Gold in Skincare: Real Hype or the Real Deal?

Gold in Skincare: Real Hype or the Real Deal?

In the world of skincare, the revolving lists of ingredients are nothing short of fantastical. One day we’re touting the power of stem cells, the next we’re lauding the benefits of seaweed. At the latest International Congress of Esthetics and Spa show, I noticed an abundance of metals–particularly gold in skincare. It can be hard to sift through the trends to find the ingredients that will truly improve your skin’s appearance. Which ingredients work? And when is it worth paying more for those truly sophisticated products?

The use of metals in skincare perfectly exemplifies this phenomena. Copper is needed by the body, but what does it do when applied topically? The idea of using 24K gold in skincare has its characteristic allure, but is it worth shelling out for said allure?

As you know, I custom make all my skincare, so my main question when I started researching this was… should I consider including precious metals in my skincare formulations? In this article, I’m breaking it down according to each metal, because they offer different qualities. Then, I’ll touch on nanoparticles, which have become important (and controversial) in skincare recently.

Copper in skincare

CopperThe most electrically conductive of all the metal elements, copper, has a long history of being used to make tools and jewelry, sterilizing water, and now, as an ingredient in skincare.

Its use as a purifying agent is one of copper’s most popular applications. Hospitals even use copper surfaces to reduce the spread of germs. So it’s not surprising that one of copper’s effects on the skin is as an antimicrobial. These germ-reducing properties aren’t what most companies are promoting, however. Products containing copper are instead touting its ability to reduce redness, minimize wrinkles, and get rid of dark circles under the eyes. There’s even a pillowcase infused with copper that promises to reduce wrinkles while you sleep!  

The peptides in copper may be responsible for these skin-rejuvenating properties. Oregon State writes, “Another [copper enzyme], lysyl oxidase, is required for the cross-linking of collagen and elastin, which are essential for the formation of strong and flexible connective tissue. The action of lysyl oxidase helps maintain the integrity of connective tissue in the heart and blood vessels and also plays a role in bone formation.” This sounds promising.

Aesthetics Journal notes, “Copper metal ions have been found in higher concentrations around healing wounds and thus are implicated in wound healing and inflammatory processes. The topical application of copper ion-containing ointments has been associated with improved wound healing.” Another compelling piece.

Both of these excerpts point to some validity in the claims that copper in skincare formulations could help give it a more youthful appearance. Given its long history of use, as well as these studied effects on wound healing and connective tissue, copper stands out as an ingredient worth including in a skincare regimen.

Silver in skincare

Like copper, silver has a long history of use–it has been used for medical purposes for thousands of years. Lately you might have heard of colloidal silver being used to fight infections or used in skincare formulations that claim anti-aging properties.

First off, “colloidal” refers to a solution of microscopically dispersed insoluble particles suspended throughout another substance. Those who endorse silver for these purposes explain that it is only beneficial or absorbable in its colloidal form. Colloidal silver was banned as a medical ingredient in the 1990s because it was being overprescribed and overhyped, which caused some pretty crazy adverse reactions. However it is still available in natural formulations, and is considered safe when used appropriately.

Medical journals do confirm silver’s antibacterial activity, with a study published in 2013 noting that “It is widely recognized as an effective broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent… effective against a broad range of aerobic, anaerobic, gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria, yeast, filamentous fungi and viruses,” also appearing to have anti-inflammatory properties. This makes silver appealing as a preservative, perhaps, or an acne-fighting ingredient– but does it live up to the hype as a skin-transforming ingredient?

Let’s transport ourselves to the world of biochemistry for a moment. There are some compelling cases for silver as a skincare ingredient, namely a study on silver nanoparticles at a particular size protecting skin cells against UVB radiation-induced DNA damage, which lends some credibility to its use as an anti-aging ingredient. I’ll touch on nanoparticles at the end of this article, but just know that there is some controversy behind their safety. For now, let’s talk about our first place prize metal.

Gold in skincare

Gold is perhaps the most enchanting of these three metals. Companies that utilize gold in skincare tout its youth-enhancing and luminizing effects. But is gold in skincare all it glitters to be?

The Huffington Post’s review of gold in skincare concludes that its main attributes are that it’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Because it’s not soluble, the article explains, you don’t need to worry about side effects.

Yet Allure’s comparison of different precious metals in skincare notes that gold was named ‘Allergen of the year’ in 2001. And many people can’t even tolerate wearing gold jewelry. How’s that for going for the gold?

Well, a study published in 2010 found that gold particles stimulated the proliferation of keratinocytes. They concluded that at a low concentration, gold particles could be useful in biomedical skin tissue engineering, but that at high concentrations they were toxic to cells. I think it’s safe to assume that skincare companies would not use high enough concentrations in their products for them to have a toxic effect; and while these results are in scientific jargon, it does seem to point to gold’s ability to revitalize the skin.

Just last year, a study of metal in skincare confirmed that gold encourages the proliferation of skin cells. They also noted that gold does have ability to penetrate into the skin, which may be a good thing, or may be a bad thing, depending on what else is in the formulation; because essentially, having gold in your skincare may increase your skin’s absorption of the other ingredients in that product, helping your skin to soak all the goodness (or not-so-goodness). Also, its benefits and effects on the skin depend on whether or not it’s compatible with the bioindividual chemistry of the person using the product.

Is the idea of metals in skincare a little bit too Marie Curie when it should be more Marie Claire? Stick with me, because I want to touch on one more science-oriented thing that’s rather important…

Nanoparticles

Several years ago I wrote about Kabana Skin Care and why I steer clear of nanoparticles in skincare. It’s a topic thick with opposing views and uncertainty. You may have heard of nanoparticles, which means any particle under 100 nanometers, because they are often used in natural sunscreen formulations. Zinc oxide and titanium oxide in nanoparticle size have less of the characteristic white chalkiness. Since the technology has become available to achieve nanoparticle size, companies and scientists have been using it because it allows for easier assimilation into products and medications.

Because nanoparticles are often able to enter the bloodstream, there are concerns about their interactions with cells and bioaccumulation in the body. Indeed, the aforementioned study about gold particles being toxic at certain concentrations was looking at nanoparticles. They write, “It has been found that AuNPs of 14 nm can easily penetrate through the cell membrane and accumulate into the vacuole.” But also that, “the unique properties of NPs: high surface area relative to the size as well as the ability to penetrate biological membranes and barriers greatly reduces systemic dose thus potential side effects and toxicity. Recent studies show very promising clinical potential of NPs to serve as controlled release and delivery systems for drugs/active substances.” Alas, the double-edged sword of nanoparticles.

I don’t find nanoparticles appealing enough to ignore the evidence that they could bioaccumulate in the body. Given how many healthy, natural, nontoxic ingredients there are available, I don’t see the point in risking it.

To Indulge or Not to Indulge?

Gold face maskGold, silver, and copper each have merits when it comes to skincare. Gold can help increase the effectiveness of other ingredients in your skincare, while also acting as an antioxidant. Heck, the simple shine and color of it can add a beautiful luminosity to your skin.

And silver? Its antimicrobial actions are totally legit, and it’s possible that it also protects against UVB damage, which would be a great bonus.

Copper, also verifiably antimicrobial, also contains peptides that can stimulate collagen production.

Overall, each of these metals have qualities that make them worth including in your skincare. But be cognizant of nanoparticles! There is a potential risk associated with them, and companies don’t have to disclose if they are using them (never hurts to ask!).

And it’s probably not a good idea to spend all your coins on these precious metal formulations. They’re beneficial, but not magic 🙂

References:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/gold-infused-skincare-trend_us_56aa5400e4b001648922a054

https://www-sciencedirect-com.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/science/article/pii/S0009279716306299

http://eds.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=972718fd-f83d-4b06-9835-a7d52261c944%40sessionmgr104

https://www.annmariegianni.com/copper-for-skin/

http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/copper

https://www.annmariegianni.com/potential-dangers-nanoparticles-food-cosmetics/

https://www-sciencedirect-com.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/science/article/pii/S0927776510003504

https://aestheticsjournal.com/feature/copper-in-skincare

http://www.contagionlive.com/news/copper-surfaces-in-hospitals-help-wipe-out-bacteria

https://alliance-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=TN_sciversesciencedirect_elsevierS0009-2797(16)30629-9&context=PC&vid=UW&search_scope=all&tab=default_tab&lang=en_US

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4955599/

https://www.allure.com/story/are-precious-metals-effective-skin-care-ingredients

https://amazingy.com/magazine/benefits-of-colloidal-silver-on-the-skin/

*Photo credits: Copper by Qaqqaqtunaaq, Silver Crystal By Alchemist-hp (talk) (www.pse-mendelejew.de) – Own work (additional processed by Waugsberg), CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7394995, Gold Leaf Eye Makeup by pumpkincat210, Gold Face Mask by Alison Shaw

 

My Favorite Ways to Use Roses for Skincare

My Favorite Ways to Use Roses for Skincare

It’s no secret that I am obsessed with roses, I’ve written about my love for roses and using roses for skincare many times, and I also named rose as my favorite plant during my Herbal Skincare Summit talk. And I wasn’t alone, because MANY of the other Herbal Skincare Summit teachers and attendees also named rose as their favorite.

Today I’m not going to tell you why I like using roses for skincare in general because I wrote an Ingredient Spotlight about rose several years ago, which you can read HERE, though I will add that the petals absolutely do have soothing and astringent skin benefits, in addition to their signature aromatic and aromatherapeutic properties. The Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance also wrote a Carrier Oil Close-Up of rosehip seed oil which you can check out HERE.

Instead, I want to answer a question that many people have asked me over the years and emailed in about during the Herbal Skincare Summit–what’s the best way to use roses for skincare? I don’t think there’s really a “best” way to use roses for skincare, because they all have value–different extraction methods and solvents extract different properties from the plant; but I definitely wanted to tell you some of my favorites. Here we go!

My favorite ways to use roses for skincare:

Rose glyceriteRose glycerite.

Rose glycerite is a type of rose extract that uses glycerine as the solvent, rather than alcohol or something synthetic. Glycerine is a water soluble, natural byproduct of the soapmaking process in case you didn’t know. The glycerine is able to extract the water soluble properties of the rose petals and/or hips (depending on which parts you use in your glycerite), including rose’s cooling, soothing (rose is a natural anti-inflammatory), astringent properties, tannins, and B vitamins; and the majority of the vitamin C found in the hips. The glycerine is also able to capture the aroma of the rose petals, and is gentler than extracts made from stronger solvents. I use rose glycerite in the water phase of many of my lotion cleansers and creams, as part of the base to my gels, and also add it to some toners.

Rose-infused oil.

This is not the same as rose essential oil or rosehip oil–what this is is a carrier oil (I usually use jojoba for this) that has been infused with rose petals and rosehips for 4-6 weeks in the hot summer sun–or, if it’s winter, I use my Magical Butter (affiliate link) machine. Since this oil is not steam distilled and has not been cold pressed from the seeds, it will not have all of the essential fatty acids or antioxidant profile of rosehip seed oil (unless you use rosehip seed oil itself as the base). However the combination of the jojoba oil plus the gentle heat will gently extract any oil soluble properties from the rose parts, including its fatty oils, organic acids, flavonoid and carotenoid antioxidants (carotenoid antioxidants are precursors to Vitamin A), and Vitamins D and E.

Rose and rosehips infusion.

rose petal teaThere’s no simpler way to use roses for skincare than making a cup of tea! Making tea with rose petals and rosehips brings out the water soluble constituents of the rose similar to how rose glycerite does, with the addition of boiling water, which in some cases may bring out more properties, or conversely, may kill off others. Rose infusion is a versatile ingredient because you can take it internally to help build healthy skin from within–rose tea is known to deliver strong amounts of Vitamin C (especially if rose hips are used), and also help support healthy digestion which is crucial for healthy skin. Topically, though, rose tea is a lovely addition to any water phase, or may be used as a toner or to reconstitute a dry clay mask.

Rosewater or hydrosol.

The term “rosewater” is a fairly loose one. It can refer to a rose infusion, or a rose flower essence (rose petals soaked in spring water overnight under the full moon), or water that has been scented with rose essential oil, where the oil soluble components have been broken down into tiny droplets, which have been suspended into the water. It’s also possible that it’s a water that has been artificially scented with synthetic rose fragrance, or even with the natural phenyl ethyl alcohol derivative of rose petals, which is a known perfume fixative, though it’s naturally derived. Rose hydrosol, on the other hand, is one of the byproducts of the steam distillation process used to make rose essential oil. It retains rose’s beautiful aroma, and the water soluble benefits obtained from the distillation process, while the volatile compounds are what go into the essential oil. Rose hydrosol is an excellent way to get many of the benefits of rose essential oil, in a less concentrated and safer way. I use rosewater and rose hydrosol as toner, replacement for distilled water in my water phase for lotions and creams, as a cooling compress, and to reconstitute masks.

Rose C02 extract.

Supercritical C02 extraction is a newer way to extract phytochemicals and aromatic compounds from plants in a form that is concentrated like essential oils. It does not use heat, so it is able to extract some of the constituents that are normally harmed by the high heat needed for steam distillation, and the aroma is often closer to that of the actual plant. While it does not extract all of the same compounds as steam distillation, because of the lack of heat, it is a more sustainable way to obtain a concentrated oil soluble form of the plant, as it uses much less plant matter than is required for steam distillation. While rose C02 still should be diluted, it is often considered a safer topical application than steam distilled rose essential oil, and comes at a lower price. Unlike rose absolutes, waxes, and concretes, it contains no potentially harmful chemical solvent residues. I use rose C02 extract to add more natural rose scent to my herbal skincare products and soaps.

pink roseWant to learn how to make even more herbal preparations to use for skincare, and choose the right herbs for your skin specifically? I teach it in my Create Your Skincare online courses! Check them out HERE.

Rose is just one of the many amazing plants nature has provided to help us maintain healthy, clear, gorgeous skin. What’s your favorite way to use roses for skincare?

Please tell me in the comments below! And by the way, I offer a fabulous herbal skincare recipe that uses roses in different ways in the Herbal Skincare Summit Companion e-Book, which you can get along with all the Herbal Skincare Summit videos, audios, and bonuses when you purchase the Herbal Skincare Summit Kit. Get yours HERE!

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5485961/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3586833/

Hydrosols vs Floral Waters – What’s the Diff?

 

*This post contains affiliate links. Read my affiliate disclaimer here.

Ode to the Multi-passionate Entrepreneur

Ode to the Multi-passionate Entrepreneur

Are you a Jack (or Jane) of all trades? Or what’s now often referred to as a “multi-passionate” person or multi-passionate entrepreneur? That’s me too, and for a long time, I thought it was a bad thing. So many people (parents, teachers, successful friends) asked me why I can’t just focus on one thing? Why do I need to explore more interests, earn more certifications, pivot in my business when I can just focus on doing one thing really well and make a ton of money? First of all, that’s not necessarily realistic–but second of all, it’s just not my nature. And if you’re reading this, I’m guessing it’s not in your nature too. So today I want to celebrate us multi-passionate entrepreneurs and people, because what I’ve come to figure out is that there are a LOT of good things about being like us.

If you are a multi-passionate entrepreneur, I’m sure you can attest to this: when someone asks you “What do you do?” It’s really hard to give a simple answer.

When I was in both nutrition school, and when I studied marketing, branding, and even PR later on, I was asked to give my “elevator pitch,” which is typically an introductory statement that is typically given in one minute or less, to tell people what I do. And like many other people, I was really tripped up with that, because it’s not easy to say everything that I do. I can’t exactly say “I’m an author, blogger, holistic skincare entrepreneur, skincare formulator, skincare educator, herbalist, Reiki practitioner, health coach, aesthetician, metaphysical minister, qi gong practitioner, speaker, mentor, intuitive, skincare business and marketing coach, copywriter, editor, and curriculum developer.” Not if I want the conversation to continue beyond “What?” or “Oh, that’s nice” (with a glazed over gaze).

I was able, years and years later, able to narrow it down to holistic skincare entrepreneur. OK fine, sometimes I get a little more descriptive, and I say holistic skincare coach, educator, formulator, and author. Those are all different descriptors of what I do. But really, my main thing is holistic and integrative skincare, and I run two businesses that serve people in that world.

But my multi-passionate entrepreneur self didn’t want to be pigeonholed.

Luckily, In that holistic skincare realm–which of course is part of the beauty, wellness, and health health industries–there are all sorts of different offshoots in which holistic skincare can spring into, which is a really good thing, because multi-passionate entrepreneurs tend to get bored easily! If this is you, you know what I mean.

Now, there are certainly some entrepreneurs who find their one thing, and they love that thing enough that they make a whole lifelong career out of it. And that is amazing if that’s you. That’s just not me.

Skincare is my thing now, and it probably always will be my main thing, because I keep coming back to it. That’s how I know that the way I’m meant to deliver my life’s purpose in this world. Whatever that “big plan” is, it’s through skincare. I just had to figure out what within skincare I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it.

And before I got to this point, I was one of those people who took a really long time to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up. And I hear this from a lot of people who have their own businesses now as well. So I’m just going to tell you a little bit about how I got here.

But before I do that, I wanted to tell you that I now offer a free class called Skincare Business Crash Course. If your multi-passionate entrepreneurial spirit has an inkling of desire for starting a skincare business, or if you already have a business in the skincare world, and you want to see what else you can do with that that might include custom formulation, or having your own signature skincare brand, I can help you with that. Register HERE.

Back to the story of how I became a multi-passionate entrepreneur.

I want you to know that if you are a multi-passionate entrepreneur, it’s great. You’re perfect just the way you are. You don’t have to only focus on one thing, and feel like you’ll never be able to experience all of these amazing other things that you’re interested in and you’re passionate about in your life.

It’s really OK to have a lot of things that you love doing; but the biggest pitfall that I’ve seen, that I’ve observed from other multi-passionate entrepreneurs in my life, both friends and family members, as well as some things that I experienced in the earlier stages of my business, is that it can be a little bit distracting. When you find yourself getting bored with one thing and then moving on to another thing, you spread yourself really thin. It might seem like a lot gets done, but it doesn’t always get done effectively, well, efficiently, or cost effectively.

I tell the whole story of some of the challenges I experienced as a multi passionate person in this video:

Click HERE for a list of things I wish I knew before I started my businesses.

The moral of the story is that I found ways to infuse all of my loves–all of my passions–into my two businesses. They don’t always show up in the same ways, and I am sensitive to the fact that people come to me from diverse backgrounds–but I feel that as women, connecting with the Divine creatrix within is something that is so needed in today’s white male-dominated world.

Being a multi-passionate entrepreneur has helped me create a beautiful life.

Both my businesses are doing very well. And, I’m a mom. I have two girls who are amazing. They’re 13 and 10, and they’re ballet dancers, and one of them I actually homeschool. I actually am able to make time for all of that. I have time for these incredible growing businesses, which are like two other children in my life. But I also have time to be a very present mom for both my kids. I have time to be a very present wife for my husband. I have time for my pets and for my volunteer work. And I also do ballet myself, and I have time for that. I make time for it.

I think that being a multi-passionate entrepreneur is fantastic, because it makes you really good at multi-tasking. It makes you really good at coming up with quick solutions, and making strong connections that might not makes sense to everyone. But when you draw from different strengths that you’ve accumulated through all of these interests, and you’re able to unite them, it makes your thing really special and unique. And it makes you able to offer something that other people just can’t, because it is uniquely yours.

So if you are a multi-passionate entrepreneur, pat yourself on the back. Hug yourself. Because you’re awesome.

You have all of these incredible, incredible strengths and talents and interests and messages that you’re just dying to share with the world. And they’ve been sent to you for a reason. You’re the one who’s meant to deliver them.

But what I want to encourage you to do, instead of getting a little bit distracted and jumping around and having that butterfly shiny object syndrome, instead of just hopping from one thing to the next to the next to the next, see how you can connect them. See how you can make them a logical path. And see how all of these things can be your toolbox.

Are you a multi-passionate entrepreneur too?

I’d LOVE to know how you nurture all of your interests and how they enrich your business. If it’s something you find challenging, I’d love to hear about that too. Please share in the comments below!

 

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Skincare is Healthcare–Why We Should Focus on Our Largest Organ First

Skincare is Healthcare–Why We Should Focus on Our Largest Organ First

It’s always astonished me, how the idea of taking care of one’s skin is considered by so many to be an act of vanity. Images of vintage ladies applying cold cream at their decadent vanities come to mind. I watched the Amazon Prime show “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (OK–I binge watched the whole thing in two evenings); and I myself marveled at the clips of Midge and Rose sneaking off to the bathroom after their husbands fell asleep to apply their night cream, and then sneaking back in at the crack of dawn to remove it and apply their makeup before their husbands awoke. The idea that skincare is healthcare, not just a fluffy ritual, would have been quickly dismissed back then. And surprisingly, it’s still dismissed today.

I’ve spent the greater part of my life observing my own changing relationship with my skin.

I’ve also been studying the history of women’s beauty rituals and changing roles in society for quite some time. I’ve come to the understanding that the whole idea that caring for the skin is solely for beauty, vanity, or to impress or seduce a man; and the shaming that’s followed, really is a result of our patriarchal society. I’ve thought deeply about the damage caused by the whole “anti-aging” movement to women collectively, to our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health–and what we can do to heal that hurt. I’ve written several blog posts that explore concepts of beauty, aging, and skin-related women’s image issues:

I’ve also given some thoughts about how to reclaim our sacred beauty and creative expression, and celebrate it without fear or shame:

While these are important issues, what we still need to discuss is the fact that skincare goes way beyond self-care or celebration of beauty.

We need to discuss the fact that in actuality, skincare is healthcare.

I find it fascinating that many health practitioners–even holistic ones–kind of snicker at me when I tell them that my focus is on skincare. They seem to think that focusing on skin is superficial or frivolous, and that there are more important organs that need attention–especially since most skin issues start inside (with the gut, liver, lymph, etc).

That may very well be true, but I start with the skin, because unlike the gut, liver, or lymphatic system–it is visible, and we see whatever’s ailing us reflected back multiple times a day. Its changes are immediately noticeable, and if there are blemishes, scars, flare-ups, spots, lines, and wrinkles, often, these affect how people feel about themselves.

I’m not the only one who believes that skincare is healthcare.

Eastern philosophies such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda often start with the skin during diagnosis, as the location and other physical characteristics of lesions, pigmentations, or features of the skin correlate directly to an internal organ or system that may need to be attended to. This is well and good, but in this day and age, constant stress and chronic illness is the norm; and people are used to living with symptoms such as digestive issues, chronic fatigue, mood swings, constant colds, painful menstrual cycles, and disturbed sleep. Because of that, those symptoms often go unnoticed, or are dismissed as stress or just getting old. But when the skin shows us something? A new wrinkle, spot, dilated blood vessel, or pimple? We pay attention.

The skin is the largest organ, and we have to stop treating it in a disembodied, disconnected way from the rest of our organs and systems.

The skin is an organ of digestion, elimination, immunity, respiration, temperature regulation, and sensation; and should be treated with as much reverence as the brain, heart, liver, and other vital organs of the body.

Clean Skin from Within by Dr Trevor CatesA truly holistic approach to skincare seeks to find the root cause of the symptom that’s choosing to manifest visibly on the surface. It’s definitely important to uncover things on the inside like food sensitivities, as well as environmental toxicants, and poor lifestyle habits which contribute to the underlying causes of the symptoms, but we also have to look at the actual skin. As my friend and colleague, Dr. Trevor Cates says in her book Clean Skin from Within, the skin is a magic mirror–it reflects back to us what’s going on inside.

What I offer in addition to caring for the skin from within, is that we can also start on the outside, by utilizing the skin’s powerful absorption abilities to deliver nutrients into the skin from the outside in. While the exact rate of absorption via the skin depends on many factors and varies from person to person, we know that delivering nutrients through the skin–AKA transdermally–is possible, because both the pharmaceutical and supplement industries use transdermal delivery systems for medications and micronutrients.

We can also deliver vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other powerful phytonutrients into the body via the skin through the use of carrier oils, essential oils, and herbs–or what I refer to as “whole food skin nutrition.” When we do this in addition to other holistic measures, we truly care for the skin–and the health–and will see results faster, which will last longer.

I started my blog and later, my business, with the notion that skincare is healthcare.

I also feel strongly that the way to vibrant skin and radiant health is through the use of plants. For these reasons, I decided to create the Herbal Skincare Summit: an online event that happens free January 8-12, 2018, and features stories, wisdom, and inspiration of renowned herbalists, holistic health, and skincare practitioners. Together, we’ll celebrate beauty, inspired by the magic, wisdom, and science (yes there is room for both magic and science in Mother Earth’s plant kingdom) of nature. I hope you can join us to learn more about how I truly feel the plants are here to bring us back to ourselves and the planet, through the skin.

Herbal Skincare Summit

Click HERE to register!

*This post contains affiliate links.

Photo credit: Wellcome Library

Flower Elixirs: Your Introductory Guide with Katie Hess

Flower Elixirs: Your Introductory Guide with Katie Hess

One of my favorite things about plants is how many different positive ways they can affect people. Some plants are used as medicine or to support normal functions of our physical organs and systems. Others are used to boost the mood and aid in mental clarity. And others are used to lift our spirits, help us balance our emotions, work through challenges, or teach us lessons. This is particularly the case with flowers–especially in the form flower essences or flower elixirs.

While many flowers are certainly used in preparations intended for acute and general physical health and wellbeing, in the forms of tinctures, oils, hydrosols, or teas; flowers are special because their beauty and essence really draws us in and helps to balance out our energetic fields, emotions, and spirits. I, for one, was absolutely drawn to flowers for their beauty. I’m partial to roses, lavender, irises, and orchids–just being around them instantly lifts my mood. But I also regularly take flower essences, also known as flower elixirs.

What are flower elixirs?

Flower elixirs, or essences, are traditional herbal preparations that capture the subtle energies of flowers, typically through lunar infusion. Any plant or gemstone can be made into elixirs, but for today’s purposes, we’re referring to those made from flowers. Flower elixirs do not contain the chemical constituents of the plant in a way that affects the physical body like other preparations (teas, tinctures, etc) do. Instead, they carry the plant’s frequencies which work on our own energetic frequencies to help restore balance.

I was first introduced to flower essences through the Bach Flower Remedies, which I used to help me through some of the self-confidence issues that stuck with me after my skin healed from acne. But I then moved past the Bach pantheon when I first arrived at Katie Hess’ website, Lotuswei.com, when I found out about her Flowerevolution program.

Katie’s flower elixirs intrigued me, because they were NOT the typical flowers used in the Bach remedies–in fact, many of them were flowers I had never heard of. I’ve since done multiple cycles of Flowerevolution, attended Katie’s FlowerLounge event in Philadelphia this past spring, and regularly use her book, Flowerevolution (get a free preview here) whenever I need to brighten my day with beauty or spark creative inspiration. I think it’s safe to say that I am a fan of Katie Hess, and Lotuswei.

Katie and I also connected through my online course Create Your Skincare, when she generously shared some of her favorite topical uses for flower and gemstone elixirs in an exclusive bonus interview for my students.

Click HERE to sample a free Create Your Skincare class!

Like Katie, I believe in the healing power of flowers for individual people, as well as for us humans collectively, and it’s my pleasure to share her work with you. I was so excited to have Katie as a guest on the Rachael Pontillo Show, to talk about flower elixirs, Flowerevolution, and some of the other amazing ways Lotuswei is using flower power to help heal the planet.

It sounds lofty, doesn’t it? Using flower elixirs to heal the world?

It’s a very romantic idea, but after spending time with the flowers themselves, regularly using flower elixirs (Katie talks about using them as a type of love vitamin), and connecting with other flower-loving women at the FlowerLounge event, I believe it’s an excellent starting point.

Watch my video with Katie Hess below, and see if you agree:


Click HERE to download the audio version of this episode free on my iTunes channel (and subscribe while you’re at it!)

About Katie Hess:

Katie Hess is a flower alchemist, the founder of LOTUSWEI, one of the world’s leading floral apothecaries, and author of Flowerevolution: Blooming into Your Full Potential with the Magic of Flowers . After 15 years of independent research of flower and plant-based healing, her flower-powered community is thriving in over 15 countries. She instigates a revolution with the premise that you transform the world by transforming yourself (with a little help from flowers!). Katie travels worldwide to seek out flowers that reduce stress, improve sleep, and accelerate personal growth. Her work has been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Sunset and Organic Spa Magazine. Discover what your favorite flower means about you at lotuswei.com.

Get a sneak peek at beauty of the FlowerLounge experience below:

You can also join the beauty and deliciousness of Flowerevolution program yourself (so you can experience what I’ve been raving about for yourself!) here. Katie’s new Flowerevolution card deck is also now available for purchase here.

*Images courtesy of Katie Hess/Lotuswei.com. This post contains affiliate links.

Gemstones in Skincare: Your Introductory Guide

Gemstones in Skincare: Your Introductory Guide

Have you noticed that gemstones are everywhere these days? While just a few years ago, it seemed they were abundant in the more metaphysical/spiritual circles, but lately they’ve been gaining mainstream exposure. Int he skincare world, again–they’ve been long embraced by the more holistic aesthetic modalities; but this past year at the spa shows I’ve attended, I’ve seen more gemstone infused products, gemstone-infusing water pitchers and bottles, and actual gemstone jewelry exhibited throughout the sea of otherwise still fairly conventional aesthetic products and treatments. I’ve touched on the subject of gemstones in skincare a few times, but I’m talking about it again today due to this influx of attention (or maybe I’m still feeling the vibes from the gemstone jewelry I bought at the Long Beach show–who knows!).

It’s a somewhat common sequence of events–an ancient practice goes relatively untalked about for years and years and then–Booom!–the secret gets out and everyone wants in.

Inevitably there are questions. Does it work? Is it expensive? Is it right for me?

I’ll try to make this one crystal clear for you.

Gemstones in skincare

When it comes to natural skincare, we mainly think of plants — cold-pressed oils, healing herbs, potent extracts… But precious (and ones considered “semi-precious”–I consider them all precious) gems are just as natural, and it turns out that they can also play a pretty magical (and scientifically-backed) role in organic skincare.

Use of minerals in skincare dates back to ancient Egypt, when the mineral malachite was used as eye paint (can you imagine how vibrant that color must have been?!) Even Saint Hildegarde of Bingen, an abbess and writer in Germany (1098-1179), recommended using amethyst to help remediate acne.

I’ve written about gua sha as well, a traditional massage technique that involves scraping or pulling on the skin with a smooth stone to move lymphatic fluids and release tension in the face. It is most commonly done using rose quartz or jade, and there’s evidence that shows that it increases circulation in the face, which can help relieve pain in addition to revitalizing the skin.

So it’s clear that we’re not the first era to discover that minerals and gems can play a role in your skincare routine.

It Seems woo woo, But…

Even some mainstream skincare brands use minerals in their products. For example, Aveda has a product that uses tourmaline to naturally energize the skin. I’ve seen these stones-of-many-colors pop up into organic products here and there over the years too, though they’re definitely getting more attention lately.

One of the explanations for why crystals have such a healing effect on the skin is that our bone structure is similarly crystalline. And if you want to get even more woo woo (clearly I do), many spiritual lineages of old and new believe that there are crystalline aspects to our DNA. Because gems and minerals have a naturally higher frequency, they can literally travel towards weaker skin cells, to balance them.

Here is another way to say it that involves a cool new vocab word (or it was for me, anyway): piezoelectricity.

Piezoelectricity is the charge that builds up in certain materials when they are exposed to mechanical stress. These materials include DNA, certain ceramics, and (you guessed it), both bones and crystals. This charge is reversible.

Crystals tend to hold their energy and have the natural ability to support energy fields. When you put them in your skincare, they transmit this energy to your skin.

So, where are the jewels?

Tourmaline

Tourmaline

Gems can be incorporated into skincare products in a few different ways:

  1. Water infusion – Gem is soaked in water before being used in a formulation. This is sometimes done under moonlight for additional benefits. The results of this infusion are also referred to as gemstone essences or elixirs.
  2. Oil infusion – The same process as above is done in oil instead of water.
  3. Tincture – An elixir is preserved with alcohol to extend its shelf life.
  4. Powder – A gem is ground into a powder and added into a skincare formulation.

A study done by the Journal of Cosmetic Science looked at the use of tourmaline in skincare–specifically its ability to raise skin temperature and thus increase circulation.

They determined that a product containing 1% of the gem powder was sufficient to provide this effect.

And while crystals have in common that they affect the skin through their vibrational energies, you may have guessed (or already knew) they each crystal has a unique effect on the skin. Some are specific to certain skin conditions and some might not work for everyone. How they work, similar to plants, also depends on that individual person’s physical and energetic constitution.

How to choose the right gems for your skin

There are people who make entire careers out of helping people choose the right crystal and use it for healing; and like with plants–I feel it takes more than one lifetime to learn all the stones and ways they can help.

Some of my rose quartz, jade, and marble gua sha, acupressure, and facial massage tools.

So here’s a very introductory guide to some different properties crystals have, as it relates to skin:

  • Jade protects the skin and increases circulation. It is the most common tool used to gua sha, the facial massage technique mentioned above.
  • Rose quartz is one of the most common crystals used to improve the skin. It is popular for reducing fine lines and wrinkles and smoothing out rough skin.  Also used in gua sha, this stone improves circulation while calming nearly every complexion.
  • Moonstone gives skin a youthful glow and helps balance your yin-yang energies.
  • White gold is known for its graceful aging properties and its abilities to treat sun-damaged skin.
  • Rubies are thought to be great blood cleansers, removing toxins and clearing up acne. They also recharge your energy, helping you feel powerful and in control.
  • Amethyst eases nerves
  • Tourmaline crystals warm as they are rubbed onto skin, becoming positively charged on one end and negatively charged on the other. This unique feature increases skin absorption, meaning that when tourmaline is in your skincare, you absorb all those delicious ingredients better. This energizing stone is also said to make the skin more radiant and youthful.
  • Citrine’s optimistic and creative energy makes it useful for dealing with seasonal depression and bringing about opportunity.
  • Malachite is a deep energy cleaner and is often used for healing and bringing positive change
  • Sapphire helps us face difficult situations and see them clearly. On the skincare front, it can be a great ingredient to keep complexions smooth.

Choosing the right stone for you can be as simple as moving towards whichever you resonate with. Or, choose based on the skincare or emotional concern you’d like to address.

My experience with gemstones in skincare

I wrote about gemstones in skincare a while ago. Those who know me or read my blog often know that I am a big fan of using them not only in skincare, but in my jewelry, throughout my living space… pretty much anywhere I can squeeze them into my life.

In the blog post mentioned above, I talk about my process of choosing the right stones for me, plus I interview a friend of mine who practices stone medicine and simply blows my mind with the work she does. Gemstones have played an important part in my life since I was a child, and once I started working with them more purposefully, I absolutely believe they’ve helped me have skin today that no one ever believes, ever had stage 4 or cystic acne. While other changes had to happen for me to achieve my skin and health goals, during that time, my stones were always with me.

Create Your SkincareI hope you’ll consider incorporating crystals into your skincare, whether it’s through gua sha, an infused product, or simply keeping them nearby.

Do you want to learn to make professional quality gemstone-infused skincare products?

You’re in luck! In the Bonus Module of my online course, Create Your Skincare, there are multiple lessons about gemstones in skincare, and how to use them. Throughout the rest of the course, you’ll also learn how to work with the energetic and physical properties of plants to create balanced, customized, and effective skincare regimens for any skin type or skin tone.

Click HERE to learn more and save your spot in our next class now!

References:

http://www.byrdie.com/gemstone-essence-skincare

http://www.instyle.com/beauty/skin/healing-crystal-skincare-products

http://www.refinery29.com/gua-sha-facial-chinese-treatment-review

http://metro.co.uk/2017/06/22/the-next-hot-skincare-trend-is-rubbing-a-crystal-on-your-face-6725422/

https://www.truthinaging.com/review/what-is-it-tourmaline

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.627.4849&rep=rep1&type=pdf

http://www.iscd.it/files/HOLISTIC-COSMETICS.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17905355

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