For more than a decade, author Margaret Dinsdale developed and distributed her own line of natural skin-care products. In Skin Deep, she enthusiastically shares her simple secrets for healthy skin care. Now you, too, can avoid the artificial ingredients in overpriced and overpackaged commercial goods by learning how to make your own. These easy-to-prepare recipes for cleansers, toners, masks, bath and massage oils, shampoos and conditioners use all-natural ingredients readily available from the grocer, health-food store and backyard garden.
Beautifully designed with color photographs and botanical illustrations, Skin Deep is a delightful how-to guide for people of all ages and skin types who want to look and feel their best.
|Publisher:||Boydell & Brewer, Limited|
|Product dimensions:||7.41(w) x 9.24(h) x 0.32(d)|
About the Author
At the end of a tiring day, I sometimes wander out into my garden, brush my hands against a mat of lemon thyme or Roman camomile and inhale deeply as the plant's essential oils are released into the air. There are few sensory experiences more delightful than the scent of aromatic herbs. My bed of mixed mints never fails to restore me; plantings of old, fragrant roses lead me to conjure up romantic fantasies; and clary sage, a tall biennial that has an extended blooming season, lends a particularly welcome fragrance to the garden.
Scientific studies suggest that our sense of smell is the most powerful agent of memory stimulation. The associative power of scent has practical as well as imaginative implications: savvy real estate agents have been known to simmer a spice-laden stovetop potpourri to beguile prospective buyers into a cozy feeling of hominess. Poems, novels and essays have explored the profound human dependence upon smell. In A Natural History of the Senses, author Diane Ackerman observes: "We may not need to smell to survive, but without it, we feel lost and disconnected."
When we use natural substances, then, we affirm an important connection with our personal and collective roots. Every civilization in history has favoured certain aromatics that were incorporated into the cultural rituals of its society. Egyptians and Arabians used myrrh and frankincense for healing and embalming. Turks used the rose, the queen of aromatics, for skin care, scent and cooking. In India, patchouli and sandalwood are still two of the most popular essences. For North American natives, sweet grass is a sacred plant.
In the same way, our pervasive use of cosmetics and other skin preparations is a distinct echo of distant cultural practices. Archaeological evidence has proved that prehistoric peoples used pigments mixed with greasy substances to paint not only their dwellings but also their faces and bodies. As societies became more sophisticated, other materials were employed both for decoration -- saffron and henna, for example -- and for skin care -- herbs such as thyme, rosemary and oregano and oils such as sweet almond, sesame and olive, to name a few. These common natural ingredients have been used all over the world.
At the same time, fashion has sometimes dictated styles that place effect ahead of health. In search of the alabaster skin tone that Elizabethan society deemed desirable, both men and women used face powder laced with poisonous white lead. Examples of the same surrender to trends are obvious during a walk down the streets of any 20th-century urban centre.
While most industrialized nations now have regulatory agencies that forbid the use of dangerous substances in cosmetic preparations, there is no agency that protects the consumer from the created appetite for goods. Whenever I stroll past the cosmetic counter in a department store or pharmacy, I experience a certain degree of despair, both at the amount of money that manufacturers are spending on the display counters themselves and at the enormous quantity of wasteful packaging that is used to persuade the consumer that these items are essential to their fashion -- and therefore to their personal -- success.
What bothers me more than this coercive prescription for acceptable grooming, however, is the lack of quality too often found in some of these product lines. I wince when I think of the fortunes that companies make selling little dabs of mineral oil, rendered animal wastes and synthetic fragrances cloaked in double-walled plastic containers and tucked into shiny little boxes. And all of this is inevitably accompanied by glossy brochures, manipulative sales pitches and astonishing prices.
My own way of wrestling with these pressures has been to explore the option of making some of these skin-care products myself. In my own home, I am able to oversee the quality of ingredients and to play with my own sensory responses, rather than simply passively inherit those created for me by a faceless committee of marketers. There have been immediate benefits: the wonderful sense of satisfaction one gets from self-sufficiency; the joy of creativity; the financial savings; and the opportunity to draw closer to the world of the garden, which is the original source of so many of these products.
As I was buying a cookbook the other day, I mentioned to the store manager that I was writing a "recipe" book myself, one that would teach people how to make their own natural skin-care items at home. Her assistant and another customer overheard our conversation and offered their comments.
"Oh, you mean putting yogurt on your skin," said one.
"Something like that," I replied.
"Yeah, like cucumbers on your eyes. All that old stuff," said the other.
The exchange made me think even more carefully about my intentions in writing this book. I knew what these women meant. I have seen lots in print about "natural skin care" that did indeed involve the ubiquitous cucumbers and yogurt. While these methods work, I, too, have hankered for something more.
How is this book different, and for whom is it written? Simply put, it is for consumers who are tired of spending so much on what seems so little, for people who suffer from skin sensitivities and allergies to the synthetic ingredients in manufactured skin-care products and for people who want to feel a little more in charge of what they rub onto their bodies. There are straightforward recipes here that even the busiest person will have time to make. There are also more challenging recipes for those who are intrigued by the field. With a little time and effort and with relatively little cost, readers will be able to create a whole range of skin-care items, including cleansers, body splashes, facial toners and massage oils, that will be not only cheaper and more environmentally friendly but more effective as well.
The New Encyclopædia Britannica calls skin our "largest organ of identification and sexual attraction." In other words, our skin tells us -- and others -- just who we are. Every person's skin is unique, from its texture and scent to the troublesome characteristics it sometimes exhibits. For convenience, sake, however, I do refer to four general categories: normal, oily, dry, and sensitive or mature skin, and each recipe indicates the skin type for which it is best suited. Keep in mind that these descriptions are not ironclad, so when you are creating your own skin-care products, a little experimentation can be a good thing.
By normal skin, I do not mean perfect skin but, rather, skin that falls within a moderate range of health -- skin that possesses good colour and texture, boasts few blemishes and is not particularly sensitive or allergic. People with normal skin may have occasional dry and/or oily areas on their face or body, but these are not problematic.
Even if your skin is normal, it still needs attention, especially to handle the artificial heating and cooling systems humans have devised to cope with the changing weather. Ill health, stress and pregnancy are just a few of the other factors that can affect your skin adversely.
Oily skin is generally characterized by large pores and an excess of secretions from the sebaceous glands. Blackheads and blemishes can sometimes accompany this skin type, as can dandruff. Although it may seem to be a contradiction, oily skin sometimes needs light moisturizing to hydrate it. Eating nutritional foods, drinking lots of water and using a mild cleanser morning and night can also help.
During hot, muggy weather, splash your face with water or toner, then blot it to reduce surface bacteria that can create new blemishes and to manage excess oil that can block pores. Preparations that contain a high amount of alcohol or another substance which tightens the pores can also b