Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Beauty Benefits of Tea

You may often see tea listed on the ingredients labels of your favorite beauty, skin and hair care products. White Tea, Green Tea, Rooibos, Green Tea and more can also be found in many do it yourself beauty recipes. We’re here to share some of the beauty benefits of tea. Sit back, enjoy a cup, and learn more about some other reasons to love tea even more.

Does your hair look lackluster? Try a tea rinse.

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Tea can help enhance your hair’s color and shine.
Did you know that a tea rinse can enhance the natural tones and highlights in your hair without strong chemicals and unpleasant odors? A tea rinse will not give you a new color. In other words, if you are golden blonde, you cannot pour black tea in your hair and end up a brunette.
If you are a brunette, rinse your hair with Black Tea. Blondes & redheads can add a boost with Chamomile Tea. I use Black Tea in my hair as a weekly rinse.

I am going to share a simple DIY tea rinse for your hair.

How to make the rinse: Combine 2 cups of brewed black tea with 2 cups of water if you have dark hair. If your hair is light, the proportions are different. Combine 1 cup of brewed chamomile tea with 2 cups of water. Once your tea/water mixtures are combines, bring to a boil for several minutes. Cool so there are no hot spots and pour over damp hair and leave in for 30 to 60 minutes. When  your time is up, rinse with cool water. You will notice a subtle enhancement of your color and should see an increase in the amount of shine.

A recipe for beautiful skin

In skin care, Green Tea holds so many remarkable benefits.
Green Tea is a powerhouse antioxidant which has been shown to significantly halt the glycation process as they promote collagen synthesis. What is glycation? Simply put, it is the process of sugar proteins damaging the collagen and elastin in the skin. Choosing skin care products formulated with Green Tea can help fight glycation and minimize the signs of skin aging caused by dietary indiscretions such as excess sugar consumption.
The EGCG in Green Tea also helps protect against free radicals. Free radicals not only impact your health, but they negatively impact your skin. UV damage, smoke and other pollutants can wreak havoc on your skin, accelerating the aging process and damaging cells. This damage causes collagen and elastin to break down, making you look older, as we just mentioned with the glycation process.
When you apply skin care treatments with antioxidants, you may be shielding your skin from harm. There are actually several published, peer-reviewed studies about tea and the skin. One that stands out to me is the one published in the American Association for Cancer Research, which talks about tea’s ability to help prevent UVB damage.  Look for skin care products with Green Tea on the ingredients label. Even better, you can make your own.

We’re going to create a recipe today using Tealightful Earl Grey Green tea.

Did you know that Earl Grey tea is also beneficial to the skin? Earl Grey offers anti-bacterial properties. This tea contains Bergamot Oilwhich not only has a lively citrus aroma, but may help improve the appearance of your skin. Not only can Bergamot Oil help your skin look more radiant, but it contains antiseptic properties. This makes Bergamot a wise choice to help care for acne, psoriasis and other troubled skin conditions.
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Today, I’m sharing a simple Earl Grey Green Tea Facial Toner recipe. Toners are spritzed on the skin or applied with a cotton ball and help remove any traces of makeup left behind after cleansing. A well-formulated toner can also restore the skin’s pH. Another fun tidbit — when you store a green tea toner in the fridge, it feels amazing on the skin on a hot summer day! I *only* drink tea from Tealightful, a Rochester-based company. You'll find a link to my fabulous consultant, Jarrod Parsons, below.

DIY Earl Grey Green Tea Facial Toner Recipe
  • Chilled Tealightful Organic Earl Grey Green Tea (one cup of brewed tea)
  • A drop or two of vitamin E oil (optional)
  • One crushed-up 500mg vitamin C with rosehips tablet
  • Combine the above ingredients.
  • Shake really well. I store this in an amber or cobalt spray bottle and spritz on.
  • Keep refrigerated and discard after 1 week.

Do you have a favorite way to incorporate tea into your beauty routine? I’d love to hear your comments on the subject.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Best Paraben-Free Products for Chocolate Lovers

Eat More Chocolate!
Could your favorite sweet treat improve your skin?


Wouldn’t it be fabulous if something most of us find irresitable could possibly make our skin look younger? I don’t know about you, but if you give me permission to indulge in a bit of chocolate, I ammore than happy to oblige.


Could it be true? Yes! While it may not turn back the clock, chocolate--especially dark chocolate--is highly beneficial to the skin.




Why?


  • Dark chocolate contains an abundance of flavonols.  You may have heard about these antioxidants commonly found in red wine.  They are also present in dark chocolate and provide many benefits. Flavonols have been shown to reduce inflammation and protect the skin from UV damage. We know now that UV damage is one of the leading causes of aging, so this is one reason to reach for some chocolate.
  • Dark chocolate consumption helps to lower the amount of stress hormones such as cortisol.  When your body produces excess cortisol, collagen breaks down.  This collagen breakdown causes fine lines and wrinkles.  Chocolate, though, reduces stress hormones which may help to prevent collagen from breaking down in the first place.
  • Dark chocolate is rich in nutrients believed to improve skin clarity and texture.  You’ll find Vitamins A, B1, C, D, E, iron and calcium in dark chocolate.


Eating chocolate isn’t your only option when it comes to reaping the skin benefits.  There are many products on the market with antioxidant-rich cocoa and dark chocolate to help improve the appearance of your skin and reduce the signs of aging.  I am particularly drawn to the new wave of chocolate-based masks to reduce the signs of aging.  I do love chocolate in ANYTHING, though. All of the products mentioned below are free of parabens and SLS.  Let’s take a look at some of my tried and true favorites.


FarmHouse Fresh Sundae Best Chocolate Softening Mask, $22



This rich mask may resemble a decadent ganache, but it feels like heaven on your face.  It’s thick and a bit sticky, but you will adore how fresh and renewed your skin looks once you have tried it. FarmHouse Fresh has crafted a truly spa-worthy facial product in this exquisite mask!  Your skin will drink in the benefits of bentonite, macadamia seed oil, jojoba and coconut oils, as well as Coenzyme Q10 and royal jelly. This is MY FAVORITE FACE MASK! Skin is left plumper, brighter, and nourished.

Fresh Cocoa Body Exfoliant, $45


There's nothing like a good body scrub. Add chocolate into the mix and you have this decadent treat from Fresh. This is an incredible scrub. It smells heavenly and leaves your skin feeling as smooth as satin. Coconut shell powder and cocoa shell powder are the natural exfoliants in this scrub, which really feels like the ultimate body care luxury!



Aunt Nancy's Creamy Peppermint with Chocolate Swirl Soap, $6

It's my favorite bar of soap. Chocolate + peppermint = one happy blogger! And you won't find a better place to get your soap than over at Aunt Nancy's Handmade Soap on Etsy. I have been a customer of Nan's for more than EIGHT years now. Here is my first review of Nan's amazing soaps. One of my go-to bars when I order is Nan's a goat's milk bar called Creamy Peppermint with Chocolate Swirl. It is my FAVORITE bar of soap. Try it and you'll love it too!



Lush Dirty Massage Bar, $10.95

Chocolate + lavender? Why not! If you haven't tried the massage bars from Lush, you may just be missing out on something fantabulous! My top pick is the Dirty Massage Bar, which contains an abundance of essential oils, cocoa butter and shea butter. It smells truly unique!





Philip B. Chocolate Milk Body Wash & Bubble Bath, $35

Lather up with the Philip B. Chocolate Milk Body Wash and Bubble Bath. This is a true and rich chocolate aroma and it has a creamy lather that doesn't dry out the skin. It smells just like a chocolate milkshake and is something all chocoholics will want in their bath & body collection.



Wednesday, April 13, 2016

10 Popular Beauty Myths Debunked



Between powerful customer testimonials, celebrity endorsements, and stunning before and after photos, it can be very hard to not be at least a little bit drawn in by common beauty and skincare claims. Unfortunately, many of them are noting more than fiction. We talked to the experts and are breaking down 10 of the most common myths.



Myth #1: My favorite beauty blogger said to add water or eye drops to my mascara to make it last longer. What a great idea!



Truth: This is a recipe for infection. Consider this-- the typical tube of mascara is a breeding ground for bacteria. According to a study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 79% of all mascaras contain staph infection not within 3 months of opening. Mascara should be tossed out by that point, but people tend to use it longer. Thanks to the blogosphere, it is now a trend to add water or eye drops to it to make it last even longer.


When you introduce liquid to a  dark and moist mascara formula, you are upsetting the chemical makeup and introducing new bacteria into the mix. Plus, it is dangerous, says Kelly Reynolds, PhD, Assistant Professor of Public Health and germs expert at University of Arizona.  “Our eyes are a vulnerable area for infection,” she says.


Save yourself from a possible eye infection and medical costs associated with that by purchasing a new mascara every three months -- or even more frequently.


Try: PUR Cosmetics Big Look Mascara is my current favorite paraben-free formula. In fact, I am on my third tube!



Myth #2: There are creams to eliminate that embarrassing cellulite on the back of my thighs.



Truth: An estimated 90% of American women have at least some cellulite on their lower half. Do not waste your money on $75 creams claiming they will erase the dimples, though. While ingredients such as caffeine can boost circulation in the skin and give a temporary tightening appearance, the effects are short-lived.If you use a good mechanical exfoliant such as a coffee body scrub and a heavy duty moisturizer, your skin look healthy and taut.


Despite really convincing advertising and miraculous product claims, cellulite creams and serums will not eliminate the problem. When it comes to cellulite creams, Los Angeles plastic surgeon Dr. Garry S. Brody says that “there is absolutely no surgical or medical solution...except for the psychological self-deception of wanting to believe the ads.”


Try: The Original Coffee Scrub from Frank Body to exfoliate and Seed Fragrance Free Body Cream to nourish and pamper the skin.


Myth #3: My mom looks years younger than her age, so I naturally will look younger too.



Truth: Not necessarily. There’s no denying that genetics do play a role in skin aging, but there are many other factors. A recent study in the scientific journal Dermato-Endocrinology, it was revealed that environmental and lifestyle factors have a much greater impact on skin aging.


For example, if you are a smoker, have UV damage from sun exposure or drink alcohol in excess, your genetics will not be able to help you stay younger looking. Lifestyle choices play a greater role than genetics when it comes to the condition of your skin.


Tip: Be sure to stay hydrated, wear sun protection, and only drink alcohol in moderation to keep your skin in its best possible shape.


Myth #4: People with oily skin don’t get wrinkles, so dry skin must be the cause.



Truth:  Dry skin vs. oily skin has nothing to do with wrinkles. While it is true that having dry, ashy skin makes lines and wrinkles more obvious,  a lack of hydration does not cause them to form. You can apply all of the moisturizer in the world and it will do nothing to prevent wrinkles. Dry skin does not cause wrinkles. A breakdown in collagen and elastin are the true culprits. Moisturizers add hydration to the top layer of the skin and really have no impact on wrinkling. A daily nourishing serum with hyaluronic acid will help your skin look plump and healthy, so it is important to use one regularly.


Try: Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II



Myth #5: It’s wintertime, so I can stop wearing sunscreen.



Truth: Whether it’s cold and cloudy or sunny and hot, applying a broad spectrum sunscreen daily is essential. Even on a gray winter day, the skin is still exposed to the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays. Sun damage is the number one cause of both skin cancer and skin aging, so be sure to keep protected. It’s worth mentioning that sun protection isn’t just for those with fair skin. Boston dermatologist Ranella Hirsch, MD says that the notion that only those with lighter complexions are likely to experience sun damage is “just profoundly, radically false.”


Try: My favorite facial sunscreen on earth is a water-light sheer and lightly tinted formula offering broad spectrum mineral protection -- Exuviance Sheer Daily Protector SPF 50.





Myth #6: If you have oily skin, you have to avoid products with oil.



Truth: It might just be time to rethink how you are cleansing. Those with very oily skin often wash their faces several times a day believing that they will be able to cleanse the oil away. In reality, overcleansing strips the skin of its beneficial oils and the sebaceous glands work overtime to compensate for this. The result? Skin that is even more oily than ever. Cleanse twice daily with a facial cleansing oil to remove excess sebum without leaving the skin feeling parched.


Wait a minute. Did you tell people with oily skin to use a cleansing oil? Yes. It may seem counter-intuitive, but those with oily skin may find that their skin will improve greatly by using a cleansing oil. Can oil really help fight oil? Cleansing oils use “good” oils to essentially bind to excess sebum. The oils in the cleanser help pull out the impurities lurking in the pores, which then get rinsed away after cleansing.


Try: DHC Deep Cleansing Oil



Myth #7: You cannot find any decent anti-aging skincare products at the drugstore.



Truth:  What matters the most in a skincare product is the quality (and quantity) of active ingredients. You may just find that the affordable serum found at the drugstore is just as effective as the high end brand with a gilded container. Product efficacy has very little to do with the number on the price tag.


It’s important to note that there is no such thing as an over the counter cream or serum to remove wrinkles, so do not fall for the unrealistic claims you see or hear promising you the fountain of youth.


When shopping for products at the drugstore or large chain to reduce the visible signs of aging, seek out formulas containing proven anti-aging ingredients such as peptides, glycolic acid, retinol, argan oil and niacinamide on the labels.


Try: Olay Regenerist Regenerating Fragrance Free Serum is paraben-free and features anti-aging peptides, antioxidant green tea and niacinamide.


Myth #8: A product advertised as “chemical free” is safer for me to use on my skin than products with synthetic ingredients.



Truth: No, not true. This is a common misconception these days and it has created a great deal of unfounded (by science) fear. Yes, research does show that there may be cause for concern when it comes to ingredients in skincare such as parabens and phthalates, but that does not mean that chemical ingredients are harmful.  


The notion of chemicals in skincare seems to be frowned upon lately, but one just needs to look at the Periodic Table to realize that everything is a chemical -- even water.


"The idea of saying 'This is natural, so it is safe' is false. Nettle is a natural plant, but on the skin, it causes welts,” explains dermatologist Isabelle Oliveres-Gouthi. Conversely, there are many lab created ingredients that do wonders for the skin, including anti-aging peptides. There are many wonderful natural products on the market, but remember that there is no valid reason to avoid products containing synthetics.


Myth #9: If you have wrinkles, you can exercise them away.



Truth: If only it were that easy. Sadly, you can’t tighten your face the way you can tighten your abs. If you’re up into the wee hours are are flipping channels, you undoubtedly have seen TV home shopping stations selling devices designed to exercise muscles in the face. These devices typically are placed in your mouth and cause users to stretch and exaggerate their facial muscles. Doing this can actually promote further lines and wrinkles.


There is no scientific data to show that one can obliterate their facial wrinkles by using a facial exercise machine, so save your hard-earned money.


Myth #10: If a face mask burns, it’s working.



Truth: No matter what anyone tells you, a facial mask or other treatment product should not burn or hurt.  It’s a popular, yet inaccurate, claim--“If your face is red and tingly, it’s just the toxins being drawn out and circulation being boosted.” I first came across this one on Facebook by some ill-informed direct sales consultants without a knowledge of skincare. In response to customer complaints, these ladies were telling people that the redness and burning from a "detox" (another time, we'll cover the "detox" claim) were completely normal. This is irresponsible. It's dangerous and it's untrue. If you have applied a facial mask and it burns the skin, you need to rinse it off immediately. While certain ingredients such as Glycolic Acid can cause a temporary, slight tingling, burning is never a good thing.


A freshly applied mask that makes your skin feel like it is burning may not seem like a big deal, but you could be causing irreparable skin damage if you continue using the offending product.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Balms Away!

If your skin is feeling parched and dehydrated, you will find relief by using a balm. How do you know which ones are best?  Let’s take a look at the 5 best natural skin care balms to alleviate your dry skin.



Why I like it: I initially bought this three years ago for my then 9 year old after he had stitches.  His skin was extra sensitive, dry, and even beginning to peel around his wound. I wanted to find a fragrance free natural skin care balm and picked this up at the grocery store.  I carefully applied this to his face and found it to be non-irritating and gentle.  The balm helped to relieve the dryness and discomfort he was experiencing.  

Later, I decided to try the balm on my own lips and around the cuticles. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly it absorbed into my skin.  The balm moisturizes the skin easily and it never feels sticky. I highly recommend this balm from Badger.

I confess: this is my GO-TO balm. I use this to remove my makeup, to tame the ends of my hair, as a cuticle treatment, heel softener, and even as a highlighter! Add a TINY bit at the cheekbone's highest point and you'll see what I mean.

Why it works: Would you believe there are only two ingredients in this balm?  These include certified organic olive oil and beeswax.  Both are nourishing and protective to the skin, making it a truly effective product.

Is it for me?  Are you looking for a multi-purpose natural balm for your entire family?  If so, this is the product for you.  There is no scent at all, so men and those with sensitive noses will not object to this one.  It is no frills and affordable, but works as well as other natural skin care balms.


Why I like it: The scent of this balm is absolutely exquisite.  It is a pure and natural blood orange, which is both tart and sweet at the same time. When you massage the balm into your skin, you will experience both skin care and aromatherapy benefits.  The blood orange is invigorating and energizing, while the texture of the balm is soothing. When I use this product, I truly feel as though I am walking through a citrus grove.  The scent is intense, as is the level of nourishment to the skin.

Why it works: This balm is chock full of skin nutrients such as beeswax, jojoba oil, antioxidant vitamin E, and olive oil.  In fact, this balm is 80% olive oil. The result is a rich, luxurious moisturizer suitable for even the driest of skin types.

Is it for me?  80 Acres makes spa-quality body balms.  This is ultra-pampering and is a treat for those who love the aromatic nature of citrus scents.



Why I like it: This shea butter balm from L’Occitane is one of my favorite balms because it can be used from head to toe.  Whether it is to help repair split ends in your hair or to treat cracked heels on your feet, this is a multi-tasking skin care product.  I’ve used this as an eye balm, lip balm, dry elbow remedy, cuticle cream and more.  It truly is for everything.

Why it works: The shea butter, pure and simple, is why this works so well.  It is the only ingredient in this natural skin care balm, and it is an effective one.  L’Occitane partners with women from Burkina Faso to source their shea butter, which is rich in vitamin E to soften and treat dry skin.

Is it for me? This balm is ideal for those who like to splurge on their skin care products.  It is more expensive than the other products, but the lovely packaging is gift-worthy and the tin is just adorable. It is not for those on a budget or for those with tree nut allergies.



Why I like it: This lives up to the hype.  Of all of the balms I have tried, I have found this one to be the best suited for dry hands and feet, flaky skin on the legs, and even as a hand cream.  Unlike most balms, this one has ingredients in it to help increase the elasticity in the skin.

There is a pleasant natural scent from the lavender and because of this essential oil, I find it to be incredibly relaxing. Despite this one being smaller than the others, I find that this one actually is the longest lasting because I only need to use a small amount.

Why it works: This is a truly intensive balm because it features several different butters and oils.  You will find nourishing avocado butter, shea butter, and coconut oil in this balm.  In addition to these moisturizing butters, 100% Pure has added in sea buckthorn oil and antioxidants such as green tea.

Is it for me?  If you are vegan, this is a 100% vegan body balm.  It is also gluten free for those who have Celiac’s Disease.  It also contains anti aging ingredients so those with extremely dry facial skin may find that this serves double duty as a face balm.




Why I like it: I was first introduced to this balm as a post-shave redness reliever.  My legs often are dry, red, and itchy after shaving and I am always on the hunt for something to give me some relief.  This balm is just what my skin needs.  It plumps the skin to help it feel nourished and it also eases the itchiness on my legs. I love how this one is in a squeezable tube as opposed to a jar, so it is very user friendly. My legs are left feeling silky and soft.  Shortly after applying, the redness fades away quickly. I also love the subtle vanilla aroma, as it is warm and comforting.

Why it works: Aesop has combined a lovely blend of healthy ingredients such as macadamia seed oil, wheat germ, and soy to add moisture to extra irritated and itchy skin.  Combined with shea butter and cocoa butter, even the driest of skin types will experience an increase in hydration of their skin.

Is it for me?  If you like to put skin care products in your handbag to take along to work with you, this is a must.  It is the only balm on our list sold in a tube, making it highly portable.  If your skin is often irritated from shaving or waxing, this balm is ideal for you as well.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Beauty Blogger's Favorite DIY Body Scrub

Re-sharing my MOST FAVORITE body scrub ever! I have been making this for nearly a decade!


I love salt scrubs. As much as I love sugar scrubs, I like salt for serious exfoliation.

My favorite salt scrub from retail shops is the old Origins Salt Rub. It used to be over $30 per jar -- I started using this way back when Origins sold it in glass jars. It is not in a $31 tube. About ten years ago, I stopped buying the Origins and started making salt scrubs myself. It is easy and the homemade scrub we're going to make is (in my opinion) just as good as the pricey one!

Make your own salt scrub in a 16 ounce jar (weighs in about 27 ounces) at home for only about $2.00 for per jar with today's DIY project! I like to make several at one time which I just did earlier to give away as gifts!



Start with 1/4 c. salt and slowly add in essential oil



After oils are added to salt, blend!



Add a fresh sprig of parsley as a garnish! I also stir some into my scrub (chopped).
Store in a jar and label or decorate as you choose!


The results are wonderful. Your skin will be smoother than silk and feel like butter. If you've ever paid $100 for a spa "Salt Glow" treatment, consider doing this at home and you can do the treatment as often as you'd like!

Before you use it, heed this warning: SALT STINGS BROKEN OR IRRITATED SKIN! I learned this when I first used a salt scrub and didn't think about the sting factor. I applied it all over my legs after I shaved them. OUCH! Scrub first...then shave!

Let's Talk Ingredients


You'll need sea salts, carrier oils, and essential oils. This is a 100% natural product! If you are making a large batch, I recommend a preservative in case you get your wet fingertips in the jar.


I buy my sea salts right at Wegmans. They will come in different grains. I like to use coarse, so but you can use fine -- or a mix of each.


For the carrier oils, today I am using Grapeseed, Sunflower, and Olive Oil. You do not need to use multiple oils like I do. You only need one. I just like the blend of these oils. You also do not have to buy the same ones I have listed here. You can use any oils you have handy, such as jojoba, macadamia, even canola from your baking cabinet!

Now, for the essential oils, I am using Peppermint and Rosemary Essential Oils from Plant Therapy Essential Oils.

I also add in some chopped fresh parsley to my own.


This is a truly invigorating scrub to refresh the senses while giving your skin the royal treatment!

I also add in some chopped fresh parsley to my own.

This is a truly invigorating scrub to refresh the senses while giving your skin the royal treatment!


How To Make It


I start slowly. I like to do a bit at a time. We'll be using 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of oil today. I start by adding 1/4 cup or so of salt into the jar. Then I like to add just 5 drops at a time of essential oil (I add 10 drops of each essential oil total per scrub). Add some carrier oil. Then add more salt, more essential oil, etc. Stir a bit before you add in more salt.

Hmm. Now my scrub looks like applesauce.

Don't worry! I always give the scrub a very quick stir and your scrub will be back to looking very scrubby with the coarse grains visible.

This is a very simple project! I like to even add in a bit of fresh parsley. Why, you ask? No one really talks about the myriad benefits of parsley to the skin. It can help clarify and tone the skin, making it look fresh and bright. It also helps to reduce redness and swelling. I think it's a very underrated natural ingredient for homemade skin care, but it's worth adding in to your scrub.


So that is how you make your scrub! 1 part salt, 1 part oil, 10 drops of essential oil and a sprig of parsley! It couldn't be simpler. Just wait, though, to see how soft and radiant your skin will be!