Mark Antony named July in honour of Julius Caesar. It was later called Hay Month and Harvest Month on the French calendar. July is indeed the fruitful season and time to take advantage of all the produce of the land that will add to comfort and beauty.
Try an Air Bath for Refreshment
For most of our lives we are covered by layers of clothing. Except for brief moments, the skin on our bodies seldom has a chance to breathe without obstruction. An air bath is a delightful and rewarding respite from all the hours of swaddling confinement we undergo.
Exposing the body to air is an ancient custom, practised by those who have found a sense of refreshment in leaving the body unclothed for a period of time each day. This is, of course, more easily practised in warmer climates, but even in colder areas you can use the spring, summer and autumn to advantage.The effect of air and sunlight directly on the skin is most agreeable. With today's scant bathing suits the young can experience this benefit more fully than those who dress more modestly. But few people swim daily, and for an air bath to been entirely effective, the body should be completely uncovered.
Fine a private place in your home. Of course a terrace screened from view would be ideal, but it is not sun we want as much as air. Even an open window will serve admirably.
There is something absolutely delicious about air bathing, or permitting the body pores to breathe without restriction every day. The results are similar to an invigorating exercise or a stimulating bath.
An easy, practical way to air bathe is by simply sleeping without restricting nightwear. Usually this is merely habit, anyway, and since there is bed clothing surrounding you, what need have you of additional covering. Deeper and more tranquil slumber will usually result from sleeping nude. And sleep seems to come more quickly when you're unhampered by clothing in bed. So throw your window open wide, retire for the night, and allow your pores to be refreshed and renewed by additional oxygen intake.
The damage done to the skin during the summer months from overindulgence in the sun is inestimable. Moderate amounts of all types nature are desirable and rewarding, but constant or too frequent dalliance with summer sun, when the rays are more direct, can destroy body tissue to such a point that a person can age several years in appearance in a few short months.
Treat the sun as a friend but don't embrace it on a daily basis. If you do, not only are you damaging the skin you ordinarily pamper, but you're also courting disaster in the form of skin cancer. Too many women now in their fifties are paying for the overenthusiastic sunbathing that became a favourite pastime when they were in the teens and twenties.
Dry, leathery skin results from too much tanning. In fact, sometimes a tanned animal hide appears to have as much life as the complexion of those women who have overexposed themselves to the sun's ultraviolet rays.
If you insist upon sunbathing to acquire a tan, there are some applications which will promote it and get you out of the sun that much sooner. At the same time, they offer some protection to the skin in helping ward off the dry-cooked appearance that can result from too much sun.
1/2 cup sesame seed oil
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp wheat germ oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
Put all these ingredients into the blender, except the mint leaves, and whizz until thick. Add 1 tbsp of mint juice crushed from the leaves, or made by beating one or two tablespoons of water with a handful of mint leaves in the blender before beginning. Rub into the body before exposing it to the sun.
Barley Paste for Sunburn
If over-enthusiasm for a tan has made you incautious and the results are an uncomfortable sunburn, an old-fashioned barley paste can be very soothing and help to reduce the redness.
Grind 75g of unpearled barley, and mix the powder with 25g of raw honey. Mix these together and add the unbeaten white of one egg, to make a smooth paste. Gently rub this into the affected area and allow to remain on overnight if possible, or most of the day, for the best results.
Remember, the old-fashioned methods of beauty care are longer lasting than modern cosmetics, which can have uncomfortable side-effects. At the same time, the home-prepared remedies and treatments require longer to be effective. Nature will do its work perfectly but it won't be rushed.
Peaches and Cream Skin Softener
There is something absolutely beautiful about a bowl full of fresh peaches and real cream. The fruit looks sun-kissed and warm and alive with colour, and the ivory richness of the cream crowns the fruit. Why not wear it and eat it too? This nutritious and beautiful dessert will then do twice as much for you. Fresh peaches offer you a feat of Vitamins A, B and C, along with calcium for serenity and magnesium for good skin. Add to that Vitamin D from certified fresh, raw cream for lagniappe*, or a little something extra.
Mash to a pulp a tablespoon of a completely ripe peach and mix in enough cream** to make a thick application. Lie down and apply a generous layer of the fruit and cream to your face and neck. Allow the mixture to remain on the face for thirty minutes. Remove and rinse the face in warm and then cool water several times. Gently pat away the excess moisture without rubbing. Do not use soap.
And, since this is an edible cosmetic, get double duty by doubling the quantity, your weight permitting, adding a dollop of honey, and eating it after your facial. You'll tingle outside and in!
Strawberry Paste to Refresh the Skin
In July, pour all of summertime's wealth into your body. Too soon the fruits of summer will be gone, and you will be left with tasteless foods which have lost much of their vitamin and mineral value because they have travelled enormous distances.
Pick a basket, or pick up a basket, of little, red, ripe strawberries to eat and to use as a cosmetic. Make Strawberry lotions and custards and paste, and prepare bowls of strawberries and honey and milk
Use the berries in every conceivable way, and if you're in a hurry, just bite the end of one and rub the rich red juice onto an oily skin or a skin that needs moisture, bleaching, cleansing, or reviving. Rinse away after it's dried and note the colour in your complexion.
Refreshing Strawberry Paste
1/6 oz gum tragacanth***
rose water, orange water or elderflower water
1/2 lb fresh, ripe strawberries
Soak the gum tragacanth in enough rose water to soften to a thin mucilage. Chop and crush the strawberries,. They must be ripe for their formula; no half-ripe or too-firm berry will do. Mix the berries with rose water to form a liquid paste. Beat in the tragacanth. Store in a capped jar in the refrigerator when not in use.
Gently massage the paste into the face and neck area at night, in order to soften and tone the skin. Rinse away with warm water in the morning (you might want to protect the bedding by using an old pillowcase).
Strawberries, along with citrus fruits and some vegetables, are an important source of bioflavonoids(****), which are used effectively in treating skin haemorrhage among other ailments. This condition is caused when blood vessel walls are so fragile they erupt and leve spidery red lines across a face. Since this is a frequent cosmetic misery, it would be very wise to add these luscious fruits to the diet during their season, and when their all-too-brief appearance is over, sustituting other sources of the important bioflavonoid.
At one time, when freckles (*****) weren't as casually accepted as today, women fought them off with various concoctions they brewed or had made up and gave them names to lessen their supposed blight. Sun Kisses and the Kisses of Apollo were two favourite expressions meant to take the sting from the freckled face.
Beauty books soothed heavily freckled young girls by telling them a few freckles under the eyes increased their beauty by enhancing their expression and calling attention to their eyes - or that Cleopatra was " with Phoebus's amorous pinches black". Over the years, more charming than accurate explanations have been given of the little rusty wonders that will allow themselves to be bleached a bit, covered somewhat - but disposed of never.
One 19C explanation suggested freckles consist of iron in the blood combining with the light of day. The minute iron portions supposedly found themselves outside the usual tract of skin and deposited themselves just under the surface of the top skin. When exposed to light, the particles immediately turned darker and thus freckles were born.
Today, dermatologists aren't overly concerned about freckles, so matter of factly are they accepted. And their explanation is that they are small accumulations of pigment which have not been evenly distributed throughout the skin. Sunlight does in fact tend to darken them, so avoiding heavy doses of the sun will help prevent the deepening colour that seems to distress those overly burdened with this pigmented spotting.
Fading freckles are about the most one can hope for. There seem to be two types. 'Cold', or winter freckles, as they have been known for some time, are the more permanent type. Summer freckles appear only in that season and intensify or diminish according to exposure to the sun. They tend to disappear in winter.
Winter freckles come to stay. Lotions and bleaches will help soften the colour of both summer and winter freckles. If they freckles really distress you they can be 'painted' with a camel's hair brush dipped into lemon juice every night; the dried juice should be allowed to remain until morning. Rinse the face and apply a thin coating of salad oil. If the skin shows signs of irritation, add plain water or rose water to the lemon juice to weaken it. Discontinue the use altogether if it becomes uncomfortable.
Buttermilk or yoghurt are two excellent skin bleaches but, as with the lemon juice, they must be applied daily in order to be effective.
Fortify the hair for its dose of summer sun, seawater, and chlorinated pool water by shampooing weekly with strengthening herbs. Hair that is in good condition, with strong roots and sturdy strands, will be more resistant to the summer's assaults on it.
Nettle wash is a prized formula for promoting tissue strength and improving hair texture and its use has brought praise for its virtues down through the centuries. In addition to other qualities, it also an excellent wash for removing dandruff, and at the same time it improves the colour of the hair.
Mix together half a cup each of sage and nettles and cover for later use. Pour two cups of boiling water over a quarter cup of the combined mixture for each rinse, allowing it to steep until warm. Strain and use after shampooing and rising the hair thoroughly. Place a small basin beneath the head and pour the nettle/sage since over the hair several times. Then massage the hair well and pour one last rinse over it. Wrap a towel around the heat for five minutes or so before drying the hair.
** could this also work well with natural yoghurt?