Saturday, May 27, 2006

"a little of what you fancy does you good"

My first ever lipstick was 72% pure Dark Chocolate.
At the tender age of 8, I used my pocket money to buy chocolate - not just any old chocolate it had to be plain dark chocolate - the best that my meagre allowance could buy.

I would break off a small bit, use the pointy corners as a lip liner, and then smother my lips with the rest to make it look as if I were actually wearing lipstick.

To this day I still use dark chocolate in my cosmetics. It's still difficult to find natural face powders that match my skin tone, won't make me break out in acne spots, or look "off colour" around the jaw line. So I make it myself!


Nourishing Homemade Face Powder
Just mix a little 100% organic Cocoa Powder (an anti-oxidant) with pure cornstarch (to absorb any excess oil) and TA-DA - the perfect couture face powder for my dark skin. It's more beneficial than using synthetic powders full of titanium dioxide and other skin-clogging ingredients. This mixture sinks straight into my skin providing an even skin tone and when I remove it my skin is left soft & supple.


Happy Days!
There's a well known “feel good” chemical called Anandamide which has been found and isolated in pure dark chocolate. All humans produce Anandamide in the brain (for females higher concentrations of Anandamide are found in the uterus). When you eat and/or smell chocolate it triggers even more “feel good” chemicals into your body.

Source: Neurosciences Institute, San Diego, California, USA (1996)



But..why?
Chocolate, Cacao, Cocoa (aka: Fruit of Gods or Theobroma [name of the tree], cabosse [name of the actual fruit]) is one of the most nourishing food known to man. It contains calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, vitamins A1, B1, B2, C, D, E, phosphorous & chromium.

In addition to this, it also contains a polyphenol called epicatechin which is a natural antiseptic, anti-inflammatory & anti-oxidant that helps to guard cells from free radical damage which causes skin to age.

Basically - the higher the cocoa content (72 to 100%) the more polyphenol, the healthier it is for you on the inside and out.

Cocoa concerns
Chocolate is not for everyone - there are those who either don't like it and/or are allergic to it. Although the cocoa bean allergen is destroyed through processing the cocoa bean into chocolate it still remains unknown as to how much of the allergen remains in the chocolate.


From Cocoa Pod to Cocoa Butter
All dark chocolate contains a natural fat that is present in cocoa beans. This fat is called Cocoa Butter.
Once the Cacao Pod is ripe the beans are extracted, sun dried, the husk separated from the nib & ground into Cocoa liquor which contai
ns approx. 53% Cocoa Butter and 47% Cocoa Solids. The Cocoa liquor is then compressed to obtain Cocoa butter &/or Cocoa solids. (Note: Cocoa liquor contains NO alcohol).

<- This is what pure unrefined cocoa butter looks like. It's hard, yellow to brownish in colour, melts at 34C and has a rich chocolate scent. Pure Unrefined Cocoa powder is the result of extracting the Cocoa Butter from the Cocoa liquor to produce a very bitter unsweetened cocoa powder.



Recipes:

Chocolate Honey Face Scrub
Increases circulation and softens dry skin.
Not suitable for oily skin.

Prep Time: 15 mins.

10 grams of 100% Pure Cocoa Powder
1 dollop of Honey
5 grams of Demerara Sugar
3 grams of Grapeseed oil or Sweet Almond Oil

Directions:
Combine all the ingredients until it forms a paste.
Gently apply to freshly washed skin & lightly massage with your finger tips for 30 seconds.
Rinse with warm water and you're left with soft detoxified skin that smells wonderful.


Cocoa Bath Soak
To soften your skin and restore the pH balance especially if your skin is alkaline ie: hot & sweaty.

Prep Time: 20 mins.

100 grams of Baking Soda
(The addition of Baking Soda/Bicarbonate of Soda to your bath water neutralises the "hard" calcium water.)
25 grams of 100% Pure Cocoa Powder
10 grams of Rose Petals (optional)

Directions
Combine all the ingredients until it’s a lightish brown colour.
Pour the entire mixture into the bathwater and soak for at least 30 mins.



Chocolate & Coconut Milk Hair Rinse
Suitable for those with dark, curly, frizzy hair.
Detoxifies your scalp and leaves your hair soft & fluffy.

Prep Time: 15 mins

200ml carton of UHT Coconut Cream
(Coconut milk is able to penetrate deep inside the hair shaft and carry nourishment, in the form of Cocoa, directly into the hair.)
25 grams of 100% Pure Cocoa Powder

Mix both ingredients in a Pyrex jar and use as you would do a commercial conditioner.

Use once a month or as often as necessary.


My next entry will be on Monday the 5th of June - as I will have to take stock of my business's inventory on Saturday & Sunday.

On Monday we are going to do away with dandruff & skin blemishes using 100% pure & natural aspirin.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

OH HONEY!!!
I know this is not entirely appropriate for my first ever blog about natural cosmetic ingredients but I just wanted to share this with you.

A couple of weeks ago my fiancé caught his "tackle" in the zipper of his suit trousers which left a bit of a scar. The first thing I said to him was "wash your "tackle" under some cool water, dry it & put some Acacia Honey on it before you go to bed." He tried it. The very next day he said that it healed up rather nicely.

Why was I *not* surprised...

About:
Honey is one of the most naturally hydrating, acid balanced skin & hair food. It's composed of a variety of sugars or glucose (also known as dextrose), lactic acid, beta carotene & trace levels of amino acids, potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, sulphur, vitamins & enzymes.

Note:
The nutrients contained within honey is dependant on the nectar that the bees collect.

Honey's humectant properties nourishes & moisturises everything it touches. In Thailand honey is used on open wounds to soften the scar tissue and encourage new skin growth. This may be due to the fact that there is a high concentration of sugars in honey that prevents the growth of bacteria on open wounds but it has never been scientifically proven.

Honey concerns:
i) Honey should not be used on infants under the age of 12 months for fear of infant botulism.
Clostridium bacteria may be one of the causes of infant botulism. This bacteria is said to be found in certain types of foods like honey. Infant botulism may occur in children from the age of six months or under.

ii) If you're allergic to pollen then you may be allergic to honey - a patch test is always recommended.


Well I'll Bee!:
All honey bees belong to the Apis gene regardless of whether the bee is from Sunny Africa or Bonny Scotland. Some bees have access to particular areas of fields where ONLY one kind of flower grows.
For example:
- Clover
- Goldenrod
- Heather
- Basswood
- Chamomile
- Lavender
etc...


It is the flowering plant (nectar or plant sap) that gives honey it's distinct flavour, colour, extra nourishment and/or individual beneficial properties.
Bees can also create their own blends of honey from various flowering plants in any one particular field.

Bees add a lot of moisture & enzyme compounds to nectar, the sugars of the honey nectar are broken down to form simple sugars - some of which are converted into a naturally occuring acid called gluconic acid. This is what gives each particular type of honey it's rich distinctiveness & flavour from mild to bland to full on powerful to sickly pungent.
(Note: There are synthetically made gluconic acids available too, so read the label & ask questions if you're unsure).

The colour of the honeys can range from deep black to beige or white. Each of the colours are created in the nectar of the plant, it is then transported back by the bee to the hive, then the bees do their natural stuff by reducing the moisture level. When the honey is darker it means that it has come from a nectar source where the flowering plant produces a darker plant sap.



Recipes
For Treating Dandruff:
Honey is a natural anti inflammatory - mix a dab of honey with a little water and a couple of drops of Lavender or Ylang-Ylang and apply directly to the itchy, flaky area(s). Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes and then rinse off or not - it's your choice.

Honey Rose Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse:
An easy recipe that will help to remove build up, restore the natural pH balance & rejuvenate your scalp.
Suitable for all hair types.
60ml of Apple Cider Vinegar
945ml of Water
10g of Dried Pink Rose Petals & Buds (add more if you wish)
1 drop of honey (add a few drops more if you wish)

Prep Time: 20 mins

What you will need:

* 1 Large Pyrex jar or bowl
* Cling film
* 1 Clean & dry glass Jar with lid
* 1 Strainer
* Kettle to boil the water

1. Put the Dried Pink Rose Petals & Buds into the bowl & add Honey
2. Boil the kettle. Once boiled pour the hot water over the Rose & Honey mix, then add the Apple Cider Vinegar.
3. Stir the mixture, cover the bowl with cling film and let steep for 10 minutes or until cool.
4. When the mixture has cooled sufficiently strain the herb from the liquid into the jar.
5. Pour the liquid over the scalp allowing the mixture to saturate your hair, message gently for 2 minutes
6. Rinse with cold water to seal the cuticles
Only make enough for 1 rinse and use it FRESH on the day you make it.

NOTE:
Keep your eyes closed when using the Honey Rose Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse also do not use if you have broken skin.

Yoghurt & Honey Conditioner:
Yoghurt contains AHA (alpha hydroxyacid) an example of an AHA is lactic acid/sodium lactate. Lactic acid is found naturally in milk products & fruit. When used on skin or hair it does leave a very nice silky soft feeling. AHAs are also a natural exfoliant too - so instead of using those expensive AHA products why not reach for yoghurt.
Prep time required = 10 minutes
1. Take a small pot of all natural yoghurt
2. Add a quarter teaspoon of honey.
3. Add a couple of drops of your favourite hair loving essential oil
4. Put the mixture on your dry, clean hair
5. Cover with Cling Film
6. Leave on for 15 to 20 mins.
7. Rinse
8. Enjoy the softness
Not suitable for those with milk intolerance or Ovo-Lacto Vegetarians


Next week it's Organic Chocolate to soften your tresses & moisturise your skin - mmm mmm goodness!