Everywhere you look in the health and wellness world these days, turmeric is there. The spice’s bright yellow hue and earthy flavor can be found in everything from traditional Indian food to juices, lattes, desserts – and yes, skincare. Find out why turmeric may just be the answer to your natural beauty woes.
Here’s the good news about turmeric: your skin may benefit from it both when used topically and taken internally. And while recent research has brought into question the validity of some previously published findings on its benefits, there’s no denying that this antioxidant-rich root shows results. Here’s why we love it as part of a skincare regimen.
1. Anti-Aging: Sure, that term gets tossed around quite a bit, but clinical studies have found curcumin, the most commonly studied compound in turmeric, can help to reduce chronic inflammation, which often shows up as bloating, puffiness, and skin conditions like acne and eczema. Its use has also been linked to a reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles associated with aging skin. According to the website Natural Living Ideas, “dark spots and changes in skin pigment were also reduced by nearly 15%.”
2. Balances Skin Tone: If it seems that no matter what the weather or which skincare products you use (or don’t use) that oiliness persists, turmeric may be your almost-literal pot of gold. Consistent use of turmeric has been linked to decreased skin oil production, helping to reduce the occurrence of breakouts. The benefit doesn’t come from the curcumin, though. According to Natural Living Ideas, “this beneficial effect was likely because turmeric contains fatty acids and phytosterols, which have been observed in other studies to reduce excess skin oils.”
3. Sun-Damaged Skin Reparation: Let’s be clear – there’s no magic pill to undo damage caused by excess sun exposure. And nothing except avoiding it can decrease your risk of skin cancer. That being said, turmeric is a bit of sun ninja. It’s got the ability to help prevent damage from ultraviolet B radiation due to its ability to block an enzyme that leads to the loss of collagen.
Want to give your skin a turmeric boost? Start with our Calendula and Neem Soap with Turmeric.
Photo by Ariel Lustre on Unsplash
Summer comes along and all of a sudden, your “whatever” approach to shaving your legs all of a sudden becomes meticulously focused. You aim for such precision that you nickname yourself “the surgeon.” But no matter how detailed you are, you still end up with nicks, razor burn, and worse, “the patch” that seems to miss the razor Every. Single. Time. If this sounds familiar, you may need to revisit your shaving game. We’ve got the tips your mom may have forgot to tell you all those years ago.
- Exfoliate: Yes, you exfoliate your face, but what about your legs, too? Getting rid of dead skin cells before you shave helps for a more even and close shave. You can use a dry brush method before getting into the bath or shower, or use a sugar or salt scrub on the legs prior to shaving.
- Invest in a good razor: If you’re still using disposable razors, now is the time to stop. Not only are these so wasteful and bad for the planet, but they’re typically not the best razors to begin with. This means more likelihood of damaging the skin and getting a bad shave. No fun. Use a high-quality reusable razor. Safety razors are making a comeback, particularly among women, and can deliver a much closer and cleaner shave.
- Don’t lather with soap: Use shaving cream, hair conditioner, or an oil like coconut oil, but whatever you choose, stop using soap! Soap is not only drying to the skin but some can damage the razors more quickly than moisturizing lotions and creams.
- Shave with the direction of the hair, not against: When you use a high-quality razor, it’ll get all the hair and leave your skin less likely to break out in red bumps.
- Moisturize: After shaving, follow up with a soothing skin moisturizer to keep the legs smooth. Bonus if it has an SPF factor, especially if you’re heading out to the beach or pool.
Photo by Stas Kulesh on Unsplash
Products we love:
African Organic Body Oil Blend
Passionfruit Cacao Moisture Recovery Lotion
Skin loves vitamin C. Not only does this crucial nutrient provide a collagen-building boost (no animal products necessary like with the popular collagen supplements and skincare products), but it also helps to speed the healing and reduce the appearance of sun-damaged skin, making this DIY vitamin C skin peel a summer skincare must.
While boosting your intake of vitamin-C-packed fruits and veggies is super easy in the summertime (hello, watermelon!), and does wonders for the skin when your diet is rich in vitamin-C-containing foods, the skin will also benefit from an external application of vitamin C. And this DIY C-packed face peel is easy to whip up and apply. Plus, you’ll see instant results like smoother looking skin and decreased pigmentation.
This collagen-boosting vitamin C peel is very thin and can therefore drip after being applied, so use caution on the forehead and around the eyes as it will burn if it gets into your eyes.
A note on vitamin C powder: Be sure to find a powder with no fillers, sugars, or other ingredients. You simply want pure vitamin C, which is easy to find at most health food stores or online.
One tablespoon aloe vera gel
One teaspoon vegetable glycerin
One tablespoon ascorbic acid (vitamin C powder)
Mix all ingredients together so that the vitamin C powder dissolves into the liquids. Use a cotton ball or pad to swab onto the skin and let sit 10 minutes. Rinse with cool water. Store any remaining mixture in an airtight jar in the refrigerator. Can be used once a week.
[Caution: If you have any skin conditions, talk with your doctor before applying vitamin C directly to the skin. Do not apply this peel to burned or broken skin as the vitamin C may cause excessive burning or irritation. Rinse off immediately if you feel harsh burning or irritation. Avoid contact with eyes.]
Photo by Joe Gardner on Unsplash
Inside the seed of the African baobab fruit is baobab oil – a rich and nourishing tonic for all skin (and hair!) types. Never heard of baobab oil? Consider this your lucky day!
The baobab tree stands on sacred ground throughout Africa. It’s often called the “Tree of Life” for its lush fruit loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. It’s one of the only foods available during the dry seasons on the continent, making the tree prized by many cultures. It’s also often called the “upside down tree” for its thick trunk and spindly branches that look more like you’d expect a tree’s roots to look.
But baobab oil may be the tree’s most impressive secret. Not only is it edible and especially rich in omega-fatty acids (3,6, and 9), as well as vitamins A, D, E, and K. But it also contains other skin-loving nutrients including dihydrosterculic acid, malvalic acid, arachidic acid, linoleic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, and stearic acid.
Rich in anti-inflammatory properties, baobab oil is excellent at smoothing skin and reducing the appearance of damage from the sun, aging, and a host of skin conditions. This of course makes it an excellent after-sun oil, but it’s also great as a multi-purpose skin and hair oil. Use it for dry, irritated skin (like eczema). Rub into your hair and scalp for relief of dandruff and dry scalp. Reduce the appearance of scars and stretch marks. Relieve winter or summer chapped lips. Plus, baobab oil won’t clog pores, making it appropriate for acne-prone skin as well.
Like jojoba oil, baobab won’t leave skin feeling greasy or oily. The body quickly absorbs it and puts it to work. Baobab oil makes an excellent skin cleanser and moisturizer, even helping to boost collagen production. Collagen is responsible for keeping the skin looking and feeling more elastic. We naturally lose collagen as we age, making baobab an excellent choice in keeping our skin healthier and younger looking.
We handcraft our most nourishing African Organic Body Oil Blend with baobab oil for a deeply nourishing, relaxing and long lasting hydrating benefits. Your skin will feel incredibly soft and supple.
Is there any food more sacred, more beloved than chocolate? Of course not, right? In a word, chocolate is special. But not just because its creamy deliciousness tastes so good; chocolate has a host of health benefits. And this will make your day even better: chocolate has a ton of beauty benefits for your skin and hair, too. Really.
7 Benefits of Chocolate for Skin and Hair
- Antioxidants: Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants that help to prevent free radical damage to the skin. Like dark berries, leafy greens, and green tea, the antioxidants in chocolate may help your skin look younger by reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Protect skin from UV damage: Chocolate as sunscreen? Eating a chocolate bar before hitting the beach (or slathering it on your face) isn’t a guarantee against sunburn, but it may help to reduce the risk of burning (in combination with a strong sunscreen). That’s because chemical compounds in chocolate help protect the skin from the sun. But do be sure to slather on the sunscreen no matter what.
- Detoxes the skin: Using raw chocolate powder on the skin serves as an exfoliant that can help to get rid of dead skin cells, revealing fresher, younger-looking skin beneath. Those antioxidants also work topically, soaking into your skin to provide added benefits and skin protection.
- Chocolate boosts mood: You know what makes you look younger and happier all at once? A smile. Chocolate is known for its mood-boosting brain benefits and chemicals that trigger the release of serotonin and dopamine. These brain chemicals are connected with happiness and love.
- Balances blood sugar: If you’re chomping down sugar-laden chocolate bars, all bets are off, but in moderation, raw, unsweetened chocolate may help to regulate insulin levels, keeping your sugar levels in check. This may make breakouts less common, which will make your skin look healthier and happier.
- Healthy scalp: Chocolate’s anti-inflammatory compounds can help to lessen itchy, dry, and flaky scalp problems both when consumed internally or used topically on the scalp/hair.
- Hair boost: Chocolate may also help to minimize hair loss and boost the volume and shine of hair.
Is chocolate in your beach bag this summer? Get all the benefits and more with our Passionfruit and Cacao Moisture Recovery Lotion.
Photo by Sheelah Brennan on Unsplash
Reading beauty product labels is fun, isn’t it? At best, you can rejoice if your label is filled with recognizable and good-for-you ingredients free from harmful synthetics. On the other hand, you can also boost your Words With Friends arsenal with all the complicated letter arrangements of synthetic chemicals. But there’s something to be said for keeping simple (both in ingredients and in Scrabble!). Enter: Neem, the ancient Ayurvedic skincare wonder ingredient.
If you’ve never heard of neem before, you’re not alone. This beauty multitasker has been flying under the radar for far too long. At least, here in the U.S. In countries like India, neem is a regular old superstar loved for its many powerful benefits for skin, hair, and even oral hygiene.
So, what is neem oil?
A tree member of the mahogany family, neem is also known as Indian lilac. It grows throughout India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and in the southern region of Iran, where it’s used for more than just glowing skin – it repels mosquitoes, keeps bugs out of pantries, and was even rumored to be used against malaria and leprosy (though we recommend seeking professional medical help immediately should you find yourself with symptoms of either).
Neem has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for ages, primarily for treating chronic skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis, which can be notoriously persistent and irritating. But it’s also treasured for daily skin care maintenance and protection from environmental damage.
Neem oil is pressed from the leaves of the neem tree and contains high levels of antioxidants apt at fighting free radical damage. Carotenoids found in neem may protect against premature ageing of the skin, helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
It’s also an excellent source of fatty acids as well as vitamin E – a known skin powerhouse nutrient. Both boost skin’s elasticity and overall health.
Neem may also help reduce or prevent acne breakouts and lessen healing time as well. Because neem oil is a potent antibacterial agent, it can reduce the presence of acne-causing bacteria. The fatty acids in neem also help to improve the healing process and reduce redness and scarring.
Regular use of neem in skin care (and hair care!) can leave the face (and scalp) smoother and younger looking.
Want to give neem a try? Check out our neem skin and haircare faves:
Calendula and Neem Bar Soap
Neem and Bay Leaf Shampoo
Are you a label reader? We hope you are – whether it’s your food or your skincare, ingredients matter. If understanding what they are make you feel like you need a science degree (or two), you’re not alone. A lot of even simple ingredients come with fancy sounding names, like hydrosol. What is this ingredient, and why is it in your (and our!) skincare products? It’s not as fancy as it sounds, actually.
A hydrosol is a botanical water usually made with flowers, but any botanical will work, like leaves, fruits, barks, or other plant material. Unlike essential oils – the pure, concentrated essence of a botanicals — hydrosols are mostly water.
These dilutes typically contain less than one percent (usually 0.01 – 0.04 percent) of the essential oil. A plant that contains more water naturally will be less concentrated than a denser ingredient.
Essential oils, if you’re not familiar, are extracted from a plant through various means. These highly concentrated oils are extremely potent (thus the reason they come via such small bottles). A little goes a long, long way. Not only are they usually fabulous to smell, but they’re most often recommended to be diluted via a carrier oil. While hydrosols aren’t oils, they are by definition, already diluted.
You can compare hydrosol to a diluted herbal tea. But even though a cup of ginger tea is less potent than a whole ginger root, it’s still got much of the root’s potent benefits, which is why hydrosols are often found in skincare instead of just plain water. It’s like a naturally enhanced water that is both hydrating and medicinal, delivering a boost of plant nutrients, be they anti-inflammatory effects, toning properties, wound-healing, calming, or rejuvenating aspects. You’ve got this perfectly useful water that’s going to do great things for your skin.
Because hydrosols are less concentrated than pure essential oils, they’re also less likely to irritate the skin or cause allergic reactions when used in a product or on its own.
If you’re a fan of essential oil fragrances, you’ll still pick up notes of the botanical in a hydrosol, but it will be less potent, and may have a greener or grassier scent more like the botanical would smell in your garden.
While hydrosols are often used in skincare products, they can be used on their own as a skin toner or as an aromatherapy spray. Still — be sure to read the label on your hydrosols to make sure it’s a clean and natural product.
Is summer your favorite time of the year? The warm weather, longer days, and pool or beach time almost makes every day feel like a vacation even when you’re working during the week (almost!). But with the warm weather comes an unwelcome visitor: summer breakouts.
If you’re prone to breakouts when you’ve got that sweaty layer on you and think there’s nothing much to do about it, we’ve got some good (and bad) news for you.
Okay, first the bad news: you’re probably going to breakout this summer, especially if you have sensitive skin to begin with. Whether it’s the sweating, the layers of sunscreen (yes, we mean layers!), or irritation from chlorinated pools (or less than clean oceans), zits will probably happen. But your best defense is a good offensive strategy. Even though there’s no guarantee to keep them away, you may at least, keep summer breakouts manageable. Here’s how.
- SPF: I know I just said sunscreen can make you breakout, and it can if it’s heavy, greasy, or loaded with synthetic chemicals that can irritate skin. But protection from the sun also means less irritated, and thus less sensitive, skin. Use a light SPF moisturizer especially around the T-zone region where breakouts can be more common in the heat.
- Reduce exfoliation: Well-exfoliated skin tans more evenly, but it can also make your skin more sensitive, particularly if it’s sensitive to begin with. And, it can also cause your skin to produce more oil, increasing the risk of breakouts. So, if you’re exfoliating twice a week, cut down to once a week or once every ten days or go even longer if you can.
- Tone instead: A good toner is like a more mild exfoliant and can help to unclog pores, detoxify, and soothe irritated skin. Plus, it can keep your skin cool (especially a spray toner), which means less sweating and less the skin is prone to breakouts.
- Go natural: Yes, summertime is filled with more fun events and parties you likely want to look good for, but makeup, particularly foundation, powders, and blushes, can make your skin extremely irritated. Makeup can clog your pores causing breakouts, and in the heat of summer bacteria is also more likely to spread between makeup and brushes, so be sure to clean yours often.
- Wash your face regularly: While overwashing the skin can lead to breakouts similar to overexfoliating (removing the healthy oils), in summer, it can reduce the breakout risk. Not only do you want to get rid of the oil and sweat, but there’s also the environmental grime, pollen, etc, you’re exposed to by being outside more often. You’ll feel it – the urge to wash your face isn’t just the body wanting to cool off, it’s a legit reaction to wanting to be cleaned. All the more reason to reduce your makeup for the season, and carry a good toner and SPF moisturizer in your bag because you’re going to need them.
- Stay hydrated: This is an easy one for most of us during the summer, but it’s worth repeating. Well-hydrated skin is healthy skin, so make sure you’re getting your eight glasses in every day.
- Moisturizing masks: If your skin is mostly cooperative you can help to keep the momentum going by doing a deeply hydrating moisture mask, whether it’s a store-bought one or a mashed avocado and banana face mask. Adding moisture to the skin keeps it from overproducing it on its own, and that’s going to make it less likely to breakout. But if you’re battling a flare-up, don’t do a mask. Spot treat, relax, and do your best to enjoy the weather regardless.
Check out our favorites for summer skin:
Argan & Yarrow Mineral Sunscreen
Coconut Milk Safflower Cleanser
Lavender Licorice Toner
Is there any word more dangerous than “natural”? It means so much and technically so little at the same time. Especially when it comes to our beauty products.
Just because there’s no federally mandated regulation for the word “natural” doesn’t mean it isn’t a useful term. In some cases it can be the distinguishing factor between a completely artificial and potentially harmful product, and one that’s, well, not.
Organic certification is difficult for personal care products for many reasons. Because they often contain a lot of water (which is not organic), the volume of organic ingredients can be overshadowed by the presence of water. Other ingredients, like baking soda, salt, zinc oxide aren’t sourced from living things (i.e. plants) making them ineligible for organic certification.
Enter the word “natural” which has often come to mean what isn’t in a product as much as it means what is in there. The absence of synthetic chemicals, not necessarily the presence of organic ingredients, is one of the more common reasons you’ll see “natural” on your fave beauty products. And it’s worthwhile to take a peek at the label—especially when it comes to these three beauty products.
“Natural” beauty products can often contain a lot of truly natural ingredients–we’re talking emollient oils and butters straight from plants like shea butter, cacao butter, jojoba, almond, sunflower, or apricot oils. And speaking of oils, a product that gets its fragrance from essential oils instead of synthetic fragrance isn’t just good for your health–you’ll immediately smell the difference. And chances are, you’ll love the smell of nature at its finest.
Of course, it’s the health reasons that make making the switch so significant. Are you ready to go natural?
The Top 3 Beauty Products You Need to Make Sure are Completely Natural
- Deodorant – If you’re still a die-hard antiperspirant and deodorant person, consider this your intervention. Conventional deodorants have been linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer. They contain endocrine disrupting chemicals that can throw off your body’s hormonal system, leading to mood swings, weight gain, and reproductive issues, as well as the C word. Your underarms contain sweat glands (duh) and they can absorb and retain these chemicals to damaging effect, particularly if you shave your pits and then apply the chemicals soon after. Do your bod a favor and make the switch to a natural deodorant ASAP.
- Hair Care – Whether it’s shampoo and conditioner, styling products, or hair coloring, we give our tresses a beat down, regularly. Not only do synthetic chemical products strip our hair of natural oils, leading to more dryness, frizz, and breakage, but it can also leach harmful toxins into our bodies, particularly if they come in contact with our scalp (which they do). From the formaldehyde in straightening products to the phthalates and parabens in shampoos, you put your health at risk every time you use a conventional hair care product. There’s a reason pregnant women are advised not to color treat, relax, or perm their hair—these chemicals go straight to our reproductive system and our babies. Fortunately, there are many effective natural hair care products that can get the job done without the risk.
- Skin Crèmes – Whether it’s your favorite under eye treatment, moisturizing face cream, or the super rich stuff you lather into your elbows and knees, skin crème can be loaded with petroleum byproducts and ingredients damaging to the skin and the planet. Considering you likely use a skin crème daily, the quality of the ingredients is a serious issue. Add to that your sunscreen, which may include chemicals that cause skin irritation and inflammation, and you’re setting your skin up for disaster. You know, but no pressure! The good news is that there are so many brands (ahem) making lux, rich, and super amazing skin crème products that will make you never want to look at conventional skincare again.
Looking to make the switch now?
Natural hair care
Ginko and pumpkin crème
Seaweed and algae moisturizer
Birthdays should come only once a year (at the most!). But celebrating Earth Day only once a year seems a little, well, illogical. After all, it’s our home—would we only clean our house once a year? Or be thankful that we have a roof over our head only annually? Of course not. Most of us love nothing more than locking the door, queueing up the Netflix, popping up that organic popcorn, DIYing a killer face mask, and celebrating the little pleasures that take place inside our home. So why let Earth Day happen only as often as our (dreaded) birthdays?
Fortunately, we can easily make every day Earth Day—from recycling like a fiend, eating organic and local food, using a fuel-efficient vehicle, and in our body care products. Yes, our skincare. Our shampoo and conditioner—even (and especially!) our deodorant.
If that last one seems a little strange, let’s dive a little deeper into why your beauty care choices matter for the planet.
First and foremost, ingredients matter. If you’re still using synthetic chemical-based personal care products—you’re putting your health at risk. There are countless studies linking common chemical ingredients in personal care products to health issues as mild as rashes and allergies to life-threatening cancer risks. You can’t exactly be a beacon of good for the planet if your own health isn’t optimal. But there’s another issue: many of these synthetic chemicals are produced in labs with limited resources that have toxic effects on the planet (looking at you, petroleum byproducts). Other ingredients that wind up in our waterways can be harmful to marine life, including our vital coral reefs.
Natural ingredients, on the other hand—whether that’s sustainably harvested shea butter, organic essential oils, or coconut-based soaps—come from renewable resources. If they’re sourced from organic producers, they contribute to healthier soil and pollinator habitats. They cause considerably less pollution (if any), and are much friendlier to our oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams.
Also consider another key component of personal care products: packaging. While most conventional products come in plastic—a petroleum byproduct deeply linked to environmental damage—many natural personal care brands opt for more sustainable packaging such as glass. While there are issues with glass, too—mainly the weight in shipping, which uses more fossil fuels—there are pros not just for the planet, but for our health, too. And every bit helps move us toward a cleaner system overall. A box that uses recycled paper and soy-based inks is one less product using virgin paper and petroleum or coal-based inks.
Supporting natural body care product companies doesn’t always mean you’re supporting a small business, but if often does. Small businesses help to shift our economy toward local, U.S. made products, and many have environmental or social causes tied to their products, making them an even healthier choice for the planet and everyone on it.