Nature's way to gently remove dirt and toxins for a glowing, clear complexion. Learn how to add them into your Skin care routine
I love a good facial exfoliation! I really enjoy this part of my skin care rituals for its massaging moves, and the almost instant payoff of skin that feels soft and smooth, refreshed and reset.
Plant powders are my go-to for facial exfoliation. They are straight out of my grandmothers’ beauty playbook and I have been using them since childhood. I love them for their ability to gently remove dirt and toxins for a glowing, clear complexion. Using natural ingredients, like plant powders, gives you all that without destroying your skin biome. Win-win, right?
Your skin is in a constant state of cell turnover: As new skin cells are made, the older skin cells rise to the surface, dying in the process. Over time, the surface of your skin becomes host to a buildup of dead cells on the skin’s surface. Add pollution and other forms of environmental stressors to the mix, and-- hello, dull, rough and itchy skin.
That’s where plant powders augmented with plant oils can really bring some beneficial goodness to your skin and its biome. Here’s why plant powders are a brilliant ingredient to add to your skin care routine.
1. Plant Powders are Gentle on the Skin
When mixed with water (ideally distilled) and a few drops of plant oils, plant powders transform into a luxurious paste that draws out toxins and smooths the skin. They are incredibly gentle on the skin, exfoliating without scratching. No extra pressure is needed -- the granules will do the work. The massaging action you bring helps promote circulation and skin cell turnover.
2. PLANT POWDERS CONTAIN MUCH NEEDED SKIN NUTRITION
Plant powders are high in minerals and naturally derived proteins, vitamins and acids, all of which help draw out toxins, enhance skin cell health and provide additional exfoliation by dissolving dead skin cells.
3. YOU CAN CUSTOMIZE PLANT POWDERS TO WHAT YOUR SKIN NEEDS AT THIS MOMENT
Depending on the day, season or your skin type, you can customize your plant powder paste to suit your skin’s needs. If you want more of a mask feel, use less water. If you want more of a general soft cleanser, use more water. If you need more moisturizing, add a few drops of oil to your blend. If you are having breakouts or skin irritation, add yogurt. If you need more antioxidants, add lemon juice. If you need to even out your skin tone and bring down inflammation, add turmeric. The possibilities are endless.
4. PLANT POWDERS HAVE A LONG SHELF LIFE, NO UNNEEDED PRESERVATIVES AND ARE TRAVEL FRIENDLY
Plant powders have a long shelf life. They don’t need preservatives, as they are not pre-mixed with liquids. You mix them up fresh, every time you use them. And because they are liquid-free, they can be carried while traveling with no fuss. Your face care will be there with you, where ever your destination.
HOW TO USE PLANT POWDERS IN YOUR SKIN CARE ROUTINE
Now that you know the overall benefits of using a plant powder to your skin, here is how to use them as a gentle cleanser:
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?
8 AMAZING HEALTH BENEFITS; 4 WAYS TO HELP YOUR BODY ABSORB TURMERIC AND 1 YUMMY TURMERIC MILK RECIPE
When I was young, Mum used to make Hardar Waro Doodh (Turmeric Milk, known on the internet these days as Golden Milk or a turmeric latte) to help boost our immune systems. She'd also spice her curries with it, make tea with it and use it medicinally and in skin care. I use turmeric in much the same way, because I've experienced its efficacy in my health and wellness since childhood. Turmeric powder has an intense taste, which is nature's way of telling you not to have too much. Wise woman wisdom that I grew up with places the consumed limit at about 1 teaspoon a day.
A QUICK LIST OF 8 AMAZING TURMERIC HEALTH BENEFITS
So what makes Turmeric such a health boosting all-star?
Quite a list of benefits, is it not? Hooray, Turmeric!
I’m not sure turmeric, or its active ingredient curcumin, should be taken as a supplement, honestly, due to poor bio-availability. This means that in order for turmeric to be effectively absorbed into the body, it has to be combined with other ingredients or prepared in particular ways, as my mother’s old school methods of using turmeric show.
I see curcumin supplements more as a last resort than the best option. I’m more in the camp of incorporating healing plants into diet and skin care in their most simple form. It is my belief that if we live in alignment with nature, her cycles and her gifts, then we are most likely to experience significant improvements in well-being, from the inside out. That means living more holistically and taking care of all aspects of health and happiness, rather than trying to fix a problem with a pill. Of course this is only my opinion and not intended as medical advice.
4 WAYS TO HELP YOUR BODY ABSORB TURMERIC
USE THE WHOLE ROOT
Turmeric is more than just curcumin. There are over 100 compounds in the turmeric root which have been found to have potent pharmacological properties. When the root is processed, many of these compounds are lost, and some supplements contain only extracted chemical curcumin. Old school Ayurvedic medicine and Indian cooking has always used the whole turmeric root because the various compounds in turmeric work synergistically together and can aid in the absorption of curcumin. This reflects the belief that whole plants are usually better for health.
Mum would use Turmeric in its dried and powdered form, mostly because, back in the day, it was more easily accessed in North America than fresh roots. If you're using turmeric powder, choose organic. Use less as it’s more concentrated than fresh root. If using fresh roots, add much more to your cooking. Rule of thumb: 1tsp of turmeric powder is equal to 3 tsps of fresh turmeric root.
ADD BLACK PEPPER
My mother’s curries, as in most of Indian cooking, are a complex blend of spices that support each other’s efficacy for health and healing. One of her ingredients that directly helps your body absorb curcumin directly is black pepper. According to UMass Medical School’s Center for Applied Nutrition:
“Curcumin only makes up about 5% of turmeric, similar to black pepper where the active ingredient, piperine also makes up about 5% of the spice. Piperine is responsible for black pepper’s rich flavor and helps inhibit drug metabolism. For example, the liver gets rid of foreign substances by making them water-soluble so that they can be excreted, and piperine can inhibit this process so that curcumin is not excreted. This explains how piperine can help to make curcumin more bioavailable. With just 1/20 teaspoon or more of black pepper, the bioavailability of turmeric is greatly improved, and turmeric’s benefits are further enhanced.”
MIX WITH HEALTHY FATS
Mum would make her curries using ghee or high fat oils like coconut or sunflower. She would make Hardar Waro Doodh (Turmeric Milk) with full fat milk. This makes sense for bio-availability. Curcumin has limited solubility in water, but it does like to attach to fats, which are then more easily absorbed into the bloodstream by the gut.
HEAT IT UP
Many spices become activated by heating, which can be the key to releasing their best effect. Research shows that heating turmeric increases its solubility in water, enhancing the overall antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin. Turmeric is moderately sensitive to heat, so there is no need to boil it for a long period of time. Short cooking times (under 15 minutes) do not destroy turmeric, but will in fact increase the bio-availability of turmeric's many compounds, inclduding curcumin. So heating turmeric in Turmeric Milk or a turmeric wellness tea, or adding it to your cooking, such as in curry or scrambled eggs, will maximize its absorption by the body.
1 YUMMY TURMERIC MILK RECIPE
This is a fabulous drink to help boost your immune system. My mother would give it to us regularly as a preventative measure. More cups would be downed in the event of an illness. You can incorporate Turmeric Milk into your day as your morning drink or in the evening, after a meal or before sleep.
A WORD ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS
Milk - Choose the milk that works best for you. If using dairy, choose grass fed and full fat; or give goats milk a go. If not, add a teaspoon of coconut oil to increase fat content for better absorption of turmeric into your body.
Black Pepper - Packed with manganese and Vitamin K, pepper stimulates the taste buds to get hydrochloric acid going, revving up digestion. When combined with black pepper, turmeric becomes 5,000 times more bio-available.
Ginger - Anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral, ginger is pro phytonutrients, especially potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin C. Loved all over the world as a digestive aid, it calms upset stomachs while improving nutrient absorption and circulation.
Cardamom - Loaded with naturally occurring minerals calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin C, cardamom is the go-to spice for mellowing out respiratory ailments, colds and flus, and sluggish, unhappy guts.
Turmeric - Already ‘nuf said above!
Coconut oil - Helps your body absorb curcumin while adding more fatty acids that that are beneficial brain food.
1 cup milk of choice. If using dairy, choose full fat. If not, add a teaspoon of coconut oil to increase fat content.
¼- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
A Pinch to ⅛ tsp black pepper
¼ teaspoon ginger powder
⅛ tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp honey or to taste
Place all the ingredients into a pan. Whisk together into the milk. Simmer on medium to low heat until the milk starts to steam (not so hot) or bubble (hotter). Whisk again to foam milk (optional) Pour into your favourite mug and enjoy!
CHIA SEED OIL: A SUPER MOISTURIZING ROCK STAR
Sometimes you meet a oil that you just love, and loves you back, inside and out. Chia Seed Oil is one of those ingredient rock stars for which I just can't sing enough praises. On the inside, Chia Seeds are a super food that bring so many health benefits. On the skin, it's pure magic. It's moisturizing, soothing, softening, protective and anti-aging.
A BIT OF CHIA SEED HISTORY
They ascribed their military prowess to the power of Chia in their diets. It was also used in their sacred and worldly ritual. Chia was given as sacrificial offering to the gods; extracted as tribute payments from conquered nations; and often used it as currency. Now, that's one valuable plant!
WHAT MAKES CHIA SEED SUCH A NUTRITIONAL SUPERSTAR?
Chia is rich in essential fatty acids, specifically omega-3 and omega-6. They are 5 x richer in calcium than cow’s milk; extremely high in vitamin C, 7 x more than oranges; high in iron, 3 x higher than spinach. Last but not least, chia seeds are also high in potassium, selenium, zinc, magnesium, vitamin A, E and B6. Not to mention fibre and protein. Added bonus: they are gluten-free.
So with all that nutritional power, chia seeds promote the correct functioning of the heart, brain and immune system while helping blood circulation by exerting an anti-oxidant function. They benefit teeth and bones, help improve your mental acuity, keep blood sugar and pressure in check, and are quite filling, should you be on a diet. All that in a tiny little seed.
WHAT MAKES CHIA SEED OIL FOR FABULOUS FOR SKIN?
Once again, it's that Omega 3 and 6 fatty acid content that skin just soaks up. These fatty acids help maintain moisture levels in the skin which reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as relieving dryness and flaking. Chia seed oil can also help with issues like rosacea or eczema on the face. It leaves your skin feeling soothed, smooth, soft and replenished. This is wonderful for dry and sensitive skin.
Chia seed oil is also a great source of vitamin B3 and zinc, which helps with oily skin and clogged pores. It also can help take down the inflammation and irritation that comes with break-outs.
It's also full of amazing antioxidants, including chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid, as well as myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol flavonoids, all of which protect your skin from environmental stressors. In fact, the antioxidants in chia seed oil have shown to be even stronger than vitamin C and vitamin E, two common and powerful antioxidants. This is exactly the kind of care normal skin needs to fight off signs of aging.
Put all of chia seed oils properties together—moisturizing, protection, and calming you have the perfect natural ingredient for maintaining your skin through all its changes. And that is why I chose to include it in all our Facial Oil blends.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE
DIY DISWASHER TABS
The other day, I masked and gloved up, then hit the socially distanced grocery line up. The shopping list was long but wouldn't you know, I forgot to buy dishwasher tabs, a fact discovered after arriving home and unpacking our haul. The frustration didn't last long. I did a little research and hit the kitchen to whip some up. I'm so amazed at how well these dishwasher tabs work, I wanted to share the recipe.
You may have the ingredients lying about the house. Each has its own benefits. Baking soda (or washing soda, you pick) helps cut through the grease and is a great all-purpose cleaner. Borax is also another great cleaner that (bonus) helps disinfect. Salt helps mitigate the effects of hard water. Vinegar adds more cleaning power and helps to bind the ingredients together. Finally a bit of essential oil, for its anti-bacterial properties and lovely scent.
You will need:
1 cup of baking soda or washing soda. Both work equally well.
1 cup of Borax
1/2 cup of coarse salt
3/4 cup vinegar
15-20 drops of essential oil. I used Sweet Orange. You could also use Lemon, Tea Tree, Lavender, Rosemary, or Eucalyptus, as all these oils have antibacterial properties.
In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Measure out the of vinegar. Add it slowly to the dry ingredients, mixing as you go. There might be a little fizz from the chemical reaction between the vinegar and baking soda. Mix until the vinegar is evenly distributed through the powders. Now add your essential oil and mix it through again until evenly distributed.
Spoon the powder into a silicone ice cube tray mold. Then pack it down with your fingers. Gloves are optional. Let the tabs set overnight.
Next day, turn the mold over and pop out the tabs. They should hold their shape. If they don't, save the powder. You can still use it, just spoon it into the soap dispenser in your dishwasher.
Come dishwashing time, put a tab in the soap dispenser and set your dish robot to its usual settings. If you have a super crusty set of dishes, you can add a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Ya, I know they don't advise it, but found that a little, tiny bit boosts the cleaning power of these tabs.
Et Voila! Clean dishes! Everything came out shiny and clean, even the glasses; no spots. I hope this recipe is of use to your family.
What are your favourite DIY house cleaning recipes?
Stay well, stay kind.
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.