Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Relaxing 4th of July

     So, here it is, July 4, 2012, and I'm sitting on the patio, enjoying the back yard.
     First thing this a.m., hubby Steve and I got out our chairs and sat in the grass enjoying our morning coffee. I splurged this morning and made myself a Salted Caramel Macchiato. Maybe not as good as the ones you can get at Starbucks or ZoJo's downtown, but still quite tasty. The grass needs to be mowed and the long, cool blades tickled my bare feet. We chatted about the ideas we have for the different decks we'd like to build in the yard and enjoyed the 62 degree temperature. We noted how thankful we are to be living in the Pacific Northwest. So many people in other states are suffering heat waves, flash floods and fires. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them.
     After an hour or so, we went inside and I made a hearty breakfast. A few hours later, here I am. It's now 80 degrees, but I am comfy under the shade of the umbrella over the table on the patio.
     I am trying to catch up on some magazine reading. My first choice is the Spring 2012 issue of "The Herb Quarterly." I'm only on Page 17, but decided to share some of the natural skin toner recipes from an article written by Janice Cox. She is the author of "Natural Beauty at Home." For more on her, visit her website
     Janice notes that toners play an important role in a natural skin-care routine. "They clean the surface of the face and help remove impurities and dead cells, they tighten pores, and they restore the skin's natural pH levels."
   They do their best work when applied after you wash your face, but before you apply moisturizer, she writes. And why, you might ask? Her reply: "Because the cleaner the surface of your skin, the more efficiently it absorbs and retains hydration."
    The best toner is pure, cool water. Witch hazel is another gentle and effective astringent that tightens the skin. According to Janice, other popular natural toners include green tea, apple juice and diluted lemon juice.
    For people with sensitive skin or dry skin, she suggests limiting the use of commercial-brand astringents or dilute them with water.
    Now, on to her recipes. 
    The first one is for a Honey Toner. She notes that honey "is a known skin healer and softener." She suggests if you have a breakout, that you put a small dab of honey on it in the evening to help it heal. Good to know.

Honey Toner
     1 tablespoon honey
     1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
     3 tablespoons witch hazel

     Mix all ingredients and stir well. Pour into a clean container.
     To use: Apply to clean skin with a cotton pad after cleansing. This toner may feel a bit sticky at first, but the stickiness tends to disappear the longer the solution sits. At first you might want to splash a bit of cold water on your face after using.
     Yield: 2 ounces

     Janice writes that fresh cucumber juice is a natural astringent that all skin types can use. Cucumber also can be used in a mild tonic for sunburned skin. She advises that this mixture be stored in the refrigerator between uses because cucumber juice spoils easily.

 Cooling Cucumber Tonic
     1/4 cup fresh cucumber juice (chop one cucumber, including the peel and process in the blender; strain off the solids before using)
     2 tablespoons witch hazel
     2 tablespoons water

     Mix all ingredients. Pour into a clean container.
     To use: Apply to clean skin with a clean cotton pad after cleansing.
     Yield: 4 ounces

     I found the following recipe from the website:

Cucumber Oatmeal Sunburn Therapy
     1 cup cucumber
     4 cups oatmeal
     2 tablespoons rosemary

     In a blender, puree the cucumber well.
     Remove pulp from blender and place in a large mixing bowl.
     Add remaining ingredients and stir well; mixture will be dry and lumpy.
     While running bath water, add the oatmeal blend under the water faucet.
     Allow the mixture to blend in with the bath water, then settle in for a relaxing soak.

     I haven't tried the Cucumber Oatmeal Sunburn Therapy and it sounds like it would make a mess in the tub that would be hard to clean up. I bet you could get the same result by wrapping the mixture in cheesecloth, then attach that to the faucet and let the water run over it.

     OK ... back to Janice Cox's toner recipes.

     This recipe uses strawberry leaves. Janice notes the leaves are often overlooked and they contain "four more times Vitamin C than oranges. Wow! That's amazing.
     She says the powerful antioxidant benefits skin by keeping it clean and clear. The leaves dry easily, so you can keep them and use them year-round.

Strawberry-Leaf Toner
     2 tablespoons tried strawberry leaves or 1/3 cup fresh leaves
     1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
     1/4 cup water

     Place the leaves and vinegar in a glass or ceramic container and let sit overnight. Strain the mixture and discard any solids. Add the water and stir well.
     To use: Apply to your skin with a clean cotton pad after cleansing. If you feel the solution is too strong for your complexion, add more water.
     Yield: 4 ounces

     Lavender oil made from fresh flowers is a well-known antiseptic and calming ingredient. I wrote a story for the newspaper where I work on essential oils and included information on lavender oil in it. Check out the links I have here on my blog if you'd like to read more about essential oils and lavender. It will be well worth your time ... I guarantee it. :-)

Lavender Skin Freshener
     3 tablespoons water
     2 tablespoons witch hazel
     2-3 drops essential oil of lavender
     1/2 teaspoon honey

     Mix all ingredients and stir well. Pour into a clean container.
     To use: Apply to your face using a clean cotton pad or spray and splash onto your skin after bathing.
     Yield: 2 ounces

     This last recipe is made with chamomile. Chamomile flowers soothe inflamed skin and help stop dehydration. Janice notes "In this recipe, you can use dried flowers from your garden or tea made from 100 percent chamomile flowers."

Chamomile Skin Freshener
     2 chamomile tea bags or 2 tablespoons dried chamomile flowers
     1 cup boiling water

     Pour the boiling water over the dried chamomile and let the mixture steep and cool. Strain the solution and pour into a clean container.
     To use: Apply to clean skin with a cotton pad after cleansing or pour into a small spray bottle and spritz onto the skin.
   Yield: 8 ounces

   I hope you find these recipes useful.


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