Winters in Colorado are pretty dry. So are summers, for that matter, but the time spent inside with the furnace going really does a number on my skin.
For the most part lotions don't do the trick. Most are waxy to some degree, and the unpronounceable ingredients in many commercial ones make me shudder. After all, whatever you put on your skin is absorbed into your body.
A thick, buttery lotion is nice for hands that go through a lot in the kitchen and garden. In that case beeswax is a good addition, as it creates a helpful barrier when you're up to your elbows in soapy water or digging in the dirt. But for the rest of the epidermis I vote for scented oil. Above is my current basketful of scents.
Jojoba oil is supposed to be the most like the oil your skin produces. That makes it a great carrier oil in the summer, as it's light and easily absorbed. In the winter I mix jojoba and hazelnut oils. Sometimes I use almond instead of the hazelnut -- it depends on what I have. None smell particularly of nuts or affect the aroma of the added essential oils.
In the winter some nice additions are:
- clove and orange
- fir and lemon
Rosemary and peppermint together create a cool glow that's perfect for summer heat. Stay away from citrus in the summer if you plan to be outside, as those oils tend to make skin more sensitive to sunlight (and more prone to burn, even after applying sunscreen).
Year round consider:
- lavender and basil
- lavender and thyme
Using essential oils rather than fragrance oils is important. Again, they are absorbed into the body when applied to the skin. The effects generally reflect the aromatherapy benefits, an added bonus to the moisturizing qualities of the carrier oils. So applying lavender body oil after an evening bath may help you sleep. Clove and orange is a great combination for a massage. And a combination of peppermint, tea tree, eucalyptus and rosemary -- my Wake Up combo for both oil and soap -- can banish sleepiness and launch you into your day.
Remember that if you have particularly sensitive skin, or are allergic to any of the plants that the essential oils are derived from, you shouldn't apply it to your skin. And never, EVER apply a full strength essential oil directly to your skin. They are volatile, distilled, and very, very strong. Always dilute them with a carrier oil. Here is a list of dangerous essential oils to avoid putting on your skin.
Begin by adding a half teaspoon of essential oil to four ounces of carrier oil. For some scents you'll end up wanting to use more, but that's a good place to start. Lavender and tea tree are among the safest and most beneficial oils to put on your skin.
You can get essential oils at most natural food stores anymore, but if you plan to use them a lot then buying them online can save you big bucks. Here are my usual online sources for good quality oils and so many other handmade toiletry ingredients:
From Nature with Love (New York)
Snowdrift Farm (Arizona)
Camden Grey (Florida)
Glory Bee (Oregon) (also have very good melt-and-pour soap base)
Mystic Mountain Sage (Utah)
Friday look for a quick recipe for refried beans!
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