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 (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…Goats Milk?!

On the big long list of things we rub on our skin to make it happy, goats milk is one of the more straightforward ones. I mean, just because it’s sharp doesn’t mean we have to use it as an exfoliant. Oh I’m sorry was that too cheesy for your liking? Alright I’ll stop kidding around. Let’s talk about why goat’s milk is so *bleat*ing good for you.

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Could this goat get any glassier? Eh? Okay I’m done. Photo via sammysmilk.com

Question: How does traditional bar soap clean the body?

Answer: Without getting too technical, the chemicals that are typically used in bars of soap induce an extremely mild chemical burn to cleanse away all the dirt and grime (this is why soap stings when you get it in your eyes). In terms of cleanliness it is great! In terms of hygiene, it is absolute overkill. It’s like mowing your lawn with a flame thrower. Sure you’ll get the job done but in the end you’re left with a dry, barren and damaged surface.

Enter goats milk, the hypothetical lawn mower. Instead of burning off the top layer of skin, goats milk uses it’s alpha hydroxy acid to remove only the dead skin cells when applied topically. It also uses it’s vitamin A content to help repair damaged skin tissue. We could go on about the other bazillion ways goats milk is good for you, like how it is anti inflammatory,  a great source of essential minerals for your skin, yadda yadda yadda but let’s skip to the part where I show you where you can get some!

You’ll find goats milk all through our Cleopatra products from the Jewel of the Nile line! The bars and bath confections are all packed with goats milk, to leave your skin happy and healthy!

If that sounds like something you’d like to have, check out our store page here!

We’ve also got a Patreon! Help keep us happy and healthy (and caffeinated) by becoming a Patron here!

 

 

 

 

WTF is… Mango Butter?!

Mangoes for EVERYONE!!!! YIPPEE!!!! (Mack is obsessed with these yellow

Mangoes for EVERYONE!!!! YIPPEE!!!! (Mack is obsessed with these yellow “champagne ” mangoes…). Image via themetrognome.in

In addition to be absolutely delicious and fantastic smoothie filler did you know that mangoes are also good for your skin? The colorful party fruit of any good fruit salad is good for you inside and out! As an edible Mangoes supply you with plenty of vitamin C and some folate but did you know that the oil derived from it’s seeds, known as Mango Butter, is great for soothing skin?

Let’s start at the beginning. Mango butter (or mango oil) comes from the mango seeds, the fruit of which is grown in tropical areas all over the world, with the largest producer by far being India. Mangoes are a large part of Indian culture, religion and daily life. Heck, the national fruit of India is the mango! In India, the mango fruit is eaten and prepared as a cuisine, dried mango skins and seeds are used as medicines, leaves of the mango tree are used as decorations for holidays and celebrations… The list goes on! Is it any wonder that here at The Raw Spa, we love using it as well?

Super soothing, rich and creamy mango Butter. We especially like trying to pair it with raw aloe for super soothing skin balms. Image via brambleberry.com

Super soothing, rich and creamy mango Butter. We especially like trying to pair it with raw aloe for super soothing skin balms. Image via brambleberry.com

The mango butter we use in our product is an excellent source of oleic acid (a great skin softener), stearic acid (good for moisturizing and keeping our skin flexible), and the xanthone Mangiferin which is a fantastic anti-oxidant in addition to having anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Our Aftercare products from the Erotica Sensualis line uses mango butter to help with soothing the skin after certain rigorous activities (wink).

And the Green Nile body balm as well as all our Selene products from our Jewel of the Nile line are rich in mango butter to keep your skin as smooth and supple as Egyptian royalty.

Our new twist this season is trying mango butter in “It’s Alive!!”, as part of our Things That Go BUMP! line.

All this week, all our mango butter laden products are 10% off! Be sure to try some today!

Cucumber Spa Water + Rambles, Take One!

Wow. That was one long semester! Sorry to have fallen off the radar like that. A lot of unexpected things came up in the past few months, and between life and classes, it was sort of like a long, drawn out game of emotional Whack-A-Mole… Only less fun.

The good news is that I survived finals, and the semester is O-V-E-R!!!!! While my body and at least 30% of my brain (look, guys- upper level Anthro classes will FRY the brain…) survived intact, my skin (Oh GOBLINS, and my poor, poor poor face!) did not fare so well. Apparently a solid diet of energy drinks do not do the body good….

In light of this fact, I did the only fairly quick fix for the zombie-finals-of-DOOOOOOM look I was rocking – water.

I know it sounds absolutely ridiculous, but water is really amazing. It helps your body, and your skin, to purge toxins, it helps your blood to flow, it can keep a dehydration migraine at bay, and it improves the overall appearance, texture and tone of skin!

How awesome is that!? Don’t you just LOVE WATER???

…I don’t.

I hate the taste. For those of you about to argue that water has no taste, trust me. it has a taste. In Philly, it tastes like a blend of a tin can, salt, a touch of bleach and a little more chlorine than you want to have come out of your tap. Absolutely disgusting.

However, I am pleased to say that I found a way to fix water, so that not only does it still do awesome things for my health and my skin, I can also drink it without mimicking the Mr. Ick sticker.

I’m a little bit behind on the trend, but apparently, it’s called (drum roll, please!)

…. SPA WATER!

::cough:: Okay, so it’s just infused water, and I used to do it when I was a kid, with dried fruit. But I recently learned that in addition to saccharine dried apricots, you can pretty much chuck anything you want into a jug of water (besides maybe a raw steak…. or raw chicken… ) and it will taste amazing!!

This is the blend that’s been chilling in my fridge for the past two days. I have found that as long as the ingredients are really fresh, I can just keep topping off the jug with new filtered water, and it’s fine for about three days. Then it starts to lose it’s flavor, and all the fruits and vegetable and herbs start to look depressed.

I’ll be posting more Spa Water recipes over the course of the summer, but this one is super easy, and you can always find a decently ripe cucumber in the grocery store.

Cucumber Sort-Of-Mojito Spa Water

Cucumbr Mojito Water

You will need:
1/2  cucumber, thinly sliced (because it looks prettier in the jug)
1/2 c. fresh cilantro, left whole

3 slices of lime

water

something to put it all in to

All you do is drop the cucumber and lime slices into the container, and stuff in the cilantro on top. The mess of stems and leaves on top will help keep the cucumbers and limes from splashing into your glass when you are pouring your water.

Top the container off with water, let it chill in the fridge for about an hour, and enjoy! Every time you pour a glass, just remember to add more water.

Another option, which works just as well, is to fill empty water bottles with the infused water. Throw a few in your bag every day before you head out the door, to help yourself stay hydrated and happy!

DIY Simple Oat Face Wash, and A Happy New Year!!

I have been a little overwhelmed by the holiday season, and as a result, my poor, innocent blog has been neglected! The Christmas season runs for a few weeks, since I have an excessively large family, but I SHOULD be finished with the rounds by next week!

…like I said, REALLY big family!

In the mean time, as happens every holiday, my stress level is through the roof, and my face looks like a hot mess. I hope no one else suffers the Holiday Breakouts… but probably I’m not the only one.

I really hesitate to go all out trying to eradicate the zits and rashes and dry patches, especially when my skin is normally so well behaved. This oatmeal scrub does the trick for me, and is gentle enough not to exacerbate any skin conditions!

WHAT YOU NEED:
1/2 cup raw oatmeal
1/4 cup powdered milk

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A coffee grinder or food processor
A jar (for storage)

STEP ONE: put the oatmeal and powdered milk into your spice grinder, and grind it until you have a fairly uniform powder.

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That’s it. You made the base for the face wash!!! Easy, right? Pour it into your clean, dry jar, pop on the lid and label it.

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As long as you keep the face wash base in a dry place (not the bathroom!!!!!), it will keep six or more months.

TO USE:
-Take 1-2 tablespoons of your face wash base and put it in a bowl.

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– add 1+ tablespoons of warm water and mix to form a paste
**if you think the paste is too runny, let it alone for a few minutes. The oats and milk powder will thicken up!

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– splash your face with water and then apply the paste to your face, using your finger tips to gently massage your skin for a minute or two.

– rinse your face with warm water, pat dry, and follow with your favorite toner and/or moisturizer!!

This face wash is fine for daily use, and leaves your skin clean, soft and smooth.

TIP!! : if your skin is suffering the breakouts (like mine is), leave the face wash on your face for 10-15 minutes, like a mask, before rinsing it off. The mixture will help to get some of the ick out of your pores (yes, I said “the ick”), and also help to slear up any pimples a little faster!

So, there you have it! A simple, gentle face wash, which probably took you less than three minutes to make!!!

Let me know what you think of it! 🙂