Activated charcoal can be found in many air purification machines and water filters. It’s made by heating a rich source of carbon, such as wood, coconut coir, nut shells and coal, in an oxygen free environment. The surface area of the resulting product is multiplied due to the extensive network of pores created by the process. These pores make it immensely absorbent. In medical settings, activated charcoal is used to treat overdoses and oral ingestion of certain poisons. In soap, it binds to excess oils and dirt, leaving your skin noticeably clean.
The almond is a member of the rose family (along with apples, blackberries, and apricots), and the only member of this family whose seeds we eat. Loaded with antioxidants and phytochemicals, they are known to have the ability to counter cancer. As a major source of vitamin E, almonds used on the skin (ground to a paste (almond butter), added to a scrub or in soap), provide an abundance of nourishment known to smooth wrinkles, fade blemishes and promote an over all healthy glow.
Carrots are powerhouses of nutrition due mainly to abundant amounts of beta carotene. This organic compound is a reddish orange pigment that gives carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and other orange fruits and vegetables their vibrant color. It’s also found in kale and spinach (the orange color is masked by chlorophyll). Beta carotene, converted to vitamin A (retinol) by the liver, is known to improve night vision, prevent heart disease and promote healthy digestion. Acne prone skin can greatly benefit from the use of carrots, as the beta carotene and antioxidants act to reduce inflammation, promote cell renewal and even skin tone.
This thick viscous oil, pressed from the castor bean, is well known for its ability to bring relief from constipation, induce labor and dissolve ovarian cysts. Rich in ricinoleic acid, castor oil boasts antimicrobial properties, making it effective as a disinfectant when applied to cuts and scrapes, and as an antifungal when treating skin infections such as ringworm. Being easily absorbed into the skin, this moisturizing oil is a great ally to those with dry skin and hair, and its anti-inflammatory action is soothing to acne prone skin.
Who doesn’t love chocolate? It has, however, been the subject of much debate as to whether or not it causes acne. Cocoa is a powerful antioxidant and is known to improve circulation and fight the effects of sun damage. Modern research has revealed that theobromine and the naturally occurring caffeine in cocoa break down fat cells and reduce puffiness resulting in firmer skin.
This edible oil is pressed from kernels of the mature fruit of coconut palms found in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Pacific regions. Nearly half of coconut oil’s composition is lauric acid, which makes is effective in dealing with many harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi. Because of its high smoke point, it’s frequently used to fry foods, and is also used in curry dishes and in movie theater popcorn machines. Dry skin and hair breathe sighs of relief when coconut oil is applied. Soaps made with this versatile oil are very cleansing and produce copious amounts of fluffy lather. It’s even been known to lather in the presence of salt! If you’ve ever soaked in a hot bath with epsom salt and tried to bathe afterward, you can appreciate this particular quality.
French Green Clay
Also known as sea clay or illite clay, French green clay is one of the most commonly used cosmetic clays in the world. Mined from naturally occurring deposits in France, it owes its beautiful light green color to iron oxides and decomposed plant matter. It contains a wide variety of vital minerals including dolomite, manganese, silica, copper, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc and calcium. French green clay is known for its powerful absorbency due to the structure of its micro molecules, and can hold nearly its weight in water. This quality makes it a great ally for oily and acne prone skin, although normal skin would also enjoy the benefits of periodic use. In addition to soaking up excess oils and impurities that clog pores, French green clay exfoliates, tightens pores and stimulates the skin, bringing fresh blood to skin cells. Due to its ionic charge, it acts like a magnet, attaching itself to molecules of toxins, making them easy to remove from the skin.
A delicious cup of green tea is a great way to nudge the day into action. The naturally occurring caffeine will not only provide a boost of energy, but is known to shrink fat cells. Check the label of your favorite cellulite cream. You’ll likely find caffeine listed in the ingredients. Green tea’s antioxidant powers have been extensively studied and are shown to provide protection against free radicals that wreak havoc in our bodies. Skin benefits include a reduction of inflammation, enhanced sun protection and slowing down the signs of aging. Because the tannins in green tea are astringent, it’s often used to reduce puffiness around the eyes making you look and feel fabulous!
If you like Thai or Indian food, you have probably enjoyed a dish containing lemongrass. This citrus flavored plant is native to India, and is widely used in Indian, Thai, Vietnamese and Caribbean cuisine. It’s widely known to repel insects, but is also valued as an antifungal, fever reducer and pain reliever. Combine its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and you have a great ally for acne prone skin.
Cleopatra was one smart lady. Milk baths are a great way to keep your skin soft and supple. The lactic acid in milk is an alpha hydroxy acid that gently removes dead skin cells and promotes cell renewal. This exfoliating property evens skin tone and smooths wrinkles by increasing the skin’s water retention capacity.
Oats have been used in the care of skin for thousands of years. Its ability to soothe itchy and inflamed skin makes it an easy and inexpensive beauty treatment. Colloidal oatmeal, which is a fancy name for oats that have been finely ground, contains sugars that bind to skin providing a soothing protective barrier against irritants, and also acts as an emollient by holding moisture against the skin. Its coarse texture provides an exfoliating action that removes dead skin cells leaving skin smooth and soft. Eczema, chicken pox and dermatitis are some of the many skin conditions that have been known to benefit from the moisturizing and soothing properties of oatmeal.
Native to the fertile Mediterranean basin, olives have been enjoyed by people for thousands of years. The oil pressed from this green fruit has a seemingly endless number of uses including cooking, religious ceremonies, oil lamps and various beauty treatments. This liquid gold is known to moisturize and soothe dry skin, and, due to its antioxidant content, provides protection from premature aging. It’s the only oil used to make Castile soap.
Palm oil is pressed from the fruit of oil palm trees found in southeast Asia and Africa. It lends its red-orange color to an abundance of beta carotene. This, along with copious amounts of vitamin E, makes palm oil an antioxidant powerhouse. Regular consumption and use of this edible oil is known to slow down the aging process by destroying free radicals that cause fine lines and wrinkles.