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Winter beauty

It may be cold outside, but you can still get that winter glow if you use natural ingredients and follow these tips

“Our skin is our defence barrier against the environment and the effects of weather patterns,” says Fiann Ó Nualláin, author of The Holistic Gardener – Beauty Treatments from the Garden. “The main culprit of winter affected skin is the colder temperatures which decrease its natural hydration and barrier capacity. Cold winds can further strip moisture from the skin and leave us with tight, rough, blotchy, red, often cracked and peeling skin.”

“For many of us the winter months are spent turning up the heat or lighting the fire to escape the cold outside,” says Niamh Larkin, skincare specialist at Evergreen Healthfoods. “Because of the harsh contrast between the heat and the bitter cold, our skin tends to go into defence mode, jumping from producing excess oil (resulting in blemishes) to not producing enough (resulting in eczema or dry, flaky skin).”

How can we help our skin?

“A good skincare regime is important to ensure your skin is supported and well moisturised all year round,” says Niamh Larkin. “Changing to a richer moisturiser can help to get your skin through the cold season. Supplementing your diet with essential fats, such as omega 3 and zinc can be beneficial for the skin. Omega 3 is a natural anti-inflammatory and also acts as an internal moisturiser, lubricating the skin from the inside. Zinc is a mineral that is not only great for healing the skin but also boosts the immune system.”

“Hydration is the best thing we can do for our skin and that’s both internal and external, so don’t slacken on sipping water and do hydrate your skin with a healthy daytime moisturiser or night serum to replenish it,” says Fiann Ó Nualláin. “Apart from a winter beauty regime, a little less salt, a little less sugary stuff, a little extra protein and a little extra healthy fats and oils will go a long way to maintain sebum levels and your skin’s own self-repair mechanisms.”

Your garden beauty cabinet

“Your garden is a treasure trove of botanicals waiting to be harvested,” says Fiann Ó Nualláin. “A hydrosol (floral water) of roses is a great remedy for rosacea. Calendula petals help replenish collagen levels, which lead to wrinkles and crow’s feet. The alpha hydroxyl acids in strawberries can deeply exfoliate skin without redness and also supply a toning portion of zinc and magnesium. Thyme can kill bacteria that cause blackheads. Even some of the weeds have their gifts in treating crepey skin, boosting lymphatic cleansing and remedying chapped hands. The pantry is just as good, with milk being a great cleanser for acne; honey the best hydrator for serious psoriasis and brewer’s yeast as a rejuvenator for sallow skin.”

Health store skin help

“Go for a moisturising balm containing calendula extract to soothe irritation, neroli oil to balance oil production and shea butter to replace lost moisture,” recommends Niamh Larkin. “Choose a rosehip serum with ingredients such as sea buckthorn (known for its high omega content), aloe vera (for its soothing and healing properties) and of course rosehip oil which heals, regenerates and protects the skin. Coconut oil is the wonder product that does it all – body moisturiser, facial moisturiser, make-up remover and a hair mask, to name just a few uses. It only feels oily for a minute or two before getting completely absorbed in the skin. Its moisturising properties are second to none, with soft skin guaranteed.”

“The great thing about making a mash up between your garden-grown botanicals and some kitchen items is that there is nothing nasty in the mix,” says Fiann Ó Nualláin. “Olive oil will remove your make-up or act as a night serum. If you add some calendula then the pigment in the flower will be absorbed into the oil and help your skin to produce more elastin and collagen, keeping it plumper and more flexible, and able to stand up to the rigours of bad weather.”

DIY Heavenly Face Cream

  • 1tbsp beeswax
  • 1tbsp shea butter
  • 2½ tsp jojoba oil
  • 2tsp rosehip oil
  • 10 drops of frankincense essential oil
  • 4 drops of immortelle essential oil
  • 2 drops of jasmine absolute oil

Slowly melt the beeswax in a bain marie on a low heat until liquid. Heat the shea butter in a separate bain marie. Add the jojoba and rosehip oils, stirring gently. Once both liquids are a similar temperature mix together and stir well. Remove from the heat and stir until the mix becomes milky. Add the essential oils and stir. Decant into pots.

Recipe taken from All Natural Beauty, Organic and Homemade Beauty Products by Karin Berndl and Nici Hofer, Hardie Grant Books

The Holistic Gardener – Beauty Treatments from the Garden by Fiann Ó Nualláin is published by Mercier Press. Fiann blogs as theholisticgardener.com (@holisticg)

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