Monday, July 19, 2010

A few of our favorite things…Part I

At Apothecare, we whole-heartedly believe that skin care education is at the heart of our company. We wouldn’t want to eat food filled with ingredients reserved for chemistry lab shelves, so why would we want to put synthetic-packed products on our skin?

The Apothecare blog is a great place to learn about and understand the function of the natural ingredients we use in the Apothecare product line. I’ll be blogging periodically about “A few of our favorite things…” which is a running segment on ingredient education. It is the wish of Steve and I that you feel GOOD about your purchases from our company. We hope you can appreciate the quality of Apothecare even more after learning about our hand-selected, health- and environmentally-conscious ingredients – and appreciate the value that comes with skin care peace of mind!

I am going to start off with talking about HONEY, which is such an amazing natural product that I can’t resist but put it into nearly everything we make at Apothecare. Plus, we source this ingredient from local apiaries, which makes us feel doubly good about the sustainability of it all. HONEY is a mixture of plant nectar and bee enzymes that is secreted by honeybees and used as a primary source of food during the cold months. HONEY, in its raw and unfiltered form, is chock-full of natural preservatives (have you ever seen a jar of honey spoil?) that help heal common skin problems like acne, eczema, psoriasis, and bug bites. It is also a natural humectant, which means it draws and retains moisture in skin so that it won’t dry out so quickly. HONEY soothes inflamed and irritated skin as well, and is overall very conditioning. It has been used for ages for its skin care properties and is widely accepted by all skin types – a very non-irritating and non-sensitizing ingredient. Additionally, it is believed that if you use local HONEY, made from the local flora, your body will benefit from the antibodies the honey naturally carries. This is especially beneficial for people with allergies to certain local plants and fungi. Common substitutes for HONEY are sugar alcohols and glycerin, which are cheaper to use and not so finicky to use, but lack all of the wonderful skin care properties that pure, delicious natural HONEY contains. We use raw, unfiltered Colorado HONEY in all of our Body Luxuries Cleansing Cream Bars, Nature Shave, our Skin Drench line of toners, Sugar Pine Scrub, Night-Into-Day Night Cream, and Dawn-Until-Dusk Day Cream.

Another favorite skin care ingredient of ours is ALOE VERA, especially during the summertime when sun exposure is unavoidable. ALOE VERA is a succulent plant indigenous to Mediterranean and desert regions. It has fleshy, triangular spears that exude a yellowish-colored, watery gel when cut. This exudate is rich in polysaccharides and amino acids and possesses antifungal and antibacterial properties. All of this, and its naturally cooling nature, make it a great choice for soothing sun and wind-burned skin, or for just helping repair normal, day-to-day skin damage. ALOE VERA is a very benign skin care ingredient that even the most sensitive skin types respond well to. You will find organic ALOE VERA in Nature Shave, Rose Remedy Lip Balm, our Skin Drench line of toners, Night-Into-Day Night Cream, and Dawn-Until-Dusk Day Cream.

No “A few of our favorite things…” blog entry would be complete without talking about an essential oil! Essential oils are one of the cornerstones of “Apothecare – Organic, Natural, Essential.” We use them as much for their inherent skin care properties as for their fragrance. Whereas synthetic fragrances may smell like lavender, rosemary, or sandalwood, they lack the mind and body healing properties that the natural plant oil contains. It’s like a Xerox copy of a Van Gogh painting…looks like the real thing, but absolutely NO comparison.  One essential oil that we use quite a bit of at Apothecare is GERANIUM, from the Pelargonium graveolens plant. This delightful, rose and herb-scented oil is appealing to both men and women, which is a good thing because it has so many amazing uses. The uplifting and harmonizing scent is used for settling energy…either for energizing the soul on a “down” day or calming the emotions on super-charged one. GERANIUM is a slightly astringent, non-irritating oil that is LOADED with antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties (I recently made a foot cream using a combination of GERANIUM and tea tree oils in a base of jojoba and shea butter, and it has been very useful for clearing up a painful fungal infection). GERANIUM is used in skin care to heal inflamed or wounded skin and to balance the normal production of skin oils, which makes it especially effective for managing acne-prone skin. It is also a natural deodorant and one of the strongest insect repellents around – without the heavy, oily smell that citronella can impart. For all of these reasons, you will find GERANIUM oil in a multitude of Apothecare products, such as our fabulous Pit Spritz!! (a natural spray-on deodorant and insect deterrent all-in-one), Healthy Heal Blemish Balm, Rose Remedy Lip Balm, Dawn-Until-Dusk Day Cream, and Nature Shave. We source our GERANIUM oil from Ananda Apothecary in Boulder, who offers a fine organic product of the highest therapeutic grade.

Get to know the power of HONEY, ALOE VERA, and GERANIUM better through the suggested Apothecare products – it’s skin care that works, naturally.  Use often and enjoy!

Jessica & Steve

Sunday, July 11, 2010

DIY: Jessica's Favorite Face Mask

Some skin care secrets are too fresh, and too wickedly simple to make at home, to make it into the Apothecare line of skin care products. My "Land of Milk & Honey" Toning Facial Cleanser & Moisturizing Mask is just such a beauty secret. And once you try it, believe me, you will be sold on it! The beauty in the recipe is that it is so simple and can be made with ingredients from your local Sunflower Market, Sprouts Market, Whole Foods, or the Fort Collins Co-Op. The catch is that the efficacy of the formula rests on the quality of the always opt for the freshest, organic, and all-natural ingredients that you can find. Get ready for glowing, gorgeous skin!

"Land of Milk & Honey" Toning Facial Cleanser & Moisturizing Mask
- 1 (8 oz.) container organic, plain Greek-style yogurt (w/live active cultures and at least 2% fat...must not have flavorings, thickening agents, or preservatives)
- 2 tbsp. local raw, unfiltered honey (Madhava Honey ~ Lyons, CO)
- 10 drops lavender essential oil (Ananda Apothecary ~ Boulder, CO)

Add honey and essential oil directly to the yogurt container. Stir well with a clean spoon. Keep refrigerated between uses, and use within 2-3 weeks.

To cleanse and condition the skin on your face and neck, do the following:
  • Rinse face with clean, warm water

  • Using spoon, scoop about a tablespoon of the yogurt mixture into the palm of your hand and rub into face and neck, just as you would any other cleanser

  • Rinse skin with warm water and pat dry with a clean towel

  • Take another tablespoon of yougurt mixture and gently smooth it all over your face and neck...leave on for 10 minutes to fully condition
  • Rinse off face mask with warm water and pat skin dry with your towel
So really, how does this work? Well, yogurt is naturally acidic, and so makes a great toning treatment for skin, especially oily and blemish-prone types. It also has mild bleaching action, and so helps to reduce redness. It is mildly exfoliating and very cooling on the skin, and is full of milk proteins and fats that both aid in removal of dirt and debris from the skin (the cleansing step) while nourishing and moisturizing (the mask step). Greek-style yogurt of at least 2% milk fat must be used because it is thicker than regular yogurt, having been strained, and has enough natural fats present to make it an effective face cleanser and conditioner.

Honey, especially the raw and unfiltered kind, is chock-full of potent antibacterial, antimicrobial, and skin healing compounds. That's one great reason why you'll find it as an ingredient in many of the Apothecare products! Honey is also a natural humectant, which is a fancy way of saying that it helps draw - and keep - moisture in thirsty skin. And in the Rocky Mountains, we must all admit that our skin needs a long, deep drink more often than most ;-)

Lavender essential oil is perhaps the anathema of all essential oils. Antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiseptic, skin soothing, mind calming, and overall, just a really nice oil that everyone appreciates. It is great for dry to oily skin, and all the skin types in between! Lavender is one of the most gentle essential oils, and one that can even be used with babies and children. Perhaps the most widely-loved essential oil on the planet today, and has been used for ages for its therapeutic benefits to skin and mind.

So, go ahead, pick up these 3 easy-to-find ingredients at your favorite natural grocer, and try this amazing formula out. In between treatments, you can always use any of the Body Luxuries All-Natural Cleansing Cream Bars to keep your skin in tip-top shape, but for all skin we recommend doing this intensive yogurt mask treatment 1-3 times per week.


Jessica & Steve

Hello, & Welcome!

Apothecare is excited to be launching a new blog - and we are so happy you have stopped by! Let me introduce the company, and the owners...

Apothecare is a natural bath and beauty products company based in beautiful Fort Collins, CO. Our mission is to make quality skin care using natural and organic ingredients, therapeutic-grade essential oils, and most importantly, love and respect for nature and our amazing bodies. We use only the most wholesome, naturally effective ingredients possible in our products, feeling that we should feed the largest organ of our bodies as well as we feed the other ones! There are no synthetic fragrances or preservatives in the Apothecare skin care line - and our ingredient labels prove it. We are more than happy to teach our customers about the ingredients we use, and why we use them. In fact, providing an "information station" for our customers is one of the reasons why this blog was created.

So who is Apothecare? The owners, Jessica and Steve, are partners in life - and in Apothecare. Jessica is CEO (Chief Executive Olfactor) and creator of the Apothecare line of products, while Steve is the Head of Quality & Director of Fun. Together, we make a great team that approaches our work with enthusiasm, love for our company and our customers, and a deep sense of business ethics and responsibility. We love creating products that serve a direct daily need, in a healthy and sustainable way.

Last - but not least! - Apothecare exists to serve the skin care needs of a local population. We create products with an active lifestyle in the Rocky Mountains in mind, and patronize local businesses as much as we can to keep our community thriving. Support Apothecare, and you support your local way of life! :-)

We at Apothecare look forward to sharing our thoughts, inspirations, and dreams with you in this blog. Happy reading!


Jessica & Steve