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The Salad Facial

Everyone knows the benefits of incorporating fresh vegetables in their diet, but have you ever thought of bringing them into your skin care routine? Salad ingredients are loaded with beneficial nutrients and phytochemicals, and it didn't take long for researchers to also ponder the power of plants when used on the skin. While making your own products may sound complicated and messy, it's not. Anyone with a juicer, a food processor, and a fresh market nearby can enjoy these earthy, organic facials as part of a home skin-care routine. Gorgeous Greens No salad would be complete without greens. There are many that impart cooling, hydrating, and soothing effects on skin, but those of note include dandelion greens, parsley, romaine lettuce, and watercress. Dandelion green extract has a cleansing and detoxifying effect on skin. The ingredient has been used on eczema and psoriasis, and is known to contain high levels of antioxidants and zinc, which boost immunity. Parsley is high in vitamin C. On skin, the herb is known to help shrink pores as it regulates the production of sebum. It also stimulates the production of collagen, which aids skin healing and reduces wrinkles. Parsley is a free-radical scavenger and helps repair damaged keratinocytes, the most common type of skin cell. Romaine lettuce can be used not only as a compress or wrap, but also in a juice. The extract of this lettuce is high in vitamin K, which strengthens capillaries, and vitamin A, which normalizes skin cell turnover. Watercress is diuretic and therefore anti-inflammatory. This mustard green contains high levels of sulphoraphane, which is antimicrobial and a cancer fighter. Watercress extract has been shown to boost the skin's UV protection as well. A popular addition to a green salad, or a salad facial, is avocado. The natural oils in avocado offer moisturizing benefits and have gained popularity in skin care products and cosmetics as an organic substitute for petrochemicals. Avocados are high in sterols, which are phytochemicals with an anti-cholesterol effect that heal dry skin and eczema. Avocado extract has also been shown to boost the skin's natural sun protection. It also works against skin laxity as it boosts collagen production. Salad Greens Facial Mask Use only organic ingredients in this facial rejuvenation mask. Ingredients: 1/4 cup dandelion greens 1/4 cup parsley 1/4 cup romaine lettuce 1/4 cup watercress 1/4 cup sunflower seed oil Half a ripe avocado (optional) A few drops of lemon or lime juice (optional, for scent and to maintain color) 1/4 cup of fennel (optional, for scent) Wash and dry all the salad greens. Pulse a few times in a food processor. Slowly add the sunflower seed oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Allow the mixture to set for at least 10 minutes before application. Pure Avocado Facial Mask Avocados are known for their "good fats" but they are also full of vitamins and antibacterial properties. Flaxseed helps fight inflammation. When combined together, this calming mask will leave the skin looking hydrated and refreshed. Ingredients: 1 ripe avocado (peeled, pitted, and cubed) 2 tablespoons sunflower seed oil or rice bran oil 2-3 drops lemon or lime juice (optional) 2 ounces flaxseed gel (optional) 1 tablespoon honey (optional) In a blender or food processor, process the avocado until smooth. Add other ingredients to mixture slowly. Once mixture is combined, apply to face and decollete with wooden spatula. Leave on skin for 10-15 minutes, then remove with warm towel. A Touch of Vinegar Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid. On skin, it is antifungal and antibacterial, normalizes pH, and cleanses skin as it breaks up excess sebum. It is often used as a foot soak to remedy athlete's foot and other fungal conditions. Combine it with honey for even more antifungal, antibacterial, and humectant (moistening) benefits. Honey never goes bad because it has a high acid pH and low water content. It is good for acne and eczema, as it soothes skin and prevents infections. Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic Use this tonic as an astringent, to remove product, or to freshen skin. Ingredients: 7 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 1 liter distilled water 2 tangerines 1 tablespoon baking soda Add baking soda to water, and soak the whole unpeeled tangerines in it for one hour. This maximizes the amount of oil that will be extracted in the next step. Peel the tangerines, cut the peel into small pieces, and soak the peel pieces in the apple cider vinegar for up to seven days in the refrigerator. Strain and pour into a sterilized bottle. Lynn Parentini is an author, educator, esthetician, massage therapist, and author of The Joy of Healthy Skin (Prentice Hall, 1995).

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