As the dark nights draw in and the temperatures fall into Autumn, we’re reminded that dry, flaky, chapped-skin season is just around the corner. Don’t let the cold winds of chap and chafe you, instead stay smooth, soft, and supple with our essential autumnal skin top tips…
The lower temperatures, combined with low humidity and blustery winds tend to deplete skin of its natural lipid layer, which keeps the skin from drying out. On top, the dry air from car heating, central heating, open fires and such like also suck the moisture out of skin… so to prevent dry, cracked skin we need to rethink things: it’s not about lathering pot after pot of moisture to the skin, but to simply keep moisture in.
By getting back to basics we realise the simplicity of what goes into the lotions and potions we put on our skin by whipping up our own… both lip balms and body scrubs are one of the simplest and most cost effective treatments to make yourself, yet if you go to buy a ready made up scrub or balm from either a department store or spa they are extremely costly and sadly often anything but chemical-free….
- Tip 1: Scrub, Scrub, Scrub!
Sugar Scrubs polish and moisturize your skin, massaging off dead skin cells and rubbing away hard and flaky skin, leaving it feeling soft and smooth. Scrub or polishing products usually include an oily base which moisturises and soothes your skin as it is scrubbed.
A scrub can be really invigorating as well, and improve the circulation of blood and lymph to the surface of the skin, helping to fight cellulite and improve your skin tone
Honey and Lemon Body Sugar Scrub: Ideal once a fortnight
2.5 cups sugar
1/2 cup sweet almond oil (smaller quantities available from all good online stockists such as Aromantics, Soap Kitchen, Of a Simple Nature etc)
4 teaspoons lemon juice (fresh lemon ideal or Jif if desperate)
4 tablespoons honey (ideally runny honey)
4 drops lemon essential oil (if required for fragrance)
Stir the sugar into the sweet almond oil in a large bowl. Add the lemon juice and stir again. Finally, add the honey and lemon essential oil and stir again to mix. Stand in the bath or shower and rub on in circular motions
And not forgetting your face as well which, during winter months is more exposed that the rest of your body:-
Basic Baking Soda Facial Scrub: Perfect for everyday use.
2 to 3 tablespoons of Baking Soda and a small amount of water.
Mix the ingredients into a paste. Tie hair back, wash and cleanse face. To open pores, steam face over hot water or press warm cloth to skin for a few minutes. After preparing scrub, apply it to face (and neck if desired) using a circular motion and gently scrub avoiding the eye area. If desired, you can use a facial loofah, sponge, or brush to maximize exfoliation but it is adequate to just rub in with fingers. Rinse off with warm water.
* Precautions – Scrubs and body polishes are suitable and safe for just about everyone. It’s not an invasive treatment. However, you should not have a scrub if you have cancer or if you have a fever. You should also seek expert advice if you are allergic to anything or have a skin condition of any kind. Anyone with fragile, broken or sun burnt skin is well advised to skip this treatment as well, as a very vigorous scrub may hurt more than heal.
- Tip 2: Keep water lukewarm, not hot…
As much as a hot bath feels synonymous with long crisp country walks, hot water robs the skin of moisture causing dry skin, so it’s best to bath and shower in lukewarm water, or at best, keep hot baths short. Hot tubs are also a no no as the temperature, combined with drying chemicals, is torture on dry skin.
The same rule applies to hand-washing: Wash hands in lukewarm, never hot, water (this is a rule I firmly abide by). If your skin turns red, the water is simply too hot.
- Tip 3: Choose you soap wisely
Commercially mass produced soaps can be drying, not to mention being crammed full of synthetics. Opt for a 100% natural vegetable soap, ideally handmade in the cold processed way or buy organic. A good soap is the foundation to all skin care and will help moisturize and lock in the goodness…
- Tip 4: Luscious Lips
Just like scrubs, after discovering the complete ease of making my own lip balm I have never bought it again and doubt you will either: The below recipe is simple, incredibly cheap (we are talking literally pennies per tin), 100% natural and good for your lips, especially around this time of year.
Or if you don’t want the faff of making your own lip balm and just want a quick fix before bed, rub your toothbrush in a circular motion over your lips to remove dead skin (do NOT pick them!) and then rub on a mixture comprising of half a tea spoon of sugar with half a teaspoon of honey.
The wonders of the internet enables us to have the most stunning oils delivered, often next day to our doors…which has opened up a whole new playground of possibilities when it comes to using oils – be they home grown or exotic – in homemade recipes.
Now, you can substitute whatever essential oils you have on hand (or prefer). So, for instance, this recipe calls for peppermint essential oil: Feel free to leave it out completely or substitute it with a soothing essential oil like rose, sweet orange, chamomile, vanilla, or carrot seed.
This recipe also uses honey, which gives the balm a heavenly taste. Just be careful not to lick your lips TOO much. That’ll just dry them out, which of course is the opposite of what we’re trying to do!
This recipe I tend to make every autumn and it makes enough to last me (and several friends) throughout the winter.
Lip Balm Recipe
1/2 oz. (approx. 3 tsp.) grated or roughly chopped beeswax
1 oz. (approx. 6 tsp.) coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp. lanolin
3/4 tsp. vitamin E
2 tsp. hard honey
optional 3/4 tsp. peppermint or lavender essential oil
Cosmetic screw top tins (or reuse old cosmetic jars)
In a small pot over medium low heat melt beeswax, coconut oil, lanolin and vitamin E. Use a chopstick to stir. Ideally measure out on cosmetic scales but the approximate tsp measurements make it more user friendly.
Remove from heat and add honey and peppermint oil. Whisk well with chopstick and try to distribute oil throughout the mixture – this is tricky. Pour quickly into tins or jars (easily available online or reuse old tins). Let this cool on counter till hard and do not touch until at least 3 hours is up!
Those of us who apply makeup will benefit from applying a coat of lip balm before putting on lipstick. This will prevent dryness and chapping. It will also help to protect the lips from the chemical content of the lipstick and is also beneficial to use lipsticks with a moisturizer base but don’t use too much of lipstick as this can block the pores and have an adverse effect.
Wrap up warm!
By EMMA HEATHCOTE-JAMES founder of the Little Soap Company and Little Soap School which provides 100% pure, natural handmade soaps and organic soaps to local Waitrose, Tesco, National Trust, health food and farm stores as well as internet orders nationally. Little Soap School days offer one on one or small group luxury days in the workshop in the North Cotswold workshop teaching you how to make your own soaps and natural lotions and potions.