by Margaret Cabaniss
Recently, Zoe shared her tricks for using essential oils to fight winter illnesses; this week, I thought I’d share how I use them to fight winter.
I have gone on record (many, many times) as not being a big fan of this time of year. As a general rule, I don’t deal well with the unremitting cold and gray, with not even the tiniest holiday on the horizon to break up the monotony. My skin doesn’t deal all that well, either: All the cold, dry air just sucks the life right out of it, leaving me in a constant battle against dry hands and chapped lips. A little present from winter, just for me. Yay.
I’ve found my own ways to deal with the season, though: lots of warm drinks, piles of blankets, and homemade peppermint bath scrubs.
I’ve shared a recipe for homemade bath scrubs before, but the coconut-lime version I made two summers ago just feels wrong somehow in the dead of winter. Instead, the peppermint has a bright, wake-you-up scent that brings some much-needed life — and moisture — back into the proceedings.
You can use the peppermint essential oil a few different ways: Start with 10 drops of oil mixed with one cup of epsom salts, then sprinkle a few tablespoons of the mixture into warm water for a soothing foot soak. Or, if you prefer scrubbing to soaking, add a third of a cup of coconut oil to the mix (you’ll probably have to melt it first before you can stir it up), readjust with a few more drops of the peppermint oil, then use it in the shower to help soften your poor frozen feets. (Conversely, if you like the peppermint but not the scrub, try mixing it with just the coconut oil and a little vinegar for a peppermint foot rub.)
You can even make a lip scrub variation, substituting raw sugar for the salt: A tablespoon of sugar, a teaspoon of coconut oil, and a drop or two of peppermint oil makes a nice, tingly lip scrub (and it doesn’t taste half-bad, either).
You can add more or less peppermint oil to any of these basic amounts to get the scent that you prefer, but take it slowly at first and test as you go: This stuff is pretty strong, and after a few minutes of inhaling it, you won’t be able to smell anything else. (In a nice, pepperminty way, of course.) It’s also not a good idea to use the undiluted oil on your skin, as it can be an irritant without a carrier of some sort (like the coconut oil, salt, etc.). And since it will be coming in contact with your skin, be sure to get a high-quality essential oil: I got mine at Whole Foods, but there are probably better version to be had from places like Mountain Rose Herbs or Eden Botanicals (I’ve shopped both places before and recommend them).
And, as always, these make great gifts, too: I gave Ann a little jar of the bath scrub as a pick-me-up for those last uncomfortable days of pregnancy (along with a few truffles, just to sweeten the deal). It’s a small thing, but it helps make these dreary days a little more bearable.
Any tips or tricks for keeping your skin happy during the winter months?
Images: Margaret Cabaniss