November 2001 Ageless herbal newsletter
At this time of the year we all rush around to get our last minute festive season shopping done, and our levels of irritation seem to increase proportionately with the amount of things that we need to get done.
Since our lives and needs are important to us, we tend to think that they are far more important than those of others, and although a person's needs should not as such be negated in favor of other people, the rest of the world is just as keen on their own needs, and getting the job done.
So when you join the hustle and bustle of the festive season, take a deep breath and count to ten every time you are about to lose your cool, and keep in mind that the person next to you is also looking for that perfect gift, making their money stretch, getting everything done, and would also rather be at home having a quiet and relaxing afternoon.
We have been criticized in the past by some of our readers because we place a certain importance on grooming and looking good, yet it is a basic need of most of us to look our best. It is NOT narcissism to look after your body, as most religious texts instruct us to look after our bodies. So I trust that our newsletter will be seen in the context of looking good in general.
Since our newsletter is sent to people all over the globe, it is difficult to simply write about winter or summer skincare, since our many readers experience them both simultaneously.
But both these times of the year call for very specific care, since there are pitfalls that are very specific to both.
It is also interesting to note that there has been a huge swing in the way men think about skincare. In the past it has been seen as effeminate for a man to look after his skin, but men have also realized that in today's life, where emphasis is placed on health, looking good and with competition in the corporate world getting tougher (and younger) there are very tangible rewards to looking after themselves.
For those in the grip of winter, it is important to keep in mind that you need to adequately protect your skin from the cold weather and to supply moisture in abundance during this time, since artificial climate control robs your skin of a great deal of moisture.
Although few of us will suffer frostbite because of cold weather, it is best to ensure that you are properly clothed, and the addition of a hat or woolen cap will help prevent loss of body heat, since a large portion of heat is lost through the head.
But talking about frostbite, if your skin turns splotchy white with red patches around it, and it hurts, then it is time to come in from the cold real quick, because you might then be starting pre-frostbite, which can play havoc with your skin.
In beauty care many people think that it is good enough to slather their faces with creams and lotions, yet pay little or no attention to their water intake. Your skin needs water, and for a great looking skin you should make a point to drink enough water every day.
On a different note - if you are undertaking any air travel at this time of the year, also remember to drink lots of fluid, and rather stay off any alcoholic beverages when flying, as it will act as a diuretic and you will lose even more fluid. The cabin air in pressurized aircrafts is very drying, since it contains very little moisture - so also add a good moisturizing cream or lotion when flying.
But back to general skincare. During winter our skin also seems to get a dull, lifeless look about it, and it may be a good idea to exfoliate on a regular basis. Exfoliation on a normal skin need not be done weekly, but a gentle scrub every two or three weeks can make a huge difference.
This will help remove the build-up of dead skin cells from your skin, and will reveal the younger and more healthy looking skin underneath. When exfoliating please take care not to try and scrub your skin to the connective tissue - all you need to do is to gently scrub to remove dead surface cells. Scrubbing your skin with too much vigor and using too abrasive products can irritate your skin, cause damage and leave it open to infections and other problems.
When you look at your skin in general during the winter, it might be a good idea to either add a moisturizing oil or such-like preparation to your bath, or to apply a cream after your bath, to prevent dry itchy skin.
When we talk about applying a cream, it need not be a gooey oily cream, but could be a light aqueous base cream, to which you can add some zing by mixing a couple of drops of essential oil.
To 50 grams of aqueous base cream you can add a total of between 12 to 20 drops of essential oil, and to help with dry flaky skin, you could look at adding any of, or a combination of, the following oils: chamomile, geranium, jasmine, neroli and lavender.
Please note, we are talking about adding proper and pure essential oils, not synthetic copies, since they have no therapeutic properties and may contain ingredients that can irritate the skin.
For our readers who are enjoying the height of summer, you also need to look out for some specifics. The first and most important factor that hastens ageing is the sun.
Living in a very sunny climate myself, I understand the need of people wanting to sunbathe and burn themselves to a reputedly "healthy" brown. Although I detest the sun myself, since I simply turn bright red when out in the sun, people have the free will to decide what is important - to have a bronzed body for a certain period of time, or to help prevent wrinkles for the next couple of decades.
We are all so fond of referring to the amazing skins that our grandmothers used to have (and without a whole collection of skincare products) yet we tend to forget that our grandmother's generation did not expose themselves to the sun's radiation on a regular basis.
Remember - once a wrinkle is formed, it is difficult to get rid of it.
If you feel the need to expose your body to the burning rays of the sun, please take precautions like using a good sunscreen and not tanning during the hottest time of the day, and remember to drink lots of water to prevent dehydration.
You also need not to consciously tan to do damage to your skin. If you have an outside type of work, or spend a great deal of time traveling in your car, you could look at adding a sunscreen to your daily routine to prevent indirect sun tanning.
During hot weather we also perspire more, and with perspiration on our skin, environmental pollutants have a great grip to deposit dirt and grime. Regular and deep cleansing is a must during this time of year, since dirt will not only dull your skin, but can cause a selection of skin problems.
When cleaning your skin, make sure that you do not 'strip' your skin, which will leave it tight and feeling stretched. This normally happens if you use too strong soaps and is a general problem experienced with people suffering from acne, since the feeling is that the stronger the soap / cleanser, the better it is to remove the problem. If you have a problem skin, rather opt for a gentle yet effective cleanser, which will not cause more irritation to your skin.
One point to remember is that proper skincare starts with good cleansing, and that it is the basis of a radiant, healthy skin. No matter how wonderful and active a skincare range might be, if it is not applied to a properly cleansed skin, it would be nearly worthless.
A good deep cleansing face pack can also be most useful during this time. To remove excess oil from your skin, you could look at using a kaolin-based facemask.
Keeping your face looking young could, I suppose, be classed as an art or a science, but notwithstanding which classification you care to use, it must be remembered that nutrition plays a very important role in looking your best.
The balance of your diet between protein, carbohydrates and fats is vitally important, as much as eating enough fresh and raw vegetables and fruit is, yet you may wish to look at making sure that you have enough antioxidants in your diet or with supplementation.
Although the medical fraternity is still in two minds as to whether antioxidants can help to keep age at bay, there are some very interesting facts regarding antioxidants that point to the fact that they can have a very beneficial effect on keeping your good looks longer.
A great exfoliating and pick-me-up home-made facemask can be prepared in the following way:
Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of pure raw oats (not the pre-cooked, easy to prepare type) in a pestle and pulverize until it is a fine powder. You can pulverize in any way, or with any type of food processing machine that will do it successfully. Then mix raw honey to it until it is a smooth paste.
After proper cleansing, dry your face and start applying this mask in gentle circular movements to the skin, but do not apply it to the sensitive areas around your eyes.
Leave it on your face for at least ten minutes and then wash off with large amounts of lukewarm water to remove all traces of stickiness. Dry your skin and apply your regular moisturizer.
People that are allergic to bees and bee products should not use this mask as it may cause an allergic reaction.
Another way to perk up your skin, although a bit smelly, is to give it a vitamin A boost. Cleanse your skin properly and dry well. Leave for about ten minutes to let the excess moisture evaporate.
Then take two, oil based vitamin A soft gelatin capsules (normally combined with vitamin D in the form of fish oil) and prick the capsule to release the oil. Spread the oil evenly over your face and leave on for at least 20 minutes. After this period you can use a face wash or cleansing bar to wash your face, and then apply your normal moisturizer.
This is a great way to perk up your skin, but the retinol in the vitamin A may make your skin more sensitive, so avoid sun exposure. Since you are going to reek of fish oil for the duration of this treatment, it is best to do it when nobody else is around.