How to Choose the Right Water Filter for Your Lifestyle

Guest Post by Lara Adler

How much thought have you given to the quality of the water you drink?

While the water quality here in the United States is (by many measures) very clean, we have to understand that “clean” in this sense is relative. We may not have widespread issues with things like cholera (which still affects over 170K people a year in Asia & Africa), or dysentery, but that doesn’t mean our water isn’t making us sick.

When water is contaminated with viruses and bacteria – the kind that can leave you running for the bathroom, or worse, to the hospital – the response is pretty acute, immediate, and noticeable.

But what about the kinds of contaminants in our nation’s tap water that can contribute to chronic disease?

What about the low levels of things like pharmaceuticals, antibiotics, estrogens, and cancer-causing chemicals that we consume daily through our “clean” water?

Let’s talk about these contaminants, why water is so important and how to shop for the perfect water filter.


Our Most Essential Nutrient

Water is our most essential nutrient. It is responsible for the transport of oxygen, nutrients, and waste products into and out of all the cells in our body. It’s often called the “universal solvent” because it helps to dissolve minerals in the body and make them accessible to our cells, it helps to regulate body temperature, and it protects your organs and tissues.

Water helps prevent constipation, it eases the burden on the kidneys and liver by flushing out toxins, and it helps to keep your lymphatic fluid flowing.

Up to 60% of the adult human body is water, and babies are almost 80% water!

Unfortunately, our water can also be the source of exposure to contaminants and intentionally present chemicals that can negatively affect our health.

Too Many Chemicals

It used to be that our water treatment plants, intended to deliver fresh, clean water to our homes, only had to deal with bacterial and viral contaminants. Over the decades, as industrial and agricultural activities increased, so too have the number and kinds of chemicals we find in our water.

In 2009 the Environmental Working Group did an analysis of nearly 20 million drinking water tests and discovered that water suppliers identified 316 contaminants in that water, most of which are unregulated.

Our water supplies are now contaminated with pesticides, pharmaceuticals, narcotics, heavy metals, and synthetic estrogens to name a few.

And many of the chemicals that are intentionally added to our water to address bacteria and viruses, like chlorine or chloramine can have negative unintended side effects.

The bottom line is that we have far more chemicals in our water than we used to, and we don’t have the infrastructure to remove them.

A Failing System

In the US, we assume that because we’re not getting acutely sick, our water is clean and safe and we don’t have to worry about it.

Unfortunately, this is just not true.

The American Society for Civil Engineers, which grades our nation’s infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.) has rated our water infrastructure a D+ in their most recent report.

According to an article in the New York Times from May of 2017 “If you live in the United States, there is a nearly one-in-four chance your tap water is either unsafe to drink or has not been properly monitored for contaminants in accordance with federal law”

The National Resources Defense Counsel in a May 2017 report found that nearly 77 million Americans lived in places where their water systems were in some violation of safety regulations, including the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act.

The water crisis in Flint, MI, while devastating, has re-focused our attention on water quality – something that’s long overdue. In that city, over 100,000 people were exposed, for a significant period of time, to drinking water with dangerously high levels of lead. In some samples, the lead levels were such that the tap water would be classified as toxic waste!

So, Now What?

So, what do we do? We properly filter our water!

The job of producing clean water, free from the harmful chemicals that are commonly present in tap water now fall on the consumer. As an environmental toxins expert and educator, addressing cooking and bathing water is one of the first things I often encourage people to change, because clean water is so important.

The first step towards safer, cleaner water is knowing what contaminants are present in yours. You might think your first step is to run out and buy a filter, but until you know what contaminants you need to deal with, you won’t be clear on what kind of filter to get.

Step 1: Look up Your Local Water Quality Report

This report should give you a snapshot of the contaminants present and whether your water exceeds any of the EPA Drinking Water Standards- look for the MCL or “Maximum Contaminant Level” on your report. If any of the levels in your water are close to, or exceed those standards, you want to be sure to filter them out.

No single filter is perfect; some may not address contaminants that you have (like fluoride), or others may be overkill and more money than you need to spend.

Step 2: Buy a Filter that Fits Your Needs

Basic carbon filtration is a necessary and important component to any filter, but on it’s own won’t do anything to address microbes, fluoride, or do a good enough job reducing lead level.

If an inexpensive pitcher filter is all your budget allows, it’s still better than nothing!

Reverse osmosis is one of the most popular ways to filter water and is indeed one of the most effective, as RO systems are able to reduce or remove nearly all contaminants. But the trade-off is that RO systems strip the water of beneficial minerals and can leave it tasting flat. 

If an RO system is what’s needed to properly filter your water, be sure to re-mineralize your water before drinking! Many RO systems have a final re-mineralization state; don’t skip this!

While I don’t have a favorite brand of filter, here are some companies that make great ones, along with a resources to help you get better, cleaner water!


Great Filters and Resources

  • Berkey. Berkey makes these beautiful steel water canisters that filter your water with various filter cartridges, which you can customize based on the contaminates you’re addressing. Many of my clients love their Berkeys!
  • Aquatrue. This countertop RO system is heavily promoted by a number of people in the online wellness space, and by all accounts it seems to be a good system, save for the plastic container, which I’m not a huge fan of. For a similar price point, you can get an under-sink, multi stage system that doesn’t take up counter space.
  • CleanAirPureWater.com. Run by my personal “water guy” Jim McMahon, this website is where I encourage people to start, as Jim will happily talk you through your water report and help point you to a filtration system that’s appropriate for your situation.
  • EWG Water Filter Guide. Check out the EWG’s Water Filter Guide to help you decide which is the best type of filter technology.

The goal is to have clean, pure water to drink, cook with, and bathe in. While our water is definitely better than in some places in the world, it’s still not ideal. Until we have stronger federal regulations around pollution, and stricter water quality standard, we will need to filter our own water.

Do you have a favorite water filter? Let us know in the comments!

References
Fortin, Jacey. “America’s Tap Water: Too Much Contamination, Not Enough Reporting, Study Finds.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 04 May 2017. Web. May 2017.

The following post How to Choose the Right Water Filter for Your Lifestyle was first published on Annmarie Skin Care.

Beautiful Voices: Morgan Carroll

Beautiful Voices is our ongoing blog series that highlights inspiring, empowering women. Our most recent Beautiful Voice is Morgan Carroll. See what she says when Annmarie asks her some questions about her own personal beauty.

Born and raised a Midwestern, Indiana girl, I’ve somehow found my post graduation, 24-year-old self living and working in the thriving metropolis of New York City. I’ve finally put my wild imagination to good use working as a creative strategy manager for an experiential events company. I live a random and quirky life with my three roommates down in the financial district, and I am loving every second of it.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

Books. If I am reading, it means I’m in a relaxed, focused and positive state of mind—exactly where I need to be in order to feel most inspired. I feel moved by even the smallest paragraphs, phrases or words from authors whose work I admire. As silly as it sounds, self-help books have changed my life. I always read with a pen in hand, in case I feel the need to flip open my notebook and write a thought, feeling, concern or idea.

What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

I was born with a rare eye disease called congenital cataracts and wore coke bottle glasses until I was 12 years old. The glasses magnified my eyes in a way that caused other children, and even adults, to stare and ask me questions. Learning to cope with the insecurity and self-doubt during this time in my life and come to terms with the repercussions after changing my physical look with contacts will always be one of my biggest challenges. I’m still learning to love myself from the inside first, and then out, which is something I feel lucky to be working towards. Not everyone understands the importance of nurturing self-esteem, but once you do, you can find beauty and power in almost anything.

If money was no object what would you be doing?

Building properly managed homes for children in underdeveloped and third world countries. So in the meantime, I’ll be working as a creative strategist for a startup experiential events company. I mean, you see the parallels right? Yeah, me neither.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

One time I was complaining to my younger brother about a problem I was continually facing with a fellow classmate in my college marketing class. My straightforward and incredibly hardworking brother, Max, who struggled to graduate high school and never even considered attending college, said to me: “Morgan, your life is like algebra. You just need to simplify it.” I will never forget those hilariously poignant words and I repeat almost daily. Morgan, just simplify it.

Where and when do you feel most at peace?

I started a routine about a year and a half ago of writing a letter, note or thank you card to someone in my life every single day. Somehow, someway, I have kept this tradition alive, and accumulated quite the card collection along the way. I feel most at peace when I am sitting on my bed, at my desk, or next to my coffee table, putting pen to paper to share words of admiration, appreciation and joy with the people in in my life I care about the most. I record each and every person I write in my planner, finding the process to be very therapeutic.

What do you do when you want to pamper yourself?

I simply pour bubbles into the tub, grab my latest self-help read and take a bath. Cliché? Absolutely. The answer to all of life’s daily trials and tribulations? Positively.

What are your words of wisdom to other beauties out there?

Simplify it.

Isn’t she beautiful?

Much Love,
Annmarie Skin Care

(If you’re interested in being featured as one of our Beautiful Voices, please email us at newyou@annmariegianni.com.)

The following post Beautiful Voices: Morgan Carroll was first published on Annmarie Skin Care.

There’s a Crystal For That: 9 Crystals that Call in the Healing Energy You Need

We all know someone that keeps crystals in their pockets or hanging in some elaborate wrap around their neck. They swear by the healing power that comes from the stones and try to encourage everyone around them to work with the beautiful gems.

There are so many stone-sweethearts out there (including our formulator and a lot of our team members) so we thought we would do a bit of research on what makes crystals so popular.

What are Crystals

A crystal is technically any solid rock with a geometrically regular structure. This structure is how it is classified—so basically, two crystals with the same structure can look totally different and still be part of the same species. Every crystal is symmetrical along its axis and the external planes that we see indicate its internal order. If you follow all of this symmetry to the core, there is an atom that stays in constant motion, imparting it with its own type of energy.

Crystals were created as the Earth formed and they change as the Earth changes. There are hundreds of different types of crystals and they each have their own evolution story—some form under intense pressure or from superheated gas bubbles deep in the Earth’s crust and others form when a mixture of water vapor and magma cool or from a process of erosion—and every evolution story imparts a different type of energy into the crystalline formation.

The healing properties of crystals start to make sense when we think about them as an ancient, evolving energy that serve as an access point to energies only otherwise found in the center of our planet and the evolving universe.

Crystal Uses

Because every crystal is formed differently, they vibrate differently and each hold their own unique healing energy, which means that are a lot of different uses for crystals and it’s all about choosing the right one.

Crystals for Love

  • Rose quartz. This is the classic stone of unconditional love and infinite peace. It helps teach the true essence of love, purifies the heart, and deeper healing and self love. It is a helpful emotional cleanser, removing negative energy to replace it with loving vibes and increasing positive affirmation.
    To use rose quartz: wear it, especially over your heart, or place it in the relationship corner of your room.
  • Amethyst. Amethyst, especially the violet color, is protective of the heart and helps to transmute psychic attack to transform the energy into love. It helps to balance our highs and lows by promoting emotional centering and subtly connecting the physical, mental, and emotional bodies.
    To use amethyst: wear it as jewelry (a necklace is great), place it facing towards you to draw energy or away from you to push energy. You can use it under your pillow for nightmares.
  • Garnet. A stone of commitment, garnet inspire love and devotion. It’s a great balancer of sexual energy and helps increase potency. It helps to ignite a survivalist instinct, brings courage to crisis, and sharpens your perception of self and others.
    To use garnet: place it in direct contact with the skin in an appropriate place – fingers, over the heart, the earlobe, or third eye.

Crystals for Positivity

  • Carnelian. A very powerful stabilizer, carnelian helps to impart acceptance and courage for positive life choices. It’s lovely for those apathetic days and motivates us to move forward. This crystal is helps to clarify perception and overcome negative conditioning.
    To use carnelian: in a pendant around your neck or as a belt buckle.
  • Emerald. Emerald is a stone of inspiration and patience. It holds and eliminates negativity to bring about positive action by focusing intention. It offers the strength to overcome the misfortunes of life and stimulates cooperation amongst groups of people.
    To use emerald: Wear as a ring on little or ring finger or place over the heart. This crystal should not be used on a constant basis as it can saturate and cause negativity.
  • Opal. If you need help exuding positive emotions, opal is your gal. This crystal helps because it is finely attuned to the wearer’s feelings and is used to reflect and amplify those feelings, teaching that three-fold rule (what you put forth comes back to you three times as strongly). It helps strengthen the will to live and encourages taking responsibility for self.
    To use opal: wear on the appropriate body part to call the energy into that space. Especially useful at the heart, solar plexus, and little finger.

Crystals for Protection

  • Obsidian. Think of obsidian as your shield from outside negativity so that you can do the work on the inner demons. This stone works quickly and can bring internal negativity to the surface but it adds support for that work. Working with obsidian means creating the space to work through the stressors in your life completely and moving confidently towards your soul purpose.
    To use obsidian: this powerful healer can be put anywhere in your vicinity to call in the energy. Place it next to your bed, around your neck, over your heart, or just hold it in your hand.
  • Amber. This is actually fossilized tree resin rather than a crystal but its connection to our Earth is unmistakable. It helps to protect the wearers connection between everyday self and the higher self to aid in positive and creative self expression.
    To use amber: wear it consistently over long periods of time on the wrist or the throat.
  • Tiger’s Eye. This stone is traditionally carried as a talisman against ill wishes or curses. It shows true intentions and enlivens integrity while helping the wearer to recognize their true needs.
    To use tiger’s eye: wear it on the right arm or as a pendant for short periods of time. Meditate with this stone resting on the navel.

Crystals for Cleansing

  • Peridot. This stone is a strong aural cleanser. Peridot releases and neutralizes toxins and helps to release old baggage, outside influence, and negative patterns. It helps to bring about understanding your higher purpose and necessary change.
    To use peridot: wear it at the throat or place on the liver in direct contact with the skin.
  • Heliotrope. Also known as bloodstone, heliotrope banishes evil and negativity while helping the wearer stay laser focused on their spiritual calling. This stone helps to remove confusion and bring clarity to unaccustomed circumstances.
    To use heliotrope: wear it consistently to stay in good health by promoting detoxification or place in a bedside bowl of water.
  • Dioptase. This is a strong mental cleanser and helps to release the need to control others. It helps dissolve ideas of how love should be and brings in positive vibrations of love.
    To use dioptase: use as a gem essence or place over the heart.

These are just a few different popular uses for crystals but there are hundreds of different types, each with their own healing uses. If these are interesting for you, a good place to start is by checking out a book like, The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall—which is a wonderful resource where this information comes from.

The one thing that all crystals have in common is that they absorb and hold negative energy. They can become saturated so it is vitally important to cleanse your crystals if you’re using them on a consistent basis. Many people have crystal cleansing procedures like rinsing them in pure water and letting them sit in sunlight or moonlight for a few hours.

The healing energy of crystals is subtle but they can be profound. Depending on the goal of your healing, you’ll will put them in certain places on your body, use them with your meditation, put them under your pillow, or place them in specific places around your house.

Do you use crystals in your healing? Let us know how in the comments below.

The following post There’s a Crystal For That: 9 Crystals that Call in the Healing Energy You Need was first published on Annmarie Skin Care.

Age Spots? Dark Areas? Lighten and Brighten Your Look, Naturally

Look at a baby’s skin and you’ll see a smooth, even complexion. Unfortunately as we age, we accumulate damage that mars that smooth appearance, creating scars, age spots, and areas of darkness.

We call this “uneven skin tone,” but whatever name it has doesn’t really matter. If you’re experiencing it, you probably don’t like it. Discolorations in the face can make us look older than we are but chemical lighteners have their own risks, so where do we turn to find a more even skin tone?

Our Citrus Stem Cell Serum may help. In addition to helping tighten, lift, firm, and protect, this formula has natural ingredients that help to brighten the look of dark areas and offer a more even look to your skin over time.

Uva Ursi
Natural ingredients like uva ursi (from bearberry) can help brighten your look!

What Causes Uneven Tone and Discoloration?

The biggest enemy we have when it comes to our skin is the sun. UV exposure is especially damaging to the color of the skin.

A natural pigment called “melanin” creates your skin color and helps protect the skin from dangerous UV rays. When you’re outside, the sun stimulates the melanin cells (called “melanocytes”) to produce more melanin, which makes the skin darker. This is why you tan when you’ve been in the sun for awhile. Too much sun exposure,  particularly over a number of years, can cause the over-production of melanin, resulting in dark spots and patches on your skin.

There are other factors that may also be involved in creating an uneven skin tone. These include:

  • Exposure to Environmental and Toxic Stressors. Prolonged time outside, antibiotics, retinoids, and fabric dyes, could all cause discoloration.
  • Medications. In addition to birth control pills and antibiotics, other medications including anti-seizure and anti-arrhythmic drugs can create dark spots on the skin.
  • Aging. As we get older, light and dark areas appear more prominently on the skin.

How to Reduce the Appearance of Discoloration

Reducing the appearance of discoloration isn’t a one-step process. Instead, the best way to be successful in this skin care goal is to regularly:

  • Exfoliate. Regular exfoliation helps remove impurities in pores which becomes more important as we age. Exfoliation helps you do away with the old so that the new you can shine.
  • Protect. We absolutely must protect from environmental stressors. Hats and shade are best when you’re outside and zinc oxide is considered the safest sunscreen. You need to make sure you’re getting enough antioxidants in your diet to protect what’s going on inside too.
  • Lighten and Brighten. Use safe products that have ingredients that can lighten and brighten the appearance of your skin.

As long as you stay diligent and determines, continuing this regimen over a period of months will get you results. What should you use for lightening your look? Fortunately, we have some great natural alternatives.

Natural Ingredients for Lightening and Brightening Your Complexion

We formulated our new Citrus Stem Cell Serum to help with the appearance of the signs of aging, including reducing the appearance of sagging, fine lines and wrinkles, dullness, and dryness. We also wanted to help our customers have a more even look to their skin tone.

To that end, we included the following ingredients—all natural, and all shown to lighten and brighten your look.

  • Vitamin C. In addition to providing great antioxidant protection, vitamin C has been shown in a number of studies to help lighten and brighten the look of your skin.
  • Licorice Root. This natural ingredient has many benefits, including the ability to help with sensitive skin, but it also can help reduce the appearance of discoloration. The active compound it contains is called “glabridin.”
  • Uva Ursi. A small, evergreen plant also called “bearberry,” uva ursi is great for brightening your complexion and evening your skin tone. The active compound in this plant is called “alpha-arbutin.” Like all plant ingredients, uva ursi comes with a number of other nutrients, including antioxidants that provide protection from environmental stressors.
  • Orange Stem Cells. This specialty ingredient will give you the appearance of younger looking skin with a more even skin tone and complexion. It has the ability to diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while increasing firmness.

These components are combined with the other protective ingredients like aloe vera and life-everlasting flower in this all-natural product, to create a lightening formula that really works but that won’t cause the troubling side effects you can experience with synthetic and chemical formulations.

Try It and Let Us Know Your Results!

We’d love for you to try this product and let us know if you see results. Give it at least 2-6 weeks to show an effect, then write in and tell us what you observed. We’re confident you’ll be pleased as you’ll notice not only a lighter and brighter look, but a tighter and firmer feel to your skin!

Get your Citrus Stem Cell Serum today.

Have you tried our Citrus Stem Cell Serum? Tell us about it in the comments below!

The following post Age Spots? Dark Areas? Lighten and Brighten Your Look, Naturally was first published on Annmarie Skin Care.

5 Uplifting Essential Oils to Ease Your Mind

 

We all want that signature scent that people know us by, whether you’re a lover of florals or a French vanilla kind of folk.

Earlier this year we delivered some bad news, though: most perfumes have ingredients not listed on the label, many of which are harmful to your health. You can read about that here.

Now the good news, which is that essential oils are a natural way to smell amazing.

Truthfully, they can do more than just smell great. Many essential oils have aromatherapeutic benefits that can uplift your mood and mindset, making them a beautiful and powerful way to shape how you show up in the world everyday.

There are lots of scientific studies that support this, though traditional cultures have known of these benefits for centuries.

Like all of our products, we kept this in mind when creating Vibrance, the first essential oil blend we created. We wanted the aromatherapy of Vibrance to be uplifting and calming at the same time. And of course, it needed to smell amazing—to you and your skin.

Here is a list of 5 of the skin-nourishing essential oils that made it happen:

Lavender Essential Oil

We knew we wanted to include lavender in Vibrance because of its amazing, gentle benefits. Lavender promotes a peace of mind (and if you don’t need more of this in your life, I want to know your secret!).

There are tons of ways to use the herb—in a tea, in your bathtub, even as a supplement. When lavender is in season, we include a sachet of lavender in each of our orders, which many of you have told us you love receiving.

Our resident herbalist, Aubrey, wrote a great article about the myths about lavender and the real benefits it provides.

Jasmine Grandiflorum Essential Oil

If lavender is the friend that gives you a comforting hug after a long day, jasmine is the friend who convinces you to dance with that cutie at the bar.

In other words, jasmine heightens passion. Think spring fever.

In creating Vibrance, we were imagining something that would ground you and help you feel at ease, while also sparking your spirit and getting you excited about each day. Jasmine brings a passionate energy to this blend.

Bergamot Essential Oil

Aromatherapists have long been using bergamot to help create a feeling of positivity. It helps to build confidence, uplift mood, and calm a bought of tension.

In Vibrance, it balances out the florals with its clean citrus scent.

Ruby Grapefruit Essential Oil

Grapefruit essential oil is a great addition to cleaning solutions. In skin care it’s helpful for oily skin formulations.

As far as its aromatherapy, grapefruit is said to calm emotions. It’s an enlivening scent that helps wake you up. Think half a grapefruit for breakfast.

We love what it does in an essential oil blend. It mixes really well with other scents while adding its own distinct component.

Lemon Verbena Essential Oil

With a scent so subtle that it’s hard to reproduce synthetically, lemon verbena essential oil has special qualities. This magical oil is said to provide uplifting clarity while also calming and boosting sensuality. This makes it a great essential oil to diffuse throughout your room at night to promote love, restful sleep, and maybe even some vivid dreams.

Try Vibrance

Vibrance isn’t drinkable, but it’s ideal for your pores and scattered among your pulse points (wrists, neck and temples). A few drops of our blend in an oil diffuser will refresh any head space or living space, whether in the office, the studio, or the cramped apartment compromised by messy roommates.

Out here in Berkeley and elsewhere, we’re thinking that the Vibrance blend is a reminder of sorts—to take a hike. Smell the roses, then wrinkle noses at the mulch.

New to essential oils? Please read this article by our herbalist, Aubrey, on how to use them safely!

What are you experiences using essential oils? Let us know in the comments below!

 

The following post 5 Uplifting Essential Oils to Ease Your Mind was first published on Annmarie Skin Care.

We (Bee) Heart

One of the sad truths about today’s world is the loss of the vital bee colonies that pollinate ⅓ of our edible plants.

When bees get sick they leave the colony so that they don’t spread their sickness. Basically, those sick bees just disappear. When it’s a single sick bee that doesn’t return, it’s better for the hive because most hives are self-sustaining—more healthy bees are born everyday that are immediately ready to go to work—but when the whole group of foragers doesn’t return, the colony is at serious risk.

A few years ago whole hives started disappearing in huge numbers and we lost 25-30 percent of all the colonies in North America—this was aptly named Colony Collapse Disease.

The numbers are so low that bees need to be regularly shipped to North America from other countries, like Australia, and colonies are being transported by truck all over the country to pollinate crops.

What is Causing the Colony Collapse Disease?

Scientists aren’t completely certain what is causing the colonies to collapse. Previous incidents of mass bee colony death were caused by predators like mites. However, when a mite infestation takes over a bee colony, there’s evidence of mites and dead bees littering the ground around the hive. In the current collapse conditions, the bees are just disappearing.

Science has been studying everything from toxicology to human disease to figure out what the cause could be. Scientists searched through bee DNA to search for a potential virus but they found out that bees actually carry a lot of viruses so they switched gears and started comparing healthy colonies with collapsing colonies. What they found was that something is affecting the bee’s immune systems.

One serious consideration for the collapse is pesticides. Studies show that pesticides affect the memory and cognitive function of the bees—which means that they could be getting disoriented and forgetting their way back to their hive and considering that a honeybee can travel up to three miles a day away from her hive to find her source of pollen, a mass disorientation of poisoned bees could account for their disappearance.

Another scary thing that science has discovered is that even when a pesticide is banned from a country, the bee populations continue to decline. Scientists, being naturally curious, got to testing those hives and found some disturbing news. The chemicals are in the hives. So the entire colony, along with the new healthy baby bees, are exposed to harmful pesticides from day one and it’s affecting the immunity of the entire hive. While studies are still being done to prove the exact cause of the colony collapse, the dangerous chemicals in the hives are really not helping. Not to mention, if it’s in the hive, it’s in our honey.

Being that we whole food and nature lovers, we’re really sensitive to the issue of colony collapse. Our products are made with herbs and oils that are pollinated by bees so this affects us as individual consumers of whole foods and as company. We have been searching for a sustainable way to help heal the collapsing colonies and we (literally) bumped into an amazing company that is working to save the bees.

Beekeeper’s Naturals: A Helpful Solution

Our COO, Rachel, met Carly, the founder of Beekeeper’s Naturals, at Expo West in Southern California. Rachel had a sore throat from a long day of chatting with vendors at the event and when she mentioned it to the woman standing next to her, the woman offered her a propolis spray (obviously that woman was Carly). They got to talking about herbal skin care and saving the bees and it was a match!

It turns out, Carly founded Beekeeper’s Naturals (BKN) in 2014 after a long battle with tonsillitis was solved by a daily dose of propolis, a resinous mixture that the bees make with tree sap, their saliva, and beeswax to coat their hive and protect it from invading pathogens. She couldn’t find a propolis product in her local stores so she reached out to a local beekeeper to find the product, and picked up a new passion along the way. She got herself a steady propolis supply and BKN was born!

Since then, the BKN team has been steadily growing their bee product supply. They offer the propolis spray (of course), several different types of honey, raw bee pollen, and a couple of awesome formulas that are made to help boost the immune system and brain function.

How Beekeeper’s Naturals Keeps it Clean

Beekeeper’s Naturals works with remote farms and apiaries to support bee colonies all over the Canadian North. They work exclusively with small scale green beekeepers who have over 5 miles surrounding area of organic grounds (bees forage for up to 5 miles so they ensure the bees have pesticide free food sources.)

They interview sustainable beekeepers all over the globe to share tips and tricks of the trade. One thing they all have in common is putting the bees first and the products second. They know that bees make their honey and propolis for the hive, not for humans. They make sure to keep their bees in places without chemicals and encourage people to plant organic flower beds for the bees to pollinate.

BKN sources raw ingredients from their partner apiaries and they have a lab to create and test their products to develop their line of products. Because bees don’t create ingredients for people to use, I asked Carly how they ensure that the collection process for ingredients like propolis doesn’t hurt the bees. She told me that instead of scraping the propolis off of the hive and potentially causing lasting damage, their beekeeping network actually uses mesh lining on top of the hive so that they can just remove the lining and use the propolis from the sheet. This means that they get less product in the end, but the bees stay happy and safe.

There aren’t any “sustainable beekeeping guidelines” offered by the Canadian government so a huge part of BKN is education around sustainable beekeeping. Carly and her partner Daniel educate and seek bee educators to talk about things like leaving enough honey in the hive for the bees to eat (and not replacing it with sugar water), not using too much smoke, and how to support local farms and apiaries.

Beekeeper’s Naturals is still in its infancy, but as they grow they are working towards creating their mission statement and the guidelines for sustainable harvesting.

A Coupon for the Annmarie Skin Care Community

For this month’s We Heart, Beekeeper’s Naturals is offering 15% off all of their products. That includes their bee products along with their clothing and accessories (I’m obsessed with my “Don’t Hate, Pollinate” shirt!). Just use this coupon code at checkout:

weheartbees

Click here to check out Beekeeper’s Naturals.

We Heart

We know we can’t change the world alone, so every month we highlight another amazing company in the clean-living community that we’re creating! We share transparent companies with integrity, that we’ve fully vetted because we believe we’re all stronger when we work together to create a cohesive Earth-based, sustainable society.

Do you know of a company you think fits with our values? Write into us and we’ll get the eco-friendly party started!

The following post We (Bee) Heart was first published on Annmarie Skin Care.

Make Your Own Masks: 5 DIY Anti-Aging Skin Care Recipes

Anti-Aging Mask Recipes
All you have to do is browse a few birthday cards before it becomes really apparent: people have an aversion to getting older. We’re all for age-acquired wisdom and a lifetime of memories to look back on, but we also wouldn’t turn down eternally youthful skin!

4 Tips for Your Face Mask

Our team put together some face mask recipes we love for keeping skin looking youthful. Many of these ingredients are fresh, so your skin will benefit from the high nutrient content. Don’t worry! We’re not expecting you to go forage in your backyard for herbs or swim to Atlantis to collect a mystical sand substance. We kept it mostly to ingredients you have in your kitchen.

Before applying a mask, cleanse your skin.

After you apply the mask, lay down with your feet in the air to encourage blood to flow toward your face. Surround yourself with sounds you love—classical music, ocean waves, Food Network (we won’t judge).

In general, you can leave a mask on for about 15-20 minutes, or until it dries. If it dries too quickly, spritz it with water or toner.

Rinse your mask off with warm water and use a washcloth if needed to completely remove it. Splash your face with cold water to close your pores.

After you’re finished masking, follow up with your normal toner, serum, and oil. Voila! People will be asking you whether you’re taking algebra or geometry next semester. Okay, probably not, but you’ll feel great.

5 Anti-Aging Facial Mask Recipes

Brightening and Lightening Mask

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon organic yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sandalwood powder

Instructions: If you find your skin is looking dull, mix all these ingredients, apply to your face, and leave it on until it dries. When you wash it off, your skin will look bright and refreshed! Sandalwood powder has a myriad of benefits and is of high importance in Ayurvedic medicine. The lactic acid in yogurt helps to smooth and moisturize the skin. Massage the ingredients into your face as your rinse them off for some exfoliation.

“Caught with Egg on Your Face” Mask

Ingredients: All you need is an egg!

Instructions: Beat the egg and apply the mixture to your face. Once it dries, wash off for skin that appears tighter and more toned. The protein in the egg promotes beautiful, youthful skin. The potassium preserves moisture. Riboflavin (also known as B2) can help protect from environmental stressors. Eggs are truly nourishing both for your insides and your outsides!

Remedy for Better Looking Eyes

Ingredients:

  • White tea

Instructions: Start by brewing yourself a cup of white tea. It’s best if you bring your water to a rolling boil, then wait a minute or two to let it cool down before steeping the tea. Once the tea has steeped and has cooled to a temperature your face can handle, soak a washcloth in the liquid and place the cloth over your eyes. Your pores will open up from the heat, allowing the tea to penetrate into your skin and work its magic. White tea works to de-puff the appearance of your eyes. Because it’s also loaded with antioxidants, it’s good for the rest of your face, too!

Avocado Honey Heaven

Ingredients:

  • ½ small, ripe avocado
  • 1 tablespoon of honey

Instructions: Mix ingredients together and apply to your face. If you have combination skin, you may want to apply only to the drier areas of your face. You can leave it on for around 15 minutes, but feel free to take a nap and leave it on a little longer. For deeper penetration into your pores, warm the honey before mixing with the avocado.

Moisturized skin is the enemy of aging. The fats in avocado add moisture to your skin, while the vitamin E helps even the look of your skin tone. Honey is a humectant, meaning it binds moisture the skin. It is also can brighten the look of your skin.

Rejuvenating Mask

This recipe from Natural Skin Care: Alternative & Traditional Techniques, by Joni Loughran.

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon of facial-quality clay (our Purifying Mud Mask would work perfectly)
  • 1 teaspoon of instant oatmeal or oat flour
  • ½ tablespoon of powdered milk
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • water, to achieve paste consistency
  • 1 drop of any essential oil that you love (neroli, rose, lavender, or frankincense would be perfect!)

Instructions: Mix first five ingredients together until thoroughly combined. Add enough water to make the mixture into a paste. Add the essential oil of your choice (just a drop!) and mix until combined. Apply to your face and enjoy ten minutes of aromatherapy! Clay is rich in minerals and removes impurities from the skin. No matter our age, skin can always benefit from detoxing! Milk cleanses and nourishes. Make sure to use high quality, organic, full fat milk for optimal benefits. Olive oil provides moisture and minerals. Honey helps bind this moisture to your skin and lends its own skin brightening qualities. The benefits from the essential oil will differ depending on which you choose, but choose an aroma you love and breathe deep to relax.

Having some recipes for anti-aging masks allows you to whip up something fresh whenever you and your skin need a boost. Try to make time for a weekly mask to keep your skin young and nourished. Invite a friend over and treat him or her to your favorite recipe.

What are your favorite DIY anti-aging recipes? Let us know in the comments below!

The following post Make Your Own Masks: 5 DIY Anti-Aging Skin Care Recipes was first published on Annmarie Skin Care.