Thursday, 25 October 2012

Would you like water with that?

One thing that plagues every single crafter of natural bodycare, is the dreaded "emulsion". By this I mean lotion making. See the thing is, there are so many factors to consider when one decides to delve into the world of water based lotions. For instance, of course there is what ingredients to use....What type of feel are you looking for, what kind of skin is it intended for, do you want it to finish powdery or do you want it to coat the skin? Is it slippy enough, or do you want it to be a stiffer cream?...The list of considerations is endless!

Then of course, there is the preservative issue. Let me just say right off the bat that there is NO evidence that Grapefruit Seed oil will provide any kind of broad spectrum protection. It is NOT a preservative, it is an anti-oxidant. Secondly, there are a LOT of people out there making creams and lotions with water based ingredients that do not preserve their products. This is a very bad idea! If you come across one of these, run the other way! As soon as water is introduced into a product, there is surely going to be mold and pathogens to follow. If the product is not preserved properly, you are putting yourself at serious risk from contamination, bacteria, mold and pathogens. Most of the little beasties found in contaminated products is invisible to the naked eye!

That said, eventually every emulsion will break, or fail. The preservative becomes less effective over time and the product expires. I recently had this happen with one of my lotions that I made for myself and it had a very good preservative in it. So, what to do? With all the challenges that water based emulsions give, I for one am going to explore more anhydrous formulation! Besides, we as a society need to understand that one of the reasons we are hooked on the idea of 'snow white lotions' is because that's what we've been led to believe will help us.

 The truth?... hold on to your hat! Water is a cheap filler! It accounts for about 65-80% of any store bought lotion! (I know, I just felt your mind get blown!) Yes, ladies and gents, the reason lotions are cheap (most of the time) is because only 25-39% of it is actual nourishing ingredients, and that's provided they haven't loaded it with other fillers to make it feel better which can take up another 10-15% of the finished product. So all the 'good stuff' on the ingredient label- the plant oils, extracts, vitamins, minerals...that is all in there at the smallest percentage possible to still make it to the label!

We've been trained to think that white = pure. It seems more innocuous to us and therefore it must be good. Nope! In fact, all we are doing most of the time is slathering on a chemical cocktail of fillers with no real skincare benefit...apart from "feeling good". The immediate gratification we have been getting from a product seem to outweigh the real long-term benefits to maintenance of healthy skin. Plant oils and butters are naturally compatible with the skin as they are both living organisms. These ingredients have the nutrients to feed the skin and keep it healthy, much the way fruits and vegetables feed the insides of our body.  Even though at first, they can seem heavy and greasy, once they've had a few minutes to be 'digested' by the skin, they are fully absorbed and doing the work they are intended for.

Now don't get me wrong, when done right- and with a decent amount of consideration, lotions can be lovely! But for the bulk of our daily skin health, why not consider oil based options? There is no doubt amongst the studies conducted on this subject, that oil based skincare is extremely beneficial to a number of skin concerns from eczema to acne. That knowledge combined with the fact that mold is not an issue in anhydrous formulas make a pretty good case for eliminating water-based skincare from your routine. Keep in mind, just because they don't need preservatives, doesn't mean they can't hold bacteria! Keeping wet and dirty fingers out of the jar or bottle is still important. I always use good manufacturing processes including proper sterilization of tools, bowl and work surfaces to prevent contamination when I make a product, even if it's for myself.

The whole point of moisturizing the skin is to lock in water. Well, (prepare for mind to blow again!).... oil seals in moisture, especially right after a bath or shower. (insert exploding sound here) Ergo,  oil based moisturizers make a whole lot of sense don't ya think? The next time you go to buy skincare, consider all your options. Try a lovely after bath body oil or natural butter. Trust me... your skin will love you for it!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

The Joy of Monoi!

From the time I was a little girl, I have had a special place in my heart for the aroma of Gardenia flowers. I remember smelling their beautiful aroma in a body oil for a fleeting moment. From that day on, I have been on a relentless search to recapture that delicate, powdery, sweet floral scent to no avail. As time passed, all I found were cheap synthetic imitations that don't even come close to capturing the magic of that first aromatic memory.

Recently, I have been drawn to exploring the beautiful natural ingredients indigenous to the South Pacific. I have discovered a plethora of herbal traditions from the French Polynesian colony of Tahiti. These traditions are part of the Tahitian Pharmacopeia known as the Ra'au Tahiti. The people who preserve this knowledge, the Mahoi- learned to live in harmony with the life force they call Mana. Their tradition has taught them to use her gifts as a means to reconnect with the elements of the world around them. The rituals they have created with the use of natural ingredients for healing are the true legacy of holistic healing.

Although I have become very familiar with several natural healing ingredients such as Organic Virgin Coconut Creme de Coco and Tamanu oil, the one that is most highly prized is the sacred Monoi de Tahiti.

Upon first inhaling this intoxicating oil, my brain immediately took me back to that moment when I first coveted the aroma of Gardenia! But, this is not just any gardenia- no, no, no. This is the pure, unadulterated scent of Gardenia Tahitensis or Tiare flowers, a species exclusively cultivated in this region of the world. It is created in a strict traditional manner that is over 2,000 years old.“Monoi de Tahiti is the product obtained by macerating Tiare blossoms in refined coconut oil. This oil is to be extracted from mature coconuts gathered from Cocos Nucifera trees growing in the coral soil in the geographic area of French Polynesia exclusively. Only "Tiare" flower buds from the Gardenia Tahitensis species and of Polynesian origin are acceptable...” (definition according to the Appellation of Origin; Institut du Monoi)

So what does Monoi de Tahiti have to offer besides a scent that will bring you to your knees? It is one of the most ancient preparations in the Ra'au Tahiti. Studies have shown that it is a very useful healing oil for all manner of conditions from eczema to headaches and haircare. It has been clinically tested and determined to be highly effective for smoothing the hair shaft and improving hair and scalp health. Monoi is also highly tolerated by even the most sensitive skin so it can be safely used on babies and those with a variety of skin conditions without risk of irritation. 

Monoi de Tahiti
INCI: Cocos Nucifera, Gardenia Tahitensis
Characteristics: liquid at ambient temperature, solidifies at cooler temps
Colour: clear to slightly yellow
Aroma: floral, slightly powdery; medium 
Absorption: quickly absorbed, light feel with no greasy residue
Usage rate: 1-100%

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

What does it mean to live a life of alchemy?....

Alchemy is a philosophy that can simply be defined as 'the art of transformation.' For me, it is all about taking elements of life and with lots of love and positive intention, transforming them into things of beauty in every aspect of my world. Whether it is capturing the life essence of a flower, re-purposing a glass jar to make a beautiful gift, inspiring a new way of thinking, or even taking daily routines and turning them into luxurious rituals of pampering-- alchemy is at work everywhere.

Consider this your one-stop-shop for tips & tricks, DIY projects, health & beauty recipes and so much more to help you find new beauty in your world and live a healthy, beautiful life.

Welcome to the world of Alchemy!

Hi Everyone!

So here we are in our new blog home! I  for one am very excited. I have rethought my format and have decided to make this a much more grassroots blog that will be as much yours as mine. In it, I will be sharing everything from new products and promotions that are being offered in mine and other favourite Etsy shops. I will be posting lots of DIY projects, beauty, food and lifestyle recipes and features. I will talk about all things aromatherapy and natural beauty and show you wonderful ways to add a little bit of ‘alchemy’ to your life! I hope you will enjoy sharing this journey with me!
For now, this cool autumn air has me craving a cup of tea. See you all soon!

Lots of love,
Steph xo