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Mehndi: the Ancient Beauty Art

Long before lipstick and blush were available at the beauty counter, women of Asia and Africa were using the art of mehndi to adorn their skin with temporary henna tattoos.

In India brides have their hands and feet decorated with intricate traditional designs such as peacocks, mangos, and lotus flowers, each of which has symbolic meaning. The age-old art has begun to move into the mainstream, as modern men and women choose this pain-free method to decorate their bodies.

Henna (Lawsonia inermis), best known in the West as a hair conditioner and natural dye, is ground up and made into a paste, which is then piped onto the skin in elaborate patterns. After the henna has dried in place for several hours, it is rinsed off, leaving a fine reddish-orange design that will last about two weeks.

The benefits of mehndi are more than just skin deep: it not only conditions the skin but also promotes healing and rejuvenation, much like a spa treatment.

A great way to celebrate this ancient beauty tradition is to invite a few friends to an at-home mehndi party. Pick up your own supplies at a nearby Indian market or health food store, or hire a mehndi artist. It's a time-honoured way to celebrate beauty.

Redness Reduction

In nature, Saxifraga rosacea is a tiny, pink, blushing flower. The skin condition named after this rose-coloured plant is not so attractive. Those who suffer from rosacea endure symptoms that vary from a mild persistent facial flush to thickened, inflamed, and blemished skin.

This common skin ailment is often made worse by hot temperatures and spicy foods, but winter conditions, such as wind chill, and dry indoor heating can also trigger flare-ups. Keeping a log of symptoms for several weeks may help identify triggers.

Dermatologist Dr. Brandith Irwin, author of Your Best Face Without Surgery (Hay House, 2002), offers the following tips to keep rosacea under control:

  • See your health practitioner for early treatment.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Limit intake of hot drinks.
  • Exercise in a cool environment.
  • Cleanse with tepid water and a gentle skin product.

Cremes containing natural ingredients ginkgo and/or horse chestnut are recommended as they soothe the skin and strengthen tiny facial blood vessels.

Now, if only there were a way to prevent those awkward situations that make us turn red with embarrassment.

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