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Stories from the Field: Roadshow on the Eastern Corridor

Volta region is a crossroad between Ghana and Togo, stretching along the Eastern part of the country. Traders cross these imaginary lines called ‘borders’ every day from dawn to dusk. “I am going to Togo!” might mean "I'm headed to a checkpoint just five minutes walk away." The road between Ho, the regional capital, and Kpasa on the map is a straight line connecting Southern Ghana with the North, also known as Eastern Corridor. On the East it tails the smooth Akwapim hills, while overlooking the Volta lake on the West for most of its length. George, our Supply Chain Manager, Francis our Outgrower Manager and I set off...

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Balancing pH In Skin And Hair

For most of us, there are a few key factors to keep in mind when it comes to healthy skin and hair. Dry vs. oily. Sun exposure. Curl definition. Volume.

But one critical influencer that could be the root cause of your dandruff, acne, or general skin and hair dullness is one we rarely take into consideration when looking for a new product or addressing a problem: pH level.

Sebum, the natural oil produced by your body, forms an outer layer on your skin and hair known as the acid mantle, which holds in moisture and protects against foreign contaminants like bacteria and dust mites. In case you didn’t catch it, the key word there was acid mantle—sebum has a pH level of around 5.5 (remember from high school chemistry that anything below 7 on the pH scale is acidic, and anything from 7 to 14 is alkaline). So while your skin should remain somewhat acidic, your blood should be just slightly alkaline, around 7.4.

Both the products we use on our hair and bodies and the foods we eat can disrupt our natural internal and external pH balance. The American diet, high in sugar and carbs tends to overload the digestive system with acids, bringing down our pH balance, causing discomfort, and sometimes manifesting itself as pimples and breakouts.

On the other hand most shampoos and cleansers are highly alkaline, overcompensating to treat oily skin or hair, but leaving it stripped and dull instead. This lack of acidity disrupts the balance of enzymes at work in our skin and can lead to premature aging.

RealFarmacy made a great guide to choosing balancing alkaline foods that will solve your interal pH woes.

When it comes to external pH, there are a number of factors that can change the game. First, just pay attention to your products. A lot of them will actually say pH balancing, which will make your life a lot easier.

But if you have a soap or shampoo that you just can’t bare to part with, adopt a strategy to mitigate its alkaline effects. Following shampoo with a mixture of warm water and organic apple cider vinegar will bring your hair and scalp’s pH level back down to a healthy level, leaving you shiny and dandruff free.

Similarly, most toners are slightly acidic, so applying a gentle mist of toner after cleansing, and then locking it in with a facial oil or moisturizer will help keep your skin glowing and youthful.

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The Best Natural Treatments For Sunburn

I’ve spoken before about my largely Peace Corps induced fear of the sun, but it actually dates back further. Being of Italian and Jewish heritage, you’d think I would have the same rich, olive complexion as my beautiful sister. But while I got the same curly mop of hair, I inherited, from who knows where, pale, dry, sun-sensitive skin.

The trouble is that I adore being outside in fresh air all year round. And the result is that I’ve had to overcome my fair share of painful, sizzling sunburns, despite my best efforts to apply and reapply sunscreen and stay in the shade.

So unless you have next-level burns that need medical treatment, here are a few of my most soothing go-to remedies for home healing.

ALOE

This is the classic remedy we all remember our moms slathering on us after a day at the beach—and for good reason! Aloe has anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe sun-damaged skin and restore nutrients. It’s also water-based which aids in rehydrating your skin after all the moisture has been sucked out from a day in the sun. 

SOAK 

If you’re trying to re-establish the water in your skin, you might as well immerse yourself in it. Soak in a cool bath for about 30 minutes to reduce the heat coming off your body, and add some soothing household ingredients to the bath that will help your skin heal even faster. Some of the most effective are apple cider vinegar, which will help restore the pH balance of your skin and fight off potential infection, oatmeal, which reduces inflammation and redness, baking soda, which is antiseptic and will relieve itching and burning caused by sun exposure, and black tea, which has antioxidants and tannins that help protect against the damage caused by UV rays. You can also add gentle essential oils, including peppermint, lavender, and frankincense.

MOISTURIZE

Unless you want to be shedding skin flakes for the next couple of weeks, you absolutely must moisturize. I moisturize my sunburns up to 3 or 4 times a day to avoid pealing, and it’s been extremely effective, especially if using a moisturizer that contains aloe or oatmeal. Moringa oil also contains lots of Vitamin E and deeply moisturizing fatty acids that will help restore your skin to its pre-burn glow, especially if used following a water-based toning mist.

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7 Days Of Oil-Pulling

I’m all about trying natural remedies and DIY products on my skin and hair, but when it comes to my teeth I usually do what the good doctor tells me to. Still, curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to see what this traditional oral hygiene technique was all about for myself.
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What It Means To Be Cruelty-Free

There are alternatives to inhumane animal testing. Learn how to support cruelty-free skincare.
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