Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Remedies For Summer Skin Congestion
Summer in the city so far has been a lot like a batch of cinnamon buns...hot, steamy, and very sticky. There is no worse feeling than melting one second then going into an air conditioned office to have blasts of freezing air "set" your sweat. These severe weather conditions can really take a toll on your skin health and instantly brew up a batch of stubborn acne, blotchy skin, unsightly blackheads, and dullness comparable to your last Match.com date. I call it "summer congestion" and it happens to the best of us, but especially city dwellers who are surrounded by environmental pollutants stressing out your skin in conjunction with inconsistent weather. (Never stand too near the rear of a bus and not expect an expression of exhaust to render you breathless and cover you in black smoke. Learned the hard way.)
Last fall I began to give myself herbal facial steams at home experimenting with an array of healing herbs, flowers and spices best suited to my skin issues at the time. I fell pretty hard for my at home treatments and Sunday evenings suddenly became fun as I created new blends for the steams. A good facial steam is meant to swell up your pores, detox the skin, and allow dirt, bacteria, and blackheads to easily dislodge. I often would take this opportunity to exfoliate, as well as add nutrients and vitamins to feed my face, if you will. After a gentle upward massage and moisturizing with a serum and facial oil I often awake to a fresh face and skin renewal that makes me smile in delight. The best thing about creating a facial steam is you get to blend as many soothing ingredients as you like and if that's not your thing pulling out herbal teas from your cupboard will work just as well. Here is a step by step guide to relieve your skin from summer congestion. You can add more steps or make them simpler by purchasing already prepared kits. Honestly, it's just as easy to do it yourself with healing ingredients like marshmallow root, chamomile flowers, rose petals, or lavender.
Step 1-Prepare A Facial Steam:
Mix your soothing ingredients into a large bowl. I like using German chamomile flowers, marshmallow root, lemon peel, and a dash of turmeric from my spice rack for a summer cleansing steam. Heat water in a teapot until it is very hot and pour into the bowl with your dry ingredients allowing the healing components to steep for a minute before draping a towel over your head and letting the steam work its magic on your skin. Add hot water into the bowl as needed to create more steam and continue for 5-10 minutes. If your skin is oily do this one or two times a week to control sebum production.
After you have finished a facial steam is when I think exfoliating is most effective. Skin has sweated out some toxin buildup and blackheads are more likely to dislodge when pores are hydrated and swollen. It's so important not to be tempted to extract blackheads with fingernails as bacteria from nails can make acne worse and scarring and pitting can also occur. Use an exfoliator that does not contain walnut or apricot shells which are too abrasive. A seed or plant based exfoliator is best. I love making my own, but use what works best for you and with slow, firm circular motions exfoliate skin. Pat skin slightly damp and move on to Step 3.
Step 3-Manuka Honey Enzyme Treatment
Congested skin loses its luster quickly. Replenish skin with this lovely nourishing enzyme treatment. You may use any type of honey you wish, but I prefer manuka honey for its plentiful anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant properties. True manuka honey is native to New Zealand and stems from the manuka bush which also produces manuka essential oil. It is thick, deep caramel colored, and smells of rich active vitamins. (I like ingesting a spoonful when my throat feels raw for immediate relief.) Try this recipe as a mask once a week when skin is congested. The combination of manuka honey and Vitamin E and zinc rich barbary fig seed oil helps calm inflamed skin and clear it right up.
1 tablespoon of raw manuka honey
5 drops barbary fig seed oil
1/8 teaspoon of pure cinnamon or tumeric
2 drops lemon essential oil
2 drops rose oil
Mix the honey with all the ingredients until incorporated well and with clean hands apply in a thick layer over a clean face. Leave on for 20 minutes and rinse with warm water. This treatment recipe is especially beneficial for acne sufferers and blemish prone congestion. For normal skin plain manuka honey works just as well.
Step 4-Floral Misters
Flower waters contain many healing and soothing nutrients for skin suffering summer congestion. You can purchase pure hydrosols which stems from the natural steam distillation process that occurs when making essential oils or make floral waters at home using dried organic flower petals and distilled water. Infuse dried petals in a glass spritzer bottles and pour hot water over to steep. Once cooled put into fridge to store. Spritz as needed and to hydrate skin before moisturizing. Spritzing cool floral water can make a muggy summer day very delightful indeed! So refreshing.
Step 5-Lock In Moisture And Repair
If you have gone through all these steps and don't repair and protect with a natural moisturizing treatment, it's almost all done in vain. Sensitive and irritated skin can over produce sebum causing oily skin that contributes to acne. Using a quality facial oil or serum that contains plant based oils can balance sebum and normalize skin. For best results moisturize with oils and serums at night when skin is naturally repairing itself and the active ingredients have a better chance of penetrating and performing its best.
These simple steps will have you looking like a glowing summer Goddess instead of a raging Medusa in no time. Since most of us are too busy during the work week use Sunday evenings to get yourself in tip top shape. Keeping in mind to follow my skin saving tips for even better healthy skin results.
Skin Saving Tips:
1. Avoid touching your face when shopping in a grocery store, using public transportation or exchanging currency. Ever notice blemishes flourish after being at the grocery store? It's no coincidence, carts are bacteria hotspots. Wipe them down and wash your hands as soon as you get home and definitely before putting away fresh food!
2. Wear less makeup or go makeup free on hot, humid days. Avoid silicon based products that contribute to skin clogging. Allow your skin to detox and breathe, that's what skin is supposed to do!
3. Clean makeup brushes, sponges, and applicators weekly.
4. Eat plenty of water based and antioxidant rich foods. Watermelon, coconut water, fresh pressed juices all help to aid in skin health and revitalize naturally.
5. Use cleansing wipes or DIY wipes to cleanse dirt, sweat, and avoid bacteria buildup.
6. Drink mate or matcha tea in summer to increase antioxidant support. It's delicious and you can switch to cold matcha lattes or smoothies.
7. Use non-toxic, chemical free, and all natural skincare products to keep skin clear and beautiful. Wear a light sunscreen that is zinc oxide based. This tip is the best we'll give as many conventional products contain so many harmful ingredients that contribute to skin congestion and chronic flareups.
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La Bella Figura
Thank you for asking. I;m going to have to be honest and admit I’m not really a fan of such harsh exfoliation. The main problem is that too many people use this tool incorrectly and end up either with microscopic abrasions on the skin or self induced acne from not cleaning their brushes properly. Over time the little abrasions cause uneven skin tone and redness.
If your skin is more congested during the summer try facial steaming and using gently exfoliators like honey. You can even add a little baking soda and turmeric to your honey to provide soft exfoliation that will do the trick! What’s helped me a lot this summer is taking probiotics and chlorophyll tablets. They help oxygenate your skin! Once in a while I use those Japanese facial puffs with activated charcoal to decongest my skin if it feels clogged. I think too much exfoliation is bad for the skin and often the reason for uneven skin tone.
I hope that helps you a bit. And seriously if you’ve never facial steamed you’ll be amazed at how well it works to draw out dirt and blackheads and clear up your skin! All you need is hot water, a bowl, towel and some time. We have a few posts on how to do it on the blog.
Victoria, what do you think about exfoliating with the Clarisonic skin tool? I know there are many conflicting opinions about this and I value yours so I wanted to know what you thought. My skin is very prone to congestion so I think I should be exfoliating more regularly. This tool seems like it could really get those areas that are hard to reach manually.
Thank you Victoria!!