Biodynamic skincare

Biodynamic skincare

Cleansing Beauty Treatments
Why should we vary our skincare routine?

If you have read other articles on the LWTM blog you will be familiar with the biodynamic principle that days have not only dates but also varying qualities. I think most of us would agree that we don’t feel and act the same every day. On certain days we feel energetic and sociable, at others more emotional and withdrawn. Just look at the natural world.  Plants are not in bloom all year round. There needs to be some rest between busy times to regenerate. It is therefore a logical conclusion that we should not treat our skin the same every day.

What is the function of the skin and how does it renew?

The skin is the body’s largest organ. It

  • protects your body from environmental stressors like germs, pollution/ sun radiation
  • regulates your body temperature
  • receives sensory information
  • stores water, fat, and vitamin D

Cold-blooded animals such as frogs sustain their life by mainly breathing through their skin, also called cutaneous respiration. There are even salamanders that have no lungs at all! But in humans and other warm-blooded animals, skin breathing makes up only a very small percentage of the needed gas exchange. But it is the reason why we feel so happy and energized when immersing ourselves in a natural environment with lots of fresh air.

The skin consists of 3 main layers. The epidermis (also the top and body’s barrier), the derma, and the subcutis. For the purpose of this article, I will concentrate on the epidermis. ‘The Ancient Greek words Epi’, meaning ‘ over or on top’, and ‘derma’ –  skin build the word Epidermis – the outer skin or barrier. Until relatively recently scientists assumed that this was a quasi-dead layer of skin cells, shedding in a roughly 4-week cycle, coincidently the same length of time as a whole lunar cycle. But now we know that it is as alive as the rest of the skin, playing an important role in protecting the body from viruses and other pathogens and aiding in the functions mentioned above.

The lunar cycleA new approach to skincare

Now that we know the function and timing of how the epidermis works and renews, it makes sense to structure our skincare in the same rhythm. This, by the way, is not a new concept – but has been in practice for hundreds of years.

First of all, you should establish a daily routine, which will stay consistent throughout. The bare minimum is to cleanse your skin thoroughly every evening and replenishing it with a suitable night creme. In the morning wake up your skin by splashing it with cold(ish) water and add a day cream that includes good sun protection. The products you use will be guided by your skin type. This could be a rather oily, combination, or dry skin.

Now we move on to extra procedures that I would recommend to change in the 4-week cycle and choosing the rhythm of the moon would seem a natural choice.

Waxing Moon:  Any kind of skincare that plumbs the skin, adds moisture and nourishment. All anti-aging procedures fall into this camp, to do extra helpings of serums or body treatments that feed the skin and promote repair and healing.

Full Moon:  Ideal for a sensual massage or luxurious, pampering facial

Waning Moon:  All kinds of skincare that eliminate, deep cleanse, exfoliate, and purify. This would be a good body brushing session followed by a face and body peeling. Lymph drainage, deep cleansing clay mask, and any kind of hair removal.  Here is an article that introduces you to body brushing. The benefits of body brushing

New Moon: As part of a monthly internal cleansing (Liquid Fast Day), add on a detox bath with Epsom salt and purifying face mask.

For more information here is an article called Lunar Beauty 

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Growing your own loofah sponge

Growing your own loofah sponge

Body Brushing

 THIS SYMBOL REPRESENTS SKIN REGENERATION, EXFOLIATION AND BODY BRUSHING

 Whenever you see this symbol it is time to brush and exfoliate 

There is a new trend emerging –  growing your own loofah. It is such a great plant and totally compatible with the LWTM lifestyle philosophy.  You can eat this plant (as it is in fact a vegetable – a mixture between cucumber and courgette), but you can also grow your own body sponge and kitchen tool. When you buy it in your pharmacy or health food store you probably don’t realize that you can easily grow it yourself. This is how to do it.

 

Where does the Loofah plant come from?

The Loofah plant originates from South Asia and looks quite similar to a  large, wide cucumber. It does need a lot of warmth and sunshine to grow, so a sunny spot is a must. If you are a keen gardener you can propagate the seeds in a heated propagator. But for most amateur gardens you can buy a little plant in April and keep it initially indoors on a sunny windowsill. As they grow, you can transplant them into a larger pot.  You can keep your plant indoors, ideally in front of a sunny window or eventually you can transplant it into your garden. 
But first, the plant needs well established. The earliest you can plant it outdoors in late May (I am talking here Northern European climate – if you live in a sunny spot, it could be earlier). It is important that there are no more frosty night left once you transplant it outside, as otherwise, this plant will wilt.
In the wild, a loofah plant can grow up to 10m, but even if you grow it in a very big pot, it will never reach this height, as the root growth is restricted.

Can you eat them?

Yes, they are just like a climbing courgette or pumpkin with yellow flowers. They also need stalking. You can also eat the yellow flowers (similar to courgettes). But you can only eat the plant when it is still young, small and tender  (early summer).  Once the loofah grows bigger it becomes quite rough inside and is no longer used for food. In this instance, we want the loofah to stay on the plant as we want a big, rough-fiber skeleton to develop. In fact, if you have lots of fruits developing, you can eat a few and keep the 3 strongest on the plant until early autumn. The foliage will then turn brown and dry up. This is because the plant ages and dehydrates. Once it has grown to a decent size and it looks fairly dry and solid, pick it off the plant.

 

Make your own loofah exfoliating sponge

Many loofahs you get to buy commercially have been bleached, so don’t be surprised if yours has a deeper tan colour than expected. Dry it in your airing cupboard or dehydrator until the skin is ready to peel off. You can submerge the dry loofah in a bucket of water and peel the rough skin off. Then you need to shake off the seeds from inside the plant. Keep them in a jar, ready to plant up in the next year (ideally end of January to end of March). You can give some seeds with these instructions to your friends, so they can grow their own loofahs.

In short, the loofah is a  really useful plant. When small you can eat it, once it is dry and rough, you can use the whole dried fruit as a  body sponge to get off any dead skin cells. Another use is in the kitchen. Cut the loofah into rings and you these to scrub your pans and dirty dishes, especially when food has dried on and is difficult to clean. 

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The benefits of body brushing

The benefits of body brushing


Body brush

The organs that eliminate toxins and waste products from the body are the bladder, the liver, the kidneys, the colon and of course the skin. In fact the skin, as the largest and most visible organ, is also the first to show any signs of imbalance or deficiencies. These signs include spots, lines or rings under your eyes. When the body is too overwhelmed with food, toxins, etc. it needs to find a quick way of ‘storing it all’.  The skin is such a place and we sooner or later see the built up of all this and call it ‘cellulite’.

A frequent ‘body brushing’ routine can’t magically brush all these toxins away, but it can improve the flood flow to the area and together with drinking enough water and using body oils, such as birch oil, it can help to eliminate them in a more efficient way.

What are the benefits of body brushing ?

It is simply the best and easiest way to remove dead cells from your body,  making your skin feel and look wonderfully smooth. But this is not all. It also

  • Stimulates the blood circulation and makes your skin look like it is glowing
  • Reduces the appearance of cellulite
  • Stimulates and cleanses the lymphatic system
  • Tones the underlying muscle tissue,
  • It leaves you feeling more energized
  • Stimulate the hormone and oil-producing glands.
  • A regular ‘body brushing’ routine tightens the skin and helps with premature aging
  • Due to the improved blood circulation, you are less likely to suffer from cold hands and feet

The skin renews roughly every 28 days, the same time as the moon cycle.

When to use  ‘body brushing’?

The best results do not come from a one-off body brushing session, but from a regular routine. It is important to always brush BEFORE having a shower or a bath, as dry skin cells are much easier removed than wet ones. I advise you to do  a quick daily body brushing session by using a body brush or exfoliating gloves (please follow instructions below).  It does not have to take long, a minute or two is sufficient and well worth it, as it will wake you up and help to increase your circulation.

Additionally, two to three times per week I recommend extending the body brushing session to about 5 to 8 minutes and concentrate on areas such as thighs, bottom, underarms, and finally the digestive tract (see detailed instructions below). Then have a shower or bath as usual.  Once you have dried your body, apply a good body lotion or anti-cellulite body oil (I recommend the Weleda birch oil and I can say from my own experience that my skin feels great and much firmer).

Body BrushingI usually try to step up my body brushing regime during the Waning and the New Moon, when the body naturally aims to detoxify. Here is the symbol on the LWTM lifestyle calendar. 

 

How do you use the ‘body brushing’?
Body brushing map
When you are ready, take a body brush or loofah and sit down in a chair or on the edge of your bath. Start with brushing the soles of your feet, beginning at the toes and brush backwards towards your heels and up to the ankles. Then move up each leg towards your hips, brush your legs front, side and back, but always brush UPWARDS towards your heart.

From time to time shake your brush into the sink or shower tray to remove any dead skin cells.
Then brush your belly, sides and back – again start at the thighs and brush upwards until you have reached the chest area sparing out your breasts. Then begin to brush your arms, again starting at your fingertips and working upwards until you have reached your armpits. At last brush down from your neck towards your chest area (again leaving out the breasts). Ask your partner to brush your back area or change over to a brush with a longer handle.

Digestive boost: Right at the end I brush my belly, following the digestive flow ( this helps to move the waste forward). It is important to start at the bottom right and brush up towards your right breast. Then go across to the left and finally down on your left-hand side, at the bottom go across to the right until you have come full-circle. Repeat this a few times. This is especially important when you have a sluggish digestion and for all those who want to lose weight. This gentle, digestive massage/brushing together with an increased intake of liquid and fibre, can do wonders for your digestive system.

Remember: Always start at the bottom of your feet, hands, etc and brush upwards. Repeat this action again and again, always starting at the bottom with upwards strokes, directed towards your heart. Once you have reached the height of your heart, reverse the direction and brush down towards your heart.

Once you are satisfied that you have brushed your whole body, jump in the bath or a shower. Once you are dry again, apply a good body moisturiser or body oil.

See more how others have used body brushing to remove toxins and help with their cellulite.

One last word of advice: Never brush more than a few minutes at a time. Brushing more won’t improve your circulation any further, but may make your skin feel sore. A few minutes on a regular basis are much more sensible and effective than a one-off session that lasts 30 minutes or more and leaving you feeling sore.

If you are prone to oily skin or shed a lot of skin, combine body brushing with the application of a body scrub. First do a light ‘body brushing’ routine, followed by the application of a body peeling mask or body scrub. Leave it on for a few minutes until the peeling mask becomes uncomfortable and then rinse off in a shower or bath. Apply body lotion/oil as usual.

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