WHY USE FACIAL OILS?
The ancients in just about every culture all over the globe kept their skin vibrant and flawless with plant Oils. And this old-school beauty secret is making a pretty big comeback right now. It is concentrated nutrition for your skin that can mean the difference between dull and healthy, glowing skin. Here why to include facial oils in your skin care routine, no matter what your skin type.
YOUR SKIN NEEDS OILS TO BE ITS BEST SELF
Your skin’s epidermis generates its own oils to keep you safe from germs and dehydration. Think of your skin as your body’s shield. When your skin gets attacked or neglected it becomes:
In short, it's not a happy scenario. Here's where adding Facial Oils to your skin care routine can really help. The outermost layers of your skin are composed of fatty acids, cholesterol and ceramides, all of which can be found in natural oils. Facial Oils work with your skin, not against it. There's a false belief that putting oil on your skin will cause a break out. But this is far from the case. When you give your skin an ingredient like plant oils with high Omega fatty acids, you’re feeding it something it is already familiar with and knows how to use. Your skin takes in these nutrients fairly quickly and uses them to restore itself to optimum health.
A good facial oil contains plant oils with high levels of Omega fatty acids, antioxidants and skin repairers, all chosen for your skin type and its specific needs. Using one regularly can keep your skin healthy, soft and smooth by replenishing your skin’s natural oil content. Facial oils can help to:
That’s a lot of amazing work being done for your skin, isn’t it? Other bonuses include that you don't need much of it do the job. And the oils facilitate giving yourself a lovely facial massage to improve circulation and drain facial glands, which, in turn, improves your overall health.
Free Lion Facial Oils are a carefully chosen blend of plant oils that are highly effective while respecting your skin’s biology and needs. The ingredients lists for each blend tell you which oils are in there and what they will do for your skin type. If you have any questions, feel free to fire me an email here.
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion Team.
KEEP THE BUGS AT BAY, THE NATURAL DIY WAY
Every year I can't wait for summer to arrive. Life gets taken out side, put on the road, in the garden or the swimming pool. Longer sunny days bring with them a sense of freedom and holiday. Nature is in her stride, exploding in colour everywhere! So much beauty, bloom and buzz in the air.
Yes. Buzz. Of the bug variety.
Bug bites are definitely uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. So of course we want to repel those bugs, right? But how? By using chemicals or natural ingredients? Which direction to go in?
EWG, (Environmental Working Group) surprisingly, leans heavily towards the use of chemicals over natural ingredients. When I first read this, I had to give my head a shake. What?!? Then I read a little closer, between the lines. They focus on an increase of tick-born diseases since 2004 as the basis of their recommendations. As such, they are erring on the side of blanket-blasting all ticks and bugs with everything in the arsenal. This feels like a panicked overkill to me, given the research on DEET being potentially damaging to brain function.
Bug repellents in Canada are regulated by Health Canada. They recommend everything from DEET (in concentrations ranging from 10%-30%, depending on the age of the user) to blends of specific essential oils. Their approach seems more evenhanded, taking into account safety considerations and individual preferences--allowing something for everyone. How Canadian, eh? I just love that!
My preference is to go natural, as much as possible. I also want to empower you to DIY. So here are a couple of recipes that can bring and your family some relief.
1. NATURAL ANT KILLER
My son, Javid is no fan of the creepy or the crawly. So when the neighbourhood ants started conducting long parading visits through the house, something had to be done. Our research took us to WikiHow, where we found the recipe that did the trick.
Its a simple but effective blend of three ingredients--Borax, sugar and water. The sugar attracts the ants, the ants ingest it. The borax interferes slowly with ant digestive systems, giving enough time for an ant to get back to its colony and share it with its fellow ants. Once shared, the borax can take out the whole colony. Most humans don't have major reactions to this small an amount of Borax. That being said, handle the Borax carefully and follow the cautionary advice on the Borax box.
What you'll need
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 tablespoon Borax
1-1/2 cups warm water
A Jar for mixing
Stir stick or chopstick
Cotton balls or pads
Shallow dishes or Yogurt container lids
Pour the sugar and the borax into the jar. Cap the Jar and shake, shake, shake the sugar and borax together. Uncap the bottle and pour in warm water. Use stir stick or chopstick to stir water until borax and sugar are completely dissolved. Place cotton ball or pad on container lids. Pour ant killer liquid onto cotton ball or pad until it's saturated. Place the container in a high ant traffic zone indoors. Give it a few days, and then buh-bye ants!
2. NATURAL MOSQUITO SPRAY
This recipe is from Scratch Mommy. It's a simple, four ingredient blend that relies mostly on the wonderful properties of Tea Tree and Geranium Oil. I've adjusted the amounts of essential oils in the formula to reflect Health Canada safety standards and metric volumes.
Tea Tree or Melaleuca has been used for centuries by Aboriginal peoples in Australia. It's really a superpowered plant, known for its antimicrobial, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps human wounds heal, and it is toxic to many insects, including mosquitoes. Its some pretty stong stuff, so Health Canada recommends that it make up only 1% of your total formula.
Geranium Oil has some of the same properties as Tea Tree Oil (anti-bacterial, wound healing). It's also known for its ability to keep mosquitoes away. Health Canada recommends between 1-5% of the total formula.
Vegetable Glycerin helps hold the essential oils to your skin.
Combine the following ingredients in a 113ml spray bottle.
Glass or metal is best. I get some of my supplies from here.
• 1.5 ml (22 drops) Tea Tree Essential Oil
• 0.5ml (8 drops) - 5ml (110 drops) Geranium Essential Oil
(Scratch Mommy recommends only 0.5ml. Health Canada says you can go up to 5ml. My recommendation is somewhere in the middle--2.5ml (55 drops). The choice is yours, depending on your skin and scent sensitivities.)
• 15 ml (1tablespoon) Vegetable glycerin
Fill the rest of the bottle with distilled water and shake until well mixed. Spray on as required and reapply as needed.
IN CASE YOU DON'T FEEL LIKE MAKING IT YOURSELF...
If you don't feel up to making it yourself, I'm happy to do that for you. My Shoo Fly! formula has a number of extra goodies that make it useful for keeping more than just mosquitoes away. It also has soothing ingredients that can help in after-bite care.
So here's some anecdotal evidence about Shoo Fly! and its efficacy. Free Lion Body Care was at the Mission Folk Festival, enjoying both sunshine, music and meeting people who were trying out our products. Along came a little guy with a sad face.
"Why so glum, chum?" I asked. he told me he had been stung by a wasp. He showed me a huge, angry red welt on his forearm. His mum asked if I had anything for that.
"Try our Shoo Fly!" I suggested. I told her more about the formula. In a nutshell, Shoo Fly has witch hazel and aloe vera in it to help soothe the itchy feeling and speed up healing. There's Tea Tree, Geranium and Peppermint essential oils to help heal and cool the wound. These, plus the rest of the essential and carrier oils in it, work together to help keep other bugs away.
So Mum sprayed some Shoo Fly! on his red, swollen sting and off they went. The next day they came back. The little guy was smiling and eager to show me his wound. It had almost disappeared! Thank you, said Mom. She bought a bottle for the rest of the summer. And I had the satisfaction of a job well done.
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion Team
Do you have a favourite natural way of keeping the summer bugs away? Please share it with us.
HELLO FREE LION BODY LOTION
You've been asking me to come up with a body lotion for some time now, a lighter option to our Body Butters. After much deliberation in the kitchen lab and much testing, I'm proud to announce the birth of 8 bouncing bundles of skin hydrating and moisturizing joy!
ABOUT HYDRATION AND MOISTURIZING
First up, a little about skin and why it needs both hydration and moisturizing. Your skin is your largest organ. And its made up mostly of water, like most of our body cells. Water is constantly evaporating from those cells--especially the ones on the surface of your skin as well as the ones deeper down in the epidermis. In relation to skin care, hydration means increasing the amount of water in your surface skin cells, which results in a healthy, smooth and plump complexion. That's what the water-based ingredients in our body lotion are busy doing. Moisturizing means putting a layer of emollient (meaning soothing and softening) ingredients on the skin to prevent water loss from the deeper layers of the epidermis. That's what the oil-base ingredients in our body lotion are busy doing.
WHAT'S IN OUR BODY LOTION?
97% of the ingredients we've used in our body lotion are natural and plant based. So what are the rock-star natural and non-toxic ingredients doing your skin such a solid?
1. Calendula Tea
Most Body Lotions are made with water. We've infused our distilled water with the soothing, skin-calming treat of Calendula petals. Calendula is loaded with powerful skin-healing, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, yet is gentle enough for most people and animals to use safely. That's why we also use it in our Paw Wax.
Calendula Tea is just that little extra oomph we put into our lotions to give your skin some soothing calm while bringing out your inner glow. Yes, this is a thing. Read our previous post on The Magic Of Calendula Tea for more information.
2. Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe Vera is full of nutritional qualities and antioxidant properties that soothe, nourish and repair skin. Its leaves contain a plethora of antioxidants including, beta carotene, vitamin C and E that can help improve the skin's natural firmness and keep skin hydrated. Not only that, it feels cool on the skin--a definite benefit during hot months or hot flashes!
Aloe Vera is brilliant for all skin types, delivering amazing benefits to skin. Read more about the wonders of Aloe Vera in a previous blog post. If you're up for making your own Aloe Vera Formulas at home, here are some suggestions from me.
3. Rice Bran Oil
Rice Bran Oil is one of my favourite moisturizing ingredients. Oh, for so many reasons. Let me recount the ways!
The oil, extracted from the germ and inner husk of rice, has been a staple in Old School Asian beauty regimens for centuries. For good reason, too! Rice bran absorbs quickly into the skin. It is flush with skin-loving omega-6 fatty acids, wrinkle-busting Squalane and Vitamin E, and skin firming Vitamin B. Antioxidants like beta-carotene and lycopene protect your skin from environmental stressors; enzymes like CoQ10 provide active components that help skin maintain its youthful glow. Rice bran oil also has a slight ability to brighten the look of your skin, helping to fade out the appearance of dark spots and to even out skin tone. And what's not to like about that?
4. Macadamia Nut Oil
Macadamia oil has become one of my new favourite ingredients. Not just because its so easy and forgiving to work with; but because it's so wonderful on the skin. Like Rice Bran oil, it absorbs quickly into the skin without feeling greasy. Nutritionally Macadamia oil is a moisturizing all-star. It is high in both Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which are moisturizing, softening, anti-inflammatory and regenerating for skin. Omega 6's help restore skin's barrier function and reduce water loss. It also contains Omega 7's, an active anti-microbial that is found naturally in youthful skin, helps slow down signs of aging. Added bonus: Macadamia oil can improve the appearance of scars, sunburn and other minor skin irritation.
5. Non-Toxic Synthetics
So, I do add some non-toxic synthetic ingredients to our Body Lotion. They make up 5% of the overall formula. Now why would I do that in a natural product? True confession: I have struggled over this question. I really wanted to be "all natural all the time". But the fact is that science does some things really quite well and can really give Nature a helping boost without compromising the effectiveness of natural ingredients.
So, for these reasons I add lab-made ingredients to my lotions: to improve the glide, absorbability and texture of the lotion; to give your skin an added protective barrier; to extend the shelf life of our lotions; and to ensure your lotion doesn't go moldy on you. I add two silicones--cyclomethicone and dimethicone for a smooth texture and to help your skin absorb the oh-so-good natural ingredients. I also add Germall Plus, a broad-spectrum preservative, necessary in any formula containing from both water and oils. Water is a hotbed for mold. Germall Plus provides for complete, broad spectrum preservation against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, yeast, and mold. It is composed of Diazolidinyl Urea, 3-Iodo-2-propylbutylcarbamate, and less than 1% Propylene Glycol.
Bear in mind again, these ingredients make up only 5% of the overall formula. The rest is all natural ingredient goodness for your skin. It's the calculation I've made to meet the desire for a primarily natural product that goes on smoothly, absorbs quickly and doesn' t go bad or moldy.
So what do you get when you put all these wonderful ingredients together? Free Lion Body Lotion in our eight fragrance blends! And hydrated, moisturized skin.
A few years ago, my sister and brother in-law adopted a dog through Mex Pup, a non-profit dog rescue organization based in both Mexico and Canada that rescues dogs from the streets of Puerto Vallarta and eventually finds permanent homes for them in Canada.
The streets can be a scary, mean place for dogs, especially little ones. When their humans can’t afford to keep them, pups are often left to fend for themselves. When they should be bonding with their mother or human caretakers, they are begging, scavenging, learning to protect themselves, and trying their best to avoid getting yelled at, beaten, abused. In addition, they can get flea and tick ridden, which can lead to serious and often fatal illness. Yeah, no. Not a good way for any species to have to live.
Mex Pup finds homeless, sick and sometimes traumatized dogs and removes them from the street to foster homes in Puerto Vallarta. During that time, the dogs receive medical attention, are spayed/neutered and socialized until permanent homes are found for them in Canada. A volunteer Guardian Angel will eventually fly with the Mex dog safely to its new Canadian home.
Enter Joey (aka Joey-Girl, JoDog, JoBean, BeanDog, Bean-Bean) into our family. Joey came as an answer to many prayers for caring and companionship, both doggy and human. It all happened quickly, serendipitously, just the way things that are meant to be do.
Mex Pup had rescued Joey and her siblings from streets of Mismaloya (Puerto Vallarta) just in time. A day more and she might have died from elichia, a tick-borne disease. In the same time period, my sis-in-law received a newsletter looking for Canadian families to adopt Mex dogs. Without thinking about it, she impulsively said yes, and the good karma train left the station.
At first, when she arrived in Canada, Joey was skittish, a little jumpy, exhibiting a doggy version of PTSD and possibly immigrant-style culture shock. Understandable, a reaction to trauma and big change. Its seems dogs and humans are not so emotionally far apart; they are “best friends” after all. But just as traumatized, relocated humans benefit from kindness, loving care, friendships and activity, so too did Joey. Over time, she settled in and it is hard to imagine that her household was ever without her.
Joey has fully embraced the West Coast lifestyle. She loves the outdoors and loves all of our seasons (except for maybe the really rainy days). A couple of years ago, I got a text from Joey’s Mom asking if I could make some paw wax for Joey. Her paws were drying up, getting chapped and cracked in the cold weather. I was happy to give it a go and equally happy to have it test driven by Joey.
Her paws responded well to the wax. It protected her during the snowy-cold days and just before bed, her Mom would put some on again for a little extra overnight moisturizing. The wax is made without harmful ingredients, so if she does lick her paws it wasn’t a concern.
A Final Word on Free Lion Paw Wax from Joey's Mom
“Free Lion’s Paw Wax has gotten our girl Joey through the last 2 very long cold snowy winters. Her paws are not cracked or chapped anymore. When she did get a crack in her pad it caused her some discomfort. This has definitely helped with that and I’m so thankful for the natural, handmade product from Sherazad/Free Lion. I would highly recommend this product!”
– Cori Andrews (Joey’s Mom).
THE SKINNY ON HYDRATION, MOISTURIZING AND BODY BUTTER
Your skin is the largest organ on your body, and it needs needs both oils and water to keep it glowing and healthy. Moisturizing and Hydration. These words seem to be used interchangeably in descriptions of skin product properties. While both provide skin with much-needed nourishment, knowing the difference will help you make the best choice for your skin’s specific needs.
First a bit about skin: The main function of the skin is to provide a barrier between the body and outside environment. Think of it like a brick wall. The Bricks are the corneocytes (dried out, non-living cells on the skin’s surface that are ready to shed). The Mortar is an intercellular matrix composed of lipids (fatty acids, hormones that help maintain skin hydration, firmness and softness) surrounding the corneocytes.The Paint on the wall is the acid mantle on the surface of the skin, a physical and chemical barrier that keeps out microorganisms and irritants.
Healthy, normal skin is able to produce lipids. These cells trigger the skin’s natural ability to protect itself from moisture loss, communicating to sebaceous glands to produce more oil or sebum. If you’ve got a disrupted lipid barrier, the skin becomes unable to coat its surface with the appropriate amount of sebum, causing dry skin. Or fluctuating hormones can increase an excess of sebum production, resulting in an excess of oil on the skin. Hydration helps skin function optimally, maintaining the flow of live cells from deeper in the dermis to the surface.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MOISTURIZING AND HYDRATION?
So let's talk Moisturizing. When the skin’s barrier function is damaged, it needs repairing and strengthening. This involves replacing the lipids in the skin that have been depleted or removed. Barrier repair ingredients are typically rich in lipids that are similar to the intercellular lipids found in skin. And guess what...beeswax and Plant Oils and waxes have been used over centuries for this purpose because they are a good source of fatty acid lipids. They are also protective, providing a temporary film over the skin to help it retain moisture. Yep, our grandmothers certainly knew what they were doing!
Now on to Hydration. While moisturizing ingredients seal moisture into the skin, hydrating ingredients help increase the water content of the skin. A humectant, for example, has the ability to attract water from the air and bind it to the skin’s surface, facilitating hydration. And plant extracts can also bring water, minerals and vitamins to skin.
Bottom line? Dry skin lacks oil and needs moisturizing; Dehydrated skin lacks water and needs hydration. So if you work with water all day, your skin will be hydrated but will likely have lost all natural moisture (oils) from its surface. Your skin may feel soft, pruny even. But as soon as the water evaporates, hello dry, scaly skin! If your skin is dehydrated, skin cells move more sluggishly to the surface. While your skin will retain all its natural surface oils, it appears tight, dull, lifeless--which, if you’re auditioning for that role in Zombie Nation, may not be a bad thing! So ideally, you need skin care products that will deliver both Hydration and Moisturizing.
WHY FREE LION BODY BUTTER IS SO GOOD FOR YOUR SKIN
Enter Free Lion Body Butter. Our Body Butter is a blend of both moisturizing and hydrating ingredients to help your skin regain healthy moisture balance. The beeswax forms a protective seal on the skin’s surface, helping to reduce the risk of evaporation of existing moisture throughout the day. We use Shea Butter, Rice Bran, Avocado and Sunflower Oils--moisturizing ingredients full of super fatty acids and vitamins A and E, needed to repair and replenish skin. We also add hydrating Aloe Vera Extract and Glycerin. Glycerin is a humectant that draws moisture from the air; Aloe Vera is high in minerals, vitamins, poly and monosaccharides and water-stocking ability, deeply nourishing skin.
Show your skin some love this winter. To help you do that, we’re are offering 20% off our Body Butters until February 28, 2018.
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion Team
CHOOSING THE BEST EXFOLIANT FOR YOUR SKIN'S NEEDS
The monkeys have it folks! We're grubby; we live in a pile of dead skin. If you want any moisturizer to work on your skin, you've got to remove that flaky dry layer off first to get to the healthy layers. Your skin is layered, like an onion. Now onions make most people cry but you don't want to cry when you exfoliate!
Here are some key things to have in mind when incorporating exfoliating into your skin care routine. For oily and normal skin, lots of scrubbing and sloughing may not be the answer to reducing your oil production. You may be exacerbating the problem by over-exfoliating. Think of it as gently brushing off the old dead skin rather than scrubbing at the young, living skin. For dry and sensitive skin, be mindful of how your skin is feeling. Go slow and less often.
WHICH EXFOLIANT IS RIGHT FOR WHICH JOB?
Natural exfoliants range in hardness, sharpness and durability. General rule of thumb? Soft and gentle for the face; mid-range hardness for the body and full on hard for calloused feet. As always, do a patch test first to make sure your skin isn't irritated.
NATURAL EXFOLIANTS FOR THE FACE
Here are some natural options for Face Exfoliation
THE BEST NATURAL EXFOLIANTS FOR THE BODY
Here are some of the best natural options for exfoliating your body's skin
FEET DON'T FAIL ME NOW! NATURAL EXFOLIANTS FOR THE FEET
Here are some natural options for exfoliating your feet.
BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF, INSIDE AND OUT
When you look in the mirror, consider and reflect on the thoughts that rumble around in your mind. Are they who you really are or someone else's idea about who you should be? Our minds are fluid and we can shift our thoughts at any time. Compassion comes with choice and self-care. Slough off the old expectations and images of yourself so you can nourish and grow the liberating and living pictures of who you actually are. Life's an adventure; enjoy yours!
The Free Lion Team