Personally, I am not a Hot Weather Person (I think I was genetically programmed never to venture further south than Stockholm). So over the years I have tried all sorts of techniques and products which can make me feel cool during hot weather, but which are also useful for anyone of ‘un certain age’ – and experiencing waves of non-weather-related heat (shall we say) from time to time.
I’m also going to share with you some home-made beauty recipes which plunder nature’s more cooling bounty, and which I fine-tuned while I was writing my book The Ultimate Natural Beauty Book, a few years back. Making your own cosmetics is actually far easier than the beauty industry lets on, and when busy-ness allows, I still find it huge fun – especially if I can lasso female teenagers, who seem to find whipping up beauty products at home nothing short of miraculous.
But first, my (hot) cool tips…
• Victorian women would hold the inside of their wrists under a cold running tap for a minute – an amazing instant cool-down that’s gone out of fashion, but is just as effective today.
• I have built up a lovely collection of old-fashioned fans, from boot fairs – or buy them in hot countries like Spain, and the Caribbean. Much more elegant than the teeny battery-operated kind (and just as efficient).
• Keep your regular toner, moisturiser and body lotion in the fridge; the cooling sensation while you pamper your skin is exquisite bliss.
• Boost your diet with foods that have a ‘cooling’ effect when they are eaten raw, added to salads, or briefly cooked: fruits (especially melon), berries, salad greens, asparagus, cucumbers, peas, greens, corn and tomatoes.
• If you happen to get sunburned, slather any areas of redness with yoghurt, fresh from the chiller, which works to calm over-heated skin.
• And you can always do what Marilyn Monroe suggests in The Seven Year Itch: keep your undies in the fridge till you’re ready to wear them!
• 4711 eau de Cologne is the most fantastically cooling all-over splash; there’s no risk of overdoing it because the citrus notes fade fairly swiftly, but you feel daisy-fresh after use. For the same reason, I keep the travel tissues in my handbag: a sexy alternative to wet wipes with a skin-cooling bonus.
• I also very much like Temple Spa Chillicious, a body spritzer which really does work to bring the skin’s temperature down near-miraculously. Great for sticky, hot journeys.
• Linen is by far the coolest fabric to sleep in: linen sheets, nighties, pillows. Might sound extravagant but vintage versions are all available inexpensively. And this is a sad admission but I even belong to a Facebook group called ‘I flip my pillow over to get to the cold side’ (I do!), which has a staggering 971,000+ members, so clearly I am not alone.
In terms of beauty products, look for anything featuring mint or cucumber on the ingredients list, which are cooling botanicals. Ditto aloe. But those are ingredients you can also grow and harvest at home, if you like, to whip up skin goodies. As a quick-fix for tired feet, you can also try a couple of drops of peppermint in a washing-up bowl of cool water and soak your feet for 10 minutes, to put the spring back in your step. (And see the recipe, below, for a cooling summer mint bath.)
Milk, Cucumber and Mint Cleanser
A terrific summer cleanser, to be made regularly and kept in the fridge, where it will keep for up to a week. Summer skins love it…
5 cm. (4 inch) piece of cucumber
50 ml. (2 fl. oz.) milk
5 mint leaves
2 drops grapefruit seed extract or tincture of benzoin
Peel the cucumber and chop it roughly. Remove the stalks and chop the mint leaves roughly. Place the cucumber and mint in a blender or food processor with the milk, and whizz until smooth. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and heat until simmering on a medium heat. Simmer for two more minutes, and allow to cool. Strain through muslin (or a piece of kitchen paper). Pour the liquid into a sterilised bottle and add the grapefruit seed extract. (This is wonderfully cooling on the skin. The milk is lightly hydrating, meanwhile, delivering a light veil of moisture that even oily skins need.)
Cooling Summer Mint Bath
On a hot day/night, try this short-cut peppermint bath to cool you down: simply swish 10 drops of peppermint essential oil in a cool-to-warm bath, lie back and relax. A friend recommended this to me, years ago, and it’s truly miraculous. Alternatively, make four cups of very strong mint tea – with peppermint, spearmint or applemint – then cool, and add to the bath.)
Cucumber Sensitive Mask
10 g. (1/2 oz.) brewer’s yeast (if you can’t readily buy this, pulverise brewer’s yeast tablets in a herb grinder)
10 g. (1/2 oz.) finely powdered oats
A 15 cm. (3-inch) chunk of cucumber)
30 ml. (2 fl. oz.) plain yoghurt
5 ml./1 teaspoon honey
1 drop rose essential oil
Mix together the oats and the yeast in a small bowl and put aside. Peel the chunk of cucumber and liquidise it in a food processor or herb grinder until it’s – literally – liquid, with no seeds or chunky bits left. Add the yoghurt and the honey and then whizz again for a few seconds, to mix. Add the brewer’s yeast and the oats to the cucumber/honey mixture, drop in the 2 drops of rose essential oil, and whizz yet again until smooth. Then apply to a cleansed face and skin, and leave on for between 20 minutes to half an hour. Remove either with a muslin cloth drenched in water, or by splashing with water. Follow with toner and moisturiser. (Depending on how thickly you apply this mask, you may have some left over – which will keep for a couple of days in the fridge.)