Did you think E was going to be for Exercise? I'm afraid not, exercise is a great contributor to being healthy and happy, but I'm not ready to talk about it just yet. Besides, there's plenty of alphabet yet to discover some lovely ways to get moving!
For now at least I want you to focus on gently nourishing yourself as we work through the A to Z of Healthy and Happy, so this week is all about exfoliation. You know skin care might seem superficial, after all it's about our very surfaces, however many skin care techniques are infused with ritual and wisdom that have been passed down through the ages.
Exfoliation in particular requires you to find a little bubble of space where you are focused mindfully on caring for your body. Gently tending to it and thanking it for all the hard work it does, keeping your mind, spirit and heart going in this busy world. It's the perfect way to be kind to yourself and you deserve that lovely Mama!
I'm going to take you through four exfoliating techniques so that when it comes to ways to spoil yourself you'll be spoilt for choice!
Great for getting your skin vibrating happily in the morning. It's best to use a natural bristle brush and if you have sensitive skin or haven't tried this before, to begin with a soft or medium brush before you move on to a firmer brush. Dry brushing has it's roots in Ayurvedic wisdom, brushing towards the heart is believed to activate the lymphatic system helping to strengthen your immune system.
As the name suggests this is most effective when the brush and your body are dry, ideally before your morning shower. Begin at your feet using a circular motion, brushing your legs, then hands and arms before moving on to your back and abdomen.
Take care to avoid any irritated skin, sunburn or scratches and lesions.
Anyone who has hung around here for a while will probably know that I'm a huge fan of salt, in particular a locally harvested pink salt thats packed with awesome minerals and is super pretty too. Salt scrubs are best for when you have a high level of dead cell build up or for tough areas like feet and as we get older elbows. They are on the more intense end of the exfoliation scale, so use with care and not as often as gentler exfoliation techniques.
I prefer to prepare my salt scrubs with olive oil rather than coconut oil to allow for more free flowing movement of the salt crystals while I'm scrubbing. The combinations of scrubs you can prepare are endless, do remember that even with natural products it pays to do your research and make sure the ingredients you choose are right and safe for your skin.
Salt scrubs are best used when showering or bathing. I recommend popping under the shower to get damp skin first, turning your water off (don't waste that beautiful resource) and in a gentle circular motion, much like dry brushing work over your skin. Take time to focus on drier regions, massaging it in, but don't over scrub as sore skin isn't doing yourself any favours you want to freshen and brighten your skin not damage it. Once you've scrubbed yourself turn the shower back on and rinse the salt away. I prefer not to use soap to remove the oil as it is a wonderful moisturiser for your new skin, and after the wash the water still beads.*
You can find try my heartsease scrub, which is great for little ones and you.
Sugar scrubs are the gentler sister of salt scrubs, great for regular maintenance without being too harsh on your skin. They're easy and cheap to make, ensuring that you can always have one fresh and at hand no matter what your budget is. Sugar scrubs are where the coconut oil trumps olive oil as a carrier in my opinion. I feel the coconut oil holds the sugar and other additions together better allowing you more time to gently exfoliate than if you used olive oil, I also find it doesn't run off the body as quickly meaning less wastage. Coconut oil also makes sugar scrubs an ideal candidate for a luxurious soak and scrub in the tub, because it will help avoid the sugar dissolving the second it hits the water.
Fill yourself a lovely warm tub, maybe even treat yourself to some romance with music and candles. Give your skin a five to ten minutes to warm in the calming waters and then gently apply the scrub from to toe top, taking time to soak each scrubbed limb before moving on to the next. Take the kind of time and care you would if you were pampering someone you love, you deserve your own kindness as much as they do.
My current favourite sugar scrub was created by my lovely friend Christie when I fell in love with the idea of a very expensive one, she came up with a beautiful home made version that makes my skin sing. I never did bother ordering the factory made one, this was too nice!
Washcloth / Facewasher and essential oils
Yes even the humble face-washer can be a wonderful addition to your exfoliation routine. This one is great for the evening as when done right, that is in peace when little ones are asleep, it is an incredibly calming technique and a great way to scrub away a hard day.
You'll need a sink full of hot water, a few drops of rose hip oil, coconut oil and a clean washcloth (face washer).
Fill the bathroom skin with hot water, add a few drops of rose hip oil. Soak the cloth in the water and then wring it out. Take care to keep the cloth hot but also not to burn yourself.
While the cloth remains hot gently scrub your skin, ensuring that when it begins to cool you re-submerge it in the water. Your skin may become a little pink and warm, but should not feel burnt.
Once you have finished gently massage coconut oil in to your skin to revitalise.