The evidence has existed for some time now, yet few people are aware of just how damaging free radicals can be to the human body.
There is an epic battle being waged within the deep layers of your skin, one with the potential to affect your appearance and health for the rest of your life. Yet so many people remain blissfully unaware of the havoc being wreaked inside their bodies, blind to the buildup of enemy troops as they slowly but surely advance and inflict destruction on their cells, and deaf to the sounds of their bodies’ desperate attempts to repel the invaders before it’s too late.
These “invaders” aren’t some sort of new bacterial or viral disease; they’re much smaller and far more insidious. They’re called free radicals, and their continued buildup within the tissues of your body has been linked to premature aging, cancer and a host of other maladies in numerous scientific studies.
Many have now heard the warnings about using tanning beds and the sunscreen industry is booming, yet how many people actually understand the chemical reactions that occur inside the body when someone tans or burns. Probably not many outside of the dermatologist’s office. But it really isn’t that difficult a concept to grasp and can easily be explained in layman’s terms.
What are free radicals?
Free radicals are chemically charged oxygen molecules. When free radicals enter your body, they bond molecularly with the proteins the proteins in cells, destroying the proteins in the process and causing chemical burns to the affected cells. Simply put, free radicals burn your cells. When you get sunburned at the beach, your cells are burning too. When you get a tan, your cells still burn. When you smoke, your cells burn. When you breathe in polluted air, your cells burn.
The chemical reaction caused by free radicals that destroys your body’s cells is the same reaction that occurs when iron rusts or when fruits decay when left outdoors. This reaction is called oxidation. When cells become oxidized, their DNA becomes damaged, which can lead to conditions such as skin cancer in cases where the damage is extreme, lifelong, and left untreated.
Free radicals’ link to premature aging comes from the oxidation of your body’s collagen. Collagen is the connective tissue responsible for keeping a person’s skin firm, plumped, and youthful. When free radicals destroy collagen and inhibit your body’s ability to synthesize new collagen, the result is skin that sags and wrinkles.
What are antioxidants?
As the term might imply, antioxidants are substances that counteract the oxidation process, such as citrus fruits, which contain high concentrations of the antioxidant Vitamin C.
Antioxidant vitamins for skin care
Have you ever tried preserving sliced fruits by soaking them in lemon juice? If you have, then you know that the lemon juice helps the fruit slices remain fresh longer than they would naturally. This is because the antioxidant properties of the lemon juice delay the oxidation process.
The same thing happens when you use ingredients rich in Vitamin C for skin care purposes. Vitamin C is a key component of the body’s natural ability to synthesize new collagen, and also protects existing collagen.
Vitamin E is also highly antioxidant and has been shown in numerous scientific studies to be particularly effective at reducing and in some cases even reversing the inflammation caused by free radicals as a result of sunlight overexposure. Vitamin E also has the ability to intensify the effectiveness of vitamin C when the two are combined, and the reverse is also true.
Consuming foods rich in vitamins C and E, as well as other sources of antioxidants is certainly warranted. You may wish to try organic green tea, as it delivers more antioxidants than most other types of tea, is naturally decaffeinated, and is zero calories, so you can drink it all day without keeping yourself awake all night. But absorbing antioxidant vitamins into your skin topically will be even more beneficial, since that’s where your body’s free radical accumulation is doing the most damage.
How to infuse your skin with antioxidants
While no one is suggesting you bathe in lemon juice, you may want to try natural spa products made with the extracts of organic citrus fruits and/or list vitamins C or E as main ingredients. The following spa products may be of particular interest to you:
Herbal Bath Tea – Castle Baths’ herbal bath teas are made with organic green tea leaves and scented in your choice of seven proprietary aromatherapy essential oil blends. Try Jubilee Bath Tea for an energizing blend of pink grapefruit and bergamot – naturally rich in vitamin C.
Avocado Face Cream – Castle Baths’ Avocado Face Cream combines avocado oil with green tea extract, cucumber extract, and unrefined shea butter, all of which are naturally rich in antioxidants and vitamins. It was initially formulated for people who had undergone cosmetic surgery and were looking for a face cream safe to use on their healing skin, so it’s designed to be extra gentle on sensitive skin – great for if you have sunburned or sun-damaged skin!
Body Butter – Castle Baths’ body butters are extra-rich and deliver all-day moisture, plus a generous quantity of antioxidants and vitamins. Try Citrus C Body Butter or Green Tea Body Butter if you’re looking for something to help with free radicals.
Dead Sea Products – Dead Sea Bath Salts and Dead Sea Mud are both excellent at detoxifying your skin’s pores (through which many sources of free radicals enter your body.) Be sure to treat your skin to regular detox sessions so you can clear out all the pollutants and toxins your skin draws in before they have a chance to oxidize and start damaging your cells.
Some final thoughts on free radicals
It is important to remember that free radicals don’t just come from outside sources. Your body produces its own free radicals as part of its natural metabolic processes. Physical exercise, while good for maintaining muscle strength and overall fitness, increases your body’s metabolism, and thus, its free radical content as well. So even if you’re super careful about sunlight exposure, you eat healthy, and you exercise regularly (which you should,) free radicals will still exist within the tissues of your body.
This is not to dishearten you from trying to eliminate them, but to remind you that regular efforts on your part to protect, rejuvenate, and detoxify your skin are necessary if you want to win not only the battle against free radical damage, but also the war.
Using massage oil as body oil for intense moisture
Castle Baths’ massage oils make a great treat for when you want to go the extra step when giving or receiving a massage. But did you know, our massage oils can be used for much more than just giving massages?
Many people who shop for massage oils at Castle Baths do so with the intention of using our massage oils as body oil. If you suffer from chronic dry skin, using one of our aromatherapy massage oils as body oil may actually serve you better than some of our other body moisturizers.
As you may or may not recall from our previous blog articles and website, dry skin lacks oil, whereas dehydrated skin lacks water. The synthetic cosmetics industry has led many people to believe that oil is bad for your skin – and that it will make you break out with acne. While this may be the case for some people, others with extremely dry skin may need a generous dose of oil in their skin care products to reduce their chances of developing premature wrinkles.
Our massage oils, a.k.a. body oils are also great for people with sensitive skin, as they consist of only two ingredients: cold pressed rice bran oil, and the essential oil aromatherapy blend of your choice (we offer seven varieties.) When it comes to sensitive skin, the fewer ingredients in your skin care products, the better, as there is less chance of irritation from the blend of two or three ingredients than from the 20 chemicals you’d find in a synthetic product.
Last but not least, you may just want to experience the soothing effects of our natural massage oils without having to find someone to actually give you a massage. There are so many reasons why so many people love indulging their skin in luxurious natural body oil.
Do you have a preference on whether to use massage oil for massages or as body oil? Tell us! We may just feature your story in a future blog!
Planning an end-of-summer trip? Be sure to take your body lotion mist along!
August is approaching fast, and for many people, that means trying to squeeze in one more vacation before Summer officially ends in September. You’ve booked your flight, reserved a room in a beautiful hotel, and have just finished packing your suitcase… or so you thought. But did you remember to pack your body lotion mist?
If not, or if you’re almost out, you may want to consider restocking yourself before you leave. Having your body lotion mist on you at all times will help you avoid:
Smelling like a rental car. Some people love the smell of a new car, but who wants to smell like one while they’re trying to relax on the beach, going out to a party, or having dinner at a fancy restaurant? Plus, for those who are health conscious, you may be surprised to learn that the “new car smell” is actually caused by chemicals such as flame retardants and plasticizers used to manufacture dashboards leaching into the air.
Peeling in the sun. Castle Baths’ body lotion mists are formulated with unrefined Shea Butter, which possesses natural sunscreen properties and can help keep your skin hydrated so that you don’t sizzle while sunbathing at the beach or pool.
Sleepless nights. Staying at a hotel can be fun, but sometimes the bed just isn’t what you’re used to . The mattress might be too firm. The pillows might be the type you sink into. You don’t want to spend all day sleeping because you couldn’t fall asleep last night, and a relaxing aromatherapy body lotion mist may be just what you need to do that. Try Sweet Communion or Sweet Dreams body lotion mists and discover relaxation!
Castle Baths offers body lotion mists in seven proprietary aromatherapy scents. In addition to Sweet Communion (for relaxation) and Sweet Dreams (for restfulness), there is Bathsheba (for romance), Jubilee (for energizing), Passion (for sensuality/arousal), Prayer (for meditation), and Restoration (for womanly woes.) All Castle Baths body mists come in an easy-to-transport aluminum spray bottle for added convenience and luxury.
Stock up on natural body lotion mists today, and/or try one of our hand and body lotions for even deeper moisturizing action!
If you’ve ever tried a natural hand and body lotion or face cream, you may have noticed that it does not absorb into your skin as fast as a synthetic product. But does this mean the product is too greasy to be an effective moisturizer?
Absolutely not! Natural body lotions and face creams such as those offered by Castle Baths tend to absorb into the skin less quickly than synthetic products because our natural body lotions and face creams do not contain alcohol. Alcohol is added to many synthetic bath and body products to make them absorb into a person’s skin quickly, but doing so also reduces these products’ moisturizing effectiveness, since alcohol is extremely drying to skin.
Another reason some manufacturers of synthetic spa products add alcohol to their lotions and creams is because alcohol has astringent properties, meaning it tightens and firms up your skin, making it look and feel more youthful. However, this benefit can also be achieved naturally by using organic Witch Hazel instead of alcohol, as was done in the formulation of Tre’Yours Facial Toner.
In addition to alcohol, many synthetic spa products contain chemical-based penetration enhancers, which break down your skin’s protective outer layer for the purpose of delivering whatever skin care benefits are claimed on that product to the deeper layers of your skin. The downside to using products that contain penetration enhancers is that once they have broken down your skin’s protective outer layer, they will leave your skin vulnerable to germs and pollutants your skin would ordinarily be able to withstand.
A synthetic skin care product that absorbs into skin almost instantly will also likely have reduced protective abilities when compared with a natural one. There is actually an advantage to having a natural lotion or cream remain on the outer layer of your skin for a while, especially if it contains ingredients that act as natural sunscreens such as Shea Butter or Avocado Oil, as the presence of these substances on the outer layer of your skin will help protect your skin from damaging UV rays. You can find both ingredients in our Tre’Yours Avocado Eye Cream, and in our new Avocado Corrective Face Cream and Avocado Hemp Regenerative Cream.
Natural body lotions and face creams are well worth the wait in absorption time when you consider all the added skin care benefits and lack of harsh chemicals!
Whether you’re gluten intolerant or not, there are many reasons to switch to Castle Baths’ gluten free bath products and spa products.
You may have heard the hype about going gluten free, and how a gluten free diet can lead to weight loss, greater energy, and many more health benefits (as well as a few risks.) But did you know that gluten can also be found in your commercial body lotion and makeup? You probably didn’t because, despite all the publicity gluten free diets have received in recent times, the potential problems arising from gluten in cosmetics, and the rise of gluten free bath products have received relatively little attention.
So what exactly is gluten and why is it in my spa and bath products?
Gluten, for those unfamiliar with the term, is a protein found in wheat, wheat derivatives, and some meats. Gluten is also used in the formulation of many commercial spa products as an emulsifier (a substance used to blend other ingredients together.) Some household cleaners also incorporate gluten into their formulations for this purpose.
Like lactose in milk, gluten is something to which some people have a genetic intolerance or sensitivity. The allergic reactions people with gluten sensitivities experience can range from mild indigestion to severe symptoms depending on the severity of the person’s intolerance. Some people have a particularly severe gluten intolerance known as celiac disease, and must avoid all sources of gluten entirely.
Do I really need gluten free bath products? If so, where can I find them?
Science estimates that your skin absorbs as much as 60% of whatever you rub into it, so, if you have a gluten sensitivity, it is probably a good idea to avoid gluten-based products when possible. This can be difficult to do, however, as cosmetics companies that produce the synthetic products you see in retail stores are not required to disclose all their ingredients on their labels. Even those that do disclose ingredients may disguise their true sources by using scientific-sounding chemical names. The only sure way to find gluten free bath products and spa products is to look for products that say “gluten free.”
Next Monday marks the 43rd Earth Day since its creation as a national holiday on April 22, 1970, and we at Castle Baths are very excited to do our part in contributing to the cause of environmental sustainability by continuing to offer spa-quality natural bath and body products!
The concept of Earth Day, as you may or may not be aware, was created by former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson in September 1969 and came to fruition less than one year later. Nelson , inspired by the anti-war campus activism of the day, intended Earth Day to be a grass-roots anti-pollution activism movement. He believed the best solution to generating awareness and concern over the depletion of our planet’s natural resources was for ordinary citizens to teach others about environmental issues and how each person could contribute to environmental sustainability in his or her own unique way.
If you’ve been looking for a unique way in which you can show your concern for the environment this Earth Day – something more than just throwing plastic bottles and aluminum cans into your recycling bin, we have a few suggestions for you:
Educate yourself and your friends and family about the issue of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), and learn why Castle Baths has had to discontinue using Canola Oil and Soy-based ingredients in order to ensure the safety and eco-friendliness of our products.
Check the ingredients in your body lotion and other cosmetics against the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database, and find out what you’re really rubbing into your skin. Then go throw half of them away once you’ve recovered from your shock.
Switch out one or more of your synthetic bath and spa products for one of our natural equivalents and experience the difference in your skin’s softness, as well as your overall health and mood. Even something as simple as using natural soap instead of commercial bar soap will make a difference!
If you have a blog or website related to environmental sustainability issues, you may also wish to consider becoming an affiliate of Castle Baths, and sharing the health and environmental benefits of our natural spa products with your readers.
Of course, you can try any or all of the staple Earth Day activities too if you wish. Plant a tree, make crafts out of recycled household materials, or simply spend time outdoors enjoying nature – but if you do, be sure to bring along some shea butter to help protect your skin while outside! Happy Earth Day!
Now that it’s starting to warm up (at least it is here in Virginia), perhaps you’re thinking of taking a day trip to the beach and working on your tan for this summer. But what do you do if things don’t go as planned, and instead of a glowing tan, you end up with itchy, red patches on your back and shoulders?
The drug stores and synthetic cosmetics companies will tell you to simply prepare yourself before sunbathing by using lots of sunscreen, conveniently omitting that you should always check to see what chemicals have been included in it. Are there any natural alternatives to help prevent sunburns or for sunburn treatment?
Actually there are. Using natural topical creams made with Unrefined Shea Butter or Hazelnut Oil have been shown to have numerous benefits to skin concerning sun exposure. They aren’t “cures” and won’t make your sunburns go away (only time and your body’s natural healing abilities will do this), but they can provide soothing relief, as well as help protect against incurring any permanent damage as a result of overexposure to UV rays.
If you do get a sunburn, the first concern on your mind will likely be cooling, soothing relief. Using a rich, creamy, Shea-Butter-based Body Butter is a great natural way to help your skin feel relief from the burning sensations of mild to moderate sunburn. Aloe Body Butter, Lavender Body Butter, and Green Tea Body Butter are all excellent choices for delivering cooling sensations and sunburn-fighting vitamins, such as Vitamins A, E, and F to your sunburned skin.
If you have sunburns on your face or a particularly severe sunburn on your body, A Hazelnut-oil-based cream such as Hazelnut Neck & Chest Cream is in order. Hazelnut oil not only helps provide soothing relief, but also works on the deep layers of your skin to address the issue of free radicals generated by UV rays. Free radicals, if left to run their course, can accumulate over many years, eventually building to the point where they can cause lasting damage such as premature wrinkles.
You can learn more about Castle Baths’ natural skin care solutions for sunburns at our sunburn treatment page. We hope you enjoy this beautiful weather and the chance to show off your beautiful skin!
For most people, choosing a body lotion comes down to three criteria: scent, feel, and cost. If it feels smooth and refreshing on your skin, it smells nice, and it’s cheap, you buy it. But have you ever stopped to consider the ingredients responsible for giving your lotion its creamy feel and fragrant aroma? Or how the company that makes it could possibly afford to sell it for so little?
Most likely, you haven’t stopped to ask these questions, and the manufacturers of synthetic, chemical-based bath and body products want to keep it that way. They’re doing an excellent job of keeping the general public blissfully ignorant too – cleverly disguising known toxins such as heavy metals, carcinogenic chemicals, and even poisons with unpronounceable, scientific-sounding names such as butylphenyl methylpropional and benzyl salicylate. After all, how would anyone go about researching these chemical ingredients to find out if they’re harmful?
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) makes it easy for the general public to educate themselves on the safety of their cosmetics’ ingredients, and begin to fight back against the ambiguity and disinformation many of these companies promote. The EWG has researched and tested hundreds of ingredients commonly used in cosmetics products from almost every cosmetics company you can think of – from the million dollar corporations like Bath & Body Works to small, handmade cosmetics companies like Castle Baths.
The EWG evaluates a product based upon five criteria: its potential to cause cancer, its potential to cause reproductive issues or birth defects, its potential to cause allergic reactions or compromise the immune system, the number of demographics for which the product is NOT recommended, and its overall hazard. Each category is ranked on a scale of zero to ten, with zero being the least dangerous, and ten being the most dangerous. The average of these rankings for all five categories determines the product’s overall safety rating.
Concerned customers like you can view and compare the EWG’s test results for your favorite (or potentially soon-to-be least favorite) bath and body products by visiting EWG’s Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database.
For example, if you were to compare Castle Baths’ Bathsheba Hand and Body Lotion to Bath & Body Works’ Japanese Cherry Blossom Body Lotion (one of Bath & Body Works’ top sellers), you will find that Castle Baths’ Bathsheba Hand and Body Lotion received an overall safety rating of two, putting it firmly into the green safe zone. Bath & Body Works’ Japanese Cherry Blossom Body Lotion, on the other hand, received an eight, putting it firmly in the red hazardous zone. The infograph below shows some of the EWG’s top reasons for each product’s rating:
Scary, isn’t it? The abundance of chemicals used in synthetic cosmetics is also what keeps them so cheap. When you buy natural bath and body products, you may pay a little extra, but remember, you are getting real, quality skin care ingredients as opposed to toxic soup. You probably want to go and check the ingredients of your other cosmetics now, so we’ll conclude our little tirade for now. But here’s one last piece of advice: look up the chemical “coumarin” as well as its main ingredient “warafin.” If you are unfamiliar with either term, your research results will absolutely shock you (because it’s probably in your body lotion!)
Though Spring has officially started, many may still have dry winter skin from the various snowstorms this past winter. Dry scaly skin can also occur indoors from heating your home, which, unless you live in the deep south or tropics, you’re not likely to stop doing any time soon. So what can you do while you wait for the weather to catch up with the calendar?
You may have been told you need to find a good moisturizer, but where do you start? Do you need an oil-based moisturizer, a water-based moisturizer? A natural moisturizer? An over-the-counter drug-infused moisturizer? The choices are nearly endless, and the longer you wait, the worse your dry scaly skin will become. But how do you choose the best moisturizer if you don’t understand the underlying causes of dry winter skin, and what skin care ingredients will help address each cause?
What causes dry skin?
Cold temperatures cause outside air to lose humidity, and forced air heating systems do the same to indoor air. Your skin breathes air just like your lungs, so when the air is dry, your skin is also dry. The red patches you may see when you have winter dry skin are typically the result of inflammation. Inflammation can cause and/or exacerbate dry skin, so when looking for a moisturizer to re-hydrate your dry winter skin, it is very important you choose one that will not only moisturize but help reduce your skin’s inflammation as well.
Moisturizing Natural Skin Care Ingredients Helpful for Dry Scaly Skin
Coffee – the caffeine content in coffee makes it a natural anti-inflammatory skin care ingredient. Try our coffee cocoa bath scrub to experience the anti-inflammatory properties of coffee combined with the powerful moisturizing abilities of unrefined cocoa butter. Coffee’s natural anti-inflammatory abilities are also the reasoning behind our including it in our Cellu Coffee Soap to help reduce the appearance of cellulite.
Evening Primrose Oil – Certified Organic Evening Primrose Oil is both moisturizing and anti-inflammatory, and thus, addresses both causes of dry winter skin at once. We use Certified Organic Evening Primrose Oil as one of the primary ingredients in our Tre’Yours BeRestored Face Cream, making it an excellent choice of moisturizer for those with a genetic predisposition towards dry skin.
Keep in mind when using these skin care ingredients and products that they are not intended to treat or cure any disease associated with dry scaly skin such as eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea, though they are all excellent moisturizers to use if you have these conditions. But be sure to reapply them often to keep dry winter skin at bay.
After coming home after a day of skiing, Samantha removed her heavy winter overcoat and knitted hat. She proceeded up the stairs to take a shower, but was startled when the feel of the water droplets hitting her skin triggered a burning sensation. She checked the dial on the faucet, but as she suspected, she hadn’t set it to be as hot as it felt. After muddling through the pain of her shower, she looked into the mirror and saw red splotches all over her face and neck. Despite it being the middle of February, it looked as though she had all the symptoms of a sunburn.
If you’ve been in a situation similar to Samatha’s, be advised that her initial diagnosis was correct. You can indeed get a sunburn at any time of the year, even during a cold winter day. This is just one of the reasons it is important to take good care of your skin during the winter as well as in the summer.
But how? How is skin susceptible to sunburn during the winter, and what can be done about it? Aside from trying to find a sunscreen not overloaded with chemicals and preservatives, which is no easy task to be sure, there are several natural skin care ingredients you can use to help soothe and mitigate the effects of winter sunburns (and summer sunburns too, for that matter.)
How do sunburns occur in winter?
Before discussing the various skin care ingredients you can use to help sunburned skin, let’s first talk about how sunburn even manages to occur during winter. A sunburn is, essentially, a mild case of ultraviolet radiation poisoning. When ultraviolet rays come into contact with skin, they damage its outer layer by causing it to produce chemicals known as free radicals. Your body responds by increasing blood flow to your skin, resulting in the blotchy redness indicative of sunburn, and releases chemicals that trigger your skin’s pain receptors, alerting you to the damage. Sunburns can occur during winter due to a variety of environmental conditions including:
Snow: snow can reflect up to 85% of ultraviolet radiation
Ice and water: water or ice reflects 100% of ultraviolet rays, making reflective sunlight just as damaging as direct exposure.
Altitude: Ultraviolet ray intensity increases approximately 4% for every 1,000 feet above sea level, so if you go skiing in the mountains, be careful!
The pain, redness, and itchiness associated with sunburns will go away in time. However, the free radicals produced by sunburns, if left untreated, will continue to build up inside your skin over many years, eventually causing DNA damage that can result in premature wrinkles, brown spots, and even skin cancer!
What can people do to protect their skin from sunburns during wintertime?
Free radicals cause damage to skin via oxidation – the same chemical reaction that causes iron to rust when exposed to rain and other weather over many years. To keep this from happening inside your body, look for skin care ingredients that contain antioxidants. Antioxidants are precisely what they sound like – substances that fight oxidation. One of the most popular antioxidant skin care ingredients you may know of is Aloe. Aloe contains many antioxidants including Vitamins, A, C and E, antioxidant polysaccharides and flavanoids, and also the mineral antioxidants, zinc and selenium. The next time you are sunburned, try rubbing Aloe Body Butter into your skin. Its Aloe and Organic Shea Butter mixture will help soothe your skin’s itchiness and pain while working on the deeper layers of your skin to break down and purge free radicals.
Mango Butter is also an excellent choice for soothing sunburned skin. Mango Butter is widely used by people living in tropical areas where strong UV rays occur year-round. In addition to containing numerous antioxidant and moisturizing substances, Mango butter also contains a triterpene known as lupeol, which has been found in laboratories to effectively inhibit skin cancer.
If it is your face, neck, or chest that is sunburned, you may want to try a Hazelnut Oil skin care product such as Tre’Yours Hazelnut Neck and Chest Cream to soothe your skin. Hazelnut oil is rich in B vitamins, as well as Vitamin E, plant phenolics, and other antioxidants. It also functions as an excellent moisturizer for dry skin, as well as help purify your skin of free radicals generated by other sources such as pollution.
Keep in mind, however, that these skin care ingredients, while excellent for soothing skin that has already been sunburned, may not prevent sunburns from occurring in the first place. The best way to prevent sunburn during winter is to simply use common sense: wear sunglasses, bundle up, never use a UV tanning bed, and try to limit your time outdoors on bright sunny days.