The delicate art of skincare

Let’s face it, we love our lotions, potions, creams, balms, shampoos and conditioners. Women have been grooming and beautifying themselves since time began and in recent years men have been getting in on the act.

However, few of us pay attention to what is contained in the products we use. Even if we did, we would be none the wiser because the list of ingredients means nothing to us without a little know-how.

Over the past decade or so, scientists have become increasingly concerned by how some chemical ingredients contained in grooming products might be affecting the human body.  Chief among them has been Suzanne M. Snedeker of Cornell University who warns against environmental estrogens and their possible link to breast cancer. The three main culprits she claims are:
• Parabens – a common preservative in skincare

• Placental extracts – sometimes used in hair conditioner and moisturiser

• Benzophenones – found in a wide variety of cosmetics and skincare

Dr. Snedeker has produced an information video about the use of these chemicals which you can find view at:

www.envirocancer.cornell.edu/research/endocrine/videos/makeup.cfm#uses2

Kerry care

In Kerry we’re blessed to have three enthusiasts of natural skincare producing their own ranges right here in the county.

Geraldine Woessner has created the Flourish brand using aromatherapy oils, which she produces in Killarney. “I was first motivated to produce natural skincare during a period of extreme burnout,” says Geraldine (www.feelwell.ie/geraldine-woessner).  “My lowered immune system became a very clear indicator of the ‘baddies’ my body would no longer tolerate. Perfume affected my breathing and made my eyes swell and I was plagued with severe dry skin and dermatitis.

“At the time I resorted to using Silcock’s Base, which is pure petro-chemical. I was concerned by the fact that if I ran out, my skin would be worse than ever – literally within a day! Later when I did research I discovered that petrochemical bases work by drawing moisture from the deeper layers of the skin to the epidermis, giving the impression that its curing dry skin when in fact it is making the condition worse. As soon as I qualified as an aromatherapist I went on a mission. I traveled to Germany and learned how to create a natural base cream.”

Every ingredient used in Flourish Organics skincare is chosen for its skin repairing, antioxidant and emollient properties and the essential oils not only add a beautiful aroma but are actually of benefit to the skin and overall well being of the person using it.

Herbal potions

Shirley Teskey studied traditional medicinal herbs in Holland and now produces the range Shirley’s Herbal Care from her own medicinal herb garden, along with her husband Jan and daughters Michelle and Karin.

“I studied traditional medicinal herbs with the Kruidenrijk in Holland from 1997 to 1999,” explains Shirley. “During this period I also worked with them on their farm and learned how to set up my own medicinal herb garden. I also helped with the harvesting of the herbs and the making of herbal preparations. When I returned to Ireland with my family to our mountainside farm in Kenmare, Jan my husband started the herb gardens.”

Last year, the family re-branded and updated the website and added a baby and infant skincare range. While many of the preparations are for normal skincare use, Shirley has had great success in developing products for those suffering from eczema and psoriasis.

“Natural skin care for specific skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema are well worth trying out. Some of my customers found that some prescription creams, although often giving immediate relief, when used long term can compromise the skin, leaving it even more sensitive.”

2012 will see another addition – Shirley’s Natural Skincare workshops and courses on her farm, where those interested in natural skin care can learn to make their own.

Back West

In west Kerry, Rosemarie Lieb makes pots of creams from the flowers and herbs in her garden under the brand name Harebell Skincare. Rosemarie biodynamically grows her own comfrey, marigold, chickweed, chamomile, borage, elderflower, evening primrose, rosemary, feverfew and St. Johns Wort in her garden.

To prepare the oil infusions, freshly picked flowers and herbs are put in cold pressed organic grapeseed or almond oil and left in the sun for 2-3 weeks. She then blends her products in her workshop and creates a wonderful variety of moisturizers, hand creams, healing creams and body and bath oils, using organic essential oils such as rose, geranium, bergamot, melissa, ylang ylang and jasmine.

“The most important thing with skincare is that you check the labels to see what ingredients are in it. Fewer ingredients is better,” says Rosemarie.