13 December, 2014

What`s it like Living in Mexico? - High Desert = Dry Skin


One of the things that I love the most about living in San Miguel de Allende is that it is beautiful and warm nearly every day of the year.  I am a California girl and cold weather and I do not mix.  So I am eternally grateful for no snow and warm afternoons.  The problem with living in the high desert however, is that as soon as the sun goes down so does the temperature, and we are talking hard and fast!  I joke with my family back home that San Miguel weather is so considerate, because the weather waits to get bad when you are tucked away at home.  And for the most part this is true.  But the harsh changes in climate from day to night wrecks havoc on your skin, regardless if you are tucked inside or not!





My Californian skin is cracked and dried.  I am sure this is common for many of you, so I thought I might share some of my natural beauty experiments...don't worry, the successes only!  And I know this is a blog about being in the kitchen, but that is the best part about this blog post, nearly all of the ingredients can be found IN your pantry at home!

Moisturize
Now usually I can stick with my St Ives Mineral Therapy at this high altitude and my skin is happy.  But then the weather changes and I am itching for something more (pun shamelessly intended).

I do not pretend for a minute to teach you how to make lotion at home.  I promised you that I would not share any of my failed experiments.  Searches on Youtube and Pinterest will make you dizzy and some recipes are so complex it has you running for the pharmacy counter to buy the store brands.  If you want to learn all about the science behind lotions I highly recommend Linda Bostock`s video.


This recipe from a BBC series, Grow Your Own Drugs, with James Wong got me motivated enough to give it a try.  Unfortunately I did not have the emulsifying wax and tried to use Borax as a substitute.  I ended up having to strain my lotion...  But the extra thick cream that remained is super moisturizing and smells absolutely delicious!  Hunt out some emulsifying wax and give this recipe a try... it will be worth the effort!  Also head on over to Youtube to watch some of the episodes, they are really interesting and fun!

Oats and Almond Moisturizing Body Cream
from BBC Grow your Own Drugs source link here300ml water
2 tbsp rolled oats
2 tsp beeswax
6 tsp emulsifying wax
40ml almond oil
2 tsp honey
2 tsp vitamin C powder
6-12 drops chamomile essential oil (optional)
1. In a pan, heat the water until boiling and then add the oats. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Strain the oats, reserving the liquid into a measuring jug - you need 200ml. Put in a pan and keep hot.
2. Heat the beeswax and emulsifying wax together very gently in another pan with the almond oil until the waxes fully dissolve. Take off the heat and immediately whisk a little of the hot oat liquid into the wax mixture. Keep adding the hot oat liquid, a little at a time, making sure it is well mixed between additions, until you have used up all 200ml.
3. Stir in the honey and vitamin C powder and, if desired, add in a few drops of chamomile essential oil - this acts as a preservative, is anti-inflammatory and adds a delicious scent. (Don't worry if you don't have chamomile - you can use any essential oil you have around.) Pour the cream into wide-mouthed pots, and seal at once.
USE: After bathing, pat skin gently dry, then apply the cream as needed. On tough areas of dry skin such as knees, elbows and feet, use twice daily, especially before bed.
STORAGE: Will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Exfoliate
I found this crazy recipe in an ancient book about essential oils.  I wrote it down because the name made me laugh.  I keep it handy now, because it is the most incredible scrub I have ever used! Below is my interpretation of the ancient writing and a few recommendations for substitutions.



The smell of this scrub is beyond incredible.  And it mysteriously leaves you feeling extra ready for date night! (If ya know what I mean!)  But that must be all in the name.  I highly recommend mandarin peel, and you could use lavender in replace of the rose petals for a relaxing pre-bed shower scrub.

The Harem Special Body Scrub yields enough for a few scrubs
Ingredients:
1 tsp Ground, Dried Citrus Peel
3 tsp Ground Almonds
2 tsp Ground Oatmeal
1 pinch Ground Clove
1 tsp Crushed, Dried Rose Petals
1 pinch Ground Nutmeg
2 TBSP Sweet Almond Oil (more if needed) a high quality Olive Oil could substitute
2 drops Neroli, Orange, Lemon or other Citrus Essential Oil (optional)
2 drops Sandalwood or Patchouli Essential Oil (optional)
Directions:
Blend all the ingredients until you have a paste.  After your bath and dry off, roll the mixture over your body.  Massage into dry skin areas.  Once dried brush off the dust.  Wipe with a dry soft cloth. (these are the original instructions, it also works great as a regular shower scrub.) 
For the Ground Citrus Peel, I peel a couple oranges or mandarins and tear the peel into smallish pieces.  Lay them out on a plate or tray and let sit in the sun, with good air flow for a day or two. Until completely dried out, they will snap when you break them in your hands.  You can also place in a low temperature oven for an hour or so.  Toss into the blender on grind, or food processor (same thing for the almonds, oatmeal and petals, each individually).  I store the excess in a airtight container and then can easily whip up the scrub as needed.

Hair
Believe it or not your hair takes a beating in temperature changes as well.  Extra long hot showers, more frequent blow drying, getting tangled in scarves and ear warmers...  It needs a little TLC also!  Anywhere you look, especially on Pinterest, people are going batty for Coconut Oil!  They have come up with millions of uses from head to toe and various household chores as well.  One of the most popular recommendations is for hair treatments.  In my experience Castor Oil is much better, and I highly recommend it if your skin is having trouble absorbing moisture.  The only downside is it does not smell that great and its sticky consistency does not give much desire to lather yourself in it.  Thankfully, it is the perfect companion to the many uses of Coconut Oil as Coconut Oil tends to sit on the surface of your skin.  I recommend for any Coconut Oil Beauty recipe you want to try add a little Castor Oil as well.  You do not need a lot, and it will really make a difference.

Hair Mask Treatment yields about 5 treatments
Ingredients:
1/4 Cup Coconut Oil
2 TBSP Sweet Almond Oil
1 TBSP Castor Oil
Rosemary, Thyme and Lavender Essential Oils or Dried Herbs
Directions:
Essential Oils-Warm the Coconut, Almond and Castor Oils in a Double Boiler, on low heat, whisk together.  Remove from the heat before adding the essential oils.  Pour into a clean glass jar.
Dried Herbs-You will need a small handful of each herb.  Remove the wood stems from the herbs and chop, Warm the Coconut, Almond and Castor Oils in a Double Boiler, on low heat, whisk together.  Add the chopped herbs to the oil mixture and cover with a lid.  Let simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Strain the oil while still warm and pour into a clean glass jar.
To use-Massage about 2 TBSP of the oil into your hair starting at the scalp, then massaging into the rest of your hair.  Let sit for at least an hour, all day if you can.  Wash and style per usual.

Lips
My sister turned me onto the most incredible Lip Balm.  It is completely natural, stays on your lips, is not sticky... absolute perfection.  The best part you can make it at home.  This is the recipe that she found online.  I CANNOT get enough of this stuff!

Let me know about your winter remedies, and if you tried any of these recipes!
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