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[Skin Care - Part 4] [Skin Care - Part 5]
( Originally Published 1963 )
HAS YOUR SKIN EATEN LATELY?
Any massage attempted round the eyes must be undertaken with the greatest of care. Use a touch so light you almost cannot feel it. When massaging the under-eye you move from the corner of the eye across the valley beneath your lower lid towards the nose. This is the only facial massage movement in which the main gesture goes towards the center of the face and not away from it. Next, cross over the nose making a U-turn and massage the upper lid with just as feathery fingers towards the same corner of the eye where you began the circle. Continue this for as long as you can, never forgetting to keep your whipped cream touch. Move over to the other eye and be sure you give it an equal amount of massage.
A MIDDAY FACIAL
Here's a good quick midday facial to do any time you think of it and have a moment. Lightly cream your face and neck and wipe off most of the cream with soft tissues (always work gently under the eyes) in an upward motion. Cream again, using some of the massage movements. Work the cream into all your facial crevices, those on the neck too, until there are no visible signs of the cream left. Now wash off all the greasy feeling with good warm water and soap (be sure its not a harsh or strong soap). Pat your face dry with a soft towel. Now take soft cotton fluff and pat your face again, this time with witch hazel or any other mild astringent. Get so you do this automatically once a day without even thinking about it. The way you take a glass of water from the tap.
THE REST OF YOU
Massaging the rest of your body is much more difficult than facial massage, which is relatively easy for any woman to learn to do by herself in a brief space of time and without having to acquire any very special medical or scientific knowledge. But good body massage is based on thorough knowledge of the body's functions and circulation, on the structure of the muscles and the tone responses of the tissues. Besides these considerations, good body massage requires strong, trained fingers. In short, massage is an art.
There is, however, one part of your body, a crucial one, which you should be able to massage by yourself and which you ought to try and get to for at least five or ten minutes every day. Tension of any kind hits us in the upper back and knots up at the nape of the neck. Give yourself gentle stroking movements from the back of your head down to the neck and further on to the upper part of your spinal column. Firm your fingers a bit, it feels wonderful when you knead the small knot (called, sometimes, the "dowager's hump") where your neck joins your back. Brushing your hair up from your neck in long steady movements for a prolonged period of time is enormously relaxing too. Especially if you can do this while lying on your bed or couch with your head hanging over the edge or slightly off the side.
THE BATHTUB REFUGE AND BEAUTY TREATMENT
A bath, believe it or not, can do almost all the things for you a body massage can, and several things massage can never do. For the average woman with an average income, learning how to make a bath serve your beauty ends, is, I think, more realistic.
You're going to take a bath anyway; why not think about all the wonderful things you can do before your bath, in it, and afterwards to keep your body toned, alive and clean. The heat of your bath water, the steam in the bathroom, and the fact that you are completely, or almost completely immersed for over fifteen minutes (at least) adds up to relaxing your muscles, relieving fatigue and getting rid of tensions.
A very hot bath can be enervating, and some people cannot and should not take them. But for me there is absolutely nothing that can soothe and rebuild my body and my frame of mind like a hot bath just before bedtime. For any woman who's done a good deal of work, physical or mental, who has perhaps damaged muscles and body tissues, but has no time or money for a Swedish masseuse or a Turkish bath, adding epsom salts to the bath will do wonders.
Baths, I am convinced, are one of the big answers to the ever increasing problem of our time: tension. Tension, as we are realizing more and more, can wreck you. It hits me particularly hard in the shoulders and in the neck. I usually use the first few minutes of my bath, while I'm soaking, to do my neck and back massage. I begin working them very easily-I don't want to interfere with the relaxing purpose of my bath-but I find moving these tense spots, keys to the nervous system, can unlock the tension in my whole body.
The bath is one place where people who "never" let go can let go. It's a refuge, a sanctuary. You ought to lock the bathroom door if children are accustomed to come to you every time a button comes undone. Let them wait (if circumstances permit) till you get out. Don't minimize your need to relax. You'll find that as your body lets go of its tightness your mind and emotions will, too.
Actually your husband, who probably prefers showers to baths, ought to stay in the tub even longer than you do. Our society allows women to display their emotions. Men, who are not so privileged and often seem passive (because it is considered "unmanly" for them to display grief), have greater tension problems than women, and this is one of the reasons statistics show a shorter life span for them.
The bathtub is, of course, also a place for getting clean, not just a substitute for tranquilizers. I don't really believe that tubbing is as clean as showering, so, while I shower in the morning, I always tub at night. Sticking to showers exclusively can be tremendously drying to the skin. In a shower, your body oils that get washed and soaped off end up down the drain. In a bath you sit in your own body oils which cannot be replaced by any artificial oils and which are greatly needed by your skin.
For the same reason I'm against too many bubble baths, pretty as they are, and much as my daughter Kathy (and all teen-age girls) love them. Bubble baths are particularly drying to the skin. You are actually sitting in a tub of soapsuds, and many women who would never put soap on their faces casually wash away the lubricants of their own body every night.
How often "should" one bathe? Definitely more than once a week. But jesting aside, I don't believe a daily bath is an absolute must for everyone, at least not in cool weather. In summer it seems right to pop under a shower several times a day, and this can't harm even the dryest of skin because we don't always bother soaping, the aim being mostly to cool off. Gauge your bathing schedule in general by the smoothness or roughness of your body's skin.
If your life is geared to a heavy schedule, learn how to quickly wash and rinse parts of yourself in the sink. I favor, for instance, frequent underarm scrubbings and occasional dashes of cold water for your whole upper body, over the habit of applying too much deodorant too often.
THE DELICATE QUESTION OF BODY ODOR
The whole question of "body odor" is considered a delicate one. Frankly, I think it's a bit too delicate. If you're eating a good diet, getting enough air, exercise and sleep, and you wash often, any smell connected with you ought to be a pretty good one-not something you nervously feel should be totally obliterated. Americans as a group tend to be a bit overly concerned with getting rid of all odors connected with being human. (Personally, I'm suspicious of anyone who has no smell at all.) By contrast, in many other parts of the world a faint whiff of what we would call "body odor" is considered a great source of attraction. And poets throughout history have raved in verse about the smell of their beloved-and it wasn't one that came out of a jar or a bottle.
While we may or may not agree with this earthy approach, I do think that we are changing. We no longer believe that everything that has not been super-boiled and vacuum cleaned is "dirty." And we realize increasingly that what we want as a basis for personal hygiene is not sterilization (fine for baby bottles, hypodermic needles, and bandages) but real cleanliness, which is health.
I still think that every woman should have a mild deodorant in her beauty closet, which should, in my opinion be used not as a substitute for washing but as an occasional supplement to add to her feeling of daintiness. You can tell a mild deodorant from an anti-perspirant because the mild deodorants do not contain what is called (on the label) "an active ingredient." Some people are so sensitive that they cannot tolerate even the mildest deodorant or cologne stick in the underarm area. You'll know quickly enough if you're one of them. If your skin tingles and burns for more than a few seconds try to find a still milder product, or content yourself with very frequent washings.
Be wary of anti-perspirants. Perspiration was not meant to be stopped. It's a magnificent bodily process that regulates your skin temperature, your water balance and your weight. The cells of the underarm skin are specially constructed for heavy fluid elimination while other parts of your skin are not as porous. You don't want to block that necessary elimination. A very extreme example of how important it is that your skin be left free to breathe and perspire was told to me when I was a child. Several circus performers, acrobats I think, had their skin painted gold for the performance so they would glitter beautifully under the lights of the circus tent. In the middle of their act, one by one they collapsed, and before a doctor was able to reach them, they had all died of suffocation.
Simple shaving should take care of the problem of body hair for most women, and there's nothing very complicated about shaving. It's much easier for a woman to shave her legs and underarms than it is for a man to shave his face, and he does it every morning. Remember to shave with a sharp clean razor, to use a mild pure soap and plenty of it. A small lathery brush, a miniature of what your husband may use, is much more effective for sudsing up than your fingers. Shave in the direction that the hair grows, not against it. Shaving against the hair leaves you with a bristly rough feeling.
Electric razors, the ones they make for ladies, are quite fine and don't chafe or irritate the skin. They also eliminate the problem of buying blades and the danger of cuts.
Brunettes are often unhappy about the excessive dark hairgrowth they have on their bodies and which grows back quickly after shaving, and they look for a more permanent solution. Diathermy and electrolysis are two effective methods of getting rid of your unwanted hair more or less permanently, but they can be costly and must be done by very good professional operators. Have a reliable doctor recommend one for you if you decide to try one of those two methods.