This article has been reproduced by kind permission of The Mail on Sunday YOU Magazine.
It’s that heavenly time of year when the freshness and greenness of spring positively bounces around, and you know it’s time to think about planting salads, herbs and summer fruits. But not just for eating – my friend Jane is a bit overexcited about the potential of her strawberries this year because she’s just been on a Make Your Own Natural Skin Care workshop at SenSpa, a gorgeous Thai spa based at Careys Manor in the New Forest.
For the many people who prefer to eat organic food, like Jane, it doesn’t make sense to put lots of synthetic chemicals on your skin. The 90-minute workshop showed her that it’s simple and fun to make your own products – and you know exactly what’s in them.
Here’s Jane’s report:
Set in a lovely room overlooking a small Zen garden, the workshop began with head therapist Tina Kennedy highlighting the chemical ‘nasties’ used in many commercial beauty products. These include paraffin (mineral oil), which makes the skin feel soft but can also clog the pores and affect the skin’s ability to eliminate toxins, and foaming agents such as sodium lauryl sulphate, which can cause irritation and dryness.
Then came the hugely enjoyable ‘back-to-school’ bit, where the 16 participants conjured up cleansers, exfoliators, face masks and a body polish using common kitchen ingredients such as avocado (rich in essential fatty acids to nourish the skin), lemon juice (an excellent astringent and antibacterial), bananas (nourishing) and strawberries because they contain salicylic acid, which is great for exfoliating and helps clear break-outs. You can make your own moisturisers but they need ‘cooking’ so we were given instructions for making these at home.
Everything smelt divine…and of course is literally good enough to eat. I loved the scent of the strawberry and banana cream cleanser for normal to dry skin. You just combine one teaspoon each of plain natural yoghurt, unwhipped double cream, mashed banana and mashed strawberries to make enough to last three or four days. Another delicious cleanser, for normal/oily skins, is made with one teaspoon of honey and half a teaspoon of plain yoghurt, both of which are antibacterial and nourishing, and contain natural acids, which gently exfoliate. Apply the cleansers with clean fingers, massage in for a minute, then rinse off with warm water and pat dry.
For a perfect scrub, you just add one tablespoon of ground almonds to either cleanser, or two tablespoonfuls for a lovely thick face mask. Tina tells us that honey is a natural humectant, which attracts moisture and holds it in the skin, so this mask will nourish and soften. Leave the mask on for 20 minutes then wash off with warm water. We took our concoctions away in plastic containers: just remember all these recipes need to be stored in the fridge.
I’m now planning to use my own strawberries in a face mask later this year. The baby strawberry plants I planted last year put out runners, and are already coming into leaf. The strawberries, along with a selection of salad plugs, came from Rocket Gardens, a great little organic mail-order company, which I really recommend.
PS Josephine Fairley has written a whole book on this subject, which is a must for anyone wanting to go further into DIY skincare: The Ultimate Natural Beauty Book: 100 Gorgeous Beauty Products to Make Easily at Home by Josephine Fairley is published by Kyle Cathie, £8.99.
The Make Your Own Natural Skin Care Workshop costs £35 and runs from 6pm until 7.30pm (with free smoothie; participants can use the spa facilities until 9pm, including the gorgeously warm hydrotherapy pool).
Help at hand for Autism
To celebrate World Autism Day on 2 April, the charity MedicAlert, which provides access to potentially life-saving health information via ID jewellery, is launching three new ID bracelets to support and protect people with autism. The AK Autism Bands are named after leading autism campaigner Anna Kennedy, who has two autistic children: ‘I know the anxiety when a person with autism disappears, gets injured or is in need of medical attention. Often they are unable to communicate, but this wonderful new MedicAlert band will enable the emergency services to find out vital information.’ MedicAlert’s ID system means that medical personnel can call an emergency number 24/7.
AK Autism Band, £24.95 plus £25 for the first year’s MedicAlert subscription, tel: 0800 581420, medicalert.org.uk
Special thanks to the many YOU readers who sent stamps to Anne Bernard for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, hearingdogs.org.uk
Book of the week:
One – Living As One and Loving It by Victoria Alexander (Murdoch Books, £20*)This is the book Julia Roberts would have taken with her in Eat, Pray, Love if it had been published then. It’s about positively celebrating living on your own, rather than fretting about being single. The design is beyond beautiful – Victoria is the ultimate style expert – and the book, says my single reader, ‘uplifts, inspires and comforts’.
To order a copy for £16 with free p&p, contact the YOU Bookshop on 0845 155 0711, you-bookshop.co.uk