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Spring, 2001

Natural cleansing grains: an important step to healthy facial skin
by Colleen Hulett

Did you know our beautiful skin plays an active role in our health and is just as busy as its fellow organs - the heart and liver?

Our amazing skin is the largest organ we have and consists of over three million cells responsible for regulating temperature, manufacturing vitamin D, protecting our body from external invasion and eliminating metabolic waste. The skin is responsible for excreting approximately one quarter of the body’s waste products and any skin dysfunction will put the toxic burden onto the kidneys, lungs and bowels.

Because the natural process of skin renewal slows down as we age, we need help to remove the top layer of our skin that consists mainly of flat dead dry cells. Gently using cleansing grains daily will stimulate rapid cell regeneration in the dermal area, increasing circulation to the facial surface and providing nourishment for your face. The more rapidly the dead surface cells are replaced by the newer ones beneath, the softer and smoother the skin looks, and the more efficiently it can perform its important detoxifying duties. If you use cleansing grains you do not need to use soap, which can clog the skin's deep pores.

There are many simple recipes for cleansing grains in circulation. My Rose and Lavender Cleansing Grains recipe inspired by Rosemary Gladstar's "Miracle Grains" is very basic, is gentle enough for daily use, and can be used for all skin types. When making this recipe try to purchase organic products where possible - only the finest ingredients should be used on your face.

Have you ever read the ingredients of commercial skin cleansing products? Doesn’t the large number of ingredients scare you? You will notice that many companies use mineral oils, alcohols, preservatives, colouring agents, synthetic scents and chemicals. Mineral oils are not absorbed into the lower layers of the skin and do not bring nourishment to the new emerging cells; instead they leach vitamins A, D, and E from the skin! Alcohol and synthetic ingredients have a drying effect on the skin and can cause irritation. Many colouring agents and preservatives are known carcinogens! While it is true that not all chemicals and synthetic ingredients are proven harmful…my advice is to not put anything on your face until you do the research and can make a sound decision. I believe the fewer ingredients in any product the better.

Making your own products is the best way to avoid unwanted ingredients. There are lots of books with easy time honoured natural skin care recipes in circulation, and your local health food store will be glad to help you choose one. My favourite do-it-yourself book is Herbal Healing for Women by Rosemary Gladstar which has some excellent recipes for the skin. There are many other natural cosmetic books in print especially in the aromatherapy section. I own The Complete Illustrated Guide to Aromatherapy: A Practical Approach to the Use of Essential Oils for Health & Well-Being by Julia Lawless and am quite happy with the excellent advice and natural cosmetic recipes. Remember to do a skin patch test for every recipe you try and only make small batches at first just in case you don’t like your creation.

If you are not into making your own cosmetics you can buy natural products from your local health food store. But be careful to read all the ingredients since some natural products can still have unhealthy ingredients…I myself would purchase those products on the shelf that are handmade by local herbalists or by companies that use the least amount of ingredients.

If you have never made your own skin care products before but would like to try it out, my simple cleansing grains are a good place to start. They are easy to prepare and all you need is a coffee grinder or blender.

Sources:

Gladstar, Rosemary. Herbal Healing for Women, Fireside, New York, NY, 1993.

Hoffman, David. The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal, Element Books Ltd., Rockport, MA, 1996.

Lawless, Julia. The Complete Illustrated Guide to Aromatherapy: A Practical Approach to the Use of Essential Oils for Health & Well-Being, Element Books Ltd., Rockport, MA, 1997.

Colleen has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography and has been a practicing herbalist since 1996. She is currently studying The Science and Art of Herbology with revered herbalist Rosemary Gladstar.

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