Winter Skin Care From The Garden

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Natural Body Care When It Counts

Winter time can be hard on our skin, which is, after all, our largest organ and one of the most environmentally sensitive. Indoors, forced air heating dries out skin and hair. Outdoors, cold wind and rain can chap tender cheeks and lips and leave our hands cracked and raw.

Happily, our gardens and kitchens hold simple ingredients that can ease discomfort and heal dried out scalps and skin. These easily made body care items are delightful to use and far better for your precious body than commercial products, many of which contain actively harmful elements.

What’s In Shampoo and Conditioner?

The sad truth is that many common ingredients in shampoo and conditioner truly are harmful to your health. Since our skin is our largest and most absorbent organ, whatever we put on our skin and scalp is taken into the body very efficiently.

For healthy hair care, always read the label carefully. Choose products made only with organic ingredients and avoid products that contain known carcinogens such as sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), parabens, formaldehyde, and DEA, MEA or TEA, as well as hazardous materials such as polyethylene glycol.

A Healing Ingredient In Your Kitchen Cupboard

The good news is that you have a wholesome, healing ingredient in your pantry that works as well for food as for body care. Virgin olive oil is not only anti-inflammatory and cholesterol lowering, it can also do wonders for your skin and hair. After gardening, soak your feet in comfortably warm water with a handful of marbles (roll them around for a quick foot massage). Dry your feet well, then massage them with a little virgin olive oil. Now slip on warm socks. Ahhhh…. Olive oil smooths rough skin on hands and elbows as well and makes an enriching conditioner for dry hair.

Natural Hair Care

To revitalize dry hair, use mild, castile-based shampoo and rinse hair well. Wet hair completely before adding shampoo, and rinse for several minutes after shampooing. Gently massage your scalp (fingertips only; no nails) as you wash and rinse your hair. This increases blood circulation and unclogs sebaceous glands, both of which improves hair health and appearance. Gently towel hair dry, then let air dry completely. Use an olive oil conditioner weekly until hair luster is restored, then monthly or as needed.

This super-soft shampoo does wonders for dry hair, eliminating dandruff and itchy scalps. It also adds body to thin hair and is especially helpful during and after chemo treatments, so it makes a thoughtful gift for friends who are fighting cancer.

Simple Homemade Shampoo

1 cup liquid castile soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s)
1 tablespoon organic cider vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup water

Combine in a bottle with a flip-top or squirt nozzle. Shake gently, apply 1-2 teaspoons to wet hair and work in well; mixture will be rich and very lathery. Rinse thoroughly while massaging scalp. Hair will not be “squeaky clean” because the natural oils will not be stripped out (so you may not need to use conditioner as often). Don’t worry; when toweled dry, your hair feels soft and is not at all sticky.

Herbal Shampoo (My Favorite)

1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons lavender blossoms and/or rosemary
1 cup liquid castile soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s)
1 tablespoon organic cider vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Pour 1/2 cup boiling water over dried herbs and steep, covered, until cool. Strain and measure out 1/3 cup liquid and proceed as above.

Simple Olive Oil and Honey Conditioner

1/4 cup virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey

Combine ingredients in a glass measuring cup and warm gently over hot water, stirring well to blend. then work into through damp hair, gently massaging your scalp. Wrap your head with a hot (old) towel or wear a shower cap  while you relax or take a bath for 20-30 minutes. Wash with gentle shampoo and rinse well.

Olive Oil Conditioner With Lavender and Rosemary

2 tablespoons rosemary, snipped
2 tablespoons lavender (fresh or dried)
1 cup virgin olive oil

In a saucepan, combine rosemary and lavender with 1/2 cup water, bring to a boil, remove from heat and steep for 15-30 minutes. Strain liquid, pressing herbs firmly, combine in a food processor or blender with olive oil and blend well. To use, shake mixture well, then put 1/4 cup of it in a saucepan or microwave and warm to wrist temperature. Comb through damp hair, wrap head with a hot (old) towel or shower cap and relax for 20-30 minutes. Shampoo hair with gentle shampoo and rinse well.

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