I’ve Got That Lotion Notion…

One subject not always brought up in my office is what kind of products I use while giving a massage.  This is a very legitimate question for a few reasons.  It’s important to know what’s being used on our skin!  It’s the biggest sensing organ of the body and first signs of dis-ease or illness are often seen and felt here, especially if you happen to have sensitive skin!  So some key questions to always ask are; what’s in it?  Where did it come from?  Is it petroleum based?  Just how natural is it???  You get the idea…

What this all boils down to is the INGREDIENTS.   My rule of thumb has always been, if I can’t pronounce it, forget it.  I’ve gone a step beyond this rule however, and now:  If I can’t make it, forget it.

I have always loved learning how to make things for myself.  It’s a large part of who I am.  And when it comes to my Massage Practice, there are no exceptions.  So this fall I started making my own lotion and let me tell you,  I AM IN LOVE!!  🙂   I’ve been making my own oil blends since I started working in this field.  I have always used cold pressed Grapeseed oil with essential oil blends.  This summer I turned to Jojoba Oil as it enriches the skin while protecting it.  I wanted to take this a step further and so started looking for lotion recipes.   While making my salves (for dry skin conditions), I used organic beeswax to seal in the shea butter and Jojoba oil’s wonderful moisturizing qualities.  Sure enough beeswax is the most natural emollient you can use, and so my experimenting began.

My lotion is made of; Aloe Vera (inner fillet), Shea Butter, Jojoba Oil, Beeswax and Apricot Kernel Oil.  It is rich in texture and soaks into the skin leaving it feeling smooth and refreshed.  I LOVE using it for massages as it does not soak into the skin immediately, but allows the oils to penetrate the skin slowly and is then sealed in by the beeswax.  I have made a number of essential oil blends to compliment certain skin needs.  Such as Calendula  & Arnica to help heal broken and chapped skin and Carrot Seed & Jasmine to promote elasticity.  I’ll be making more specific blends as I am presented with more of my client’s needs, besides making blends purely for aromatherapy uses.

I have made this available to my clients!!  I will be keeping a small supply at the office for sale, and should you like to preorder I am more than happy to oblige. 🙂  I am very excited to see how the future develops!

If any of you fine folks are interested, I am wanting to find out how many would be interested in taking a class to learn how to make this lotion on your own.  The process is very easy, and all ingredients are easy to obtain.  Please contact me with any questions, if I receive enough of a response, I do hope to hold the first class in the beginning of the new year!  WOOHOO LOTION!!

Summer is almost here and the insects are lying in wait…

These past 2 months have gone by faster than I would have thought possible, yet here we are!  Spring has sprung, the flowers have bloomed and Summer is closer than we think.  In the Finger Lakes Region we’ve already experienced such extreme temperatures this Spring, that I know I’m not as prepared for the heat as much as I wish I was.   No New Yorker likes to admit they prefer the cool, crisp air of Fall through the early Spring.  It makes us sound even colder than our sarcasm usually does.  Haha! 😉  (Or maybe that’s just me…)

And with such wonderful warm weather, comes all of those little wonderful, not so warm & loving, critters.  I’ve already started taking out the oils needed to avoid pesky insects for my family and thought you may like to make these simple solutions as well!

The easiest solution to make is a hydrosol spray; essential oils suspended in distilled water.  In this preparation you should have either a blue or brown glass bottle with an atomizer/spritz top.  I can find these in my local health food store, Mother Earth Natural Foods.  Or you can find bottles in bulk and make a supply for the whole family! Try looking here at Specialty Bottle.  4 Ounce bottles are the best in size, not too big and enough solution to last a while.

Now for your selection of oils.  Citronella is the first go-to essential oil for most folks.  This essential oil is the most commonly used oil in insect repellents.  Citronella has many properties, which includes being anti-bacterial, anti-depressant, anti-septic, anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory,  just to name a few!

Other oils used when repelling insects are the following: Tea Tree Oil, Geranium, Patchouli, Cedarwood, Lavender, Peppermint, Lemongrass, Sage and Eucalyptus.   You don’t have to use all of these oils, in fact only using 3 or 4 will be fine!  It’s truly up to you, your tolerance and skin sensitivities.

I personally like to use Citronella, Geranium, Cedarwood and Tea Tree Oils.  These are all anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory in nature.  They blend well together and aren’t photosensitive so you can be secure in wearing these oils out in the sun.  (Citrus oils derived from pure citrus plants/fruits are very photosensitive. They will aid in a lovely sunburn if the user is not careful!)  Also, as these oils are all healing oils, should you get bitten or scratched while hiking around, these oils will already be available to start your skin’s healing process.  Nothing like being prepared!

To make your so-long-insect spray you can follow these guidelines.  There are no perfect measurements (I have never been one to level off that tablespoon while baking 😉 ),  your nose is a wonderful tool in this process!!

  • First start with your base essential oil, Citronella, by dropping 20 drops into the bottle. * DO NOT add any distilled water until the essential oils are mixed!!
  • Geranium 5 drops
  • Tea Tree 10 drops
  • Cedarwood 5 drops (or more, to ground your oils and blend nicely)

Now cover the bottle with the lid, shake it a bit to mix oils throughly and reopen to smell.  It doesn’t have to smell like an amazing french perfume, however, if you don’t like it, then tweak it.  In my experience a little Geranium goes a loooong way, and Cedarwood will tone down other oils very quickly.  Feel free to add only one drop at a time, shake and smell again.  It makes no sense to repel humans just to avoid getting bit by bugs.  😉

Another version of the carrier medium is to use 1 table spoon of jojoba oil and 2 table spoons of vodka.  Add these to your essential oils once they are blended and shake, shake, shake your booty, or bottle. (haha)  I have yet to try this method, the theory is that it will last longer on the skin and will not need to be reapplied as often.  Do remember that when using only distilled water and essential oils, you will have to re-spray every hour or so.

Yet another solution is to add these essential oils to an fragrance-free lotion.  This will be easy to apply to young children and will last longer on the skin than just using distilled water.  However, you cannot apply it to clothes.  So pick your method and let me know how it works for you!!  Happy June!!  🙂

Winter Skin Blues….

As the season changes yet again in the next few weeks, so will your skin.  Your skin is the first thing to come into contact with the weather around you (assuming you haven’t used the nose warmer your Grandmother made you last Christmas) and will undoubtedly show the effects of the season.  It’s pretty obvious in the summer when we all have to be aware of our time in the sun, but what about our time in the wind and cold?  What about the time in our homes and the dry air?   It’s no coincidence that our skin dries out and becomes cracked or chapped in the winter time.  So what do you do about it?

There are certain oils that have wonderful effects on your skin.   Grapeseed oil is a wonderful simple oil that greatly nourishes the skin and doesn’t leave it feeling very greasy.  It’s anti-oxident properties are hailed to help fight free radicals in the skin, helping you maintain a young and natural glow.  It is a wonderful carrier oil and is the first oil of choice in my office.  I can mix any blend of essential oils with it and change the focus of it’s desired effects.  Adding Tea Tree essential oil will create a more astringent effect helping fight any acne or other bacterial skin issues, while adding Geranium essential oil will facilitate a more healing effect and aid in faster skin repair.  The options are limitless!   Other oils can be added to your carrier oil, to make a blend incorporating many benefits.

Jojoba Oil is a wonderful oil to add to any skincare lotion or oil.  It mimics human sebum and so aids in skin repair in ways most other oils can’t.  It also naturally fights bacteria and fungus and so it can be added with the purpose of adding extra immune protection.

Sweet Almond Oil is high in protein, other vitamins and minerals.  It’s excellent for all skin types and conditions the skin, keeping it supple and soft.  It has a sweet subtle smell that mixes well with other essential oils.  It’s also one of my favorites for lip butter!

Apricot Kernel Oil is rich in fatty acids and helps keep the skin full of moisture and relieves the effects of Eczema and Psoriasis.  It’s texture is similar to Sweet Almond oil and so blends very nicely to compliment any skin care lotion or oil blend.

Jason Organics also makes a fragrance free lotion (and other products) that you can add any essential oils to, creating a blend that is truly all your own.  These can be found at most Health Food Stores, such as our local Mother Earth Natural Foods or in the organic section of your local grocery store (Go Wegmans!).   Essential oils can help in keeping the skin soft, moisturized and help in the healing of other conditions.  A great list of them and their related suggestions of use can be found here at Nature’s Gift website.  When blending lotions with other oils and essential oils, always have a separate container to accommodate your blend and start with small measurements.  Lotions will thin out when adding other oils and need to be shaken well to ensure a good consistency.   Keeping your old pump bottles comes in handy for these projects!   Adding just a few teaspoons of oil to a cup of lotion is a good start.  Essential oils are best blended first in a small glass bowl (to avoid any mistakes or adding too much of something i.e. stink bombs!),  then added to the lotion/oil.   Again, shake well to mix your blend completely.  Do your best to use lotions that are originally scent free, basic in nature and ingredients.  Avoid petroleum based products whenever you can!

Remember to apply lotion or oil in the evening before bed, as this can be the best time to allow the properties within your skin care to go to work for you.  If you have particularly cracked or chapped hands or feet, applying a generous amount of lotion or oil and then adding a layer of cotton socks or gloves can greatly help your skin heal faster and lock in the moisture (and also protect you and your bed from waking up a mess!).

I hope this has helped some of you, and I’m always making new balms, salves and lip butter so please feel free to ask for any recipes!  Stay warm and keep your skin soft!

Massage your feet to help ward of those seasonal colds…

One thing most folks can’t say no to is a good foot massage.  Considering that there is a rough average of 15,000 nerve endings in each foot, it’s no wonder we turn into butter and melt.  This can be used to your advantage, in all seasons and for any particular reason, other than just wanting to relax and “take a load off”.   The use of Essential Oils and Reflexology is a great example of this.

In Reflexology the feet and hands are used as maps to the rest of the body, each place and space responding to another part or organ.  When pairing your area of massage with certain essential oils, you can have a profound effect as your whole body responds.    I have also found this to be the best way to get any “grumpies” under control when tending to the sick.  (Can you tell I’ve recently been caring for sick children? 🙂 )

Here is a great reflexology map for the feet.   We had a seasonal cold sweep through our home which included runny noses, coughing and sore throats.   My favorite essential oil for these symptoms is Eucalyptus.  *Always properly dilute essential oils with a carrier oil, such as Grapeseed, Almond or Jojoba.  Unscented lotion will do very well here also.  You can mix them in your hand or better yet (for proportions sake) mix the oils in a small glass bowl or jar that can be sealed and used again later.  For a tablespoon of carrier oil you can add 2-4 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil.  Starting out with fewer drops makes it easier to add as you need to without over doing it right off the bat.  A little goes a long way!

Finding the middle of the upper sole, right amongst the meta-tarsals (those long bones extending from your toes towards your ankles) is where you’ll locate the Reflexology Point for lungs.   Focusing on these points while massaging the feet will help direct the Eucalyptus to where it can help the most.

By nature, Eucalyptus is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antispasmodic, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.   It is a perfect oil for the symptoms of seasonal cold and flu.  You can also massage this oil into the back of the neck or on the chest for added relief from congestion and sinus pressure.  *Smaller children (6 and younger) should never have essential oils applied directly to the skin.  They should be ALWAYS diluted in a carrier oil and rubbed only into the feet.   If there is any concern of a skin reaction, apply only a small amount first and keep watch for any redness or other reactions.

If any of you question how quickly essential oils may work; penetrating the skin and affecting the body, I suggest cutting a garlic clove in half and rubbing it on the bottom of your foot.  (Garlic is also a great raw remedy for the symptoms of cold and flu!)  Within the next 15 minutes you will find that your breath will smell like garlic (and not from licking your fingers)!  Just as your body responds to massage, your body responds to everything it comes into contact with.  Your skin is a living organ!  Using essential oils in your daily life is a great way to help boost your own strengths and get over that cold or flu faster.

Here is a great link for more Eucalyptus essential oil information!  You can also check out my links to find the best essential oils for your needs!   Happy massaging!