Sunday, January 10, 2010

accouterments of the bath

I adore simple pleasures.  They are the last refuge of the complex. Oscar Wilde

For a truly indulgent bath and body experience, the options are limitless.  You don't need to go to a spa for beauty treatments as many ingredients are probably in your home already.  Items needed for a simple scrub used for exfoliating are probably in your cabinet.  Take a tablespoon of sea salt and mix it with a small amount of baby oil then add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.  Blend together and use to exfoliate hands, face and body.  Once you rub this on a portion of yourself, rinse with warm water.  Trader Joe's has a grapefruit scrub that I use quite often in my bath.  It leaves the skin feeling clean, soft and smells great.  The oil helps moisturize and I exit my bath feeling so warm and refreshed.

Six Steps to Complexion Care

There is not a better time to treat your face with tender care than before, during and after a bath.  Here are six simple steps and some all-natural, homemade recipes.  Each mixture includes essential oils or herbs, which restore balance and harmony and promote the health of your body and mind.  If this sensible regimen is followed consistently, a peaches and cream complexion will be yours.  As always, this is a mere guideline, options for your indulgence.

Step 1

Skin is one of the larger and more versatile organs of the body, for it is vital in maintainig homeostasis (internal stability.)  Skin is a protective covering, helps regulate body temperature, retards water loss from the deeper tissues, houses sensory receptors, synthesizes various biochemicals and excretes small quantities of wastes.
Cleansers remove impurites from the skin.  Cleanse once in the morning and again before bedtime. Most mornings I just splash my face with a little water  as I wake up.  Cleansing and moisturizing are most important steps, but I refrain from using too much soap all the time.

Step 2

Skin includes two distinct tissue layers; the outer layer, epidermis, and inner layer, dermis, which is thicker than the epidermis and contains fibrous connective tissue, epithelial tissue, smooth muscle tissue, nervous tissue and blood.  Beneath the dermis are masses of loose connective and adipose tissues that bind the skin to the underlying organs, which form the subcurtaneous layer, hypodermis.
A facial scrub, when gently applied, will slough off dead surface skin, expose fresh skin, boost circulation and give you a healthy glow.  Exfoliate 1-3 times a week.  Not for sensitive skin.

Greenhouse Savory Scrub

Geranium oil is considered the first-aid kit of essential oils, with its antiseptic and regenerative qualities.  Lavendar oil boosts the immune system and stimulates new cell growth. This scrub will give your skin a youthful freshness and vitality.


1 teaspoon almond meal or blue cornmeal
1 teaspoon honey
1 drop geranium essential oil
1 drop lavendar essential oil

Place all ingredients in blender.  Make a paste in your palm.  Massage over skin for one minute.  Rinse thoroughly.

Step 3

Toners remove residues left on the skin by a cleanser, mask or scrub.  Toners improve the general health and appearance of the skin and prepare your face to absorb a moisturizer.  Tone twice a day. 

Sacred Grove Soothing Toner

The Assyrians believed that the secret names of the gods were written on the sacred cedar.  Cedarwood is a calming oil that stabilizes energy imbalances and normalizes the skin.  Ylang-ylang oil was used in the Victorian era as part of a hair growth preparation. It inspires creativity and wards off premature aging by releasing tension in the face. 


2 ounces witch hazel
1 tablespoon aloe vera
5 drops cedarwood essential oil
3 drops lemon essential oil
1 drop ylang-ylang essential oil

Combine ingredients.  Shake well before using.

Step 4

Moisturizers create a protective barrier between your skin and the atmosphere, plump up surface skin, prevent moisture loss and give a soft, smooth appearance.  Apply after cleaning and toning, twice a day.  Moisuturizing is extremely important to our skin but make sure it's not too heavy as to clog pores.

Step 5

Steaming with essential oils will deeply clean your pores, moisturize your skin and improve circulation to your face.  Steam once or twice a week.  I steam once in a blue moon.

Herbs du Jour Garden Steam

Eucalyptus restores balance, improves concentration and is believed to increase intellectual capacity. It also relieves stress and encourages alertness.  This herbal mini-sauna's strong anti-bacterial action will promote the regeneration of skin tissue and will heop eliminate excess oil.


3 cups spring water
1 drop eucalyptus essential oil
1 drop lavendar essential oil
1 drop rosemary essential oil

Boil water and wait until it cools to about 100 degrees F.  Pour it into a bowl, add essential oils and set bowl in a place where you are comfortable.  Cover the back of your head with a towel, tucking the ends around your head so that the towel encloses both your head and the bowl.  Hold your head one foot away from water.  Make sure steam is not so hot as to be uncomfortable.  Keep your eyes closed and stay in steam for a few minutes; then come out to cool your face.  Repeat. I also use eucalyptus oil in massage for those with sinus issues - just dab a little on on each sinus and under the nose for better breathing. 

Step 6

A moisturizing mask replenishes moisture, nourishes the skin and calms the skin's surface.  It will leave your face with a healthy glow.  Masks should be applied once a week.  I am too lazy to do it every week - once every so often works.

Urban Goddess Facial Mask

Jasmine attracts spiritual love.  In India, it is known as "moonlight of the groove."  Jasmine warms the emotions and connects us to our more intuitive selves.  It is useful for all skin of all types. 


1 teaspoon natural yogurt (plain)
2 teaspoons honey
1 vitamin E capsule
1 teaspoon oat flour
5 drops jasmine essential oil

Combine the yogurt and honey.  Squeeze the contents of the vitamin E capsule into mixture and stir well.  Add oat flour and mix into a smooth paste.  Add jasmine essential oil and mix.  Apply to face with fingertips.  Leave on for 15 minutes, then remove with warm water.

Having owned The Goddess Touch Wellness Spa and Salon in Darien, I was privy to a variety of beauty care.  I had limited training in cosmetology to learn about Helma B and Repachage which enabled me to provide basic skin care to my clients in the form of cleanse, tone and moisturize as well as body wraps.  My esteticians had their own favorite products and offered more variety with their vast expertise. Our menu included the natural version, which I chose to share in this series.
As we age, let's do it gracefully and continue a simple regime of beauty and skin care.  Skin is alive and needs to be nourished as it goes through its cycle.  Nature does provide us with ingredients to keep it healthy.  We deserve to be the best we can be and it need not be complicated nor expensive.  My wrinkles are gentle reminders of life's accomplishments. We all get them. Embrace this inevitable process of life.  
  Happy pampering. xo

many thanks to Susan Hayden, author of the Enchanted Bath