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Rosemary, grown in Spain, Morocco, Tunisia, and Turkey, is the symbol of eternity. Thus it was often planted near tombs. Rosemary is frequently associated with enhancing memories, as in Shakespeare’s Hamlet when Ophelia says, “There is rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” The name of rosemary derives from the Latin ros marinus, meaning sea dew.
Antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, and an aid for baldness, rosemary is widely used in skin and hair care products. Rosemary oil is camphoraceous (i.e., contains camphor) and blends well with peppermint and lavender. It is eye opening and invigorating as a bath oil.
I prefer it best in cleansers, especially with seaweeds because the combination leaves your skin feeling squeaky clean. Also, after the cleanser is rinsed off, there is a reminiscence of the rosemary that feels divine. Rosemary is also great for aching muscles and pimples. It is also perfect for a hair rinse, especially for brunettes. You can just put several drops in with your rinse water. It stimulates the scalp, helps with dandruff, and removes any product buildup in your hair.
I often put rosemary in my bath in the morning because it is stimulating and refreshing. I also like adding it to my kukui, lily, and lavender oils, and applying it to my hair often as a hot-oil treatment or just a few drops to freshly shampooed hair for shine and manageability.
The oil is obtained by distillation and is often used in the scenting of soaps and colognes. Rosemary is thought to be an excellent nerve stimulant, the one word I would use for rosemary.
Peppermint oil is probably the most popular essential oil in the world. Its high content of menthol makes it both very soothing and cooling. It is an anti-depressant, stimulates the mind, and yet helps calm an overactive mind. Tisserand says, “If you think too much, or have a hot head, it will cool you down.” [Tisserand, The Art of Aromatherapy, p. 272.] Peppermint is antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antitoxic, a cleanser, and is used for varicose veins and aching muscles. I like it in aftershaves, cleansing products, shampoos, and for an invigorating bath. Go easy. A drop or two will do. I have irritated my skin putting too much in a bath. I like to use it when I fly to keep me refreshed. I find that using the peppermint oil “aromatherapeutically” and drinking lots of water help prevent the negative effects of traveling.
Dilute peppermint oil; do not use “neat” or full strength; 2% is often enough.
To soften, cleanse, and refresh skin, make a mixture of two tablespoons honey with one-half teaspoon organic vinegar and one-half teaspoon lemon juice. Mix well and apply to the face. Leave on for one-half hour. Do this daily to restore a youthful appearance. It aids in cleansing, protecting, and drawing moisture to your skin.
Honey is a perfect base for masks. You can use honey alone or you could make thousands of different kinds of masks. Try grinding to a powder the following herbs and mixing them with honey to make a paste to apply to your face: lily, lavender, rose, chamomile, and calendula. Or come up with your own herbal blend.
Try any of the following or apply honey to your face alone:
Use two tablespoons honey and add a few drops of one of the following essential oils: rose, blue chamomile, lavender, or ylang ylang.
Use equal parts of honey, yogurt, and your favorite powdered herb and apply to your face.
Try equal parts of honey, milk, and powdered lavender.
Try equal parts of honey and oatmeal.
Try equal parts of honey and freshly peeled papaya.
Lavender essential oil is oil distilled from the lavender flower. Today, the largest percentage of the blooms goes into perfume products. One acre of lavender yields 15 to 20 pounds of oil. It is very popular and enjoyable to put a few drops in a bath or to simply enjoy as a perfume.
Add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to one cup of rose water. This can be used to tone oily skin, as well as after shampooing to restore the hair’s acid balance.
1 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh or dried rose flowers
1 cup purified water
Heat the rose flowers with the vinegar and water. Bring to a boil and steep for 30 minutes. After cooling, place mixture in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and let sit for two weeks. Strain the rose flowers from the vinegar and use the liquid for bath, hair rinse, or facial soak.
For a vinegar facial soak, heat the rose vinegar slowly until it is a comfortable temperature to apply to the skin. Soak a clean, warm washcloth in the vinegar and lay over the face for five minutes, each time redipping the washcloth to reapply. For best results, keep the washcloth on the skin for a total of 20 minutes. This is an excellent exfoliant and skin stimulant.
It appears that what accounts most for successful aging is simply a good attitude, a lust for living, resilience, an optimistic outlook, and an active lifestyle.
I have been lucky to have some really good role models in this area. My mother paid so little attention to how old she was that when she was asked her age, she always had to calculate back from the year she was born. Hence, the message was that it wasn’t important enough to walk around with it in your head, and it wasn’t anything to hide or be ashamed of. I’ve always thought if you lie about your age, then people may think you look really bad for the age you claim to be.
We are very fortunate in this day and age to know that we can look and be terrific until the day we die.
There are so many fantastic role models out there for us. Examples are Katharine Hepburn, Margaret Thatcher, and Georgia O’Keeffe.
How it used to be
According to Den Dychtwald, the author of Age Wave, “Throughout 99 percent of all the years that humans have walked this planet, the life expectancy was under 18 years. We have never before had a mass population of older people. Until very recently, most people didn’t age, they died.” [Den Dychtwald, Age Wave, Los Angeles, CA, and New York, NY: J. P. Tarcher Publisher, 1989.]
He continues, “How drastic an effect this will have on our lives and the traditional or middle-class values and mentalities. Life used to be so linear. You graduated from school; you maybe lost a few years dating, going to Europe, or tripping around in jobs; then you settled down and got married, bought a house, had a baby, spent 20-30 years raising them; and then if you were really lucky, you had a pension and you retired.”
More options today
Life for all of us can be much more promising, much more interesting, and much more flexible than that scenario. Many baby boomers have lived a 20 to 30-year adolescence, not really committing to jobs, children, or spouses. No generation before us has ever had such an extended youth and the opportunities available to enjoy true health and wealth. We have been offered so many options by this extended life span.
Aging really is all in your perception. Think you’re old and you are. Think you’re young and you are. I have seen so many people hit 40 and you can almost see them age and collapse before your very eyes in the length of time it takes them to tell you the sad story of how awful it is. And the entire time I’m thinking, “Hmm, two months ago you weren’t that much younger, but you sure were a lot more interesting, a lot more fun. I don’t get it; you’re only two months older than you were last time I saw you, and your life didn’t look so bleak then.”
It’s just getting stuck in your own negative and small universe. Open up! Smile! Do what makes you happy! Take excellent care of yourself, love yourself, and treat yourself to what you know will make you look and feel better. Take control, quit whining, get busy, and help someone less fortunate than yourself.
Whining about your age should be one of the mortal sins; forbidding it should be the eleventh commandment. After Buddha said, “Be a lamp unto yourself,” I think he should have added, “Thank God every morning for the continued gift of life.”
Whining about your age is spitting in the Creator’s face; it’s saying, “Hey, I’m sad you let me continue to live.” I mean, if death is sad, then shouldn’t life be good? Isn’t that why we celebrate birthdays? Hey, one more year. Thank you, God. I am going to get with my close friends and celebrate my good fortune of continued life.
Complaining about age doesn’t make sense. It is not even a problem, therefore it cannot have a solution.
Now, I am not saying people can’t whine about not feeling good, health problems, and life’s frustrations. But to complain only because you haven’t died yet is ridiculous.
My theory on age is that since we have a life expectancy of at least ten more years than when we did when we were born, we can employ this: If you are 50, well, then you are really only 40, and if you are 40, 30, and if you are 30, you are only 20. It’s all in your head, so employ my theory and feel ten years younger. It’s the truth, you really do have ten more years, so start enjoying your windfall now, today! Why wait until the ten years between 80 and 90? Get your extra ten years in now.
Baby boomers are the luckiest generation ever. Up until the early 1970s, turning 30 was a drastic sign of aging for a woman, and God forbid if you hadn’t snagged a husband yet. You were too old to have children. I escaped the dreaded aging game, which is demonstrated by the old saying, “A beautiful woman dies twice, once when she loses her looks and again when they bury her.”
Perhaps I never thought of myself as the least bit attractive; I knew “my good looks” were not going to open doors for me. Good looks do open doors, and they get you invited in, but I don’t think they get you invited back for the important events. So I figured I had to develop my brains. I had the good fortune of teachers, counselors, and tests telling me I had brains. (An interesting caveat to all this is if you ask my high school chums, they would not confirm I was that unattractive, and if you ask my family, they would not confirm anyone told me I was that smart—but don’t ever underestimate the power of perception. My perception was that I was not attractive, and so maybe I had to cling to the fact I was smart, because I had to have something going for me.)
We are the luckiest generation of women in the history of the world. Look at how drastically better our lives are than our mothers. This is not to say that a lot of our mothers weren’t really happy with their lives, but you had better have wanted children and a husband, and you better have landed yourself a good one.
Women my age are even more lucky. We had so many role models, so many women around who were 10 to 40 or more years older than us, beautiful, brainy, and sexy, letting us know that we too could look good at their ages.
So let’s get up each morning and before we start our busy days, let’s take a moment to thank God for this precious gift of life. Let’s thank God that we as American women have it better than any other women on the planet, and better than any other women in history.
If all this doesn’t help, here are some cold facts: About 80% of Americans live normal active lives until the end of their lives. Disease, incontinence, cataracts, depression, and senility are not a normal part of aging among most Americans.
If, for one minute, you think you are too old to accomplish your dreams, consider the following from The Speaker’s Sourcebook by Glenn Van Ekeren:
George Burns did not receive his first Oscar until he was 80.
Golda Meir did not become prime minister of Israel until she was 71.
Michelangelo was 71 when he painted the Sistine Chapel.
Grandma Moses did not start painting until she was 80; she completed over 1500 paintings and over 300 of those were done after she was 100.
At 58, Doc Counsilman became the oldest person to swim the English Channel. [Glenn Van Ekeren, The Speaker’s Sourcebook, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1998.]
Jack London had it right
“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not spend my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”
The trick, I think, is to live fully in beauty, health, and happiness your entire life, from beginning to end, thanking your Maker for each and every moment you are given life on earth.
The good news is that people with dry skin seldom have to suffer from acne when they are young. The bad news is they may pay a price as they get older.
Dry skin can be especially difficult to deal with in cold and dry climates such as Colorado’s. Most people here have dry skin. The situation is even more extreme in New Mexico. A good moisturizer is worth its weight in gold under these conditions.
Low moisture is one major reason for dry skin. This can occur as the result of age, climate, race, general disposition, excessive cleansing, or physiologic factors. Constant lubrication of the skin is absolutely necessary if you don’t want a dried-out, wrinkled prune face.
Dry skin responds well to oils and heavy creams. You need to apply enough moisturizer to give your face and body the elasticity they need to function without straining the skin. You need to make sure that when you smile, your face doesn’t feel like it’s going to crack.
Traditional tried-and-true remedies to help combat dryness of the skin include taking herbal teas with reputations for improving the blood, such as sarsaparilla, burdock, yellow dock, and nettle. Also:
Eat lots of nuts and high-quality vegetable oils.
Cleanse the skin with a non-drying cleanser ensuring that all debris of dead skin is removed.
Use a moisturizer, such as a cream or lotion.
After the cream soaks in, apply a nut or vegetable oil with a tissue and pat off the excess; allow the rest to soak in.
Rub the inside of an avocado skin all over a clean face and let sit for twenty minutes to moisturize and nourish dry skin.
Take vitamin E internally and apply externally.
Take evening primrose oil and apply topically.
Drink aloe juice and apply topically.
Add a cup or two of cider vinegar to your bath.
Use a bag of oatmeal as a wash cloth.
Give your skin a break; only wear natural fabrics: cotton, linen, and wool.
Make a fresh apple juice and brewer’s yeast mask by blending together into a paste.
Add one tablespoon of brewer’s yeast to eight ounces fresh apple juice for a daily drink.
Put a humidifier in your bedroom to provide moisture while you sleep.
Take unsaturated fatty acid oils or GLA; taking zinc supplements also is helpful.
Remember, dry skin loves:
Rosehip seed oil (topically only)
Wheat germ oil
Kukui oil (topically only)
Further suggestions for improving your skin:
Exercise; get lots of fresh air and sunshine; walk, skip, hike, take deep breaths of air; get your circulation going.
Use botanical enzyme masks or just apply fresh pineapple and papaya to the skin.
Do yoga; especially postures that reverse the body: headstand, plow, and shoulder stand; a milder way is to lie on a slant board.
Frequently moisturize; carry moisturizer with you at all times.
Frequently hydrate with moisture mists.
Do seasonal internal cleansings.
Think kind thoughts; among its many benefits, it gives you a softer look.
Use products that contain horsetail, coltsfoot, rosehip seed, and primrose oil.
Use a skin brush or a loofah sponge to remove dead skin from your limbs and stimulate circulation.
Avoid synthetic chemicals as much as possible because those of you with dry skin don’t have as much sebum on your face. It is less acidic and, therefore, doesn’t have as much of a protective barrier as oily skin. This is one reason you are so much more sensitive to products than your more oily-skinned sisters.
Make a dry skin therapy oil containing frankincense, myrrh, patchouli, and sandalwood, diluted in almond oil. Apply to areas of dry skin.
Mix any of these essential oils with pure sweet almond oil for dry skin during cold weather:
Camphor is anti-inflammatory, helps stimulate the skin, reduces pain, and acts as a sedative. A gum, it is a very soothing ingredient at low levels in skin care products. It makes a nice addition to many perfumes and calms the mind. It is used to reduce tired and sore muscles. It is excellent in cleansers for its clean and classic scent.
The word propolis, meaning “defenses before a town,” comes from the Greek. It is one of the bee’s building materials. The bees use this sticky substance in making and repairing their hives. The raw material is a resinous substance exuded by the leaf buds of trees such as the horse chestnut and poplar, and is found in cracks in the bark of trees such as spruce, larch, and other conifers. The bees collect it, take it back to the hive, and use it as a cement. In addition, whenever a foreign insect is in the hive, the bees encase it in propolis; because of its antibacterial qualities, the propolis disinfects the foreign object, thus protecting the hive and its occupants.
According to Propolis, the Natural Antibiotic by Ray Hill [Ray Hill, Propolis, the Natural Antibiotic, Wellingborough, Northhamptonshire, England: Thorsons Publishers Limited, 1981.], propolis is a sticky substance which protects leaf buds and prevents them from drying out. Its biologically active components may vary according to its plant source. A test of propolis collected in fifteen different districts of the USSR showed uniform constituents, the approximate breakdown of which was 50 to 55% resin and balsam, up to 30% wax, about 8 to 10% fragrant essential oils, and about 5% solid matter. It is said to be rich in fats, amino acids, organic acids, composite ethers of univalents alcohols, and trace elements such as iron, copper, tannic acid, phytocides, and antibiotics.
The antibiotic properties of propolis are believed to come from the flavonoids it contains, particularly galangin. The name comes from galingale, an aromatic plant root from the East, which is related to ginger and has always been used medicinally. Plants containing flavonoids have been used as healing agents for centuries before these active substances were ever scientifically identified.
According to Ray Hill, it was quite accidental that Dr. Lavie, while studying the natural biochemical defense of insects, learned that bees killed recently and put into a liquid medium without any preservative developed no bacteria. Dr. Lavie proved that the bees and their surroundings provided over seven antibiotics.
Interestingly, Dr. Lavie found that extracts he made from the buds of poplar tree resin were identical in chemical consistency and potency to the propolis.
Propolis can be valuable for anything involving bacteria or germs. It is said that any propolis treatment should work within three weeks or it is not going to work. The best way I have found to extract the properties from propolis is through an alcohol/water extraction. You can apply it with the alcohol, or you can slowly heat it, after straining, to evaporate the alcohol. Be careful never to get it too hot; many chemical constituents are heat sensitive.
Because of its anti-bacterial properties, propolis has received rave reviews for blemishes. Bee propolis in a product helps keep the skin clean and free from germs. For serious blemishes or acne, it can be applied topically as well as taken internally.
Propolis is often recommended for dry eczema with wonderful results; however, it has been known to aggravate wet eczema. It is also an age-old remedy for corns. Apply a propolis cream with a small gauze pad.
In the first century A.D., Pliny mentioned the uses of bee propolis. His recommendations included to reduce swelling, to soothe pain, and to heal sores when they seemed hopeless to mend. In Russia during World War II, propolis was applied to wounds.
Propolis ointment was often recommended for second-degree burns, and healing took place without scarring. Propolis has a stimulating effect and works with the skin’s natural regenerative process.
I use bee propolis in many of my products; I find it most advantageous in astringents, creams, and products for blemishes.
Caution: About 0.05% of the population is allergic to propolis.