Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mercredi: The Art of Beauty

I will freely admit to not being one of those “shower every morning” folks. I can’t be, in point of fact. Coming into contact with that much soap and water would turn my skin into dried parchment. I can tolerate bathing every other day and actually prefer three times a week most of all. My hands and face are washed multiple times a day but then they are treated to a small herd of moisturizers that wouldn’t be practical “all over”. It works for me, and no I am not a wreaking remnant of the Dark Ages. The oil on your skin is there for a reason; try letting it do its job once in a while and see what happens.

The one important beauty aspect that can suffer from my personal regimen is my hair. Greasy hair has never (well, not never but not for a long time anyway) been attractive and I started casting around for ways to combat it without having to dunk my sensitive skin in water every day. Many years ago, even before I was hitting puberty, dry shampoos were all the rage and I loved the heck out of them. The craze dried up, if you’ll pardon the pun, in the late ‘70s and there I was pubescent and up a creek hair-wise. But, thanks to the good graces of my grandmother and a willingness to experiment, I managed to make my own dry shampoos which I still use today.

The simple purpose of a dry shampoo, which is really just a cleansing powder, is to soak up oil. The inability to wash one’s hair regularly brought about the use of powders and the eventual powdering of hair to a gray or white color in the late 18th century. It truly was a convenient and effective way to keep hair not only relatively clean but smelling delightful. And since the main ingredient then as now was cornstarch, it’s quite economical as well.

The best base I have found is simply 8 to 12 ounces of cornstarch to which you can add herbs for scent and, if you like, for magickal purposes. Put the cornstarch into a glass bowl for mixing and when you’ve made up your desired dry shampoo, place it in a glass jar with a tight lid. That way you can shake it gently to remix before application. Dried herbs should be ground to a very fine powder or you will have chunks of bay or rosemary left near your scalp. Use 1 to 3 teaspoons of your chosen herb and mix all thoroughly. Pour into the jar and store in a dry spot (the bathroom isn’t really the best idea for storage on this one) for up to three months.

To use, brush about a tablespoon’s worth of the mixture through your hair, rubbing it gently into your scalp first. Be sure to focus on any magickal outcome you might have empowered the herb(s) for while you brush, brush, brush. And check your scalp before you head out for white spots. At least until the big Marie Antoinette do’s come back in style.

Here are a few herbs and some magickal connections to consider along with my take on the scents, which are wonderful in and of themselves:

Lavender: a great pre-bedtime hair treatment that will help you sleep and stimulate your ability to remember your dreams.

Jasmine: perfect for a first date or to get a gentleman’s attention. For straight men and lesbians, vervain (also known as verbena – but not lemon verbena) works wonders. If you're looking for something quick and unhindered by commitment, basil is a good choice.

Rosemary: a certain pick-me-up first thing in the morning, rosemary can also assist your mental acuity through out the day and improve your persuasiveness and public speaking skills.

Bay: the leaves of the bay laurel – the very same ones you put in your spaghetti sauce – will help you get through a tough day, especially if you’re coming down with something or already ill. The scent is amazingly comforting without being antiseptic like eucalyptus.

Cinnamon: not only will you smell like a delicious confection but you’ll be protected from any ill will and the Evil Eye.

I highly recommend cinnamon for redheads, too, as it brightens your color all day. Blonds should try chamomile for the same effect while brunettes should use nutmeg.

Consider other possibilities too, particularly as your knowledge of herbal work increases. Who knows what you’ll be able to accomplish with your clean, charmingly scented hair. À votre santé ~

Header: Mary Robinson by Gainsborough c 1781


Meagan Spooner said...

Wow, this is really cool! I have the same problem with sensitive skin, that I can't wash off all the helpful oils every day or terrible things happen. I'm definitely going to have to try this--the lavender sounds particularly appealing!

Pauline said...

Thanks so much for stopping by, Meagan. I hope you'll come again soon. And please let me know how the dry shampoo worked out for you.

Timmy! said...

Fortunately for me (I think) I don't have to worry about shampoos on my bald head, Pauline... just shaving cream.

Undine said...

Pauline, you've saved the day. My hair tends to get oily very quickly, but, frankly, it's a king-sized pain to try and wash it everyday. I've even got lavender and rosemary bushes growing around my house like you wouldn't believe.

And God knows I could use some protection from the Evil Eye. I've got five cats.

Pauline said...

Yes, Timmy!; you never have to worry about this problem again. Bald is beautiful...

And I'm so happy I could help, Undine! Please let me know how it works out for you and if you tweak it at all. I'm always interested in new ways to approach these recipes.