Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

Bathing Beauty

Written by Nakia Jackson
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Summer was made for lazing about, preferably with a pitcher of lemonade in hand. But what if you could get a whole new look just by relaxing in the sun? I'm not talking about a tan—those are best gotten from a bottle (especially now that we understand the dangers of allowing our skin to get too much sun). But you can give your hair rich new color, make your skin silky smooth, and give yourself a chip-proof manicure, all between glasses of your favorite summer beverage.
Summer was made for lazing about, preferably with a pitcher of lemonade in hand. But what if you could get a whole new look just by relaxing in the sun? I'm not talking about a tan—those are best gotten from a bottle (especially now that we understand the dangers of allowing our skin to get too much sun). But you can give your hair rich new color, make your skin silky smooth, and give yourself a chip-proof manicure, all between glasses of your favorite summer beverage.

Hair, Hair, Everywhere
Summer can be your hair's best friend, as the sun can provide the heat needed to boost natural hair conditioners and colors. And fear not if you need to go for a dip. There are ways to protect your hair from chlorine.

For an easy conditioning treatment, a tablespoon of coconut oil is all you need before heading out in the sun or going for a swim. The sun will help “bake” the conditioner, enhancing its effectiveness. Coconut oil also provides a little sun protection, a bonus if you don't have a hat. Either coconut or olive oil will protect hair from chlorine. Use a half tablespoon unless your hair is very long or thick; then add a little more.  

For some simple highlighting, try the recipe below. But FYI, this works best for blondes. Sorry, brunettes.

{sidebar id=10} Sun-Kissed Highlight Help
What You Will Need:
•2 chamomile tea bags
•1 cup water
•1 tablespoon lemon juice

Bring water to a boil and steep both tea bags in the water for ten minutes. Add the lemon juice and allow it to cool. Pour into a spray bottle and spray onto clean hair. Leave on for at least an hour, and rinse with cool water.

Henna provides both a rich red color and loads of shine. You can purchase henna at South Asian and Middle Eastern groceries and natural food stores. The thick cool paste feels wonderful on a scorcher of a day and can be used on hair, skin, and even nails. Even if you're using “neutral” henna, or henna that does not provide color, the following recipe will boost shine. For more chocolate tones, use coffee instead of tea in this recipe. You don't need to sit out in the sun for the henna to work, but it won't hurt. 
   
Henna Hair Conditioner
What You Will Need:
•1 cup henna powder
•1/2 cup black tea, coffee, or warm water if using neutral henna
•2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
•1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix the henna powder and enough tea, coffee, or water to make a thick paste. Add the vinegar and olive oil, and allow it to cool for at least an hour before applying to hair, skin, or nails. Leave on for at least two hours—the longer the better. Rinse with warm water, then cool.

Nailed Down
The henna recipe above works for nails too, but when manicuring, only use one tablespoon of vinegar. Nails dyed with henna are permanently dyed. The color lasts until the nail grows out, making for a chip-proof manicure. But do a patch test first—you don't want to be stuck with a color you're not happy with. Buff your nails for all-natural shine.

The Skinny on Summer Skin

Heat and humidity can leave your skin oily and sweaty—probably not quite the glow you’re going for. The creamy cleansers and rich moisturizers you used during the winter may be too heavy for summer. But your sunscreen will go on smoother with a light layer of rose water applied beforehand (look for it in natural food stores or Middle Eastern groceries).

Rose water is one of the few things that can double as toner and moisturizer. Those with dry skin should use it straight as a toner; all others should add witch hazel in equal parts for a toner. For oily complexions, it can be used alone as a moisturizer. The scent also makes for a very light and exotic body spray.

For all complexions, yogurt makes an excellent exfoliating mask. Three tablespoons of plain yogurt should suffice. The fat content won't matter, but it is important to get unflavored yogurt. Should you get sunburned, yogurt won't work as well, but a cloth soaked in fresh cool milk will soothe your skin and help it heal.

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