Saving Face: Say Goodbye to Dry Skin, Naturally

Hydrosols and nourishing face oils for healthy, glowing skinWinter in Wisconsin.   There’s so much to love!  But let’s face it —  cold temperatures, brisk winds and dry inside air all reek havoc on our skin.  You can easily come in from a day of snowshoeing or shoveling only to look in the mirror and find a face that’s red, chapped and cracked.

Our skin’s natural protection is its acid mantle, a thin layer of oil and perspiration produced by the skin’s sweat and sebaceous glands.   When this layer becomes unbalanced, the skin is weakened.  Enter one of our very favorite ways to restore supple skin, mimicking nature’s own perfect method:

organic plant hydrosol + organic plant oil

What are hydrosols?

Hydrosols are plant-infused waters that remain following the steam distillation of a plant’s essential oils.  Rich in antioxidants, hydrosols are excellent facial tonics, playing an important role in protecting the skin from free radicals and pollution.   They hydrate the skin and help restore a healthy pH, all while smelling divine!  Each plant hydrosol has its own aroma and therapeutic characteristics.  For example, lavender  is calming and soothing; rose otto restores emotional balance and calms redness, while lemon balm dissipates stress, lifts the spirits and softens the complexion.  At Community Pharmacy and Community Wellness Shop, we carry a large assortment of organic hydrosols from Pranarom and Evan Healy.

Use:   Spritz your gently cleaned face a few times with the hydrosol of your choice.  Then, combine a few pumps of oil (see below) and a few sprays of hydrosol in the palm of your hand; blend together.  Massage face and neck gently with the mixture.  Any remaining product can be worked into your hands or into the ends of your hair (winter hats give our hair quite a beating!).  Hydrosols can also be used on their own throughout the day, offering their healing benefits to skin, hair and spirit.

What are organic plant oils, and how do I use them?

For millennia, oils have been the secret to healthy and beautiful skin for people throughout the world.  Not all oils are produced equally, though. It’s essential that, when selecting oils to put on your skin (your body’s largest organ), you look for certified organic oils (cold pressed or CO2 extracted) from reputable companies.   Many botanical oils are particularly suited for our skin and it’s different needs.  They can be used “straight,” infused with other plant matter (such as antioxidant-rich carrot root or healing calendula), or blended with essential oils.

Essential oils are different from pressed plant oils.  Rather than pressing, essential oils are obtained from steam distillation, which extracts and concentrates the volatile oils of an aromatic plant.  Though molecularly distinct from pressed oils, essential oils are lipophiles and mix easily with pressed oils (called carrier oils when mixed).  Often, essential oils of various plants are combined with a carrier plant oil (as they are in many of our products) to offer a more complex healing profile .


Here are a few popular plant oils and their uses:

Argan Oil — Widely used by Berber women to protect and revitalize hair, skin and nails.  Rich in antioxidants, Omega 6 and 9 fatty acids, and vitamin E.  Absorbs quickly.  Known for its ability to soften fine lines, promote elasticity and moisturize.  Excellent for dry, chapped or mature skin.

Rosehip Seed Oil —  Used for centuries to treat scarred and burned skin.  Rich in vitamin A and essential fatty acids.  Regenerates and strengthens cell membranes, fades hyper-pigmentation, minimizes and softens scars, smooths fine lines and wrinkles.  Soothes dry skin.

Jojoba Oil — Also known as “Inka Gold,” jojoba is actually a liquid plant wax.  Absorbs easily.  Softens and moisturizes dry, dehydrated and sensitive skin.  Rich in iodine, it fights harmful bacteria, accelerates healing, and is frequently used for acne and razor burn.

Some of our favorite face oils products:

Evan Healy:
Rosehip Facial Treatment Serum — Blue formula contains blue chamomile, lavender and immortel to sooth sensitive, irritated, oily or delicate skin.  Use Rose formula with rose geranium and carrot seed to regenerate dry, devitalized skin.
Argan Intensive Facial Serum  — Features sandalwood, jasmine and frankincense, this argan oil is produced by a small, self-governed Berber Women’s Co-Operatives of Morocco.
Pomegranate Repair Serum — A combination of sea buckthorn, pomegranate and rosehip seed oil deeply nourish and restore damaged, delicate or dehydrated skin.

Rosehip Seed Oil – Nourishing, restorative, clarifying and brightening. The astringent quality of rosehip oil enables it to deeply penetrate the skin, carrying along with it vitamins, essential fatty acids and antioxidants.

Argan Oil – Deeply moisturizing and quickly absorbed.  Excellent for face, hair and body, this larger bottle is reasonably priced and suitable to use as-is or to mix with essential oils that suit your needs.

We’re fans of Acure’s single-ingredient oils, and we love their sweet packaging … white, glass pump bottles.  Try their Argan Oil, Rosehip Oil and Marula Oil (cold-pressed from the seed of the African marula fruit, it is lightweight, easy to absorb, and rich in antioxidants and omega fats).

All Badger Face oils contain jojoba oil and complex combinations of fruit, seed and essential oils.  Look for Damascus Rose (for dry/delicate skin), Seabuckthorn (for normal/dry skin), Argan (for all skin types), and Unscented (for sensitive skin).

Living Earth Herbs
Beautiful Skin Oil  —  An excellent, affordable blend of calendula-infused jojoba oil and oils of carrot seed, lavender, helichrysum, rose, sandalwood and rose geranium.  A staff favorite.

Need a visual?  Here’s a great video by Evan Healy on how to use hydrosols and facial oils to heal and nourish your skin!


Community Pharmacy Job Openings | We’re Hiring!

Cooperative job alert!
We are currently accepting applications until Thursday, September 28th for two current job openings: Pharmacy Technician and Retail Sales Worker. If you desire working in an upbeat, fast-paced cooperative located in the heart of Downtown Madison we would love to hear from you!

Pharmacy Technician:

This position requires the ability to coordinate efficiently with both pharmacists and technicians while providing excellent customer service. Applicants must have previous technician experience, be detail oriented, and excel at communicating and receiving direction.

Retail Sales Worker:
This position requires excellent communication and customer service skills. Preferred candidates will possess nutritional/herbal knowledge and have retail or cooperative business experience.

If working in a unique, cooperative business sounds desirable to you, visit us to pick up an application or download one here.

These positions average 35 hours per week with a starting wage of $11.50 plus benefits. Spanish speakers are strongly encouraged to apply!

About Community Pharmacy:
We are a worker’s cooperative committed to helping you become the healthiest you. Along with a prescription pharmacy, we provide our community with vitamins, herbs, homeopathic remedies and natural body care products. Community Pharmacy was founded on the principle that information and choice are crucial in making sound health decisions.

Our pharmacists and educated staff are here to help ensure you find the right products for your specific needs. We constantly strive to be the natural alternative to this increasingly chemical world. We support small, local businesses and buy from companies that prioritize sustainability over maximizing profits. If you’re looking for food-based vitamins, herbs from certified organic farms or skin care without synthetic ingredients or fragrances, we are just the store you’re looking for.

Ask Kitty Magoo: Treating Eczema Naturally

Dear Kitty,
I’ve been under a lot of stress and my eczema is flaring up as a result. How can I ease the symptoms?
Signed, Inflamed in Iola

Dear Inflamed,

Sorry to hear about your flare-up. Eczema is a complicated conditions with many causes, and stress is one of biggest contributors. Hopefully you’ll be able to unstress soon, but in the meantime I highly recommend this recipe adapted from Hands-On Healing Remedies by Stephanie Tourles. It features evening primrose oil, which is rich in gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) and therefore highly anti-inflammatory. It also contains blue chamomile essential oil, another potent inflammation reducer that also calms and heals the skin.
15 drops palmarosa essential oil
20 drops Moroccan blue chamomile essential oil
10 drops lavender essential oil
1/4 cup evening primrose oil
1/4 cup jojoba oil
Add essential oils drop by drop to a 4 ounce amber glass bottle. Pour in evening primrose and jojoba oils. Cap bottle and shake vigorously for 2 minutes to blend. Store in a dark place for 24 hours.
To use, cleanse the affected area with a mild baking soda solution (1 part baking soda to 8 parts water) and gently massage a small amount of the oil blend into skin until it’s absorbed. Repeat a few times a day until symptoms subside.

Stephanie Tourles also suggests a soothing spray for itchy eczema.
30 drops German chamomile essential oil
30 drops Moroccan blue chamomile essential oil
20 drops lavender essential oil
1 cup aloe vera juice
Add essential oils drop by drop to an 8 ounce glass spray bottle. Pour in aloe vera, cap, and shake vigorously for 2 minutes to blend. Store in a dark place for 24 hours, then refrigerate.

If you prefer a prepared product for treating eczema naturally, I really like the “Look, No X Ma” line from Four Elements.