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Herb of Grace

Herb of grace poster

We came across Herb of Grace we went “what is that as well”

Rue (Ruta graveolens, strong smelling rue), common rue, or herb-of-grace, is a hardy evergreen ornamental plant and herb.
Most Western European languages have similar names for rue: English and French rue, Dutch ruit and German Raute all go back to Latin ruta, which itself was borrowed from Greek rhyte. The ultimate origin of the word is not known. In English rue may also mean “remorse”,

Origins and history of Rue

Rue is a herb but isn’t commonly used in modern kitchens because of its bitterness. Rue was a very common spice in ancient Rome, often being used for country-style food like moretum, a spicy paste of fresh garlic, hard cheese and herbs (coriander, celery, rue) The Romans cultivated rue and brought it with them when they visited prisoners, because they believed the plant would avert “the Evil Eye”.

The Chinese used Rue to counteract negative thoughts or wishes. Celtic wizards said that rue was a defence against magic and could be used to promote healing.

Rue was sacred to the early Jewish and Egyptians whom believed it was a gift from the Gods. The Native Americans used rue for spells One love spell, involved placing a branch under the light of the moon before giving it to their love and they claimed they would win the heart of their love forever.

Rue is also a common ingredient in witchcraft and spell making. During the Middle Ages it was a symbol of recognition between witches.

The legend of rue lives on in playing cards, where the symbol for the suit of clubs is said to be modelled on a leaf of rue.
Shakespeare refers Rue in Richard II:
Here in this place
I’ll set a bank of rue, sour herb of grace;
Rue, even for ruth, shall shortly here be seen,
In the remembrance of a weeping queen.’

Rue in Medicine

Rue has a long history of use in both medicine and magic and is considered a protective herb in both disciplines It was used for nervous afflictions, digestive problems and as an antidote to poison. Many cultures believed it was as a protection against evil.

Rue is mentioned by many writers (e.g. Pliny, Shakespeare) as an herb of remembrance, warding and healing. Early physicians considered rue excellent protection against plagues, pestilence to ward off poisons and fleas. It is one of the most well-known of the magical protective herbs and is often used in modern magic spells forwarding and protection.

Hippocrates recommend Rue as it constituted the main ingredient of the famous antidote to poison used by Mithridates. The Greeks regarded it as an anti-magical herb because it served to remedy the nervous indigestion they suffered when eating before strangers, which they attributed to witchcraft. In many parts of Europe from the Middle Ages onwards, it was considered a powerful defence against witches, and bestow second sight.

Rue was once believed to improve the eyesight and creativity and Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci regularly ate the small trefoil leaves.

At one time the holy water was sprinkled from brushes made of Rue at the ceremony before the Sunday celebration of High Mass. This why it was named the Herb of Repentance and the Herb of Grace. ‘There’s rue for you and here’s some for me; we may call it herb of grace o’ Sundays.‘ The Catholic Church also used a branch of rue to sprinkle holy water on its followers during this time known as the “herb of grace”
(Luke 11:42) “But woe to you Pharisees! for you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”

Rue essential oil has many health benefits and can help as an anti-arthritic, anti-rheumatic, antibacterial, anti-fungal and insecticidal aid. Rue itself has been used as an, sedative, digestive, anti-epileptic, and anti-hysteric substance.

The anti-fungal properties of rue also help to heal the de-complexion of the skin, to reveal a more beautiful and clear skin. Rue helps our body fight against fungal infections such as dermatitis and athletes’ foot. The antioxidant properties of rue ensure that your skin repels the free radicals that cause premature ageing of the skin, keeping your skin young and happy. Rue oil is often used in spas for providing therapeutic facial steams and for hair treatment, to give you hair that shines with health.

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Exfoliation, not so new but is it good or bad?

Exfoliating Hand scrub brush

What is exfoliation ?

Exfoliation is the removal of the dead skin cells on the skin’s surface. Exfoliation can be performed mechanically by using abrasive scrubs on the skin or chemically by using scrubs that dissolve and remove the dead skin cells.
What is Exfoliation
As we age, the process of cell regeneration slows down. This means that the body is slower to shed skin cells and generate new ones. When old skin cells start to pile up on the surface of the skin, it can leave skin looking dull, rough, and dry. Even in mature people this can result in excess oil and clogged pores leading to blemishes and spots.
Exfoliation (desquamation) is the shedding of the outer layers of the skin. For example, after sunburn (never good), there is desquamation. This word comes from the Latin, “desquamate”, meaning to scrape the scales off a fish!

Whilst it is something that sounds like we should do enthusiastically each day, scrubbing (mechanical exfoliation) away skin with abrasive materials and harsh chemicals can do significant harm especially for people with split / broken skin or skin conditions. It best to do this only once a week, as over exfoliation will end up doing more damage than good.

History of exfoliation

The Egyptians not only practiced exfoliation but that they had several different methods. Royalty used wine as an exfoliating agent. The tartaric acid contained within the wine worked as the active exfoliating agent. One popular exfoliant documented in the Ebers Papyrus listed a recipe for an exfoliant, of one part each of: sea salt, natron, powdered alabaster and honey. Pumice stones were popular abrasives as well as scrubs made from sand and the aloe vera plant. This early version of a gommage exfoliator, a gel that is rich in enzymes. was used frequently by men who wanted a more youthful appearance.

Cleopatra is famously said to have regularly bathed in the milk of donkeys. Whilst it may sound purely decadent, there was a lot of science behind it. The milk was sour and fermented to yield a high concentration of lactic acid (alpha hydroxy acid) also known as AHA, still used in modern day exfoliants.
China The Chinese made exfoliating masks from oils and minerals

Polynesian people would use crushed seashells.

Native Americans Exfoliation was widely recognized in many Native American tribes. The most used exfoliant was dried corn cobs rubbed over their body. Like the way in which we would use a dry brush today. The Comanche tribe used sand from the bottom of a river to scrub their skin because the sediment contained more minerals and compounds.

In the Middle Ages, old wine was commonly used as a chemical exfoliant, and it was extremely effective due to the high concentration of acids in old wine. We deal with naturally occurring acids each day and are found in cane, fruits, wine, and milk.

Until the early 1800s, many ingredients that naturally contained a high level of AHAs were used as chemical exfoliants. The popularity of this died down once a German dermatologist Gerson Unna began scientifically formulating the earliest forms of chemical peels. His pioneering research with salicylic acid is still used today.

During the 1970’s, exfoliation became increasingly popular in the Western world, when spas and dermatologists began offering a process called gommage. A special enzyme infused cream would be applied to a client or patients face, left to rest for a few minutes until it hardened, and would then be removed through a process of rubbing the skin. It was an effective method for its time but was rather messy. Since then, a variety of substances have been used to peel, exfoliate, and rejuvenate the skin. These include the use of acids, poultices of minerals and plants, and direct irritants such as fire and sandpaper like materials.
Should we Exfoliate at all?

As we age, the glue like intercellular cement holding the cells together becomes thicker. This results in a build up in the layers of skin cells. The skin sloughing process then becomes more difficult to accomplish and the skin has a thicker, less-toned appearance. This process can be influenced by the environment, hormones and vitamin deficiencies (A and D). By eliminating the build up of dead regeneration of new skin cells is stimulated, resulting in an improved appearance, tone, and feel of the skin.

In recent years, retinol (vitamin A) has been included in exfoliation formulas because the skin converts retinol to retinoic acid, a potent skin exfoliation and anti-aging agent. When used daily, studies show that retinol improves the signs of photo-aging as well as normal chronological aging. Other studies also showed that retinol slowed down the degradation of collagen in the skin due to sun exposure

Are natural methods the best?

Not necessarily. A lot of “natural” exfoliants use) or a substance (i.e. salt, sugars, corncob meal, rice bran, oatmeal). These cause microdermabrasion which is the most forceful of the mechanical methods. It loosens and reduces the outer layer of cells when friction and abrasion are applied. The outcome varies depending on the amount of friction applied and the abrasive used. It is important to note that excessive abrasion can result in skin irritation.

Therefore, the International Dermal Institute does not recommend the use of crushed fruit pits, shells, or similar substrates.

Other considerations:

If you are using Retin-A, Renova or any other exfoliating product, you should discontinue for at least two weeks before trying another form.

If you are taking acne medicine or have taken acne medication within the last six months, you should not have any kind of exfoliation treatments.

Do not perform or receive any type of exfoliation on burned or irritated skin, or skin that has been waxed within the past 24 hours.

Also, the dead outer layer of the skin acts as a sun shield; with less of the layer, you are more susceptible to sun damage. It then becomes more important to use a daily sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 after an exfoliation treatment.

Whether you choose a mechanical or chemical means of exfoliation, each can be of benefit and provide enhancement for your skin. Consistent exfoliation prevents clogged pores, acne, ingrown hairs, and certain types of infection. It can also prevent scarring blemishes and help to reduce the appearance of existing scars. Exfoliation can also increase circulation and help to make the other steps in your facial regimen (i.e. toners, cleansers, and moisturisers) more effective by unblocking the pores for better absorption.

It is worth the time to find the right exfoliation agent for your specific skin type and needs. And of course, always use caution and heed the warnings associated with the exfoliation process of your choice.

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Dead Sea Mud

Dead sea mud

It does seem rather odd for a product like soap intended to clean, we deliberately add mud to it. However, it isn’t just “mud” this is Dead Sea mud which has a unique blend of compounds and minerals.  At its simplest our “Dead Sea” soap blended with Olive Oil is formulated to remove dead skin cells and impurities whilst the olive oil restores softness, balances the skin’s oil production and pH level.  However, it is much more than that. The minerals and salts within Dead Sea Mud have been used for thousands of years to ease several skin conditions:

Psoriasis Researchers have found that the high concentrations of salt and other chemical compounds in the mud can be used to treat psoriasis effectively. 

Acne Dead Sea mud has been tested and proven to have an antimicrobial effect on strains of bacteria that live on human skin. Since bacteria can lead to acne, it’s one of the reasons why Dead Sea mud has been used to treat breakouts since biblical times.

Dry skin Dead Sea mud can work to remove impurities and dead skin on your body. An additional benefit is the salt and magnesium can improve your skin’s functionality by making it more elastic and have a better protective barrier

Whilst Packaged in a convenient bar to prevent the mess associated with cleaning pure mud off skin, towels and out of sink and bath plug holes!

History of the Dead sea compounds

Dead Sea Mineral Mud is formed when fine-grained sediment consisting of mountain silt and sand flows down from natural springs that pass through the northern mountains, then through the Sea of Galilee, and finally down the Jordan River Valley before being deposited to the shores of this inland sea, where it settles. Dead Sea Mineral Mud is a natural element yielded by and harvested from the mineral-rich Dead Sea, a small body of water nestled in the Jordan Rift Valley between Israel to the East and Jordan to the West. The area is also known as: Sea of Salt, Stinking Sea, Sea of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Devil’s Sea and Lake Asphaltites.

Hot, dry desert air over millions of years have evaporated the water, condensing the natural salts and minerals into the mud. Whilst the mud can be “enjoyed” at the water’s edge, for cosmetic use it is filtered and purified before being included in products

According to legends, the Queen of Sheba acknowledged the healing powers of the Dead Sea leading to other rulers taking her lead. Queen Cleopatra travelled from Egypt to build one of the world’s first spas.  King David and then Herod the Great allegedly built their own spas on the lake. 

The mystical powers of the Dead Sea have been incorporated into the Egyptians process of mummification.  The Dead Sea provided bitumen or “asphalt” or mūmiyā which has then evolved into “mummy”

For hundreds of years, Dead Sea Mud has been known to exhibit therapeutic benefits and general well-being. From the 17th to the 19th centuries Mud Therapy was commonly practiced in Europe, where chronic illnesses were treated with mineral water and mudpacks of varying compositions. The region continues to be known as a “fountain of youth” due to the historical use of the mud within cosmetics.

Alongside its hydrating and beautifying properties, Dead Sea Mineral Mud maintains its reputation for having cleansing and purgative properties. These are known to relieve various symptoms of health issues ranging from skin ailments such as psoriasis to musculoskeletal ailments such as arthritis.

Dead Sea mud minerals and salts

A natural exfoliator: The texture of Dead Sea mud makes it an excellent exfoliator and is highly rich in the minerals which help in cleansing, detoxifying and restoring a healthy status quo to the body

Magnesium.  Detoxifies and cleanses and promotes cell metabolism to assist in healing damaged or inflamed skin.

Calcium. Promotes skin growth and regeneration and moisture retention through the production of sebum. It also stimulates the production of antioxidants.

Sodium. Cleanses and exfoliates and neutralise free radicals which can degenerate skin cells. It can also relieve sore muscles.

Zinc. Heals and rejuvenates the skin, controls acne and protects the skin’s lipids and fibroblasts cells that create collagen.

Potassium. Assists in keeping skin moist and plump and reducing puffiness.

Sulphur. Cleans pores and is excellent for acne. It also has powerful healing, antifungal, antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.

The main chemical constituents of Dead Sea Mineral Mud are: Dead Sea Water, Organic Matter, and Minerals (expressed in Oxides: Silicon Dioxide, Calcium Oxide, Magnesium Oxide, Sodium Oxide, Potassium Oxide, Iron (III) Oxide, Aluminium Oxide, Phosphorous Pentoxide, Titanium (IV) Oxide, Sulphur Trioxide, Manganese(II) Oxide, Zirconium Dioxide, Chromium(III) Oxide, Zinc Oxide, Nickel(II) Oxide, Copper Oxide, Indium (III) Oxide, Chloride, and Bromide).

See our other guides for more background information on our ingredients

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Argan oil, a product that is good for you, improves the environment and promotes equality

Argan oil nuts and open centre

Many people have heard of Argan oil as it is often used in shampoo, but why is it put in there? Few know about its unique properties.  Argan is one of the most underestimated but also ecologically beneficial crop.  Mainly grown in Morocco where it provides a food source for humans and animals, fuel, shade, provides independence for female workers and helps resist climate change, prevents soil erosion and desert encroachment.

Argan oil is eaten like olive oil. In Morocco, Amlou, a paste like peanut butter, is used locally as a bread dip. produced by grinding roasted almond and argan oil using stones, and then mixing the argan oil and almonds in honey. Argan oil is also drizzled on couscous or pasta.


Argan oil nut

The fruit of the argan tree is small and round. A thick peel covers the fleshy pulp which surrounds a hard-shelled nut containing one to three oil-rich argan kernels. Extraction yields from 30% to 50% of the oil in the kernels, depending on the extraction method. It takes an estimated 2.3kg of argan kernel to produce a litre of the oil.

The months from July to October are busy for members of a local women’s co-operative, who wake early to collect the fruit which fall from the tree. Leave it later in the morning, goats will eat the fruit. A tradition in some areas of Morocco was to allow goats to climb argan trees to feed freely on the fruits. The kernels are retrieved from the goat droppings, considerably reducing the labour. We don’t use oil collected by this method! Instead women crack the shells by hand in a tradition going back centuries.
The Argan kernels are divided between those destined for cosmetics and culinary use. The only difference is that culinary Argan is roasted before pressing giving it a brown colour and nutty smell and taste. Cosmetic Argan oil is colourless.argan oil tree

Environmental Benefits

The argan tree provides food, shelter and protection from encroaching deserts. The argan trees are interspersed with almond, olive and jujube trees deep roots help prevent desert encroachment. The leaves of argan trees also provides shade for other agricultural products. The leaves and fruit provide feed for animals. The argan tree also helps landscape stability, helping to prevent soil erosion, providing shade for pasture grasses, and helping to replenish aquifers (underground water reservoirs). Even the production waste is pressed into cattle cake and the shells are burned for firewood.
Producing argan oil has helped to protect historic argan trees from being cut down. The local government has funded the annual planting of around 300 hectares of saplings to protect this valuable industry for future generations.


Much of the argan oil produced today is made by women’s co-operatives. Employment in the co-operatives provides women with an income. Many have used to fund education for themselves or their children. It has also provided them with a degree of autonomy in a traditionally male-dominated society and has helped many become more aware of their rights. Whenever an order is placed, it is designated to one of the village groups which produce it in full. This ensures that each delivery batch can be traced back to the workers who prepared it. This certifies that the oil produced is high quality, traceable and fresh. The co-cooperative arranges training and monitoring for each co-operative to help them all reach ECOCERT organic and FairTrade status.

Argan oil benefits and properties

Argan oil

Argan oil is primarily comprised of fatty acids and a variety of phenolic compounds. Approximately 29–36% of the fatty acid content of argan oil comes from linoleic acid, or omega-6, making it a good source of this essential oil
Argan oil is a rich source of oleic acid, though not essential, makes up 43–49% of the fatty acid composition of argan oil and is a very healthy fat (monounsaturated, omega-9 fat). Found in avocado and olive oil as well, oleic acid is renowned for its positive impact on heart health. The oleic and linoleic acids that make up the majority of argan oil’s fat content are vital nutrients for maintaining healthy skin and hair. Argan oil is often directly administered to skin and hair but may also be effective when ingested.,
Argan oil is a rich source of vitamin E (tocopherol), whi ch is required for healthy skin, hair and eyes. This vitamin also has powerful antioxidant properties to reduce the damaging effects of free radicals.

Argan oil nut

Argan oil has quickly become a popular ingredient for many skin care products. Some research suggests that dietary intake of argan oil may help slow the aging process by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds may support reduced redness and irritation of the skin caused by acne. Some studies show argan oil both taken orally and administered to the skin to be effective for increasing skin elasticity and hydration in postmenopausal women

It may also support repair and maintenance of healthy skin when applied directly to your skin, thus reducing visual signs of aging. Some research indicates that argan oil can also be applied directly to your skin to reduce inflammation caused by injuries or infections. Argan oil is frequently used to prevent and reduce stretch marks, although no research has been conducted to prove its efficacy You can apply argan oil directly to damp or dry hair to improve moisture, reduce breakage, or reduce frizz. It is also included in shampoos or conditioners. If it’s your first time using it, start with a small amount to see how your hair responds. If you have naturally oily roots, apply argan only to the ends of your hair to avoid greasy-looking hair.