Lead Plant Focus :: Wild Rose (Smoothe and Pamper)

Harvesting rose petals
Wild Roses

With Valentine’s day fast approaching, “love is in the air” and the rose range is on my mind.  What better time to explore the rose as one of Weleda’s “Lead Plants“?

The ubiquitous rose requires little introduction. From a practical point of view it is a perennial flowering plant found growing across much of the world and, as such, is well recognised.

“No other flower fascinates us as eternally as the rose.  It’s no wonder that the rose enjoys almost legendary status among flowers – even the ancient Babylonians cultivated rose blooms to produce scented ointments from their petals.  In early China roses were specifically grown in terraced plots, as they knew about their regenerating effect.  At the time of the great Emperor Charlemagne, people use rose petals for gargling and for healing baths.

– Weleda UK”

In Europe it is commonly associated with love and passion.  It was a flower sacred to Aphrodite (the Greek goddess of love and beauty) and later became a symbol of the Virgin Mary (purity) and of the Resurrection.  Long recognised for its benefits to people, whether it be as a flavouring in food;  for health due to its calming, cooling, anti-inflammatory properties; or for cosmetic purposes; the rose is valued across the world.

Sourcing the roses

The main roses used by Weleda in its Wild Rose range are the Rosa moschata or mosqueta (Musk) and the Rosa damascena (Damask).

“Balanced between beauty and strength, the inner values of rose plants are just as significant – and they are particularly strong in their wild forms. The wild rose easily keeps its balance between smoothness and robustness, demand and adaptability.  When cultivated, roses externalise their vitality and image of harmony through their singular beauty and bewitching scent.  Wild roses, on the other hand, internalise their life forces and develop the inner essences which create the valuable rosa mosqueta seed oil…

… The core rosa mosqueta oil soothes and smoothes the skin, while the scent of damask rose harmonises the mood.

– Weleda UK”

Rose hips

Musk Rose (Rosa Moschata)

Rosa moschata provides the precious rosehip seed oil used in the Weleda ranges.  Rich in antioxidants and vitamins A and E, this oil helps to fight free radical damage and promote new cell growth.  With its exceptionally high amount of linoleic and linolenic essential fatty acids, it helps keep the skin well nourished and supports the skin in keeping its elasticity.  It is often used to help promote the healing of damaged skin and scars and is useful for skin complaints such as rosacea and acne.  Weleda sources its Rosa moschata from Chile.

Damask Rose petals

Damask Rose (Rosa damascena)

The damask rose is a source of the rose essential oil used in the Weleda ranges.  It takes three million flowers to produce just one litre of rose oil – so it is a precious thing indeed, revered across the world and through history.  This oil has many therepeutic uses: the afore-mentioned cooling and antiseptic properties and its scent, the balancing and relaxing of the mood (it’s no wonder the rose is also associated with seduction).

Weleda is committed to sustainable and ecological management and fair trade (Weleda is a member of the Union for Ethical Biotrade (UEBT). The roses used come from Isparta in Turkey, as part of a project with a local distillery, and from the Dades Valley in Morocco.

Harvesting rose petals

How Weleda Grows Its Organic Wild Roses

A great video about the the production of roses for Weleda from Weleda North America.


Wild Rose facial skin care, Body Care and bath/shower ranges

I have reviewed the Wild Rose Face Care and Body Care, Bath & Shower ranges if you are interested in learning more.  All are available from my online shop.


 Links

And because I couldn’t resist – “La Vie En Rose” by Edith Piaf (my French great grandmother’s favourite singer)

Love to you all. xxx


Image Credits

All images sourced from Weleda UK unless otherwise credited.


Disclaimer: Information is correct to the best of my knowledge, but I cannot take any responsibility for any accidental error – I’m human! If you find an error, please do contact me and I’ll do my best to rectify it.  If you are vegan, or have any particular allergy, please take care to always double check ingredients.  Prices correct at time of original publication.

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Birch :: Cleanse & Balance

Birch Leaf Harvest

This is the first of my series of posts introducing the Lead Plants that inspire the Weleda ranges. If you want to jump straight to my review of the range, please visit: Spring Cleanse & Detox with Weleda Birch range.

The Silver Birch (Betula pendula) is the inspiration for Weleda’s Detox and Cleansing range and as Weleda sources its birch leaves from the Czech Republic.  What better lead photo to use than from Weleda CZ themselves?

Birch, a tree of cleansing and new beginnings

Birch is a native of the Northern Hemisphere.  It is a fast growing, but relatively short-lived tree and considered a “pioneer species”, being one of the first trees to colonise clearings or the edge of a forest.  It is tall and slender, with thin, often pendulous twigs (hence its Latin name).  With its paper-like silvery white bark (that gives it its common name) it is an easy tree to recognise.

Its status as a “pioneer species” was recognised by people of times past and in the Ogham alphabet, “Beith” (birch) is the first letter and is associated with beginnings.  The birch also appears in Futhark (Norse runic alphabet) where it is also associated with purification and new beginnings (the cleansing of the old to make way for the new).  The birch also appears in countless folklore and mythology in the Northern Hemisphere.  It has associations with the goddess Venus in Roman Mythology, who in turn is associated with the feminine, healing, grace, movement and delicacy (and, indeed, the Silver Birch exudes grace and delicate movement, dancing in the sunlight of open glades).

Although slender of frame, the Silver Birch has a pale, dense and heavy wood, popular for making furniture.  It is a traditional wood used for May Poles. The brushwood is used for, well, brushes – as in the besom (broom).  The resin makes a waterproof glue and, indeed, the bark (due to its resin content) is useful to make waterproof vessels and as a firelighter or torch.    Artists such as Jane Bevan (1), who lives and works not far from Weleda’s HQ in Derbyshire, use birch bark to make unique sculptures.  Silver Birch is a tree of many uses!

It has a close relationship with a number of fungi – including the well-known Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) – and these mycorrhizal relationships improve the available nutrients in the soil.  Knowing this, Weleda gardeners try to build their compost heaps close to the birch.

In spring, large quantities of sap rise and some 400 litres are circulated in a day. The sap can be tapped (in the same way as maples are to make the better known maple syrup) and is sometimes fermented to make wine and beer.

Birch accumulates and deposits more potassium salts from its sap into its bark than any other tree.  This leaves the salt free proteins to collect in the leaves.  As with the tree, drinking Birch leaf tea helps stimulate the excretion of salt and water in the body.  The leaves are packed with anti-oxidants said to combat the free radicals contribute to cell damage.

In traditional medicine Silver Birch is used as a diuretic and has long had associations with cleansing and purification.  Some physical  examples of this are:

  • Besoms made from its wood used to sweep out the “negative energies” in a room.
  • “Vihta” or “vasta” – boughs of silver birch used to beat oneself after a sauna. The national tree of Finland is the Silver Birch.
  • The birch rod, used in past times as a form of corporal punishment to “purify” misdeeds.

All point to historic traditional uses of the birch.

In addition to the properties of its leaves, the outer part of the bark of the Silver Birch contains up to 20% betulin. Betulin has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory  properties (2) and is said to help with the repair of sun-damaged skin.

Birch Leaf Harvest
Harvesting birch leaves used in the Weleda Birch range.

FOLLOWING NATURAL RHYTHMS

Many people have heard of seven year life cycles, even if it is solely from the term “the seven year itch”. These seven year cycles continue throughout life, influencing the changes we experience.  Before the age of 35, our lives are governed more by anabolic (upward) forces (those that push us to grow and mature). But from 35 years, what have been predominantly anabolic forces, give way to the catabolic (downward).  Good health can be seen as a balancing of these forces and/or the balance of purification and elimination.  The Silver Birch is our aid in this balance.

As a tree associated with purification, cleansing and beginnings, the Silver Birch is also associated with Spring. It is in Spring-time that our bodies would most often benefit from a “Spring clean” cleanse or detox. As such, Weleda has produced a range of products suitable for use at this time: Spring Cleanse & Detox with Weleda Birch range.


REFERENCES and further Links

  1. http://www.janebevan.co.uk/ Artist using natural and found materials.
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4667568/ Recent studies on betulinic acid and its biological and pharmacological activity
  3. https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/trees-woods-and-wildlife/british-trees/native-trees/silver-birch/ Woodland Trust article on the Silver Birch
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2012/feb/01/how-to-make-birch-sap-wine Guardian article on making birch sap wine
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Banish Microbeads – avoiding microplastics in cosmetics

I love nature and feel happiest when out exploring and seeing what I can find and photograph.   I’m also a keen gardener and enjoy a good potter around my plants.

This enjoyment and concern means that I also try, where possible, to be considerate in my daily life and try to minimise polluting the environment around me.  We recycle, upcycle and freecycle as much as possible. I try to minimise unnecessary packaging (a real bugbear of mine) and keep our bin as empty as we can. With six of us in the house we rarely fill the small black bin – the house came with two (!) – when the fortnightly rubbish pick up occurs.  But there’s always more to be done.  Maybe one day we’ll manage to be pretty much zero waste (check out My Zero Waste – link listed in credits – for more information on that front).

Obviously I have an interest in plants and an interest in their use in cosmetics.  I try to avoid potentially toxic ingredients in the products I use on my (and my family’s) skin and one addition to many cosmetic products has really worried me.  With headlines such as “Up to 90% of seabirds have plastic in their guts” (link listed in credits), microbeads are causing no end of problems for the environment and the wildlife that inhabit it.

As this infographic (Greenpeace) shows, microbeads are washed down the drain and enter the water cycle, causing major pollution.

I recently came across this excellent explanation by Francesca Morgante (Natrue) of the threat caused by microbeads in cosmetics:

Recently, global attention has been drawn to the use of micro-plastic beads in cosmetic products such as body scrubs, contributing to the devastating environmental impact caused by the accumulating plastic debris in our oceans. In recent months several nations, including the UK, have called for a ban on microbeads. In many cases governments have pledged to bring about change to ban microplastics outright from cosmetics, or for usage to be phased out. Manufacturers now have until the end of 2017 to remove microplastics from their formulations if they are to sell their products in the UK.

So what are microplastic beads (or microbeads)? Why are they used in cosmetics? What environmental damage are they doing?

‘Micro’, meaning small, in this case means less than 5mm in size, and the ‘plastic’ commonly refers to a synthetic polymer like polyethylene. These intentionally added tiny plastics function as miniscule scourers, to exfoliate skin in rinse-off cleansing products like a facial or body scrubs, as well as toothpastes and other cosmetics. Over 680 tonnes of microbeads are used in the UK alone every year. Reports by the UK’s House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee revealed a single shower can result in 100,000 plastic particles entering the ocean.

Once they are rinsed down the drain, and eventually into the water treatment system, due to their tiny size they slip through water filtration systems before finally ending up in our waterways and oceans. Here, because they are insoluble in water and non-biodegradable, they accumulate and may be ingested by fish-eating birds, sea mammals, fish and invertebrates in our oceans: polluting and contaminating, and damaging the marine environment.  In fact only this month a new piece of research has revealed that even deep-sea creatures are ingesting microbeads – evidence of microbeads was found in hermit crabs, squat lobsters and sea cucumbers, at depths of between 300m and 1,800m. This is the first time that microplastics have been shown to have been ingested by animals at such depth, and could indicate that the scale of the impact may be wider than first thought.

Although the UK government has recently pledged to phase out the use of microbeads in cosmetics, brands have until the end of 2017 to remove them from the shelf in British stores. What can we do in the meantime to avoid them, particularly if we travel abroad where microbeads may still be in use?

In the often long ingredients declaration printed on pack, in the tiniest of fonts, it can be difficult to spot the pesky microplastics which include polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and nylon.

Far simpler is to swop to only using authentically natural and organic products, and ones that are certified to contain no artificial additives, such as brands bearing the NATRUE seal on their products. NATRUE certification prohibits the use of microplastics from its certified cosmetics. That’s over 4,800 products around the world you can choose, from over 200 authentically natural and organic brands you can trust. Products that bear the NATRUE seal will never include microplastics.

So what effective natural alternatives are authentically natural brands using instead? Natural exfoliants permitted by NATRUE could be for example inorganic minerals, like those found naturally in quartz sand, listed as silica or hydrated silica. Or exfoliants made from biodegradable jojoba beads using the ingredient name Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil, or from tiny beeswax pearls (Cera Alba). Or natural abrasives and exfoliants isolated from non-GM plants such as sucrose (from sugar cane). Or seed/shell powders and kernels from apricot (Prunus armeniaca), olive (Olea Europaea), and walnut (Juglans regia). Even salt. So enjoy these alternatives until you can be sure that no cosmetics contain microplastics, and look out for the NATRUE logo – it’s your guarantee.

http://www.natrue.org/consumers/what-makes-the-natrue-label-special/

natrue_logo


Why wait till the end of 2017?  That’s a terrifying number of toxic plastic beads entering the water cycle in the meantime! Act now!

Weleda is certified by Natrue, none of their products have ever contained plastic microbeads. As a company environmental sustainability is a key focus, it’s simply part of what Weleda does, not an add on for good PR.  Using Weleda products isn’t just better for your skin, it’s a vote to support a company that places environmental and ethical concerns as central to its being.

As an alternative to using products with microbeads in, perhaps consider using facial and body brushes or even simple muslin cloths?

If you are interested in learning more, please visit my shop or contact me.


Credits

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Ingredients to Avoid and Why

When I was pregnant with my eldest daughter I developed sensitive skin.  Despite years of putting pretty much whatever I wanted on my skin (although I have had eczema since I was a child – and looking back I can see I did little to make it better when I became a teen and then adult), suddenly I started to react to seemingly everything!  It wasn’t pleasant. My skin was sore, blotchy and very dry.  At the time I was becoming increasingly interested in making some big changes in my life (not least home educating, with an interest in Steiner education) and so I started to look around for what I might change for the better for mine and my families health.  It was at this time that I first came across Weleda whilst researching alternatives to the brands I had previously used.

Whilst there have not been any conclusive studies, there have been suggested links made between the presence of certain substances within products we use in our daily life and some cancers.  At the very least, many of these ingredients may cause problems for some people, such as myself, due to irritation.

SUBSTANCES YOU MIGHT WANT TO AVOID

  • Butylene glycol: petroleum derivative.  May be irritating to the skin, eyes and nasal passages.  Included in many products we may apply on our skin every day – the concern is that, over time, exposure may add up to being potential harmful to health.  At present studies have not linked this glycol to any organ-specific toxicity and it is not considering carcinogenic, unlike ethylene glycol.
  • Ethylhexylglycerin: enhances the preservative effect of phenoxyethanol.  Skin irritant.
  • Parabens (methylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, ethylparaben, E216, E218): used as preservatives, found in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and food products.  Studies have shown that they are able to mimic the hormone oestrogen, which is known to have links to cancers such as ovarian and breast cancer.  Tests run on breast tumours have confirmed the presence of parabens and, although at present there isn’t a proven link, it is probably better to exercise caution.
  • Petroleum, paraffin, petrolatum, mineral oil: a by product of the distillation of gasoline from crude oil, these are inexpensive carrier oils used to bulk out a large number of products such as cleansers and serums.  Not readily accepted by the skin, they interfere with the skin’s natural functions, leaving a non-absorbable film that can clog pores.
  • Phenoxyethanol: synthetic preservative – alternative to parabens.
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) & Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): anionic surfactants use to make products that ‘foam’ and also products such as engine degreaser (yes, really!)   Surfactants are used to help water and oil to mix, enabling them to effectively lift dirt and oil and wash them away.  Many people believe that you need “bubbles” to prove the product is “working” – but that squeaky-clean feeling is because the sulfates are stripping your skin of its natural oils!  You many think that that’s what you want, if you have particularly oily skin BUT your skin needs a certain amount of natural oils and if you take them away, your skin will go into overdrive trying to replace what has been lost, thus potentially compounding your original problem.  They can cause severe skin and eye irritation – hence there are often warnings on products including SLS/SLES to avoid the eye area.  Beware “greenwashing” SLES is often disguised in “natural” products with the term “derived from coconut”.
  • Triclosan: a petroleum by-product, used in products as an antibacterial agent, so found in toothpastes and cleansers, but also laundry detergents, wound care products and other products that are sometimes advertised as “anti-bacterial”.  It is a suspected endocrine (hormone) disrupter and may contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria.  It can pass through the skin and, again, the concern is that over time exposure may add up.

There are others, but rather than write a lengthy tome, I think one of the better sources for information recently has been Breast Cancer UK (links listed at the end of this article).  As part of their #DitchTheJunk campaign have produced a couple of excellent leaflets.  Both can be downloaded to your mobile device to act as a handy reference if you’re out and about!  Please visit their website for more information (including references and research).

GREENWASHING

Beware “green washing” – some companies claim “natural” credentials, but on closer inspection the ingredients list for their products tells a different story.  A product can claim to be “natural” with as little as 1% natural ingredients!

If you haven’t done so before, why not visit my online shop to read the ingredients of the various products by Weleda (certified natural) and compare them to the ingredients of various products in your bathroom cabinet – how many of them have you thought were natural, but on closer inspection prove not to be?

IMPORTANCE OF CERTIFICATION

So if pretty much any company can claim its products to be “natural” how do you sort through the claims?

Certification bodies such as NATRUE hold the answer.   Taken from the Weleda UK website:

NaTrue is the first internationally recognised quality seal for organic and natural cosmetics and thus creates clarity in the label ‘jungle’. Any products featuring the label of NaTrue guarantee the highest standards.

  • Natural and organic ingredients
  • Sustainable production process
  • Environmentally-friendly practices
  • No synthetic fragrances or dyes
  • No silicone oils, No ingredients from petrochemicals
  • No animal testing
  • No irradiation of end products or herbal ingredients

Each product is inspected by independent certification companies and the non-profit organisation NaTrue monitors the quality of the criteria. The first Weleda products, featuring the NaTrue label came on the market in the spring of 2009.

Our products certified by NaTrue are 100% natural

We aim to use only the purest wild-harvested, biodynamic or organically grown ingredients. NaTrue is a certification scheme created by the International Natural and Organic Cosmetics Association to regulate and protect natural skin care products.

Free from

NaTrue and Weleda have a lot in common: we want to promote natural skin care and have a high standard of quality, with a strong emphasis on natural and organic ingredients and their careful processing. We want you to know why you can trust us and our products. NaTrue also attaches great importance to environmentally-friendly manufacturing processes. All of Weleda’s products are free from petroleum-derived ingredients, synthetic chemicals, synthetic preservatives, synthetic fragrances, GMOs, and they are never tested on animals.

Different criteria for each type of product

The evaluation process for each type of product is different, since (for example) skin lotion can’t be evaluated on the same criteria as shampoo, either in the ingredients or in the manufacturing process. NaTrue controls are independent and the organisation works on a non-profit basis, with all criteria and information publicly available. Transparency is a fundamental principle for NaTrue – as it is for us.

Constant improvement to reach the highest level of certification

NaTrue certification is divided into three stages. To reach the first stage, it must be demonstrated that all ingredients are of natural origin and that they are only processed in a gentle, sustainable way. The next two stages evaluate the proportion of ingredients from certified organic agriculture, with higher certification guaranteeing higher organic content. As you can imagine, the highest level is very difficult to achieve – deliberately so, as companies should constantly strive to improve their products.

So you can look for the Natrue label as a guarantee – more information is available on the Natrue website.

Natrue logo

Please visit my online shop to browse through the fantastic Natrue certified range of products by Weleda and look out for further blog posts exploring their ingredients more closely.  I offer one-to-one consultations and group events if you live in the Doncaster area and are interested in learning more and sampling from the product range.  Please see Services for more information.


LINKS & REFERENCES

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