Ever wondered what Cleopatra used to keep her skin looking oh-so good (she definitely had some good skin!)? I was wondering the same thing. So, I did a little research on what the woman in the bygone times used to keep their skin free of blemishes, redness and perfectly glowing. It seems that after a million and one chemical things we have tried in the modern era we are reverting back to the old tried and tested formulas that nature has to offer us:
Pearls. Not only good for adorning swanning necklines but also, as you can imagine, it brings out a luminosity of the skin that helps smooth out uneven skin tone.
Where to get it: In a lucky oyster. Or…
How to use it: Use Chanel’s Le Blanc range.
Frankincense. Yes, its one of the 3 gifts brought to the baby Jesus in the bible (to keep up his great complexion of course). This resin known for its antibacterial qualities, more valuable than gold in its hey day, also boosts collagen formation. Goodbye fine lines.
Where to get it: From a health store. Buy pure essential oils to make sure you are getting the purest form of the good stuff.
How to use it: Mix with a neutral oil, like jojoba or into your moisturiser. Alternatively, get your paws on some of the frankincense collection from Neal’s Yard.
Saffron. These painstakingly, hand picked stamens are widely known for giving food some delicious fragrance and colour. Used as a rouge by some Indian and Moroccan women it adds a youthful glow, balances hormones and acts as a sunscreen.
Where to get it: At your local supermarket.
How to use it: Why not try Cleopatra’s bath of milk and saffron? But, if thats a little extravagant for your taste, you can always make this delicious soup from Sarah at My New Roots:
Split Pea Sunshine & Saffron Soup
1 cup dried yellow split peas, soaked
a pinch of saffron (approx. 20 threads), soaked
knob of coconut oil or ghee
¼ tsp. cayenne (optional)
¼ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. paprika
5 bay leaves
pinch of sea salt
2 large leeks, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 small Hokkaido (or any winter squash/pumpkin), cubed
4 carrots (set aside two), chopped
6 cups vegetable broth
1. Pick over split peas to remove any stones or debris. Place them in a bowl and cover with water. If possible, let soak for up to 8 hours – if not, set them aside until you cook with them.
2. In a very small bowl or cup, place a pinch of saffron (approx. 20 threads) and cover with a couple tablespoons of hot water. Let steep for at least 10 minutes (set aside until you cook with it).
3. In a large stock pot heat the oil and add the spices and bay leaves, stirring frequently for a minute or so (watch carefully so they do not burn). Add leeks, garlic, pumpkin, and carrots. Stir to coat with spice mix. If the pot becomes dry, add a little water. Cook for 5-10 minutes until veggies begin to soften.
4. Drain and rinse split peas, add to the pot. Cover with stock, add saffron-water, bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer.
*5. White the soup is simmering, cut out sun shapes with the carrots (this is totally optional, but fun. It also makes the soup very appealing for kids!). Pick out two very straight carrots. Wedge the entire length of your knife blade into the side of a carrot on a slight angle. Just beside that slice, wedge the knife blade in again at the opposite angle to meet the first cut (creating a very long triangular cut-out). Repeat all around the carrot, then slice thinly across the end of the carrot to make sun shapes. You will be able to get enough for the whole soup out of two carrots. Reserve a few for garnish. See photo for clarification.*
6. Once the peas are cooked through and soft, remove bay leaves. Using an immersion blender, blend on high until smooth (you can also use an upright blender). Thin with water if too thick. Add the juice of ½ lemon. Season to taste.
7. Add sun carrot shapes, simmer until softened (5 minutes). Serve immediately with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a couple carrot suns and a wedge of lemon juice.
Lemon. This humble, little, sour citrus contains alpha hydroxy acid which is found in most anti ageing treatments.
Where to get it: Almost everywhere. Try make it organic.
How to use it: Make a body/face scrub using lemon juice and sugar (do not eat!) which will get rid of dead skin cells and help your skin absorb moisturiser better on these dry winter days. Or, get the Rind Concentrate body balm from Aesop.
Seaweed. Super rich in minerals, and prevalent in an unpolluted ocean near you. This slimy green stuff is really hydrating, packed full of vitamin B-12 and very alkalising.
Where to get it: Why not sign up for a foraging course to learn a little more about the gazillion types of kelp and seaweed that can be found, harvested and used to cook with? Look this up at Good Hope Gardens. Or get it dry at a well stocked health food store.
How to use it: Make a seaweed lasagne. (You heard right!) Take a regular lasagne recipe and just sub out the pasta sheets for sheets of kelp. You got yourself a major conversation starter at the dinner table.