One of the many benefits of living in Hawaii is living on an active volcano with naturally heated pools. Recently, I was enjoying the hot springs at Ahalanui Park in the Puna District of Big Island. This lush park features a thermally heated mineral pond that is situated right on the ocean. It’s a perfect spot for a picnic lunch and a relaxing soak. As I succumb to an incomparable feeling of relaxation, I overheard some island visitors wishing they had time for a much needed facial. I couldn’t resist the conversation and informed them we have some of the most incredible spas in the world. Our island offers many unique and beneficial topical skin treatments from coffee and chocolate masks to coconut body scrubs. Due to their time limitation, what my new friends needed was some quick-fix advice for their skin needs.
Unfortunately, air travel can wreak havoc to our skin. Add to that the unavoidable experience of jet lag, stress, fast food and hours of breathing the germ-laden air in the airplane cabin. It’s not a wonder travelers often deplane dehydrated with blotchy skin, puffy eyes and swollen ankles. My new friends were feeling all of the above. My advice to them was to find fruit, oils, and food products available to them from the farmers market or our local restaurants. Instead of neglecting their skin while traveling, they could take care of their skin the same time they take care of their internal needs.
Local resident Mandi Newton is a graduate from Brighid’s Academy of Healing Arts in Cheshire, Oregon where she studied plants and botanicals. Her studies focused on internal and external Celtic and Western herbal medicine. She is the founder of Kona Botanicals and teaches local residents how to make their own skin care products. This knowledge combines ancient and modern beauty practices using the nourishment from the foods we eat to benefit the external well being of the body. In her workshop, I learned to make natural products for the purpose of putting nutrients back into my skin and hair.
For as long as women have been cooking, they’ve been whipping up their own skin care concoctions in the kitchen. With ingredients like fresh fruit from a nearby orchard or smashed tomatoes from a local farmers market, you can make skin care potions that smell good, feel good, and do good from foods rich in enzymes that can peel away dead skin cells to foods high in antioxidants and vitamins to improve your skins condition. Food based emollients smoothed onto our skin such as avocados, yogurt, bananas, coffee, papaya, honey, olive oil, and even peanut butter. These foods can also be blended with oils, vitamins and dairy products to maximize the benefits and allow quicker penetration into our skin.
Foods to use on the go:
- Olive oil is extremely moisturizing but very light, and is safe for even sensitive skin.
- Papaya contains an enzyme called papain that has the capacity to dissolve the topmost layer of the skin, which is made up of tightly compacted dead cells that can give the face a rough, dull texture.
- Coffee is touted as having a tightening effect on the skin when it is applied and the rough grains of ground coffee serve as a skin exfoliant.
- Honey is very nourishing and hydrating and has been used for centuries as a dressing on burns and open wounds because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Sugar, unlike salt granules, doesn’t sting on a shaving nick or mosquito bite. It’s an excellent cleansing and moisturizing treatment for sensitive skin.
- Tomatoes have a reputation as both an astringent and acne treatment. The pulp or juice of a tomato combined with a few drops of lemon can be used for “on the spot” pimple treatment.
- Aloe vera is a great anti-inflammatory and it soothes dry skin.
- Avocadoes are cooling and nourishing to sensitive skin.
- Bananas nourish, soothe, tighten and can make skin supple due to its high potassium level.
- Coconut is a great cleanser, exfoliant, and moisturizer due to its emollient lipids.
- Lemon whitens age spots (use in diluted form due to high acidic potency); it can refresh and revive the mind and body.
- Milk (yogurt, buttermilk, cream) is high in moisturizing lipids.
- Beer helps condition skin and loosens dead skin cells.
- Eggs are extremely tightening—a great skin toner, conditioner and adds texture to the skin.
- Peanut butter is great for dry skin (best to use creamy)
- Strawberries helps to reduce acne; use as a spot treatment when a pimple appears.
Throughout the ages, women have experimented with beauty treatments to enhance natural features, slow the aging process, and care for the outer body. In Ancient Egypt, men applied a powdered pigment made from mixing fat and oil and other substances to protect their eyes from the sun. Persians believed that henna dyes, used to stain their hair and faces, allowed them to summon the majesty of the earth. The Romans used oil-based perfumes made from ingredients such as flowers, roots, fruits, rinds or barks, or any other natural aromatic substance in their baths. In Elizabethan England, women wore egg whites all over their faces to create a glazed look. By the 1960s, the growing popularity of natural products were based on botanical ingredients like carrot juice and watermelon extract.
Mandi was frustrated with companies claiming to be “natural” when so many of their ingredients were not healthful at all. She was amazed by the toxic ingredients universally used and wanted to learn about pure and effective products without the addition of toxic ingredients. So that’s precisely what she has done. She teaches a series of educational workshops focusing on making your own cosmetics at home using local foods. She says if you choose to mix your own skin care products make sure the ingredients are organic, the fruit or vegetable is very fresh, and really clean. The ingredients should not be kept in the refrigerator for too long as they can lose their benefits. In general, recipes you make should be used immediately or refrigerated and used within hours. Always do a patch test for allergies and dilute your ingredients, working your way up to a desired skin care result.
Today we are lucky to have so many choices when it comes to our skin care. I advised my new friends to eat a well-balanced diet, including our local fresh fish; and when they get back to their hotel room give themselves a fresh banana sugar scrub with a honey and egg mask. Their shower or bath time will no longer be just for cleansing, it will now be prime time to indulge in a spa like exfoliation that restores and re-energizes their skin. Applying food to your face and to the rest of you is becoming more and more of a trend as more spa and day spas are recognizing the benefits. Botanical, edible, and natural ingredients have found their way into the skin care market. The fresher the ingredient, the better it will be for your skin. Rather than going to the skin care isle for your beauty products, take a trip to the farmers market for natural beauty ingredients.
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 yolk of an egg
- Few drops of oil (olive, grapeseed)
Mix ingredients in a small bowl, stir and apply to face. Next, take a warm wet towel and apply over face. Allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove towel and rinse.
Banana Sugar Scrub
- 1 ripe banana
- 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar
Mash ingredients together with a fork into a chunky paste. Do not over-mix. In the shower, slather the sugar mixture and gently massage over your body. For your face, gently massage with just mashed banana, avoiding the eye area. Rinse off with warm water.