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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

From kitchen counter to face: an all-natural moisturizer

I come from a family of women whose faces don't wrinkle. No lasers, knives, needles, lotions, potions, peels. None. Maybe just a facial scrub with Scotch-BriteTM before bed when they remembered. That would be it.
"Lucky me," you may say. Well...not really. I broke the genetic progression of naturally smooth faces in the family. I'm definitely grateful for having skin, I truly am. However, mine has required a lot of attention and care since early childhood due to hypersensitivity to sunlight (transparent-pale skin), acne, large pores, some scares with skin cancer, spots of every color and size that could be a board exam for a dermatology fellow, and yes, premature (I say it's premature, because I'm still 20 years old in my mind, and age is a mental state, right?) signs of aging. All this to say, that ever since I can remember, I've been in the quest for the perfect skin care product (which includes watching Cindy Crawford's infomercial at 2:00 AM, and even worse...ordering it), hoping that I'd find the magical answer. I've amassed a great deal of products, information, opinions and hopes. And for the last year, I've been concocting my own, tweaking a bit at each batch with the hope of avoiding extra toxins and compounds that may keep me wrinkless now and make me sick (or bankrupt) tomorrow.
I mentioned my homemade moisturizer recipe at a lunch, and a friend told me that's something she wanted to read about in my blog! Time has flown since then, and I've been busy writing an instructional baking book for beginner bakers (more on that later....), freelancing and preparing for some exciting events that I will be announcing soon. So, Megan, finally, it's here, and right on time, as the heaters are now on in everyone's households, the fall winds are blowing and the season is becoming more dehydrating and harsh on our skins.

Alexandra's Moisturizer

30 g (2 tablespoons) raw red palm oil
30 g (2 tablespoons) virgin (or extra virgin) coconut oil
30 g (2 tablespoons) castor oil *
20 drops tea tree essential oil
20 drops neem essential oil
A few drops oil of oregano (see indication in bottle for oral consumption and add that, as concentration varies depending on brand)
10 drops lavender essential oil, optional

*may be substituted for raw almond or extra virgin olive oil


In a clean glass jar, combine all the ingredients. Cover and shake to mix. 

If coconut and/or red palm oil are solidified, place them first in the jar. Melt them by placing the jar in a small saucepan with simmering water. Remove immediately and add the castor and essential oils (don't heat essential oils or they may loose some of their strength).


Close jar and store away from light in a cool, dry spot. Use as needed (I use it twice a day: in the morning and before going to bed).

Makes about 1/3 cup of skin moisturizing oil.

Rational behind the concoction:
 Red Palm Oil: If you don't have some in your kitchen, I do recommend you get some, to make the moisturizer and to add to your meals (it has a slight peppery taste that is easily complemented with other flavors). I first tried this oil about 15 years ago when I went to Brazil for the first time. It's a traditional cooking oil in the North Eastern state of Bahia. The African slaves brought with them their beloved red palms into the New World, and the oil is still an essential ingredient in the most traditional dishes of the Northeast of Brazil. I was ecstatic when I found it at Whole Foods, and you will soon see it everywhere else! Its deep orange color is due to its super high concentration of carotenes (beta-carotene and lycopene), which are powerful antioxidants. Our bodies transform carotenes into vitamin A, which is an essential nutrient for healthy skin (it prevents wrinkles, acne, helps rebuild tissue, helps healing scrapes and wounds and regulates cell growth). If that weren't all enough, red palm fruit oil is also densely packed with tocotrienols, a form of vitamin E, another essential nutrient for healthy skin (an effective antioxidant that helps fight free radicals, which are one of the major causes of premature skin aging).  

Virgin coconut oil: this tropical fruit oil has regained popularity in the last couple of years. Its long term effects in modern cooking have not been shown yet, as it's more like a wait-and-see thing (I do use it often in my cooking and baking, but it's NOT the only oil I use). However, it's definitely a great moisturizer used for thousands of years. See here for more information. 

Castor oil (which you shouldn't keep in your kitchen, but in the medicine counter, as it's a strong laxative, can help induce labor and start the flow of breast milk, but you don't want to ingest it in your salad!). It's traditionally used in India as skin care and has anti inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.   

Neem is a tree that originated in India. Its bark, leaves, fruit, seeds and oils all contain medicinal qualities. Neem is antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, antiinflammatory and helps to relief pain. It's very high in antioxidants that protect skin from environmental damage. Contains carotenes and vitamin E as well. FYI: It doesn't have a pleasant smell!

Tea Tree oil is distilled from the leaves of the Australian melaleuca tree. It also possesses antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been proven effective in treating acne, warts, cold sores and that's why you can find it pretty much in every single beauty product available. 

Oil of Oregano is a very potent antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, antioxidant, anti-parasitic, antiseptic, anti-viral, and disinfectant. Just what the face needs!

Lavender- I started adding it to counteract the bad smell of the neem oil, and it was a great addition, as lavender is also a potent natural antibiotic, antiseptic, detoxifier and it stimulates the immune system and tissue repair. case the moisturizer doesn't help with the wrinkles, lavender is also a natural antidepressant!

NOTES: Keep castor oil and essential oils away from the reach of children and in clearly labeled containers. Don't use them before asking your doctor if you are pregnant, as essential oils are very concentrated. Also, discontinue using moisturizer in case your skin reacts adversely to it. My skin has been very happy, and I hope yours becomes happy too, but we're all different...
  For some tips on healthy looking skin, go to:

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