I started making lotions and creams six years ago because of a strong do-it-yourself streak. But also because I was tired of finding natural skin products on the market that either promised more than they delivered, or eventually disappeared from the shelves. We already had honey and wax from the hives, and I had herbology training and lots of cooking experience. With the help of some trusted skin care recipes from The Nerdy Farm Wife, I bought some high-quality organic oils and other ingredients to make lotions, lip balms and face creams. We gave them to friends to try, taking their feedback to heart and continuing to experiment and learn to this day.
A neglected part of skin care is how you apply it. I take the time to massage the products I make into my skin, and to enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy. Even though I have sensitive skin, I can tolerate most essential oils, as long as they are diluted in high-quality oils like jojoba, apricot kernel and fractionated coconut. The ones that tend to be irritating are lemon balm and some citrus. I also take time a couple times a week to practice the Ayurvedic method of abhyanga. Abhyanga involves warming oil, like the ones I mentioned above, and massaging it into the skin before showering. Not only does it moisturize the whole body, it promotes good circulation and may even be part of boosting overall immunity. I keep up on all my vaccinations, and even before COVID, I rarely got sick. Most nights I practice the 4-2-4 cleansing ritual from Japan that involves massaging oil onto the face and neck for four minutes, using a liquid cleanser or scrub to emulsify the oil for two minutes, before rinsing off everything with warm and cold water for the the last four minutes.
Moisturizing the skin is only part of caring for it, and for yourself. Exercise, nourishment and stress management are arguably even more important. All four elements work together to keep all of you in the best possible condition.
Yoga is my main form of exercise. I practice nearly every day, meditating and doing postures. I also walk and ski and do my best to keep moving with the rigors of running a business, teaching yoga and caring for our home and gardens. At my age, 61, I find that yoga is the very best exercise for me, because it addresses both movement and stress management. Mindful movement like yoga and tai chi preserves the joints and strengthens the muscles so that I can continue to practice and teach for many years to come. Anything you do to enjoy moving, either at the gym or outside, is great.
I didn’t make any resolutions for 2023, other than to do more of the good things I already do. I already eat healthful foods, but I’m aware I can do more. My digestion is still good, but I’m realizing I need to support it even more. In the last year, I’ve begun taking a daily probiotic, and I’ve noticed improvement in my digestion, energy levels and mood. I’m also adding more probiotic foods, such as kefir and yogurt (there are dairy-free options), kimchi and sauerkraut. Prebiotic foods that are fibrous and exercise the lower intestines are also an important part of the equation. Jicama, onion, garlic, asparagus and dandelion greens are the best readily available source of prebiotics. I get a lot of ideas for delicious, nutritious prebiotic and probiotic dishes from theroastedroot.net. I try to eat at least five or more servings of vegetables and fruits daily. But sometimes I just want to splurge and eat homemade macaroni and cheese or spareribs, because occasionally feeding your soul through food is also healthy. Plus, eating a healthy diet at least 60 percent of the time reduces stress, because you’re building confidence in the overall goodness of your habits.
Stress management is the most elusive of the pillars of the good health/glowing skin equation. No one lives a stress-free life. How we greet stress is key. Blaming myself for all the things that went wrong in my life used to be my default. Over time and through the rigors of meditation, I have learned to cope better. Yesterday I set about canning some jam from some juice I had made last fall. After three hours, I realized the mixture wasn’t jelling and was never going to. In the past, I would have cussed a blue streak and punished myself for failing. As I was pouring the mixture down the sink, I instead told myself that not everything in life works out. Cleaning up the mess I’d made, without berating myself, was the most successful project of the day.
Being kind to yourself and to others is the best cosmetic ever. Caring for your beauty at all ages and feeling good in your skin is another skin care secret. You may still have wrinkles and lax skin, with more to come if you’re lucky to live long enough. By adopting good habits, along with using high-quality skin care products, will keep you feeling good for the rest of your life.