Thursday, September 17, 2009

How to Set the Scene for a Relaxing Bath

If you’re as busy and stressed as most of us, you may not take time out to care for yourself very often, but to maintain a healthy mind, body, and spirit, you should incorporate some time into your schedule for relaxation. A bath is a great way to unwind at the end of the day.

Here are some tips for setting the scene. Choose the ones that you are comfortable with using.

1. Time for privacy. You cannot relax if you are being interrupted. So it's important to keep the phone out of the bathroom, tell your spouse to watch the kids, or avoid interrupting, and lock the door.

2. You may enjoy music. Set up a portable radio or CD player AWAY from the tub to listen to some relaxing music. While this is a great relaxation technique, it's not for everyone. So if you prefer quiet, skip this step.

3. Use candles or dim the light. Candles are excellent for promoting relaxation, especially if using aromatherapy candles or a scent that brings you positive feelings. Hey, if grandma's cookies relax you, get a candle in a cookie scent.

4. Get out your bath products. Bath salts, milks, teas, melts, bombs, oils and bubble baths are wonderful bathing experiences. Choose from one of our products or use your kid's Mr. Bubbles. Anyway you can enjoy yourself in the tub will reduce stress.

5. You can use some treatments while you're at it. Pampering yourself will certainly make you feel better and should be a part of a regular routine. Scrubs and polishes, masques, or even a good bath brush are perfect ways to pamper yourself during your tub time.

6. While you are in the pampering mood, you can slather yourself with oils, lotions or butters after the tub, giving your skin nourishing vitamins and minerals and locking in moisture.

Set a schedule each week for a relaxing bath. Keeping a schedule will keep your stress under control. Don’t feel guilty about it either —you deserve it!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How to Read a Label - Part One

How to Read a Label
by the WebMD Medical Reference

Confused about all the competing information on your cosmetic and skin-care products these days? Don't be. Here's our simple guide to reading cosmetic labels.

Alcohol free. In cosmetic labeling, the term "alcohol," used by itself, refers to ethyl alcohol. Cosmetic products, including those labeled "alcohol free," may contain other alcohols, such as cetyl, stearyl, cetearyl or lanolin alcohol. These are known as fatty alcohols, and their effects on the skin are quite different from those of ethyl alcohol. Isopropyl alcohol, which some consumers may think of as drying the skin, is rarely used in cosmetics.

"Cruelty-free or Not Tested on Animals." Although this statement implies the product hasn't been tested on animals, at some point most ingredients have been tested on animals. Look for the words "no new testing," or "not currently tested." The FDA also notes that there is no legal definition for these terms.

Hypoallergenic cosmetics. Products that manufacturers claim produce fewer allergic reactions than other cosmetic products. However, there are no federal standards or definitions that govern the use of the term or ensure that these products are less irritating to sensitive skin than others.

Ingredients. The FDA requires that cosmetic manufacturers list all ingredients on the labels of cosmetics sold on a retail basis to consumers- even if the label states "For professional use only." Ingredients are listed in order from the greatest to the least amount.
Noncomedogenic. Suggests products do not contain common pore-clogging ingredients that could result in acne.

Shelf-life (expiration date). The amount of time for which a product is good under normal conditions of storage and use. Storing cosmetics in damp, warm places like a bathroom can lead to earlier expiration.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Essential Oils, Absolutes, Resins & Hydrosols

Essential oils, absolutes, resins, and hydrosols can be found in many of our products. They have all undergone a process for extracting the essence of plant materials while maintaining the therapeutic properties of the plant. These are not methods that commonly can be used at home or in a small shop. These methods require vast amounts of plant substances, such as flowers and leaves, which are placed in large distillers, only to produce a small amount of oil. This explains why a bad crop or a rare plant will lead to extremely high prices for an essential oil or hydrosol.

Essential Oils
You may already be familiar with essential oils. An essential oil is a liquid that is distilled, typically by steam distillation, from the leaves, flowers, stems, roots, bark, or other parts of a plant. The distillation process allows the “essence” of the plant and its therapeutic qualities to remain intact. Essential oils are highly concentrated and should be used sparingly. Lavender and Tea Tree oil are safe for direct skin contact, but all other essential oils must be diluted before applying to the skin. They are used for both their aroma and their medicinal qualities and can be used in most of your products.

Fragrance oils are artificially created or contain synthetic substances and do not offer the therapeutic benefits that essential oils do. Either manner of scenting products is perfectly acceptable, but if you are looking for natural ingredients with therapeutic qualities, essential oils would be your choice.

Absolutes and Resins
Absolutes and resins are similar to essential oils. Absolute oils are extracted from flowers, leaves or bark. While essential oils are produced by steam distillation, flowers that are too delicate for this process, such as jasmine or vanilla, are extracted with a solvent, usually alcohol. Absolutes are very concentrated as well. While they do not maintain the qualities of the plant to the extent that essential oils do, they can be used to make perfumes and are soluble in alcohol.

Hydrosols (Floral Waters)
Hydrosols, or floral waters as they are sometimes called, are also produced from steam-distilling plants. They are similar to essential oils but less concentrated. Be careful when you look for hydrosols, as many companies sell essential oil diluted in water and call it a hydrosol or floral water. You want true steam-distilled hydrosols that contain all the beneficial components that essential oils possess, with less concentration. Hydrosols are usually a by-product of essential oil production, but some high quality distillers choose to specialize in making only hydrosols. Since hydrosols are not very concentrated, some can be used directly on the skin, such as rose hydrosol, which makes an excellent facial astringent. Their scent will not hold up well in cold-process soaps, but they are great in lotions and creams.