Flower power

Rejuvenating In beauty treatments, flowers are used in the form of extracts and oils. Their fragrance helps in dealing with stress related conditions .  PIC GETTY IMAGES Flowers provide the ideal defence against environmental and mental stress. In modern cosmetic care, freedom from stress is one of the prime requisites for beauty. Many beauty problems, like acne and hair loss, are triggered by physical stress. The fragrances of flowers help in such stress-related conditions due to their  calming, relaxing and refreshing effects. 

In salon treatments, flowers are used in the form of extracts and oils. An essential oil is very different from pressed oils, like sesame seed (til), coconut, olive, almond oils.

Essential oils are very complex in nature and constitute the volatile and aromatic part of the plant. They are like the life-force of the plant. Apart from their medicinal properties, essential oils are also valued for their fragrance.

The fragrance of rose, sandalwood, jasmine and lavender is due to their essential oils.  
Among the essential oils of flowers used in beauty treatments, the most common are rose, jasmine, lavender, camomile, marigold, lotus, orange flower (neroli), hibiscus, geranium. A word of warning —essential oils should never be used by themselves. They should be diluted in the right proportions with pressed oils (like almond, sesame seed or olive oils) and lotions like rose water.

Home remedies
 >  Rose water is one of the best known natural skin toners. Chill some rose water in a bowl. Using cotton wool, wipe the skin with it. Then pat the skin briskly. This helps to keep the skin healthy and youthful and is particularly good during the summer and rainy season.

> For oily skin, add two to three drops of lemon juice to one tablespoon rose water. Dip cotton wool in it and use it to wipe the face. It will help to remove the surface film of oil and sweat and leaves you with a cool and fresh feeling.

> For normal to dry skin, add two to three drops of pure glycerine to one tablespoon rose water and apply on the face.

> A few drops of rose water can be added to sandalwood paste and applied on pimples, acne or boils, to soothe and cure. It helps to reduce inflammation.

> Rose water can also be added to face packs and scrubs. Almond meal (ground almonds) can be used with a little rose water as a facial scrub.

> Dip cotton wool pads in rose water and use as eye pads, to remove fatigue and brighten the eyes.

> Hibiscus flowers and leaves can be used to care for the hair. Hibiscus is called gurhal in Hindi and javakusuma in Sanskrit. Both hot and cold infusions can be made from hibiscus flowers and leaves, though cold infusions are more common. For hot infusions, the flowers and leaves are added to hot water and allowed to stand for 10-12 hours. The infusion is strained and then used as a last rinse after washing the hair. This is good for dandruff and related conditions.

>For cold infusions, hibiscus flowers and leaves should be allowed to stand overnight in cold water, in a ratio of 1:6.  The flowers should be squeezed and the water strained before use. Such infusions can be used to wash the hair and scalp, or applied on the scalp with cotton wool. Infusions, or the juice of the flowers, can be added to henna and applied on the hair. This can be a complete hair-food and conditioning treatment.

> In boiling water, add four tablespoons of marigold (gainda) or calendula flowers. Do not boil. Allow the flowers to be steeped in the hot water for 20 to 30 minutes. Strain and cool the water and use it to rinse the hair. It should be used as a final rinse. The cooled water can also be used to wash the face. It has a beneficial effect on oily and pimple-prone skin.

>Sunflower oil (pressed oil) can be applied on the face to soothe sunburn.

>Add 10 drops of an essential oil, like rose or lavender to 50 ml of carrier oil. Blend in small quantities, so that it does not turn rancid. This makes a good massage oil, leaving the body soft and fragrant. If you wish to blend two essential oils together, make sure that the ratio is 10 drops to 50 ml carrier oil. Almond oil, olive oil or sesame seed (til) oil make good carrier oils for blending with essential oils.

>Essential oils can also be added to rose water, to make a skin tonic. You can use essential oils of rose, orange flower (neroli) or lavender. Add 5 drops of the essential oil to 50 ml rose water. Oil of neroli added to rose water can benefit dry and dehydrated skin. Oil of lavender added to rose water can benefit oily skin. These blends can also be used as fragrance.

>To make a flower skin tonic, you can either use dried flowers or fresh ones. Add three handfuls of fresh flower petals. You can use rose, marigold, or jasmine. Put them in a large bowl. Boil 600 ml water. As soon as it starts boiling, take it off the flame and pour the hot water over the flowers. Cover immediately and let it stand for two hours. Cool and strain. Keep the flower water in a bottle. Keep the bottle in the fridge and do not make it in large quantities.

BEAUTY CORNER Every fortnight, Living features a column on beauty, style and grooming by renowned beauty expert Shahnaz Hussain. Readers can send in their feedback to dhliving@gmail.com

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