What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Beauty From the Kitchen

Several years ago during my final pregnancy, I developed the 'mask of pregnancy'.  I thought it would go away and it did somewhat only to return about 15 years ago.  I went to a dermatologist who put me on some lovely creams and told me to never go without the strongest sunblock I could find on my face.  The diagnosis was melasma.  Within days of using the creams, I was sick with severe gastrointestinal upset but never made the connection that it was due to the creams.  I finally stopped using the creams because it was a pain traveling to the dermatologist but I continued to use strong sunblock.  Little did I know back then that the hydroquinone in the creams could result in ochronosis, a skin condition where the blotches turn a blue-black.  Fast forward to present times...

I do not nor have ever used much in the way of make-up.  I use a high SPF sunblock and mineral powder.  I did however use a variety of lotions and potions to lessen the melasma including those with alpha-hydroxy and Vitamin C.  We have a boat, a pool and now spend about 3 months of the year at our vacation home in Florida - none of which are good if you have melasma.  Seriously, a 10 minute sun exposure can easily undo all the hard work over the past year that you did to lighten the melasma.  I discovered the Aveeno Positively Radiant line when we were in Florida early last year.  The results were promising so showed them to one of my kids who promptly asked "Do you know what you are putting on your face?" and showed me the Environmental Workers Group website.  Right then and there I decided to change the way I dealt with my melasma as well as take a more natural approach to skin and hair care, without all the toxic chemicals like: parabens, synthetic fragrances, artificial colours, hair damaging sodium and sulfates, alcohol and silicone.  I turned to the kitchen for help.

For years we have avoided preservatives and all types of food additives preferring to grow organic, preserve our own foods and eat healthy.  Why I did not make the connection that certain chemicals in our shampoos, conditioners and beauty products were toxic when absorbed through the skin, is beyond me.  The impact of taking a more natural approach has saved us a lot of money, reduced our waste, reduces our exposure to BPA an endocrine disruptor, reduces our exposure to petrochemicals, and extra space in the bathrooms.  More importantly, I have seen a reduction in systemic symptoms clearly related to some of the chemicals in the formerly used products AND my melasma has faded to the degree it is almost unnoticeable AND my husbands psoriasis is completely gone!  Here are a few things we use:

  • 100% pure vegetable based soap - I actually make the soap myself so know what is in it. They are made right in my kitchen with vegetable oils, water and lye.  Most cleansing bars sold in the stores are detergent that can end up drying your skin out.  They have artificial scents and colourants.  My soaps use natural colourants and scents (eg. honey, cucumber) and occasionally I add essential oils.  
  • aloe vera - I have always had an aloe vera plant in the kitchen for burns.  Earlier this year I discovered the benefits of aloe vera in Aruba and have been hooked ever since.  Aloe vera actually undoes the damage the sun does in a day.  Not only that, aloe vera is a soothing moisturizer that appears to undo previous sun damage.  I use a lot of aloe vera directly from my kitchen plant simply by cutting a piece and squeezing out the jelly.  I also buy certified organic aloe vera with no parabens, artificial colour or synthetic fragrances at the health food store.
  • lemon juice - One of the ingredients used to lessen the appearance of melasma and age spots is Vitamin C.  I juice a lemon, dry the rind for baking and reserve the juice for my face.  I apply with a 100% cotton make-up pad focusing on the darker blotches.  It does give a bit of a tingle and can cause drying.  Some resources say to leave the lemon juice on for 5 to 10 minutes then wash off but I don't.  The reason being, any cream with Vitamin C is applied then left until night to be washed off and often reapplied then.  I use the lemon juice treatment at least once a day letting it dry on my face.  This method has reduced the appearance of my melasma by about 75%.  Lemon juice can be used as a safe and nature way to get sun streaks in your hair as well.  Just put the lemon juice in your hair where you want the streaks then go and sit in the sun until dry.  Wash out and the streaks are there.  If you want them lighter, repeat.
  • olive oil - Olive oil is amazing!  Not only is it good for you, when combined with cooked tomatoes it makes the anti-oxidant lycopene more accessible for your body.  But olive oil is also a good moisturizer that also helps strengthen your nails.  It is a natural oil that can be used for psoriasis and cradle cap.   I apply olive oil on my face daily.  I simply apply with a cotton pad then let sit for 5 minutes and remove any excess.  It does not clog my pores but leaves my skin soft and silky.  I also rub olive oil into my finger nails to keep them healthy and strong.  We treat any rough skin patches with olive oil as well.  This method has completely cleared up my husband's psoriasis.  Not only that, I use olive oil as a hair treatment.  It can be used as a deep hair treatment by applying to wet hair then wrapping and letting it sit or applied sparingly after styling your hair similar to the way you would use a silicone based shine and frizz reducer product.
  • milk/yogurt - Milk and yogurt contain lactic acid that act as a chemical peel to remove the upper epidermis of your skin to stimulate new skin cell production much the same way the high priced alpha-hydroxy creams work.  I apply the milk or yogurt using a cotton make-up pad then let sit until dry and rinse off.  I do this at night as part of my facial routine.
  • oatmeal - Oatmeal is a staple in our kitchen not only for the health benefits but as a rash cure-all and beauty product.  Anytime we have a rash we turn to oatmeal to soothe the itch while drying out the rash.  As a beauty product, oatmeal soothes itchy skin while acting as an exfoliant to remove dead skin.  
  • honey - Honey is a natural humifacant (moisture attracting) with anti-bacterial properties.  It is wonderful in homemade soaps turning them a rich golden colour with a lovely scent.  However, local unpasteurized honey is one of the best foods you can eat AND it is one of the best things you can use on your skin.  Honey greatly reduces if not entirely eliminates skin problems pimples and white heads.  It really gets to the root of skin problems, bacterial and/or fungal.  At the same time, honey is a great moisturizer for dry skin.  Simply apply local, unpasteurized honey to form a mask on your face.  Let sit for 10 minutes then rinse off.
  • baking soda - Baking soda has a gazillion uses around the house but it is also widely used in cosmetics to help whiten smiles and control personal odours (eg. in foot spray, deodorants).    If you want a brighter, whiter smile all you have to do is brush your teeth with baking soda.  That's it, cheap and effective.  Sprinkle baking soda into your shoes then let sit over night to get rid of odours.  Baking soda is also a very effective shampoo.  It cleans and deodorizes your hair without stripping it of the natural oils.  In fact baking soda is the first part of the No-poo hair treatment.  Simply mix baking soda with with water to form a strong solution.  Shake well just before using then use that to wash your hair.  It does work!
  • apple cider vinegar -  Apple cider vinegar (APC) is a must have almost miracle worker that can stop indigestion and intestinal upsets in their tracts.  Apple cider vinegar is the second component of the No-poo hair treatment, used as a rinse.  It leaves your hair soft and incredibly shiny.  APC also helps to control any scalp conditions like psoriasis, itchy scalp and dandruff because it restores your scalp's natural pH.  If your child comes home with lice. douse the hair and scalp good with APC then wrap in a towel and let sit for a half hour.  Problem solved.  Repeat if necessary but normally you won't have to.  APC is good for ridding the skin of dry patches and you can use it as a facial toner.  It does have anti-bacterial properties so will also help with any skin blemishes.  It also has anti-fungal properties to help clear any athlete's foot or fugal infections that can cause discoloured patches on your skin.
  • avocado - Avocados are rich in Vitamin E and natural oils making them the idea kitchen food for reducing facial blemishes and scars.  Simply mash an avocado and apply it to your face as a mask.  Leave on for about 30 minutes them rinse off.  I do this treatment once a week to give a deep, soothing facial.  A light nap during the treatment helps refresh as well.  I really don't have much in the way of facial blemishes and never have had.  My face is free of scars as well.  However, others have reported this is one of the best treatments for both.  I just like it because my skin feels wonderful afterwards.  Mashed avocado is a very good treatment for dry patches of skin as well as psoriasis because not only does it moisturize it helps in the healing process.


kim said...

I really enjoyed reading about your natural methods after years of battling with Melasma and unsuccessful Dermatological treatments.