Highland Beauty

Part of the United Kingdom, Scotland covers the northern third of the Island of Great Britain, and while it shares a border with England to the south, it’s otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, and the Irish Sea on the southwest coast. In addition to the mainland, the country comprises more than 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides. Its romantic, craggy coastal cliffs, its moors, and its fields provide a landscape of rugged, enduring beauty. And its seaside habitats provide us with key ingredients to boost our own beauty, no matter where we live.

Scottish herbal gardens

In a country with such an astounding landscape, the Scottish take advantage of nature, putting these native plants and herbs to good use. Strolling along you will see small gardens and containers full of flowers, herbs, and vegetables. {Walking is a popular pastime in Scotland. The “right to roam” is something the Scottish people embrace, and you are allowed to trek, hike, and walk all over the country, so long as you are respectful to both private and public lands.} The countryside is also a source of important species, and plants that some may think of as weeds or as insignificant, such as rosehips and nettles, are actually quite useful when made into a healthy morning tea or in treating tough skin issues like eczema. The sea, of course, offers a variety of beauty ingredients – sea kelp and ocean salt, in particular, which soothe the body and boost circulation.

Here are a few recipes for you to create at home in the celebration of this small country.

Scottish Sea Kelp Bath

The sea has been used for centuries as a source of fresh ingredients and a place for purification and relaxation. Today, baths containing sea salt and mineral- and vitamin-rich sea kelp are popular spa treatments, but you can easily draw yourself one at home. It can help your body detox and it relaxes your muscles. Look for kelp in powdered form at most natural food stores {it may be brown, green, or red}. If you are lucky enough to live by the ocean, you can use fresh seaweed and kelp; just make sure you take it from a secluded spot away from swimmers and rinse it thoroughly with fresh water before adding it to your bath.

  • 1/2 cup Epsom salt
  • 1/2 cup sea salt
  • 1/4 cup powdered sea kelp {1 cup freshly picked sea kelp}

Mix together all ingredients and stir well. If using fresh kelp, store in the refrigerator or freezer until bath time. To use: Pour the mixture and/or your fresh pieces of kelp {you will feel like a mermaid!} into a warm tub under running water and soak for 20 minutes. Make sure you follow up with a rich body lotion or natural oil, as this bath can be drying to your skin. Yield: 10 ounces.

Nettles Body Lotion

Stinging nettles grow along Scottish country roads and backyards and are often thought of as a pesky weed with a nasty bite. But herb-lovers know the wealth of nutrients nettles provides, and this plant is often a key ingredient in many herbal teas and body-care products. Dried or processed nettle is safe to use on your skin and hair and provides anti-inflammatory properties. This simple body lotion works great for extremely dry skin by reducing irritation. You can find nettle tea at most natural food shops and online. {If you have nettles nearby, be sure to wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and thick gloves when harvesting.}

  • 1/8 tsp borax powder or baking soda
  • 1/2 cup strong nettle tea {2 tsp dried nettle leaves to 1/2-cup boiling water}
  • 1/4 cup light oil such as almond, light sesame, or sunflower}
  • 1 Tbls grated beeswax

Mix together the borax and nettle tea and stir well. Heat until mixture is just boiling and very hot. In a separate container mix, the oil and beeswax and heat until the wax just begins to melt. Remove from heat and stir until wax is melted completely. In a clean blender or by hand in a large bowl with a whisk, combine the two mixtures, adding the nettle tea to the oil mixture in a slow, steady stream until you have a creamy emulsion. Let this mixture cool completely. Pour the lotion into a clean container. To use: Massage into your skin as you would any rich lotion. Yield: 6 ounces.

Stinging Nettle

If you do happen to brush up against a stinging nettle plant, here are some simple ways to take the “sting” out of your encounter. First, do not touch or scratch the affected area; this only spreads the irritants {much like poison oak or ivy}. Next, wash your skin with soap and water and pat dry. Use a bit of masking tape or cooled wax to remove some of the nettle hairs and fibers from your skin by pressing gently. Finally, apply some aloe vera gel, which will soothe the sting. Soaking and cooking in water or drying the herb removes its sting. Gather fresh nettles with care, making sure to wear gloves. Place them in a paper bag or let them hang upside down to dry.

Sea Kelp and Yogurt Facial Mask

Many of the nutrients in seaweed and kelp are fat soluble, becoming available when introduced to natural oils and fats. Fresh yogurt makes an excellent base for a nourishing and cleansing facial mask because it contains fat, as well as natural acids that help rid your skin of surface impurities and cleans out pores.

  • 1/4 cup yogurt {you may want to try yogurt made from sheep’s milk}
  • 1 Tbls sea kelp powder
  • 1 tsp aloe vera gel
  • 1/2 tsp vitamin E oil

Mix together all ingredients until smooth and creamy. To use: Spread the mixture on your face and neck and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse off with cool water and pat your skin dry. Follow with a light natural oil or more aloe vera gel. Yield: 2 ounces.

rosehips

Wild Rosehip Facial Mask

Usually harvested in the fall, rosehips are small, orange-red fruits about the size of a cherry found just below the rose flower. Many natural food stores sell powdered rosehips. Extremely rich in vitamin C, which boosts collagen production, these beach beauties help revive the skin.

  • 1 Tbls dried rosehips, crushed
  • 1 Tbls water or rosewater
  • 1 tsp raw honey

Mix crushed rosehips and water and stir well until you have a smooth paste. Add the honey. Spoon into a clean container. To use: Spread the mixture on your face and neck and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse off with cool water and pat your skin dry. Yield: 1 ounce.

Oatmeal Body Cleanser

No Scottish breakfast would be complete without a serving of whole oats. This healthy grain contains saponins that remove dirt from pores, and it also helps to moisturize. It’s especially helpful for relieving redness and irritations. All skin types can use oats, including those with sensitive skin. Make sure to use whole grain oats, which provide the most minerals and vitamins to benefit your skin.

  • 1 cup whole oats
  • 1/2 cup whole milk or almond milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbls raw honey

In a food processor or blender combine all ingredients and blend on high until you have a smooth, creamy mixture or lotion. Pour into a clean container with a tightly fitting lid and store in the refrigerator. To use: Massage into damp skin to clean your face and body. {Use it as you would any liquid cleanser or body wash.} Yield: 8 ounces.

Soothing Scottish Oatmeal Bath

Another oatmeal recipe, this one includes baking soda and sea salt for extra cleansing and detox power. Choose a variety of your favorite herbs, such as dried nettle, chamomile, lavender, or mint. Try this bath if you have a bad sunburn or insect bites.

  • 1 cup of dried herbs or a combination of herbs
  • 2 cups whole oats
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until you have a fine powder that resembles whole grain flour. Pour into a clean, dry jar with a tightly fitting lid. To use: Pour 1/2 cup into your bath as you fill the tub. Or place the mixture inside a muslin tea bag or cotton cloth if you’re concerned about bits of herbs in your tub. Simply hang or float the bath bag in your tub as you fill it. Yield: 28 ounces.

Mary, Queen of Scots, Bath

Imprisoned by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, and eventually executed for treason, Mary, Queen of Scots, led a unique life. One of the things she was known for during her rule of Scotland was her love of baths filled with sweet white wine. In fact, it took 346 bottles of wine to fill her tub. According to the BBC, Mary believed this soak helped her complexion, and it may have provided some pain relief. Wine or vinegar in the bath does restore a natural, healthy acid to your skin. However, unlike Mary, you will only need half a bottle for your own bath.

  • 2 cups sweet white wine

Pour the wine directly into your bath as you fill the tub and stir well. To use: Soak for 20 minutes; afterward, use a rich body lotion or natural oil to lock in absorbed moisture. Yield: 16 ounces.

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