Archive for hiking and travel

How to Revive Skin After Being Outdoors

For most of us, living in Colorado (and elsewhere) means an active, outdoor lifestyle.  But exposure to the elements takes a toll on skin causing redness, irritation, dry skin, hyperpigmentation and wrinkling. All of this results in premature aging.  But don’t let these skin problems keep you from enjoying a healthy outdoor lifestyle. There are many reasons to enjoy the outdoors, be it summer or winter, and Colorado Aromatics skin care can help enhance your healthy, outdoor lifestyle.

 

You wear a sunscreen, but what can you do to revive your skin after being outdoors?

Cleanse. Be sure to use a cleanser to remove sweat from your face. Follow this with a  pH balanced face mister to help restore and recover your skin’s natural pH. Colorado Aromatics makes both Meadow Mist milky cleanser and Yarrow oil cleanser. And you’ll love our aromatic Face and Body misters distilled from herbs (including lavender) that we grow on our Certified Naturally Grown farm.

Use Antioxidants. Antioxidants are important for repairing skin damage caused by the sun. Besides eating a diet rich in antioxidants, use skin care products that are rich in antioxidants. Colorado Aromatics uses herbs that are rich in complex antioxidant polyphenols to help repair skin damage.

Use Mild Exfoliation. Mild exfoliation can help brighten skin by removing the outer layer of dead skin cells and pigmentation. This can help your moisturizer work better by improving its penetration. It can also help reduce hyperpigmentation and that leathery appearance caused by too much sun. Too much exfoliation, however, can damage the skin barrier function and lead to redness and inflammation (so go easy).

Hydrate. Moisture must reach the skin from both the inside and outside. Drinking water is vital to staying hydrated. Use a good moisturizer topically such as Springtide Face Cream to moisturize from the outside and keep the epithelium moist. A good moisturizer is a balance of water and oil to both hydrate and hold that water to your skin and protect the barrier function of your skin.

And don’t forget your neck, chest and hands; they are exposed to the elements as well.

Being outdoors helps us regenerate and relax. Don’t let your skin care concerns keep you from enjoying the outdoors.  Good skin care is not a luxury but something to consider on a daily basis. Colorado Aromatics Cultivated Skin Care products are formulated by a biochemist and herbalist who understands skin physiology.

Hiking Milner Pass in Rocky Mountain National Park

Fall has got to be my favorite time of year. As the busy farming season slows down it give me a little free time to get to the mountains more. My goal was to drive across Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park before the road closed for the season. Trail Ridge Road goes through Rocky Mountain Park, covering 48 miles almost from Estes Park to Grand Lake. The elevation of the road peaks at 12,183 feet with more than eight miles lying above 11,000 feet. It offers some incredible mountain views. Because of the elevation and the difficulty in removing snow from the road, it closes when the weather makes passage difficult. It may be closed today as I write this because we had snow this morning so I was glad to have been able to make the drive on Monday.

We stopped at the Alpine Visitors Station, for bathrooms and the view. This picture is of Mummy Range off the back deck of the Visitors Center, well above tree line.

rmnp10_16alpinecentercompressed

 

Milner Pass

Continueing on the west side of the Park we came to Milner Pass at 10,759 feet. The trail starts right at Poudre lake. Its a quite steep trail that first goes past some very nice rock formations and continues through the subalpine forest. We took the split to Mt Ida split and hiked a little further. Its a beautiful trail that meanders through some wet areas with views of the Never Summer Range. We didn’t hike far and were completely unprepared for the cold temperatures and light snow. But we were very glad to be able to get out before the weather turned too cold as it is now. It was very dry and I was glad to have my Herbal Relief Lip Balm with me.

Stream at Milner Pass

Sun, Sunscreen and Coral Reefs

I just spent a week on the beach near Cancun, Mexico which reminded me of an issue with sunscreen and coral reefs. Coral reefs are a very delicate ecosystem that has been suffering in recent years. Ocean acidification, climate change, sedimentation/pollution and destructive fishing are partly to blame for the increasing collapse of coral reefs but it is also thought that sunscreens that wash off swimmers bodies’ are also to blame. Sunscreens can contain benzophenones, a common UV blocker.

Beach in Mexico

A recent study looked at Benzophenone-2 and found that this substance can harm coral reefs in 3 ways:

kill very young coral
can bleach adult coral and
can cause mutations in the DNA of coral

While benzophenone-2 is not allowed in sunscreens in the US, other, related benzophenones are used. Benzophenones are also found in colored cosmetics and fragrances where they are used to prevent breakdown of the product by UV light. Interestingly, they can also be found in inks to prevent their degradation. So if you are having a UV coating on your printed material you might ask if the ink contains benzophenones.

It appears that how sunscreens bleach the reef is indirectly by activating a virus that disrupts the micro algae that help support the reef biome.

Even natural sunscreen ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are not recommended. These mineral particles do not biodegrade. The particles block sunlight and can be ingested by fish.

While sunscreen use is very important for some of us to prevent cancer, I challenge you to use less. I see people slathering on so much excess sunscreen on their body at the beach and doing it with undo frequency. I challenge you to wear protective clothing; a lightweight blouse and a wide brimmed hat. I challenge you to let the sun very lightly tan your skin. As far as I know there is no evidence that a light tan is related to cancers. I challenge you to use moderation with sunscreen for the sake of our reefs.

Did you know that coral are actually colonies of tiny animals that secrete calcium carbonate to form the coral skeleton? Many people think coral is a plant. They grow very slowly, multiplying and laying down more calcium carbonate each year. Many of them live symbiotically with microscopic algae that live on the coral’s tissue. These algae produce energy through photosynthesis for the coral to benefit from the energy produced. This is why sunlight is so important for survival of the coral reefs.

coral_stock

Reference

Downs CA1, Kramarsky-Winter E, Fauth JE, Segal R, Bronstein O, Jeger R, Lichtenfeld Y, Woodley CM, Pennington P, Kushmaro A, Loya Y., Toxicological effects of the sunscreen UV filter, benzophenone-2, on planulae and in vitro cells of the coral, Stylophora pistillata. Ecotoxicology. 2014 Mar;23(2):175-91. doi: 10.1007/s10646-013-1161-y. Epub 2013 Dec 19.

A Snowy Hike

I set out Sunday to go snowshoeing at a place called Peaceful Valley along the scenic  Colorado Peak to Peak Highway.  In Longmont I think the temperature was about 70 degrees but with 50 plus mile per hour winds. I was hoping it would be less windy in the mountains and I needed a few hours outside.  I put my snowshoes on and started out on the trail.  The snow was nicely packed down and I didn’t really need the snowshoes. Then realized I had the wrong shoes on and they were rubbing terribly!  I remembered I had a pair of brand new boots in the car so I went back, ditched the snowshoes and put on my new snow boots and set out hiking instead of snowshoeing.

peaceful valley sign

I think the temperature on the trail was in the 50s and the sun was shining bright, what a beautiful day it was. I passed just a few other hikers, skiers and snowshoers along the way. The wind was only blowing high in the treetops so it was no bother to me. The trails around Peaceful Valley and the nearby Brainard Lake are popular for winter activities, but not today.

 

Sun shining through trees

I especially enjoy being outdoors hiking on the warmer winter days because the smell of the pine trees is invigorating. Don’t you love how the sun shines through the pines? While the trail was packed down hard enough that I didn’t fall through wearing boots, when I accidentally stepped off the trail my foot went down several feet.

 

Peaceful Valley snowy trail

I stopped on this bridge over the river to see the shapes the water had made through the ice. I think this picture resembles a backpacker; wearing a big hat of course. What do you see in this picture? The shadow you see on the bottom is me. I was only out for about 2 hours, but it was long enough to be outside to reconnect, renew and relax. I need to hike in the winter more often.

 

melted water in ice

A Visit to the San Antonio Botanical Garden

When I visit other cities two things I love to check out are botanical gardens and farmers markets. After spending several days inside and sitting down at the USLGA conference I was glad to spend a few hours at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens. It was indeed a treat for many senses; eyes, ears, smell and the feel of the sun on a warm, beautiful day.

San Antonio Botanical Gardens Native Area

The gardens is organized in a less formal style than many botanical gardens I’ve been to, especially compared to the Denver Botanic Gardens which I am most familiar with. There were sections showing native plants for the Hill Country, East Texas Pineywoods, and South Texas. I really liked the old and reconstructed older cabins they had on site as well as what was once a small reservoir that was surrounded by a stone wall.

There were not many things blooming as its January! But oh, did I smell some lovely roses. And in the more formal beds there was lots of calendula in bloom.

Another area I really liked was the tiny houses with landscaping out front to give someone an idea of how they can xeriscape their yards.

Landscape Gardens

I had to get a shot of Colorado Aromatics products at the gardens because they like to travel too.

Colorado Aromatics Products

Lastly, this is a grove of bitter orange trees. I pulled a leaf off the rub and smell and was delighted by the aroma of petitgrain oi. Yes, petitgrain comes from the leaves of the bitter orange tree. We use some petitgrain oil in our Springtide Antiaging Face cream. It was a treat to actually smell the leaves from the tree.

Bitter Orange Tree

You can learn more about the San Antonio Botanical Gardens at their website.

An Herbal Foot Soak

 Herbal Foot Soak

A Foot Soak can be a great pleasure at the end a hard day.  Foot soaks are especially enjoyable if you work at a job where you stand most of the day or if you are a hiker. The benefits of a Foot Soak include:
Improves circulation in the feet.
Reduces stress and helps you relax
Improves sleep
Decreases foot pain, especially that from standing all day
Soothes and hydrates skin
Soaking helps soften calluses, so partner a foot soak with an exfoliating treatment such as a sugar scrub.
Helps remove bacteria and fungus from around the toenails
Decreases foot odor
If you have diabetes or are prone to edema the benefits of a foot soak are even more important.

How to do a foot soak? You will need a container large enough and deep enough for your feet. I like to use a plastic dish pan, a rug to put under the pan to keep water off the floor, a towel to dry your feet on and whatever you want to use in your foot soak. Of course we recommend Colorado Aromatics Herbal Foot Soak followed by Sole Pleasure Foot Butter.
1.    Heat water on the stove to boiling. Put Herbal Foot Soak bag in a bowl and pour boiling water over this. Let infuse for several minutes.
2.    Fill your dish pan with very warm water, about 100-101 F. I usually start hotter because the water cools down quickly. Pour the hot herb ‘tea’ into the water in the dish pan. If you like, you can add a drop or two of essential oil to this as well.
3.    Sit and enjoy the foot bath for 10-15 minutes or however long you like. Drink a cup of tea while resting.
4.    When ready, take your feet out of the water and pat dry with a towel. At this time it is also good to apply Sole Pleasure Foot Butter to your feet and put socks on.
Now I bet you are relaxed and either ready to call it a night or go out dancing.

A Trip to Tucson

I recently spent 3 days in Tucson for the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild meeting and a fourth day all to myself to explore. I have a strong affinity to Arizona having gotten my BS degree at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and then living in Tucson for another year. I have fond memories of hiking canyons; Walnut Canyon, Sycamore Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon and oh yes, that big one, the Grand Canyon. I do love the mountains of Colorado but I miss the canyons of Arizona. Canyons are inviting, they are more feminine in my mind than mountains. In a sense they are like entering the womb.

VentanaCanyon

Ventana Canyon Resort

Our conference was at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. I was immediately happy and comfortable being in a canyon and outside my hotel window was a gorgeous view of the canyon, a waterfall and saguaro cactuses in bloom. The grounds of the resort had a paved sidewalk that wound around and to a waterfall. A nice walk to do between meetings, but I also had a few adventures away from the resort.

One afternoon I simply crossed the parking lot to hike the Ventana Canyon trail. The first part of this trail is fenced off from a housing development. I was between sessions and didn’t have much time so didn’t go very far up the trail. I did notice on the trail sign a nearby hike that looked worth doing. Finger Rock Canyon was in the same area of the Santa Catalina Mountains and a short drive so I headed there the next day. This trail started off flat as it entered the canyon. I had forgotten how sandy trails in Arizona were, like walking on a beach almost. Soon the trail got very steep as it rose on the canyon wall. Finger Rock was visible most of the way and views of Tucson were also visible. I didn’t quite make it to the ridge as I was worried about running out of water. I’d forgotten how much one has to drink in Arizona.

Finger Rock

Finger Rock

Selfie_Tucson

Me, Taking a Break

On Friday I had the whole day to myself and drove north to Catalina State Park. I enjoyed a short nature trail through ruins of a 1000 year old Hohokam village. I always love ruins and learning of the original people that inhabited the southwest. This trail offered beautiful vistas of the Sonoran Desert and Santa Catalina Mountains. I then drove further into the park to hike on Romero Canyon trail because the guide indicated some small pools not very far on the trail. I ended up accidentally getting off the trail and hiking into a dry stream bed through a canyon. I turned around when my water supply got low. It was still a beautiful hike and I loved being in the desert seeing the saguaros.

Saguaro blooming at Catalina State Park

Saguaro blooming at Catalina State Park

Catalina State Park2

This can’t be the trail, can it?

I then just drove to the west through Saguaro National Park. A beautiful drive through a very dense saguaro forest and many other types of cactus. On a short walk on one of the nature trails I was pleasantly surprised by the sounds of a guitar and walked past a man along the trail deep into his playing.

I love Arizona, but glad to be back in Colorado, my new home that I also love. I may seek out more canyons here to hike though. I got some good photos of Colorado Aromatics products in the Arizona Desert too and you can be assured that these skin care products not only work in the Colorado climate but also in the Arizona climate. Here is Springtide Gold, Oasis, and Knuckle Balm.

Colorado Aromatics holds up to the Arizona climate.

Colorado Aromatics holds up to the Arizona climate.

Got Sunburn?

What to do about a sunburn?

A Sunburn is always best to be prevented by protecting the skin from intense sun. This can mean wearing a lightweight long sleeved shirt and hat and/or applying sunscreen if you are going to be in the sun for extended periods of time. I like to buy men’s white dress shirts from the second hand store to wear working in the yard. They are typically worn with age which makes them very lightweight and not at all hot.  But with spring break almost here you may be planning a sun getaway and increase your risk of sunburn. There are a number of useful herbs to help after getting a sunburn.

My favorite herb for sunburn is green tea. Green tea is rich in antioxidants and it has enough scientific evidence to convince me that it can be useful in preventing severe skin damage and even cancer that is caused by overexposure to UV light. For spot treatment, apply wet tea bags directly to the skin. For all over treatment of sunburn, use green tea in the bath.

Sunburn results in inflammation of the skin so any anti-inflammatory herb is useful. I like chamomile best but you could also use lavender, mallow, or mint. Lemon balm is also an herb that can really help to soothe sunburn. Use any of these herbs in your bath. Colorado Aromatics Green Tea Herbal Bath is great for a sunburn, keep this around in the summer and and make sure you take one along on your spring break trip! You can also try the recipe below for a bath. Make sure you do not take a hot bath if you have a sunburn, the water should be cool.

Spritzing the skin to keep it moist can help counteract the drying effects of the sun. You can spritz with a tea made from herbs, or better yet is to spritz with an herbal distillate; lavender or lemon balm are best for this. These herbal waters are slightly acidic and rich in antioxidants; they can help restore the health of the skin. Keep your spritzers in the refrigerator to provide additional relief. You can find these Distillates here.

 

Sunburn Relief Bath

Place these herbs in a muslin bag or tie in a washcloth. Make a strong tea with this before putting it in the bath tub so you can be sure to take a cool (not hot) bath.

1/8 cup Violet flowers/leaves

¼ cup Lemon balm

¼ cup Green tea leaves

1/8 cup chamomile flowers