Since I was a child, I have practiced the art of "oil bathing". Although I didn't understand the health benefits I was receiving, I knew that it felt and smelled incredible. I always looked forward to a warm, delicious soak in the tub. Before each bath, my Mother would softly brush my skin with a gentle brush in sweeping motions from my toes up. She would then lovingly rub the most fragrant oils into my skin. I remember closing my eyes as the aroma awakened memories of things I knew and loved – like freshly fallen leaves or my Aunt's rose garden. After the brushing and the oils, I would get into a warm bath until my little fingers and toes were all wrinkly. I still practice this luxurious ritual – every morning.
I recently attended a yoga retreat where I gifted the attendees some of our beautiful body oils. One woman said, "Oh, I don't bath. It dries out my skin." Hearing those words made me sad. It truly did. I am so in love with bathing and gain so much nourishment for my body and mind there that I couldn't imagine someone would choose to go without those pure delights. I asked her, "Have you ever tried oil bathing?'. If I did my job (and I think I did) she is now falling madly in love with oil bathing and her new, soft, toned skin.
As the temperatures fall, and nights grow longer, it is my deepest hope that you will take time for yourself and indulge in the simple pleasure of a steamy warm oil bath that enlivens and heals your beautiful skin. What better time to start this new ritual than in the chilly months ahead where warmth and relaxation is so very welcome?
I have described my method below along with some of the recently discovered health benefits of the age-old techniques of dry brushing and oil bathing. Lomi Lomi Luscious Body Oil is the one for you if you are drawn towards sweet aromas and floral notes. It's a beautiful blend of coconut and magnolia – pure bliss. My personal favorite is Holy Wild Deep Forest Body Oil. I desire herbal, bright floral aromas and I find the notes of blue cypress, tobacco and meadow grasses to be transformational and enchanting.
"WATER IS THE SUBSTANCE OF THE SOUL. WE ALL BEGIN IN ITS WARM EMBRACE, AND ARE, AT LAST, TRANSPORTED ALOFT TO REALMS ABOVE ASTRIDE ITS SILVERY WINGS"
Taking The Waters
Bathing is a form of relaxation and rest that has been used throughout the ages to restore the body's equilibrium and to accelerate its natural renewal process. And while a bath may be disguised as a simple luxury to delight and tantalize the senses, it is actual much more. You could say it is a most effective treatment for all parts of yourself.
Before you begin, you may want to gather candles, your favorite music to disappear into, or maybe a fresh flower to set beside the tub or toss into the water.
1. Dry Brush Massage
Did you know the skin receives one third of all the blood circulated in the body? Your skin is the last to receive nutrients in the body, yet the first to show signs of imbalance or deficiency. It's the largest and most important elimination organ in the body and is responsible for one quarter of the body's detoxification each day. Yes, it's pretty important to keep your skin fresh and free of toxins.
Dry brushing is a way to stimulate all of the organs of detoxification because it provides a gentle internal massage. Here are some of the known health benefits:
- Cleans the lymphatic system
- Removes dead skin layers
- Strengthens the immune system
- Stimulates the hormone and oil glands
- Tightens the skin by increasing blood flow
- Reduces the appearance of cellulite
- Tones the muscles
- Stimulates circulation
- Helps your skin receive nutrients
You can dry brush head-to-toe or toe-to-head. It really doesn’t matter as long as the entire body is brushed and each stroke is in the direction towards the heart. Use long sweeping strokes starting from the bottom of your feet upwards, and from the hands towards the shoulders, and on the torso in an upward direction. This motion helps drain the lymph back to your heart. Make sure you use a quality, natural fiber dry brush – it makes all the difference.
Use light pressure in areas where the skin is thin and deeper pressure on the soles of your feet. That's right, even the bottom of your feet need love. Now you are ready for some serious luxury!
2. Massage Every Beautiful Part Of You
Using the same long, sweeping motions towards the heart, apply your favorite oil blend to you entire body. I even coat my face, although I use RAIN Replenishing Oil Wash as it is designed to work with the delicate balance of your facial skin.
This is a great opportunity to breathe deeply into your massage and experience the healing benefits of the wonderful essential oils in your chosen formula. Pay attention to areas that need attention – does anything ache, feel stiff or tender, any rough patches that need extra love?
I love to practice a meditation of gratitude during this ritual. I thank each joint, limb and curve for its beauty and ability to carry me through life with grace and strength.
If you dig up culture and lifestyle of any past civilization, you will surely come across the use of bath oils for luxury and aromatherapy benefits. Today, it is a well known fact that when water mixed with oil comes in contact with body, the oil penetrates deep into skin tissue, thereby offering rejuvenation. Here are a few more reasons to start oil bathing:
- Strengthens the immune system to fight bacterial and fungal infections
- Improves blood circulation by dilating blood vessels
- Reduces fatigue and stiffness in joints
- Keeps the skin collagen supple, resulting in fresh, glowing skin
- Reverses or neutralizes the effects of gravity on the body
- Ensures that blood flows easily to our head
3. Soak It In
As your body is enveloped by the fragrant air and the warm water, it begins to unwind and loosen the position in which the muscles are held throughout much of the day. Even those small inner muscles, those that respond to thought and feelings, begin to lighten and return to a condition of homeostasis and peace. This simple act brings the cellular structure back into alignment and activate the natural systems of repair and rejuvenation.
Now, take your time with this idea as it may cause a knee-jerk reaction at first. To cleanse, you only massage the oil into your skin. No soap. Soaps/cleansers are, like Mama always said "only for your pits and privates". You don't want to get rid of the oil with cleansers. And if we want to get serious about this, and we do, we need to use only a natural, gentle cleanser that won't disrupt the delicate pH balance of our skin.
Back to oil cleansing. It may seem counter intuitive at first but cleansing with oils is the most effective way to deep clean the skin and balance the skin's natural oil production. Consider one of the most basic principals of chemistry – like dissolves like. The oil cleansing method dissolves the skin's natural oils that have hardened with impurities like pollution and dirt, allowing them to be easily removed. Oil cleansing, on the body and face, can clear the skin from issues like oily skin, dry skin, sensitive skin, blackheads, whitehead, acne and other problems – leaving the skin healthy, balanced and hydrated.
When you finish your bath, dry your skin gently with a towel, leaving a thin layer of oil on the skin. Follow with your favorite body cream if desired. I love this moment. My skin feels so fresh and soft and my mind is clear and relaxed. It's a beautiful way to start or end the day.
Now that you are an oil bathing beauty, it is my hope that you will share your experience with others so that your dear ones can find the same delight. And, if you have children – may you gift them the ritual and love for the healing powers of bathing.
Partner at Good Medicine Beauty Lab