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Tips and tricks for natural body care

Summer Beauty: Skin-Care Tips for Healthy, Glowing Skin

We all look healthier and more attractive with a little color on our faces and bodies. But the sun is no joke and skincare in the summer needs to be taken seriously, as damaging UV rays are at their strongest and most harmful.

"Fall, winter, and spring account for around 20 percent of the [UV] exposure that we have," says Ron Shelton, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, and assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. "Yet, the the bulk of the sun damage happens in summer."

summer fun 

That doesn’t mean you should stay indoors: just play it smart! There are BBQs to attend, block parties to host, oceans and rivers to play in, mountains to climb, bikes to pedal, trails to run, and all manner of outdoor activities that keep us outside for hours at a time.

Here are six key tips—and a few great products—that will keep your skin healthy, safe and glowing all summer long.

Plan activities during “off peak” sun hours—before 10am and after 2pm, depending on your location. You should never just lie around sunbathing for color; that’s called cooking yourself. I know some women who did that when they were young and now look a lot older than they actually are, and some have had melanomas removed, too. Never intentionally allow yourself to burn!

hydrating skin care

Hydrate & tone. Hydrosol misters are beauty essentials in summer. These multitasking gems protect skin by allowing moisturizer and sun protection to penetrate deeper, stay longer and work better. Misters also balance pH levels, unclog pores and they are super-refreshing when you feel overheated, irritable or tired.

A few of my favorite hydrating mists are Herbivore Botanicals After Sun Spray, with aloe, mint, lavender and witch hazel, because it’s great for combination skin and after-sun care. Odylique Calming Rose Super Tonic, with rose oil and calendula, which I love for drier or more mature skin. Jane Iredale Pomm Mist, with pomegranate, aloe, white tea leaf, olive leaf, and radish, is great for oily, combination and acne prone skin types. Mukti Organics Rose Blossom Hydrating Mist Toner, with kakadu plum, kangaroo paw and snow flower, is wonderful for mature, dry and sun damaged skin. You can also make your own mist with purified water, a little aloe juice, and a few drops of your favorite essential oils.

Moisturize, liberally, with SPF15+ daily. SPF15 deflects 93 percent of the sun’s burning rays, whereas SPF30 deflects 97percent, reports the American Academy of Dermatology. Oily, combination and acne prone skin types should try Jane Iredale's Powder Me Dry Sunscreen. It’s water-resistant for up to thirty minutes and comes in translucent, golden and tanned. My teenage daughter loves this one. Since I have dry skin, I prefer to use a lotion because powders absorb oil and cling to smile lines, causing them to appear deeper.

If you are going to the beach, boating or will be outside all day, liberally apply SPF30 all over your body! Wear or bring long sleeves, a hat, sunglasses, and/or an umbrella.

Jane Iredale hands, lips, feet

Protect lips, hands and feet. Protect the delicate skin of your lips with Jane Iredale's SPF15 lip balm, which is available in a variety of shades and has a lemony taste. Iredale uses high-quality botanical ingredients in all of her products, such as carrot seed and avocado oils, lotus flower, green tea, coffee and aloe. Her summer SPF line is one of the best. I also recommend her Hand Drink Sun Protection; it lasts a long time and keeps hands youthful, smooth, and protected.

Lips, hands, and feet are often neglected during sunscreen application and are prime spots for melanoma. Remember these vulnerable areas and keep them protected.

Weleda body oils 

Recover & replenish. After a day in the sun treat your skin to a thirst quenching recovery drink. Plain olive, jojoba and coconut oils are fine, but if you want to reap extra benefits try sea buckthorn oil. Weleda’s Sea Buckthorn Body Oil replenishes moisture to the thirstiest skin, protects against sun damage, and slows the aging process. Sea buckthorn and evening primrose are both great options for dry skin. Oilier skin types should try Weleda’s Citrus Refreshing Body Oil or Lavender Relaxing Body Oil, while cellulite-prone skin types might benefits from the Birch Cellulite Oil.

Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water. Add lemon, lime and a pinch of sea salt to replenish electrolytes. Use your favorite seasonal fruits to infuse water with great, refreshing flavors to make it more enticing. Eat sweet, juicy fruits—and lots of them! No amount of skin-care product can beautify you if you’re not drinking water and eating wholesome foods.

There you have it my beauties, a few of my favorite skin-care tips and trusted products! I love to hear from you as well, so please feel free to e-mail me any questions or comments.

Shar VedaShar Veda, Southern Oregon’s Premier Alternative Therapist, offers deep healing through loving touch and compassionate counsel. She is an Ayurveda Lifestyle Counselor & Health Educator, yoga therapist and herbalist. Shar has been blessed to study with leading teachers in Ayurveda, Yoga, and herbalism for 20 years. However, it was her adopted grandma, Doe (English-American and Blackfoot Native), who instilled within her profound appreciation for the supreme power of loving touch, healing arts, and world family. Visit her website for a video, full bio, and photos or find her on Facebook and Instagram!

Tips for Evaluating Sustainable Beauty Products

Many beauty brands are labeling themselves “sustainable,” “green,” and “eco” because they’re the new buzzwords that sell. But just because they say it, doesn’t mean there is action behind the words. As conscious consumers, it’s up to us to do a little research on brands before we invest in their products.

What should you expect from a sustainable beauty brand?

Quality ingredients. All of them, not just the first three or four on the list! Sustainable brands will have quality organic, plant-based ingredients.
Cruelty-free. Never buy from companies that test on animals. Zero tolerance here.
Conscious packaging. Is the brand using recycled materials? Can the packaging be recycled? If not, why?
A mission statement that clearly states their commitment to the environment.

Researching and reviewing conscious companies is a passion I’ve enjoyed since walking into my very first natural food store, with my mom, when I was 12. I remember the scent of the place and all the good energy. I read all of the ingredients on everything I could and began researching the herbs and plants I didn’t know. I shared my favorite brands with family and friends. Now I share them with the world. You can trust my picks! Guaranteed. Follow me on Instagram to see more of my favorite products. 

Shar Veda’s Conscious Beauty Picks for April

ILIA products

How smart is ILIA Balmy Nights? Finally a lip exfoliator in a stick! Organic ingredients blended with grainy volcanic stone powder gently exfoliate, leaving lips smooth and kissable. This product is great for evening use.

I also love ILIA Silken Shadow Stick in “Next to You.” The coconut cream olive oil base glides on smooth and easy. This shade is a warm, slightly shimmery, demure rose that looks great with green eyes and its vegan! All of ILIAs cream-based products come in sleek, recycled aluminum cases and are made in the USA!

100% Pure 

100% Pure Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream smells great and feels good going on. Organic aloe leaf juice, rosewater and rosehip seed oil provide a smooth, soothing base while organic green coffee gives eyes an instant pick me up.  100% Pure was founded in a Napa, California, farmhouse in 2005. They are now based in Silicon Valley and all products are made in the USA.

Marie d'Argan pure oils 

Marie d'Argan Organic Oils come in pretty reusable, amber dropper bottles. The single oils have no added ingredients. Part of the proceeds goes to funding the women’s cooperative in Morocco, who handpick the kernels. I use the Argan oil on my face, neck and chest several times a week when I do abhyanga, Ayurvedic self massage. The macadamia oil is great for conditioning hair, which I use on Sunday evenings and leave it in while I sleep. Pure. Simple. Beautiful.

Shar VedaShar Veda, Southern Oregon’s Premier Alternative Therapist, is an Ayurveda Lifestyle Counselor & Health Educator, yoga therapist and herbalist. Shar has been blessed to study with leading teachers in Ayurveda, Yoga, and herbalism for 20 years. However, it was her adopted grandma, Doe (English-American and Blackfoot Native), who instilled within her profound appreciation for the supreme power of loving touch, healing arts, and world family. Visit her website for a video, full bio, and photos or find her on Facebook and Instagram.

Preventing Female Hair Loss

Photo by Fotolia

Contrary to popular belief, increased hair shedding is not solely a male problem. The North American Hair Research Society says that about 50% of women in their 50s suffer from hair loss.

Genetics and underlying medical problems, such as hormone imbalance, are primary reasons behind this condition. However, hair loss in women can also be due to lifestyle behaviors. Drastic weight loss, styling and even trips to the beauty salon are all overlooked causes of hair loss on women.

If you’re a woman struggling with hair loss, here are some factors that may be contributing to your problem.

Pharmaceutical side effects

According to the American Hair Loss Association (AHLA), some pharmaceutical drugs developed to treat acne, high blood pressure, epilepsy, depression and gout have hair loss as a side effect, some examples are Accutane (isotretinoin), Lopid (gemfibrozil), Paxil (paroxetine), Amphetamines and more. Patients are advised to ask their doctors about the side effects of prescribed medicines and to do their own research.

Ditch the hair dryer

Excessive use of blow dryers, flat irons and other appliances can lead to humiliating hair loss. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) warns that high heat from hair appliances leave the hair brittle and prone to breakage.

Poor nutrition, poor hair health

A study published at the National Center for Biotechnology Information suggests that diet and nutrition play an important role in persistent or increased hair loss. Dr. DH Rushton of the University of Portsmouth in the UK confirms earlier studies that women suffering from iron deficiency are susceptible to hair loss. Insufficient protein intake can also adversely affect hair growth. Prevent hair loss by eating a balanced diet, and taking supplements if necesssary.

Sleep like a baby

Poor sleep habits have a lot of health consequences — from anemia to depression. Adults who get less than six hours of sleep each night develop weaker immune function, hormone secretion and stamina. Hair treatment experts at The Belgravia Centre warn that sleep deprivation, which is a form of stress, can lead to hair loss.

Fight stressors

Alopecia areata (AA) is a form of hair loss believed to be an autoimmune disease. People with AA show circular bald patches on the scalp that could lead to persistent hair loss. The AHLA warns that extreme stress may trigger this condition in some people. Dr. Amy McMichael, of Wake Forest Baptist Health in North Carolina, explains that hair shedding may be one way the body reacts to physiological stress due to diet, medical or lifestyle changes.

Air pollution and Sensitive Scalp Syndrome

In a research paper, hair transplant expert Dr. Rajendrasingh Rajput of Dr. LH Hiranandani Hospital in Mumbai, cautions young people moving to urban cities about the risk of developing Sensitive Scalp Syndrome. This condition results from exposure to air pollutants such as particulate matter, dirt smoke and ammonia. These free radicals stay on the scalp and hair, leading to oxidative stress and hair loss.

Avoid chemicals

Excessive use of chemicals such as bleach and hair color can cause hair breakage and eventual hair loss. One hair loss cure is to go natural! Use plants and herbs such as chamomile or walnuts in hair dye, natural rinses and other hair care products.

Excessive (unhealthy) weight loss

Dramatic weight loss caused by an eating disorder is a form of physical stress that can shock the body’s system, and bring on hair thinning or hair loss.  Hair can grow back during recovery from an eating disorder, but should be addressed by a doctor if it struggles to return to its original healthy condition.

Be gentle

One of the most commonly overlooked things women do that causes hair shedding is improper hair practices. Excessive brushing, using too much shampoo and conditioner, or aggressive towel-drying can lead to hair loss. If chemical treatment of your hair is a concern, try using a natural shampoo alternative.


Braids are easy, convenient and chic. According to the Women’s Health Research Institute at Northwestern University, however, this hairstyle can be a cause of hair loss. Braids kept in hair for an extended period of time can cause scarring, and an irreversible form of baldness called Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia, that starts at the center of the scalp and spreads toward the edge of the hairline. The best thing to do is to take hair out of braids and let it rest, rather than leaving it in.

Patricia Evans is a part time interior designer and a full-time mother. She has worked in marketing, but quit her job to pursue her true passion: interior design. When she's not busy balancing her household and career, Patricia writes about lifestyle, travel, architectural trends, fashion, health, gardening, tea and cooking.

Natural Product Review: Vineyard Hill Naturals

Based on an “understanding of the power of plants to renew and help maintain healthy skin,” the Vineyard Hill Naturals line features recovered Napa Valley grape seed oil and extracts, which would otherwise be discarded during the wine making process, as the key ingredients in their artisanal bath and body collection.

Grape seed oil, one of nature’s most potent antioxidants, is highly concentrated with regenerative omega-6s and healing vitamin E. It naturally bonds to collagen in the skin, delivering greater elasticity and offering a visible plumping effect. Grape seed oil is also anti-inflammatory and great for pre-arthritic conditions. Organic olive oil, calendula, chamomile, lavender, green tea, cucumber, and arnica are also included in this intelligent herbal formulation for antioxidant, soothing, regenerative, anti-inflammatory, moisturizing and softening properties.

Products from Vineyard Hills Naturals Skin Care

Don’t let the unassuming packaging fool you: Vineyard Hill Naturals is a high-performance, intelligent, and spa quality line. After applying the butters and creams to my hands, there’s a visible difference—the skin is brighter and feels softer. The body butter is rich, creamy and long-lasting. The hand cream is lighter and soaks into skin easily. I keep the Lemon Verbena Hand Cream in my gym bag for daytime use and the Lavender Rose Body Butter on my nightstand for deep, nighttime nourishment.

I applaud this company for using a by-product of the wine industry and for keeping the line affordable. I like them so much I am sending a hand cream to my Mom!

Shar VedaShar Veda, Southern Oregon’s Premier Alternative Therapist, offers deep healing through loving touch and compassionate counsel. She is an Ayurveda Lifestyle Counselor & Health Educator, yoga therapist and herbalist. Shar has been blessed to study with leading teachers in Ayurveda, Yoga, and herbalism for 20 years. However, it was her adopted grandma, Doe (English-American and Blackfoot Native), who instilled within her profound appreciation for the supreme power of loving touch, healing arts, and world family. Visit her website for a video, full bio, and photos or find her on Facebook!

What Your Spa or Salon Won’t Tell You About Skin Care Treatments

In New York City, you can’t walk a block without seeing signs promising the latest skin care miracle from the many day spas and med spas that have popped up over the past several years. You may be getting low prices, but you’re also risking serious complications and side effects by trusting your skin to untrained, and sometimes, even unlicensed professionals.

A 2003 survey from the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery showed a 41 percent increase since 2001 in the number of patients coming for help following a skin treatment botched by a non-doctor technician. The numbers continue to grow at an alarming rate.

Afrian-American woman with radiant, glowing skin

Here is a list of treatments the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends should only be done by an experienced, board-certified dermatologist in their office:

Laser technologies: Laser technology can be used for hair removal, body sculpting, scar and tattoo removal and more. Like any new technology, laser skin care requires training and experience. Laser therapy should only be performed by medical professionals.

Fractional resurfacing: This procedure is “…one of the newer laser technologies that gives dermatologists the option to safely treat patients with more extensive skin damage.” The main benefits of this procedure are increased collagen production that improves the appearance of skin texture and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and acne scars, with considerably less downtime than other invasive laser technologies

Wrinkle fillers: A number of new fillers have been introduced in recent years to replace “lost volume in the skin and to shape and sculpt areas that show signs of aging.” Fillers can help patients with symptoms such as sunken cheeks and fine lines around the eyes and lips. These new fillers, such as Restylane, Juvederm and Radiesse, are used by many top dermatologists for a wide range cosmetic purposes.

Chemical peels: A chemical peel is a popular procedure involving a chemical solution that is applied to the skin causing the outer layer of skin to separate and peel off. The new, regenerated skin is typically smoother, more even in tone and less wrinkled than the old skin.

In some states, it is not required to have a medical degree to perform a chemical peel. Although a chemical peel is generally a safe procedure when performed by a qualified and experienced dermatologist, there is a greater risk of infection, scarring or permanent skin damage when chemical peels are performed by unlicensed professionals or offered in unsanitary environments.

Botulinum toxin: Most widely known as “Botox treatments," it's popular for its ability to reduce wrinkles and other facial lines. Manufacturers have introduced new Botox formulations for medical professionals that have made the treatment more affordable, as well as effective.

Some of the most effective treatments available today, developed in labs by top scientists, may be available without a visit to the doctor’s office. Although many of us may not think of looking online for our skin-care products, a number of new companies are marketing products that are affordable, highly effective and only available online. Best of all, for those who aren’t ready to consider Botox or other invasive and potentially risky cosmetic procedures, a “facelift in a box” is now a reality.

“The ingredients we are using in our products today were unthinkable only a few years ago,” says Leon Thompson, Chief Marketing Officer for Hydra Skin Sciences, “it was either prohibitively expensive or hadn’t even been discovered yet! When we developed the Allegro Anti-Aging Cream and Brio Day & Night Serum we brought together the most powerful  botanicals and proven lab-tested chemicals to reduce wrinkles, age spots, discoloration, sagging skin, loss of firmness and more.”

To ensure you’re going to look your very best and will receive the latest in skin-care technology, you may be amazed to find that your best options are online!

Meggie Haneckow is a niche writer and blogger who loves to write on trending topics and share her personal experiences and knowledge through her writing. She is also a health enthusiast, so she loves to share health-care related tips through her blogs.

5 Relaxing Beauty Routines

Just because you’re leading a busy, stressful life, it doesn’t mean you can’t relax during your fast-paced days. This is crucial, as finding small ways to unwind throughout the day can help you think more creatively, boost brainpower, and allow a few minutes to just appreciate life. Can’t find time to relax? No worries—your daily beauty routines are the perfect time to add some relaxation.

woman stretching to relax
Photo by shutterstock.

Slow Down Your Skin-Care Routine

If you’re like most women, you probably conduct your morning and evening skin-care routines in super speed, not really paying attention to how these few minutes—twice a day—can help soothe your spirit.

Take the time to enjoy applying your skin brightening products and turn the application of your luxurious face creams into a relaxing massage. Applying your products in a gentle, soothing way allows your skin to absorb them better while being in the moment helps you clear your mind of stress and preserve your energy to face the day with confidence.

Avoid Stress-Causing Foods

You’re probably accustomed to grabbing a bite on the go, but this can be bad for your stress levels. Refined grains and saturated fats lead to the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. On the other hand, there are foods that have a calming effect on the body. One example is oatmeal; it’s a complex carbohydrate that boosts the production of serotonin, a chemical that improves positive feelings.

Another problem with eating when you’re on the move is that you might make rash decisions about snacks, resulting in the fastest options that are actually bad for your body and skin. For example, reaching for sugary snacks in your desk drawer; too much sugar actually accelerates the pace at which skin ages. Sugar fights both elastin and collagen production in the skin, which are both responsible for firmness and flexibility. On the other hand, relying on caffeine-packed liquids to get you through the day can dehydrate you. Both sugar and caffeine can make you feel anxious, so plan your meals and snacks ahead of time, so that when you’re busy you can still benefit from nutritious foods.

Yoga for Youthful Skin

We spend many hours every day hunched over desks, staring at computer screens or our cell phones. All of these activities can lead to muscles weakening. If you’re straining muscles in your face, such as regularly frowning while working, easy exercises will help you relax them, as well as your mind, because they enable better blood circulation. Best of all, you don’t need a yoga class for them!

Try these facial fitness exercises, from Glamour, to reduce the signs of aging and give yourself a few minutes of relaxation.

Get a Dry Brush

Dry brushing your body should be an activity you do twice a day because it’s good for your skin and it can really help to relax you.

Use a brush with natural, soft bristles to gently massage your skin, moving from your feet upwards to your chest, and your hands to your chest too. The important thing to remember is to massage toward your heart in order to boost your blood and lymphatic circulation. It also gets rid of dry skin, resulting in a smoother appearance, and by stimulating the lymphatic system it helps to detox your body. Massaging your skin with a dry brush may also help relieve pain.

This is also a lovely spa-like experience that is super-relaxing. It should be done before you step into the shower. After you shower, finish by massaging moisturizer into your body. For an extra spa treat, heat the lotion so that it will feel warm and luxurious.

Turn Your Shower Into a Sanctuary

Speaking of showers, they’re a great way to achieve relaxation. Even if you spend just a few minutes in the shower in the mornings and evenings, this is precious time that can help to clear your mind. Make shower time a sanctuary by infusing it with music that helps you unwind, using deliciously-scented shower gels, or just closing your eyes and feeling the water run over your body. This is especially important at night as the comfort will prepare you for a relaxing, beautifying sleep.

Our daily beauty routines are easy times to stop and nourish the body and mind. An added bonus: Being relaxed and happy will help us look our best.

Green Your Skin-Care Routine with Raw Honey

If you keep bees on your homestead, you’re already reaping the benefits of increased pollination of your fruits and vegetables, which should increase your yields and keep you lush with produce during the growing season. You’re also surely harvesting honey to use as a natural sweetener in everything from baked goods to your morning coffee.

natural honey in white cup
Photo by Sonja Langford.

Using local sugar cuts way down on your carbon footprint because you don’t need to ship imported cane sugar long distances to enjoy a sweet treat. Honey requires little to no processing, making it an incredibly green crop to enjoy on your homestead. It doesn’t get more local than your own backyard!

The liquid gold from your beehive can also provide you with free, healthful additions to your skin-care routine. Cutting out harsh commercial cleansers and soaps can reduce your chemical consumption as well as your carbon footprint, and thanks to your busy bees you already have everything you need for glowing skin.

The Benefits of Raw Honey for Your Skin

Honey has been used for thousands of years as a natural health and beauty aid, though it’s only recently that scientists have started examining its properties in a systematic way. Honey has antibacterial properties that can inhibit the growth of some 60 strains of harmful bacteria, and it is also a great antioxidant and humectant.

The delicate chemical composition of honey can be ruined by excessive heat, so raw honey is the best choice to benefit your skin. You can use honey straight out of the hive for your cosmetic preparations, and it’s a great way to use your least favorite seasonal batch. For example, if you prefer the light honey of early spring, use that for cooking and save the darker, autumnal honey for cosmetics.

Raw Honey as a Gentle Cleanser

It couldn’t be easier to use raw honey to wash your face. You don’t need to go through any complicated soap-making tutorials. Simply put some honey in a small squeeze bottle. That’s it!

Then use the following steps:

• Wet your face
• Squeeze a dime-sized amount of honey into your hand
• Gently wash your face as you would with any liquid cleaner

You’ll be surprised by how easily it rinses off, leaving behind soft skin. Honey’s antibacterial properties are great for keeping acne breakouts at bay and it draws moisture to your skin to keep it moisturized. It’s a great solution for sensitive skin because there’s no soap or harsh chemicals to cause irritation.

If you like your facial cleanser a bit thinner in consistency, try adding one part rose water to five parts honey. This will make your cleanser a little more pourable and slightly more astringent — and it will smell delightful!

Raw Honey as a Scrub

If you’ve tried to store raw honey for more than a few months, you know that it starts to crystalize over time. While this might be a drawback for cooking, grainy, crystalized honey makes an ideal face scrub to slough off rough, dry skin.

Try storing your crystalized honey in a small jelly jar with a reusable plastic lid. When you’re ready to scrub, wet your skin, then scoop out some honey with your fingertips and massage it into your skin. The sugar grains will provide gentle exfoliation before eventually melting away as you rinse with warm water.

Raw Honey as a Lip Balm

If your lips crack in the dryness of winter, raw honey can help heal them. Instead of using a commercial, petroleum-based lip balm, all you need is a dab of honey on your fingertip. The temptation will be strong to lick it off, but leaving it on forms a protective barrier that encourages healing and draws moisture. It may sting a bit, but rest assured that you’re feeling the antibacterial properties at work.

Even if you don’t yet keep your own bees, seeking out a local honey producer for raw honey will let you make your cosmetic routine greener and healthier. Give these easy honey cosmetics a try, and you’ll enjoy glowing skin without the chemicals in no time!

Ali LawrenceAli Lawrence is a tea-sipping writer who focuses on healthy and sustainable living via her family blog Homey Improvements. She was born and raised in Alaska and dabbles in PR, Pilates, and is a princess for hire for kid’s parties. Find her on Twitter @DIYfolks.