Thursday, July 31, 2014

Papaya Seeds

You know those black slimy seeds in the middle of the papaya? Those things you usually scoop out and throw away with a frown on your face because they remind you of fish eggs? Well, next time you cut open a papaya, consider keeping those fish egg-looking seeds and putting them to good use...say, in an awesome face mask...or in a healthy smoothie.

I often will use papaya in face masks as it is a natural exfoliator for skin. This fruit is full of enzymes which are great for the digestive system as well as for brightening your complexion and help improve dull skin. I always wondered, though, as I threw away all those seeds...what if they are just as powerful as the surrounding fruit, and I'm wasting a bunch of a good thing? So I did some research...

It turns out that papaya seeds have incredibly strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects on our digestive system AND on our skin. Hence, this simply, yet incredibly effective, healing face mask...

Papaya Seed Face Mask:

Papaya seeds from one papaya
4 chunks of the papaya fruit
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup plain yogurt


Blend all ingredient in blender until smooth (the papaya seeds will remain a little grainy). Apply to face in circular motions to stimulate circulation. Once your face is covered in the mask, let it dry for 20 minutes. Remove with cool water in circular motions.

Disclaimer: The first time I used a mask with papaya seeds, my face stung a little. It wasn't too bad, but it was enough for me to experiment to make the perfect papaya seed face mask. The yogurt and honey really balance out the potency of the papaya seeds. The yogurt especially is soothing in case you have sensitive skin like me and react to the papaya seeds.

Skin Benefits:

Papaya Seeds: Papaya seeds have intense detoxifying properties. They are also antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. When you rub the ground papaya seeds into your skin, it will give you that extra exfoliating factors to really brighten your skin. When taken internally, papaya seeds can help with liver detoxification, help prevent and treat food poisoning, and is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory in the gut. Studies have also shown evidence that papaya seeds can help treat E coli, Salmonella, Staph and other dangerous bacterial infections. Unfortunately, the seeds are not very tasty, so if you are thinking of using them in a smoothie--beware, the taste might be too much to handle.

Papaya Fruit: The fruit of the papaya contains antioxidants and vitamin A. The papain in papaya is naturally exfoliating and helps to remove dead skin cells. Because of this, papaya also helps fade scars and blemishes, as well as unclog pores and prevent breakouts.

Honey: Raw, unrefined, uncooked honey is one of the most convenient and effective natural ingredients you can use for your skin. Honey is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. It moisturizes, brightens and softens skin giving it an otherworldly glow. The list of benefits raw honey has on skin is a mile long so I won't list everything here, but, I can tell you that for the past two months I have been washing my face with raw honey every morning and my skin has never looked better. I use raw, uncooked Manuka honey from Trader Joes. Manuka honey has more antibacterial properties than most other honey because it is made by bees who pollinate tea tree flowers. You can get it online here.

Yogurt: For face masks I use regular, Trader Joes Greek Style Plain Yogurt. I don't use non-fat and I don't use European style (it's too runny). Using yogurt with regular fat content is a lot better for your skin than non-fat yogurt. Let me just go ahead and list just some of the ingredients in yogurt that are great for skin: zinc, lactic acid, calcium and B vitamins. Zinc is anti-inflammatory, has mild astringent properties and helps to regulate oil which are all great for acneic or inflamed skin. Lactic acid is a natural exfoliant. It smooths rough skin and helps hydrate skin. It also helps prevent premature aging and discoloration. The calcium helps facilitate cell turnover. B vitamins helps skin to glow.

DIY Simple Cucumber & Aloe Toner & Toning Mist

Simple Cucumber & Aloe Toner

The great thing about this simple and quick recipe is that you can either use it as a toner by pouring it on a cotton ball and sweeping it directly on your face, or you can use it as a toning mist and put it in a spray bottle to use as a quick skin refresher on a hot summer day.


1 cucumber
1 aloe leaf
5 drops of peppermint essential oil or 8 fresh peppermint leaves (optional)


In a blender (I use my bullet) blend together one whole cucumber, one aloe vera leaf and the fresh peppermint leaves if you are using them. If you do not own an aloe vera plant, you can substitute this with some 100% aloe vera gel or juice from the store--just make sure it is 100% aloe vera. I always use a leaf because I have copious amounts of aloe--it is (in my opinion) the most useful plant to have handy. 

If you are going to put the whole aloe leaf in the blender, remember to wash the outside skin (same with the cucumber). Or, you can always open up the aloe by cutting the leaf and scooping out the middle. I usually don't do this simply because it's messy and, since I know where my aloe came from, I know the skin is safe. I also use fresh peppermint because I grow that as well. Make sure to wash the leaves so that they are free of dirt.

Once all the ingredients are well-blended, take a funnel, bottle or jar and some cheesecloth or a coffee filter and strain the mixture into the bottle or jar.

Now, if you are planning on using this as a toner, you can bottle it up and put it in the fridge to sweep over your face morning and/or night.

If you are planning on using this recipe as a refreshing face mist, then you will need to let the aloe and cucumber sit in the bottle for about 30-60 minutes, or until the thicker solids settle to the bottom, and then strain it through a cheesecloth or coffee filter again, this time into a spray bottle.

If you only strain the mixture once, chances are it will clog up your spray bottle. (Trust me, I know from experience!)

Once the mixture has been strained you can add 5 drops of peppermint oil (if you want and have not already used fresh peppermint leaves). This will add to the cooling effect of the cucumber and aloe.

Last step is to store your toner in the refrigerator! Keeping it in the fridge will ensure that it is always cool when you want to use it, and it will extend the shelf life of the toner.

This is the ultimate hot summer refreshing toner. The cucumber and aloe are both soothing, hydrating and cooling. The peppermint is cooling and refreshing, and keeping it in the fridge ensures that it will always be nice and cold, providing some relief on one of the 100 degree California (or wherever you are) days.

Skin Benefits:

Cucumber: Cucumbers contain antioxidants, silica, sulfur, ascorbic acid--all which are beneficial for skin. Cucumbers have the ability to fade scars and hyper-pigmentation, reduce swelling, inflammation and redness, sooth a sunburn, tighten pores, refine your complexion, improve skin texture and moisturize all at the same time.

Aloe Vera: Aloe vera, we all know, is moisturizing and sooths irritated skin which is why it's used in all those after-sun and sunburn relief products you see. That's not all it's good for though. Aloe vera also treats acne and is anti-aging. Aloe stimulates cell growth, promotes healing and is a mild antibacterial which makes it great for acne and blemish-prone skin. It's also great for oily skin helping to moisturize without an oily residue. As for it's anti-aging properties, aloe leaves contain a plethora of antioxidants including, beta carotene and vitamins C and E which help improve skin's firmness. Aloe contains tons of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, enzymes, sugars, anthraquinones or phenolic compounds, lignin, saponins, sterols, amino acids and salicylic acid. Crazy right? Have I convinced you to go out and get your own aloe plant yet?

Peppermint and Peppermint EO: Peppermint strengthens skin tissue, banishes oil (great for a hot summer day), and soothes skin. Ever seen a sun burn relief product in the store that is "aloe vera with menthe"? Yep, the menthe is mint. It's an incredible anti-inflammatory which calms the skin and can be used for anything from acne to bug bites. Mint is a natural astringent and source for salicylic acid which prevents pores from clogging and also helps to dry up pimples. You can get the peppermint essential oil brand that I buy here.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

DIY Detox Face and Body Mask

This face mask can be slightly drying but it great for pulling out deep-rooted impurities, getting rid of blackheads, drying out pimples and smoothing your skin. The batch I make is rather large since I usually use this as a whole-body mask. I will slather it on my face, back and chest all at once. You can cut the recipe down a little if you just want to use it for your face.


3 Tbl Bentonite clay
4 capsules of Activated Charcoal
2 tsp Sandalwood Powder
5 drops of Vetiver essential oil (optional)
5 drop of Sandalwood essential oil (optional)


Mix together clay and sandalwood powder. Carefully break open the Activated Charcoal capsules and mix with the clay and sandalwood powder. Slowly stir in water until it has reached your desired consistency. (I make mine pretty thick but if you want it to be a bit more gentle on your skin you can add water so that the mixture is a little thin.) Then add the essential oils and mix in. The essential oils are an added bonus but not a must. Then spread the mixture on your face and let it dry!

For a stronger mask: Substitute water for raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. This will double the mask's detoxifying power but be careful! This mask can also really irritate skin and make it more inflamed if you have breakouts.

Side  note: You will feel the mask pulling at your skin as it dries and it may also feel a little itchy. This is completely normal. It is also normal for your skin to be somewhat red and blotchy after you rinse this mask off. Don't worry. It will soon subside. Remember, not all masks are right for everyones skin type. If something doesn't feel right, go with your gut and remove the mask.

Sometimes, for the sake of time, I will quickly whip up a modified version of this mask with just the Bentonite clay and the Activated Charcoal and mix it with some water.

Bentonite Clay: I spoke about Bentonite clay in this post. It is 100% natural calcium bentonite clay and is incredibly detoxifying. It has an amazing ability to pull impurities from the skin. It also increases circulation to the skin. More blood flow means more healing when it comes to blemishes.

Activated Charcoal: This wonder ingredient has the ability to attach itself to dirt and oil in pores which leaves your skin refined and smooth. It's kind of the "it" ingredient in skin care right now but you don't need to buy an expensive face wash with activated charcoal when you can go right to the source--and it's not even expensive!

Sandalwood Powder: Sandalwood has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and astringent properties making it ideal for people with blemish or acne-prone skin. Sandalwood powder is also great for fading scars. This has long been a highly revered ingredient for skin by people in India. You can find more face masks using sandalwood powder here and here.

Vetiver essential oil: This is one of my favorite essential oils. It's a powerful antiseptic and helps stimulate circulation to the skin and it has long been used to treat all types of skin conditions. I have found that, for me, it is one of the most effective essential oils to use as a spot treatment for breakouts. You can find one resource for all things vetiver oil here.

Sandalwood essential oil: Similar to it's powdered form, sandalwood essential oil is a powerful astringent with toning, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. Unlike it's powdered form, sandalwood essential oil is highly moisturizing. Using it in this mask balances out the drying effect of the sandalwood powder.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Delicious Green Almond Smoothie

Hi all! So sorry I've been MIA. I think maybe there is a total of one or two people following my blog, but I still feel SO BAD for neglecting you! Please forgive me. I've been up to my ear lobes in work/school mode. One more semester to go...

This is my breakfast smoothie recipe.

Green Almond Smoothie:

~5 strawberries chopped (depending on how large they are)
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (I use the Trader Joes brand)
1 Tbl chia seeds
2-3 Tbl raw, unsalted almond butter (I use Trader Joes almond butter--crunchy or creamy works!)
1 handful of spinach
1 handful of kale
1-2 Tbl raw, unrefined coconut oil (I use Trader Joes)
1 tsp Camu powder (if I have it on hand--I get mine from Sprouts, but you can get the brand I buy here too)
Raw, unsalted almond slices on top (if I have it on hand)

for added sweetness: 2 tsp honey
sometimes I will add a little bit of unsweetened coconut milk

Blend this all together. I use my bullet because I don't have a blender, so this will make one serving. Often, because of the almond butter and coconut oil, the chia seeds will stick to the sides of the blender. I just scrape them off the sides with a spoon. Once blended, there is usually some room at the top, so I will add more spinach if I can.

Strawberries & Camu: Excellent source of vitamin C for skin and immune health. You can read more about the health benefits of Camu powder here.

Almond milk: I've been trying to cut dairy out when I can for fear that it contributes to my acne. You can read more about almond milk here.

Almond butter & raw almonds: Almonds are so good for your overall health and your skin. They are full of beneficial vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. You can read more about the health benefits of raw almonds and almond butter here.

Spinach: Spinach contains phytonutrients, and are chock full of vitamins and trace minerals. Spinach is a great source of iron and is anti-inflammatory. It can help clear skin of blemishes and rid the body of toxins. You can read more about the health benefits of spinach here.

Kale: Kale is known as a nutritional powerhouse. It is really rick in vitamin K which is a powerful antioxidant. Like spinach, it's high in fiber and is anti-inflammatory. It also contains a high amount of calcium. You can read more about the health benefits of kale here.

Coconut oil: Coconut oil contains fatty acids and is said to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels, increase immunity and also beautify hair and skin. There are tons of articles out there right now on the different and varying health benefits of coconut oil--some debatable. Just always try to buy organic, unrefined coconut oil. You can read more about coconut oil here. Always do your own research!

Chia seeds: My favorite. High in fiber, fatty acids, protein and antioxidants. You can read more about chia seeds here.