The great skin care disaster of excessive oil use, lack of moisture, too many facial masks and total pimple anarchy needs to be reigned in. The Romans washed by rubbing olive oil on themselves and scraping it off with a strigil. But, my body is not the problem: my homemade scrubs and butters have left me tinged with grease but not battle worn. It’s my face that’s suffering a skin-care skirmish. According to www.lifeinItaly.com Roman women used many animal-derived bases for cosmetics like excrements of kingfisher, mouse or crocodile, placenta, marrow, bile and animal urine. Another source states that the accumulated sweat, dirt and oil that a famous athlete scraped off himself was reportedly used as face cream by Roman women.
With my limited access to reptiles and gladiators, I could really use a different strategy. (And, no, I will not resort to collecting Dr. K’s sweat. Nasty.) I need to go back to basics: I need foam.
Though Castile soap didn’t prove successful on my hair (read What the %#@*?), it may work for my face. A basic ingredient in many homemade cosmetics, it’s as pure a soap as you can get. History is a little fuzzy, but the consensus is it originated during the 13th century in the Kingdom of Castilla (Region of Castles) in Spain. The abundance of olive trees ushered in an expensive 100% olive-oil based soap that became popular among the wealthy throughout Europe. Today Castile soap (I use Dr. Bonner’s) is not exclusively olive-based but 100% vegetable-based—as opposed to animal-fat derived. I figure if it’s good enough for royals…. Read more at www.andalusia-naturalsoap.com
Out comes the cook lab yet again. This time I make a Foaming Cleanser, Honey Foaming Cleanser and Exfoliating Gel for my face. I wrangle up a Honey Body Wash and Coconut Milk Body Wash to add to my dwindling supply line. Surprisingly, it’s not the usual kitchen melee I expect. I survive with very little bloodshed, thanks to the lack of boiling liquids and grated beeswax.
Cleanser? Check. Toner? Witch Hazel: pure botanical extract, known for its antiseptic properties. Check.
And this is where the balance of power shifts.
So begins the torture session. I hack off two stems of my enormous aloe plant. I have been trying to bequeath that monster to some poor soul for a year now. Who would have thought it would come in useful? Unadulterated pure aloe vera gel cures everything. It is my elixir. My secret weapon.
First, I force the stems to stand in a bowl to drain their sticky yellow resin. Then I peel back a layer of skin on one side, exposing the gel. I scoop out the innards with a spoon, add vitamin E and transfer it to a basin. There, I whip them into a frenzy. Once the froth has exhausted itself, I pour it into a jar and force it into the fridge.
That evening, after applying a foamy face wash and my witch essence, I tip toe downstairs to the kitchen to retrieve the gel from the fridge (what to a pain in the arse). I stand in the dark, in the glow of the fridge, its motor thrumming, as I swab the gel on my cheeks.
“What are you doing?”
Dr. K’s head suddenly pops out from behind the door and scares the holy hell out of me. I yelp aloud.
“I am fixing my face. Pure. Aloe. Gel.” I whisper, as if it is classified.
“Ugh.” He winces in disgust. “You stink.”
I raise my coated palm to my nose and sniff. It is a little meaty—but this is a skin-care battle. Sacrifices must be made.