For dry, flaky skin, give skin a moisture boost by adding a few drops of sweet almond oil infused with carrot seed or rose essential oil (both high in nourishing vitamins C and E) to your tub, or massage the mixture all over your body before soaking. Using evening primrose oil, which is high in the essential fatty acid linoleic acid, in place of almond oil can be especially helpful for soothing eczema and psoriasis.
For tired or dull skin, drop rosemary or peppermint essential oil to the water. The mentone and menthyl esters in peppermint provide a cooling sensation to the skin that will amp up circulation at the surface of the skin and perk up its appearance. Rosemary oil stimulates hair follicles (making it a natural dandruff fighter) and also helps keep skin toned when added to a bath.
Tips. To reap the benefits of any of these fragrant scents, always use pure essential oils rather than synthetic fragrances. “The brain’s limbic system can’t recognize synthetic scents, so you won’t get any benefits if you use them,” advises Brown. Natural scents, on the other hand, have been scientifically proven to affect brain waves associated with relaxation or alertness depending on the fragrance used.
No matter what kind of bath you prepare, you need to spend at least 20 minutes soaking in the water to allow your skin to absorb the healthful ingredients. Though it may seem a bit extravagant, taking that much time to calm down, meditate, and breathe can only help improve the appearance of your skin by helping your whole body–and mind–feel better. “Bathing isn’t just a luxury,” adds Roth. “It’s a necessity.”
No Time for a Bath? Even showers can deliver benefits to dull skin when done right, says Ann Brown, director of Spa Shiki at Lake Ozark, Missouri. “The trick is to create a thermal exchange in the body by switching between hot and cold water,” she says. “Shower under 100-degree water for five minutes, and then switch to 40 degree water for eight to 10 seconds.” Repeat two or three times, always ending with cold water.
The rapid temperature drop puts the body on high alert, and blood rushes to the surface of the skin. “This increased energy speeds up the detoxification process,” adds Brown. After the goosebumps subside, you’ll find brighter, healthier looking skin.
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