As summer approaches, Mother Nature is starting to turn up the heat and many of us are ready to enjoy the sunshine after spending too long cooped up inside. This is usually the time of year that we are inundated with advertising, memes, and posts in our social media feeds focused on getting our “summer body” ready for the season ahead. There is a lot of social pressure to look a certain way during the warmer months, and those unrealistic expectations can lead to feelings of anxiety and a diminishing sense of self-worth.
The truth is, small changes in our daily lives can make a huge difference in how we feel about our bodies and how we take care of them. The best summer body is one that is nourished, cared for, and fully inhabited. Here at Vital Leaf, we believe that practicing loving our bodies as they are can bring about more peace, joy, and a stronger commitment to self-care during every season of our lives. Here are our pre-summertime tips for resisting unrealistic expectations and loving the skin you’re in – on your own terms – to help you through this season and beyond.
1) An Attitude of Gratitude
What are you thankful for when it comes to your physical form? Maybe your feet have helped carry you to the top of a mountain, or that it has carried another life into this world, or perhaps it’s that little scar which reminds you of your resilience and ability to heal. It is so easy to get caught up in all of the things that we’re not, that we forget the things that we are. Identifying the things that we appreciate about our bodies can begin to change the way that we relate to ourselves.
2) Rituals Of Care
Any act done regularly and with reverence can become a ritual. Dry skin brushing followed by self-massage with luscious CBD body balm is one of our favorite simple rituals to give love to parts of the body that may be neglected, aching, or calling out for gentle attention. We like to dry brush first thing in the morning to help energize, boost circulation, promote lymph flow, stimulate the nervous system, and sweep away dry, dead skin before showering. Starting at the feet or hands and brushing toward the heart with long, gentle strokes, moving in a clockwise motion around the belly and back is best. We follow up with either our Unwind Body Balm (if we need to soothe sensitive skin and frayed nerves) or our Relieve Body Balm (to invigorate and uplift the senses).
3) Joyful Movement
First, let go of any idea of what joyful movement should look like! This doesn’t mean starting your new summer body workout plan, but rather finding the movements that are pleasurable and fun for you. For some people, there is nothing more wonderful than a runner’s high or the endorphin boost from strenuous exercise. If your version of joyful movement looks more like Savasana, that’s great, too! Find what is true for you and embrace that, without judgement, to glean the deepest benefits from this time with yourself.
4) Anthems & Affirmations
Yogis have known the power of the mind for thousands of years, using mantra (a Sanskrit word that literally translates to “mind release”) as a doorway into deeper peace and insight. Contemporary practitioners of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy similarly utilize positive affirmations to draw focus away from negative thoughts and reorient the mind toward self love. Repeating body-positive affirmations can help transform your thoughts and feelings about your body, and have the power to radically change your unconscious thought process and reasoning. “I love and accept my body just as it is today,” “my body is an instrument, not an ornament,” “my heart is courageous, kind, and loving,” and “I take care of my body and my body takes care of me” are some of our favorites. Experiment and get creative to find the right fit for you.
5) Soothe From the Outside, In
Our bodies are 70% water, so there is really no way to overemphasize the importance of staying hydrated. This is especially true for our skin, the largest organ in the body and the protective barrier between the outside world and our vulnerable insides. Increased sun exposure and warm temperatures during the summer can suck moisture out of our skin shockingly fast, and outdoor recreation can make us more prone to cuts, abrasions, and other damage to our epidermis. You can love your skin from within by drinking plenty of pure water, and making sure that you have the right skincare products to help prevent moisture loss and repair damage from the outside.
How to find the best CBD skincare product
Greater Efficacy with the Entourage Effect
When seeking out the best CBD skincare product that promises therapeutic benefits, be it balm, cream, lotion, serum, roll-on, spray, or salve, you’ll find that it’s either formulated using broad-spectrum hemp extract, full-spectrum hemp extract, or CBD isolate. If you want a CBD topical that has enhanced efficacy, choose a product that offers a synergy of naturally occurring plant compounds, terpenes, and minerals, also known as the “Entourage Effect”. You’ll get this synergy from CBD products made with full-spectrum or broad-spectrum hemp extract.
CBD skincare products that are only formulated with CBD Isolate (also marketed as pure CBD, cannabidiol, single-molecule CBD, and/or crystalline CBD) use a flavorless, crystalline powder form of the cannabinoid, CBD, which has had all other beneficial plant compounds stripped out in a lab. While it can be more affordable than phytocannabinoid-rich full-spectrum hemp extract, it will not offer the same level of efficacy, and studies have shown that the therapeutic effects decline dramatically if the wrong dosage is administered.
Confirm that it’s clean
To confirm that a CBD topical is safe for your skin, verify that the product is infused with CBD that was sourced from US-grown plants that were grown for its flower and the intention of medicinal and therapeutic use. There is an abundance of questionably-grown hemp out there. Being a hyperaccumulator, hemp plants easily absorb anything that’s present in its soil. Seek out a CBD brand that knows their farmer(s) and have established quality farming and sourcing standards, such as non-GMO, organically grown, or regeneratively grown. A brand that formulates with clean ingredients means that their topicals should be free of silicones, artificial fragrances and colors, phthalates, parabens, and sulfates.
Ensure it’s been lab-tested
A study published in the Journal of American Medical Association found that 69% of hemp CBD products did not contain the amount of CBD indicated on the label. Seek out CBD topicals that have their lab results published. A product’s lab test results should indicate the true CBD potency per serving and/or container, as well as confirm if the topical product is free from contaminants, additives, or solvents.
Look for a synergy of complementary botanicals
Identify a CBD topical that offers the synergy of additional therapeutic botanicals that have been found to assist with reducing inflammation, soothing muscle pain, and/or nourishing the skin.
Vital Leaf’s CBD skincare is formulated with powerhouse botanicals like shea butter, coconut oil, arnica, frankincense, lavender, cardamom, and phytocannabinoid-rich hemp extract. Some of these ingredients aid the skin’s innate ability to heal, soothe topical inflammation, and may even reduce physical and emotional tension.
UNREFINED ORGANIC SHEA BUTTER
Shea has long been a staple in traditional medicine in West Africa, for its observed anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, and may help with eczema, psoriasis, and arthritis. The shea plant also has powerful antimicrobial properties and promotes wound healing. It’s full of vitamin E, A, K, and F, known for their antioxidant properties, and when applied topically, the array of fatty acids in shea restore lipids to the skin and rapidly boost moisture.
VIRGIN ORGANIC COCONUT OIL
Coconut oil is strongly antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral due to high concentrations of monolaurin, a monoglyceride derived from lauric acid. This is especially important for skin health, as skin issues such as acne, cellulitis, folliculitis, and athlete’s foot are all caused by bacteria or fungi. Studies have shown that coconut oil may be useful in treating the symptoms associated with eczema, and a study on the effect of virgin coconut oil on pediatric eczema showed a 68% decrease in severity following the application of coconut oil.
ORGANIC ARNICA EXTRACT
Arnica is a fragrant, flowering perennial herb native to both Europe and Western North America. Indigenous peoples used poultices made of arnica to soothe muscle aches, bruising, and inflammation. Arnica contains many chemical compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties, which might help relieve minor aches and pains. It is currently being studied for possible pain relief for arthritis.
Most people are more familiar with cardamom as a culinary spice, but it has some impressive medicinal qualities, too! Traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to aid digestion and boost immunity, contemporary research shows that cardamom is antibacterial and anti-fungal, and can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in some people.
Frankincense has been used traditionally in North Africa and the Middle East for over 5,000 years, where it was significantly valued in religious and ceremonial rites as well as for its medicinal uses. There is also documented use in Traditional Chinese Medicine, dating back as early as 500 B.C.! These ancient uses are corroborated by current scientific research, which shows that frankincense is immune-enhancing, may aid in wound healing, likely reduces scar formation after injury, and activates parts of the brain that relieve anxiety and depression.
Lavender has long been used for perfumes, aromatherapy, and skin applications. It was favored by the Romans for both its aromatic qualities as well as the antiseptic properties of the plant, using it to treat wounds. Lavender contains over 100 compounds that may be beneficial to humans. Linalool and linalyl acetate, the dominant monoterpenes in lavender, are also found in cannabis. Some studies have indicated that these terpenes have a positive effect on mood and may even have sedative, anxiety-reducing, and pain-relieving properties.
There are so many ways to love the skin you’re in, deeply nourish your most vital needs, and celebrate the complex and miraculous functions of your body. Making a habit of refocusing attention toward an appreciation for your body and the actions that support a sense of wellbeing can bring about positive change that goes way beyond skin deep. It is through this process that we can re-train our minds to be more positive and less objectifying, finding a more joyous and embodied life along the way.