you!
I look forward to chatting with you again, over a big glass of lemon-rosemary water! ;-)
In the effort to decrease our exposure to chemicals, many of us spend lots of money on organic foods…all in the effort of avoid pesticides and chemical fertilizers. However, one of the very first places you should look to decrease your chemical exposure is in your cleaning products.
Many household cleaners are full of chemicals that you really don’t want on your skin, in your lungs or in your food. Yes, I say in your food because the cleaners you spray all over your kitchen, surely end up in your food as well!
Even many of the cleaners marketed as “green” are still filled with things you don’t really want to be in contact with and they are often quite expensive. So what’s a person to do? Well, you can go crazy mixing up fancy home-made cleaning supplies if you are so inclined…and this can indeed be fun. However, you don’t have to run out and spend a lot of money on supplies, you can get started with just a few ingredients you probably have right in your kitchen!
The first and foremost number one cleaning ingredient is vinegar. I use this for everything! Next time you are in the grocery store, pick up a big gallon jug of white vinegar. The store brand is fine, no need to go fancy. For a couple bucks, you have a huge container of cleaning product! Many people worry about the smell…and yes, it does remind me of coloring easter eggs while I’m cleaning. However, when vinegar dries, it leaves behind NO SMELL. This seems to be the perfect time to point out that the “fresh” smell of most pre-made cleaners comes from chemicals. Real clean has no smell!!! But, if you want to add a little smell of freshness after cleaning, add a drop of lemon essential oil to a damp rag and wipe it over your kitchen counters, your refrigerator, or any surface area you want to freshen up.
So you have the vinegar, now what? Fill an old spray bottle (or buy a new one) almost to the top with vinegar, add just a drop or two of dish soap, a splash of water and you have a great all-purpose cleaner. You can even skip the dish soap if you want. I use this for my kitchen counters, my stove top, my refrigerator, my cutting boards, my toilets & sinks, mirrors, windows and even my floors.
For the tub, just sprinkle the tub with baking soda and then spray down with vinegar. The bubbling reaction and the grittiness of the baking soda provide a scratch free/scrubbing bubbles sort of action that is perfect for getting off that stubborn soap scum.
Getting ready to dust your wood furniture? Put away your can of pledge and simply take a rag, add a couple drops of olive oil and off you go. If you want to jazz it up, add a drop of lemon or orange essential oil, but it’s certainly not necessary!
Is your wooden cutting board stained up and a little nasty? You have to be very careful what you spray on your cutting board! A simple way to clean a stain is to sprinkle some salt on it, add a little lemon juice and scrub. If you are using a real lemon, toss it in your garbage disposal to freshen that up while you’re at it!
Need to polish up some silver? Use a paste of vinegar and baking soda. This will also work for bronze and copper and much better than the chemical tarnish removers that require gloves!!
After all this cleaning, your house probably just smells clean…like nothing. Before you even consider reaching for a can of air freshener, think for a moment what is in that can. Before you spray those chemicals into the air you breathe, consider how easy it would be to make your own air-freshener.
If you have a small spray bottle, simply add a splash of vodka, a few drops of essential oils and fill with water. Shake and spray. Don’t have any vodka? Use real vanilla extract – but beware not to spray too close to fabric.
Another option of smelling up your home (in a good way) is to take a tart warmer, and instead of adding a wax tart, just add water and a drop or two of essential oils.
Room smell option 3 – take a small pot of water, add orange peel, a good sprinkle of cinnamon and a few cloves. Your kitchen will smell delicious in no time. Or add lemon juice, lemon peel, or lemon essential oil for a fresh citrus scent. The possibilities are endless.
I hope I have inspired you to ditch the chemicals and try a simply, healthy and chemical free cleaning experience! Your home and your health will thank you for it!
Tracy Martorana is a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, Meditation Instructor and Herbalist...hoping to inspire you to live your life from a place of Holistic Wellness.