Ever since Eve took that first bite of the apple, the human race has been obessed with beauty. Granted, each civilization has had it’s own own definition of what attributes are used to define beauty.
Roman, Grecian, Arabic and Hindi women used henna to color their hair and tattoo their bodies. The historical artwork of Botticelli depicts women as rounded as cherubs.
Interestingly, current trends toward body piercing and tattooing are nothing new but merely a resurgence of historical practices.
If you think today’s obsession with beauty is something new, think again! Men AND women have been in touch with their bodies and beauty dating back as far as the ancient Egyptians. The Egyptian’s concern was based as much on pleasing the “gods” of their time as it was for personal adornment.
In fact, it could be said that they prepared their bodies more for the “afterlife” than the current time. All one need do is read about the tombs and mummies that have been excavated and study what was found. Lavish pictorial examples reveal how extravagantly the aristocracy lived their lives. Just take a look at the detail the next time you have an opportunity to view Egyptian archaeology reports. Gold and silver bracelets, lapis and jade pendants, rings of gold studded with semi-precious stones. All are evidence of just how deeply involved the human race is with beauty and adornments.
Many wore wigs and false braids with jewels threaded through them. Women wore elaborate combs and pins made of copper, bronze and silver. Oddly enough, silver was considered a more precious metal than gold and was widely used to decorate boxes and pots where they stored their implements of beauty.
For all of their elaborate trappings, much of it was not just an attempt at satisfying their vanity. They held the belief that certain metals and elements were specifically tied to powers that were bestowed upon them by the “gods,” so a great deal of the adornment was steeped in spiritual belief.
Women and men both used a paste made from copper material to paint their eyes a vivid green. Ochre, a red clay, was used to tint their lips.
Ancient Grecians displayed their vanity through elaborate hairdos. Each hairdo was a visual message letting you know their age, if they were married and how far up the socio-economic scale their class. The same practices were followed up by the Romans.
The ancient Chinese women enjoyed wearing jewelry as well, choosing gold and jade. Here is another example of a gemstone that was revered more highly than gold. Jade was available only to the very rich.
The next time you hold a thought in your mind that we are peopled with a society more focused on beauty than any other in history, just remember, we come by it naturally. . .from our ancestors!
IS BEAUTY REALLY SKIN DEEP?
The answer is yes and no. It”s a paradox, isn”t it? True beauty begins from the inside out. Don”t you wish there were some way to “wriggle your nose” and regain that soft skin you had as a child? Well, until someone comes up with the true “Fountain of Youth,” we are stuck with what we have.
The best route to healthy skin is to take care of what you have. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? The truth is that your skin takes a beating from the environment every single day. Here are some of our favorite tips for keeping your skin fresh and healthy:
1. Stay hydrated, and drink plenty of water! That doesn’t mean soda, caffeine or any other type of liquid even if it is low cal. Soda (even diet soda) has a high concentration of sodium. Sodium retains fluids. You need fluid that will hydrate and flush your body free of toxins. Make sure you are drinking at least 8 glasses a day!
2. Protect your skin from harmful ultra violet (UV) rays. We all love the sun. We love being in it and we love having a beautiful tan. The truth is you can poison yourself with too much sunshine. UV rays cause skin cancer, and if that isn”t bad enough, it causes your skin to age faster than it should, contributing to unsightly wrinkles. If you must play in the sun, make certain you are using an adequate sun screen. Don”t leave home without it!
3. Apply your sun screen even if you only make a quick trip to the grocery store. Yes, you can get harmful UV rays even while driving your car!
4. When you purchase sun screen, make certain you are buying the right tool for the job. There are different types of UV rays and they don”t all affect our skin in the same ways. The time of year also has a bearing on how much damage the sun can do to your skin. Altitude is another important factor. UV rays are more intense at high altitudes. Sunshine alone is not the culprit. You can do just as much damage to your skin (or in some cases even more) on a cloudy day!
5. Don”t forget sun screen for your lips. They want to be healthy too!
6. Apply your sunscreen BEFORE going outdoors and allow plenty of time for it to adequately absorb into your skin cells rather than just sitting on top of the skin.
7. Read the labels on skin care products. The truth is that some ingredients may do more harm than good. The more ingredients are listed, the more potential harm they can do to your skin. Here is a list of some of the common ingredients found in skin care products that have the potential to irritate your skin:
Ammonia, Arnica, Balm mint, Balsam, Bentonite, Bergamot, Benzalkonium, chloride, Camphor, Cinnamon, Citrus juices and oils, Clove, Cornstarch, Clover blossom, Coriander, Eucalyptus, Eugenol, Fennel, Fennel oil, Fir needle, Geranium, Grapefruit, Horsetail, Lavender, Linalool, Lemongrass, Lime, Marjoram, Melissa (lemon balm), Menthol, Mint, Oak bark, Orange, Peppermint, Papaya, Phenol, Sandalwood oil, Sodium C14-16 olefin sulfate, TEA-lauryl sulfate, Thyme, Wintergreen, Witch hazel, Ylang-ylang
8. There are a few ingredients that are totally banned by the Food and Drug Administration and should be avoided:
Bithionol, Mercury compounds, Vinyl chloride, Halogenated salicylanilides, Zirconium complexes in aerosol cosmetics, Chloroform, Methylene chloride, Chlorofluorocarbon propellants, Hexachlorophene, Methyl methacrylate monomer in nail products
9. Keep your skin clean. Use a soft warm cloth. Skin does not require scrubbing. You will do more harm than good if you do.
10. Exfoliate dead skin cells every night.
11. Create your own facial masks. Here are a couple of excellent masks that you can create with ingredients right from your kitchen: Oatmeal mask: Mix oatmeal with skim milk and apply. Eggs: A raw egg yolk makes an excellent face mask. Try adding a little honey to the egg yolk for a change of pace. Mayonnaise makes another terrific face mask and will leave your skin feeling very soft.
12. Try a milk of magnesia facial. Apply directly from the bottle and leave on for 5 to 10 minutes then rinse with warm water.
13. Moisturize dry skin with essential oils. A combination of juniper, cypress, mandarin and grapefruit will work as an astringent that will leave your skin feeling tighter. If your skin is extra dry, premix the essential oils with a teaspoon of carrier oil (mineral oil) and ad ¼ cup of milk or a tablespoon of honey to give you added moisturizing.
14. If you have particularly sensitive skin, try a Pepto Bismol facial. Apply with a soft cotton ball directly from the bottle; just as it soothes the stomach, it will sooth your skin. Cover your face and neck and allow it to dry before rinsing.
15. Use an antioxidant cream. You are bombarded every day with environmental toxins that attack the surface of your skin. In fact most damage to the skin can be attributed to free radicals. When you expose yourself to toxins like air pollution, free radical production increases. Apply an antioxidant cream to your skin before applying your sun screen.
16. If you have oily skin, only apply a toner in the T zone, your forehead and nose.
17. The best cure for wrinkles is to never have them in the first place! If you are like most of us, you didn”t listen to your Mom when she tried to tell you to stay in the shade, stand up straight and stop squinting!
18. Unlike Cleopatra, we live in the nuclear age and wrinkles can become a thing of the past. Consider “laser skin resurfacing.” It is supposed to work for those fine lines and wrinkles of any depth. This technique reminds you of the “light swords” in the Star Wars movies. It literally zaps and vaporizes away the lines and wrinkles. The procedure is conducted in the doctor’s office and it”s said that you heal within a week or so. Expensive? Yes. Fast? Yes, much faster than deep chemical peels or dermabrasion.
19. If your budget won’t handle laser skin resurfacing you might try a skin peel. There are several types. There’s dermabrasion as we mentioned. This procedure literally sands the top few layers of your skin off, just like refinishing furniture! It”s done with a wire brush that rotates and is said to remove even deep wrinkles.
20. Maybe you would prefer something a bit less abrasive, pardon the pun. If so, you might consider a deep peel. This process is accomplished using an acid and is for moderately deep wrinkles. There are some risks associated with the acid procedure. It isn’t as stable as the laser resurfacing because there is less control of the acid solution.
21. Have a glycolic or beta peel. This process won”t do much for your wrinkles, but if you are only looking to improve general skin tone, this is the one for you.
22. Try Retin A. If you want to see a smoothing of fine wrinkles and an overall healthy glow that will remove mottling and give your skin a youthful blush, then this is the route to go.
23. You can avoid all the nastiness of the previous treatments by choosing collagen injections. The biggest challenge with this choice is it is temporary, lasting just a few months, so you have to repeat the procedure frequently.
24. Stop shaving your legs and use hot wax. Much gentler on your skin.
25. Mix up a tablespoon of brandy along with a smashed up peach and apply to your face for twenty minutes then rinse. Makes for a great summer facial.