What does beauty, er, radical beauty have to do with yoga? Or witches? My teachers Sharon Gannon & David Life taught me that being a yogi means being a radical, because radical means “to get to the root” & that’s what yogis do: we don’t live on the surface, we dive below to get to the source, to the truth of the matter. We take control of our lives. We read labels & take responsibility for the repercussions our choices have on ourselves & the world around us.
Way back before Sharon was a yoga teacher, she studied with an alchemist, whose first assignments to her were to learn to cook, clean & garden (on her East Village fire escape if necessary!). Why? Because those are all foundational to our existence, they are first chakra issues, they are the roots from which the tree of us grows. Without deep, strong roots, we can’t branch & bloom, we can’t soar, we can’t provide shade & sustenance & inspiration for those around us.
From Alchemy to Witchcraft
These days people are so busy that they’ve given their first chakra power away—they buy prepared food or eat out, they hire someone to clean their house & someone else to tidy their flower beds & mow their lawn. I admit that when I lived in NYC, I felt blessed to be able to afford a housekeeper twice a month, cause I hate cleaning & had myriad other things I’d much rather do, & that I’d happily pay someone to clean now if I had the cashola, for the same reasons. On all other fronts, however, I am a total radical: I have always liked to make my own damn food, & other useful & beautiful this ‘n’ that from scratch, for myself & others. Maybe you were around during my hand-crocheted-washcloth phase?
Probably has something to do with my moon’s placement in a part of the sky called hasta, which means “hand,” which means my mind is colored by the desire to bring things into manifestation. You might say that I’m a crafty witch.
One day I was perusing the ingredients on a $50 bottle of face serum & I went, “Omg, I can make this myself,” & thus I started getting to the root of my beauty regime & brewing up my own damn potions. DIY beauty is radical! It’s fun, it saves money, it’s better for the environment (less packaging) & it doesn’t entail extraneous, questionable ingredients. I still haven’t made my own soap (safety goggles have long been on my shopping list!), but these days I go the DIY route for face wash, body butter, baby powder, mouthwash, toothpaste, face cream, serum & toner/hydrosol. I wanted to share some of those recipes with you so you, too, can strengthen your first chakra, for there is def beauty in strength.
Radical Beauty for Your Face
Jojoba oil is my carrier oil of choice, the base of almost all of my potions, b/c it is similar to our own sebum & thus skin just drinks it up. & yes, I actually buy it by the gallon! You will too, if you want to save money. I add essential oils of sandalwood & rose otto (rose otto is $$$, but your skin will thank you, although you can def just use rose absolute for fragrance purposes) to jojoba oil for use as a body moisturizer & face wash (about 15 drops each to 8 ounces oil). What, you don’t wash your face with oil? Where have you been?!
After I wash my face, I apply toner, which helps absorption of all the other goodies your face wants you to apply. Toner (which I actually spritz like hydrosol) is the newest DIY tool in my beauty toolbox, thanks to Tess Masters, who shared formulas from Whole Beauty, by Shiva Rose, in a recent blog post. I’m not going to reveal my age, but let’s just say I’m a huge fan of frankincense however I can get it!
Next, I give my face some major love with a rosehip & carrot seed face serum I’ve been making for ages thanks to the Minimalist Beauty. She’s got lots of other DIY recipes for you to check out on her website as well.
Then, it’s a dollop of tamanu oil under each eye. Simple.
One Mo’ Thing
Lastly but not leastly, on goes the face cream. Here’s the recipe I’ve been making, which, alas, I can’t link to b/c I don’t remember where on the interwebs I found it. Most sincere apologies to its author for not giving proper credit! Anyhoo: To 1/4 cup melted shea butter (place in a heatproof something in hot water) add 1/8 cup almond, jojoba or avocado oil, 3 drops frankincense & 4 drops+ rose otto. Stir well to combine & let cool. I keep mine in the fridge for firmness’ sake, which is especially important in the summer. Before I started making my own face cream, I bought mine, along with the rest of my beauty arsenal, from Venus & Vetiver.
It may seem daunting or costly to assemble your ingredients, but once you’ve got them, they’ll see you through batches & batches & batches of your radical beauty potions. A dram (0.125 ounces) of carrot seed oil, for example, contains 57 drops, enough for almost 30 incarnations of face serum!
Summer Means Sunscreen
“The sun has been my faithful lover for millions of years, whenever I offer my body brilliant light pours from its heart.” — Hafiz
Alas, not all that sunlight is so brilliant for our skin! We do need a straight shot to get our dose of vitamin D—10 minutes between 10 & 2 should do the trick, & let your bare legs, where skin is tougher, take the hit—but we should otherwise keep ourselves veiled from our lover’s rays.
I have long been a nonreligious user of sunscreen because of concerns about whether its benefits (preventing skin cancer) outweigh its demerits (chemicals absorbed into blood). Well, not that I take its opinion as gospel, but the FDA recently weighed in on the side of sunscreen. & it also considers only two sunscreen ingredients safe: zinc oxide & titanium dioxide, which are minerals, not chemicals. Mineral sunscreens provide a protective barrier that rays can’t penetrate.
Zinc, that white stuff of lifeguard-nose fame, is what I use. &, yes, I have gone the DIY route, courtesy of a recipe from Rebecca’s Apothecary in Boulder, subbing candelilla wax for beeswax, because I’m vegan & don’t do bee products. Yeah, zinc makes your skin white-ish & it doesn’t wash off that easily, but that means it’ll protect you longer. Another upside with this recipe is that makes a lot, so you’ll have plenty for gifting friends.
If you don’t feel like making your own, or want a clear product (modern science!), my friend Alice Diamond, who has her own natural skincare line, vouches for formulations by Badger, Alba & Mychelle, which have the added benefit of being reef-friendly, something that chemically sunscreens are def not. It’s a good thing I’m writing this, b/c I just realized, after reading through Rebecca’s post again, that my homemade sunscreen has long expired. I’ve got other projects in the DIY queue, so I got me some of the Mychelle. (Note: I’ve never been a huge fan of their products b/c their scents clash with my own aroma aesthetic—sorry, I don’t love smelling like fruit—& while this sunscreen does have an eau de vanille, I can deal.)
More Radical Beauty
I stopped buying baby powder ages ago because it’s just cornstarch & started buying cornstarch for a fraction of the price & putting it in a shake-top bottle. But guess what? Most cornstarch is, gasp, GMO (remember: being a radical means reading labels, always!). I’d no sooner put a GMO on my body than in my body, but I love me some baby powder, so fortunately I stumbled across this recipe in cyberspace: Put 2 T kaolin clay & 2 T arrowroot powder in a wee bowl. For babies, add 3 drops chamomile or lavender oil. For big folks, add 10 to 15 drops of your fave essential oil or 1 T ground-up lavender or calendula flowers. Mix ‘er up, then place in a bottle with a shaker top.
Want lashes? I did too, but I couldn’t afford the $$$ monthly maintenance; plus they’re not healthy. Good thing a friend told me about Revitalash, because now I’ve got my own damn lashes! $150 a tube may sound $$$, but you get at least six months out of it & the company runs specials all the time, which is how I’ve been staying supplied.
It can be a challenge to find lipstick that’s cruelty-free, is color-saturated & actually feels good on your lips. Which is why it took me f-o-r-e-v-e-r to find a replacement for my beloved Rapture by Urban Decay once that company was bought & my to-die-for lipstick shade was unveganized—grrrr! Thank goodness I happened on Jane Iredale lipstick at Pharmaca, which is moisturicious & even comes in a color called Jamie!
Radical Beauty Bonus Trax
• I’m grateful to live in Boulder, where I can buy high-quality herbs & oils (& everything else I need for my potions) from Rebecca’s Apothecary. If I can’t find it there, I head online to Floracopeia.
• Got a few extra bux & a hankering for some expert beauty coaching? Lisa McKnight offers personalized ayurvedic consultations to help you express your unique beauty.
• To make room spray, just add a few drops of your fave essential oil(s) to a spritz bottle filled with distilled (or fresh spring) water. Right now I’m loving a crispy-clean peppermint-grapefruit combo for the bathroom.
• What does tongue-scraping have to do with beauty? Find out here!
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