Ginseng, a root written about as “The Root of Immortality”
in Eastern medicine as early as 196 AD in The Shen- Nung Pharmacopoeia is
making a popular come back in skincare products. It is an amazing ingredient, I
hope you are as excited about as I am.
Disclaimer: Please note that the FDA does not approve its
medicinal use in the United States, however it can be purchased over the
counter as an herbal supplement. This blog and the research used to write it
came from Eastern Medicine teachings and uses.
Ginseng is a root that is harvested and then pulled from the
ground similar to farming a carrot. There are 2 main types: Korean and
American. Ancient Chinese, Korean, and Japanese cultures used Ginseng to
increase stamina, improve overall wellness and immunity, and for persevering
through hard times as it is believed to bring good karma. Ginseng is rich in
several vitamins and nutrients including the following B vitamins; 1, 5, 2, and
12, as well as amino acids, peptides, folic acids, fatty acids, and minerals.
It is also rich in ginsenocides, a substance that is similar to human hormones,
and has been shown effective in balancing hormones in the body which will help
balance blood pressure, insulin production, and increase metabolism.
Furthermore it acts as an appetite suppressant, aiding in weight loss.
Ginseng has been used for the following:
Treating Erectile Dysfunction (because the
ginsenosides increase circulation to genital blood vessels)
Boosting Immune system function
Lower Blood Sugar
Boost Energy (because it is a stimulant)
Fighting Cancer (because it supports healthy T
Cell function, T cells are the cells that fight cancer)
Aid healthy digestion
Reduce Tumor Size
Boost liver function
Increase sexual desire and performance
Calming the central nervous system and promoting
healthy stress response
Please note there are some contraindications to taking
Ginseng as a supplement, if you have any of the following, it is advised that
you do not take Ginseng:
Anxiety (because it is a stimulant, it may over
excite the existing condition)
Ginseng has been very popular in Korean skin care products for
years because of its topical effects on the epidermis! We is the US are always
a bit behind, but it is gaining popularity here as well, including several
products in the Affordable Spa Services signature line we use and carry in
Some positive effects Ginseng has on the skin are:
Prevents visible signs of ageing (because it is a super antioxidant that fights
free radical damage)
Helps prevent environmental damage (like sun or
environmental toxins)- because of its antioxidant properties
Superb moisturizer (because of its ability to
hold on to water molecules)
Plumps the skin (because it Increases collagen
and Elastin production)
Reduces redness and Inflammation- making it a
must have for hyper sensitive skin, like me! If you turn red just washing your
face you may have hyper sensitive skin. (Ginseng is a natural anti-inflammatory)
Reduces puffiness (because of its stimulating
and anti- inflammatory effects)
Reduce dark circles and dullness (because of its
Increases circulation to the skin
Products in our line that contain this powerful ingredient:
So I recently wrote about using CBD oil to manage my MS symptoms. Since I started adding CBD to my daily regimen, I experience less brain fog during the day, less anxiety, and almost no debilitating fatigue. However, there hasn’t been any improvement in my chronic pain or spasticity. I initially wanted to try a topical CBD product to alleviate these symptoms. However, Brandi Bovell of Affordable Spa Services had a better idea: try spa treatments with CBD products!
I like spa treatments! And I like CBD products! This makes sense! I will make time for this self-care!
Let’s Recap: What is CBD?
CBD (Cannabidiol) is a non-psychoactive component of industrial hemp. (Translation: CBD does not get you high.) It affects the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in regulating a variety of physiological and cognitive processes, including but not limited to pain-sensation, mood, and memory. CBD products have been shown to soothe anxiety, stress, pain, and insomnia. The ingredient has soared in popularity over the past few years, and it can now be found in a number of products, pain creams, moisturizers, gummies, teas, beer, ice cream, massage oils, and dog treats, just to name a few.
My initial experience with CBD products was good – so much so, that I continue to take CBD oil to this day. I have more focus and energy, and less anxiety. I consider it a tool to help me deal with my very, very stressful life. However, it has not helped me with my chronic pain – which is mainly due to my MS, but I can’t help but think that being a 42-year-old woman who is stressed and busy and spends a lot of time in front of a computer is contributing at least partially to my pain issues. In other words, it’s very easy to blame everything on a chronic condition, but it may not be completely fair.
When Brandi offered me the opportunity to have a CBD-infused spa day, I was all in. We’ll call this my CBD Spapertunity!
Spa Treatments with CBD: Mineral Bath
This is the bathroom at Affordable Spa Services (Richmond, VA) where I relaxed in my CBD-infused mineral bath.
I arrived at my appointment and was taken to a room with a super-cute clawfoot tub filled with water and soaking salts. Affordable Spa Services uses the Empower® brand of soaking salts, described as, “a luxurious brand of Epsom, Dead Sea, and Pink Himalayan salts, carefully infused with a proprietary essential oil formula and third-party, lab-tested, domestically-cultivated, 2014 Farm Bill Compliant hemp-derived Cannabidiol (CBD).”
That ticks all the important boxes. As you know, quality is extremely important to me.
So, I stepped into the super-cute clawfoot tub. I will spare you the bathtub pics.
Let me just say:
I felt relief! After a few minutes, my pain had subsided – from where I typically am on the 1-10 scale (a 5-6) to a 2-3.
My time in the tub was up. On to the next part of my CBD Spapertunity!
Spa Treatments with CBD: The Massage
Now I have had massages before. Every massage therapist has his or her own technique. And as a general rule, I don’t like massages. I find that they are not effective, or cause me pain and discomfort. I usually walk out of the massage therapist’s office feeling as if I have wasted my money. And there is always the caveat that you have to keep going back to see a real difference. Well, why would I go back if I didn’t receive any benefit or enjoy it the first time?
This was not the case with my CBD-infused massage.
Massage room at Affordable Spa Services
My massage therapist was an imposing figure who towers over me (as many people do) and has enough muscles in her arms and hands that she could potentially break me in half. But attached to those arms and hands are fingers of MAGIC. Over the course of the massage, her magic fingers worked knots out of several areas, including my back, shoulder, and neck.
The experience was enhanced with the use of CBD-infused massage oil by a company called apothecanna, based out of Denver. CO. Their mission is simple: to spread the wisdom of traditional plant medicine. (OK, I’m on board with that). According to their website, they, “thoughtfully source organic and wildcrafted essential oils from their native regions of the world… do not use artificial ingredients, fillers, parabens or GMO ingredients.” The company does not test their products on animals, and strive to create products with uncompromised purity, quality, and functionality.
The massage lotion contained a combination of arnica, peppermint, juniper, and cannabis (CBD). Each ingredient is designed to provide a specific therapeutic element:
Arnica: heals bruising and relieves sprains
Peppermint: relieves pain and soothes skin
Juniper: reduces swelling and soothes nerves
Cannabis (CBD): anti-inflammatory and relieves stress
It may have been the relaxing mineral bath that I took before the massage. It may have been Ms. Magic Fingers who was working away my knots. Or it may have been the pain-relieving CBD cream. Maybe it was a combination of all three. But I can say that this one of the best (read: therapeutic and effective) massages I have ever received.
Spa Treatments with CBD: Skin Care
Oh, but we can’t forget about this face, can we?
I know what you are thinking: Why mess with perfect?
Truth be told, some of the medicines that I have taken over the past few years have really done a number on my skin. Cystic acne, dehydration, and hyperpigmentation have all been my nemesis since my MS diagnosis and subsequent change to my prescription medicine regimen. Alas, any skin care treatment that I have received in a spa has made things worse. And there is always the caveat that you have to keep going back to see a real difference. Again. if I come out of the facial looking worse than when I went in, why would I come back?
And so I prepare for my skin treatment with Amanda Roberto, an aesthetician with Affordable Spa Services. Amanda knows her stuff. Also she has met Sylvester Stallone. Neat. She explained each step in the process, including the cleanse, exfoliation, serum application, and hydration. This process included applications of two CBD-infused products, including the same extra-strength lotion used during my massage (which was wonderful for my trigeminal neuralgia), and a CBD-infused facial serum.
Seriously, my skin glowed after this facial. And with the added benefit of the CBD-infused products, my face actually felt some temporary pain relief.
Spa Treatments with CBD: the Bottom Line
CBD-infused spa treatments are rapidly becoming more popular, and for good reason. Throughout my spa treatments, I experienced relaxation and pain relief. There is no doubt that I will continue to add CBD-infused products to my self-care regimen – at home and at the spa!
It’s important to remember that, when it comes to CBD products, quality counts. And unfortunately, CBD is being produced without any regulation, resulting in products that vary widely in quality. Brandi and her team of professionals have carefully vetted the CBD-infused products used at Affordable Spa Services. It is clear to me that customer safety and product quality are among their top priorities – and this is KEY when choosing any aesthetician or massage therapist. When it comes to self-care, be sure to set your standards high.
Have you tried all the things? Purchased all the expensive
products? And still can’t find a happy place with the skin on your face?!?! The
answer may be simpler then you think!
Below I’ll talk about some common at home mistakes consumers
make and simple ways to break the cycle and love the skin you are in.
Over or underuse of products.
Yes, using too much or too little can seriously do harm. Too
much can clog your pores, leave behind a residue, or even decrease efficacy
because a barrier gets created preventing absorption of the good stuff as
intended. Using too little may not allow your skin to get even benefit across
your whole face. Follow this diagram
below (and the instructions on your product label) to ensure you are using the
2. Not allowing products to dry or absorb before applying the next product.
We are all rushing from place to place, meeting to meeting. Life is busy! Don’t let it be at your skins expense. Set aside 10 minutes per day after your shower for your face. Wash your face in the shower. Apply your toner, wait for it, wait for it, wait for it to completely dry, then apply your serum, wait again for it to dry. Once your skin feels as though the serum has dried, it means your skin has slurped up the quench of vitamins, hydration, and all the juicy stuff! Next apply your moisturizer (I like a good oil moisturizer myself, but whatever your jam, do you), then once you no longer feel the tackiness, rub a little sunscreen between your 2 hands and pat gently on top. Or bonus if you use a moisturizer with sunscreen already inside, in which case you can skip the last step.
3. Washing your face with water that’s too hot!
We all know that hot water feels amazing on our bodies, but it’s not the best option for your face. Many gel cleansers now say on the bottle “rinse with cold water” or “remove with cool water” because many cleansers contain fruit acids or enzymes that should not over penetrate the epidermis. Hot water and steam dilates your pores, and that combined with over penetration of acids or enzymes can cause hyperpigmentation. Follow the instructions on your bottle.
4. Applying products in the wrong order.
Because products change the PH of your skin, and some are
meant to absorb and some are meant to sit on top of the skin and protect,
applying in an incorrect order can be very detrimental, and expensive. Most
products clearly state on the label which order they should be used in, however
if you are using products from more than one product line this can get
confusing because some product lines may include 3 steps and some may include
6, for this reason if you are not a skin expert or acting on the advice of a
specialist it may be best for you to stick one product line. Typically below is
the correct order for most product lines:
Pre-cleanse (make up remover or an oil cleanser)
Cleanser (usually a gel or foaming cleanser)
Exfoliator (if needed, usually once a week or once a month is enough)
Mask (typically only needed once or twice per month)
Toner (be careful some can over strip your skin, if you feel too dry, try
5. Washing your face too much or too little.
Washing your face too much can cause a breakout just as fast as poor hygiene. Going crazy washing your face 4 times a day and have acne? Your skin is probably over processed. Try cutting back to twice a day, or even once a day, and try a cream cleanser during the day, and only use a foaming or gel cleanser at night before bed. If you are ready to cut back to once a day, do it at night before bedtime. Washing your face in the morning is not usually really necessary unless you sweat a lot while you sleep, or if you are a mouth breather and drool on your face while you sleep. If you aren’t washing your face daily and you have acne, try washing once a day in the evening, or twice a day using a gel or foaming cleanser in the evening and a cream cleanser in the morning.
6. Not following manufacturer’s instructions.
The specialists that designed and manufactured the skin care products we use typically have an extensive amount of knowledge and education in regards to the ingredients, use, and efficacy of them. So read the labels on the skin care products you use and follow them, usually there is also a customer service number on the bottles in case you have questions. Which is great source for free help with a products use.
7. Not drinking enough water.
The human body LOVES water. Your body is supposed to be 70% water. If your skin is dry, irritated, or you have acne, your skin may just be thirsty. Try to drink at least (8) 8oz. glasses per day, a few more if its summer or you work out a lot. Drink up!
8. Know when to see a professional.
If what you have tried is not working consistently, schedule an appointment with a Licensed Aesthetician or a Dermatologist. We all love a good DIY approach, but sometimes we need a professional. I certainly wouldn’t try to change the oil in my car myself. We all have our strengths.
I was that teen that always got picked on, “pizza face”,
“zit face”, or “you can fry a French fry with all the grease on your face”
became part of my daily life. Kids at school picked on me, coworkers berated me
(I started working bagging groceries when I was 14), even my own mother
tormented me daily (I think she thought if she insulted me enough I could somehow
control my own hormones). I tried all the cleansers, scrubs, masks available,
heck I worked in a grocery store, I hit the personal care aisle weekly trying
product after product. Spent the little money I earned bagging groceries to
visit skin therapy clinics and see professionals, nothing worked. I finally
made it to my 20’s my skin started to look better, not 100% but not “make me
cry with embarrassment and shame” face covering acne. Late 20’s my skin looked
normal and even radiant, I thought I was in the clear. Then came my 30’s and a
whole new round of crazy female hormones made their way into my life, and I was
a teenager all over again, except adults are too politically correct or kind to
call names, they would just stare, or say “have you tried this or that, it
worked for me”, which of course I thought I had tried it all, Hello I own a day
spa! I have access to the best products, the best specialists, and equipment,
however suddenly what had been working no longer worked, ah ha moment! Your
skin changes with the seasons, age, the environment, and stress and what has
worked for the past 10 years, or the past 2 weeks may stop working today. I
adjusted my products, and tried to adjust my stress level. I finally visited a
dermatologist, which of course he listened to my concerns, told me my issues
were hormonal and he could prescribe me a medication (spironolactone) to lower
my testosterone, and thus clear the acne. I am a person who avoids medications
unless I’m dying, I won’t even take a Tylenol if I get a headache, and instead
I massage essential oils on my temples. I very gently explained my views to the
doc, hopefully without sounding like a wack-a-doo. He smiled a beautiful ear to
ear grin, and said “Well, we have this light mask that a product rep dropped
off a while back to give away to an acne patient to try, and no one before wanted
it because usually everyone just wants a prescription medication, you can have
it to try if you would like”. A light mask? Well sure it doesn’t require me to
ingest chemicals, I’ll give it a go! I accepted it, and started using it per
the instruction manual for 10 minutes a day, every day and within 2 weeks my
skin was transformed. I had my confidence back, along with gorgeous skin. I feel
my skin looks better now, in my late 30’s then it ever has. Because of my personal experience I decided to
go back to school to earn my Master Aesthetics License so I could perform LED
treatments on my clients and share this wonderful treatment with others.
So what is LED?
LED stands for light emitting diode and is essentially fast
flashing lights that cause positive changes in the appearance of the skin.
Another term for the use of light therapy to treat conditions of the skin is
The benefits of LED technology were originally discovered
by NASA while they experimented with ways to increase plant tissue growth in
space, they also learned that LED’s have a similar physiological effect on
human cells and tissues. Body tissues have the ability to absorb light and
convert it into energy. LED’s can be used to deliver beneficial light energy to
the skin. In further research NASA proved that particular wavelengths (different
colors penetrate to varying depths) of LED light have positive effects on the
body’s ability to regenerate and repair human tissue, as well as inducing
different benefits for the skin and fascia.
This happens because LED therapy stimulates the release of ATP-
(adenosine tri phosphate); an organic chemical that provides energy for many
metabolic processes in living cells. Think of it as fuel for the cells: by
increasing cell activity, cell repair is increased. The process is very similar
to photosynthesis in plants, a reaction occurs which triggers the conversion of
light energy into cell energy. More basically it harmonizes cellular activity.
“Different wavelengths of light (colors) have varying depth
penetration, to stimulate different results in the skin” says Bedeha Hamze,
Master Aesthetics Instructor at American Spirit Institute. By penetrating to
varying depths the different colors are able to either make your skin do things
that they no longer do well on their own, or can create an effect on the
surface of the skin. They also increase the efficacy of serums by causing
greater product penetration when used over a serum or treatment. LED should not be mistaken for UV lights (like
those in a tanning bed), or for lasers (like those used in hair removal, or for
IPL- intense pulsed light (used in photo rejuvenation), as LED does not produce
intense heat. Because it does not produce heat it does not cause damage to the
dermis, nor does it hurt to use. Bedeha also stated “LED is an absolutely
painless procedure that can be done alone or added to another facial
treatment”. LED has been used to treat sun damage, redness, rosacea, visible
telangiectasia, uneven skin tone, fine lines, wrinkles, acne, wounds, pains,
and bruises to name a few. LED also stimulates fibroblasts (cells responsible
for making extracellular matrix and collagen; which are critical for proper
wound healing) to increase collagen, resulting in smoother texture, tone, and
reduced appearance of fine lines.
White light is often used to tighten, and reduce
Yellow or Amber light can also be used to reduce swelling,
redness, pigmentation, and to stimulate collagen and elastin.
Green light is most often utilized to decrease dark circles
(I sure need that under my eyes), reduce hyperpigmentation, lessen the
appearance of broken capillaries, break up discoloration such as sunspots, and
calming angry skin.
Keep in mind, LED and other photo modulation techniques
should not be used on folks with seizure disorders, unless permission is given
by a medical doctor.
LED can be added to your facial treatment during your mask, or during serum application, or you can use a daily at home device. Because LED will take more than one session (usually a minimum of 6) to achieve desired results, an at home device that can be used daily may be a better fit for someone on a limited budget. For clients who are on a restricted budget, and want to treat more than 1 issue at the same time (IE: acne, wrinkles, and sunspots) a multi color LED at home device would be the most effective way to get the most bang for your buck. At Affordable Spa we accept HSA and FSA cards for our services and products to help you make your skins wellness a priority.
Aloe Vera is my absolute favorite of all skin care ingredients. It’s an oldie but goody. Often overlooked as a reason to purchase a product and seen as antiquated, but it shouldn’t be, there is certainly justification for the ancient Egyptians regarding it as the “plant of eternity”. Aloe is beneficial for your whole self, inside and out, and can be drank, added to smoothies, rubbed on your skin, and even massaged into the hair and scalp. Best of all it is very reasonably priced, or even free as you may be staring at an aloe plant in the corner of the room you are in collecting dust right this minute.
Let’s start with the internal benefits, because being healthy on the inside is imperative for beautiful healthy skin on the outside. Aloe Vera Juice can be purchased at most grocery stores, or health food stores. Drinking aloe vera juice is an amazing post workout recovery beverage, because it is 99% water it is super hydrating (and without all the added sugars, artificial coloring, and other unnecessarily added ingredients found in many post workout drinks). Your body should be 70% water at any given time, so you can imagine how important staying hydrated is. It addition to its high-water content aloe vera juice also contains probiotics (good bacteria your body needs), enzymes, and vitamins A, C, E, folic acid, choline, B1, B2, B6, and B12 (which is super rare in plants, usually B12 is found in animal proteins). If all the above listed reasons don’t already have you making the trek to go get you some, aloe also contains minerals needed by the human body, such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium, sodium, iron, potassium, copper and manganese. Since B12 is so rarely found in plant sources, daily intake of aloe vera juice is an essential part of a balanced vegan or vegetarian diet. Manganese is an essential trace mineral that when deficient in the human body can cause disorders such as tinnitus, so if your ears have been ringing, you may want to give this old remedy a try and see if it helps you. Aloe Vera is also high in amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins, making it amazing for increasing muscle. In addition to building muscle by adding proteins it also helps eliminate the stuff we don’t want in our guts because it’s a gelatinous plant it absorbs and eliminates toxins and waste as it travels via the peristalsis movement in our intestines, making it a great choice for those looking to lose weight. It has also been shown to be beneficial for people diagnosed with celiac, crones, diverticulitis, or other GI disorders to help heal leaky gut, and rid the body of toxins while they adjust to dietary changes associated with these disorders. Aloe Vera is also naturally antibacterial, antiviral, antibiotic, antiseptic, antifungal, antimicrobial, and germicidal making it a wonderful addition to your immune boosting shelf (or entire cabinet in my case). Additionally, Aloe Vera is naturally alkaline, so when drank it makes the body less acidic, increasing natural immunity because disease cannot survive in an alkaline environment.
You may be asking at this point, what does any of this have to do with my skin? Well firstly healthy inside, healthy outside. Unhealthy diet shows up in your skin, and your sweat, we discussed above about how aloe helps to eliminate so I just want to reiterate here how important eliminating the junk from our intestines is to maintaining clean, clear, beautiful skin. Basically, if you aren’t eliminating it the right way, it starts coming out of your pores, like sometimes if you have been eating a poor diet and have noticed a difference in the way your sweat smelled during your workout. Secondly, because of the antiseptic, antibacterial, and antiviral properties we discussed earlier it’s great for killing bacteria on the skin and drying up acne. The antioxidants naturally occurring in aloe vera gel fight free radicals, decreasing the signs of aging. In addition, because aloe is so hydrating it makes a great skin moisturizer, without being overly greasy. It also reduces inflammation and creates a protective barrier when applied to the skin, which is why it is well known to heal and soothe burns. It has also been shown to help eczema and psoriasis, when applied topically. The enzymes contained in aloe make it a great natural exfoliator when used topically (recipe for an amazing anti-aging, anti-acne DIY mask to follow). More and more people, myself included have started using an oil moisturizer at home on our faces. I personally like how much more breathable it feels on my skin then a creamy moisturizer (which feels highly occlusive to me, just my opinion). However, those of us using an oil moisturizer, or a cream and still not feeling hydrated must remember oil doesn’t moisturize, water does, so a water or aloe-based toner or serum is imperative under our moisturizer to truly achieve that youthful appearance and maintain healthy skin, since your moisturizer shouldn’t penetrate the epidermis, but a serum or water/ aloe based toner should. I also would suggest a soothing aloe & azulene mask every 4 to 6 weeks for someone still feeling dry or inflamed as this will hydrate and increase barrier function preventing external damage from the environment. I personally like to give myself an Acne LED treatment over my aloe (or any gel mask) so im getting a double whammy of benefits at one time, which i think is great for any busy mom with a limited amount of time for home care.
I also mentioned hair care in the first paragraph! We all want beautiful, shiny, soft, healthy hair, right? Well aloe is you one stop shop! The natural enzymes found in aloe act as an exfoliator by digesting dead skin cells, so massaging it into the scalp, helps prevent dandruff by increasing cell turnover, and by removing the dead cells on top of the epidermis, it helps hair grow thicker and healthier by creating a clear path for the hair follicles. You can also make your own aloe vera hair mask by massaging into wet hair during your shower, cover with a shower cap leave on for 10 to 15 minutes then rinse out revealing shiny, resilient hair.
A few tips for utilizing aloe vera at home:
If drinking daily as a supplement, swish around your mouth for 30 seconds or so prior to swallowing because the good bacteria we talked about earlier in conjunction with its antibacterial, antiviral, and germicidal properties are great for preventing gum disease by killing bacteria, and germs and creating an alkaline environment. Bonus: this also helps prevent bad breath! Yay Aloe!
If you are getting your aloe directly from the plant (like me), make “aloe cubes”! Once you have scraped the aloe gel from the inside of the leaves and ran through the food processor, place portioned into an ice cube tray, then once frozen, place 1 cube each into small freezer bags and keep frozen until ready to use. Keep in mind freshly sourced aloe wll go bad in less than 24 hours at room temperature because we haven’t added preservatives, like the gel you buy in stores. A frozen aloe cube feels like heaven on a burn, an inflamed acne pustule, or calming the skin after an exfoliating cleanse, I could go on but I think you get my point and probably already have an idea of how to use your aloe cube in your mind right now.
When using on hair apply a thin layer as a leave in treatment or use it as a hair mask as I mentioned earlier.
DIY Aloe Enzyme Mask:
1 ½ inch cube of fresh pineapple
1 ½ inch cube of fresh papaya
2 Tbsp. aloe vera gel, or freshly scraped from inside a leaf
2 drops of apple cider vinegar
Run all ingredients through your food processor, apply to cleansed face, if it instantly burns or hurts remove it, otherwise leave on for 1 to 3 minutes (no longer than 3 minutes, this recipe is powerful), a slight tingle and itch is normal, but pain or burning is not. Remove with cool, damp towels, apply your normal serum, moisturizer and sunscreen.
I hope you enjoyed hearing about an amazing plant!