Category Archives: dry skin

Ten Natural Health Life Hacks to Simplify, Save Money and Live Better

I am a huge fan of “life hacks.” Handy tricks that can greatly simplify a natural lifestyle create a win-win situation, allowing us to Natural Health Life Hacks
simplify our lives while improving our health. What could be better? Following are my Top 10 Natural Health Life Hacks. Use them to simplify your life, improve your health, save money, and live better. Have your own natural health life hack? Please share it in the comments!

Dr. Pamela’s Top 10 Natural Health Life Hacks

Stop wasting money on commercial colloidal oatmeal:  The word “colloidal” in relation to colloidal oatmeal simply means, “able to uniformly disperse in water.” That’s it. Nothing fancy and no chemistry required. Make your own colloidal oatmeal – and save a ton of money – by blending organic oats in a blender until they form a fine powder. It’s just that simple. Most commercial colloidal oatmeals contain chemical additives designed to improve the powder’s flow through processing machines, so by making your own you also reduce your exposure to potential toxins.

Freeze leftover smoothie in an ice cube tray:  Once the smoothie cubes are frozen, you can either use them as a cool treat on a hot day, can use them as ice cubes in water to create an “infused” beverage, or can toss them into a blender and make a frozen version of the original smoothie. You can also use the frozen cubes to save time. Make a double batch of smoothie every day for a week, freezing the excess and putting the cubes in a canning jar in the freezer. Use the frozen cubes to make a quickie smoothie on mornings when you run out of time for a healthy breakfast. Freezing the smoothie will detract a small amount of nutrition, but will retain enough nutrition to provide benefits. If you’d like a formula to use to make perfect smoothies every time, read this:  Perfect Smoothie Formula.

Keep a pre-packed bag with gym essentials in your trunk:  Having a back-up gym bag packed and ready to go will help eliminate most excuses for not working out. Keep one in your trunk, in your desk at work, or wherever it will always be ready. Items to pack might include a t-shirt and shorts, tennis shoes, deodorant, headband, water bottle, etc. 

Buy organic spices in the bulk section instead of individual jars:  When we buy organic basil in a jar, it costs $4.79. The same amount of organic basil in bulk costs us less than $1.50. Find a locally owned store that sells organic spices in bulk. The store we frequent even allows us to weigh our own container when we enter so we don’t have to use a plastic bag. We save loads of money by buying our organic spices in bulk. We wash and re-use glass spice bottles, but you can also find bottles on Amazon for next to nothing.

Measure your daily water need into a bottle in the morning and keep it with you all day:  We all need to drink half our weight (in pounds) in ounces of water on a daily basis. This means people who weigh 150 pounds should drink 75 ounces of purified water daily. Staying hydrated helps ensure our cells can work at their optimal level, helps us feel more energized, can eliminate headaches, and prevents the body from secreting hormones that make us feel hungry when what we actually need is water. The bottom line is that our cells work better when they’re hydrated and look like grapes than they do when they are dehydrated and look like raisins. So do we.

Ask for a to go box when you order at a restaurant, then place half your meal in the box as soon as it’s served:  Most portions of restaurant meals are huge, especially if they include side dishes, salad, etc. Boxing up half your meal as soon as it’s delivered helps ensure you don’t overeat and provides a meal for the next day. For more tips and tricks for eating healthily when eating out, read Ten Ways to Make Good Choices While Eating Out.

Use coconut water instead of sugary sports drinks:  Coconut water naturally contains every trace mineral present in human blood. It is also very easily absorbed and void of added sugars or corn syrup. It makes a much healthier alternative to sports drinks loaded with synthetic minerals and excess sugars. Coconut water is also often successfully used instead of infant electrolyte replacement drinks. (Discuss that option with your pediatrician or physician.) For best results, use a coconut water that is organic and that does not contain added sugars. 

Make your own “gel” icepack:  Simply blend 2 parts water with 1 part rubbing alcohol. Place in a zippered bag, force out as much air as possible, freeze, and use as needed. You may want to use two bags to help protect against having the zippers pop open. These ice packs are nice because they don’t leak all over but can easily fit around limbs and body parts. To prevent overchilling of the body part, place a towel or wash cloth between the area that needs to be iced and the gel pack. You can increase or decrease the ratio of water to rubbing alcohol to change the thickness and density of the “gel” as needed. Vodka or Everclear can be used instead of the rubbing alcohol if you prefer.

Use a piece of spaghetti to light candles:  Believe it or  not, spaghetti is flammable. Light a piece and you can use it to light multiple candles with hard to reach wicks. Note that gluten-free spaghetti doesn’t work as well as regular spaghetti.

Ditch artificial makeup removers:  The best makeup remover on the planet is organic, high oleic sunflower seed oil. The oil easily removes makeup and contains fatty acids known to help reduce fine lines and wrinkles. It’s also very inexpensive. To use, apply the oil to a natural cotton ball or cotton wash cloth (use black wash cloths for removing eye makeup) and gently use to remove makeup. You’ll protect yourself from artificial chemicals while nourishing and moisturizing your skin. It’s a winning combination!

Bonus Natural Health Life Hack #11:

Use coconut flour instead of corn starch as a thickener:  Coconut flour is ultra-absorbent and makes a fantastic thickener for soups and stews. It does not add any flavor to the recipe. Since most corn starch is made from genetically modified corn and is high in carbohydrates, I prefer to avoid it. Coconut flour not only works better as a thickener, it has better nutritional value, adding protein and healthy essential fatty acids.

Bonus Natural Health Life Hack #12:

Store natural peanut butter upside down on its lid:  That will allow the natural oils to rise to the bottom of the jar. Shaking the jar before opening it will make it easier to stir and blend the oils back into the butter.

What are your favorite natural health hacks? Please share!

The Definitive Guide to Ending Dry Skin: Part 2

This is the second part of a two-part series on how to combat dry skin. Please read The Definitive Guide to Ending Dry Skin: Part 1 for information on the potential causes of dry skin and ways to address them. This article focuses on easy ways to moisturize and protect from the outside in. This article assumes you are already doing everything mentioned in Part 1. I’ve shared several recipes that allow you to make your own all-natural moisturizing products. I Dry Skin Helpincluded links so you can easily find the ingredients on Amazon. To find more natural ingredients you can use to make your own skin care products, please visit my Toiletry Making Supplies page.

The following items are easy to find and provide moisturizing benefits that can help alleviate the symptoms of dry skin:

  • Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil:  Few oils are as versatile or as beneficial as organic extra virgin coconut oil. It can be applied to the skin, nails or lips by itself or blended with other ingredients. It makes a wonderful moisturizer! My favorite coconut oil is made by Tropical Traditions. If you have never tried their coconut oil, I highly recommend it!
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  • Organic Vegetable Glycerin:  Vegetable Glycerin is a humectant, meaning it pulls moisture out of the air down to the surface of the skin. It is a bit sticky and is therefore best used blended with other ingredients. I recommend only using organic glycerin, as the vegetables used to make non-organic glycerin are often genetically-modified and coated with potentially harmful chemicals. Glycerin has the unusual trait of warming the skin when blown on. For that reason it is a popular ingredient in many adult products. It is a very beneficial moisturizer in spite of that.
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  • Unrefined Cocoa Butter:  Cocoa Butter is a fantastic moisturizer which also forms a barrier that protects the skin against wind, moisture and other drying elements. Cocoa Butter is very hard at room temperature but melts on contact with the skin. It can be used alone or blended with other butters and oils to make a softer blend. (See recipe that follows.) Cocoa Butter smells strongly of chocolate, a fact many people love.
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  • Unrefined Shea Butter:  Unrefined Shea Butter is a fantastic moisturizer that is rich in vitamins and other nutrients known to provide healing benefits to the skin. It is softer than Cocoa Butter, allowing it to be easily spread into the skin. Shea Butter can be used alone or blended with other oils and butters. It is one of my favorite stand-alone moisturizers. It has a slightly smoky odor but can easily be blended with essential oils that will cover the aroma. I recommend only using the unrefined version of Shea Butter, as the refined version is processed to the point that most of its benefits are removed. Be aware that Shea Butter will crystallize if melted at too high a temperature. The crystals do not affect the moisturizing ability of the butter, but will affect the texture. To avoid crystallization, melt or soften the Shea Butter over the lowest temperature possible. You will find it doesn’t have to be softened much to be easily blended with other ingredients.
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  • Jojoba Oil:  Jojoba oil is an amazing oil because its chemical structure almost exactly matches the skin’s own sebum. It is actually not an oil but is a wax that is liquid at room temperature. It is considered one of the best moisturizing oils for skin and hair. Although it may feel a little oily when first applied, it quickly soaks in. It also makes an excellent massage oil and oil for hot oil treatments applied to hair.
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  • Grapeseed Oil:  Grapeseed Oil is another oil that makes a great moisturizer. it is a little bit lighter than Jojoba oil, so some people prefer it. It sinks in quickly and is known to be excellent for “mature” skin.

Recipes 

Super-Simple Cleanser Recipe

Ingredients:

To make a super-simple cleanser that will not dry the skin, blend together:

To use, massage into skin, allow to sit for 30 seconds-1 minute and rinse with warm water. Your skin will be toned, moisturized and cleansed without using harsh cleansers. Feel free to add a few drops of an essential oil of choice if you’d like to enjoy the benefits of the essential oil and a nice fragrance while cleansing. I recommend adding PatchouliLavender or Chamomile essential oils for their known healing benefits for the skin.

Super-Simple Lotion Bar

Ingredients:

Combine oils and butters and melt over very low heat until just blended. (I recommend melting the cocoa butter first and then stirring in the other butters and oils.) Stir well and allow to cool for ten minutes. Then add desired essential oil(s). Pour into molds and allow to cool. (Egg cartons or small yogurt containers make excellent molds.) When cooled and solidified, pop out of the molds and enjoy. These create a solid lotion that melts on contact with the skin. I recommend using a plastic zippy bag for storage and to enable them to be tossed into a purse or put in a pocket. If you want the lotion bars to be harder, add more cocoa butter; if you wish them to be harder, add more jojoba oil. Many nurses swear by these, as they keep their hands soft and moisturized in spite of all the hand washing the nurses do. 

 Base Graphic Courtesy of Ayurveda Samskara

The Definitive Guide to Ending Dry Skin: Part 1

Dry skin is a common challenge, yet very few people know how to identify the cause of their dry skin or how to alleviate the symptoms. This article is the first in a series of three articles about effectively alleviating dry skin. This article shares information about little-known causes of dry skin and how to identify them. The Definitive Guide to Ending Dry Skin: Part 2 shares information on different ingredients that are great for alleviating dry skin. Lady with dry skin 

The medical term for dry skin is “xeroderma,” but knowing the medical term does little to alleviate the symptoms. The bottom line is that dry skin needs to be addressed from the inside out. Most people use topical treatments to alleviate dry skin. Doing so creates very temporary relief. For prolonged relief, one must identify what is causing the dry skin and address that while using topical products to reduce symptoms.

Dry skin is typically the result of a lack of oil or water in the upper layers of the skin. Potential causes of the lack of oil and or water are listed below. 

Most Common Causes of Dry Skin

  • Hormonal imbalances:  Hormonal imbalances are a very common cause of dry skin which are sadly often overlooked. Imbalances in thyroid hormones and/or reproductive hormones can create dry skin which itches so severely it strongly impacts quality of life. To ensure all hormone levels are normal, ask your physician to order a complete thyroid panel and a saliva hormone test. For more information, read How to Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate. You can order your own saliva hormone test here: Saliva Hormone Tests. Most people find their dry skin challenges disappear once their hormone levels are brought back into balance.
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  • Physiological illnesses or conditions:  There are several health conditions that may cause dry, itchy skin. The following are known to cause dry skin: anemia, asthma, diabetes, thyroid imbalances, food and environmental allergies, high blood pressure, hepatitis (all forms), kidney disease, liver disease, ichthyosis vulgaris (“fish scale disease”), and others. If you suspect your dry skin is caused by an unidentified disease or illness, work with your physician to have the correct testing done.
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  • Dehydration:  This seems like a no-brainer, but even mild dehydration can cause the skin to dry out. To ensure you are drinking enough water, make it your goal to drink half your body weight in ounces of purified water every day. This means a woman who weighs 150 pounds should aim to drink 75 ounces of purified water daily. The skin’s texture, health and vibrancy often improve dramatically simply by drinking more water. If skin dehydration is being caused by your heating system, using a humidifier may help.
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  • Lack of healthy dietary fat or a fatty acid imbalance:  The myth that dietary fats are dangerous was especially damaging to skin health. Your body requires healthy forms of fat to maintain healthy skin, balance hormones, maintain healthy blood vessels, and more. Eating a fat-free or low-fat diet almost guarantees dry skin. Incorporating healthy fats such as those found in nuts and seeds, coconut oil, organic meats, dairy and eggs, avocados, etc. is one easy way to moisturize from the inside out. During the winter, I find that eating 1-2 tablespoons of organic coconut oil on a daily basis is a simple way to prevent or alleviate dry skin.
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    Eating large amounts of oils which are high in omega 6 fatty acids may also have a drying effect on the skin, as those oils are known to be very inflammatory. Avoid oils such as soy, peanut canola and corn, as those oils are extremely high in omega 6 fatty acids. Using organic oils such as olive and coconut are much better options. Increase your omega 3 consumption by eating organic chia seeds, flax seeds, nuts, etc.
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  • Failing to protect skin from harsh weather, cleaning products, etc.:  If you are going to be in extreme weather conditions, please take time to protect your face and hands. Moisturizing prior to the exposure and covering your face and hands with a warm scarf or gloves can help. If you are frequently exposed to harsh cleaning products or chemicals, please protect your skin with gloves and other protective gear. If it is not practical to use gloves, coat your hands in a heavy coating of lanolin or cocoa butter prior to doing the work.
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  • Using products containing Sodium Laureth or Lauryl Sulfate:  We’ve all been brainwashed into thinking a product cannot clean without lots of bubbly lather. That is simply not true. In order to create fake lather, many manufacturers add chemical foaming agents (sodium laureth sulfate and/or sodium lauryl sulfate) to their products. Both products are known skin irritants which are also known to cause dry skin. For more information on these products, read Top Five Ingredients to Avoid in Skin Care Products.
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  • Using products containing alcohols or other harsh ingredients:  If you do not recognize an ingredient in a body care product, chances are you’d be better off without it. Believe it or not, many lotions contain various forms of alcohol. The alcohols are added to make the product dry quickly or feel very light on the skin. The problem is that the alcohols in the moisturizers actually dry out the skin. If you don’t make your own body care products, only use moisturizers that do not contain alcohol and which contain truly natural ingredients.
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  • Taking medications that dry the skin: There are a number of prescriptions which have dry skin as a known side effect. Those medications include statin medications for high cholesterol, several medications for high blood pressure, and multiple medications for acne. If you suspect your dry skin is caused or exacerbated by one of your medications, discuss the issue with your physician and ask about alternatives. (Never stop taking any prescribed medication without discussing it with your physician.)
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  • Excess bathing:  You do not need to take a shower or bath every single day. I promise. Frequent bathing, especially in very hot water, will dry the skin very quickly. Bathing in unfiltered water can also cause dry skin due to the drying effects of chlorine. Most people do just fine bathing 2-3 times per week. If you can’t bring yourself to bathe less frequently, bathing in slightly cooler water and using a dechlorinating shower filter or bath ball will help protect you from the drying effects of chlorine. (Click the links to see the products I use.)
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  • Aging:  Sadly, one of the side effects of aging is that the skin produces less sebum, its natural moisturizer. The strategies discussed previously can help maintain more moisture in your skin, as can eating a healthy diet, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, exercise, etc.

Next up:  The Definitive Guide to Ending Dry Skin: Part 2

 Photo courtesy of Ruby Blossom