Holistic is a word that is thrown around in the media so often these days that one has to be cautious to avoid getting duped by cheap gimmicks. Let’s go to the roots of the word “holistic.” It is derived from the ancient word (in Greek or Latin) meaning wholeness, oneness or completion. So when you are in search of holistic preparations for skin and hair care, it will do you no good to look at the state of your skin, hair or nails as an singular problem to be “fixed” in isolation from the rest of your being. You must look at all aspects of your life, ranging from your nutrition to your environment to find a “holistic” solution to your problem. Life does not always happen in tidy compartments; a problem in your home may start to affect your performance at work, your platonic relationships, your health regimen and consequently your skin. However, for the purposes of this presentation, we will focus on natural preparations and remedies that can revolutionize your skincare.
1. Feed Your Skin From the Inside Out
Remember that skin is formed and regenerated from within your body and not outside of it. Our newest layer of skin is not yet visible to the eye. Feed it well and in a month or two you will have a gorgeous visible layer of glowingly healthy skin. This means The Lost Book of Herbal lots of fruits, vegetables, and water. The more raw and organic produce you consume, the better. Minimize your intake of meat, dairy products and refined foods like sugar and white flour. Try drinking 24 ounces of fresh squeezed fruit or veggie juices each day. Make a point of having one meal of just raw fruit or vegetables each day. Try a purifying diet once a week, by limiting yourself to just fruits, vegetables and water. Try eating like this for at least one week every few months just to cleanse your system. Fresh foods contain all kinds of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes that can only be absorbed internally that are fundamental to creating healthy skin. Avoid sugary and caffeinated drinks as they will further dehydrate your skin. Try substituting coffee and sodas with hot or cold herbal teas. Once you get used to them your cravings for carbonated and caffeinated beverages will stop, and you will grow to love the taste and benefits of herbal teas. I recommend that you read David Wolfe’s “Eating for Beauty” to find out more about some of the most beautifying foods and herbs available.
2. Cleanse Your Colon
I know you’re thinking “What does going to the bathroom have to do with good skin?” However remember that going to the bathroom is a natural part of a healthy lifestyle, and a healthy bowel movement eliminates wastes and toxins from the body. Any naturopath or holistic physician will tell you that you should be moving your bowels at least twice a day. The optimum would be to have as many movements as you do meals. What the body cannot eliminate through the colon, will seep out through the skin. Juice fasting helps to loosen and eliminate accumulated waste. It is important to either self-administer enemas, or to get a colonic for every day that you are fasting, to help you remove waste matter and to prevent it from getting reabsorbed into your bloodstream and general system, as peristalsis, and therefore bowel movements) stop when you are not eating solid food for more than a day. There are also many herbal regimes that can be done to help you cleanse your colon.
Sweating is so good for your skin. Sweating helps to eliminate toxins from the skin. Exercise also increases blood circulation to the skin, which brings fresh oxygen and nutrients to the outer layer that we can actually see. In both the short term and the long run, cardiovascular exercise promotes healthy skin and hair. You also tend to drink more water when you exercise than when you don’t. Just make sure you drink before, during and after your session to adequately replenish all fluids lost through perspiration.
3. Stop Smoking
Cigarette smoke reduces the amount of oxygen (in the bloodstream) available to your cells. Many people who stop smoking notice a significant improvement in the tone, texture and clarity of their skin within just a few weeks.
If you have the good fortune of having access to a sauna (hot or dry) I recommend that you sit in it as often as possible. The detoxifying effects do amazing things for your skin, body and mood. You can also take hot baths 3 times a week, and steam your face with herbs and essential oils once a week if you can’t get to a spa.
Yoga not only exercises the spine, muscles and tendons through deep stretching, it also works the organs and glands. Most people with a regular practice (4x /week or more) report a significant difference in the clarity of their skin. Yogis are frequently complimented for the healthy glow in their skin. Yoga also relaxes the mind and the less stress you have in your life, the slower you age.
6. Herbs and Supplements
Used both internally and externally, herbs can do wonders for your skin. Put them in your bath. Sip on herbal blends all day long. Use herbal body products. You will start to notice a difference in your skin within a few months, (or sooner if you consume them in conjunction with some of the other actions mentioned on this list.) Reishi, camu camu, goji berries, tumeric and aloe vera, to name but a few, are highly beautifying for the skin and hair
Never underestimate the power of essential oils to heal problem skin. Essential oils also work on emotional issues and can be very invigorating or relaxing depending on how they are used. Add just a few drops to your bathwater, oil burner, and favorite shower gel or body lotion and feel the difference. Remember to never apply them directly to the skin, and to always dilute them first. “The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy’ by Valerie Anne Wormwood is a great book for beginners.
7. Cleanse, Polish and Moisturize
These are the ABC’S of any skincare regime. These are the only external things that you can do to make a visible difference in your skin. Use mild soaps without any harsh additives, e.g. castile soap. Tone with alcohol free liquids. Lavender hydrosol, floral waters or witch hazel are great natural and inexpensive alternatives to conventional toners. Exfoliate the skin regularly. Use aromatherapy salt or sugar scrubs on the body, and use gentle ayate cloths, apricot kernel meal or cornmeal on the face. Moisturize with a light lotion during the day and a heavier cream at night. I used to use aloe vera gel during the day and shea butter (unrefined) overnight. I recently, however, was introduced to and fell in love with the Lluvia skincare line from the Amazon Herb company. It has an extremely gentle cleanser and exfoliator.
The camu camu serum and the deep nourishing oil practically steal the show, with their intense ability to regenerate collagen and diminish wrinkling. They impart a youthful glow to skin of all ages and types. Forevergreen has also recently come out with a new line of skin care, Secresea, that includes their trademark marine phytoplankton as the principal active ingredient. The youth serum of this line is not to be missed, as it is highly effective in regenerating aging skin, problem skin (e.g. acne) and has been used to accelerate healing of wounds, burns and cuts. Whether you want to go high end, inexpensive or just plain make it yourself, there are many great products on the market today.
8. Stop Using Petroleum Products
This should be self-explanatory. Stop putting gasoline on your skin. Most petroleum derived ingredients and preservatives have been proven to; be carcinogenic, cause birth defects and create cosmetic problems for the skin. The reference book stated in step 10, is a great guide to be able to recognize such culprits on any ingredient list.
9. Be Positive
Stress frequently shows up in your body as a skin disorder. Take care of your mental and emotional health and remember your spirit.
10. Stay Informed
We live in a very exciting time where we have access to information and products from all over the world, and often at great prices. There are so many new discoveries in the field of botanicals and cosmeceuticals that it would be a shame not to stay informed. Also, to avoid being taken harsh chemicals masquerading as natural products in bottles that say “organic and natural”, be sure to read “What’s In Your Cosmetics?” by Aubrey Hampton. There are also numerous books and websites on the market that can easily educate you on how to make your own products, or on the cosmetic benefits of the abundance of botanicals to which we are now exposed.