Beauty and the Bride
One of the joys of womanhood is taking the time to pamper ourselves so we can face each new day looking and feeling our best. Of course, the desire to look and feel our most beautiful, inside and out, is at its peak on our wedding day.
Overview of Skin & Function
Our skin is our largest organ, performing several functions, including protecting us from invasion by foreign substances and serving as the transfer point for the release of toxins from our bodies. Our skin is also porous, which means it absorbs many of the substances with which it comes into contact. It is thus especially important to use only natural, gentle ingredients on our skin whenever possible.
The skin provides an honest mirror of our inner health and well being. Consider that when we eat a great deal of fatty foods or foods to which we are allergic, our skin is often the first indicator that we have mistreated ourselves. On the other hand, when have been eating healthily and enjoying plenty of fresh water and exercise, our skin exhibits a healthy glow that is indicative of the attention we are paying to ourselves.
Application to the skin of fresh, natural products such as essential oils, plant waters (also called "hydrosols") and cold pressed unscented oils helps maintain a youthful, glowing complexion. Essential oils and hydrosols are the fragrant liquids that are distilled from different plant parts, such as flower petals, herb leaves and tree barks, and are fundamental components of any solid, natural skin care regime. Cold pressed unscented oils are extracted from various fruits, nuts and seeds, and include olive oil, sweet almond oil, avocado oil and jojoba oil. Used in tandem, essential oils, hydrosols and cold pressed unscented oils work together to soothe and nourish the skin, encouraging a healthful, radiant complexion.
There are five basic skin types, and you will want to consider yours when making your own aromatherapy beauty products.
Oily skin is caused by over-active glands, which produce a substance called Asebum, a naturally healthy skin lubricant. When the skin produces too much sebum, it becomes thick and heavy in texture. Oily skin is characterized by shininess, pimples and blemishes. Frequent steam cleaning and exfoliation can help reduce these symptoms.
Dry skin usually results when skin fails to produce enough sebum to maintain a naturally lubricated surface. This lack of oil in the skin is often hereditary, but can also be caused by over-exposure to the sun and other environmental elements. As we age, our skin becomes more dry as decreased metabolism reduces the rapidity with which dead skin cells are replaced. Dry skin often appears coarse, tight, dull and flaky, with visible lines and wrinkles. Massage with essential and cold pressed oils can stimulate metabolism and alleviate dry skin conditions.
Normal skin produces a healthy amount of sebum, and tends to be neither dry nor oily in feel.
Sensitive skin reacts unfavorably to a variety of chemicals and environmental factors. Having had ample opportunity to compare brand new baby skin with skin that is just a few years old, it seems to me that all skin is delicate and sensitive when it is new. Increased exposure to nature=s elements such as the sun, wind and cold, as well as to harsh cosmetic ingredients, tend to toughen skin over time.
Many people have different skin types on different parts of the face. For example, it is not uncommon for a person to have oily skin around the nose, forehead and chin, while the rest of the face is more on the dry side. If you have more than one skin type on your face, it is wise to use products containing different ingredients to treat the areas differently.
The Benefits Of Using Fresh Products & Essential Oils On The Skin
Several years ago, It was learned that the ingredients used in most of the skin care products were full of preservatives, thickeners, harsh gelling agents, dyes and a number of other chemical ingredients. These ingredients were designed to increase the aesthetic appeal and shelf life of products, but contributed nothing at all to the health of my skin.
Now it is easy to make body lotion, facial creams, exfoliants and masks using fresh ingredients, and learn how to make natural beauty products that are far superior to those available at even the most exclusive salons and department stores. Omit as many of the synthetic, chemical, man-made ingredients as possible, and ensure that my skin care products contain an abundance of fresh, healthful, beneficial ingredients.
Your Step By Step At-Home Facial
A basic facial must include at least 3 elements:
(1) cleansing; (2) toning; and (3) moisturizing. Additional steps might include steaming, exfoliating and masking. Each of these steps is outlined below, along with suggested recipes for you to try.
Before cleansing your skin with a gentle cleanser, it is wise to give yourself a light steam treatment to open your pores and prepare your face for cleaning. To do this, simply soak a soft towel in a bowl of comfortably warm herbal tea (chamomile is one of my favorites). Wring out the towel and place it over your face and neck area and relax until it cools slightly. You may repeat this process, as it is quite soothing.
Cleanse your face with a gentle handmade cleanser such as Rose Cream Cleanser. Use upward, circular movements of the fingertips to gently stimulate the skin and help lift surface debris and excess oil. Rinse with warm water and gently pat excess moisture from face with a soft towel. If you wear heavy make-up, you might wish to repeat the cleansing process.
After cleansing, it is important to tone the skin using ingredients that help balance the pH of the skin, which is typically disturbed during the cleansing process. The recipe for Tone Up Tea is excellent for most skin types, and contains aloe to soothe and green tea as an effective anti-oxidant. Apply the toner with a soft cotton pad, but do not rub the skin. Rather, saturate the pad and pat the toner over the face and neck area. Do not pat skin dry. If you sense the aroma of the cider vinegar, don't worry. It disappears quickly. Apple cider vinegar is the best natural ingredient to ensure optimal pH balance for the skin. Avoid eye area when using this toner. You skin is now ready for moisturizing.
Moisturize your skin using Aromatic Facial Oil, which contains a host of soothing ingredients to add moisture and nutrients to your skin. To seal in the moisture, be sure to apply the oil while skin remains damp from applying the toner. Gently apply the oil to your face and neck using patting motions. For oily areas of skin, one application of oil should suffice. Apply twice to dry areas of skin, waiting about 2-3 minutes between applications, and being sure to moisten the skin slightly with water or toner before the second application.
On occasion, you may wish to add a gentle exfoliation and mask to your treatment. You can try the recipes here, or make up your own using ingredients you have in your own kitchen. Persons with oily skin may find exfoliation beneficial once or twice a week, while people with dry skin may wish to exfoliate only once a month.
Rose Cream Cleanser
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 teaspoon rose hydrosol
2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Combine all ingredients in the order shown, stirring well after each one. Apply cleanser to face and neck skin, using gentle, upward sweeping motions. Rinse well. This recipe should be used within 2 days and makes enough for two cleanings.
Tone Up Tea
1 cup distilled water
1 heaping tablespoon dried green tea leaves
1 heaping tablespoon dried chamomile flowers
1 tablespoon rose hydrosol
1 tablespoon aloe vera gel
3 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3 teaspoon lemon juice (optional addition for oily skin)
Heat distilled water until boiling. Remove from heat and add green tea and chamomile. Steep for 15 minutes and strain out plant material. Add rose hydrosol, aloe vera and vinegar (and lemon juice, if using) and stir well. Pour into a clean bottle and label. Shake well to ensure the mix. Store in refrigerator for best results and use within 3 weeks.
Aromatic Facial Oil
3 tablespoons jojoba oil
3 tablespoons rose hips seed oil (or 3 tbsp. hazelnut oil for oily skin)
2 drops rose essential oil
3 drops lavender essential oil
2 drops geranium essential oil
2 drops palmarosa essential oil
In a glass bowl or dish, combine oils with essential oils. Stir with a clean pop sickle stick or plastic utensil to combine. Pour into a clean bottle, preferably one with a medicine dropper so you can apply the oil using the dropper. After cleansing and toning, and while skin remains a bit damp, apply a bit of the moisturizer using gentle patting motions. Do not rub the oil into the skin. Rather, just gently pat it onto the skin and it will absorb readily within a few minutes.
Oats & Aloe Exfoliant
1 tablespoon finely ground oats
1 tablespoon finely ground almonds
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon aloe vera gel
Combine ingredients in a bowl and stir until well mixed. Apply to face and neck skin after cleansing and before toner is applied, using gentle circular motions. Rinse well with warm water and gently pat excess moisture from face. Follow with facial mask.
Creamy Facial Mask
2 tablespoons white clay (I recommend and use kaolin)
3 tablespoons whipping cream
1 tablespoon rose hydrosol
Combine all ingredients together in a bowl and stir until a paste-like consistency is achieved. If mixture is too runny, add a bit more clay and stir. If mixture is not smooth enough, add a bit more hydrosol. Spread over clean face as the step immediately preceding application of facial toner, avoiding eye area and lips. Rest for 10-15 minutes. Rinse with warm, water and pat excess water from face.
As with anything that touches the skin, be careful when using any skin care products, as you could have an allergic reaction to even the natural ingredients they contain. Note the ingredients listed above, and if you are allergic to any of them, it would be wise to avoid the products containing them. If you notice any uncomfortable tingling or redness on your skin, you may be having an allergic reaction. If this occurs, rinse your skin thoroughly with warm water and avoid that product in the future; you may be allergic to something in it. Use common sense when using any skin care products, and remember that less is always more when it comes to essential oils.