Saturday, January 27, 2007

Natural Solutions for Winter Skin Care

Photo copyright Joel Strimling Photography
Used with permission

Winter is here! In many places, temperatures are cold and the ground is covered in a blanket of snow. After spending time outdoors, sitting by a cozy fire in the fireplace is a nice way to thaw out. However, the cold, wet outdoor air and the dry heat indoors can wreak havoc on our skin.

I have to admit, winter is not my favorite season, which is why I live in Southern California. But even here it is impossible to escape the dryness and chapping caused by the cold outdoors as well as the dry, heated indoor air. Unfortunately, many products on the market that are supposed to help the skin can actually dry it out even more. Here are some natural solutions to help protect and moisturize your skin.

Avocado Honey Mask (for face and hands)
The face and hands are more exposed to the winter elements than the rest of the body and may require extra special attention. This mask is an inexpensive and easy way to pamper yourself. All you need is half of a ripe avocado and a tablespoon of honey. Cut the avocado in half and remove the peel and pit, then mash half and add the honey mixing well (you can use a blender or a food processor to get a smoother product). Spread the mixture liberally over the face and hands, lie down and prop up your feet for 15 to 30 minutes. Rinse your face and hands with warm water and follow with a pure vegetable oil such as cold pressed Almond or Grapeseed. Avocado is high in oleic acid, linoleic acid, lecithin, and vitamin D, and is especially beneficial for eczema. Honey is an emollient (soothes irritated skin), a humectant (draws needed moisture to the skin), and an exfoliant (removes dry, dead skin cells).

Sugar Scrub
Scrubs exfoliate and polish the skin, stimulate cell renewal, and promote velvety-soft, smooth skin. Sugar cane produces glycolic acid, one of the natural alpha-hydroxy acids that exfoliate the skin. Aloe is soothing to irritated skin. Neroli oil is an astringent, is great for aging skin, and helps reduce stretch marks. Ylang ylang stimulates skin cell regeneration and is helpful for dry skin. Grapefruit is an astringent; it is useful for skin congestion.

1/2 cup organic white sugar
1/4 cup Apricot Kernel oil
1/4 teaspoon citric acid
1 teaspoon Aloe Vera gel
1 teaspoon Cocoa butter
6 drops (total) Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara), Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata var. genuina) or Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) essential oil (or a blend)
Mix together the first four ingredients. Gently warm the Cocoa butter by placing the container in a bowl of hot water to soften it. Add Cocoa butter and blend well using a hand mixer on high speed for 3 to 5 minutes. Add essential oil. In the shower, wet the skin then rub the sugar scrub all over the body (don’t use scrubs on broken or irritated skin). Do NOT wash with soap afterward. Can be used up to twice a week. Makes 1 cup.

Exotic Rose Cream (for dry skin)
1/3 cup Jojoba oil
1/3 cup Apricot Kernal oil
1/3 cup Rosehip Seed oil
1/8 tsp Vitamin E
¾ oz. beeswax
¼ cup Rose Hydrosol
¾ cup distilled water
essential oils:
20 drops Rose absolute (Rosa damascena)
10 drops Jasmine absolute (Jasminum officinalis)
5 drops Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) essential oil
5 drops Sandalwood (Santalum album) essential oil
5 drops Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata var. genuina)
Pour Rose hydrosol and distilled water into blender. Heat Jojoba, Apricot Kernal, and Rosehip Seed oils and beeswax in top of double boiler until beeswax melts. Remove from heat, add Vitamin E oil. Allow to cool just until hardened ring of beeswax begins to appear around top of bowl. Turn on blender and slowly pour the oil mixture into the water in the blender until it emulsifies (a chopstick is very handy if the blender becomes clogged). Add essential oils and blend again. Pour into clean jars. (Yield: 16 ounces)

Essential oils and other ingredients discussed here are available through the Apothecary Shoppe.

If you’d like to learn more about natural body care, contact the ACHS admissions department regarding Nat 201 Certificate in Nutrition, Body Care, and Herbalism.