Recipes for Natural Beauty?
Q. My grandmother used to tell me about using olive oil as a hair conditioner, eggs for shampoo, and yogurt for facials. I thought it was a hoot at the time, but now I would love to know more. My grandmother is no longer with us. Do you know where I might find these "old wives" recipes?
I recently came across a new book by Dawn Gallagher, a model and actress, and it is exactly what you're looking for. "Naturally Beautiful: Earth's Secrets and Recipes for Skin, Body and Spirit" (Universe Publishing, 1999) is a compilation of beauty secrets from around the world, using all natural ingredients. The book is quite beautiful, with lovely pictures of women from various cultures, many of them in colorful native dress, as well as close-ups of the flowers, oils, vegetables, and fruits that go into the "recipes" for skin care, facials, shampoos, and conditioners. You'll also find a list of resources from which you can order all-natural beauty products.
I don't know if the "Queen of the Nile Milk Bath" is the one Cleopatra used, but Gallagher tells you how to whip it up. She also provides instructions on how to make a soothing oatmeal bath and includes beauty tips for those who want to make due with items already found in most kitchens. For example, she says adding a cup of apple cider vinegar to a bath works wonders for dry skin.
In addition to the recipes, Gallagher includes useful "how to" entries on manicures, pedicures, shampoos, facials, and quick "beauty secrets" (dab a small amount of honey on a blemish to make it disappear).
She also traces the history of beauty, bathing, and adornment through the centuries. She notes that archaeologists have uncovered body-painting pigments made from plants and minerals at Paleolithic sites; and that essential oils and containers with traces of perfume dating back 5,000 years have been found in Pakistan. In a chapter entitled "Beauty in Balance," she discusses mind/body activities and includes sections on yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong, and meditation and holistic healing. She gives only brief overviews but includes breathing exercises, instructions for walking, and breath-counting meditation.
I think you'll enjoy Gallagher's book. It certainly should provide you with a natural time-tested approach to beauty and beauty products -- and a lot of "recipes" grandma never knew.