I’m back!

I just wanted to write a quick post to explain the absence of blog updates in the last six months.  I had been working really hard on the blog up to my trip to Nicaragua last September.  All the hard work paid off when I was short listed for the Irish Blog Awards.  I was delighted to have reached my goal and took a break while I was on my travels.  When I returned I found that my focus had shifted slightly.  I began a yoga teacher training course when in October and since then most of my energy has been going towards that.

Initially I felt a lot of guilt and stress at neglecting the blog, as I struggled to juggle my full time job, as well as working on the blog which is very time consuming, as well as yoga practice and study, as well as working on my other goals and not to mention finding time for a social life and relaxation!

I decided to just go with the flow and do what felt right.  I allowed my work on the blog to slide for a little while.  Many people asked me when I would be updating it or if I had given it up.  I didn’t have an answer for them but I knew that there was no point in working on the blog if it was becoming stressful or a chore, whereas it had begun from a place of passion, creativity, fun and excitement.

In the last  couple of months I have been missing blogging, and my enthusiasm and passion for Natural Fuel has been returning.  I have a lot less time to dedicate to the blog compared to what I had last year but I am planning to continue!  I am hoping to design a completely new website in the coming months.  In the meantime I will be posting new entries here when I can and I will be active on social media.

I am really looking forward to interacting with the blogging world again and seeing where life will take me (and the blog) next! :-)

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Ultra Moisturising Shea Butter Hand Balm

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This hand cream is completely natural and organic, containing gorgeous plant based ingredients to moisturise, soothe and protect dry hands.   It’s thicker than a hand cream so a little goes a long way.  It’s semi-solid texture is that of a balm or salve -think halfway between a cream and a hard lip balm.
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 I used shea butter as the main ingredient due to it’s amazingly effective moisturising and nourishing properties.  Shea butter is protective, hydrating and very efficient at softening and smoothing the skin.  It is a rich source of vitamins A and E.  When making skincare products, I always strive to use raw, natural, organic, unrefined ingredients that have not been processed from their natural state with chemicals.  Otherwise I may as well just buy any old hand cream from the shop -I like the challenge of creating beautiful, natural products which are kind to our bodies and the planet.
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The only issue with this is that some people find that the unrefined or non chemically altered version of shea butter has a strong unpleasant smell.  It is a distinctive, natural and earthy smell which is certainly stronger than unrefined shea butter but the beneficial properties of unrefined are also stronger compared to refined shea butter.  If you are really adverse to the smell, which I don’t find unpleasant at all, you could experiment by using another unrefined butter instead.
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I used jojoba wax  to help harden this product so that it sets, and avocado oil to add even more to the highly moisturising nourishment.  The essential oils which I used in this one were added more for fragrance rather than function, so you can replace them with any combination of essential oils you like.
 
INGREDIENTS:
  • 20g shea butter
  • 5g jojoba wax
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil
  • 5 drops lavander  essential oil
  • 3 drops neroli  essential oil
  • 1 drop patchouli essential oil
Melt the wax, butter and oil in a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering hot water.  Do not allow the bowl to touch the surface of the water.  Once everything is melted and fully combined, add the essential oils.  Mix well and allow to cool before transferring in to a glass airtight container.  A small glass jar is best as you can scoop the product out with your finger.  This recipe makes enough to go in to a 25g container.

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Rose Mira Organics – Organic Natural Skincare Review

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I am very excited to be doing my first review of skincare products!  Rose Mira Organics very kindly sent me an amazing box of beautiful, organic products which I am only too happy to rave about and recommend!  As this is my first review of external products, I feel that I should state a little disclaimer on my stance on this.  I am very happy to review any products whereby the ethos of the company fits in to the theme of my blog.  I will only feature products which I would be happy to purchase, use and recommend to friends.  I aim to mostly use natural and organic skincare and beauty products on myself, which are cruelty free and ethically sourced and produced.  I am aware that companies producing these sort of products are in a niche market. Because I greatly admire the ethos under which they operate and the message which they are sending to the world,  I am happy to give genuine and talented producers of these products praise and promotion on my blog.

Rose Mira is definitely an example of such a company.   Rose Mira state that they have a  relationship to nature and care about sustainability and the environment. They don’t use artifical commercial preservatives, additives, parabens, phthalates, artificial fragrances or dyes. They are a member of the Leaping Bunny Coaltion for Consumer Information on Cosmetics and PETA, and they are a Green America Approved Business in Green America’s Directory of Products & Services for People and the Planet.  Like me, the founder of Rose Mira loves essential oils, and they are incorporated in the products for both their healing and aromatic properties.  The company uses only organic and wild crafted essential oils and pure botanical extracts.
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Most of the products have a limited shelf life compared to other commercial products -this is a good thing!  The butters last six to eight months from date of purchase and  the toners and serums last about a year while the natural cleansers and moisturising creams are made to order and last three to four months.  Rather than being an inconvience, this is a major plus for me!  Skincare products with these shelf lives are fresh, natural and biologically active, offering the very best outcome for your skin and your health.
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A message on their website http://rosemira.com reads as follows “At Rosemira we believe beauty should not come at the expense of health.  Many of the larger skin care companies that dominate the anti-aging skin care industry use ingredients which are toxic both to our environment and to ourselves.   These companies don’t provide their customers with effective results.   Since organic and natural ingredient skin care is gaining popularity, these companies are going to market with new products touted as organic and natural.   Unfortunately natural and organic are words which are easy to place on labels with little need to prove their validity.   We’re being misled into trusting these products.   Not all companies are following suit.   There are companies with a social ethic–companies like Rosemira  that actually use organic and natural ingredients 99% of the time. We buy our ingredients from distributors we trust. We use the best ingredients available on the market today”

 I love how Rose Mira promotes a healthy lifestyle on their website, tying in the use of natural, organic skin products with an emphasis on a holistic approach to health, nourishment and self care.   They highlight how using natural products on your skin is just as important as eating right and exercising.  Rose Mira also takes the refreshing approach of aging gracefully and beautifully, rather than avoiding the aging process at all costs.  The company is of the opinion, which I share, that rather than sticking rigidly to a skincare routine, we should use different products according to the seasons, the weather, travelling, etc.  Your skin is an active, working organ rather than just something keeping all your insides together!  Their product range has so much variety that tailoring your use of products is made easy, and by matching your products with what is going on with your body at the time, you will massively increase the benefit and functionality.

I tried out the following products which were sent to me.
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Pineapples & Cream Cleansing Milk
I used this cleansing milk on days when I wasn’t wearing any make up.  It is lovely and light and my skin felt really soft afterwards.  It has a very fresh clementine smell which is really nice but I do usually prefer my face products to be lighter scented.  If this is not your preference then you will love the scent wafting up your nose as you massage this cream in.  It contains bromelain, an enzyme derived from the pineapple extract, which gently exfoliates the skin.
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Sweet Coconut Body Butter
I wish we had the technology to share smells via the internet because I would love to share the amaaaazing coconut and mango smell with all of you -can’t stop smelling myself!  Wonderful scent aside, this moisturiser gets straight to work on the skin leaving it smooth, soft and protected.
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Lemongrass Fresh Foaming Cleanser
This foaming cleanser is suitable for all skin types.  Lemongrass essential oil is used for cleansing and tightening pores in a base of aloe vera gel.  It also contains apple botanical extract due to it’s moisturising and anti aging properties. I always cleanse my face using the oil cleansing method and so I found it a bit strange using this foaming cleanser.   I hadn’t used one in a long time and it is so different from oil cleansing!  However due to the gentle, natural ingredients his cleanser doesn’t feel as harsh or dying as most commercial foaming cleansers and my skin did feel squeaky clean afterwards.
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Romantic Vanilla Super Moisturising Cream
This is a powerful but light cream suitable for all skin type and particularly younger skin.  The vanilla scent is lovely, but once again I found it strange having a vanilla scented product on my face. I guess I am more used to eating it! This cream absorbs really well and is really effective.
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Moisturise Me Citrus Restorative Cream
This is a really rich cream which can be used day or night for all skin types.  You only need a tiny amount of this product as it is very nourishing.  It effectively tones skin and tightens pores, slows down wrinkle formation and helps reduce the appearance of existing ones. It is said to work particularly well for Combination and Oily skin and those prone to acne, however my normal/dry skin loved it too!
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See Me C Repair Serum
I loved this serum.  It is deeply healing, moisturising, soothing and balancing.  It contains pomegranate seed oil and marula oil, which is apparently the newly hyped oil coming to take argan oil’s crown!  It also contains the anti aging essential oils of frankincense and rose which have powerful skin rejuvenating and hydrating properties.  This rich and effective serums feels fast absorbing and highly nourishing.  It dramatically improved some hormonal spots along my jaw line.  I couldn’t believe it when I woke up in the morning and saw that they 50% healed overnight.  On doing some more research I discovered that marula oil is highly praised for it’s acne and spot fighting benefits. Another massive bonus for this beautiful serum!
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Beauty Revitalising Serum
This serum combines sea buckthorn berry, evening primrose, borage seed oils, carrot and rose essential oils.  It feels so nourishing and healing on the skin, a real treat!
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Spring Flowers Calming Toner
I loved this fresh, light toner. It mixes floral hydrosols of orange blossom and lemon verbena with essential oils of linden blossom and rose damascene.  The scent is lovely and a few sprays on the face leaves skin feeling less tight and very soothed.
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Although I love having fun by experimenting with making my own natural skin and beauty products, it’s always a treat for a reformed beauty product junkie like me to try out new face and body products.   All of these products felt amazing on my skin.   If you feel like treating yourself and your skin, I’d definitely recommend checking them out.  In particular I recommend the face serums, as you only need a few drops per use which makes them very long lasting and which also offsets the initial cost.  Rose Mira Organics Skincare is a gorgeous line of luxury skin products.  All of the products which I tried were of really high quality and incredibly effective.  Highly recommended!
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Tropical Mango & Coconut Moisturising Body Mousse

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As regular readers will know, I have recently stopped buying so many store bought chemical laden cosmetics and face and body products, and now try to make many of my own which are natural and organic.  You can check out the reasons behind this decision here.

Up to now I have been using my solid moisturiser bars as my body moisturiser (the recipe is here).  I love the solid format because they are so easy to use and great for travelling but I do sometimes miss slathering on a cream! It’s difficult to find a completely natural emulsifying agent which will keep the oils and liquids together in order to make a totally natural body cream, however the whipping method is a popular alternative as it needs no emulsifier, and I think the texture is far nicer than a cream.  A little goes a long way and it glides on effortlessly, soaking your skin in a rich yet light, totally moisturised cloud of tropical citrus scented natural organic bliss!

Like all homemade cosmetics, it’s surprisingly simple to make, trust me! The types of oils and butter used can be adapted according to your skin’s needs or even just in order to incorporate your favourite smell. The only extra thing you do need is an electric hand whisk -don’t even attempt to try doing it by hand if you don’t have an electric whisk!  It takes ten to fifteen minutes of whipping even with the electric one so no matter how strong you are I can’t see anyone managing to whip the oils into a light mousse by hand!  You can get very cheap electric models which should work fine. The constant whipping and beating mechanically emulsifies the oils so that they won’t separate, but if you live in a very hot climate, you might want to keep this is in the fridge.

Mango butter is highly moisturising.  It improves the skin’s elasticity, prevents wrinkles, and contains large amounts of vitamin A and E.  Avocado oil is rich in vitamins A, B, D and E, while also encouraging cell regeneration. Apricot kernel oil is anti inflammatory and  especially good for sensitive and mature skins.  Jojoba oil is a conditioning oil high in antioxidants and suitable for all skin types.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup mango butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (grated)
  • 1/8 cup jojoba oil
  • 1/8 cup peach kernel oil
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil
  • 10 drops orange essential oil
  • 5 drops lemon essential oil
  • 5 drops neroli essential oil

Place the butters and oils (minus the essential oils) in to a large heat proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.  Allow them to melt gently together until fully combined.  Remove from the heat.  Stir in the essential oils and ensure that the ingredients are mixed well.  Place the bowl in the fridge for about an hour until the mixture is hardening slightly.  Remove the bowl and whip the mixture with an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy.  This should take between ten and twenty minutes -a bit boring but think of it as an arm workout!!  Transfer the whipped mousse to lidded (preferably airtight) jar.

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Valentines Rose, Jasmine & Ylang Ylang Natural Organic Body Moisturiser Bar

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I was always one of those beauty product hoarders, who had a big basket of toiletries full to the brim with lotions and portions -five different body moisturisers, three exfoliators, seven hair products, four face masks!  I always loved trying out new products, and would always have a few different types on the go as I couldn’t wait until some of them were used up to try new ones.  I have become a lot more concious about the impact of these chemical laden products on my own health and that of the environment.   I am trying to be a more mindful consumer, both in regards of type of items purchased, and quantity.  If I already have six red lipsticks, I prooooobably don’t need to buy a seventh, right?!
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There is no way that I will be able to entirely remove chemicals from the world around me, and although in theory that would be great, I don’t think it’s healthy to get too obsessive about these things either.  The vast bulk of the chemicals in our environment are unfortunately largely out of individual control, and if they don’t kill us, the stress of worrying about them might!  It does however make me feel good to be at least minimising my use of synthetic chemical laden products from evil global corporations, and I really enjoy making them!  I have been strictly not allowing myself to buy any new products, even natural ones, so that I could use up all of my stash and begin again, replacing as many products as possible with my own home made, natural formulas.
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Most home made or ‘natural’ moisturisers contain emulsifying wax.  This wax is used to bind oil and waters in creams so that they don’t separate.  These are often deemed natural substances but while they are derived from natural ingredients, extra ingredients with thickening properties are added which are chemical.  Although these are deemed safe to use, they are certainly not natural and the exact chemical compounds are not required to be revealed by manufacturers.   Many natural cosmetics companies use these emulsifying wax regardless, seeing them as a ‘necessary evil’ towards making otherwise natural products.  However seeing as I am going to the trouble of making my own skincare in order to avoid products laden with chemicals, I started on a mission to find a truly natural emulsifying wax or agent in my skincare recipes.
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A mixture of beeswax and borax is a common alternative, but I’m not yet one hundred percent sold on putting borax on my skin and I prefer to leave the beeswax to the bees!  Cetyl Alcohol is a common emulsifying agent used in all sorts of lotions and creams.  It can be derived naturally from fatty coconut alcohol or synthetically.  If the supplier can assure you that it is extracted naturally with natural agents, it could be a possible replacement.I am still working on making a natural cream or lotion base which will allow me to make a face or body moisturiser which is in lotion or cream form, but in the meantime, I am getting around the emulsifier road block by making solid moisturising bars.  These are body lotion bars that are solid rather than cream.  They melt on contact with warm skin, allowing the ingredients to transfer to your body to be rubbed in.   I am really converted to this way of moisturising now as they are lovely to use and very compact for travelling also.  This product needs no preservative and will never go off.  It preserves indefinitely because there is no water in the mixture.
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Make sure that you use raw, natural, organic, unrefined ingredients that have not been processed from their natural state with chemicals.   Shea butter is protective and hydrating.  It is very efficient at softening and smoothing the skin.  It is a rich source of vitamins A and E and is incredibly nourishing.  It has a distinctive, natural, earthy smell that some people are not fond of.  Don’t be tempted to buy the refined processed non scented version instead, experiment with other butters to replace it with.  I do use other butters for moisturising but the properties of shea are hard to beat!  Coconut oil does a similar job of protecting, softening and smoothing the skin.  Jojoba wax is conditioning and rich in vitamins, minerals and anti oxidants.  Rose is known as the “Queen of Flowers” and is the most commonly associated flower with love, romance and Valentine’s Day.  Rose is also the oil of the heart chakra.  Apart from it’s beautiful feminine scent, rose has fantastic properties for moisturising skin, which suits this bar perfectly.   Ylang ylang is said to elevate and stimulate sexual energy!  The petals of this beautiful yellow flower are often strewn across marriage beds in Indonesia as Ylang ylang is a known aphrodisiac.  Ylang ylang soothes, smoothes, tones and balances the skin.  Jasmine Absolute is my absolute favourite essential oil as it’s smell for me is instant happiness in a bottle.  This is no surprise considering that the fragrance of jasmine stimulates the release of a neurotransmitter called encephaline and hormones such as serotonin, creating an instant energised, warm and uplifted mood.  The warm, exotic floral fragrance has long been used throughout history for romance and attraction.  It is also said to help balance the feminine energy of the body.  Jasmine also helps to improve the skins elasticity and is very nourishing.
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This pretty heart shape and the dried rosebuds contained within make this the perfect natural Valentines gift!  Remember, as with all natural products, that you can change the types of oil, butter and essential oil used to create different skin beneficial properties and aromas.  Have fun experimenting, and if you try it out yourself, I would love you to share a photo with me on FacebookTwitterInstagram or Pinterest.
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup shea butter
  • 1/4 cup jojoba wax
  • 4 drops rose absolute essential oil
  • 4 drops ylang ylang essential oil
  • 4 drops jasmine essential oil
Place the coconut oil, shea butter and jojoba wax in a glass bowl on top of a pan of hot water, like a double boiler effect.  The bottom of the bowl should be heated from the hot steam of the boiling water, but it should not be touching the surface of the water.  Allow the ingredients to melt and then stir gently until smooth.  Remove from the heat and add the essential oils, stirring well to combine.  Pour the mixture in to a mould to allow it to harden.  Any mould or compartment will do, even a firm paper cupcake case.  Allow to cool and harden completely before popping out of the mould.  Remember that these will soften when in contact with heat, so it is best to store them in some sort of protective box.  This quantity makes one large bar.
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Skincare Recipe -The Oil Cleansing Method

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The oil cleansing method is my tried and tested skin care regime.  It is very simple and very quick, perfect for daily use.  Put oil on the face, massage in, rinse off.  Some people are surprised at the notion of putting oil on your face to cleanse it but it is amazingly effective, especially for oily skins.  The scientific bit here is that oil dissolves oil.  When oil is massaged in to the skin, it penetrates the pores and dissolves the oil which is clogged there.  It also adds a layer of moisture for healthy, radiant skin.
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Most commercial skin cleansers contain chemicals such as sodium laureth sulphate, sodium lauryl sulphates, parabens and un natural fragrances which amongst other negatives strip the skin of it’s natural oils.  Oil cleansing on the other hand adds whatever appropriate amount of moisture that your skin needs -the rest is rinsed away.
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It is usually recommended to steam your face after you have massaged the oil in, in order to open the pores and allow the oil to really penetrate them.  There is no way that I have time for that every day, and I don’t think it is fully necessary, though I’m sure it’s very beneficial.  I put the oil on and massage it in.  It completely removes all traces of make up.  Sometimes I only have time to massage it in for 30 seconds, but if you want to have a really deep clean, I recommend massaging for up to five minutes.  Massage alone is really beneficial for the skin and the facial muscles, but combined with the oil, it really allows the oil to do its job.  My favourite part is a bit disgusting and a bit amazing in equal parts -after a few minutes you begin to feel tiny sand like grains underneath your fingers, these are the unclogged pores!  The proof that it’s working is right there, and it’s very satisfying!
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When I’m done massaging I rinse very well with warm water, and when I have time I wipe my face with a muslin cloth to really remove the oil and exfoliate the face.  Afterwards I tone my face by spraying and wiping it with rose water mixed with some tea tree essential oil to ensure that all of the oil is removed.   As with all new skincare regimes, if you begin this you might get a few more blemishes originally as your skin is cleansed properly and adjusts to the new regime, but stick with it and I am sure you will be pleased!
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Oil cleansing has been around for centuries but it has recently been popularised by big brands such as The Body Shop, Loreal and Shu Umuera.  I used to use the Shu Umuera one and liked it a lot, however after studying the ingredients list and realising it is full of mineral oil, I realised it’s not as natural as I presumed. Mineral Oil is a by product of the petrochemical industry.  It sneaks it’s way in to a lot of beauty products, such as baby oil and vaseline, but it is not something which I want on my face! It’s production is also based on the use of non renewable resources and is about as environmentally un-sound as you can get.
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While still wanting to continue to the oil cleansing method, I decided to seek out a more natural and organic oil to use on my face.  There are several really gorgeous natural blends on the market by small, organic and natural cosmetics retailers.  These are lovely products but I found the prices a bit steep for my liking, so decided to make my own blend.  I use cold pressed organic sweet almond oil and cold pressed organic jajoba oil, at a ratio of about 90% almond and 10% jajoba.  I add seven essential oils to the carrier oil due to their properties to support healthy, moisturised skin.  I add about forty to fifty drops of essential oil in total to 100ml carrier oil, about 6 drops of each.
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If you have sensitive skin, you might want to reduce the number of drops of essential oils to as low as 10 to see how your face reacts.  Ten drops to 100ml will still be very effective as essential oils are so concentrated.  Certain skins may also have reactions to some carrier oils so you might have to experiment with which suits you best.  Generally sweet almond oil is well tolerated by everyone so this is a good one to start off with, even by itself.   It’s also generally nice and cheap!  Make sure to buy cold pressed and organic oils.  It’s best to keep your oil in a dark coloured glass bottle as it can react to light.
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The following is a list of the essential oils which I most commonly add to my blend, and why.
  • Lavender -Anti bacterial, good for spots or blemishes, reduces inflammation, aids healing, tones, good for sunburn.
  • Neroli -Good for scars and stretch marks, tones complexion, regenerates skin cells, prevents scarring.
  • Rosewood -Good for dry, oily or sensitive skin, soothes itchy skin, spots or blemishes, heals scars, adds moisture to skin.
  • Sandalwood -Good for dry, oily or sensitive skin, heals scars, soothes chapped skin.
  • Geranium -Good for acne and dull skin, balances sebum production, helps to heal inflamed skin.
  • Bergamot -Good for acne, cold sores, oily skin, psoriasis.
  • Cedarwood -Good for acne and dermatitis.

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