what's your skin type?
What skin-type classifications are based on and how to figure out yours
Have you ever wondered what makes skin oily, normal or dry? What are these classifications based on? Quite simply, it is all about sebum, a complex cocktail of lipids (fatty compounds) produced by your sebaceous glands that form a protective barrier against the evaporation of water from your skin cells. Not to go all Goldilocks on you, but If your skin makes too much sebum, you have Oily skin; if it makes too little, you have Dry skin; and if its just right, you have Normal skin.
You are born producing sebum and, hopefully, you’ll continue doing so throughout your life. Sebum production, triggered by your genes and hormones, is typically at its peak during puberty, sometimes more than double normal amounts. Other hormonal events like menstrual cycles, pregnancy, stress, and menopause can also affect sebum production, as can diagnoses such as Parkinsons. In addition, exposing the skin to too many products that upset its own natural balance can also trigger the over-production or under-production of skin oils, including sebum.
Believe it or not, sebum is actually good for your skin. It protects it from moisture loss, bacteria and fungus infection, and aging. Sebum contains Vitamin E, triglycerides, diglycerides, fatty acids, squalane and cholesterol (interestingly, all major components of anti-aging creams).
As your body’s largest organ, your skin perform as a number of important, complex jobs—from regulating your body temperature to protecting your insides against germs. Your outermost skin layer is composed mostly of lipids, like sebum, that act as a gatekeeper between your skin and the external environment. Their job is to keep water in and harmful stuff—like bacteria and fungus—out.
So when we talk about skin care, we are actually talking about keeping water in and germs out. And we do this a couple of ways: one, by creating a healthy skin barrier, regardless of how much sebum your skin makes; and two, by taking care of the other factors that affect sebum production like stress, diet and exposure to irritants.
Figure out your skin type - Oily and Break-out Prone
Oily Skin is caused by overactive sebaceous glands that produce too much sebum.
The good news is that sebum production tapers off as we age, leading to dryer skin. Lucky you, because oily skin ages more slowly than dry skin, so when you move into your 40s and beyond, you may actually be thankful for your oiliness!
One way to test your skin to see if it is full-on oily or Combo skin is to wash it in the morning with a gentle cleanser, pat it dry with a towel. Don’t apply any make-up or moisturizer; wait an hour or two. Now it's mirror time. If your face is shiny all over, you have oily skin. If your cheeks are dry but your forehead and nose are shiny, you have combination skin--that means your skin is producing more sebum where you see the shine (most often in the T Zone) and more balanced sebum production skin everywhere else.
Figure Out Your Skin Type - Normal and Combination Skin
Your Normal skin presents as smooth, supple, with no visible blemishes, pores, flaky areas or greasy patches. Your skin cells have good elasticity and moisture retention capability. There are no severe sensitivity issues. Its pH is slightly acidic, due to acids in sebum, sweat and keratin. Hormone changes can increase your skin’s sebum production and bring on a zit now and again, but nothing major that stays more than a day or two.
One way to test your skin to see if it is Normal or Combination skin is to wash it in the morning with a gentle cleanser, pat it dry with a towel. Don’t apply any make-up or moisturizer; wait an hour or two. Now it's mirror time. If your face feels not too oily, not too dry, you likely have normal skin, . If your cheeks are dry but your forehead and nose are shiny, you have combination skin--that means oily skin where you see the shine (most often in the T Zone) and Normal skin everywhere else.
Overall, Normal skin doesn’t need a whole lot of care. Upside? Well, your skin doesn’t need a whole lot of care! Downside? You may forget to give yourself the daily care you need to maintain your skin’s sebum balance through diet and hormone changes. Also, if the area across your forehead and down your nose to your chin (the T-Zone) gets shiny through the day, you may have Combination skin, which means your skin care routine will need ingredients that can work in both zones. Skin hydration and moisturizing are a must to help support that graceful aging that Normal Skin is so brilliant at doing.
Figure Out Your Skin Type - Dry and Sensitive Skin
We all get dry skin now and then, especially through the winter months. But us card-carrying members of the Dry and Sensitive skin Club (yes, that includes me) will notice certain things about our facial skin that put it into the Dry skin type category.
Your skin sometimes has a dull or ashy complexion, more easily visible in skin with more melanin . That doesn’t mean your skin isn’t sparkling at party conversation—it means that there is an accumulation of dry, dead skin cells on the surface that gives your skin a kind of greyish hue. Occasionally, you see red patches. Sadly this is not because of the blush of a happy surprise! It’s usually a reaction to a skinirritation, as seen in conditions like Rosacea.You notice fine lines and wrinkles more earlier in life. Yeah. I think they euphemistically call that “premature aging”. Sometimes your skin gets so dry it starts flaking and peeling, sometimes cracking. Ouch! And your skin has sensitivities to harsh cleansers, chemicals and even preservatives, leaving your face feeling itchy and dry. Yeah, I know. It’s a lot.
What makes skin dry (you guessed it) is a lack of a sebum production. When there is enough sebum, skin cells are plump and elastic--the hallmark of younger skin. But as we age and go through hormone changes, skin loses the lipids or fats it needs to protect its cells and hold onto moisture. The loss of this skin barrier protection also leaves your skin more vulnerable to outside elements, like weather, chemicals, etc. So the name of the game with dry skin is to use ingredients that will help build that barrier protection
Caring for your Skin Type
Skins care is essentially a balance game between cleansing, hydration and moisturizing. This is true for all skin types, using different ingredients that support your skin, regardless of how much sebum your skin is making.
While cleansing is key for reducing the bacteria that might lead to a break-out, I want to emphasize that not all skin bacteria are bad. In fact your skin is host to a biome that includes helpful bacteria that likes to eat dead skin and other critters. Think of these bacteria as skin barrier patrol. It is another example of how we live interdependently with our fellow creatures, from micro to macro. Our goal here is to work with our skin biome, to feed it what it needs to survive and thrive.
And what would that be, you ask? Well, believe it or not, it’s natural ingredients. Join me in the next blog for a look at which natural ingredients help each skin type thrive and a deep dive into face care routines for each skin type.
The Power of Neem
The Neem Tree is a power plant with healing goodness for breakout-prone skin, dry, cracked heels, bug bites and stings!
From leaves to bark, Neem has been used for millenia for maintaining wellness, body healing, skin and hair care and for repelling insects. In the ancient Siddha system of medicine originating more than 10,000 years ago in the Tamil Nadu region of South India, Neem is among the core plants used. It met the Siddha medicinal goal of maintaining health for long life. All parts of neem tree were (and still are) used in traditional Indian medicine remedies for various human dis-eases.
The word NEEM comes from the Sanskrit, Nimba, meaning bestower of good health. As far back as 5000 BCE, Indian Ayurvedic texts have described the Neem tree and its remarkable healing properties. In fact healing compounds containing its leaves were found at the excavation of Mohanjo-Daro and Harappa, ancient city sites that date back to this time period and older.
Back in that day (to this day), a Neem tree was considered sacred, symbolizing good health and protection. One would be planted in public gathering spaces or in the front garden of the temple or the home where became part of daily life. Kind of like living among the Ent healers. The Neem tree provided shade from the sun while naturally repelling insects for those sitting under its protective canopy. When wind blew through the Neem tree and into the home, it was believed that the winds carried with them the anti-bacterial properties of the tree, keeping the homes free of bacteria while providing residents with a cool breeze in the summer months. Neem was also used to protect animals, food and grains. Livestock and cattle were fed Neem leaves for relief from ailments; soil was fertilized with seeds, leaves, and bark which all doubled as pesticides.
Used in medicinals, its properties strengthened health and boosted immunity. Infusions from leaf and bark would be drunk to help maintain blood sugar, clear lungs and keep the digestive tract running smoothly; neem twigs would be used oral care; young neem leaves were included in vegetarian curries; the gum from the tree was sucked on to ease a dry throat; and in the summer, the fruit of the tree would be eaten. All this Neem goodness worked together to strengthen the immune system.
Traditionally, Neem was used topically to address such ailments as fevers, respiratory issues, tetanus infections, rheumatism, arthritis, jaundice, malaria, ringworm, lice, fungal and bacterial infections of the skin, scabies, hives, eczema and psoriasis. And to help help hair grow and remain thick and lustrous. Historically, Neem Oil was even used as a topical contraceptive.
That is one versatile plant, right?
Why Neem is so Good for Your Skin
Neem oil is extracted from the seeds of neem tree fruit. Neem Plant Powders are basically dried and finely ground Neem Leaves. So, what is in Neem that makes it so amazing for skin? Both Oil and leaves have serious Anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, Anti-oxidant, Astringent, Oil Regulating and Moisturizing properties:
Free Lion Body Care Products That Feature Neem Oil
When I was formulating Face Chai for Oily and Breakout Prone Skin, I researched ingredients extensively, looking into their properties, lore and historical uses. With all its benefits to healing breakouts and acne scars and its ability to balance out sebum production, Neem just had to be a featured ingredient. It works beautifully with the other Oily Skin supporting ingredients in this formula. FYI, Neem Oil has a really strong smell. But worry not. I mixed in other skin supportive carrier oils and essential oils to compensate. Your nose will be happy! Your skin will be happier.
Facial Oils for Oily and Breakout Prone Skin
Our Facial Oils are a complex blend of lightweight oils specially chosen for their ability to soothe, protect, repair and regenerate healthy skin. I love Neem Oil for its anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, antioxidant properties. I am also excited by how these properties help kill the bacteria that gets into pores to cause the infections we know (and don't love) as "zits". Hello Neem, bye bye breakout.
Neem also does its part to stimulate skin cells to regenerate. it also helps heal acne scars and sooth acne irritation, while balancing out the sebum in your skin to reduce the chance of future break outs. Such a win win!
Neem has antioxidants that help protect your skin from environmental stressors. It moisturizes and helps keep skin soft and supple by boosting skin collagen and elastin production to increase thickness, elasticity and firmness. It also helps to reduce hyperpigmentation caused by UV radiation, hormones or acne.
The Facial Oils can be used daily as a moisturizer, for oil cleansing, for overnight moisturizing or The feedback from peeps in my test crew who used the Facial Oils for Oily Skin is that pimples and other skin eruptions disappear overnight. The oils are light and easily absorbed, leaving a lovely skin glow.
Mask Grains for Oily and Breakout Prone Skin
I have included Dried Neem leaf powder in this wonderful combination of plant powders and clays that blend up into a mask with a pump or two of Facial Oils plus some yogurt, honey or just plain old distilled water. It all depends on what your skin needs in the moment due to hormones, diet, stress. You know, LIFE.
Neem brings its anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties to work once more, to help kill the bacteria that could lead to zits, regulate your skin sebum production, and soften and protect it. The formula is quite robust with ingredients that are soothing, oil absorptive, cleansing, astringent and exfoliating.
Feedback from my testing crew included loving the way the Mask Grains soothed their skin, settled eruptions and gave a gentle exfoliation, leaving a lovely skin glow.
I included neem oil in this formulation for its moisturizing properties. I love its ability to deeply penetrate skin and repair heel cracks caused by dryness. It works with the other oils to soothe itchy, red, inflamed skin.
I also chose Neem Oil for its anti-bacterial properties. It teams up with Tea Tree Oil, which has some serious anti-bacterial properties of its own. By soothing skin irritation and eradicating the bacteria that causes them, Neem Oil and Tea Tree Oil can calm Athletes Foot and nail fungus. Then there is Neems ability to help ease joint inflammation, stiffness, and pain. Neem works with Rosemary Oil to help ease your feet into relaxation.
Shoo Fly! For a Little Help with Bug bites and Stings
Neem oil is one of many amazing ingredients in this formula that helps soothe bug bites and insect stings. Neem oil has an impressive, well-researched track record of not only being incredibly moisturizing for all skin types, but anti-inflammatory and soothing as well. Shoo Fly! Is full of ingredients like Neem oil that will take the itchy edge off a bug bite and help decrease swelling of even nasty ones, like wasp stings.
I had originally formulated Shoo Fly to help keep bugs away. The ingredients I chose do have properties that do that, naturally. But as a small biz maker, my products are classified as cosmetic by Health Canada. Bug repellent, however, is classified as a drug. So I am not able to make direct repellent claims about Shoo Fly! But I CAN tell you about Neem and itâs amazing properties. You can try it to soothe bug bites. And if it keeps bugs away, well BONUS!!
Nature is full of wise plants who work with us to support our health and wellness. Thanks for hanging out with Neem and me,
Body Butters Deliver deeply nourishing, natural, protective care to your skin. It's a must-have in your skin care routine.
We love Body Butters with an almost embarrassing passion! Why? For their amazing ability to keep your skin and skin biome nourished and protected, especially during the coldest months of the year.
Our Body butters are an oil-based, cream-like product designed to moisturize and hydrate skin, while giving it a protection barrier from the elements. Not to mention they smell wonderful! Fear not, those of you who are scent sensitive. We also make an Unscented version. And you don’t need much to enjoy their benefits--a little goes a long way.
The Benefits of Body Butter
1. Natural ingredients
This one is a huge benefit because natural ingredients deliver everything your skin everything it needs to stay healthy and safe without killing your skin biome. The skin biome, like the gut biome, is an ecosystem composed of diverse, helpful microorganisms that live symbiotically with us. While our skin provides them with a buffet to feed on, they protect us from harmful organisms. Research shows that the organisms in our skin biome might also have a role in educating T cells found in the skin, priming them to respond to similarly marked pathogenic organisms. Think of them as an early warning and training system. Basically, we need our skin biome to be happy and healthy for the overall wellness of both of us. Natural ingredients do just that.
2. Deep Nourishment
Made primarily with plant butters and oils, Body Butters are packed with essential fats, minerals and vitamins, providing rich, deep skin conditioning. They provide more intense nourishment than Body Lotions. We make ours with Shea Butter, Sunflower Oil, Rice Bran Oil and Avocado Oil. This skin love comes from the essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins naturally found in its plant ingredient list. You can use Body Butters all over your body or focus their use on usually drier parts of the body--elbows, knees, feet.
3. Barrier Protection
The plant butters and oils, in combination with Bees wax, help form a protective layer over your skin. They lock in moisture, and protect your skin from dirt, debris and other compounds in the environment that can stress your skin out. If you are a swimmer, for example, Body butter provides a thin, waterproof barrier that can help protect your skin from the ravages of chlorine in the pool; or salt in the sea.
4. Keeping it youthful
Vitamins E and A are plentiful in our Body Butters, as well as essential fatty acids, minerals and antioxidants. These help keep your skin soft and supple. Shea butter also contains oliec and stearic acid that work to help boost collagen production, keeping skin elasticity, texture and composition alive and well.
5. Soothes Irritation
Body Butter has a unique ability to restore pH balance to your skin. It’s ability to melt and absorb quickly into skin helps soothe skin irritations. We’ve gone one further step and added Aloe Vera extract to boost skin soothing power.
6. Seasonal Protection
You know how winter can be on the skin. The cold, dryness can suck the moisture right out of it. Here’s where Body Butters SHINE in skin care benefit land. It’s triple properties of deep moisturizing, skin soothing and barrier protection replenish, revitalize and protect skin from the elements.
7. Things to Watch Out For
All of that lovely benefit said, there are some things to watch out for, Body butter is anhydrous--that means it moisturizes but doesn’t hydrate. You need water based ingredients for that. So, if you are experiencing dry skin due to lack of hydration, then our Body Lotion might work better for you.
If you have oily body skin or conditions like body acne, Body Butters may be overkill. That amazing protective barrier means that oils can get locked in and cause breakouts.
My Favourite Body Butter Ways
Body Butters are actually quite multipurpose, You can use them for a few different moisturizing needs. Here are some suggestions, based on how I use them in my own skin care routine:
One of my favourite times to use body butter is after a shower. After a shower, your skin is warm, which helps in the application and absorption of the butters and oils in Body Butter. Also, your pores are also open to receive its moisturizing and barrier seal.
To use our Body butter, put a dime’s worth in the palm of your hand. Rub both hands together until the butter melts. This should be enough to do both arms or both legs. Remember, you’re going for a thin layer of butter that your skin can absorb quickly.
Gently massage the Body Butter into your skin. Take some time to enjoy that self-massage. In fact, treat it like a ritual to show your body the love it deserves, something you really look forward to doing.
For dry skin on your hands and feet, you can use Body Butter as a deep moisturizing treatment. I’ve found this helps when I’m having eczema flare ups, which occur primarily on my hands. Try this 2-3 times a week for softer, soothed skin.
Take a pea sized amount of Body Butter into the palm of your hand. Rub your hands together until the butter is melted. Massage into your hands. Put on some cotton gloves and go to sleep. This gives the butter and oils time to work their magic. Start with the same amount for your feet. Use more as needed. Massage the butter into your feet, especially the dry, hard bits. Put on some cotton socks and hop under the covers.
If you Hair mask
Back in the day, my mum would apply coconut oil to our hair once a week to condition and nourish our hair ad scalp. I really looked forward to this weekend ritual because i really enjoyed the feeling of my mum's hands massaging my head. I would close my eyes and drift away.
These days I do the same ritual for myself using Body Butter. I've found it is actually brilliant for my hair, especially the fly-aways and dry ends. It helps smooth them out and replenish moisture. I like using it in my hair once a week as a mask treatment, just like mum did.
To apply a Body Butter Mask to your hair, take a small amount of body butter into your palm. Rub your palms together to melt the butter. Then apply it to the ends of your hair, not the roots--that will make your hair greasy. Let it sit for 10 minutes or more. Wash the butter out with warm water and/or a VERY light shampoo. Style as usual.
Why do you like using body butters? What are your favourite ways to use it?
Rosemary In Legend, Lore and Self Care
Meet three Free Lion ways to get the benefits of Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary’s medicinal history spans centuries and was probably first used for respiratory issues. From Ancient Egypt and during the era of the Black Plague in Europe, Rosemary, with it’s antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, was burned, as sage is in North America, to clear the air of toxins, bacterial or spiritual. In successive years, rosemary was used to treat the Plague, melancholy, gout, epilepsy, arthritis, memory issues, and many other ills. Today, the herb is still used by many as a tea to treat sore throats, head colds; to freshen bad breath; to decrease dandruff and as an astringent in skin care products.
A little Rosemary Legend and Lore
“Where Rosemary flourishes, the goddess rules.”
Rosemary has played a role in our creative and cultural imagination for centuries. The genus name, Rosmarinus, comes from the Latin for “dew” (ros) and “of the sea” (marinus), reflecting the origin story of Venus, the Goddess of Love. Legend has it that she was seeded from the stars when a phallic looking object (apparently from Uranus) fell into her mother’s womb, the Sea. Venus emerged fully formed from the waters, her neck draped with rosemary. It is a gorgeous image of feminine beauty, power and love, born of both the stars and the earth.
The common name Rosemary is derived from the genus name with a twist. Legend has it that Mary, mother of Jesus, while fleeing from Egypt, sheltered one night next to a blossoming rosemary bush. When she threw her blue cape over the bush, its white flowers turned blue.
But Rosemary’s lore doesn’t end there. It is symbolic of enduring love. During the Middle Ages in Europe, a bride would wear rosemary in her headpiece and the groom and guests would wear a sprig as well. The newlyweds would plant rosemary on their wedding day to root their hopes for the future. It was said if a person tapped another with a sprig of rosemary with an open bloom, they would fall in love. Rosemary was also incorporated into love charms, placed under pillows to thwart evil spirits and between the sheets to repel moths. Ancient Greek students hung rosemary on their doors so that its scent wafted into the room, clarifying the mind and promoting better understanding. Legend has it that Rosemary oil was part of an immune system boosting blend that protected grave robbers from getting sick during the plague.
This legend and lore is not just a testimony to the Nature's wisdom and the power of the rosemary plant. Its also a testimony to human creative ingenuity. For this how we have passed on knowledge from generation to generation through myth and belief set in oral myth and beliefs. It's so much easier to remember a good story than dry facts. And really, that's pretty much how we humans got these things done before the advent of the printing press!
Rosemary’s Aromatherapy Benefits
Rosemary Essential Oil is derived from the aromatic herb Rosmarinus Officinalis, a plant belonging to the Mint family, which includes Basil, Lavender, Myrtle, and Sage. Its appearance, too, is similar to Lavender with flat pine needles that have a light trace of silver. Rosemary Rosemary Essential Oil is a heavy weight champ in the world of Aromatherapy, bringing physical benefits through topical application and to the body’s limbic system through inhalation.
Like many of its cousin plants named above, Rosemary Essential Oil helps reduce stress levels and nervous tension, boost mental activity, encourage clarity and insight, relieve fatigue, and support respiratory function. It is used to improve alertness, eliminate negative moods, and increase the retention of information by enhancing concentration. The scent of Rosemary Essential Oil is also known to reduce the level of harmful stress hormones released during tense experiences. Inhaling Rosemary Oil boosts the immune system by stimulating internal anti-oxidant activity, which in turn fights ailments caused by free radicals, and it relieves throat and nasal congestion by clearing the respiratory tract.
We’ve included Rosemary Essential oil in some of Body Therapy products because of the amazing job it does in relieving stress, inflammation and fatigue
Rosemary Goes Straight to Your Head
This is why we’ve included Rosemary Essential Oil as one of the Rock Star Essential Oils in our Head Balm. Half the magic of our Head Balm comes from the essential oils in it. The other half comes from the massage you give yourself when you apply it. Rub a little balm between your fingers and warm it up. Then, in a symmetrical fashion, massage it into both your temples and across the top of your forehead. Take some more Balm between your fingers and warm it up. Now massage this round onto the bone behind each of your ears, starting from the top of the ear to the bottom. This area holds acupressure points that connect to your brain Next, massage the balm into the back of the neck, from just below the hairline to the shoulders. You've just surrounded your head with relieving goodness.
Rosemary Has A Thing for Feet
Rosemary has been proven to stimulate blood flow, which makes it a fabulous ingredient in a revitalizing foot soak. It's also one of the reasons we include it in our Foot Salve. Rosemary delivers the added benefit of helping to relieve soreness in your feet, while tackling bacteria and odor.
Our Foot Salve is a beautifully nourishing blend of Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil; Neem Oil, which is fabulous for repairing heel cracks; Peppermint Essential Oil to stimulate circulation; Lavender for its antibacterial and relaxation properties; Tea Tree and Rosemary Oils to tackle bacteria and fungus; and Calendula oil to help skin soothe and repair itself. Apply before bed time and wear cotton socks for maximum impact.
Keeping the Pits Fresh with Rosemary
Rosemary oil may help to reduce tissue inflammation and is thought to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains. In addition, Rosemary Essential Oil has proven antioxidant properties. Since oxidative stress can play a role in underarm odor, Rosemary may help. You can find it in our Natural Deodorant. It works with Lavender to kill odor causing bacteria and take down stress levels. Our Natural Deodorant is formulated for application with your fingers. That way you can deodorize and give yourself lymphatics a draining massage at the same time for better health.
What are your favourite ways to use Rosemary Essential Oil?
May 15th, 2020
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.
August 03rd, 2019
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.
October 15th, 2018
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.
Meet Joey and Free Lion Paw Wax
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).
January 25th, 2018
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
March 10th, 2017
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