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August 2005

Beauty from the Earth: Natural Care for Skin and Hair in the Heat of Summer

By Lisa Berry

After a long winter, we are all eager to get out into the sun. It is so easy to run out of the house and forget to protect our skin from the sun's rays. Even on a cloudy day we still need protection.

It is always best to make sure that you are using an SPF in your moisturizer, even under a foundation. Lipsticks are now incorporating SPF for lip protection. Unfortunately the sun's harsh rays can really affect the skin. Some signs are noticeable right away and others may take years to appear. Sun spots, which are little brown patches on the skin, can appear days after tanning. These trouble spots can be reduced or even disappear with a bleach which is not natural but works. The sun can also make the skin look like leather, so we must make sure that we apply a good moisturizer after sunning. And remember when swimming that a sunscreen should be applied often.

Chemicalized lotions get absorbed into the skin over time so it is best to look for a natural product. And recently, some physicians are now suggesting it is the chemicals in traditional sunscreens that are contributing to the skin cancer epidemic. Green tea is being used in oils now to help protect against skin cancer. It is combined with minerals not chemicals. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which are derived from clay, are used to reflect damaging ultraviolet rays.

For sun worshipers there are a lot of natural oils that can be used on the skin for a golden brown tone. One of my favorites was found on a trip to Hawaii. The base oil was Macadamia nut oil which is one of the best moisturizers for the skin, incorporated with coffee. Kona coffee softens skin and helps prevent premature aging, while the caffeine and EGCG neutralize free-radical damage due to over exposure from sun. Also coffee acts as a sun accelerator. Accelerators quicken the time that it takes for your skin to achieve color.

Getting the tan is only the first step - the second is to keep it as long as possible. The best way to keep your summer glow is to hydrate your skin. Using a rich moisturizer after sunning will help rehydrate your skin. Aloe Vera will cool and calm the skin. Calendula is a wonderful way to soothe and cool the skin and will help prevent peeling.

And let's not forget our hair. Hair follicles get dehydrated from overexposure to the sun. One way to put that moisture back in is to heat a little olive oil in the microwave to a medium temperature. Rub oil throughout the hair to the ends, wrap a towel that has just come out of the dryer around your head, and leave it on for about 15 minutes. Shampoo as normal. Your hair should come out feeling nice and silky. Also wearing a hat helps protect your hair and face all at once.

Also remember that this care does not apply to just summer, but also winter where the sun reflects off the snow and we tend to get wind burn.

Lisa Berry is the President of Ravenwood, an international, Traverse City based company which creates aromatherapy products with plant extracts, botanical herbs and pure essential oils. www.ravenwoodspa.com; 1-800-777-5021.

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