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.
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 Butter
Macadamia butter 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 Butter 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 butter 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 ca 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.
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.
In ancient Egypt, Aloe Vera was known as the “plant of immortality.” Mother Nature sure knows how to pack a healing punch in her creations, and Aloe Vera is no exception. It has been used for centuries to heal wounds, hydrate and repair skin and keep people regular. Ya. No lie on that one.
In last week’s blog, the Raw Chef walked us through extracting gel from Aloe Vera leaves. Click the link, in case you need a refresher. It’s a pretty straightforward process. Just make sure your knives and peelers are sharp to easily slice through that aloe leaf skin.
So now you’ve extracted your aloe gel from an aloe leaf. What’s next? Making awesome skin soothing concoctions, of course! Here are a few simple recipes you can try that don’t require you to have a full apothecary shelf or years of making knowledge.
Aloe Vera Skin Soother
This spritz-on blend is made of skin soothing, healing ingredients. It can be helpful for sunburn, bug bites, rashes, dry skin, minor cuts and scrapes. If you are running low on our Hydrating Tonic for Normal Skin this is a good stopgap.
Aloe Vera Gel acts as a protective, moisturizing antioxidant that helps skin heal quicker.
Calendula Tea has skin-healing, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties; powerful yet gentle and soothing. Click here to our blog on how to make Calendula tea
Rose water has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the redness of irritated skin
Gently Blend together:
2 parts Aloe Vera Gel
1 part Calendula Tea
1 part Rose Water
Pour into small spray or spritz bottle. Store in refrigerator for up to 6 weeks. Shake gently before use. Spray affected skin area. Sigh with relief!
Daily Digestive Aloe Vera Smoothie
This delicious smoothie recipe packs a powerful combination of natural ingredients proven to be effective in aiding digestion and overall wellness. Our all star ingredients:
Aloe Vera is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It ontains everything from digestive enzymes to vitamins and minerals that promote healthy digestion.
Kefir or Yogurt is extremely rich in probiotics, helping to promote the growth of good bacteria.
Berries pack immune-boosting antioxidants and very rich in vitamin C.
Bananas are packed with a number of vitamins for general wellness: potassium, B6, manganese, and fiber.
Ginger is probiotic and carminative (removes excess gas from the intestines). Ginger is also known to aid in relieving nausea and heartburn.
Parsely removes excess gas from the intestines and improves digestion of proteins and fats.
Spinach or kale helps support digestion
¼ cup Aloe Vera gel
½ cup kefir or plain Yogurt
1 cup berries
½ cup banana
1 cup Greens (Parsely, Spinach or Kale)
¼ inch slice of fresh ginger
½ cup distilled water or coconut water
Throw all the ingredients into a blender and blend on high speed until smooth. Drink immediately, it's best fresh. Smile broadly. You've just engaged in an act of Radical Self Care!
All Natural Mouth Wash
As I’m aging, I’m beginning to appreciate the value of a good mouthwash, mostly because there are nooks and crannies in your mouth that you can’t always get to with brushing. This recipe is simple, made from 5 common ingredients. It’s best stored in the fridge.
Baking Soda is not just for making quick breads, cookies, and muffins. In oral care, baking soda can help neutralize acids, take care of odors (bye-bye, bad breath!), and fight germs. Added Bonus: baking soda may help fight stains on teeth.
Aloe Vera Juice serves so many purposes, including dental health. According to a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Aloe Vera is extremely helpful in the treatment of gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis. It reduces bleeding, inflammation and swelling of the gums. It is a powerful antiseptic in pockets where normal cleaning is difficult, and its antifungal properties help greatly in the problem of mouth ulcers, and cracked, split corners..
Essential Oils Peppermint and Tea Tree are both used in this recipe. Peppermint gives a cooling, minty flavor to the mouthwash. Tea tree provides beneficial cleaning and antibacterial properties.
1/2 cup aloe vera gel
1/2 cup distilled water
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
2-5 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
1-3 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
In a bottle, add all the ingredients. Cap the bottle and gently shake to combine the ingredients until the baking soda is fully dissolved. Store your mouthwash in the fridge. To use your mouthwash, gently shake the bottle and pour a mouthful into a cup. Swish it in your mouth for several seconds, pulling it through your teeth. Spit, don't swallow, especially if you feel essential oils are not safe to ingest.
Aloe Vera Gel Hair Mask for Dry Hair and Itchy Scalp
Your hair and scalp need replenishing from the daily toxins met out there in the world and in what you may eat. A hair mask, done once or twice a week, can help. Here's one you can concoct at home, using that Aloe Vera Gel that you so expertly harvested!
Aloe Vera Gel's hydrating properties make it an excellent moisturizer for dry hair. Bonus: it makes your hair SHINY!. Its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties can provide some relief from an itchy scalp, while its enzymes can help to promote the creation of healthy new scalp skin cells. It can also help with repairing split ends.
Coconut oil is moisturizing and can help nourish hair dryness. Its antibacterial properties also help with that itchy scalp issue.
Banana is rich of in vitamins, calcium, potassium, carbohydrates and natural oils that help the overall nourishment of the hair. It promotes shiny, silky hair with great elasticity and control. A simple banana mask can help with frizziness, dandruff and hair fall.
Tea Trea Essential Oil is antibacterial and skin repairing. Great for your scalp.
Lavender Essential Oil is also anitbacterial and stress relieving. Why? Because Bad Hair Day! 'Nuf said.
Hair Mask Ingredients
1/2 cup aloe vera gel
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup of full fat coconut milk
1 ripe banana (2 if you have long hair)
4 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
4 drops Lavender Essential Oil
Throw all the ingredients but the essential oils into a blender and hit the high speed button. If the ingredients have trouble blending, add a little more coconut milk. Once you have a gorgeous, creamy liquid in the blender jug, add the essential oils and blend again.
Pour your creamy mix into a bowl and apply it to your head and scalp using a paint brush. You don't have to use the paint brush but it does help get the mask all over your hair without making a huge, gloopy mess.
Once you've finished applying your mask, throw on a shower cap and make your self a snack, soak in a relaxing bath, listen to some soothing music, grab a book, or turn on Netflix (ok, I admit it, the last two are my favourite go-tos! Like my namesake, I love a good story). Let the mask sit on your hair for at least 20-30 minutes.
Rinse off the mask and shampoo as usual, using a gentle shampoo. Conditioner not required. You can use this mask once or twice a week. Enjoy your beautiful hair!
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion Team
Do you have any favourite Aloe Vera Gel recipes or stories about how Aloe Vera Gel has worked for you? Please share in the comments section.