The skin is a boundary between our inner world and the environment. It is one of the main ways that we connect with the world. Your skin is the largest organ in your body. It both absorbs and expels and is one of the main methods the body uses to relate with the outer world. Whether we consciously notice it or not, the skin is constantly taking in information about external circumstances.
We are constantly picking up on stimuli - whether we need a sweater or to remove a layer, the breath of a breeze across our face, the prickles of a cactus, the texture of another's skin. The skin also connects and communicates in ways we may not be conscious of. For example, nerves of the skin communicate with proprioceptors in the joints and muscles that determine the location of the body in time and space. This helps us to stay physically balanced and oriented.
We also ingest chemicals from the air and water and the products we use. We can't control the weather, or what's in the air around us, but we can use skin products that are lovingly made from healthy ingredients and make other choices the may benefit our overall health.
Healthy, soft skin begins with hydration. The recommendation to drink clean water can't be repeated often enough. Water helps to create a foundation for all of the cells in the body to function.
Diet is of course important but the subject of diet is too large and individual to tackle in depth here. Every body has unique requirements for optimal health and many believe that eating a diverse diet filled with plentiful sources of minerals and vitamins will improve physical health and the health and appearance of the skin.
Here are 5 things you can do to make your skin glow and feel soft to the touch.
1. Dry Brushing your skin before you bathe.
Dry brushing has many benefits including exfoliation, which stimulates cell growth because old and dead cells are removed and no longer layered on top of skin. This refresh automatically brings softer, new skin to the surface. Dry brushing improves circulation as it brings blood to the surface of the skin. This removes any lingering toxins. Many people claim that dry brushing also stimulates the circulation of lymph. For more on the benefits of dry brushing read below the article!
We have several excellent dry brushes. The Bamboo Bristle Bath Brush has a long handle making it easy to reach areas on the back. The long handle also ensures that you don't apply too much pressure when brushing. The Sisal Body Brush is another perfect choice for dry brushing. Made from all natural fibers with brush surface on 4 sides. The shorter handle makes it easier to control the pressure as you brush.
As stated above, removing dead skin has many benefits. If you don’t want to take on the habit of dry brushing, there are plenty of other ways to exfoliate,. The bath brushes mentioned above can be used wet in the shower to foam up your soap. Our Sisal Exfoliating Gloves work very well with a liquid shower gel. The Sisal Soap Pouch turns your bar soap into an exfoliating powerhouse.
Another option is a body polish. All three of our body polish options combine exfoliation with herbal ingredients designed to cleanse while they attract and lock-in moisture to your skin.
Though it is gentle enough for the whole body, the Bamboo & Walnut Foaming Body Polish is perfect for the rough skin of the heels and elbows. The foaming action lifts away impurities. Combining Aloe and Black Walnut our Walnut & Botanical Exfoliating Wash is gentle and the combination of Aloe and Jojoba brings hydration deep into the cells of your skin.
Treat your skin with our Organic Agave & Shea Butter Scrub. Herbal powerhouses comfrey (reduces inflammation) and calendula (beneficial to dry skin) combine with the power of anti-oxidants such as grapeseed oil and vitamins D and E to smooth and revitalize your skin.
Ideally, the soap should clean your skin of grime - the layer of dirt and sweat - that we invariably pick up and produce throughout the day. It’s a delicate balance. When bathing, you want to remove the excess oils and the grime it contains, while leaving enough of the naturally occurring oils to protect and maintain the integrity of the cells. When made with humectant ingredients, soap can attract moisture to your skin and set the foundation for hydrated cells.
Many commercially made soaps use a chemical cocktail to strip all of the healthy and necessary oils away off of your skin. Our soaps contain carefully selected ingredients that nourish and moisturize the skin while gently cleaning.
Our Organic Olive Oil Nourishing Soap brings three gentle and nourishing oils - Palm, Olive and Coconut - as the base to the bar. Each ‘flavor’ has different botanical additions such as charcoal for drawing out impurities, red clay, rose petals, and apricot to customize your bath even further.
Our Aloe Sulfate-Free Foaming Shower Gel starts as a gel and turns into a foam to lift away impurities, while the aloe leaves your skin feeling soft and moisturized.
Choose our Coconut Oil & Goat’s Milk Moisturizing Soap when you want to pamper your skin. Superfood coconut brings essential fatty acids and vitamin E combined with skin-softening goat's milk, this soap is bliss in a bar!
The thickness of a cream is luxurious and deeply hydrating. Choose a cream for those times when you want to repair your skin and treat those places on your body that never seem to soak in enough moisture. Creams are great to use during the winter months when we are exposed to drying cold winds and artificial heat. They are also fabulous to use in the warmer months after sun exposure and the drying effects of air conditioning. Our creams are great for treating rough patches and used all over, they penetrate the skin effectively leaving no surface residue.
You might have guessed by now that We Love Aloe. It is a featured ingredient in our Aloe, Shea Butter & Jojoba Body Cream and you’ll probably see it mentioned again before this list is through. Aloe is a gel in the fleshy leaves of the succulent Aloe Vera plant. It is rich with minerals and vitamins and is a powerful anti-oxident. Shea Butter and Jojoba are both excellent moisturizers and help protect and enhance the natural oils the skin produces. Shea butter softens the skin and encourages collagen production. The Aloe, Shea Butter & Jojoba Body Cream is a whipped cream so it has a light texture while containing all of the benefits and anti-oxidants of its ingredients.
Don’t let the name fool you: the Shea & Beeswax Hand & Cuticle Therapy is for more than just hands! Thick and creamy this therapy can be used all over the body. The Comfrey root extract soothes inflamed skin, and plantain naturally supports the skin’s cellular structure.
Many people moisturize right before bed so that the effects of the moisturizer can sink in and the nutrients can be integrated into the skin cells while the body rests.
Lighter and liquid in texture lotions smooth onto the skin and penetrate the cells quickly. You might choose a lotion in warmer months, when the higher temperatures mean that you want something a little less heavy. Lotion is also wonderful to use in between treatments with a heavier cream. Some think that here in the Bay Area we are lucky that temperatures above 75 are rare.When the thermometer does register in the 80s, many of us seek relief from the heat. As the Northern hemisphere heads into summer, follow the old wisdom and put a small bottle of lotion in the refrigerator for a refreshing pick-me up and cool down.
Our Organic Five-Oil Moisturizing Blend brings silky hydration to the skin. The combination of oils nourish and penetrate deep into the skin’s layers. Shea nut trees in Africa and Jojoba in the western United States have been used for centuries to moisturize the skin. Both plants grow in arid and very hot conditions so it isn’t surprising that they have adapted to retain moisture and turn their available resources into rich, nutritious oil to sustain themselves through the lean months of summer. Jojoba oil is the closest in structure to the oil that the skin produces. As a close match, it is able to meld naturally with the skin and give it exactly what it needs.
Wondrous Aloe features again in our Organic Aloe, Olive & Avocado Lotion. Aloe is rich in vitamins and minerals including the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E. The rich fatty acids combine with the fatty acids contained in avocado and olive oil to deeply nourish the skin.
Many of us slip into auto-pilot and do the bare minimum to care for our skin. Integrating one or more of the steps above can begin a new pattern of self-care or boost your existing ritual. Life can be hectic and spending time with one’s self, enjoying sensation and doing small acts of self-care reward you with soft skin but can increase your overall health and well-being.
The lymphatic system and the benefits of dry brushing
The lymphatic system is a key to a strong immune system. The lymph system collects, and transports cellular waste to the blood where it can be processed and removed from the body. The lymph system doesn't have a pump and so it is easy for white blood cell rich lymph to become stagnant. As part of the lymphatic system, there are organs, nodes, ducts and vessels. It is separate yet ultimately connect to the blood circulatory system. The lymph system are just below the skin and proponents of dry brushing believe that the brushing helps to stimulate the flow of lymph in the body.
a) It is important to start at the feet and work on the extremities first. Do the top and bottom of one foot then move up the leg using small circular strokes. Do the front and back of the shin and along the sides. Using counter-clockwise strokes, spend some time brushing the front and back of the knee, as there are lymph nodes here. Continue up the leg until you reach where the leg meets the pelvis. Do the other leg in the same way.
b) Move to your hands, and using the same small circular strokes, brush up from the palm and top of the hand, to the elbow then the shoulder. Be sure to brush all areas of your arms, the top of the arm and the palm side. Do both arms in this manner.
c) Next brush your stomach in a counterclockwise circular motion starting at the edges and working your way inward. Brush your back starting with your lower torso and working your way upwards. Brush down both sides of your neck. Then brush your right shoulder towards the heart. Finally, brush the left shoulder towards the heart.
The lymph system drains at the heart and this or a similar circuit ending in the area of the heart might help the lymph system to circulate and drain. Some proponents find that dry-brushing stimulates them, so you might want to experiment with the time of day you brush. Taking a shower, and varying between hot and cold water will help remove any lingering dead skin. Follow-up with a moisturizing cream, oil, or lotion.
Wash your dry brush about once a week and it is important to let it air dry completely. I don't recommend keeping it in the bath or the shower as this increases the chance it will develop mildew.