3 Myths About Lavender (And What It’s Actually Good For)

myths about lavender

Can we talk about one of my favorite herbs for a minute? Lavender. I use lavender in a lot of my medicinal formulas, herbal teas, and infused oils. It is so gentle and effective you really can’t go wrong with it.

That being said, lavender has been in the limelight for so long that it’s one of those herbs that has a lot of buzz around it. This could potentially get in the way of the real remedial uses of the plant. As in, you might be using it wrong.

Myths About Lavender

First, let’s dispel some rumors about what lavender isn’t and then get to the crux of what we’re here to talk about: what lavender excels at.

Is lavender estrogenic?

We get this question every once in awhile and the answer is no. Absolutely not! There was a 2007 study that suggested this connection, but the sample size was really small… just three boys. The unnamed products that were used to conduct the study contained lavender and tea tree oils, but they were diluted with a chemical that is a known estrogen mimicker (dimethyl sulfoxide.)

This study on three young boys is literally the only study ever conducted that had this result. Though often cited, these findings have not been duplicated, nor has lavender been linked to estrogenic issues in the past.

Lavender has been used medicinally for centuries and has never been touted as an aid to women during their moon cycle or during the change of life. If it was estrogenic in any way, it would have been thoroughly vetted by herbalists hundreds of years ago and suggested to women to use when estrogen mimicking would be useful to them.

What about lavender for anxious feelings?

So this is sort of an ambiguity that herbalists are faced with sometimes when talking about the most magical plants. Lavender is often touted as a great calming herb and though I don’t disagree, I want to make it clear that I wouldn’t use it alone for chronic, pervasive anxious feelings.

Lavender is naturally calming and helps with the occasional nervous stomach aches, so if you’re feeling nervous and you have lavender, use it, smell it, drink it in a tea, bathe with it—do it all if you can. It is a gentle tonic so you can use the herb long term so: go team lavender!

I personally love lavender when I’m feeling angry, stressed, or sad because it’s calming and a great pick-me-up in the moment. Used with a long-term plan, lavender can be a great supplemental ally, but it’s not the first (or the second) herb that comes to mind as a solution to anxious emotions.

I used a Lavender-scented (insert product here) and it gave me a headache/caused a reaction/smelled terrible

We can talk about synthetically herbal-scented products all day long but when it comes down to it, they aren’t good for you, they don’t have the healing properties of the herbs, and they give herbs a bad rap. Products that use a chemically-produced lavender scent have ruined this wonderful herb for a lot of people. This adulteration of such a special plant is actually pretty offensive to the plant and herbalists alike. So many people don’t (or won’t) experience the benefits of lavender because of it.

If you’re one of these people, you’re not alone. I suggest going to your local herb shop and picking up a good essential oil right away. Put a couple of drops into a pot of boiling water or your humidifier and try it out. You deserve the real thing.

What Lavender Excels At

I’m going to try not to make a four-page list here because lavender is so versatile that I probably could. Lavender is such a gentle powerhouse that it can be used topically and internally with amazing benefits. It’s safe to use with the kiddos (fur babies and human babies) and it’s strong enough to use on adult complaints.

Topical uses for Lavender

Lavender on Your Skin!

Lavender has a rich history of being a skin herb! Up until World War II, lavender was used while dressing wounds and the essential oil is so gentle that it’s one of the few that can be used directly on the skin in small doses.

We use lavender in almost (if not) all of our products because it’s recommended for all skin types – it’s balancing for oily skin and soothing for dry skin!

Use it as an Insect Repellent

Don’t let the sweet smell fool you, it keeps the bugs away! It can be used in the sachets (like the ones that we send with every order) to repel moths and bugs in clothing. I even use it in my homemade bug repellent for camping and backpacking trips.

During the bubonic plague, people used lavender in the sick room to stop the spread of the disease, and people that kept lavender on their person often did not get the illness. It was a miracle then, but now we know that the illness was spread by lice and fleas and lavender is such a great insect repellent that it kept people healthy by keeping insects away from them.

Internal Uses for Lavender

As an internal remedy, lavender can be an elegant solution to a lot different issues. We would like to note here that we don’t suggest taking essential oils internally. Lavender essential oil is gentle but it’s still very strong and, like all essential oils, can cause issues with phase two detox in the long run.

Lavender for Inflammation

It’s one of the best. Taken internally, lavender helps with all sorts of inflammation. I’ll drink a strong lavender tea over taking an ibuprofen any day because in addition to the anti-inflammation, it fills me with positivity, doesn’t kill gut flora, calms the nerves, and the infusion is hydrating!

Lavender as a Nerve Tonic

The best way I can describe the potency here is “stage fright level” nerves. Public speaking, going on a first date, catching some sleep before a huge exam, nervous stomach ache, fear—taking lavender internally as a tea or even a tincture is up your ally.

Catch some Z’s: Lavender for Sleep

Lavender is amazing for nightmares and nervous insomnia. I especially like to take an alcohol extraction that is 50% lavender, 50% blue vervain. It calms you right down and allows you to gently drift off to sleep without the morning sleeping pill hangover.

Cook with Lavender, it’ll Blow your Mind

This is pretty self-explanatory. Ask me about sugar cookies and scones with lavender sometime.

Lavender for Digestion

Speaking of cooking with it, it’s great for indigestion, vomiting, nausea, bad breath—really it’s great for digestion altogether because it’s actually a bitter herb!

Lavender for Your Furry Friends

This one is a huge deal. For animals that are prone to stress reactions, the essential oil can dramatically improve their mood and can take effect instantly. Put it on their collars, or on some cardboard by their bed and see how they do.

A lavender rinse can be extremely helpful with itchy skin and fleas (remember the plague?) just make a super strong lavender tea and let it cool completely. It can also be used as an oil to keep your friends flea-less even when they’re running in the forest, just leave the dry flowers in an oil base for a couple of weeks and then strain it out, rub it on their coat before a walk.

I like to add the fresh or dry herbs to my creature’s water, lavender and sage are two of my favorites because they’re cleansing and they smell so good together!

Note: Cats don’t have the ability to break down essential oils in their livers so any kind of essential oils can cause illness in our feline friends. Be careful with dropping the pure essential oil on or around your kitty.

Okay, I think you get the picture. Get some lavender and use it for everything. Better yet, grow it! It’s super easy to grow and it’s a perennial so you’ll only have to do it once if you treat it right. Just keep the soil dry and give it full, direct sun. Talking to your plant every day isn’t essential, but I have found that they really love it. Bees and butterflies love it when it’s flowering so I encourage you to grow it because our pollinators need all the love they can get right now!

What are your favorite uses for lavender? Let us know in the comments?

Sources:

Alfs, M. (2003). 300 Herbs Their Indications and Contraindications. New Brighton, MN: Old Theology Book House.

Mars, B. (2007). The desktop guide to herbal medicine: The ultimate multidisciplinary reference to the amazing realm of healing plants, in a quick-study, one-stop guide. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Pub.

Tilford, G., & Tilford, M. (2009). Herbs for pets: The natural way to enhance your pet’s life(2nd ed.). Laguna Hills, Calif.: BowTie Press.

“Explore lavender essential oil.” Explore lavender essential oil | Aura Cacia. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.

“Prepubertal gynecomastia linked to lavender and tea tree oils.” The New England journal of medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.

“Dimethyl sulfoxide is a potent modulator of estrogen receptor isoforms and xenoestrogen biomarker responses in primary culture of salmon hepatocytes.” Dimethyl sulfoxide is a potent modulator of estrogen receptor isoforms and xenoestrogen biomarker responses in primary culture of salmon hepatocytes. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.

The following post 3 Myths About Lavender (And What It’s Actually Good For) was first published on Annmarie Gianni Skin Care.

Why Ingesting Essential Oils Should Be Avoided

using essential oils internally

One of the most common questions we get about our Essential Oil Blends is whether or not they are “food grade” and pure enough to use internally. We have a hard time answering that question because the answer is yes and no! As with all of our products, our Essential Oil Blends are made with the purest ingredients available so they would be considered ‘food grade’ but we never suggest ingesting essential oils without guidance from a licensed medical practitioner, especially not a proprietary blend.

Essential oils are extremely concentrated—imagine drinking 30 cups of peppermint tea in a single gulp, that’s the potency of one drop of the peppermint essential oil (and since all essential oils aren’t created equally, that number could be even higher). That’s some seriously potent medicine and absorbing it all at once could be too much of a good thing.

History of Essential Oil Use

We don’t know very much about our great, great ancestors but one thing we know for certain is that humans have always loved plants that smell good. Some of the earliest known human remains, dating back about 60,000 years, were found with aromatic plants and concentrated extracts from medicinal allies that we still use today like yarrow and mallow (this kind of blows my mind and reminds me that we evolved with the plants).

The first written instruction for distillation of essential oil is from around 2000 BC in the Charaka-Samhita, one of the two surviving Sanskrit teachings of traditional Ayurveda. All around the globe, traditional people were cooking, steaming, pressing yummy smelling plants to increase their potency and make them more effective for healing.

Essential oils were used often in the mainstream medicine of the 17th century and even Shakespeare wrote about being perfumed because it seemed a common knowledge that a foul smell carried disease. Before the advent of penicillin, we saw essential oils like thyme, clove, and lemon used to treat gangrene in World War I.

Although herbalism and other forms of traditional medicines have been marginalized by insurance and pharmaceuticals for over a century, it’s impossible to remove the draw of olfactory stimulation from the likes of humanity so when the first aromatherapy clinics were opened in the 1960s by a European nurse, people started taking notice. From that humble beginning, students and researchers took it to a new level with essential oils and aromatherapy becoming a recognized medicinal practice in England.

Using Essential Oils Internally

When I read the history of essential oils, I noticed that all of the medical history around essential oils is centered on the doctor-patient relationship. There’s a bit about the UK putting out a warning about the dangers of a perfumed woman but for the most part, when essential oils have been indicated, especially for internal use, it has always been administered by a healer.

Further, the different types of essential oil users have been broken down into aesthetic users, holistic users, and clinical users. Aesthetic users are like you and me, we love the smell of essential oils—we want to smell good, we know that the scent of lavender is calming and that sage is cleansing. We have read up about it on our own time and have an interest in using essential oils personally but we don’t use the oils undiluted or administer it to ourselves for medicinal purposes.

A holistic user is a practitioner that sees the value in using essential oils with their clients. They adhere to the safety rules with essential oils so they may add them to a massage oil or make a smelling salt blend or even suggest a good blend for a client to add to their bathwater but they don’t add essential oils to their internal formulas.

The only kind of users that are qualified to use or prescribe essential oils to ingest is a clinical aromatherapy practitioner that is also a physician. It takes a long time to learn the proper dosages with undiluted essential oils because they’re such concentrated forms of specific plant constituents and although the body of research is growing, it’s also consistently changing and physicians do focus on continuing education throughout their time practicing.

When it comes down to it, we’re not adamantly opposed to using essential oils internally by any means! There have been amazing results using essential oils as internal medicine and if someone is sick, we think that seeking a holistic physician to offer guidance to the right essential oil at the proper dosage is a great idea. What we don’t think is a good idea is choosing individual oils or blends and dosing yourself or others until you’ve been properly trained by a qualified physician.

What to Think About Before Using Essential Oil Blends

Simply put, essential oils can damage your body.

We think of plant medicine is safe because it’s made from nature but anyone that spends a lot of time in nature will tell you – she’s a tough beast and our safety isn’t her concern. Rather, it’s evolution and the human species’ ability to adapt and change that makes plant medicine effective for us.

Essential oils are a concentration of nature, it’s a removal of nature’s buffers (like plant matter and water and most water soluble parts) and the process of creating an essential oil does turn into a different type of medicine. It’s not quite the same thing as extracting salicylic acid and making aspirin from willow, because you’re not pulling a singular compound but it is similar in that you’re removing everything except the mixture of constituents that make up the volatile oil of the plant and that’s a whole lot of power to put directly into your body. There are hundreds of constituents in an individual essential oil and we don’t know how they all interact with each other or our body chemistry so exercising caution with this medicine is smart.

If you’re inhaling or using an essential oil topically in a carrier oil, the absorption rate is slow and not everything can permeate the system so even though it still has an affect on the body and it’s possible to overdo it, it doesn’t need to be as carefully regulated. When it comes to ingesting essential oils (and when you’re ingesting any kind of medicine, vitamin, or supplement) it is vital to think about how it’s going to be removed from the body later. What will it do to the internal structures of our bodies? We’re resilient but our organs of elimination (liver, kidneys, lungs, skin) are individual systems that are interconnected and codependent. They’re working together to clear us out and if one organ is sluggish, the other organs pick up the slack.

Regardless of your method of application, essential oils are usually excreted by the kidneys, skin, and lungs with the kidneys take the brunt of this type of detoxification—remember when we talked about the Science of Scent and we learned that the kidneys use olfactory receptors to ‘sniff’ out toxins? Kidneys in action! As a general rule, if the kidneys are excreting something it’s in the bloodstream and if it’s in the bloodstream the liver played a hand in that detoxification too. When we use really potent medicine of any kind, it can be overstimulating to the liver and the kidneys and that can cause lasting tissue damage over time. Essential oils are no different.

This can be a difficult concept to understand because an essential oil, like an antibiotic, is immediately effective for many ailments but the symptoms of a damaged liver or kidney don’t show up right away. Think about it, we have a million nephrons in each kidney, each nephron is an individual blood scrubber that separates toxins to remove in the urine from the stuff to keep in the bloodstream. There are a lot of really potent individual constituents within a single essential oil (let alone a blend) and those constituents are passed through the kidneys, which can wear out the nephrons and those don’t grow back once their rendered useless. That puts the weight on the other nephrons and on other organs of elimination to clear out the body. See how that could be a progressive issue that could take a while to show up?

That’s why we shy away from advising people to take essential oils internally. When we’re approaching health and healing, we always want to take a long term approach. There’s a time and place (and practitioners) for essential oil use internally. I had a teacher that put it into perspective for me by saying, “I have to be so sick that I’m willing to take the kidney punch,” and that has been a helpful (and entertaining) nugget of wisdom that I’ve held onto. Maybe it’ll help you too!

When do You Use Essential Oils Internally? Tell us below!

The following post Why Ingesting Essential Oils Should Be Avoided was first published on Annmarie Gianni Skin Care.

Collagen; What it is and the Role it Plays in Looking Your Age

collagen

Most of the time when you hear about collagen, it’s all about boosting the production in your skin to make you look fresher and younger. We see it all over the place and that lead us to question, what is collagen? Why do we need it? And most importantly, what happens to it when we age?

What is Collagen?

Collagen is a long, fibrous structural protein that makes up 30% of all of the protein in the body. It connects and supports all of our body’s tissues and can be found in our skin, hair, tendons, bones, cartilage, and fascia (ie. everywhere). The most abundant place we see collagen is in the skin, where it makes up 70% of the total mass—when you consider that skin is our largest organ, it becomes pretty clear that it is an important protein.

Collagen has great tensile strength—meaning that it can hold a lot of tension without breaking. It is responsible for the elasticity in the skin and is the most prominent protein in the tendons that bind our muscles to our bones. In a nutshell, collagen is the main reason for our natural ‘bounce back’ whether it’s got to do with the resilience of our skin, the movement of our joints, the creation of our bones, or strengthening our blood vessels.

These elongated fibrils are strong and tall when we’re young, but as we age, that starts to change.

What Happens to Collagen as We Age?

Like with every part of our bodies, the more summers we add, the less collagen we produce. Starting in our mid-twenties, our bodies produce about 1% less collagen each year. Not only do we produce less collagen, the collagen that we already have deteriorates (the rate of this can vary depending upon lifestyle choices and environment) and that has a pretty big impact on our bodies.

Thinking about a decrease in the protein that connects our muscles to our bones and allows our joints to move fluidity offers an insight into how our bodies change as we age. We slow down and have a harder time building muscle and retaining flexibility. Joint aches and pains become more prominent and our hair thins. Most noticeably, our skin loses its luster and we start to see things like fine lines, wrinkles, sagging, and thinning.

Is There a Way to Counteract Breakdown?

There are whole companies built around stimulating collagen production or consuming collagen for our bodies to utilize and the products appear to have results – but the jury is actually out on whether or not these products are truly effective at stimulating collagen.

First, can you topically apply collagen to the skin? So far, science tells us this just doesn’t work. You may have collagen in your cream, but collagen molecules are too large to penetrate deeply into the dermis, which is where you need them to go to do any good. Even nano-particle collagen in skin care doesn’t seem to give the skin the type of boost that it can utilize.

Most scientists think that consuming collagen for beauty is a waste too because it is a protein that the body will just break down and use as energy like any other protein. That being said, we had some collagen protein here in the office and more than one team member noticed a difference in their skin and nails so we asked the obvious question — how are they producing results? Well, it could be that the supplements are full of amino acids and phytonutrients that are amazing for the overall health of the body (which naturally improves the health of the skin) or it could be that the specific amino acids that the collagen protein are utilized to produce more collagen—again, the jury is still out at the cellular level.

What scientists do agree on is that vitamin C can play a helping hand with this issue because it’s a natural precursor to the creation of the protein and its known to be a powerful force against oxidative stress, a major cause of aging and environmental collagen degradation.

Have you ever taken a collagen supplement? Tell us about your experience!

Sources:

“What is Collagen – The science behind collagen & anti-ageing.” MedColl The Ultimate Scientific Beauty Supplement. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2017.

“The materials science of collagen.” Journal of the mechanical behavior of biomedical materials. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2017.

“Collagen Supplements – Do They Really Work? What Does?” Collagen Supplements – Do They Really Work? What Does? N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2017.

Cook, Jenny. “Do collagen supplements and drinks actually work?” Netdoctor. N.p., 14 June 2016. Web. 30 Jan. 2017.

The following post Collagen; What it is and the Role it Plays in Looking Your Age was first published on Annmarie Gianni Skin Care.

Turmeric; 4 Ways this Golden Root is Great for Your Skin

Turmeric

Can you dry up oily skin, help minimize the appearance of dark spots, slow the appearance of aging, and protect your inner sun goddess, all with one natural ingredient?

If you’re talking about turmeric, the answer is yes.

The History of Turmeric

Turmeric has been considered an important part of Indian culture for at least 4000 years. It is regularly used as a spice for traditional dishes, as a medicine, and as a dye that offers a pretty yellow-orange color. As part of religious tradition in both Buddhism and Hinduism, turmeric is used to anoint the statues of deities and to represent purity in important ceremonies like marriage and birthing.

It was one of the first and most important spices in the Silk Road spice trade and because of its widespread use it has over 50 names in Sanskrit and is known all around the world by many more. Most commonly it’s known by its Latin name, curcuma. This can be tricky because there are over 100 curcuma plants worldwide and most of them are known locally, grow in rainforest climates, and have similar medicinal uses but the turmeric that think of is Curcuma longa.

Though this relative of ginger has been around for thousands of years, turmeric has enjoyed renewed popularity thanks to recent research confirming that it’s health benefits are nothing short of amazing.

Internal Uses for Turmeric

Along with being abundant and delicious, taking curcuma internally on a consistent basis is great for long term nourishment of the cardiovascular and digestive systems, the traditional peoples know this and that’s why it’s used in so many foods – and eating it with a little bit of black pepper makes it even more effective.

Modern medicine has embraced turmeric, with over 3,000 publications mentioning the root over the past 25 years because of an active constituent in turmeric called curcumin. The studies have shown that curcumin, when eaten on a consistent basis, may increase circulation, prevent blood clots, ease joint pain, delay the onset of type 2 diabetes, and help to improve memory in dementia patients.

Turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for the kapha/vata type and is known as a gentle liver stimulating herb so it’s indicated for headaches that are caused by liver stagnation (bilious headaches), and for people that are sensitive to fatty food.

Turmeric is inexpensive, obtainable and it’s a powerhouse of an herb so we think that it’s worth adding a little bit to your dinnertime spice blend. Even though it isn’t something that will make an immediately noticeable change to your health, consistent use and extractions are contraindicated for people that are already taking blood thinning medications, have clotting disorders, or have a surgery in the near future.

Turmeric for Skin

Helps reduce oiliness

Turmeric has natural oil-controlling properties overtime! If you’re working with oily skin and clogged pores, try adding turmeric extract to your homemade masks. If you’re using the powder, be sure to mix it with other ingredients because it can leave a yellow stain on your skin if you’re using it for a long time on its own.

Delays the appearance of aging

Turmeric contains potent antioxidants known to protect against environmental stressors. With it’s internal benefits being so amazing, it makes sense that topical application of turmeric may also help delay the appearance of aging on the skin.

Fades the Appearance of Dark Spots

Natural sun worshippers can totally resonate with this one, we’re all tired of those dark spots! Turmeric is an ancient beauty ritual for lightening and brightening the skin. Young Indian maidens are said to use turmeric water to wash with every day for the illuminating effect.

Great for Sensitive Skin

Turmeric is such a gentle ally that it’s great to use for sensitive skin too. It is soothing to reactive, delicate skin while also being mineral and antioxidant rich and providing nourishment for that sensitive skin that needs a bit of extra love.

DIY Turmeric Mask

Making a mask with turmeric is easy! We suggest mixing your powdered turmeric with other ingredients because using it by itself can leave a short-term stain on your skin.

Since Curcuma longa is amazing for any type of skin, we want to offer a mask recipe here that anyone can do but you we encourage you to add turmeric to any type of homemade mask! You just want to make sure that you’re choosing the right facial mask for your skin type.

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon oatmeal or oat flour (a course ground oat will add gentle exfoliant)
  • 1 tablespoon greek or coconut yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon of raw honey

Mix these together well and apply it to a clean face. Leave for 15-30 minutes and rinse using warm water or a washcloth.

Note* turmeric will stain fabric, so we suggest wearing an old shirt and drying with an old towel.

What’s your Favorite Way to Use Turmeric? Share your recipe below!

References:

Alfs, M. (2003). 300 Herbs Their Indications and Contraindications. New Brighton, MN: Old Theology Book House.

“‘Curry’ Cream May Fade Wrinkles.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.

Hobbs, C., & Gardner, L. (n.d.). Grow it, heal it: Natural and effective herbal remedies from your garden or windowsill.

Mars, B. (2007). The desktop guide to herbal medicine: The ultimate multidisciplinary reference to the amazing realm of healing plants, in a quick-study, one-stop guide. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Pub.

Prasad, Sahdeo. “Turmeric, the Golden Spice.” Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.

“The Religious Significance of Turmeric.” Our Everyday Life. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.

The following post Turmeric; 4 Ways this Golden Root is Great for Your Skin was first published on Annmarie Gianni Skin Care.

Best Facial Cleanser: Gel or Cream?

How to choose between a cleansing gel and cream

Go to your local department store and check out your natural facial cleansing options. If you’re like me, you’re easily overwhelmed with all the language—sensitive gel cleansers, deep clean cream cleansers, moisturizing oil cleansers, foaming face washes, the list goes on. How do you know what the best option is? Does it really make a difference? I mean, you just rub it on your face and rinse it off 30 seconds later.

It turns out that it absolutely makes a difference and like everything we suggest when it comes to skincare, what you use totally depends on your skin type and your skincare goals.

Some General Guidelines for a Natural Cleanser

The cleanser you use is the most important part of your skin care routine. It is the start and end of your day, it simultaneously clears off the dirt and grime and preps your skin for your products so if you’re using the wrong one, your other products just won’t be as effective.

It is super important to know what you are putting on your skin so be sure to check the ingredients. You want to make sure you’re not seeing ethanols or chemicals that could increase the overall appearance of aging. Use a cleanser with natural ingredients that aren’t stripping or detrimental to the skin’s mantle so that it can more readily absorb the nutrients that you offer it in the rest of your routine.

You also want to make sure that your cleanser is pH balanced. We have written about this in more detail before but typical soaps are pretty alkaline and the skin’s natural acid mantle is just about 5.5-6.5 on the pH scale so working with a soap that is too alkaline can leave the skin susceptible to things like clogged pores, dryness, dehydration, fine lines and wrinkles.

Okay, general guidelines aside, let’s get a little bit more in depth about which type of cleansers work best for which types of skin.

When to Use a Gel Cleanser

A gel cleanser is great for people that are working with oily or combination skin and people working with clogged pores. It’s a deeper cleanse that often includes ingredients like witch hazel and neem, which can help to balance natural oils and tighten pores. We often recommend a gel cleanser for a post-workout clean because it can cut through dirt, grime, and sweat better than other types of cleansers.

Our Citrus Mint Cleanser is pH balanced and it’s wonderful for oily to combination skin, clogged pores, and post-workout washes. We love it for balancing excess oils and for people working to tone their pores without stripping the skin’s acid mantle. We don’t often recommend this for dry skin because it can be a bit too drying but if you are a person experiencing dry skin with clogged pores that could be from environmental factors, this cleanser might be the one for you followed up by a hydrating serum and a protective moisturizer.

When to Use a Cream Cleanser

A cream cleanser is awesome for people that have dry or dehydrated skin because it’s made with an extra moisturizing element in the formula like an additional oil that isn’t saponified. Typically this is an moisturizing oil like coconut oil so that the cleanser will wash away dirt and grime without removing the protective oil barriers.

If you’re working with normal or combination skin that isn’t an oil slick in the t-zone or sensitive skin this is also a good choice for you. This type of cleanser is more gentle than a gel and since it’s made to be both hydrating and moisturizing while removing build-up from your day, it’s wonderful for prepping skin to absorb the extra nourishment that it needs.

Our Aloe Herb Cleanser is a gentle cream cleanser that is great for removing makeup (try putting it on a cotton ball if you’re removing makeup) and any kind of gunk your skin might have picked up throughout the day. We recommend it as a cleanser for everyone on the normal to dry skin spectrum but if you’re working with oily skin or clogged pores, this cleanser may not be exactly what you’re looking for.

Do you use a Gel or Cream Cleanser? How did you choose? Let us know below!

The following post Best Facial Cleanser: Gel or Cream? was first published on Annmarie Gianni Skin Care.

The Truth about SPF — Why We Use Zinc in Our Safe, Natural Sun Protection

natural sun protection

Sunscreens. Used to be you could just slap one on and go out feeling protected and at ease.

Not so much anymore. Studies have shown that a number of chemicals in sunscreens, such as PABA, cinnamates, oxybenzone, and more can react with the sun’s rays to create damaging free radicals, which may actually increase the risk of skin cancer.

Chemical sunscreens have also been linked with hormone disruption. Research has found that they can act like estrogen in the body, throwing natural hormones off balance. In a study of six common sunscreen chemicals, five acted like estrogen, causing an increase in human breast cancer cells.

Another concern with these sunscreens is that they have the potential to penetrate deeply into skin, getting inside the body. A 1999 study, for instance, found that all sunscreen agents tested penetrated into the skin, with benzophenone-3 (oxybenzone) passing through in significant amounts. In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that nearly all Americans were contaminated with oxybenzone, which has been linked with hormone disruption and allergies.

To get away from these risks, most dermatologists and other skin care experts recommend using so-called “physical” sunscreens like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

Here’s more on the subject, and why we chose zinc oxide for our formula to protect skin from cancer and premature aging.

Chemical Sunscreens vs. Physical Sunscreens

For many years now, people have been categorizing sunscreens into two groups—physical and chemical. Chemical sunscreens are made in the laboratory and are like those listed above—cinnamates, oxybenzone, etc. They are said to reduce sun damage by absorbing UV rays and robbing them of their harmful power.

Physical sunscreens, on the other hand—like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—are made of natural elements found on the earth, and are said to “block” or “scatter” UV rays so they never penetrate the skin in the first place. Later research showed this wasn’t entirely true—physical sunscreens absorb UV rays as well—but they do retain some scattering ability, depending on the size of the UV wavelength. It all gets very scientific, but you can still think of these two groups when thinking about the different types of sunscreens available.

In general, physical sunscreens are considered to be the safer options because they offer a more broad-spectrum protection and lack the hormone-disrupting effects.

What is SPF?

Most sunscreens list an SPF number on the label. SPF stands for “sun protection factor,” and is a measurement of protection from only UVB rays, which are the ones that cause redness and sunburn.

UVA rays are considered even more dangerous, as they penetrate skin more deeply and are linked to skin cancer. But SPF does not measure a sunscreen’s protection against UVA rays—only UVB rays.

To further explain—the SPF is a measurement of the difference between the amount of sunlight that causes redness in sunscreen-protected skin and the amount that causes redness in unprotected skin. A sunscreen with an SPF of 15 theoretically gives you 15 times the minutes to stay out before you burn.

Example: if you usually burn in 10 minutes, and you apply an SPF 15 product, you can stay out for 150 minutes.

There are some problems with this equation, though. It makes people believe that an SPF of 30 would allow them to remain twice as long in the sun as an SPF 15. In truth, an SPF 15 blocks about 93 percent of UVB rays, while an SPF 30 blocks about 97 percent, and an SPF 50 about 98 percent. So going higher and higher doesn’t necessarily create more protection after a certain point.

In addition, these numbers have nothing to do with UVA rays, so people who slather on an SPF of 50 and stay in the sun for hours are likely to suffer even more severe skin damage if they don’t have a “broad spectrum” sunscreen that protects from both UVA and UVB rays.

In addition, high SPF products are often made with greater percentages of chemical ingredients, which may be linked to hormone disruption, trigger allergic reactions, and potentially expose you to more free-radical damage.

The Benefits of Zinc Oxide

When formulating our natural sun protection, our highest priorities were broad-spectrum protection and safety. We wanted to offer our customers protection from both UVA and UVB rays, which cause premature aging.

Zinc oxide has had a long history of use as a sun protection. It offers broad-spectrum protection, shielding you from both UVB rays, which cause sunburn, and UVA rays, which penetrate more deeply and may be more dangerous.

Zinc is an essential mineral that we actually need in our bodies for optimal function, and is the only active sunscreen ingredient approved by the FDA for infants under six months.

Bottom Line

There’s no doubt that UV exposure increases the risk for skin cancer and accelerates the effects of aging. A healthy skin-care regimen must include protection. We’ve combined the best of all worlds by including the following in our formula:

  • Zinc oxide, which is still considered the safest option in sunscreens. It’s the only sunscreen recommended by the FDA for babies. It offers superior broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Antioxidants, which help the skin with environmental stressors. That’s why we pack our products full of them! If you’re regularly using our skin care products, or apply other forms of antioxidants to your skin, you’re getting an added boost of protection. We added antioxidant-rich buriti fruit and sunflower seed oil to the new formula.
  • Naturally soothing ingredients help reduce skin’s reaction to the sun, allowing it to glow with radiance. We’ve included ingredients like lavender and hemp seed oil that can naturally make your skin feel calm and cool.
  • Natural moisturizers which keep skin soft and healthy. The stronger your skin is, the better it is able to resist harmful stressors. Moisture is a key part of this process, as dry skin is likely to crack and flake, making skin more vulnerable to premature aging. Our Sun Love formula is an oil-based product that both protects from the sun’s rays and deeply moisturizes.

We’re excited about our new Sun Love – Natural Sun Protection. Have you tried it? What do you think?

 

The following post The Truth about SPF — Why We Use Zinc in Our Safe, Natural Sun Protection was first published on Annmarie Gianni Skin Care.

5 Reasons to Use Oil as your Face Moisturizer

facial oils

We are always being asked about the use of oils in our products. A lot of people want to know if we suggest using an additional moisturizer on top of our Facial Oils (only if your skin is very dry), other people want to know why we use the pure oils instead of an emulsified lotion product, and still others want to talk about how adding oils might clog their pores. We wrote an article comparing lotions and oils already but we want to expand on our use of oils a little bit further because so much of our line is oil based!

If it seems counter-intuitive to use oil in your skincare right now, that’s okay. We want you to know that you’re not alone and that we’re here to help you find the right routine with organic products—which can be a challenge both because finding any type of routine can be hard and because making the switch to organic can be an arduous transition.

The good news is, once you have made the leap to organic skincare, your skin will be primed and ready to work like it does in the natural wild world. That is what we focus on. We obviously want to focus on sustainable Earth-based products but we pay a lot of attention to what the skin needs and how it works naturally.

How does skin work?

I have written this to you before and I’ll write it again but it’s important to remember that the skin is a thin living barrier between what is us and what isn’t us. For as thin as it is, the skin is our largest organ and it has three distinct layers that work as a cycle—every cell starts at the innermost layer and works its way to the outermost layer, taking about a month to complete—this means that the skin is constantly changing!

We think about it like this, your internal body makes and feeds your skin through your blood, so whatever is happening internally, is filtering into that innermost skin creation layer. Then, the cells cycle outwards to the environment and what they’re exposed to externally makes a difference too—not to mention that our skin is totally porous and absorbing everything around us all the time.

Now, let’s be honest here. The world is a dangerous place and the things we come into contact with can be hard on our bodies. Since the skin is our outermost layer, it’s also got to be a layer of protection. Not only does it tell us vital information about our surroundings (is that hot, cold, sharp, hard, etc) it works to fight off bad guys on a pretty regular basis with the sweat and the sebum that are produced in the skin.

Sweat is essentially salt water. Just like using a salt water gargle at the first sign of a sore throat, the skin sends salty, cleansing minerals in a water solution out of your pores to kill off bad that are on your skin. Sweating is also an action that opens pores to push out any bad guys that might be in the blood (remember from about that the blood feeds to skin, so the body uses that mechanism to drop off bad bacteria and then sweat helps move it on out.) Yet another reason that you have got to keep your skin hydrated!

What we’re really after here is the sebum. Our skin’s sebum is thick and sticky. It’s held and released by sebaceous glands that live inside the skin’s pores. This oil is what the skin uses to protect itself from those same nasty invaders that it uses the sweat to annihilate them. The Sebum leaves the sebaceous glands and grabs onto any dirt, grime, bacteria and it hangs onto it so that it can’t enter the body and then coupled with our sweat, we wash it away at the end of our days (does anyone else read this and imagine an epic battle scene?)

So basically, what this boils down to is me telling you that proper moisturization is more than just a vain beauty secret, it’s key for achieving an extra layer of balance to your skin. As you can probably imagine, over or under production of this sebum can cause skin mayhem. Overproduction can cause the skin to trap too much gunk and clog up pores and underproduction can cause the skin to have a more difficult time protecting itself.

Remember this article is actually about why we use oils in our skincare? This is where we come in.

5 Reasons Facial Oils Make Great Moisturizers

  1. Balance! Like we talked about above, the skin uses it’s own homemade oil to trap dirt and grime. When it’s not in balance, skin chaos can ensue on a spectrum that stems from clogged pores to fine lines and wrinkles to itchy, flaky skin. Using an oil to moisturize shows the skin, “hey! I’m here to help!” because it’s already accustomed to working with an oil and it helps to balance out the skin for the appearance of healthy, glowing skin.
  2. Purity! We’re into purity and Earth-based organic ingredients. An organic oil that has been sustainably sourced and processed safely is one of the purest ingredients. They’re full of the botanical benefits that come with the plant they’re sourced from, which are often very high in minerals and antioxidants!
  3. Nourishment! Oils are great to infuse even more minerals into. They readily accept fat-soluble nutrients from anything they’re steeped in so when you’re using an infused oil in your skincare routine, you’re getting a protective moisturizer along with an amazing extra boost of nourishment.
  4. Use Less! Think about the person you know that has the most beautiful natural skin. Do they look too oily? Too dry? No! They’re blessed with that ‘just a little bit of dewy’ perfection that we crave. Finding the right balance with oils isn’t about using a lot or a little bit of oil, it’s about using the right one at the right times. A pea-sized amount rubbed into the palm of your hands and patted into your face is all most people need for their daily moisturizer.
  5. Preserve! Just like oils help to preserve our skin, they help to preserve the seeds that they come from. A pure oil doesn’t need any added preservation for it to last a few years without going rancid, especially if you keep it in a cool, dark place (light and heat speed are catalysts and speed decomposition.) Using pure oils helps us keep the chemical preservatives out of our products!

The fun is just beginning. Now that you’re sold on using an oil for your skin care routine, it’s time to start looking at what might be the best kind of oil for your skin type. Once you have an idea of your best carrier oil, you can check out what you want to look for in terms of a good facial oil that has that carrier oil in it!

Do you use oil to moisturize? Tell us about it below!

The following post 5 Reasons to Use Oil as your Face Moisturizer was first published on Annmarie Gianni Skin Care.