Best Natural Skin Care Ingredient That May Surprise You

Home made skin care

There is one natural skin care ingredient that stands out. We’ve seen it, eaten it and may even have some of it in our cupboards. We just never thought about putting it on our faces.

The ingredient is barley and it has been used in skin care for thousands of years. Somehow this amazing nourishing plant was relegated to the kitchen. It was and still is sought after not only for its pleasant taste, but also for its truly health giving properties.

Herbalists and naturopathic doctors understand barley’s role in lowering blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. It is also used for digestive and lung complaints and for increasing strength and endurance. We love it best for its ability to reduce the risk of cancer as well as reduce hot flashes and other menopausal discomforts.

And for all the good barley does on the inside, it’s just as beneficial on the outside. All skin types can benefit from barley.

Aging Skin

Barley has a host of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, all of which feed and nourish aging skin. Antioxidants protect against free radical damage while selenium helps maintain skin elasticity. Skin appears younger with better tone.

Rosacea and Redness

Barley is a natural source of azelaic acid known for soothing and calming red and irritated skin. Barley also has cooling properties which further helps to reduce inflammation.

Acne-prone Skin

Used as a facial cleanser, barley can help reduce oil production. It provides moisture to the skin while also being noncomedogenic (non-pore clogging). This makes it an excellent choice for those with both blemishes and aging skin.

So incorporate more barley into your life. Eat it, smear it all over your face and look for natural skin care  recipes containing barley. You’ll find recipes in these natural skincare courses.




Botanical Antioxidants — Essential for Younger Looking Skin

Home made skin care

We all know aging creates challenges for our skin.

Add in exposure to UV radiation from the sun or environmental pollutants and skin damage can arise. Aging can happen less gracefully and more quickly than you would like.

Pre-mature aging from these harmful exposures appear as fine lines, wrinkles, dryness or even dark spots. The damage from excessive sun exposure can even result in skin cancer. Fortunately, there is a solution.

Botanical antioxidants have been shown to reduce photoaging and inflammation of the skin as well as the incidence of skin cancer. Antioxidants are powerfully healing and help keep us youthful looking. When skin damage and pre-mature aging occurs, skin care regimens should be high in these valuable natural plant compounds.

How Botanical Antioxidants Work

Plants need to protect themselves as a response to constant exposure to harsh conditions, in particular, intense solar radiation. This creates a condition of oxidative stress. In response, plants have evolved to contain polyphenols that act as antioxidants. Antioxidants protect at the cellular level.

In humans, the antioxidants we produce in our own bodies function the same way. Antioxidants protect cell injury caused by free radicals occurring in response to excessive sun exposure, pollution, smoking, alcohol consumption and strenuous exercise. But our own antioxidants can only do so much. When we need to strengthen that protection, we look to the botanical antioxidants for support and healing.

Antioxidants not only help repair damaged skin but can also help prevent damage from occurring in the first place. Many botanicals high in antioxidants also encourage new cell growth making them ideal for skin healing formulations.

Here are some of our favorite skin-loving botanical antioxidants.


Pomegranate is best known as a tasty fruit. While eating the fruit is a superb way to get antioxidants nutritionally, external application of the seed oil is highly beneficial to aging and damaged skin. This luxurious oil is superior for protection from free radicals with strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It deeply nourishes the outer epidermal layer of the skin.

Maqui Berry

Maqui berry from southern Chile is also a delicious edible. It is thought to be one of the most powerful antioxidants. The abundance of free radical scavengers is likely due to the plants harsh growing environment, requiring an increased amount of protective compounds. Topically, maqui berry is particularly valuable. It is high in restorative anthocyanins and helps to reduce inflammatory responses.

Green Tea

Green tea is widely consumed as a beverage across the planet. A number of studies have connected the use of green tea and protection from cancer. Several polyphenols act as potent antioxidants to scavenge free radicals. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), the most abundant polyphenol has been considered to be the primary antioxidant compound. Green tea in skin care is known for its exceptional help for inflammatory conditions as well as cell damage prevention and repair.

Grape Seed

The seeds of grapes contain resveratrol, a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. Grape seed oil is a source of vitamin E, an exceptional age-defying ingredient that helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by boosting collagen. Grape seed oil also contains linolieic acid which is an essential fatty acid beneficial for skin healing.

For recipes high in antioxidants, check out these courses on homemade skincare.


Beauty and Menopause – What You Need to Know

Home made skin care

Hormonal shifts related to menopause means caring for your self in some new ways. One of those is rethinking your beauty care regimen.

The transition during this time can be made much more graceful if you have an understanding of the changes affecting you and how you care for your skin.

Menopause and the immediate years leading up to it mean fluctuations in the reproductive hormones of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone with an eventual reduction of each. During this time your body’s largest organ, the skin, goes along for the ride leading to some unexpected changes.

Wrinkles, Dry Skin and Redness

We all expect to eventually look older, but so suddenly? A reduced production of collagen and elastin is a normal part of the aging process. Menopause accelerates that process. Collagen provides the supportive structure of the skin while elastin is the protein that helps skin bounce back. Together, they are responsible for keeping the skin firm, smooth and youthful.

Menopausal change also results in thinning of the skin, slower cell turnover rate and less production of natural oils, all leading to less hydrated skin. Skin can become itchy and even sensitive and flushed with redness.

Acne, Blemishes and Breakouts

This new balance of hormones, particularly higher proportional testosterone levels with decreased estrogen, can create an environment for excess facial oil production. Acne can appear as small, tender cysts often at the lower corners of the mouth. Menopausal acne tends to be a shorter-term concern with more fluctuation than the issue of aging, dry skin.

What to Avoid

If you have ever considered reducing the amount of synthetic chemicals in your skin care regimen, now is the time. These often harsh chemicals burden your system at a time when it needs nourishing the most. See our blog post on safe skin care for important yet simple ways to protect yourself.

Absolutely avoid endocrine disrupting ingredients such as parabens. Phthalates are also endocrine disruptors that often hide under the ingredient listing “fragrance.” These further dis-balance the hormones potentially leading to serious health issues. Also avoid harsh ingredients that can aggravate dry, irritated skin including triclosan, sulfates, propylene glycol.

What to Look For

Products with safe, natural ingredients will promote well-being rather than depleat health. Beyond safe products look for anti-aging ingredients since signs of aging effect us all. These are often antioxidents. However, there are many other highly beneficial age-defying botanicals as well as luscious oils and butters. When redness, irritation and blemishes hit, there are excellent solutions as well.

Below are fabulous ingredients to look for that address these multi-issues. Select the ones that fit your specific needs.

  • For dryness and wrinkles:  Find products with hydrating aloe and oils such as argan, coconut, jojoba, avocado or vitamin E. Shea butter works exceptionally well. Ingredients with high levels of antioxidants include pomegranate and maqui berry. Antioxidants protect cells from damage and encourage new cell growth.
  • For Redness and irritation:  Nothing beats green tea and chamomile for calming inflammation. Licorice and barley are also highly effective botanicals. These plant-based ingredients are especially soothing and nurturing for aging skin.
  • For blemishes and Acne:  Most acne products on the market are much too harsh for mature skin. However aloe, in addition to hydrating properties, is also antibacterial to help keep those blemishes at bay. Calendula and lavender have effective antibacterial properties while gently caring for aging skin. Calendula in particular is excellent for boosting collagen and is high in antioxidants.

Menopause can be a time of beautiful transition. Good skin care is essential along with other healthy lifestyle habits for radiant, glowing health at any age.

Check out courses on how to make you own beneficial skincare here.


Safe Skin Care Made Easy

Home made skin care

One of the things I try to do for my students is take a complex subject and make it simple.

What could be more complicated than the ingredient list on your skin care products!

Without a degree in chemistry, how do you know what’s safe? There are thousands of synthetic chemicals circulating out there and to be honest, some skin care product ingredient lists read like a chemical slurry recipe.

Some of those ingredients are nasty.

Thankfully, there are some great lists of the chemical nasties to avoid on sites such as the Breast Cancer Fund and the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep websites. These are great resources especially if you are so inclined to commit synthetic chemical names to memory.

But add in a few complexities. Sometimes synthetic chemicals are hidden behind other chemical names or worse hidden under the general and perfectly legal term “fragrance”. Yep, that’s where you find nasty phthalates.

To complicate the issue a bit further, many chemicals widely used and widely believed safe at one point turn out to be not safe at all later down the road. Some have never been proven to be safe, just thrown out into the marketplace with best wishes. Yes, sometimes we are the animal in animal testing… (not that furry four-legged ones should EVER endure testing)!

So how do we figure out what is safe to put on our skin without making ourselves crazy? Here are a few tips to make it less complicated.

  1. Look for simple ingredient lists. The more ingredients, the higher the chance for one or more of those to be unsafe. It only takes a few ingredients to be amazingly effective. Think homemade food versus canned.
  2. Use fewer products. Again you’ll reduce your potential exposure to unsafe ingredients.
  3. Make your own skin care. This is trickier for cleansers and moisturizers but you can easily make a simple homemade mask of raw honey, mashed avocado or even cooked oatmeal (my favorite).
  4. Can’t find the time to make homemade? Purchase from small companies making “darn close” to homemade in small batches.
  5. Botanical ingredient names can sometimes look like synthetic chemical names but will usually include the more recognizable common name in parenthesis.
  6. Avoid any product that lists fragrance as an ingredient. If the product has an aroma, make sure it’s due to essential oils.
  7. Stay away from antibacterial soaps. These often contain triclosan.
  8. Avoid skin lighteners such as AHA, glycolic and lactic acids.
  9. The nasties list for skin care products is shorter than for beauty products in general. When shopping for your skin care regimen, focus on these most common ingredients to avoid:
  • Parabens, or words containing paraben
  • petrolatum
  • ceteareth,
  • retinyl/ol



Stubborn Acne? Start Drinking! 5 Best Herbal Teas for Troubled Skin

Home made skin care for acne

So you’re doing everything you can to take care of your blemished skin – great regimen, great cleansing, avoiding pore clogging ingredients and triggers, eating well – yet you’re still experiencing breakouts. Could your skin be telling you something about your internal environment? After all, your outer appearance is an expression of your internal well being.

Support your system from the inside out. Start drinking… herbal teas that is. They help process toxins that may otherwise be eliminated through the skin. We all encounter several toxins in our everyday lives and our bodies try to eliminate them as best they can. The kidneys and liver process most of these substances so it’s wise to help them along by providing ultimate nourishment. People with eczema and psoriasis will see improvement as well.

Below are our favorite kidney and liver loving herbs. We have also included a few relaxing herbs since breakouts can exasperate during times of stress. All of these herbs are perfectly safe to drink even during pregnancy. You’ll find ready-made teas containing these herbs in many grocery stores. Our favorite brands are Traditional Medicinals or Yogi Tea.

1) Burdock

This is the first go to herb for all types of skin conditions. The root is used to nourish and cleanse the liver for several conditions. The Japanese frequently cook with it which they call gobo root. If you can find it at your local co-op, incorporate into soups and stews as you would carrots or other root vegetables.

2) Dandelion

Dandelion roots have an affinity for the liver while the leaves tend to have more of an affinity for the kidneys. Even the flowers have healing benefits. In addition to finding them commercially, you can also collect them readily in your own yard! Just be sure they haven’t been sprayed. Put the roots in stews or the leaves in salads. Roasted dandelion tea is a great substitute for coffee.

3) Nettles

We absolutely love nettles, as most herbalists do, for their exceptional healing and nourishing qualities. Both kidneys and liver respond beautifully. They are also exceptionally high in vitamins and nutrients.

4) Chamomile

Chamomile is an old favorite for its relaxing qualities. – perfect for drinking just before bed. Your nervous system and skin will thank you. And it tastes good too!

5) Lavender

This aromatic herb is superior for easing tension and stress. Lavender is also one of our favorite herbs to use topically for blemished skin since it is naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.

Also remember to drink plenty of water since it’s highly cleansing, increases skin hydration and metabolizes differently than tea.

Check out the course on homemade skincare for acne.