We're all familiar with those pesky red splotches on our faces. The dreaded acne. So many of us fall victim to its effects in our teens. Along with it, we also fall victim of marketing traps as we try product after product to try and fix the issue. We, as a culture, are familiar with the idea of acne but few of us really understand the mechanics of why our faces under go this transformation, and even fewer of us understand the chemicals we are using on our skin to try and cure it. So let's jump right into it.
What is Acne?
Acne can be caused by several different things: hormone changes (including puberty and starting or stopping hormonal birth control), stress, bad eating habits, bad hygiene... All of these things will ultimately trigger the mechanism that is the actual physical cause of the acne.
The sebaceous gland
The center of your acne problems!
Whatever the reason for your acne, it all comes down to those little glands and the amount of sebum they're putting out. Sebum is the secretion that the gland creates to help naturally moisturize your skin. Before the invention of modern soaps, creams, and ointments for our skin and for that matter before the invention of taking baths, your sebaceous glands were responsible for protecting your skin from the elements. The sebum secreted out of your pores and helps to keep out bacteria by pushing the bacteria away from the opening of your pores. This creates a barrier of sebum on your skin. This layer helps to lock in moisture and protects your skin from sun damage, allergens and toxins in the air. Without an even coating of sebum, your face can dry out breaking down your top layer of skin and leaving the skin prone to irritation.
Soap: The Double Edged Sword
So, then maybe we should just let nature do the work and not wash our faces ever again? Although the idea is tempting, we still have to deal with loads of other issues that the modern world presents. There is more pollution, dust and germs in the air around us than before. Not cleaning off our skin can leave it open to the possibility of infection in the event of a small scratch or something more serious.
So how do we deal with the bacteria on our skin?
Just like our intestines, our skin is one big bacterial colony. Using anti-bacterial soaps like Dial on our bodies achieves similar effects to taking an oral antibiotic does inside of your gut. Both oral antibiotics and anti-bacterial soaps completely wipe out our natural bacterial ecosystems. Every time you take a bath with anti-bacterial soap, you are stripping away all of the bad bacteria, but also some of the good bacteria that protects your skin! Extremely hot water can also kill the bacterial colonies on your body, and further irritate your skin so make sure the water isn't too hot!
So, now that you know how our skin works, lets talk about why we get acne.
Your pores all over your body are actually tiny little hair follicles. And each one of these hair follicles has a sebaceous gland attached to them. As mentioned earlier, these glands excrete a substance called sebum that helps to push out any bacterias or allergens that may have found their way into the pores.
Sometimes, when we are not keeping our faces clean, these pores can become blocked by dead skin cells that are not being cleaned away with soap and water.
It is important to note that when dealing with acne, not all soaps are created equal. The less sudsy the soap you are using, the better. The best acne soap is one that will create a rich milky lather with very small bubbles. The problem with large bubbles of soap is that they have relatively high tension along their edges. This forces the soap into the top layers of the skin, and that is a bad thing. When soap gets into pores, it does help to dissolve oily sebum, but also narrows pores by drying out and tightening the skin around them. The soap bubbles, along with any dead skin cells and bacterias they picked up may get stuck below the skin's surface, triggering another clog and infection. A desirable acne cleanser makes a creamy lather of very small bubbles. Small bubbles do not force soap into pores, and make the cleanser easier to rinse off the skin.
When the pore gets clogged, sebum starts to accumulate below the skin, this will eventually result in a white head. If the blockage manages to break out of the pore, it will oxidize and be visible above the skin as a black head. A pimple is a result of bacteria growing underneath the blockage otherwise known as an infection. At this stage, inflammation will begin. If the infection is not treated the follicle will rupture and out will come the fluid associated with the bacterial infection. Often times, this will leave the pore enlarged and can lead to acne scarring.
Most acne medications use the same chemicals to help you deal with the outbreaks. Here is a list of the 4 most common effective chemicals used in Acne products today, and their pros and cons.
Clears acne fast
The main advantage of benzoyl peroxide is that it clears blemishes fast by killing the acne-causing bacteria. "Initially it was used just on affected areas because it would dry up the pimples very quickly," says Oakland, CA, dermatologist Katie Rodan, MD. Over time, new formulations and concentrations have been introduced, and today, products that contain lower concentrations are thought to be just as effective as those with higher concentrations. "This means you can get the same results without the dryness," she says.
Acts as an anti-inflammatory agent
According to a study published in Cosmetic Dermatology, benzoyl peroxide acts as an anti-inflammatory agent by reducing oxygen in the skin. Because it reduces bacteria in the pore, it also works to reduce inflammation within the blemish.
Causes dehydration and could cause premature aging
Benzoyl peroxide has been associated with premature aging and dehydrated skin since it causes irritation to occur-anything irritating is usually dehydrating. The dryer the skin, the older it appears. "Although the skin may look prematurely aged, we don't know if the effects are long-term. Once moisturizer is consistently used, the skin bounces back to normal," says Washington D.C., dermatologist
Can lead to hyperpigmentation
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is a characteristic of acne, and benzoyl peroxide does little to help it. "It can create significantly more hyperpigmentation, especially in medium to darker skin because of the irritation that it can cause," says Venice, CA, celebrity aesthetician Nacole Raphalian.
Induces sun damage
Benzoyl peroxide cleans the pore, but some say as it does this, it thins and decreases its ability to protect itself from the sun. "Benzoyl peroxide can cancel out the effects of your SPF and make the skin more sensitive to the sun," says Beverly Hills, CA, dermatologist Debra Luftman, MD. The less protection, the quicker photoaging can set in.
THE PROS - Salicylic acid helps kill the bacteria that create acne, and also helps encourage exfoliation, which opens up clogged pores and kills the bacteria inside. It can also constrict the pore diameter, helping to reduce the risk of future clogging.
THE CONS - To continue to see results, however, you must continue to use salicylic acid on a regular basis. This is not a cure for acne, but rather a tool to use in the daily battle.
The main concern with this ingredient is that it is drying and somewhat irritating, especially for sensitive skin types. Since many people with acne have reactive or sensitive skin, the use of salicylic acid may provide temporary relief, but then may backfire in the long run.As skin becomes dryer, it may react by producing more oil, which then will create acne once again, requiring the use of more salicylic acid, which then creates more dryness, setting you up for a vicious cycle that only causes the condition of your skin to deteriorate.
Alpha hydroxy acids.
Two types of alpha hydroxy acids that are used in nonprescription acne products are glycolic acid and lactic acid. Alpha hydroxy acids are synthetic versions of acids derived from sugar-containing fruits. They treat acne by helping to remove dead skin cells and reduce inflammation. Alpha hydroxy acids also stimulate the growth of new, smoother skin. This helps improve the appearance of acne scars and gives the impression of smaller pores.
Irritation, burning, peeling, itching and photosensitivity can all occur when using Alpha hydroxy acids. Everyones skin is different and will react differently to varying levels.
Sulfer is a milk exfoliator, helping to remove dead skin cells which is essential to keeping the pored unclogged. It treats acne the most gently, Helps to treat skin wrinkles caused by acne.
Sulphur causes Skin Irritation after treating acne, skin Discoloration may be visible after acne sheds
and few have complained the use of sulphur causes headaches.
So how can halotherapy help to keep this under control?
So, lets review. We know that in the formation of acne two things are key, trapped bacteria and the resulting inflammation. Inflammation is triggered by infection. When your cells perceive danger, there is a protein that is released and the nearby cells around the danger site begin to swell. This is usually a good thing. Inflammation protects the cells from invading bacterias, viruses and injuries. Your body then sends out white blood cells to begin healing the affected area. Once the area is healed, in theory the inflammation is supposed to go back down, but sometimes our bodies can get a little out of whack and it can lead to chronic low levels of inflammation.
When you go into a halotherapy room, and the crystals start to float in the air and fall on your skin, two things will happen. The dry salt crystal will act as a tiny little microscopic sponge, soaking up all the excess fluid that is causing the inflammation. The salt will draw out the water and the inflammation will decrease. The salt will also help to kill off some of that bacteria that was causing the inflammation in the first place.
It's all natural. No chemicals, salt wont hurt your skin. With acne fighting chemicals there is a chance of getting rid of the acne but exposing yourself to new problems like dry or irritated skin from the chemicals. You wont have to remember 6 steps twice a day! I mean, who has time for that? Halotherapy also has tons of other benefits that acne medicines won't give you like respiratory benefits, and stress relief!
It is an ongoing thing, just like acne medicine, you're going to have to keep up with it. The good news is though, 2-3 times a week in a Halotherapy room should help the issue.
To complement the halotherapy, you should be washing your face every day with some natural products that wont irritate your skin. Skin care products that are salt based are a great complement to halotherapy. Check out my blog entry about Mindful Minerals to complete your salty skin care regimen!
I hope you guys learned something from this blog entry! I know I certainly learned a whole lot about acne that I didn't know! Please leave me some comments!
Here at Strictly Salt of Metairie, it's pretty obvious what were excited about.... SALT, of course!
I spent months researching and carefully selecting products we wanted to bring to the community, being mindful of what our clients need. Mindful Minerals is by far my pride and joy at Strictly Salt. We are so happy to be part of the Mindful Minerals family. Let's dive right into mindful minerals!
Mindful Minerals is a skin care company based out of Miami, FL. Their main mission is to provide
toxin-free, affordable, all natural skin care products. These products are mindful of the environment, vegan (with the exception of one product), and cruelty free. Every product from Mindful Minerals is packed with the highest concentration of Dead Sea water that each product can sustain.
Water from the dead sea is so special because it contains a wide variety of important minerals that our bodies need to function optimally. Humans have become so mineral deficient because of the lack of minerals in our diets. Even those of us who try to eat healthy may find that they are not receiving the same nutritional and mineral benefits that we were getting before modern farming practices started to drain the soil of all of its nutrients. These practices are making the food we eat deficient in nutrients too.
Besides the food we eat, we also receive nutrients through our skin, which is why it is so important to be mindful of what we are putting on our bodies as well as in our bodies! Our skin is capable of absorbing up to 35 minerals from Dead Sea water which is great news for our bodies! These minerals penetrate our skin and travel to our joints and our blood stream giving our bodies the minerals it needs to promote self healing and self regulation.
A few examples of these 35 Dead Sea water minerals and their benefits:
Bicarbonate - Balances PH
Boron - Builds Muscle Tissue
Bromide - A natural antibiotic that helps to heal and relieve skin disorders
Calcium- Strengthens cell membranes and cleanses pores
Chromium - Promotes healthy skin and a healthy circulatory system
Manganese - reduces cholesterol, assists in blood clotting, and increases antioxidant production
Silica- Promotes the formation of collagen, improves skin elasticity to inhibit the aging process.
Zinc - Antioxidant to fight viruses and to aid in tissue repair and curb acne breakouts.
JUST TO NAME A FEW!
DID YOU KNOW IT ONLY TAKES 26 SECONDS FOR CHEMICALS TO ENTER THE BLOOD STREAM?
11,000 chemicals are found in the products that we use here in the U.S.'s beauty industry in everything from nail polish to hair spray. including cosmetics specifically for topical application. Only 11% of those chemicals have been properly tested and approved for safety by the FDA and from those 11% that passed approval, a whopping 200 of those chemicals are banned overseas in the European Union!
Our bodies are capable of absorbing up to 5 pounds of cosmetics through our skin each year! That equates to about 60% of the actual product getting absorbed, and in children that number can be even higher. Some health issues that have been associated to those toxic chemicals found in cosmetics are; fertility issues, learning disabilities, hormone disruption, birth defects, and skin allergies!
But the good news is, you can SIGNIFICANTLY reduce your toxic load by switching to safe non-toxic products. In as little as three days, endocrine disrupting chemicals can drop as much as 40% after making the switch! There are several smart phone apps available that can guide you away from choosing toxic products. Always be on the lookout for promotional products that try to support such causes as Breast Cancer Awareness. Many of those products contain known cancer causing agents!
Now that we know a little bit more about other products lets talk a bit more about Mindful Minerals!
Not only is it non-toxic, but Mindful Minerals is sensitive skin friendly. I, personally, have extremely sensitive skin! I have been restricted to a select few products that have the least amount of chemicals in them as possible. The change in the beauty industry that has occurred in the last 10 years has really taken a toll on my skin. I had to stop using Aveeno, which was my cosmetic of choice from a young age. The company switched the main ingredients in their oat based formula to a cheaper and more readily available soy based formula which was making my face suddenly break out in enormous liquid filled blisters in my late teens! It took several months before I decided to try out the natural based Neutrogena Naturals skin care line and I've been using that ever since. It is one of the very few products out there that does not contain soy, does not make my eyes water, and does not irritate my skin. Neutrogena has been working well with my skin over the last 10 years that I have been using them until I turned 30 last year and I started noticing my skin changing. No longer young and vibrant and I started to see the first appearances of fine lines along my mouth and eyes. My skin started to look aged, but all of the products available to me for anti aging contained ingredients that were allergens for me. After having tried Mindful Minerals for a few days, I just felt like a whole new person. My skin's moisture was restored, and over the next three months I saw an improvement in those lines around my mouth and eyes! WHEW! SO, I decided... this is the skin care line I want to feature at Strictly Salt of Metairie!
The Trunk Show
Mindful Minerals likes their dealers to host trunk shows every now and again to draw in some new clients interested in trying out the products without actually having to purchase first! What a great way to introduce a product into a community so i scheduled a trunk show for our store. The coffee was made, the cookies and brownies were purchased, and the retail area was set up for an evening of pampering. Hind sight being 20/20, maybe I should have chosen healthier treats than cookies, brownies and coffee! Maybe next time!
Everyone had such a fun evening trying out the products which, I'm going to tell you a little about.
We tried out 6 products
Mud Face wash - Featuring water and mud from the dead sea. Such a gentle and light cleanser, leaves your skin feeling so fresh and smooth!
Get Even - Exfoliating Cleanser - This cleanser is such a great exfoliator and its especially formulated to combat hyper pigmentation that happens as a result of the aging process. This product is a little difficult to spread. The paste likes to clump together and you really need to work it into your face.
Get Dirty Mud Mask - This is by far my favorite. Made of Dead Sea water and Dead Sea Mud. We had a participant who has been to the dead sea on holiday exclaim "Look! this is exactly the color the mud at the dead sea actually was!". As we all donned our mud masks looking utterly ridiculous looking like swamp creatures, we could all feel the tingling sensations of the mud working its magic, or rather its minerals!
Get - Clear Cranberry Toner - Proven to significantly reduce redness and helps to reduce pore size!
Get Carded - This wonderful moisturizer has a very effective anti aging peptide!
BBCC Cream - This was a crowd favorite! We only have the cream in one color (medium) which miraculously matched 11 out of 12 participants!!!! The BBCC cream does it all. It's takes the place of your foundation, your daily SPF, concealer your anti aging and more, it smells great too!
Last was a product we were selling as part of the bundle but not trying out tonight. It is an overnight Face and Lip Balm called "rescue me". I absolutely love this product for when I'm feeling dullness and dryness in my skin. Its also excellent to help recover your face from sunburn or harsh winter winds.
Everyone was pleased with their experience with Mindful Minerals. We all left Strictly Salt last night feeling pampered! Every one's skin looked radiant! The most dramatic though was noticed by my aunt who decided she would do her facial a few hours before the crowd arrived to save me time! She has chronic issues with rosacea and the results were nothing short of amazing. Check it out.
Her skin showed drastic improvement after only one day using the exfoliating cleanser, mud mask, toner, and mineral peptide! Needless to say she went home with a few products!
We had someone try the Rescue me balm on their sunburnt back after they went home with the product. They had excellent results!
I was pretty impressed with how quickly it soothed the sun burn. I have only tried it for face dryness and general dehydration!
Really looking forward to our next Mindful Minerals Trunk show!!!!
Thank you all for reading and please feel free to leave a few questions of comments below!
Things have been pretty hectic this week at Strictly Salt of Metairie, I've been running the streets in search of furniture, accessories, art, curtains, and everything else we need to get open!
Yesterday, my lovely aunt accompanied me to the stores, where we ended up hungry shopping at TJ Maxx and I found this gem in the check out line --- thats where they get ya!
As I was hungry shopping... and had absolutely no purchasing filter, into the basket it went.
I arrived back at strictly salt and showed off my purchase to my husband and father in law and then ripped open the bag. So much salty goodness. We ate a few chips and put the bag away.
Today, I decided I needed a bit of a salty snack to offset the sweetness of the mandarin I just ate and pulled out the Himalayan salted chips and thought to myself, I wonder what it is about Himalayan Salt that is supposed to be so much better for you than regular salt. Of course, in true Nathallie fashion, down the rabbit hole I went into the subject of Himalayan Salt just for you.
How It's Made: Himalayan Salt
Himalayan salt has many names: Pink Salt, Himalayan Sea Salt, Rock Salt, Halite and Himalayan crystal salt. Himalayan Salt comes from the Punjab region in India about 190 miles outside of the Himalayan Mountains. Believed to have been born from a sea present in the permian era (for you non-geology nerds that was a mere 250 MILLION years ago!). The sea became land locked and eventually evaporated leaving behind the salt deposit. Over the next few hundred million years, this deposit ended up at the border of the Indian and eurasian plates and was pushed up into a mountain range in Pakistan.
The first documented discovery of Himalayan salt goes back to 326BC. Troops of Alexander the Great stopped to rest in a region near Khewra, Punjab (where the largest concentration of mines are today). They noticed their horses licking on the salty rocks, and Himalayan salt was probably mined from that area even since. The first records of commercial mining of Himalayan salt date back to the 1200's from Pakistan.
Why is Himalayan Salt Pink?
The color of Himalayan salt comes from the minerals found in the crystals. The chemical composition is very similar to table salt, plus zinc, iron, lead, copper and many more minerals. The colors of HImalayan salt range from a clear white to a dark beet red.
Himalayan salt vs. Other Salt
Himalayan salt is mined by hand in Pakistan. If your Himalayan salt says it is from anywhere other than Pakistan it is not real Himalayan salt. Regular white iodized table salt is heavily processed product. This process causes the elimination of the salt's natural mineral content. Table salt has a slightly higher concentration of sodium than Himalayan salt, and contains chemical anti-caking agents. Many table salts also undergo a bleaching process and contain aluminum derivatives. Himalayan salt contains no artificial iodine and less natural iodine in general than table salt. Those individuals with an Iodine deficiency however may have to look for an iodine alternative if they choose to only consume Himalayan salt.
Pink Himalayan salt is said to help balance the PH in your body, helping regulate your immune functions and encourages good digestion. Your body needs salt to perform a variety of functions such as muscle contraction and relaxation, maintain proper fluid balance and prevent dehydration, and prevents low blood pressure. Recent studies have even suggested that eating Himalayan salt can reduce the risk of infection and kill harmful bacteria. One study on animals suggests that Himalayan salt may also act as an anti depressant!
Some things to consider about salt in general however;
Although sodium is necessary for life, too much sodium can be hazardous to your health. The 2015-2020 Dietary guidelines for American's suggest consuming the equivalent of one teaspoon of salt per day at most.
What about Sea Salt?
Himalayan Salt is essential REALLY OLD sea salt!
Modern sea salt is created by harvesting ocean water or water from salt water lakes. The water that is harvested undergoes an evaporation process and the crystals left behind are used as sea salt. One big concern with sea salt these days is plastic. Studies are showing that sea salt around the world has become contaminated with plastic pollutions. Experts fear that plastics are finding their way into the food chain through the sea salt in our diets, since sea salt was recently marketed as a health food.
The Bottom Line
Himalayan salt has two main benefits in comparison to table salt. It's not processed, making it natural and chemical free, and it has a few additional minerals that your body will thank you for.
I really enjoyed researching and writing about consumption of Himalayan salt! I hope you guys learned a little something. I know I did!
Have any salty questions? Leave some comments below!
As the temperatures continue to rise here in the south and we inch closer and closer to summer, it's that wonderful time of year when we fire up the grill. My father in law had to go out of town this Sunday, so Stephen and I had the day off from Strictly Salt. We decided to head over to my step dad's house and invite a few friends over for an evening of experimentation. It was time to test out our Himalayan Salt Block Cooking skills.
When it comes to grilling on Himalayan Salt, you have a few options. You can use large round blocks, similar to pizza stones, large rectangles, small rectangles and square shapes or varying sizes.
We chose a few smaller "tapas" size plates like the one above with the shrimp on it. Since we had 6 people we decided to break out a few blocks to cut down on cook time!
It was time to light up the burners. One thing to remember with Himalayan salt is that you ABSOLUTELY MUST heat them gradually. If you don't, you will run the risk of cracking your stone due to large temperature swings. We put down a layer of aluminum to protect the bottom of our blocks, since we were all inexperienced in Himalayan salt block cooking, we weren't sure what to expect.
HEAT ON LOW FOR 20 MINUTES
This particular grill had 4 burners across it. Evenly distributed across the bottom. I set the timer for 20 minutes and put down the lid hoping that we wouldn't hear any sounds of cracking or explosions. After 20 minutes the timer went off and all was well. It was time to up the heat.
RAISE HEAT TO MEDIUM FOR 20 MINUTES
So, we turned up the heat on the gas dials and set the timer for another 20 minutes. When we came back, I was HORRIFIED!
OMG! THE STONES ALL TURNED BLACK!!!!
What do we do now. I thought for sure that I ruined it. It turns out that 4 burners was a bit much for the salt blocks, but none of them had cracked or exploded! We all stood around analyzing the situation and came to the conclusion that we should do the water splatter test.
HEAT ON HIGH FOR 20 MINUTES
After heating on high for 20 minutes, do the water splatter test.
The water splatter test is exactly what it sounds like. Grab a bit of water on your hand and just sprinkle it onto the block. If the water sizzles, then your Himalayan block is ready for cooking.
Now, OBVIOUSLY by my image above, we all thought it was a bad idea to heat the stones on high for an additional 20 minutes. So, we decided to turn off the two middle burners and let them cool off for a few minutes. Then came the splatter test. As I bravely stepped up to the grill with my water in hand, I reached my hand in and splattered it across the bricks and to my amazement nothing happened except for a mild sizzle! Everyone was relieved, and everyone joined in on the splatter fun... but no one more enthusiastic than my step dad.
The splatter test revealed that the dark residue was simply dust we failed to clean off properly before heating! So, with a damp paper towel and some tongs, we carefully wiped them clean and they were once again pink and ready for grilling!
With only two burners left on low to keep the temperature up in the grill we threw on the veggies.
STEP 4: COOK!
This step took some trial and error, the veggies took a lot longer to cook than we anticipated and I would reset the timer every 5 minutes to see if they weren't overdone.
We started off with some asparagus. and thinly cut eggplant sprinkled with some pepper.
The eggplant was honestly, too thinly cut. If you're a fan of a thick juicy piece of eggplant, don't cut them so thin! The cooking process dried try them out a bit. After about 10 minutes on each side, the Eggplants were done. The Asparagus still needed some time but it was time for a taste test.
To our amazement. The eggplants were DELISH!!!! Even with just a light coating of pepper, we could not believe that the flavor was so good. We were all a bit concerned that the eggplants would be very bitter to taste, which can happen sometimes when you under cook eggplants as I'm sure many of you foodies know, but there was no hint of bitterness. These eggplants were almost chip like, salty and a bit dry. for the next round of eggplants we decided to get creative and drizzle a bit of olive oil on top to help them cook faster and retain some of the moisture. These too were a huge hit.
All the while the asparagus continued to cook. After about 15 minutes of total cook time, the asparagus were finally ready to flip over. To accelerate cooking, we opted for a bit of oil drizzled on top and a sprinkle of pepper as well.
The asparagus were soft and ready to take off of the grill finally after about 30 minutes of cooking.
It was time to pull out the steak!
We decided to leave three steaks unseasoned to see what it tasted like straight off of the salt block. The other small steaks, we seasoned with a family favorite "New Orleans Seasoning" blend from the Budget Saver on the west bank. This stuff is seriously hard to find, my dad lives over there and anytime he finds them he loads us up! It's worth the trip out there I guarantee!
The small, thin steaks cooked in no time! We were amazed than in about 6 minutes they had been flipped and cooked. A bit too quick for my liking, since that meant that the meat wasn't particularly tender, but we can work on that. So, with that being done. We all grabbed out plates and dug in.
There was soon an explosion of OOOO's and AAAHHH's coming from the table. The food was a bit salty for a girl who doesn't even bother using salt in the kitchen most days but it was this wonderful understated rich savory taste instead of just salt. The asparagus were my absolute favorite. They were simply the best asparagus I have EVER cooked. The Himalayan cooking block released just the PERFECT amount of salt onto the vegetable.
As for the steak, it was unanimous. As good as that New Orleans seasoning was, it was completely eclipsed by the non seasoned steak. We made sure to wipe all the other flavors off of the Himalayan grill block before putting the plain steak to grill. The flavor of the meat was completely enhanced. We were all pretty proud of our experiment.
I hope that you all enjoyed reading this blog as much as I had putting it together! Please feel free to ask questions below or leave me some comments!
"Stay salty, my friends!"
We've got a lot of ground to cover on this blog entry! It has taken me almost two weeks of research to gather all of this information!
In this blog entry I would like to address a concern voiced by a friend of mine, Patricia.
After showcasing a few photos on Facebook of three new salt lamps I purchased, Patricia voiced some concern on the potential impact that a salt lamp could take on her pets. Here is her question.
"Have you done any research on the affect these (salt lamps) have on animals? I know lots of essential oils are hazardous, anything on salt lamps?"
What a great question!
I personally keep a beautiful pink Himalayan lamp that my mother gave me at home and I am proud mom to two adorable fur babies. An Australian Shepherd and a Cairn Terrier.
My girls haven't had any adverse reactions to the salt lamp in my bedroom as far as I can tell. No changes in behavior, no unexplainable ailments. The salt lamp has been turned on consistently for about 6 months. Simply being in the room with the salt lamp seems to have no effect on them.
If you have cats it may be a bit of a different story. My salt lamp is up high atop a large jewelry box on top of my dresser, so its hanging out roughly 4 feet from the floor. My girls can't get to it there. However, keeping your cats away from your salt lamp may be a challenge if they like to climb up on your counter tops and furniture. Several cat owners have caught their pets licking on their salt lamps and I imagine that a dog may be able to find a low lying salt lamp and turn it into their chew toy for a bit, although i haven't found any evidence of this happening anywhere I've looked. This is a big no - no.
Salt is essential to our nerve and muscle movement and is involved in the regulation of fluids in the human body. Salt also plays a role in the regulation of blood pressure and blood volume. However too much salt can cause those systems to become unbalanced leading to such conditions as hypertension and high blood pressure. The same can happen to our furry pals. Salt is essential to some of the functions in dogs, cats, and birds, but if they decide to go on a salt binge the results can be catastrophic.
If you have cats and really want to own a salt lamp, try to put the lamp in a spot where the cats won't get to it. If you have an aviary, please don't place the salt lamp inside the cage where the birds can snack on it! It's perfectly safe to keep a salt lamp in the same room as your bird cage. If you are left with any doubts, just place your salt lamp at the other end of the room or in another room to keep some distance from your birds as an extra precaution.
If you are still having doubts, here is a message from a halotherapy owner acquaintance of mine from my inquiry. "I immediately messaged my salt expert at a mine in Poland who replied laughing that only Americans would claim this. They have cats and dogs living in salt mines for years in excellent health. At the mine outside Krakow, at one point there were 30 horses who were stabled in the mines to work transporting salt. They came into the mines at 2 years of age, never saw sunlight or ran (a horrible state of affairs) BUT they lived to 30 years of age in excellent health."
There is a whole industry tailored specifically to horses and halotherapy. A mobile halotherapy horse trailer comes to your location and treats your horse. These horse owners claim that the horses do perform better after halotherapy. There are also halo rooms that encourage you to bring your dogs into halotherapy. There are claims that Halotherapy helps dogs suffering from anxiety to relax. My expert tells me that its amazing to watch the calming effect that halotherapy has on dogs.
In my research for this blog entry, I came across a secondary bird owner concern regarding negative ions. So, lets talk about your salt lamp and the negative ions.
Himalayan Salt Lamps 101
Himalayan salt lamps are large pieces of salt crystals mined from very specific mines in Pakistan. If your salt lamp claims that it is from somewhere other than Pakistan, it is not Himalayan Salt. Himalayan salt is often marketed as "Jurassic Sea Salt", but in reality the himalayan salt deposit comes from a sea present during the Permian and Cretaceous eras, (much earlier than the Jurassic) around 250 million years ago. This sea apparently ended up landlocked, evaporating until it left a dense salt deposit, Over the next few hundred million years, that deposit ended up at the border of a continental plate, and was pushed up into a mountain range in Pakistan by colliding plate tectonics. The concentration of salt near Khewra, Punjab, is said to have been discovered around 326 BC when the troops led by Alexander the Great stopped to rest there and noticed their horses licking the salty rocks. Salt was probably mined there from that time, but the first records of mining are from the Janjua people in the 1200s.
To create your salt lamp, huge chunks of crystals are mined and shaped. Holes are then drilled into the lamp to house a standard light bulb to illuminate the crystal from the inside.
OK - So Whats a Negative Ion?
In my quest to better understand the Negative Ion, I had to go back to sophomore year in high school chemistry.
A negative ion is an electrically charged atom that is formed by the gain of one or two negatively charged electrons. Wait what? Its been A WHILE since high school chemistry.
An atom gets a jolt of energy, usually from heat and it looses an electron. That atom becomes a positive ion because it is no longer balanced. There are more protons than electrons. In the mean time, this lost electron wanders around until it finds a new compatible atom it can cling to. When this happens, the electron count may be higher than it should be and this transformed atom is now a negative ion.
I have read on several different sites that in order to get a Himalayan Salt lamp to release negative ions, they must be heated to 120 Degrees. Live Science claims that "To dissociate the two ions, people would need to raise the temperature to about 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit (816 degrees Celsius), which cannot be accomplished with a 15-watt light bulb. (If the lamps were hot enough to dissociate the two elements, they would present a fire hazard.)"
Wellness Mama explains the wellness properties of Himalayan salt lamps through its Hygroscopic (tending to absorb moisture from the air) qualities. "Small amounts of water vapor is present in the air and can carry things like mold, bacteria, and allergens. Salt lamps attract this water vapor and those items it carries to its surface and removes them from the air. When the water vapor evaporates, this MAY generate a small amount of negative ions."
Both of these schools of thought generally agree that Salt lamps that are not under significant heat stress are not enough of a source of negative ions to really feel any benefit. Not to say that negative ions aren't a thing. There might be something in the fact that negative ions are detected in abundance around places that have lots of moving water. Waterfalls, and shorelines have very high concentrations of negative ions. ""The action of the pounding surf creates negative air ions and we also see it immediately after spring thunderstorms when people report lightened moods," says ion researcher Michael Terman, PhD, of Columbia University in New York."
WebMD has this to say about Negative Ions:
"Negative ions are odorless, tasteless, and invisible molecules that we inhale in abundance in certain environments. Think mountains, waterfalls, and beaches. Once they reach our bloodstream, negative ions are believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy."
So, what does that mean for my pets?
I reached out to several pet health professionals and got some mixed reactions about salt lamps in the home. The main concern was about the pet's consumption of the salt in large quantities. A concern was expressed to me by an Avian expert who was adamantly against having a salt lamp in the home. His concern was over environmental allergens being attracted to the negative ions. He claims that when an allergen interacts with a negative ion, it will become weighed down. His concern was that he did not know what would happen to a birds very fragile lungs if one of these allergen infused ions suddenly gets inhaled and drops inside of the lung (from the weight). Not being an avian expert, I wasn't sure what to make of this information. It seems that in all the bird forums there is a good bit of confusion over the difference between a negative ion and an Ozone generator. I did not, however, find a single report of poor health being caused by a Himalayan salt lamp from all of those forums I checked out. It was mostly just speculation. More extensive scientific testing is really needed to determine either way.
One thing is clear from the rest of my research, whatever benefits we may be getting from salt lamps whether it be from the negative ions or the allergen containing water molecules, the effect is minimal. It is a very localized phenomenon happing only in close proximity to the salt lamp. This is evident by the fact that Salt Lamp fans feel the need to keep one in every room to get the benefits they claim to recieve from the salt lamp. So, if you're worried about your bird's lungs, don't put a salt lamp in the room where they are!
I really hope that all my hard work helped answer any questions that my fellow pet owners might have about Salt Lamps. Unfortunately, science has yet to do any really meaningful studies on salt lamps. I was seriously tempted this week to purchase an Ion meter to test out my salt lamp!
I certainly enjoyed researching for this entry and I hope you guys enjoyed reading it! Please feel free to ask some more questions in the comment section or give me some info I may have missed!
Also, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, if you have a question about halotherapy, don't hesitate to ask! Your questions inspire me to research and write!
Check out what the lung institute has to say about COPD and Halotherapy!
Salt Therapy can Help Ease COPD Symptoms
"Some people have found salt therapy to be an effective option for relieving symptoms of lung disease, resulting in easier breathing. Different treatments have proven to be successful for different patients. Perhaps salt therapy is the right option for you!"
I came across this great article featured in Skin Inc. Magazine this morning. I just love reading about the discovery of salt therapy! Did you know that the benefits of salt to your skin and respiratory system were discovered completely by accident! This totally appeals to my inner anthropologist!
Check out the article below!
To view the article in high resolution download the PDF!
I hope you are all enjoying this absolutely perfect weather we are having this week in NOLA. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the flowers are in bloom, and the trees are pollenating! Yep- Everything sounded peachy until I started talking about pollen right? I am counting down the days for Strictly Salt to have its grand opening. This morning, I had to triple dose myself: steroid nasal spray, oral antihistamines, and anti-histamine eye drops. The nasal spray has completely saved my life these last few years, but I've been really worried about it lately. I'm going on almost 7 years of shooting steroids up my nose - not to mention the risk of developing glaucoma in my eyes later in life.
So, in honor of the season, lets talk about allergies, how they work, and what can be done to minimize their impact on our lives.
For those of you with chronic allergy symptoms that are seeking Halotherapy, we are going to recommend (once we open up in a few weeks!) that you buy a 2 or 3 session package and use them within one week. The relief my allergy peeps will feel will be well worth it! My first time in Halotherapy was such an amazing experience. I did two sessions over two days and I just felt amazing. Apart from environmental allergies, I also suffer from extensive food allergies which, at the time that I started halotherapy, I was not yet on my strict allergen free diet that I'm on now. At the time I just felt constantly bogged down and exhausted. I was combatting daily nausea and digestion issues. The worst part though was the nightly wheezing. It turns out that whatever I was eating during the day was creating a mucus buildup in my chest causing all my air passages to become blocked and therefore caused chronic wheezing at night for almost a year before trying halotherapy. I think it only started affecting me at that point in my life because I became more health conscious and was trying to loose some weight.
As it turned out my "healthy eating" diet was... well not so healthy for me! I was effectively poisoning myself with soy and whey based protein shakes and eating eggs and peanuts and tuna, all of which I turned out being allergic to. After my halotherapy sessions the wheezing stopped. I felt as if the weight from my chest had been lifted and my chest was clean and clear like i had been to the dentist for a cleaning (but for my lungs)! It was just such a wonderful feeling! My husband was astonished! I stopped wheezing at night. I was no longer snoring, or tossing and turning in bed. I felt amazing for about two weeks, and then the symptoms started returning slowly over the next two weeks. So, keep in mind guys, you have to keep going to this therapy! Once you get all the mucus out, once a week for allergy suffers should do it, but it never hurts to go more frequently!
Back to allergy season, here are some tips of keeping your house allergen free:
1. Keep those windows closed! As we've been prepping our building for our grand opening, I've been tempted to open up those windows to clear out the paint smell! The breeze in Metairie has been terrific! I've been channeling my inner Pocahontas hard core! But guys, if you're sneezing. Keep those windows shut! and keep those filters clean! Add AC filters to your shopping list this week and get those babies replaced!
2.Avoid going outside during peak allergen hours! Yes, I know. Its hard to do on such beautiful days. Peak pollen hours are between 5Am and 10am, so walk those puppies in the late afternoon once pollen has settled a bit.
3. Change your clothes! If you've been out and about, change your clothes right when you get back home or back to the office if you can. Pollen likes to stick to your clothing, and you'll just spread it all over your house if you keep the same clothes on!
4. Night time baths (or showers) before you get into bed. I know us ladies have gotten into the habit of not washing our hair every day anymore. Make sure you're getting that pollen out of your hair with maybe a bit of dry shampoo or even rinsing your hair and drying it. I have always thought that if my hair was going to get wet in the shower, shampoo and conditioner was totally necessary. NOT TRUE. I read recently that with the trend of not washing your hair more than twice a week, rinsing is fine. I was surprised that my hair was still soft post rinse! Keeping good hair habits like not over dying causing dryness will help with this! Make sure you get all that pollen off your face and skin too! Don't bring it into bed with you!
5.Wash your bedding often. JUST INCASE you don't manage to scrub it all off in the shower!
6. Keep your pets out of your room - easier said than done at my house!
7. Turn off your ceiling fans when you're feeling extra sneezy. They will just help to circulate the pollen!
Relief is on its way everyone! In the meantime, take care of yourselves and don't forget to subscribe to our news letter for details on upcoming events and our grand opening.
Thanks for visiting out website and checking out our blog posts!
If you are thinking about trying out halotherapy for Anxiety, I think you may find it very effective! I personally don't suffer from every day anxiety but there is a sense of calm and tranquility that you get from sitting in a halotherapy room. When you enter the room and see the breathtaking wall of Himalayan salt there is an almost instant calming effect. The salt also helps eliminate any odors in the room, which adds to the stillness. Look below for an account of first time halotherapy user and blogger Sunny Montefiore. She has a lot of positive things to say about Halotherapy and Anxiety!
Visiting a Salt Cave Eased My Anxiety, Boosted My Energy, and Generally Made Life Better
BY SUNNY MONTEFIORE