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Bathing beauties

Don’t know where to find a natural alternative to chemical-laden bathroom bathing and pampering products? Look no further than your local health store

There’s a growing realisation that conventional bathing and beauty products are packed with strong perfumes and colours as well as some potentially harmful chemicals and preservatives. Many of these can actually irritate the skin – the last thing you want from something you hope will nourish and calm your skin.

This is why increasing numbers of people are heading to their local health store to buy genuinely natural shower gels and washes, body washes with exfoliants such as sea salt or sugar, bath soak oils, coconut soap, unscented soap, liquid hand soap, Dead Sea salts, Epsom salts with added essential oils, blended massage oils and unscented base oils such as almond, jojoba and macadamia.

There are also environmental concerns associated with many conventional products. In the last issue of Rude Health we described how the fine plastic microbeads in many exfoliating scrubs end up gathering in our oceans to make vast areas of ‘plastic soup’, a worrying development for sea life and ultimately the food chain. The good news is that natural bathing and pampering products do not contain any form of plastic.

Laura Downes of Carmel’s Health Store in Ennis, Co Clare: “Our customers prefer to choose a natural chemical-free alternative to regular bathing products that are laden with parabens, sulfates and nasty mineral oils. Our skin is the biggest organ of the body, it needs the utmost respect.

“Natural soap ingredients include beeswax, coconut oil, vegetable glycerine, shea butter and essential oils,” says Laura. “A good indicator of a natural bathing product is that it says biodegradable and vegan on the packaging. Natural wash products are made with water and gentle nourishing oils such as coconut, shea, almond and aloe vera and scented with essential oils like rose, lemon and tea tree.”

“We use organic aloe vera as the base of all our shower gels as this has protective properties to calm and soothe sensitive skin,” says Ian Taylor, Cosmetic Scientist at Green People. “It also contains high levels of polysaccharides that have barrier- forming properties to further protect the skin. Plant extracts are added depending on the desired properties of each gel – marshmallow extract has a moisturising action, chamomile extract soothes, calms and protects against free-radical activity, yucca extract protects against irritation of very sensitive skin types, and nutrient-rich plant oils nourish and support very dry skin types.”

“I feel it is most important to find the purest oils you can for your skincare products,” says Laura Downes. “They are safe and without a doubt moisturise the skin more efficiently than chemical-laden products. A great nourishing toner for the skin is an organic rose water. It has wonderful astringent and nourishing properties. The number one beauty product for me is coconut oil. It can be used on the hair, face, body and even as a make-up remover. A good coconut oil is non greasy and soaks into the skin wonderfully. Choose one that is organic and raw.”

DIY Aromatic Body Scrub

  • 6tbsp Epsom salts
  • 4-5tbsp sweet almond oil (or olive oil)
  • 25-50 drops essential oils such as rose, frankincense, camomile, geranium, lavender or sandalwood

Mix the essential oil thoroughly with the salt and vegetable oil. Store in a water-tight container. This will keep for about three to six weeks. The recipe makes about 200ml. Ideally use your scrub once or twice a week on dry (or barely wet) skin while standing in the shower. Work up the legs, arms, shoulders, neck and torso, and rinse off. Pat yourself dry and enjoy your soft, silky skin.

Recipe courtesy of Ellen Cox, a member of the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists

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