When women see me for the first time they say ‘You can’t possibly be in your seventies, you have the skin of a 55 year old.’ I smile, firstly because even I cannot believe how or when I reached this age and secondly because my skin is exceptional and I’m proud to have escaped the signs of decay. Sensual Sorcery will hopefully prove that buying expensive beauty products isn’t the answer to holding back tired skin, black circles under the eyes or wrinkles. We have to start on the inside, be done with junk food (other than occasional naughty treats), eat fruits and veg in abundance, drinks lots of water, know which vitamins to take and treat our bodies like temples. Once we find balance with that aspect, the home made beauty recipes offered in this book will make you doubly beautiful within no time.

I might have a glamorous, diva persona, but at heart I’m a hippie who finds nature a source of wonder. I have been making natural beauty products for nearly as long as I have been a life coach, beauty/health advisor – which to date is 35 years. In the same way a gourmet chef strives to further perfect every dish they make, I strive to better my beauty creations. I will include tips passed down by my gran and mum, both of whom had fantastic skin into their eighties, as well as beauty tips gathered on my travels to far-flung countries across the globe.

Nearly all fruits and vegetables that are beneficial for us on the inside, serve our skin equally well. This does not perhaps apply to beetroot or spinach since we’d look pretty stupid walking around with purple or green faces. However, from now on when you munch on a carrot, bite into a banana, take a mouthful of avocado, tomato, apple, grapefruit, apricot or peach, know that these and many more fruits will become your besties as we work together through this book.

Same thing applies to thyme, rosemary, mint, turmeric, basil, star anise and numerous other herbs. Apart from their use to season dishes, we will use these little treasures to season our hair, skin and nails.

Maybe at this point you are just starting out on the natural homemade beauty product trail but I promise that within no time, you will become such an artist in the craft, you’ll be whipping up Coconut soufflé wrinkle cream, Strawberry Mousse exfoliator and Yoghurt Mint facial masks with the ease of whipping an egg yolk. Do not be rigid. Use my recipes as a guideline and push yourself to experiment with different carrier oils and essential oils as your knowledge grows.

While I did my best, it was not possible to list beauty recipes in exact A-Z order since many ingredients cross over and lend a hand with other friendly fruits and essential oils. However, I hope you find the book informative, recipes easy to make and are thrilled with results, which was my priority when compiling these tried and tested homemade beauty products.

I think it’s time to get started with basics?

INDEX OF MY PERSONAL FAVOURITE CARRIER AND ESSENTIAL OILS

The list of carrier oils and essential oils that can be incorporated in natural homemade beauty products is vast, so I am sticking with 5 carrier oils and 6 essential oils. Having understood their uses, you might decide a couple of carrier oils are enough for your needs right now – this is fine. Essential oils are a different ball game. I use around twenty since I make so many different products. For you, I have chosen six that represent starter kit musts for any self-respecting beauty diva. To begin our journey, I will stick to four of these in our first batch of homemade beauty recipes. We will tackle more as we progress.

My Five Favourite Carrier Oils:

Sweet almond oil is made from edible almonds and is so mild and hypoallergenic, can be used safely even on baby skin. Due to the fact almond oil is endowed with highly potent antioxidant vitamin E (a wonderful skin repairer) and Vitamin (which protects against skin flare ups). Combined, these vitamins protect skin from UV radiation damage and oxidative stress. Regular use will help keep your skin soft and supple and can be used safely on sensitive skin since it rarely causes allergic reactions.

Coconut oil is a brilliant source of vitamins A, C and E and is a super oil for facial massage since it’s incredibly moisturizing. It reduces appearance of wrinkles, brings elasticity back to skin and gives a healthy glow.  Coconut oil is widely used in face, body and hair beauty products but is of particular value when used in anti-wrinkle facial products since it hardens when kept in the ‘fridge and can be applied in tiny amounts to work around the eye around.

Grapeseed oil is light in texture, doesn’t feel greasy on your skin and penetrates deep into pores, tightening them whilst hydrating the skin at the same time.  Full of healthy antioxidants and valuable Vit E, it rarely produces allergic reaction so is another winner.

Rosehip oil. This is a must for older folk since it is not only rich in vitamin C, Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, it also contains retinoic acid, which is said to tighten skin and close pores.  A true wrinkle buster if ever I met one, which also reduces broken capillaries and helps fades age spots.

Argan oil is a rare and precious oil that is harvested and extracted from the nut of the argan tree. With its high content of antioxidants, essential fatty acids and Vitamin E, it has the ability to naturally revitalize and hydrate skin. Add to this that it’s a powerful UV protector and free-radical neutralizer which rarely causes allergic reaction and you have another winner.

A few facts before I list my top favourite essential oils. I’m sure you know this but just in case you didn’t, cosmetics are one of the least regulated consumer products on the market today. It is said that one in six products contain chemicals linked to cancer. Remember this simple fact. The skin is our largest organ and what goes on the face or body goes in. With the beauty products we will make together, we will use the wisdom supplied by Mother Nature so as not to further add to the toxic burden we laden our bodies with through unhealthy eating habits and the rest. This means the essential oils you use must be 100% pure and not blended with any other ingredients or oils. The blended form of essential oil is cheaper but cannot be trusted so make sure it says ‘100% pure’ on bottle before buying.

Essential oils aren’t oils in the way we may have perceived them until now and come under the category of ‘ethereal’ oils. This means that the aromatic compounds found in fruits, herbs, flowers and plants are extracted through lengthy, complicated steam distillation to obtain tiny amounts of subsequent oils. This is no meagre task when we consider for example that one drop of essential rose oil equals around 60 ground rose petals.

When (pure) essential oils are combined with a carrier oil they create wonderful natural beauty products for use on face, body and hair. They can also be used for massage purposes to correct a host of health issues.

Rose essential oil.  One of the reasons wrinkles appear with age is due to the drop in collagen production, which causes skin to lose its elasticity. Rose oil is a firm favourite because of its uncanny ability to turn the clock back when used on a regular basis. Rose oil also has a delicious smell but its properties, qualities and healing powers are monumental. It’s antimicrobial, hydrating, tightening benefits make it an excellent choice for use in natural homemade anti-aging beauty products. According to extensive studies carried out by Chinese researchers a few years back, rose oil exhibited one of the strongest bacterial activities compared to many other essential oils. This means it also excels for anyone who suffers with pimples, acne and skin eruptions.

Taken a step further, one or two drops of rose essential oil mixed with a teaspoon of carrier oil for massage purposes, helps to ease cramps, fatigue, and relaxes the intestinal muscles, offering fast relief from constipation while helping to maintain a healthy digestive system.  It is very easy to massage yourself since concentration should be on the stomach area. I do it whenever I feel bloated and it works a treat.

Frankincense essential oil. Due to my age, Frankincense goes into every beauty recipe I make for facial use. Frankincense promotes cell regeneration, strengthens the skin’s elasticity and gives skin a healthy, radiant glow. It also protects against liver spots (age spots) which is one of the plights of getting older.

Taken a step further, one or two drops of Frankincense oil mixed with a teaspoon of carrier oil, works wonders when used for behind ear and neck massage. This increases oxygenation of the pituary glands, helping to balance mood swings and giving you a relaxed mind and body state.

Lavender essential oil.  Another absolute must for your starter kit – and the favourite of many aromatherapists. Lavender oil mixes well with many other essential oils and is beneficial for skin disorders such as acne, psoriasis and other inflammatory conditions. Used regularly it inhibits the bacteria which causes initial infection and over excretion of sebum.  Anyone with greasy skin would benefit from Lavender oil as would nervous, anxious personality types. Lavender oil has highly researched evidence that it is of immense use to counteract migraines, headaches and stress, and due to its effect on the autonomic nervous system is valued as an aid for insomnia. It is also widely used in body massage to combat tense muscles, backache and rheumatism. For you to use it, I recommend mixing a few drops of Lavender oil with a teaspoon of carrier oil and rubbing lower spine area or painful joint with it. When I was recovering from cancer, my legs stiffened up so I massaged my knees with lavender oil every day and it did release the pain somewhat.

Geranium essential oil. Another beauty with a myriad of uses. Geranium oil has super astringent qualities and can be used equally well on dry, oily or combination skin. Due to its excellent cytophylactic and hemostatic properties, it is wonderful for treating eczema, pimples and acne but this clever little gem regenerates skin tissue to a high level which is exactly what we need to tighten, brighten skin and combat signs of aging.

Carrot Seed essential oil. In my opinion, this is one of the most overlooked essential oils in aromatherapy and is a genius in disguise. Packed with powerful antioxidants, Vits A , K, potassium and magnesium it decreases sun damage from UV exposure, visibly improves skin tone, elasticity, slows down appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and keeps age spots at bay. Carrot seed oil is what we might call a ‘reviving’ oil. Praised for its ability to stimulate cell growth, it is ideal for those who spend quite a bit of time outdoors and those with irritated or mature skin.

Patchouli essential oil.  If you’re around my age, you might associate Patchouli with hippies, and the ‘make love not war’ era when it was used profusely in synthetic fragrances and incense sticks. Don’t be put off by this. For (pure) Patchouli to make number 6 on our list, means I highly value it to correct skin issues. As with the other oils listed above is has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties, said to be a tissue regenerator and assist growth of skin cells and heal scar tissue. Patchouli oil has an honoured place in Asian medicine and is used to effectively treat dandruff, oily scalp, acne and eczema, so yes, at some point in this book, it will put to many super uses.

The above extract is taken from the beginning of Stella Ralfini’s forthcoming book ‘Sensual Sorcery’ to be published November 2018.

Disclaimer:  Information provided should not be taken as medical advice. Pregnant women should seek the advice of their doctor before using essential oils. I also encourage you to test each oil before you use it on your inner elbow to ensure you don’t have an allergic reaction to it. It is rare but we are unique beings and your safety matters to me.