WTF is… Flax Seed?! (Version 2.0)

Flax is your friend! In fact there is no reason why flax shouldn’t be your best friend! The plant is a pretty affair topped with gentle blue flowers though it’s not afraid to change it up and appear in white, yellow, or red. The fibers are soaked in water and beaten out to make sumptuously soft sheets, called linen, and paper (fun fact: The American Dollar is made out of linen paper)! And the oil from it’s seeds is super duper good for you! Talk about going green! Flax for everyone!

The flax plant (Linum usitatissimum)

The flax plant (Linum usitatissimum) with it’s beautiful blue flowers! So cute! Image via Wikipedia.com

Let’s get to know a bit more about our fine fibered friend. Flax has been in use for a very VERY long time. There is evidence that the use of wild flax dates back to the Upper Paleolithic 30,000 years ago! From there is was domesticated and made a tour across Europe and Asia while occasionally stopping in to party with Egypt and Rome. In fact Egyptian Priests wore linen exclusively, since flax was seen as a symbol of purity in ancient Egyptian culture.

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All that goodness packed into a little seed! Amazing! Image by Bdevel via wikipedia.com

Now while flax seed’s are a decent nutritional supplement, it’s oil is of value for it’s rich moisturizing and soothing properties. Of note is it’s high concentration of alpha-linolenic acid which not only helps to reduce redness and irritation from inflammation, but also helps to balance the skin, to keep break outs to a minimum. these awesome properties and bolstered by the healthy dose of Omega-3’s that flax seed rocks. See what I mean now? Flax really IS your friend!

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Don’t let it’s pretty appearance fool you- it’s a mess-free face mask!!!

Flax seed meal is pretty nifty, too! It’s high mucillage content means that when it combines with water, and releases a slippery, nourishing gel that is packed full of polysaccharides to deeply hydrate the skin and keep it feeling healthy. Think of it like a a super simple conditioner for your skin! In fact, flax seed gel is so awesome that it is frequently used as the base ingredient for nourishing organic hair gels (behold this glorious list of styling flax creams on Etsy!). It’s exceptional for curly hair types, and we’ll be giving you a quick and easy recipe that Mack used to use before she… ahem… shaved off all her hair….

Here at The Raw spa, we subscribe to the Ancient Egyptian application of flax seed oil in our products to promote purity. Or better said, to promote purely happy skin! Our Nefertiti products, formulated for dry skin with occasional break outs, are all loaded with flax in it’s many forms, from the flax seed oil swirled into the Nefertiti facial treats like the Skin Tonic and Skin Parfait, to the shower confections like Salt Bars, Gelly Baby and Marshmallow Creams; and the flax seed meal folded into the Nefertiti Clay Bar, Nefertiti Exfoliant Bar and Nefertiti Sugar Bar.

We are especially proud of our flax seed oil and flax seed meal, because we know EXACTLY where it was pressed- we press the oil ourselves, to keep it super fresh, and grind down the flax meal once the oil is pressed out. Besides helping to minimize our carbon foot print and to limit the amount of waste that our products create, it also allows us to ensure that you are getting a fresh flax that doesn’t smell like old fish. Because regardless of what you have been told, flax seed shouldn’t smell fishy!

What are your favorite ways to use flax?

 

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Skin Care Sunday: What’s the Deal with Oily Skin?

I feel like the past few weeks this weather has just been playing tricks on Philadelphia- a few warm days to get us excited for the end of winter, and then BAM! More freezing cold. Are you as sick of it as I am? Because I’m kind of done with this cold weather.

So last week I took some time to introduce your skin to you. If you missed the post, you can check it out HERE. Obviously, it was just a brief overview, because there’s more to skin than just it’s layers! For example, there’s oily skin, dry skin, acne etc. So let’s take a second to talk oily skin.

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if your skin shines brighter than this bubble…. you probably have oily skin, or a WHOLE LOT of highlighter on!!

If you have it, you probably hate it- it makes your skin shine like a disco ball, and all that excess oily that your skin insists on producing can lead to black heads and break outs. There’s not really a clean and cut explanation for WHY some people have oily skin, while others don’t. But the how is easy to answer- your sebaceous glands are going waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyy overboard in their job. For some people, they go through a “oily phase” right around puberty (oily teenager, any one?) but then they manage to pull out of it and the oil production regulates (and we stare at them with envy). For other people, the oily sheen pops up around their period, and then goes away for a few weeks (that’s right ladies- you get extra SPECIAL oily skin!). And yet still others only really seem to get oily skin in hot weather- this one is pretty normal, and results from sauna-like temperatures opening up your pores and getting the detox on!

Personally, I go from having bone dry skin through the winter to having skin like an Exxon-Valdez oil slick in the summer. It’s an experience. The result is that I’ve learned that when it comes to oily skin, you do have to be a little careful with how you handle it.

Firstly, put down that astringent toner formulated for acne-ridden teenagers. While it’s tempting to force your skin into being oil-free, you may end up doing more harm than good if you go too hard. Completely ridding your skin of oil with excessive washing or toning can lead to you skin creating even more oil- because here your skin was, doing it’s job, and then suddenly all the oil went away. There’s only one logical course of action for your skin- MORE OIL!!!!!!

Instead of harsh cleanser, try a gentle cleanser with few bubbles, and cleanse your skin twice a day to help keep the oil under control. Another option is to try oil-cleansing, which sounds counter intuitive, but can actually help to deeply cleanse oily skin without adding more oil. You can Google how to do it. I would recommend using an oil that’s pretty high in linoleic acid, like castor oil, grape seed oil or safflower oil- while these oils do have a really heavy “greasy” feel to them, you’ll be wiping them off your face once you’re done, taking away the oil you put on, and the excess oil your skin doesn’t need!

Secondly, your skin is already naturally moisturizing itself, so you won’t really need to use heavy creams with cocoa butter or shea butter, but a little lotion can go a long way, if it has the right oils in it! For oily skin, look for products that have “dry” oils (or oils that absorb quickly without leaving a protective film). These oils not only add a little extra moisturization, but also tend to have very mild astringent properties, so that they trick your skin into thinking its already produced enough oil and can take a break! I suggest looking for products that have lots of hemp seed oil (OMG it’s SUCH a pretty green color!!!!), hazelnut oil, black seed oil, rose hip seed oil, evening primrose oil, pumpkin seed oil and sesame seed oil.

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Fresh aloe is super awesome for oily skin!!!

A little hydration, wouldn’t go amiss in your skincare routine either! Look for oil free moisturizers (often marketed as gels) to add to your regime. Fresh aloe in particular is great for oily skin, as it is cooling, calming, and mildly astringent- it won’t over dry your skin , but it will gently slow down the oil production! It’s especially awesome in the summer if you freeze it in an ice cube tray and rub a cube over your face after you’ve washed it- very refreshing!!

With all of this talk about how to calm oil production, and have just a little less shine, now might be a good time to point out something absolutely awesome about oily skin- it doesn’t age! I mean, obviously it literally DOES age… but it takes a muuuuuuuuuch longer time for things like wrinkles and fine lines to start showing up on oily skin!! So the next time you look in the mirror and think “ugh, so oily today!” take a second and remember how much money you won’t be spending on anti-aging products!! ­čÖé

What are your favorite things to do for oily skin?

WTF is… Turmeric?!

Turmeric is what the layman would describe as an ‘exotic spice’. It doesn’t help that it’s a widely used ingredient in several Indian dishes, and a well known component in Ayurvedic medicine that , in some regards, is comparable to ibuprofen. No seriously.┬á Turmeric is what the layman would describe as an ‘exotic spice’. But before you go raiding your spice cabinet, let’s get some facts for your cerebral curry!

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If you mistake it for ginseng you are in for a slightly-less-bitter-than-you-expected surprise. Image via wikimedia.org.

First things first, DO NOT use turmeric as a substitute for ibuprofen or other over the counter painkillers. While some studies have shown that it can be used as a painkiller, it they are by no means conclusive. So if you have a pounding headache or joint pain don’t reach for your spice rack.

That being said, there are a lot of things that turmeric is definitely good for!┬á Aside from being an integral ingredient in many Asian, Middle Eastern and Indian dishes turmeric contains folates (to help support healthy skin behavior), niacin (helps skin stay glowing and youthful), pyridoxine (helps skin retain moisture), is rich in vitamins C (helps to rejuvenate damaged skin) and E (blocks free radicals that wrinkles the skin), in addition to it’s heavy hitter, curcumin, which helps to reduce inflammation.

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Ain’t no party like a turmeric party! Image via wikimedia.org.

At the Raw Spa, we use turmeric exclusively in our all of our Hatshepsut products. Aside from being an actual ingredient the ancient Egyptian queen would have used for her beauty practices, we utilize it today to help calm oily or generally aggravated skin. The turmeric also synergizes well with the frankincense and spices to reduce the appearance and aggravations from acne break outs.

 

You can find some of our Hatshepsut bars, skin potions, and even bath cupcakes on our website! You can also find other excellent products in the Jewel of the Nile line HERE.

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The crazy color of these Hatshepsut Bath Truffles is all thanks to the healthy pinch of turmeric that we use!

What are your favorite ways to use turmeric?

 

 

 

 

 

The (Much Delayed) Kitchen Sink Spa Files: DIY Milk & Honey Face Wash

There are A LOT of formulas in my Raw Spa arsenal, and sadly, many of my favorite products are just for house use, like this creamy cleanser. So why not share a little love while we all wait impatiently for spring to swing into gear, am I right?

Don’t let the name fool you- oats are the real star of the show here, helping to calm, condition, and soften dry skin! If you missed out on why oats are so awesome, you can check out the blog post HERE.

This was one of the first things I ever mixed together on my own, and while I’ve played around with the idea of bringing them to the store and farmers market, it’s just so incredibly simple, I figured I’d just share the recipe with you, to make at home. It makes a pretty big batch, so if you are just using it on your face, I’d recommend storing it in a jar.

Honestly, I like to use it once or twice a week as a whole body wash, especially in the drier weather. The honey helps to deeply hydrate your skin, the oats calm irritation and help condition the skin, and the powdered milk adds just a little bit of extra exfoliation. You can substitute the dried milk with finely milled nuts or sunflower seeds!

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 c. honey (I’m a sucker for Swarmbustin’ Honey)

1/4 c. whole oats (see NOTE)

2 Tbs. powdered milk

 

DIRECTIONS
1. Using a spice grinder (or, if you are looking for a hard core arm work out, grab a mortar and pestle), finely grind the oats. NOTE: different oats will grind up to different textures. Any rolled oats will work for this recipe, but we used locally grown Morganics oats, which a rolled super thin, and grind up to a very silky powder.)

2. Combine the oat flower with the powdered milk and honey. Stir slowly to incorporate the ingredients. If it becomes to thick to stir, use your hands to work it into a well blended mass!

3. Scrape it into an air tight container. As long as you keep water out of the container, it will pretty much keep indefinitely… all though the honey may crystallize over time. You can also roll the paste into little single serving face bonbons! I used a teaspoon to scoop them out.

 

TO USE:
-Mix a large pinch of cleanser (or one face bonbon!) in your hand, with a little water, to make a creamy gel texture.

-Massage the cleanser into your face and neck. You can let it sit for a minute or two as a mask!

-Rinse well with warm water, and pat dry.

All done!! I recommend following this up with your favorite moisturizer, to keep your skin feeling great!

Let me know what you think in the comments!

 

The Story of Two Busy Bees

2017 has been a crazy year. So crazy that we let our blog completely fall off the radar! It wasn’t just moving (which was a huge endeavor), or Mack and Guy adjusting to life in very close quarters (550 sq ft of quarters, to be exact). It was also the excitement and absolute whirlwind of getting accepted into the Rittenhouse Square Farmers Market, and learning how to restructure The Raw Spa to keep pace with the sudden ramp up in speed and production!

It’s been exciting, to say the least. We’ve changed some formulas to make them even better- our new and improved Salt Bars, for instance, are bigger, better, and longer lasting, with same awesome ingredients and scents we know you expect from us! We’ve also worked EXTREMELY hard to start expanding our product offerings: in addition to two new types of shower treats, the Marshmallow Cream soaps and the scrubby and bubbly Gelly Baby soaps, we also have an entire host of facial products, including peel off masks, steams, and richly infused Skin Tonic serums!

We continue to be completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from our customers, and Mack has, on more than one occasion, almost started to cry when someone comes back to the market stand to regale her with their love of a specific product. It means the world to both of us, and your enthusiasm is what keeps us going!!

There have also obviously been some pitfalls. There have been MANY products that just never made it into the online store- The entire FarmStand line-up went so fast at the farmers market that the stock was GONE before the listings were even drafted! Many products were sadly cut from the Halloween Things That Go BUMP! line, due to time considerations, and we are both still working diligently to get product listings for Jewel of the Nile and Erotica Sensualis listed, photographed and activated.

We have A LOT of exciting things in store for the coming months, and are already planning some very big things for 2018. Please bear with us, as we find our equilibrium. Going forward, we are hoping to do a much better job of keeping the blog up to date, and we WILL be getting all of the wonderful – and up until now, Philadelphia exclusive – products up into the online store!!

Warmly and most sincerely,

Mack & Guy (a.k.a. Team Raw Spa)

WTF is… Rhubarb?!

As a staple in any self-respecting witch doctors garden, rhubarb is a pretty useful plant. And much like old timey shamans, Rhubarb can be both incredibly healing and exceptionally toxic if used in certain ways. Bet you won’t look at a rhubarb pie the same way now! But don’t worry, I’ll tell you how you can safely get your fingers in this pie.

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Delicious? Deadly? Both?!  Picture via Wikipedia.org

Before we get to the pie eating, did you know that back in the day rhubarb was valued on the same scale as rubies, silk, and diamonds? In fact, at one point it was more valuable than opium. ┬áThat’s right, the humble rhubarb was more expensive than the great grand daddy of narcotics. So obviously it must have been like super crack or an aphrodisiac or both, right? Like a Supercrackadesiac? Actually, the cost of transportation across Asia made rhubarb expensive in medieval Europe. Don’t get me wrong though, rhubarb is still pretty awesome. It has been and is still used in traditional Chinese medicine, primarily as a laxative.

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This much rhubarb in medieval times could probably buy you a whole castle. Image via Wikipedia.org

But is it poisonous? Absolutely. Well actually, just one part of the rhubarb plant contains any toxins: the leaf. While eating rhubarb leaves at first will make you very sick, repeated ingestion can be lethal. So if someone offers you some rhubarb leaf tea, you should politely decline. Again, this is a PSA from The Raw Spa: DO NOT INGEST RHUBARB LEAVES!

Now we here at the Raw Spa recommend that you never eat any of our products (no matter how delicious they smell) but if you absolutely have to eat our soaps and things, you can do it without the worry of dying afterward. We use the root and stalk of the rhubarb plant to get all the good effects. Like the fact that rhubarb is astringent which means it can help to balance the oiliness of skin.

At the Raw Spa we use Rhubarb as part of our seasonal Farm Stand line, in particular our Rhubarb Crumble products! It marks the beginning of our Farm Stand line and can be found in our shop May of every year!

 

 

 

 

We’re Moved In…Mostly!

Hey Gang!

Jeebus almighty it’s been two months already?! Well sorry to keep you waiting! Moving in was, shall we say, a unique experience. But we’re back, mostly unpacked and getting ready to gear things up for the fall and winter seasons!

To celebrate the fact that we’ve liberating the majority of our things from the moving boxes were having a sale! “A sale for what” you might ask. Everything! That’s right! The Raw Spa Store is open again and absolutely everything is for sale! And it’s going to stay on sale all through October! So jump on in and check us out!

Oh and if you’d like to see pictures of the landfill turned post apocalyptic war-zone that is our apartment, pictures are incoming soon!

Stay crunchy!

Mack and Guy at The Raw Spa

Mack adds this disclaimer “Let them know that we’ll be adding more things to the store, but they won’t all be on sale. It’s just all the things I put in this week. Oh! and give them a 10% off coupon code!”

 

Here is your 10% off coupon code: SUPERGREEN