As a woman, I like to indulge in things that smell pretty, including sticking my nose into every bunch of flowers I pass wherever I go. In my daily routine, I typically use a body spray followed by a spritz of perfume. It just seems to bring a dash of colour into my otherwise monochromatic morning.
However, the more I read, the more I am learning about how our beauty products and fragrances are becoming increasingly laden with toxic chemicals, preservatives and carcinogens. Oh my! Seriously, you need to bookmark this link to EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. It will probably make you want to inspect and purge most of the cosmetics you currently possess. Can’t say I didn’t warn you…
Apparently, your skin is one ginormous porous membrane that absorbs everything you topically apply to it, before sending it straight into your bloodstream, where your cells are not exactly delighted with everything they encounter, like plastic particles. I mean, there’s even a birth control patch now, for chrissake. Which got me to thinking that, like our food, if there are natural and organic alternatives without all the crap in them that are more or less equally effective, why shouldn’t I at least give them a try?
It was precisely this kind of mindset that led me to notice the chalkboard in front of the Grassroots store, advertising a Bath Oils and Body Scrubs workshop. I had been in the shop a few times over the years, in particular after reading the entertaining yet informative book ‘Sleeping Naked is Green‘ a while back. It’s a great place to treat yourself to some hemp clothing, natural cleansers (bring your own reusable containers), or a baby gift for that first time neurotic mom in your crowd. I have met a few people in passing who made their own creams and lotions, and they seemed very pleased with the results, so I thought, right, how hard could it be?
Well, tonight, I made my very own bath oil and body scrub, and I have to say, it was actually much easier than I imagined. Who knew? Not Hu, but this lady: Tracey TieF, Certified Natural Health Practitioner, and the energetic, Jill-of-all-trades behind Anarres Natural Health. She first of all walked us through the key components of a detoxifying bath or massage oil, which are:
- An essential oil – which assists in eliminating toxins from the body, as well as leading to healthier skin, scalp and hair; it is added in very small quantities, lending a scent to the finished product (I think we used no more than a dozen drops in a 60 ml glass bottle); and
- A carrier oil – which can also contribute to healthier skin, scalp and hair; the carrier oil makes up the bulk of the finished product.
- One or more salts – for their mineral content; typical examples are Epsom salts (Epsom is a place in England, by the way, in case you were curious), Dead Sea Salts (which amazingly attract moisture from the air), and Himalayan Pink Salt; the coarser salts can be ground more finely using a pestle and mortar; evaporated cane juice can also be used;
- Clay – added mainly for its mineral content, but also for its colour, used in relatively small amounts to avoid staining or ringing the tub; we used about an 1/8 of a teaspoon for our body scrub concoctions; varieties range widely in both colour and origin;
- Sugar – recommended options here are raw honey or vegetable glycerin (which is incredibly sweet, and a by-product of making soap; do not confuse it with regular glycerin, which is a petroleum oil by-product);
- Exfoliant – crushed sandalwood, or ground walnut husks work wonders here;
- Vitamin E – optional; in its liquid form, it is bright red – who knew?;
- Carrier Oil – recommended options are castor, grapeseed or almond oil; and
- Essential Oil – for scent.
We got to try a lot of carrier oils on the backs of our hands, and sniff all of the the other ingredients Tracey brought with her, to help each of the eight of us choose what we felt were the right combinations for us. Apparently, there are no wrong answers. Tracey is a firm believer in tinkering with what appeals to you, on a trial and error basis until you end up with something that really works wonders for your own skin. These are all natural ingredients that really cannot do you any harm, except for a handful of the essential oils, which can, in fact, be quite deadly when ingested or made into a tea. Right. Time to pay attention…
For my bath oil, I personally opted to try a lemon essential oil, which reportedly stimulates white blood cells, is beneficial to the liver, and brings clarity to the mind, all the while eating away your dead skin. Sounds good to me! I paired that with a very light walnut carrier oil that was already infused with frankincense (the gold and myrrh were curiously absent). Other than spilling the lemon oil and overfilling my container, the end result seemed fairly decent. I was pleased.
For my bath scrub, well, I do love to experiment with random ingredients, and I fear my enthusiasm may have gotten the better of me. I have repeatedly been told ‘less is more’ in my adult life, but this contradicts the ‘more is more’ lesson I have had ingrained into my brain by my parents from an early age. In any case, I ended up with a concoction of Dead Sea salt, Epsom salt, Himalayan salt, vegetable glycerin, and some zeolite clay. To that, I added many drops of the uber-fragrant rose geranium essential oil, and dumped in some ground walnut husks and vitamin E for good measure. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure I forgot to add any carrier oil at all… ah, details. In any case, I’m sure it will be just fine to exfoliate and soak in a tub for a half hour or so tomorrow, so it’s all good!
NEWSFLASH: If you have a t-zone with combination skin, that makes you human, not special. And with that juicy tidbit, I bid you good purging. It is spring, after all. Enjoy!