• June 2011

Play With Your Food and Whip Up These Yummy Facials

By Jill Leslie
Owner and Founder
Kitchen Alchemy

You can have a ball playing with your food, especially when it come to whipping up body care products. More than simple cleansers, herbal blends have been used for thousands of years in the field of Ayurveda to balance the body and the mind, prevent disease, and address health concerns.

What is Ayurveda? As I have noted in earlier Healthy Living columns for Be Inkandescent Magazine, Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that translates as “The Science of Living.” It is the world’s oldest holistic health care system, dating back more than 5,000 years. The primary focus of Ayurveda is the maintenance of health, the prevention of disease, and aligning the body and mind with the rhythms of nature.

Why Make Your Own Masks?

The skin eats. Studies show that whatever you rub into your skin goes directly into your bloodstream. And, like the food we eat, it either nourishes or depletes the tissues of the body. The good news is that your kitchen is filled with ingredients that not only nourish, cleanse, and rejuvenate your skin, but provide essential building blocks for your regenerating your body as well.

It helps you increase your intake of antioxidants. The new buzzword in skin care is antioxidants. We have long known that antioxidant-rich foods are good for our bodies. The same is true for skin care products, because these molecules inhibit the oxidation of other molecules, and are naturally found in all plants. They fight the harsh effects of free radicals by repairing damage to the body and skin, so they work wonders as anti-aging treatments, acting as skin tightening agents to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and creases in the skin. Plus, by their very nature, plants are antibacterial and antimicrobial, as well.

It’s fun. Remember how much fun it was as a kid to play with your food?Then you’ll likely feel the same way as a grownup. Get your self a sassy new apron, and whip up these food facials. While there are plenty of products on the market, making your own facials enables you to get the same benefits as a store-bought products, but you avoid harsh and harmful chemicals. Plus, all of the ingredients in the recipes below are affordable and accessible.

What’s with the cucumbers?

Slices of cucumber applied to the skin around the eyes can help reduce the appearance of dark circles, help to lighten the skin, and sooth your eyes from long hours spent looking at your computer screen.

Why? Because cucumber is an excellent source of silica, which is a trace mineral that contributes to the strength of our connective tissue — the stuff that holds our body together. Cucumbers also contain ascorbic and caffeic acids, which prevent water retention. And, since 90% of the cucumber is water, this fresh vegetable has a hydrating effect.

After you apply your facial, place a couple of slices of cucumber over eyes, lie down, and let Mother Nature work her magic.

Remember, beautiful skin starts from within.

Eat a healthy diet, exercise, and as my grandma used to say, “Don’t worry, be happy.” While being beautiful doesn’t make you happy, being happy makes you beautiful. So get mixing. Smash, mix, mash, slather, scrub, and rub your food into your skin.

Oatmeal Skin Cleanser: This cleanser not only cleanses your skin, it also nourishes, moisturizes, and exfoliates. It will leave your skin soft and smooth as a baby’s bottom.

What you’ll need:
2 T. finely ground plain oatmeal
2 T. finely ground almond meal
Optional: 1 drop essential oil (try lavender, rose, jasmine, neroli, or sandalwood)

Note: For a dry and mature skin, use 1/2 cup of heavy cream as a wetting agent. For sensitive skin, use 1/2 cup of whole milk. And for oily skin, use 1/2 cup of water or yogurt.

Here’s how:
1. Mix all the ingredients together to form a thick, smooth paste.
2. Apply to skin on face and neck in circular massaging motions.
3. Let sit for 3-4 minutes, then rinse off with plenty of lukewarm water and gently pat skin dry.

Mask for Dry Skin: Avocados and honey are not only delicious, they are incredibly moisturizing.

You’ll need:
½ ripe, organic avocado
¼ cup raw honey

Here’s how:
1. Mash 1/2 an avocado with ¼ cup raw honey into a creamy pulp.
2. Gently rub into skin and relax for 10-15 minutes.
3. Rinse with a washcloth soaked in warm water.

Mask for Sensitive Skin

You’ll need:
½ ripe, organic banana
1/8 cup organic whole milk

Here’s how:
1. Mash together the banana and milk into a creamy pulp.
2. Gently rub into skin and relax for 10-15 minutes.
3. Rinse with a washcloth soaked in warm water.

Mask for Acne-Prone Skin: Strawberries are a natural source of salicylic acid, which is found in many over-the-counter products for acne-prone skin. It works as an exfoliant, promoting the sloughing away of dead skin cell and reduces the number of pore blockages and resulting breakouts.

You’ll need:
1/4 cup fresh, ripe
organic strawberries
1/4 cup organic whole-fat yogurt

Here’s how:
1. Mash together the strawberries and yogurt.
2. Gently rub into skin and relax for 10-15 minutes.
3. Rinse with a washcloth soaked in warm water.

For a Quick Lift Try this Mask to Tighten Skin and Shrink Pores

You’ll need:
1 egg white
1 tsp. cornstarch

Here’s how:
1. Mix the egg white with the cornstarch.
2. Gently rub into skin and lie down for 20 minutes. (Be sure your head isn’t elevated.)
3. Rinse with warm water.

The Lavender Dream Bath: Bathing not only delights the senses, it alters your biochemistry. When our senses are delighted, whether it is through scent, taste, touch or sound, it sets off neurochemical responses that we experience as feelings of being calm and relaxed. When we are relaxed, we literally are living in a body with a different biochemistry then when we are tense, angry, or sad. So, fill up your tub, listen to music that soothes your soul, light a candle and experience the sublime effects of the healing effects of nature.

You’ll need:
2 cups sea salt
½ cup baking soda
10-20 drops of lavender essential oil

Here’s how:
1. Mix the salt, baking soda, and essential oils together
2. Pour approximately 1/2 cup under running bath water.

The Divine Nectars Bath

You’ll need:
1 cup heavy cream (or half & half)
½ cup raw honey

Here’s how:
1. Pour the cream and honey under running bath water.
2. Submerge and enjoy this luscious moisturizing bath.

About Jill Leslie and Ayurveda Alchemy

Jill Leslie is a certified Ayurvedic practitioner, herbalist, wellness chef, and yoga teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area who, for more than two decades, has been immersed in the study and practice of natural healing.

The entrepreneur, who has owned her own businesses since graduating from the University of Maryland in 1986, founded the award-winning retail shop Milk & Honey in Sebastapol, CA, in 1999. She sold it in 2006 so that she could delve deeper into her study of yoga and Ayurveda.

As she discovered the life-changing wisdom of these ancient practices, she began sharing her knowledge at wellness retreats, yoga studios, and through cooking classes. Her passion for herbal medicine and nutrition, and her love of sweets, inspired her to found Ayurvedic Alchemy, in 2008.

In addition to hosting classes and events, and providing consultations and dietary advice about Ayurveda, she has created a line of healthy and delicious confections, which are available online at Kitchen Alchemy Treats. “When I learned the adage of Ayurveda, ‘Let your food be your medicine,’ I put on my apron and said, ‘Let your medicine be delicious,’” she says. Learn more at www.AyurvedaAlchemy.com.

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