Apple Cider Vinegar, or ACV, has been used for centuries for external and internal benefits.
When processed, ACV is fermented, the sugars turn into alcohol, and you are left with a vinegar which is a similar PH to skin. The acetic, lactic, citric, and other acids in the apple cider vinegar help to dissolve dead skin cells, revealing a shiny, fresh layer and restore the acid balance of your skin.
There are many benefits of ACV when used internally, and Bragg’s website claims a few important benefits of using their vinegar externally, including
Helps maintain healthy skin
Helps promote youthful, healthy bodies
Soothes irritated skin
Relieves muscle pain from exercise
When purchasing ACV, be sure that the “Mother” exists. This ensures that the best part of the apple has not been destroyed during processing and that it is rich in it’s natural minerals and enzymes.
We have 5 ways to use this natural pantry staple in your weekly skin and hair care regime:
Fight oily skin and acne with a purifying ACV mask, made of 1 TBLSP green clay to help draw impurities, and 1 TBLSP ACV to balance PH. Apply liberally (avoid eyes), leave on for 15 minutes and rinse.
Shine up dull skin using ACV to dissolve dead skin cells. Apply vinegar to your skin using a cotton ball dampened with purified water. Repeat weekly.
Add shine to dull hair that is built up with product. Add 1 TBLSP ACV in a small bowl of water. Pour over hair and comb through. Rinse. This is one of my weekly treatments that leaves my hair so soft and shiny.
Eliminate odour and fungus from feet! Soak feet in a bowl of warm water with 1/2 cup ACV and Tea Tree Oil (5 drops). Soak for 15 minutes, rinse off and towel dry well.
Soothe sunburns, sore muscles and rashes by adding 1/2 cup ACV to your bath water. Soak for 15-20 minutes.
Jen Casey is a Holistic Nutritionist with Next Bite Nutrition Coaching in Vancouver, BC. She focuses her practice on whole body wellness and building a solid foundation for the pillars of health. Learn more about Jen and her healthy meal plans on Instagram.
Using plants and flowers topically might seem like the new trend. Companies are including chamomile, lavender, salts and clays in products to 1. bring us back to nature, and 2. create a more healthy product.
In fact, using ingredients from nature goes way back. Think of Cleopatra and her milk and honey baths with a sprinkling of rose petals. Having access to these luxurious ingredients was a sign of wealth. In the ancient Roman baths, prior to the invention of soap, olive oil was used all over the body and scraped off with a rounded metal spoon-spatula to remove dirt from the skin.
These ingredients were used because they were available, yes, but also because they had purpose. Plants contain constituents that soothe, nourish, stimulate and coat. Some plant oils are extracted in the form of essential oils and used in aromatherapy for their healing properties. Some plants are steeped in tea form and ingested or used topically. Either way, our internal and external self can reap the rewards of nature’s gifts.
Here are my 5 top plant picks that work wonders on the skin:
Oats (Avena sativa): Oats are warming overall. Eating a big bowl of oatmeal soothes the digestive tract, calms the nervous system and topically is a demulcent and emollient. Mix up some ground oats with honey for a weekly face mask, or add oats to your bath to help relieve itching or rashes.
Rose: Roses were grown traditionally for medicinal use but are wonderful in skin care as they are high in vitamin C and aromatic. Rose essential oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties, making it useful in skin toners and cleansers. Try making rose infused face oil or use rose petals in a weekly facial steam.
Aloe Vera: Internally, aloe juice can aid in digestion with it’s anti-inflammatory properties. Topically, aloe contains constituents that aid in wound healing by stimulating the growth of skin cells. If you have a live aloe plant, simply break open a leaf and apply to wounded skin. Otherwise, you can purchase aloe juice or gel and use directly on skin. For sunburned skin, keep aloe refrigerated and apply directly as needed.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis): From the pot Marigold flower, Calendula has a purpose in skin care from baby to adult. Topically, it’s major uses are for burns, wounds, skin infections, and reducing inflammation. A cold infusion compress works well on burns and calendula-infused oil is my favourite addition in salves.
Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana): A plant with astringent, anti-inflammatory, and healing properties. Traditionally, it is used in skin care to tone the skin, tighten pores, reduce inflammation and protect against UV damage, with antioxidant properties. Apply directly onto cleansed skin, or mix with steeped herbal tea as a face toner.
Get back to basics. Try incorporating one or two herbal remedies into your daily routine to help reduce some toxins, and naturally clean and protect your skin. Experiment with infusions, salves, compresses and even try mixing them together for a synergistic effect. You can grow your own and dry the leaves, or purchase organic plants and flowers at organic markets, dispensaries, wellness clinics and DIY soapmaking/beauty suppliers.
Sure, we are entitled to our cake. The problem begins with a diet high in sugar, little exercise and detoxification, and genes that predispose you to accelerated aging by glycation.
Glycation, or A.G.E., standing for Advanced Glycation End Products, is a process where sugar, or glucose, binds to collagen protein in the skin. The body needs sugar for energy, but excess sugar that is not properly metabolized will store in the body. The process is similar to a caramelization of the skin from the inside out. This damages skin, sort of in the same way as charring a burger on the barbeque. The result of this ‘caramelization’ is A.G.E., where the skin’s fibers become rigid, and topically, skin is cracked and thin. Further, when the skin’s supportive structure is damaged, we might see cellulite and poor wound healing.
So, how can you be proactive in protecting your skin from glycation?
Reduce refined sugar in your diet. Speak to a Nutritionist to learn how to replace damaging foods with healthy alternatives, curb cravings and balance blood sugar.
Incorporate fitness, including cardio and weight-bearing exercises, at least 3 times each week. Speak to a professional about setting up a routine that is right for you and your lifestyle.
Avoid lifestyle factors that will accelerate aging, like smoking, alcohol consumption and overexposure to sun.
See a professional about having your blood glucose levels tested. Diabetics are at a greater risk for glycation due to a lessened ability to break down sugars in food.
Have your skin tested for genetic markers, with a SkinDNA test, that pinpoint the glycation process in your body. One in two people are genetically predisposed to reduced protection against glycation. Once you have results, you can customize your skin care products to target glycation, with specific protective ingredients.
Bottom line, be proactive daily in protecting your skin. Aging is a beautiful process and we can accelerate it, embrace it, and even slow down the visible effects, all with diet and lifestyle. It’s all about our choices.