My Beauté: 3 New Favourite Organic Masks

My philosophy about skincare changed a lot since I started the blog in 2016 and it’s still evolving. Even though I love passing along what I’m learning, I want to make sure that I know where I stand as a consumer and someone who shares information online, because it’s a huge responsibility and I take it seriously.

After all, knowledge is power and when you have the means to take care of your physical, mental and spiritual health, you reach a certain control over who you are and what you stand for.

That being said, I thought it was about time to share an upgraded version of DIY Organic Masks.

1. Raw Honey & Manuka Honey

Since ancient times, raw honey has been used for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Being used for acne treatment and prevention, as well as, clarifying pores and simultaneously delivering moisture to the skin. Honey is also full of antioxidants, which means it’s great for slowing down premature ageing. Its powerful humectant and soothing properties give the complexion a boost, causing your skin to have a beautiful and natural glow.

WHY IS MANUKA HONEY DIFFERENT?

Manuka honey (Leptospermum scoparium) is a monofloral honey produced only in New Zealand from the Manuka tree flowers. All types of honey have an antiseptic property because they contain hydrogen peroxide (which might act as a milder ingredient than benzoyl peroxide when fighting the acne bacteria). However, Manuka honey is so special because it contains extremely potent natural antibacterial properties that aren’t found in other types of raw honey. That way, these antibacterial activities work synergistically — enhancing their effects.

There are two very specific and certified grading systems to ensure purity and quality of the antibacterial strength present in Manuka honey. You’ll find them on the labels:

  • UMF® (Unique Manuka Factor): it’s the industry standard rating and can only be used by licensed producers who meet the set criteria, which ensures the product is 100% pure and possess the unique non-peroxide antibacterial property. The rating of this special non-peroxide has a 1:1 direct relation to the phenol standard, which is a disinfectant. That being said, a UMF rating of 20+ is equivalent in strength to a 20% solution of phenol.
  • MGO™: it’s mostly used by Manuka Health New Zealand Ltd and it stands for the active compound Methylglyoxal, found in the pollen of the Manuka tree flowers. Different from the UMF, which compares its antibacterial performance to a phenol, the MGO measures simply the methylglyoxal amount. The higher the MGO rating, the higher the antibacterial property.
lina-levien-manuka-tree
Manuka Trees

This New Zealand native tree has a short blooming period, which makes the placement of beehives and the timing of the harvest crucial. So, not all Manuka honey has UMF and the ones that do vary in strength from 5 to 20+. It’s recommended to use for therapeutic levels from UMF 10 to UMF 15 but superiorly effective against a wide range of very resistant bacteria from UMF 15+ to UMF 20+.

I understand that not everyone has access to Manuka honey so don’t stress out! My goal here is to pass along the information, okay? Okay. Raw Organic Honey also has natural antibacterial properties, although less strong ones. And honey, in general, is antibacterial, antioxidant and humectant, like I mentioned earlier.

TIME TO MASK IT:

You can use this mask as a spot treatment for acne or apply a thin layer all over your face and leave it 10-15 minutes. After that, just remove with a muslin cloth and lukewarm water.

•••

2. Green Tea & Matcha

I love love love drinking green tea (2 cups a day minimum!) and matcha-cha-cha tea for a ton of reasons; they’re healthy, tasty and Matcha reminds me of my beloved chimarrão (a typical hot beverage from my home state, Rio Grande do Sul – south of Brazil). But you can enjoy their properties topically as well! They’re great for oily, combination and acne-prone skin.

Scientific studies suggest that the Polyphenols (antioxidant molecules found in many foods that have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties) found in green tea might help lowering sebum production and decongest your pores from blackheads, whiteheads and yellow heads.

Green tea also contains a natural component that is a very powerful antioxidant, EGCG which protects cells from lipid peroxidation and DNA damage induced by reactive free radicals. Experimental studies have shown that green tea polyphenols demonstrated greater antioxidant protection than Vitamin C and E.

NOW, HERE’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GREEN TEA AND MATCHA:

Green tea is like most other teas, you have the leaves in a filter or directly in a cup with the temperature of the water around 70°C — but that depends on the kind of tea — and before you drink it, you remove the leaves. With good quality teas, you can brew from 2 to 4 times of those same leaves.

The thing with Matcha and why it’s so much more powerful than green tea is that, even though it’s the same leaf, Matcha is the powdered leaves of the tea. When you mix it with water, you consume the whole freaking leaf, not just the brew! And that, my Earthling, is why Matcha is a powerhouse. *drop the mic*

lina-levien-matcha-green-tea

TIME TO MAKE IT:

  • Brew your green tea or mix matcha powder with hot water (approximately 70°C).
  • Put a few cotton pads inside an airtight glass (it can be a reused glass, like a cornichons kind of glass).
  • Pour the tea into the glass to soak in the cotton pads.
  • Close it and store it in the fridge until it gets cold.

TIME TO MASK IT:

To use it you only need to place the cold cotton pads distributed onto your face. Leave them for about 10-15 minutes and voilá!

•••

3. Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe vera is one of those plants that has been used for almost 2,000 years because of its unlimited benefits for the skin and body. This beautiful green succulent plant is 99% water but the remaining 1% is where the magic happens.

It contains an enzyme called bradykinase and hormones like auxins and gibberellins that have anti-inflammatory properties, helping to accelerate wound healing. It’s also soothing and calming, helping to bring down the heat that worsens skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea, rashes and dehydrated skin.

Aloe vera gel also contains antioxidant vitamins such as A, C, E, B12, folic acid and choline which neutralize free radicals, as well as directly stimulate fibroblast cells that promote collagen and elastin production. The amino acids soften hardened skin cells and the zinc acts as an astringent to tighten the pores — just to name a few.

You can find ready-to-sell packages on the market but it’s hard to trust how pure they are without a certificate. One thing I know for sure: pure aloe vera gel is definitely NOT green. I must say that organic and fresh is always best (hahaha it even rhymed a little!) so if you have nice knife abilities, buy a little aloe plant and you’ll be certain that your clear/transparent gel is pure.

TIME TO MAKE IT – OPTION 1:

  • To remove an outer leaf, cut it slightly diagonal, close to the plant’s base.
  • Place the cut leaf upright in a glass in a slightly tilted position for 10 minutes. This will allow the dark resin sap to drain from the leaf.
  • Wash your hands before extracting the aloe vera gel, so you don’t contaminate it.
  • Wash the leaf under running water.
  • Cut the serrated edges off the leaf using a sharp knife.
  • Make an incision in the middle of the leaf, then peel the skin off.
  • Scoop out the aloe vera gel using a spoon and put in a bowl. Try to avoid the yellowish part of the pulp because it contains toxins.
  • Blend the gel for 30 seconds in a high-speed blender for a smooth paste.
  • Transfer it to an airtight glass and store it in the fridge. Fresh aloe vera gel without any added preservatives will stay good for 1 week when kept refrigerated at all times.

TIME TO MAKE IT – OPTION 2:

  • Cut the leaf, drain the resin, wash your hands and the leaf.
  • Squeeze and smoosh the leaf towards an open end until all the gel is out.
  • If you want a thicker gel, skip the blender part. too.
  • Store it in the fridge inside an airtight glass.

TIME TO MASK IT:

If your gel is smoother, you can wet cotton pads with the gel and place them over your face. Or if your gel is thicker, scoop some of it with a spoon and spread it directly onto your face. Leave if for 10-15 minutes. After that, just remove it with a muslin cloth and cold water.

•••

That’s a wrap for April, you beautiful Earthling!

It has been such an awesome month, full of favourite things and a few teachable moments, too — which I’ll be sending only to the LL Collective tomorrow!

If you aren’t a member yet, click here and become one!

Thank you so much for reading, commenting and sharing! See you on the next one!

With all my love,

Lina

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