A few little things you can do for yourself everyday to enhance your wellbeing while replenishing and protecting your skin
The secret to being naturally beautiful rests not in a jar of expensive creams. Rather it is in a few little things you can do for yourself everyday to enhance your wellbeing while replenishing and protecting your skin from damage. So here are seven healthy habits that will leave you feeling and looking your best, naturally.
1. SLEEP IT OFF
A night of tossing and turning and a mirror check in the morning is all you need to understand just how much your skin needs a good night's sleep. A 2013 case study says as much. In a first-of-its-kind clinical trial, physician-scientists found that sleep quality impacts skin function and aging. The study, commissioned by Estee Lauder, demonstrated that not having enough sleep increased signs of skin aging and slowed recovery from a variety of environmental stressors, such as disruption of the skin barrier or ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Those were just the physical symptoms. Not having enough sleep also decreased energy levels and sense of confidence and self worth. It was easier for a tired person to look in the mirror and find fault than someone who was de-stressed by complete rest. So in short, sleep well because it will help your skin, mind and spirit regenerate.
2. SWEAT IT OUT
Your Skin is your body's largest organ. Just as exercise keeps your other organs, like the heart, in healthy form, it also enhances the skin's ability to repair the effects of aging and other damage. In fact, the moment your heart starts beating faster, muscles pump out more of a protein (IL-15) that powers your skin cells' mitochondria to act youngerâover time, that can make skin some 25 years younger at the microscopic level, according to a study at McMaster University in Ontario.
You don't have to go crazy on cardio for your skin to get the benefit of exercise and increased oxygenation in your body. Pick something that works for you and do it regularly. Consistent exercise will likely help on the sleep front, too.
Also, consider hitting the sauna or the steam room on a regular basis (though in this COVID period, a steaming hot shower could do the trick, too). It's a lot like having a facial but for the whole body. Fifteen minutes in the steam room opens pores, increases sweating, stimulates circulation, and eliminates toxins. The elevated heat and the increased sweating and circulation stimulates the reproduction of collagen and deeply cleanses and rejuvenates your skin.
3. WALK IN THE SHADE
Protect your skin from the sun with sunscreen, yes. But also by covering up with long flowing garments or a sun parasol. Don't forget your sunglasses for UV protection (and the fashion factor). And when you're outdoors, seek shade, especially between 10am and 4 pm. It would be a good time to go for a grounding forest bathing walk. Here are some summer shading suggestions from our Wild Beauty Blog, Three Chill Ways to Protect your Skin from the Sun.
4. STAY HYDRATED
Keep the water going all summer long. If you're not a big fan of plain water, add fruit to create a lovely tasting fruit infused beverage. Or add a little bit of fruit juice to your water in a 1:4 proportion.
If you're feeling a bit weak out there in the sun, your body may be low on electrolytes. Stay away from the Gatorade, though--it's full of sugar which causes other skin issues. Instead, consider throwing a Hydralyte tablet into your water bottle. Hydralyte is a Canadian made fizzy tablet, formulated with the right balance glucose and electrolytes for rapid rehydration. Thom uses it frequently through the summer, as heat and dehydration can exacerbate his MS symptoms. But it's brilliant for anyone who needs a little boost in the hydration department.
5. DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY
When you're stressed, cortisol goes up and does a number on your collagen proteins, causing dry skin and wrinkles. So find ways to bring your stress levels down.
Meditation with deep breathing helps calm your cortisol count while oxygenating your body. It can also help you get a good night's sleep. Book a massage or a hair cut or any other self-care service that you find relaxing. Hit the yoga mat at home or join a socially distanced Tai Chi class. Sing out loud or dance up a storm all over the living room furniture. Binge watch something hilarious. Or get on computer and hilari-chat it up with your besties.
Again, choose your stress reliever (one or more) and engage regularly and consistently.
6. SCRUB AWAY THOSE DEAD SKIN BLUES
Skin cells turn over constantly, and sometimes they need help to fully slough off. Give your skin an assist and exfoliate once or twice a week. For a scrub and polish, try Free Lion Namika Salt Scrub. It's formulated with some old-school Japanese beauty care ingredients like adzuki bean flour, rice flour and seaweed. The scent is a delightful blend of green tea and jasmine. Or try our Lavender Salt Scrub. This one is blended with clay and apricot kernel shells. The scent is pure relaxation as only Lavender can deliver. If you have sensitive skin, try our Rose Garden Sugar Scrub. It's blended with some skin soothing oat and chickpea flour. The scent is both grounding and uplifting. And you want to wake up your skin and smooth out that bumpy cellulite look, give our Espresso Sugar Scrub a go. It's a caramel macchiato for your skin!
7. CULTIVATE KINDNESS AND GRATITUDE
When you can, reach out to someone to lend a hand, an ear or your heart. Things are difficult for many people these days and a kind, friendly word can help make all the difference--to them and to you. When we give of ourselves and connect with others, we get to step out of our own stories for a while and experience the reality of our interconnectedness. This is especially important during this COVID period when isolation feelings can be overwhelming.
Bookend your day with all the things in your life you are grateful for. Write them down or simply affirm them to yourself. This simple ritual will help clear the anxiety clouds of future thinking and open you up to receive the best the universe has to offer in this moment now. Your heart (and your skin) will thank you.
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion Team
THREE CHILL WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR SKIN IN THE SUN
Hello Summer Sun! So good to see you again. We love you Sun, we really do, but every good relationship needs boundaries. Preferably natural and non-toxic ones.
Think of natural sun protection in terms of shielding your skin from the sun. Well, how do you do that? Here are some basic tips from the Environmental Working Group to consider doing before you hit the sunscreen.
TIP #1: COVER UP
Shirts, hats, shorts, long dresses, skirts, pants--these provide the best protection from UV rays. Cover up as much skin as you can without getting uncomfortable. That ideally means from head to toe! But that is not everyone's comfort zone. So just go for as long a sleeve and pant/skirt length as you can tolerate.
Form fitting garments tend to hold both heat and sweat to your skin. Looser ones can provide some much needed, cooling air flow. Tightly woven or knitted, but lightweight fabrics like natural silk, cottons, t-shirting, or synthetic materials like rayon can all shade your skin beautifully, while letting the air flow through. Wearing bright or dark colours can also help. For example, a black T will absorb more UV rays than a white one.
Natural or synthetic fabrics? Choose what feels right for you. Have fun with it and don't forget the wide brimmed hat and sunglasses! Good shades protect your eyes from UV radiation that can cause cataracts.
In my wanderings on the net, I ran into Coolibar. If you need sun protective clothing for specific activities, they might be able to help you out. They have spent 20 years developing specialized UV protective fabrics and clothing. like long sleeved swimwear. In their words:
"Because Coolibar is a product with a purpose, we work closely with outdoor athletes, cancer survivors, dermatologists, medical advisors and organizations like the Melanoma Research Foundation, The Skin Cancer Foundation and the Lupus Foundation of America for additional design insight and technical expertise. The result is a new "user group strategy with product groupings around seven activities...designed to provide maximum comfort, coverage and UV protection for the whole family."
TIP #2: FIND SHADE OR MAKE IT
While you're out and about this summer, look for shade and spend some cooling time under it. Read a book under that big old oak tree, followed by a relaxing picnic. Keep the babies in the shade wherever you are. They are still developing the tanning pigments, known as melanin, that protect skin. If you have a canopy, or large umbrella, set it up on the beach or in the back yard.
Or take an umbrella parasol with you. Traditionally and currently, parasols are the personal sun shade of choice in Japan, China and surrounding countries. In Europe and North America, it had its moments but fell out of fashion in the 1920's as constructions of womanhood and beauty changed to adapt to more active lifestyles for women.
Jump cut to today. With the increasing concern about UV radiation, parasols have made a come back. If you are looking for a fashionable, artisan made parasol, Lily-Lark, based in New York, can definitely help. The fabrics are unique for parasols--playful and painterly, a fun twist on a traditional fashion accessory. The parasols are made by artisans in Bali (it looks like to me). It's my hope they are paid well for the lovely work they do. In the founder of Lily-Lark's words:
"Umbrellas have emerged as the latest go-to sun protection option for women. But most umbrellas are made of cheap nylon, metal and a whole lot of boring. Something more eleant than an umbrella was called for, which is why we've created chic, handcrafted parasols with a UPF 50+ coating that protects from over 98% of UV rays. Our Asian-inspired bamboo frames are topped by soft fabric canopies printed with exclusive contemporary fine art."
TIP #3: PLAN AROUND THE SUN AND SIESTA
Ever wonder why siesta time is in the middle of the day? Well, the sun is its hottest then and a great way to beat the heat is to be out of it. Many sun cultures plan their days to avoid being out and about when the sun is at its hottest. Work activities happen early in the morning, there is a pause, and then things resume again when the sun is cooler. But there is a little more to it than that. Studies have shown that a half hour siesta can help reduce both stress and blood pressure, increase productivity and improve alertness and memory. So millions of people around the world who siesta can't be wrong!
If you're looking for a hammock for the back yard, your balcony or a travel sized one, La Siesta has you covered. The family-run company has a strong commitment to ethical practices, taking their responsibility to "creating a better world for our children and grandchildren" very seriously. To them a hammock is more than just furniture; it's a cultural asset that reflects a way of life. Their hammocks are artisan made in South America. In their words:
"The hammock’s message is very near and dear to our hearts, which is why we also want to support the people who make them. LA SIESTA has made a social commitment to many local projects in South America and in doing so we support, among other things, the use of high-quality and ecological materials like organic cotton and FSC-certified wood, in order to constantly improve the quality of our products and the living conditions of the people who make them."
How do you shade yourself from the sun? What are your favourite sun protective fashionables?
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion
Disclosure-The websites in this blog are provided as information only. I am not affiliated with them, nor do I get paid for advertising them. If you buy from them or have tried their products, please let me know how their products worked for you.
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.
THE MAGIC OF CALENDULA TEA
A VERY SHORT HISTORY OF CALENDULA USE
Calendula has been revered as a magical medicinal plant for centuries. Ancient Egyptians used it to rejuvenate their skin. Bathing in water infused with calendula petals was thought to give give you a healthy, sunny glow, just like the flower itself. The Greeks and Romans used it as a culinary garnish. In India it was strung into garlands for weddings and religious rituals to call in powers of protection and good luck. Europeans and early American colonists used Calendula in soups and stews, relying on its gentle immune boosting properties to protect against the damp cold of winter.
What's not to love about this bright, yellow and orange, cheery member of the daisy family?
Calendula flowers are one of nature's most precious and useful gifts. The flower is loaded with powerful skin-healing, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, yet is gentle enough for most people and animals to use safely. Calendula can help get circulation moving and stimulate the immune system. My gardener friends tell me the flower is really easy to grow and requires low maintenance. Flowers and leaves of the calendula may be dried and stored for later use in making Calendula Tea. I'm not there yet in being able to grow my own for the amount I need to make Free Lion products. So here is where I get my Calendula Petals
And now here's the "how to" on Calendula Tea.
HOW TO MAKE CALENDULA TEA
One way of making a tea is basically pouring boiling water over plant materials and allowing it to steep. This is primarily the East Asian and European way. Then there's the way India does it--which is boil the water; add the plant materials and let it boil some more before you turn the heat off. That is how I do it. But I'll give you options. See which works for you.
1. The Steeping method
Place around 1 to 2 tablespoons of dried calendula flowers in a canning jar and pour around 1 cup (8 oz/240 ml) boiled distilled water over them. Cover and let steep for around 15 to 20 minutes. Strain petals out of tea before using.
2. The Sun tea method
Fill a canning jar 1/4 full with dried flowers and cover with cold distilled water. Cap and place in a bright sunny spot (like a windowsill or outside porch rail) for at least 5 or 6 hours. Strain out petals before use.
3. The Boiling Method
Bring 10oz/375ml of distilled water to a boil Place around 1 to 2 tablespoons of dried calendula petals into the water and let boil 3-5 minutes before you turn the heat off. Let the tea cool. Strain out petals before use.
HOW TO USE CALENDULA TEA
Now that you've made your Calendula Tea, here are some things you can use it for:
1. Use as a gargle for sore throat. Or use as a mouth rinse to help relieve canker sores, inflamed gums or thrush. Calendula's soothing properties will calm that gravely throat while its anti-microbial properties will go after infection-causing bacteria.
2. Pour some into a small, clean spray bottle to make a disinfecting wound spray. Spray clean strips of cloth or gauze with the tea and apply to wounds or scraped, itchy, scratched or otherwise inflamed skin conditions.
3. Take heavy duty paper towels and fold them into a container, one on top of the next. Pour Calendula tea over paper towels and let them soak up the tea. Voila! Now you have natural baby wipes to help ease diaper rash.
4. Strain through a coffee filter to remove all fine calendula flower particles. You can use this as an eye rinse to ease itchy eyes due to allergy, dryness and pink eye.
5. Wash your face with Calendula tea in the morning and at night if you're prone to acne and breakouts or have dry sensitive skin. If you don't want to make the tea, you can get our Face Chai Foaming Wash for Oily and Break-out Prone Skin or Face Chai Foaming wash for Dry and Sensitive Skin.
6. Pour some Calendula Tea into a foot bath for fungal conditions like athletes foot. Add some to your regular bath to help soothe and heal inflamed skin or rashes.
7. Use as a hair rinse, after shampooing to help ease an itchy scalp situation.
8. Calendula tea can be safely used on most non-pregnant animals as a soothing rinse for flea bites, scratches, scrapes, itchy coats or to help cleanse and heal minor wounds. You can also spritz it onto hot spots or chapped sun burnt noses, too.
So there you go, 8 ways you can use Calendula Tea. It's an amazing flower and it is no wonder that its popularity has not waned over centuries all over the world.
Before I go, let me leave you with this lovely flower bath surrounded by flower garlands. Treat yourself tonight!
Free Lion Team
You are what you eat, popular wisdom tells us. While I don’t feel overly like a grass fed cow, I’m going with the truism. What you eat DOES affect your overall health and most definitely your skin’s health. Whether you’re soothing dry, flaky skin, preventing wrinkles or healing acne, paying attention to what you put IN your body can make a huge difference. The overall guiding principle is keep it simple and as close to raw and unprocessed as possible, drink lots of water, stay away from trigger foods and most of all, really enjoy what you’re eating.
There are some foods for the skin that are on my must-have list, and a few to stay away from. Full disclosure: I am not a trained doctor, nurse or dietitian. I’m sharing some things i’ve learned through experience and research over the 50 years I’ve spent trying to solve my eczema issues. We've put them together for you in a handy infographic, Eat your Way to Healthy Skin. You can also download it using the link at the bottom of the page. We hope, though, it gives you some inspiration, ideas and food for thought.
And now the disclaimer: Our Eat Your Way to Healthy Skin infographic is intended to provide information only and should not be considered medical advice.
Sherazad Jamal, The Free Lion Team
The pore-clogging potential of skin care products has become a big concern for many people recently, thanks in large part to strategic Big Beauty marketing, as well as InterWeb Hot Lists of ingredients to avoid in skin care and makeup. I totally understand this concern when it comes to things like foundation creams or make-up. There could be a whole lot of pore-clogging going on with these simply because of how they are meant to be used. If you cover your face (and so all your pores) with a blanket of powders, emulsified or not, and let it sit there all day, chances are high that you're going to have a clogged pore or two you'll have to clean out.
Before we go on, some background. Comedogenic ingredients are usually fatty emollients (but not all fats are comedogenic). Evaluating the comedogenicity of a product is complex because it's not just about the properties of one ingredient alone. It has more to do with how an ingredient is extracted and processed, how much of it is in a product, how it reacts with other ingredients in the product, how long it sits on the skin, where on the skin its is applied and individual body chemistry. Also, many comedogenic ingredients take a long time to build up in a pore before maximum clogging occurs.
So what's a consciously aware consumer to do? Looking at an ingredient Hot List and staying away from specific ingredients is not a complete answer.
When it comes to natural and non-toxic ingredients being mentioned on these lists, I confess, I am perplexed. How did these fabulous oils get on a comedogenic Hot List anyway? Wheat Germ Oil (assuming its non-GMO) takes a huge hit at a number 5 rank. Wheat Germ Oil. Seriously? What about it's nourishing properties for dry, irritated skin, its sun protective properties, and the fact that people have been using it on their faces for centuries? Cocoa Butter, an ingredient that my skin cannot comfortably live without, comes in at 4? Somewhere deep in the forest, a Wise Woman is weeping.
You might read that beeswax is comedogenic; but in a body butter, for example, it’s a small percentage of of the entire recipe (10-15%). Does beeswax’s comedogenic potential negate the amazing job it does of protecting skin and holding in its moisture content? Can you benefit from beeswax while mitigating possible pore clogging by using a good skin care routine? In this current world of product plethora, we have to make these kinds of calculated decisions for ourselves all the time.
I’m going to say that for me, the choice to go natural and non-toxic was a no-brainer. I’ve been struggling with skin issues all my life, from the first bout of eczema on my tender, diapered bum to my now menopausally-challenged dry face. I’ve tried it all, from steroid creams, to various Big Beauty lab-derived skin care systems (expensive and not), to old school concoctions derived from natural ingredients. The hands down winner in my 54 year battle, scoring high marks for both for effectiveness and price, has been Natural ingredients. No contest.
Think logically about it for a second (putting my Mr. Spock hat on). If I’m going to put something on my body, I want to make sure that it is as natural and non-toxic as possible, because my skin reacts instantly to ingredients it doesn't like.. If my pores are going to clog from these natural and non-toxic ingredients, I know I can clean them out with a good dose of hot water/steam followed by a thorough cleansing routine. I CAN treat the devil I know.
The same is true of what i put IN my body. Over-processed, oily and sugary foods, for example, can affect the critical balance of gut bacteria which helps my body break down foods into required nutrients. These kinds of foods can also affect the gut lining, messing with my body’s ability to absorb necessary nutrients, resulting in chemical imbalances in cells, including those of my skin. Then there’s aging and hormonal changes. So, I’ve had to pay more attention to the foods I eat, and to be mindful about drinking enough water. There are certain foods and food combinations that will exacerbate my skin condition--like yeast, some beans and some carbs (especially wheat-based ones). Bread is NOT my friend. Mostly, my diet looks paleo -- a mix of animal and vegetable proteins, with the occasional carb. Result? Happier gut, happier skin. Happier me.
So is comedogenicity in skin a real issue? Yeah. Possibly a concern...if you never bathed or scrubbed or washed; if you never had a woman-mentor who taught you how to take care of your skin; or if you’ve been living under a rock. And how many of us is that, exactly? Healthy, clear skin has been a human preoccupation for thousands of years. Women have been experimenting and passing their knowledge on to each other for just as long. And in recent times, we’ve all been schooled enough in the art of facial care, by a bazillion fashion magazines, ads and electronic media, to know the value of a gentle clean and scrub. Below is a quickie primer in cleaning out clogged pores, in case you need it.
The real issue, it seems to me, is how well we trust tried and true women’s wisdom, how well we trust the healing power of Nature (or as close to nature as possible), how well we trust ourselves and the choices we make. Honestly, you are the best expert on your skin. If you are paying attention, you’ll know what works and what doesn’t, regardless of how well it has been marketed to you. It is trial an error until you find what works for you. It’s okay to just say NO and keep looking for what feels right.
Another Bossy opinion from
Sherazad Jamal, The Free Lion Team.