Saturday, July 24, 2010

Spa Girl’s last blog in the series on what’s in your moisturizer?

This series of blogs has been fun to research and I have learned so much about what to look for in a good moisturizer. As you can see from the chart, here is a great list of all other ingredients that can be found in your moisturizer such as colourants, fragrances, chemicals and preservatives and more.

Avocado, pumpkin seed oil, chlorophyll, chamomile, rose hip and calendula oils all provide natural, nutrient rich colours to your moisturizer and are great for the skin. On the other hand synthetic colours, which are often used to enhance the look of a product, can cause allergic reactions in some people. Some even contain heavy metals which may be carcinogenic so make sure to double check the ingredient list before you buy.

I am not keen to purchase a moisturizer with a heavy fragrance, working in a fragrance-free environment has heighted my senses to intense perfume smells and most fragrances in skin care product are synthetic. If you enjoy a little sent make sure the blends are from natural essential oils which also have the benefit of having therapeutic properties.

Methyl, propyl, butyl and ethyl are all parabens. Parabens are often used for their ability to preserve the shelf life of a product, and prevent bacterial and fungal contamination. Careful research will help you understand which ingredients you should look for when it comes to preservatives as they can be problematic, causing allergic reactions or irritation. I always think less is better when it comes to preservatives.

When selecting a great product I look for it to be certified organic, include all natural ingredients, no synthetics, no pesticides, GMO, or animal testing, cold formulated and if, on top of all of this, the company is also a good community citizen, supporting and giving back, even better!

Spa Girls suggests switching to an organic skin care product, your face and good health will thank you for it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Spa Girl says check out Thai Herbal Massage lukprakob

Herbs, aromatherapy and natural medicines have long intrigued me. This is not to say I am opposed to traditional medicine, but when a forward thinking institution employs both, especially in western society, I am really impressed.

Herbs are an important part of many cultures including Thailand. Used to both enhance the flavours of food and as an essential part of Thai medicine to energize and balance the body one of the most interesting uses of herbs is found in Thai herbal massage.

Thai herbal massage incorporates a customized blend of Thai herbs bundled in muslin which are placed over steam, releasing the aromatic and therapeutic properties. Applied to the skin along with herbal massage oils, this massage stimulates the respiratory system while relieving tension and soreness for a relaxing and soothing experience. Thai herb bundles, known as lukprakob, incorporate a number of herbs such as: Aromatic Salisb, Derris Scandens Benth, Zingiber cassumunar, Cassumunar, Camphor, Borneo camphor, Cinnamon, Citronella, Cryptolepis buchannai roem, Curcuma aromatica salisb, Galangal, Lemon Grass, Kaffir lime, Leech lime, Wild Lime, Menthol, Patchouli, Prai Ginger, Tamarind leaves, and Turmeric oil.

It is thought that herbal massage was first introduced into Thailand by monks from India who established the first Buddhist monasteries around 200 B.C. However others believe it originated from rural folk medicine passed from generation to generation by word of mouth. Whatever it’s true origin, Thai herbal massage has retained its popularity and is now being offered in many spas outside of Thailand.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Spa Girl asks “What’s in your Moisturizer”?

Since I love to try out many different types of skin care products—although I do prefer natural/organic blends—I thought it was important to know more about them. Knowing the various ingredients and how they help, or hinter, will definitely help to narrow down the selection of a product that is good for you.

First and foremost to maintain healthy, youthful skin you must have a good cleansing and moisturizing regime. Cleansing not only removes airborne dirt and grime, but cleans away make up and dead skin cells. Cleansing can dry out the skin so it is important to follow up with a good moisturizer which will protect the skin and help it from becoming dry and flakey.

So what is in your moisturizer? In a previous blog I discussed humectants which have properties which help retain moisture, now what about emollients?

Emollients are the oily or fatty part of the moisturizer which prevent dryness and help to soften the skin. They are apart of your moisturizer that when applied remain in the stratum corneum and act as a lubricant.

The stratum corneum is the outermost of the 5 layers of the epidermis and is largely responsible for the vital barrier function of the skin. Before the mid-1970's the stratum corneum was thought to be biologically inert, like a thin plastic sheet protecting the more active lower layers of the skin. In the past 30 years, and especially the past 5 years, scientists have discovered that the biological and chemical activity of the stratum corneum is very intricate and complex. Understanding the structure and function of the stratum corneum is vital because it is the key to healthy skin and its associated attractive appearance.

Plant oils and butters are natural emollients which are also biodegradable and readily absorbed and utilized by the skin. These are the best ingredients to look for in a good moisturizer. Many skin care products however use synthetic emollients because they are not as expensive, these can include mineral oils, paraffin wax and petrolatum based ingredients. Mineral oils however simply coat the skin and can cause irritation as they don’t allow the skin to breathe properly. Silicones such as methicone and dimethicone are other synthetic emollients which can also inhibit the skin’s ability to release toxins and are non-biodegradable.

Everyone loves great looking skin which has a lovely glow to it, so when selecting your moisturizer look at the ingredient list and make sure the section on emollients are going to work for you.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Spa Girl asks French Pedicure or not?

I have written a few blogs on the importance of paying attention to your feet, including my all time favourite on “fishy pedicures”.

Having a pedicure has to be one of the most relaxing, and healthy spa treatments there is. Soaking away your aches and pains in warm water enhanced with sea salts or sea weed, care and attention to your nails, calluses and the likes, and a soothing foot massage using a multitude of scrubs and heavenly creams. But when it comes to selecting a polish, there seems to be a great debate—French pedicure or not!

The French pedicure has been around for a long time. Its history dates back to the late 1800’s in Paris. It became extremely popular in the 1920’s and 1930’s. For more than a century now, this fashion statement had stood the test of time and is still a favorite for women all over the world—including myself.

Since I was a child I have had my toes painted in every colour under the rainbow. Several years ago when my nails were looking yellow and dull from all the chemicals found in several highly coloured polishes I decided to spend the time to refurbish them with a French pedicure and I have never looked back. I love the clean, and frankly very sexy look, but it is the simplicity of this style that continues to win me over.

I am however very fussy about my foot care treatment and insist that my nails are cut short, they are after all toes. I also make sure the spa and all the tools are clean. There are many health benefits to looking after your feet as fungi and germs will be eliminated during this treatment not to mention the importance of buffing down calluses and sloughing away the dead skin. I also love to add a hot oil paraffin wax treatment which helps smooth rough skin and leaves my feet feeling like silk. The warm paraffin was also stimulates circulation and promotes healthy growth of nails.

Selecting a polish is a very personal choice which can be influenced by the fashion industry; age (got to loves those blues, purples and blacks); and popular culture. However the most important thing about your choice of polish is that when you look down, you love the look of your healthy well manicured feet.

Here are some links to Spa Girl's suggestions for great feet!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Spa Girl thinks about Humectants…

Emollients, humectants, detergents, colourants, fragrance, preservatives, parabens, lanolin, talc, do you know what’s in your skin cream?

I attempt to use primarily organic skin care products and have done so for several years now. Cleansing the skin of chemically based products can take several weeks, but you will see a visible difference in your skin once you go green!

Truly organic formulations will contain plant-based oils, waxes, essentials oils and nothing more. Water is the main ingredient found in most skin care products, but water based products do require preservatives.

Skin creams are designed to keep your skin moist; therefore they must have humectants properties. So what are humectants? Collagen, elastin and keratin usually sourced from animals are widely used humectants that help draw and hold onto moisture. Glycerin and lecithin on the other hand are natural plant based humectants. Glycerin is a by product of the soap-making process and lecithin is a natural phospholipids. These natural phospholipids don’t built up on the skin and allow it to breathe. There are synthetic humectants, such as propylene glycol, but they can cause skin irritation.

The skin is a complicated structure with many functions, knowing its composition and knowing your skin care products is essential in taking care of your skin.

Check out this site for some great information.