The Best Skin Care Ingredients for Cold Weather
With cold weather finally upon us, many of us are beginning to feel the dreaded drying effect of winter. The following article describes the best and most effective ingredients to protect skin from trans-epidermal water loss in cold weather.
It might seem counter-intuitive to some people, but having water as an ingredient in your skincare is a definite boost. It activates the Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMF) in your skin. NMF include sodium lactate, sodium PCA, and amino acids molecules. These compounds are meant to hold water and keep skin moisturized. When the air around us is very dry, or we become dehydrated, these NMF dry out and can’t do their job. Using a cream or lotion (make sure it’s a true cream and not a balm) will plump those little guys up. Then those skin loving oils have a little more to work with. Another way to keep your skin hydrated is to make sure you’re drinking enough water. Running a humidifier helps, too.
You had to see this one coming. The reason beeswax is such a great ingredient in cold weather skincare is because it is so hydrophobic, meaning it does not like water. It seals skin to keep the water in. That keeps skin hydrated, and looking plump and full.
Another benefit of the anhydrous nature of beeswax is that it isn’t easily rinsed away. If you’re in a profession that requires frequent hand washings, look for a good beeswax cream to stick around after the first rinse.
True beeswax emulsions contain significantly less water than traditional creams and lotions. That means that while they have enough water to activate the Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMF) in your skin, they’re still thick and rich and protect skin.
Lanolin is pressed from sheep’s wool after it’s shorn. Lanolin is the only oil I know of that can actually absorb 30% of it’s weight in water. It’s molecular structure is remarkably similar to human sebum.
These properties make it an excellent barrier cream, that actually stores moisture for the skin once it’s finally absorbed. It’s important to make sure to use USP (US Pharmacy) grade lanolin to ensure that it is pure lanolin. Our hand creams and our Mint and Honey Lip Balm Tin harness the power of beeswax + USP lanolin.
Allantoin is the active ingredient in aloe and comfrey root. Studies have actually proven that allantoin speeds wound healing. (Araujo et al) Studies have also shown that allantoin helps with itching.(Veraldi, et al) That’s good news if your skin get so dry that it becomes cracked and itchy.
Bee Lovely Botanicals™ beeswax skincare was formulated to protect and nourish dry skin. To read more about our women’s hand creams, with organic oils, beeswax, lanolin, and probiotics, click here. For our even tougher Bee Rugged line that contains beeswax, lanolin, allantoin, organic oils and probiotics click here.
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Allantoin: The Active Ingredient in Aloe and Comfrey
Allantoin is a wonderful addition to any cream or lotion. It’s a water soluble ingredient, so you won’t find this skin loving active in anything that is solely oil based. (Most skin actives are water soluble, except for a few fat soluble vitamins or caffeine, or a few others.) It has a very low potential for irritation and can be made from aloe, comfrey, chamomile, or processed synthetically.
I think pretty much everyone has heard of putting aloe vera on a burn or sunburn. Studies show evidence that aloe is effective in healing minor to moderate burns faster than no treatment. Aloe is antibacterial and helps promote circulation. You know what a big portion of aloe’s properties is attributed to? That’s right, it’s allantoin.
Comfrey is another medicinal plant that is touted to help bruises and wounds heal, as well as speed recovery time for sprains and strains. Guess what comfrey has in common with aloe. Yup, you guessed it, allantoin.
Benefits of Allantoin
Keratolytic – This is a gentle exfoliation of the stratum corneum, the outer most layer of skin, that smooths skin.
Moisturizing – allantoin helps to increase water that is bound to proteins in skin, making skin look younger and healthier.
Soothing, anti-irritantant, and skin protectant effect – due to the ability of allantoin to form complexes and neutralize many sensitizing agents.
Studies also show that allantoin helps promote regeneration of damaged skin cells and accelerates wound healing.
So next time your browsing your ingredient label, check to see if allantoin is included in your potion.
Where the elderberries grow
Every year at about the time of our anniversary, Josh and I scope out where the delicate lacey blooms of the elderberry tree are plentiful. They often grow along the road or beside vacant houses. You’ll basically find them anywhere a bird might find a snack and poop out some elderberry seeds.
You have to be careful that you can recognize elderberries, as some of their cousins, such as dogwood or virginia creeper, get berries that could look the same to the untrained eye, and are poisonous.
Elderflowers bloom in Michigan around the third week of June.
Elderberries on the bush. They grow in clusters a little larger than a cup saucer.
Alternately, you can buy dried elderberries from most herb or health food sites. If you’re not sure what is or isn’t an elderberry, definitely go this route.
Benefits of Elderberry Syrup
You might not be sure why you should about elderberries. These dark purple little berries have been used for centuries to protect from colds and the flu. Modern science is now proving what folk lore touted, too! Science has proven that elderberries have anti-viral properties, and that their high anti-oxidant and polyphenol content help boost the immune system. One study showed that patients taking elderberry syrup had flu symptoms shortened by 4 days compared to the placebo group. Another Australian study showed that travelers who took elderberry syrup before travelling were less likely to catch a cold on the flight, and if they did, it was less severe and shorter duration than those who didn’t take elderberry syrup. Elderberry syrup may be an easy way to decrease the odds of someone coming down with a cold on your winter vacation to Disney World.
Precautions to be aware of when making elderberry syrup
So, now that you know why you care about elderberries and you’re gung ho to make some yourself, there are some precautions that you MUST be aware of before starting.
1. As I mentioned before, many poisonous wild berries could be confused for elderberry. Make sure that you can properly identify elderberry if you’re going to pick your own.
2. The sticks and stems of elderberry contain a type of cyanide. This means that you need to properly remove all the stems from your berries before making syrup. The berries grow in a large cluster with tiny little stems, sort of like a grape stem. It takes quite a while to destem even a small amount of elderberries. It’s the most labor intensive part of the whole process.
3. The berries also contain cyanide, so they should be cooked before being eaten to deactivate the hydrocyanic acid. Also, pick out all the unripe berries. (If you’ve ever tried a raw elderberry, it’s not a problem waiting until their cooked. They have a very bitter, almost metallic taste. It’s hard to believe that a berry so unappetizing can make such a delicious syrup or wine.)
Alright, the fine print is out of the way, and it’s pretty benign compared to some of the side effects listed on some drug commercials, so don’t let it scare you!
Benefits of Rosehips
Rosehips are another key ingredient in this syrup. Hey, if elderberries are good for you, they can only get better when they’re combined with other immune boosting compounds, right? Rosehips are an excellent source of vitamin C, and have been used as an immune booster to help the body fight foreign invaders. They also have some anti-inflammatory properites, as well, which is why they’re used as in treatment of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. (Some studies have shown that rosehips decrease blood levels of CReactive Protein – a culprit contributing to many autoimmune and metabolic diseases.)
If you’re into wild crafting, you can find wild rose hips easy enough. Watch around mid-june for wild roses. You can let your nose lead the way! They usually grow in groups on wild land, and they make the air heavy with their rich aroma. Mark where you found the bush, because you’ll have to come back in the fall to get the rosehips.
Wild Rose Flower
Wild Rosehip (Fall after the blooms fall off)
The rose hip is the seed pod that is left in the fall after all the flower petals are gone. We have a few wild rose bushes in our yard, and we try to gather them after the first frost. The frost makes them a bit sweeter, I’ve read. If you’re not into traipsing through the brambles in search of rosehips, they’re readily available at health food stores and amazon.
Juicing the elderberries
After carefully destemming the elderberries into a tub of coldwater, we skimmed the unripe berries and any other unwanted things off the top of the water. The ripe berries generally sank, while the unripe berries, little pieces of twigs, or any unlucky little creatures usually floated.
Most recipes call for dried berries boiled in water, but we decided to use actual elderberry juice extracted from the berries with a squeeze-o-strainer. I think this method is the best way to go to get all the goodness from the elderberries, but it’s considerably more work than using dried berries and boiling them in water (and you won’t find fresh elderberries anywhere this time of year.)
Our first attempt to juice the berries was using our old cast iron enterprise wine press and sausage stuffer. The elderberries are so small and firm that it just didn’t squish very many of them. Our second attempt was to use a food mill, which also produced lackluster results.
Our third attempt with the squeeze-o-strainer worked wonderfully. Just a heads up, though. Elderberry seeds are full of some sort of REALLY, REALLY STICKY STUFF. We had a hard time getting the squeeze-o-strainer cleaned up.
And Finally…..The Elderberry and Rosehip Syrup Recipe!
- 3 cups elderberry juice or 1/2 cup dried elderberries + 3 cups water
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 1 Tablespoon of fresh ginger, chopped
- 1 Teaspoon of cloves, crushed
- 1/4 cup dried rosehips or 3/4 cup fresh rosehips
- 1 Cup BLB Raw Honey
- Add all ingredients EXCEPT THE HONEY to the pot.
- Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let cool to room temp.
- Pour contents of pot through a strainer to remove ginger, cloves, rosehips, (and dried elderberries if using)
- Add honey to juice and mix well.
- Keep refrigerated for up to 6 months, or freeze to use at a later time.
If you’re looking to purchase supplies for elderberry syrup, check out Starwest Botanicals or Atlantic Spice Company for dried elderberries. If you’re looking for an all in one kit, try pairing Alex’s Elderberries with some raw BLB honey!
This elderberry syrup is really tasty, and I feel like it’s helped me over the hump with a few colds now. I highly recommend it!
Have you ever wildcrafted any recipes or made elderberry syrup before? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
You’ve made your list and checked it twice, now let us help you give the perfect unique gift for everyone on your list!
Gifts For Her
Every woman deserves to be pampered. You know how hard she works to take care of everyone else, let her know she’s appreciated by giving her what she needs to indulge in some time relaxing.
Our Adopt a Hive Program is the perfect way to sample all our best sellers, support honeybees, and learn more about bees! Each Adopt-a-hive comes with an adoption certficate, a hive manual, and beehive products or honey. You’ll also receive video or picture updates of how your hive is progressing through out the season.
Our Honeybee Spa Kit contains everything she needs to relax and rejuvenate. Our Royal Jelly, Green Tea, and Vitamin B3 Face Cream is wonderfully moisturizing without being oily, and makes skin feel renewed and refreshed. The Propolis and Mint Foot Scrub relaxes and exfoliates tired feet after a long day. The Coconut and Honey Body Polish smells good enough to eat and leaves skin feeling nourished and silky smooth. After a relaxing hot shower or bath with our lavender essential oil bath bombs and Lavender and Honey Soap, she can spread a thin layer of our delightfully scented Citrus Grove Body Oil with coconut oil, olive squalane and raw honey on newly scrubbed skin. These light oils are deeply absorbed and raw honey is full of B vitamins, which intensely nourish skin. Our travel size Lavender Beeswax hand cream is perfect for her purse or desk, and keeps dry, chapped skin at bay with organic oils, beeswax, and a natural preservative made from probiotics.
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Our Beehive Gift Box is a steal at only $25! It comes with a travel size beeswax hand cream, matching soap, and lip balm of your choice. Available in Gardenia Lily, Vanilla Mint, Lemon Verbena, Unscented, Lavender, and Coconut Lime. We also have a Lavender and Honey Gift box that includes a 4 oz jar of raw honey, a lavender soap, and a travel size hand cream.
Whatever your need and your budget, we’ve got the perfect beehive gift for the girls in your life.
The lights are up, the tree is decorated, and I’ve filled my house with pine branches and cookies. It can only mean one thing…. the holidays are coming!
We love this time of year, and all the opportunities for merry-making and gift giving that come along with it.
And to help you get in the mood, we’ve got a present for YOU: our annual BLack Friday Sale is coming, and it’s going to be awesome!
Here’s a sneak peak at just a few of the offers:
🎁 Every order comes with a special surprise gift just for you
📦 We know how much ya’ll love free shipping!
In fact, this is going to be our BIGGEST sale of the year!
If you want a unique opportunity to start crossing names off that list you’ve made and checked twice, then this is your time!
For a limited time, you can get on our VIP Notification list to be the first to get all the important details!
Why get on the VIP Notification list?
Becoming a VIP gives you access to the sale a full 12 hours earlier than everyone else. As you know, our sales are extremely popular, so this is your chance to get your order in ahead of everyone else! Plus, our VIPs get free gift wrapping with their orders!
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The Black Friday deals we have planned are really going to blow you away, so click the link above and you’ll get advanced opportunity to add items to your cart and purchase.
Plus, shopping with us on Black Friday means you can skip all the crazy crowds and enjoy the day after Thanksgiving like it was meant to be spent — in the comfort of your own home (and maybe stretchy pants) with friends and family.
If you know someone else who should get on the VIP Notiﬁcation list, feel free to share this blog post. We don’t want anyone to miss out! As a matter of fact, we would be so GRATEFUL if you shared our sale with your friends!
And just a heads up: this will be our LAST BIG SALE of the year, so take advantage and get your shopping done now!
As always, thanks for being a valued customer and member of our community.
Jodie + Josh
Bee Lovely Botanicals