The only time I don't seem to have any trouble with dry skin is during the Monsoon Season in July and August. The rest of the year here in Arizona I am challenged to find ways to hydrate my skin without spending a fortune at the store. I not only tried to find ways to keep my skin as hydrated as possible, I also looked for solutions that I could use during those times when my skin was trying to be a teenager again. Is it just me or does anyone else struggle with having their mom's wrinkles along with their children's pimples? My kitchen was a good source for ingredients.
I admit I do use some store-bought products and go to an aesthetician for a facial treatment every few months but I also use products with natural ingredients a lot of the time. This is usually when my budget is shot and not going to get any relief for a week or so! And every time I do, I'm reminded how well these recipes work.
Before I get into the different recipes, I want to go over several ways you can avoid dry skin:
• Hydrating the inside is almost more important than hydrating the outside. About twelve years ago, I stopped drinking soda pop and started drinking water. It was not an easy transition for me since I had been drinking soda since I was a wee one. Not only did I feel better but I also noticed my skin seemed so much more moist. I now drink tons of water a day and am convinced it's helped me more than any other beauty hint.
• Reduce time in shower and tub and try not to use water that is too hot. This dries out the skin. When finished, blot skin lightly with towel instead of rubbing it. Follow immediately with moisturizer or lotion while the skin is still damp, which will help capture and hold water in the surface cells of the skin. If your skin is especially dry, it's recommended you use your soap only under your arms and genital areas as the soap can be very drying, too.
• A well-balance diet and regular exercise will benefit the skin. Exercise helps blood flow and circulation and helps to nourish and cleanse the skin.
Now for those essential recipes for getting our skin hydrated, smooth and glowing!
Most of these ingredients can be found in your kitchen cupboards or refrigerator. I am not one who likes to fuss most of the time although there are a few things I do take a little more effort with and I find the results worth it. In the beginning, training my brain to remember these solutions was the biggest challenge, but now I have done these for so long, it's practically second nature.
I use several things for exfoliation, depending on my needs and, yes, my mood. My most common 'Go To' exfoliate is sugar and olive oil. I grab a plastic bowl, put about a cup of sugar in it, swirl some olive oil in there and mix it with my fingers. It should be the consistency of newly fallen snow. I use this for my face and my body in the shower and do it about 2-3 times a week. Another nice exfoliate is oatmeal flour. You can make your own by putting whole oatmeal in a blender or food processor and process until it is the consistency of flour. You can store the oatmeal flour in a glass jar in the refrigerator and it will last for several months.
Here are some recipes for my favorite exfoliates and their benefits:
Oatmeal Scrub for Normal or Sensitive Skin
Oatmeal has numerous benefits when it comes to skincare. It absorbs and removes surface dirt, grime and other impurities effectively as it gently exfoliates, leaving skin feeling silky, smooth and soft. Oats are also highly absorptive and hypoallergenic which makes them a natural choice to help soften sensitive skin.
1/2 cup oatmeal flour
few TBS water
Place oatmeal flour in bowl; add water until it has the consistency of paste. Apply to damp skin and leave on for a few minutes. Rinse with warm water and pat skin dry.
Sugar Scrub ('Just Cuz' Exfoliate)
I always use sugar instead of salt since I find the salt is drying. And that defeats the purpose, doesn't it? Sometimes when I have a little more time, I will add honey and an essential oil to my sugar scrub; not necessary but it adds more moisture (honey is a natural humectant). This recipe makes a larger amount and should last a week or so in an air-tight container.
4 cups sugar, white or brown. Don't use raw sugar as it's a bit too abrasive
1 cup olive oil (almond, jojoba or any other oil you like)
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp essential oil (I like lemongrass but any essential oil is fine)
Put sugar in medium bowl; Add essential oil to your choice of oil and stir; this helps incorporate the scent into the scrub. Add to sugar. Using same measuring cup you used for the oil, measure out 1/2 cup of honey; this helps the honey come out of the container easily. Stir ingredients. You want the consistency to be like new snow. Put in air-tight container.
As I mentioned, there are times when my skin decides to act like a teenager. I found this recipe to work well during those times. It helps get rid of dead skin and the bacteria that's causing the blackheads, leaving your face glowing and fresh. Baking soda, the key ingredient, deep cleans and refreshes the pores.
1 TBS sugar
1 TBS baking soda
2 TBS water
Stir all ingredients together until well mixed. Massage the entire mixture into damp skin and let sit for a few minutes. Rinse well with warm water and then pat your face dry. This is an exfoliate you can use every day, as needed.
A mask is nice once a week or so, if we find the time, right? What I find frustrating with most directions for masks is they recommend when you apply the mask, you then 'rest for 20 minutes to let it soak in.' 20 minutes? No way. What I have done is apply the masks and then go check my email or texts and count that as Down Time. Seems to work fine that way.
Green Tea Mask
This mask is good for everyday use and you don't have any real skin issues at the time. Green tea is a terrific ingredient all around. Studies have shown that the topical use of green tea reduces skin damage and can also enhance sun protection, although it is not considered a full-out sun screen. It's an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and can slow down skin aging. The experts don't recommend too many store-bought products that have green tea in them because it becomes oxidized and loses its activity when exposed to air. Making your own green tea products is highly recommended to get its full beauty benefits. Because of the lactic acid and enzymes in yogurt, this other ingredient adds an extra boost of hydration and skin soother.
4 bags green tea
1 cup plain yogurt
Put tea bags in heat-resistant bowl; pour enough boiling water over tea bags until they're covered. Let sit for 15 minutes. Helpeful hint: You can put tea bags in freezer to be used on tired eyes at another time. Put yogurt in bowl and add 3 TBS brewed tea; stir to fully incorporate. Spread mask on face and leave on for 15-20 minutes. Rinse with warm water and pat dry.
Strawberry Acne Facial Mask
Now, don't be a skeptic! Strawberries are rich in salicylic acid (say that three times, fast!) and the same key ingredient in many commercial acne products. The honey is a natural humectant and has antibacterial powers that combat blemishes. These two ingredients make an effective facial treatment for troubled skin. I use those strawberries that have been in the refrigerator a little too long.
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
1 egg white
2 tsp honey
Using a blender or fork, mix together all ingredients until smooth. Spread over your face and let sit for 20 minutes. Rinse with cool water and pat skin dry. You can refrigerate any leftover mask and use it again within a week.
Calming Cucumber Facial Mask for Sensitive Skin
Cucumbers and chamomile, both well known skin-calming ingredients for general use, serve as cooling treatments for bad sunburns or a red complexion. All skin types can use this light, gentle and soothing mask, but it's especially well-suited for sensitive skin.
1/2 fresh cucumber, chopped
1 TBS dried chamomile flowers
1 TBS aloe vera gel
In blender or food processor, mix together all ingredients until smooth. Spread mixture on damp skin and leave on for 15 minutes. Rinse well with cool water and pat skin dry.
I use store-bought moisturizers for my face but there are those times when I feel an extra boost might be nice, especially as a night cream. There is only one that I use and can honestly recommend but I included a body moisturizer I make on occasion (when there's time!) that I love.
Almond Oil Night Treatment
I use this to rehydrate dry skin during those especially cold, winter days and it's so dry everything you touch crackles. If you are having extremely dry skin, you can dab some on during the day; just make sure to use a very small amount, as a little goes a long way. Almond oil is a good skin conditioning oil but you can substitute olive oil, if you wish. I use olive oil most of the time since it's always in my cupboard. It penetrates deep into the skin and provides a long-lasting shield of moisture to keep skin smooth and supple. Our own Makeup Artist to the Stars, Karen Hall, loves loves loves using olive oil and does so on both inside and outside her body. And she's gorgeous, so it must work!The Vitamin E in cocoa butter promotes the skin's elasticity, minimizing the formation and appearance of scar tissue. It leaves behind a protective shield, locking in moisture.
3 TBS almond or olive oil
1 TBS cocoa butter
1/2 tsp Vitamin E oil
In a small sauce pan, mix together all ingredients. Gently heat oils until cocoa butter just begins to melt, then stir well and pour into a clean container, like a small jar. Let cool completely. Massage a small amount into clean skin in the evening before going to bed.
Homemade Moisturizing Cream
This recipe makes three 1-cup jars. It can be used all over the body, although smaller amounts are recommended for the face. I don't normally use it on my face but it comes in handy when I run out of my regular moisturizer. Use any of the oils mentioned and add any essential oils that you find pleasing. I sometimes use grapefruit essential oil which makes an unusual but delicious-smelling cream. You can halve the ingredients if you don't want to make as much.
1/2 cup almond oil
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup cocoa butter
1/2 cup beeswax, tight-packed, grated or granules
1 tsp Vitamin E oil
1 1/2 cup distilled water, room temperature
1/2 cup aloe vera gel
12-18 drops essential oil
In the top of a double boiler, combine the almond and grapeseed oils, cocoa butter and beeswax. Place over medium heat and heat through until cocoa butter and beeswax have just melted. Remove from heat, stir in Vitamin E oil and set aside to cool.
As the oil mixture cools, it will begin to thicken and almost solidify. When it is almost at room temperature, use a rubber scraper to transfer mixture to blender.
Combine distilled water and aloe in a measuring cup.
Both the oil mixture and the water mixture should be at room temperature before proceeding with the next step. Oil and water don't mix, but this WILL happen if ingredients are at room temperature. Turn the blender on low and slowly pour the water mixture into the center of the blender. The mixture will be very thick, so you will have to stop the blender, scrape down the sides and stir the ingredients a few times. Add the essential oils during this process. If there is some water left standing on the emulsion, use the rubber scraper to fold it in.
Transfer the cream into jars with lids that are very clean. Label jars and store in cool place.
If your cream does not emulsify enough and separates, the oil and water mixtures most likely were not at room temperature. You can separate them and try to emulsify them again, or use as is, shaking before each use.
You can find almond oil, cocoa butter and aloe gel at Sprouts or any local health food store. For those of you in the East Valley, there is a very fine one here in Apache Junction called, 'The Good Apple.' It's teeny-tiny but has most anything you need and will order anything you can't find. Their website is: www.thegoodapple.com
Another good source is in Chandler called 'Desert Sage Herbs' and their website is: www.desertsageherbs.com. The ladies there are cordial, well-informed and very kind to those of us who don't know very much.