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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The Kitchen Sink Spa Files: A Turmeric Chai + DIY Turmeric Chair Cleanser

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The mug really is as big as it looks… my mugs are bowl sized!

So let me explain the black stuff all over my face. Some of us are blessed with the ability to attract biting insects. Some people attract mosquitoes, so while every one is swatting occasionally at a buzzing bastard, they are smacking themselves like crazy, screaming “I AM BEING EATEN ALIVE!!!!!” Other people attract gnats, and a few unfortunate souls attract flies. I attract spiders. I HATE spiders.

I didn’t always hate them- I grew up with “Charlotte’s Web”, and as a small child, I thought EVERY spider was Charlotte, and wouldn’t let my mom kill them. And then I got my first spider bit. I hated spiders ever since. I understand that they are beneficial for keeping pests out of gardens, but they need to stay the F*** out of my home. Yesterday, I woke up with two spider bites above my eye. Great, big, red, swollen itchy bumps of archid hatred.

My normal course of action is to smear black salve all over them until the swelling goes down. Normally these bites are on my foot, or my arm, so it’s not particularly noticeable. But the S.O.B.’s bit my FACE. And let me just say, I PITY the next spider I see, because I am going reap a retribution upon the likes of which the world has never seen.

There is one up side to these bites- it’s the perfect excuse to drink Turmeric Chai by the gallon. If you haven’t had a chance to read our WTF spotlight on it yet, you can give it a quick skim HERE.

Clearly my camera skills could use some work…

One of my favorite drinks is a big soup-sized mug of turmeric chai, but I don’t often have an excuse to binge on it. As far as chai’s go, it’s warm, it’s invigorating, and it doesn’t came loaded with caffeine like traditional chai made with black tea, so I can drink it before bed without worrying that I’ll be wide awake for a few extra hours. Big bonus. Plus, the strained spice blend makes a nice face wash for my seriously sad looking skin. You can make the chai with a milk substitute like almond or soy milks… but it won’t have the exact same skin properties. Say what you will about dairy- it’s really awesome on your face!

Also, I really love spice. SO if you know that you can’t do really spicy things, you may want to dial back the amount of black papper that the recipe calls for- I made it to have a little bite. No belated pun intended.

SPICE FOR LIFE!!!

TURMERIC CHAI SPICE BLEND

1 Tbs ground turmeric
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1.5 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 generous pinch ground clove
2 green cardamom pods

TO MAKE THE CHAI:

1. Mix the spice blend in a sauce pot with 1.5 c. milk (or milk substitute)

It may look like your spices aren’t doing a good job of mixing in with the milk. Don’t worry, we are going to strain them out any way!

2. Over low heat, gently heat up the mixture until it gives off steam. Remove from heat and cover with a lid for 5-10 minutes

This step will make your chai extra bright and extra spicy!!

3. Strain the mixture through fine mesh coffee filter or a piece of paper towel folded into a cone.

Using a standard size strainer will let a lot of the ground spices though, so you want something really fine like this.

4. Add honey to taste.

A bowl of happy delicious yellow chai!

5. ENJOY!!! And also don’t throw out your strained spice mix yet!

See all that sludge? That’s going to be your face wash, so don’t chuck it!!

TO USE CHAI FACE WASH:

  1. Discard the cardamom pods.
  2. Massage spice blend into face and neck with clean hands for 1-2 minutes. If the mixture is too dry, add a little water to thin it out.
  3. Rinse face well with warm water, pat dry, and follow with your favorite moisturizer.

And there you have it, a recipe for a delicious and sunny beverage AND a face wash to give your skin some glow, all in one simple recipe!

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!

 

WTF is…Oats?! (Version 2.0)

We decided it was time to update our oats post, because as we have a grown, so too has our research… and it turns out that oats are way more awesome than we thought they were!! Oats are great for helping your skin fight off the harsh conditions of winter (or cooked with milk and a heaping pile of brown sugar dumped on top!). So grab your grains and hunker down. It’s time to talk oats… again!

Mmmm-mmm! Good inside and out! Photo via freefoodphotos.com

Before the simple oat (Avena sativa) was recognized as the grain we all know and love (with brown sugar), it was considered a weed. In fact the term ‘sewing wild oats’ is a reference to the rampant and widespread growth that oats were once known for. However after it was domesticated, oats became a staple in many peoples diet, even to this day! In Scotland oats are still held in high esteem and are a mainstay of the national diet. In Britain oats are sometimes used for brewing beer. Even here in America, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who’s never heard of good old fashioned oatmeal (with brown sugar- ALL the brown sugar).

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This is what oats look like before they go into your oatmeal! Photo via commons.wikimedia.org

Not only are oats a great source of energy, but they’re also good for your skin too (but leave out the brown sugar if your going to be smacking oats on your face… apparently brown sugar doesn’t go with EVERYTHING.) Oats are great for gentle exfoliation, as they soften with water, but they are more than just an killer scrub for sensitive skin!

Cleopatra Salt Bar

The Cleopatra Salt Bar is a gentle soap for dry and sensitive skin, loaded to the gills with finely milled oats and local honey… try not to eat it!

Oats also contain a whole host of phytochemicals that make them absolute rock stars for skin, including saponins, which help to gently remove dirt and oil from your pores; polysaccharides, which become gelatinous in water and leave a protective residue on the skin preventing further damage; flavonoids and silicic acid to intensely soothe skin irritation, agitation and redness; Vitamin A to rejuvenate your skin; and Vitamin B to help hydrate your skin while also making it feel softer and smoother! Calming, moisturizing, exfoliating. What else can we say but: Bring on the oats!

Morganics Oats

It doesn’t get any fresher than local farms! We adore our oats supplier, Moraganics Family Farms! Photo via www.morganicsfamilyfarm.com

When it comes to our oats, we’re pretty proud to say that our oats come from a local farm, Morganics Family Farm (you can find out more about them on their website ). Located in Hillsborough, New Jersey, this family run operation grows the best oats ever. Seriously. THE BEST. Plus we think it’s pretty cool to be able to so drastically reduce our carbon foot print with such a ubiquitous ingredient. You can grab Morganics oats in Philly at the Headhouse Farmers Markets on Sundays (If Mack doesn’t beat you to it and buy them all…).

Cleopatra Bath Cupcake

We always seem to have issues convincing people that this oat-packed Cleopatra Bath Cupcake goes in your tub, not your stomach!

We use oats in all their many forms, from the rich oat milk that we swirl into Skin Parfaits, and the milky oat tops that we infuse into Skin Tonics, to the ground oats the we pack into our shower bars and bath confections! if you’re rocking some seriously dry skin, you’ll be happy to know that oats reign supreme in the Cleopatra line up, which you can find here:¬†https://www.therawspa.net/jewel-of-the-nile

Cleopatra Skin Parfait

It’s creamy, it’s dreamy and it’s packed with fresh oat milk, made with local Morganics Oats and a little patience! The Cleopatra Skin Parfait is a boon for those wrestling with dry or sensitive skin!

If you’re wondering how you can start rocking the oats right now, we’ll have a post up later this week with one of Mack’s super special house specialties, the Milk & Honey Face Wash! Don’t let the name fool you- oats are the star of the show! ūüôā

So, what do you think? They’re a little more awesome than you thought, right?

 

 

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. ¬†That’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!

 

 

 

 

WTF is…Coffee?!

Look, let’s just lay it out on the table. The Raw Spa consists of two twenty-somethings who work hard everyday. We. Freaking. Love. Coffee. Look at the first goal of our Patreon and you’ll see just how much we love¬†coffee. But in addition to downing a good old cup of joe, we like putting it in our products. No, we’re not THAT coffee crazy, but you may find the health benefits of coffee to be rather stimulating.

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What coffee is like to people who don’t drink it. Image via wikipedia.org

But first some fun facts. Just under half of the worlds supply of coffee comes from Brazil alone. Now those who REALLY know their coffee know that while Brazil’s coffee is tasty, it doesn’t have quite the punch that African coffee has. That’s because the strain of coffee plant that is exported from Africa has about 40-50% more of that special little chemical we know and love. That’s right! Caffeine!

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What coffee is like to people who DO drink it. Image via Sylvan Migdal.

Anyone who’s ever drank coffee, a coke, or any of the hundreds of energy drinks out there can attest to how caffeine affects the body when ingested. But what about topical application? You might ask if your skin will jump off and run away in a fit of frenzied over exuberance. To which we would reply: No, that’s just silly.

But products that have caffeine do serve as a stimulant and when applied to skin can increase blood circulation as well as reduce swelling and inflammation. Coffee grounds are also rough enough that they can be used as an ingredient in your daily exfoliant.

Now remember when I said we love coffee here at The Raw Spa? Well we love you more, and to prove it we sacrifice our beloved coffee to be added to products like Charlie Tango and Libertine from the Erotica Sensualis line so that your skin can have the stimulation and care it deserves! You can find all of our caffeinated products HERE!

Hey you! Do you like our blogs? If so you’ll love our¬†Patreon!¬†Check us out, we’ve got lots of stretch goals and fantastic rewards for contributers!

Feel free to check out our store here for all the products we mentioned and so much more!