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Beauty Health Uncategorized

What Causes Hair Loss and Its Cure

“I’ve got so much to do I’m pulling my hair out!” How many times have busy women said something like this?
Well, it’s not too far from a true statement. Many times, working mothers and other women pile too much on their plates and can’t seem to get anything done.

Get stress level under control. Too much stress is a very real cause of hair loss in women, according to recent research. Stressful situations also lead many people to neglect their diets, and rapid weight loss does not help keep the scalp and hair healthy.
You may notice that you’re losing extra hair about three months after a traumatic event, such as major surgery, severe illness or a high fever. This hair loss is not permanent, and your hair will grow back.

Check your medicines. Some medications can cause hair loss, so check with your doctor or pharmacist if you suspect a connection. Some medicines that may be the culprit include blood thinners, gout medicines, vitamin A (if you overdo it), birth-control pills and antidepressants.

Be prepared for after-pregnancy fallout. Women often notice healthier, thicker hair during pregnancy and are terribly disappointed when large amounts of hair begin to fall out after the baby is born.
Those changing hormones during and after pregnancy can affect hair growth and loss. There is no need for alarm if you notice your hair falling out and you’ve just had a baby.
Menopause is another time in a woman’s life when hair loss can begin.

Make sure thyroid and iron levels are normal. Anemia (iron deficiency), a low blood count or thyroid problems can cause hair loss. You may need a simple blood test to determine if you have normal hormone and nutrient levels.

Look for redness and rash. If you notice redness, scaling or a rash on your scalp, see your doctor. You may have a scalp infection. Many infections can be treated with anti-fungal medicines, and the hair will grow back.

Don’t damage your hair follicles. To help keep your hair on your head and not in your brush, avoid hot curlers, curling irons, harsh chemicals and tight braids. They can all harm your scalp and hair.
If you stop pulling your hair with braids or tight rollers before your scalp scars, your hair will grow back. Once your scalp has scarred, your hair loss may be permanent.
Hot oil treatments and permanents can cause hair loss.
If you have a nervous habit of pulling or twisting your hair, stop it now!
Some people can’t stop this habit on their own and need counseling or drug therapy.

Hair loss in women is a cause for concern, but not necessarily a cause for alarm. Think about what is taking place in your life now and what has happened in the last few months. You may just need to slow down, eat healthier foods, and take good care of your scalp and hair.

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Beauty Recipes

Homemade Body Wrap Recipes

(Wraps and packs are staple items on the beauty spa menu. They help to-reduce the appearance of cellulite, boost the circulation, ease painful joints, and improve problem skin.)

The principle of most body wraps is to plaster the skin with ingredients that are high in vitamins, minerals, and essential oils, which are then absorbed through the pores of the skin into the bloodstream and lymphatic system. This absorption is, in most cases, aided by encasing the body in plastic wrap, bandages, or metal foil, which help to keep in the heat and raise the body temperature. Once this occurs, the skin becomes red as the blood rushes to the surface, and the ingredients in the wrap are able to reach the bloodstream more effectively and efficiently.

As the temperature rises, perspiration also occurs, which helps to flush out the toxins and other impurities from the body that are responsible for cellulite, tiredness, problem skin, and water retention. As the pores of the skin dilate, they also become more receptive to the ingredients in the wrap or mask, which can pass into the skin more readily.

(Soak a towel in an infusion of lavender and wrap it around the body to promote perspiration and help expel toxins from the body. Other ways to kick-start a sluggish system include massage and regular exercise.)

(Feel the heat: There are a number of natural ingredients that help to heat up the body and improve circulation, including apple cider vinegar, nutmeg, root ginger, or a blend of cedar-wood, lavender, and grapefruit essential oils. Steep them in hot water, then soak a towel in the water and wrap it around the area of the body you wish to treat.)

Mustard Body Pack Recipe

Mustard Powder

Mustard is known for its pyre-tic effect on the skin; that is, it causes a rise in temperature. This helps to bring blood to the surface of the skin, thereby increasing the circulation. This mustard pack will relax and relieve tired, aching joints and muscles.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2tbsp (30ml) mustard powder
  • 8tbsp (120ml) flour
  • 2 drops pine essential oil
  • 2 drops thyme essential oil

PREPARATION

Mix the mustard and flour into a paste with tepid water, adding a little at a time. Add the essential oils and stir well. Place the paste into a folded cloth and heat it by placing it on top of a hot radiator or hot-water bottle.

APPLICATION

Apply the pack to the painful area. Leave for 10 minutes, then rinse off and pat dry.

(To make the mustard pack more effective, wrap the treated areas with bandages, plastic wrap, or metal foil, all of which will help to retain heat and induce perspiration.)

CELLULITE TREATMENTS

We all recognize cellulite, that lumpy, orange-peel skin on the thighs, hips, and buttocks that seems to afflict every woman over the age of 25. Cellulite is actually nodular pockets of fat stored just below the skin. It is caused primarily by poor circulation, which can slow down the elimination of toxins and fluid.

Cellulite may be alleviated if the correct changes to diet and lifestyle are made, such as avoiding tea, coffee, cigarettes, and alcohol. Although cellulite is extremely difficult to shift, spa treatments can help. You will need to drink plenty of water, eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, exfoliate at least once a week to boost circulation to affected areas, and regularly apply some of the body wrap recipes described in this section. In addition, carry out the following spa routine twice a week – or every day if you have time – to achieve a visible and lasting result.

  1. Direct alternating hot and cold water to the affected area using a powerful shower head. Switch between hot and cold every 30 seconds for five minutes.
  2. Brush the affected area with a dry natural bristle brush. Always brush in the direction of the heart.
  3. Rub the skin with sea salt using a sisal mitt. Work in the direction of the heart and make sure that you use light, circular movements.
  4. Have a warm bath, then massage your body with vitamin E oil to smooth the skin’s texture. Mix 3 drops grapefruit and 3 drops rosemary essential oils with 2tsp (10ml) sweet almond carrier oil. Massage the oil mixture into areas of cellulite.

Strawberry and ginger body wrap recipe

Ginger has a warming effect on the skin and is an excellent circulatory stimulant. Strawberry has cleansing, astringent properties.

(Strawberries, ginger, and kaolin clay powder blended together will work wonders for circulation.)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ginger roots, each 4in (10cm) long
  • 4tbsp (60ml) kaolin clay powder
  • 15 large strawberries

PREPARATION

Put all of the ingredients into a blender and whiz for a minute. If the mixture is too runny to adhere to the body, add more kaolin powder until you achieve the consistency of a thick paste.

APPLICATION

Apply the wrap to areas affected by cellulite or poor circulation, then wrap your body in metal foil. Lie down in a warm room for 15-20 minutes, then rinse off the wrap with warm water. Turn the water to cool for the last 15 seconds, then pat the skin dry.

Slimming wrap recipe

If you are going to a special party and would like to lose a little weight to fit into your favorite party outfit, you can harness the diuretic effect of these natural minerals and essential oils to achieve “instant,” though temporary, inch-loss. The wrap uses elasticized cotton bandages soaked in a warm seaweed and clay solution and acts like a huge poultice, drawing toxins from the body and stimulating fluid expulsion via the body’s own waste disposal process. You will need sufficient bandages to bind each leg from ankle to thigh. For maximum benefit, exfoliate first.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3oz (85g) concentrated, dried, micronized seaweed powder
  • 3oz (85g) Fuller’s earth powder
  • 8tbsp (120ml) lime juice
  • 1tbsp (15ml) sweet almond oil
  • 1/2tsp (2.5ml) clear honey
  • 4 drops sandalwood essential oil
  • 2 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 2 drops lavender essential oil

PREPARATION

Mix the seaweed powder and Fuller’s earth with the lime juice to make a paste. Add a little water if necessary. Stir in the almond oil and essential oils and mix well. Add a little warm water to thin the paste into a fluid consistency. Soak the bandages in the warm seaweed and clay solution.

APPLICATION

Starting at the ankles, wind the soaked bandages around your legs. Pull them taut enough to compress the fatty tissues, but not uncomfortably tight. Lie down in a warm room for 45 minutes, then remove and discard the bandages and shower off the seaweed and clay mixture.

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Beauty Recipes

Depilatory Tips for Body Hair

(All women yearn for a head of thick, luxurious hair, but very few are happy to tolerate body hair. The good news is that it is easy to remove it in the privacy of your own bathroom.)

If you are blessed with thick hair, the downside is that you probably have hairy legs and there may even be a slight fuzziness on your upper lip. In fact, 80 percent of women have facial hair and nearly every woman removes the hair from her legs. Facial hair, in particular, can be a very distressing and embarrassing problem, and it generally worsens from the age of about 40, when women’s bodies produce progressively less of the female hormone estrogen and more of the male hormone testosterone. Facial hair can also be a side-effect of taking antibiotics, anti-depressants, food supplements, steroids, the contraceptive pill, or even be due to poly-cystic ovary syndrome. If you are concerned, contact your doctor. Unwanted body hair can usually be removed simply and relatively painlessly using one of three different techniques: shaving, sugaring, or waxing.

SHAVING

Shaving is the fastest and least painful way to remove hair from the legs. You should not use this technique on your face, however, as it causes the hair to grow back in the form of stubble, which is scratchy and even more visible. Always shave in the direction of the hair growth, to prevent in-growing hairs.

(Cucumber and lavender are ideal ingredients for a shaving lotion – they are two of nature’s most effective skin soothers.)

Cucumber shaving oil recipe

This moisturizing, scented cream contains cucumber to soothe the skin, together with lavender and tea tree oils as natural emollients. It should be kept in a cool place and used within a few days. Always stir before use.

INGREDIENTS

  • 8oz (225g) cocoa butter
  • 4tbsp (60ml) witch hazel
  • 8tbsp (120ml) sweet almond oil
  • 4 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil
  • 1/2 fresh cucumber, peeled

PREPARATION

Melt the cocoa butter in a small bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir in the witch hazel and almond oil, then add the essential oils. Liquidize the cucumber and strain through a sieve. Add 4tsp (20ml) of the collected juice to the butter mixture. Mix thoroughly and pour into a screw-top container.

APPLICATION

Apply the mixture to the skin with the fingertips before shaving. After shaving, remove any excess oil with a hot, damp cloth and gently pat the skin dry with a towel. Your skin will feel soft and moisturized.

(Almost everyone is tempted to shave in the opposite direction to the hair growth, since it is easier, but you should avoid doing so to prevent the problem of in-growing hairs.)

(Shaving cuts: You can buy special safety razors that will prevent most shaving nicks, but if you do cut yourself, smear the area with a little wheatgerm oil to stop the bleeding, then apply neat tea tree oil, which is a natural antiseptic.)

 

Manicure At Home – Short Nails

SUGARING

This ancient Middle Eastern technique involves the use of water and sugar, heated gently together to form a sticky paste. Sugaring can be used on your face, legs, and bikini line, but you will probably find it rather messy at first. With practice, however, it will become easy and fuss-free. Sugaring is generally thought to be less painful than waxing and is said to keep the hairs at bay for longer, usually up to eight weeks. You can buy ready-made sugaring preparations from beauty stores and some pharmacists, but it is just as simple to make your own from sugar and water.

  1. Mix together 4tsp (20ml) water and 4tsp (20ml) granulated sugar in a metal pan over a gentle heat. When the sugar has dissolved completely and the liquid is the consistency of runny honey, allow it to cool down.
  2. When the mixture has fallen to body temperature, apply it over the area you wish to depilate, using a small wooden spoon or spatula. Press a strip of clean, cotton gauze over the sugar solution. Allow it to set, then quickly rip off the cotton. Always pull against the direction of hair growth. Your skin may look slightly red afterward.
  3. Finish by rinsing the skin with cold water containing a single drop of tea tree oil, which is a natural antiseptic and also helps to prevent in-growing hairs.

(Sensitive skin: Depilating body hair can be painful, especially when waxing and sugaring, and many people find that their skin becomes inflamed and sensitive, or even develops a rash, when they first use these methods. If this occurs, spread a few drops of lavender, camomile, rose, or calendula essential oils over the affected area, then gently wipe away any excess with a tissue.)

WAXING

The ancient Egyptians removed body hair with a mixture of crushed birds’ bones, sycamore gum, and cucumber applied in strips and then ripped off. Fortunately, the formula has now been updated, but in fact the method remains much the same and still requires a high pain threshold. The advantages are that there is no stubble and the effect is quite long-lasting – very fine hairs reappear after three weeks or so, thicker hairs after about 5-6 weeks. The hair also becomes finer with repeated waxings, which progressively weaken the hair follicle. The disadvantage, apart from the pain, is that you must wait for 1/4 – 1/2 (5 – 10 mm) regrowth before you can re-wax. Some beauticians advise against facial waxing for older women with thin, delicate skin. You can buy pots of wax or wax strips to use at home; solid wax works best.

(Solid wax has to be melted and is therefore more time- consuming to use than prepared wax strips. It is generally felt to be more effective, though.)

  1. If using solid wax, cut some cotton gauze into about a dozen 4 x 12in (10 x 30cm) strips. This will be sufficient to wax both legs; cut fewer and smaller strips for other areas of the body, as appropriate.
  2. Melt the solid wax over a gentle heat until it has liquefied, then use a small brush to apply the melted wax to the strips. Leave to cool until they reach body temperature.
  3. Lightly dust your legs with talcum powder, then lay the wax strips over your legs and smooth the strips down in the direction of the hair growth. Wait a few seconds for the wax to cool further, then quickly rip off the strips, pulling against the direction of the hair growth.
  4. Rinse your legs in cold water to reduce redness, then pat dry and moisturize.
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Beauty Health

Pedicure at Home

(You will walk about 70,000 miles in your lifetime – that’s four times around the world! – so a regular pedicure is a worthwhile investment to help you put your best foot forward.)

Feet tend to be the forgotten part of the body, yet they are subjected to considerable strains, not least carrying the weight of the rest of the body. In addition, they are often crammed into badly fitting shoes – if your feet are sore and burning at the end of each day, it is probably due to friction from ill-fitting footwear. Considering the stresses inflicted on feet, it comes as no surprise that many people suffer from hard skin, corns, calluses, chilblains, and fungal infections. However, a weekly home spa session with pedicure at home will keep your feet soft and supple and leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed.

PEDICURE AT HOME IN 5 STEPS

A weekly 10-minute session of pedicure that you can do on your own at home is all you need to keep your feet beautifully groomed. All of the items needed are readily available from pharmacists and beauty stores.

  1. Soak your feet in warm water with a handful of sea salt to soften the skin. Exfoliate gently to remove the top layer of dead skin. Use a pumice stone to exfoliate hard areas, such as the heels and ankles. Elsewhere, apply a grainy body scrub, or rub with sea salt mixed with a little olive oil.
  2. Trim the toenails. If they are hard and cracking, soak them first in a small bowl of warm olive oil for five minutes; if you do this regularly for three or four weeks, you should see a vast improvement in the condition of your toenails. Cut the nails straight across with nail clippers or nail scissors and file any jagged edges smooth. It is important to cut the nails straight to avoid the problem of in-growing toenails.
  3. Apply cuticle cream to each toenail and massage it well into the nail bed. This will encourage blood flow and healthy growth. Continue massaging for about a minute, using gentle circular movements, then gently push back the cuticles with an orange stick.
  4. Massage the whole foot with moisturizer or a special cream suitable for rough skin. This will improve the suppleness of the skin and reduce callus build-up. Concentrate particularly on the heels, where most hard skin forms.
  5. If necessary, deodorize your feet using a natural foot spray. Note that many commercially produced deodorants can block the skin’s pores and aggravate the problem of foot odor.

(From corns and calluses to chilblains and odor problems, the feet can suffer terribly if neglected. However, a weekly pedicure is all you need to keep your feet in perfect condition.)

Rough skin treatment

Cocoa butter is intensely moisturizing, while calendula is an effective antiseptic, perfect for soothing and healing inflamed or irritated skin.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3tbsp (45ml) cocoa butter
  • 3 drops calendula essential oil
  • 3 drops lavender essential oil

PREPARATION

Heat the cocoa butter in a small bowl over a pan of simmering water. Add the essential oils and mix well.

APPLICATION

Cover your feet with the butter, paying particular attention to the soles, then cover with plastic wrap and leave for 15 minutes. Remove the wrap and massage the butter in thoroughly.

Tea tree foot spray

Tea tree oil is a germicidal, anti-fungal oil that is very effective against athlete’s foot and other skin infections. The lemon juice acts as a natural preservative, so that the ingredients will not oxidize.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4tsp (20ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 5tbsp (75ml) vodka
  • 4tbsp (60ml) water
  • 2 drops lemon essential oil
  • 5 drops tea tree oil

PREPARATION

Put all of the ingredients into a clean spray bottle and mix thoroughly. Always shake the bottle before use to re-mix the essential oils.

APPLICATION

Spray the mixture over your feet or other body areas, but avoid the face because the alcohol is too drying.

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Beauty Health

Manicure At Home – Short Nails

(The hands are one of the most noticeable parts of the body, so set aside a regular weekly slot to perform a quick manicure as part of your home spa treatment.)

Hands are regularly exposed to extreme conditions, such as immersion in water and detergents, so it is important to look after them if their skin is to remain soft and supple. Fortunately, hands respond extremely well to a little tender care. The two most common hand problems are dry skin and brittle nails, so give yourself a manicure once a week and finish with a deep-moisturizing treatment for both hands and nails.

MANICURE WITH SHORT NAILS

This manicure will take just a few minutes to perform, but will keep your hands and short nails looking and feeling good for the rest of the week. All of the items needed are readily available from pharmacists and beauty stores.

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly in soapy water, then scrub the nails gently with a soft nail brush. This increases the blood circulation to the nails and encourages healthy growth. Immerse your clean hands in a bowl of warm water containing 2 drops chamomile essential oil. Leave them to soak for two minutes.
  2. Apply cuticle cream to the base of each nail and massage it well into the nail bed to encourage blood flow and healthy growth. Continue massaging for about a minute, using circular movements, then gently push the cuticles back with an orange stick.
  3. 3 Apply a rich moisturizer to the hands and massage it in well. If you are giving yourself a manicure at night, apply petroleum jelly in the same way, put on cotton gloves, and leave it to be absorbed overnight – this is a wonderfully moisturizing treatment for dry skin.

(Although hands are exposed to dirt and harsh chemicals such as detergents more than any other area of the body, they have thick skin and respond well to spa treatments.)

Olive oil treatment for hands at home

This home remedy is excellent for dry hands and is also good for eczema. Choose organic extra virgin olive oil for greatest benefit and apply it at night.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3tbsp (45ml) olive oil
  • 3 drops orange essential oil
  • 2 drops frankincense essential oil

PREPARATION

Mix all three oils together and store in a dark glass bottle.

APPLICATION

Apply the mixture generously all over the hands and massage it in thoroughly. Put on a pair of thin plastic gloves and leave them on overnight. In the morning, massage your hands again before wiping away the excess oil with a tissue. Rinse your hands thoroughly and pat dry.

Nail rescue

The combination of cleansing lemon oil and nourishing sweet almond oil in this cream helps to revive dry, flaky nails, and is particularly effective in cold weather.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1tbsp (15ml) beeswax
  • 3 drops lemon essential oil
  • 3tbsp (45ml) sweet almond oil

PREPARATION

Heat the beeswax in a small glass bowl over a pan of simmering water. When it becomes runny, add the lemon essential oil and stir thoroughly. Add the almond oil a little at a time, stirring constantly. As the beeswax cools, it will become solid but pliable. If it is too hard, reheat it and add a little more almond oil, drop by drop.

APPLICATION

Apply the wax to the fingers and nails every night  as a treatment, once a week for maintenance.

Categories
Beauty Health Recipes

Herbal Bath Recipes

(Next time you take a bath, don’t just run the water and lie there. Bathing is a golden opportunity for a multitude of relaxing and enjoyable spa treatments.)

Herbs, salts, and essential oils can all be added to your bath to achieve beneficial effects for both the mind and body. Bathing with special oils and herbs can help to detoxify, moisturize, and condition your skin as well as induce deep relaxation. The bath water should be pleasantly warm, but take care not to run the water too hot or you may feel sluggish and even become dizzy. In the summer, take a cooling bath. Once you overcome the initial shock, bathing in cool water is extremely refreshing. Add a few drops of rosemary essential oil to make it an even more skin-tingling experience. In the winter, thyme essential oil can be added to help boost your immune system as protection against colds and flu. We attempted to provide you some solid herbal bath recipes in our article.

WEEKLY DETOXIFICATION

From time to time, most people experience days when they feel lethargic and suffer from headaches, dull skin, or a bloated stomach. These are all signs of toxin build-up in the body, usually as a result of over-indulgence in fatty or acidic foods, not eating enough fruit and vegetables, breathing polluted air, not taking enough exercise, and drinking too much alcohol or smoking cigarettes. Even stress can produce an increase in the production of certain chemicals in the body, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which make us feel irritable and unwell when they are released into the bloodstream.

A weekly detoxifying bath is the fastest, most pleasant way to cleanse your system. You can vary the ingredients you add to the bath water, depending on your individual symptoms.

 

Detox Friendly Herbal Teas

 

Detoxifying herbal bath recipe

Adding herbs to your bath has a two fold effect: their active ingredients are absorbed by the skin and carried to the bloodstream, and you also inhale their calming vapors. The main ingredient of this detoxifying bath is lavender, which promotes perspiration and so helps to rid the body of toxins. Juniper is used to stimulate the elimination of waste products.

INGREDIENTS

  • 10 heads of fresh lavender
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) juniper berries
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) comfrey leaf
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) celery seeds

PREPARATION

Steep the herbs in hot water for 15-20 minutes. Strain the liquid and put it to one side. Place the strained herbs on a square of cheesecloth or muslin, then tie it with a piece of string to form a pouch.

APPLICATION

Add the herbal liquid to your bath water and hang the herbal sachet immediately beneath the faucet, so that it hangs in the flow of running water. Get into the bath and enjoy.

(Lie back and wallow in a luxurious bath scented with lavender and juniper essential oils to detoxify your system and promote a deep sense of well-being.)

Orange bath salts recipe

All home-made bath salt recipes use Epsom salts as their base, which are excellent for the skin. The salts are both detoxifying and moisturizing, by drawing out impurities but also locking in moisture. Orange essential oil has strong detoxifying properties.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 tbsp (60 ml) Epsom salts
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) orris root
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) dried orange peel
  • 1 drop orange essential oil
  • 3 drops geranium essential oil

(Vary the orange bath salts recipe by using different essential oils. Use lavender oil for a relaxing bath; sandalwood oil to create an exotic fragrance; and rose and calendula oils to soften the skin.)

PREPARATION

Mix all of the ingredients together, making sure that the oils are well- absorbed into the salts.

APPLICATION

Add a small handful of the mixture to your bath water, then relax and enjoy.

MOISTURIZING BATHS

Hard-water deposits and some commercially produced soaps can have a drying effect on the skin. As well as treating dry skin by applying a rich moisturizer after bathing, you can also add natural moisturizers to your bath water, including milk, herbs, and natural oils.

Cleopatra’s milk bath recipe

Milk is rich in calcium, vitamins, and minerals and has been added to bath water to soften and revitalize the skin since Cleopatra’s day. Bathing in milk leaves the skin feeling beautifully conditioned. The only drawback is the smell, but you can mask this by adding fragrant essential oils. The honey in this recipe seals in moisture and protects the skin. Store the milk bath in a glass bottle and leave in a cool, dry place.

(When using recipes made from fresh ingredients without preservatives, such as Cleopatra’s milk bath, store them in sealed glass bottles in a cool, dry place.)

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 fl oz (150 ml) milk
  • 3 tbsp (45 ml) powdered coconut milk
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) clear honey
  • 3 drops jasmine essential oil
  • 3 drops ylang ylang essential oil
  • 2 drops lavender essential oil

PREPARATION

Put the milk, powdered coconut milk, and honey into a saucepan and heat gently. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Remove the liquid from the heat and add the essential oils.

APPLICATION

Fill the bathtub with water, then add the milk bath liquid.

( A taste of honey: Honey has long been used to delay or counteract the effects of aging on the skin. Renowned for its ability to heal burns, honey’s soothing, moisturizing qualities were utilized in day-to-day skincare products for the face, hands, and body by rich and powerful women throughout history, from the time of Cleopatra.)

Conditioning herbal bath

Elder-flower, linden blossom, and chamomile have a very soothing effect on the skin. Place the three herbs in a glass bowl, pour on hot water, and allow it to brew. Strain the liquid and add it to your bath water. Alternatively, wrap a handful of the herbs in a square of muslin or cheesecloth and tie it with string to form a pouch. Hang the herbal sachet from the faucet under the flow of water.

Bran softener

Brown rice and regular bran make excellent skin smoothers. Take a rectangle of cheesecloth, about 12 x 10 in (30 x 25 cm), fold it in half, and sew along two sides to make a small pouch. Fill it with bran or rice, then sew the final edges together. Rub the pouch all over the skin while you are in the bathtub as a moisturizing exfoliant.

MOISTURIZING BATH OILS

For a fast way to restore natural oils to parched, dry skin, try adding a few drops of plant or vegetable oil directly to your bath water. Do not add more than 2 tsp (10 ml) or your skin will become too greasy. Vary the type of oil depending on your skin type.

For dry skin   

  Avocado, wheatgerm, castor, sesame

For normal skin   

Almond, apricot, jojoba, vitamin E-rich oil

For greasy skin 

Safflower, camellia, calendula

 

(Always use oils that are appropriate to your skin type.)

AROMATHERAPY BATH RECIPES

Adding aromatherapy oils to your bathing water that you prepared for your enjoyment with the herbal bath recipes is a delicious way to enjoy their therapeutic effects – enveloping your body in warm water while you inhale the heady scents of your favorite oils is a deeply pleasurable experience. The hot water doubles the effectiveness of the oils: they are absorbed directly from the water into the bloodstream through the skin and at the same time the vaporized scent is inhaled. Take care that the water is not too hot, or the oils will evaporate entirely and none will remain in the water to penetrate the skin.

Most essential oils can irritate the skin and mucus membranes, so always dilute them in a carrier oil (such as sweet almond oil) or milk before adding them to your bath water. Mix 4-5 drops of the essential oil with 2 tbsp (30 ml) milk or 2 tsp (10 ml) almond oil, then pour the mixture into the bath water, swirling it around to disperse it. Camomile and lavender oils are the exception, because they are both non-irritating. Use just 4-6 drops of the essential oil and swirl it around in the water before getting into the bathtub. Essential oils can also be mixed with Dead Sea salts or sea salt before adding them to your bath water.

(Make a little extra essential oil mixture when having an aromatherapy bath and massage it into tense areas of your body.)

THERAPEUTIC BATH OILS

Combine any of the oils in the following categories to achieve the desired effect. Do not exceed the total number of drops recommended in the main text above.

Deep cleansing

     Grapefruit, juniper, lemon, cypress, tea tree.

Uplifting

 Bergamot, geranium, melissa, frankincense, palmarosa, clary sage, jasmine, mandarin

 Relaxing

 Clary sage, geranium, jasmine, mandarin, lavender, ylang ylang, marjoram, neroli, rose

Stimulating

 Bergamot, cypress, juniper, lime, pine, coriander, grapefruit, lemon, peppermint, rosemary

BATHS TO HELP YOU SLEEP

If you have trouble sleeping, having a warm bath before going to bed can help you drift off into a calm, deep sleep. You can make the bath even more effective by adding one of the natural soporific ingredients listed here. They will help you to get a restful night’s sleep so that you wake up feeling refreshed the next morning.

Caution ! Never allow yourself to fall asleep in the bathtub. Get out of the bath the moment you feel you are getting sleepy or your eyelids are becoming heavy.

(Tips for Sleeping: As well as having a bath infused with sedative herbs and oils, turn your bedroom into a relaxing sanctuary for a good night’s sleep.

  • Invest in a thick pair of drapes to keep the bedroom dark.
  • Don’t have the room too hot or too cold – 65-70 F (18-21 ‘C) is just right.
  • Don’t eat just before you go to bed; avoid eating after 6 pm.
  • Drink a cup of herbal tea or warm milk before you go to sleep.
  • If you are disturbed by noise, invest in a pair of earplugs. )

CHAMOMILE AND LAVENDER

Chamomile essential oil has calming properties and is an effective sedative. Lavender is soothing and calming, and is known for its balancing effect on the nervous system. It can be used to relieve headaches and help prevent insomnia. Dilute 7-8 drops lavender or chamomile essential oil in 3 tbsp (45 ml) sweet almond carrier oil and add three-quarters to your bath water. Rub the remaining oil into the soles of your feet, just before getting into bed, to enhance the effect.

SKULLCAP

This bitter, medicinal herb is part of the mint family. It will not make your bath pleasantly scented, but it is remarkably effective for insomnia. It acts on the nervous system to promote a sense of deep relaxation.

 

HOPS

Hop flowers have a tranquilizing effect. Steep a handful of the flowers in hot water, strain, then add the cooling liquid straight to the bath water. Alternatively, tie a handful of the dried flowers in a square of muslin with string and hang it under the faucet as the water is running.

VALERIAN

This is another natural ingredient known for its sleep-inducing properties. Use it sparingly, because it is a powerful tranquilizer. Make an infusion by adding fresh valerian to hot water and allowing it to brew for a few minutes. Strain and cool the liquid, then add the liquid directly to the bath water.

(Use nature’s plentiful bounty to help you get a good night’s sleep. Many herbs and essential oils will help you sleep peacefully without detoxifying your body with chemicals.)

Refreshing  Showers

(Showers are refreshing, invigorating, uplifting, and relaxing. They are the perfect way to galvanize your system and wake up your mind, ready for the day ahead.)

Pouring running water over areas of the body is known as an “affusion,” and is an effective way to spring-clean the body and improve its biological functions. Showers can be used in many ways – both hot and cold and at varying intensities – to achieve different effects. Take a hot shower to kick-start your circulation and relieve aching muscles. Use short, sharp bursts of cold water to invigorate your mind and body and to reduce inflammation.

THERAPEUTIC SPA SHOWER AT HOME

Alternating hot and cold showers, also known as blitzguss, helps to stimulate the blood supply to the skin and restore lost tautness and vitality. Such spa showers are even said to help prevent premature aging of the skin and eliminate fatigue. Repeated every day, the blitzguss will strengthen your immune system and help protect against infections.

  1. Take a warm shower until your skin is warm and glowing.
  2. Switch the temperature to cold and hold the shower about 3 in (7.5 cm) from the skin’s surface. Quickly move the shower head over your whole body, directing it over your face, down your arms and legs, over your torso, abdomen, and back. The whole process should take no more than 30 seconds.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2, then get out of the shower and pat off the excess water. Do not rub the skin, and dress warmly as soon as you are dry.

Strawberry shower gel recipe

Deliciously scented and energizing, fresh strawberries make this shower gel wonderfully refreshing. The gel is cleansing, astringent, and cooling, and particularly suitable if you have greasy skin and a tendency to spots on your back and chest. The gel can be stored in the refrigerator and kept for about a week. Foaming gels are difficult to make at home, so you will need to buy an unscented bubble bath base, which can be purchased from many beauty stores and pharmacists.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp (45 ml) thick, unscented bubble bath base
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh raspberries
  • 2 drops tea tree essential oil

PREPARATION

Mix all the ingredients together in a blender, making sure the oil is thoroughly dispersed. Refrigerate overnight to set.

APPLICATION

Pour a small amount of gel with a little warm water onto a long-handled soft bristle brush and rub gently over your skin. Concentrate on problem areas, such as the chest and back, for about five minutes. When you have finished, lather and rinse under a hot shower.

(After a therapeutic spa shower, your skin will glow with health and you will feel invigorated and refreshed.)

( Fruit sensations: Replace the strawberries and raspberries used in the strawberry shower gel with other fruits from your refrigerator. Use tropical fruits, such as papaya and pineapple, to improve skin texture; peaches and grapes will soothe and cleanse inflamed, blotchy skin.)

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Beauty Health Recipes

Exfoliant Rubs and Scrubs – Homemade Recipes

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Exfoliation – the process of using a gentle abrasive agent on the skin – is the simplest way to a cleaner, softer, smoother body. It is also the perfect way to prepare your body for most other spa treatments and relaxation therapies.

Exfoliation works by removing the dead cells on the surface of the skin. This unblocks the pores, which are then able to absorb creams and oils much more efficiently. Exfoliation is particularly good for cellulite, by boosting the circulation, and for removing the hard skin that builds up on the feet, knees, and elbows.

There is a vast array of equipment for scrubbing, rubbing, and exfoliating various parts of the body. Don’t be overwhelmed by the selection; it is simply that certain tools are better on particular parts of the body. When deciding what to buy, look first at those made from natural fibers, which tend to be gentler on the skin than artificial materials. It is important to keep exfoliating equipment clean and dry when not in use, because bacteria can grow among the damp fibers. Nylon scrubs have the advantage of being machine-washable.

PURE BRISTLE BRUSH

This is an essential item for the home spa. Used on dry skin every day, a pure bristle brush helps to detoxify the skin and combat cellulite. You can use it with a mild soap to exfoliate the skin – additional abrasive scrubs and creams are unnecessary. Long-handled brushes are useful for hard-to-reach areas, such as the back, while smaller body brushes are ‘ best for legs and arms. When choosing a brush, rub the palm of your hand against the bristles to check that they are not too stiff and scratchy.

LOOFAH

This natural exfoliant is made from dried dishcloth gourd (Luffa), a soft, fibrous plant. Long loofahs, which are perfect for reaching your back, are made from whole plants, but you can also buy loofahs cut into sections for use on smaller areas of the body, such as the upper arms, shoulders, and chest. When dry, loofahs are hard and scratchy, but once you wet them, they become quite soft. Use them with a glycerin body soap or shower gel to slough away dead skin on a weekly basis.

SPONGES

There are many different types of sponge available, both synthetic and natural. They are particularly useful for sensitive skin or for more delicate areas of the body. Natural sea sponges are quite hard when dry, but soft and gentle when wet.

SISAL AND NYLON SCRUBS

Sisal is another fibrous plant that can be used for exfoliation. Woven to form a mitt or brush, sisal is a handy way to keep the skin smooth. Sisal scrubs can be used dry for maximum exfoliation or wet for a more gentle effect. Scrubs and mitts made from man-made materials are also available.

PUMICE

Pumice stones are small pieces of volcanic rock that are porous and quite rough to the touch. Different sizes and shapes of pumice are available and they are generally used on the soles of the feet for abrading areas of hard skin. Soak your feet in warm water for about 15 minutes to soften the hardened skin before rubbing them with a pumice stone. Use smooth, continuous strokes.

GRAINY GELS AND CREAMS

Most beauty companies now offer ready-made exfoliating gels and creams. These are usually cleansers containing tiny natural grains or man-made spheres, so that they wash and exfoliate the skin at the same time. They are formulated for different skin types, so make sure that you buy the one appropriate for you. Gels and creams for problem or oily skins are usually oil-free; those for dry or mature skins have a rich, creamy formula. Some of the products contain ground up apricot kernels, which can be very effective, but only use them on rough skin areas, never on the face. If you have sensitive skin, look for products containing man-made spheres that have no sharp edges, or better still, make your own recipe.

Homemade Deep-cleansing Scrub

This scrub is perfect for a weekly deep-cleansing session. The oatmeal helps to break down impurities in the skin, while the sea salt gently lifts them from the skin’s surface. Sea salt also contains important trace minerals, including calcium, iron, and zinc, which are absorbed into the skin and nourish it. This scrub must be made fresh each time you exfoliate.

INGREDIENTS

  • 8tbsp (120ml) oatmeal
  • 8tbsp (120ml) bran
  • 2tsp (10ml) sea salt
  • 2tsp (10ml) milk

PREPARATION

Mix the oatmeal, bran, and sea salt together, then add the milk a little at a time until you have a paste that is moist to handle but not too sticky.

APPLICATION

Rub the mixture into the skin by hand or with a body brush. Concentrate on problem areas, such as the thighs and buttocks. Shower off.

(Remember to brush in the direction of the heart when you exfoliate, and dampen the bristles of the brush if it is too stiff.)

Homemade Wake-up Body Rub

This body rub is wonderful as an early morning wake-up therapy. The ground rice combined with the yogurt make a gentle exfoliating scrub, while the peppermint is stimulating and refreshing. The rub must be made fresh each time you exfoliate.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small container plain yogurt
  • 3 sprigs fresh peppermint
  • 2 sprigs fresh spearmint
  • 1 cup (240ml) ground rice
  • 1 drop peppermint essential oil

PREPARATION

Mix the yogurt and mint together in a blender for three seconds, then refrigerate for 24 hours so that the yogurt becomes infused with the scent of the mint. Stir the ground rice into the cooled mixture and add the peppermint essential oil.

APPLICATION

Rub the mixture all over your body by hand or with a loofah, concentrating on rough skin areas. Shower off.

Homemade Toning Salt Rub

Sea salt contains about 97 percent sodium chloride, plus important trace elements, such as calcium, zinc, iron, and magnesium that can be absorbed through the skin. The minerals act as catalysts for many vital biochemical reactions, including nerve transmission, digestion, and proper hormone function, and they work to maintain correct water balance in the body and stabilize levels of acidity and alkalinity. Sea salt’s coarse texture also makes it ideal for exfoliation and for stimulating the circulation.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3tbsp (45ml) fine sea salt
  • 1tbsp (15ml) cider vinegar
  • 8fl oi (250ml) olive oil
  • 2tbsp (30ml) lemon juice

PREPARATION

Moisten the sea salt with the cider vinegar and lemon juice.

APPLICATION

Take a hot shower and leave your skin moist. Stand in the bath and rub your body with the olive oil. Gently massage in the moistened salt, until you feel your skin start to glow. Once you have applied all the salt, use a sisal mitt to continue gently rubbing in the salt. To finish, run a warm bath and gently massage the oil and salt off your skin.

(The toning salt rub will boost circulation and tone the skin, but take care that you do not apply salt to areas of broken skin.)

Homemade Rough Skin Scrub

Some parts of the body need special treatment to remove the build up of dry, rough skin. This scrub uses apricot kernels, which are far too aggressive for use on the face, but are excellent for exfoliating tough, neglected areas, such as the elbows, knees, and heels of the feet.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3tbsp (45ml) apricot kernels
  • 2tbsp (30ml) rice bran
  • 2tsp (10ml) olive oil

PREPARATION

Grind the apricot kernels in a coffee grinder or blender, or with a pestle and mortar, until fine, then mix in the rice bran. Combine the mixture with enough olive oil to form a thick paste that is not too runny.

APPLICATION

Take a little of the paste in the palm of your hand and rub it into the skin using gentle, circular movements. Use a pumice stone at first, then a pure bristle brush.

Homemade Chamomile and Calendula Rub

This exfoliating rub is especially suitable for the legs, as it will reduce swelling and discomfort at the end of a long day.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3tbsp (45ml) dried chamomile leaves
  • 3tbsp (45ml) dried calendula flowers

PREPARATION

Place the herbal mixture in the center of a square of muslin, cheesecloth, or thin cotton and tie it to form a sachet.

APPLICATION

Put the pouch under the faucet so that your bath water becomes infused with the herbal mixture. While bathing in the infused water, rub the dampened sachet over your legs and buttocks.

(Infuse your bath water by placing a herbal sachet under the faucet, or rub the sachet over your body for both exfoliation and moisturizing purposes.)

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Beauty Health Recipes

Mud Therapy At Home – Mud Bath

Mud therapy, or fangotherapy as it is also known, is another spa treatment that has been used through the centuries and continues to be a key therapy in many of the world’s health spas.

In fangotherapy, warm mud is applied all over the body (the chest and left arm are sometimes omitted because of the high temperatures that the body reaches during the course of the treatment, but such temperatures will not be achieved when employing products designed for home use). The body is then wrapped in foil and covered with towels and blankets. Over the next 30 minutes, the mud begins to dry, the skin starts to tighten and tingle, and the body’s temperature rises to around 104-118°F (40-48°C), causing profuse sweating. Mud treatments are also suitable for the face.

WHAT SORT OF MUD?

We’re not talking any old mud here; there are two main types of curative mud.

DEAD SEA MUD

In the Dead Sea, black mineral mud is dredged from the seabed. It is made up of non-soluble clays, plus such high concentrations of magnesium, potassium, and calcium that only a few algae and bacteria can survive the conditions – hence the term “dead” sea.

EARTH MUD

The other type of mud comes from deep down in the earth, and is often of volcanic origin. It is laden with beneficial minerals, including magnesium, bromine, and iodine.

Both of these types of mud are available in health stores and beauty salons for use at home. The color of mud varies, depending on its place of origin, and different colors are suitable for different types of skin. Choose white clay for oily skin, brown clay or mud for dry skin, and green clay or Dead Sea mud for problem skins that are prone to blemishes.

HEALTH BENEFITS

Mud treatments are undoubtedly good for you, but we are still not sure exactly how they work. Stimulation of bone cells is thought to help those with osteoporosis; increased production of anti-inflammatory hormones alleviates arthritis; reduced water retention around areas of tissue damage speeds recovery after surgery or major injury. Mud therapy has even been shown to stimulate cartilage regrowth. According to researchers, this is why 88 percent of people with degenerative arthritis feel better after regular mud baths.

Other studies conclude that it is the heat generated that aids recovery. The mud is said to heat up the body in a special way, increasing blood circulation and releasing endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. This eases muscle and joint stiffness, and reduces the aches and pains associated with arthritis, rheumatism, and other joint problems.

MUD PACKS FOR REJUVENATED SKIN

Mud packs are probably the oldest known facial treatment, and mud is renowned for its ability to improve the quality of the skin. Research has shown that warm mineral mud stimulates the underlying skin cells to produce new, healthy tissue. Some types of mud also contain natural antibiotics, such as sulfur, which detoxify, exfoliate, and rejuvenate the skin. A full body wrap is said to eliminate impurities and toxins, and so reduce the appearance of cellulite.

Rejuvenating mud pack

The next best thing to wallowing in the Dead Sea or having fangotherapy at a health spa is to try one of the many mud products that are available for purchase at home. This mud pack can be used both on the body and the face.

INGREDIENTS

  • 10 fl oz (300ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 8oz (225g) Fuller’s earth powder
  • 1tbsp (15ml) almond oil
  • 1 tsp (5ml) clear honey
  • 2 drops sandalwood essential oil

PREPARATION

Gradually stir the lemon juice into the Fuller’s earth powder to form a thick paste. Add the almond oil, honey, and essential oil to the mud paste, then stir in a little hot water to warm and liquefy the mixture. Mix thoroughly using a wooden spoon.

APPLICATION

  1. Start by having a warm shower and exfoliating your body using a loofah or body brush. Spread the mud pack all over your body, starting with your feet and working your way up. Alternatively, concentrate on areas that need particular attention, such as the thighs. Don’t forget the back and face, particularly if you have problem skin.
  2. Lie down in a warm room and cover the mud-coated areas of your body with foil. The foil helps to retain the heat generated by the mud. Leave on for 15 minutes, then remove the foil.
  3. Get into a warm bath infused with a few drops of almond oil. Close your eyes and relax in the bathtub for at least 30 minutes. During this time the body continues to react to the heat of the mud treatment and the metabolism increases. More oxygen reaches the cells, and toxins and other impurities are flushed out of the body.
  4. After your bath, pat yourself dry with a warm towel; try not to rub the skin too briskly. Finally, drink several glasses of water to rehydrate your body with the fluid lost in perspiration.

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Beauty Health Recipes

Thalassotherapy at Home

Thalassotherapy originates from the Greek word “thalasso,” meaning the sea, so thalassotherapy literally means sea treatments. In France and some other European countries, thalassotherapy is so revered that treatments are available in coastal resorts on their national health service or standard health insurance.

Seaweed is thought to have a natural affinity with the human body, because they are both composed of a similar mix of minerals, vitamins, trace elements, and water. This similar composition means that the minerals from the seaweed can easily pass through the skin into the bloodstream and out again, binding themselves to toxins and withdrawing the toxins from the body in the process.

KELP TABLETS

A growing number of sea plants, including blue-green algae and the common kelp that is found on beaches, are available in tablet form and as seaweed drinks. They are high in nutrients, minerals, and proteins and help to boost energy levels.

CHLORELLA TABLETS

 

Chlorella is a blue-green algae that is commonly available as a nutritional supplement. It is rich in iron and the whole spectrum of nutrients needed for human health. Just Moi (10 g) of chlorella contains the full recommended daily allowance of iron, and in a form that is much more easily absorbed than iron from meat or vegetable sources, and even other supplements.

MARINE AND ROCK SALTS

Sea salts are minerals that have been collected from the sea, cleaned, and dried. You can add them to your bath water or use them while showering to recreate the therapeutic qualities of natural sea water. The most common ingredients of mineral salts are bicarbonates, sulfates, nitrates, chlorides, and calcium. Usually taken from the Dead Sea in Israel, mineral salts help to ease stress and provide relief from health complaints such as arthritis and psoriasis. Rock salts are useful for relieving muscular aches and pains.

SEAWEED

Seaweed is bursting with vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial elements, including large amounts of iodine. It can be used to ease aches and pains, detoxify the body, soothe the skin, boost the circulation and metabolism, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Seaweed is also a potent diuretic, so it can even cause temporary weight loss. If you live by the sea, you can collect your own seaweed, steam-clean it, then add it to your bath water to bring the sea into your own home. Alternatively, buy fresh or dried seaweed from health food stores and Japanese delicatessens. You can also buy seaweed by mail order.

HEALTH BENEFITS

Marine treatments help to stimulate circulation, soothe muscular aches and pains, reduce cholesterol, and lower blood pressure. When combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise, seaweed’s detoxifying and circulation-boosting properties also make it ideal for toning the body. In addition, seaweed destroys bacteria, so it is excellent for the skin. It is particularly effective for spots, acne, blemishes, and dry-skin conditions.

WHICH TYPE OF SEAWEED?

Seaweed is the generic term for over 20,000 species of sea plants and algae (single-celled organisms) that live in the world’s oceans and seas. The table below shows the varieties most commonly used in thalassotherapy spa treatments.

Seaweed Characteristics Effects
Bladderwrack Brown algae from Atlantic Ocean and English Channel Softens skin, anti-inflammatory, detoxifying
Laminaria digitate Brown algae from Atlantic Ocean and English Channel, rich in iodine and mineral salts Stimulates, metabolism, encourages efficient functioning of bodily systems, diuretic
Christie marine/

Perce Pierre

Seaweed harvested from coast of Brittany in France, rich in iodine and Vitamin C Detoxifying, diuretic
Kombu Japanese sea plant rich in vitamins and mineral salts Detoxifying, stimulates circulation, improves skin tone
Wakame Japanese sea plant rich in mineral salts Stimulates circulation, softens skin, improves skin tone

How to Make a Soothing Seaweed Wrap

You can utilize the therapeutic power of sea minerals at home by making your own treatment wrap. Rather than buying fresh seaweed, it is easier to use dried seaweed powder. Drink several glasses of water after the treatment to prevent dehydration, because seaweed has a strong diuretic effect.

INGREDIENTS

  • 8oz (225g) concentrated, dried, micronized seaweed powder
  • 2 drops lavender essential oil
  • 1 drop rosemary essential oil
  • 3tbsp (45ml) almond oil

PREPARATION

Mix the dried seaweed powder with a little warm water to make a paste. Add the essential oils to the almond oil, then stir this mixture into the seaweed paste.

APPLICATION

Take a warm shower and exfoliate your skin using a loofah or body scrubber to aid absorption of the seaweed minerals. Apply the seaweed paste over your whole body, starting from your feet. Ask someone to apply it to your back and other areas you cannot reach. Cover yourself in plastic wrap and lie in a warm place for 20-30 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and rinse off the seaweed paste with a warm shower.

When mixed to the correct consistency, the seaweed wrap is very easy to apply. If you find that the mixture is too runny, just add a little more seaweed powder.

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Beauty Health

Treatment of Acne with Benzoyl Peroxide at Home

Someday, waking up to find a pimple on your face won’t merit more than a momentary shrug. You’ll just take a pill or rub in a dab of cream, and—poof—the pimple will be gone. Unfortunately, that day hasn’t arrived yet. The treatments available today will usually
make pimples go away, but it will probably take days—even weeks or more, contrary to what television commercials suggest.

If you’re like most teenagers, before you decide to seek professional help from your family doctor or a dermatologist, you’ll probably want to try one of the over-the-counter medications you’ve heard about. You won’t have any trouble finding one at your drugstore or supermarket—at least three hundred acne remedies are on the market! Americans currently spend more than $175 million each year on over-the-counter acne remedies.

To most people, fighting acne means grabbing the tube of medication you keep in the medicine cabinet whenever one of those ugly pimples pops up. You rub it in desperately, hoping the pimple will vanish. More than likely, you will be very disappointed.

If your acne is only a mild case, you might shrug and try to live with your pimples, figuring there’s nothing you can really do, anyway. But you’d be wrong there, too. The acne remedies you can buy over the counter can be effective for most people, if they are used correctly.

Doctors say the reason many people find acne medications ineffective is that they don’t use them properly. Acne medications should not be rubbed only on the pimples, but on the entire area where acne occurs. For every pimple you can see, others are just starting and are not yet visible. (Remember, pimples can take weeks to develop.) Some doctors think that if you stick to a daily cleaning routine, followed by the application of one of the acne medications, not only will it clear up your skin, it will actually minimize future breakouts! Now that’s a good reason to begin a plan of attack on acne as soon as possible.

Cleaning is the Way to Start

Cleaning your skin properly before you apply an acne medication can help it to work more effectively. Thorough cleaning with soap and water helps remove excess oil, dirt, and dead skin cells. Many medicated soaps contain sulfur, salicylic acid, or benzoyl peroxide, ingredients that kill bacteria and soften and peel dead skin. Should you use one of them? Some doctors suggest that although these products can be helpful for many people, soaps do not usually stay on the skin long enough for the ”medication” in them to sink into the pores. If you are using an acne medication such as benzoyl peroxide, the extra medication in the soap may be unnecessary.

Abrasive cleansers contain gritty particles that work to gently irritate the skin. They rough away dead skin cells by scratching away some of the outer layers. They can be quite helpful for people with stubborn acne problems. Often they may help get rid of pimples faster. Some people, though, find that abrasive cleansers, pads, and brushes irritate the skin too much. Sometimes the irritation can rupture follicles, causing inflammation and even making the acne worse.

Another useful cleaning product is a facial mask. It is applied in the form of a cream or lotion, which is left on for fifteen minutes or more while the face is soaked with moist cloths or steamed to open the pores. The facial mask can help to clean away dead skin cells deeper than normal cleaning. However, if you use one of these facial masks, you should remember it will make your skin more sensitive to acne medications, because the medication will penetrate deeper—there isn’t as much “shield” to protect the body. Some cleansing masks combine acne medication with a facial mask.

Some doctors suggest to their patients that a mild, fragrance-free soap is really all they need when washing is combined with using an acne medication. Choosing the right cleaning product is something you will have to decide, in light of your own personal preferences as well as the sensitivity of your skin.

How often should you wash your face? Too much washing can actually be bad. Dermatologists generally suggest that twice a day in the winter and three times a day in summer is sufficient. You should use warm water—never hot, which causes the blood vessels in the skin to expand and can add to inflammation. After you gently lather in the soap with your fingertips, you should rinse it off completely. Some doctors suggest rinsing with warm water ten times or more to make sure all soap residue is gone. Then pat dry with an absorbent towel, and your face (or other affected area) is ready for the acne medication.

DECISIONS, DECISIONS . . .

Going to the store to buy an acne remedy can be a little overwhelming. There are so many different products of so many different types! You can choose from countless numbers of medicated soaps, astringents (which are usually alcohol- based for cleaning off excess oil and dirt), abrasive cleansers and abrasive pads and brushes (which work to scrub off the outer layers of your skin very much like the scouring pads you use on pots and pans), acne creams and lotions, and acne cover-up products. How are you supposed to know what you really need?

You can ask other people what worked or didn’t work for them. Unfortunately, what works for some people doesn’t always work for others. And if someone else didn’t use the product properly, his or her opinion may not be valid. The best thing to do is to understand how these different types of products work and what the differences are, take into account your own personal factors—such as how sensitive your skin is—and choose a course of action. Try it out and see how it works. If it works, stick with it. If it doesn’t, try something else.

As you now know, acne is caused by sebum and dead cells clumping together and sticking to the follicle walls as well as by the irritating effects of an overpopulation of bacteria. Acne medications try to counteract the acne process by combating one or both of these factors.

Benzoyl Peroxide: The Over-the-Counter Champ

Many of the acne products of the past contained drugssuch as alcohol, resorcinol, salicylic acid, and sulfur as their main ingredients. These drugs were not very effective, and they tended to irritate sensitive skin. Then in the mid-1970’s, a drug that had been discovered in the 1920’s was tested on acne patients. The results were so dramatic that now the drug—benzoyl peroxide—is the most widely used over-the-counter acne medication and the one most often recommended by dermatologists.

Benzoyl peroxide works in two ways to fight acne. It kills bacteria, and it causes a mild drying and peeling of the skin.

A ”peroxide” is a chemical that contains extra oxygen—more than the usual amount. Peroxides tend to be rather reactive compounds, giving up their extra oxygen at the slightest provocation. When you apply a benzoyl peroxide product to your skin, it seeps down into the follicle. It encounters a variety of natural body chemicals on the way, and chemical reactions occur, releasing oxygen. But the bacteria that produce the oily substance that irritates the skin prefer to live in anaerobic conditions where there is little or no oxygen. The oxygen released from the benzoyl peroxide kills many of the bacteria.

As benzoyl peroxide soaks into the skin and seeps into the follicles, it also produces another important effect. It loosens the dead skin cells that have clumped to the follicle walls, allowing them to be washed away in the flow of sebum. Of course, you can’t see that happening, but your skin will look drier and will gently peel for at least the first month. The technical name for something that causes the skin to peel is an exfoliant. Why would you want your skin to peel? Actually, it isn’t the peeling effect you can see that is helping to clear up your acne but rather the peeling that is happening on a microscopic scale, down inside the follicles.

Not everyone can use benzoyl peroxide. Some find it too irritating, especially those with very fair complexions. Others develop an allergy to benzoyl peroxide and begin to have reactions after using it successfully for a while. Black people and Asians should be especially careful because the peeling effects sometimes cause unwanted dark spots in people whose skin can produce large amounts of melanin. Many acne sufferers must resort to a product that may be less effective—one that contains sulfur or salicylic acid, for example.

Benzoyl peroxide medications come in various forms: lotions, creams, and gels. Gels seem to be most effective, but they are usually available only by prescription. Benzoyl peroxide products also come in different strengths—5-percent and 10-percent solutions. The more sensitive your skin, the lower the percentage you should use. You should always work up slowly to determine how much you should use and how often you need to apply it.

You may find benzoyl peroxide irritating at first, but in time your body may be able to get used to it. One doctor’s suggestion, and perhaps the safest approach, is to start out using the medication once a day, before you go to sleep each night. Rub it gently over the whole area where acne pimples occur, not just on the pimples themselves. Wash the medication off after fifteen minutes the first night. Then, over a week, gradually increase the time you leave it on each night. By the end of the week you should be able to leave the medication on for the entire night. Then, in the morning, it should be washed off.Eventually you might want to work up to twice-a-day applications.

When using benzoyl peroxide, you should experience some amount of dryness and peeling. But if nothing happens, you may need to use a stronger solution or apply it more often or for longer periods of time. If too much dryness and peeling occur, decrease the strength or number of applications.

What to Consider?

Remember when using acne medications not to get them in or around your eyes or lips, or in your nose or mouth. Some people find medications are particularly irritating to the neck, so apply them there with caution if you have acne in that area.

There are some important things to remember when using benzoyl peroxide. Like hydrogen peroxide, it can bleach hair and clothes. So be sure not to get any on your good clothing. Many people find it’s best to wear a white T-shirt to bed, particularly if you are putting the medication on your neck or back. Also be careful when you are in the sun. The sun itself causes a mild peeling, and if sunlight is combined with the medication, peeling can occur at a much higher rate. The results can be quite uncomfortable!

Remember, too, that for the first month almost everyone experiences some amount of mild ”hotness” in the area being treated. However, if the medication causes severe burning feelings and your skin becomes red and inflamed, you should stop using benzoyl per oxide immediately. About one in twenty people are allergic to this drug.

Benzoyl peroxide is sensitive to heat, which causes the drug to lose its strength as some of the reactive peroxide breaks down. Therefore, you should keep it in the refrigerator.
After your skin gets used to benzoyl peroxide, you might want to work up to a higher strength—to 10 percent, for example—or apply it more often. However, be sure to work up slowly to any new strength.

Staying Acne-Free

After one to three months of using benzoyl peroxide in a regular daily treatment, most people find their acne greatly improved, and many find that new breakouts occur much less often. For best results you should try not to miss a day in treatment. You don’t want to give the acne process any chance to begin forming new block-ups in the follicles.

Even after the acne seems to be gone, you can’t just relax and forget about it. Experts suggest you continue using the acne medication at a lower ” maintenance” level. There are no cures for acne. Your pimples may be gone for the moment, but you still have all your follicles, and your body is still producing oil. In time, your population of C. acnes will start multiplying all over again. So if you stop applying the acne medications, acne will more than likely flare up again. Until your body conditions change, you have the best chance of staying acne-free if you stick to a regular program of cleaning and medication.

To Pick or Not To Pick?

Picking at pimples and popping “zits” is a sensitive issue. Almost everyone is guilty of popping a pimple at one time or another. Some kinds of lesions may actually heal faster when they are drained. Blackheads, for example, which are open to the surface, can be carefully drained. Soaking your skin with a wet washcloth first can help to soften the material in the pores and make them easier to drain. The trick is never to squeeze too hard and to stop if the pore does not empty easily. You have to be very careful not to force any material down into the skin. This could cause the follicle to rupture, producing inflammation. Drugstores sell comedo extractors designed for “popping” these pimples. However, many dermatologists suggest that their patients should leave all lesions alone. Picking and scratching and pop ping can lead to inflammation and infection, which could cause scars where ordinary pimples would have healed without a trace. If pimples really bother you, you should let a dermatologist drain the lesions. He or she will know the safest way to minimize problems.

Some people really cannot help themselves when it comes to picking at their pimples. It becomes an obsession. Acne excoria occurs in those individuals who actually dig out every tiny bump that flares up under the skin. This causes scabs and inflammation, which prompt more picking. The result, unfortunately, is often permanent scarring.