Winter, or dry skin season as I like to call it, is upon us. It’s inevitable that the cold air, the significant differences in temperature between inside and out, and if you have wood heat, that your skin will be dragonesqe at some point this season. Here are some winter skin hacks to help you avoid the scales.
Moisturize after your shower
Adding a moisturizer to your skin right after a shower is the most productive time. Your pores are warm and open and ready to accept moisture. You can use any moisturizer, but I’ve found that body oils work best for me. They go on smoother than lotion, and the good ones don’t get on your clothes.
Lip balm is your friend
There is nothing worse than smiling and having your lip crack open because it’s so dry. Be kind to your lips, and keep lip balm applied. The extra barrier between the fragile skin of your lips and the harsh winter air is a good thing.
Moisturize your hair
Believe it or not, your hair can feel the effects of winter just as your skin does. There are so many great ways to hydrate dry brittle hair. You can run your hands through your hair after applying lotion (be careful some creams can make the hair look very greasy), you can add a coconut oil mask before a shower, even a leave-in moisture spray applied after you wash your hair.
Hydrate from within
The best method to dealing with dry skin is to prevent getting it in the first place, and the best way to do that is to make sure you are always adequately hydrated. Don’t skimp on your daily water intake just because it isn’t hot outside. A hydrated inside is a hydrated outside.
Be gentler with your skin during the winter months. By scrubbing your skin too hard, you can remove the top layer of skin, which exposes the next more sensitive layer to dirt and dryness. Pat your skin dry instead of rubbing and reduce your sugar scrub use to once a week during the winter.
I hope you can thwart the dreaded winter skin this year with the help of these tips.
MB Botanicals has a new product, and I think you are going to love it.
Now you can enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy wherever you are. Just add your favorite essential oils.
If you are stuck in traffic on your daily commutes, try adding lavender to a pendant and hanging it in your car.
Lavender will also work wonders hung near your bed at night to help ease you into sleep. This works exceptionally well if you are staying in a hotel or anywhere that is not your bed.
Need some energy and focus while at work? Add peppermint and rosemary oil to a pendant hung near your desk.
Are you trying to quit tobacco products? Add some drops of black pepper essential oil and wear the pendant to reduce cravings.
Go ahead and get creative with the pendants. Add your own oil blends, and have fun with it. Place the pendants wherever they will be beneficial to you.
How are you using your pendants? Send me pictures and comments here on the blog or my Instagram or Facebook pages.
Our lives are exceedingly busy, and it seems like it gets harder to get things done as the years pass. One excuse we should never use when it comes to our skincare routine is “I’m too busy”. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars or spend more than two minutes to have magnificent skin all day long.
Let’s take a look at what a 2-minute morning skin routine looks like.
Step 1: Cleanser
A good cleanser is the start of it all. You want one that removes dirt and makeup but doesn't strip your skin of natural oils or moisture. With that said a good cleanser doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. I moved away from fancy cleansers a few years ago and started using a natural bar soap. Bar soap on your face, what! Yes, not all bar soaps are created equal. A good bar soap with nourishing oils and minimal ingredients is key. You want it to clean and not dry out your skin. One of the many reasons I started making my own and now offer them to you. My favorites for the face are the Chamomile Tea and the Calendula Facial Soap.
Step 2: Toner
Using a toner after washing your face benefits your skin in many ways. Add a bit of toner to a cotton ball or reusable cloth and apply to your face, paying particular attention to your problem areas. The toner removes any dirt or oil that your facial soap may have missed. However, is it necessary? Not always, especially if you have a good cleanser. Depending on your skin type a toner can do wonders but try to limit to once a day or every other day. Many toners contain alcohol that can dry out your skin. So look for one with a limited amount of alcohol.
One of the great things about toners are that if used consistently, you will see a drastic reduction to blackheads and overall acne breakouts.
Step 3: Serum/Moisturizer
It is essential to look for a high-quality serum or moisturizer that contains the right ingredients for your skin type. Serums/moisturizers have a big job. They soak deep into the skin to moisturize, condition, clean, as well as tighten the skin to make it look firmer and younger. It is even said to reduce and prevent wrinkles. It is a definite must in your daily routine.
There are many options out on the market and they can be expensive. Remember just because it's expensive, doesn't mean it's the best for your skin. Read the ingredient labels. More ingredients on the label doesn't mean it's actually better. Look for items by skin type. Oily, sensitive, dry skin all have different needs. I usually change up my serum in the winter since my skin gets a little dryer. With my combination, acne prone skin I use Face Potion #9 during the summer and switch over to FP9 Advance the rest of the year.
Step 4: Sunscreen
Don't forget the sunscreen. Sun damage is one of the best ways to age yourself prematurely. Protect against UV rays and wear sunscreen – even in the winter.
There are many ways to get sunscreen in these days. One of my favorites is in foundation or tinted moisturizers. Also make sure it has at least and SPF 15. SPF 30 is even better, especially if you are going to be out in the sun all day.
It doesn’t take much to have gorgeous skin, but you must be consistent. A skincare routine can take fewer than 5-minutes out of your morning, and your skin will look radiant, reduce/prevent wrinkles, and have fewer acne breakouts.
The benefits of treating your skin nicely in the morning far outweighs the time it takes.
Do you ever feel bad just throwing used up product containers in the recycle or trash? Not to mention, some of the containers are cute. I thought I would put together some fun ideas for people to repurpose those empty product containers.
Each section gives you different ideas for some of MB Botanicals specific containers. Hopefully, these ideas get your creativity flowing.
Sugar Scrub/Body Butter Tubs
Serum & Beard Oil Bottles
Lotion Bar Tins
Bath Salt Bottles
Lip Balm Tubes
Foot Balm Tubes
Remember to rinse them out well before use. A sudsy bath with liquid dish soap, or vinegar and warm water solution should remove the left behind product.
To clean glass oil bottles that have a lingering scent, try adding baking soda to the bottle and letting it sit overnight.
Remember to recycle or reuse when you can.
If you reuse an MB Botanicals container, I would love to see it. Tag me on Instagram and use the #reuseMBB to show off your creations.
Summer is nearly over, and we have been cruising around in our sandals all season. We tend to take more care of our feet during the seasons when they are exposed, but I believe a year-long foot routine is necessary for proper foot health. I have some tips to keep your feet looking summer-fresh all winter long.
Epsom salt soaks
Soaking your feet in Epsom salts helps in numerous ways. The magnesium in Epsom salts is absorbed into your skin and reduces inflammation, assists in healing irritation and skin conditions, and controls foot odor.
Remember to use lukewarm water for your foot soaks to prevent drying out your skin.
If you suffer from dry, cracked skin on your feet, you will benefit from exfoliating your feet at least twice a month. There are many ways to exfoliate: you can use a loofah, pumice stone, salt scrub, one of those wild grinding devices that spread dead skin everywhere, a washcloth or just use Alluvium Scrub (a soap and scrub in one).
Exfoliation removes dead skin from the feet and prevents more damage from occurring in the form of calluses and painful cracks.
You can also use Epsom salt as a scrub to exfoliate dead skin from your feet.
Do not exfoliate more than once a week, or you risk further irritation.
One of the most important ways to keep your feet looking beautiful is to moisturize often. Your feet will profit from a daily moisturizing routine right after a shower. The skin is warm; pores are open and receptive to moisturizer.
You can use lotion or body oil to moisten and nourish your peds. If your feet are especially dry, you may benefit more from a thick shea based cream, or body oil.
Our shoes are the main culprit (along with age and genetics) that cause dry, irritated skin. There are ways to protect yourself from this shoe damage. Along with all of the methods mentioned above, using a salve on your feet, like MB Soothing Foot Balm, before putting on your socks or dress shoes will keep your feet safe from blisters and calluses.
With a little extra attention to our feet through these dark and dismal days of fall and winter, they should be in tip-top shape for the next sandal season.
Purchasing skincare products can be a frustrating task. Not only do you want something that will work well, but you don’t want to use a product laden with harmful chemicals. As consumers, we need to be aware of what our products contain and look for ones that are good for our skin and our health.
The horrible fact is that we cannot rely on the FDA to correctly regulate what we purchase. The FDA regulations for skincare products only check that companies are putting the right ingredients and wording on their packaging. They do not restrict what goes inside that packaging.
We must research the harmful ingredients ourselves and carefully analyze each product’s ingredients label. We should not blindly trust that because a product is on the shelf at our local drug store, that that product is going to be safe for long-term use on our skin.
Skincare product companies use many different chemicals for many different purposes, all of this dictated by the consumer. We want things to have a long shelf life. We want the product to be visually attractive, and we want it to be a consistency that feels good and smells pleasant to our senses. All of these demands add more chemicals into the products we purchase.
Companies use preservatives (chemicals) to ensure their products last a long time on your bathroom shelf. Did you know that some companies use formaldehyde as a preservative? Formaldehyde is not something I want on my face while I’m still alive. They also use parabens to inhibit mold growth – but parabens have also been shown to cause breast cancer. I would gladly buy products in smaller amounts to avoid the need for preservatives and cancer.
If you see the word “fragrances” on a label, you should proceed with caution. Companies do not have to list what chemicals they add to come up with the product smell you want to buy. Not all of the ingredients in a “fragrance” recipe will be safe to put on your skin. Look for products that list the fragrances they use, or ones that use natural ingredients for their signature scent.
While we are a long way from pure transparency on the products we purchase, we are making strides. In an article by the Environmental Working Group at EWG.org, they outline how Proctor & Gamble will begin disclosing their fragrance ingredient list online. It will still take some research on the part of the consumer, but we are getting closer to being able to trust companies aren’t taking shortcuts to make a buck.
Not only are most chemicals harmful to our skin, but often combining different chemicals can have even worse effects. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are two of those chemicals. These are used in products to get them to foam. When combined with other chemicals, they can become a carcinogen – causing a good deal of damage to internal organs.
Chemicals to Avoid:
We don’t need to toss all of our products and make our own, but we do need to be smart about shopping for products that will benefit our skin and our health. By educating ourselves what chemicals to avoid, we can have gorgeous skin and reduce the harmful effects chemical loaded products can cause.
The best thing you can do for your skin, other than having a daily skincare routine, is to pay attention to what you are putting on it. Start reading labels, purchasing products with fewer chemicals, and being an advocate for transparent labeling.
There are times in all of our lives when we lack the motivation to get things done. I’ve been dealing with this myself lately. One thing that always helps me to find my focus and sit down to accomplish something is diffusing essential oil blends.
There are plenty of oils that help you find the motivation to do those heavy tasks or to get out of bed with energy and enthusiasm instead of gloom and pessimism.
Here you will find a list of essential oils that will help either calm your stress or energize you. Following the list is a few essential oils blends for you to diffuse or wear.
There have been many studies on peppermint and its effects. Peppermint is known to bring focus to the brain. Many schools provide peppermint candies to test-takers to help calm and stimulate the mind at the same time. If you need to focus or a spark of creativity, reach for peppermint oil.
What is better than motivation from the forest? Black Spruce assists in better self-image and strength. Imagine you are taking your strength from the mighty spruce tree while you are tackling those big detailed projects.
Citrus oils such as grapefruit, lime, and sweet orange are uplifting and energizing. The fresh and crisp aroma of citrus oils will help you feel motivated in whatever you are doing. It is the perfect oil to use when you need a soul lifter.
If you feel the need for a kick in the motivation pants, diffuse black pepper. Black pepper oil can be helpful when your mind is fatigued, and you need some positive stimulation.
Lavender is calming so you can get your head in order. Using lavender oil is also a great way to motivate you into sleep. If you are having a difficult time sleeping, try rubbing a lavender body oil or lotion on your feet and chest before bed. You can add diffused lavender oil to your room at nighttime as well to help you wind down. We all know that without proper rest we aren’t as productive as we should be.
Chamomile also produces a feeling of calm. Chamomile enables peace and tranquility, which can lead to better productivity and feelings of accomplishment.
Frankincense oil is a great stress reliever. If you are feeling overly anxious over a difficult task you need to finish, frankincense is the perfect solution. It can ease your negative thoughts as it surrounds you with its encouraging scent.
Motivation Essential Oil Blends
You can either drop these blends into a diffuser or mix them with a carrier oil and apply them to your wrists, or on an aromatherapy necklace.
5 drops Orange (or preferred citrus oil)
3 drops Lime
3 drops Frankincense
2 drops Peppermint
2 drops Ylang Ylang
Wake Up & Work Blend
3 drops Chamomile
3 drops Bergamot
2 drop Wintergreen
1 drop Cedarwood
Focus on it Blend
3 drops Orange (or preferred Grapefruit)
3 drops Peppermint (or Wintergreen)
3 drops Lime
3 drops Frankincense
Get it Done Blend
4 drops Black Spruce
3 drops Chamomile
3 drops Lavender
2 drops Ylang Ylang
Create it Blend
3 drops Black Pepper
3 drops Orange (or Grapefruit)
3 drops Frankincense
3 drops Lime
You don’t have to diffuse the oil or wear it around your neck to get these powerful benefits. You can also use lotions or body oils that contain some of these amazing essential oils.
As always, take care when using essential oils when pregnant or breastfeeding, and around your pets.
I hope you find these tips to boost motivation and drive helpful. If you use a different blend to motivate yourself, I would love to hear it.
Here we are at our last edible botanicals installment. It has been so much fun writing about how to turn flowers and herbs into pure deliciousness. Here, we will wrap up with a small compilation of some tasty botanicals that you will want to try.
You can use the petals of the marigold plant in many different ways. As with the rose petal, make sure you remove the white area that connected the petal to the plant. The white area is bitter and can throw off the taste profile of your dishes.
You can add marigold to soups, salads, casseroles, and meat dishes. You will want to think savory when coming up with a recipe that is perfect for the addition of marigold. This flower has a peppery saffron like flavor that complements salty or spicy foods.
I can think of nothing more extraordinary looking than a squash blossom on a plate. They remind me of some gorgeous sea creature – graceful and unique. And, there are some unique ways to use them in the kitchen.
Many people make fried squash blossoms. You can stuff them with cheeses, meats, and spices. Or, if you are reducing your intake of fried foods, you can stuff them full of whatever creative thing you can think of and bake them in the oven. However, there are other ways to enjoy this elegant blossom. You can add them to soups, stews, sauces. You can even add them to grilled cheese sandwiches, paninis, or quesadillas. Go wild and create something amazing.
The flowers of the sage plant are a delicate purple masterpiece. They taste like a milder version of the sage leaf, and you can use them in any recipe that you would add sage. Pork, chicken, and fish all would benefit from a garnish of sage flowers – not only is it tasty, but these petite flowers will add some serious appeal to your dish.
Add to soups, sauces, meat dishes – whatever makes you squeal with inventive glee.
While you are flexing your artistic muscles, why not add sage flowers to a homemade cake? You could even combine with rose petals to create a gorgeous presentation that is difficult to resist. If you do this, please send me pictures!
The flowers I’ve mentioned in these posts are not the only ones you can add to your cuisine; they are just some of the most popular. Once you master the edible botanicals within these posts, get out there and try some new ones. Remember to research if the flower is edible before consuming, and ensure that you are using a plant that has not been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides.
I hope these posts have inspired you to create something delicious and amazing. I would love to hear what you’ve tried.
Right now is the perfect time to use roses in some creative dishes. My roses are in full bloom at the moment. Every time I walk by them, I get a whiff of their romantic scent. There are countless opportunities to use rose petals in the kitchen. I’m going to share a few, and I hope you can try one or more. You will not regret the delicate flavor adventure roses can offer.
The great thing about cooking with roses is you can use any variety of rose. You do not have to look for a specific breed. Just head outside and start plucking some fresh petals. The only caution here is that you don’t want to use petals from a plant sprayed with pesticides. The more fragrant the bloom, the better taste you will have.
Once you have a basket full of yummy roses, you will want to remove any white area where the petal came off the plant. These areas are bitter and can throw off the flavor profile of your tasty creations. The extra work is well worth the result.
Rose Tea and Rosewater
Rose tea is a gentle and soothing beverage that can boost your mood and quiet your nerves. You can make it as bold as you like – however you make it, you will love it.
To make rosewater: add 1 part fresh petals to 3 parts water in a saucepan, cover and bring to a boil. Simmer until the petals have lost their color and then remove from heat and let cool completely. Once the rosewater is cold, strain through cheesecloth to catch the petals. Store in a glass bottle. The rosewater will keep longer if stored in the refrigerator.
To make rose tea: You will follow the same recipe as above, except you will skip the cooling step, strain the rose water into a mug, and enjoy.
See below for how to incorporate rosewater into your baked good.
The great thing about rosewater is you can use it for more than an addition to cakes or tea. It works great for sunburn relief and as a skin toner.
Now, take that rosewater you just made and substitute water used in the recipe for the rosewater. Add to cakes, cookies, bars, whatever makes your inner music play.
You can also decorate your baked good with rose petals. Adding rose petals to your baked goods will add romance and delicacy. You can add as few or as many as you like, and you don’t have to use only the petals. Try using small rosebuds on the bottom layer of a cake for something genuinely gorgeous.
Rose Infused Alcohol
If you are in the mood for a romantic and delicate sipping sensation, make rose-infused vodka. I did this last year, and it is yummy. Moreover, it is incredibly simple.
To make infused alcohol: Add rose petals to the bottom of a canning jar, and add the desired amount of vodka. Next, put a lid on the jar, shake it up good, and store it in a cool dark place. Continue to shake the contents every time you think about it – usually once a day. The infusion should be ready in a few weeks. I like to walk by and take a test taste every so often to see how the flavors are developing.
Rose sugar is unbelievably easy to make and delicious to bake with or sprinkle on cereal, wine glass rim, or anything you feel needs a romantic kick.
To make rose sugar: Layer petals and then sugar a few times in a glass jar, put a lid on it, and let sit for a few weeks. You will have fragrant, delicious sugar to adorn your creations.
Rose Petals on Salad
I eat salads a lot. However, every so often, I get a little bored with them. What better way to jazz up a boring salad than to add a few rose petals? Add some mandarin orange slices, strawberries, or blueberries along with the rose petals to make it even more magical.
I can think of nothing more delicate than spreading rose infused honey on a fresh, warm scone or biscuit. As with most of these recipes, making infused honey is truly easy.
To make rose honey: Fill a mason jar with fresh or dried rose petals, and then pour raw honey to cover the petals. Using a spoon, remove any air bubbles that developed. Add more honey if necessary, cover the jar and let the infusion work its magic for a few days. You can strain the petals from the honey, but you don’t have to.
Candied Rose Petals
Making candied rose petals is simple, and they are beautiful (and edible) garnish to anything. Add them to ice cream, drinks, cakes, or just pop them in your mouth.
To make candied rose petals:
Use an egg wash to cover both sides of each petal and then roll them gently in sugar. Lay them on parchment paper and let them sit overnight. That’s it.
These are just a few ways to use rose petals for cooking or baking. Have you used rose petals in your kitchen? Do you have some delicious recipes you would like to share? I would love to hear them.
Here we are with part two of our edible botanicals series. This week we are discussing something that I am passionate and excited about – lavender! Lavender is incredibly versatile. Its floral scent is calming, and its appearance adds romance and beauty to any dish. Lavender is perfect for drinks, baked goods, glazes, and as a garnish.
When cooking or baking with lavender look for the Munstead variety for the best flavor. You can use any variation of lavender, but each variety will give you a different taste outcome.
Baked goods are a great candidate for the addition of lavender. It is especially delicious as a pairing with citrus desserts. The lavender melds deliciously with citrus flavors – think lemon lavender pound cake, orange lavender shortbread. YUM.
There are a few things to think of when baking with lavender – you want to enjoy the floral flavor without chewing on the flower parts. The best way to grind up the flowers is to use a coffee grinder dedicated to herbs. The ground lavender can be mixed with the recipe’s allotment of sugar and combined that way. Alternatively, you may choose to make a syrup from your lavender (straining the flowers after the infusion is complete). The method depends on what you are making.
Pairing lavender with citrus flavors also reduces the impact of the strong lavender flavor. Lavender can easily overpower any dish, so use restraint when adding it to recipes that don’t have a guideline amount. When experimenting with adding lavender to recipes, start conservative and add more the next time you make the recipe, if necessary. No one wants to feel like they are eating straight lavender flowers.
The lavender sprig is a gorgeous addition to baked goods and meat dishes. Its scent can calm and ease stress, and its appearance is something that adds whimsey and delicacy. Adding decorative touches of lavender to cakes, drinks, and meat dishes can take the visual presentation of a plate up a level or two. Try this for your next dinner party or birthday event and wow your guests.
You can also utilize the leaves of the lavender plant to make your own Herbs de Provence to flavor potatoes, salmon, lamb, chicken or pork. Add dried lavender leaves with thyme, rosemary, sage, and oregano for a delicious homemade herb mixture. Bonus points if you grow each of the herbs in your garden and dry them yourself! The flavor and appearance of the herb mix will be worlds better than anything you can buy in the store.
Try adding dried lavender flowers or leaves to different sauces to make homemade meat glazes. You can add these to anything from chicken to salmon. You can use many different glaze mediums – honey, vinaigrette, butter, olive oil. Imagination and the lure to your tastebuds are your only limitations when it comes to cooking with lavender.
Lavender can even make drinks more exciting. You can dry your homegrown lavender to make a homemade hot tea blend. You can start with a simple syrup containing lavender and add to iced teas, lemonades, smoothies.
You can start your day with a lavender infused smoothie, and end it with a floral libation. You can make lavender infused vodka by adding ¼ cup lavender flowers per 750ml of vodka. Shake the mixture and put it in your freezer for four to seven days for a delicious alcohol infusion. Also, check out the Yummly website for tons of great lavender drink recipes. You will not regret it.
I hope you found some inspiration to add lavender to your diet. As we all know, lavender is fabulous for calming the body, but it also adds some great flavor to food and drink. Have you cooked or baked with lavender? If you have, I would love to hear what you thought of it.