Posted on

Yin Yoga and Holding A Space

Yin Yoga – it’s in the news now. Some people love it, some don’t. Here is my experience with it.

So it’s called Yin Yoga as versus Vinyasa, Iyengar, or Bikram yoga – it’s not so much about the movement as it it is about holding a pose. For context and completeness, Moving is Yang in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Holding is Yin. Yang is outward focused and Yin is inward focused. In our busy modern lives, we do a lot of rushing around, we have a lot of Yang. Yin Yoga helps to foster a balance and put some more Yin into us.

Each pose is held between 3 – 5 minutes. Yin Yoga is about the edge that makes its presence felt when you aren’t focused on the next thing you have to do or whether you have the perfect pose.

This is also why it goes deeper and touches the fascia, the connective tissue – because you give it the time to.

Yin yoga is a mini meditation. Some people meditate to their breath or an essential oil, a light or a sound. In yin, we meditate to that which is within us, and by doing so, we release it.

Yin yoga creates a feeling of peace and wellbeing that comes from within, a bliss from seeing parts of yourself that you push away to be able to function everyday. Yin yoga is a vacation from your routine that happens because you see those hidden parts of yourself. It’s an uplifting experience.

My teacher, Shereen Bernaz says “Yin provides the ability to lose yourself and find yourself all over again.” Couldn’t agree more.

 

 

 

Posted on

Establishing a Skincare Routine

A skincare routine tunes up your complexion so that it’s functioning at its best, and addresses any areas you need to pay attention to. A skincare routine is the ultimate form of self-care; something which is made up of products that work for you time and again.

The first thing I’ll say about any skincare is – give it time to work. This means using a product once or twice a day for six weeks. Some people say they like to switch their skin care every week or month. When I asked why I was told that skin “gets used” to products and switching them out keeps the skin looking amazing. As someone who loves skincare, I don’t buy this argument.

What’s In Your Skincare

There are thousands of skincare ingredients out there. Each one has been researched extensively. There are a few active ingredients. The rest is required to make up the matrix of the skincare product. For example, a lotion has an aqueous portion, a lipid portion, an emulsifier, stabilizer, and preservative. Each of these has a role to play in making a cream. Some of these may be excellent choices, like using hydrosols in the place of water – they bring the goodness of herbs to the lotion.

If it is labeled as a water cream, it may have hyaluronic acid and other unique ingredients. Hyaluronic acid holds a 1000 times its weight in water. It is plumping to complexion. So a water cream is intensely hydrating. If you switched between water creams every day or every week, for example, your skin would be stressed. It would not look not revitalized with each change.

It’s not a change in skincare that the skin needs to look radiant. It needs more hydration when its dry, more emollient ingredients when it’s starting to wrinkle or show fine lines. Also, other components that perform specialized functions.

2 in 1 products 

Now let’s talk for a second about 2 in 1 skincare that fulfills double duty. People like these because they cut time off of their routine, making it more efficient. However, they are not always a great choice and let’s take a look at why.

The most popular kind I can think of is an oil or lotion with SPF. Now that sounds like a win-win. Put it on once a day, and it nourishes your skin AND protects it from UV radiation. Great promise! Except, that’s not how SPF works.

An SPF of 15 means that you can stay out in the sun for 15 times longer without burning than you would without sunscreen. However, the degree of protection you receive from higher levels of SPF is not proportional to the increase in SPF. So an SPF 15 protects against 93 percent of UVB radiation while SPF 30 blocks 97 percent – that’s only a 4% increase. Also, it doesn’t feel that great on the skin. This is the nature of sunscreen ingredients – they are hard to incorporate into moisturizers, and when integrated, they feel heavy, and greasy and leave a white residue on your skin unless they are rubbed in well. They also reduce the smoothness and luxurious skin feel of the product.

So now you have an SPF 30 face oil that you need to apply more often to stay protected, and it feels sticky and not what you want to keep reapplying. Also, any claims of natural SPF in botanical ingredients are unsubstantiated, so it’s not worth the risk of actually getting exposed to UV radiation and suffering from sunburn, and its cohort, skin cancer.

A Sample Skin Routine

Instead, what I like to do in my face care, is to pay attention to my skin. This is not hard to do as I see my face in the mirror every day and know what it looks like. My routine is pretty basic.

  1. Wash with a superfatted soap.
  2. Most days, I spray on some rose water to balance the pH and for its amazing skin-loving properties. High quality rose water is 100% natural and contains no preservatives. If I see dryness, I would add hyaluronic serum in at this point.
  3. Next, I would apply my face oil. If it’s a sweltering day, I may use a water cream so that my face doesn’t get greasy (our skin releases more sebum on hot days)
  4. The final touch is sunscreen, which I reapply as I go about my day
  5. If I wear makeup, I will use my face oil to take it off and apply the hyaluronic acid because makeup can be drying. I do not use makeup/skincare combos.
  6. I wash my face every evening to remove the pollution and dust and spray on the rose water, finishing with a facial oil or cream that is a bit richer than my daytime routine.

You Do You

This works for me. I have combination skin. You can establish a skincare routine that works for you based on what your skin responds to. Remember to add in products to address your skin’s specific needs from day to day.

Posted on

Airless Bottles – a Big Win for Consumers

Here’s a quick word about why Amara Scentsations’ skincare is packaged in airless bottles.

1) Air contains oxygen which leads to the oxidation of product. When a conventional bottle with dip tube is used, as the product is used up, air fills out the space in the bottle. This leads to a faster oxidation (which can be experienced as change in color, skin feel or fragrance, though the changes do affect the efficacy or how well the product works)

2) When the product is carried in any manner than upright, it tends to be harder to pump out in a conventional bottle which pumps from the bottom. With an airless bottle, the pump is always in touch with the product and pumping happens from the top so you always get the product when you want it. No shaking, waiting or tapping is required.

3) Since the product is pumping from the top, you get to use all of it. You don’t need to open the bottle to get to the last dregs.

4) Opening the bottle to get to the last drops tends to dry out the product and introduces microbes / environmental matter such as pollution or dust into the product. With airless bottles, these risks are mitigated.

Airless bottles are a leap forward in packaging technology. They are 2-4 times the cost of conventional bottles depending on what kind you pick but they bring great value to the consumer.

Posted on

What’s in Your Rose Water?

I have had many conversations recently about “Rose water”. Rose water is excellent in skin care across skin types. It’s also used to flavor food, appearing more frequently on gourmet menus recently.

But did you know that these are actually 2 separate products – rose hydrosol and culinary rose water which are both commonly called rose water and consumers buy this and use it, expecting to reap the benefits of beautiful skin

So how does one tell them apart? Here’s one example.

On the left is a bottle of culinary rose water – as you can see, the ingredients are distilled water & rose extract. The rose extract is an aromatic compound, this bottle doesn’t specify which one. It could be naturally derived or synthetic.

Then there’s the bottle on the right. There’s just one ingredient “Rosa damascena hydrosol “ – this is the aqueous product of steam distillation of the damask rose. It has a tiny quantity of naturally occurring rose essential oil which is the other product of steam distillation of the damask rose. This is the one that offers skin benefits.

The yield of rose essential oil from rose petals is very low. It takes 5000 pounds of petals to distill a pound of essential oil, and distillers perform cohobation using the same water in the same material repeatedly to get more essential oil out. When roses are distilled for the hydrosol, the distiller does not attempt cohobation so that the hydrosol is the end product.

Rose hydrosol is the product you want to use if you are looking for a toner, a refreshing spray or to soften, calm, reduce irritation, hydrate and beautify skin.

Posted on

Red Raspberry Seed Oil

It’s almost summer and the charms of raspberry are calling out to me. Red / pink, sweet, tart, flavorful, mouthwateringly delicious. And then there is red raspberry seed oil, a star in its own right.

We like the organic unrefined cold pressed raspberry oil from raspberries grown and processed in the US. The oil is expressed from the dried seeds of raspberries that have been juiced. LOVE knowing that no part of this delicious fruit goes to waste.

This transparent yellow oil retains the delicious smell of raspberries. Not every manufacturer does it this way – some refine this smell away. The production of this seed oil is done without additives, enzymes, chemicals or solvents.

This light oil sinks in quickly, moisturizing deeply without feeling greasy or tacky. It has a high phospholipid and antioxidant content and offers superb emolliency for softer, smoother skin. 1)Susan M. Parker, Power of the Seed, 2014

Red Raspberry Seed Oil has about 83% essential fatty acids, mostly linoleic, alpha linolenic, and oleic acids. These are omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids and have been shown to reduce oxidative stress in skin.

This oil is exceptionally rich in Vitamin E giving it a long shelf life & Provitamin A. Undiluted Raspberry oil is often touted as nature’s sunscreen but we advise against relying on it for UV protection unless the products are lab tested as there are batch differences from year to year (this is a natural product and these variances are more the norm than the exception)

In studies, raspberry seed oil is shown to have higher anti – inflammatory properties compared to other well known oils including virgin avocado oil, grapeseed oil, hazelnut oil and wheat germ oil2)B.Dave OomahStephanie Ladet, David Godfrey, Jun Liang, Benoit Girard, “Characteristics of raspberry (Rubus idaeus L.) seed oil”, Food Chemistry, Volume 69, Issue 2, May 1, 2000

Products which use Red Raspberry Seed Oil – The Secret of Skin Nirvana

 

 

 

 

References   [ + ]

1. Susan M. Parker, Power of the Seed, 2014
2. B.Dave OomahStephanie Ladet, David Godfrey, Jun Liang, Benoit Girard, “Characteristics of raspberry (Rubus idaeus L.) seed oil”, Food Chemistry, Volume 69, Issue 2, May 1, 2000
Posted on

Meditations on a Cloud

It’s a bright sunny day and I’m stretched out on a deck chair as my children frolic in the pool.

Looking up, I’m entranced by the white clouds high up in the blue sky.

Each one transforms before my eyes – from a walrus, this one becomes a person with head hanging low only to morph into a roaring lion, while that one….but I digress.

The one thing I noticed about all the white cirrus clouds above was that as they passed over my head, each one expanded.

Perhaps they spread out a bit thinner or they grew a bit (it was a hot day and we were by the beach so it’s possible that they picked up vapor as they were travelling)

But what I learned from the white clouds on the blue sky is this : no matter how small we start out, our purpose in life is to expand, to grow, to occupy a bit more space in the world.

So, here’s to blue skies and expansive energies!

My Blue Skies blend – here’s what I want to be smelling at the moment –

Any lime would fit into this blend – expressed lime is phototoxic but in a diffuser blend, it’s fine to use it. The distilled lime is a better choice for topical use.

Posted on

Happy Winter Solstice and a Blend for Yuzu

It’s Winter Solstice today, the longest night of the year and the start of winter.

Every year, I have a ritual to mark this day, and it changes based on what I am inspired by. This year I am inspired by the Japanese bath.

In the Japanese tradition, Yuzu baths are traditionally taken on the day of the winter solstice, “Toji” in hot tubs or hot springs. The brightly colored fruit is cut up and put into the water, sometimes in cloth bags, where they release Vitamin C to ward off coughs and colds while their essential oil fragrances the bath, softens skin, promotes happy moods, warms the body & increases circulation and prepares the bather for the cold days ahead, reminding them that Spring is to follow. What a great message!

Yuzu, also known as the Japanese Lemon, (Citrus junos) is a cold hardy tree that originated in Tibet and China from where it was brought to Japan and Korea. Yuzu trees are also grown in California. The University of California runs a Citrus Clonal Protection Program to prevent the import of diseased citruses including Yuzu. “Clean” Yuzu budwood became available through this program beginning in 1998.

Yuzu is well know for being very aromatic and has become a part of the perfumery and food industries1)http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/03/dining/the-secrets-behind-many-chefs-not-so-secret-ingredient.html Yuzu essential oil is not phototoxic which means it can be used without concern for sun exposure, but it is high in limonene so it may cause skin irritation if it becomes oxidized 2)Tisserand, R. and Young, R.(2014) Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. London: Churchill Livingstone, 480

For my winter solstice ritual, I am combining Yuzu with another essential oil of Japanese origin, Hinoki wood. Hinoki, or Japanese Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) is revered in Japan and is used as high quality timber. Hinoki is often used as part of purification rituals, and to build shrines and ritual bath tubs. 3)http://botanyboy.org/hinoki-chamaecyparis-obtusa/

It has a terpenic odor which speaks of quiet clean places, and is warm so to me this oil is meditative. Hinoki is the tree we want when Shinrin-yoku forest bathing 4)Tsunetsugu Y, Park B-J, Miyazaki Y. Trends in research related to “Shinrin-yoku” (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing) in Japan. Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine. 2010;15(1):27-37. doi:10.1007/s12199-009-0091-z So between the ritual bath tubs being made of it and the forest bathing, this oil is a natural choice for my Winter Solstice blend.

Finally to round off this blend, I’ve added a touch of black pepper essential oil (Piper nigrum). Black Pepper adds a unique note to this blend and is warming.

So now lets talk about the formula : Here’s the master blend

15 drops Yuzu Essential Oil
5 drops Hinoki Essential Oil
1 drop Black Pepper Essential Oil

How to use this :

It can be put into a melt and pour soap base. It can be mixed with an equal quantity of Polysorbate 20 and used in a bath. It can be used as a refreshing spray, when mixed with alcohol.

Hope you enjoy using this blend and it prepares you for the winter ahead.

References   [ + ]

1. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/03/dining/the-secrets-behind-many-chefs-not-so-secret-ingredient.html
2. Tisserand, R. and Young, R.(2014) Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. London: Churchill Livingstone, 480
3. http://botanyboy.org/hinoki-chamaecyparis-obtusa/
4. Tsunetsugu Y, Park B-J, Miyazaki Y. Trends in research related to “Shinrin-yoku” (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing) in Japan. Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine. 2010;15(1):27-37. doi:10.1007/s12199-009-0091-z
Posted on

Scent Of A Woman

My first scent memory is being obsessed with the fragrant white roses in my garden.

My second scent memory is ‘borrowing’ my mother’s French perfumes. Because she used them so sparingly, it was obvious to 6 year old me that she didn’t care much for them.

My third scent memory is crushing roses into milk and hoping to have it develop from a sorry brown mess into something like the amazing scent of my mother’s French perfume.

A girl can dream and I dream in scents.

My name is Anjali Shekdar and I am a perfumer.

Background

When I rediscovered Essential Oils, I fell in love with their amazing powers of healing & how they helped with pain, insomnia and depression. I also became intrigued with their evocative ability to transform our thoughts and feelings & transport us in time and place. I knew that I had discovered an unexplored facet of myself.

And it has become my mission to make every blend beautifully scented, so that its aroma lifts my client’s spirits while it helps with their issues.

She Walks In Beauty

My first brush with this inner perfumer came when I was asked for a calming blend by a client. I have known this beautiful woman for a few years, she runs my child’s school and everyone is drawn to her compassion, insight, and sensitive communication. As I began to select oils for her, I was surprised by how readily the palette came together. I picked Neroli, (…), Jasmine, Vetiver, Sandalwood and Patchouli. Before I knew it, a perfume had been assembled. I called it “She Walks in Beauty”.

This is a perfume that uniquely suits her. I know this by her words which she kindly expressed to me and from the way it smells on her skin and its longevity on her.

The Anatomy of the Scent

Without reading a single volume on perfumery, I had created a floral chypre (French, pronounced “sheep-ruh”). A chypre is the oldest kind of perfume, originating on the island of Cyprus. A chypre is a balanced perfume, no single note is emphasized and the blend is greater than a sum of its parts, a true synergy. The contrast of earthy notes balanced by floral notes are characteristic of a chypre. Some of the greatest perfumes of our times are chypre – Miss Dior, Femme, Tabac Blond. I picked these oils for their energies:

  • Neroli with its fresh, sweet, delicate aroma unlocks our hearts, and helps to relax and calm. It vibes well with feminine energies.
  • There’s an old saying in the world of perfumery “No jasmine, no perfume”. Jasmine brings us joy.  It frees us from guilt, fear and negative emotions, and is said to unite us with the energy of the universe.
  • Vetiver has a beautiful grounding energy and plays very well with jasmine. It is known as the Oil of Tranquility, and dissolves heat and shock.
  • Sandalwood calms us deeply and aligns mind and body, it is therefore a powerful aid to meditation.
  • Patchouli has a pacifying influence on the mind, it quells anxiety, agitation and irritation.

In Her Words

“After an initial consultation with Anjali, she surprised me with an oil blend called “She Walks in Beauty”. This sweet blend of Jasmine, Vetiver, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Neroli, (…)  is not only used as a perfume but one can reap the benefits of the oils’ calming, healing properties.

I roll on a little “She Walks in Beauty” when I am tired. The beautiful oil blend not only helps energize me but also helps me focus.

I had an older student visit my office one day. He was visibly upset and could not articulate his wants and needs. After a short period of time trying to calm him, I rolled a little of the oil blend onto a tissue and invited him to relax and just smell the fragrance. He did calm calm down and I was amazed how relaxed he became. After a period of listening and sharing he returned to class to enjoy the rest of his day.

Anjali’s custom blend of essential oils not only helps lift my spirits but calms them at day’s end.”

— Pauline MacNeill

Copyright:Lalique perfume bottle, Circa 1913, Robert Tisserand

To Select A Perfume

Marketing and packaging has some effect on which perfumes we choose to wear. Every new launch by a major perfume house brings excitement and customers wanting to wear it.

But even more important than marketing is the customer’s perfume preference. Every person has a perfume preference. This may change over time, but it defines a range within which that person feels special.

It has been found that most people want to wear perfumes that are easy to like. Every once in a while, there will be a green chilli scent or something that smells like rotting flesh in a tropical forest. These have novelty value or are sensational. They are not, however the ones that people want to wear, day after day and we thank our lucky stars because who wants to smell someone who smells like that?

Perfumes not only develop differently on different skins, but generally speaking, if a perfume resonates with you, its will most likely last longer on your skin. I have found to my eternal regret that some of the perfumes I have developed for others do not smell as good  or last as long on me.

Research also shows that couples who like the same perfume notes are often more compatible. Humans can recognize at least 10,000 different odors 1)Prasad BC, Reed RR, 1999. Chemosensation: molecular mechanisms in worms and mammals. Trends Genetics Vol. 15, Pg 150-153 This is known as Chemosensation and is an important element in human sexual communication, whether it is body odor or perfumes.

A savvy perfume buyer does not buy perfumes based on how lovely the bottle is, or how the celebrity endorsing the perfume looks or how much they like the celebrity. Instead, they will try it on. Spray a bit on their skin, inhale. Then, walk away.

The first notes that come from a perfume are top notes. These are lovely and exciting but fleeting. The middle notes or the heart of a perfume kick in next and last a little longer. The base notes last longest. Before investing in a perfume, live with how it develops on your skin for a little while.

Finally, if you love natural perfume, consider using it in an oil base or in a perfumed lotion. These are the longest lasting scents.

A Call to Action

If you have been thinking about getting yourself a personalized natural perfume, reach out to me at  amarascentsations@gmail.com

Disclaimer

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.

P.S. 

While the title of this post indicates the Scent of a Woman, I have and I continue to blend perfume for men as well.

References

 

References   [ + ]

1. Prasad BC, Reed RR, 1999. Chemosensation: molecular mechanisms in worms and mammals. Trends Genetics Vol. 15, Pg 150-153
Posted on

Essential Oils And My Continuing Education

Apart from the several hundred hours of self study I put in every year, I like to attend in person workshops. Workshops are a great way to pick up new techniques which are not easily taught by books and videos, and they provide gathering grounds to interact with others who have similar interests but different backgrounds than my own.

Last year I flew cross country to Seattle to attend Peter Holmes’ workshop on “The Treatment of Gynecological Disorders with Essential Oils and Herbs”. I blogged about it here

This time I attended the “Aroma Acupoint Therapy Level I” which is a better introduction to the process of using essential oils on acupoints. I found the workshop to be an eye opener in many ways.

There are hundreds of acupoints across the body, located on channels, through which Qi (pronounced Chi) flows. Some liken acupoints to wells where underground waterways connect to the surface of the earth. Water is easily accessible in wells. Similarly, our bodies have a network of energy channels, or Meridians and acupoints are the accessible points on these Meridians.

These are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for acupuncture, for example, where the practitioner inserts needles into various points based on a detailed intake form. When stimulated, acupoints are known to create a transformation in the energy channels of the body. Acupuncture is used to address a variety of issues such as pain.

The idea behind using essential oils on an acupoint is that each essential oil carries its own energy and in his 30 years of experience, Peter has found that applying the right essential oil to the right acupoint makes a big impact in the spirit or Shen. TCM being a holistic approach treats body/ mind together.

While I have worked with the energetics of essential oils before and I’m fascinated by them, this was a great workshop for me as I could see these oils in action. In the practicuum part of the workshops, we were able to apply oils to points using protocols that Peter has laid out, and gauge the effectiveness of the protocol on the patient using 3 parameters – pulse, complexion/ eye and breathing. Apart from what I could see, it was interesting to talk to the acupuncturists who were in my group. This is where I learned that there are at least 6 types of pulse readings they take before and after administering a treatment.

I left the workshop feeling like my brain had received an intense workout, and yet unsure of how I could use these ideas in my practice. I was still thinking about it yesterday morning. I had a long list of chores to drive to when all I really wanted to do was to burrow in and read and organize my thoughts. This gave rise to some anxiety, butterflies in my stomach.

And so I decided to apply my weekend’s learning to myself. I realized that I needed grounding so that I could gather myself and do what I needed to do. I applied Ruh Khus, a special type of Vetiver Essential Oil, to my Liver 3 acupoint. Liver 3 is a powerful acupoint to move stagnant energy (Qi) and it helps with irritability and anxiety. It is found in a depression at the conjunction of the 1st and 2nd metatarsal.

I placed half a drop on each acupoint, held it there for a few seconds and drove off. About 5 minutes later, I found that I came out of my thoughts and was able to admire the view along my drive. 10 minutes later, I exhaled deeply and released the energy that was holding me back and went about my day with purpose and intention.

I look forward to using more of what I have learned this weekend, it holds much promise to me.

If you have any questions about using essential oils on acupoints, email me at amarascentsations@gmail.com

 

Posted on

It’s Time For A Change

Do you feel your breath hitch and the butterflies in your stomach when you are anxious? I do and I have a bunch of things to try when I feel this way. And somehow, nothing worked today.

  • Coffee and some food helps to get my metabolism going, but I’m try to eat more sensibly so two breakfasts and caffeine is not the way to go
  • Talking to a friend is a great way to work some of the anxiety out, but my person is travelling
  • Going for a walk – I have a lot to get done with back to school and work and no time to get out
  • Holistic methods? That sounds doable…..

As an aromatherapist, I used a plethora of oils to help ease that feeling.

Today was different. My usual ones did not work.

  • Lavender? Not today.
  • Neroli? Smells good, but nope.
  • Frankincense? Lovely, but not quite.
  • Kunzea? Yes, but something’s missing
  • Grapefruit? Yes, but not there yet
  • Pine? Better, but I need more…..

And then I had it – Fragonia™, Pinyon Pine and Yuzu.

Fragonia™ (the world’s first and only trademarked essential oil) to help with resetting some of the bad habits which create anxiety, and help with deepening my breath. Fragonia™  has 1,8 Cineole which acts as a stimulant for the Central Nervous System – it awakens the brain and helps with better decision making, memory and critical thinking

Wildcrafted Pinyon Pine is the new kid on the block of conifer essential oils. Its fights respiratory infection, un-hitches the breath and make life feel like a walk in an evergreen forest

Yuzu is a Japanese citrus which helps with breathing, anxiety, digestion and sleep. And if this is not enough, it smells amazing and has an uplifting energy.

As I created my blend, the fumes began to inspire me. Make an inhaler! Sell it on Etsy! Blog about it!

And so I did! Hope you have enjoyed reading this!

Any questions about this or any other essential oil, email me at amarascentsations@gmail.com