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Skincare in the Time of COVID: How to Protect Your Skin Under a Mask

Skincare in the Time of COVID: How to Protect Your Skin Under a Mask

To protect our most vulnerable populations, most of us are wearing masks right now. While each of us needs to do our part to prevent the spread of COVID, that does not mean that wearing a mask is comfortable. 

Mask-generated irritation, redness, and breakouts are a reality for many of us right now. Fortunately, there are ways to care for your skin (and limit discomfort) while staying safe. 

Masks Wreak Havoc on Skin

Whether it’s irritation on the top of the nose, dryness along the cheeks, or breakouts on the chin, masks can create skincare difficulties we thought we outgrew years ago. And it’s easy to see why: masks need to be tight-fitting to stay in place and provide optimal protection. The tradeoff, however, is that facial coverings make it difficult to breathe. They also decrease air circulation in the areas where the fabric touches your skin. 

Finally, masks put extra pressure under the chin, beneath the eyes, and along the bridge of the nose, creating areas that are particularly susceptible to rubbing and irritation. If you have very sensitive or scar-prone skin, these issues can be even more pronounced. 

3 Steps to Caring for Your Skin Under a Mask

If you’re wearing a mask for 8-12 hours a day right now, these tips can help keep your skin healthy despite it all:

1. First things first – focus on fit

To avoid unnecessary irritation, make sure your mask isn’t tighter than it needs to be. It should fit snugly across your face and fully cover your nose and mouth. There should be a minimum of gaps between your skin and the mask. If you want more detail on how to put on, take off, and wear a mask properly, check out the CDC’s guidelines on the topic. 

2. Cleanse the skin daily

There’s no pretty way to put this: wearing a mask means we’re breathing our own bacteria all day, so it’s no wonder mask breakouts are a thing. In fact, they’re so common, they’ve even got a nickname: maskne.

Otherwise known as acne mechanica, maskne is a breakout that results from excessive friction and rubbing in a given area. Over time, this friction pushes bacteria into micro-tears in the skin, leading to inflammation that creates acne. 

Generally, you’ll notice maskne breakouts in the area where the mask touches your skin – your chin, cheeks, and the bridge of your nose. To limit breakouts and irritation, be sure to cleanse your face each night.

We recommend using a gentle cleanser like this one or this one. Infused with charcoal to draw out oil and impurities, these formulas are effective enough to get rid of pore-clogging gunk without damaging your skin even further. You can also try one of our dew puffs, made from konjac root and designed to exfoliate, balance skin’s pH, and brighten the complexion. If your breakouts are severe, you’ll benefit from a weekly deep cleansing. Patchology’s Smartmud sheet mask is a gentle option. We also love their cult-favorite “Breakout Box.”

3. Protect the area

To help the skin heal, apply a rich facial cream twice daily. This creates a barrier between the mask and your skin and helps prevent ongoing damage. We recommend our Daily Vitamins Cream

This product contains a cosmetic grade mineral oil, which creates a barrier, locking in moisture. Thanks to its natural antibacterial properties, it also helps minimize bacterial concentration on the face and under the mask, and stop breakouts before they start. 

Protecting Your Skin and Your Health

While there may be no end in sight for our mask-wearing days, that doesn’t mean you have to live with irritation, breakouts, and painful sores. Simple things, like making sure your mask fits and adopting a proper cleansing and moisturizing routine, can help protect your skin and make wearing your mask a little less uncomfortable. 

Take care of yourself during this unprecedented time! For a limited time, we’re offering free shipping on all orders of $50 or more. Shop our selection of new products now. 

Essential Oils and Wellness: What you Need to Know

Essential Oils and Wellness: What you Need to Know

We all want to feel our best. Most of us take a multifaceted approach to making that a reality. We work out, drink enough water, get ample sleep each night, and eat healthy. But what if we could be doing more? And what if one of the most practical additions to our daily lives was also one of the easiest?

Enter essential oils. Prized throughout the world for their therapeutic properties, essential oils help support optimal health. 

If you’ve ever wondered about essential oils for wellness, or how to weave them into your daily life, here’s what you need to know.

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are pure compounds extracted from plants. To capture the flavor, scent, and medicinal properties of a plant, manufacturers obtain essential oils through a distillation or pressing process. Typically, essential oils are cold-pressed, although some manufacturers process them with steam or water. 

Once the manufacturer has extracted the essential chemicals from a plant, they may blend the extracts with a carrier oil. A carrier oil is an oil like coconut, jojoba, or sweet almond oil, which helps deliver the plant’s nutrients to the skin, without interfering with the oil’s properties. This process creates a shelf-stable and skin-safe product that’s ready for use.

At Sage & Cedar, our oils are un-diluted until we add them to lotion, bath salts, or into a carrier oil, which dilutes them just enough to make them skin-safe.

An important note on buying essential oils: Not all essential oils are created equal. In fact, the quality of essential oils varies widely. Today, essential oils come from around the world, and it’s hard to assess the quality of the oil without knowing what to look for. 

If you’re going to purchase essential oils, buy from quality brands with a reputation for producing reliable products. Here are a few additional guidelines for determining the quality of essential oils, from the University of Minnesota. 

How do People Use Essential Oils for Wellness?

Essential oils have a variety of uses, although they’re most common in aromatherapy. While essential oils should not be ingested, inhaling them and applying them topically has well-documented benefits. Some oils are antiseptic and antibacterial, for example, while others function as antidepressants.  

Inhaling aromatic essential oils, for example, stimulates the limbic system. The limbic system is the part of the brain that controls emotions, sense of smell, long-term memory, and behavior. Applying oils topically, meanwhile, can treat headaches and skin conditions, among other things. 

5 Essential Oils to Try

If you’re new to essential oils, it can be tough to know where to start. We recommend building your collection with these five oils:

1. Lavender

Lavender is a fantastic starter oil. It helps with a variety of conditions, including acne, allergies, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Apply it topically to soothe insect bites or rub some on the temples to lift your mood. 

2. Rosemary

Rosemary is a potent oil that’s also a key ingredient in many beauty products, and for a good reason. It works to resolve issues like dry skin and dandruff. It also promotes healthy circulation, strengthens hair and promotes a vibrant shine, and alleviates stress and anxiety. 

3. Peppermint

Peppermint is a powerful, invigorating essential oil with a variety of medicinal uses. In aromatherapy, people use peppermint as a decongestant and to treat conditions like asthma. Applied topically, it’s a powerful treatment for headaches (if you’re pregnant or nursing, it’s a great alternative to OTC meds like Tylenol). 

4. Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree oil, like peppermint, is a potent oil that can irritate the skin if misused. It’s a particularly effective treatment for skin conditions like acne, cold sores, and dandruff. It also treats respiratory ailments and fungal, bacterial, or viral infections.

5. Bergamot

Used in aromatherapy to elevate mood and alleviate stress, bergamot oil has properties similar to grapefruit essential oil. It is antiseptic, antispasmodic, and analgesic (pain-relieving). 

What About Blends?

Essential oil blends are a great way to enjoy the benefits of complementary essential oils, without the guesswork of blending them yourself. Today, there are dozens of essential oil blends on the market, most of which treat issues like insomnia, stress, anxiety, and fatigue. 

If you’re interested in trying some wellness blends, check out our Essential Wellness Blend Roll-Ons.

essential oils for wellness

We produce eight high-quality essential oil blends with jojoba oil, each of which offers a specific benefit and serves as an easy on-ramp for anyone interested in exploring the benefits of essential oils. 

6 Tips to Keep Skin Healthy (Even When You’re Washing Your Hands all the Time)

6 Tips to Keep Skin Healthy (Even When You’re Washing Your Hands all the Time)

Right now, most of us are washing our hands much more frequently than usual. As the Coronavirus continues to spread, we’re all taking precautions to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and healthy. 

One of the most significant precautions, according to CDC guidance, is handwashing. The only problem, though, is that all that hand washing takes a toll on the skin. Eventually, it leads to dry, cracked, chapped skin – and slathering on hand sanitizer isn’t making things much better.

Don’t worry, though – there are things you can do to protect your skin and help reduce the impacts of all this handwashing. Here’s what you need to know:

6 Hand-Saving Tips to Use While You Sanitize

Keep germs at bay and save your skin with these tips:

1. Use warm (not hot) water

Lots of people believe that hot water kills bacteria most effectively, which is not the case. The truth, though, is that hot water dries skin out. To keep your skin safe and get rid of germs, use lukewarm water instead of hot water. 

2. Use skin-protecting soap

Some soap moisturizes more effectively than others. With this in mind, look for cleansers with a creamy, dense consistency and ingredients like glycerin and lanolin, which create a protective barrier on the skin and keep moisture in. Options like shea butter soap are also great for moisturizing without compromising cleanliness. 

3. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize

All the excellent handwashing practices in the world won’t do much unless you’re also moisturizing. Each time you wash your hands, slather on a thick moisturizer made with moisture-locking ingredients like shea butter, Calendula, and Comfrey. We recommend this all-purpose salve from Sope. Used regularly, it  will restore nutrients in your skin and prevent painful cracking and dryness.

4. Look for deep moisturizing treatments

If you work in healthcare or another industry where you’re washing your hands regularly, a deep conditioning treatment could save your skin. Look for glove treatments, which allow you to seal your hand into a glove full of luxurious moisturizer. These treatments are perfect for unwinding at home and can help you avoid painful chapping and cracking. 

5. Blot (don’t rub)

As a general rule, rubbing irritates the skin. With this in mind, take care to blot your hands dry after washing. While paper towels are the most absorbent material you can use, cloth will work just fine, as well. Take your time, here – patting the top, back, and sides of hands gently to remove water, rather than rubbing vigorously, which causes micro-abrasions that promote cracking and bleeding. 

6. Avoid artificial fragrances

If you have very sensitive skin, do your best to avoid artificial fragrances in your hand soap and other skincare products. Perfumes are often alcohol-based, which can wreak havoc on sensitive or chapped skin. Instead, look for hand soap scented with natural fragrances, like essential oils which won’t strip or irritate skin.

If you have very sensitive skin and need to avoid fragrances altogether, look for unscented products, instead. We recommend our Ultimate Moisture lotion, which is great for hands and body. 

Protecting Your Hands Made Easy

While handwashing is a good practice all the time, it’s especially critical right now. In addition to preventing the spread of illnesses and viruses, good handwashing practices help us promote healthy communities. If your hands are having a tough time keeping up with all the handwashing, though, these tips can help you restore and protect them. 

By simply being mindful about the ingredients you put on your skin and replacing lost moisture with thick balms and salves, you can keep your hands healthy and happy – even when you’re washing them eight hundred times a day. 

How to Protect Your Mental Health During the COVID-19 Outbreak

How to Protect Your Mental Health During the COVID-19 Outbreak

These are strange, scary times. Life as we know it has flipped on its head. Restaurants, bars, parks, gyms, and stores throughout our community and around the nation are closed. People have canceled travel plans, and grocery store shelves empty rapidly several times a week, and mental health everywhere is on the decline. 

Most of us have never lived through anything like the COVID-19 outbreak, and, understandably, many of us feel intense fear, anxiety, and uncertainty.

If we’re going to get through this, though, we have to take care of ourselves. Fortunately, there are still many ways to do that, even if you’re self-quarantining or social distancing. Here are a few of our favorite tips to protect your mental health during this challenging moment:

1. Go outside

If you live here in the Flathead Valley, you know the weather has been beautiful, even while downtown businesses have shut down, and people have stopped coming together. While social distancing and self-quarantine are critically important to take care of our most vulnerable populations, you can still get outside and enjoy that sun.

At the time of this writing, community fixtures like the Whitefish Trail system and the Hugh Rogers Wag Park are still open, so get out there and get some sun. You can keep track of park and trail statuses on the City of Whitefish website

2. Take a soothing bath

“There must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them. Whenever I’m sad I’m going to die, or so nervous I can’t sleep, or in love with somebody I won’t be seeing for a week, I slump down just so far, and then I say: ‘I’ll go take a hot bath.'” – Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath was right. If ever there were a time for a hot bath, this is it. Not only does hydrotherapy reduce stress and lower blood pressure, but it can soothe aches and pains, promote better sleep, enhance your mental health and wellbeing, and provide some much needed time to “unplug.” Make your bath even more relaxing by tossing in some Epsom salts, bath oils, oatmeal, or anything else that will soothe your body and lift your spirits. 

3. Cut down on media

There’s a difference between staying informed and binging disaster broadcasts. The former is smart, and the latter is crazy-making. With that in mind, limit your media intake to once or twice a day. 

During the times in-between, get off of social media, play some music instead of listening to the radio, and avoid television. Fill that time with something productive and uplifting, instead. If you can work from home, focus on being as efficient as possible. If not, read a book, take an online class via EdX, or learn a new skill. Your stress levels will thank you.

4. Start a mini-mindfulness practice

Even if you’ve never practiced mindfulness before, now is a great time to start. Apps like Headspace and Shine (which features short meditations curated by women for women) make it easy to carve out some chill time in the middle of a tense global moment. 

InsightTimer is another great meditation app, which features a brand-new talk by writer Elizabeth Gilbert on the topic of facing fear with compassion. While you’ll have to download the app to access the 23-minute recording, it’s so worth it. 

Bonus: in the interest of promoting mental health, most of these meditation apps are waiving any existing membership fees right now, so you can get all the goods without stressing yourself financially.

4. Give yourself a mental health spa day

Maybe you can’t get your nails done or schedule a haircut right now, but you can set aside some time to pamper yourself at home. After you take that nice, hot bath we talked about earlier, slather on your favorite exfoliating mask. Finish the experience off with some rich body moisturizer, a nourishing facial serum, and a spritz of stress-busting rosewater

5. Make your home smell nice

There are dozens of ways to do this. Cook a hearty, comforting meal, burn some sage, light up a candle that reminds you of summertime, or throw the window open to let in some fresh, spring air. Now is time to take comfort in the little things, and surrounding yourself with soothing scents is a great way to reduce stress and lift your mood. 

We’re all in This Together

Eventually, the world will stabilize again. Businesses will open their doors, restaurants will start seating tables again, and we’ll regain the sense of community and security we know and love. 

Until then, though, let’s do our part to keep vulnerable populations safe, be kind to those around us, and take care of ourselves in the process. Let’s all do our part to preserve our mental health, so we can be productive, loving members of society – as it were. If you’re struggling with stress or anxiety right now, the five tips in this post are practical, simple ways to make everyday life a little more comforting. 

If you want to reach out and extend that comfort to the people around you, there are dozens of ways to do that, too. Donate some money to your local food bank, place an online or take-out order at your favorite small business. These are trying times, but we can make them easier by sticking together. 

Caring for Your Skin During Pregnancy: Your Complete Guide

Caring for Your Skin During Pregnancy: Your Complete Guide

Pregnancy: it’s a time to pamper yourself, savor the experience, and relax as much as possible. For many women, though, skincare for pregnancy is tough to stay on top of. After all, pregnancy-related hormonal changes can bring on a host of issues, including breakouts, itching, rashes, pigmentation changes, and stretch marks.

Fortunately, skincare during pregnancy doesn’t have to be difficult. Today, we’ve got a few smart skincare tips that will keep you radiant from your first trimester through those last few days:

Skincare for Pregnancy: 5 Problem-Solving Products 

Pregnancy is a magical time, but it can be a bummer for your skin. Up that glow and stay comfortable by adding the following ingredients to your daily skincare routine:

1. For Stretch Marks: Try Vitamin E Oil

Stretch marks are common on the belly and breasts throughout pregnancy. In addition to making some women feel self-conscious, they can also be itchy and uncomfortable. Give your hardworking skin some relief with a super-effective natural moisturizer, like Vitamin E oil. 

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient that occurs naturally in superfoods like eggs, nuts, and avocados. When Vitamin E is applied topically to the skin, it eases dryness, bolsters the skin’s natural defenses, and boosts collagen production, all of which decrease the likelihood of stretch marks. 

For best results, pick a dense Vitamin E product and rub it on each night before bed. We recommend our Elder Flower & Vitamin E Hydrating Lotion, which is packed with Vitamin E and is a favorite among moms-to-be. 

skincare for pregnancy

2. For Dry, Itchy Skin: Try Coconut or Wheat Germ Oil

Skin stretches rapidly during pregnancy, which can create itching, dryness, and chapping. 

Luckily, you can find some relief with easy-to-find, natural remedies like coconut and wheat germ oil. Both are rich sources of fatty acids and essential vitamins, which help moisturize the skin and keep it supple. 

To soothe an itchy belly and stop stretch marks before they start, check out our Great Mother’s Belly Butter.

skincare for pregnancy

Formulated with skin-soothing cocoa butter, olive oil, coconut oil, wheat germ oil, and comfrey root, this thick, nourishing cream rebuilds skin tissue and delivers intense moisture. It also promotes collagen production and can stop itching. 

3. For Pigmentation and Dark Spots: Try Glycolic Acid

Treating pregnancy melasma (dark spots on the cheeks, neck, forehead, or chin) can be a tall order. Because hormonal changes cause melasma, it requires an “inside out” treatment approach. 

While there’s no guaranteed way to prevent melasma, you can minimize flare-ups by focusing on sun protection. UV exposure makes melasma patches darker, so be sure to wear sunscreen daily. SPF between 50 and 60 will provide the most production. 

In addition to protecting yourself from the sun, plant-based products containing Vitamin C, arbutin, soybean extract, licorice extract, or glycolic acid can be helpful. We recommend our Glycolic Treatment, which is packed with alpha-hydroxy acids that help even skin tone by bringing newer skin cells to the surface.

skincare for pregnancy

4. For Rashes and Irritation: Try Oatmeal 

If you expected that elusive glow throughout your pregnancy, you might be a little surprised when what you encounter is itchy, rashy skin. 

One of the most common conditions women develop during pregnancy is called Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy, or PUPP. PUPP affects about 1 out of every 130 pregnant women, and typically appears on the stomach (frequently near stretch marks). It may also flare up on the arms, legs, and buttocks. 

While PUPP isn’t dangerous to your developing baby, it is uncomfortable. To get some relief, try our Oatmeal Complexion Bar, followed by Organic Rose Water as an after-shower treatment, both of which can help calm skin. 

skincare for pregnancy

5. For Breakouts: Try Hemp Oil

If you thought your days of breaking out ended when you were 17, think again. Many women experience acne flare-ups during pregnancy. While acne is most common during the first and second trimesters, it can occur at any time. 

The cause? An increase in hormones known as androgens. These cause the skin to produce more oil, which clogs pores and leads to inflammation and breakouts.

 When it comes to treating pregnancy-induced acne, don’t turn to harsh ingredients, as they’ll only dry skin out and make acne worse. Instead, use an ingredient like hemp oil, which moisturizes without clogging pores. We recommend the Gypsy Cream from The Good Stuff Botanicals. It’s great for all sorts of skin ailments and will soothe irritated and acne-prone skin.  

skincare for pregnancy

Natural Ingredients are Your Best Skincare Weapon

Pregnancy is a dynamic time, and a lot happens to your skin and body in those ten months. Fortunately, skincare for pregnancy doesn’t have to be hard. Today, there are dozens of high-quality, plant-based formulas out there that are both effective and gentle on pregnant skin. 

Give the products mentioned in this post a try or shop our extensive selection of natural and organic skincare products to find the formulas that can help you stay comfortable and feel confident throughout all 40 weeks. 

4 Harsh Ingredients That Could be Hiding in Your Bubble Bath

4 Harsh Ingredients That Could be Hiding in Your Bubble Bath

Bubble bath has a dirty little secret. Many brands hide irritants, toxins, and harsh chemicals that most of us wouldn’t choose to put on our skin. Unless you’re reading labels closely, it’s easy to miss these nasty additives. To keep your skin happy and make your home a healthier place, avoid these toxic ingredients next time you choose a bubble bath:

1. Parabens

What they are: Parabens are preservatives used in the cosmetics industry. Companies add them to their cosmetics to keep products fresh, germ-free, and shelf-stable. 

Why avoid them: Parabens are a powerful hormone disruptor known to mimic estrogen in the human body. One 2004 study found high concentrations of parabens in breast cancer tissue taken from adult women. These preservatives are particularly common in the cosmetics and personal care industry, so be sure to check your labels before you invest in a new product. 

2. Gluten

What it is: Most of us know gluten as the ingredient that makes bread so delicious or puts the “sticky” in sticky rice. Did you know that it’s also a popular ingredient in skincare products like bubble bath and lotion, though? Gluten is a protein that occurs naturally in grains like wheat and rye, so products that contain these ingredients or their byproducts will also contain gluten. 

Why avoid it: If you have a known sensitivity to gluten, using a product with gluten or gluten byproducts can cause unpleasant skin reactions, like rashes and irritation. Fortunately, gluten-free skincare products are becoming easier to find.  

3. Alcohol

What it is: Alcohols like ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, alcohol denat, and methanol help creams and solutions feel lighter on the skin. They can also work to help ingredients penetrate the skin or to extend the shelf-life of products. While they sound harmless, these alcohols often cause irritation, dryness, and breakouts. 

There are also good alcohols in skincare, though. Benzyl Alcohol, for example, is a little different than other “bad” alcohols. While the EU does list this product as a potential allergen, it’s a critical ingredient in organic and natural skincare products because it prevents bacterial development. Benzyl Alcohol occurs naturally in essential oils like Peru Balsam and is an approved preservative under the COSMOS Organic Certification criteria. 

Why avoid it: Today, some skincare products contain such high concentrations of “bad” alcohol that they demolish the skin’s natural protective barrier. This makes it difficult for the skin to retain moisture. The stripping nature of alcohol also stimulates excess oil production, which can lead to breakouts. Bottom line: there’s nothing wrong with putting certain alcohols on your skin. You just have to understand the difference between skin-safe and potentially harmful varieties. 

4. Phthalates

What they are: Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in a variety of manufacturing processes – from plastics to skincare products. In most cases, they’re used to keep materials pliable. 

Why avoid them: Studies have shown that Phthalates are known endocrine disruptors, widely associated with adverse birth outcomes in pregnant women and reproductive damage in children and men. While research is ongoing, The National Toxicology Program listed Di(2-Ethylhexyl) phthalate (usually known as DEHP) as “anticipated to be a human carcinogen” in last year’s 13th Report on Carcinogens. The danger of Phthalates is so evident that cosmetics companies like Revlon, Unilever, and Johnson & Jonhson have eliminated these chemicals from their products. 

Also Watch out for: Sulfates

What they are: Sodium lauryl sulfates are a lesser variety of additives that some people may want to avoid. Potent cleansing agents designed to remove oil and dirt create a rich lather in products like soaps and shampoos, sulfates are a common ingredient in skincare products. 

You might want to avoid them, though, if you color your hair since sulfates can strip the dye from your strands prematurely. Studies have also shown they can be irritating to sensitive skin and eyes, as well. If you decide to use a bath product that contains sulfates, avoid soaking dyed hair in the water.

Today, there are about 100 different kinds of sulfates. Some varieties are synthetic, often derived from sulfur- or petroleum-based products, while others occur naturally in substances like coconut oil. 

Finding a Clean Product for Your Next Bath

The cosmetics industry has an issue with toxic ingredients, and it can be tough to find clean alternatives that nurture your skin and provide the relaxing experience you’re looking for. Fortunately, Sage & Cedar carries a wide assortment of skin-safe products to choose from. 

Our new bubble bath, specifically, is a totally clean product with no sulfates, parabens, gluten, alcohol, or phthalates. Available in four fragrances: Tobacco Amber, Magnolia Sandalwood, Sea Salt, and Coconut Lemongrass, this is one of our favorite new products for body-safe self-care.