My top 10 picks for your skin’s winter survival kit

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         So we’ve survived the first month of winter. Barely. Between the snowstorms, weather extremes, and indoor heating, are you finding that your skin is now dry no matter what you do?

Want to know an effective way to keep your skin well hydrated during our harsh Canadian winters?

Oil. Yep, oil.

A few years ago, while working for a few weeks in Banff, I experienced some of the harshest and driest climate I’ve ever been exposed to. No matter how much water I drank and organic creams & lotions I used, my skin was still dry.

Thankfully I brought my favorite oils with me (along with my parka!) in case my skin needed extra help against the -40°C temperatures and the extreme dryness the region is well known for. I mixed some of the carrier oils with a blend of essential oils and lavished this on my face and body as often as I could. And it worked!

Using oils on your skin, especially on your face may seem like a recipe for breakouts, particularly for those with oily or mixed skins, but if you use the right oil combinations and blends, you can survive winter with beautiful, glowing skin.

 

Here are my picks of the top 10 oils for skin hydration: 5 carrier oils & 5 essential oils.

For easy do-it-yourself home remedies, use any of the oils on the following list in combination, by mixing the carrier oils with your choice of essential oils.

Use a ratio of 10 drops of essential oils for every 50 ml of the carrier oils.

 

CARRIER OILS:

  1. Jojoba carrier oil:

Jojoba oil is a liquid wax, extracted from the beans of the jojoba plant. It mimics and dissolves sebum, the fatty substance produced by the body to protect the skin.

This is important because acne is caused by the over production of sebum. Adding Jojoba to the mix will not only hydrate the skin, but also help prevent breakouts. It is very stable, which is ideal if you want your mix to have a longer shelf life.

Can be used at a 100% ratio in your mix.

 

  1. Apricot Kernel carrier oil:

If you are looking for a silky-smooth carrier oil that is easily absorbed by the skin without leaving it feeling oily, look no further.

Apricot oil has a lovely light texture and is wonderful for mature skin, prematurely aging skin, and dry or sensitive skin. I find it leaves my skin feeling silky and well hydrated. It is mostly used as a facial oil and has a long shelf life.

Can be used at a 100% ratio in your mix.

 

  1. Sweet Almond carrier oil:

Sweet almond is a lovely oil to work with. It penetrates well into the skin while softening, soothing, and re-conditioning. It contains mono & polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamins A, B1, B2 & B6, as well as a small amount of vitamin E, which will help it from going rancid too quickly.

Sweet almond oil is a wonderful choice for dry and itchy skin.

Can be used at a 100% ratio in your mix.

 

  1. Macadamia Nut carrier oil:

Macadamia nut oil is one of my favorite anti-aging oils. It is to be used as an addition only, but well worth adding it to the mix because it contains palmitoleic acid, an essential fatty acid found in sebum (the fatty substance produced by the body to protect the skin), especially the sebum of infants, children and teenagers. Because its presence diminishes as we age, adding macadamia nut oil becomes very beneficial for mature skins. It doesn’t clog the pores while also providing a barrier against moisture loss.

Can be used at a 5-10% ratio in your mix.

 

  1. Calendula carrier oil:

Calendula oil is known as “pot of marigold”, and is extracted from the flower heads of the plant. It has a reputation as a wonderful skin-healing oil, and has been used in ointments and tinctures for centuries. It is well known for its ability to protect against dry, chapped and cracked skin. It is to be used as an addition only.

Can be used at a 25% ratio in your mix.

 

ESSENTIAL OILS:

(Important note: Please consult a health care professional if pregnant, breastfeeding, on medications or homeopathic remedies before using any essential oils).

 

  1. Rose Otto essential oil (For the face – high-end):

Known as the queen of essential oils, Rose Otto is soothing to all skin types. It is highly regarded as being especially effective with acne, dry sensitive skin, mature skin, wrinkles, and broken capillaries. Its toning and soothing effects make this essential oil a wonderful skin healer as Rose Otto is regarded as a powerful skin rejuvenator.

Because it is so expensive, it is often sold at a 10% dilution (10% Rose Otto, 90% Jojoba). This is a good option and can be used in your oils at the same ratio even if you buy it diluted

 

  1. Neroli essential oil (For the face – high-end):

Neroli is renowned for its cytophylactic (cell-regenerative) properties. It is excellent for stimulating cell growth and cellular activity, and is therefore very helpful in rejuvenating and regenerating the skin. Neroli is also considered to be wonderful for treating acne, dry, devitalized, oily, and mature skins. It is also highly sought-after for improving elasticity, fighting broken capillaries on the skin and preventing permanent scarring, making this essential oil ideal for both young and mature skins alike. If you’ve never heard of Neroli, it is produced from the blossom of the bitter orange tree.

Neroli is also sold at a 10% dilution because of its high cost.

 

  1. Carrot seed essential oil (For the face & body – mid-range cost):

Carrot seed oil is one of my favorite oils for anti-aging and skin healing. It is known for reducing or preventing wrinkles and for its regenerative powers, particularly after severe burns. It is a good addition to a blend for treating and healing scars.

 

  1. Lavender essential oil (For the face & body – more affordable):

Lavender not only has a wonderfully soothing scent but it is also known as a remarkable healer & balancer. It is considered to be incredibly versatile & adaptable for all skin types and skin problems. It is highly regarded for possessing cell-regenerating properties and is well known for healing sunburns or burns of any kind. This is a wonderful oil to use for all ages and skin types.

 

  1. Sweet-Orange essential oil (For the face & body – most affordable):

Sweet-Orange essential oil is regarded as useful for dull and oily skin, while its renowned cell-regenerating and hydrating properties work well on wrinkles & dry skin. It is also considered helpful with puffiness, strengthening to the epidermis, stimulating to circulation and melanocyte development (the cells capable of producing melanin) and calming to skin gland function. This is another wonderful oil to use for all ages and skin types.

 

TIPS on how to oil the skin:

Face:  

Massage the oils gently, until they start to penetrate. Let this settle in the skin for 30 minutes before applying your favorite organic facial creams.

Body:

Dermatologists warn against the use of hot water because of its drying effect on the skin, but I’ve always failed miserably at my attempts to bathe or shower in lukewarm water. When I’m freezing, I want hot water. So while it is excellent advice, I can’t very well expect anyone to follow it if I can’t.

Here’s a compromise: take shorter showers and baths, and follow the methods listed below. They work!

(1) Baths:

In a bath, add 2 tablespoons of the oil mix to your bath water. A lovely residue will cover your skin and it will look radiant. If you find you need even more hydration, either add more oil next time, or apply the oil mix prior to entering the bath, massaging lightly to help its absorption. When toweling off, dab, don’t rub.

(2) Showers:

Try both of these methods to see which suits you best:

(a) Apply the oil mix before entering the shower, massaging lightly to help its absorption.

(b) Slather on the oil mix after washing, away from the water flow. Either stop the water or turn the showerhead away. Massage briefly and then rinse lightly. When toweling off, dab, don’t rub.

I highly recommend attaching a shower filter to the showerhead. There are quite a few affordable ones available now. The one I use is from Santevia.ca and was under $40.

 

Always choose organic oils and soaps. Harsh chemicals in soaps can strip the natural oils from the outer protective layer of your skin and dry it out more than any hot shower can.

Essential oils should be therapeutic grade. Make sure to look for the following on the labels: the Latin name, country of origin and whether it is classified as certified organic, organic, wildcrafted, or unsprayed, otherwise it is not therapeutic grade, and could be a false chemical replica.

A final note on skin hydration: when applying the oils, if they are absorbed too quickly, it’s your body’s way of telling you that you are dehydrated. Your body is literally drinking in the oils.

In the winter I find it difficult to drink water, so I hydrate with organic herbal teas or soups, juicing and smoothies. I dilute the juices & smoothies with water and that does the trick for me!

Wising everyone happy, well hydrated skin!

 

(NOTE: Essential oils are for external use only. Always consult your health care professional if pregnant, breastfeeding, on medications or homeopathic remedies before using any essential oil products. Keep out of reach of children and pets, especially cats and birds. NEVER use essential oils on cats or birds.)

Michèle

Michèle is a passionate advocate for healthy living and organics. A lifelong vegetarian, vegan for the last 3 years, organics enthusiast and environmentalist, she loves sharing with others her knowledge of all that is good for humans and the planet. Empowering people to make the best health choices for themselves is her passion.  She developed her own line of organic skincare and founded Michèle’s Organics, a company for those who, like her, needed more transparency, honesty and integrity when buying products. Michèle is a certified aromatologist, actor and a self-proclaimed ingredients list expert!
You can follow Michèle on twitter and facebook. Her products can be found  on michelesorganics.com.

Coconut oil: 5 fantastic reasons to love it!

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By Michèle Duquet

Coconut oil: 5 fantastic reasons to love it!

As I was buying yet another tub of organic coconut oil, it dawned on me that I go through a jar rather quickly. When I make a mental list of its many uses, and why so many people love it, 5 definitely stand out. Some of these might even surprise you… so here goes.

1- Coconut oil for the skin, hair and as a sunscreen of 4 spf:

Coconut oil is a wonderful moisturizer, great for all kinds of skin conditions. It has a very long shelf life, 2 years being a conservative estimate, so adding it to your DIY (do-it-yourself) lotions helps them keep longer, especially if you haven’t added a natural preservative like grapefruit seed extract to your homemade recipes. Add your favorite essential oil blends for a super hydrating body lotion.

Coconut oil is known to have some natural sunscreen capabilities too, but at an spf of only 4 spf, I wouldn’t rely on coconut oil to prevent sunburns. If mixed with zinc oxide, at 30% of your mixture, you can reach what is called a ‘physical block’ from the sun, creating a sunblock with an approximate spf of 15-20. (Please ensure you use a mask when adding it to your lotions as airborne zinc oxide has respiratory toxicity and can irritate your sinuses – and never use it on pets as it is very toxic for our little loved ones).

Coconut oil is also known to reduce protein loss when used in hair. Since hair is mostly composed of protein (called keratin), and some studies have shown that a low protein diet can be associated with hair loss, a coconut oil hair treatment sounds like a good thing! It can also be a more economical alternative to argan oil, the oil usually associated with hair conditioning treatments.

2- Coconut oil can burn fat??

All saturated fats are not created equal. Coconut being of the natural variety, happens to be one of the richest sources of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), also known as medium-chain triglycerides (MTCs). This means their molecules are smaller and more easily digested and converted to energy.

What does that mean…? Eating coconut oil might actually boost your metabolic rate… who knew!

Have you also heard the latest rumors? Eating coconut oil can even help reduce fat in the most difficult body fat area, the stomach. Now I’m a healthy skeptic, I like to test rumors out for myself (even if the popular Dr. Oz says it works), and I would recommend taking a look at the overall diet and eating habits before running out to buy gallons of coconut oil, but… I confess… I’ve been adding a teaspoon of coconut oil to my spirulina smoothies just in case the rumors are true.

My coconut oil of choice for food is one that is certified organic (made without pesticides or hexane), virgin, unrefined, cold-pressed, non-deodorized, and non-bleached.

3- Cooking with coconut oil – My fave vegan ‘butter’ & kale chips recipes:

As a vegan, I love making a coconut and banana spread that I use as ‘butter’. I wait until the bananas are ripe and mushy, and then mix equal parts bananas and coconut oil. It’s a delicious spread on my fresh-out-of-the-oven vegan cranberry muffins, and looks/melts just like butter!

My other favorite recipe to make with coconut oil, is a simple one for kale chips. Coconut oil is wonderful for cooking because it is stable enough to withstand high temperatures. I prefer purple kale for my chips. I lay them out on a cooking sheet in the toaster-oven, cover them lightly with coconut oil, sprinkle them with Himalayan salt, cook for 7 minutes at 400 degrees, and voilà! A delicious crispy and healthy alternative to regular chips, without any of those nasty free radicals.

4- Oil pulling with coconut oil:

Ok, I admit, this one may be a bit too ‘out there’ for some, but I swear it works like nothing else to clear my sinuses.

(If I’ve already shared too much information, feel free to skip to next point which I promise is far more pleasant)

Every morning, first thing before breakfast, even before I let my dog Roxy out in the backyard, I take a teaspoon of coconut oil and let it melt in my mouth. Yes it feels gross, but once it melts, it’s somewhat bearable. Then as I let Roxy out, and go about my morning routine for the next 20 minutes, I swish it around my mouth. Yep, 20 minutes… Again, kind of gross, and it does feel long as I keep checking the clock, but you will be amazed at how well it works.

It will also pull toxins from your system, so make sure you don’t gargle or swallow it. Once the 20 minutes have thankfully passed, spit it out into your green bin or compost bin because coconut oil will clog your drain when it hardens. Make sure to rinse your mouth with water 2-3 times and you’re done.

This is based on the ancient Ayurvedic practice of oil pulling with sesame oil, now more and more being replaced with coconut oil.

In his book, ‘Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing’, Dr. Bruce Fife says: “When you put it in your mouth and work it around your teeth and gums it “pulls” out bacteria and other debris. As simple as it is, oil pulling has a very powerful detoxifying effect. Our mouths are the home to billions of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other parasites and their toxins… that cause gum disease and tooth decay and contribute to many other health problems.”

He had me at ‘billions of bacteria’… but parasites? Yuck! So I was very happy to learn that my 20-minute oil pulling efforts might be rewarded with whiter teeth, as coconut oil pulling apparently also helps to whiten teeth. And I have indeed noticed my teeth looking whiter since adding oil pulling to my daily routine!

5- Sensual uses of coconut oil:

For the passionate lover in you, this oil will delight your senses. Use it as a massage oil or personal lubricant for a wonderful natural experience.

As a massage oil, I prefer to use what’s called fractionated* coconut oil because it doesn’t solidify and has no odor. I love creating my own scent blends for added sensuality. My favorite is a simple mix of rose and sandalwood, although those essential oils are quite expensive. For an equally sensual blend but less expensive, you can do a lovely mix of ylang ylang and geranium rose (5 drops of each essential oil in 50ml of fractionated coconut oil). Or an even more economical option would be to add sweet-orange, a very hydrating, uplifting essential oil, and use the left-overs as a body lotion.

As a lubricant, coconut oil has been gaining popularity in the last few years. Commercial lubricants contain parabens, so many women are now turning to more natural lubricant such as coconut oil as a healthy alternative. One of the benefits of using coconut oil is that it washes off easily, thus helping to remove any bacteria more effectively, while also preventing any chemical interactions with condoms. I recommend the deodorized solid organic coconut oil, for obvious practical reasons.

Enjoy!

So there you have it, my top 5 fantastic reasons to love coconut oil. Did some of them surprise you? There are so many more wonderful uses for it, I’d love to hear your favorites!

* Fractionated coconut oil: Fractionated coconut oil is literally a fraction of the whole oil. It is processed in a way that removes all the long chain fatty acids, leaving only the healthy medium chain fatty acids, high concentration of Capric acid and Caprylic acid, which gives it an amazing amount of antioxidant and disinfecting properties.

(DISCLAIMER: The content of this article is for information purposes only and is not meant to be taken as any form of healing advice. Always do your own research or consult your health care professional before using any products you are not familiar with. Essential oils are for external use only. Always consult your health care professional if pregnant, breastfeeding, on medications or homeopathic remedies before using any essential oil products. Keep out of reach of children and pets, especially cats and birds. NEVER use essential oils on cats or birds.) 

Michèle

Michèle is a passionate advocate for healthy living and organics. A lifelong vegetarian, organics enthusiast and environmentalist, she loves sharing with others her knowledge of all that is good for humans and the planet. Empowering people to make the best health choices for themselves is her passion.  She developed her own line of organic skincare and founded Michèle’s Organics, a company for those who, like her, needed more transparency, honesty and integrity when buying products. Michèle is a certified aromatologist, actor and a self-proclaimed ingredients list expert!
You can follow Michèle on twitter and facebook. Her products can be found  on michelesorganics.com.