Give Yourself a Farmers’ Market Facial

farmers marketDuring the summer months, I love visiting my local farmers’ market and stocking-up on loads of fresh local produce to feed my body (and my skin!) all the supportive nutrients it needs to be healthy.

The fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers are all at their best, and many are grown organically.

But, did you know that fresh fruits and vegetables can also help to feed your skin from the outside-in?

Fresh produce is perfect for making natural beauty products.

Here are some simple facial masks you can create using farm-fresh ingredients…

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are mildly acidic, so they make an excellent astringent for oily skin. They are also a good cure for blackheads.

Using a clean cotton-wool ball, spread a thin and even layer of fresh tomato juice over your face and neck. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then rinse well with tepid water.

For sensitive skin, you may want to use yellow tomatoes instead of red because they contain less acid.

Raspberries

Fresh raspberries make a great after-sun facial mask. Lightly mashed, their juice soothes and refreshes tired skin. you may want to mix the fresh juice with a small amount of honey for even better effects.

Spread the mixture onto your skin and let it sit for 15 – 20 minutes, then rinse with warm water.

strawberry face maskStrawberries

Strawberries make a wonderful skin-softening facial because they contain salicylic acid which rids the skin of dead cells, allowing it to absorb more moisture. They can also be useful in clearing spots and blemishes.

Mash a handful of strawberries and mix with enough fresh milk and cornflour to create a smooth paste. Spread the mixture over your face and relax for 20 minutes, then rinse well with warm water.

Melon

Honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon all make wonderful, light facial masks. Melons contain vitamins A, B, and C, which keep skin healthy and glowing.

Cut paper-thin slices of melon, lie down, and lay them over your face and neck. Relax for 15 – 20 minutes, then remove the melon slices and rinse your skin with cool water.

Peaches

Peaches are especially soothing and nourishing for dry skin.

Mash a fresh peach and combine with a little fresh cream or yoghurt to make a smooth paste. Spread the mixture over your face and neck, and let it sit for 15 – 20 minutes. Rinse well with tepid water.

Corn

The high protein and fat content of corn helps to soothe dry skin.

Grate and ear of corn and strain off the milky liquid. Pat this onto your skin and let it sit for 15 – 20 minutes, then rinse with cool water.

Have you tried these recipes? Or have you got a recipe of your own? We’d love to hear your thoughts so leave a comment below…

Until next time,

Much love from Sami x

 

 

The Wonder of Your Skin

I love skin. I find it absolutely fascinating.

Seriously, your skin is amazing – the things it does for you, the protection it gives you, even the skin problems your may experience are a cry for help from your body.

Your skin is the largest and one of the most important organs of your body which performs some essential functions such as protection, hydration, sensation and temperature-regulation. The internal structure of your skin, however, is even more interesting.

The Skin is an ever-changing organ that contains many specialized cells and structures.  The skin functions as a protective barrier that interfaces with a sometimes-hostile environment.  It is also very involved in maintaining the proper temperature for the body to function well.  It gathers sensory information from the environment, and in plays an active role in the immune system protecting us from disease.

Understanding how the skin can function in these many ways starts with understanding the structure of the 3 layers of skin – the epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous tissue. So, today, let me share some of my fascination with you. I invite you to discover some of the main structural features of your own skin…

 

This is a very simplified representation of what your skin looks like (I could go much more in-depth), but already I’m sure you’re getting an idea of all the processes which go on under the surface.

Layers of skin

Your skin is composed of two main layers, the epidermis and dermis, that both rest on the subcutaneous (underlying) tissues.

  • The epidermis is the outer (or uppermost) layer of the skin and is made up of outer dead skin cells and deeper living cells. The melanocyte (special cells) within the epidermis produces melanin giving color to the skin and helps protect it from ultraviolet light
  • The dermis is found beneath the epidermis and makes up bulk (90 percent) of your skin.
  • The epidermis and dermis sit on the subcutaneous layer (subcutaneous means beneath the skin), composed largely of fat, through which the blood vessels and nerves run. The roots of the oil and sweat glands are located here.

Glands of skin

There are two main types of glands in your skin.

  • Sebaceous oil glands are distributed throughout the skin but are mostly concentrated in the scalp, face, mid-chest, and genitals. They are attached to the hair follicles and secrete an oily substance (sebum) that lubricates and protects the skin.
  • Sweat glands are distributed throughout the body but their greatest number is found in the palms, soles of the feet, forehead, and underarms. They secrete at times of stress, emotion, or in the presence of a warmer environment.

Special structures of skin

  • Each hair grows from a single follicle which has its roots in the subcutaneous tissue of the skin. The oil glands next to hair follicles provide gloss and, to some degree, waterproofing of the hair. Hair also contains melanin. The number of melanin granules in the hair determines its colour. Malnutrition can cause damage to the hair.
  • Fingernails and toenails are part of the epidermis and are composed of the protein, keratin. Each nail grows outward from a nail root that extends back into the groove of the skin. With malnutrition, after an injury, or chemotherapy, the nail formation is impaired.

Types of skin

Depending on your heredity, your genetic make-up and your lifestyle, you skin can be of one of the following types…

  • Oily skin is caused by over activity of the sebaceous glands which could be due to a number of factors. Oily skin is thick with large pores and has a greater tendency to develop acne, but not wrinkles. Most people, who have oily skin, also have oily hair.
  • Dry skin is caused by under activity of the sebaceous glands (which, again, could be due to a number of reasons), environmental conditions, or normal ageing. Dry skin is usually thinner and more easily irritated. There is a greater tendency to develop wrinkles, but not acne (though acne can occur in dry skin types).
  • Balanced or “normal” skin is neither oily nor dry. It is smooth and has fine texture –– with few problems. However, it has a tendency to become dry as a result of environmental factors and ageing
  • Combination skin consists of oily regions, often on the forehead and around the nose, and regions that are balanced or dry.

That was a super-quick look at your skin and its main characteristics and functions, but I hope I’ve managed to ignite a flicker of interest in you. As I said, and as I’m sure you’re starting to realise, your skin is AMAZING. And as such, it deserves to be loved and supported in all of the functions it performs.

 

Summer Scents

Today I’m sharing with you one of the articles I wrote for Australia’s Fashion Weekly magazine. I wrote this a few months ago, as we were coming into spring time, but it still has relevance today.

In this article, I look some of the fragrances we often associate with the summer months, and how these scents can have an effect on our mind and our emotions.

Here’s the article…

Smile!Summer Scents

As winter ends and we head into spring and summer, we naturally want to shed the blues we feel during the colder, duller months. We want to be free of the confining layers of heavy clothing, and we want to get outdoors in the sunshine. We want to lift and refresh ourselves – mind body and spirit.

Using the fragrance of essential oils is a great way to “brush away the cobwebs”, lift the spirits and refresh the mind. If you imagine eating oranges and getting that sense that everything is okay, well this is the juicy fragrance of the orange essential oil (contained within the skin of the fruit) working its magic.

Here are some of my favourite summer scents…

Bergamot has an uplifting character and is great for combating anxiety, depression and nervous tension. Try Freyaluna’s Bergamot Lip, Face & Body Balm – our balms can be used as traditional lip balms, or for myriad other skincare situations (check out this article for more information).

Geranium is a tonic to the nervous system. It helps to dispel anxiety and depression, lift the spirits and reduce stress. Try Freyaluna’s Honey Hand Cream with added geranium essential oil – use it regularly to extend the effects of this scent.

Mint (especially peppermint) helps to cool a relieve anger and hysteria, and is excellent for refreshing a tired mind. Try Freyaluna’s Spearmint & Lime Herbal Soap – if you find it difficult to start your day, using our minty soap in the shower each morning can give you that wake-up you need.

Neroli – the queen of essential oils (and one of my favourites) – is soothing to highly emotional states such as hysteria or shock, eases chronic anxiety, depression and stress, and is said to instill a feeling of euphoria. Tell me, who doesn’t want some of that?! Try Freyaluna’s Smile! Bath & Body Oil – add to your bath water, lie back and relax.

Orange, as we mentioned before, is the scent to spread a little sunshine on gloomy thoughts. It helps to dispel tension and stress, and encourage a positive outlook. Try Freyaluna’s Geranium & Orange Foot Cream – a wonderfully moisturising treatment for feet, while giving you the emotional benefits of the uplifting scents as well.

Ylang-ylang is useful to ease feelings of anger and anxiety, and helps to promote feelings of joy. Try Freyaluna’s Simple Pleasures Body Butter Bar – trust me, it’s like finding a tiny piece of heaven when this is rubbed into aching shoulders!

You can harness the refreshing and uplifting effects of these scents in a number of ways; using them in perfume is, perhaps, the obvious choice. But you could also find them in skincare products – even something as simple as a natural scented lip balm can give positive therapeutic results.

But you know the absolute best way? Get a massage using these essential oils – you’ll not only get the benefits to the mind and spirit, but to your body as well. Plus, the actual action of massage helps to remove any stress and anxiety caught up in your muscles. And it doesn’t even need to be by a professional therapist, just ask your partner to give you a relaxing shoulder rub; just tell him I said so!

Now I want to hear from you… What’s your favourite summery scent? And what effect does it have on your mood? Leave a comment below.

Are Olives Healthy?

I’m addicted to olives. Seriously. Addicted. I absolutely love them – you know the ones you get from the Farmer’s Market where they’re displayed in their many enticing varieties… Yum!

But a couple of weeks ago, my partner, whom I’ve introduced to olives and now shares in my addiction, asked me a simple question… Are olives healthy? “Yes,” I said. And then went on vaguely about them being a fruit, so they must be healthy.

But that question got me thinking… The many wonderful health benefits of olive oil have been known for centuries. But, olives themselves, don’t seem to get as must press… So are the fruit of the olive tree as good for our health as their oil?

Hold on to your hats, we’re about to get a bit scientific!

Dozens of health-protective nutrients have been identified in olives. Greek-style black olives, Spanish-style green olives, Kalamata-style olives, and many different methods of olive preparation provide us with valuable amounts of many different antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients. While there are trade-offs that occur during olive ripening and olive curing—for example, decreased oleuropein with advanced stages of ripening yet increased amounts of anthocyanins—it’s impossible to rule out any single type of olive as being unworthy of consideration as a uniquely health-supportive food, particularly in terms of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Olives are a remarkable source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. Most prominent are two simple phenols (tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol) and several terpenes (especially oleuropein, erythrodiol, uvaol, oleanolic acid, elenoic acid and ligstroside). Flavonoids (including apigenin, luteolin, cyanidins, and peonidins) are typically provided in valuable amounts by lives, as are hydroxycinnamic acids like caffeic acid, cinnamic acid, ferulic acid, and coumaric acid. The phytonutrient content of olives depends upon olive variety, stage of maturation, and post-harvest treatment. Olives are a very good source of monounsaturated fat (in the form of oleic acid) and a good source of iron, copper, and dietary fibre.

Antioxidant Benefits

Olives are a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E, and they also contain small amounts of antioxidant minerals like selenium and zinc. However, it’s the phytonutrient content of olives that makes them unique as an antioxidant-rich food.

Perhaps the best-studied antioxidant phytonutrient found in olives is oleuropein. Oleuropein is found exclusively in olives, and it’s been shown to function as an antioxidant nutrient in a variety of ways. Intake of oleuropein has been shown to decrease oxidation of LDL cholesterol; to scavenge nitric oxide (a reactive oxygen-containing molecule); to lower several markers of oxidative stress; and to help protect nerve cells from oxygen-related damage.

Interestingly, there may be common trade-offs made in the levels of different olive antioxidants during the maturation of olives on the tree. For example, the vitamin E content of olives may increase during early ripening when the total phenolic antioxidants in olives are slightly decreasing. Later on in the maturation process, these trends may be reversed.

Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

In addition to their function as antioxidants, many of the phytonutrients found in olives have well-documented anti-inflammatory properties. Extracts from whole olives have been shown to function as anti-histamines at a cellular level. By blocking special histamine receptors (called H1 receptors), unique components in whole olive extracts help to provide us with anti-inflammatory benefits. Oleuropein – one of the unique phytonutrients found in olives – has been shown to decrease the activity of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), an enzyme whose over-activity has been associated with unwanted inflammation.

The anti-inflammatory benefits of olives have been given special attention in the area of cardiovascular health. In heart patients, olive polyphenols have been determined to lower blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is a widely used blood measurement for assessing the likelihood of unwanted inflammation. Olive polyphenols have also been found to reduce activity in a metabolic pathway called the arachidonic acid pathway, which is central for mobilizing inflammatory processes.

Anti-Cancer Benefits

The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of olives make them a natural for protection against cancer because chronic oxidative stress and chronic inflammation can be key factors in the development of cancer. If our cells get overwhelmed by oxidative stress (damage to cell structure and cell function by overly reactive oxygen-containing molecules) and chronic excessive inflammation, our risk of cell cancer is increased. By providing us with rich supplies of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, olives can help us avoid this dangerous combination of chronic oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.

Research on whole olives and cancer has often focused on two cancer types: breast cancer and stomach (gastric) cancer. In the case of breast cancer, special attention has been paid to the triterpene phytonutrients in olives, including erythrodiol, uvaol and oleanolic acid. These olive phytonutrients have been shown to help interrupt the life cycle of breast cancer cells. Interruption of cell cycles has also been shown in the case of gastric cancer.

Skincare benefits

And, of course, all of these antioxidant and anti-inflammation properties are good news for our skin as well.

The most common skin complaints seen today – acne, eczema, psoriasis, even rosacea – can be seen as inflammatory diseases. Toxic build-up within our bodies triggers inflammation as a protective response; a way for our cells and tissues to cushion themselves from the worst of the toxic attack. But, as a side effect, this inflammation also causes the skin problems which have become so common.

And I’m sure we’ve all heard about the antioxidant effects on premature ageing. As we age, our skin naturally gradually loses many of its properties. Antioxidants help to slow this ageing process by neutralising the damaging effects of our environment.

Let’s Get Down & Dirty… With a Mud Bath!

As I’m sure you’re aware by now (I do keep going on about it, don’t I), I recently took a short holiday to Turkey’s Marmaris coast. A whole week of sun, sea, and no work whatsoever… bliss.

Anyway, while I was there, I had the opportunity to take a river boat trip to visit the natural sulphuric mud baths and hot springs.

As a natural skincare specialist aware of the benefits of mud, obviously I was intrigued. I definitely couldn’t miss this chance.

The Dalyan river is beautiful – a stretch of calm waters flanked by reed beds where I was lucky enough to spot a few turtles, backed by picturesque mountain scenery.

As we drifted along towards the mud baths in our open-sided boat, Hus, our guide for the day, explained that the mud contains minerals such as calcium and magnesium which are beneficial for the skin and overall health.

I was so excited to try the mud baths for myself, and I knew I’d just have to tell you all about the experience!

Now, I’ll admit, the first impression of the mud baths is not appealing – a shallow pool of dirty-looking water and the strong “rotten egg” smell of the sulphur hardly screams good health, does it?

But I was a woman on a mission, so in I went.

mud bath

Covered in mud

The idea is that you bathe in the pool, cover yourself from top to toe in the thick mud, then sit in the sun and wait for the mud to dry. As the sun warms your body, the heat helps your pores to open and the beneficial minerals can be absorbed. 

Drying in the sun

There are outdoor showers available to wash the mud off, but the far more fun way to clean you is to jump in the river!

This treatment, which can be found in salons around the globe, can have amazing benefits for all sorts of skin problems; eczema and psoriasis being the most obvious, as well as other health complaints such as arthritis.

Thankfully, I wasn’t suffering with any particular skin or health problems at the time, but nevertheless, for the rest of the day, and even for a few weeks afterwards, I could definitely feel the difference in my skin – it was soft and smooth and just felt lovely.

If you ever get the chance to indulge in a mud bath, be it in a salon or on a trip to Turkey, I strongly urge you to go for it; you’ll love the results.

After my mud bath experience, and washing in the river, I took a dip in the hot spring – a thoroughly relaxing experience – but that’s story for another day.

Oh, and yes, that is me in the photos, covered in mud!

Now I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you ever had the chance to experience the wonders of a mud bath? Leave a comment below.