One of the coolest things we learned was how to let the oils introduce themselves to us. You put the oil under your nose and allow the fragrance to introduce itself to you. It was amazing to see what your first response was to the oil. I think that is why I like some oils better than others. Some seemed happy and fun and others were more serious. By that I mean I LOVE neroli. It is my happy oil. I had one prior to that but when I discovered neroli, it took the cake. Still is today! The more serious oils were the medicinal smelling oils. I love them also but they put me in a different mind set. That is what is wonderful about the oils. They bring a part of themselves into your life and you feel it instantly.
My same friend told me that Mindy Green, who lived in Boulder, was putting on an event about making Christmas gifts with essential oils. I feel in love! I got so excited that I bought a bunch of stuff and started making the different products. I was feeling so good. So much so that I started getting rid of all the chemicals in my house – cleaning products. I had no idea how bad I felt until I started feeling better.
Awakening Spirit became an aromatherapy company and opened January 1, 1995.
I was very progressive back then in aromatherapy. Most people hadn’t heard of it or even how long aromatherapy had been around. I spent a lot of time educating people.
I started out by doing arts and craft shows all over Colorado. I had a different look and logo back then. I had a nature girl with bright colors and ribbons in her hair. I would wear pastels with ribbons in my hair. People used to follow me to my booth. It was really strange when I noticed that. It was a lot of fun – but hard work.
Sometimes I got lucky when someone saw something on TV and it was sitting on my table. It was during that time when I went to school to become certified in aromatherapy and really understand what I was getting into. My instructor was amazed at how intuitive I was with the oils. When we were asked why we chose the oils for our cases studies, I always said because I was told to use them! She was a nurse and that didn’t fly to well with her but it did scare her somewhat because it was so natural for me. She even mentioned it. Class was a lot fun.
A friend of mine and I went to the botanical gardens and she told me that lavender was good for headaches. I thought she was crazy. I bought a bottle regardless because I was desperate. A headache was coming on so I smelled the oil. I went home and started cleaning my house and then I realized that I should have been in a full migraine and I wasn’t. I didn’t even like the smell of lavender back then. It worked. What I came to learn is that if I smelled the lavender before the headache anchored in, I was okay. Once it set in, nothing stopped it.
The day finally came when I could no longer take the migraines. I had just gotten out of scalding hot shower and I laid on the floor crying and begging God to take my life. I asked him “how can I do your work, if I can’t even move?” Truly, I wanted to die because the pain was just too much to take.
Shortly thereafter, I was talking to a co-worker and she suggested I see a naturopath. I had candida all over my body. I had to stop feeding it. She put me on Coptis, a Chinese herbal medicine. It was horrible! I had to take two bottles. She said no one ever had to take it as long as me. As the candida was dying, I smelled like bread (yeast). I also was very depressed because I felt it dying and it was not happy. It was very strange.
After three days, I was taken out of intensive care and put in a regular room. All I wanted to do was sleep and that was something you don’t do in a hospital. I finally asked my doctor to let me sleep. When I did wake I was swarmed with nurses to do whatever it is they were suppose to do. I was on oxygen that went through water to keep my throat moist. One night I woke up coughing, in the middle of night with my water bottle empty. I rang for the nurse and no one came. In the morning, I told the doctor what happened. I thought he didn’t care and yet when I rang for the nurse about my water being emptied later that day, their was no moss growing under their feet! I guess the doctor yelled at them! I was going to be discharged that day but ended up staying another day. When I finally went home, I slept for three days. I never woke. I had no idea I was that sick. It took several months before I recovered from that episode. I was placed on 500 mg of antibiotics for 30 days and 250 mg for an additional two weeks. I didn’t know it then but that was malpractice.
The antibiotics caused candida. Again, I didn’t know it until years later and my health was seriously impaired. I was in severe migraine headaches that lasted 2-3 days every week! I researched everything. I got rid of foods that caused headaches. I took herbs, took scalding hot showers, massages and nothing worked.
Anyways, she finally arrived and took me to the clinic. When I got in the office, a girl comes into the room to take a culture of my throat. I could not open my mouth very wide because it was so soar. She hit my throat wrong and I ended up holding on to her for dear life and gasping for air. I was terrified.
The doctor came in an yelled at me that I should be in a hospital and not in her clinic. I was borderline conscious at that moment. The next thing I knew, paramedics were around me putting needles in my arm and taking me to the hospital. I was so bad that they prepped the operating room for a tracheotomy. It took the doctor an hour to arrive. I was put on oxygen.
While I waited for the doctor, I was trying to get out of my body so I could leave (die). The next thing I saw was Mother Mary came in at the foot of my bed and started yelling at me. I was not to leave and to stop trying. I was stunned. I had no idea they yelled! I was totally at attention during that episode. When she dematerialized, I saw my mother and doctor come into the room. The doctor put a probe down my nose to determine what was going on with my throat. I had a severe sinus infection. My epiglottis was swollen from the constant drip from my sinuses. I was given steroids and placed in intensive care. I only had a sore throat! Needless to say, I learned something that day.
I thought I would talk about how and why I got into aromatherapy. It started many years ago. I had an acute sinus infection and didn’t know for months. I would look at pictures of myself and I looked like I was putting on weight even though I wasn’t. My face was puffy. That is what I was seeing. During the course of the sinus infection, I started getting really tired and I couldn’t breathe especially when I laid down to go to sleep. It was Thanksgiving and I told my family I would rather die than be put under a knife. Now, I had no idea why I said that, I just wanted everyone to know they had no right to make any decisions for me.
Within one to two weeks thereafter, I ended up in the hospital. I absolutely could not breathe. I was very scared. I asked my husband to take me to the doctor. He refused (wonder why we are divorced!) I then asked him to call my mother. He did but wouldn’t ask her to take me to the doctor. So, I asked him to call my sister. He finally asked! I was so glad I really mattered to my sister since it took her close to two hours to get to my house. If I had more oxygen going to my brain, I would have called an ambulance myself since it was such an inconvenience for everyone to help me. After all it was just a soar throat!
Kathleen Flanagan, CEO and Founder of Awakening Spirit, Aromatherapist, Sound Therapist, Esthetician and Author.
Understanding How pH Works With Skin Care Products – Part Two
A chemical peel actually takes your skin to an acidic level, where you are actually burning the skin to create the skin to sluff. A peel is anywhere from a pH1 to pH3. An esthetician may perform chemical peels from 1.5% to 3% depending upon the state regulations and they work on the epidermis. Dermatologists may go lower because they are working on the dermal layer, the skin below the surface. The peel stimulates the skin cells to accelerate new growth as well as remove the epidermis. That is why your skin looks new and fresh after the sluffing is completed. It literally is new skin. It is extremely important that you wear sun block to prevent damage to the new skin.
When the peeling process is completed, your skin is also more receptive to uptake the products because it is no longer pushing its way through the dead skin cells. Improper cleaning, not using exfoliates and aging all effect how quickly we sluff the dead cells from our skin. Besides chemical peeling, microdermabrasion also removes the dead skin.
It is important to use good cleansers on your skin to bring it into an alkaline state to remove the dirt and impurities. If you have any serums, this is the perfect time to apply them because your skin is in a receptive state to uptake the serum and to have the most benefit. Then, tone your skin to bring the skin back to the acidic level. When you apply the moisturize while your skin is still wet from the toner, you won’t need as much and it creates a barrier to protect your skin from the environmental stresses. These steps will help you maintain a youthful appearance and keep your skin glowing.
The pH in our skin determines how products are going to respond. pH determines the acidity or alkalinity on a scale of 0 to 14. Anything below 7.0 is acidic and anything above 7.0 is alkaline. Therefore, 7.0 is neutral which actually extends from 6.5 to 7.5.
The pH scale is on a logarithmic scale or it is a 10-fold change in pH. For example, if you have a pH of 8, it is 10 times more alkaline than a pH of 7. If there is a change in two numbers than the change is 100 fold. In other words, the pH of 8 is 100 times more alkaline than a pH of 10.
Our skin has an acid mantle of 4.5 to 6.2. This mantle protects our skin from the many assaults it faces everyday. The acid mantle is made up of sweat and sebum (oil) to protect the skin from certain bacteria and microorganisms. If the acid mantle lowers or rises to much, inflammation occurs. That is why it is important to maintain a healthy skin care regime.
The cleansers that we use on our skin are alkaline. They are generally a pH10. This allows the skin to be cleansed and be in a state to receive the cleaning. If you use soap on your face, and nothing else, then your skin is exposed to all the elements. It has no protection. You will then see comedones (blackheads) or milia (whiteheads) on your skin.
Vitamin C is the skin’s most important water-soluble vitamin. It protects skin from environmental stresses, sun damage and the causes of aging. The immune stimulating properties are well documented, and it helps improve dermal blood supply and may help improve skin pigmentation. It is available in several forms varying in stability and effectiveness.
Ascorbic Acid: water-soluble, anti-oxidant, stays on surface, poor penetration, very poor stability, helps lighten skin and exfoliate dead cells
Ascorbyl Palmitate: fat-soluble (lipophilic), deep penetrating, soothing, softening, moisturizing and healing, best if used topically
Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate: fat-soluble (lipophilic), deep penetrating, very moisturizing, healing and soothing, improves skin pigmentation
Stimulation – Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids stimulate and exfoliate the skin. This process encourages fresh layers to the surface and enhances skin tissue growth.
Nourishment – As these younger cells surface, topical nutrients, including vitamins A, C, D, E, K and essential fatty acids nourish and accelerate the growth process.
Important Active Ingredients
Allantoin: Biogenic skin softener which accelerates healing and improves skin hydration
Arabinoglactan (Galactoarabinan): Immune stimulating, anti-aging polysaccharide with gentle stimulating properties
Collagen Amplifier System: Peptide based, stimulates collagen production
Beta Glucan: Enhances skin immunity and wound closing, protects against UV damage and hydrates skin
CoQ10: Helps energize new skin cell growth
Decyl Polyglucoside: Gentle, foaming skin cleanser derived from corn
Hyaluronic Acid: Biogenic moisturizing agent with significant water-binding properties
Jojoba Oil: A non-comedogenic, anti-bacterial non-oil that is similar to natural human lipids
Lactic Acid: Mild alpha hydroxy acid which acts as a skin softener and lightener
NaPCA: A biogenic humectant that holds onto water molecules to keep skin cells hydrated
Peg-7 Gyceryl Cocoate: A refatting agent that prevents irritation from occurring during cleansing
Phospholipids: Biogentic skin softener, moisturizing, anti-irritant, improves transdermal penetration
Resorcinol: A powerful anti-bacterial agent with anti-acne, peeling and exfoliating properties
Salicylic Acid: A beta hydroxy acid, breaks up oil and has powerful skin stimulating and anti-bacterial properties
Squalane: The predominate lipid found in human skin, extremely penetrating and skin softening
Tocotrienols: Powerful anti-oxidants form of Vitamin E
Vitamin A/Retinol: Improves skin elasticity, epidermal and dermal thickening, can help reverse photo damage, enhances new skin cell growth, retexturizes
Vitamin C: Collagen stimulating, anti-aging, protective, healing, skin softening properties, helps even skin pigmentation
Vitamin D: Important for skin cell stabilization, improves skin healing and immunity
Vitamin E: Moisturizes skin from within, aids tissue repair and protects from environmental stress
Vitamin K: Helps support small blood vessels, improves spider vein conditions, heals bruising
Forms of Vitamin A
Vitamin A is the skin’s most important fat-soluble nutrient. It is referred to as a skin cell normalizer. This means that Vitamin A can stimulate cell growth for healing and anti-aging effects OR slow down cell growth to improve skin conditions like acne or psoriasis. It is available in three main forms:
Retinoic Acid: Rx, stimulates collagen, anti-aging benefits, controls growth of cells (used for acne) exfoliative, drying and may induce sun reactions
Retinol: non-Rx, similar effects as Retinoic Acid but milder
Retinyl Palmitate: moisturizing, less effective on cell or fiber growth, soothing and non-exfoliative
Acidic and basic are two extremes that describe chemicals, just like hot and cold are two extremes that describe temperature. Mixing acids and bases can cancel out their extreme effects, much like mixing hot and cold water can even out water temperature. A substance that is neither acidic nor basic is neutral.
The pH scale measure how acidic or basic a substance is. It ranges from 0 to 14. A pH of 7 is neutral. A pH less than 7 is acidic and a pH greater than 7 is basic.
Pure water is neutral, with a pH of 7.0. When chemicals are mixed with water, the mixture can become either acidic or basic. Vinegar and lemon juice are acidic substances, while laundry detergents and bar soaps are basic or alkaline.
The skin produces both sebum and sweat, which create a barrier on the surface of the skin certain forms of bacteria and microorganisms, and it may be a factor in the natural skin shedding and renewal process. The pH of the acid mantle varies between 4.5 and 6.2. Skin care products should be below the skin’s pH of 4.5 — 6.8 to have maximum effects on the skin.
Very strong acids, such as sulfuric acid, can produce chemical burns that basically destroy the epidermis. Likewise, highly alkaline substances, such as lye, can also produce inflammation and in some cases, chemical burns.
pH adjusters or buffering agents are frequently added to skin care products. These additives keep pH at the correct level to produce the desired effect, while keeping the product safe and non-irritating to the skin.
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
← ↑ →
Increasing Acidity Neutral Increasing Basicity
Alpha Peel 40% = pH 1.8
Cocoa Cola = pH 2.5
Skin = pH 4.5 — 6.0
Maximum results are achieved when the pH is between 1.8 — 6.8.
Next time we will discuss active ingredients that are beneficial to the skin.
Dehydration is a condition that can be seen on all skin types. Dehydrated skin lacks water. Drinking plenty of water and hydrating the skin with moisturizers and humectants can help minimize the negative effects of dryness and dehydration.
Occlusive is a heavier product such as an emollient cream to keep moisture in the skin.
Humectants are ingredients that attract water/moisture to the skin and soften the surface, diminish lines caused by dryness; glycerin is a humectant used in creams and lotion.
Next time we will talk about pH.