Beauty Tips from the Emerald Isle
The day honoring the fifth century Romano-British missionary who brought Christianity to Ireland is coming up next week; it’s a day for which many in the U.S. celebrate with copious consumption of Irish beer and raucous merrymaking. However, I prefer to mark St. Patrick’s Day in a quieter manner by reading about the saint’s life and learning about traditional Irish beauty secrets.
Irish beauties are known for their alabaster complexions and thick, glossy hair, both of which they maintain with the wealth of natural ingredients available on the Emerald Isle. For a flawless skin and healthy hair, Irish moss should be on every Irish, or wannabe Irish, beauty’s list.
Not actually a moss, Irish moss is a species of seaweed (Chrondus crispus) that grows abundantly in the Atlantic Ocean. Its high nutrient content — it contains vitamins B, D, E, K, beta-carotene and such important minerals as zinc, selenium, calcium, iron, iodine and potassium — make it top-notch in overall health and beauty benefits. It can be ingested in the form of medicinal teas, as was traditionally done in the British Isles, but it can also be applied topically to hair and skin.
One of the most remarkable properties of Irish moss is the mucilage it produces when immersed in hot water. This slimy byproduct, unappealing though it may be, imparts a high degree of smoothness to skin and hair, making it a superb skin softener and hair conditioner and detangler.
You can purchase dried Irish moss in whole, flaked or powdered form. Try the following DIY recipe for smooth, glowing skin:
Vitamin C Seaweed Masque
1/2 cup Irish moss
1 1/3 cup water
1 tbsp vitamin C powder
- Place the Irish moss in water and soak for 20 minutes. Blend the moss and soak water for 30-40 seconds. Add vitamin C. Blend for another 20 seconds or until moss is fairly smooth.
- Pour into a jar with a lid and allow it to set for five minutes, or place in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes to set.
Take 1/2 tbsp of the seaweed serum and massage all over your face and neck. Leave on for 10-15 minutes. Wash off with tepid water and enjoy your smooth complexion.
Years ago, I became intrigued by the traditional Irish saying “cabbage juice for the complexion.” Part of the Irish culinary tradition, the humble cabbage has a lot to offer in the health and beauty department. Full of vitamins C, K, B6, and minerals manganese, calcium and sulphur, cabbage also contains omega-3 fatty acids, powerful, rejuvenating phytonutrients and antioxidants. The high-sulphur content strengthens the hair, promotes its growth and reduces hair loss. You can drink raw cabbage juice and apply it topically to your hair to invigorate weak hair with its high vitamin E and selenium content. Try this recipe in your juicer:
Cabbage green juice
2 green apples
2-3 cups spinach
6-8 leaves Swiss chard or another cabbage
4 celery stalks
1/2 fennel bulb
1 bunch of basil
- Use juicer to extract juices from produce.
- Stir juiced contents.
- Enjoy cold.
And Irish folklore is spot-on in regards to the complexion perfecting powers of cabbage. It’s rich in indole-3-carbonile, a potent antioxidant that supports liver detoxification, which helps rid the body of toxins that can cause dull, blemished skin.
No St. Paddy’s day celebration is complete without beer, preferably a good Irish stout. I have, during my misspent youth, imbibed my fair share of this wondrous nectar, but these days I limit its consumption to my hair, where it works wonders in enlivening my limp, fine hair. The yeast plumps up the hair shaft, and the malt and hops nourish and strengthen the hair at the root, resulting in shiny, extra-voluminous tresses.
Try this recipe, which also includes hair-growth promoting rosemary essential oil, to achieve super healthy locks:
Rosemary Guinness hair rinse
5-6 drops rosemary essential oil
1 can of Guinness or other strong ale or stout
- Open beer and add rosemary oil.
- Let the mixture sit open overnight minimum — the beer should be flat.
- After shampooing, rinse hair with the beer mixture. Let sit on hair for several minutes, massaging it into the roots of your hair.
- Rinse with cool water and style as usual.