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Friday, 5 November 2010

Toning the Skin

Toning is vitally important yet...

...for some reason toning has fallen out of fashion, most of us tend to forget about it and go straight from cleansing to moisturising!

It is important NOT to forget this small, yet vital step. It's purpose is firstly to remove any traces of cleanser remaining on your skin, to redress the balance of the skin (especially if you have used soap), close the pores (thereby protecting your complexion from build up of dirt or grime that may cause pimples), and promote a healthy 'texture' of the skin.

Making your own products to do this is also probably the easiest of all the natural beauty recipes provided on this site, and is a good place to begin if you are new to making your own toiletries.

Using plain, good quality water, flower waters or hydrosols and essential oils is the most inexpensive way of making a luxury toning product.

With a little knowledge and understanding of your skin type and using the most appropriate ingredients you can make an enormous difference to the appearance of your skin. It need not cost the earth. There are options to suit everyone whether your purse be large or small.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes when you go on holiday your skin or your hair looks better? Or worse? There is a very simple explanation for this. Its the quality of the water. Water can make a huge difference.
Even if you cannot afford expensive flower waters or essential oils do not underestimate the power of simple infusions. My next couple of posts will be covering the power of water specifically.

Herbs such as rosemary or thyme can be very powerful for certain skintypes, and for a few pennies can be cultivated in your garden or on a windowsill. The list of herbs in my last post about nature's skin peel is a very good place to start.  Simply make a herbal tea, let it cool and then use it as a toner.  Watch out for some recipes later in the post.

Astringent 'vinegar' waters used to be all the rage - in fact girls were more prone to greasy skin (shiny noses) in Victorian times than they are today. The reason? Probably our central heating has a lot to answer for. A very astringent or alcohol based toner is is not very good for your complexion, even if you have very oily skin, it is a quick, temporary fix for a problem that can be better regulated with the careful use of essential oils or flower waters.

For closing the pores, the necessity and method used is determined by the method of cleansing.
After soap and water it may not be necessary to use any special preparation at all. A final splash of tepid water may be sufficient.

Whatever you use, it should be as gentle as possible.
After a cleansing cream or lotion or even milk Plain water is perfectly adequate for closing the pores, if a little boring. The use of a suitable flower water can improve the texture and quality of the skin over time. Complicated concoctions are unnecessary even though I shall provide a recipe or two of these!  
After using an oil you may find that a little more astringent flower water or plain water or tea with a drop of cider vinegar (1 pint tea to 1 teaspoonful vinegar)will do the trick. The thing to remember is your skintype and to choose a toner accordingly - it is also a good idea to vary what you use from time to time, as this gives the skin a boost.

Make Your Own Flower Water/Toner

The end result of this can in no way be compared to a true flower water or hydrosol, however it can be fun to do and will utilise whatever herbs or flowers you have in the garden. Be sure to use only plants that have NEVER been sprayed with pesticides.Rose petals are a good one to start with.
Equipment Required
A large stockpot with lid.
Household brick or bowl that fits into the bottom of the stockpot
Smaller Bowl
Bag of ice.
Several Handfulls of plant material e.g. Rose Petals or Rosemary Stalks etc... (Make sure that your plant is clean and has been grown without the use of pesticides).
Place the brick in the stockpot and put the bowl on top of the brick (or place a small bowl upside down in the bottom of the pot and place your larger bowl on top). Fill the stockpot with water to the level of the top of the brick or small upturned bowl. Use bottled spring water, or de-ionised water if you can afford it. Bruise the plants slightly and place them into the water (not in the bowl). Place the pot on the heat and bring the water to a slow boil. Invert the lid of the stockpot and place on top of the pot. Place the bag of ice on the upturned lid.

As the steam from the boiling water (carrying aromatic substances from the plant material) condenses on the cold lid it drips into the bowl. Keep an eye on the water level, topping up if required. The longer you do this for, the more flower water you get, likewise the more plant material you have in the pot the stronger the flower water will be. Once the flower water has cooled it can be used in cosmetic preparations. Remember it will have a limited shelf life and will need to be kept in the fridge.

This very basic flower water can be used as is for toning the skin, especially if you have mature or very dry skin - but if you have oily skin or suffer from teenage acne  then add a teaspoonful of cider or apple vinegar to one pint of flower water, bottle and use after your normal cleanser.  Keep it in the fridge, decanting only a small amount to keep beside the basin for use each day. This is a good tip, especially if like me, you can't bear to use really cold substances straight from the fridge on your face!

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