Hydrating Parched Summer Skin

Aug 17, 08:42 PM

by Katharine Koeppen, RA

With temperatures hitting triple digits over much of the country, many people are complaining of dry and dehydrated skin. Transitioning in and out of air conditioned homes, stores and offices contributes to this problem, and carrying a small mister of lavender hydrolat in a purse or briefcase helps alleviate tight, itchy skin. A few quick sprays a day will rehydrate skin, smells fantastic, and can provide a little stress relief as an added benefit.

Don't forget that skin can be stripped dry from long hours spent on the highway enroute to a vacation destination. Air travel is a big culprit, too. Did you know that your body loses approximately one cup of water for every hour spent in a plane? Keep replenishing your body's water supply by replacing lost water with more water, preferably slightly chilled or at room temperature. Avoid iced tea, iced coffee and diet sodas, which have a diuretic effect. Remember that a small, non-aerosol atomizer can be taken with you during air travel (the type made to hold colognes works great, and can be found in sizes no bigger than a lipstick tube). If traveling via car, remember not to leave your mister in the glove compartment, as intense heat drastically shortens the life of hydrolats.

Surface dehydration can even occur in those with very oily skin, and it helps to apply a gently moisturizing masque at least once a week during summer. These needn't be fancy; "kitchen cosmetic" masques are a quick, easy and inexpensive solution.

Honey Masque: To one or two tablespoons of honey, add two drops of lavender, geranium, or palmarosa essential oil. Massage into the skin and leave on for 20-30 minutes, then wash off with warm water. Honey is mildly antibacterial, helps sooth inflamed skin, and is a natural humectant. Any good quality honey will do, but if you're in the mood for something exotic, try New Zealand manuka honey, which has been studied extensively for its healing benefits (Manuka is even being used in one U.S. hospital for wound care applications!).

Avocado Masque: This simple masque is very good for dehydrated skin that is also devitalized. Mash one avocado, incorporating two drops of lavender, geranium or palmarosa essential oil. Apply to the face, leave on for 20-30 minutes, then wash off as for honey masque. The high essential fatty acid content of avocado is nourishing to the skin, and lemony palmarosa, my personal favorite for this application, has an affinity for extremely dry, lifeless and/or mature skin.

Don't forget the rest of your body by indulging dry skin with a tepid baking soda bath. Use 1-2 cups of baking soda, a tablespoon of nonfat dry milk powder and 5-6 drops total of the above-mentioned essential oils in your bath (avoid the usual epsom salts or sea salts, which can draw too much moisture out of the skin during hot weather). After bathing, you can continue with an aromatherapy moisturizer by adding your own essential oil to an unscented lotion. I like Nature's Gate Organics soy milk fragrance-free body lotion, which has a nice tack and absorbs quickly. Use one drop of essential oil to 1-2 teaspoons of lotion.

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