Honey that winter skin away

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These last few weeks have been murder on my skin! It's hard enough to keep up with aging skin without 0% humidity and a cold wind on top of it. I decided it's time to talk about getting that moisture back on our faces and body and in a way that doesn't cost a lot of money and with ingredients that are probably already in your pantry. When I started my research on this, there was one ingredient that kept repeating itself in almost all of the recipes and that was honey.  I have made sugar body scrub on the show many times with honey being one of the ingredients (in addition to the sugar and olive oil). I thought when I first made it the honey was to bind the ingredients together but what I have found out is honey acts as a terrific moisturizer. It's known to be a humectant (pronounced: hue-meck'-tant), which means it attracts and retains water and a major factor to assist the body and facial skin's ability to stay hydrate. If you look at the ingredients in some of the high-priced beauty products, honey is an ingredient usually touted as the 'special' or 'secret' component to its success and has been used in the production of these products since the during the 1800's.

Honey has been a noted facial skin-care product for centuries and an important part of the skin-care treatment and even hair care for some legendary beauties like Cleopatra. I think we've all heard stories of her bathing in milk and honey and using those two as a facial lotion. Maybe it's time to take a page from her book and start using and making it ourselves and not breaking our ever-challenged budgets.

There are some claims by manufacturers of honey being an antimicrobial agent. This is true, to a certain point. It has to be noted that the effectiveness of this can be compromised or even eliminated with exposure to heat or sunlight. However, the exposure does NOT compromise the moisturizing factor. The only form of honey that does not lose its antibacterial effectiveness is one called UMF Manuka Honey, which is produced in New Zealand. The UMF stands for Unique Manuka Factor and is the only worldwide standard in identifying and measuring the antibacterial strength or quality of some strains of Manuka. This form of honey can be pretty expensive but for some of you who are interested can visit its official website www. manukahoney.com and learn more about it. It is known in the organic and natural food worlds to be beneficial for the body both inside and out.

Before I share some of my favorite honey beauty recipes, I would like to go over some of the things you may want to do to help prevent your skin from getting too dry. These hints are ones I use myself but I've seen them recommended on many websites I found when I was doing my research.

1. Use lukewarm water when bathing or showering as opposed to hot. Even if it sounds heavenly when we are coming in from the cold, hot water dries the skin out by releasing moisture.

2. Moisturize after every shower and hand washing. I leave my body cream in the shower to put on while I'm still in the steamy bathroom. I blot my skin lightly with a towel and then put on the cream. I usually use body cream in the winter instead of lotion since I seem to need the extra moisture.

3. Exfoliate every 3-4 days. This is one of the best aging-busting things I do for myself. I invested a lot of money in store-bought face and body scrubs until I finally discovered my simple sugar scrub. I use it for both my face (using light strokes) and body and love the way it makes my face feel. And just between you and me and my aesthetician, she says my sugar scrub works just as well as anything she can recommend over-the-counter. Yay! With the sugar acting as a light exfoliate, the olive oil and honey as a moisturizer, you get so much benefit for pennies. And don't forget the lips! I got a good hint from someone years ago to rub a tiny bit of scrub on my dry lips, remove it with a dry wash cloth then apply lip gloss immediately. It has been many a winter since my lips have been chapped.

4. Humidifier. They are not just for those stuffy noses and chests. Using a humidifier in your bedroom overnight can moisturize your skin while you're sleeping. I have one friend who has a humidifier in every room since she suffers from eczema. You may want to add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to help you sleep even better. Lavender and Chamomile are oils that help encourage relaxation.

5. Body cream instead of lotion. I have already mentioned I use body cream in the winter since my skin seems extra dry. Some lotions are water-based, which is great for our hot, humid summers but I think we need a little more help in the winter so look for oil-based creams or lotions. Using facial cleansers that are oil-based helps even more.

6. Drink water! Now, if you DO drink the right amount of water and increase it because of my suggestion, you probably won't see any difference. But if you DON'T drink the right amount, you WILL see a difference. There are days where I forget about water but am very good about my caffeine intake (gotta love those lattes). I look in the mirror and think, 'Girl, where did those bags under your eyes come from??' Once I start drinking water again, they usually calm down.

7. Itchy skin all over. Try running a lukewarm bath a throw in some baking soda or oatmeal in it and soak for as long as your family will allow. I usually grind the oatmeal up in a blender or coffee grinder before putting it in the water. This prevents the drain from getting too clogged up. For extra dry, itchy skin, try putting both in the water. It can't hurt. And don't forget to blot lightly with your bath towel and moisturize with cream or lotion immediately.

Here are a few recipes I wanted to share and hope they work for you! And please remember that all of these can be made as a special gift for our friends. Us girls gotta stick together and support each other with all of our challenges, including our dry skin!

Milk and Honey Bath Soak
½ cup dried buttermilk or dried milk
¼ cup honey

Place both ingredients in lukewarm bathwater and soak your dry skin away! You can use 2 cups of real milk, if you don't have any dried.

Face Masks--I have three here that I like equally.

Honey and Milk Face Mask
2 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. milk

Whisk ingredients in a small bowl. Apply to dry face and let stand for ten minutes. Rinse with warm water. Apply moisturizer.

Honey-Pumpkin Face Mask
3 Tbsp. canned pumpkin
½ tsp. honey
¼ tsp. buttermilk (can use dried buttermilk by mixing 1 TBS dried buttermilk and 1 TBS water)

Stir ingredients together until fully incorporated. Add buttermilk (real or buttermilk you made) to canned pumpkin and honey until you reach the desired consistency. You don't want it too 'watery' or it will slide off your face! Apply to dry face and let stand for 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water. Apply moisturizer.

Honey-Egg Face Mask
1 egg, scrambled
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Combine egg and honey with whisk. Continue whisking while adding olive oil slowly until fully incorporated. Apply to dry face and let stand 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water. Apply moisturizer.

Face Scrub--these both can be used for the face AND the body. I love using the cinnamon recipe in the morning when I need a little, extra boost. It smells amazing!

Sher's Sugar Scrub
1 cup sugar (not raw sugar; it's too abrasive)
¼ cup olive oil
3 Tbsp. honey

Place all ingredients in a plastic or metal bowl and stir until lightly incorporated. I then take the bowl into the shower with me, apply a small amount to my face using gentle strokes then finish off the bowl with the rest of my body. I usually do this after I've already shampooed and done the normal cleansing routine. That way, the olive oil stays on my skin and soaks in. I blot lightly with my bath towel to prevent rubbing off any of the oil then I moisturize there in the steamy shower room. This way I get my skin as moisturized as possible. And at this rate, I can use all the help I can get! You can scent the scrub with a few drops of your favorite essential oil.

Honey-Cinnamon Facial Scrub
4 Tbsp. almond meal (you can make this by putting a handful of almonds in a coffee grinder and ground until it has a fine consistency)
1 tsp. orange zest
Plain yogurt
2 TBS honey
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
2 drops cinnamon essential oil
3 drops orange essential oil

Combine almond meal and orange zest in bowl and add yogurt until good, thick paste is formed. Melt honey over very low heat, then add to almond meal mixture and mix well. Add ground cinnamon, essential oils and mix well. Massage mixture over dry face and neck gently, avoiding the eye area. Rinse off with warm water and apply moisturizer. You can make a larger volume and use it on your body, too.

Face and Body Cleanser
4 oz. liquid castile or glycerin soap
1 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. honey

Combine all ingredients in plastic bottle, shake and use as a cleanser of your face and/or body.

Hand Oil
1 tsp. honey
2 Tbsp. almond oil
2 Tbsp. jojoba oil
1 Tbsp. rosewater *see notes
8 drops lemon essential oil

Add honey, almond oil and jojoba in a small glass container like a shot glass or small jelly jar. Sit container in a fry pan of simmering water and melt ingredients together.

Meanwhile, add rosewater to another glass container and sit this in a different pan of simmering water. You can use the same pan for both the honey mixture and rose water if there's enough room in the pan.

Once the honey and oils have melted together and the rosewater has warmed, keeping the containers in the simmering water, slowly start to add the rosewater to the honey mixture, drop by drop (preferably using a dropper). After adding about ½ of the rosewater into the honey mixture, remove from heat. Continue to add rosewater slowly, mixing continuously with small whisk. Once you have added all of the rosewater, add lemon essential oil and mix in with whisk.

Pour into glass jar or plastic bottle. Cover tightly and label, including the date. This is a great oil to have by your sink, both in the kitchen and bathroom, to use after having your hands in water.

This is a terrific hand oil for all kinds of reasons; you have the honey acting as a humectant, the two oils well-known for their moisturizing effects and the rosewater, which is widely known to have beauty benefits.

Rosewater: to make rosewater, put 4 drops of rose absolute oil in 4 oz of water. Shake and keep in refrigerator to be used for hand oil or other recipes you might find. Rosewater makes a nice air mist, too!