Seeking Serenity With Soul Sunday

Soul Sunday 1

Until recently I wasn’t really much of a fragrance-obsessed girl and truthfully, I wasn’t all that into aromatherapy either. I’ve always had a sensitive nose with very particular scent preferences and cleaning up my skincare and beauty routine has only heightened my sensitivity to fragrances. But dipping my toes in the eco-luxe fragrance world has really opened the floodgates to my new scent-loving tendencies. And aromatherapy, that’s a whole other beast I’m easing into now too.

Enter Soul Sunday, a handcrafted brand made in the USA which melds the best of two worlds: beautiful, minimalist design and effective, natural essential oil-based formulas. I’ve been obsessing over this small-batch apothecary goods brand and their standout aromatherapy blends are my current addiction.

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Au Natural Factual: Neroli Oil

When I see neroli oil (Citrus aurantiumlisted as an essential oil ingredient in any product or mixture, I immediately think of bright flowers and exotic, sweet, calming fragrances. Doubly alluring as the oil itself is the unique way neroli oil is produced: acquired from bitter orange tree blossoms through water distillation. Pale yellow in color and similar in scent to bergamot and lime, neroli essential oil is used in facial toners for its antibacterial and emollient properties. Toners and facial products with neroli oil have also been used to fade acne scars, cleanse skin and improve skintone. Neroli oil’s distinct aroma and therapeutic effects have also been used as an anti-depressant and aromatherapy tool to calm anxiety.

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Au Natural Factual: Lemongrass

Au Natural Factual is back for 2014! Today, we’re talking about Lemongrass, an ingredient I have been loving lately in my hair and body products. It has also always been a favorite scent of mine.

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon Citratus) is a perennial plant known for it’s many medicinal and therapeutic benefits and is indigenous to many areas of South Asia. Reported medicinal benefits of lemongrass are used in treating digestive problems, high blood pressure, fever, body pain, the common cold, cough and exhaustion. Lemongrass is also known for its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antioxidant and astringent properties.

Used when dry, lemongrass can be steeped to make tea, used as medicine as well as flavoring for food. The plant is commonly used as an ingredient in popular South Asian cuisine and is commonly found in soaps and cosmetics as a fragrance. With it’s lemony, citrus scent, lemongrass can also be extracted as an essential oil and applied topically or when used in aromatherapy, often inhaled for muscle pain relief. It is also said that lemongrass has rubefacient properties which may improve blood circulation.

The chemical composition of lemongrass is also interesting in understanding the basis for its many health benefits and natural characteristics:

The main chemical component found in lemongrass is citral, an aromatic compound, also known as lemonal. The compounds myrcene, citronellal, geranyl acetate, nerol and geraniol are found in varying quantities in Citral. Myrcene, geraniol and nerol contribute to lemongrass’ strong fragrance, citronella acts as an insecticide and geranyl acetate is another flavoring agent. –Healthers.org

The presence of Vitamin A in lemongrass can also have benefits for skin. Lemongrass helps to treat acne, brighten dark spots and prevent oily skin. The herb’s astringent and antibacterial properties are also good at reducing skin bacteria and infection. Lemongrass has also been thought to improve poor body odor by controlling excessive sweating.

Some popular, natural products containing lemongrass: 

Have you used lemongrass in any products or in food? What are your favorite products or methods using lemongrass?

Sources: HealthlineHealthers,WebMD 

Image sources: 1, 2

Au Natural Factual: Lavender

I have recently loved using and discovering  more uses for lavender.

Lavender is a flowering herb native to northern Africa and the mountainous regions of the Mediterranean. Its flowers and oil have traditionally been used for medicine. Most commonly found in the form of an essential oil, it’s botanical name is Lavandula angustifolia. Lavender is well known for its aromatic properties, its scent traditionally thought of as an aphrodisiac, but the herb also provides many benefits in skincare and beauty.

Lavender works wonders for curing restlessness, insomnia, nervousness, anxiety and depression. It can also be used for curing certain digestive ailments such as an upset stomach, nausea or vomiting and even for treating influenza, prevent colds and coughing. Lavender is also a great remedy for aching muscles, rheumatic discomfort and joint stiffness. In food and beverages, lavender is used as a flavor component. Some use lavender to prevent hair loss and can also be powerful in repelling insects.

“Lavender is particularly rich in aromatic molecules called esters, which are antispasmodic, pacifying and tonic, while other molecules give it its antiviral, bacterial and anti-inflammatory powers.”

The herb’s anti-inflammatory and anti-septic properties provide many benefits for use in skincare. These properties reduce redness, scarring and speeds up healing of the skin. As a circulatory stimulant, lavender essential oil increases blood flow and brings more nutrients and oxygen to skin cells. This property increases healthier skin cells and more frequent cell turnover.

Many people add lavender to bathwater to treat circulation disorders and improve mental well being. It is also believed that lavender essential oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties making the herb useful in healing minor cuts and soothing burns or bug bites.

According this website, lavender is “especially beneficial to the respiratory tract in particular coughs, colds, influenza. Certainly eases breathing when lungs and sinuses are choked with phlegm. Defends system against airborne viruses”.  It is advised to avoid using lavender during pregnancy, if you have epilepsy and fevers.

My favorite use for lavender essential oil is before bed as a relaxing scent that helps me sleep and de-stress.

Have you used lavender before and in what way?

Sources and Images: Bulk Apothecary, Everything Lavender, Medical News Today, Nethefield, Web MD, WikiCommons