• Aromatherapy: An Introduction

    Aromatherapy is a way to incorporate essential oils to promote physical or psychological healing using our sense of smell.  Essential oils are the concentrated liquid portion of aromatic plants.  Aromatherapy can be used to inspire or maintain moods, aid in pain relief, correct conditions or influence performance and productivity.  In this post, I’ll give some ideas about some simple and versatile oils to buy if you’re just starting your collection and easy ways to use them.

    I think the sense of smell is one of the most underutilized senses.  Other animals rely upon it so heavily but humans tend to think of it more like an accessory.  Aromatherapy is a simple way for us to boost this sense.

    How Aromatherapy Works

    The sense of smell is special because it is so often associated with the formation of memories and can instantly transport us back to how we felt at a certain time and place.  The reason this happens is the same reason that aromatherapy works.  Our olfactory nerves are located very close to both the amygdala and the hippocampus in our brains.  The amygdala processes emotion and the hippocampus is the area of our brain responsible for associative learning.  Each time we smell something new (which happens the highest concentration of times in our childhood) we begin to associate that certain smell with a particular person, place, or memory.

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    There are many ways to incorporate aromatherapy in to your life.   Essential oils can simply be inhaled or massaged (diluted) in to the skin for their healing properties.   Other ideas are below.

    Ways to Incorporate Aromatherapy

    Aromatherapy diffuser: These come in a variety of forms but my favorite one is this one that dissipates the oil with a fine mist of water.  You can also find ones that you light a tea candle underneath.  These are nice but you have to watch them closely so they don’t boil over.  You can also diffuse the scent in to the room by using a lamp ring (works especially well if you’re studying or working at a desk) or by sprinkling some essential oil on logs before you light a fire.

    Household cleaning: Essential oils can be incorporated in to natural cleaning products to make your home smell good as you freshen and cleanse it.  I’m working on a post about natural cleaners, but essential oils can be mixed with water as a counter spray or dropped in to a bucket with the mopping water.

    Personal Care:

    Aromatherapy can be incorporated in to any personal beauty or maintenance product you use as you’ll notice in almost all my kitchen beautician recipes.

    • Skin moisturizer: Try mixing a few drops of essential oil with organic fragrance-free body lotion like I talked about in the travel post.
    • Face masks: Included on this site are kitchen beautician recipes with a little bit of essential oil including the hydrating oatmeal banana mask, and a pumpkin facial for glowing skin.
    • Body scrubs: I have a few body scrub recipes I love including the tropical vanilla hydrating scrub with vanilla and bergamot essential oil and the epsom salt and ginger scrub with lime and ginger essential oils.
    • Body powder: Check out this recipe to make your own body powder.
    • Baths: Most of the bath recipes I have on this site (like the rose petal, spirulina sea salt detox, oatmeal milk and honey, drunken red wine baths) contain some essential oils.  Be mindful that if you have sensitive skin, some oils might irritate it, especially in the bath.  I love oils of bergamot (and other citrus scents), cinnamon, and peppermint but have found that these are better inhaled as they can be irritating to the skin.
    • Facial cleanser: I really like incorporating a couple drops of essential oil in to the oil cleansing method or using a few drops with witch hazel or rose water as a toner.  Rose, vanilla, carrot seed, or geranium oils are good choices.  A little bit of tea tree oil can help acneic skin.
    • Facial steam: Steaming your face using a towel as a tent over your head with a few essential oils can really open up the pores or can help during times of congestion.  I talk about this in my post on eucalyptus oil.
    • Massage: If you would like to use it in massage, try mixing it with almond oil or coconut oil for a nourishing skin treatment.  Don’t forget that giving a massage to someone with aromatherapy will provide the same benefits for you!  I love giving my baby a massage with jojoba oil mixed with a few drops of vanilla after her bath.

    Wellness: Essential oils can help during times of sickness to alleviate symptoms and help you feel better.  Some of the oils like cajeput, peppermint, and ginger specifically work really well on sore muscles or a congested body.  Most essential oils are naturally antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral and can help keep your skin and home healthy.  Try adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil in a humidifier if suffering from a cough or congestion.

    Aromatherapy Benefits

    If you are just starting out with aromatherapy, sometimes the decision about which oils to purchase can be overwhelming so I’ve listed some of the basics both by mood a person is trying to achieve or just a good starter kit to make a lot of different types of blends with fairly inexpensive oils.

    Uplifting: bergamot, tangerine, grapefruit, vanilla

    Activating: lemon, lime, rosemary

    Strengthening: cedarwood, rose

    Warming: clove, cinnamon, nutmeg

    Sensual: ylang ylang, geranium, vanilla, patchouli

    Replenishing: eucalyptus, peppermint, carrot seed

    Meditative: sandalwood, frankincense, clove

    Balancing: clary sage, ginger, rose, geranium

    Relaxing: lavender, geranium, wild chamomile

    Recommended Starter Kit:

    Included in this starter kit are a list of inexpensive (with the exception of chamomile and vanilla) essential oils that will allow you to incorporate all the different types of benefits and properties of essential oils.  The vanilla and the rose oils often come blended in a jojoba carrier so they can be applied directly to the skin but are quite expensive.  I have always liked the Aura Cacia brand and it is easy to find in most natural health or grocery stores or on Amazon.  I also really like Mountain Rose Herbs and is one of the only places I have been able to find undiluted rose and vanilla essential oils.

    • Peppermint
    • Eucalyptus
    • Lavender
    • Grapefruit
    • Tea tree
    • Lemon
    • Ylang ylang
    • Geranium
    • Tangerine
    • Vanilla
    • Rosemary
    • Cedarwood
    • Rose absolute
    • Chamomile

    References

    I really like the AuraCacia app that is available for iPad.  It gives lots of ideas for recipes, talks about the properties of many oils, and says what it mixes well with.

    The Mountain Rose Herbs website is great for listing the origin of essential oils, properties, uses, contradictions and indications on what blends well together.

  • The Oil Cleansing Method For Clear, Radiant Skin

    Oil cleansing is a way to cleanse your face with oil.

    Wait…what?

    Yep, that’s right…problem skin can be combated with oil whether the problem is acne, sensitivity, or dryness.  I have been wanting to write a post about the oil cleansing method for facial cleansing for a long time.  I was determined to make it work because I love how natural, minimalist and organic it is.  Plus, I had heard amazing things about how it left skin clear, radiant, and dewy and got rid of acne.  I tried this method for a few weeks a couple years ago and it didn’t work very well during that first attempt, so I gave up.  I was really excited about it though, so I knew I needed to try it again and troubleshoot because I felt confident this was the best method/product out there.

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    Why?

    My favorite thing about this method is how simplified the routine is – it eliminates the need for eye makeup remover, toner, moisturizer, and cleanser.  That translates to a lot of dollars saved and a lot of steps eliminated.

    My skin has always been pretty normal.  I have gone through some periods where I was really prone to spots, generally during times I was under a lot of stress or my hormones were haywire.  I blogged about that in this post.  I finally used Accutane (isotretinoin) to clear it up because I was so fed up but if you’ve read any of my blog, you know important natural methods are to me.  I kind of wish I would have tried the oil cleansing method as a last-ditch effort before doing Accutane.

    How does it work?

    So the premise behind using straight oil to cleanse your face is pretty simple.  The idea is that by using harsh and artificial cleansers to clean out your pores, you basically just end up stripping the skin, making it produce more oil to compensate, setting up a negative feedback loop. A person then tends to wash even more and be more harsh on spots or conditions that result from these methods.  The abrasiveness of some of these usual facial cleansing products (whether chemical or physical) can also aggravate skin.

    The oil cleansing method is based on the simple chemical phenomena that oil dissolves oil.  For that reason, oil is the constituent used to dissolve excess oil in pores and and loosen it along with impurities from the skin in this method.  There are different combinations of oils that can be used depending on your skin type and I like the added benefit that it’s very easy to find organic oils at affordable prices.  Trying to find organic cleansers to buy is extremely expensive.

    The oil that is most often touted as the base oil for this method is castor oil because it has somewhat toning and anti-inflammatory properties.  I generally avoid this oil because it cannot be produced without workers involved in its refinement being exposed to some level of toxicity.  It also requires  chemical extraction from solvents, deodorization, stabilizers etc., which concerns me (and is the same reason I avoid canola or corn oil in my food).  I prefer something than can be processed with a simple cold-press process.

    Instead, I recommend finding an oil or mixture of oils (below) that works for your skin and is easy enough for you to obtain.  Here are generally the oils that are used for different skin types (from the Crunchy Betty blog):

    • Hazelnut or sunflower oil (for typically acneic skin)
    • Sunflower, grapeseed, or sweet almond oil (for oily to normal skin)
    • Jojoba, grapeseed, or apricot kernel oil (for normal to dry skin)
    • Avocado or apricot kernel oil (for dry skin)

    Olive oil and coconut oil are also mentioned a lot when referring to this method.  I have not carefully tested them myself but I have heard anecdotal evidence that they can be somewhat comedogenic (pore-clogging) so I have generally avoided them unless I’m in a pinch.  I would definitely recommend trying this method with some of the other oils first and then doing a more of a scientific test with these more common oils to see if changing the oil changed the outcome.  I’d hate for you to give up too soon because you started with the wrong oils like I did.

    When I first tried this method, it didn’t really work for me and left my skin prone to breakouts.  I think there are a couple reasons for this and I’m glad I went back and gave it another try.  The first was that I was using a cleansing oil I bought online – Deep Cleansing Oil by DHC.  It seemed to be good from the reviews but was an olive oil base and also had some ingredients in it that I didn’t know what they were (preservatives, etc.).  I think the other reason it didn’t work was because of the way in which I was doing it.  I was basically just using the oil to wash my face and then wiping it off.  As I later came to find out, giving the face a little steam is the best way to loosen anything from the pores after cleansing.

    So, all this background – now how is it done?  First decide which oils you are going to use.  Some people like to make a mixture in a small bottle and add a couple drops of essential oil.  I have sort of normal/combination skin so I just use whichever oil I have on hand, usually almond or grapeseed and then I add in apricot kernel or argan oil if it’s during a time of the year my skin is prone to dryness.  I also really like Jason’s Vitamin E Oil (5000 i.u.), which can be found online if you’re an Amazon junkie like me or at a natural grocers.  It is a pre-made mixture of safflower, sunflower, rice bran, avocado, wheat germ, apricot kernel, and almond oils.  It can be used straight out of the bottle for this method and travels really well.  Most people do oil cleansing as part of a bedtime routine.  I do it every night.

    This is generally the method I follow:

    1. There is no need to remove eye-make up first but if you have a lot on, you may try putting some coconut oil on a cotton ball and removing it so it doesn’t smear all over your face.
    2. Get warm water running from the faucet.
    3. Splash some warm water over the face.
    4. Thoroughly wet and mostly wring a washcloth (nothing too abrasive).
    5. Put the washcloth in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
    6. While the washcloth is in the microwave, begin massaging about one tablespoon of oil (or a quarter size amount) in upward, circular motions in to damp skin.  There is no reason to avoid the eyes like with other cleansers.
    7. While you are massaging, really take the time to envision the best skin you can imagine.  This massaging motion helps bring blood to the surface and will result in a nice glow, like after a facial.  Pay special attention to problem areas.  Use this same oil to remove any eye make-up (assuming you haven’t put in any irritating essential oils).  Try using affirmations during this part, e.g. “I deserve beautiful skin.”  “I take gentle, loving care of myself.”
    8. Remove the washcloth from the microwave and drape it over the face at the temperature at which it’s just cool enough that it can be tolerated without burning your skin.  The steam will loosen any impurities and oil from your skin.
    9. Lie down with the washcloth on your face for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.  For many of you, you may find this is the first time during the day you have had one minute to yourself so use it as a minute long meditation and a chance to get off your feet and begin preparing yourself for winding down for bedtime.
    10. Once the washcloth has cooled off, gently wipe down the skin.
    11. Rinse the washcloth and repeat steaming the face (microwave again).

    You can skip the microwave step, but I find I like the washcloth really hot and can’t get it to the temperature I want without burning my hands when I wring the cloth.  I really like this video from Mommypotamus that describes the method.  I don’t use the two cloths likes she does just because I don’t have enough washcloths or do laundry frequently enough to warrant it (though I suspect this will change when my infant arrives in a couple months).  I just rinse and re-use the original washcloth, trying to use the opposite side if I remember.

    Your skin may go through an adjustment period when you start this method though mine didn’t.  You may be unblocking some clogged pores the first few days so if it starts with a bit of a breakout, just stick with it and see how it is working after a week or so.  Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to return to a regular cleanser during this adjustment period.

    You might be surprised when I tell you that your skin may feel dry as a result of cleansing with oil.  If so, add a good nighttime moisturizer (or just a bit of oil) or do whatever other skincare routine you follow at night.  You may not need any extra moisturizer, or can adjust to one of the less drying oils if you do.  I like to dot some organic argan oil around my eyes after cleansing as an eye cream but find I don’t need any moisturizer.

    Your face will probably be neither dry nor oily in the morning with this method so there is no need to wash it when you wake up.  Usually I just rinse my face with water and/or wipe it with the Aveda shammy cloth.

    Other resources
    http://www.theoilcleansingmethod.com/
    http://www.crunchybetty.com/nitty-gritty-on-the-oil-cleansing-method
    http://wellnessmama.com/7569/oil-cleansing-for-naturally-perfect-skin/

     

  • Tropical Vanilla Hydrating Sugar Scrub

    I love doing scrubs on days I have a little bit of extra time when getting ready or before an event.  Scrubs smooth and deeply moisturize the skin and impart a healthy glow.  It baffles me why anyone would go out and pay $65 for scrubs sold in beauty stores when we can make better ones with organic ingredients and no preservatives for under $1 in our own kitchens.  Scrubs can be applied to wet or dry skin (for deeper exfoliation).  You could also apply the scrub before sinking in to the bath and then let the components dissipate in to the bath water.  Ingredients are as follows:

    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • ¼ cup coconut oil (almond oil could work too)
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon honey
    • 3 drops bergamot essential oil (or sweet orange or tangerine)
    • 3 drops vanilla essential oil (usually in a jojoba oil carrier)

    Sugar is a great gentle exfoliator.  Just be sure to use somewhat finely ground stuff.  If you have really sensitive skin, brown sugar works well too.  Really any oil (jojoba, almond, olive, grapeseed) would work in this recipe but the coconut oil gives a really nice scent and has the added benefits of being naturally anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.  Coconut oil is one of the products I always recommend having on hand for kitchen beautician recipes anyway.  The bergamot and vanilla mixed together give this scrub sort of a creamsicle smell and make you instantly feel like you have been transported to someplace tropical.  If you don’t have essential oils, don’t worry about it.  You could also try putting in a teaspoon of orange juice.

    If you do this scrub in the shower, take care because the oil can make the shower floor a little bit slippery.  This recipe should make enough scrub for about three uses.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse for Hair

    To make your hair soft and shiny, try rinsing it with 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar mixed with 1 cup of cold water.  Apply the solution by pouring it over the hair after conditioning and then rinse with cold water to help seal the cuticle.  Take care to avoid your eyes.  This is a really inexpensive way to clarify the hair and make it silky-looking.  Add a few drops of any essential oil if you like to help eliminate the vinegar smell, though it mostly evaporates after the rinse.  My favorite oils to use in the solution are either rosemary, lavender, or bergamot.  Try using a few drops of tea tree oil if you have any problems with dandruff.  You may find you don’t need to use conditioner on the days you do this.

    This is a trick I have been using for some time and my mom recently told me my grandmother used to use it as well.  She would wash her girls’ hair in the kitchen sink and rinse it with a vinegar water solution.  I love hearing about these tried and true simple tricks that have been passed down through the ages.  Apparently the hair and scalp are both slightly acidic so this rinse just helps to balance the hair to its natural pH.  Not to mention, you all know how much I love vinegar for consuming and for beauty!

    While I’m talking about hair and vinegar, I’ll use this post to tell you that I did try using the whole “no ‘poo” method.  Besides the name “no ‘poo” which really annoyed me, this method just didn’t work for me.  It basically consists of washing hair with a solution of baking soda diluted in water and using a vinegar solution as the conditioner.  If you try Googling this, you will see what a craze it is.  A lot of the people that have tried the method really rave about it.

    I loved the idea and always appreciate resourcefulness and anything that applies to the whole “want not, waste not” philosophy but I just couldn’t get this one to work.  I tried tweaking a lot of things throughout the process including the type of vinegar, the ratios, and the frequency but absolutely nothing worked.

    I feel like I gave it an honest try because I spent five weeks doing the method during which time I basically looked like a greasy drowned rat.  Normally I consider natural to be beautiful, but I felt like a little misfit throughout this whole experiment.  I think the way I felt was reflected in the way I interacted with the world and I was kind of moping around.  Even my mom admitted it looked terrible!  When your mom tells you a look/practice isn’t working, listen up people!

    The whole concept still makes a lot of sense to me.  That is, our hair produces extra oil to compensate from it being stripped of shampoo and that many of the ingredients in shampoos and conditioners are bad for the environment and unhealthy for us to absorb through our skin.  But I just wasn’t looking professional or feeling like a sexy bitch walking around looking like a well-fed meth head.  I am thinking I might give it a try one of these days again, especially if I go hang out in the wilderness for a couple of months!  I suspect I would have adjusted more quickly had I just completely quit washing my hair for a month and hardly used the baking soda shampoo.

    After the failed experiment, I did go out and find some sulfate-free, all-natural shampoo with argan oil and seaweed extract by the Seawood Bath Company that has a eucalyptus and peppermint scent that I am really loving.  Actually Chief found it at Whole Foods since I didn’t have any shampoo or conditioner in the shower for him.  I don’t think my hair has every looked better since I started using this shampoo and conditioner.  Walking around with it doused in natural oils for five weeks may have helped my cause though!  I am using the apple cider vinegar rinse 1-2 times per week.

  • Drunken Red Wine Bath

    Chief has been out of town most of this month so I have been faced with my usual dilemma…what to do with the bottles of red wine that I can’t finish before they start to turn.  This bath is the perfect way to enjoy a glass and not feel compelled to finish the rest of the bottle by oneself!  If you want an excuse to throw it back, just forget you ever read this post. 😉  This is also a good opportunity to use up leftover wine after a party.

    Bath Recipe

    • 20 drops of jasmine essential oil (it usually comes blended in jojoba oil)
    • 1/4 cup grape seed oil
    • 1 cup of Epsom salt or sea salt or a combination
    • 1/2 bottle red wine

    The antioxidants in the wine and grape seed oil help to heal damaged skin.  The jasmine provides a sensual scent.  The grape seed, jojoba and jasmine oils moisturize and nourish the skin.

    I am addicted to Epsom salts for the way in which they soothe aches and pains in muscles and joints and reduce inflammation as a result of overuse, injury or arthritis.  It seriously feels like you have had a massage after soaking in Epsom salts – pretty fantastic for a fraction of the cost!

    Epsom salts are basically just magnesium sulfate named after a bitter saline spring at Epsom in Surrey, England.  By soaking in them, your body absorbs these nutrients through the porous membrane of the skin organ.  The magnesium helps regulate enzyme activity for biochemical reactions in the body, maintain muscle and nerve function, and regulate blood pressure.  Sulfate helps to flush toxins and other salts from the body by the process of reverse osmosis.

    The sea salt has the same theory.  It contains mostly sodium chloride, but also has macro-minerals (including magnesium) and nearly 80 trace minerals that are beneficial for our bodies.

    I like to keep both my Epsom salts and sea salt that I buy in bulk in glass jars near the bathtub.  It’s sexier looking than the Walgreen’s Epsom salt bag!

    The red wine won’t stain your tub, but sparkling wine also works.  It might be nice for the morning after a celebration with some citrus oils like grapefruit, tangerine, or bergamot.

    Soak for 20 minutes.   Maybe for once soaking yourself in wine WILL solve your troubles!

     

  • Rose Petal Bath

    If you want to feel luxurious or create a romantic feeling, try making a rejuvenating rose bath.  Go ahead and have your own little American Beauty moment 😉 You will need the following ingredients:

    Rose essential oil: 10-20 drops
    1 tablespoon sweet almond oil
    1/4 cup rose water
    1/4 cup organic apple cider vinegar
    1 large handful of rose petals (the more petals, the more lovely the bath is)

    To make the bath, fill the tub and then drizzle the rose and almond oils in to the water.  Most rose essential oil is sold blended with jojoba oil, so put in about 20 drops to fragrance the water appropriately.  I’ve also discovered palmarosa oil which can be obtained from Mountain Rose Herbs pretty inexpensively and has a similar rose scent.   Then add the rose water and vinegar and gently drop in the rose petals.

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  • The 1 Cent Baking Soda Facial

    I have an interest in baking soda that kind of borders on obsession.  I guarantee this isn’t the last time you’ll see it appear in my blog!  It has so many practical purposes for cleaning up around the house and for beauty.  It’s a fantastic all-natural and inexpensive solution to a host of problems.  Regarding beauty, I recently discovered that baking soda makes a great gentle exfoliant, especially for those with dry or sensitive skin that don’t want to use other harsh products.  Alisa at Spalon in Houston gives the the most amazing microdermabrasions but times I can’t get in to see her or need a little pick me up in between visits, I make a scrub with baking soda.  This is also a fantastic scrub to do when your bank account is feeling a little deflated as all of us are probably feeling with the holiday season having just passed us by.

    To make the scrub, all you do is simply make a paste by mixing baking soda (about 1 tablespoon) with a little bit of water.   A ratio of three parts baking soda to one part water seems to work pretty well.  The more watery the paste is, the less abrasive the scrub will be.  Then rub it on your face and neck in gentle circular motions.  Do this with a light hand until you’re more familiar with how your skin will respond.  This is a great way to give yourself similar results to a facial and nearly everyone has baking soda on hand.  The same scrub can also be used on the body.  Baking soda can also help remove built up styling products from your hair so I will often just bring the box in to the shower with me and add a little bit to the shampoo in my palm (1 teaspoon) on the days I do the scrub.  Have a glowing new year!

  • Hydrating Oatmeal Banana Mask

    My skin was really dry the other night so I created a mask using some of the good hydrating items I had at home.  My skin looked incredible afterward and I promise I didn’t lick any off my face while I was in the bath 😉  This is a great mask to use in the winter to counteract chapped skin or skin that has been exposed to overly dry indoor air.  There are also some great ingredients in here that help acne-prone skin.  Sometimes even blemished skin is dry from the use of harsh products.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 banana, mashed
    • 1/2 packet Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment
    • 1 Tbsp honey
    •  2 Tbsp full fat plain yogurt or 1 Tbsp whole milk

     Mix together in a small bowl and apply to a clean face for approximately 15 minutes.  Remove gently with warm water and moisturize afterward.

    This is a good way to use up a banana that has just turned over-ripe. The Aveeno bath treatment is just colloidal oatmeal so you could also mill 1/2 cup rolled oats in a food processor or with a mortar and pestle.  If you have blemished or problem skin, try using the manuka honey I referenced in this post. 

    Bananas are moisturizing.  Honey is a humectant and has antibacterial properties.  The oatmeal helps to soothe the skin and also exfoliates to get rid of any flaky skin or dead skin cells.  Yogurt and whole milk both have lactic acid, which is an alpha hydroxy acid.  This is a very gentle acid which helps to exfoliate the skin and reveal new fresh skin underneath.  The live bacteria cultures in the yogurt keep the bad bacteria that lives in your skin in check and really helps brighten up skin.

  • Pumpkin Facial For Glowing Skin

    I thought this post would be timely with all the pumpkin we are likely to have around the house for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States.  Resist the ridiculousness of consumerism that has smeared Black Friday into Thanksgiving night and hang out and do home spa treatments with your family and friends!

    This homemade mask is one of the few “products” I have ever used that literally left my skin radiant and visibly improved upon rinsing and for hours afterward.  The pumpkin is hydrating and contains antioxidants A, C, and E, which keep the skin looking youthful.  The pumpkin’s phytonutrients like cartenoids neutralize free radicals in the skin.  The cinnamon increases circulation, the clay draws out impurities, and the honey and oil moisturize.  It’s the perfect combination for beautiful skin, really.

    Mix the following ingredients:

    • 1/2 cup canned or fresh pumpkin
    • 1/4 cup bentonite clay
    • 1 Tbsp honey
    • 2 Tbsp water
    • 1 Tbsp almond oil
    • 2 Tsp cinnamon

    An amazing product to use for the bentonite clay is Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay, which is basically pure bentonite.  It’s really hard for the geologist in me to resist talking about clay mineralogy here but I will restrain myself! The clay also works incredibly well for blackheads, pore clearing, and acne as a mask when mixed in to a paste with water or apple cider vinegar.

    If you have access to manuka honey, I would highly recommend using that as a portion of the honey required for this mask.  Manuka honey is a special honey from New Zealand.  It is a monofloral honey so the bees only visit the flower of the manuka tree.  This tree is otherwise known as tea tree, which is well-renowned for its antibacterial and antifungal properties.  If you have problem skin, this is a wonderful way to harness the naturally antiseptic qualities of the tea tree through the honey.  I’ll reference manuka a lot on this site because I am pretty obsessed with it.  Manuka honey is now available at some Whole Foods markets and can also be found on Amazon.

    Leave the mask on for about 15 minutes, and be ready for quite the rinse when it’s time to remove it as the clay is super sticky and hardens.  Note that your face may be slightly reddened after removing this mask, so be sure to test out how your skin will react before applying this before an event.  The redness generally fades within an hour. Any extra mask can be saved in the fridge for about a week.  I like to wrap up the extra in wax paper.

  • Oatmeal Milk & Honey Bath

    Feel like Cleopatra for a day…

    This bath is a sensual delight and does wonderful things for your skin.  Whole milk contains lactic acid, which softens the skin. Honey moisturizes and oatmeal calms and soothes the skin.

    Ingredients for this bath are as follows:

    • 2 cups whole milk
    • 1/4 cup honey
    • 1 packet Aveeno colloidal oatmeal (or use a food processor with whole oats)
    • 10 drops essential oil

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