Archive for the ‘ancient beauty secrets’ Category

image courtesy Flickr

Hi all! Hope you managed to weather through winter without too much struggle. I went into a bit of a blogging hibernation, but the sun is shining, and Jolie Asie is back in action.

I recently read a book that I HIGHLY recommend: The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder. Kimberly is a celebrity nutritionist whose clients include Drew Barrymore, Hillary Duff, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, and Fergie. The Beauty Detox Solution is an amazing read and has really changed the way I understand how the food I eat is impacting my body– and it’s lead to a total overhaul of my diet. This one’s a life-changer that I will be writing a number of posts on. Request it from your local library today.

This first post on Kimberly’s beauty wisdom is her fascinating look at how our body is designed and why it makes sense for us to pursue a vegetarian diet, or at least, minimize the amount of animal protein we consume.

“The gorilla,” she says, “is a natural vegetarian [that] gets all its protein, vitamin and mineral needs from its plant-based diet and is in fact the strongest animal on earth, pound for pound.” The same goes for elephants, the hippo, the rhinoceros, and the buffalo– all plant eaters, who derive all their protein needs from the amino acids (building blocks of protein), in plants. Here’s an excerpt from Kim’s book on the topic:

One of the best ways to figure out where we belong is to look at the animal kingdom. The human body is most closely related to that of primates: monkeys, chimps, and gorillas. Our genetic makeup is more similar to that of chimpanzees than to that of any other species on the planet, with an estimated 99.4 percent of our DNA sequence shared.

image courtesy Google Images

Look down at your hands. Don’t they look similar to monkeys’ hands? Look at your nails, flexible fingers and opposable thumbs. Now grind your teeth back and forth. You’ll find that our teeth, like monkeys’, are flattened (except the front canines, which can be used to help open up the harder shells of some fruits). Our back molars are appropriate for grinding plants for easy digestion.

Carnivorous animals, like the tiger, for example, have short inflexible “fingers,” which are really protrusions to push out and retract claws. These claws are needed to rip into the flesh of their prey. The tiger and other carnivores have sharp fangs: even their back molars are sharp and pointed, perfect for hunting and eating raw meat. Without these claws and sharp teeth, it would be impossible for the tiger to feast on its prey. Our hands, teeth and bodies simply aren’t designed for hunting and devouring animals in the same way; we have to use tools, weapons and utensils instead.

image courtesy Save the Tiger Fund

Okay, so we look different. But it turns out that our digestive tract is built differently, as well. The human liver, for instance, has a low tolerance for uric acid, a by-product of digesting animal protein. In contrast, the liver of the carnivorous tiger contains uricase, which is an enzyme used to break down uric acid. This enzyme gives the carnivorous tiger’s liver about fifteen times the capacity to break down uric acid from animal protein than a human liver has.

Not only are our livers designed to digest plant foods, but our stomachs are, too. The stomach juices of the tiger and other carnivores have a very high concentration of acid. This high concentration of acid helps to quickly and efficiently break down the high concentration of proteins that make up the carnivore’s diet. Humans’ stomach acid, on the other hand, is much less concentrated. Carnivores’ stomach acid is at least ten times more concentrated, and some researchers believe it could be many times more concentrated than that.

And what is true in the liver and stomach is true in the rest of the digestive tract. The human intestine is extremely complex, and at around thirty feet, it is about twelve times as long as our torso. (The gorilla also has a long intestine–about eight to twelve times its torso length.) It is designed to be long so there is adequate time to absorb the minerals and nutrients of fruits and plant matter, which quickly break down and move through our bodies much faster than animal protein does. The carnivorous tiger, on the other hand, has a short intestine– only about three times the length of its torso. Its intestinal tract is designed for quickly getting rid of the acidic waste matter that is the by-product of animal protein….

Your long intestinal tract is simply not designed to process large amounts of meat. When you put large amounts of heavy animal protein in your long intestine, the protein just hobbles along as best it can, which isn’t very fast, since it has to pass through the winding corridors of so many feet of intestine. Because it takes so long in that hot environment, it can start to putrefy, or in other words, rot, causing unhealthy bacterial growth and toxicity. There is no other way to put it: waste from digested animal products is meant to exit the body quickly, as it does in a carnivore’s body, not linger in your long digestive tract.

Digesting protein creates all sorts of by-products in the body, like purines, uric acid and ammonia, all of which create acidity in the body. These toxins are absorbed into our bloodstream through the colon and circulate all around our bodies. When our blood is clogged with toxins, it can’t transport as many beautifying minerals, and these toxins can age and clog the skin cells of our faces.

This chapter goes on to discuss more health issues caused by body acidity and toxins. It’s an engrossing and thought-provoking read, and the book provides persuasive dietary and lifestyle recommendations for increasing energy and vitality, eating for beauty and detoxing. I’ll write more on these subjects soon.

‘Til then!

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Italian women have awesome hair.  (See the Missoni family above).  Their locks are always glossy and healthy-looking.  Many Italian women have wavy or curly hair, but their hair never looks frizzy or has a lot of fly-aways.  Finally, on one of my last nights in Rome, my family had dinner with one of my father’s Italian co-workers and, to my glee, she had the same beautiful, glossy waves that I’d been seeing around town.  To my credit, I waited until after our drinks were served to grill her about her hair, but I have to admit it took a lot of self control.

She looked a little bit embarrassed, but was more than happy to talk to me about her hair.  The first thing she credited was the water in Italy, saying that when she lived in America her hair was not as nice.  This hurt my soul a little bit because, well, I can’t move to Italy (though I’d be more than happy to).  Then she told me that instead of conditioner, she does a home-made hair mask two-to-three times a week.  I perked up immediately, if I couldn’t have Italian water at least I could have an Italian hair treatment!

She mixes one cup of plain, whole milk yoghurt with one teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil and applies the mask after she’s washed her hair.  The mask sits for five minutes and is then rinsed out.  I tried this the day after I got back to the U.S.  It’s amazing!  My hair is now glossier and softer than ever.  The best part is, it’s super easy!

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Clogged pores can cause skin irritation, infection, and acne.  The best way to clean your pores is to steam your face!  Steaming your face is natural, safe, and completely refreshing.  Warm steam causes you to sweat which opens your pores and pushes dirt out.  The best part is steaming your face is incredibly easy!  Anyone can do it from home.


What You Need:

5-6 Cups of Water

Pot for boiling water

Large Glass or Ceramic Bowl

Large Towel or Sheet

Natural Toner (recommended: Thayer’s Original Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera Astringent)

(optional) Fresh Herbs

– Oily skin: Thyme, lemon, or peppermint

– Sensitive skin: Lime or chamomile

– Normal skin: Rose, rosemary, or lavender


Step 1: Pull your hair back with a headband and/or hair tie.  Wash your face thoroughly with your usual cleanser.

Step 2: Pour 5-6 cups water into pot.  Bring to a boil.

Step 3: Place large glass/ceramic bowl at a table.  Pour boiling water into the bowl.

Step 4: Sit so you can comfortably hold your head over the bowl of hot water

Step 5: Drape the large towel/sheet over your head and the bowl of water.  If you feel the steam is too hot on your skin, move your face further from the bowl.

Step 6: Steam your face for 10-15 minutes or until the water cools.

Step 7: Wash your face with the cleanser again.  Rinse with lukewarm water 4-6 extra times.

Optional step: After steaming your face is the perfect time to apply a face mask!  

Step 8: Pour some toner on a cotton ball/pad and thoroughly wipe your face. Wait a few moments for the toner to dry and apply your usual moisturizer.

You can steam your face weekly to clean out your pores!

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One of my favorite beverages to drink here in Shanghai is Pu’er tea, a special Chinese tea grown in Yunnan province.  My mother brews it every night and it’s a nice beverage to relax with in front of the TV or with a book.  It has a particular advantage over other teas because it doesn’t have any caffeine in it to disrupt your sleep.

However, Pu’er Tea is more than just a relaxing and yummy beverage.  It has several beneficial properties, the most famous being its ability to increase weight loss.  The tea is thought to increase your metabolism, and while there’s not a whole of research that’s been done to back it up, the tea has been shown to increase weight loss in rats.   Now I would take that worth a grain of salt and I certainly wouldn’t base my entire weight loss regime on tea, but it’s definitely a healthful beverage that you can keep at hand.

Especially since Pu’er tea is scientifically proven to help decrease cholesterol.  Studies have shown that the tea inhibits the synthesis of cholesterol.  Pu’er tea also has antimicrobial properties, meaning it inhibits the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria.

Pu’er tea comes in various states, like loose leaf or its famous brick form, and can be bought at various price points.  Some Pu’er tea can be very expensive, but more affordable options can be just as healthful.  Just be sure to pay attention to the expiration date of the tea and, once you’ve purchased your tea, store it appropriately in a dry place.

You can purchase Pu’er tea at almost any Chinese grocery store and at some large grocery chains in the U.S., such as Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

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Vacationing on the beach with Jaya Ajji

My great aunt, whom I call Jaya Ajji, visited recently and shared her most loved Ayurvedic beauty recipes for you all to use.

Ayurveda is the world’s most ancient form of medicine, originating in India thousands of years ago. It was a highly complex science for its time- Ayurvedic physicians even performed eye surgeries!

The below recipes are for an Ayurvedic hair pack and face mask.

This hair pack is excellent for encouraging hair growth and preventing hair loss. It is also effective for maintaining color in the hair: since she began using it, Jaya Ajji says she went from coloring her hair every 3 weeks to coloring it only once every 2 months or so! She says she has also stopped losing hair, when before it shed copiously when brushed or washed.

Ayurvedic Hair Pack

  • 1 teaspoon henna powder*
  • 1 teaspoon amla powder*
  • 1 tsp aritha powder*
  • 1 tsp shikakai powder*
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh aloe vera gel

Mix the ingredients together thoroughly and apply to dry hair for 30 minutes or up to 4 hours. Wash off in the shower and shampoo as usual. Do this regularly- once or twice a week- to experience amazing hair protective results!

Jaya Ajji’s Ayurvedic face mask is brilliant for moisturizing and for developing an even skintone. The fresh turmeric and sesame seeds will give you a healthy glow, while the banana and ghee will provide a generous dose of moisture to parched skin.

Ayurvedic Face Mask

  • 1/2 of a banana
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground turmeric*
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fresh aloe vera gel
  • 1/2 teaspoon ghee (clarified butter)*

Blend the ingredients together into a fine paste. Apply the face mask for 10 to 20 minutes to clean skin, then wash off. Enjoy your radiant skin!

* = These ingredients can be found at your local Indian grocery store.

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I share a beauty secret with Rani Mukerji, and that’s Margo Original Neem Soap!

Margo Original Neem Soap has been around for ages- it’s that one you see in all the Indian grocery stores, and quite possibly, overlook.

Cut that out. Rewind. Pick up a bar of Margo soap yourself (I get mine 3 bars for $5!) and revel in the antibacterial essential oil goodness!

Margo soap is a simple facial and body soap that has been enriched with the awesome antibacterial and healing powers of neem essential oil. The use of neem oil for healing purposes began with Ayurvedic medicine in India thousands of years ago. Ancient Ayurvedic practitioners spoke highly of the benefits of neem for skin disorders- including acne.

So my great-great-great…-great grandmother might have been using neem in a very similar way to what I am today!

Margo soap is a green soap bar with a distinctive herbal scent. The soap lathers well and successfully removes all of my makeup- including my sunscreen. I do like to preface washing by removing my eye makeup with baby oil; Margo washes away all traces of the oil as well. I use it morning and night, and I love the clear skin results it delivers!

I’ve tried every cleanser you can think of: oil cleansers, liquid soaps, cream cleansers, all-natural cleansing pastes, and bar soaps. Margo is the facial cleansing soap I kept going back to- and now, will always stay with.

Thank you, Rani. Thank you, Margo.

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Beauties of Southeast Asia- particularly Filipino women- swear by papaya to keep their skin glowing and healthy.

Papaya is famous for its incredible skin benefits. The enzymes in papaya are excellent for exfoliation, which make them great for radiant skin and reducing acne scarring. Exfoliating the skin is necessary to keeping your pores clean and your skin looking fresh and young.

Papaya is also effective for reducing freckles, sun spots/brown spots and unsightly tan lines, important for girls looking for an even skintone. It is said that papayas help protect elastin, maintaining the skin’s elasticity and preventing sagging. What’s more, papaya has cleansing antibacterial and wound-healing properties, making it an all-around fabulous natural product to include in your skincare regimen!

When buying fresh papaya, buy and use the fruit before it has ripened- that’s when its healing properties are most potent. To make a papaya face mask, crush the flesh of the papaya and apply it to the skin. Leave on for twenty minutes and wash off.

A very popular papaya skincare product from the Philippines puts the exfoliating properties of papaya in a convenient bar soap form. Likas Papaya Herbal Soap is enriched with papain (the special enzyme in papaya), said to brighten the skin. Look for Likas Papaya Soap at your local Asian grocer; be sure to check for authenticity and freshness. Both women and men have used Likas Papaya Soap to whiten skin, brighten skin, improve discoloration, and treat acne and acne scars!

Papaya is a powerful ingredient to use in skincare, so whether you are using prepared products or the fresh fruit, be sure to test for skin sensitivity before trying.

Have you added papaya to your skincare regimen?

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