Love Potions and Wanderlust
Monday in the air conditioned office can dry and irritate skin. Working late on Wednesday can weigh on tired eyes. Office drinks on Friday can leave blemishes in their wake. The working week can make its mark like a calendar across our skin. That leaves sleepy Saturdays and lazy Sundays as the sole opportunities to show our skin some love. Love potions, made from natural, organic products found in your kitchen pantry are an economical and environmental alternative to a spa weekend.
As a child I was fascinated by witches. I loved stories of those wild women, pioneers of apothecary and midwifery, outliers of medieval society who dispensed natural remedies and were burnt at the stake for their troubles. I would skip around the garden, unknowingly quoting Shakespeare’s Macbeth – “Bubble Bubble, Toil and Trouble”. Flowers and herbs would find their way into my jam jar, which I would later try and sell to my parents and innocent bystanders as ‘perfume’. As I grew up, this pioneering spirit mixed with wanderlust and became a powerful concoction that propelled me across the world.
In the souks of Marrakech a medicine man anointed my wrists with solid amber perfume. In the antique bath houses of Budapest I soaked up natural salts and minerals. I was massaged with olive oil in Santorini and scrubbed in the Hammams of Istanbul. These experiences led me full circle back to my jam jar and garden herbs. In my kitchen cupboard I found the same natural ingredients that were used across cultures to relax and rejuvenate. Hereafter, four organic foods that can be used to revive tired skin after a week of work.
1. Coconut Oil.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you bring? Lucky for me, my single beauty ‘essential’ would be taken care of: my entire skincare regime is derived from the humble coconut. Whilst coconut oil has long been recognised for its super food status, its superpowers are not limited to its digestible properties. As the oil is high in antioxidants, antibacterials and antimicrobials it makes a perfect moisturizer. It also works as a divine hair mask. Treat it as you would a leave in conditioner before rinsing off the oil and the worries of work life in an aromatic shower. I promise that its rich scent smells much better than those perfumes I concocted as a child.
We all know the benefits of eating organic and avoiding putting nasty chemicals into our bodies. As the skin is the body’s largest organ, perhaps we should be applying the same rules to our skincare. Oatmeal is a natural ingredient that can sooth both our insides and our outside. Oatmeal contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and can thus provide relief to irritated skin. To unwind from the stresses of the week, oatmeal is best used in a luxurious bath soak. Simply add a cup of plain oats to your bath with a pinch of aromatic garden herbs such as lavender.
Whilst applying a thick green slime to your face might sound more Halloween than healing, an avocado face mask can work to undo the damage an office environment may inflict. You can mash together a nourishing mask by mixing the flesh together with your choice of lemon juice, honey or egg-whites. Apply to clean skin then leave to dry as you take some time to relax. Rinse clean to leave your skin feeling fresh and revitalized.
Whether served in fine china at a ritzy high tea, or in a hot mug to cuddle up around in bed, the relaxing properties of tea are evident. That warm-fuzzy goodness that tea spreads through our body can not only make us feel more awake – tea has the ability to make us look more lively. Place two tea bags, lightly brewed, on tired eyelids. Most commercial eye products contain caffeine to shrink blood vessels around the eye and reduce puffiness and dark circles. By using teabags we can delve straight to the source. Tea moreover contains tannins that can soothe skin. Plus, a natural bi-product of this treatment is a cup of tea and that can only be a good thing.
These recipes all have the properties of love potions: they make an intoxicating mix that stimulates the senses and lulls the overworked mind. Maybe they can remind us to love ourselves a little more – After all, a little self appreciation is the ultimate remedy to a stressful week.
Photo credits: Alexandra Lembke