The power of Jade! Jade Gua Sha tools for facial massage

Jade gua sha tools are increasing in popularity in the West as folks find out about this beautifying and soothing skin care technique. I've used jade gua sha tools in my skin care treatments and my own skin care routine for a long time, and now you can get one for yourself! I also put together a little video demonstrating how to use your new tool, and a 5 minute organic skin care routine that will leave you with glowing skin and close your day with some self-care. Enjoy!

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Relieving and Releasing Stress with Natural Products

I hope you enjoy this article! It went out to my subscribers earlier this month - sign up here to get my monthly newsletter with articles like this, product specials and sales and interesting news in natural beauty and wellness. -Kirsten

While you work on saving the world, don't forget to save a few minutes for yourself. Bathing and grooming are naturally soothing activities for most of us. Having some easy, pleasurable, non-toxic ways to give your body some loving attention is a great go-to for when life is stressful or overwhelming. 

1. Swimming Dragon Oil: designed to relax and release the flow of energy in the body, Swimming Dragon Oil combines Chinese herbs, natural oils and essential oils for an uplifting, relaxing experience that leaves you feeling like you have room to breathe. Put a few droppers into a warm bath with epsom salts, apply to neck and shoulders, or use for a foot massage

2. Clay Face Mask. Using a face mask pretty much requires that you have some peace and quiet. Retreat to your bathroom or boudouir, slather on a face mask like Clarifying or Regenerating and let yourself get grounded with clay and herbs. Follow up with:

3. Three-in-One Serum facial treatment. Calm and moisturize skin with a treatment like Three-in-One Serum. Apply serum liberally, and then cover your face with a warm washcloth. Leave it on until the cloth has cooled down. You can repeat a few times for a thorough steam. Breathe. The essential oils in the serum like lavender, geranium and sweet orange are great for your spirit as well as your skin. Wipe your face clean.

4. Hare Oil Treatment. If your hair is dry and brittle, you can treat all of it by brushing or finger combing a small amount of Hare oil through your hair, from root to tip. Don't forget to give yourself a scalp massage! If just the ends are dry, warm the oil in your hands and rub gently onto the ends. Wrap your hair up and wash out in the morning, or not if your hair has drunk it up. PS you can also do this with a beard! 

5. Serious Stress Buster. If you're feeling the kind of tension that's got your neck and shoulders in knots, take a moment for some self massage with a healing balmGinger Menthol is great for tension induced headaches, Basic Balm has a soothing herbal honey scent, and BeLoved Balm brings rose, lavender and geranium together in a bouquet just for you. The base of your skull, sides of your neck, and tops of your shoulders will all benefit from loving, gentle self-massage.

Stress is a cumulative health concern that affects our quality of life every day. Giving your physical being a few minutes of tender care every day is a great way to counteract some of those effects. Relax!

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5 Healthy Summer Skin Habits

I hope you enjoy this article - it features some Angelica & Peony skin care products, but as always, I include DIY alternatives. This went out to my subscribers last month - sign up here to get my monthly newsletter with articles like this, product specials and sales and interesting news in natural beauty and wellness. -Kirsten

A classical principle of Chinese medicine and many holistic systems is to be in harmony with our environment - what our body needs at midwinter is not the same as midsummer, in a tropical rainforest not the same as a windswept prairie, at 25 not the same as at 65! Approach your skin with this attitude and you'll be rewarded with happier, healthier skin.

Habit 1: Smart Hydration. If it's hotter you're sweating more, and if you're in a dry or windy climate, you'll be even more likely to need water. If you'd like some ideas of cooling drinks that are acupuncturist approved, check out this article I wrote last summer during a heat wave.

Habit 2: Cleansing with Oil. Smog, makeup, dust, sunblock... there's lots of reasons to want to wash your face in summer! The oil cleansing method uses natural oils to gently cleanse your skin while maintaining its natural balance and leaving it moisturized and soothed. Watch my video about how to use facial serums to cleanse and treat your skin. If you find your skin is more oily or acne prone during humid summer weather, or if a facial serum feels too oily in the heat, switch to this method and forgo separate moisturizing. I use 3-in-1 Serum during the summer, especially at the end of a grimy day, but you can also concoct your own oil blend as described in this great article about OCM.

Habit 3: Facials from the Farmers Market. Use seasonal produce to whip up some yummy face masks for your skin type: (follow any of these decadent treatments with an Angelica & Peony facial serum)

Nourishing Peach Mask for Dry & Mature Skin: puree peaches and add sesame oil. Apply to face for 5-10 minutes and then rinse clean.
Renewing Strawberry Mask for Dull Skin: mash fresh strawberries with yogurt and apply to face for 5 minutes before washing clean.

Join me at the Manzanita Collective open house July 16 where I'll be demo-ing farmers market facials in the afternoon!

Habit 4: Tea Treatments: Ease summertime issues like bug bites, allergies and sunburn with herbal washes aka cooled tea. Try chrysanthemum blossom to rinse itchy, irritated eyes, mint for itchy bites, and black tea to ease a sunburn. Make a cup or mason jar of tea, and let it cool completely before using.

Habit 5: Practice Safe Sun: Sun damage takes its toll over time, as well as increasing skin cancer risks. However sun exposure is vital to our health, both physical and emotional,and there's increasing understanding that our 'sun-phobia' has led to unexpected health problems, especially in Northern countries. Many experts recommend 10-15 minutes a day of sun on your bare skin, depending on where you are on the globe and your skin tone. This overview of the science and debates about sun exposure is a fascinating read, and has more information and guidance.

As always, treat your skin with love and respect, and consult a practitioner for any medical concerns (email me if you'd like help finding someone in your area.)

Shine on!

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Spring Skin Renewal

I hope you enjoy this little how-to for spring skin - it features Angelica & Peony skin care products, but as always, I include some DIY alternatives. This went out to my subscribers last week, sign up here to get my monthly newsletter with articles like this, product specials and sales and interesting news in natural beauty and wellness. -Kirsten

At the end of the winter season, your skin might be ready for a little renewal - dark days, indoor heating, heavier foods, can leave your skin feeling dull, dry or broken out. Here's some easy yet sumptuous at-home skin treatments to try before stepping out into the springtime! Pick the one for your skin type.

Dry, sensitive and mature skin: it's important not to be rough with your delicate skin. Use steam, herbs and the gentle exfoliation of a terry cloth facecloth to renew your skin's surface without aggravating it. Slather your face with a gentle oil with healing and moisturizing properties, either a premade combination like Angelica & Peony's Nourishing Serum, or individual oils with moisturizing and healing properties like olive oil, sesame oil or wheat germ oil. Heat a wash cloth under the tap, and lay it on your face. Allow it to cool on your face, and then use it to wipe off the oil, giving a loving scrub as you do. If your skin is very dry, end with a final application of Nourishing Serum.

Oily or acne-prone skin: be grateful for your face's oil! It's a natural protectant that will keep your skin plump and dewy for life! You can likely tolerate a slightly more vigorous exfoliation. For the benefit of Chinese herbs, use Angelica & Peony's Serenity Scrub and Mask. Mix a tablespoon of Serenity with an equal amount of warm water and pat over your face. Gently scrub and rinse. You can also make a mask using egg white, or yogurt for a slightly stronger exfoliating effect (tutorial here). For a homemade version, grind adzuki beans in a coffee grinder or blender until fine and use as scrub or mask. End with a treatment moisturizer for oily skin such as Angelica & Peony's Three-in-One.

Uneven pigment, sun-damage, fine-lines: if these are your main issues and your skin is not very sensitive or ultra dry, try my favorite treatment: a clay mask! This is a fun article on the different types of clays, but I use Angelica & Peony's Regenerating Masque with Ginseng and French Clay, which combines the detoxifying and purifying qualities of French green clay with Chinese herbs used for centuries to nourish, rejuvenate and heal the skin. Combine the Masque or clay with water to make a paste, and apply to the face, avoiding the eyes. Let it sit until it begins to dry - not until it's so dry it cracks. Using a warm wet washcloth, wipe off and rinse your face clean. Finish with a rejuvenating product like Angelica & Peony's Regenerating Serum, or single oils with skin renewing properties like rosehip seed oil or hazelnut oil.

I'll be offering customized treatments like these in the intimate and healing atmosphere of the Manzanita Wellness Clinic in Berkeley on May 1 if you'd like to join me! The admission price includes a 1 hour workshop on self-care and restorative practices, an array of mini-treatments including customized facial renewal with me, herbal foot soaks and energy balancing massage, aromatherapy, acupuncture and private energy readings. We'll also have time for reflection, journaling, communing and tea drinking, and send you home with herbal favors to keep your inner and outer beauty nourished. Tickets are very limited, so RSVP before April 20!

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