Natural beauty tips from Africa

Shea Butter and Shea Oil:
The karite tree (or shea tree) grows a nut from which shea oil and butter is harvested and made. The tree grows in twelve different African countries and the majority of the world’s supply of shea butter comes from Burkina Faso. The substance is used in products to make the hair shine, to make the scalp healthy, to reduce wrinkles, and to protect and preserve the skin and hair from sun and pollution damage. Shea butter and oil is even used by alone to treat skin conditions and has been used to help reduce the appearance of stretch marks.

Lavender used to be used by women in North Africa as a folk remedy to prevent mistreatment by their husbands. As odd as this sounds lavender has some very real beneficial properties. It is a natural deodorant, anticeptic and insecticide. You can use lavender water (made by steeping a tablespoon of lavender in a cup of water) all over the body as a fragrant refresher throughout the day.

Rooibos Tea:
This tea, known as African Red Tea, contains a high amount of anti-oxidants which make it beneficial. If contains natural alpha-hydroxyl for healthy skin and it is used in many commercial products like soaps, facial creams and shampoos.

Aside from being a delicious treat and sweetener, honey is a popular beauty aid because of its hydrating and nourishing properties. Honey has been used to treat the scalp when it is swollen and itchy from dandruff. Mix some honey with a little warm water and dab it on the affected area of your scalp. You can leave 15 minutes and rinse, or leave it on overnight for a longer treatment.

Olive Oil:
Olive trees grow in many African countries like Tunisia, and the olive oil produced by these plants has been used in beauty routines for hundreds of years. It is used as a base for many hair and skin products, and can be used as an effective treatment to moisturize hair and skin. You can simply use extra-virgin olive oil directly on the hair as a hot oil treatment, or as an emollient to moisturize the skin and nails, or look for olive oil-based complexion bars or lip balms.

: Avocadoes were highly revered for their beautifying properties, and now we know that the oil of the avocado is an excellent emollient and moisturizer. Try taking one-half of an avocado and mashing it into a pulp. Apply the pulp evenly to your face and leave it on for 20 minutes, then rinse with tepid water. It is great for hydrating the skin and makes a wonderful winter skin treatment.

You can also use avocado slices under your eyes and allow it to soak in for at least 20 minutes. Watch your puffiness disappear and enjoy the cooling and moisturizing effects of avocado.

Mayan Hair Wrap:
Combine one-half an avocado, one tablespoon of olive oil, half a banana and one egg yolk. Apply the mixture evenly to the hair and cover with plastic. Allow the mixture to sit for one hour, then simply rinse, shampoo and style the hair as usual. If you have long hair use an entire banana and avocado.

Rose Hip Seed Oil:
The oil derived from the seed of rose hips is terrific for decreasing the signs of aging, scars and uneven coloration of the skin. Look for commercial products made with the oil, or purchase the oil itself online and mix it with olive oil for a nightly facial treatment.

Chaparral and White Sage:
These two herbs are antioxidants that have the effect of inhibiting free radicals and destroying the ones that have already formed. You can mix one tablespoon of chaparral and one tablespoon of white sage together in one cup of cold water, and let it steep overnight. In the morning, add a tablespoon of sunflower oil to the herbal solution and shake it thoroughly. Apply the solution with a cotton ball before bed for free radical control.

Acacia is an herbal antibacterial and astringent. Crush the dried herbs into a powder and mix it with water to make an antibacterial wash to treat skin outbreaks. Mix the powdered herbs with honey to make a healing solution that can be applied for 20 minutes at a time.

Cliffrose Bark:
This ancient Mayan herb is used for a variety of medicinal applications, including skin problems. If you have a rash or skin disorder and nothing seems to work, take some of the bark and add it to just boiled water. Steep the bark for 15-20 minutes and apply it to the affected area and wait for relief.

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