Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Skin Part 2: Beyond the Face

We stand nose to nose with our reflection in the mirror, examining our face.  Our face gets a lot of attention.  So much so that I've seen women with beautiful and obviously treated skin on their faces, but their neck, chest, and hands look their age or worse.

Our skin is our biggest organ.  It is our protection, even a filter of sorts.  We must care for it from head to toe.

Signs your skin is unhealthy and in need of attention include:

body acne
sun spots/liver spots
dryness and flaking
carbuncles (usually found on the buttocks ie: butt acne)
loss of elasticity, especially pre-menopausal
cherry angiomas

Do and Don'ts of body skin care:

1. Don't wash your body when it doesn't need washing.
2. Do wash your body when it does.
3. Don't use harsh commercial soaps.
4. Do use a gentle, homemade soap, commerical additive-free soap, or castile soap.
5. Don't use commerical body lotions.
6. Do use a gentle massage oil, such as sweet almond oil.
7. Do treat touble spots with herbal remedies, apple cider vinegar, or witch hazel.
8. Don't eat processed, sugar-laden foods.  Yes, foods can affect the state of your skin!
9. Do stay hydrated.
10. Don't wear binding clothing frequently.
11. Do spend some time each day in the buff, even if it is just sleeping in the buff.
12. Don't wear synthetic clothing, or highly chemically-treated clothing.  (If you can.  This would be a hard goal to achieve.)
13. Start buying organic clothing when and where you can.
14. Do get sun on your skin (without any sunblock).
15. Don't allow your skin to sunburn!
16. Don't smoke!
17. Do exercise and let yourself sweat it out!
18. Do keep your razor blade clean and disinfected.
19. Do get enough sleep.
20. Do treat yourself to healthful massages to get the blood flowing!  Make sure your massage therapist uses  natural oils for your skin and not commercial lubricant concoctions.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Researching the Benefits of Sunbathing

I haven't sun bathed in decades, literally! Of course, anyone who grew up in the 80's and 90's remembers all the warnings against sunbathing. All our sun-worshipping parents and grandparents were wrinkled and cancerous, after all. They blamed the sun, but it could have been their smoking, stress, and poor eating habits of post WWII (more processed, artificial, canned foods). Now, I'm not saying I'm right. I'm just mulling things over here.

I avoided the sun because I was told to. I had bad acne and was told the sun would make it worse. (Then how come my skin actually IMPROVES when I do get tanned while working in my garden?) Skin cancer was in my family. I'm freckly, so it must be avoided. But, something didn't quite click. Slathering chemical-laden sunscreen over every pore of my body didn't exactly sound healthy. And then there were the contradictions:

1. My acne would clear up and the scars would fade.
2. I always had a yellow undertone to my skin. It was just assumed it was my complexion. Everything considered, I've probably had liver damage for quite some time! Jaundice, anyone? Having improved my diet, exercise and sun exposure, my skin has more neutral undertones to it.
3. When my babies were born, I was told to stick them in the sunlight to heal their jaundice. Sunlight on newborns?! Of course, it healed them faster than anything.
4. After responsible sunbathing or sun exposure, I feel stronger, more alert, and more focused. Vitamin D is so necessary for all of this. During my "indoor" years, I was pale, thin but flabby, moody and unfocused.
5. I read THIS article not too long ago. And yes, I've tried sunning my belly to improve digestion and I feel it works.

Then, I came across THIS informative article, which gave me more food for thought. Although there is a line where the author says to look at the sun to improve vision. I do believe he means facing the sunlight, not looking directly at the sun, which can blind you.

I'm going to continue my research. You can, too, if this interests you. Just google "benefits of sunbathing" and see what you come up with!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Skin Part 1: Topically

I'm not good at allowing myself to be vulnerable. I have thin skin and would rather hide my imperfections than publish them. I hate being perceived as ugly, but I've learned over the years that we all have imperfections and there is always someone prettier than you. I'm also trying to build up courage to share post partum "before" pictures as I work to get my health and pre-pregnancy body back.

I guess I should thank my skin problems of my youth. The severe acne I had helped point me in the direction of a healthier lifestyle and natural healing. Thankfully, the acne has eased greatly, but time and pregnancy have affected things, too.

Let's start with an analysis of the photo of my cheek and forehead above:

1. I'm sure you notice first off a lot of scarring. Chalk that up to severe acne left untreated and bad acne advice. "If you force it to pop, it'll heal faster!"

2. Secondly, when I'm pregnant, I get red dots on my face. Not sure what they are called. Stork bites?

3. Third, if you look diagonally upward from my (unbrushed!) eyebrow and my hairline, you'll see a black head. Genetically, I have large pores, so while pimples are pretty much a thing of the past, I still get blackheads.

4. My undereyes are slowly getting darker and fine lines are just beginning to appear. My skin is not as taut as it used to be. For the record, I'm 31.

5. I have pale skin.

As anyone can guess, I would love to even out my complexion and not feel compelled to use make-up so much.

So, this series will address my skin and how I'm planning on treating it:

Part 1: Topically
Part 2: beyond the face
Part 3: Internally, the Liver Connection

So much has been said of Bio-Oil. As I peered nose-to-nose with my reflection in the mirror, I decided to go ahead and buy it, but something told me to look it up. What does it contain? Here's the list straight from Bio-Oil's website:


Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract (Calendula Oil)
Lavandula Angustifolia Oil (Lavender Oil)
Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Oil (Rosemary Oil)
Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil (Chamomile Oil)


Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A)
Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E)

Oil base

Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum)
Cetearyl Ethylhexanoate
Isopropyl Myristate
Glycine Soja Oil
Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil

Fragrance (Rose)

Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone
Amyl Cinnamal
Benzyl Salicylate
Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde

Color (Orange)

D&C Red No.17 (CI 26100)

Um, I'm not a fan of some of the ingredients. Ok, most of them. Pretty much from "Vitamins" down. So, my wheels started turning and I thought, "Hey, why can't I make my own Bio Oil?" The first 4 oil ingredients are easy enough to get. For vitamin e, I can use sweet almond oil. For vitamin c, I can use rose hip oil. Both are excellent for the skin. If I want fragrance and a thinner formula, I can add rose water, which is also great for the skin.

Right now, I just wash with my homemade soap, use witch hazel as an astrigent, and sweet almond oil for a moisturizer. I'd like an herbal boost, though, which is why I'd like to make my own Bio-Oil.

How do you treat your skin?

Thursday, April 5, 2012


The problem with enjoying the wildlife that roams through my backyard is the bugs they leave behind, mostly notably the TICK! Ticks are fairly routine here, so I thought I'd share how we deal with tick bites.

First of all, I highly HIGHLY recommend getting those tick crow bars. They are a fast, easy and painless way to get all of the tick out. NEVER leave the tick's head in your skin. You can get diseases even if just the mouth pieces are left behind.

1. Prepare a ziplock baggie by putting some rubbing alcohol in it.
2. Drop a bit of rubbing alcohol near the tick's mouth.
3. Follow the crow bar directions, removing the tick.
4. Put the tick in the ziplock baggie and keep on hand until you're sure the patient isn't developing any symptoms of Lyme or other infection.
5. Wash and disinfect the bite area and apply an herbal salve or neosporin.
6. Keep an eye on the bite area, looking for a "target," redness, swelling, or blackness.
7. Should patient develop any of those symptoms, take them and the tick to the doctor ASAP.

Personally, I don't worry about every tick I pull out of my family. So long as it is uninflammed or only partially inflammed, it has been on for less than 24 hours and unlikely to cause Lyme. However, I do keep an eye on the bite area. Regardless of whether or not the tick is inflammed, if you do choose to go to the doctor, they will most likely put you on antibiotics. If I did this for every tick bite my family got, we'd ruin our bodies with all those antibiotics and they wouldn't work when a real infection hit! So, it is up to you.

To prevent ticks:

1. Have your pets treated.
2. Use Tea Tree Oil around wrists, ankles, necklines, hairlines and waistbands before venturing out in a tick area.
3. Vacuum daily, floors and furniture.
4. Make tick checks a daily routine before showering.
5. Keep the dog's bedding area washed.
6. Invest in fowl. A couple of chickens in the back yard can effectively keep ticks at bay. Ticks are chicken M&M's!
7. Don't invite the deer in. As beautiful as they are to have them roaming through your yard, they're a main culprit for leaving the nasty bugs behind.
8. Tuck your pant legs into your socks.

I just removed a tick from my arm this morning, but may your season be a tick-free one.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Antibiotics during and after.

I just couldn't kick that sinus infection on my own. It got worse and spread to my upper lungs, so I took the plunge and decided to get antibiotics.

It worried me to take them because not only does it mess with my own gut flora, but it can mess with my baby's gut flora. Pregnant women who take antibiotics are more likely to have a colicky or reflux baby. I wanted to do what I could to prevent that, so I ate yogurt nearly every day and took probiotics.

Unfortunately, it wasn't enough. Also, antibiotics can make you crave carbs. Add that craving to a desire to just eat simply, and I was downing a lot of cold cereals. Not exactly healthy!

Hopefully, my wee one is ok, but I certainly wasn't. Irritable Bowel Syndrome hit, but I was able to put a stop to it by cutting out gluten, eating bone broth soups, eating more yogurt, taking more probiotics and taking herbal infusions (nettle, agrimony and licorice as well as chamomile-peppermint).

Nettles are strengthening to the system.
Agrimony is a mucus membrane and gut soother
Licorice soothes the gut, too.
Chamomile and peppermint calm intestinal spasms.

Gluten products have bothered me nearly this entire pregnancy, but now it's gotten to the point where I HAVE to quit gluten. This is hard for me, but I look forward to yet another learning experience. Exploring all those gluten-free recipes out there sounds good, too!