Dry Brushing

brushI won’t even lie and say I wasn’t a little bit skeptical when I heard about dry brushing. If I could raise my eyebrow it would have gone higher with every mention of how it eliminates cellulite, cleans the lymphatic system and removes toxins from the skin.

I don’t know if it does any of the above but one thing I know it does do is facilitate soft smooth and did I say soft? skin. So. What you will need according to the internets is a natural bristle brush and 5 minutes of your time before you shower.

Im not sure if the brush I have has natural bristles but its what I had around so its what I used. So, starting from my feet and working my way up I used circular motions to brush the skin. Circular? Yes, this is a must. Skin is sensitive, you don’t just go rubbing it up and down with no mercy. Whether applying lotion, putting on a mask or dry brushing, a gentle circular motion is always best. No exceptions.

Dry brushing shouldn’t include the face and neck area because the skin is too sensitive for that and it already benefits from all the masks, moisturizers and exfoliation you already pamper it with. After dry brushing shower as usual and moisturize your damp* skin.

I don’t know about cleaning lymph nodes and curing cellulite (there is no such thing as a cure for cellulite. If Oprah and her billions have failed to find one – and she said she has been looking – then us regular people might just as well give up and live with it) but it does give great looking skin. I know the argument could be that skin is as a general rule, soft already but this makes it smoother and softer. Maybe it’s the removal of dead skin cells or something. It only took a couple of sessions to notice a difference to other asilia bots should try this and tell me if I am imagining my own things.

Asilia prime for sure, though don’t blame me when people look at you funny when they see you carrying a shoe brush into the bathroom … 😀

* don’t know if I have mentioned this before but moisturizer shouldn’t be applied to dry skin. After showering pat yourself dry and then apply your lotion to damp skin – it helps lock in some moisture.

Aspirin Mask

aspirinEven at its most basic, the aspirin mask is something you may want to try. Easy to make, cheap and will leave your skin feeling smooth like nothing else.

The reason the aspirin mask works is because of the salicylic acid which is a BHA (beta hydroxy acid). Since BHA’s are oil soluble this makes them ideal for exfoliating skin and unclogging pores so the aspirin mask is very useful for those who are prone to acne break outs, blackheads and oily skin.

As always, do a patch test (like maybe behind your ear) before you use this mask. If you are going to have an allergic reaction you don’t want it to be all over your face. If you cant take aspirin then this isn’t ideal for you to try either.

Simple Aspirin Mask

3-5  aspirin pills

Few drops of water

Crushing the pills can be a lot of work, but putting a few drops of water on the pills and letting them sit for a while will dissolve them. Apply on face avoiding the skin around the lips and eyes and let sit until dry. Rinse thoroughly and then moisturize and voila! The aspirin mask in its most basic form.

The above will work because the salicylic acid will still get to exfoliating but you can tweak the recipe to your liking and add ingredients that will enhance the magical powers of the mask. For example, honey, being a humectant will go great if added to the above recipe and it’s a biding agent as well so it will make it easier for the mask to go on. A combination of aloe vera, yoghurt and aspirin works very well as does using lemon juice instead of water to soften the tablets.

Verdict? Asilia prime, though you have to be careful not to use it too often. I have seen people on the internets say that they use it 4 or 5 times a week but considering its potency I guess twice a week max is best. And after using it, use sunscreen the next couple of days to protect the layer of skin that has been brought forth.

By the by, Panadol is not the same as aspirin. Add Tylenol, Advil or any other painkiller in this category too.. The salicylic acid is key and if you are not sure, ask your friendly neighbourhood pharmacist and ask them to help you out, just make sure they don’t up sell you.

Henna!

henna-powderNot for the faint of heart. No, seriously. If multi step beauty treatments are not your thing and mixing random things and then wrapping your hair in saran wrap/plastic overnight don’t tickle your fancy then don’t even try this cos it takes lots of planning ahead but the way your hair feels afterwards is sooo worth it.

Henna strengthens, conditions and thickens your hair. Depending on your hair colour and the type of henna you use it will also dye it. This e-book from Henna for Hair is pretty comprehensive on different types of henna, how to choose henna and how to apply it so I’ll just add a few things I have learned from my experiences. But before that I stress, read the book. There is nothing about the basics the lady hasn’t included so get to learning.

Yes, the gloves are necessary. I know someone who thought using little plastic bags on her hands was a good idea but unless you are like a ninja when it comes to making sure it wont get on your hands and stain them just take the plunge and buy them. Its either that or orange looking hands for a few weeks.

Either get QUALITY body art henna or get a brand you trust – no inbetweens. That box of henna in your local halal store that looks dented and the lettering has faded cos its been on the shelf so long is not what you want to have on your hair. Neither is the dusty one that the dude behind the counter assures you even his wife uses. How to differentiate pure henna and those with additives is outlined in the henna book link I put up there but if in doubt, get one from a brand like LUSH. All the better if you can google the product and see what experiences people have with it. Whatever you do, don’t just use the first thing you happen to stumble upon. Research and patience with search engines are your best friends.

Protect your floors! Once you have let it sit in a warm place for the required 12 hours the mixture can be kinda hard to handle, especially if you aren’t used to using gloves. So, get those old towels you aren’t particularly attached to and line your bathroom floor with them. Either that or you will end up like me crouched over spots on your bathroom floor with an old tooth brush and toothpaste cos some creative googling told you that would get rid of the stains. If it happens to land anywhere like on the wall (I blame the gloves!) wipe it off as soon as you can to avoid looking like you are experimenting with weird colour schemes.

Rinsing may take longer than you thought. This is especially true if you 1. have long hair 2. have thick hair  3. have a combination of the afore mentioned or 4. have locs. Rule of thumb is to rinse until the water runs clear and it may take a while. Those with loose hair have the slight advantage here because their rinsing will be relatively easy but for those with locs past shoulder length be prepared to stand under the shower until you become a prune. Embrace the idea, your hair will be so fabulous after you wont even care, I promise.

The harvest hair test is important. For those who use hair brushes and combs what this means is that you get some of the hair strands caught in-between the teeth/bristles and put some of the prepared henna on them so that you can get a general idea of that the end result will look like. Very important, especially if you are trying a certain type of henna for the first time. If anything is going to go awry, let it be on the hair that isn’t on your head anymore. For those with locs the harvest hair test may be harder to do but what I did is I snipped a tiny bit off one of my locs and then combed it out to get my “hair sample.”

This may seem like a lot to take in especially after you read the book and you wonder where to begin. But, once you identify what type of henna you want to use and where to buy it all it takes is mixing and using it a couple of times before you can go through the motions without even thinking about it. Henna for me has gotten rid of dandruff, coloured my hair a bit red (you can only see it under the sunlight really) and made it so so soft. It really is the absolute best for conditioning your hair and doing it once a month or once every couple of months will go a long way to naturally making your hair feel awesome. I declare this an asilia prime and will start getting other asilia bots to join in the fun 😀

Mini Updates

Me procrastinating = not blogging about the various things I have tried. On with the revelations!

Mango Face Mask

mangoesThis probably will make me start an “Asilia Meh” tag cos I noticed no difference. I took the skin of a mango and rubbed the inside of it all over my face, neck chest and waited 15 minutes as I did my best to not lick it off myself. After I washed it off … nothing. No extra glowing or smoothness or anything. I’m guessing this is one of the things that I have to try more than once to see results or I have to mix it with something else. I would have given it another go the next day but all the mangoes had been had for breakfast so I guess it will wait until the next time I go grocery shopping.

Pineapple and Honey Mask

pineappleLove! A little bit of pineapple juice and honey spread all over the skin left it feeling gloooorious. Most definitely an asilia prime. It may have something to do with the fact that I left it on for ages – I got distracted and before I knew it it had been around 40 minutes. Someone else I have wrangled to experiment things with me tried it with the juice from canned pineapples and she was impressed by the results so I’m guessing the awesome properties of the honey and pineapples shine through even with a little bit of processing. Most definitely something I would do again. Sunscreen is recommended after using pineapples on the face as the enzymes make the skin a bit sensitive so protection is required.

Oil Cleansing Method

castorOilHeres the thing – I now have a bond with castor oil that I doubt will be severed for a while. So I am absolutely behind the idea of using it on a daily basis. Problem is, the whole process is sooo labour intensive – mix the oils. Massage massage massage onto the face and other areas. Steam with warm washcloth, wipe gently then repeat that process a couple of times. Then moisturize. Doesn’t seem like a lot but sometimes its like … is there a way to shorten this process? Its too long to be done during the morning rush and at night I am so out of it the last thing I want to do is massage oils onto my face for 5 minutes and then steam a couple of times. Sometimes I just forget and other  times … you get the idea  On the upside? My skin always feels great after, which is why I try to do it a few times a week. Very labour intensive in my opinion but most definitely worth it.

Next time, henna! What to buy, why it’s awesome for your hair and what to watch out for when you buy it.

Mmmm, Grapes …

grapesI decided to have a little spa night of my own the other day and this was the perfect time to try out using home made scrubs and masks. So I settled for what was in the fridge which was grapes and sour cream (had run out of yoghurt and couldn’t be bothered to go out and buy some more and lactic acid is lactic acid, right?) to make my face mask and to use the castor oil sugar scrub.

Grapes have tartaric acid which is used for skin exfoliation and sour cream is made by fermenting cream with lactic acid bacteria. Lactic acid is used in beauty products for the purposes of exfoliating and softening the skin. With these two combined I figured I couldn’t go wrong since both fall under AHA’s.

Since this was an impromptu thing, I didn’t have enough supplies to make my own bath salts and what not but no worries, it was still a fun time.

After using the castor oil sugar scrub and steaming my face I applied the grape and sour cream mask which I had made by mixing the two ingredients in my little blender. A few things I noted were:

  1. I really need to go out and buy some gelatin/kaolin or other binding agent cos it was runny! And the bits of grape skin wouldn’t allow me to use a cotton ball to apply it properly and it’s hot this time of year. So what started out as a semi liquid mix ended up being an entity that had a life of its own running down my fingers and hands before I could get it on my face.
  1. A little bit goes a long way. Since I am averse to measuring things I just threw in a handful of grapes and a big scoop of sour cream. I had a lot left over and I had to go around applying it on someone who was more interested in what it would taste like than actually sitting still and being pampered. To avoid having the bulk of it staying in the fridge I put in on my arms, legs, everywhere. Still some left over and I’ve been using it the past couple of days but I don’t know how long it will keep.
  1. I used the grape and sour cream mask after I did the sugar scrub and it stung a bit. I’m wondering if I was a bit too enthusiastic with the exfoliation. Or maybe I did it in the wrong order – am I meant to first do the mask then exfoliate?  Is this just another case of me having to suffer for beauty’s sake? Asilia bots, help!

Final conclusion? Grape + sour cream mask = Asilia Prime! Despite the runny consistency and the grape skin that just would not blend my skin is feeling fantastic. I have been using the left overs the past few days* and I have had two people tell me I’m glowing. My t-zone area was less oily too and that’s always a good thing as sometimes the shine on my nose surpasses that of my nose ring.

Next on my list to experiment with: mangoes! I’m going through all the contents of my fridge and pantry and seeing what I can do with them.

*Masks that one buys from the store says that you use them once a week for a reason – the concentration of ingredients is high and over use could result in stressing/damaging your skin. One made at home from fruits is relatively safe to use on a more regular basis since it’s gentler on your skin, though it may take a few applications to see results.

Product Junkie

beauty stuffI was supposed to have started the oil cleansing method experiment last week but the time just flew and the weekend kinda got away from me so I’m recommiting myself to it this week and see how seven days of the doing goes for my fickle skin.

One of the thingI was supposed to be doing was figuring out what skin type I really am. Usually I just tell myself it’s combination but I have never really put that much thought into it. It was off to the google to see what was going to pop up. Some suggestions didn’t help me at all, like this one – surely what’s a girl to do when for every question there is more than one answer you can choose? So I just decided to stick to take advice from all the articles I have read from magazines and settle on combination. Now I will have to hunt for some sunflower oil so I can get cleansing and see if it helps.

My confusion about my skin is probably the reason why I am a product junkie. That picture right there? It’s all the skin care stuff I could find in my bathroom and that’s just what was within reach. Lotions, oils, butters, gels, jellies … name any of them and I have a version of it stashed somewhere in both scented and unscented forms.

True story – I never bought any skin care products on my own until I left home. My mother used to do this thing where she would go into the supermarket and buy a ton of different oils and lotions (she has had people stop her and ask her if she ran a massage parlour or something) and then take them home and mix them. She would bottle up what she had made and then distribute it to the rest of the house and her sisters. The result is silky soft skin for everyone and confusion for us who left home and had to fend for ourselves in foreign countries when half the things we were used to having around were just not available.

I have tried to replicate the mixing, oh man have I tried. All attempts to do so end up in utter fail and to make it worse, there is no recipe you can follow.She keeps telling me to just add and mix things and it will turn out right but that has never been the case. Having never been able to replicate the formua or find a product that works for me I have shea butter for when my skin feels dry in the winter, some mango chocolate oil for when I feel like smelling nice, some random St. Ives product for after I have used my body scrub, vaseline for the feet (apply after giving yourself a pedicure and pop on some socks and in the morning you they will be nice and soft) aloe vera for when I’ve had too much sun … on and on the list goes.

This most definitely is an asilia crime. One, the amount of money spent tends to add up and two, I have more stuff in my bathroom and bedroom I have barely used/forgotten about for long periods of time than I care to admit.So I’m putting to a halt all purchases of lotions, oils and the like. Well, apart from sunscreen* and coconut oil which is what I use on a very regular basis. Anything else will have to be put to the test as to whether I’m just blindly adding to my collection or whether it will help me towards my desired state of asilianess. I will use what I have already until my junkie ways are gone forever or at the very least under control.

*I will do an entry on sunscreen soon but use it! Especially if you live in a place where the sun shines alot. Vitamin D requirements aside it’s important to remember that people of colour get skin cancer too – think Bob Marley.

Castor Oil Face Scrub

castor oilI have been using castor oil on and off for the oil cleansing method (which by the way, I need to give a full week of proper doing so I can blog about it) and I read somewhere that I can use a mixture of salt and castor oil to make  a face scrub. One look at the kosher salt in my pantry and i knew that was not going to happen, those are some really big coarse granules and my poor skin already goes through enough. I decided to improvise and use sugar as it is fine and not as scary.

So, I poured some of the castor oil into my palm and I added a pinch of sugar. I didn’t bother to measure because well, it looked pretty much straight forward. I massaged it into my face neck and chest area for about 5 minutes and then wiped it off.

I read this somewhere and it always stayed with me – whatever you do for your face, do it to your neck and chest too. Those areas need lots of tlc and tend to be neglected.

I steamed my face and cleaned it with some Cetaphil and oh my goodness baby soft skin. I moisturized with the tiniest dab of coconut oil applied to damp skin and woooooow. Totally blown away. Were the blemishes still there, yes, but not as noticeable. Not a patch of dry skin to be found and my skin looked absolutely radiant. Absolutely without a doubt, castor oil face scrub is an asilia prime! I most definitely plan on adding this to my weekly routine.