Oil of the Month – Meadowfoam Oil

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Meadowfoam Oil is a fairly new oil in skincare in the UK.  It’s the one we are asked most about when people read it on our ingredients list.  We use it because we believe it’s pretty special and has great skincare properties!

The oil is pressed from the seeds of Meadowfoam (Limnanthes alba), a plant which received its name because,while in bloom, it resembles the white foam blowing on the ocean. Meadowfoam is native to northern California, southern Oregon, Vancouver Island, and British Columbia.

Chemically, Meadowfoam oil contains over 98% long-chain fatty acids, and also has higher quality triglyceride levels when compared to other vegetable oils. In addition, it has three long chain fatty acids that were previously unknown before its discovery. This all enhances its moisturising and rejuvenating capabilities, and is why it’s a key ingredient in our Frankincense and Rose Moisturiser. It also means that it’s a very stable oil so can help ensure the shelf life of your product.

When applied to the skin, Meadowfoam Oil forms a moisture barrier and will assist the skin with preventing moisture loss. When added to lotions and lip balms, it will remoisturise dry or cracked lips and skin, and helps make balms last longer. We use it as one of our plant oils in our award winning Spearmint & Tea Tree Nurture Balm for these very reasons

In summary, Meadowfoam oil has these beneficial characteristics:

  • Moisturises the skin
  • Rejuvenates and adds shine to hair
  • Non-greasy feeling, soaks into the skin easily
  • Helps reduce wrinkles and signs of ageing
  • Blends well with other carrier oils
  • Very stable,  even under heat and air exposure
  • Binder, helps products retain their scent longe


In addition to  its uses, Meadowfoam oil is also beneficial for our environment! It was first developed in the 1970’s, and was introduced as an alternative to sperm whale oil in order to protect the species. The Meadowfoam plants themselves are a renewable crop, and are usually grown as a rotation crop for grass seed farmers. This eliminates the need to burn the fields in between grass seed plantings, and also provides farmers with additional income. Meadowfoam also requires less fertilizer and pesticides than most crops, assisting farmers and the environment.

So really, what’s not to love!

Take care

Cecilia & Claire x

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#WOW Mary Elizabeth is a Winner!

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We are delighted to announce that Mary Elizabeth has won the prestigious WOW Award from the inspirational female entrepreneur, Jacqueline Gold.

When selecting the  winners, Jacqueline looks for businesses that are interesting, that have strong brand values and that she thinks have potential to grow and succeed in their industry. She looks for quality products, well designed websites and entrepreneurs who appear to have a good business sense and who have thought about what the consumer wants and how to deliver it.

Thanks for the accolade Jacqueline!

Cecilia and Claire x

Does skin really breathe?

 

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Breathing occurs when air moves  in and out of our lungs. It is one of the few completely involuntary actions of the human body – we don’t “do” breathing, it just does itself!

Breathing delivers oxygen to different parts of our body, gets rid of excess carbon dioxide  and  helps move blood around the body. It’s an amazing part of our human physiology and we would die without being able to breathe.

But you have probably heard claims from skincare products saying that they help the skin to breathe. But the truth is that the skin does not breathe!

Skin is pretty amazing. It is the body’s largest organ, comprises about 15% of our body weight and it holds all our internal organs together. However it doesn’t play an active role in helping us breathe. The skin does absorb some oxygen under the right circumstances but that isn’t helping it “breathe”

The only mammal which actually breathes through its skin is the the tiny Marsupail  mouse Julia Donnart, which is too weak to inflate its lungs when it is first born, so it breathes through its skin instead until it leaves its mother’s pouch. Humans don’t breathe troughtheir skin.

When a product says it “helps your skin breathe” what it actually means is that it won’t clog your pores.  I suppose the former sounds better in adverts though!

When a product or ingredient is known to block pores, it is also called “comedogenic”. A comedo is a blocked hair follicle in the skin – a spot or a pimple. So when you apply a skincare product and you let your skin “breathe” you are actually  using ingredients that don’t cause spots!

See our Blog next month “Pouring Oil on Troubled Skin” for more about comedogenic oils

Take care

Cecilia and Claire xx

The Benefits of Natural Oils on Dry Skin

shutterstock_119013610Most of us will experience dry skin at some stage in our lives, especially during the harsh winter months when wind, cold and central heating all take their toll.

The main cause of dry skin is the gaps which open up between the skin cells when they are not sufficiently plumped up with water. Moisture is then lost from the deeper layers of the skin, allowing bacteria or irritants to pass through more easily.  If your skin is particularly dry it might crack or peel and then become inflamed or irritated. This is more likely to occur on the hands and feet, which we tend not to moisturize as frequently. Your skin might become slightly rough and itchy.

Inflamed or cracked may be the first sign of dermatitis.

Adequately moisturising your skin on a regular basis is the first step to managing dry skin. Using products which contain natural plant oils is a great way to increase the moisture levels in your skin

Oils are emollients, which mean they soften or soothe the skin, helping it to keep  skin moist and flexible. Oils help produce a layer over the skin’s surface which traps water beneath it.

Oils can also help soothe the inflammation and irritation normally associated with dry skin. They create a protective layer which helps to reduce the penetration of irritants, allergens and bacteria, and so helping to prevent the development of dermatitis.

Natural oils also make the skin look more hydrated and less wrinkled. Because they are plant based they contain beneficial compounds such as polyphenols, phytosterols and carotenoids ( we’ll be explaining more about these compounds in a future blog, so keep reading).These compounds are metabolised by the skin and provide antioxidant properties which can help reduce those signs of aging.

So which natural oils should you be looking out for? At Mary Elizabeth we have a few favourites which we include in our products

Oils that are denser and have a high viscosity which typically penetrate a bit slower into the top layers of the skin such as Avocado Oil (Persea Gratissima) and  Meadowfoam Oil (Limnanthes Alba)  .We use these in lovely oils in all our products

 Oils that offer natural anti-inflammatory properties , for example Jojoba Oil (Buxus Chinensis) and Hemp Seed Oil (Cannabis Sativa). Hemp oil is also great for nails which is another reason its in our multi award winning Spearmint and Tea Tree Nurture Balm

Oils that have been infused with anti-inflammatory herbs oils (generally called ‘macerated’ oils) such as  Calendula Oil (Calendula Officinalis) and Chamomile Oil  (Anthemis Noblis) both of which we’ve included in our Juniper and Jojoba Hand Cream

All of these oils can be used as facial oils. Use a few drops and massage them into your delicate facial skin after your normal evening cleansing and moisturising routine. You may want to try different oil blends until you find one that works best for your skin.

Oils really are natures defence against dry skin

Take care

Cecilia and Claire x

 

Some things you may want to know (2) “Fragrance”

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At Mary Elizabeth we really encourage you to read, and understand, the ingredients label on your skin care products.

At the end of a list of ingredients on your skincare label you may read the, seemingly natural phrase “fragrance” . While this may sound harmless enough, the word “fragrance” can represent hundreds of chemicals, many of which can cause allergies, asthma attacks, headaches and more.

Plus, virtually all synthetic fragrances are stabilized with phthalates, a group of chemicals which have, in some studies, been linked to reproductive problems and birth defects in animal studies [Source: EPA].

Added fragrances in your skincare products may be irritating and actually strip your skin of its natural oils. It’s best to avoid anything overly perfume-y or scented, unless the products are completely natural and only use  essential oils or fruit and plant extracts.  This is what we do here at Mary Elizabeth.  No chemical fragrances – just natural smells

Take care of yourself , and your skin

Cecilia and Claire x

Some things you may want to know (1)

shutterstock_156482051You’ve likely heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” And the same theory holds true for your skin: What you apply to your skin is absorbed directly into your body. if you’ve ever turned over the packaging of your favourite skincare product  you may have noticed a long list of ingredients you didn’t recognise. ( Actually, you may have thrown away the list of ingredients, along with the fancy box your product came in  – but don’t lets get started on that point!!)

Considering that the skin is your body’s largest organ, it’s crucial to know what you’re putting into your system.  Our next few blogs will be looking at some ingredients, commonly found in skin care products, which you may be well to avoid

Sulphates , parabens, t”Fragrancehe cosmetic industry uses all kinds of chemicals in its products—some are beneficial but others could be harmful. And many of them are not doing anything for your appearance and may even be making matters worse.

Read on to get more information on some of the ingredients you may want to think carefully about before putting them on your skin.  The first is Sodium Lauryl Sulphate or SLS

When you see labels that say “sulphate free,”  you may wonder why. Sulphate compounds (commonly called sulphates) are found in many personal care products such as shampoo, toothpaste, shaving foam, body washes and facial cleansers. In cleansers, they function as surfactants: water- and oil-soluble compounds that, when combined with water, foam and emulsify greasy substances. They’re high foaming, which means that you don’t have to use very much

There are hundreds of varieties of sulphates, but sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulphate (SLES) are the ones most commonly used in personal care products.

Sulphates are chemical compounds act as surfacants, which means they lower the surface tension of a liquid, breaking up the hydrogen bonding and enhancing the spread of water over surfaces. They also act as foaming agents and emulsifiers, helping oil and water based products to mix.

The problem with sodium lauryl sulphate is that it often strips the skin (and scalp, in the case of shampoo) of natural oils that our skin actually needs for protection. It can be very irritating, especially if a person is allergic to it and even modest amounts in products may cause allergic. reactions. It can irritates the eyes and induces nausea if swallowed. What’s more, because it removes the skin’s natural, protective oil, the body ends up producing more oil (the very thing you’re trying to get rid of) to compensate.

Here at Mary Elizabeth we don’t use SLS or SLES in all our products because we want them to avoid irritating your precious skin

Next time we will look at what is meant exactly when a product says it includes “Fragrance” “Perfume” or “Parfum”

Take care of yourself, and your skin!

Cecilia ad Claire x

 

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So, what is the purpose of skin?

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Your skin isn’t just a useful cover which keeps all your bones, muscles and internal organs in place. It is  actually the largest organ in your body.  Just to highlight a few of the many protective functions your skin serves.

  1. Protects your internal organs from injury and infection and is your primary and most important defense against infections.
  2. Helps eliminate wastes through perspiration.
  3. Assists your immune system by providing a protective barrier to viruses and bad bacteria, thus preventing infections.
  4. Provides a friendly habitat for good bacteria.
  5. Helps maintain body temperature by controlling heat flow between you and your environment.
  6. Seals in moisture, maintaining your body’s delicate fluid balance.
  7. Produces vitamin D, which is crucial for your health.
  8. Sends sensory feedback to your brain because it is rich in receptors, such as hard/soft and hot/cold, so that you can react to dangerous conditions around you.

Your skin is vital to your health, yet many people fail to take care of it. Because your skin has the ability to absorb much of what you put on it, informed choices are critical to optimize your health.

We’ll be thinking about the importance of these choices over the coming months in our blog discussions

Take care

Cecilia and Claire x

Beauty Magazine Awards Shortlist

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We are delighted to announce that our Spearmint and Tea Tree Nurture Balm has been short listed for two awards in the Beauty Magazine Awards 2014.  The shortlist has been decided by a panel of leading beauty experts and beauty buyers, so it is a real achievement to get this far

Our lovely Nurture Balm is up for Best New Natural Product and Best New Hand and Nail Product. Very exciting

Details about the awards and how to vote can be found on http://www.thebeautyawards.com/

Results are on 13 November so we will keep you all posted.  Wish us luck – and please vote if you are able to

Cecilia and Claire

Here comes the Sun – it’s about Care not Scare!

 

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We hear so many mixed messages about the dangers, or benefits of the sun.  Hopefully not confusing you any further, I thought I would give you my thoughts on the issue

Most of us equate a golden glow with health, and a white pallor with being unwell.  Neither is actually true, but if you want that glow there are ways of achieving it without putting your health at risk.  I wish I’d known this when I was younger – years of using sunbeds in my late teens and twenties left me with skin damage that resulted in skin cancer in my 50’s. At that time it was thought of as a safe way to tan!

The first thing to recognise is that sunshine is actually vital to our health and wellbeing.  Having just come out of the winter months we all recognise the emotional and wellbeing benefits of clear skies and sunny days, but shouldn’t forget the incredible beneficial effects of Vitamin D – essential for our immune system, increasing our oxygen levels and helping keep strong teeth and bones.

So sun exposure is a good thing, but over exposure isn’t – and sunburn is a definite no!

Sunscreens claim to block 90 percent of the suns harmful rays.  Chemical varieties allegedly absorb UV rays. Does this mean we can slap it on and then lie for hours in the sun?  Probably not!  The results can still be walnut coloured skin at the end of a fortnights holiday – which just isn’t natural and realistically is likely to be causing changes to the dermis and epidermis which will at best result in signs of ageing and at worst to potentially cancerous changes to the skins structure.

UVA and UVB protection can be confusing. UV radiation is principally made up of UVA and UVB rays. UVA are less likely to cause sunburn but penetrate the skin more deeply and are believed to be responsible for wrinkles and the leather skin look. UVB rays burn and probably are the cause of some types of skin cancer

Most sunscreens claim to offer protection against both rays.  But do remember that they only provide a limited protection, meaning that you can stay for short periods in the sun without the potential for burning.  And a 50 SPF isn’t twice as powerful as  25 SPF.  It actually only gives approximately 3% more protection, so don’t be fooled into a false sense of security by this.

I now avoid the sun between 12 and 3 when on holiday, taking the opportunity to find a restaurant where I can sit in the shade over lunch with a glass of wine and people watch.  The rest of the time I make sure I limit any time spent lying out in direct sun to short 10 minute bursts every hour, enjoying reading in the shade the rest of the time, and wearing a natural sunscreen with minimum 30 SPF.  I keep lavender oil to hand, it wards off the mosquitos and I am able to offer it to fellow holiday makers who have over indulged in the sun (can be applied neat and liberally to red skin, amazingly soothing!) Aloe Vera gel is also always in my suitcase, it’s a great aftersun basic.

So be careful out there. reapply sun cream liberally about 3 times an hour, and enjoy your holiday!

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun – and I say, it’s alright!

Cecilia x

 

 

 

 

Ultimate Natural Beauty Bible Award Winner!

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Amazing news!  Our Spearmint and Tea Tree Nurture Balm has won a Beauty Bible Award!

Not only that, the Beauty Bible panel of testers have chosen it as the BEST Multi Purpose Balm on the market at the moment, giving it a fantastic 9/10!!  The product appears in the Ultimate Natural Beauty Bible, which was published on 20 March 2014

The Ultimate Natural Beauty Bible is the latest in the Beauty Bible series, written by Jo Fairley (founder of Green and Blacks) and Sarah Stacey, beauty Journalist and expert.  A panel of Beauty Bible testers tried a wide selection of natural products over a month, scoring them on effectiveness, quality and branding.  Only the very best won a Beauty Bible Award  and get a mention in the Beauty Bible.

Comments from the testers for our Nurture Balm included ” a real powerhouse” “smells divine” “in my opinion this is better than Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream”  Praise indeed!

We are absolutely thrilled that not only did we win an award, but our Nurture Balm was rated the very best Multi-Purpose Balm.  Thank you testers, and of course Jo and Sarah xx

Cecilia & Claire