Natural Beauty, Inside and Out
— Coco Chanel
I worked for several months as a live-in chef/helper for an elderly woman living in a retirement home in Chicago. I was living in New York at the time and very much into my cool, groovy fashion. One day, I went to catch the bus that took us for our weekly trip to the local mall, and as I approached one of my lovely friends—a resident in the home—all dressed up in my black shorts, knee-high boots and leather jacket, I saw the lady sitting next to my friend whisper something in my friend's ear.
Later, as I was having lunch at the mall with my friend, she told me that the lady had commented as I approached, "That girl is so disgusting in those skimpy clothes." A few minutes later, another resident of the retirement home approached me, introduced herself and said, "I just want to tell you, you're such a beautiful woman and every time I see you with your lovely style, you brighten up my day." It was one of those enlightening moments in my life where it was clearly demonstrated to me that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.
Which mind, I thought to myself, would I want to inhabit? The woman who looked at me and saw something disgusting or the person who looked and saw beauty? I also noted the effect each comment had on me—being told I looked "disgusting" certainly dampened my spirits, but this was quickly dispelled by the comment moments later of the woman who saw and acknowledged my beauty—her comment made me feel beautiful.
Beauty is around us all the time, but do we have the eyes to perceive it?
We try to create beauty with our lotions and potions, and it's promised to us on every shelf we look at in the cosmetic department—beauty in a bottle. Yet, true beauty really is something that emanates from the inside out, and our ability to perceive beauty around us is a direct reflection of our state of mind and appreciation of where true beauty lies.
Recipes for natural face wash, eye treatments and masks
Ancient Greeks and Egyptians believed that to be beautiful was to be in harmony with the universe. To be in harmony with the universe, we need to be in harmony with nature.
Eating foods as nature intended is a major consideration in achieving radiant health, glowing skin and shining hair. I am vain, and even though my main motivation for adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle is that I got hooked on feeling great, a big part of it is that I noticed how it made me look when I was fueling my body with healthy, nourishing foods.
My Crunchy Berry Parfait should certainly give you something to smile about. It can be enjoyed for breakfast or dessert after a light meal. It is rich in antioxidants from the berries to get your skin glowing from the inside out and essential fatty acids from the cashews—now that's my kind of medicine!
Note: Cashews have a relatively high fat content, but it's considered "good fat" because of its ratio of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (1:2:1), which scientists believe is ideal for good health. They're also high in protein, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and manganese, all essential for overall health and glowing skin.
Slather Yourself Beautiful
Everything that you put on your body is absorbed into your blood stream through your skin, so read the labels on your skincare products as you would on your food. Many skincare products, even those sold in health food stores, are derived from petrochemicals that can dry and irritate the skin and may have other damaging side effects.
Proper skincare using natural, chemical-free products will ensure the skin will maintain its healthy natural and youthful glow. These days, there's a vast range of natural skincare products on the market, many of which are quite expensive, so if you want to save money and be naturally beautiful, it's really quite simple to make your own products, using ingredients right from your kitchen.
Here are some simple recipes and ideas to get you started.
Exfoliating Face Wash
You can use either ground almonds, fine oatmeal, ground azuki beans or bran, mixed to a paste with a little warm water. (If your skin is dry, add a few drops of olive oil.) Mix this up in a little bowl or cup. To wash your face without the strong exfoliating effect, you can put the mixture into a little piece of cotton or muslin and gently scrub your face.
- Tea bags: Tea bags soothe tired eyes and relieve puffiness around the eyes. Chamomile tea is particularly soothing. If using loose-leaf tea, you can brew it up and soak cotton wool pads in the tea, then place over the eyes.
- Cucumber: Place slices of cucumber or grated cucumber over the eyes to detoxify around the eyes and leave them bright and refreshed.
- Aloe vera gel: Apply to cotton wool pads and place on the eyes as an anti-inflammatory and to reduce puffiness.
- Flower waters: Rosewater and orange flower water are soothing, calming and anti-inflammatory. Lavender water can relieve headaches. Soak cotton wool pads and place over the eyes.
- Avocado nourishes and hydrates the skin. It is high in vitamins and minerals, is easily absorbed by the skin and can be used on all skin types. Simply mash half an avocado and add one to two teaspoons of water. Add one teaspoon honey for dry or mature skin, or one teaspoon lemon juice for oily skin. If you want a thicker mask, you can also add one tablespoon. ground almonds.
- Banana hydrates dry, mature or wrinkly skin. Mash the banana until creamy and apply to skin. You can add one tablespoon natural yogurt and one teaspoon honey to enhance the effect, or for oily skin, add one teaspoon lemon juice. If you want a thicker mask, add one tablespoon ground oatmeal.
- Yogurt helps draw oil and bacteria out of the pores, making it ideal for oily or spotty skin. You can use just yogurt if skin is oily or add one teaspoon honey for more mature, dehydrated skin or to smooth out wrinkles. To thicken, add ground almonds or oatmeal.
- Honey is highly antibacterial, and hydrates and moisturizes the skin. It is beneficial for all skin types. Mix two tablespoons aloe vera gel with one teaspoon honey to make an excellent mask for sensitive skin, skin infections or acne.
- Coconut is an excellent conditioner for all skin types. To make a nourishing mask, mix two tablespoons coconut cream with one teaspoon honey. You can add a little warm water to get the desired consistency.
To tone the skin after cleansing or applying a mask, you can put flower water into a little spray bottle. The following make excellent natural toners:
- Rosewater has cooling, soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. It can be used on all skin types, particularly dry or mature skin. It can also restore the skin's pH and relieve eczema.
- Orange flower water is more astringent than rosewater and is an excellent toner for oily skin.
- Lavender water is a wonderful remedy for all skin types. It's great to carry and spray while traveling—it can soothe sunburn and insect bites.
- Witch hazel has mild astringent and soothing properties for irritated skin. It can be mixed with rosewater for mature skin or with lavender or orange flower water. It has excellent cleansing action.
Many plant oils are high in vitamin E, which is an antioxidant and can prevent damage to skin cells while slowing down the process of aging. Oils such as jojoba, avocado oil, coconut oil, wheat germ or rose hip seed oil can be used as skin moisturizers.
To make an excellent moisturizer for all skin types, combine two parts aloe vera gel with one part jojoba oil and whisk or blend until creamy. (I like to use a handheld plunge blenders.) This can be used as a face and body moisturizer, or as a cleanser. It's a good idea to make a big batch and keep a small tub in your bathroom with the rest in the fridge until ready to use. I also like to add a few drops of rose essential oil.
Remember, however much you lather and slather, there's nothing quite as engaging and beautiful as a happy, smiling face!
A smile lifts and tones your facial muscles, and when it comes from the heart, it can bring a little more sunshine into the world.
Sending you a big smile to brighten your day,