Skin-Sational: Tea Ideas for Healthy Skin
By Diana Rosen
Summertime means iced green or black teas flavored with the sweet berries and fruits of the season. As ideal as summer and tea are, did you know that tea can add greatly to your comfort and beauty during the hot months?
Softening your skin
You've read about it, been told about it, but sometimes, no matter how careful you are applying and reapplying sunscreen, it's still possible to get a burn. What to do? If it's mild, making a cool compress of tea-soaked gauze, apply that to the burned area, and rest for twenty minutes. The sting and the redness should miraculously ease. (If it's more serious, consider adding aloe vera).
For another way to cool off during the summer months, pour one to two cups of brewed tea into a tepid bath. Relax about fifteen to twenty minutes, allowing the tea-infused bath water to do its magic in refreshing the skin, softening its texture, and helping you relax. But remember to rinse yourself off thoroughly; otherwise, you'll discover another sidebar of tea's beauty qualities. It can temporarily tan your skin!
Adding Shine to Your Hair
The sun can streak and highlight your hair. However if you find the effect too harsh, you can soften the look with a tea rinse. Shampoo as you regularly do, then rinse with plain water. Next, rinse your hair with a brewed black tea that has been allowed to cool to a comfortable temperature. Leave in for at least five minutes, then squeeze out the liquid from your hair as much as possible. Let your hair dry naturally, then style as usual. Your hair will be noticeably, albeit temporarily, darker and shinier. Choose teas by the color they are when brewed. Chinese blacks like Keemun or Yunnan and Indian Assam will give the darker color; Ceylon blacks and Darjeeling will give a more golden hue.
Spoiling Your Feet
Walking the beach, hiking the mountains, or doing the urban stroll, can put stress on your tootsies. Tea to the rescue! Fill up a large pan of warm water, pour in a cup of concentrated, heavily brewed tea, and soak your feet for ten to twenty minutes. They'll be refreshed, and you'll be ready to dance the night away. Tea has anti-fungal qualities, so it really does make your feet fresher and healthier.
For body or foot baths, or for sunburns, you can use infused black or green teas, however, ALWAYS choose ones without flavorings, essences, oils or other additives which can irritate the skin. Loose leaf or tea bag teas work equally well.
Soothing Your Eyes
Forget the cool cucumber slices, and choose spent tea bags for an eye soothing remedy. After you have used a tea bag for tea, cover it up and refrigerate it. When your eyes are tired from computer work, or too much exposure to the sun, or not enough sleep, these really rest and refresh your baby blues/greens/browns!
Lie down on the sofa or a bed; place a cool tea bag on each eye (closed!) and rest for ten to fifteen minutes. Your eyes will look sparkling and fresh, and you'll feel better, too!
Freshening Your Face
Dried, uninfused teas are also a wonderful beauty and hygiene source. Creative soap makers have for years incorporated tea leaves in their bars of soaps because they can help slough off dried skin, deodorize, and leave you smelling yummy with skin that's as soft as a baby's.
Crushing tea leaves in a heavy face cream is a mild but effective way to give you a mini facial. By making circling motions with the cream you can polish your skin and make it appear younger and fresher. Simply rinse off thoroughly with tepid water and pat dry very lightly or allow the water to evaporate naturally.
You can also use this method on your feet with or without a pumice stone to slough off calluses or other rough spots. Use a very thick cream for a "rougher" more effective product.
Curing Minor Irritations
Got a paper cut? Knife nipped you while peeling an apple? Have a little heat rash, bug bite, minor burn or similar mild skin irritation? Tea can come to the rescue! Saturate cotton pad with infused tea, black or green, and place it on the abrasion or rash. Do not rinse off. Repeat as necessary.
Using a tea-infused liquid as a gently face freshener or aftershave is also a soothing idea any season of the year. Just splash on tea onto your face and allow to dry or saturate with a cotton pad, blotting irritated or very dry areas as necessary.
Buying Tea-Infused Beauty Aids
Commercial cosmetic companies have enthusiastically embraced teas as an ingredient in perfumes, moisturizers, and cleansers. Tea can be found in toothpaste and mouthwashes, deodorants, soaps, skin fresheners, and even make-up. Before purchasing any commercial health or beauty product, however, read the label. There still exists confusion between true teas and herbal infusions. Chamomile may indeed be a skin soother, but it is a flower, not a tea. Yerba mate is certainly a picker upper, but it is not a tea.
Just because a company says its product evokes the essence of a "tea garden" does not mean there really is tea in the product. It may, alas, just be great ad copy that appeals to those of us who appreciate the power of tea. Elizabeth Arden green tea products, Origins white tea line, and most perfumers touting tea in their fragrances do indeed use "real tea".