Best All Natural Facial Cleanser

I have affiliate links on this website, this means if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.  My reviews are based on my own experience and/or research, and I will never (ever) recommend a poor quality product or create a false review to make sales.  You can rest assured I truly intend to have your best interests in mind.

wash hands

In an effort to find the best all natural facial cleanser, I searched the internet for cleansers that met my strict requirements – as natural and safe as possible, preferably organic, responsibly made (cruelty free), not too harsh, good consistency (not too watery), decent scent, not too expensive, and, well, not icky.  There are certainly more cleansers out there that you could try than those listed below, but I am only reporting on those from companies which I have made previous purchases and know that I can trust.  As you will see, even when you have a less than perfect experience, you want to know they stand behind their promises.

My #1 Choice for Best All Natural Facial Cleanser

Christina Moss Naturals Organic Facial Wash

4 oz.

$22.99

This cleanser is for all skin types, it is a clear formula, has a thicker, more concentrated consistency (a little really does go a long way), and it has a slightly medicinal scent.  It works into a very nice lather and removes make number oneup with ease (I can see it swirling down the drain when I rinse).  Ladies (and gents), as you will see when reading further, this is important to me.

I had a difficult time picking my number one choice because I kept going back and forth between this cleanser and my second choice below by PuraVeda.  I finally decided which one came in first for me when I ran out of the product.  When the tube of facial wash was all gone and I had to use the other cleansers exclusively, I missed this one the most (and quickly reordered).  Why?  It is a personal choice, really.

I was enticed by the scent from the other cleansers, the scent on this one is nothing special, but I wanted something that left my face feeling completely clean.  Some cleansers will advertise that your face will feel moisturized when your done washing.  Sounds nice, right?  By the end of the day, the oils from my skin have mixed with my makeup and I’m ready to scrub my face clean (and change into my T-shirt and jammie pants!!).

When I use a “moisturizing cleanser”, especially one that is thick and creamy, it does not easily rinse off with water.  And, I’m sorry, but I’m not willing to add another step by first wiping my face with cotton pads.  I’m too tired/ lazy/cheap…pick one.  That means I have to keep shifting the washcloth around to wipe the mess from my face…and then my washcloth is covered in a slick of old makeup goop.  Eww.  I want my face to feel fresh, clean, and soft with no residue, and no worries that I’ve left any makeup on my face.  So, like I said, a personal choice, but nonetheless important to me.  If you want a dewier feel when you are done, keep reading.

My #2 Choice (but sometimes #1)

PuraVeda Organics Calendula (Vata/Normal)

4 oz.

$31.95

This cleanser is for Normal to Dry Skin and has a gel-like consistency.  The scent reminds me of spring when it has just rained and the air is sweet with a slightly floral scent (bird chirping…).  It works into a decent lather, better when you use more product.  It does remove makeup, but it requires a little work with a washcloth to be sure it has been completely number tworemoved from your face (I do not see as much makeup swirling down the drain when rinsing).

This one was a very close second to my #1 choice, as a matter of fact I kept going back and forth between this one and Christina Moss’ Organic Facial Wash and will probably continue to use both.  This cleanser will leave your face feeling more moisturized/less dry when you’re done (great for the winter months or drier climates). The other reason this was not my first choice is because it is more expensive.  However, it is 100% organic and 100% Ayurvedic. Most cleansers will include organic ingredients, but cannot say they are 100% organic, so that makes this cleanser pretty darn special.

My #3 Choice

100% Pure Argan Oil Creamy Cleanser

3.4 oz

$37.00

This cleanser is for Dry Skin, it is a milky white formula, with a thick and rich consistency.  The scent is sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows…ah, I mean, it is heavenly, a citrus scent (think creamsicle) that makes me smile.  Why third instead of first or second?  Well, it’s the most expensive one, and I think it leaves a bit of a residue on my skin, not unpleasant or sticky, just something is there.  And it does not rinse as easily as Christina Moss Facial Wash.  In other words, I don’t see as much makeup swirling down the drain with rinsing, and it requires a little work with the washcloth.

I will say that my skin feels soft after each use and because it is for dry skin, it does the job without being harsh.  Lately I have been using it in the shower in the morning, I apply the cleanser, massage it in or use my facial brush, and then lightly rub it off using a washcloth under the water.  Though this is not my first or second choice, I would consider buying this one again, and according to the reviews on the 100percentpure.com website, 93% of those who have used it are very satisfied.  And that scent…mmmmm.

My #4 Choice

100% Pure Fermented Rice Water Cleanser

3.4 oz

$32

This cleanser is designed for all skin types, it is a clear formula, meant to brighten the skin.  The scent is somewhat medicinal, maybe smells like sake?  Those who have rated this product on the 100percentpure.com website have shared similar experiences as mine, yet over 75% of the people who tried it were very satisfied.  That being said, I have to say my experience with the product was disappointing.

First, the product has a very slippery texture, second, it feels more like you are applying oil to your face rather than a cleanser, and while it most definitely moisturizes, I do not believe it washes away a whole lot of impurities.  After using the product more than once, including very vigorous rubbing and working it into my skin, some of my foundation and blush was still left on my face, as evidenced by the makeup showing up on many cotton swabs that I used with toner after washing.  I gave up on this cleanser after a few tries because I had to rewash my face every time.  But there is a good ending to this story…read on.

I called the company and told them I was unhappy with the product and they were true to their satisfaction guarantee.  I was able to purchase a different cleanser and simply pay the difference (see Argan Oil cleanser above).  We are all different, and what I like, you may not…so you want to know that a company is going to stand behind their products.  I am proof that they will.  How refreshing!

Conclusion

So there you have it.  Even if you decide one of these products is not quite right for you, please check out the websites to see if they carry another product that meets your needs.  If you decide to make a purchase, yes, I will make a little money on the sale, but if you do not, that’s okay, please at least consider buying all natural products from another company you trust.  If you do make a purchase, or if you find a cleanser with all natural ingredients that you love, please share your comments below.  Now go wash your face!

 

 

 

 

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All Natural Homemade Body Butter Recipes

I really do like lotions. I have usually thought of body butters as winter products, for those especially cold, dry, itchy-skin days. However, after doing some tinkering on my own, I have learned to appreciate both. To be honest, this post originally started as a resource for homemade lotion recipes, read about my post “Homemade Lotion Recipes – What You Need to Know“, but it soon turned into an article about homemade body butter recipes.

Why?

Body Butter is Better – Butter Me Up Baby!

Homemade body butter recipes lack one ingredient that makes them the better choice – water.

Lotions usually contain water, or aloe vera or even goat’s milk, and these ingredients breed bacteria, mold, and yeast. So. If you want to whip up these types of recipes that will last more than a few days, then you will have to consider adding in preservatives. And lotions are the result of combining oil and water, so you need an emulsifier to make that magic happen.

As a result of learning these important rules of safety in making my own homemade lotions, I realized that I would have to buy these additional ingredients online simply to try out a recipe. At the time, I was not willing to purchase all natural preservatives and emulsifiers, so I went looking for body butters instead, after all this was supposed to be fun, not a science experiment!

When I switched over to looking for homemade body butter recipes, I was relieved. Trust me, the hardest part is picking out a butter or two and an oil or two, easy peasy!

giggling girls

Slather It On and Make Your Skin Giggle

Homemade body butter recipes are better suited to a longer shelf life because they are anhydrous (without water). But because of this quality, they are harder to distribute evenly across your skin. But don’t worry, I’ve got the solution.

The key to using body butters is to start with damp skin, like right out of the shower. If you don’t, then it tends to cling to one spot. When I step out of the shower, I simply leave some areas that I do not dry off with the towel so there is still some water on my skin. Then I scoop out some body butter (with a dry hand or scoop—remember, no water should get into the container), rub in all over my hands, pat it all over my damp skin, then just start rubbing it in as you would with lotion. It takes a couple of passes to distribute evenly, certainly a little more “work” than using a lotion, but definitely worth the effort. Your skin will giggle and you will feel pampered [insert sigh here…aaaaaahh].

For those times you need to moisturize during the day, just swipe your hands through running warm water and dampen your skin before using the body butter. And if you are looking for a way to lightly moisturize but still use body butter, just use less butter and more water, no problem!

Now let’s get into basic recipe ingredients for making your own. All you are going to need are one or two solid butters and one or two oils, you can also add essential oils if you prefer to add fragrance with therapeutic benefits (I highly recommend this extravagance).

Wait. No emulsifiers? Nope!

No preservatives? Nope! Like I said, easy peasy.

First I will explain the possible butters and oils and their many unique benefits so you can decide which ones are right for you. Then I’ll give you some links to recipes so you can get started on one that works for you.

body butter

Butters Worth Spreading

Raw Shea Butter is one my favorite ingredients for body butters or just straight out of the jar. Why? Because as you can read from one of my previous posts “Shea Butter In Lotion“, it has some amazing properties. Shea butter contains Vitamins A and E, and fatty acids, and research has shown it can reduce inflammation, minimize wrinkles, hold in moisture, help with blemishes, and the list goes on. The only downside is that it has a definite earthy scent that some people do not like, however, like most scents, it dissipates over a few minutes so I find it does not bother me. You can buy refined shea butter, but the advocates of raw shea butter will tell you that the refining process will remove many of the healing properties.

Cocoa Butter has been used many years as a great moisturizer, and it, too, has many proven health benefits. Cocoa butter comes from the very same cocoa beans used to make chocolate (now you are speaking my language!!). I found a great resource explaining the benefits of cocoa butter from Dr. Axe’s website as well as research articles on PubMed. Cocoa butter has been proven to heal and soothe damaged skin, it can be used to heal burns and rashes, and it can fight the signs of aging by improving skin elasticity. Cocoa butter is a very solid substance, so it is often mixed with other butters so that the end result is a smoother product that is easier to spread. Though I have not yet tried making my own body butter with cocoa butter, I can promise you this one is on my to-do list.

Mango Butter, is a “newcomer” to the body butter party. The butter is extracted from the pod of the fruit and is fast becoming a popular ingredient for the skin care industry. Why? Several research articles I found on PubMed state that due to the high demand and low production of cocoa from aging plantations and crop disease, they began looking for alternatives to cocoa butter with similar healing properties. Mango butter has proven to be a great choice because of its antimicrobial activity and anti-inflammatory characteristics. Research has shown it is an excellent alternative because it contains properties that are proven to heal and protect the skin, significantly reduce fine lines and wrinkles, stop itching, and reduce inflammation. Again, this one is on my to-do list. So many options, so little time.

oils and herbs

Oils to Smooth and Soothe

The Solid (but Slippery) Truth About Coconut Oil

One of the homemade recipes I tried included coconut oil, and you should give it serious consideration as one of your ingredients, but it will make the end result greasier. Don’t worry, it will still be absorbed into your skin, just give a few minutes. I am a huge fan of its healing properties, so much that I wrote a post that details its wonderful benefits “The Benefits of Coconut Oil on the Skin“. In a (coco)nutshell, coconut oil helps provide a protective barrier on the skin, moisturizes, heals atopic dermatitis, promotes wound healing, displays antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal activities, and protects the skin from UV radiation. Yeah, it’s special. I’ve been told that if you add about a tablespoon of arrowroot powder to a recipe that includes coconut oil, it will cut down on the grease-factor. Hey, it’s worth a try!

Next up are oils. You can choose one or more oils to add to your body butter. It’s all a matter of what you have on hand, and of course, your personal preference. These are the most popular ones recommended in homemade body butter recipes…and (of course) they come with benefits!!

  • Almond – has anti-aging properties, acts as a skin barrier/repair
  • Argan – acts as a skin barrier, improves elasticity, works as an anti-inflammatory, aids in wound healing, possibly helps with skin cancer
  • Avocado – aids in wound healing, has possible anti-inflammatory effects
  • Jojoba – acts as a skin barrier/repair, works as an anti-inflammatory, performs as an antioxidant, aids in wound healing, has anti-aging properties, has possible anti-bacterial effects

I think the shining stars are Argan and Jojoba, don’t you?

recipes

Homemade Body Butter Recipes – Let’s Whip It Up

You can pick from the Basic Recipe or browse the websites from the links below to choose one of the homemade body butter recipes that speak to you.

THE BASIC RECIPE

½ cup of one butter – Shea, Cocoa, Mango
½ cup Coconut Oil…or…2+ Tbl of any oil
10-20 drops of your favorite essential oil(s)
(See “Directions” below the links for instructions)

LINKS TO AMAZING RECIPES (not printed here to abide by their Terms of Use):

DIRECTIONS:

Most of these recipes are made the same way – the secret is using a double boiler. First add the solid butter(s) and any beeswax pastilles (if any), stir until it becomes liquid, then add in the oil(s) and essential oils (if any), and mix with a spoon. Next, pour the mixture into a shallow pan and let it cool (you can add the mixture to the freezer to speed up the process, about 15 minutes should do it). You want the mixture to almost harden around the edges and become soft but “set” in the middle. Then scoop it out and put into a bowl, and whip it up with a mixer (hand held or counter top) to the desired consistency.

Final Notes for Body Butter Success

  • Body Butters should be stored in a container with a lid, most people recommend a glass jar with a screw top lid.
  • Make sure you do not allow water to get into the jar or at any time when you enjoy using your body butter to avoid bacterial growth.
    applying lotion to legs
  • Once you get the hang of making your own homemade body butters using the above recipes as a guide, you can swap out the butters to mix things up. For example, instead of ½ cup of shea butter, you can try ¼ cup shea butter and ¼ cup cocoa butter, and try making similar changes to the oils.
  • If you want less greasy body butter, choose one without coconut oil, or consider adding 1 tablespoon of arrowroot powder to the recipe (some people use 1 tablespoon of beeswax pastilles instead).

Ready? Let me know how you do and if you have perfected your own special recipe that you’d like to share. Now go out there and whip up your own amazing jar of body butter heaven!

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Homemade Lotion Recipes – What You Need to Know

I’ve usually considered myself a lotion girl. I like body butters, but have preferred lotions because they spread easily (I always feel like I’m in a hurry) and lotions seem to be better suited to all types of weather. So I went on a quest to find homemade lotion recipes. If you are looking for body butter recipes, you can check out my other post “All Natural Homemade Body Butter Recipes“.  What you will find here is an education on what you need to know to make your own homemade lotion recipes, and several links to some websites with formulas. I did not include specific step-by-step instructions, as you will see, it can get complicated.

oil and water

The Science of Making Homemade Lotions – Emulsifiers

If you really have your heart set on making your own lotion, then there are a couple of things you have to consider. Lotions have a thinner consistency because they contain water, which is why they spread so wonderfully. But you must know that because of water, lotions can breed bacteria, so unless you add a preservative, you must use them within a few days, otherwise, you run the risk of spreading contaminated lotion all over your body (and risk getting sick). Don’t worry, I’ll cover all natural preservatives you can use later.

Lotions also contain one or more oils to moisturize your skin. However, in order to bring oil and water together, you have to add an emulsifier or they will separate (think making your own salad dressing at home). What emulsifier can you use?

Most recipes for homemade products say to use beeswax. You can purchase a block of beeswax and shave as much as beeswaxneeded or use beeswax pastilles (pellets). That being said, in the natural/organic skin care world, they do not consider beeswax an emulsifier at all. That’s not to say it is not a good ingredient to include in your recipe. Oh no, it most definitely has excellent healing and soothing properties, but to rely on it as an emulsifier may be why several of the comments I have read from homemade lotion blogs state they could not get their product to come together, it remained a gloppy mess, or it soon separated like a bottle of salad dressing. What else is there?

One blog I read endorsed the idea of using a pinch of borax to help the solution emulsify. Borax, though considered “natural” is a known carcinogenic and must be used very cautiously. Uh, no thanks. Another option is emulsifying wax. That, too, is a little controversial. As I originally reported in my post “The Top 10 Ingredients in Lotion to Avoid”, emulsifying wax can be produced via a plant or petroleum based wax and requires the use of certain chemicals in its production that may be considered questionable (Polysorbate 60), some companies of all natural/organic products will not use it, while others consider it to be perfectly safe based on their source and/or low concentration level.

I searched for additional sources of all natural and/or organic emulsifiers and I found a website that is actually an online school called Formula Botanica. They discuss four natural emulsifiers you can buy such as Vegetal/Montanov 68 and Xyliance. I would consider trying one of these if I were to start making my own lotions on regular basis. But there is still one more ingredient needed to make a safe lotion – a natural preservative. Does that exist? Yes it does!

Using Natural Preservatives – Don’t Miss This Critical Step

If you are like most people, you will probably not be able to use an entire batch of lotion in three days as is safely recommended. I suppose you could share it with your entire family (and your friends, and a few neighbors…) How important is it to use a preservative if you plan to use your lotion more than a few days? It is critical.

I read more than one study showing how bacteria can be spread from a contaminated bottle of lotion. One study traced back the deaths of several people in an ICU to a bottle of lotion the aides were using on these patients, it contained bacteria deadly to patients who were probably already immunocompromised. If it contains water, bacteria will grow without a preservative. But isn’t this website all about using all natural products? Yep! What to do? Don’t worry, I gotcha covered…

skin lotion

First, a word of caution, some websites out there will tell you that you can use Vitamin E, rosemary extract and grapefruit seed extract as preservatives. Others, especially the schools who teach the proper way to make your own lotions (for personal use or resale), will caution you that these are NOT preservatives. They may be excellent ingredients to add to your product, but you need to consider more effective preservatives to ensure safety if you will be using your homemade lotion for any length of time.

I found an article from another online school for skin care, called the School of Natural Skincare which discusses natural broad spectrum preservatives that are, as they say, “either derived from natural sources or are nature identical.” They have a list of three preservatives, trade names, and companies you can buy them from.

Another resource for those who are really serious about making lotions or other skin care products is Making Skin Care. They have a post about emulsifiers, recommended combinations to use and a list of over 13 different products used as natural preservatives.

Homemade Lotion Recipes – Links to Lotions

So are you overwhelmed yet? Trust me, this is why you may want to consider choosing homemade body butter recipes over lotions, they are easy peasy! However, if you would Body Butterrather make a “lotion” that does not need preservatives or emulsifiers, then you can give this one a try from the website Life From the Ground Up.

All right, I have to confess, this is really a body butter recipe, not a lotion (but she calls it a lotion). She says it is non-greasy because of the almond oil and jojoba oils which absorb into your skin more quickly. However, some of the comments seem to contradict this, saying it is still somewhat greasy. They recommend adding a tablespoon of arrowroot powder to the recipe to reduce the greasiness, and I have heard of using this trick before on other do-it-yourself websites so it probably helps. I have not tried this recipe yet, but I plan to!

Here’s another “All Natural Homemade Lotion Recipe” by Wellnessmama.com that is posted as a lotion (no water, so no safe and secureneed for preservatives or emulsifiers).  The picture looks more like a cream than a lotion, but it does appear to be less “intense” than a body butter. She goes on to share other recipes including variations with aloe with no mention of adding a preservative, so either add one or use it in three days. Safety first, people!

If you’d like to explore some other recipes on your own and then take the responsibility of adding the needed preservatives, Livingthenourishedlife.com includes a whole list of links to recipes, however, many of them are really body butters (just so you know).

Conclusion

I hope you found this information to be helpful so that you can decide with confidence whether or not you want to pursue making your own lotions. Let me know how it goes and if you’ve found any recipes that YOU would like to share!

 

 

 

 

 

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Facial Cleansing Brush Reviews

I have affiliate links on this website, this means if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.  My reviews are based on my own experience and/or research, and I will never (ever) recommend a poor quality product or create a false review to make sales.  You can rest assured I truly intend to have your best interests in mind. 

Since I’ve been trying out new facial cleansers, I also decided to a little research on facial brushes. Below you will find my facial cleansing brush reviews that will explain the advantages of using one, what to look for, what to stay away from, and how to determine which one is best for you.

Owning A Facial Cleansing Brush – What Are the Advantages?

Before we get into the facial cleansing brush reviews, you may want to understand why using them can make such a difference in your complexion.  Here are the amazing advantages:

  • Provide deeper cleaning to remove more oil, dirt, and makeup from your pores better than a washcloth
  • Provide exfoliation to remove dead skin cells to get rid of dull looking skin
  • Exfoliation prepares the surface of your skin to better absorb of skin care products (toners, serums, and moisturizers)
  • Exfoliation also speeds up the process of replacing skin cells and this leads to the appearance of smaller pores
  • May help to clear up acne prone skin
  • Provide a nice massage to your skin and underlying facial muscles, massage promotes circulation which is important for maintaining healthy tissue

Facial Cleansing Brush

Who Should Use A Facial Cleansing Brush?

Facial cleansing brushes can be used by almost everyone. They are not recommended for people who have extremely dry, red, or super sensitive/delicate skin; people who are going through a major flare up of acne; or those who have rosacea or eczema. If you are unsure, you should always check with your doctor first. Those who have dry, normal, combination, oily, or acne prone skin will experience the best results from using a facial brush.

What Types of Cleansing Brushes Should You Buy?

The type of brush you should consider buying and how you use it should be based on your individual needs – cleansing devices are primarily broken down into two groups:

  • The type of brushes/cleansers – bristle brushes and silicone brushes and cleansers
  • The action of the brush/cleanser – spinning (around in a circle) and oscillating (vibrating back and forth, also called sonic)

Bristle brushes are circular, they can rotate or oscillate. They do a better job with exfoliation and deep cleaning, but if not cleaned properly can collect bacteria.

Silicone brushes can be circular in shape and rotate or oscillate (like a bristle brush); they can also be flat, covered in little nubs and vibrate, and are held in the palm of your hand. Silicone brushes, overall, are gentler on your skin and easier to clean.

Spinning brushes are a bit controversial, some say they will tear your skin, are too harsh, and that you should choose oscillating facial brushes instead; others say they will do a better job with exfoliation but are better suited for normal to oily complexions. Some resources say oscillating brushes do not exfoliate as well as spinning brushes and that they are well suited for sensitive or more delicate/mature skin.

OMG – my head is spinning and oscillating just thinking about all of these opinions!  I think the key is to understand your skin, what it can handle, and how to properly use the brush. For instance, I happen to know that even though I would be considered as having mature skin, I have an oily T-zone and could probably handle a spinning brush in these areas. I also know that no matter what choice you make, light pressure is always best, let the appliance do the work as you move it over your skin.

What Features Should You Look For?

Brush Head Attachments

Which brings me to the next subject – the types of heads you can use on your device. Some brushes come with multiple heads, one for exfoliation, one for gentle cleansing, one for make up or moisturizer application. Some even come with brushes you can use on other parts of your body like a pumice stone for your feet. Most reviews I read state that no matter how many heads a facial cleansing tool comes with, you will mostly like use only one or two heads – one to exfoliate weekly and one for the rest of the time, so don’t let this influence your choice too much.

One very important consideration in choosing the device that is right for you is whether replacement heads are available. If you use the brush on a regular basis (a few times a week), you should change the brush head every 2-3 months. Not all facial brush companies sell replacement heads, which means you would have to purchase a new one every few months. Now that might not be a bad idea if you want to try more than one device, however, most units should last 2-3 yrs. Also keep in mind that some replacement heads can cost just as much as a new unit.

Waterproof vs Water ResistanceRaindrops

The majority of the facial brushes out there will claim to be waterproof. They refer to an IPX designation (Ingress Protection) that gives you an idea just how waterproof they are. Anything IPX5 or 6 should be able to handle getting hit by jets of water. Anything IPX7 should be able to handle immersion (think sink or bathtub but nothing deeper). But IPX7 is not necessarily better, because it does not guarantee protection from jets of water, only immersion. Confusing right? I plan to use mine standing at the sink or in the shower, I do NOT plan to spray it, dunk it, or drop it in the tub, how about you?

A word to the wise, if a facial brush is battery operated, that is one more compartment for water to leak into, and that is a frequent complaint found in the reviews for those who purchased battery operated devices, even the ones claiming to be waterproof. Some advertise waterproof in bold letters, then in the detailed description say it is water resistant. Just be smart about how you use it, don’t hand it to the kiddies to play with!

Battery vs Rechargeable

As stated above, water can leak into the compartment housing that holds the batteries. More than one review I saw showed pictures of water-logged batteries, even one that shorted out as a result of water sneaking in. Rechargeable facial brushes save you the headache of buying batteries on a regular basis, and there is less opportunity for water to leak inside. I vote for a rechargeable device. One additional note, some rechargeable brushes come with a USB plug, not a wall outlet plug. Obviously, if this is an issue for you, then you’ll need to select a brush that can plug into a wall outlet.

Tips for Use

  • Remove makeup first so you don’t push it back into your poreschild washing face
  • Do not press too hard with the brush
  • Do not use an exfoliating cleanser with particles because it is too abrasive for your skin
  • You may notice more breakouts when you first start using a facial cleansing brush until your skin adjusts
  • You must clean your brush after each use to remove bacteria or risk spreading bacteria onto your skin and causing breakouts
  • I found conflicting information about recommendations for the frequency of use, some say people oily skin can handle once daily use, others say no one should use it more than 2-3 times per week. To put it in perspective, if you are working with a softer brush, you may be able to use it more often, if you are using a brush designed for exfoliation, then less frequent use is advised.
  • Stop using the brush for a while if your skin becomes red and irritated to allow it to calm down and heal.

The Reviews

So now that you know what to look for and what may be best for your needs, below are the results of my facial cleansing reviews. But a couple of words (I know, I know), bear with me.

It is nearly impossible to find one product with hundreds of reviews and zero negative comments (I couldn’t find that magic combination). I only reported on those with an average of 4 or more stars from Amazon reviews.

Some of the negative comments for the oscillating/sonic brushes were because they did not spin… obviously the buyers did not understand what they were purchasing and that should not be considered a negative (so I did not comment on it). I would suggest that if you are considering a purchase of the facial brushes on the list, that you read the reviews yourself, or even compare a couple of them before making your decision.

The most talked about brands are Clarisonic and Foreo Luna, and you will see that just because they cost the most, they did not get the highest ratings. I am only including them for your comparison, not because I think they are any better. Comments key is below all reviews.

Spinning Brushes – Dolface, HEYFYV, ETEREAUTY, PIXNOR, Fancii

spinning facial brushes

Oscillating Brushes – Liberex, MicroPure Sonic, MicroPure Face & Body, Remington Compact, Remington Reveal, Clarisonic Prime, Clarisonic Mia 2, Clarisonic Smart

Sonic Silicone Cleansers – Solo Mini, Sunmay Sonic, MINT Sonic, Foreo Luna mini, Foreo Luna mini 2

sonic silicone cleansers

Comments Key:

  • (1) stopped working
  • (2) got wet (even though waterproof)
  • (3) slight amount of pressure slowed down the speed
  • (4) cannot purchase single replacement brushes, must purchase set of 4
  • (5) only has USB charger
  • (6) some 1 star ratings say they received a used device or it was fake
  • A anti-microbial brush and cheaper replacement heads ($9.99)
  • B good customer service

My Top Picks

Like I said earlier, I decided none of the spinning brushes met my need for being rechargeable, so I did not single out any of them; but you may decide one is right for you based on the details above.

#1 Oscillating – Liberex Egg Vibrating Facial Brush

This little brush has some pretty cool features – 3 speed modes, 20 second smart reminder so you remember to move the brush around your face, 60 second auto shut down so you don’t overdo it, it is waterproof, has a wireless charger, replacement heads are available, and it got great ratings.

#1 Sonic Silicone Cleanser – MINT Sonic

This is a flat silicone vibrating/sonic cleanser with 15 levels of intensity. It has 2 sides covered in raised silicone ridges and nubs, one side is for massaging, the other side has 2 surfaces, one for your T-zone and one for cleansing. Because this is entirely silicone, you can easily wash it off, so no worries about collecting bacteria; and no need to buy replacement heads. This one had very high reviews.

#1 Combination Spinning and Oscillating Facial Brush – Remington Reveal

This overachiever is for people like me who can’t decide which one to buy because it spins and oscillates at the same time – yes! It has 3 heads for sensitive, normal, and massaging; it has 3 cleansing speeds – delicate, normal, and powerful. It is waterproof, comes with a stand, and for those of us who are always in a hurry, it has a quick charge function that allows you to recharge in just 30 minutes. The replacement heads are inexpensive compared to the competition, and best of all, the brushes are anti-microbial to resist bacteria. Perfect!

What are you waiting for? Go get one for yourself! And let me know what you think by leaving a comment below…thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Homemade Facials

It’s the weekend. You finally have some time to sit down and relax with your face covered in some sort of magic goo, wearing your comfy clothes and fuzzy slippers, ready to binge watch your favorite show…but you open the jar of leftover facial mask you were saving for this moment only to find it has dried into a hard, cracked ball of crud, or worse, it looks all slimy and smells funny. Or maybe you just never had the extra cash to buy that fancy jar of facial mask but you feel your face is crying for some attention. Now what? Homemade facials!
Facial mask

You’ve Got What It Takes

Chances are you already have all the items you need in your own kitchen to save the day. I’ve learned a few things about the popular (and not so popular) ingredients you may find when searching for homemade facials recipes. I did a lot of researching, watching videos, and some of my own testing. This is what I’ve discovered….

First of all, what I found is that people will put anything on their face. Some of the stuff I saw was interesting, some questionable, others simply unsafe. For example, lemon juice, egg whites, oatmeal, yogurt, coffee, honey, avocado, cocoa powder, cinnamon, turmeric, mayonnaise, vinegar, toothpaste, and (would you believe) charcoal and glue mixed together. Glue? Really?

And second, I learned that there are several benefits to using homemade facials – you know what you are getting, the ingredients are readily available, some will definitely improve your skin, and the price is right!

Below are most of the popular ingredients you may want to use to mix up your own batch. So let’s get started…

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is very popular. Some people like it for its acidic and antibacterial properties to remove dead skin cells, excess lemonsoils, and especially for skin lightening. Some people swear by it to help with acne. One dermatologist said it is safe, however, you should not to use it if your skin is irritated, that means sunburn, break outs, or other inflammations. Why? Lemon juice is highly acidic and it can irritate your skin, so if you choose to try it, please be careful.

And you should probably not use it if you have dry skin because it would probably be too harsh. Another word of caution—if left on the skin too long, it can cause chemical burns. And lemons contain a chemical called psoralen which makes your skin hypersensitive to sunlight; it can take a long time (up to 24 hours) to wear off, so you need to stay out of the sun or risk blistering your skin. I think the key to using lemon juice is to use it sparingly, diluted in another liquid, and you should always try it on a patch of skin before applying it all over your face.

Egg Whites

Another popular ingredient worth considering (but also being cautious about) is egg whites. Yes, they are known to offer a temporary skin tightening effect and to tighten or close large pores; however, the resources I checked are conflicting. One article says egg whites are great for acne because as they dry they lift dirt out of your pores, yet another says not to use them if you have acne because it can clog your pores. If you ingest raw egg whites by accident when applying them to your face, you risk the chance of getting salmonella. With all of that being said, and after watching multiple You Tube videos showing you how to use egg white masks, I decided to give it a try, specifically the method using a tissue over top the egg whites.eggs

This method is supposed to remove blackheads and whiteheads, and is not as harsh as the charcoal and glue combo (I still can’t get over that one). My verdict? I was pleasantly surprised! I definitely removed a fair amount of whiteheads, and once I washed off the residue, my face was much smoother. I followed a couple of other ladies’ suggestions that I believe helped my experience go so well.

I got everything ready first – washed my face and patted it dry, put my hair up and put on a headband to get it off of my face, whipped up the egg whites from one egg till they were frothy, set aside a clean blush/make up brush, cut up sections of toilet paper, and heated up some water in a bowl (or you can use a hot towel) for use in opening up your pores. Once you’ve steamed your face, use your make up brush to apply the egg whites all over your face making sure you stay away from your hairline and eyebrows.

Apply sections of the toilet paper on to your face so they stick, then reapply egg whites on top of the paper to completely soak them through and set them in place. I used single ply toilet paper, but ended up putting more on top so I had a double the thickness. I recommend doing this for a better grip when it is time to take the mask off, then relax for about an hour (or more) until everything is completely dry. Starting at your chin and jaw line, gradually and slowly work the dried paper up and away from your face until all of it is removed. Then wash your face and apply moisturizer. Ah, doesn’t that feel better? On to the next ingredient…

Oatmealoatmeal

Oatmeal is known to be helpful when dealing with dry, itchy, inflamed skin, but colloidal oatmeal is the key. What is it? Colloidal simply means suspended particles, so when oatmeal is ground into a fine powder, it can be suspended in liquid and can bind to your skin…that’s when the true magic happens. Research articles on PubMed state that the starches from oatmeal hold water and provide protection; the phenols found in oatmeal offer anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities; and the saponins provide the cleansing activity.

All of these properties together give you clean, moisturized, and protected skin. That’s why colloidal oatmeal is included in so many products. You can make your own by simply grinding small amounts of oatmeal in a coffee grinder or food processor until you have a fine powder. Easy!

Honey

Honey has been used for centuries by many cultures in a variety of ways. Not only does it taste sweet, it can offer some pretty sweet benefits for your skin. Scientific evidence has shown that honey offers antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Study after study proves it is so beneficial in healing that Manuka honey is now used as a topical treatment for wound care by health care professionals. As a honeynurse, I have used bandages infused with honey when doing dressing changes on some of my patients, so I know how effective it can be.

One study showed that a specific type called Kanuka honey (not the same as Manuka) has been used to treat Rosacea with good results, and the studies continue. What can you expect from using it as part of your homemade facials? The antibacterial activity is said to fight acne, the antioxidants can help with aging skin, and the anti-inflammatory properties soothe irritated skin. It also holds in moisture, some even say it makes your skin glow. I’d be satisfied with a clean, happy face and honey seems to be the ticket!

Yogurt

Yogurt is another popular ingredient in facials, but not the sweet stuff. You’ll need to use plain, preferably Greek yogurt, and luckily I always have some on hand. Research articles for yogurt state that it has been proven to increase the moisture content of skin, though it has not been proven to increase elasticity, it does maintain it. Yogurt contains lactic acid and probiotics. Lactic acid helps to remove dead skin cells by exfoliation. Probiotics are being studied for their benefits in fighting acne, it is thought they interfere with the body’s inflammatory process when encountering bad bacteria, which means less break outs.

Avocado

Depending on whom you ask, some people will say avocado can heal acne, remove dead skin cells, reduce fine wrinkles, and moisturize your face. Avocados are packed with antioxidants, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus and they contain vitamins A, B, K, and E. One of the reasons they taste so rich is that they are fully of healthy fats (which explains the moisturizing effects). Avocado oil has been shown to be anti-inflammatory, to help in the production of elastin fibers needed for wound healing, and is scientifically shown to be a good source for healing dry, chapped, or damaged skin. Whether you mash it up or choose to pour avocado oil from the bottle, it is a great natural source for skin care.

Cocoa Powder

Studies have been done on cocoa consumption to measure the effectiveness on skin diseases such as acne, wound healing, and skin cancer. Cocoa contains antioxidants which can prevent premature aging of the skin. As for applying cocoa to the skin, I was unable to find research proving the benefits. One dermatologist believes a facial mask including cocoa will have the same benefits as consuming it. I’m a huge fan of chocolate, I might consider this one as a facial, but it would probably not be my first choice. Hey, that’s just my opinion!

Coffee

Can’t live without it!! Research states there are many health benefits to drinking of a cup of joe. Coffee consumption has coffee groundsbeen attributed to helping those with heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and aid age-related disease, even to the point of reducing the mortality rate. Truthfully, they haven’t figured out why coffee is so special, just that it is. A couple of articles I read on facial masks that include coffee grounds say it plumps up the skin, increases circulation, reduces puffiness, and the grounds aid in exfoliation. I might give this one a try, a cup of coffee for me while rubbing some on my face – win, win!!

Cinnamon

This spice has quite a stellar reputation. It is heralded as a major multi-tasking ninja. PubMed research states that when ingested, cinnamon has antioxidant, anti-cholesterol, anti-diabetes, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, and it is known to act as a repellent. New studies continue to show promising results for use in treating diseases involving heart conditions, cancer, and even Alzheimer’s (and it’s great in smoothies!). Those who have tried using it on their face will tell you cinnamon’s antibacterial qualities will help with acne. Some cinnamon can be a little tingly or even irritating to the skin, please consider the patch test if you want to try it.

Turmeric

Turmeric has scientifically been shown to improve skin health by both consuming and by applying to the skin. Many claims turmericinclude clearing acne due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial qualities, some even say it helps with wrinkles and reduces scarring. I take a supplement that combines both turmeric and pepper to help with joint pain, and definitely notice the difference on those days I skip a dose.
Turmeric is known to stain anything it touches with its bright orange color, so don’t spill it!

Mayonnaise

I read a humorous article on one brave (stupid?) sole who decided to take a bath in mayo to see if it would have any earth-shattering benefits to smooth skin. She actually used it all over her body, including her face. Her final recommendation? NOPE, not a good idea. I do not recommend a full body bath in the stuff, but some people swear by mayo’s ability to smooth your skin due to the combination of ingredients – protein from the eggs, moisturizer from the oil, and vinegar (see below). Some people say it stings, shouldn’t be used if you have break outs, should be washed off with plain water, some say soap….I say, save it for your sandwich! But it’s still up to you.

Vinegar

All you have to do is an internet search for Apple Cider Vinegar and you will be inundated with stories of its miracle-producing qualities. As for using it on your face, it has been said to help with treating pimples, acne, and wrinkles due to its ability to kill bacteria and remove dead skin cells, though I was not able to find scientific proof. One thing is for certain, if you use vinegar of any kind on your face, do NOT use it straight out of the bottle, it is way too acidic and can damage your skin, be sure to dilute it (at least 1:4) and do not leave it on your skin for more than a few minutes, rinse it off so you don’t risk a chemical burn.

Putting It All Together

So there you have it. A nice, long list of potential homemade facial ingredients you can throw together in a pinch. Hey, wait…what about recipes?! Bottom line, you need about 2+ tablespoons of whatever combination you want to put together. Do you want to remove blackheads and whiteheads? Try the egg white mask. I’m tempted to try colloidal oatmeal, honey, and yogurt. Is your skin oily? Maybe add a little lemon juice. Do you want to exfoliate for smoother skin? Add some coffee grounds. There are many options for helping with acne—make a paste using 1+ tablespoons of turmeric, then add some yogurt, a teaspoon of honey, maybe a little vinegar or lemon juice, thicken with some oatmeal. You can do this! Let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Face, Recipes/DIY | Leave a comment

The Magic of Aloe Vera in Lotion

I have affiliate links on this website, this means if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.  My reviews are based on my own experience and/or research, and I will never (ever) recommend a poor quality product or create a false review to make sales.  You can rest assured I truly intend to have your best interests in mind.

This is a review on two products (shown below) I have purchased that will answer the question – what is so great about having aloe vera in lotion?

Christina Moss Naturals Lemongrass Organic Body Lotion

100% Pure French Lavender Hand Buttercream

Aloe Vera Plant

#1 Ingredient – Aloe Vera

I discovered the answer to this question by using both of these body lotions at the same time. I had never tried either of them before, and let me tell you, I really like them. They have their own unique qualities (more on that later), but I wondered if they shared anything in common, maybe that would explain why I liked them so much. I checked out the labels and I was surprised. The number one ingredient for both lotions is the same – aloe vera.

I used to have an aloe vera plant. That’s the plant you are supposed to cut open and squeeze out the gooey gel to spread over burns. Really? Why would they put aloe vera in lotion? Sure, it is well-known to help with burns, but what else is so special about it?

The Amazing Health Benefits of Aloe Vera

So the nurse in me just had to do a little research to solve the mystery. Wow. I was pretty amazed. According to a research article I read from PubMed, aloe vera has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. It contains antioxidants from vitamins A, C, and E, as well as folic acid and B12. It contains the minerals calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium and zinc, just to name a few. The enzymes in aloe vera (too many to list) help with the breakdown of sugar and fats. There are a whole host of other properties that are beneficial to the human body. Who knew?

The article explains (in very dry, scientific detail) these additional astonishing benefits:

  • Aids in wound healing both by topical application and ingestion (eating/drinking)
  • Protects against radiation damage to the skin
  • Offers anti-inflammatory action
  • Stimulates the immune system to promote anti-viral and anti-tumor activity
  • Acts as an antiseptic
  • Moisturizes
  • Provides anti-aging effects

No wonder they are putting aloe vera in lotion! The anti-aging goodies make me want to soak in a tub of it! Aloe Vera Gel

Now, to be fair, the article goes on to say that more research is necessary before they are willing to say it cures any specific conditions. It is important to know that if you have an allergy to plants in the Liliaceae family (think lilies and tulips), you should try it on a small part of your skin first to be sure you don’t have a reaction. And if you choose to drink aloe vera for its other health benefits, you should consult with your doctor to be sure it does not conflict with any of your medications. Okay…disclaimers done!

As mentioned earlier, I have been using two lotions with aloe vera for a little while now, and I can tell you from firsthand experience, my skin is very happy. They both meet my strict standards of containing all natural ingredients, they smell wonderful, and they have gotten great reviews on their websites.

Christina Moss Naturals

The first lotion is by Christina Moss Naturals and it is called Lemongrass Organic Body Lotion.

Compared to the other lotion discussed below, this one has a lighter consistency. It is totally non-greasy, spreads easily, a little goes a long way, and it smells divine (unless you don’t like lemongrass). I like to use this lotion before bed because it Lemongrassseems to have a calming effect on me. And after a very stressful day (which is every day), that is exactly what I need. Actually I like to use it at work, too, for a couple of reasons, when I have just finished a stressful call and I need a calm moment, when my hands are dry and I don’t want to worry about greasy fingers. I like to use it when I want a lighter lotion that still does the job of a thicker, heavier one…meaning that it feels light but it works hard like a heavier lotion to keep your skin soft and smooth.

What’s great about this company is that they sell only all natural body lotions and skin care products, and they have many different products for your face, body, and hair. I can also tell you their shipping costs are not too expensive, I’ve ordered from them more than once for other products I am now using, and everything has been delivered VERY fast…bonus!

100% Pure

The second lotion is French Lavender Hand Buttercream by 100% Pure.

This lotion is slightly heavier than the first but still quite creamy. It has a scent of lavender that is initially strong but quickly fades. Lavender is my personal favorite because of its ability to reduce anxiety and restlessness. I like to use this lotion when Lavendermy skin feels and looks dry. It spreads like a dream, feels super soothing, and it really lasts, no need to keep applying more as the day goes on (unless, of course, you wash your hands a lot like me).

100% Pure has an amazing product line for skin care, hair, body, and make up. They describe their products as including only natural ingredients that originate from nature, or that may be altered with fermentation, distillation, and cold processing…in other words, the natural ingredients may have been changed through naturally occurring biological processes. I’m good with that, after all, that’s how you make wine! Or if you prefer, beer, cider, vinegar, yogurt, and cheese…you get the idea.

Which One Is Best?

So which one is my favorite? That depends on what I am looking for at the moment, in other words, I like them both for different reasons. I’m all about variety, after all, that is what this blog is all about – finding all natural lotions and skin care products you love. Thankfully that means I try all kinds of products, I have several on my shelf right now.

I believe there is no single perfect lotion that satisfies every need because our skin changes with the weather, our diet, even how often we must wash our hands. It only matters what is right for you. Pick one or try both:

Christina Moss Naturals Lemongrass Organic Body Lotion

100% Pure French Lavender Hand Buttercream

Whatever you decide, I think you’ll appreciate the magic of aloe vera in lotion. And let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. Thanks!!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Body, Ingredients | Leave a comment

The Top 10 Ingredients in Lotion to Avoid

Ingredients in Lotion – The Popular Brands

The other day I decided to take a look at the ingredients in lotion typically found on store shelves. I chose five very popular brands of body lotion that I used to buy. These are the same types of brands that most people are probably using on a regular basis. In the past I purchased lotions based on the promises found on the front of the label…moisturizes for Store shelves24 hours, non-greasy, dermatologist recommended, clinically proven to heal dry skin, etc.

I was always hoping to find something to solve my dry skin woes, smelled good, didn’t leave my skin feeling too greasy, and actually lived up to the label’s claims. I think I tried almost all of them (this was way back when I did not know any better). Then I learned how important it was to pay attention to the ingredients in lotion.

 

Turn It Around – Read That Label!

Today, the first thing I do is turn that bottle around and read the back. And 99.9% of the time, I put it right back on the shelf. Sad to say that most all lotions I have found, even in the health food stores, do not live up to my expectations. Yep, I’m REAL picky. It is hard to create a product that will satisfy everyone’s needs, bring the company a decent profit, and not break down when it has to sit on the store shelf for an indefinite period. That is why the majority of my purchases are through companies that sell online, often these companies make their products in smaller batches, and yes, they cost more.

Getting back to the five bottles of body lotion I mentioned above. I took a snapshot of the labels so I could research the ingredients…a huge undertaking!!…but also looked into other compounds commonly found in body lotions. Sometimes their names are long or sound complicated, but they may not actually be considered harmful.

For example, Ascorbic Acid is Vitamin C, Cocos Nucifera Oil is coconut oil, and Butyrospermum Parkii Butter is Shea butter. Some of these lotions contain these safe, plant based ingredients as well as oat kernel flour, aloe leaf juice, palm oil, and eucalyptus leaf extract. I did not include these on the list because I already know they are perfectly safe. The ingredients below read like a science experiment in a chemistry class, in other words, they are most definitely not found in nature.

What I did find, however, is that even though many these ingredients in lotion were created in a lab, they have been designated as low to moderate risk by the FDA and other organizations that have tested them. That makes me feel a teensy bit better, especially since I used these products for many years before opting for healthier choices.

What Is the Big Deal?

Why then, am I against the items on this list if most are deemed low to moderate risk? First, because they are chemicals created in a lab rather than ingredients found in nature, and I’ll take nature’s loving embrace whenever I can!

And second, because lotions are used every day, often several times a day, they are used in combination with so many other products, and this is in addition to the toxic exposures we come in contact with – second hand smoke, pollutants, additives to our water, pesticides on our foods. When you add it all up, I no longer consider this to be low to moderate risk (but you are free to choose what YOU are comfortable with).

I know we cannot completely eliminate all the bad stuff we will be exposed to on a regular basis, but if we can make better choices, then we can minimize the risk of acquiring unexplained health problems—allergies, migraines, contact dermatitis, irritable bowel, chronic fatigue, or even cancer.

Of note, you will frequently see that an ingredient may cause disruption to the endocrine system. What does this mean? It means it messes with your hormones, one example being estrogen, which can lead to breast cancer, endometriosis, and female reproductive disorders. Other hormones that may be affected could lead to weight gain, male reproductive disorders, diabetes, thyroid disorders, immune disorders, and cancer. Get my point?

Doing the Research – Putting It All Together

In order to determine the safety of the items on the (very, very long) list below, one of the resources I used was a cool website by Environmental Working Group – EWG.org. I highly recommend looking over this site because they rate many different kinds of products (not just lotions), much of the information you see below came from them, you may even want to download their app to your phone. research

EWG has a rating system for Low, Moderate, and High Hazard designations. I listed anything they rated as 1, their lowest rating, as safe. Anything higher than that is reported as Low, Moderate, or High Risk based on their ratings (if available). It should be stated that these ratings are based on the ingredient itself, rather than the concentration levels found within products. In other words, if used alone, the ingredient may be considered high risk, but if used in a low concentration within a product, it may be considered safe. That being said, I still prefer to avoid potentially risky ingredients, as stated above, I believe some of them can be accumulative with prolonged use.

I also found valuable information on TruthInAging.com – they provide explanations that are easy to understand, it is important to scroll down the page on their website to read about the Functions and Safety of the ingredients. In addition, I looked at multiple other websites to compile this list as well, like SafeCosmetics.org, CosmeticsInfo.org, DrAxe.com, and many more.

One final caveat…it should be said that anything deemed “safe” is always subject to an individual’s sensitivity and/or allergic response to the ingredient; therefore, you should always test first to determine how your skin will react to any product.

The Top 10 Ingredients in Lotion to Avoid

  1. Artificial Colors
  2. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
  3. Formaldehyde/Formaldehyde Releasers
  4. Fragrance/Parfum
  5. Methylisothiazolinone
  6. Parabens
  7. PEG + a number (PEG-4, 6, 8…)
  8. Petroleum/Petrolatum/Mineral Oil
  9. Phthalates/Diethyl Phthalate
  10. Sunscreens (noted on the list below)

Here’s the Whole List – Check It Out

Below is the whole list. It contains ingredients most commonly found in lotions and it is by no means complete; there are many more ingredients being used in skin care products today. You can use this as a reference for your own lotions, or if you prefer, you can check out the websites mentioned above.

  • Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer – safe; controls viscosity (thickness) and stabilizes emulsion (blend or mixture)
  • Alcohol Denat – moderate risk; denatured alcohol acts as an anti-foaming agent, controls viscosity, used to make creams feel lighter, can cause dry skin and breakouts
  • Ammonium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate – low to moderate risk; used as a cleansing and foaming agent to remove oils and dirt
  • Arginine – safe; this is an amino acid (one of the building blocks of protein) that acts as a skin conditioning agent
  • Artificial Colors FD & C / D & C – these colors are considered safe, however, they are derived from petroleum and coal tar (see Petroleum below), some people have a strong sensitivity or allergic reactions to dyes, some studies link dyes to hyperactivity/ADHD in children, and Red 3 is linked to cancer
  • Ascorbic Acid – safe; this is Vitamin C, it is an antioxidant that can improve the signs of aging
  • Ascorbyl Palmitate – safe; combination of Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) and a fatty acid, used as an
  • Avobenzone/Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane – (see Sunscreens below) low risk; a common sunscreen ingredient that protects from UVA rays; it breaks down in the sun releasing free radicals which can increase the risk for cancer, one source states it can mimic the hormone estrogen and should be used with caution
  • Behentrimonium Methosulfate – safe; used as an antistatic agent, though considered safe, has restricted use in cosmetics, may cause allergic reactions
  • Benzophenone – (see Sunscreens below) moderate risk; absorbs UV light which helps prevent damage to scents or colors in cosmetic products, also used in the printing industry, noted to be a possible carcinogen
  • Benzyl Alcohol – moderate risk; used as a solvent and preservative, has restricted use in cosmetics
  • Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) – moderate to high risk; used as an antioxidant, preservative and stabilizer, concerns for endocrine organ disruption, system toxicity, and ecotoxicity
  • Butylene Glycol – low risk; used for skin conditioning, to control viscosity
  • Candelilla Wax (Euphorbia Cerifera) – safe; from a shrub found in Mexico, used for film forming, skin-conditioning, increases viscosity
  • Carbomer – safe; used to control viscosity, to form a gel
  • Ceramide AP, NP, and EOP – generally considered safe, helps to retain waterchemist in lab
  • Cetearyl Alcohol – safe; increases viscosity and production of foam
  • Cetyl Alcohol – safe; increases viscosity and production of foam, helps with the ability to spread
  • Cetyl Esters – safe; considered a wax, used for skin-conditioning
  • Cetyl-PG Hydroxethyl Palmitamide – low risk; used for skin-conditioning, has restricted use in cosmetics
  • Citric Acid – low risk; considered an alpha hydroxyl acid (like citrus fruits), used to affect the acidity in products, can be used to promote skin peeling to regenerate skin as part of anti-aging, has restricted use in cosmetics
  • Diazolidinyl Urea – (see Formaldehyde below) moderate risk; acts as a formaldehyde releaser when exposed to this ingredient on a regular basis it is possible to develop an allergy to it
  • Dimethicone – considered to be safe; it is a silicon-based polymer that acts as a lubricant, used as a skin-conditioning and antifoaming agent
  • Dimethyl Stearamine – moderate risk; used as an emulsifier and anti-static agent, concerns for ecotoxicity
  • Disodium EDTA – safe; acts as a preservative, binds with metal ions to prevent breakdown of the product, it should be noted that this ingredient increases the ability of other ingredients to be absorbed into the skin, which means it needs to be used with caution
  • Distearyldimonium Chloride – moderate risk; used as an antistatic agent, concerns this ingredient can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, and lungs, as well as organ system toxicity
  • Ethylparaben – (see Parabens below) moderate risk; used as a preservative, parabens mimic the hormone estrogen and can disrupt the endocrine system
  • Emulsifying Wax – moderate risk because of the “unknown factor”, this ingredient can be produced via a plant or petroleum based wax and requires the use of certain chemicals in its production that may be considered questionable (Polysorbate 60), it is used to hold oil and water together and is a bit controversial, some companies of all natural products will not use it, while others consider it to be perfectly safe based on their source and/or low concentration level
  • Formaldehyde/Formaldehyde Releasers – moderate to high risk; (there are too many to list, see EWG.com) Releasers act as a time-released antimicrobial preservative, they slowly release formaldehyde which is a known human carcinogen
  • Fragrance/Parfum – in general, synthetic scents can be very risky; the term “fragrance” is sneaky, it can be used as a catch all term for thousands of ingredients, several sources report that the vast majority of synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum (see Petroleum below)
  • Glycerin/Glycerol – low risk; used as skin-conditioning agent, decreases viscosity, has restricted use in cosmetics
  • Glyceryl Dilaurate – safe; used as an emulsifier and skin-conditioning agent, has restricted use in cosmetics
  • Glyceryl Stearate – safe; used as an emulsifier
  • Glycol Stearate – safe; used as an emulsifier and skin-conditioning agent
  • Homosalate – moderate risk; this is an ingredient commonly found in sunscreens, once exposed to the sun, it breaks down into harmful ingredients, concerns are related to endocrine system disruptions and organ system toxicity
  • Hydroxyethyl Urea – safe; used for skin conditioning, noted that urea is excreted in urine
  • Hydroxyethylcellulose – safe; used to increase viscosity, to form a film, and as an emulsifier
  • Isopropyl Palmitate – safe; acts as an antistatic, skin-conditioning agent, and as an emulsifier
  • Isopropyl Myristate – safe; used as a skin-conditioning agent, concern for irritation of skin, eyes, and lung
  • Lanolin Oil – safe; used as an antistatic, skin-conditioning agent
    created in a lab
  • Magnesium Aluminum Silicate – safe; used as an absorbent, to help with viscosity and as an anti-caking agent
  • Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate – safe; a vitamin C based antioxidant
  • Methyl Gluceth-20 – safe; used as a foaming agent meant to help retain moisture
  • Methylparaben (see Parabens below) – moderate risk; parabens mimic the hormone estrogen and can disrupt the endocrine system, concerns for allergies/immunotoxicity, biochemical or cellular level changes, has restricted use in cosmetics
  • 5 Methylisothiazolinone – high risk; used as a preservative, risk for irritation of skin, eyes, and lungs, allergic reactions, ecotoxicity, and neurotoxicity
  • Myristyl Alcohol – safe; a fatty alcohol, used as a skin-conditioning agent, enhances foam production, increases viscosity
  • Octyl Methoxycinnmate – (see Sunscreens below) used to block UVB rays; concerns this can cause organ system toxicity and reproductive toxicity, should be used with caution by children and pregnant women
  • PABA – (see Sunscreens below) moderate risk; used as a UV filter, has been linked to cancer and disruption of thyroid activity
  • Panthenol – safe; used as an antistatic and lubricating agent, it is a vitamin B5 derivative
  • Parabens – moderate to high risk; there are several forms of parabens; in general, they mimic the hormone estrogen and can disrupt the endocrine system
  • PEG + a number (known as Polyethylene Glycol 4, 6, 8…) moderate risk; used as an emollient, an emulsifier, to help with absorption into the skin, and as a solvent or cleansing agent. The lower the number, the more it is supposed to help deliver the product deeper into the skin (so if you have compromised or sensitive skin you may want to avoid this ingredient). PEG products are supposed to be purified before being added to a product, however, they can contain impurities that are dangerous when absorbed into the skin, some of which are linked to cancer.
  • Petroleum/Petrolatum/Mineral Oil – moderate risk; concerns are related to organ system toxicity, according to the World Health Organization and the Environmental Protection Agency it contains 1,4-Dioxane which is a probable carcinogen, also can contain benzene derivatives that are carcinogenic and can disrupt the endocrine system, has restricted use in cosmetics
  • Phenoxyethanol – moderate risk; used as a preservative, can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, and lungs, as well as organ system toxicity
  • Phthalates/Diethyl Phthalate – moderate risk; used as a fragrance ingredient, concerns for endocrine organ disruption and system toxicity
  • Phytosphingosine – safe; used as a skin-conditioning agent
  • Polysorbate 60 – moderate risk; used as an emulsifier, to dissolve a solvent that would not normally dissolve
  • Potassium Hydroxide – moderate risk; used to adjust pH, can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, and lungs, as well as organ system toxicity
  • Propylene Glycol – moderate risk; used as a skin-conditioning agent, can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, and lungs, as well as organ system toxicity
  • Propylparaben (see Parabens above) – high risk; concerns are related to allergies and developmental/reproductive toxicity, parabens mimic the hormone estrogen and can disrupt the endocrine system
  • Resveratrol – safe; used an antioxidant and skin protectant
  • Sodium Acetate – safe; used as a buffering agent
  • Sodium Alkyl Sulfate – uncertain risk; used as an emulsifier to mix oil and water compounds
  • Sodium Chloride – safe; this is actually table salt, used to increase viscosity
  • Sodium Hydroxide – moderate risk; used to adjust pH and as a buffering agent, can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, and lungs, as well as organ system toxicity
  • Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate – safe; used as an emulsifier and surfactant
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate – moderate risk; used as a surfactant, can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, and lungs, as well as organ system toxicity
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate – safe to low risk; used as a surfactant, can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, and lungs, as well as organ system toxicity, meant to be used in low concentrations if the product is not rinsed off, rumors that it causes cancer have been proven to be false despite what is found on the internet
  • Sorbic Acid – moderate risk; used as a preservative, can cause organ system toxicity
  • Stearyl Alcohol – safe; used as an emulsifier, increases viscosity and production of foam, can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, and lungs
  • Stearalkonium Chloride – moderate risk; used as a an antistatic agent and preservative, concerns for toxicity and possible allergic reaction, has restricted use in cosmetics
  • Stearamide AMP – safe; increases viscosity and production of foam
  • Stearamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate – safe; used as an antistatic agent
  • Steareth-21 – moderate risk; used as a surfactant, cleansing agent, and emulsifier, concerns for ecotoxicity and organ system toxicity
  • Stearic Acid – safe; a naturally occurring fatty acid, used as an emulsifier, surfactant, and cleansing agent
  • Stearyl Alcohol – safe; used as a surfactant and emulsifier, increases viscosity and production of foam, can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, and lungs
  • Sunscreens – low to moderate risk; used to block UVA or UVB rays from the sun, concerns that most of these will break down in the sun and can cause organ toxicity and/or reproductive toxicity, some are linked to cancer
  • Titanium Dioxide – (see Sunscreens above) low to moderate risk; used as a sunscreen, concerns for organ toxicity and is a possible carcinogen
  • Tocopheryl Acetate – moderate risk; used as an antioxidant and skin-conditioning agent, can cause possible allergic reactions, concerns for immunotoxicity
  • Vegetable Glycerin – safe; a naturally occurring compound, a lubricant that attracts water to the skin
    what will you choose

What Will You Choose?

Now that you’ve read (or skimmed) the whole list of ingredients in lotion, what do you think? If you had not already decided to use products with more pure ingredients, do you think you may consider switching to all natural skin care products? No judgment here, just curious. Let me know what you think.

 

 

 

 

 

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Lavender In Lotion

It’s time to come clean, I have an addiction…to lavender in lotion.

Lavender – Not Just Another Pretty Flower

Lavender is more than just another pretty flower, it has chemical properties that when converted to an essential oil have been proven to decrease pain and improve sleep, and many people will tell you that it also helps with anxiety and reduces stress. Lavender in lotion is the perfect medium to surround yourself in aromatherapy and reap the benefits of this magical flower.Lavender Plant

A Lasting Love Affair – Pass the Bottle Please!

My love affair with lavender started when I was in nursing school. It was difficult time in my life. I lost my job, finances were tight, I decided to switch careers, and chose nursing school…in my 50’s. It was a three year long journey, I was surrounded by younger people who were faster, sharper, and more likely to succeed than I was. However, failure was not an option.

So there I was, struggling with the stress of being the oldest student in the class and it was Lavender Oiltest taking time. I had read that lavender essential oil could help with stress so I bought a little bottle of Spike Lavender Essential Oil (medicinal strength) and carried it in my pocket. I put the bottle up to my nose and breathed in several slow, deep breaths right before a test. I didn’t care if it really worked or it was a placebo effect, I just knew I felt calmer.

I’ll never forget the day my classmate asked if he could have a whiff, too! Before you know it my little bottle was being passed around the room right before every test – true story – everybody wanted a hit! LOL! To this day, I still have a bottle of lavender essential oil in my work bag to pull out and leave open on my desk for really stressful days. Luckily the stress level has decreased quite a bit since I was in nursing school and ran the hospital floors (I still can’t believe I survived it all), but I wouldn’t be without it.

Study After Study – It’s All Good!

Besides my personal experience, why should you consider using lavender essential oil or looking for lavender in lotion? Research has shown lavender has true positive effects that can literally minimize stress and anxiety, improve quality of sleep, decrease hormonal flushing, and reduce pain.

Here are examples of the studies I found on PubMed as evidence of these claims:

  • A study of 53 nurses was done to determine the effects of pinning a bottle of lavender oil to their clothes while working, and it was determined that those who had the lavender oil showed a significant decrease in stress symptoms compared to the control group with no lavender oil.
  • A study was done with college students to test the effects of lavender oil and sleep quality. The results showed that the length of sleep time did not improve between the students using lavender oil and the control group who simply practiced good sleep hygiene without using lavender. However, those who wore lavender oil on a patch over 5 nights of sleep reported better quality of sleep stating that they woke feeling more refreshed.
  • Another clinical trial showed that the inhalation of lavender significantly reduced the symptoms of dysmenorrhea (pain during your menstrual cycle) in a study done with 96 college females.
  • A study using lavender aromatherapy to test the effects of flushing on 100 menopausal women showed a significant decrease in flushing compared to the control group, thereby, impacting their quality of life using a safe, noninvasive method.
  • A study using lavender aromatherapy on dialysis patients showed a significant decrease in pain and anxiety during their treatments compared to the group without the use of lavender.

All of these studies have one thing in common – the inhalation of lavender oil – or better known as aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy Bottles and FlowersAromatherapy – The Nice Smell That Makes You Feel Swell

How does aromatherapy work? How is it possible that something you smell affects you physically and/or emotionally? It works like this…every time you inhale scented oil, some of the molecules from the oil enter your nasal cavity and are transported into the olfactory system of your brain.

These molecules stimulate the olfactory receptors, which carry the signals to certain cells in the olfactory bulb (mitral cells), the part of your brain that allows you to identify/smell the specific scent. Some of these same mitral cells send signals to other nearby parts of your brain, the limbic system, which process emotions and memories. That’s why certain smells bring back certain memories!

What I am trying to say is that aromatherapy, specifically lavender, can have positive effects on how you feel. Is it guaranteed? No. Can it cure anything? No. As a matter of fact, some experts will tell you that there has not been enough research to prove the physiological effects of essential oils (though I have read a study that proves otherwise). But these same experts are willing to admit that even if it is the placebo effect (a good whiff of lavender oil before taking a test in nursing school), if you believe it works, then it probably will.

Okay, for all the skeptics out there, how about we go with: “it smells good, therefore I like it, therefore, it makes me feel good when I use it.” Works for me.

Experimenting With Lavender – Start Your Own Addiction

So let’s say you are interested in surrounding yourself with the smell of lavender to do your own mini clinical trial. How can you proceed with your experiment?

Certainly youLavender and Bottle can carry around a bottle of lavender essential oil (I recommend the strong, medicinal stuff). But it would also be just as easy (if not easier) to apply lotion to your skin, mainly because lavender is found in so many lotions available today. I keep a tube of lavender lotion at work and one on my bedside table at home whenever I need a moment to de-stress or calm the senses.

Either way, I’d encourage you to give it a try, especially if you are looking for a natural, noninvasive way to decrease feelings of stress or anxiety.  If you’d like to check out a lavender lotion I would recommend, click here.

Tell me what you think, does lavender have the same effect on you?

 

 

 

 

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The Benefits of Coconut Oil on the Skin

I decided to explore the benefits of coconut oil on the skin because of my husband, we always have a huge jar of it at home thanks to his love of the stuff.  I’ve learned it has some amazing qualities that can improve your health, you may want to consider using it yourself.

My Coco-Health-Nut of a Husband

My husband has always been a huge fan of coconut oil, he first started using it with cooking, specifically with frying breaded chicken.  I thought it was a nice change of taste, but then after one or two meals, I decided I was not willing to replace it for all of my other favorite cooking oils because of its distinctive taste.  I’ve used it myself in baking some gluten-free recipes and had great results.  But I never (ever) considered the benefits of coconut oil on the skin.  It sounds just a little crazy, doesn’t it?Spoon of Coconut Oil

Did I mention that my husband is into health, even more so than me?  Wait.  Let me rephrase that…he’s a downright hard core, card carrying health nut.  So guess which one of us was the first to try using coconut oil on the skin?  Uh, yeah, not me.  He doesn’t just use coconut oil on his skin or cook with it, sometimes he eats a spoonful right out of the jar!  Like I said, hard core.

Coconut Oil as a Health Supplement – Inside and Out

My husband looks at coconut oil as a health supplement. Being a nurse (and a true skeptic), I cannot simply take his word, I have to check things out for myself.  I reviewed several different studies on PubMed showing the results of research on coconut oil consumption…very interesting.  I guess I have to give the guy some credit.  Some of the studies I read show that adding coconut oil to your diet can reduce hunger, help to burn more calories, and even improve cognitive functions in Alzheimer’s patients; and there are studies showing cardiovascular benefits, too.

Before you start consuming large amounts of coconut oil for its health benefits, I think it is Healthy Dinnerimportant to say that a lot of the people who participated in these different research trials were tested under a controlled set of circumstances that included very healthy diets low in sugar and high in fiber.  Now that you know including coconut oil as part of a healthy diet is something worth considering, what about the benefits of coconut oil on the skin?

In the winter, my husband has very dry skin, so he likes to use coconut oil because he swears it is better than any lotion he has used before.  He also believes in its healing properties.  I thought he was just exaggerating.  So when I researched studies on coconut oil (besides learning the advantages of adding it to a healthy diet), I found articles showing the benefits of coconut oil on the skin.

Your skin acts as a barrier between the external environment and the inside of your body, like a living, breathing protective shield.  If the surface of your skin is disrupted—such as scratches, scrapes, cuts, inflammation, dry skin—then diseases and/or harmful bacteria have a way to enter your body and potentially wreak havoc. The most superficial part of your skin, the epidermis, contains different kinds of cells that play important roles in forming a barrier to these toxins and in helping your skin to heal.  When these cells are not functioning at top capacity, then using the right skin care product can help them get back to their super hero roles.

Super Hero BoyThe Great Protector and Healer

Research has shown that coconut oil on the skin works in a lot of different ways to help the epidermis protect and heal your skin:

  • It helps one type of cell in the epidermis, the stratum corneum, to increase its rigidity, so it enhances the protective barrier of the skin (a tougher shield).
  • It is effective in treating dry skin, which if left untreated, leads to a breakdown of the skin barrier.
  • It can help heal atopic dermatitis—when your skin is red and itchy, possibly in response to a new soap or laundry detergent—again, if left untreated leads to a breakdown of the skin barrier.
  • It promotes wound healing because it has been shown to help with epithelization, when new cells are formed to close up a wound.
  • It displays antimicrobial activity, which means it can destroy bacteria that are trying to break through the skin barrier, specifically certain staph infections; in higher concentrations it can work against other harmful bacteria like E. coli.
  • It displays antiviral and antifungal activities—both of which can be transmitted through the skin if the barrier is broken.
  • It protects the skin from UV radiation.

You know, there is part of me that wanted my husband to be wrong about the benefits of using coconut oil on the skin because I thought he was being (more than) a little bit crazy slathering it all over his body – most especially because he does not always wait for it to absorb before he touches things (ugh!!).  But darn it if he wasn’t right, I hate it when that happens.  That means, to be fair, I had to try it for myself.  Why was I so apprehensive, evening knowing the long list of attributes?  I guess it was the “greasy factor”.

CoconutOne Slippery Coconut

I’m not going to lie, it was not my favorite experience.  I am quite familiar with using oils, I used to practice as a Licensed Massage Therapist.  I would have no problem using coconut oil as a massage oil, it glides very nicely and does not absorb right away, allowing for less friction when working on muscles.  And one of my favorite lotions is a little heavy and does not sink in instantly, but that is mostly on the palms of the hands.  The difference is that with other heavier lotions and creams, they seem to absorb into the skin relatively quickly, and coconut oil takes a while longer…to the point that I was sort of afraid to touch or lean on anything…I was one slippery coconut!

My Final Thoughts

If you decide to try it, I recommend using a small amount applied to moist skin, such as when you first step out of the shower.  I tried it on damp skin first, it spread evenly but my skin felt a little oily for several minutes. Later, I used a little more directly on dry skin and it just sat there for a while.  I will say that once my skin drank in all the oil, it felt velvety soft.  I can understand why people would want to apply coconut oil on their skin, there are too many advantages to ignore.  I think I would be more inclined to look for coconut oil as an ingredient in a lotion or cream, however, I would consider using it when I do not have to get dressed for a little while so it has a chance to absorb.  What do you think?  Leave a comment below, I’d love to know your opinion.  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

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Shea Butter in Lotion

I have affiliate links on this website, this means if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.  My reviews are based on my own experience and/or research, and I will never (ever) recommend a poor quality product or create a false review to make sales.  You can rest assured I truly intend to have your best interests in mind. 

The Benefits are Amazing – You Are Going to Love It!

The benefits of having shea butter in lotion are just amazing!  But by itself, it can be a little difficult to work with.

The consistency of pure shea butter is like working with a stick of butter right out of the refrigerator, you have to shave curls of it from the jar or cake, and then mix it with a little warm water or some other medium until the warmth of your own hands melts it enough to spread.Like a stick of butter

For those of you who are looking to reap the benefits without as much effort, shea butter in lotion is a better choice.  For those of you willing to go through the effort, I can tell you it feels like velvet when you are spreading it over warm moist skin, truly delightful!

What is so special about shea butter?  Why would you want to look for it on the label before buying your next lotion or cream?  Glad you asked!

The Research Is Clear – It’s Butter Worth Spreading

Being a nurse who likes to look for evidence-based, scientifically proven research, I did a little digging to look into the benefits of shea butter and I found several studies.  A couple of articles stated that it can actually be used in cooking, similar to vegetable oil, and it can be found in some chocolates and other confections as a cocoa butter substitute.  However, you and I mostly know this rich butter for its use in skin care products.

There are other plant oils that serve more than one purpose such as sunflower oil, coconut oil and avocado oil – they, too, can be used for both cooking and applying to the skin.  I will be doing another post on oils and their benefits as well.

So let’s get down to the facts, why is shea butter in lotion such a valuable ingredient?

Shea butter contains Vitamins A and E, fatty acids, phenolic components, and several other compounds that explain its amazing healing properties.

In a nutshell, shea butter:

  • reduces inflammation
  • acts as an antioxidant
  • improves the skin barrier (holds in moisture)
  • softens scars
  • minimizes wrinkles
  • aids in preventing stretch marks
  • helps with blemishes
  • combats muscle fatigue
  • boosts collagen production (promoting anti-aging properties)
  • …and has anti-tumor promoting agents

Wow, wow, wow, that is quite a list!!  All I knew was how I liked the way my skin felt – it is oh, so soft – I had no idea shea butter provided so many other outstanding contributions to skin care.  Yep, you can be sure I will be including this is my regular skin care regimen from now on.

Let’s look at one of those many benefits listed above a little closer.

Soothe Your Skin and Fight Free Radicals

Shea butter has been proven to contain potent anti-inflammatory properties.  What does that mean for you?  Inflammation causes redness, swelling, warmth, pain, even itching.  Can shea butter cure all of those conditions?  Maybe not, but because it can reduce inflammation, it can calm and quiet irritated skin.  I can tell you from first-hand experience, pure shea butter that has been softened and massaged into the skin is truly a soothing experience.Soothing

There is another item on that list worth delving into – shea butter acts as an antioxidant.  We have all heard that antioxidants are beneficial, but do you truly understand what that means?

I like the explanation on healthline.com by Atli Arnarson, PhD.  He has an interesting article (if you are into scientific stuff) that goes into detail about how our bodies work.  Basically, he explains that all of our cells are made up of molecules that constantly change structure to produce what we need to maintain the body.  Sometimes when certain molecules change structure, they may lose an electron they need to remain stable, then the unstable molecule may collide with other molecules and cause them to become damaged.  These unstable molecules are called free radicals.Harmony

Antioxidants provide the missing electrons that these molecules need to bring things back into balance and reduce the damage.  Shea butter acts as an antioxidant to reduce the damage from free radicals.  Ok, enough science.  If you decide you want to buy raw shea butter for its many wonderful healing attributes, what else would be helpful to know?

Different Types – East vs West, Refined vs Unrefined

Shea butter is made from the pit of the fruit of the shea tree (also known as karite tree) which is native to Africa.  There are different types of shea trees, the less common East African variety is known as the Shea Nilotica and is actually a subspecies of the karite tree.  The nut from this tree produces shea butter with a light, creamy, almost silky texture, a low melting point, and a mild scent.  It is said to be higher in oleic acid (which is said to help with moisturizing and absorption) than its Western cousin, and it is usually more expensive because it is not as readily available.

The West African variety is known as Vitellaria Paradoxa (V. Paradoxa).  This is the more common of the two types, the butter is usually darker, more solid, takes more effort to melt and spread on the skin, and has a stronger scent.  Most research on the properties African Treesfound and the benefits of shea butter has been done using this species since it is much more prevalent.  It is also most likely the type found in lotions that contain shea butter.

No matter which one you choose, Shea Nilotica (East) or V. Paradoxa (West), the colors will vary based on the different climates where the trees were grown, the time of the harvest, and extraction methods. So don’t be surprised if one batch is a different color than a previous one you have purchased.

East or West, which is better?  It is a matter of preference, really.  If you are a die-hard shea butter fan, you can certainly experiment by trying both varieties.  I have only used the West African V. Paradoxa type.  To be honest, the scent if very “earthy”, some people do not like it, so they opt for refined shea butter or the Eastern variety.  I have purchased refined shea butter, but I’m not sure I would buy it again.Unrefined Shea Butter

When shea butter is refined, it goes through a process using chemicals to break open the seeds, remove the fat, and speed along the process of getting to the final product.  Unfortunately, that means many of the wonderful benefits mentioned above are probably stripped out of the product, too (think white bread vs. wheat bread).  No, thanks.  I’ll stick to the raw, unrefined version.  I am tempted to try the East African Nilotica shea butter, but I’ve got a large jar of the West African variety that I know will last a very long time, and it was less expensive…maybe next time!

Now It’s Up to You…

Whether you choose to try raw shea butter for an intense moisturizing experience, or opt to look for shea butter in lotion for an “easy spread”, you will not be disappointed in the luxurious feel of this amazing butter.  Give it a try!

 

 

 

 

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