I remember when I was a pre-teen, being told that if I started shaving my legs, my hair will grow back coarser. And I heard it again from a friend of mine just a few months ago, although this time we were talking about my facial hair. It’s okay, go ahead and laugh! I know the other half of you are nodding in understanding. Either is fine. If you can’t laugh at yourself, especially while aging, the next 30-40 years are going to be pretty sad. And just to be clear, I wasn’t planning on shaving my face but using an eyebrow razor for touch ups.
I’ve also heard that once you start shaving, your hair grows back faster. So, are these things true? I thought I should test this out by not shaving one side of my body for a month and then compare. Afterall, it’s not shorts weather yet. But then I realized that after shaving for several years that this may impact the results. And I didn’t want to suffer for nothing, so I decided to just research it instead, much to the relief of my husband I’m sure!
The first website that appears in my search results is Gillette. Not exactly scientific but, of all people, they should be experts. And what’s the likelihood I’ll find a scientific study on shaving anyway?? Gillette says that even though your hair may feel thicker when it grows back in, it really isn’t. It just feels and looks that way because of the blunt end of the hairs that were left behind by the razor. Gillette also says that shaving doesn’t make your hair grow back faster. However, your genes will affect your hair thickness and growth rate.
The Mayo Clinic backs this up, adding that your hair doesn’t darken with shaving either.
Scientific American explains that your hair shaft is shaped like a pencil that tapers at the end. If you cut that pencil you leave a blunt end which makes it feel and look thicker. They also cite a couple of studies that were done on shaving. One involved collecting shaved facial hairs from men and measuring them. The other study was again on men, but here they shaved one leg weekly for several months and weighed the hair. These studies concluded that shaving does not make your hair grow faster or thicker.
So, now you can confidently continue shaving without worry about ever looking like a gorilla!
Interesting fact: Your armpit hair grows twice as fast as your leg hair.
Cannabis products have been all the rage as of late and topical products are no exception. They are used for pain and inflammation and in skincare. I’m going to give you an overview of the active components of cannabis, the types of oils available and what they’re good for.
First, a little science. Bear with me here, as there has been a lot of confusion created by marketing; either to avoid problems with governments or to fool you, the consumer. There are two types of cannabis plants. First, there’s Cannabis indica which is a typical marijuana plant. Second, there is Cannabis sativa, another type of marijuana plant but also the name for the hemp plant. And most marijuana plants are now hybrids. These plants contain over 100 hundred types of cannabinoids (chemical compounds).
TetraHydroCannabinol (THC) is the best known and is psychoactive (can make you stoned, paranoid, etc.) and can be used for:
CannaBiDiol (CBD) is non-psychoactive and can be used for:
Cannabis or marijuana oil can be made from dried flowers/buds and infused into oil. It can be used as is or in a lotion or balm and applied topically, without a psychoactive effect. THC works topically by binding to our pain receptors and it won’t reach the bloodstream, preventing any psychoactive effects. These oils contain both THC and CBD and relieve localized pain, muscle soreness, arthritis, headaches, cramping and inflammation but are said to be most effective for nerve pain. From my personal experience and from the experience of others, it can start relieving pain in as little as five seconds (and longer, depending on how deep the pain is). The amount of THC and CBD will vary depending on the strain of the cannabis plant used but you can expect 5-27% THC and less than 1-15% CBD in the flowers themselves. The oil would contain less as some would be left behind in the flowers. I can’t confirm the proper naming for the ingredients label but the one I make for my husband I label as Cannabis indica (flower) extract. You may also find Cannabis sativa (flower) extract but remember, this may also refer to the hemp plant.
CBD oil can come from the marijuana or hemp plant and has a higher amount of CBD (18-24%) and less than 0.3% THC. If you’re buying this, make sure you’re getting actual CBD oil and not hemp oil. It should be listed as cannabidiol, full spectrum hemp, hemp oil or phytocannibinoid rich (PCR) hemp extracts in the list of ingredients. You may also find broad spectrum which is full spectrum CBD that is THC free.
Hemp (seed) oil is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant (a variety of the cannabis plant) and contains less than 0.3% THC and trace amounts of CBD and is high in vitamin E. It’s good for dry, irritated skin and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is used in cooking and skincare products. This is listed as cannabis sativa (seed) oil on the ingredients list.
For skincare, little scientific information is available. Beauty magazines report that CBD is beneficial for acne as it helps with inflammation and decreases sebum production as well as for anti-aging as it contains antioxidants. Many other plant oils have the same benefits and CBD oil hasn’t been proven to be superior to other sources. CBD oil is also said to be soothing and suitable for sensitive skin.
Research has been limited to studies on allergic and post-herpes skin reactions and pain relief. It may help psoriasis, some types of dermatitis and itching, wounds, pimples, corns, certain nail fungus, rheumatism, sore throat, bronchitis, colds, asthmatic problems with breathing, cancer, aging (study was done on mice), etc.
Did you know our bodies produce endocannibinoids? These are similar to cannibinoids and they affect your sleep, mood, appetite, memory, metabolism, pain, inflammation, motor control, stress and reproduction as well as other systems.
20% of the population has a genetic mutation that releases our endocannibinoids into our bloodstream which makes topicals less effective. My observations lead me to believe that people with high pain thresholds, who are happy all the time, good sleepers, frequent eaters and have memory problems are likely to have this mutation.
Our bodies production of endocannibinoids may reduce with age. Eating essential fatty acids (hemp, flax, chia, walnuts, sardines, anchovies, eggs), chocolate, herbs, spices and tea stimulates production. Meditation, yoga, massage, sunlight, masturbation (presumably sex too), exercise, social time and play time also helps. Avoid pesticides, phthalates and moderate to high alcohol consumption which will impact your production.
Now that marijuana products are legal, I have high hopes that more research will be done!
I’m not usually into fads and gimmicks, which is why it took me so long to try a facial roller. It was finally too pretty to resist....and I got it on sale!
The packaging claimed this:
I was surprised it didn’t cook and clean too. With a list that long, I became more skeptical. I wanted to know what actual benefits I might see so I popped on over to Google. Here’s what the experts say:
I pull it out of the box and read the directions, which basically says how to hold it and that you don’t have to apply much pressure. On my first use, it feels calming like a face massage. And the cold stone feels nice on my sleepy, puffy eyes first thing in the morning.
The experts also recommend that you roll from the centre of your face outward, towards your lymph glands. Some also say that you must start with your neck to clear any lymph build up. I tried this and it doesn’t feel pampering anymore. I’m concentrating on how to roll it instead of using it where it feels good. After a few days I decide to roll like I did on my first day and finish in the direction of lymph glands.
You can use it daily or up to three times a week for a few minutes at the most. You can also use it to apply serums and lotions.
Finally, facial rollers come in different materials. Jade protects against negative energy and balances your chi. Rose quartz promotes love and healing, is calming, dispels negativity energy and protects from environmental pollution. Obsidian shields and protects our skin and our minds against negative energy. Or just pick your favourite colour!
After using it for a month, I don’t really notice any other benefits. It’s a quick little pamper to start your day and feels great when you have a headache. Going forward, I will probably use it for the occasional headache and its cooling effect on my eyes rather than for daily use.
Have you tried a facial roller? What did you think?
We all know alcohol is bad for us but what about for our skin? Isn’t it drying?
It all depends upon the alcohol. Alcohol is a molecule that contains carbon atoms and an oxygen and hydrogen atom (a hydroxyl group), and their names end in ‘ol’. The one we know best, ethanol (or ethyl alcohol), is a product of fermentation and is drying. Denatured alcohol (where something is added to ethanol to make it undrinkable) is also drying and is used in window cleaner, camp stove fuel, paint removal, etc. Isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol or rubbing alcohol) is created using petroleum-based ingredients or from reducing acetone (TOXNET Toxicology Data Network) and is drying.
Now for the good alcohols. Cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol are fatty alcohols derived from coconut and nuts. These alcohols are emollient, leave your skin soft and smooth and are used as thickeners and co-emulsifiers.
Witch hazel is often obtained from solvent extraction with alcohol and some of it remains in the witch hazel. Store bought witch hazel can contain 15-30% alcohol. Our Facial Toner & Cleanser contains witch hazel and the alcohol content is about 8%. We have recently found some alcohol-free witch hazel which we’ll be using in the future.
Benzyl alcohol is another ingredient you’ll find on many of our labels. It’s an aromatic alcohol and is an ingredient in the natural preservative we use. It is found naturally in plants and essential oils and is safe.
If you’re concerned about dry skin, check the labels of your toners, hand sanitizers, mouthwashes and oily skin care products.
I’ve taken courses on skincare and nutrition and have researched natural medicine and healthy foods. It’s fascinating how our diet affects our body’s health. There are some nutrients you can both ingest and apply topically, some that can only be ingested (or produced by the body) and some that can only be applied topically. Today we’re going to look at how our diet affects our skin, what nutrients the skin needs, what benefits they provide and what foods you can eat.
To maintain healthy skin, you need water, vitamins A, B, C and E, zinc, essential fatty acids and proteins:
Collagen cannot be applied topically as the molecules are too big to absorb through the skin. Collagen doesn’t exist in any food other than homemade bone broth and is instead produced in the body (The Best Way You Can Get More Collagen, Cleveland Clinic). As we get older our body produces less collagen. Here’s what to eat to help boost collagen production:
Zinc can be found in:
These foods contain antioxidants:
Eat many of these different foods and make your skin happy. It will reward you with beautiful, healthy looking skin!
Essential Fatty Acids and Skin Health https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/essential-fatty-acids
The Best Way You Can Get More Collagen https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-best-way-you-can-get-more-collagen/
“There is no single disease which causes more psychic trauma and more maladjustment between parents and children, more general insecurity and feelings of inferiority and greater sums of psychic assessment than does acne vulgaris” (Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine 3rd Edition, 2012).
Wow! Even 20 years after my acne it still reminds me of those feelings. My acne was something I never talked about, but I’m ready to share my story with you now.
My acne started in junior high school and my doctor started me with soaps and cleansers (Neutrogena, pHisoderm and Sea Breeze) and then topicals. No improvement, just acne and drier skin. Then I tried courses of antibiotics (tetracycline, minocycline, erythromycin, etc.). Nada. Finally I tried Accutane in high school. If you’re not familiar with it, it has a long rap sheet of side effects and can cause severe birth defects and liver damage. I was required to be on birth control pills and have my blood and urine tested every month. But it was a miracle, it worked! And back then I didn’t care about the side effects, I just wanted to look normal. I experienced night blindness (which meant I couldn’t drive at night) and dry cracked, bleeding lips. I was on it for a few months and my clear skin lasted for about a year. But it came back, and I was back on it for another round.
Worse than the side effects was the embarrassment, low self-esteem and social stigma. I remember working my cashier job and having customers giving me unsolicited advice. I was told to try sugar paste, baking soda paste and toothpaste. I know they all meant well but it embarrassed me further and each comment was a constant reminder of my acne.
I was told not to eat sweets. I cut sugar out of my diet but it seemed to make no difference.
In a teen magazine, I read an interview with Catherine Bach (who played Daisy Duke in the Dukes of Hazzard - loved that show!) and she talked about how she was an ugly kid. She advised readers that ‘every ugly duckling turns into a beautiful swan’. I held onto that hope for years. I’m certainly no swan but my looks definitely improved.
The school photographers were able to touch up my photos, which made me look better but they felt fake. I threw away any photo of me with acne except a single untouched high school graduation photo, pictured here (complete with bushy eyebrows and permed and back-combed hair!).
My acne problems weren’t over however. Well into my late-twenties I used ProActiv and stayed on the birth control pill which helped keep things in check. These days I still get whiteheads if I’ve had too much sugar or have lost weight (the toxins stored in your fat are released into your bloodstream). As a matter of fact, as I write this I’m experiencing two cysts which I rarely get unless I’ve been eating poorly (I’ve been eating fast food for a couple of days!).
I guess you can say I was left feeling scarred for life. All this time I’ve been covering my face with foundation or a tan, looking but not seeing the marks on my skin. I’m finally ready to face it, to look in the mirror and see my scars and my broken capillaries for what they are.
But enough about me, I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned so far, from experience, research and by reading Clear Skin by Nicholas Perricone, MD.
Let’s start with how acne forms as its important in understanding how to prevent or reduce acne. When there’s an increase in inflammatory chemicals in the cell, proinflammatory cytokines (proteins) are produced by your immune system. Cytokines make the skin cells sticky and trap dead skin cells, clogging the pore (Perricone, N., MD, The Clear Skin Prescription, 2004). This causes sebum and bacteria to build up resulting in a comedo (whitehead or blackhead). A comedo can develop into a papule or pustule, better known as a pimple. These can develop into nodules or cysts.
When we’re stressed, lacking sleep or eating inflammatory foods (not just sugar but high glycemic foods such as juices, white bread, potatoes, white rice, etc.), the hormone cortisol is released, increasing our blood sugar and leading to inflammation (Perricone, N., MD, The Clear Skin Prescription, 2004). Additionally, the hormone androgen exacerbates the condition by increasing sebum production.
In order to reduce inflammation, we need to drink plenty of water, sleep well, reduce stress and consume an anti-inflammatory diet. This diet means low glycemic index foods, moderate amounts of lean protein and unsaturated fats (olive oil, avocados, salmon, nuts and seeds) and plenty of vegetables. Here are some resources to check the glycemic index of foods:
Topical anti-inflammatories can also be used in conjunction with an anti-inflammatory diet. Look for products with alpha lipoic acid, dimethylaminoethanol and glutathione (Perricone, N., MD, The Clear Skin Prescription, 2004).
Another alternative is to look at a face map, especially if your acne occurs in one spot. This is based on Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Think of it like reflexology, where problems with a specific part of your body are a window to an internal problem. This helped me clear up the acne on the tip of my nose. The face map says it may be related to circulation, heart issues or gastrointestinal problems; and as soon as I resumed regular exercise, it cleared up. Here’s a comprehensive face map for you to explore: https://www.muktiorganics.com/blog/face-mapping-how-to-read-your-skin-from-within.
Hopefully one of these more natural ways to deal with your acne works for you. And there’s a bonus. The side effects of eating an anti-inflammatory diet are disease prevention and looking younger!
Last weekend I tried a lotion bar, a face scrub and two face masks from Pinterest recipes. Based on how other recipes turned out, I was a little afraid! Here's what happened:
It was a rainy and snowy weekend so I decided to try out some body care recipes I had pinned on Pinterest. I wasn't very optimistic based on my previous experience but I thought I'd try out products I've never made before. I chose hairspray, a face mask and his and hers shaving creams. Here's what happened:
Come back next week when I try lotion bars, a face scrub and two more face masks!
Have you tried making something from Pinterest? Was it a tragic fail or super success?
You know the feeling. That tingly, prickly sensation you get after applying a skincare product. Reminds me of the days of Sea Breeze! Many people assume that this reaction means that the product is working but that's not necessarily the case.
Products such as chemical exfoliators can tingle for a good reason. Chemical exfoliators may include Alpha Hydroxy Acids (lactic acid, glycolic acid) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (salicylic acid). These acids will usually cause a reaction when they absorb into your skin. These acids have a pH about 3-4 and your skin has a pH of about 5.5 (1 = very acidic, 7 = neutral, 14 = very alkaline) and this causes the skin to become temporarily unbalanced. Applying a lotion or face oil afterward will help rebalance your skin's pH.
Face masks containing menthol, peppermint or camphor can cause stinging. Avoid these if you have sensitive or dry skin.
Other ingredients that can cause tingling are alcohol, surfactants such as SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate) and some preservatives. As well, your skin's barrier function may be weak which makes it susceptible to irritation and inflammation.
If the tingling is mild and doesn't last long then it's probably fine. If the tingling becomes stinging or burning, lasts a long time or causes redness or peeling, it's doing you more harm than good.
For more information see:
Using natural deodorant is a great way to avoid aluminum, parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol and triclosan, etc. However, it's not without its challenges!
First let's talk about body odour. BO is caused by bacteria breaking down our sweat into acids. Sweating is a natural body function that controls body temperature. So no sweat, no BO. But antiperspirants use aluminum which plugs your sweat glands and traps toxins, bacteria and chemicals in your body.
Know those yellow armpit stains? They're not actually from sweat. They are a result of the reaction between sweat and aluminum. No aluminum - no yellow stains. Yes, you can wear white again!!!
Natural deodorant incorporates ingredients that absorb your sweat and are anti-bacterial. You might sweat a little more but toxins are removed in your sweat, bacteria is decreased and you won't stink.
So if you're thinking of switching, here's what you need to know:
Loves living a healthy lifestyle and sharing what she learns along the way.