WTF is… Green Tea?!

Unlike it’s good buddy Sugar, Green Tea is pretty much universally loved and hailed as the best thing since sliced bread. It’s even older than the concept of sliced bread, making it a serious contender in the global commodities market. Considering that entire countries have waged wars all over the world to get this simple herb, we thought we’d take a second to steep in what makes Green Tea such a hot topic.

plantac3a7c3a3o_de_chc3a1_gorreana2c_camellia_sinensis2c_ribeira_grande2c_ilha_de_sc3a3o_miguel2c_ac3a7ores

Who knew that so much green could come from so much green? Image via wikimedia.org

So green tea, and in fact every type of tea outside of herbal tea, comes from a plant called Camellia Sinensis or “tea plant”. That’s right, matcha tea, oolong tea, lapsong tea, suchong tea, white tea, green tea, black tea, all come from this plant! In fact, the main difference between all the varieties of tea are based on how mature the leaves are before they are picked and what methods are used to ferment or oxidize them.

800px-Camellia_sinensis_-_Köhler–s_Medizinal-Pflanzen-025

The Camellia sinensis is a beauty in it’s own right, even if we usually only see it in a tea cup! image via wikipedia.com

Now there are plenty of studies to show how and why green tea is good for you inside, but we’re going to go over it’s benefits to your outside! The main constituents of green tea that are of particular note include:

  • A type of polyphenol called Catechins. Catechins are astringent, which help to tone the skin and also gently balance the oil your skin produces.
  • Caffeine, as we all know, invigorates and stimulates the skin to keep it healthy and lend it a rosy glow.
  • Theanine is an amino acid that has anti-aging properties and helps skin to stay hydrated and happy.
  • Vitamin C is a potent anti-oxidant that helps to rejuvenate and revitalize the skin so it feels smoother and softer.
  • Vitamin B helps to support healthy collagen production in the skin, and also supports the skin benefits of vitamin C.
  • Folate is another potent anti-oxidant that helps to rejuvenate and revitalize stressed skin, so it glows with happiness.
  • It’s antioxidants in general help to revitalize and rejuvenate the skin and to protect it from environmental damage like sun exposure, wind burn and toxins in the air, like car exhaust.
  • Of course we can’t forget Chlorophyll, a phytochemical that is loaded with antioxidants and not only revitalizes, but also deeply nourishes the skin to keep it extra healthy.

Pretty good stuff right? Well when it comes to green tea, we here at the Raw Spa pair it with nourishing rice bran oil, sumptuous mango butter, and an exotic blend of jasmine and vetiver for all of our Selene products. Much like the queen that is it’s namesake, Selene is specially formulated for skin that has seen it’s share of trials, but can still glow like the moon.

Selene Clay Bar

The Selene Clay Bar combines Matcha with moringa and French Green Clay for a nourishing face mask that smells like bubble tea!

We also make use of Matcha Green Tea (a special powdered tea from Japan used in the eponymous Japanese Tea Ceremon) for it’s verdant color in the Selene Bath Truffles, Bath Cupcakes, Bath Salts, Clay Bars and Exfoliant Bars.

We use extracts and infusions of Sencha green tea and moringa in our special Selene infused Rice bran oil, which can be found in all of our Selene shower treats including the Selene Salt Bars and Selene Gelly Baby, as well as the Selene Skin Tonics and Selene Skin Parfaits!

Be sure to check back later this week for a criminally simple green tea face mask, that will leaving your skin feeling fan-f***ing-tastic!!

How do you take your tea?

 

Advertisements

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.

800px-Flax_seeds

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!

IMG_3956.JPG

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?

 

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.

soap-bubble-colorful-ball-soapy-water.jpg

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.

13419088_1149523135068499_7570723667882310762_n

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!! 🙂

What are your favorite things to do for oily skin?

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

I hope everyone had a stellar week. Philadelphia is finally thawing out (dare I even say it was warm?! I dare, I dare!). My Pandora station even had the perfect line up of jam music… ALL WEEK! Guys, guys! ALL. WEEK!!! That never, EVER happens! Needless to say, I had a fabulous week, screaming along to Manson and belting out Matt Dusk lyrics!  The neighbors may never forgive me… I’m a little tone deaf.

Since we’re finally transitioning out of winter, and into the first glimpses of spring, I thought I’d take a minute to talk about skin. We all have it. And yet somehow, taking care of our skinseems so much more complicated than keeping your heart healthy (Easy. Eat Cheerios. The TV told me so.).

Your skin is one of the largest organs of the body, serving as the first line of defense from external threats (like infections), as a purging system for things your body can’t metabolize (like that time you got trashed in college and woke up smelling like ketone. Give your skin and your liver a round of applause!). That’s not all! It insulates you from the cold, regulates your temperature (especially useful in the death throes of August and the arctic freeze of December!), and aids in the production of Vitamin D folates. It’s pretty important!

800px-Skin_layers.svg

There’s alot going on under the surface of your skin!! Image by Madhero88 and M.Komorniczak, via www.wikimedia.com

Your skin is also more complex than you would think! It’s not just the hair and outer epidermis that you see when you look in the mirror. Hidden from sight are sweat glands, sebaceous glands (to produce oil for the skin), the dermis with it’s connective tissue, nerves and blood vessels.

The skin on your body varies in type and thickness depending on where it’s found. The skin on the soles of your feet and the palms of your hands are the thickest, and are lacking the hair follicles and sebaceous glands found almost everywhere else!The skin on your eyelids, however, is the thinnest, and most delicate. See? There’s a real reason not to neurotically rub at your delicate eyeballs!

When it comes to having healthy, glowing skin, the most important thing to remember is that, like most things related to health, you have to have a good diet to support your skin! You can have all the awesomest skincare products in the world, but they are only going to be so effective, if you aren’t feeding you your skin!

What does that mean?

It means that if you are already on your eighth cup of coffee today, it’s time to put down the mug and start chugging water.  While your skin works to keep water in the body, it’s not going to be able to do an awesome job if you aren’t filling up on water in the first place. And boy oh boy, does your body need a lot of water!

5940505f2200003f00c6ddb1

Eating for healthy happy skin doesn’t have to be boring- in fact, it’s down right delicious!! Image via https://www.candyindustry.com

Foods that are naturally high in folates and vitamins A, B, C, and E are also great to include in your diet. Veggies like kale, tomatoes, and beets help your skin (enter poorly imitated Russian accent) be strong like bull. Oily fish including salmon, mackerel and sardines are loaded with vitamin E to keep your skin happy. And healthy fatty snacks like olives, walnuts and dark chocolate can work to boosting your skin’s overall health by making sure it gets the nutrients it craves.

But most importantly, drink lots of water.

splashing-splash-aqua-water-67843.jpeg

Seriously. Pretend you are a tree and drink up!!

What is your favorite way to keep your skin healthy?

 

 

 

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.  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!

Curcuma_longa_roots

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!  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.

Khandoba_temple_Pune

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.

4c5e09_88da4e6d14124dea9f8693c57317cabb

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!

 

WTF is…Sugar?!

Oh man, here it is. The big one. The greatest thing or the greatest evil depending on who you ask. Love it or hate it, the fact is we can’t live without sugar in some way, shape or form. There’s a lot of ground to cover here but don’t worry. For you we’ll keep it short and sweet.

Raw_sugar_closeup

Every modern child’s dream. Every modern adult’s nightmare. Image via en.wikipedia.org.

So let us start with origins. Sugar has been produced in India since ancient times, and we’re talking REALLY ancient. Like 8th century Chinese manuscripts BC ancient. For a while sugar wasn’t really a big deal. People chewed raw sugarcane to get their sweet fix. It wasn’t until the Indian people discovered methods of turning sugarcane juice into granulated crystals that it really took off. Fun fact: in the local Indian language the crystals were called khanda, which is the source of the word candy.

Now when it comes to sugar in terms of health things get a bit…complicated. To summarize just about everything from both sides of the fence: sugar is kind of good for you and kind of bad for you. Unfortunately modern science is unable to determine sugars effect on the human body since they don’t have a large enough population to run the appropriate tests. Essentially since EVERYONE eats sugar in some way, shape or form we can’t get a definite measure of how it effects the human body when ingested.

Fortunately for us, and you, we DO know it’s effects when applied topically! Sugar is primarily used on our skin as an exfoliant. The nature of the sugar granules make it ideal for scrubbing off layers of dead skin. It is also a humectant and draws moisture into the skin from the air.

We here at The Raw Spa  offer a unique alternative to conventional sugar scrubs that come in jars. For our sugar scrubs come in bars! Namely our Spice Merchant exfoliating sugar bars not only smell great but can be applied with a little water to provide a gentle but deeply exfoliating experience.

Speaking of merchants, if you’d like to try some of our products, come visit us on our store page here!

We’ve also got a patreon! If you become a patron not only will you get monthly product, but you’ll also sleep easy knowing that you’re helping two young adults maintain their coffee induced insomnia. Check it out here!