Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How I stopped my latest eczema Flare-Up

Hey guys!

I am really excited about a natural healing agent that I recently tried to calm my skin inflammation on my fingers recently.  As a long-time sufferer, I am well aware that true eczema is not just dry skin.  It usually causes intermittent flares of hard, flaky, and/or crusty skin AND weepy, oozing red blistering skin.  My fingers are usually victims, especially my ring finger, so if you ever check me out and I don't have on my wedding ring, don't think there is any trouble in paradise. Ha ha!  I often have to remove them to allow the skin on my finger to heal, and for the swelling to diminish.

So what's the mystery cure?  It is a concoction using neem oil.  Neem oil is a vegetable oil mixed with the seeds and fruit of the Neem tree, which is native to India.  Neem is a very versatile oil, used in everything from natural insecticides to head lice treatments to soaps and body washes.  The oil has antiseptic, antifungal and anti-inflammatory qualities as well. I got my neem oil on ebay, but it can be purchased at natural and Indian stores too.

Now here's the downside!  Pure Neem STINKS!  It smalls like garlicy food and sulfur...really smelly on its own.  It is too potent to be used on it's own for the most part anyway, so I mixed it into my favorite argan Oil (see post on Exotic Argan Oil).  I added about 5 drop of Neem to about one teaspoon of argan oil and applied the mixture to my sore, flaking fingers.  Yes, I could have added some lavender or other fragrant essential oil to mask the stench.  But when dealing with eczema, you really don't want to add anything that could possibly irritate the already "angry" epidermis.  So I sucked it up and dealt with the aroma. I don't think anyone really noticed, or if they did they were too scared to say anything.

Guess what?  After applying the oil mixture three times in a day, I woke up the next morning with softer skin that was no longer itching and red.  As I continued to apply the oil on Day 2, I could see the inflammation waning.  Yeah!!!  Eczema is a very tough issue to deal with.  Often times, the only thing that really takes it away is a prescription cortecosteroid.  I have tried many non prescription cures with minimal success.  But I am a witness, the neem/argan mixture really took down the skin flare.  If you are a chronic skin sufferer like I am, it is worth a try.

* Neem Oil is for external use only.  Do not consume!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

In Memory of Talia Castellano- Lil' Diva!

When I had heard the news today about the passing of one of the Beauty World's youngest stars, Talia Joy Castellano, I had to google her to find out more about her.  To be very honest, I hadn't heard of her before.  I watch many beauty VLogs on YouTube, but had not watched as many makeup tutorials lately as I have been watching hair tutorials and reviews of natural ethnic hair care products.  All I had known from the initial web news posting was that she was 13 years old, a makeup artist and honorary Cover Girl, and that she had been battling neuroblastoma for a few years.  I was saddened that such a young life (she was almost the same age as my own baby) had succumbed to such a nasty disease.  But I was intrigued by the description "makeup artist".

Really?  A 13 year old child?  Certainly, the media was just being kind.  A girl that age doing makeup artistry?  I am a makeup artist too, so I was really curious about this girl's skills.  So I looked her up on YouTube.

Talia was the real deal indeed!  She could wield a crease or angled brush as well as any MAC pro I've seen.  She discussed priming the eyes with Urban Decay eye primer, my personal favorite.  She blended colors on the eye with precision and talent, as if she had been in the business for decades. And those brows were on point!  I don't know if Brow Mogul Anastasia could do any better. The confidence and knowledge she exuded on camera at twelve years old was astounding!  I wanted to think that at her tender age there was no way she could be as skilled as her adult counterparts, but I was wrong.  She was a true beauty natural.

I also learned that she was not only designing a fashion line, but that she was a champion for childhood cancer research.  She participated in and hosted fundraisers to benefit further research so that other children might not have to suffer as she did.  Wow! This little girl was not only wise and talented beyond her age, but she was determined to make the world a better place for kids with cancer...all while dealing with her own immense suffering.

I do believe that often times young people who are terminally ill are blessed with maturity beyond their years.  It as if God gave them the ability to live vicariously in the adult world because He knew He would call them home before they actually became adults.  Talia certainly made her mark in the world.  Her story taught me a few lessons too--that I should not take time for granted and work toward fulfilling my dreams now.   And that tremendous gifts and talents are instilled in us at birth. I believe that time cannot erase them, either.   So never discount a person's eye for BEAUTY because of their age, whether young or old!

                                                                 RIP Talia Joy

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Vitamix--The King of Blenders!! But is it worth the $?

About two months ago, I broke down and purchased a Vitamix Blender.  I had dealt with sub par blenders all my life, not knowing how efficient and powerful they actually could be.  When I got married and moved in with my hubby, we used the blender that he had gotten as a staple.  It likely was a  hand-me-down from a sibling.  We really didn't use it much, and when the blades dulled on it, I was happy to toss it and get a new one.  I don't remember what I replaced it with.  I think it was a bottom of the line Oster from Target.  I mainly had it in the house just in case.  We rarely used it--hardly ever made smoothies.  I used it to make milkshakes (which I still love but can't drink as often due to the high caloric factor and my much slower "aging diva" metabolism), but it was a lot of work for a dessert that I could get in a jiffy at Friendly's.

Fast forward to now.  I am attempting to stay healthier by adding antioxidants to my diet.  They are the free radical scavengers that help to combat cancer and other health issues.  I planted both raspberry and blueberry bushes in my yard. (Let's not talk about my battle with the wildlife this summer; as they have been the victors thus far!)  And for the past six months or so, I have been drinking smoothies as a means of getting those nourishing vitamins and antioxidants into my system, and those of my family.  My 12 year old son is quite proficient, and has become a "Smoothie Master" in his own right.

The last blender we owned before the Vitamix was a Ninja.   The Ninja was a hyped up contraption "As Seen On TV".  It cost me under $40 with the coupon from Bed Bath and Beyond.  It was very unusual (the motor was on top) and came with many extras that I didn't think were of any use.  But in the beginning, it crushed ice like, well, a Ninja.  We used it as directed and were happy for about a year.  But then, as all cheap blenders do, the blades got dull--very dull.  Our smoothies were very crunchy and the fruit was not fully blended. Yuck! I had heard a few friends mention the mighty Vitamix and I looked into it as a replacement, but all the models were soooo expensive--running from $449 to $689!!! How could I justify spending that much on a blender when I only used it to make occasional smoothies? 

Still determined to get healthier and add more fruits and veggies to my diet, I kept researching other brands.  Some seemed like notably better blenders than I was used to, but had mixed reviews.  About this time I began to incorporate whey protein into my smoothies.  I wanted to make them into a meal.  I also begin collecting recipes for smoothies using all kinds of fruits and even some veggies. It was then I realized that I could justify the sale.  To have a blender that whirls kale, apple, blueberries, and even whole frozen strawberries into oblivion was worth it's weight in green!  And it would save money as I wouldn't have to make as many drives to Smoothie King to spend a small fortune on a small smoothie because they are the only ones whose smoothies aren't with high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors.  And guess what, Vitamix is the official manufacturer of the commercial blenders in Smoothie King!  I looked closely one day when I was waiting for my Pineapple Surf.

So I found a compromise of sorts.  I purchased a certified factory recon 5200 model directly from the Vitamix site for $329.00.  Sure it was reconditioned, but Vitamix stands behind their recons and  gives them a 5-year warrantee.  And my Vitamix has been great from the moment my son unboxed it and made the first concoction. It's like nothing I've ever had before; it's on a whole new level!  It looks and feels like a commercial grade blender, even though my 5200 is not.  It not only handles whole fresh and frozen fruit like a champ, it goes beyond frozen drinks--making soy and rice milk and it even creams nuts into nut butter.  They have a "buy-up" program, so when I am ready for a newer model (probably never), I can get a credit toward it.  I would not recommend buying a recon or a used blender on ebay ( and oh how I love my ebay!).  Get one directly from vitamix.com. Recons from $319.  Believe me, if it enables you to eat healthier, it is so worth it.