July 27th, 2014
Before the days of pharmacies and hospitals, essential oils were used as herbal remedies for a variety of maladies as folk medicine, and many people today believe that even with modern medicine, the reputed healing properties of these natural oils should not be ignored.
They may very well be on to something. Modern day scientists have studied the effects of inhaling the aromas of essential oils, as well as the effects of applying them topically to the skin, and have confirmed much of what herbalists have believed for centuries.
Essential oils are quite literally the life force inside plants, hence the term “essential” oil. The word “essential” has its origins in the Latin word essentia, referring to an inseparable, often abstract quality of something or someone, like the soul or spirit. The energy and nutrients contained within a plants essential oil is retained when the oil is extracted and can be passed onto people via inhalation (aromatherapy) and/or topically by massaging the oil into the skin.
Now that you have a better understanding of how ancient and modern day healers have unraveled the mysterious benefits of essential oils, here is a list of some top essential oils used for folk medicine and the types of conditions for which they are best suited.
July 24th, 2014
Are you worried about the damaging effects of prolonged sun exposure on your skin? Avocado oil can help. In fact, it’s one of the best and most popular natural skin care ingredients you can use to protect and rejuvenate your skin, and is used in both women’s and men’s skin care products.
Avocado Oil for Sun Damage
If you did a lot of tanning in your teens and twenties either at the beach or in tanning salons, you may be worrying now about the cumulative effect of all those UV rays your skin has absorbed over the years, and with good reason. UV overexposure is the leading cause of free radical buildup in the skin. Free radicals are microscopic particles that, if left to build up over years, can lead to cell damage, resulting in premature aging and in severe cases even the beginnings of skin cancer. Fortunately, you probably aren’t at the point of no return yet, and with the help of certified organic avocado oil, hopefully you never will be.
Avocado oil is considered a superfood for your skin. What makes avocado oil such a great skin care ingredient for sun damaged skin is its high concentrations of antioxidant vitamins A and E. Antioxidants destroy free radicals as soon as they are created so they don’t build up in your skin tissues and make trouble for you later in life. Massaging these vitamins directly into your skin in their natural form via a moisturizing cream makes them far more effective for skin care purposes than simply ingesting foods rich in these same vitamins (not that you shouldn’t do that too), and using a natural moisturizing cream such as one made with certified organic avocado oil allows these antioxidant vitamins to work together in ways they never could individually or watered down in a synthetic cream.
Avocado Oil also has one of the highest natural SPF ratings, giving it mild sunscreen-like properties.
See the success rate of avocado oil as a skin care ingredient for yourself by checking out the reviews of these two avocado-oil-based anti-aging moisturizers from Castle Baths’ Tre’Yours line:
Avocado Oil for Sensitive Skin
In addition to being great for sun damaged skin, avocado oil is also a great skin care ingredient to look for if you have sensitive skin. Avocado oil is gentle enough to use around the eye where your skin is extremely light and fragile, which is why it is the main ingredient in Tre’Yours Avocado Eyes Eye Cream. It is also one of the main ingredients in Tre’Yours Avocado Hemp Regenerative Cream, which has had some amazing results both for people with chronic sensitive skin and people with temporarily sensitive skin due to facial surgery.
July 17th, 2014
In addition to offering several new body oils, which we discussed in one of our recent blogs, the Exotic Earth bath and spa line now also includes several new natural soaps, scented in some very unique aromas that are appropriate for all seasons.
White Ginger Natural Soap
Ruby Rush Natural Soap
Green Clover “Luck of the Irish” Natural Soap
Lemon Drop Natural Soap
Here is a breakdown of the skin care and aromatherapy benefits of each natural soap we’ve added.
Lemon Drop Natural Soap. This fresh, clean, citrus scented soap is made with the essential oil of lemon, which acts as a natural antibacterial and antiseptic cleanser (have you ever wondered why so many disinfectants have a lemon-like scent?) The essential oil of lemon is also useful for giving your skin a natural shine – not an oily shine, but more of a youthful, healthy shine, so don’t be surprised if you emerge from the tub or shower with beautiful, silky, shiny skin after using this natural soap bar.
Green Clover Natural Soap. This Celtic-inspired natural soap brings the aroma if Ireland to your bathroom or kitchen with a unique aromatherapy scent reminiscent of Irish green clovers. Whether you’re Irish by blood or you just appreciate Irish culture, this bar of natural soap will help you show off your Celtic side to all your friends and family.
Ruby Rush Natural Soap. This pink-grapefruit-scented natural soap delivers an invigorating, fruity, citrus aroma to help you feel the excitement and joy of a sugar rush without the exhausting crash afterwards. In addition to its energizing aromatherapy properties, the pink grapefruit essential oil used in this soap is also great for oily and acnetic skin.
White Ginger Natural Soap. This natural soap is scented in white tea and ginger to deliver an oriental aromatherapy experience of warm and fuzzy feelings. Plus, it retains the high antioxidant content of white tea, so it’s great for anti-aging purposes.
We also have this extra skin care goodie for you – pure cocoa butter gold nuggets. These nuggets aren’t soap; they’re actually body moisturizers in solid form. The cocoa butter will melt upon contact with your skin and infuse it with all the benefits of pure, unrefined cocoa butter.
Each of these soaps is scented in a blend of pure essential oils, not synthetic fragrances, to deliver real aromatherapy benefits and none of the unpleasant sensations such as headaches or nausea that some people experience with synthetically-scented products.
Whether you’re new to the world of handmade natural soap or you’re already hooked, these soaps will make great additions to your collection!
July 14th, 2014
Not all essential oils are created equal
Did you know there are multiple types of essential oils? We’re not talking about the difference between essential oils and synthetic fragrance oils, nor are we referring to the fact that there are so many essential oil scents from which to choose. We’re talking about how two bottles of the essential oil of lavender can have very different scents and aromatherapy effects.
“How can this be?” you may ask. “Shouldn’t all lavender smell and perform alike?” The answer is, “No.”
Different species = different scents
If you were to travel to your nearest plant nursery in search of some tomatoes to plant in your vegetable garden, you’d see several different varieties of tomato plants, some labeled “Early Girl,” and others labeled “Cherry Tomato” or “Better Bush.” Each of these produces fruit that is slightly different from any other type of tomato plant because they are different species within the tomato plant family. The same is true of the plants used to produce essential oils. Different species produce different scents.
Now, to return to the example of lavender, you may now (correctly) surmise that the common name “lavender” does not refer to just one plant but a family of plants, all with similar but not identical characteristics.
In addition to differentiation in species, the location in which a plant is grown can also affect the scent and aromatherapy properties of its essential oil. Continuing with the lavender example, French Fine High Altitude Lavender often has a much sweeter aroma than lavender grown in low-altitude eastern Europe.
Click here to see a breakdown of the various types of lavender by growing location.
Therapeutic grade essential oils
Every essential oil is assigned a therapeutic grade, which is determined by the quality of the plants used to produce it, the method by which the oil was extracted from the plants, and the oil’s purity. Low therapeutic grade essential oils may not be Certified Organic or wild-crafted, and are often diluted and used as little more than fragrances.
High therapeutic grade essential oils contain a higher percentage of pure oil and come from plants that were grown using organic farming practices. They retain most if not all of their aromatherapy and skin care benefits, and can be used by aromatherapists and herbalists therapeutically. The highest therapeutic grade essential oils contain 100% pure oil from organic and wild-crafted plant sources.
Find out which therapeutic grade essential oils Castle Baths uses here.
Of course, like any crop, the weather plays an important role in determining the quality of the plants harvested, which in turn, affects the quality of the resulting oils. A bad season and crop can mean relying on supplies of a particular essential oil from previous years and drive prices up. But now at least you have a better understanding of the various types of essential oils available and the care that goes into preserving their quality from the field to your skin.
July 10th, 2014
Allergies to synthetic fragrances are common – try products scented in essential oils instead
Do the scented spa products you see in big box stores give you headaches or make you feel nauseous? Are you hesitant to try lotions and bath salts with aromatherapy benefits because you worry that their scents will be overpowering? Have you become convinced that you’re allergic to scents and can only use unscented products?
If the only spa products you’ve tried have come from large retail chain stores, you may not be as allergic to scented spa products as you think you are. Many of the scented products you see lining the shelves of these stores have been scented with artificially created fragrance oils, which have been concocted from a mix of chemicals. Cosmetics manufacturers are not legally required to disclose all the ingredients they use to manufacture their fragrances, and as a result, many of the chemicals they use can be quite harsh and irritating to your skin and your nose.
The lotions, bath salts, soaps, and oils you’ll find online at Castle Baths, however, are scented in pure, natural essential oils, not synthetic fragrance oils. As such, they are much less likely to cause allergic reactions, and deliver real aromatherapy benefits.
Fragrance Oils vs. Essential Oils: Aromatherapy Benefits
Fragrance oils are exactly that, fragrances; they just smell nice (or not so nice as the case may be.) Essential Oils, on the other hand, have real aromatherapy benefits. Spa products scented in essential oils retain the aromatherapy benefits of the herbs and flowers from which the oils were extracted. You can find multiple scientific studies on the effectiveness of aromatherapy here.
You can learn more about the essential oils we use and the aromatherapy benefits of the scents we’ve created by blending various essential oils together here.
A few of the essential oils we use do have allergy warnings, such as those derived from ragweed or pine. You can find disclosures regarding potential allergic reactions to such oils in the additional information tab on our product pages.
So, if you’re ready to end your exile from the world of scented spa products, come check out our aromatherapy essential oil blends!
July 5th, 2014
Try using these 6 skin care ingredient oils in place of or in addition to your regular moisturizer
In our last blog we discussed the numerous skin care benefits of using apricot oil as body oil, and introduced you to one of our new Exotic Earth products: pure cold-pressed apricot oil. What we didn’t tell you was that this new product isn’t alone. We now have five additional pure body oils in our Exotic Earth product inventory you can turn to whenever you need a light, non-greasy, oil-based moisturizer.
We added these new body oils in response to a steadily growing demand from our customers for pure oils. We kept getting callers asking questions like, “Where do you get your natural glycerin and can I buy some off you?” and “Do you sell pure hazelnut oil?” In the past we’ve regrettably had to refer these types of customers to other sources, but now the answer to anyone seeking to purchase these skin care oils is a resounding, “Yes!”
Here’s a breakdown of the new body oils we’re now offering, and the skin care purposes for which each oil is best suited.
Hazelnut Oil. Hazelnut oil possesses natural astringent (skin tightening) properties and is rich in antioxidant vitamins B and E, making it ideal for acnetic skin and sensitive skin, as it is very light and gentle as well. It also has mild UV protection properties and is very soothing and fast absorbing when applied to the skin, making it ideal for use on sunburned or damaged skin.
Evening Primrose Oil. The essential oil of Evening Primroses is considered by many skin care industry professionals to be one of the most important natural anti-aging ingredients discovered since Vitamin C. It contains the natural pain-relieving compound phenylalanine, as well as high concentrations of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is what gives Evening Primrose Oil its incredible anti-aging qualities. It has also demonstrated to be very effective for PMS and other women’s health issues, which is why we use it in our Restoration aromatherapy line.
Apricot Oil. We’ve already discussed many of the benefits of cold-pressed apricot oil in detail in our previous blog article, but just to recap, apricot oil is very similar to almond oil, yet notably less expensive. It contains high concentrations of essential fatty acids (EFAs) as well as numerous antioxidant vitamins, which work together to deliver incredible anti-aging results to your skin.
Aloe Vera Juice. While aloe vera juice isn’t technically a body oil (it’s more of a light mist), it is one of the new skin care products we’re now offering as part of the Exotic Earth line. Aloe vera juice helps your skin breathe easier (remember, your skin needs oxygen just like every other part of your body and if you have clogged pores, it can’t breathe easily.) It also contains high concentrations of antioxidant vitamins, which is why it is so often used in sunscreens (though many of the synthetically formulated sunscreens you see in big box stores likely don’t contain sufficient quantities of aloe vera to give your skin all of its beneficial effects.)
Natural Glycerin. Natural glycerin, like aloe vera, is technically not a body oil either. Again, it’s more of a light mist. Its main value as a skin care ingredient comes from its humectant properties, meaning it draws moisture out of the surrounding environment and into your skin. This absorption helps keep your skin’s outer layer intact and protects it from the drying effects of the elements. Our natural glycerin is derived exclusively from vegetable oils (not synthetic chemicals or old animal fats) and is not an alcohol.
Emu Oil. Emu oil has great anti-inflammatory properties, making it an excellent natural salve to use for a variety of skin maladies, as well as to soothe sore muscles. It is for this reason that Emu oil is a popular natural massage oil, particularly for sports massage where sore muscles are common. Emu oil is derived from the Australian Emu bird and, as such, is not vegan. Since Castle Baths remains committed to offering vegan skin care products we were initially very hesitant to offer Emu oil, but we have decided to test the waters by offering a limited quantity for a short period of time. Whether Emu oil becomes a permanent addition to the Exotic Earth line will depend on how well it sells and how we decide we feel about offering this one non-vegan product.
Now that you have a better understanding of what each of these oils and skin care ingredients should be used for, we hope that you will try one or more of them and experience the numerous skin care benefits of pure body oils for yourself.
July 2nd, 2014
Cold-Pressed Apricot Oil has many skin care benefits, especially for people with dry skin.
Do you know the difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin? If you don’t know the difference between the two skin types you may not be using the correct moisturizer for your skin. The beauty and skin care industries recognize dry/dehydrated skin as a single skin type, but with two different causes.
Dehydrated skin lacks water, and is often temporary. Dry skin lacks oil and is often chronic.
So, if you have dry skin, but you’ve been using a water-based moisturizer, it’s no wonder that your skin feels dry only a short while after you apply. You need to be using an oil-based moisturizer, or even better yet, a body oil like cold-pressed apricot oil.
Cold-Pressed Apricot Oil for Skin Care
If you’re balking at the mention of the word “oil” and worrying about acne breakouts, don’t. Apricot Oil is light, fast-absorbing, and it won’t leave an oily residue on your skin afterwards. It has a lipid content similar to the natural sebum oil your skin produces to stay hydrated so it blends flawlessly into your skin without making your skin feel greasy. Apricot oil also contains high quantities of numerous essential fatty acids (EFAs) that your skin needs to regulate its metabolism.
If that still isn’t enough to convince you of Apricot Oil’s skin care benefits, consider that Apricot Oil also contains high quantities of the antioxidant vitamins A and E, which can help your skin combat free radical damage from sunlight overexposure and stay youthful and healthy.
Ready to give Apricot Oil a try? Check out this pure Apricot Oil body oil, which contains 100% pure Cold-Pressed Apricot Oil. Or, if you really want to go all out and treat yourself, try this Cocoa Butter Plus, which combines Apricot Oil with unrefined cocoa butter, mango butter, and Shea butter in a rich, creamy spread that delivers all-day moisture and soothing!
Don’t know your skin type? Find out with this simple skin type test.
Learn more about the many benefits of Cold-Pressed Apricot Oil for skin care here. Trust us. When it comes to Apricot Oil’s benefits, we’ve barely scratched the surface.
June 26th, 2014
Since we don’t typically feature our Anna Designer Pet products in our blog, you may be wondering, “Who is Anna?” and “What exactly is so special about her and the Anna Designer Pet grooming line?”
Who is Anna?
Anna, more formally known as GRC Purrinlot Anna’s Gift made cat breeding history when she became the first ever blue-eyed bicolor Persian Grand Champion worldwide. Prior to Anna, it was considered genetically impossible for a bicolor Persian cat to have any eye color other than copper. So when breeder Laura Thomas approached the Persian Breed Council, the governing authority for determining pedigrees in Persian cat shows, with her dream of a blue eyed bicolor Persian, she was met with ridicule.
“Even if such a cat could exist, you would never be able to register at any professional cat show,” breeders and cat show judges told her repeatedly. “Since bicolor Persians can only have copper eyes, it would be illegal to show a blue-eyed bicolor Persian.”
Despite the ridicule, Laura never wavered in her faith that God would one day make her a blue-eyed bicolor Persian. Convinced that she would one day be blessed with such a cat, she set about the task of getting this supposedly “impossible” breed registered with the Cat Fancier’s Association and the Persian Breed Council so that when the day came that such a cat did exist, he or she could be legally shown.
Laura’s dreams and efforts came to fruition in 1999 when the Cat Fancier’s Association officially recognized the blue-eyed bicolor Persian cat as a legitimate, albeit still hypothetical, breed, and then again in 2006 when Anna was born and taken on tour to various cat shows.
“During her champion show, each judge in ring after ring would pull out the rule book to check if her eye color was legal,” Laura recalls. “The expression on the judges’ faces when, to their astonishment, Anna’s eye color was indeed listed as legal, was priceless!”
Anna was crowned a grand champion, and the rest is history. You can learn more about Anna and Laura Thomas’s journey of faith through cat breeding in her inspirational autobiography How to Have Purr-fect Faith, even at a cat show.
The Anna Designer Pet Line
As any professional breeder will likely tell you, taking a cat to grand champion status takes more than just genetics. Winning cats need to be groomed impeccably so that they look flawless when they get judged in the ring. That’s where the Anna Designer Pet Line comes in.
For years, Laura had been using natural grooming soaps and cat shampoos that she had formulated herself. These natural, handmade grooming products had several advantages over commercial grooming products of the day. They were detergent-free, and thus, could cleanse fur without stripping it or damaging ends. They were safe to use on kittens and around sensitive areas such as the fur around the eyes.
When Anna became a grand champion, Laura decided it was time to share her secret to success with the rest of the world. She took her natural pet grooming formulations to market, capitalizing on Anna’s newfound fame by naming the product line after her. The Anna Designer Pet grooming line quickly grew in popularity to become the number one breeder-recommended natural grooming supply line in the world.
The Anna Designer Pet Legacy
Today, the Anna Designer Pet line remains one of the top breeder-recommended and veterinarian-approved natural pet grooming supply lines in the world, with retail representation across five continents.
If you’re a breeder, groomer, veterinarian, or businessperson, you too can become part of the Anna Designer Pet legacy by becoming a wholesaler for the brand. The application process to become an Anna Designer Pet wholesaler is easy and straightforward.
June 22nd, 2014
Aloe vera is a great natural skin care ingredient for soothing damaged skin
Last week we talked about the importance of regular exfoliation and how using a bath scrub can help remove dead skin cells so they don’t cause your skin to flake and peel when out in the sun. But what if your skin is already flaking and peeling? Or worse yet, burning? Knowing how to care for care for your skin when it’s damaged is just as important as knowing how to keep your skin looking flawless, because chances are there will come a time in your life when, despite your best efforts, your skin will become damaged.
On days like today, when temperatures are in the 90s, you’re in a light, sleeveless outfit, and there’s hardly a cloud in the sky, your skin is at prime risk of damage from the relentless UV rays from the sun beating down on you. Even if you’ve read all about the long-term risks of overexposure to sunlight and you’re extremely careful every time you go outside, there’s still a possibility that you’ll end up with some type of sun-related skin damage. So it’s important to have a plan of action for protecting and soothing your skin should this or any other type of burn occur.
What to do if your skin has been burned or damaged….
If you’ve suffered a mild burn from sunlight or another source of inflammation, the first thing you should do is remove yourself from the source of the burning. This may seem blatantly obvious, but far too many people will see a burn, say, “Ouch! I’m burning!” but still continue to lay out and sunbathe or do whatever activity they were doing as though nothing had happened.
Once you’re out of danger of any further damage, the next step you should take as soon as possible is to soothe and protect the damaged area of skin. To accomplish this, we strongly recommend you use something natural like organic aloe vera rather than anything that was made with synthetic chemicals. Synthetic chemicals can be very irritating to even healthy skin and are the last thing your damaged, sensitive skin needs right now.
Aloe Body Butter: a soothing skin care solution
This Exotic Earth Aloe Body Butter is ideal for soothing damaged skin. It is made with several natural skin care staple ingredients, to include organic, unrefined Shea Butter, organic cocoa butter, and aloe vera juice. It also comes in easily transportable 2oz and 4oz size jars so you can take it wherever you go and have it in your hands the moment you need it.
You can apply the aloe body butter just like you would apply your daily moisturizer or any other lotion, though the aloe body butter will feel much richer and soothe and protect your skin much longer than most lotions. It works best to apply the aloe body butter as soon as you notice the mild burning or damage to your skin, and then follow up with additional applications after bathing or showering, and/or before you go to sleep.
Please keep in mind that these tips are for mild skin damage and are for informational purposes only. They are not to be considered medical advice, and if you have serious skin damage, we advise you to consult with your doctor.
Click here to learn more about aloe vera and its skin care properties.
Click here to learn more about Castle Baths’ aloe body butter.
June 18th, 2014
The benefits of bath scrubs when getting ready for a June wedding
June is one of the most popular months for weddings, and it’s no secret why. Flowers are in full bloom and the weather finally feels like summer, but it still isn’t overwhelmingly hot outside. It’s the ideal time of year to wed if you want a beach wedding, an outdoor service in a local flower garden, and/or if you’ve picked out gorgeous sleeveless dresses for yourself and your bridesmaids.
But if everything is to go swimmingly on your big day this summer, you’ll need to prepare, and no, we’re not talking about going to the wedding rehearsal or making sure the caterer decorates the cake exactly the way you want it. We’re talking about skin care.
Let’s face it, having an outdoor wedding during the summer carries a certain amount of risk for those whose skin is unprepared. You could end up with unsightly tan lines from all that time in the sun, or worse yet, your skin might burn and peel. Or perhaps you have cellulite deposits that you’re afraid will show. Fortunately, there’s a simple skin care technique you can use during the weeks before the big day to minimize the risk of any of these events happening. It’s called exfoliation.
If you’re getting married this June, or really any time this summer, or one of your friends or relatives is getting married and you’re one of her bridesmaids, you’ll definitely want to exfoliate your skin regularly during the weeks beforehand. Here’s why:
Exfoliation helps slough off dead skin cells that are lingering on your skin’s surface, and polish your skin so that it’s silky smooth. Dead skin cells, if left to linger, can cause your skin to have an overall dull appearance. They can get into your pores and clog them, resulting in visibly enlarged pores and the potential for an acne breakout. They can also cause your skin to flake and peel when exposed to sunlight (which it will be if you’re going to an outdoor wedding.)
One of the best ways to exfoliate is to use a bath scrub (also sometimes called a body scrub or body polish.) Bath scrubs are often made with salt or sugar to create a slightly textured solution that you can apply to your entire body using your hands, an exfoliation glove, or a body brush.
So many bath scrubs, so little time….
There are many types of bath scrubs from which to choose, including some you can make yourself. But if you or your friend is getting married this June, there’s not a lot of time to experiment. If you want a bath scrub that can do it all just in time for the big day, we recommend this Coffee Cocoa Face and Body Scrub.
The Coffee Cocoa Face and Body Scrub has several advantages over other scrubs, perhaps the most obvious being that you can use it on your whole body, to include your face. It is formulated with natural brown sugar and coffee grounds to provide a gentle yet still textured feel when applied to your skin. Other scrubs, such as those made with Dead Sea Salt are more abrasive and more suited for use below the neck line. Other advantages of the Coffee Cocoa Face and Body Scrub include:
- It is made with real coffee grounds, which contain caffeine and numerous age-fighting antioxidants. The caffeine from the coffee grounds has been shown to help reduce the appearance of cellulite by helping to temporarily stimulate circulation within your skin, just like ingesting a caffeinated beverage does to the circulation throughout your body.
- It is made with Certified Organic cocoa butter, which also contains caffeine and numerous antioxidants. Antioxidants play a key role in counteracting the free radicals that can build up in your skin if you spend too much time out in the sun.
- It is made with the patented Coffeeberry® for additional anti-aging benefits.
- It will help deep-cleanse your pores and slough off dead skin cells so you can achieve silky smooth skin and a nice, even tan during that outdoor service, instead of burning and peeling.
- The caffeine from the coffee grounds and cocoa butter will help keep you energized for the reception afterwards and all that dancing, just like drinking coffee or eating a chocolate bar would.
Bath scrubs are also great for polishing your cuticles during home manicures. If you’re interested in trying a coffee cocoa bath scrub or any of our Dead Sea Salt Scrubs for this purpose, we recommend you use this new, ergonomic manicure bowl, which fits the contours of your hand for easy application.
When it comes to getting your skin in prime condition for a June wedding, you really can’t go wrong with a Coffee Cocoa Face & Body Scrub.