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.

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