aromatherapy

Bathing and what you need to know about it.

I love bathing! Nothing feels as good as a nice warm bath on a cold winter’s night. If you live in Canada, you know exactly what I mean. Winter gets cold, dark and long and soaking in a tub filled with warm water is a great thing to do at the end of the day.

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A cup of Epsom salts, a few drops of your favourite essential oil, maybe a good book in your hand and you can hang out in your tub all night long until your hands and feet start shriveling like prunes. I know,  because I’ve done this many times. It feels amazing to experience this relaxation and stress relief that a  tub full of water provides. And sleep always comes easily after a good soak. But if you are like me and love bathing, there are a few important things to consider before you jump into your tub next time.

Number one is the quality of your water. Why? Because while you are enjoying a lovely warm bath, your body becomes like a sponge and soaks up all the good and the ugly from your water.  And this is when chlorine immediately comes to mind.

The city uses chlorine in our water to prevent disease. Chlorine is a  very effective disinfectant, which kills disease-causing pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, and protozoans, that commonly grow in water supply reservoirs. At the same time, chlorine is very problematic for our health and it’s a nightmare for our skin. An irritant with carcinogenic properties, chlorine is known to cause anything from skin rashes,  respiratory problems, and cancer. It is terrible for our skin and gut microflora which is essential to our health. It may also be surprising to learn that we absorb more chlorine by soaking in a tub than by drinking chlorinated water. It is actually more problematic to our health to absorb chlorine through the skin because while you bathe, chlorine gets directly into your bloodstream bypassing the initial filtration normally done by the liver when we ingest chlorinated water.

Related Post: Your Shower Is A Major Water Hog, Here’s How To Green Your Bathroom

Hot bath water opens skin pores making it easy for chlorine to be absorbed. Inhaling the steam from hot chlorinated water is also dangerous and may cause many respiratory conditions including asthma.

Number two is water sustainability. We are not the only ones on this planet.  We are so frivolous with our water! But water is sacred and should be treated as such. It takes about twenty to twenty-five gallons of water to take a very modest bath and it will take about the same amount of water to take a longer shower.  If you have a big soaker tub,
now we are talking more like 60 gallons. Hopefully, your showers are quick and you are using an eco shower head to preserve your water consumption. And hopefully, you don’t bathe in 60 gallons of water ever!

This is a very serious issue. Saving water is very important for more sustainable consumption of the planet’s resources. Having access to such basic service as drinking water comes without any effort to us but it is important to remember that 783 million people still do not have such access. So don’t ever use more than you truly need!

So in light of this information, should we give up taking a bath altogether?

The answer is no but we must do it way less and in a more mindful way. Start thinking of your bathing as special ritual, a time to cleanse and rest deeply.  Acknowledge that it is a privilege to have access to clean water.  This will become so much more than a simple soak.

Most of us don’t have a filtration system in our house and we must address the
chlorine situation.

There are easy ways to remove chlorine from our bath water through chemical neutralization.

There are several chemical compounds which can remove chlorine from the water. Sodium acorbate powder (a form of vitamin C) is a good solution since it’s easy to obtain and easy to use. You will need to add 1/4 tsp (or 1000 mg) of Sodium Ascorbate into your bath water about 5 minutes prior to bathing, giving it enough time to neutralize chlorine. Sodium Ascorbate will neutralize chloramine, which is also used to treat water and is even more dangerous than chlorine. A Canadian company Santevia makes bath filters which are made with vitamin C and are very easy to use.

Once your water is clear of chlorine and chloramine you can enhance your bath with additional ingredients for beautifying or medicinal purposes.

Adding Epsom salts will up the relaxation effect of your bath and will help to relieve soreness from your muscles.

I love adding oils to the bath, both lipid oils, and essential oils.

1 Tbsp of almond oil with a few drops of genuine lavender essential oil will leave you with lovely soft skin and ready for a deep restful sleep.

Adding oat flakes to the bath water will soothe irritated skin, any itchy rash, sunburn, dry skin, or eczema.  That’s why we run an oat bath for children suffering from chickenpox.
Place a cup of organic oat flakes in a cheese or cotton cloth and tie it with a string.  Throw it in your tub and run just hot water at first so the oat flakes will soften and make their anti-inflammatory properties available.

You can also make an herbal infusion (it’s like a strong herbal tea) with your favourite herbs and add it to your bath water. I love calendula, chamomile or mint.

Soak it up!

There is another important aspect of bathing. If you bathe mindfully it is no longer only about removing dirt from your skin.  It can be a ritual of removing and cleansing of all which does not belong to you anymore. You can mentally let go of unpleasant experiences from your day and release all that weighs you down. It is a simple yet deeply freeing practice which is greatly supported by the healing aspect of water.

Baths can be taken at night and in the morning. Night baths are usually used for relief of nervous and mental tension. They are a relaxation-inducing practice. These baths should last fifteen to twenty minutes. Morning baths are a tonic or a stimulating practice. They are best taken cooler than your night baths and ten minutes will do.

After a bath when your skin is warm and pores are open, it is a great time to apply skin healing oils. In general almond and jojoba are great choices for most. There are many lovely body oils on the market to choose from.

Finally, I want to give you one more suggestion. On a cold winter’s night when your body is chilled and you feel like you can’t warm up, treat yourself to a warm foot bath.

Neutralize the chlorine first with a tiny bit of Sodium Ascorbate. Throw some salts in and maybe add a few drops of sage or eucalyptus essential oil. Immerse your feet in the water and enjoy. You may find that this is as warming as a big tub full of water.

This is an article which I have written for The Eco Hub. You can find it HERE

Magdalena

Can you trust your nose?

I distinctly remember one particular class during my aromatherapy training. Our teacher sent two different bottles of rose essential oil around the room and he asked which one of the two we liked better and why.

The majority of the class picked the oil which seemed to have a sweeter and more ‘rosy’ aroma because they felt that the scent was more pleasing.

To the surprise of most, this happened to be the lab engineered rose substance which is toxic and disruptive to our health but commonly used. The genuine and organic rose essential oil in the other bottle appealed only to a few in the class.  It had more of a medicinal scent and did not smell sweet as everyone would expect rose essential oil to smell.

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Since then, I have learned over and over again that it is a common occurrence for people to pick a lab engineered aromatic substance over the real thing created by nature.

This is something worth talking about because it appears that our nose is in trouble and it can’t tell right from wrong any more.

Let us start with what our sense of smell does for us and why it is so important to keep it in tact.

The workings of our sense of smell are very complex. Our sense of smell impacts our life on many levels. Without going into serious anatomy, we can confidently say that our sense of smell is there to protect us from danger. It helps us to detect fire, or a gas leek. It warns us of food gone bad and pollution levels in our environment being high. It truly is one of our survival mechanisms which is vital to our existence.

But it does not stop there. Our sense of smell is linked to the part of the brain which stores our past memories. That’s why certain smells will immediately bring you back to your experiences from the past, some as far back as your childhood.  This is thanks to the amazing apparatus of the limbic system. The limbic system is made up of various parts of the brain which help us create and sense emotions. This is why we refer to the limbic system as the ‘emotional’ brain. 

Also, did you know that your nose helps you pick your partners in life? You are not consciously aware of this but your nose can smell the distinct chemicals called pheromones which we all secrete into the environment to send signals to elicit attraction, arousal and sexual desire.

When you happen to smell the beautiful aroma of flowers, your nose can take you on a creative journey. Some have written poetry about the scent of flowers or the scent of a woman…

I could go on about this and give many more examples but the point I am trying to make is that it is absolutely necessary for our nose to work very well. I am sure that you get the picture.

So going back to my aromatherapy class, how come our nose is in so much trouble that it can not tell right from wrong? The answer is very simple. We are bombarded with thousands of chemicals every single day and our sense of smell is deeply confused. The invisible toxic brew is everywhere you go and it even lingers in your home. Beauty products, especially perfume, are a big contributor to your nose’s perplexity. Bounce and Febreeze, cleaning products that you use are loaded with lab-engendered scents. That ‘lovely’ pine or lavender scented product never saw pine nor lavender. 

And how about the aromas you smell as you walk into stores? Did you know that there are laboratories which design scents which will make you into a compulsive buyer? Remember the limbic system - your ‘emotional’  brain?  Studies have been done which suggest that when people are exposed to citrus smell they feel compelled to clean. Other scents can prompt you to shop. There is a whole science created around this subject very much like the taste manipulation in many processed foods. Eat a little and you will feel compulsion to eat more….

Artificial aroma is the way to go for the beauty industry simply because it is cost effective and assures a fixed and stable aromatic profile of the product. First, true essential oils are very expensive to produce and secondly the aromatic profile can change from year to year depending on weather conditions in which plants grew, the health of the soil and such. 

In that sense, the production of genuine essential oils is very much like that of wine.  Like beauty companies, some wine producers use chemical additives to create a consistent flavour and more recognizable brand. Sadly, when the focus of the company is on profits rather than your wellbeing this is what takes place. 

I know that this may sound a bit like doom and gloom but there are actions we can consciously take to help our nose regain its virtues.

Maybe at the moment you don’t feel like there is much to do about scent you are exposed to in the stores and outside of your home. But remember that in your personal life and in your home it is totally up to you. First and foremost, remove toxicity from your personal and beauty care products. You may have to say goodbye to your favourite department store bought perfume but don’t fret! There are amazing genuine essential oil based products which can replace them. There is a movement taking place towards artisan genuine essential oil based perfume making. It is very exciting!

Make sure to read your labels and don’t be shy to ask questions about the source of scent in the product you want to purchase.

Splurge on a bottle or two of organic essential oil and from time to time simply smell it. Close your eyes and inhale. There is a very big difference in the effect a natural scent has on you compared to lab-made perfume. You will be amazed at how quickly you can become an expert on reading a scent’s authenticity. 

As a botanical product formulator I am very hopeful and I trust that ultimately we all want to be healthy, we want our planet to thrive and once made aware, we will make wholesome choices. The simple truth is that there is no comparison between a scent that is made in a lab and a scent that is produced in nature. The first is a substance devoid of life and disruptive to our health; it is a burden to the environment and will totally mess up your nose and your health. The second is full of life and healing on many levels.  

For example, one essential oil can improve the health of your skin and uplift your mood at the same time.

I believe that when you make a conscious decision to choose aromatic products which are supportive to your life and your health, you and your nose will slowly become more in tune with that which is true and that which is not. Your nose will no longer be fooled by toxic brews which pretend to be something they are not and genuine scents of plants will grace your life as they were meant to.

Magdalena


Before the year ends...

Recently, I have discovered this delicious spiced tea by Numi Organic Tea ... In a pretty cup,  I make it as a latte with frothed almond milk and a good sprinkle of cinnamon. I feel like a little girl drinking it. Not sure why, it just makes me feel good inside. Sometimes when I sit down to have my cup of delight, I ponder a bit on the year almost gone by.

I am so very GRATEFUL for my work and people who 'put their beauty in my hands'. Some of the clients have been coming to see me for nearly 20 years. We share many laughs, a few tears and a passion for pure non-pretentious, relaxing beauty care with a soul. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your continuous support! I consider myself very lucky!

It is safe to say it was a busy, challenging year; Full of creative ideas few of which turned into reality and many more still waiting to be pursued.

  1. I was able to design a few new handcrafted skin care formulas and the following are the principal blends: Protective Face Balm, Cell Regenerating Face oil, Soothing Face Oil, a Lip Balm and the latest addition - the Cardamon Rose Body Balm. I am learning a lot as I go along and I am loving oils and herbs more and more. It is a complete pleasure to formulate products in small batches for women I know. I am still tweaking the labels and packaging but should have it sorted out soon. 
  2. I have finally found pure long strand Mulberry silk pillow cases!!! It took two years to find the real deal... I almost gave up  a few times in the process. I am very glad I did not and many clients say they will never sleep on anything else but their silk. Mission accomplished!!!
  3. We had some renos in the building and woman divine studio got a fresh coat of paint and a new lovely cabinet in the treatment room. I am still working on organizing the aromatic dispensary area in my little space... work in progress...
  4. I held a few workshops - Face Yoga and The Art of Oils. It has been a dream to share my knowledge in group settings. I have been putting it off simply from lack of confidence in my public speaking ability...I have done only a few here and there in the past. This year the desire was too strong to ignore. I am enjoying teaching very much and so far I have received lots of positive feedback and a full class for each workshop taught. Thank you to all who come and share in my passion for oils and for the Woman Divine Mindful Beauty Practice vision. More workshops are coming in the 2015.
  5. We (myself, woman divine and the oils) have made it into the Ottawa Citizen and the National Post. I am deeply thankful to Janet Wilson from the Ottawa Citizen for a great article and to all the women who found their way to woman divine and my aromatic skin care thanks to this very article. 
  6. Thanks to all of you and your generous support by promoting my services to your friends and family members, my practice is thriving! 

As this year ends I feel thankful. At the same time I look ahead to the new year and many ideas I wish to implement. But before I do anything else, I will be taking off to Poland for the Christmas Holidays to be with my family and to immerse myself into the relationships and the environment of my childhood. I am packing my balms and oils and the Winter Spice Numi Tea.  I am sure some serious pondering will happen over the cup while in my mom's flat in Warsaw. 

I wish you an amazing Holiday Season! Have lots of fun and keep safe wherever you go!
I hope the New Year will bring lots of love, peace and prosperity to all.

Magdalena

Sweet & sensuous vanilla body oil.

It is my daughter Carollyne who turned me on to vanilla ... she loves the scent. Last Christmas I gave her a bottle of hand-crafted (by my own hands) vanilla infused jojoba oil as a gift. I must say as I was preparing this infusion a few weeks before Christmas, I developed a bit of a love affair with it myself. 

I am putting together a new batch and it will be ready in about 4 weeks. Some of it will be available as simple vanilla in jojoba body oil and part of it will serve as a base for more complex formulations.

Vanilla body oil by Woman Divine

Vanilla body oil by Woman Divine

Vanilla is a member of the Orchid family. It is valued for its aphrodisiac qualities and you will often find it as an ingredient in sensual body oils and perfume.  Vanilla is believed to stimulate the release of serotonin which triggers feelings of arousal and satisfaction. An idea for Valentine's night... actually any night. 

Vanilla body oil by Woman Divine

Vanilla body oil by Woman Divine

Sweet smelling Vanilla is also beautifully soothing and calming for the nervous system. For this purpose it works great in body oils.

If you wish to make your own Vanilla infused oil please use organically sourced vanilla seedpods and carrier oil.

How to infuse vanilla into jojoba oil?

  • 3 organic vanilla pods
  • l cup of organic jojoba oil
  • Cut up vanilla pods into small pieces place in the amber glass and cover it with oil.
  • Place on the window sill and let it infuse for the next 3-4 weeks.
  • Strain and you are ready to go.

If you like a softer scent, you can always dilute it using more jojoba oil.

If you are not the kind to play with making stuff but would like to have a bottle of organic, beautifully sensuous and relaxing vanilla infused body oil, my batch is brewing as we speak. I will let you know when it is ready... in about four weeks.