Sugar, Spice & All Things Nice: Festive Natural Beauty

Ginger
Photo credit:     E. E. Piphanies

Season’s greetings! Is your home filled with wonderful festive scents? Cinnamon, ginger, cranberries, orange and, of course, chocolate are just some of the nostalgic flavours that provide joyous cheer in the cold, wintery months.

The best part is that many of the fruits and spices of the season have a wonderful traditional history as natural beauty remedies, and some will even help ease skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. So, you can also use these amazing ingredients on your face and body, saving you the calories!

Ginger

Freshly-baked gingerbread men bring smiles to faces but the power of its main ingredient has much more to offer.

Feeling fatigued or a little chilly? Ginger, which is native to south Asia and grows widely in the tropics, is a botanical and lusciously sweet and spicy root. Since the ancient Romans and Chinese, it’s had centuries of use for soothing and energizing the body. With the ability to increase circulation, it’s a superb muscle ache reliever after a shop-til-you-drop gift-buying session.

With its antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties it’s become quite the natural painkiller. A good acne and psoriasis buster, the antioxidant gingerol fights free radicals and helps promote smooth skin. The juice of a small sliver of fresh ginger can be dabbed daily onto hypo-pigmented skin or you can restore your complexion with a gingery balancing facemask. Yum.

Ginger can also be used as a decongestant and is good at preventing nausea; simply place the fresh, peeled and grated root in a mug of hot water with a teaspoon of honey.

Ginger is one your best anti-wrinkle weapons, too, as eating it aids your skin’s elasticity and firmness! A tangy ginger shampoo or conditioner can also help strengthen your hair.

Top tip: Psst: raw ginger is a bit of a cellulite-buster, perfect for shifting those Christmas dinner pounds. Start munching now!

Organic ginger root makes for a superbly spicy and cleansing foot scrub, and it’s a core ingredient in face and body washes and scrubs. 

Chocolate
Photo credit: thepinkpeppercorn

Chocolate

Who said chocolate was bad for you? The Mayans and Aztecs certainly didn’t! A “food of the gods”, chocolate was so revered it was used in ancient religious ceremonies.

Did you know? Chocolate beauty offers the same stress-relieving happy buzz as scoffing a bar and doesn’t have such a miserable impact on your skin. True fact.

Chocolate’s core ingredient cocoa includes naturally occurring anti-oxidising flavonols. These help to increase circulation, reduce blood pressure and collagen breakdown, helping to prevent skin damage from the sun, so you can avoid the wrinkles.

Cocoa butter has been used to soften and moisturize skin since the 19th century and so a scrub or chocolatey body wash can help eradicate dead skin cells. It’s also fabulous for bringing a rich shine to dark hair!

If you plan to chomp on this mood-enhancer, opt for dark, bitter, Fairtrade and organic chocolate with a minimum 70 per cent cocoa content

Cinnamon
Photo credit:     mhiguera

Cinnamon

One of the oldest spices, the distinct flavor of spicy cinnamon is collected from the bark of trees that are rolled into the popular quills to create our pretty festive decorations and provide a delicious pungent aroma!

Native to Sri Lanka, true cinnamon is known as Ceylon cinnamon. Cinnamon is a natural preservative as it has antibacterial and antifungal properties and so is a perfect inclusion in shaving oil. The Egyptians used this spice as part of the mummification process.

Packed full of nutrients including, iron, calcium and manganese, it’s often used as a cold and flu remedy. It also treats nausea, flatulence and upset tummies, which just might be needed after all the festive over-indulgence!

Cinnamon can help your skin complexion become rosier as it promotes circulation (not just because it’s an aphrodisiac, ahem). Able to remove blood impurities, you can apply a paste on your face to stop the spots. It’s also a good shampoo ingredient for your hair, as used by natural beauty companies Faith in Nature and Bentley Organics.

Top tip: Sprinkle some cinnamon onto your winter porridge as one teaspoon provides the same amount of antioxidants as a full cup of pomegranate juice and can improve digestion of fruits and dairy products.

With similar properties to ginger, cinnamon is a powerful antibiotic, helping reduce arthritic pain, nausea and menstrual cramps. If you want to think smart then cinnamon is your spice, enhancing the brain’s activity and memory functions!

Cranberry
Photo credit:     Half Chinese

Cranberry

Have you developed a taste for these tart berries?

Cranberries became a part of the winter festivities due to their history in their home-grown land of America. Seen as a symbol of peace by some Native Americans, the juice of cranberries were used as a natural dye long before they became the popular condiment for Thanksgiving turkey. Now considered a superfruit, cranberries were always thought to have medicinal and nutritional properties and were a key ingredient in poultices to draw poison from arrow wounds.

This bitter berry is very rejuvenating, with its amazing quantities of vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A and omega 3 fatty acids and is an antioxidant, helping to prevent free radical damage to the skin. Try its powers in the Neal’s Yard Power Berry Facial Mask.

Cranberries can act as a lovely and gentle exfoliator in natural soaps and scrubs.

Cranberry seeds are cold-pressed into oils that are in many face washes and shower gels, and provide relief for skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Try cranberry hair care products to help the scalp stay moist and your locks full of vitality.

Sugar

Ahh brown sugar, you taste so good! Before we go into Rolling Stones tributes, let’s tell you about sugar for the skin.

In natural beauty regimes, sugar is most popularly used as a gentle exfoliator in body scrubs, as it produces moisturizing and conditioning glycolic acid that helps to remove the old skin cells and promotes smoother and more glowing skin.

Brown sugar, which is naturally coloured with molasses, is softer and gentler than white sugar and so especially good for sensitive skin. Molasses are beneficial to your skin with their vitamin B content and can help reverse the signs of ageing.

Making a homemade sugar scrub is a cost-effective natural beauty regime without clogging pores. We also love this purifying mint mask by Essential Care that guarantees the white stuff is Fairtrade certified for extra sugary sweet moments.

Orange

Oranges are just brilliant. When dried and hung on ribbon they look fab. Plus they have many perks for natural beauties! 

Traditionally, oranges have been used to treat everything from bronchitis and constipation to bad breath, not to mention being great for your immune system. The pectin in oranges maintains your body’s supply of healthy bacteria and looks after your intestines.

We all know oranges are packed full of vitamin C, which is great for ensuring smooth and soft skin and used in a skin toner they provide an extra glow .They’ve also got amino acids, folic acid, antioxidants and flavonoids, detoxifying your skin wonderfully, making them a super key ingredient for a shower gel, body wash or facial scrub.

Orange
Photo credit:     mendhak

With their citric acid, a natural astringent that dry out pimples, they can help fight acne and close up enlarged pores offering youthful, fresher skin. Oranges can also fight ageing by restoring collagen, firming up your skin and preventing wrinkles. Try an orange-tastic organic night cream.

Top Tip: Frosty the Snowman would like this: If you get chilly fingers from too much time in the snow then dry some orange peel, powder it and mix it with vegetable oil and hey presto – frostbite heals naturally.

If you have dandruff, then oranges are your secret weapon, giving your hair the shiny treatment.

For those of you partying too hard, we recommend this classic hangover cure: simply stick some dried orange peel in hot water with a bit of salt and drink.

Cloves

Perhaps it’s not your favourite flavour for munching on, but we had to mention cloves because they’re always stuck into oranges during the festive season. In fact the reason is because cloves have amazing antifungal, antioxidant and antibacterial properties. They also help fight the winter blues with their uplifting aroma.

Cloves are a common ingredient for treating fungal infections and are an anti-inflammatory with a high content of flavonoids. They’ve been used to treat earache and toothache for centuries.

Cloves
Photo credit:     exceptinsects

Cloves are also a natural anesthetic because they contain eugenol oil – and this is why they are so often used in toothpastes and mouthwashes.

Did you know? During the Han dynasty the Chinese emperor ordered everyone who addressed him to use cloves to mask bad breath – cunning eh?

With plenty of minerals and vitamins, cloves can aid your body metabolism by increasing circulation and purifying your blood and can cool your body down

With all these traditional beauty ideas, what more do you need to be a festive natural beauty?

Disclaimer: Skin types vary depending on the individual. If irritation occurs, always seek medical assistance from your GP or a dermatologist.

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