Being at a certain age myself, I know how important it is to look after one’s skin. A few weeks ago we were enjoying the hottest summer since 1976 (oh how I remember those golden days of my youth) and many of us were caught in the delicious, but often damaging, rays of the sun. Having observed many people on the Devon beaches this week, who look like lobsters, it got me to wondering how much the average British person actually knows about the healing of sun burn? Most grab the factor 50 or 30 from the supermarket shelf, whose ingredients include a very long list of some Latin names no one can pronounce or understand. The same goes with products for after care. Those are just as important as the sunscreen. Does everyone know that we can only be exposed to the sun for 20 mins, even with sun screen on? Or that most sun screen actually washes off once we are in the sea or swimming pool?

I have to admit, I don’t trust over the counter make up. My grandmother, who was from Andalucia, the hottest region in the south of Spain had a myriad of wise woman remedies, and her skin was luminous, even into her 70s. “Never put anything on your face you wouldn’t put into your mouth”, was one of her favourite bits of advice to us young women when I grew up. “You make yourself, you know what is in it”, was another. That went for meals as well as medicine and skin care. One of her favourite rehydration liquids was olive oil, usually made to smell a little better with some essential oil like orange blossom. This was mixed in a little brown bottle, 1/10 and lastet usually a week. “Never make too much, make less, make often, fresh is better”.

Her facial scrub consisted of peach kernels, very finely ground in a pestle and mortar, then cold cream was grated into it, mixed and packed into a small tin and pressed. Only she alone was aloud to use this concoction and woe betide if we were caught with her things. Cleansing your face was all important in a dusty country like Spain, and I was fascinated by what I called her ‘face ballet’. To cleanse the face she would use tiny circular motions, working counter clockwise, then rinse with hot water. Repeating the process with the soap and the movement a second time but then rinsing with cold water. Then patting the face dry, never rubbing.

For toner she would use witch hazel or her home made herbal vinegar toner (see below), a small cotton cloth, and once again repeat the counter clockwise circular motions, whilst applying the toner.

25 ml of dried rose petals, 25 ml of camomile, peel of one orange, 125 ml of vinegar, Kilner jar, 5 drops of olive oil/orange blossom oil. Combine the rose petals and chamomile, place them in the jar. Bring the vinegar to a full rolling boil. Pour the vinegar a little cooled over the herbs and close the Kilner jar. Shake the jar well every day. When the herbs lose their colour strain them out, the add a cup of water and the oil to the liquid. Leave the jar in a dark place for a week, strain again to remove any sediment. Apply to clean dry skin with the cotton cloth, avoiding the eye area.Give it a try, you may be surprised at how well it works.  

Once a week she would spend a good hour on her beauty regime, which included the slapping of her neck and chin 60 times, to prevent sagging. I do this myself now, and it actually works.

Thankfully nowadays at Goddess House we have several wonderful massage therapists who also do facials for those of us who can’t always manage the regime by ourselves in our busy lives. Taking 30  mins and just allowing ourselves to relax and enjoy is the least we can gift ourselves. When we are happy with the way we look, then we are much better company for others, and our family and work colleagues will thank us.

I let you into one more little secret my grandmother shared with me: crystals are the greatest healers and if you have caught the sun a bit too much, take a little piece of rose quarz or blue lace agate and rub it gently over your face and body to cool the burn. Ask the crystal to take the sting out of the burn, to turn it from an angry red into a golden glow. Don’t forget to thank the crystal for its help. Place it into a small dish with earth to cleanse. Crystals are our best healing friends.

Bee Helygen

Crystal Healer, Soul Midwife, Swynwraig (Wise Woman)