Thursday, 31 July 2008

Skin food!

What do you get if you cross Gordon Ramsey with skin cream? No! Not f****** skin cream! In fact, what all of this is really about is me buying myself to a very swanky Bamix hand whisk as endorsed by Mr. Ramsey, for use in making my skin creams. Not, I imagine, what he envisaged using it for. LOL

As well as enjoying the smooth, fluffy results of the new whisk it also got me to pondering just how much making skin creams is a form of cooking - a way of nourishing myself and others. The skin is the largest organ of our body and, at a physical level at least, it forms a boundary line, where a two-way interaction takes place between us and the world around us. In this sense, it is all about our relationship with life. Through it we reach out and touch the world around us - so many things we touch in the course of a day! Other people, a plant, a steering wheel, an apple, a rubbish bag... And also through it, we can be touched by the world. Just writing this reminds me to pay attention to the sense of touch!

And of course, as we interact with life the skin undergoes wear and tear and may suffer from disease just like the rest of our being does at all levels. And so it needs nourishment and care. What I've been learning this year is just how appalling some of the ingredients are in mainstream cosmetic products, and of course that is what we are feeding our skin, ourselves, when we use them. And on the other hand, the feeling of both making and using a wonderful product with beautiful oils and extracts, and the 'best of the crop' from the available chemicals to preserve and stabilise the product.

But as with the food we eat, I don't believe in becoming obsessed about what we eat or put on our skins. What I mean by this is that we are so bombarded by diets and regimes that tell us what we should and shouldn't eat, the exercise we must do, and the evils all around us! In my experience this only breeds a lack of discrimination and self-reliance in us, which takes us ever further from our own sense of what we truly need, making us ever more dependent on the big cosmetic companies to tell us what we need. A sad truth indeed, and one visible in all walks of life. But I suppose that the trend towards people seeking out a more conscientious alternative is a step in the right direction.

So next time I use my skin cream I shall think of it as an experience in fine dining and see how well nourished I feel at the end. Knowing me though, I'll end up wanting pudding as well... ;-)

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Thursday, 24 July 2008

Emulsifiers and preservatives for creams

I was asked last week about some of the ingredients I use in my creams - such as preservatives - and I could only remember a little bit about them! So this post is for purposes of my own revision (maybe it'll stick in my head if I write about it) and anyone reading who asked the question!

I use a preservative supplied by Aromantic called "preservative 12" - or phenoxyethanol ethylhexylglycerin if you like long complex words - in all of my creams. I recently did a course with Kolbjorn about raw materials, and learned that this is the most natural preservative on the market, although it isn't certified by the the soil association as organic because it isn't biodegradable. I used about 12 drops in 100ml of cream. A search on phenooxyethanol ethylhexyglycerin (Ok, that's it I'm going back to calling it Preservative 12 now) brings up a number of natural cosmetic sites listing it in their ingredients, so it looks like I'm in with the right crowd. LOL This is what Aromantic say about it:

A new, innovative, more natural Preservative, which has just come out onto the market. The addition of ethylhexlglycerin affect the interfacial tension at the cell membranes of micro-organisms, improving the preservative activity of the phenoxyethanol. This blend a has a broad-spectrum effect on bacteria, yeasts, and mould fungi. Excellent for all types of Skin Care products, except those which contain Detergents. This Preservative is not pH sensitive and can be used in pH ranges up to 12. Recomended dosage is 0.5%-1%.
There are then a number of different emulsifiers available to use. Mostly I've used the duo of VE (glyceryl stearate) and MF (sodium stearoyl lactylate) emulsifiers, which are easy to use. VE is the fat-loving emulsifier that goes in with the fat stage ingredients while MF is the water-loving one! Both VE and MF are produced from coconut and palm oil.

I just recently tried out using a single emulsifier, that goes in with the fat stage: vegetal (cetearyl glycoside) which Kolbjorn describes as

...a modern emulsifier made according to ecologically friendly principles as its production does not involve the use of chemicals or organic solvents
Sounds good. It also makes very light creams. All good so far! The downside is that it's harder to work with - my first attempt was a runny, separated out mess. :-( My second attempt is much better, but I think it's going to take some practice!

So next time someone asks me about preservatives, I'll be able to say... "Oh, phenoxyethanol ethylhexylglycerin! Didn't you know?" LOL That is, if I haven't forgotten it again - but that's what blogs are for. :-)

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Mint and hibiscus tea

I'm just drinking mint and hibiscus tea - like it! :-) It feels like a quite yang, energising and refreshing mix - a bit of a taste sensation. Probably nice drunk cool as well on a warm day like today.
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Saturday, 12 July 2008

Discussion forum for Aromantic Students

This is a post to everyone I've met at Aromantic courses this year! At the course last week I said I would set us up a forum where we can connect and learn from each other as we continue to make up Kolbjorn's recipes. I've set us up a private Google Group to do just this - all you need to do is click on the link below to go to the group and request to join. You'll see that you get options to receive emails as a daily digest, individually, or not at all.

Aromantic students - Google Group:

I'm away for the next week so I'll accept any join requests when I get back. I look forward to seeing you online! :-)

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Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Essiac - the herbal cancer treatment

A friend has just brought to my attention the story of Rene Caisse and the herbal treatment called Essiac with which she treated cancer patients. Dr Gary Glum tells of her lifetime battle to get recognition from the medical establishment for Essiac in his book Calling of an Angel. I have found this book available online and it is a gripping, at times heart breaking, tale of one woman's fight against a medical profession that shamefully tried to suppress Essiac. The book opens:
"This is the story of a woman named Rene Caisse. For more than 50 years, until her death in 1978 at the age of 90, she treated thousands of cancer patients, most of them written off by doctors as terminally ill, with her own secret herbal formula. She called it Essiac - Caisse spelled backwards - and she brewed the tea herself, alone in her kitchen."
He goes on to say:
"I don't claim that Essiac is a miraculous panacea, capable of curing all cancers in all people, nor do I believe that. Rene Caisse didn't even believe that. She didn't claim Essiac as a "cure for cancer". Her former patients were the ones who put forward that claim, strenuously and over many decades. What Rene maintained was that Essiac caused regression in some cancerous tumors, the total destruction of others, prolonged life in most cases and - in virtually every case - significantly diminished the pain and suffering of cancer patients"
You will have to read it yourself to experience testimonial after testimonial of patients treated by Rene Caisse and either cured or significantly helped by Essiac. 

So why has this cure, or at very least helper, been suppressed? The answer seems to be pretty straightforward: money. On the website Healing Cancer Naturally, Dr. Ralph Moss is quoted:
"[Conventional cancer treatment is] big money. You have to understand that cancer is 1/9th of the overall health budget in the United States. The last figures I have seen from the American Cancer Society of money spent on cancer indirectly or directly at 107 billion dollars... Chemo is tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars. A bone marrow transplantation which is basically another way of giving chemotherapy or radiation can run to about 150,000 dollars per person, and is almost never effective. It kills about 25%..."
Revealing indeed! Especially when you consider how cheap Essiac is. According to Dr Brusch in Calling of an Angel:
"It's very inexpensive. You can get a gallon of the stuff for about $40, transportation and all. Just try and get radiation and chemotherapy - and see what that'll cost you"
Again from Healing Cancer Naturally, this time from a Dr. Warner (and there are many more on the site):
"Chemotherapy is an incredibly lucrative business for doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies... The medical establishment wants everyone to follow the same exact protocol. They don't want to see the chemotherapy industry go under, and that's the number one obstacle to any progress in oncology"
Lastly, I have found a site that claims to have the original formula for Essiac, and there is a also a book available called Essiac Essentials with the original formula. I will be making some in the near future.

(Note: on the online version of Calling of an Angel I found that the chapter links at the bottom of each chapter do not always work. I found that the easiest way to progress through the chapters is just to change the chapter number in the URL.)

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Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Nourishing hand cream

I wasn't too happy with the first hand cream I made, so I've just done a re-take. This time I really am pleased, it has a lovely consistency and a delicate smell. :-) The oils used were jojoba, olive, avocado, thistle, vitamin E and shea butter. And the essential oils of rose, lemon, sandalwood and geranium.

I'm thinking it would be good to start using some infusions for the skin creams, in the way I've used them for the shampoos. An infusion of rose petals, for example, would give the cream a lovely colour and also have a softening effect on the skin I think.

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