if the eyes are the window of the soul, then the skin is the mirror of the liver, kidneys and intestines. Not a pretty image to contemplate, but if your internal organs aren't in the best shape, neither is the largest organ of your body -- your skin. Eating crappy Happy Meals, quenching your thirst with chlorine and heavy metals from the tap, breathing in more toxins than oxygen in city air and stressing your brain to the max all add up to system overload, which surfaces as dry, lifeless grey skin.
Drinking lots of water is your first remedy. Most people are chronically dehydrated, forcing the body to take water from the 17 litres stored in skin cells. Drink two litres daily to plump it up again. Wash your face at the end of the day with an exfoliating scrub -- don't use soap. In the morning, cleanse only with toner and apply sunscreen -- a lot of aging comes from catching too many rays.
Of course, you can sink your dollars into pricey chemical cosmetics, many of which are made of possibly carcinogenic petroleum products, or you can ante up for more body-friendly natural creams. But the most inventive way to nourish your dermal layer is with food -- if it's healthy to eat, you can pretty much slather on anything organic. Head to your fridge to find your facial solution: mashed avocado is a munificent moisturizer (leave on 15 minutes), honey alone or with ground oatmeal or cooked carrots is a great cleanser, as is a cornmeal-and-water paste. Egg yolks tone the skin, as do cucumber, lemon juice and mayonnaise. Yogurt is a wonderful exfoliant, milk an ancient nourisher. Then there are essential edibles like flaxseed oil on your salad, and nuts and seeds.
Here are some secret recipes from our alt health skincare magicians. All these ingredients are easily found.
EXPERTS"There are three body types. For Vata, where aging has begun: exfoliate with 1 tbsp chickpea flour, 1/2 tsp lavender flowers, add 1/2 tsp lemon or lime juice. Rinse with cool water, and spray with rosewater. Then take 1/2 oz sesame seed oil and massage from scalp down to feet. Before bed, mix 1 oz sweet almond oil, 2 drops each of rose, jasmine and neroli oil and massage, avoiding the eyelids. Pitta skin is red, sensitive, sometimes with acne. It needs cooling herbs -- peppermint, coriander seeds and coconut massage oil. Kapha skin is luxurious, oil-rich. Ginger helps take out oils, as do peppermint, lavender and rose petals."ANDREA OLIVERA Ayurvedic practitioner
"Make an exfoliating cleanser with 2/3 cup groats (unhulled oats), 1/3 cup green clay for oily skin or white clay for dry skin and camomile and lavender flowers. Grind to fine powder. Store in a glass jar. Acne can be treated with organic yogurt or raw honey. You can make toner with 250 ml of water or peppermint tea and 35 ml raw apple cider vinegar. Add 10 drops essential oils -- frankincense, lavender, etc. Combine in a glass jar."
MONIKA GHENT, herbalist
"To make a skin refresher, take a cup of watermelon juice, freeze in an ice cube tray and rub lightly on face, forehead and around eyes. Leave on for 15 minutes and splash with water. Make a skin-softening mask -- mash 1 ripe banana with 1 tsp of milk and leave on the face for 20 minutes. Wash off with a cotton pad soaked in milk. For oily skin, add 1 tsp lemon juice. Natural acid softens and disinfects skin."
DINA KRINITSKI, skincare specialist
"This is a tincture skin treatment (only for people with normal digestive systems). Mix 10 ml burdock, 10 ml yellow dock and 10 ml red clover tinctures in a 30ml bottle -- take 30 drops a day for a month. If there is no improvement, contact a practitioner. Not for children."
JULIE PEGG, naturopath