With summer temperatures in Australia reaching into the mid- and high forties (degrees Celsius), we thought it might be a good time to talk about the need for adequate hydration and the possible problems that can result if dehydration becomes an issue.
The human body, which is made up of between 55 and 75 percent water (depending on age, percentage of fat, sex and other factors), is in need of constant rehydration. Consider these facts:
Your lungs expel between 2 - 4 cups of water daily just through normal breathing (more if you exercise) and even more on a cold day. If your feet sweat, add another cup of water. If you make half a dozen trips to the bathroom during the day, that's six cups of water. If you perspire, you expel about two cups of water (which doesn't include exercise-induced perspiration).
So, that's more than 11 cups of water each and every day (if you use a cup containing 250ml, than that's equal to 2750ml or 2.75 litres).
Water is key to the health of your skin. The fact that the skin contains approximately 70% water speaks for itself, however, dehydration of the skin happens very quickly and can have disastrous effects, not just on your skin, but also on your Brain, Kidneys and your general health.
How do you know if you are drinking enough water?
A good test is to look at your urine. If it's clear or pale yellow, you are probably drinking enough to keep your body hydrated. But if it's intense yellow or gold, you probably need to drink more water. (Note: Taking Vitamin B-Complex can turn your urine yellow - this is normal and not a sign of dehydration, however, make sure you do drink at least 10 glasses of water a day.) The darker the urine the more concentrated and there is usually an unpleasant smell associated with it - this definitely indicates you are very dehydrated!
The skin has many very important functions and one of these is the elimination of toxins from the body; a function that directly supports the kidneys. However, it cannot do this unless the skin is well hydrated and its pores are free and not blocked with dead cells, dirt or stale oil.
Common signs and symptoms of dehydration include:
Persistent fatigue, lethargy, muscle weakness or cramps, headaches, dizziness, nausea, forgetfulness, confusion, deep rapid breathing, or an increased heart rate. The problem is that by the time any of these symptoms present themselves, you are already severely dehydrated.
Other less common signs and symptoms of dehydration can include:
Excessive loss of fluid through vomiting, urinating, stools or sweating, poor intake of fluids, "can't keep anything down", sunken eyes, dry or sticky mucous membranes in the mouth, skin that lacks its normal elasticity and sags back into position slowly when pinched up into a fold, decreased or absent urine output and decreased tears.
Effects of dehydration on the skin:
Dry skin, increased sensitivity of the skin, eczema and/or dermatitis, deeper wrinkles, more wrinkles, dull looking skin, itchy skin, easily irritated skin, blockage of skin pores, and many others.
How to keep your body hydrated
Most people don't like drinking lots of water. The problem with drinking fruit juices is they contain sugar and calories, which if your watching your weight, is not the answer either.
So what should you drink?
Herbal teas are a great start. Green tea with a little honey and a few ice cubes makes a very refreshing drink in hot weather, that's good for you. Similarly, you can use the juice of a lemon to spice up your drinking water. Peppermint-, Lemongrass-, Ginger-, Jasmine-, Cinnamon tea, etc., are all herbal teas that will hydrate your body and are good for you. There are many, many ways you can fulfil the water requirements of your body without drinking a lot of plain old water.
At this point it is probably a good idea to remind ourselves that water (pure water) has no taste what so ever. If your water carries some taste (which is why lots of people don't like drinking plain water), then your water has impurities in it. Tap water contains hundreds of chemicals (natural and otherwise) that tend to give the water 'flavour'. You would be well served to filter your drinking water in order to remove some, if not all of these chemicals. There are many water filters on the market ranging from simple carbon filters to reverse osmosis filters.
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Oily Skin - How to recognise and balance an oily skin type.
Recognising an Oily Skin Type
Oily skin tends to appear shiny and feel ‘greasy’ to the touch, with pores that tend to be enlarged and prone to blackheads, whiteheads and pimples. The skin outside the T-Zone however, can be normal or even tend toward dry. This is more common than a uniform oily skin and does tend to require different approaches for each of the different skin types.
In this article, however, we’ll focus on how to treat the oily skin type only, as other skin types are discussed in related articles.
Causes of Oily Skin
Genes can be such that your parents passed on ‘the oily skin gene’ to you and that is just the way it is. But you don’t have to resign your self to having oily skin. The right skin care regime will help to balance the pH of your skin and help you achieve a more ‘normal’ skin type.
This is one area where you can have a strong influence. You choose what you eat and what you eat will affect your skin. Eat oily, greasy foods and your skin will reflect that. Eat healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables and your skin will reflect that too.
Some vegetables are particularly good to help balance your skin and help reduce the oiliness of your skin. Some include: Greens and fruits; drink Yarrow Tea; add Cucumber, parsley, Cabbage, Tomato to your cooking and salads.
In addition make sure you have adequate levels of vitamin B2. Even a slight deficiency in vitamin B2 can cause oily skin. Natural sources of vitamin B2 are nutritional yeast, wheat germ and organ meats, which provide both vitamin B5 and vitamin B2. Other good sources of vitamin B2 are whole grains, beans, nuts, and royal jelly. Buckwheat, black beans and whole rice are excellent to supply the body with iron, which will rejuvenate pale skin.
Hormonal causes of oily skin
Hormones influence your skin to a great extent. The birth control pill can cause some women to develop oily skin, while in others it can cause dryness of the skin. You should talk to your health professional about your concerns if you suspect your birth control pill to be causing you oily skin.
Climatic causes of oily skin
Hot, humid climates tend to cause oily skin. Again you can counteract this by using a high quality natural skin care regime and drinking lots of water (in excess of 3 litres per day).
Most commonly, teenagers are most likely to be affected by oiliness of the skin, however, hormonal changes, such as pregnancy, puberty, menstrual cycles etc., can affect the sebum secretions of the skin and result in oily skin. Although, generally with age the skin tends to become dryer, oily skin can still be a problem even during the middle stages of life, often referred to as ’middle age acne’. The up-side of oily skin is - it ages more slowly.
Pregnancy is a time when your body goes through a number of hormonal changes, these will tend to normalise themselves after birth, however, using a good quality, natural skin care regime can give you considerable relief while your pregnant and wish to get your oily skin under control.
Skin Care for Oily Skin Types
First, let’s look at what NOT to do:
Do not wash your face more than once or twice a day. Washing your skin tends to irritate it and this will cause the skin to produce more oil in order to soothe the irritation.
Do not use soap to wash your face. Most commercially manufactured soaps change the natural pH of your skin. Your skin’s pH is slightly acidic and the wrong soaps will strip the skin of it’s natural soils and destroy the protective ‘Acid Mantel’.
Do not use strongly astringent products (products that leaf your face feeling dry and dehydrated).
Now let’s look at what TO DO to balance your oily skin
Use a complete, natural skin care regime.
Two or three times a week use a deep cleansing mask specifically formulated for oily skin. Wildcrafted’s Green Earth Medicine Facial Clay has been specifically formulated for oily skin and includes ingredients such as Green Clay and Niaouli Hydrosol, which are beneficial in treating your oily skin.
A system that includes all these essential oils, herbal extracts and hydrosols is the Natural Skin Care System for Oily skin from Wildcrafted Herbal Products.
Daily natural skin care regime for oily skin:
Wash your face no more than twice a day using hot water. Then use a natural cleanser. Wildcrafted’s Lemon Cleanser uses ingredients such as essential oils of Lemon and Lavender blended with Jojoba oil to cleanse, freshen and restore your skin and it’s pH.
Use a toner that is appropriate for oily skin. Wildcrafted’s Wild Herb Toner makes use of Witch hazel and Juniper Berry, which condition and tone the skin, while Grapefruit and Niaouli invigorate the skin prior to moisturising.
Use a moisturiser designed specifically for oily skin. Wildcrafted’s Avocado Day Crème contains wholesome oils like Wheat germ and cocoa butter that moisturise and hydrate the skin without leaving a greasy feeling and essential oils of orange blossom and lemon to cleanse and soothe.
For further information about the suggested products, have a look at the Natural Skin Care System for Oily Skin.
Make sure your cosmetic products are natural. Synthetic and artificial products have a habit of causing all sorts of skin reactions, apart from making your skin oilier than it already is.
Washing your Face
If you do have to wash your face, use hot water (as warm as you can stand). This will help dissolve the oils on your skin, promote blood circulation and open your pores, which will allow for deep cleansing of your skin. DO NOT USE SOAP. Instead, use the Lemon cleanser to clean your face and follow the steps outlined under ‘Daily skin care regime’.
Two or may be three times a week treat your skin to a facial sauna; A facial sauna uses the following herbs: lemon grass, licorice root, and rosebuds. Using equal parts of these herbs, mix 3-4 tablespoons into a simmering pot of 2 litres of water for your facial sauna. When the pot is steaming, place it on a table, and sit with your face at a comfortable distance over the steam for fifteen minutes. You can use a towel to trap the steam if you wish.
After fifteen minutes, splash your face with cold water and allow your skin to air dry. Follow this by using Wildcrafted’s Wild Herb Toner to close the pores of your skin. This will prevent loss of moisture and the essential oils and herbs in the Wild Herb Toner will nourish and hydrate your skin.
Drink plenty of water each and every day. Water is essential to help your body detoxify itself and flush the system. Drink at least 2.5-3.0 litres of water every day (if you can, use purified water when ever possible).
A regular exercise regime will also benefit your skin. Exercise creates increased blood circulation to the skin providing your skin with increases oxygen and nutrients, which will be beneficial in adding to control oily skin.
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Does Skin Care Vary with Skin Colour and Type?
The human world comprises people of many ethnic groups and cultures with each ethnic group having certain general characteristics with respect to eye, hair and skin colour. For example, central and northern Europeans tend more towards fair skin, hair and eye colour, while southern Europeans tend to have dark hair, brown eyes and darker, olive skin tones. People of African and Australian aboriginal decent have very dark or almost black skin, usually dark or black hair and brown eyes, whilst people of Asian decent have a yellowish skin tone and can have brown or blue eyes but have mostly dark or black hair. Those of American-Indian decent have more reddish tones to skin and hair with brown eyes. Why do people have different skin colours?
The reason people have different skin colours is because there are three main pigments that give human skin a wide variety of colours: melanin, carotene and haemoglobin. Melanin is mostly located in the epidermis of the skin, carotene is mostly in the dermis and haemoglobin is in red blood cells within the capillaries in the dermis.
Melanin, a naturally occurring sun-block that protects our skin cells from the harmful effects of ultra-violet radiation from the sun, is produced from the amino acid tyrosine by special cells called melanocytes. The production of melanin is controlled by an enzyme called tyrosinase and is stimulated by exposure to sunlight. People whose melanocytes do not produce very much tyrosinase will most likely have fair skin and will not tan easily. Some people inherit an inability to produce melanin because their melanocytes cannot make the enzyme tyrosinase and these people have a condition known as albinism.
How Do Skin Pigments Work?
Carotene, the same pigment that is found in egg yolks and yellow, orange and red vegetables and fruits, is a precursor of Vitamin A synthesis. People of Asian and American-Indian ancestry have more carotene in the stratum corneum and fatty areas of the dermis and subcutaneous tissue.
The epidermis of fair skinned people is translucent, thus the pinkish tones seen in Caucasians is due to the presence of the pigment haemoglobin, an iron-based oxygen-carrying molecule in red blood cells.
The relative proportions of these pigments give us the variations we see in skin colour: more melanin will give darker brown to black skin tones, more carotene is responsible for the yellow to reddish tones and the haemoglobin gives red to pinkish tones.
We know that genetics have a major influence on our skin colour, skin resilience and vulnerability to certain skin problems. In addition, people with a lot of body hair, often have a greater tendency to oily skin and blocked secretory glands resulting in pimples and other similar skin conditions. On the other hand, people with red hair and very fair skin, have less of a problem with oily skin, but tend to burn easily in the sun and thus stand a greater risk of developing skin cancer.
Below are some generalised characteristics of various skin types from different genetic backgrounds:
Skin Characteristics of people with Anglo-Saxon origins
* Fair, dry thin-skinned
* Scars heal well
* Signs of aging appear earlier
* Burn easily in the sun
* Bruising more obvious
* Greater chance of skin cancer
Skin Characteristics of people with Southern Mediterranean origins
* Oily, olive dark complexion
* Signs of aging appear later
* Cartilage tends to droop
* Darker, thicker scars more common
* Wrinkles appear later and in more localized areas
* Skin cancer rare
Skin Characteristics of people with Northern European origins / German and Scandinavian
* Fair, blue-eyed, blonde
* Thin skin
* Scars heal well
* Signs of aging appear early
* Bruising more obvious
* Greater chance of skin cancer
Skin Characteristics of people with Southern European origins
* Dark, oily brunette complexion
* Signs of aging appear later
* Fine wrinkling less common
* Bruising lasts longer
* Scars may be thicker and darker
* Skin cancers less common
Skin Characteristics of people with Northern European/Irish and northern England
* Ruddy freckled complexion
* Red hair
* Scars usually thin
* Signs of aging appear later
* Bruises easily
* Pigmentation problems
* Skin cancers most common in this type
Skin Characteristics of people with African origins
* Signs of aging appear very late
* Very little fine wrinkling
* Formation of keloids is possible
* Pigmentation changes may occur
* Thicker cartilage hard to change
* Skin cancers very rare
Genetically, this skin type is less susceptible to damage from UV radiation, although the skin can still get burned.
Skin Characteristics of people with Asian origins
* Signs of aging appear late
* Fine wrinkling does not usually occur
* Pigmentation changes may occur
* Eyelid surgery more difficult
* Skin cancers very rare
Do these ethnically different skin types require a different approach to skin care?
The answer is ‘to some extent, yes’ but on closer analysis we will see that there is very little difference between black, brown, yellow, red and white skin types!
Within each of these groups, there is a wide range in skin tones and overlap from group to group. For example, white skin may range from alabaster white to deep olive tones; black skin may range from light tan to almost ebony black; Asian skin from light yellow to deep tan; and in American-Indian and Inuit skin, various tones of reddish brown. These differences are caused by the concentration of melanin and proportional contribution of the other pigments in the skin.
People of different races have the same number of melanocytes but they are more active in dark-skinned people. Oil glands tend to be more numerous and large in black skin, and follicles tend to be larger, so black skin tends toward oiliness, although it is less acne-prone. The darker the skin the more protection melanin provides from ultra-violet rays of the sun and from premature aging and stays younger-looking longer.
It becomes obvious very quickly that we are all very different and have various advantages and disadvantages specific to our skin type, depending on our genetic predisposition. However, the overall structures and functions of skin are very similar irrespective of colour and are therefore cared for in very similar ways. Knowing your skin’s particular strengths and weaknesses, you can tailor your skin care approach to your particular skin-characteristics.
Classic Skin Type Categories
For the purpose of better understanding the care your skin requires, a ‘Skin Type Classification System’ has been devised and developed over the years. The basic skin types are generally described as oily, dry, normal, sensitive, mature or a combination of these. A brief description of each of the skin types and what you need to be aware of in order to balance your skin is given below to provide you with approaches to natural skin care which help you make the correct choices for your particular skin.
Skin Types: Normal, Dry, Oily, Combination, Dull or Mature
Normal skin type
Normal skin is smooth, finely-textured, soft and supple. If you are lucky enough to possess this skin type, treasure it by using light cleansers and lotions and mild toners and fresheners.
Dry skin type
Dry skin is usually thin and delicate and often flaky and prone to fine lines. It sometimes feels tighter than it should. Extremely rich and greasy creams are not good for it because they block the pores, often enlarging them and so creating an extra problem. Use light oils and lotions when moisturising and choose herbal toners, which are mild and not too astringent. Try to restore the pH or acid-alkali balance with the application of such things as cucumber juice or diluted vinegar so that the sebaceous glands are encouraged to function.
Generally speaking, the emollient and hydrating herbs (chamomile, comfrey, cowslip, elderflower, fennel, marshmallow, orange blossom, rose, violet) are the best to use in lotions and toners for dry skin. But there is no hard and fast rule. Astringent herbs can be good for dry skins, for example, if blended with emollient herbs or oils and gels, and many herbs are suitable for all skin types. If the skin is sensitive as well as dry, see the section on sensitive skin below.
Oily skin type
Oily skin is shiny and coarser-textured, often with enlarged pores. It is prone to blackheads and spots. Don't use alcohol to reduce the oiliness of the skin, as it will only worsen the problem. Many herbal toners are suitable for reducing oiliness and tightening the pores (see list of suitable herbs below). Egg-white makes a nice mild face-mask. Don't over-dry the skin; moisturise with a light lotion. Aim to restore your skin's acid-alkali balance so that the sebaceous glands cease to produce such large amounts of oil.
Astringent and cleansing herbs are generally the best to choose when treating an oily skin. These are: cinquefoil, clary sage, comfrey, cucumber, dandelion, horsetail, houseleek, hyssop, lavender, lemon balm, lemongrass, lemon verbena, marigold, mint, parsley, sage, witch hazel and yarrow. But don’t forget that many herbs are suited to all skin types and that many of the strengthening and anti-inflammatory herbs (chamomile, cowslip, fennel, lettuce, elderflower, orange blossom, rose, violet) are suitable for oily skins.
Combination skin types
The person with this skin type will have to follow two skin-care routines, one for the dry areas, and another for the oily. I think the oily areas balance up more easily in this type of skin than when the whole face is oily, so don't despair.
Sensitive skin type
This skin is usually fine-textured and often prone to reddish veins and patches. Keep to light oils and lotions for cleansing and moisturising, and mild herbal toners and compresses to soothe the skin and reduce redness and veins. It is usually wise for people with sensitive skins to stay away from the stimulating herbs (lavender, lime-flower, mint, nettle, sage, southernwood, summer savory, thyme).
Dull skin has lost the bloom of vitality and the soft glow of renewal, the acid balance has been lost and it looks matt and lifeless. This condition of the skin often occurs during or following severe illness. If it is oily or large-pored skin use diluted cider vinegar or lemon juice, or cucumber juice to balance it or if dry skin, use buttermilk or cucumber juice, together with a highly nutritious diet.
Mature skin type
It is possible to tone, soften and restore older skin to much of its former freshness. The skin has wonderful regeneration abilities, given the right support. Use a light hand with makeup if you must use it, as this tends to further dry and age mature skin. Of course, exercise, good nutrition, adequate rest/relaxation and a positive outlook on life all help the restoration process.
Other Factors that can influence you skin
The foundation of healthy, beautiful skin is diet. Are you getting sufficient polyunsaturated fats? These are essential to a healthy skin and do not cause facial oiliness. They are found in cereal grains, nuts and cold pressed nut and vegetable oils.
Plenty of vitamin C is fundamental to a beautiful skin, because this vitamin helps to build collagen and elastin, the bonding and structural substances which give tone and resilience. Eat bean sprouts, green and red peppers, black currants, oranges and lemons. Then there are guavas and rosehips, so your diet need not be restricted or dull. There is infinite variety to suit every palate.
Lack of vitamin A can cause dryness of the skin. Eat dandelion, parsley, watercress, carrots, pumpkins, celeriac.
If your skin is unbalanced, either flaky or too oily, or if your lips peel, then check your intake of vitamin B foods. Oats, years, bran, goat's milk, whole rice, sunflower seeds, sprouted seeds and grains are some of the sources.
Caring For Your Skin on a Daily Basis
Looking after the body’s largest and arguably one of the body’s most complex organs needs to become one of your daily routines.
Firstly, you need to adopt a regular, structured skin care regime of exfoliating, cleansing, toning and moisturising. There is no way around it.
Secondly, if you have combination skin, you may need to look at two different types of products to treat your different skin types. For example you may have both dry, sensitive skin and oily skin. That simply means you need to treat the sensitive skin with one set of products and the oily skin with a second set of products.
The next thing you need to consider is what you put into your body. Yes, here it comes - diet. Rather than promote any particular diet or tell you whether to eat high protein or low carb or what ever-diet, suffice it to say that if you keep your food as unprocessed as possible, as fresh as possible and as varied as possible - you will have a good diet and the foods you’re eating are helping you to correct the imbalance of your skin type.
The nutrients in your food will be reflected in your skin - eat processed, high fat foods and you guessed it - your skin will reflect 'what you eat'. This also includes adequate hydration: water is the basic ingredient required for all the chemical reactions that occur in body cells and for effective removal of waste products.
Don’t forget about exercise: swimming, walking, using the stairs instead of the lift at the office and using your feet when using the car is not absolutely necessary. It's not that hard, it just takes a bit of will power and knowing that increasing your blood circulation by doing those little things regularly will keep you healthier for longer. Even mild exercise, has a beneficial effect on not only blood circulation around the body but also on the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system assists the removal of waste products and excess fluids from the tissues and prevents the condition commonly known as cellulite or ‘orange-peel’ skin.
So there it is…no matter who you are, what skin colour or skin type you possess…look after your skin and it will look after you!
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About An Essential Oil of Interest: Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium)
This is one of the three oils obtained from the orange tree, the others are neroli from the flowers and orange from the rind of the fruit.
Principal Constituents: Similar to Neroli and Orange Oils.
According to Alvarez (2004), Citrus aurantium L. contains the following constituents:
Leaf: essential oil (0.2–0.4%) (monoterpene hydrocarbons [limonene], alcohols [linalol, nerol, and methyl antranilate]), flavonoid-glycosides (hesperidine), tetranortriterpenoids (limonin) (Arteche García, 1998; Font Quer, 1992, p. 435; Hou et al., 2000a).
Flower: essential oil (0.05–0.5%) (monoterpene hydrocarbons [limonene], alcohols [linalol, nerol, and methyl antranilate]) (Arteche García, 1998).
Fruit: flavanone (Hou et al., 2000b).
Peel: essential oil (2%) (monoterpene hydrocarbons [limonene 90% ]), bitter (naringoside, neohesperidoside) and non-bitter (hesperidoside, rutoside, and sinensetoside) flavonoids, furanocoumarins, meranzin, nobiletin, tangeretin, flavonoid-glycosides (hesperidin, neohesperidin, naringin, narirutin, rhoifolin), mineral salts, pectin, organic acids (ascorbic, citric, malic) (Tsuchida et al., 1996 and Arteche García, 1998).
Note Value: Top-Middle
Aromatic Description: Fresh, floral, citrusy, lighter in fragrance than neroli and slightly woody.
Energy Centre: Solar Plexus
Major Organs/Organ Systems:
Nervous system, Skin, Digestive system
Actions: Sedative, Anti-Phlogistic (Anti-inflammatory), Vulnerary
Indications: Acne, oily skin, stress, dyspepsia, fatigue, poor and sluggish digestion, anxiety, insomnia, irritability and restlessness.
Mode of Application:
- Internally: Honey Water, Inhalation, Infusion of the leaves
- Externally: Oil Blend, Baths, Compresses, Cream, Lotions.
Uses in Natural Skin Care Products:
Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium) Used In Wildcrafted's Range
Susan and I hope you've enjoyed the articls and information provided in our Newsletter and look forward to any comments and feedback you may have. We'd also like to encourage all of you to suggest topics you would like to see us cover.