Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mercredi: The Art of Beauty

In the modern west, we have been taught to believe – mostly through advertising – that if you have an issue you can pay to have it fixed.  Within the last 20 years we have come to believe, in an even more extreme version of this mantra, that we can buy something, take it home, and fix the problem ourselves.  Depressed?  Here’s a Prozac; take as you see fit.  Tubby?  Here’s the latest “supplement”; only five simple payments of $59.99 each.  Skin starting to sag?  We’ve got a cream for that.

Unfortunately, these little fix-its, despite their high price tags, rarely work for long if at all.  Sometimes the old fashioned way really is the best way of all.  Which leads us today’s ancient remedy for a host of ills that the flesh is heir to: body brushing.

Known since Ancient Egyptian times (Cleopatra VII was said to have this treatment done every other day without fail), body brushing is not just an excellent way to keep your skin healthy and glowing.  As any homeopath will advise, this at-home treatment also helps to remove toxins from the body, stimulate the lymphatic system, improve circulation, tone muscles and remove cellulite.  All this for a little time two or three days a week and the cost of a good brush or loofah.

The best time to undertake a full body brushing is right before you shower or bathe.  Three times a week is about the maximum number of brushings you should undertake as the treatment can harm your skin if followed too rigorously.  I try to keep to a regimen of twice a week whenever I’m at home.

First, buy a good, natural, firm bristle brush with a long handle.  The Body Shop and Sephora both have excellent brushes available, as do many whole food markets that sell natural bath goods.  Synthetic bristles will do more harm than good and natural bristles that are soft won’t get the job done.  A long, natural loofah sponge will do the trick just as well.

Brush with firm, circular strokes from your extremities toward your core.  I like to sit down and start with the bottoms of my feet, work up my legs and then start again with fingers and hands, moving up my arms.  Do your neck, back, belly and finally your chest.  Be sure to move the brush in a counter-clockwise motion on your stomach to aid digestion and avoid those sensitive areas like nipples and underarms.  Seriously, you’ll be glad you did.

Now you’re ready to step into the shower or bath and rinse off all that pore-clogging dead skin.  Remember to wash your brush with a mild soap – I use my shampoo while I’m showering – and allow it to air dry for next time.

As an aside, I don’t use a brush on my face but prefer cleansers specifically made to exfoliate.  Face brushing is done by some, but I won’t try to comment on it here. 

Once you get into the habit of dry brushing, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner.  It is an especially good thing to begin when one is young, as the anti-aging benefits will show almost immediately.  A votre santé ~

Header:  A Tangerian Beauty by Jose Tapiro Baro c 1876 via Old Paint


Timmy! said...

Brushing? Are you crazy, Pauline? That actually takes some effort! Wouldn't it be easier to just take another pill?

Next you are going to start advocating the health benefits of excercise or some other insane notion...


Pauline said...

I know, right? Crazy ludites. I'm going to go pretend my Etch-A-Sketch is one of those fancy "tablets" again...