Monthly Archives: June 2011

Seven Steps To Healthy, Glowing, Vibrant Skin…Naturally!

Our skin is the LARGEST organ of the human body! The primary function of the skin is to eliminate wastes. If treated properly, the skin can eliminate upwards of TWO POUNDS of waste daily! Everyday our skin sheds the dead skin cells and makes new skin cells. Within 24 hours, our body has made new skin! Keeping our skin looking healthy, all depends on how we help our skin in its daily routine of sloughing away dead skin cells and allowing the new skin cells to come through. There are several ways that we can help our body and skin remain at peak performance. They are:

Gentle, Caribbean Cleansing

Cleansing – This is done with a simple soap and water. Before you can move onto the toning and moisturizing you MUST get rid of all the extra dirt you have accumulated throughout the day AND night. itiba has many soaps that can be used to aid in the cleansing of your skin. I recommend Carib Lime if you have oily skin. The Lemongrass Essential Oil contained in the soap helps the skin to regulate the sebum produced. That combined with the French Green Clay works to break up the excess oil and leave your skin feeling lighter and brighter! For normal skin, Island Rose or even Papaya will work wonderfully. For combination skin, MidNite Rain, Crucian Spice or Sea Lavender are all wonderful choices.

Toner/Astringents – these are the same thing but a different name applies to your skin type. Astringents and Toners help to take away excess oils from the skin, in particular the neck and face. Toner is the term used for products for skin that is in the normal to dry range. Astringent is the term used for skin that is in the normal to oily and oil skin range. The astringent is stronger than the toner because it has to break away more oils from the skin than the toner.

Crucian Spice Body Lotion.

Moisturizing – is done after we clean our skin. This step is done after we have applied either our toner or astringent to our skin. Even if you have oily skin, you will still want to moisturize it. When moisturizing the skin, stay away from products that will clog the pores such as mineral oil, petroleum jelly, and yes even cocoa butter for some people. If you suffer from oily skin, it is recommended NOT to use cocoa butter on the face and neck. However, a wonderful oil to use, yes…I did say oil…is Jojoba Oil. In fact, Jojoba Oil is really a liquid wax and pound for pound, can be called the Fountain of Youth for our skin. Jojoba Oil is the only vegetable oil that very closely resembles the sebum that our skin produces. I like to call it a second skin that helps our own skin do its job better.  I am not a fan of mineral oil as I do not see the long term benefits of this oil. In some cases, it has been stated that mineral oil can cause clogged pores and dermatitis. There is the cosmetic grade mineral oil that is used in skin care, but there are other wonderful oils like Castor Oil that can do the same and offer better benefits to the skin. Any of itiba’s six lovely fragrance body lotions will make a wonderful moiturizer.

Hydration – very simple! Our bodies are made up of about 75% water. We need to keep our skin hydrated from the INSIDE as well as the OUTSIDE. Our skin looses upwards of 2 PINTS of water daily. We need to drink upwards of one gallon of water daily in order to maintain optimal hydration for our bodies.Water does a body good!

Exfoliation – In order for our skin to shed the dead skin cells easier, some type of exfoliation should be done. There are several ways this can be done and depending on the part of body different materials should be used. Using a salt or brown sugar scrub is a great way to exfoliate the body. Ground oatmeal, almond meal, even ground avocado seeds can be used to exfoliate the skin. Ground oatmeal, almond meal, and sugar can be used on the face and neck. But beware, the skin on these areas is delicate, do not use too much force or friction. Slow and gentle is all you need when exfoliating your face and neck. Another method is DRY BRUSHING. This offers more than exfoliation; it also offers increased circulation to the skin and in certain instances a healthier lymphatic system. itiba’s Body Polish all made with Caribbean Sea Salt, unrefined Shea butter and scented with itiba’s unique blends, to include the latest Kaya Body Polish – made with brown sugar, local island honey and decadent Shea butter, are all great exfoliators. AND you get the extra added benefit of moisturizing with the Shea butter!

REST! – I think this is self-explanatory. Get your 8 – 9  hours of sleep each night. Nothing less. Your skin (and every one else) will thank you for it! Come to St. Croix and relax on any of the wonderful sandy beaches and enjoy the cool Tradewinds as it wafts off the azure blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. String up your hammock and simply…rest!

I would be remiss if I did not talk about DRY BRUSHING. What is Dry Brushing and what are the benefits? How should it be done? First Dry Brushing is a form of exfoliation. It helps the skin remove the dead skin cells so that the new ones may shine through. Dry Brushing, if done properly and consistently will also help to keep the skin properly eliminating the waste. There are many different ways to do the actual dry brushing, but a few things are constant and NEVER change. ALWAYS and ONLY use NATURAL bristle brushes. What are natural bristle brushes? These are made from either plant or animals. Depending on the type or bristle, you will use it on different areas of the body. Some examples of natural bristle brushes are boar’s hair, ayate – which is made from a large cactus called agave whose leaves are dried and made into fibers – sisal, and even coconut.  NEVER SCRUB when doing a dry brush. That can be considered overkill and both are forms of exfoliation. Either you dry brush or you use a scrub. You must use some pressure, but never scrub the skin.

Here are some of the benefits of Dry Brushing:

• Brushing activates the pores in the skin to remove more waste materials like uric acid crystals, catarrh, and other acids and impurities more efficiently than soap and water.

• Brushing increases and stimulates blood circulation in all the underlying organs, connective tissues and lymphatic system.

• Brushing revitalizes and increases the capacity of the skin to eliminate toxins from the system.

• Brushing stimulates hormone function – especially the oil producing glands. By keeping the pores open, the skin is better able to retain its natural oils and to breathe!

• Brushing has a powerful rejuvenating influence on the nervous system as it stimulates the nerve endings in the skin.

• Brushing contributes to better muscle tone and better distribution of fat deposits within the tissues.

And it just makes you feel good! 🙂

When I Dry Brush, which should be done at least three times a week, I start from my hands and work in slow, deliberate circular motions toward my heart. I am trying to follow the pathways of the Lymph System. I do the same with my feet. I start from teh soles of my feet and slowly work up in a slow, deliberate, circular motion (circular to the left) towards my heart. I keep doing this until I am doing with a fair amount of pressure. When finished, my skin is glowing and I am feeling so alive and refreshed!  ALWAYS do your Dry Brushing BEFORE your shower or bath. Remember, this is a form of exfoliation and you have just released a lot of dead skin cells that you now want to get rid of and cleansing the skin afterwards is the best way to do so. Dry Brushing is ONLY effective when done on DRY skin.

You now know my seven steps and secret weapon to having healthy, glowing skin.

Nature. Earth. Beauty.

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Scent soothes the savage beast…

They say that music soothes the savage beast. Well…I beg to differ. I think it is scent! Fragrance. Our nose! I mean, of course music helps, but I think scent does a way better job at it than music.

I am sitting here listening to Luther Vandross croon away, but what has really gotten my attention and beginning to help me unwind and not go completely crazy as I hear my young ones beginning another argument in the background, is…a scent. I sit here and I am trying to identify the sharp, somewhat woodsy fragrance that my nose has sniffed out. I can make the out the cool, calming aroma of Lavandin. The heady fragrance of Ylang Ylang transporting me to Carambola and then reminding me of a walk where I smelled this sultry fragrance on the wind. That memory experience coupled with the soothe, sweet voice of Donnell Jones is quickly making me forget the fact that I have to quiet another argument between a seven year old and a ten year old. They will work it out. It was a discussion over a television show that is quickly forgotten.

My mind drifts back to the fragrance that I am struggling to identify, and as the R&B plays in the background, another memory experience overcomes my senses and I am transported back to a rough and winding road in the Rain Forest. The trees are so green, it is late afternoon and the cool breeze is gently caressing my face. I look to my right and I am enjoying a quiet excursion with my late husband. He is showing me bird pepper and is quickly telling me in Spanish to stop the car so he can go and pick some!

“Mai! I going to make a pepper sauce with this!” He says his eyes bright with discovery and already tasting the heat the pepper is promising him. “Why you like to go and damage yourself like that for?” I question, because I know he is just going to be crying when he tastes the pepper and it does just that, burn his mouth so badly that he swears NEVER “NUNCA” to eat the pepper sauce again! Of course that lasts all of five minutes and he is back at the bottle again! Wonderful memories that fragrance has forever trapped in the deepest recesses of my mind. All it will take is just a slight whiff of a certain fragrance and all the memories come flooding back.

Good times. Another aroma has just crossed my path. And now there is a new scent I am trying to identify. One was definitely a floral fragrance of some sort. This one smells like a mix of fruit and green. Another flash of memory. I am nine and running in the yard playing with my younger sisters. The gooseberry tree is calling to us and we clamor and race to be the first ones to the top of that very shaky tree! It is amazing the risks you take as a child. Thinking back now I wonder how I never fell from the top of that tree! At least 12 feet high and the higher you went the thinner and more fragile the tree was. But that didn’t stop me nor my sisters from racing, climbing, scraping our knees as we raced to the top to eat the ripe gooseberries. The most sour…tart…DELICIOUS fruit you have ever tasted. We are already arguing who is going to make the gooseberry stew. “Me!” I yell, “No, I going to make it!” yells my younger sister. And my other sister says “I have ALL the big ones so I will make it!” That wonderful fragrance of tree sap and gooseberry juice. Memories of a time when life was truly good and you had not one care in the world.

Sitting here listening to the music helps to calm the body and begin to put me in a relaxing state, but it is the fragrance that transports my mind to another time. Vetiver! That is what I am smelling. And immediately another fragrance memory comes to the forefront. Again, to a more personal, private time with my husband. Remembering his face, his voice, his strength. His love was what so amazed me. And now it is what helps to give me strength to carry on while he watches from the heavens. The Haitian Vetiver is such a seductive, alluring, almost mystical scent. Peaceful. Strong. Beautiful. Full of life, promise…love. The fragrance memories move closer to the present as the pain of loosing him emerges. Reminding me of the dark time, but there was still the presence of him there…although never to be touched again by him…there all the same. The Haitian Vetiver always reminds me that though we are strong creatures meant to do many unbelievable things…we are also very fragile and we must remember to always hold close and treasure the moments that bring us joy.

Ylang Ylang. That exotic fragrance always reminds me of adventure. Of a promise of something just around the corner. It reminds me of life! Of love! Of my children, who are my strength. Of the promise of new love…which I have now. Lavender. Calming. Relaxing. The smells of Mango always brings back the memories of youth, of adventure, of mystery and daring. Each fragrance forever locked in its own special place deep within me. Sometimes…when I least expect it…a scent will just transport me to a time gone by and I can see all that was and what will be. The music helps, I will give it that. But for me…it is scent that soothes the savage beast.

Mango Madness

Summer has arrived! School is out, the sun is shining and the wonderful azure blue waters of the Caribbean Sea are glistening and inviting you to just come and sit for a while. The laughter of the children can be heard and the fragrant essences of the FrangiPani, Roses and Jasmine ignites wonderful memories of easier times in your mind. But the one thing that has been on your mind for more than seven months now is the mangoes that you see ripening on the tree! That sweet, succulent fruit that you know is the true nectar of the gods!

Yellow, gold, juicy, sweet, dripping with heavenly goodness and making you feel like you were a child again, climbing the trees to get the largest, sweetest mango on the tree before your friends could get to it. Or waiting and watching and plotting how you will pick that red orange fruit before the birds or iguanas got to it. Getting  your crocus bag and making your way either on foot or with a bike to the Rain Forest to climb the multitude of trees just waiting for you to get its sweet, goodness with the true Caribbean delicacy…Mango!

There are so many varieties and flavors of mango and they each differ from island to island. I remember as a child going to Jamaica with my mother. As a little girl I would eat and eat and eat mangoes until I couldn’t any more. And I thought that St. Croix had the juiciest and sweetest and largest mangoes…but I was so very wrong. Jamaica. What an island. I think I was there about four days already and we had gone by a relatives home (this was many moons ago). But I remember saying to myself I want to go home. And then…I saw it…a mango that to this little eight year old child was the size of my head! Mind you, I had already been eating mangoes straight from the previous day and I was on a mango high! My mother warned me not to eat any more or else I would loose the taste for mangoes forever. But I didn’t listen. Me! Loose the taste for mangoes forever!? Surely she must be joking. I KNOW she could not have been talking to me because there was not a mango around that I did not eat and did not love and swear my undying fealty towards!

And so…mesmerized by the vastness of this great fruit…I took a bite! And it was heaven! I ate and ate and ate. I think I ate about three of them. And then…the unthinkable happened! I became sick! Inside I just knew my mother had done something to me or tricked me to make me now feel sick. It was her fault after all…she was the one who said that I would get sick if I ate too many mangoes! She had blighted me! So there I lay for a whole day with the worse stomach cramps I had ever had…all from eating too many mangoes. No problem I thought. I will get better! And sure enough I did. But it was at a severe cost…I had lost my taste for mangoes!

The memory of the pain was enough to scare me for 20 years from eating another mango ever again. Until one day, now with my own children and watching them enjoying climbing the trees as I did as a child and waiting for the first mangoes to drop from the tree…I decided to try one. And it was like rediscovering an old friend! I was instantly and immediately transported back to my childhood and the sweet, sugary goodness of the mango made everything seem right again! But I was wiser this time. I only ate a few each day and I only ate a certain type (I am biased with the grafted variety). But being a Caribbean child, I could not in all honesty say that mangoes would forever be out of my life! That is sacrilege! How could I? So how do I honor this wonderful friend that I have found anew? I share it with the world.

For the summer months each year, I offer this special and prized fruit in a line of body care products. The fruit of this amazingly sweet, succulent, sugary fruit is available exclusively in the soaps. You may wonder why, but once you try it then you will know! The fruit adds a silkiness and softness to the soap that is felt immediately on the skin. The butter is used to make the Body Butter, Body Lotion and Body Polish. And the fragrance is carried throughout the entire line of itiba’s skincare line! Come…enjoy a little piece of MY Caribbean with Mango products from itiba, LLC!