A smooth and soft complexion of "peaches and cream" and silky tresses have always been sought after, most likely since time began. There is no doubt that the market for the myriad of products to achieve such results is a billion dollar industry. At nearly every turn there are ads trying to convince the consumer that the product is exactly what one needs. Of course, the better the packaging and at times quality of ingredients, the bigger the price tag. The same holds true for many health food products that promote beauty from within. The good news is that some of the best "yesterday" solutions are being rediscovered from the past, using what nature has to offer for a "todays" remedy. It turns out that some of Grandma's "secrets" worked well and were used for centuries in many cultures. Honey is just one of these miraculous and healthy answers provided by Mother Nature (as seen in prior columns in the last three weeks from swarming and typical honey found in our county to its many health benefits).
Yes, products in many attractive bottles and jars can be purchased for your skin and hair. However, why not consider some simple concoctions using honey from local sources where without heat and pasteurization as found in most supermarkets, it still has everything that was intended by nature? For shiny hair, a honey rinse is the trick. After shampooing and conditioning as usual, rinse your hair with a solution of warm water (about four cups) with about two teaspoons of honey. This is the rinse, so don't wash it away when the solution is applied in the shower. In addition to a shine, hair feels softer and has a subtle and sweet aroma. One recipe suggests adding a squeeze of a bit of lemon juice for blondes or a bit of vinegar for darker hair to add some additional shimmer.
There are many fine facial treatments using natural ingredients, and of course honey is one of them. Honey is a natural humectant, meaning it attracts and retains moisture; something faces need for soft and supple skin. Personally used, in addition to the hair rinse, one simple moisturizing mask is as easy as mixing about two teaspoons of honey with two teaspoons of milk and smoothing it over the face and neck.
Various beauty remedies using ingredients provided by Mother Nature can be very effective and inexpensive.
After about 15 minutes, just rinse off with warm water. Another "recipe" for pore cleansing suggests after opening pores with a warm cloth on the face for several minutes to then apply honey for about 20 minutes, followed by a rinse of warm water, then cold to close the pores. One more mask for a scrub to exfoliate as well as moisturize is to mix about one tablespoon of honey with a few drops of lemon juice and a pinch of finely ground almonds. Again, just rinse off with warm water. Remember from past columns that honey has great antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, so it follows that a dab of it (with a smidgen of cinnamon) can be applied to blackheads and blemishes to help reduce swelling and redness.
Cleopatra of Egypt was known for her beauty and it seems honey was one of her secrets. No doubt she used it for her face, but who hasn't heard of her milk and honey bath? The properties of milk and honey combined together can make one "feel like queen." One recipe of the many that may be found in books and the internet suggested that goat's milk was an even better source because of a unique triglyceride that has an added benefit of moisturizing and softening. Such a royal bath is as simple as adding about half a cup of natural honey and with about 2 cups of whole milk or milk powder to the bath water. Of course, as with any beauty treatment, it's best to take time and relax during the experience.
Of the countless beauty recipes that may be researched and found using honey or bee products, what's best for the lips is a simple balm. Beeswax is not that difficult to find considering all the beekeepers and farmers' markets across the county. Yes, you can buy a stick at the store that is made in some factory, but why not use something straight from the hive to your lips? At a farmer's market you might find the balm premade at a very reasonable price. However, for those who like to experiment or go back to the youthful days of the playing the "mad scientist," try the following as found in a great magazine called "Backyard Bees and Honey" from 2012. In a small double boiler, add half an ounce of beeswax and melt. Once melted, add one teaspoon of honey and four ounces of olive oil; stirring for about two minutes. Add a few drops of mint extract (optional) and stir well. The last step is to pour the heated mixture into a small glass container and divide into lip balm tins or tubes. (More or less wax can be used as preferred as well as other oils such vitamin E, almond, sunflower, etc. That's also part of the being the mad scientist.)
Honey and the honeybee, are wonders from nature that offer us so many benefits as seen thus far in this series of columns with "The buzz on bees" and the swarming process; "Sweet as honey" with the types of honey found in our county; "Bee healthy with honey" and all the health benefits of honey; and today, "The bee-auty of honey." Whereas there really could be no end in sight, this series will conclude soon, but not before looking at the dangers the honeybee is facing today and possibly some of the best food recipes ever.
In the meantime, make it a good week and be kind to the honeybee at your Fourth of July picnic. She's just curious and doing her job.