Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Preventing Sunburn Inside and Out

We all enjoy a good picnic in the park or day lazing on the beach in the summertime. A little bit of sun is good for us, and even recommended. It may not make you impervious from harm or give you the power of flight, but sunlight is still super for increasing your levels of contentment and boosting the much-needed Vitamin D most of us lack. But what do you do when you want to spend more than 30 minutes in the great outdoors? Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself.

Antioxidant-Rich Diet
Too much sunlight on your skin breaks down your skin cells. You can slow down that breakdown with a diet packed full of nutrition. The nutrients and antioxidants in food will mop up any cell damage and stimulate your cells to produce new healthy cells to replace the damaged ones. The most nutrient dense foods you can eat are dark leafy greens, non-starchy vegetables, berries and citrus fruits, nuts, cocoa, avocados, coffee, tea, olive oil and coconut oil. A healthy diet won't completely protect you from the sun, but it will reduce the damage considerably and help you heal much faster.

Essential Oils
There are a lot of plant oils that naturally prevent sunscreen. Coconut oil is a good start, but add 5 to 10 drops of other oils to boost protection. Myrrh, lavender, helichrysum and red raspberry seed oil all block out a significant percentage of harmful radiation when applied to the skin. Mix essential oil with some coconut oil in a jar and apply every hour or two throughout your time outside.

Cover Up
Anyone who's ever experienced Farmer's Tan or a Phantom Watch knows that clothing will block out sun exposure. bring a swimsuit cover-up like a long-sleeved linen shirt, a hat or a long cotton dress to wear after a swim.

Have a Friend Watch Your Back
Many times you'll be burned way before you even feel it. Hang out with friends, and especially if you burn easy, let them know they can feel free to point it out when you're starting to look red so you can stop it in its tracks before it gets worse.

Soothe the Burn
As careful as you are, it's probably going to happen eventually. Cut a leaf of aloe or mash up a cucumber to cool raw skin, or cut a raw potato and apply directly where it hurts. Bonus points: put the potato in the fridge first. The starch will help soothe your skin. Oatmeal can be used similarly by applying to the skin or soaking in a bath of it. White vinegar will kill the pain too. Apply every 20 minutes to where it hurts the most.

Enjoy your summer fun, and until next time, keep it clean!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Natural Skin Care

It's no secret here at Azuma that we dig the natural lifestyle. One of the things that I'm most proud of are all the compliments on my glowing skin. The great thing is, there's really no magic or expensive secret to keeping it clean, gorgeous and healthy. Here's my regimen for looking fresh.

Baking Soda
The easiest and cheapest trick in the book. Forget expensive exfoliating gels and creams. Baking soda is proven to do it all. Removes dead skin cells, whitens and brightens uneven color and dark splotches, removes blackheads, and alkalizes the skin surface to prevent zits from getting out of control. Just put about a teaspoon in your hand, add a little water, and scrub in the morning and before bed.

Witch Hazel
It's not magic, just a wonderful plant with great astringent qualities. You can get witch hazel extract for cheap in the first aid aisle of most grocers, but fancier scented varieties such as Thayer's are also out there. The antioxidants fight acne, relieve eczema and psoriasis, and soothes swelling and cracked, dry skin. I like to wipe down my face with it after removing make-up or scrubbing with baking soda. It also works great as an aftershave! No more razor bumps.

Aloe is also a wonderful skin soother and mild moisturizer. Keep some in the fridge for days when you're a bit puffy and smooth it on your face. I also mix aloe as a carrier for other oils as a daily moisturizer.

Sweet Almond Oil
There are a few different oils to choose from for moisturizer. Some prefer castor oil, some like coconut or avocado, but I've found the one that least irritates my face and delivers the right amount of moisture without clogging my pores is Sweet Almond. All of these natural oils have amino acid chains similar to the oils your skin naturally produces. That means that it soaks in and penetrates rather than just sitting on the top and sealing in what oil you have. I put half and half almond oil and aloe into a travel bottle, shake it up and squeeze out a dime sized amount when I need lotion for my face.

Eat Right
I know, I know. We've heard it a million times. But it is SO important to eat your cruciferous veggies and greens. The nutritional powerhouses are packed with antioxidants that clean your body inside and out and leave you with a healthy beautiful glow. I firmly believe my plant-strong diet is the biggest reason why my skin stays healthy and young. Kale, arugula, broccoli, collards, romaine, chard, cauliflower, mustard greens galore!

Some type of movement every day keeps your blood moving, delivering important nutrients and oxygenating your cells, triggering the hormonal responses necessary to make new cells and revitalize your skin. Running, walking, yoga, playing with your children, swimming, biking. Science has proven time and again that those of us who stay young mentally and physically exercise regularly. Whatever it is you do, keep active.

Until next time, keep it clean!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How to Keep Your Cat from Waking You Up

Most cat owners have experienced their cat pouncing on their face at 5AM. It's an irritating experience, especially on a Sunday morning! Contrary to popular belief, cats can be trained. Here are a few tips for how to get your cat on your sleep schedule.

Listen to Your Cat
When a cat is "misbehaving", it's usually for a reason. This includes pouncing on your face in the morning. If your cat is exhibiting unusual behavior, it may mean that something in his environment has been interrupted (like a new cat in the neighborhood) or that he may be sick. Training a cat or any pet means teaching it to live alongside you within your rules, but within reason. Remember that animals, much like small children, can't communicate to us except with noises and gestures. Just like with a child, check to see that their basic needs are met first and then try and figure out if something is wrong beyond that.

Fulfill the Basics
Most cats are very territorial and like to feel that their territory stays a particular way. If you feed your cat and clean its box sporadically, this can make it feel insecure, resulting in weird behaviors to get your attention. Clean the box at LEAST once a week on the same day, completely change the litter once a month, and have specified times that you feed your cat, always giving fresh water. The easiest schedule is once before you go to work and once before you go to bed. If they feel their needs are not being met, most cats will do whatever it takes to get your attention, even if it's negative-- like scratching the furniture or knocking things off the shelf.

Keep Your Cat Entertained
Cats are nocturnal and naturally like to explore at night. But if they get their "hunting" out during the day, they're less likely to need to do it while you're snoozing. If you're away most of the day, leave them puzzles, balls and toys to play with. Cats get bored just like people, so try and keep most of their toys hidden away and then give them one or two in the morning. An old toy will feel new and exciting again if they haven't seen it in a while. Be sure to interact with your cat, too. Playing with a fishing toy or a piece of yarn, or even playing fetch are all great games that will help you bond with your cat and wear him out, too.

Make a Bedtime Routine Your Cat Understands
To help your cat wind down and be ready to sleep when you are, before you go to bed remember to Play, Feed and Groom. If your cat goes outside, let him roam his territory for a couple hours and call him in at the same time each night. (If you consistently give your cat treats for responding, just like a dog he will come when you call.) If your cat is an indoor cat, play with him to wear him out. Feed your cat after playing. Once he's done, brush him to finish calming him down. These are all natural things cats do before sleeping: hunt, eat, clean themselves up and nap.

Avoid the Signals
Cats are keen to notice sights and sounds that signify morning. Keep the shades closed so the sun doesn't pour in, use a fan or a white noise machine at night to drown out the sounds outside. The more consistent you can keep your sleeping area, the better.

Resist Fighting Back
If your cat is annoying you, it's hard to fight the urge to think they're just doing it to torture or spite you. Reacting in any way is giving your cat attention and going to reinforce bad habits. It may take several days for your cat to learn to sleep at night. Be strong! Try not to acknowledge your cat when he wakes you up in the morning, not even locking him out of the room or pushing him off the bed. Eventually he'll understand that you will get up and feed him and play with him if he waits.