Monthly Archives: December 2012

Beauty And The Feast, Part 2

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Natural Skin Care For Dancers

Finding the right skin cleanser for my skin has been a long trial and error process. I hit the jackpot of skin cleansers when I discovered I had it all along in my kitchen…OLIVE OIL! As much as I love cooking with it, I would have never believed in a million years I would ever enjoy slathering it on my face.

The very first time I tried the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM), I instantly noticed a big improvement in my skin. My face wasn’t greasy or oily, as a matter of fact, it felt amazingly soft, dewy and seemed brighter. I’m a huge fan now and wouldn’t think of using a commercial cleanser on my face ever again.

The OCM is actually a combination of Castor Oil and Olive Oil. Cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil is best, to get the most nutrients into the skin. Olive oil has the same pH as human skin, so it’s the perfect cleansing balancer. Many people have had a lot of success with other oils such as Avocado, Jojoba, Sweet Almond, Grape Seed, Sunflower Seed and others, so feel free to try out your favorite oil. You may want to stay away from coconut oil for oil cleansing, as it is a known comedogenic and may possibly clog your pores and exacerbate blackheads.

Castor oil gives you the most cleansing, dissolving bang for your buck. It’s also highly antibacterial in nature. It can also be drying. So depending on your skin type, you’ll either use more or less castor oil in proportion to the other oils. Castor oil is easily found in the laxative section in most pharmacies. I usually find it on the bottom shelf with other old fashioned remedies rather than among the latest commercially advertised name brand medicines.

It might sound a little crazy to clean your face with an oil, especially if you have oily skin. But contrary to popular belief, oil does not cause oily skin or acne. The culprit is usually a combination of hormones, trapped bacteria, and dirt.

Put simply, when skin’s natural oils are removed, the body’s reaction is to compensate by producing more oil. Or if your skin is dry, it’s because all the oil has been stripped away, and your body doesn’t compensate by replenishing it.

HOW TO DO IT: You may want to use a small bottle to try out your mixture at first, as you’ll probably want to adjust the oil ratio until you find the right balance for your skin. I washed out a small travel size hand sanitizer bottle to use for my first oil mixture.

IT’S BEST TO THINK IN RATIOS OF THIRDS 

Oily Skin: Use 2/3 castor oil to 1/3 carrier oil. 

Normal Skin: Use equal parts castor oil and carrier oil. 

Dry Skin: Use 1/3 castor oil and 2/3 carrier oil. 

Optional: add a few drops of lavender or rose (or your favorite) essential oil, or a few drops vitamin E oil to your oil mix. If you happen to have vitamin E capsules you can break one of the capsules into your mixture.

These ratios are NOT set in stone, but they’re a good starting point. You can adjust according to how your skin feels. If you feel a little tight and dry, use less castor oil and more olive oil, or visa versa.

I have a designated wash cloth and face towel that I use. I pour about a quarter size amount in the palm of my hand and wash my face as I would with any cleanser, applying gently, massaging upwards. The oil mixture is great for removing makeup, too. If you’re wearing a lot of stage makeup, you can use the oil mixture as a makeup remover, then proceed to wash your face with it. For a small amount of everyday makeup, it isn’t necessary to remove the makeup before washing.

Rinse your wash cloth in hot water (not too hot!) and wring it out. This is to steam the oil into your pours. Place the hot wash cloth over your face, patting gently, so the oil absorbs into the skin. Let it cool (takes about 30 seconds or so), take the cloth off your face and gently start removing the oil with the cloth, in a circular motion. Lightly pat your face with a towel. Apply moisturizer if you like.

I usually don’t feel the need for moisturizer since I’ve been using the OCM. If I want a little extra moisture, I don’t pat my face dry after washing. I put a few drops of the oil mixture on my fingers and gently pat and massage the oil into my damp skin until it is absorbed and there is no oil residue.

I take another 30 seconds to wash out the wash cloth with a little soap, rinse, wring it out, hang and let it dry for the next wash. SIMPLE! This is like a daily, mini home spa for me. It feels very soothing and relaxing, and the whole process takes about 3 minutes! 

Note: I do not recommend alternating the use of commercial facial cleansers and the Oil Cleansing Method, as you will not reap the full benefit of the OCM. Commercial products are harsh on the skin (no matter what they claim). Commercial cleansers have chemicals in the ingredients that rob the skin of oil.

Next post will be about natural facial scrubs.

Beauty and The Feast, Part 1

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Natural Skin Care For Dancers

Strolling through the farmers market one Sunday, I discovered a delightful treasure sitting at a table under one of the tent awnings. She called herself “Aunt Willie”. She is an elderly lady vendor and bee keeper, who sells her own raw organic honey, as well as other natural bee products. Aunt Willie has a wealth of knowledge and it is delightful to listen to her talk endlessly about her products and their health and healing benefits. I recently found out this awesome lady is also a microbiologist.

Over the years, I’ve gone though many skin care products and skin care regimes. Performing, teaching, workshop travel, lack of sleep, stage makeup and sweat can wreak havoc on one’s skin. After endless trial and error with commercial products, I have found natural skin care with food items that I usually have in my own kitchen, that work best for me. Aunt Willie inspired me to revisit the use of honey in my skin care routine, inside and out.

Of course, good skin care and overall good health starts with what we put inside our bodies. There are no commercial skin care products or natural beauty treatments that can compete with proper nutrition and getting enough sleep.

Honey is the queen of skin care ingredients and has been used for thousands of years. Legend has it, one of the most beautiful women in the world, Cleopatra, applied a honey mask to her face every morning and took milk and honey baths to keep her skin smooth, healthy, and youthful. In Ming dynasty China, women in the emperor’s court used honey and ground orange seeds to keep their skin and hair fresh and beautiful. Ayurvedic as well as Yunani medicine have been using honey as a vital medicine for centuries. Scientists of today also accept honey as a very effective medicine for all kinds of diseases.

If you’ve ever tried honey in your skin care regimen, you know exactly what you’re in for. Honey is a humectant, which means it will attract and keep moisture inside your skin where it belongs. This hydration makes your skin supple, elastic and silky soft.

It also has anti-oxidant properties which play an important role in protecting your skin against damage from UV (ultra violet) sunlight. In addition, scientists have been able to isolate antibiotic and antiseptic properties of honey, alongside amino acids and enzymes which heal and protect the skin. Try it on minor burns, cuts and scrapes. Honey’s combined abilities as a natural antibiotic and pore cleanser, makes it a brilliant ally in the fight against acne. Just so you know, the darker the honey, the stronger the anti-oxidant effect. I prefer raw, organic honey to get the full benefit from all the nutrients, but any honey will do in a pinch.

There are many, many different types of honey: Acacia, Basswood, Blueberry, Linden, Wildflower, Orange Blossom to name just a few, all of them with their own specific taste and qualities.

My favorite zit zapper is honey and cinnamon. Together, they have a high powered healing effect. Make a paste of honey and cinnamon and put it on pimples at night, wash off in the morning and repeat daily. Repeated use for 2 weeks will remove pimples from the root. Remember to always cleanse your skin before going to bed. The worst thing you can do is go to bed with makeup on! Don’t do it!

While traveling, I’ve made up a small travel container of the honey and cinnamon paste to take with me. I never bother taking lots of commercial products when I can fill small containers with whatever I want.

Another travel tip when staying in hotels, is to pick up a few of the small packets of honey in the little one serving containers at the breakfast bar, like the ones jams and jellies come in. That’s all you need for a lovely facial mask to take back to your room!

Honey masks are as easy as ABC! What you need: Honey. That’s it. It’s great for all skin types.

How to do it: If you like, you could warm up the honey until it becomes liquid (not too hot!) by putting it in a small glass or metal bowl which is immersed in hot water. This way you have more control and it doesn’t burn (warming it up is optional, you can just slather it on if you prefer).

When it is nice and warm, smooth the honey gently and equally. You can use a facial mask brush or spatula. I’m not so fancy, I use my fingers; keep the eye area clear.

Leave it on 15-20 minutes, then wash it off with warm water, end with a splash of cold; pat your skin dry with a clean towel. Finally, apply a moisturizer, this way you “seal” your skin to keep the water inside.

I like adding a few drops of essential oil, such as lavender or rose oil, to the honey mask to enhance the benefits. These are two of my favorite essential oils I have on hand all the time. You can get really creative with your honey mask. The list of beneficial natural ingredients you may have in your kitchen is endless. Try adding a little yogurt for an extra nourishing effect, or a smashed avocado for dry skin. Add a little cinnamon and lemon juice to your honey mask for oily skin and acne.

Honey has become my favorite staple. When on the road, I make honey and cinnamon tea to relieve fatigue. It’s better than coffee and healthier as well. I also love Bee Pollen. I sprinkle a little on oatmeal or on yogurt. Bee pollen will energize you for several hours.

Warning: don’t take it at night, it can keep you from sleeping. Also, when starting out, try 1/8 of teaspoon, and work up to a teaspoon. Use less if you’re pollen sensitive.

Bee Pollen Contains 22 Amino Acids, 28 Minerals and Trace Elements, up to 18 Enzymes or Co-Enzymes, 11 Carbohydrates, Rutin and other Glucosides (for heart health), 14 Fatty Acids, 16 Vitamins (all known A-K, especially high in A, B Complex (including B-12) C,D,E. It is rich in Lecithin, Phytochemicals, Beta Carotene and other Antioxidants.

Thanks, Aunt Willie! In my next blog I will talk about natural skin cleansers and scrubs.