Mother Earth Living

Real Beauty

Tips and tricks for natural body care

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11/11/2014

Many people suffer from dark under-eye circles (I know I do), but another common and unsightly annoyance of the eyes is puffiness. The skin around your eyes is the thinnest part of your skin, and as such is very sensitive. Avoid rubbing your eyes or falling asleep with makeup on—both of which can risk irritation and lead to inflammation around the eyes. Puffiness can also occur thanks to a range of circumstances, including fluid retention; seasonal allergies; cold or sinus infections; lack of sleep; stress; or even poor diet.

Other times, puffy eyes can be a symptom of an eye condition known as blepharitis, which is an inflammation of the eyelids and base of the eyelashes. This condition is associated with bacterial infection or skin disorders such as rosacea or seborrhea, and is usually non-contagious. If you think you may have this condition, talk with an eye-care professional.

If you’ve woken up to find tired-looking eyes, turn to these simple at-home remedies.

Natural Remedies For Puffy Eyes 

8 Home Remedies for Puffy Eyes

DIET DILEMMA: Limit your sodium intake. An excessive amount of salty foods can lead to water retention—water will move from areas with a low concentration of salt to areas with a high concentration in order to balance out the levels of sodium. Replace that bag of salty crackers with a banana, handful of unsalted almonds or box of raisins.  

STAY HYDRATED: Make sure to drink plenty of water. Keeping the body well hydrated can also reduce the chance of water retention. Drink at least eight to 10 glasses of water a day.

MAKEUP MAKEOVER: Look at the ingredients in the products you’re putting on (or near) your skin. Oftentimes, irritants and chemicals found in makeup, perfumes and detergents can have inflammatory effects on eyes. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to check your ingredients. Especially steer clear of fragrance.

ICE, ICE BABY: Sometimes, all you need is a nice splash of ice cold water to help reduce the swelling around your eyes. Wash your face with ice cold water, or wrap an ice cube in a cloth and apply to your eyes.

TEA UP: Caffeinated teas can help constrict blood vessels and reduce swelling. Green or black tea is great for soothing irritated eyes; herbal teas such as chamomile contain anti-irritants that also help soothe redness. To make a tea compress, steep two tea bags of your choice in hot water for three to five minutes. Let cool until comfortably warm, place over each eye then cover with a soft cloth.

SPOON MAN: Tighten the skin around your eyes and relax the blood vessels with the following home remedy: Chill five to six metal spoons in your refrigerator for 10 minutes; once chilled, hold the rounded portion against your eye for a few minutes until it becomes warm; replace with another cold spoon.

DIY CREAM: Topical eye creams rich in aloe and vitamin E can be soothing to your skin. Mix 1 tablespoon vitamin E cream with 1/2 teaspoon aloe gel, and store in a small tin. Be extra gentle as you apply the cream around your eyes and use daily.

MASKED AVENGER: Apply mild pressure to the puffy area around your eyes at night with a homemade eye mask. Try the following cucumber eye mask recipe—cucumbers contain antioxidants that may help reduce irritation, cool skin and lessen swelling. Blend 1 large cucumber at high speed until liquefied, adding small amounts of water to thin as necessary. Soak cotton pads (about the size of your eyes) in the solution then squeeze out any extra juice. Place pads in a sandwich bag and freeze—make up to 30 at a time! To use, place thawed cucumber pads on your eyes for 10 minutes.

PILLOW POSITION: Keeping your head elevated may also reduce the swelling around your eyes. Sleep in a position that increases blood flow to your eyes.


Gina DeBacker HeadshotGina DeBacker is the associate editor at Mother Earth Living. She loves that part of her job entails testing beauty products enriched with natural ingredients.



10/8/2014

I am always on the lookout for gentle facial cleansers. Some can be too harsh, while others can be too gentle. As I discuss in my latest beauty article for Mother Earth Living (watch out for it our November/December issue), our skin is a complex organ, and we should only use cleansers to remove contaminates from our skin without stripping of its natural oils. Elemental Herbology’s Delicate Cleanse strikes that balance.

Elemental Herbology uses bio-active ingredients and indulgent plant oils to create a natural line of luxurious skincare. The star ingredients in this facial cleanser are the healing herbs, including chamomile, calendula and marshmallow (soothing and helps reduce redness); chickweed (cooling); horse chestnut (balances circulation); and rosehip oil and rose water (rich in antioxidants).

Delicate Cleanse

Elemental Herbology’s Delicate Cleanse Ingredients

Here is a full list of this product’s ingredients:

Aqua, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Glycerin, Myristyl Alcohol, Polyglyceryl-4 Laurate/Succinate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Isostearyl Isostearate, Sorbitan Stearate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Myristyl Glucoside*, Octyldodecanol, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Benzyl Alcohol, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil*, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Xanthan Gum, Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) Seed Extract, Tocopherol, Cardiospermum Halicacabum Flower/Leaf/Vine Extract, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil, Echium Plantagineum Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil Unsaponifiables, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil, Calendula Officinalis Flower Oil, *Geraniol, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Panax Ginseng Root Extract , Alcohol Denat., Althaea Officinalis Extract, Sorbic Acid, Stellaria Media (Chickweed) Extract, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Benzoic Acid, Citric Acid, Citronellol, Dehydroacetic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Polyaminopropyl Biguanide

The bolded ingredients in this list scored between a 3 and 5 on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, sparking moderate concern, except for geraniol. Geraniol was ranked in the red zone at a 7 concern.

Is There a Problem with Geraniol Oil?

Geraniol is a naturally occurring scent ingredient found in various essential oils such as rose oil and citronella oil. So why is it ranked high on the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database? Although the FDA has listed geraniol on its lists of flavoring substance considered Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS), the International Fragrance Association restricts its use in fragrances because of potential sensitization. It has also been banned by the European Union, as it’s considered a human immune-system toxicant or allergen. A small number of individuals have experienced a sensitivity or allergic reaction to geranium essential oil, but some beauty experts feel that geraniol is generally great for skin. If your skin is extremely sensitive or you’re concerned about your skin’s reaction to geraniol, conduct a patch test or avoid this product.  

Here’s what Elemental Herbology had to say about their use of geraniol:

Geraniol isn't actually an ingredient but comes from rose essential oil. All essential oils (including oils like lavender, chamomile, etc.) have potential allergens, which must be listed separately in the [International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients]; however they are not actually a separate ingredient. Rose essential oil is considered non-hazardous and non-allergenic.

My Thoughts

My skin is not overly sensitive, so I had no problems with the geraniol, or any other ingredients in this product, for that matter. In fact, I thought the cleanser was perfectly gentle for my complexion. As a milk cleanser, its consistency is thinner than traditional cleansers, but I was happy to discover that it was a little thicker than most milk cleansers. It omits a light, earthy fragrance, and—best of all—this herb-rich product didn’t put my pH balance out of whack. Instead, it left my skin feeling fresh, clean and soft. Massage it onto damp skin then rinse off with a warm washcloth. This milky white cleanser goes on smooth. I like to use it in the evening to get rid of the day’s debris, followed by a toning mist and my favorite moisturizer.

This 4.2-ounce cleanser costs more than most may be willing to spend (especially seeing as how cleansers stay on your skin for a short period of time), but if you’re looking for a milky cleanser rich in herbs, and you’re willing to splurge, find it at a store near you or buy online for $52.


Gina DeBacker HeadshotGina DeBacker is the associate editor at Mother Earth Living. She loves that part of her job entails testing beauty products enriched with natural ingredients. 

 



10/7/2014

Of more than 1,110 personal-care ingredients banned for cosmetic use in the European Union, only 10 have been prohibited for cosmetic use in the U.S., according to TreeHugger. It’s unfortunate that the FDA doesn’t help us determine whether personal-care products are 100 percent safe for our skin. Instead, it’s up to you to read the fine print on your cherished cleansers, moisturizers and more.

Here, we’ve done the work for you. You can achieve a glowing complexion from store-bought products—sans nasty chemicals! Turn to these editor-recommended products for your skin. These fresh face solutions include a gentle facial cleanser, a nourishing moisturizer, a botanical-rich serum, a cleansing facial oil blend, and a balancing toning mist.

Clairvoyant Beauty

Gentle Cleanse
Deeply clean pores with this gentle French Clay Cleanser with DMAE, a natural anti-aging nutrient that can improve skin tone.
To Buy: $32, Clairvoyant Beauty

Sibu Beauty

Sea Change
This Nourishing Facial Cream gives off a light, citrus scent and stars sea buckthorn, an herb packed with omega-7 fatty acids.
To Buy: $21, Sibu Beauty

One Love Organics

Sound Splurge
Featuring antioxidant-rich vitamin C ester, this gentle serum is best used in the evening to naturally brighten and replenish dull skin.
To Buy: $68, One Love Organics

SW Basics of Brooklyn

Clean Slate
With only three ingredients (sweet almond, olive and jojoba oils), this effective makeup remover doubles as a cleansing oil.
To Buy: $14, S.W. Basics of Brooklyn

Rejuva Minerals

Mist Over
Loaded with organic fruit extracts, this delightfully scented Sweet Lavender Toner can help restore balance to your skin.
To Buy: $15, Rejuva Minerals

Learn more about how to get a healthy, glowing complexion in our Guide to Naturally Radiant Skin.


Gina DeBacker is the associate editor at Mother Earth Living. She loves managing the health section, as well as testing beauty products enriched with natural ingredients. Find her on and .



9/29/2014

Nobody looks forward to aging, much less to its visible effects. Unfortunately, our skin is prone to the effects of aging in the form of wrinkles and change in texture due to a number of factors, including sun exposure, pollution and more. The good news is you don’t have to spend a lot to enjoy youthful skin for a long time. There are many natural solutions, including foods that prevent early signs of aging and some basic skin-care dos and don’ts. But first, let’s understand exactly how the aging process takes place.

Face Mask

What Causes Skin to Sag?

The skin is made up of several layers. The topmost layer, which is just under the layer visible to us, is made of a framework of two proteins,collagen and elastin, that keep the skin supple, smooth and in shape. Over the years, this layer weakens, making the skin lose its elasticity.

Besides this, there are other reasons for skin damage. Skin may naturally thin due to the loss of fat. Gravity can also play a role in causing the skin to sag, as can genetics. Some people inherit firm skin and some don’t. One of the most common reasons for skin damage is too much sun exposure. When the sun’s UV rays enter the skin, it can weaken the protein framework, causing it to sag. It can also cause sun spots and wrinkles.

So, while aging cannot actually be avoided, certain steps can be taken to ensure the skin maintains its shape for as long as possible.

Prevent the Effects of Aging

Here are 10 natural skin-care solutions that will keep your skin looking young:

1. Avoid exposure to the sun. If you have to go out, protect your skin with natural sunscreen. (Don’t forget about protecting your scalp!) Minimize your time in the afternoon sun, as this is when the rays are most destructive on the skin.

2. Stop smoking. Smoking creates wrinkles, in addition to arresting the blood circulation to your face. This results in crow’s feet and drooping skin around the eyes.

3. Cut down on alcohol. Too much alcohol shows on the skin, as well as your overall health. Drinking can also prevent you from making health-conscious eating choices, and the lack of nutritious food can speed up the aging of your skin.

4. Exercise regularly. This keeps up healthy blood circulation, nourishing the skin inside and out, letting it breathe and remain firm.

5. Skip junk food. Include at least five daily helpings of fruits and vegetables in your diet.

6. Get enough sleep. Sleep helps our body rejuvenate and rest itself, keeping us healthy.

7. Maintain good hygiene by keeping your skin clean and free from dirt. If you sweat profusely, make sure to wash your sweat off.

8. Invest in a good moisturizer for your skin to keep it soft and smooth.

9. Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated.

10. Avoid harsh skin-care products that can rapidly age your skin.

Avocado Oil 

Foods for Healthy Skin

The skin also needs antioxidants and vitamins to stay healthy. Here are 10 foods that can help you keep your skin looking great:

1. Vegetables and fresh fruits must be part of any healthy diet. In particular, focus on tomatoes, leafy greens, carrots, citrus fruits and veggies.

2. Complex carbohydrates such as oats, which have a low glycemic index (GI), help keep your skin healthy. Too much sugar and foods with a higher GI can result in skin problems such as acne and wrinkles. Include whole grains in your diet.

3. Oranges are good for your skin as they keep it moisturized and supply you with the vitamin C you need. Vitamin C is necessary for collagen formation, which keeps your skin flexible.

4. Avocado, a super-fruit, is an excellent source of monounsaturated fat, which is the right type of fat to consume. It gives your skin the vitamins it needs. Other sources of good fats include olives and walnuts.

5. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale and collard greens are a great source of vitamin A and C and folate. These protect your skin from damage due to sun exposure.

6. Grapes, which are a source of antioxidants, also heal inflammation of the skin.

7. Omega-3 have been shown to have anti-cancer effects. Source this essential fatty acid from flax seeds, walnuts, eggs and milk.

8. Antioxidants repair and guard your skin cells. Some additional sources include berries, pomegranate and cherries.

9. Beans are a great source of flavonoids, a group of healthy compounds that promote anti-aging.

10. Water is perhaps the most important anti-aging food for skin. Make sure you drink at least eight to 10 glasses each day. Replace soda and other caffeine-loving drinks with water, as drinking too much caffeine can result in unhealthy skin.

If you suffer from prematurely aging skin, you can still take action and arrest the aging process with the above natural skin-care tips.


Alana is a passionate blogger and writer. She is obsessed with beauty and fashion and enjoys writing about beauty, makeup and skin-care tips. Find her at Your Beauty Advisor.



9/8/2014

Summer has been rough on my feet. Beyond rough—it’s been plain cruel. And even though I would love to wear sandals well into fall, I often don’t want people to see just how bad my heels look. In and around my constant moisturizing regimen with the various lotions I have on hand, I have found a wonderful solution. Derma e’s Cracked Skin Relief Crème is a blend of herbs and vitamins that keeps my heels soft and ready for flip flop season.  

Cracked Skin Relief Creme 

Derma E’s Cracked Skin Relief Crème Ingredients

First let’s take a look at everything that derma e uses in their skin relief cream.

Water (Aqua), Arnica Montana Flower Extract, Laurus Nobilis (Bay Leaf) Oil, Glycerin, Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Flower Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glyceryl Stearate and Peg-100 Stearate, Stearic Acid, Allantoin, Panthenol, Dimethicone, Polysorbate, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), *Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract (0.1%), Organic Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil (0.1%), Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Potassium Sorbate

The bold ingredients in this list scored between a 3 and 4 on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, sparking low-moderate concern, except for retinyl palmitate. Retinyl palmitate was ranked in the red zone at an 8 concern.

A Word About Retinyl Palmitate

In general, Mother Earth Living advises you to avoid body-care products that use this ingredient. Although retinyl palmitate (a form of vitamin A) is rich in antioxidants and anti-aging properties, it may be more sensitive to sun and is susceptible to risks such as sunburns and skin cancers. Studies show that high doses of retinoids (the class retinol is part of) may be harmful to children in utero and nursing infants, so don’t use if you’re pregnant. With this in mind, I feel comfortable recommending this specific product, even with the use of retinyl palmitate (except to pregnant women and nursing mothers). Beauty experts say you should avoid this ingredient in daytime skin products such as anti-aging moisturizers or sunscreens, as its risks are associated with sun sensitivity. This specific product—which works best when applied at night before going to bed—is a cream for feet, an area of the body that does not enjoy a lot of attention from the sun.

Here’s what derma e had to say about their use of retinyl palmitate:

"Over the course of many years, derma e has in fact reviewed a vast array of scientific research in support of the topical benefits of vitamin A retinyl palmitate balanced with the isolated few emerging tests that raise questions as to this ingredient’s safety."

"The net amount of retinyl palmitate contained in the derma e Cracked Skin Relief Crème is in the low single digits as a percentage of the total formula. And the Cracked Skin Relief Crème does not contain SPF. Hence, the risk of hazard is reduced to virtually zero."

"None of our SPF formulas contain retinyl palmitate. That being stated, we absolutely stand behind the safety and efficacy of our all our skin-care formulas because we have independent clinical tests conducted to verify their non-irritating, non-sensitizing nature."

My Thoughts

Now that I’ve made you cautious, rest assured that I wouldn’t be recommending this product if it didn’t really, really work. I am in love with this cream—the results speak for themselves. My skin underwent noticeable changes, making me feel completely confident to wear my new wedge sandals in public. What’s more, a little goes a long way! I apply the cream to my feet nightly before tucking them into a pair of socks and going to sleep. This non-greasy cream smells heavily of clove essential oil, a natural antiseptic that is commonly used to treat wounds and heal fungal infections. Its formula also includes arnica extract, a homeopathic herb that is used to treat sore muscles. Treat your feet to this cream a couple of times a week to score perfect-looking feet.

For a 2-ounce jar of this cream, find it at a store near you or buy it online for $14. They sell derma e products at my local co-op, and believe me when I say I will be going there to snag a jar when my current one finally runs out.


Gina DeBacker HeadshotGina DeBacker is the associate editor at Mother Earth Living. She loves that part of her job entails testing beauty products enriched with natural ingredients.



8/4/2014

When I first discovered Garden Apothecary’s Vanilla + Balsam Sugar Scrub I was excited to try it out. The packaging is adorable and the ingredients are all natural. But I never could have imagined the joy that would overtake me as soon as I opened my jar. Upon removing the lid I was hit with the wonderfully delicious scent of vanilla. I don’t mean to sound cheesy, but I was immediately transported to my kitchen baking Christmas cookies I couldn’t wait to share with friends and family.

Vanilla Sugar Scrub 

Garden Apothecary’s Vanilla Sugar Scrub Ingredients

If you are not a vanilla fan, then this vanilla sugar scrub, which even contains a whole vanilla bean pod, is not for you. The winter oils comprised in this sugar scrub offer a bevy of benefits. Vanilla oil (Vanilla planifolia) is a natural antioxidant, sedative and aphrodisiac. This scrub also features balsam oil (Myroxylon balsamum), a natural stimulant, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Often mistaken for brown sugar, organic turbinado sugar is also used in this scrub to exfoliate skin. Here is a full list of the ingredients:

Organic turbinado sugar, organic almond oil, vitamin e, organic vanilla beans/powder/oils, organic balsam oils

After double checking the safety of these ingredients on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, I confirmed that none of these ingredients show any signs of concern. Use this product to your heart’s desire!

My Thoughts

Not only do I love this sugar scrub, but I love this company. Launched by professional horticulturist Jennifer Lee Segale in 2008, Garden Apothecary offers organic bath and body products made with whole botanicals in Half Moon Bay, California. All Garden Apothecary products are handmade in small batches to ensure quality and freshness, and can last for up to two years.  

I highly recommend this scrub, especially for wintertime use. Its vanilla scent evokes the holiday season and candy cane cocktails. That being said, I would use this scrub any time of the year. Scrubs help rid complexions of dead and flaky skin, and sugar scrubs in particular are great for cleansing and softening dry skin. This one from Garden Apothecary is too abrasive for facial use, but feels great on the rest of the body, especially rough patches such as elbows and heels. Plus, smelling its intoxicating scent generally lifts my spirits. Apply it to damp skin, massaging until the grains dissolve into the skin. You can then further massage the oil left behind into your skin, then rinse. The scrub won’t leave your skin feeling sticky—only well-nourished.

To care for your skin with this vanilla-y treat, buy a 9-ounce jar of this vanilla sugar scrub online for $25


Gina DeBacker HeadshotGina DeBacker is the associate editor at Mother Earth Living. She loves that part of her job entails testing beauty products enriched with natural ingredients.



7/22/2014

Caring for our hair can become somewhat of an obsession, but using conventional beauty products doesn't always seem like enough. That’s when we start to seek products that will give our tresses that extra-needed boost. Supplement your hair care with these nutrient-rich herbs. Homemade hair rinses and shampoos infused with the following may give you exactly what you’re looking for.

Herbs For Healthy Hair 

Calendula

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is rich in falconoids, plant-based antioxidants that protect the body against cell-damaging free radicals, and the scalp from bacterial growth. Use this sunny flower to soothe sensitive scalps, as it is also rich in antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. You can even use calendula to brighten blonde hair. To use calendula on your hair, steep 1/4 cup calendula flower petals in 1 cup boiling water overnight; strain, then use directly on your scalp as a final rinse post-shampoo.

Chamomile

Appreciated worldwide for its calming effects, chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is rich in antioxidant, cleansing and moisturizing properties. This daisy-like herb is wonderful for conditioning the hair and soothing an itchy, irritated or sensitive scalp. You can also use chamomile to lighten tresses, which is probably its most popular beauty use. If your hair is already blond, it will brighten your hair; if your hair is brown, it will lighten your hair by a couple of shades. To soothe your scalp or give your hair a golden hue, treat your hair with a chamomile rinse. Simply steep 1/4 cup fresh or dried chamomile flowers in two cups boiling water, then strain. To use, pour the rinse over clean hair as a final rinse; do not rinse.

Sage

Another herb rich in antioxidants, as well as astringent and antibacterial qualities, sage (Salvia officinalis) is excellent for soothing dry, itchy scalp. Use it to curb dandruff and eliminate buildup from the hair and scalp. You can also use sage leaves to darken hair and cover gray hairs. To use, combine sage with apple cider vinegar, a great product for hair that has a high natural pH and can help get rid of styling product residue. Mix 4 ounces of apple cider vinegar with 4 ounces cooled sage tea. Pour the mixture on your scalp, wrap your tresses into a towel or plastic cap for 20 to 30 minutes, then rinse and shampoo as usual.

Hibiscus

Promote hair growth with hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa). This beautiful, vibrant flower can do a lot for hair. It can treat scalp conditions such as dandruff and hair loss. It can also seal in moisture as well as promote shine, aid with tangles and promote healthy hair growth by feeding the follicles with nutrients. Finally, it can also give red highlights to light or dark hair. To use, steep 1/4 cup fresh or dried hibiscus flowers with 2 cups boiling water; strain. Then pour over clean hair as a final rinse and do not rinse out.

Horsetail

Nourishing and hydrating, horsetail (Equisetum arvense) contains high concentrations of silicic acid. Silica strengthens weak, brittle and damaged hair at its core and may even restore body and luster. Horsetail is also great for treating oily scalps and remedying troubling skin ailments such as dandruff, eczema and psoriasis. Finally, it has been used for centuries to stimulate hair growth. Care for your hair with homemade horsetail shampoo. To make, simply steep 2 to 3 tablespoons dried horsetail in 1/2 cup hot water, add the mixture to your favorite chemical-free baby shampoo, and use to wash hair as usual. Because horsetail has antiseptic properties, excessive use could dry out your hair. You can also take horsetail orally (in capsule or tincture form, found at your local health-food store) to boost your hair health. Horsetail is not recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing.


Gina DeBacker HeadshotGina DeBacker is the associate editor at Mother Earth Living, where she manages the health section of the magazine.





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