Read the news and you'd think invasive surgery and high-octane chemicals were the only avenues to beauty. But holistic wisdom says otherwise. "People are becoming more aware of the connection between health in our internal systems and the outward glow that results," says dermatologist Dr. Alan Dattner, who has a private practice in New Rochelle, New York, and also serves as president of holisticdermatology.com. "With natural beauty therapies, you're enhancing your total well-being along with your appearance." In search of beauty that's natural and vibrant, we enlisted integrative doctors, holistic aestheticians, and innovative beauty experts to reveal their key practices and techniques for looking your best without going under the knife. What we found is that with only a few changes -- whether tried-and-true or more unexpected -- you can radiate vitality in bright, smooth skin, eyes that shine, and hair that bounces. These three steps will show you how.
If You Do Nothing Else...
"Gentle" is the operative word here. Intense scrubbing and harsh chemicals can strip natural oils, resulting in prematurely aged skin. Choose a moisturizing creamy cleanser (never soap -- it's too drying even for oily skin) followed by a warm water rinse, which opens pores and increases blood flow. Pat your skin until damp, not fully dry.
Go One Step Further
Massage Your Face
This is a great way to loosen muscles scrunched into habitual expressions. "This brings blood to the surface, clears out puffiness, and reduces fatigue in the skin," says Chris Haas, owner of Ra Organic Spa in Burbank, California. Don't have time for an appointment? At home, all you need is a customized facial serum. Barbara Close, founder of Naturopathica, recommends a base of evening primrose and avocado oils with rose geranium, lavender, and German chamomile essential oils for dry skin, or apricot kernel oil with juniper, lemon, and rosemary oils for oily skin. Starting at the chin, move your hands in small circles and continue to the cheeks, around the eyes, and to the forehead. By doing this, you're stimulating circulation and bringing more nutrients to the skin. Follow with a warm compress to increase the absorption of the serum.
See our homemade recipes for facial massage oils.
Look to the Farm
They may seem like unusual beauty picks, but goat's milk and ghee are skin-friendly and extremely emollient. Goat's milk has more calcium, vitamins, and triglycerides (fats) than cow's milk, and its short-strand protein structure means it's particularly suited to skin absorption. The milk's lactic acid makes it a spa favorite for buttery-soft skin. Ghee, or clarified butter, is an Ayurvedic staple used to moisturize and purify the body. It's also a great digestive and detox aid because it stimulates the liver to secrete bile. Rogers Badgett, owner of the Raj, an Ayurveda health retreat in Vedic City, Iowa, suggests ingesting a quarter teaspoon of ghee in the morning and night (this is not recommended for overweight people or those who have weak digestion). Some centers also use it in Netra Basti, a purification treatment said to balance the pitta dosha and bring luster to the eyes. It's not for the squeamish: In a reclining prone position, you slowly blink as a skilled technician gently applies warm ghee to your eyes. Afterward, your closed eyes are wiped gently and the residual oils moisturize skin and soften lines.
Try It At
- Warm Goat Milk Manicure and Pedicure, the Carneros Inn, Napa, California; thecarnerosinn.com
- Kate Somerville's Signature Facial, at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, Hawaii; fourseasons.com
- Virgin Gorda Goat Milk and Honey Wrap, Little Dix Bay, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands; rosewoodhotels.com
Our Ghee Pick
- Pratima Ayurvedic Rejuvenating Oil; pratimaskincare.com
Learn how to do a facial massage and what oils to use.