Tuesday, December 12, 2017


T H E   G U I D E  | A R T   O F   B A T H I N G
A guide to physical & emotional cleansing, bathing as a form of pain relief, & the key to combatting dry skin this Winter . . .

s we move into the colder months, many of us begin to face skin issues. Those who inherently have dermatological conditions they're facing—such as eczema, psoriasis, or dermatitis—the brutality of winterly winds can make them more unbearable. True tears for crocodile hands . . .
Seasonal shifts can also aggravate autoimmune symptoms such as joint pain and headaches. These are all physiological symptoms from which we can find relief through bathing rituals. The clichéd adage and literary symbol that water is the cure for everything holds true; the physical cleansing yields an emotional clearing. Here are a few hacks you can incorporate to clean all bodies: physical, emotional, & spiritual . . .

Bath Soaks
Baths are even more decadent in Winter as the colder months not only strip away our skin's moisture but also our internal heat. As much as I also love hot baths, I still try to keep the water lukewarm for longer soaks to avoid causing a counterproductive dehydration via the bath. I also recommend adding bath oils (about half a cup for a large bath) along with soothing additions such as bath infusions. I cannot speak highly enough of Melissa Parke's bath infusions, especially this one which alleviated weeks' worth of marathon training aches with one bath

You can also add mud to your bath, which according to research can relieve even osteoarthritic pain with the combination of sulfate-calcium-magnesium-fluorides mineral water. Try adding a cup of this clay to an epsom salt bath for pain relief.

Make sure to drink plenty of water after a bath as well, especially if it's an epsom salt one.

Moisture 101
There are three types of moisturisers, all with different purposes. The key to proper moisture is either finding a moisturiser that has all of three types or layering products for proper barrier.
Not all mositurisers are created equal
& they all have their respective properties.
The three kinds are emollients, occlusives, and humectants. Emollients simply sit on top of the skin, giving it a plump look. These are your ceramides, aloe vera, and lipid-based oils. Occlusives, on the other hand, are heavier products such as waxes and oils that seal the skin. They should be used when the skin is damp or wet to lock in mositure from water, immediately after a shower. My forever favourite oil is thisbalmy moisturiser is this. Lastly, humectants draw mositure into the skin from the environment and include ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin. 

Most products are crafted with these three ingredients, but if you're like me and stick to only body oils or butters, layering is essential. Use emollients like pure aloe vera gel before oils, which should be the last layer. And most importantly, moisturise immediately after your shower or bath, without toweling off too much so you lock in the water. Always use water-based before oil- or butter-based (shea, mango, etc.) products. This balm is divine as it has all three types of moisturising agents.

You can apply to logic of using facial toners on the body as well for increased hydration. Since occlusives like oils an butters lock in the layer of water, using hydrosols and toners before oils can be a hydration aid. I like this rose one, this one to remind me of my days living in West TX, and this prebiotic one to renew the skin's ecosystem.

Pick your oils according to your skin type. Lightweight oils such as apricot kernel, marula, moringa, rosehip, and maracuja are ideal for normal skin. In-between weight oils include squalene and argan. For very dry skin, opt for heavyweights such as coconut, olive, and avocado oils. Stay away from these with your face, though, since they're not non-comodogenic, which means they clog pores. You might have also noticed that all of the oils I have lined are organic. Plants are often sprayed heavily with herbicides & pesticides, which will remain as residue when they're processed into oils or distilled. Opting for organic avoids this intoxication. 

Combat dehydrated skin by providing your body with high quality fats such as avocados, coconut or MCT oils, avocado oil, olive oil, and grass-fed ghee. You can also supplement with this oil, which will balance hormones (another culprit for skin issues) & keep the skin plump. Keeping vitamin E levels high will also aid in protecting the skin & this plant medicine by Sun Potion is a treat of a way to go about it.

Inside-Out Hydration
As important as external hydration is, if we're parched on the inside from insufficient water intake or imbalanced electrolyte levels, we will have embattled skin. This is not to recommend mindlessly chugging water. Just as mindful eating exists, so does mindful & intuitive hydration. Drinking more water than our body can flush out or utilise according to our electrolyte and activity levels can actually be detrimental. To avoid this, make sure to not only focus on drinking water period but being in tune with your thirst and seeing beyond water. 

To supplement drinking pure water, support hydration by also eating water-rich foods, such as ones below, which I have focused more seasonally by avoiding summer staples such as watermelon & berries. If you experience water retention or electrolyte imbalance, I would recommend making a simple celery juice or even blending celery stalks to consume on an empty stomach with the juice of half of a lemon. 

Water-rich Seasonal Foods
Cucumbers | Romaine Hearts | Cauliflower | Celery | Radish 
Lettuce | Spinach | Broccoli | Carrots | 
Warming teas also count in your daily water intake & stoke digestive fire. Opt for hydrating teas such as gynostemma, raspberry leaf, and rooibos teas. You can read more about proper hydration here.

Despite daily moisturising, your skin will continue to be dry unless you exfoliate daily. This doesn't have to be a scrub; it can be in the form of dry brushing or switching your bath mitt to a hemp one like this one. Hemp mitts naturally slough off dead skin cells to allow for moisturising agents to penetrate the skin more easily. 

As for a scrub, reuse what would have otherwise been rubbish (hopefully in the compost bin!) with coffee grounds. Combine a cup of coffee grounds with 1/2 cup raw coconut oil, two tablespoons of raw honey, & 3 tablespoons of sea salt in a clean glass jar. Depending on your needs, you can boost this with essential oils. Please consult your physician or healthcare provider before using any of these blends if you have a pre-existing condition, are on medication such as blood thinners, or are or trying to become pregnant. Plants are intelligent & interact to with our bodies, don't take their potential effects lightly.

For a calming & anti-inflammatory blend, put in three drops each of patchouli & sandalwood. 
For a lymphatic drainage blend, put four drops each of chamomile, ginger, & rosemary. 
For anxiety relief, put three drops each of lavender, frankincense, & chamomile.