Category Archives: Skin

Benefits of Sheet Masks (& some recipes!)

Well honestly, is there much a good face mask can’t cure? They are amazing at addressing skin woes, minimizing pore, blemish reduction…and they’re great for your stress level because you have to stop and relax for 15-30 minutes while you’re wearing it. So that crappy day at school, the office, with the kids, whatever…is going to fade away while you hang out and do nothing but breathe and chill and let your face mask give you beautiful skin.

Masks trap moisture and beneficial ingredients in the skin and creates a film that helps to hydrate, moisturize, dry, exfoliate, restore, protect, refine, firm, brighten… (depending on the mask recipe.) Face masks are designed to allow ingredients to penetrate into the skin in a short amount of time.

You are probably familiar with clay masks, but…what the what is a sheet mask? Sheet masks came out of the K-Beauty trend. K-Beauty is short for Korean Beauty Trends.

For decades now, skincare aficionados in Korea have been innovating sheet masks, gel creams, and eye serums into their routines, incorporating ingredients both new and traditional to their regional culture.

K-Beauty’s rise in popularity in the West began several years ago, when products in quirky, eye-catching packaging began appearing in specialty cosmetic stores. These new offerings boasted an ingredient list both fascinating and provocative, sparking conversation and debate around worrisome elements like snail slime and squid ink. In spite of (or perhaps helped by) the controversy raised by its sometimes unsettling recipes, K-Beauty has continued to grow in popularity here in the U.S, and beyond because there are some fantastic ideas here and a lot of them utilize things you probably already have in your kitchen.

Seriously there are some amazingly wonderful beauty ideas that have come from K-Beauty so let’s take a look at why home sheet masks! I promise we’re not going to use any of those “worrisome” ingredients.

The fabric used prevents water evaporation allowing for better absorption of the mask solution and maintains skin hydration.

Anti-Oxidant Properties
Due to phenols and bioflavonoids (see my post … ) many masks have anti-ox properties and can prevent free radical damage to keep skin healthy…and remember free radical eradication is anti-aging

Budget Friendly
Doing stuff at home saves money! Sheet masks are like a stay-cation for your face!! Check out my line of Mask Powders and combine them with the liquid of your choice – you save money over those big-name masks, and you’ll probably actually use them more! Win win win!!!

You can customize the solutions…need some of the benefits from a couple different formulas? No worries, mix that goodness together!

Here are some DIY at home Sheet Mask recipes you can whip up in your kitchen, too. For your Sheet Mask pellets, brushes, and more targeted skin care formulation head on over to, too.

The Basics:
Gather Your Ingredients & Tools
Mix your Ingredients
Hydrate your Mask
Drape your Mask
Remove and Enjoy your pampered skin

Easy-peasy! Here’s a great recipe to get started with. This is good for all skin types and green tea fights free-radicals and brightens skin.

Super Simple Starter Mask (SSSM)
Brew a cup of green tea and let it cool completely. You can leave the tea bag in the liquid while it cools down to concentrate the tea, too.

Combine 2 tablespoons of the cooled tea with 2 tablespoons of your favorite Cats Paw Farm Toner in a shallow bowl and stir well. Dip your sheet mask into the mixture and let it get soaked. Pull the mask out and allow it to drip dry over the bowl. Don’t wring all the good stuff out, but you don’t want it dripping all over either.
Lean back in your favorite chair or lay down. Drape the sheet mask on your and smooth it with your fingers (or use a sheet mask brush for more control) so it covers your facial skin. Relax for 30 minutes.

Remove the sheet mask and discard if it’s a disposable, or set it aside for cleaning if it’s a reusable.
Splash some cool water on your face and then toss the remaining mask mix (yes there will be leftover so share your mask time with a friend if it bothers you to throw out the leftover.)

Toss a couple of ice cubes and a squeeze of lemon in the cup of remaining green tea and enjoy a refreshing beverage that is full of anti-oxidants for your insides, too!

the following recipes use the same basics as the SSSM so I’m just going to list the specific ingredients rather than describing how to do the whole mask.

Detox Mask 1
1 tsp almond flour (or crush a couple almonds to fine powder)
2 tbsp olive oil
note This mask is best done with a disposable sheet mask as it is really difficult to get the mask clean again after using an oil based mask. Remember that oils are good for our skin…see my post…

Detox Mask 2
2 tbsp green tea
3-4 drops lemon juice
1/8 tsp honey (dissolve in the tea while it’s still warm for best results)

Refreshing Mask 1
1 tbsp-aloe juice mixed with about 1 tbsp clean water

Refreshing Mask 2
1 tbsp watermelon juice (or finely mashed fresh watermelon) mixed with about 1 tbsp aloe

Dry Skin Mask
1 tbsp aloe mixed with 1 tbsp rose water

Calming Mask 1
enough mashed cucumber (no seeds or rind) to get about 2 tbsp liquid. After mashing you can squeeze the mash to get the liquid that you’re after.

Calming Mask 2
Chamomile flowers and lavender flowers steeped in boiling water and cooled. You’ll use about 2 tbsp for your mask.

Grounding Mask (oily skin)
A couple lemon balm (Melissa) leaves steeped in boiling water and cooled. You’ll use about 1 tbsp for your mask mixed with 1 tbsp witch hazel.

Cooling Mask (sensitive skin)
1 tbsp peppermint tea cooled and mixed with 1 tbsp cucumber juice

Brightening Mask 1 (acne/mature/sensitive skin)
2 tbsp green tea mixed with a few drops rosehip oil and (optionally) 2 drops chamomile essential oil

Brightening Mask 2
2 tbsp rice water.
This one requires some advance planning, but it’s worth it. The evening before your mask soak your amount of rice (white or brown) in twice as much water. Soak the sheet mask in the liquid for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator before applying to face.

Oatmeal Mask (sunburn, soothing)
Finely powder about a tsp of oatmeal and mix into 3 tbsp water and let it sit in the fridge for about 20 minutes before soaking your mask. Optionally you can mix in a couple drops of honey, too.

Nourishing Face Mask
Not everyone has seaweed powder in their kitchen, but if you do this is a nice recipe.
Mix 1/2 tsp powdered seaweed in 2 tbsp green tea.

Pore Tightening Mask
2 tbsp rose water with 3-4 drops glycerin mixed in.

Acne Prone Skin Mask
1 tbsp witch hazel mixed with 1 tbsp water and 1 drop of tea tree essential oil

Hydrating Mask (sensitive skin)
1 tbsp aloe juice mixed with 1 tbsp cooled green tea and 2 drops chamomile essential oil

Honey Mask
Honey has so many great properties for skin. I love this mask and have a few tips…first being to pull your hair off your face. No one wants sticky honey hair. Unless you do (honey is a great hair mask, too.) Also, you’ll want to use a sheet mask brush to apply the honey to your face.
Honey is the only ingredient – use the mask brush to apply and then apply a clean sheet mask over the top. Use a (cleaned) mask brush to contour the mask to your face. Leave on for 20-30 minutes. I rinse this one off in the shower for the least amount of mess.

Mature Skin Mask
Here’s another honey mask that’s great for mature skin! Mix your honey with 1 tsp rosehip oil and apply as described above.

Now that we have a few recipes to try I need to remind you about….

Things Not to Put Directly Onto Your Skin Without Mixing Into a Base…
Lemon Juice
Apple Cider
These ingredients can make the skin overly sensitive to light and could cause skin bleaching when used as a stand-alone ingredient.

If you wouldn’t eat it outright – do not put it on your face. Throw that sketchy tub of yogurt out…It’s not still good to use for anything else if you wouldn’t eat it right now.

Your mask is good for THAT DAY. A home wet-mask is exposed to the environment and bacteria have a field day with fresh ingredients – so don’t wait – use it as soon as you make it (or at least within an hour) – 20 minutes if it has dairy ingredients (and you can substitute milk for water in any mask.) How long would you let milk sit out and still drink it? That’s how long your milk mask has, too.

If you’re not feeling playing with what’s in your kitchen that’s ok! Come on over and check out the Mask Powders that I create. You can use these with the liquid of your choice. I love green tea, milk, and even diluted lotion for these. You can mix them thicker for a clay mask experience or dilute for sheet masks. Each jar has about 10-20 masks worth of powder depending on how you mix it. (These are all different ingredients from the recipes above.)

Enjoy exploring Sheet Masks!!

Next time maybe we’ll chat about how to turn your CP Mask Powders into Jelly Masks, cos all masks are awesome and really we just can’t get enough of them!

Discover #greenbeauty #cleanbeauty #skincare at Cats Paw Farm.

Gua Sha and Your Face

I’ve been using a facial roller for over a decade. In a previous business I had the opportunity to work with a family in India who owned a mining and design company for semi-precious stones and shaped stone items. I got turned onto crystal/stone rollers by them during that time and have been a big fan of crystal rolling ever since. For the last year or so I’ve been exploring Gua Sha stones (or boards as they’re often called) and I thought I’d chat about them a little today.

Gua sha, aka Karokan, is a traditional Chinese medicine practice in which a shaped stone is used to scrape the skin to form a lite petechiae. Practitioners believe gua sha releases unhealthy elements from injured areas and stimulates blood flow and healing. Now, before you start thinking this is purely metaphysical (which I don’t have a problem with because it’s just unexplained science in my way of thinking) there is scientific basis behind this…so let’s demystify Gua Sha and see how it can benefit you. There are medical journal articles on gua sha and scraping therapy at PubMed, NCBI, ScienceDirect, and a few other medical and geeky journal sites that I love. Let me know if you want links to any of those, too.

Gua translates to scrape, or rub. Sounds painful. It’s not when done properly. Gua sha body treatment, done properly result in a light petichia and the color of this can actually tell professional practitioners things about your blood and body condition. For example a light colored sha indicates blood deficiency (anemia) and this is solidly grounded in what we know about anemic persons through science. A dark red sha may indicate inflammation and this also parallels what we know from modern medicine.

We’re not doing that tho – There’s a big difference between the approach to body gua sha and facial gua sha. We’re going to focus on the facial gua sha as part of our facial care and self-care. Facial gua sha utilizes a lubricating oil that nourishes and is absorbed quickly into the skin while providing the glide needed to not create dragging and tearing. Remember from our past chats that skin is thin and facial skin is thinner than body skin. To keep it in tip top shape we want to nourish and protect – aka, get those oils with their fatty acid components in and remove toxins by sending them out of the body through the lymphatic system. This is why I love gua sha. That, and it’s super relaxing (and is known to lower blood pressure during treatments, too-bonus!)

But what does rubbing a stone over your face actually do and why should you care? It improves circulation of two systems in the body! Getting blood moving and engaging the lymphatic system delivers nutrients to the skin and removes waste from the skin. Unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system has no pump. This is why giving your lymphatic system a boost to rid yourself of fluid retention and to give movement to toxin removal is a good thing. And I want you to do it properly so that you reap these benefits.

There are many shapes of gua sha stones. Each will have at least a large flat side, a gently curving side, a somewhat pointed area, and a concave area. Generally the smaller shapes are for smaller area while large stones (some can be larger than a hand) are for the large areas of the body. For facial gua sha you’ll want something that’s around palm-size. I prefer the heart shape, and this is what I offer on our website. It combines all of the shapes needed for the face into one aesthetically pleasing shape that’s easy to manipulate in your hand and move from area to area on your face.

When you are practicing gua sha on your face you will keep the movements light. We are not after bruising! We are after movement of interstitial fluid. A little pinkness is normal, but if you are getting petichia you are scraping too hard. Lighten your hand next time. Light pressure is best.

Some practitioners say to keep your gua sha in the fridge and use them cold. No-don’t do that. That is a great practice for rollers, and we’ll explore them in another blog, but for gua sha you want to use stones that are warmer. You can carry it in your pocket or run it under warm water before you start. A warm stone will increase blood flow and get the lymphatic system moving.

You’ll want to gua sha with a cleansed and toned face. Apply a quarter sized pool of facial oil (I have made available on my website the oil I developed for my own rolling and gua sha) to your entire face and neck.

Using the diagram sweep each area a minimum of three times. You will drag the stone rather than push it. Pushing can cause microtears in the skin tissue. Remember to warm your stone and rub it between your palms after you’ve oiled your face. This wil help lubricate the stone as well. I start with the front of my neck, move to chin, cheeks, forehead, and finish with the sides of my neck. This way everything is being moved up, to the sides, and then channeled down to the lymph nodes in the neck. If your gua sha tool begins to drag then apply more oil. Use the stone at a nearly flat angle to encourage fluid movement and prevent bruising. Experiment with which contours of the stone fit the contours of your face – there’s no wrong way to match contours so don’t be hesitant to turn your stone to a different position.

Gua Sha & Crystal Roller Sweep Diagram

There are some long term medical conditions that gua sha is being explored as a way of granting relief. Migraines are the front runner of conditions being helped by a 14 day targeted treatment of body and neck gua sha. Generalized chronic neck pain is being treated with gua sha in clinical trials of treatments daily for a week and while experts are undecided about the long term outcome, they are seeing improvement reported by patients as significant in regards to their pain levels.

Gua Sha is not just a beauty fad, it’s self-care that is grounded in eastern medicine. I for one am grateful this practice has been shared with the world and invite you to see what it can do for your skin and well being.

Let me know if you Gua Sha or Roller, and which stones you prefer! Until next time, have wonderful days, and thanks for hanging out with me!

Discover #greenbeauty #cleanbeauty #skincare at Cats Paw Farm.

Finishing Touches: Facial Oils & Sunscreen

While many will be content for moisturizer to be the last step in a skin care regime, there are a couple more products that can make a big difference to keeping facial skin as youthful appearing as possible. Facial Oils and Sunscreen…let’s find out about the benefits!

Facial Oils
If you’re still leery of using oil on your face, I would like to offer my post on Acne and skin oils. Facial oils are beneficial for skin and do not cause acne when formulated properly.

Summer Bouquet Facial Oil
Stone Massage Facial Oil

Your facial oil can have a lot of potential benefits depending on the ingredients and their overall purpose is in protecting the deeper levels of dermal tissue. I say potential benefits because many oils contain intrinsic antibacterial, anti-oxidative, and healing properties.

Facial oils promote a healthy glow and this is even more important for mature and dry skin. As we’ve learned already, aging is responsible for less natural oil production and that all on its own can exacerbate the look of fine lines. Antioxidants in Facial Oils boost collagen production and increase skin’s elasticity, too.

One more bonus perk for Facial Oil – It can also help foundation apply more smoothly and consistently (plus you’ll most likely use less of it!) Makeup brushes and sponges glide across skin easily after applying Facial Oil so help prevent clumps or streaks. If you’re looking for more of a sheer effect simply mix a few drops of your Facial Oil and (liquid) foundation and apply both at the same time.

Tamanu Nut Oil
Rosehip Seed OIl

Properly formulated high-end oils with fatty acid profiles similar to the composition of skin can also pull grime from pores, giving them a smaller and less noticeable appearance. Additionally, many oils have anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce redness from rosacea and environmental irritation.

If you apply Facial Oil as the last step in an evening skin care routine they are soaked up overnight and create an ultra-soft complexion in the morning.

I have a love/hate relationship with sunscreen. I love what it is designed to do: protect skin from the damaging effects of UV. I detest the ingredients that are in most sunscreen products. And…and this is the biggie – any product sold in the US is regulated as a drug because it makes a drug claim – and any product that is for helping to prevent sunburn or decreasing the risks of skin cancer and early skin aging caused by the sun is classified as a drug. WTF?

What this effectively does is to create an entire class of skincare that no one is allowed to openly create unless the product goes through FDA compliance testing. That costs a lot. A lot a lot.

So…let’s chat a bit about the difference between mineral and synthetic sunscreen ingredients anyhow. There are only 2 mineral sunscreens (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) and both are referred to as physical blockers. They work on the uppermost layer of skin to both absorb, and to deflect and scatter sun’s rays.

There are more than 30 synthetic sunscreen ingredients, all of which work by absorbing into the top layer of skin, scattering and deflecting UV rays and converting them into heat to “deactivate” them.

There are some carrier oils that have natural UV protection. Those oils are Carrot Seed Oil, and Red Raspberry Seed Oil. Both of these are in a Moisturizer I make called Shady. I have been known to add zinc oxide to my own lotion as well to create a personal sunscreen without synthetic ingredients (hint hint). Zinc Oxide leaves a slightly chalky residue and that’s ok when the alternative is burning and blistering.

I don’t mind at all when customers ask me what my personal skincare regime is. I oil cleanse in the shower with OCM All Skin or Mature Skin formula. Rose Water is my go-to toner. Hyaluronic Acid is my standard humectant though currently I’m beta testing a new formulation I’m tentatively calling Sea Hag Serum (& I’m kinda loving it…waiting for my other beta testers to let me know what they think before I release it.) If my skin feels at all tight or inflamed I reach for Chamomile Serum next, and then Facial Elixir. Sometimes I like a little Rose & Aloe in the eye area and other times Argan Aloe Eye Serum. Fresh Face Moisturizer (or Shady if I’m going to be outside most of the day) followed by Summer Bouquet Facial Oil. In the evening I cleanse with a micellar water and follow it with Daily Botanical Moisturizer in Mature Skin formula.

I actually recommend DBM Mature to anyone over the age of 30, 25 if they’re exposed to the extremes of the environment. Why? Because it’s packed full of botanicals that skin needs to stave off the effects of aging.

Hey I didn’t geek out too much in this last post! I do hope you’ve enjoyed this journey through skincare with me. Keep sending me questions and suggestions for topics you’d like me to chat about. I’ll keep creating more thoughtfully crafted, clean beauty skincare products for you.

While this concludes the skin care series, we have lots more to chat about so stay tuned to see what is coming next! Thanks for hanging out with me!

Discover #greenbeauty #cleanbeauty #skincare at Cats Paw Farm.

Here are a few of the ingredients that are detrimental to skin and other tissues so that you can make good choices. Watch out for these when you’re reading ingredients so that you can steer clear.:
Stearic Acid (palm oil derivative – actually palm oil hides behind around 237 different names. eek!)
Diethanolamine (DEA)
Monoethanolamine (MEA)
Triethanolamine (TEA)
Mineral Oil
DMDM Hydantoin (Imidazolidinyl)
Parabens in all forms (methyl, butyl, ethyl, propyl)
Polyethylene glycol (PEG with or without numbers behind it)
Phthalates (see my post on phthalates for more info)
Propylene Glycol
Butylene Glycol
Siloxane (often tagged onto the end such as cyclotetrasiloxane)
Methicone (often tagged onto the end)
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLE)

Elixirs , Eye Creams, and Moisturizer

Doesn’t Elixir sound like something out of Greek Mythology, like akin to Ambrosia? It’s kind of Ambrosia for your facial skin now that I think about it. Ambrosia translates literally to “not mortal”…and sorry I don’t usually get geeky in the first paragraph. eep! Elixirs and Moisturizers are formulated to address and repair damage (aka fine lines and wrinkles), provide additional hydration, and to do some deep healing overnight – to help you with that “ageless” look. Hopefully these products will become some of your favs, too.

Elixirs are usually combinations of oils, herbal components, plant extracts, and or butters. These wonderful potions are designed to repair at a cellular level. The smaller molecule size of ingredients used allow them to penetrate skin levels in a high concentration. Elixirs are used sparingly, similar to serums. Elixirs soothe, reduce fine lines, and even skin tone. Elixirs can also address rosacea, eczema, and acne.

Oftentimes an Elixir is combined with a humectant. Because the terms Serum and Elixir are often used interchangeably the product line has blurred. They are both cellular repair products and most of us can benefit from using them in our skin care arsenal. I’ll admit that the precise naming convention is blurred in my own product line for the sheer euphony of one word versus the other.

This is probably a good time to chat about the Comedogenic Scale. This is a ranking of oils and butter by how likely they are to clog pores when used in cosmetic formulation. The scale uses a numbering system 0-5 with oils and butters that are least likely to settle into pores and combine with sebum having a lower number.

So what is considered non-comedogenic? Pretty much anything rated at 2 or less is considered non pore-clogging. Ingredients rated 5 are those that are just about guaranteed to settle into pores and combine with sebum.

Examples of non-comedogenic oils & butters are Argan, Jojoba, Blackberry Seed, Hemp Seed, and Shea. Examples of comedogenic oils and butters are Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil, and Palm Oil (we don’t use Palm oil in our products, for health reasons.) Everything else falls onto the scale between the two extremes.

The catch is that some of the oils and butters with higher numbers are the most emollient and very effective for dry and maturing skin. It’s a balancing act, and one of the reasons it’s not a great idea to just throw together some oils from your kitchen cupboard and use them on your face. I pick up and look at a lot of skin care products made by crafters at vendor shows and I can tell really quickly if they know what they’re doing by the oils listed in the ingredients. If there’s no ingredients list on the product (and it’s common) that’s a whole other problem…

When I’m formulating a skincare product I take into consideration the dynamic of the fatty acid profile as well as the comedogenic scale. Different fatty acids have vastly different properties and uses in skin care.

Chamomile Serum
Aloe Vera Extract
Facial Elixir

Eye Cream
Before delving into Moisturizer, let’s chat about eye cream for just a moment. The skin around your eyes is different than the skin on the rest of your face. First off, it is ten times thinner than facial skin. Also, there are no oil glands in the eye area so this skin tends towards dryness and fine line formation. When the body is dehydrated it is apparent in the eye area and has a limp, baggy appearance. The foundational collagen structure of the eye area loses its elasticity as we age and is exacerbated by allergies, crying, internal hydration levels, eye makeup removal, contact lens insertion and removal, mascara application, squinting, and smiling. Blinking alone has been calculated to be responsible for over 10,000 movements of the skin around the eyes each day.

So the next step in our skin care routine is eye cream. Eye cream is specifically formulated for the delicate skin around the eyes. These tend to be thicker and gentler. Oils used here should be non-comedogenic. HLA is also a really good option for a stand alone eye product.

Argan Aloe Eye Cream
Hyaluronic Acid
Rosehip Seed Oil Roller

We know now that aging reduces the skin’s elasticity. I’m asked a lot if moisturizer is important. Yes. Yes it is. Now I know that we’ve talked about a lot of different types of products, but seriously if you only do one thing after you cleanse and tone – moisturize.

Moisturizing reduces the chance of developing extreme conditions in the skin. Because our facial skin is the only skin that is constantly exposed to every extreme of the environment it runs the risk of developing dryness and oiliness in response to these environmental conditions. Moisturizing gives your skin a barrier from heat, cold, and wind. Leaving moisturizer out of the skin care routine can lead to deepening wrinkles. No one wants that!

Baby Face-Men’s Moisturizer
Daily Botanical Moisturizer-Mature Skin Formula
Daily Botanical Moisturizer-Oily Skin Formula

Ok, so we know why moisturizer is important now. Let’s talk about what moisturizer should contain to do the best job possible for your skin. There are four classes of ingredients in moisturizer: occlusives, humectants, emollients, and barrier-repairing ingredients (aka ceramides.) Within each of these classes of ingredients there are both wholly natural as well as wholly synthetic choices to be made by the formulator. Cats Paw products are wholly natural and derived from plants (except for lanolin and beeswax which are derived from sheep wool and bees.)

Remember that humectants (such as HLA, aloe, glycerin, calendula) are the ingredients that attract water from the environment and draw it into the skin in order to hydrate it.

Daily Botanical Moisturizer-Dry Skin Formula
Fresh Face Moisturizer
Rosie Moisturizer

The purpose of emollient ingredients is to soften and soothe dry, rough, flaky skin. These ingredients are often wax-like or have chemical properties very like skin itself (such as jojoba oil…which is actually a wax.) Shea, lanolin, and squalene are also great emollients.

Occlusive ingredients used for moisturizers should be low in comedogenicity. These oils and butters create the physical barrier on top of the skin to retain moisture within. Examples of natural occlusives are oils, butters, and beeswax.

Shady Moisturizer
Daily Botanical Moisturizer-Normal Skin Formula
Relax Honey CBD Moisturizer

The barrier repairing ingredients prevent permeability and prevent dryness and irritation. They also act as plumpers and minimize the appearance of fine lines. Natural barrier repairing ingredients (aka ceramides) are essential fatty acids that occur in the natural skin barrier. These ingredients are those which are most often synthetically synthesized (but not in our products.)

At Cats Paw Farm you’ll find a selection of Elixirs and Eye products and a variety of Moisturizers that are formulated by skin type and environmental condition. I’m always happy to work with you to recommend one your skin will love.

Discover #greenbeauty #cleanbeauty #skincare at Cats Paw Farm.

Hydration, Hydration, Hydration!

Hydration and Nourishment is the next step in a skin care routine. And if you are confused about Serums, Elixirs, Humectants, Oils, and Moisturizer you are not alone. And it’s going to be ok. You know by now I’m going to get a little geeky, but it’s all going to get straightened out and be less confusing when we’re done. So let’s chat about Serums and Humectants today.

The products in between toner and moisturizer are diverse. It’s no wonder they’re confusing. Basically, these products are designed to hydrate at a cellular level, and they’re anything but basic. A great payload of nourishment can accompany the hydration and that can be a good thing when that nourishment is organic and natural. Beware of sending a big slurry of synthetics into the deeper levels of your skin. It might look all fine and good at first, and 3-4 weeks down the road when those cells work to the surface you could realize you have a problem. Just a heads up… (check out Milia, and KP, and burns…oh my! for more info)

These are products that are usually sold in small bottles, but don’t let that fool you! A little goes a long ways, and since you are applying to skin that has been cleansed and toned your skin can utilize these nutrients efficiently. More is not better. A pumpkin seed or pinky nail sized portion is a good rule of thumb. A thumbnail sized portion is too much.

Serums are an efficient and concentrated delivery method for skin nutrition. They can also target specific concerns such as rosacea and flaking skin, and they absorb easily and deeply.

Serums are relatively new in the scope of skincare. While the first serum was introduced in the 1930’s, they did not gain momentum until the 1990’s.

Side note and a recipe!…that early serum was a product with a very short lifespan because it was primarily albumin (egg white) with no preservative and it was designed to tighten the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

While commercially the product was not feasible, it has merit as a great home facial mask. It’s simple to make. (which is another reason it didn’t catch on as a commercial product.)

Here’s how to make your own Egg White Facial:
Separate an egg white from the yolk, whisk the white into a froth and apply to the face and neck for 15-20 minutes. Rinse with cold water, followed by wiping with a cotton ball saturated in more cold water. The result is a visibly tightened and lifted appearance.

One of my childhood memories is of my grandmother doing this on Sunday mornings. She was radiant, and it only takes minutes to achieve. It feels great, and is a wonderful addition to your self-care routine.

Modern serums have a base of purified water and (usually) hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid (HLA) is a sugar molecule that binds water to collagen. HLA is a substance that is naturally present in the human body. It has a low pH (this is why it is classified as an acid), and is clear and gooey. It is an essential component of skin because of its ability to support collagen. Despite being classed as an acid, HLA is not an exfoliator as you might expect from an acid: it is a humectant. Humectants attract and bind water. Collagen firms the skin and HLA nourishes and hydrates the collagen. As a stand-alone product it can be used morning (and evening again if desired), or used as a carrier for something even more magical that we’ll get to in a minute.

I’m just finishing up with beta testing on another Serum that will be released soon so look for SeaHag Serum to join the line up on our shelves and the website.

Plump & Sooth Serum
Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Check out the skin nurturing Hydration Products at Cats Paw Farm. I”m always happy to work with you to help determine the right one for your skincare needs.

I get asked frequently if I’m ever going to formulate a Vitamin C Serum. My answer is always no. I’d rather teach you how to make it. Why? Because Vitamin C is volatile and light, heat, and air causes oxidation and loss of potency very quickly. It’s virtually impossible to create a product that is isolated from light, heat, and air. So…what about those super expensive vitamin c serums being sold by (insert expensive skin care company here)? Sadly, there is no difference-they are not exempt from science. The amount of Vitamin C in those formulations by the time it gets to the customer is negligible, even if you are paying $85 for 1/4 ounce of it. Sorry, not sorry. I won’t do that to my customers.

What I will do is show you how to make it fresh, and make it in a small quantity that you can use right now and get the intended benefits from.

What you’ll need for your own Homemade Vitamin C Serum:
Cats Paw Farm Hyaluronic Acid
Liposomal Vitamin C
(I get my LVC from Amazon and use the Premium Liposomal Vitamin C 2000mg – 180 Capsules from Natuspur Store for both my internal daily C and making my own Vitamin C Serum…and I don’t have an affiliate link or anything so just search for it when you get to Amazon…you’re welcome 😀 )

Separate one of the capsules and sprinkle a little of the Vitamin C into 10 drops of HLA in your hand. Mix it together until it dissolves, and then apply to face. You’re really only going to need about 3 drops of the serum, but it’s very difficult to mix up 3 drops. Invite a friend over and share – or grab your SO and treat them to some nice skincare, too.

Don’t overdo the amount of Vitamin C. It’s better to start out with less than you think is right and work up to about a 1:10 ratio of Vitamin C to HLA. Vitamin C/Ascorbic Acid can burn sensitive skin – think about all those sour gummy candies you may have eaten as a child and the mouth sores that ensued after a binge. Ok, maybe that was just me…but probably not.

When I say a little I really do mean that. You want to use about the size of a drop if the Vitamin C were liquid – a single capsule can last you a very long time so just store it in a little baggie to separate the one you’re using for your skin and put it back into the bottle until next time.

This Vitamin C serum can be used 1-2 times a week to help with skin appearance and texture. You might find it fades blotches and reduces the visibility of scar tissue, too.

Humectants attract moisture – from the air – into your skin! This is kind of magical when you think about it…that you can draw that summer rainstorm into your body, right? Humectants do this and then lock that moisture to their own molecules and take that moisture into the skin tissue. So in a way then you now -are- the summer rainstorm…I love that.

HLA is a humectant. Glycerin is also a natural humectant. Glycerin is a larger molecule than HLA and so does not penetrate as quickly or as deeply as HLA. Honey is also a humectant and has antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. It is especially beneficial to cuticles, hair, and skin. Honey should really have a post all to itself because it is amazing in so many ways. I’ll put that on my future-post list. Other natural humectants include Aloe Vera, Pyroglutamic Acid (this is also found naturally in the human body, in grasses, and in some fruits), hydrolyzed wheat, hydrolyzed oats, baobab, hydrolyzed rice proteins, and some plant extracts such as calendula extract.

Humectants have a tremendously important role in skin care and their use should not be ignored. Skin cannot remain plump and youthful in appearance without moisture and as we age the amount of natural moisture in our skin wanes so we need to augment it with natural products that promote getting moisture back into our skin.

I hope you are enjoying this series on skin and the products effective in its care. Next time we’ll delve into elixirs, facial oils, and eye creams. Thanks for hanging out with me!

Discover #greenbeauty #cleanbeauty #skincare at Cats Paw Farm.

Astringents and Toner…(and a geek out about phenols)…

Ok, it’s been awhile since we chatted last about skin care, or anything actually. Life happens sometimes. And I love all the Qs you send me, too – keep those coming! I had a great Q about tooth powder and cavity fighting ingredients in commercial toothpaste that I answered on FB. I’ll blog about that in a future post, too. For now let’s get back to our skin care discussion though because there is a lot of really interesting stuff left to cover!

Toners and astringents can be confusing. They do mostly the same thing: serve as a final cleansing step, reduce the appearance of pore size, and reduce redness. The biggest difference between toners and astringents is subtle. Toners hydrate, nourish, and balance pH levels while astringents also serve to remove skin oil. We know from previous posts that removing skin oil isn’t necessarily a good thing, which is why an astringent use is best limited to sparingly (once a day) when used. Toners can be used as desired because they have no astringent component.

Most astringents contain an alcohol and the molecules of oil and alcohol have similar enough polarity that they do not repel each other. The oil and alcohol mix and both can be wiped away together.

Alcohol breaks down into sugars that can crystalize your skin cells. This is known as glycation and it leads to visible deflation of skin and a dull complexion. The hormone IGF1 is also triggered by sugar and results in an overproduction of oil in your skin… All of a sudden we’re right back in that vicious cycle of oily skin, using something to make it better that makes it worse again. Check out Is Your Acne Treatment Making Your Skin Worse? if you missed that post.

Toner is a thin watery liquid that hydrates, restores balance to the skin and adds a last cleansing step to your skincare routine. Toners are alcohol-free, even though the toner family also includes astringents which generally are not alcohol-free. Toners can be used freely. Sometimes it feels great to spritz a floral toner as a pick me up. Most facial sprays are actually toners. (If you smell alcohol in it….it’s an astringent. Limit your use of those to one time a day if you use them.)

Do you remember when a splash of cold water was all that was recommended after cleansing? That was the super simple skincare routine before the influx of commercial products: soap for cleansing followed by a bracing splash of the coldest water your tap could run. There is actual science behind that, and is still a respectable choice. Cold water hydrates your skin and closes pores. It helps constrict pores and reduces redness by closing off capillaries at the surface. This lessens puffiness as the blood and lymph fluid is thus cleansed and removed from the body. (There’s a lot of other stuff that happens in between there and I’m going to get geeky later so I’ll not go into how that all happens now.) Cold water is not a long-term fix. It works temporarily until the skin warms again.

Sandalwood Face & Body Spray
Rose Water Hair & Face Spritz
Rose Hydrosol

Cats Paw Farm has a full line of skin-type specific Toners, Hydrosols, and Astringent Products I’ll be happy to work with you and help you determine the right one for your needs.

Hydrosols (aka Waters)
Hydrosols are the result of distillation of the plant essence. They are hydrophillic in nature and carry a plethora of benefits within them. Though they’re referred to as “Waters” they are not the same as running water from your tap. Hydrosols contain nutrients and compounds that can aid in skin maladies, too. The Hydrosols we use are organic and small-batch processed.

Rose is one of the hydrosols we use and it is widely known as simply Rose Water. Rose Water is an antioxidant and an antimicrobial. It can also reduce transdermal water loss, putting it on our humectant list. Rose Water has been shown to soothe eczema, psoriasis, and environmentally damaged skin such as flaking from cold, wind, and sunburn. Rose water is high in Vitamins A & C (deficiencies in both of these have been linked to premature aging.)

Hyperpigmentation fade and fine line improvement are other benefits of Rose Water. This is because Rose Water increases new cell turnover – it is working at the basement layer of the skin! Traditional medicines around the globe have utilized rose water to alleviate fevers, breast pain and menstrual pain, to cleanse wounds, promote healing and soften scar tissue.

Usually water based, astringents are similar to toners but different in their mechanism. These are formulas used to remove irritants from skin and to even out skin tone. There is a spectrum of ingredient types in this category from liquids that are nutritious and natural, to harsh synthetics. Astringents are more likely to contain a concentration of an alcohol or witch hazel. Know your ingredients, and make good choices.

Witch Hazel
Witch Hazel is an astringent ingredient that has been back and forth on the good/bad list for years. Be sure your witch hazel ingredients are organic (ours are.) What witch hazel brings to the table are tannins and that puts it on the astringent list.

Rose Facial Toner
Lavender Facial Toner
Cedar Rosemary Facial Toner

Hang with me for a brief aside (geek alert)…Technically tannins break down to yield bioflavonoids. Hold on to Bioflavonoids in your head for just a minute.

Tannins are also a form of salicylates which are a form of phenol. Whether phenol is detrimental or beneficial to human health depends on its source and therefore its concentration. Phenol is toxic if a person were to consume it straight without a carrier. Pure phenol is used medically in a few different ways and can be found in oral analgesics and sore throat sprays in very dilute concentrations over-the-counter. It’s the phenol in trichloroacetic acid chemical peel that burns through the layers of skin if we harken back to Milia, and KP, and burns…oh my!

Salicylates are a type of phenol that occurs naturally in plants (and can also be synthesized in the laboratory.) The most widely known synthesized salicylate containing substance is probably Aspirin. In nature, salicylates occur in much smaller concentrations and work as antioxidants to stop the reaction of free-radicals with the molecules of your body. Anti-oxidants prevent damage to the telomeres of our DNA by replacing the missing electron of the free-radical molecule and thus render it harmless.

Think of telomeres like a series of knots that keep the DNA strand intact, or a cap on the end of the DNA strand that is unfastened each time the genetic material is replicated. Telomeres are important, and each time a cell in our bodies copy itself the telomeres get shorter. We can’t prevent that, but we can prevent them from getting shortened by free radical oxidation in between copies. When a telomere gets too short to do its job our cells age and stop functioning properly. I could continue to geek out about telomeres and their role in aging, but let’s save that for another time!

Phenolic antioxidants with great health effects are the Bioflavonoids broken down from Tannins, Tocopherols, Resveratrol, and oregano oil.

The bottom line with Tannins in skin care is that their anti-inflammatory properties are phenomenal. They help minimize redness, reduce cell damage, are antimicrobial. In nature, tannins precipitate out protein exudates from bacteria and fungi and render them inert to infect the host plant (this is how they are anti-fungal and anti-microbial.) Condensed tannins have been shown to protect collagen and elastin (your skin’s dermal matrix) by direct protein interaction which constricts and reduces the size of pores. (yay for anything that reduces pore size, right?)

The way that compounds are inter-related is fascinating isn’t it? I hope that the above led to some aha moments as a lot of skin and health ‘buzz words’ got strung together and their actual chemical and physiological relationships explained. All of the above to lead me eventually to this – Witch Hazel is soooo good for your skin and it can be considered a highly beneficial part of your daily skin routine.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar also contains a high tannin content, so it is an astringent as well. The smell of ACV will linger until it dries and is why most people are averse to using it straight.

There are many Hydrosols, Toners, and Astringents available to choose from on the Cats Paw website. If you need assistant don’t hesitate to reach out and let’s chat about your particular need.

I hope you are enjoying this series on skin and the products effective in its care. Next time we’ll delve into serums and humectants. Thanks for hanging out with me!

Discover #greenbeauty #cleanbeauty skincare at Cats Paw Farm.

Milia, and KP, and burns…oh my!

Ok, I know we were on schedule to talk about serums and elixirs today – and then someone asked me about milia bumps. These little bits of keratin deserve some attention here because they are confusing and concerning if you’ve never had them and all of a sudden you do.

Milia are small dome shaped bumps of keratin. They can occur in all ethnicities, genders, and ages of people. The majority of the time they are not painful, though they can make up for that in annoyance factor. Sometimes friction from rough clothing or bedding can cause them to appear red and irritated. The bump itself is made of an excess of keratin that has accumulated under the skin’s epidermis. In a nutshell these are an accumulation of dead skin cells that did not get sloughed off (naturally or mechanically) and which became engulfed and grown over by lower layers of skin due to a variety of factors (keep reading!) This creates a little pocket of cells which can feel rough and scaly if the epidermal layer is thin, or smooth and like rash bumps if the epidermal layer is thicker. Most are very tiny, being more of a tactile sensation of unevenness than a visual one.

There are 2 types of milia: 1) Primary milia: the trapped keratin described above, and 2) Secondary milia: these look like primary milia and they develop after a duct in the skin becomes clogged after injury (burns being the most likely source of said injury). Keratosis pilaris (KP) is similar in appearance to milia but is the result of keratin building up around hair inside the hair follicle. It can be responsible for the condition commonly known as ingrown hair.

Milia on adult face
Keratosis pilaris on adult arm

It’s worth mentioning too that Milia have nothing to do with acne, and are not part of the immune response – they really are just skin cells temporarily in the wrong place. Causes for how they got there are varied though a lot of reasons consist of environmental damage:

  • blistering injuries and skin diseases (poison ivy/poison oak/porphyria cutanea tarda/herpes)
  • burns (sun/chemical/heat)
  • long term use of steroid containing creams
  • using comedogenic (skin clogging) creams & oils on very thin skin
  • skin resurfacing procedures such as dermabrasion or laser resurfacing
  • lifestyle (lack of sleep/smoking/poor hygiene)
  • aging

Please keep in mind that we are chatting about adult milia. There are a lot of scare-tactic articles on juvenile milia and different causes for juvenile types of milia that will probably freak you out a good deal if you’re a parent looking at milia on your child. Remember not to chase zebras though – most milia (adult and juvenile) have nothing to do with basal carcinomas, or lupus and the majority are going to have a fairly short and transitory span of time that they exist.

The exception to milia being fairly short-term and transitory in nature are those milia that are caused by liquid paraffins/petroleum derivatives (mineral oil is one) or those milia that are caused by self-induced chemical burns. There is a LOT of lotion that has petroleum products in their formulation. Read your labels!! Additionally, some people love hot wax treatments for their hands as part of a manicure, or warm oil massage candles. My advise is to use an organic massage candle which does not contain any paraffin ingredients and which are applied at a temperature not more than 10 degrees above body temp. Your skin will thank you.

Tip: The FDA does not require candles to have ingredients listed, even if they’re going on your skin. Any reputable maker can and should provide this information up front, and definitely not hedge if you ask them what their candles are made of. Our ingredients are disclosed and they are paraffin free and made of oils and butters that are good for your skin, too.

I’m going to step aside for just a moment to talking about self-induced first, second, and third degree chemical burns of the face. Some people do them quite frequently and think they are minimizing the chance for milia (or even treating them) when just the opposite is happening. Self-induced first, second, and third degree chemical burns of the face, aka Chemical Peels, aka Radiance Masks, aka Resurfacing products, etc., are an invasive method of removing complete layers of skin. Peels are designated light, medium, and deep (depending on how much of your skin you wish to destroy at one time.)

Illustration of skin layers

Light chemical peels remove the epidermis and cause reddening and peeling lasting for about a week. This peel can be performed by an aesthetician. It is “recommended” to burn the epidermis off once a month for best results. Cost is about $250 each time. Remember from our previous chat that the epidermis renews itself in 30 days, so following this timeline an individual would be continually burning off their newly formed epidermis each month. Remember that that tight feeling is not healthy skin, it’s damaged skin. The individual would be better off (have healthier skin) with a penetrating humectant, and a sugar scrub a couple times a week.

Medium chemical peels must be done in a medical office with doctor supervision. The entire epidermis, the papillary region of the dermis and half of the reticular region of the dermis are removed. Recovery usually takes several weeks and there is active shedding of skin bits for about 7 days. Burning the skin in this manner costs about $2K and it is recommended to wait a year before returning for another round.

Deep peels are performed in a surgical setting with the patient under general anesthesia (completely “out”.) Only a physician can perform a deep chemical peel. There are serious side affects such as permanent skin discoloration (bleached look and a definite line of demarkation) as well as dangerous heart arrythmias that can occur during this procedure. The epidermis, dermis, and most of the subdermal tissue are removed and the skin oozes and scabs. This is an induced third degree chemical burn leaving only a few cell layers of skin behind. In some cases scabbing and scarring will involve the underlying muscle tissue as well. Healing continues well into three months post-surgery and it is recommended (by practitioners) to never have a second procedure of this sort in one’s lifetime. Deep peeling will run about $6K.

Chemical burn from medium peel

Anyone who thinks I’m being overly critical or dramatic is invited to Google “chemical peel gone wrong”, and click over to the Images tab. There are lots of people waiting to share their cautionary tales with you.

Ok, back to milia….aging poses some unique problems as it is out of our control for the most part. The majority of people I’ve spoken with who underwent the above type of burning peels have shared with me that the results did not rewind their clock to the degree they expected once the skin healed and most agreed that their skin never behaved “normally” afterwards either. There are some things we can do about milia though and that’s what we’re going to spend the rest of our time chatting about.

It’s important to not address milia or KP in an aggressive manner. It might sound like grabbing a loofah and scrubbing away is a great idea, but that can trigger skin to make even more of the protein that’s causing the milia in the first place. My personal method of handling milia is a steamy shower to get the skin as receptive as possible, then a brown sugar scrub (see my previous Blog Post ) Remember that sugar naturally contains a small amount of glycolic acid and can help your skin attain a gently exfoliated state. Moisturizing with lotion is also going to be your friend when it comes to getting rid of your keratin bumps.

Most of the time milia will go away on its own, even without brown sugar scrub and lotion, but those couple of months can seem like an eternity. There are physician office treatments such as cryotherapy (freezing with liquid nitrogen), deroofing (picking the keratin out with a sterile needle), laser ablation, diathermy (destroying the keratin and surrounding cells with extreme heat), electrodessication (burning through the epidermis to torch the keratin with electricity), and destruction curettage (surgical scraping and cauterizing with heat). Each individual will have a different view on these procedures and thus value their effectiveness after weighing the process vs the outcome and effect on one’s skin.

Thorough cleansing and removing makeup before bed is the number one step cited as ways to preventing milia from forming again. That brown sugar facial scrub as a manual exfoliant is also very important to keep skin cell build up at bay. Choose an eye product that penetrates effectively, avoid comedogenic oil bases, and limit sun exposure to give your skin a preventative boost, too.

I hope you are enjoying this series on skin and the products effective in its care. Next week we’ll do our dive into toners, serums, and elixirs. Thanks for hanging out with me!

Discover #greenbeauty #cleanbeauty skincare at Cats Paw Farm.

Is Your Acne Treatment Making Your Skin Worse?

Now that we’ve chatted a bit about the layers that make up skin, and how thin this layer is, it is easy to consider just how crucial it is that skin is not damaged during the most important step in skincare – cleansing. Many cleansers, particularly those that foam, are designed to strip oils from the skin. While this can feel wonderful at first, especially if you have an oily skin type, stripping the beneficial oils from your face leaves a telltale tight, uncomfortable feeling. There are also ingredients such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and alcohol that can be harsh and damaging to skin. That all of these ingredients are approved for use in skin care does not mean they are good for skin, only that the FDA does not object to their use. Read the ingredients on your cleanser and avoid products containing synthetic ingredients which are not supportive of good skin health.

Because oil is created by the skin, an entire industry has risen blaming any and all skin oil for every malady of the skin – especially acne. However in most cases there is a lifestyle component. For Example: Acne is not the result of oily skin. Most times it is a hormonal condition driven by androgen combining with surface bacteria and fatty acids that are naturally occurring that create pimples and blemishes. This is why most acne cases are typically a condition of teens, in women about a week before menstruation, and person’s under stressful situations.

Milk, alcohol, and high-glycemic foods cause increases in insulin, which controls blood glucose levels, and studies show that insulin influences skin to over produce sebum. There are ingredients commonly used in commercial makeup, hair care, and skin care that have been linked to acne. Sulfates are common in commercial shampoos and commercial detergent bars (I can’t call them soap as they’re just a pressed bar of synthetic ingredients) and are hidden in products using hundreds of different names. Vitamin D deficiency is also linked to cystic acne. In addition there are medications that cause breakouts, and genetics do play a part as well as specific medical conditions such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Bottom line is that acne is not all about the oil on your skin.

A vicious cycle that many commercial acne treatments create:

  • An acne breakout occurs (actual cause unknown and doesn’t matter.)
  • Commercial acne “treatment” excessively dries out the skin to combat the acne, sometimes chemically damaging the skin in the process.
  • Skin attempts to regain oil balance by producing oil to lubricate, protect, and heal itself.
  • Acne persists – because at no point was the cause of the acne (diet, chemicals, lack of sunlight, hormones) addressed. This acne will persist and most likely will become worse.

One day I hope that a marketing campaign will advocate a good diet, exercise, and non-synthetic treatments as the best acne treatment though there are some of the largest conglomerates in the world with an interest in continuing to tell acne suffers that they need to get rid of skin oil.

Now that we have a handle on acne, let’s take a look at how to cleanse skin effectively and gently. It is my hope to foster a sense of working with one’s skin rather than against it. There are a myriad of facial cleansing product categories. Several are viable alternatives to harsh cleansers, and others masquerade as gentle while only being a harsh cleaner in the disguise of pretty packaging and misleading marketing. Here are the gentle and effective alternate cleanser categories…

Oil Cleansing
Oil cleansing is the most gentle form of facial cleansing available. Oil Cleansing may sound counter intuitive, but don’t be afraid of applying oil to your face. Oil by itself does not create blemishes. Those are caused by many factors such as skin’s own sebum combining with dead skin cells, bacteria, hormones-and in conjunction with each other these factors lead to pimples, blackheads, cysts and other blemishes. Oil cleansing dissolves these hardened impurities from your pores.

While there are oils that will clog pores, Oil Cleansing (OCM) uses non-comedogenic oils (non pore clogging) and warm moisture to soften sebum and the impurities contained within, combines with it, and moves it to the surface of skin to be wiped away. The principle of this method lies in like attracting like. Because skin’s natural oil excess is being naturally removed, skin is allowed to return to its own natural production.

OCM for Acne Skin
OCM for Mature Skin
OCM for Oily Skin

Cats Paw Farm has a full line of skin-type specific OCM products. I’ll be happy to work with you and help you determine the right one for your facial cleansing.

Cream Cleansing
Do you remember Cold Cream? While towards the end of its popularity there were some questionable ingredients slipping into the formulation (petroleum products to be specific), the cold cream of the mid twentieth century was petroleum free. Cream cleansing is very similar to oil cleansing but care must be taken to ascertain noncomedogenic ingredients as there is no warmth used during this type of cleansing to integrate sebum containing impurities with the cleansing. I find cream cleansing to be a great makeup removing step if followed by a step more suited to removing both the cream cleanser and skin impurities. Look to cream cleansers for a surface cleanse, but not to remove trapped dirt.

Clay Cleansing
These cleansers (obviously) contain clay and are renowned for their detoxifying benefits (similar to clay masks.) They can draw out surface particles and impurities from pores but can also absorb too much oil as well. They’re best used infrequently.

Micellar Water Cleansing aka No Rinse Cleansing
Micellars are the lightest form of facial cleansing and can be rather deceptive. Their look and texture is very like plain water though they are created with micelles, tiny molecules of oil that remove dirt. Micellars are usually applied with a cotton pad or ball and do not require rinsing. They’re a great multi-purpose product which can provide light cleaning, remove makeup, cleanse and tone skin.

Cats Paw Farm Micellar Waters are available in a variety of formulas and all are organic.

Lavender Micellar
Sandalwood Micellar
Peppermint Micellar

Facial Bar Soap
Bar Soap designed for facial use is formulated differently than body soap. Facial bars contain more moisturizing and nourishing ingredients and are designed to balance pH levels. If you’re not ready to move away from soap, my suggestion is to go for a soap formulated specifically for facial needs. Cats Paw Farm crafts many facial specific bars and I can help direct you to choices that are right for you.

Charcoal & Rose Clay
Witch Hazel & Thyme

Additional types of cleansers are available, though they utilize a variety of synthetic ingredients which are harsh and create damage to the skin’s oil balance (even when they masquerade as “new”, “trending”, etc) often causing more problems to the skin than they purport to remedy: Gel cleaners, Foam cleansers, Powder cleansers, and Cleansing wipes.

I hope you are enjoying this series on skin and the products effective in its care. Next week we’ll delve into toners, serums, and elixirs. Thanks for hanging out with me!

Discover #greenbeauty #cleanbeauty skincare at Cats Paw Farm.

Regardless of your age – your skin is only about 30 days old…

I enjoy chatting with customers and often ask what they want me to blog about next. “Skin, how skin works, how skincare works” have been popular answers in the last couple of weeks. Because this is such a large and extensive topic, in order to do it justice I’m going to break this into segments and make it a series.

Skin has a lot of jobs. It is the front line barrier to foreign invaders (bacteria, viruses, fungi, toxins) and the environment, helps regulate our body temperature, and contains a complex system for allowing us to interact with our environment-permitting us to experience touch, pain, pressure, heat, cold, and irritation. Skin controls water loss and prevents nutrients from being washed from the skin.

On average a person has about twenty square feet of skin, making it the largest and heaviest of the body’s organs. Skin accounts for about 1/7 of a person’s body weight. Each square inch of skin contains approximately 20 blood vessels, more than 1000 nerve endings, and over 600 sweat glands. All this and it is only a few millimeters thick.

Skin is made of 3 layers: Epidermis, Dermis, Subcutaneous

The Epidermis is the outermost layer and the one we are the most acquainted with because it’s what we see every day. The epidermis is a waterproof barrier that gives skin its color, protects us from the external environment and creates new cells. The epidermis itself is about 0.3 mm thick, though on heavily used parts of the body (soles and palms) it can be up to 4 mm thick including calluses. The epidermis consists of 4 or 5 distinct layers, each with a different job.

Histological cut showing Epidermal layers magnified about 1500x

The Stratum corneum is the top layer of the epidermis and consists of 20-30 layers of cells. This layer consists of dead keratinocytes. This tough horny layer makes our skin tougher and able to form thick calluses. It also seals the skin off from the outside environment; however, there are connective structions called dermal papillae that connect the dermis and epidermis allowing for oxygen, nutrients and waste to pass between the layers so it is not an impermeable layer.

Calluses are formed in response to pressure or rubbing. This causes the epidermis to grow faster and results in a hardened layer of skin on the surface. Only the cells directly beneath the pressure respond. This is why guitar players form calluses where their fingers are in contact with the strings, and a callus forms on the back of heels when wearing shoes that rub.

The layer Stratum lucidum is directly beneath the Stratum corneum in thick skin (soles & palms) only. This is a thin transparent layer consisting of two to three layers of cells.

Stratum granulosum is three to five layers of cells thick and contains lipid rich granules.

The Stratum spinosum is eight to ten layer of cells thick. The cells in this layer of epidermis are irregular in shape and look a little like spines.

Stratum basale is the deepest layer of the epidermis and is constantly producing new skin cells. This layer contains the skin pigment cells, melanocytes and also helps protect the skin from sun damage.

As the cells are constantly produced in the Stratum basale, they push the layers of cells above them. Each cell then passes through the different layers of epidermis and this takes about a month. So each cell you can see is only about 30 days old! You continually have opportunity to start treating your skin gently and make a difference in its life – and yours!

Histological cut of the skin layer magnified about 1500x

The middle layer of skin is the Dermis and it’s purpose is to protect the body from stress and strain. The dermis houses the hair follicles, lymphatic and blood vessels in addition to sweat glands, sebaceous glands, and receptors for pressure, pain and heat. This layer of skin makes sweat and oil, provides sensation recognition, and grows hair.

The dermis consists of two layers. The papillary region which has finger-like projections that push into the epidermis giving it a lumpy surface. These projections are responsible for fingertip patterns. The reticular region is the is the rest of the dermis and is made up of collagen, a tough elastic network of fibers that allow skin a stretch response. However, if skin is stretched a lot the dermis can tear and this is seen as light lines just below the surface. We know these as stretch marks. The dermis is approximately as thick as a sheet of paper, making it three times thicker than the epidermis.

The deepest layer of skin is called the Subcutaneous layer, hypodermis, or subcutis. It’s made up mostly of fat, connective tissue, and an elastic protein called elastin that help tissue return to their shape after stretching. The dermis also bulges into this layer and creates folds of tiny cavities that are filled with a tissue of fat and water. The fat behaves as a shock absorber and insulation. Many hormones and Vitamin D are produced inn the fat cells of the subcutis.

Throughout a person’s lifetime skin undergoes a great deal of change. It becomes thinner and more easily damaged, the insulating and shock absorbing capacities lessen, and the amount of collagen (and therefore the elasticity) decreases. Additionally, exposure to UV rays, hormonal changes, environmental, and genetic factors can add to premature aging.

There are measures we can take to keep our skin in the best condition possible. While we cannot permanently stave off aging there is a difference between aging and aging gracefully. I’m all about the aging gracefully and I think for today this is a pretty good foundation and place to stop. Next week we’ll take a look at the science of cleansers, and acne – Good stuff! Thanks for hanging out with me. 🙂

Discover #greenbeauty #cleanbeauty skincare at Cats Paw Farm.