Lotions and Potions

The cold air has hit us finally. The combination of cold, dry air outside and heated, dry air inside can wreak havoc on even the most resilient of complexions. I’m “blessed” have rather oily skin that does not get dry easily, but even I have noticed the effects of skin dehydration. And, as my beauty sources often remind me, oily skin does not equal hydrated skin. As such, I’ve found myself enjoying a few lovely moisturizing, conditioning, and hydrating boosts the last week or so.

  1. Rosewater and Glycerin: This is a very simple mix from the Heritage Store. It’s just what it says it is: their rosewater mixed with vegetable glycerin. It comes in a 4-oz. spray bottle and I love it more than any other fancy face mists I’ve tried. I use it when I get out of the shower before putting on my sunscreen in the morning, I use it in the evenings if I feel like I need a moisture boost before applying face cream and oil, and I keep one in my purse and my desk to just spritz whenever I feel dry or low. The rosy scent is true and light and a perfect pick-me-up.
  2. Griffin Remedy Skin Food lotion: I’ve used Griffin Remedy’s lotion in the past, but never shelled out for their fancier tier of lotion. With the state of my neglected legs being what they are, I splurged this weekend, and I have to say I love it. I first thought I would get the unscented lotion, as Boyfriend has expressed some concern about dry skin, but I found the lotion itself has a distinctive smell, likely from the MSM or some of the oils. So I got one that is lightly scented with frankincense. Frankincense is supposed to have some lovely healing and regenerative properties as well as smelling divine (literally, ask the Magi). The formula is a bit lighter and moister feeling than the plain Griffin lotion as well.
  3. Sheet masks: I discovered sheet masks when the Western world started discovering Korean skin care. While I’ve found that a fully-layered, eight- or ten-step regimen is just too much for me to stick to, I’ve kept my sheet masks around. Some of the old herbals I have list recipes similar to sheet masks and the practice of soaking muslin or silk strips in a healing solution and using that to beautify the skin has been around for ages. It is fortunate that I live in a day and age where I get the masks pre-soaked and in a little packet. I especially love them for travel because the cooling sensation of the mask calms my skin and sinuses after flying. My absolute favorite to date is the Sephora collection Rose Mask because of its lovely light scent, but I’ve recently ordered some more all-natural hydrating masks from 100% Pure and I’m excited to try them. As far as luxury items go, a $6-10 mask once a week is relatively benign and adds so much to my skin care routine. That said, if I’m in a pinch, I can soak a compressed sheet mask tablet in some alcohol-free toner (I like Thayer’s) and lay that on for a hydration boost.
  4. Hand cream: I had never been one of those people who used a lot of hand cream. I actually hate the feeling of having cream on the palms of my hands. But transitioning from a more hands-on job to a desk job has left me with less worry about slippery grips and more worry about the state of my hands and nails. Plus, a colleague once told me that he doesn’t look at women’s faces any more to determine how old they are, but can always tell from their hands. So I keep a tube at my desk. Right now, I have Andalou’s Path of Light cream in lavender, but I got a little tube of Human + Kind hand, foot, and elbow cream for Christmas and I plan to switch. Sadly, I’ve been unable to find a hand cream I like that doesn’t have shea butter in it, so I have to be very careful not to touch my face too much when I’m using hand cream, but I like that the H+K cream is more lightly scented than the Andalou. I’m intrigued by the brand overall, though most of the products are not quite what I need.
  5. Salves and balms: While oils and butters and salves will not hydrate your skin (only water and water-binders do that), they serve an important purpose in the winter. They lock in the moisture and keep your skin nourished with fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamins A and E. While I’ve expounded in the past upon my love of rosehip oil, I thought I’d mention a new remedy I’ve found: Moon Valley Organics Herbal Heal. It’s a salve made from safflower, rosehip, and flax oil, with a bit of beeswax to thicken it up. Then, they also add all sorts of lovely healing herbal extracts, and propolis tincture for extra healing power. I’ve been using it occasionally as an eye balm, and it was a skin-saver when I was plagued with raw, chafed skin around my nose from my cold, but sometimes, when it feels very dry, I will slather my whole face in it after piling on my hydrating ingredients to keep all that moisture in close to my skin where it can do the most good.

I love a good walk in the bracing winter air, and I love to come home and curl up in the warmth of my house. With these lotions and potions, I find that these enjoyable winter practices don’t wreak quite so much damage on my skin, and keep my feeling beautiful and moisturized all winter. What are some of your winter skin tips?

My Vintage-Inspired Beauty Routine, Part 2: Body

The second part in my series on my beauty routine is my body care routine. My body routine is actually quite minimal, but I use natural products that smell and feel luxurious, so my shower every day is like a mini spa getaway.

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My body care routine is minimal because I try to make sure my lifestyle is conducive to beauty. I eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water. I find that eating enough fat is key to having soft skin and shiny hair. It’s a trick I learned in high school when I worked for a chocolatier.

I also keep active. This is an important beauty trick, as I find my skin is clearer when I’m active, in addition to my body looking and feeling better. Brisk walks (especially when it’s chilly!) leave me with a renewed sense of energy and a rosy glow. I try to take one nice walk each weekend, and get in bits of walking where I can during the week. I also perform my yoga and dance stretches several times a week to keep my limbs limber. It helps me carry my body more easily.

You see, a lot of beauty, especially vintage beauty, focuses on comportment as much as lotions and potions. Victorian women had their corsets to help them maintain erect posture, but I’ve cultivated it on my own. Over the summer, I was cast in a play where I played a character from 1905, and was able to get away without being corseted because my posture was sufficient to give the illusion of corseting.

But of course, most people read “beauty” and want to know about the lotions and potions. So I’ll go through my daily body beauty routine.

First, I drink a glass of water upon rising. This really should have gone in the skincare post because it’s made all the difference in the world with my complexion. I don’t add anything to it, just a glass of room-temperature water (I keep it by my bedside table all night so I don’t even have to go to the kitchen to get it). After that, I might get up and do some light stretches. Boyfriend takes the first shower most mornings, so I can plan my day, perhaps write a little, and choose my wardrobe. Then, I’m in the shower.

My shower is quite short. I will cover hair care in a later post. For my body, I wash with a cotton washcloth and some naturally-made soap with lots of lovely oils, and a light rose scent. Right now I’m using Good Soap from Whole Foods, but I’ve often used Mystic Water Soaps in the past. Most of my body care products are either rose or citrus scented. At the end, I turn the hot water down and rinse off with the coldest water I can stand. Then, I leap out and towel off.

I use my rose soap to shave my armpits when they need it, and I use either my soap or a bit of hair conditioner to shave my legs, about once a week. I shave my legs a bit more frequently when the weather and my schedule is conducive to showing a bit more leg, and less frequently in the dead of winter when my legs never see the light of day.

When I get out of the shower, I deodorize with a spritz of rosewater and a swipe from a crystal deodorant. I’m sometimes a little funky by the end of the day, but very few things will prevent that for me. So I stick with the natural stuff and try to change clothes or wash a bit if I feel myself getting stinky. Then, I apply lotion to my legs. I usually rub any excess into my elbows and hands. It was a trick to find a good body lotion because I have certain sensitivities, but this Acure lotion is my current favorite. Duly scrubbed and lotioned, I can head to the bedroom to dress!

In the bedroom, I finish off the one last step of my body care routine: fragrance. I had a bad skin reaction to some fragrance a few years back, so I’ve become very very careful about what I put on my skin. But I was fortunate to find Pacifica Beauty. All of their fragrances are derived naturally and have never caused a reaction, and their Persian Rose is a lovely pure rose scent, with just a hint of the warm undertone of myrrh to ground it. I dab it on at my pulse points. I also have a small vial of jasmine oil that I use for special evenings with Boyfriend. Every man I’ve ever met goes wild for the smell of jasmine.

Once in a while, maybe a couple times a month, I’ll give myself a real scrub-down with a pair of exfoliating gloves. I rinse with cold water, and apply rose-scented apricot kernel oil to my body. It leaves me smooth and glowing and just a little pink. This is particularly nice in conjunction with my weekly mask. I can apply my mask, and rinse it off under the warm showerhead. The steam helps soften the clay a bit before rinsing, so I don’t have to scrub my face too hard.

But for the most part, my body care ritual is simple and focuses first on best practices, and then on just a few good-quality ingredients. It’s just enough to keep me feeling feminine and clean without overdoing it.