Tag Archives: spotlight

Tumeric: Food or Beauty Product?

6 Oct

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Tumeric. I know what you are thinking: curry, curry, curry. And I will say, yes, tumeric is a common and delicious component of curry powder. It gives it the bright, yellowy-orange colour, but is not responsible for curry’s well known flavour and smell– that my dear friends is from cumin, fenugreek, and coriander.

“Tumeric’s almost magical anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, and antioxidant properties make it a great ingredient for beauty rituals.”

This tuber looking spice is a relative of the ginger family and is native to India. A few years ago, it started getting popular within health circles as an oral remedy for gastrointestinal inflammation and pulmonory conditions, as well as for cancer prevention (read more about this here). As with most popular health trends, there is always a part of the world that has been using it long before the age of Dr. Oz and the internet. In this case, tumeric has been a cure-all medicine in India for thousands of years.

Tumeric’s almost magical anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, and antioxidant properties make it a great ingredient for beauty rituals and many Indian women will attest to this. Tumeric facial masks have been a staple in Indian beauty arsenals for generations; used to fight acne and hyper pigmentation. Tumeric has also been popularly used as an Indian pre-wedding head to-toe body scrub.

Naturally then,  I knew I had to give it a try.

Tumeric Body Scrub

1/2 chickpea flour (a.k.a gram flour commonly found most bulk stores)

11/2 Tbs ground tumeric

5 drops of oil (almond or jojoba work well)

1-2 tsp of water

Mix all ingredients into a paste and gently rub over body using circular motion. Rinse with water – but be warned it makes a bit of a mess in the shower.

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The tumeric face mask uses the simple ingredients of chickpea flour, tumeric, and yogurt

Tumeric Face Mask

1Tbs ground tumeric

1Tbs ground chickpea flour

1Tbs thick yogurt

1-2tsp(s) of water

Mix into a paste, spread on face, let dry for 10-15 minutes. Rinse off, gently using the mask as an exfoliant. Follow up with a moisturizer or face oil.

Now, I must share my experience, because I will not publish anything that I have not tried and do not trust. After reading rave reviews and learning about tumeric’s ancient past, I was excited for the results. As I have shared before, my skin is quite sensitive and prone to reddness. After I spread the paste on my face and rinsed it off after 10-15 minutes, I was quite surprised to see that my skin had turned red and blotchy. Thankfully the redness subsided over night, but I definitely was skeptical after that. What happened??

As I shared before, there are many, many, many people who use tumeric face masks and get glowing results – my husband included (yes, I coerced him into trying the concoction, and he continues to use it!)

This is just a little lesson for myself, and for all of you natural beauties. Just because something may be natural and handmade does not mean it is meant for you. Our skin reacts in different ways, and an ingredient that may be a godsend to one person, my be god’s wrath to another. Always spot test when trying new products and do not believe everything you find on youtube or blogs (yes, I realize I am saying this ON MY BLOG).

I will leave you with that and I want to know, what is your experience with tumeric? Have you had fabulous results? Do you use it orally as a medicinal remedy? In your food? Let me know!

– Seanna

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Spotlight: Rose Water

23 Feb

RuthstdenisYou may be familiar with rose water, whether you use it in skincare or cuisine, but I wanted to spend some time breaking down this delectable product since it has so many uses and has been favoured for thousands of years.

Cleopatra is said to have ordered the sails of her ship soaked in rose water so that Mark Antony could catch the scent of his lover before she reached the shores. Ancient ayurvedic physicians adopted the cooling properties of rose water to soothe wounds and inflamed skin. Sappho, the poet of love, deemed the rose as the “Queen of all Flowers”. Today, Persian and other middle eastern cuisines use rose water in food and drink, the French produce luxury bottles of perfumes and cosmetics, and even here in Toronto you can commonly find rose water toners and hydrosols in spas and on cosmetic counters.

What is it about this floral water that has captivated the entire globe for centuries? Well let me break it down for you :

Profile: The first record of rose petal distillation comes around the 10th century by a famous Persian alchemist. The steaming process used to isolate the rose’s essential oil creates a byproduct, which is rose water.

Rose petals are extremely high in anthocyanins which gives them the rich colour and is known to help repair and regenerate skin cells and tissues. Rose water aids in skin redness due to its anti-inflammatory and astringent quality. Rose water is not as potent as pure rose oil, but it is far more versatile.

Uses:

  • Toner- I buy rose water in bulk and transfer it into a small glass spray bottle (easily found at any health food store). After cleansing, I use it to tone and hydrate, or at any time I feel like a refreshing spritz (this proves extremely useful in the summer months for cooling and reducing redness).
  • After shower/ bath body spray- the fragrant water is perfect for leaving a light scent after the shower or a bath. It is refreshing and also moisturizing.
  • Bath- add a cup or two to a bath as aromatherapy. Rose fragrance in aromatherapy is used as a relaxing scent to sooth feelings of depression and nervous tension.

My experience: There are a lot of expensive rose water products on the market, many of which are over priced. I have found that it is best to buy food-grade rose water which is commonly found at middle eastern food markets (the brand I love is from Lebanon). Just ensure that the ingredients say “distilled rose” with no additives, and if you can find it, organic is obviously the best.

If you are feeling experimental, try making your own.

Let me leave you with a lovely lotion recipe that has been getting rave reviews from my friends and family.

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Rose Lotion

  • 10g beeswax
  • 1 1/4 cup of rose water
  • 1 tsp vegetable glycerin
  • 3/4 cup sweet almond oil (I mix half coconut oil with half sweet almond oil)
  • 2 capsules of pure vitamin E
  • 10 drops of rose or lavender essential oil

 

 

 

 

Method:

  • Sanitize all equipment and jars before you begin (I boil everything).
  • Using a double boiler (I place a glass measuring cup into a small pot of water), melt beeswax and oils together.
  • Once melted, take off of heat, set aside and let cool until a light crust starts to form on top (approx. 5 minutes).
  • In a blender, mix rose water and glycerin (just a few seconds until combined). After, keep the blender’s lid on but remove the centre circle and fit a small funnel.
  • Next (to create an emulsion with the oil and water), turn blender on low and slowly pour a steady stream of oil/beeswax mixture through the funnel. When the blender motor begins to bog down, turn it up to the next speed. Continue this until you reach the highest speed and all oil is poured into the mixture.
  • While the blender is still running, remove the lid and use a spatula to incorporate any water in the corners (be aware of the blender blade!)
  • Once the water is absorbed, or the lotion becomes too thick to absorb any more water, turn off the blender. If any water remains unincorporated, pour off or blot with a tissue.
  • Using the spatula, stir in the essential oil and vitamin E.
  • Scoop into sterile jars
  • Note: since this lotion has no preservatives and uses water- even though it is distilled- it has a greater chance of introducing bacteria,  which shortens the shelf life. To help prevent this, do not stick fingers into jar, always wipe the rim before closing, and keep in a cool dark spot.

Enjoy the endless uses of rose water!

– Seanna

Back to Basics: Spotlight on Sweet Almond Oil

2 Jan

If you’re like me, every January you make desperate attempts at keeping your resolutions; whether it’s scheduling midnight training sessions at your local gym, or tossing *all* of the beauty products in your cabinet in order to enforce your new toxin-free regime. I now realize this approach is excessive and guaranteed to result in failure. The main reason is because impractical changes in your routine occur suddenly, without much thought or preparation. Hence, the inspiration behind the first installment of what Seanna and I call the ‘Spotlight’ series.

The objective of these posts will be to examine natural ingredients at a basic level. Our particular aim is to discuss the practical use of our feature item in terms of natural beauty – i.e. the origins, degrees of purity, and potential for long-term health and vitality. I’ll kick things off with my personal introduction to the world of clean beauty – Sweet Almond Oil (SAO):

Profile – Sweet Almond Oil, (Prunus dulcis or Prunus amygdalus in Latin), native to the Middle East, extending to the Mediterranean region and warm climates in the United States. As an essential oil this nut is a rich source of Vitamin E and D, making it ideal for nourishing the majority of skin types. 100% Sweet Almond oil is typically cold-pressed and contains the following properties:

Sweet Almond Oil by Aromaforce

Sweet Almond Oil by Aromaforce

Specifications
Color- Golden
Odor- Faint and characteristic
Free Fatty Acids- 0.06
Peroxide Value- 0.5
Non-Saponifiables- 0.6
Saponification Value-192
Iodine Value- 102
Specific Gravity- 0.913
pH- 4.63

Fatty Acids
Oleic- 57.5%
Palmitic- 5.6%
Linoleic- 22.8%
Linolenic- 0.1%
Stearic- 2.5%

Use – SAO has a number of benefits and can be applied virtually anywhere on the body. Here are some of the ways I use this oil:

  • Massage into hair after shower to boost shine and stimulate growth
  • Apply to face, especially under eyes to get rid of dark circles and enchance complexion
  • Slather on body to smooth dry skin and irritation
  • Smooth onto chapped lips to mosterize and/or as a subtle and safe lipgloss
  • Treat muscle tension by massaging onto sprained or inflammed tissue
  • … and my personal favourite – to remove makeup before bedtime

My Experience – Throughout university, I used to purchase eye make-up removers that would irritate my eyes to the point of tears (as if I didn’t have assignments and deadlines to cry about!) I would constantly disregard the contents of commercial removers because I did not have any known allergies or sensitivities to chemical substances. Then I found a bottle of my Aunt’s almond oil from Bulgaria. After I experienced the gentle and nourishing effects of Sweet Almond Oil and how it removed *everything* from my lids, I never looked back!

SAO helped cure my blues from a ski accident last February

SAO Aromatheraphy helped cure my blues from a ski injury

Buying it I typically purchase the 250ml of Aromaforce, but have also been happy with brands like Aura Cacia and Now. I daresay, after having used it for many years I’ve even noticed my lashes have grown a little longer and thicker.

So instead of making drastic and impractical changes this year, keep it simple by taking it back to the basics. You can effectively ‘resolve’ your bad habits through small, seemingly-trivial changes in your routine because they allow you to gradually transition into an alternative lifestyle. Just remember to keep your priorities in check, and take it one day at a time 🙂

Wishing you all a very happy and prosperous 2013!

– Lina

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