When the water turns a clear turquoise green from my plane’s window, I know I am in The Bahamas. I soon see my mother waiting in the front seat of the car, smiling with a twinkle in her eyes. Each year when I visit her, I look to see how her face has changed, and I’m amazed always to see how beautifully she is aging. On one of my visits, I turned and looked at my almost-octogenarian mother and asked, “What do you do that stops you from looking old?” I had just had a birthday and was growing concerned about how well I was aging. I determined that if I am going to age well, I would have to start putting things in place right away.
“If you want to grow old beautifully,” my mother waxed, “you have to spend time and money. But time is more important than money. And you have to pay attention not only to your body but also to your soul.”
I was not sure what my mother meant, so I decided to observe and document her skin-care regimen.
Spend time moisturizing your body.
Like a golden buddha doll, my mother would sit on her ottoman and, with gentle and intentional strokes, massage her homemade moisturizer of love all over her sacred body. She would rub the creamy vanilla shea butter married with coconut and jojoba oils and infused with lavender oil on her temple.
Skin Care Moisturizer Recipe
*Mix in a blender or by hand. Store in a clean jar or container.
16 oz shea butter
1 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup jojoba oil
4 drops lavender essential oil
Mom was almost 80, yet her skin was still stretched tightly over her embodied soul. Age had slowed her movements, but time had taught her how to care for the place that housed her soul. She spent almost an hour each night massaging the natural oils into her skin, which was smooth as satin.
I couldn’t imagine spending that length of time on my body every evening, and I told my mother so. “It’s your body. You don’t have time for you?” she asked incredulously. My mother was right: I didn’t have time for me. If I wanted to age healthily, then I had to make the time for self-care.
Benefits of the Oils:
Shea Butter is rich in vitamin A. It is an excellent skin moisturizer and an exceptional healing agent for the skin. It helps skin cell regeneration, which reduces wrinkles.
Coconut Oil is a form of medium-chain fats which is antibacterial and antiviral. It is also a rich source of antioxidants, making it an effective anti-aging fighter.
Jojoba Oil is high in vitamin E, which promotes healthy skin. It is also an antioxidant.
Lavender Oil, extracted from the lavender flower, is a powerful antioxidant, making it also an anti-aging remedy.
Exfoliate 2-3 times a week to induce blood flow to the skin and to remove dead skin cells.
My mother was a beauty minimalist. She wore no jewelry and barely wore any makeup, except for some translucent powder. Instead, she invested her money in procuring her skin. She said if you don’t take care of your skin, your skin will turn hard like a finger nail. She exfoliated regularly, using the ice sugar crystals blended with the tangy fruity acid of pineapple and the smooth olive oil to remove dead skin cells.
*Mix ingredients together well.
1/2 cup sugar
3 oz pineapple juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
My mom paid close attention to the condition of her elbows and knees, ensuring they were the same tone as the rest of her body. Quite truthfully, I had not even acknowledged my elbows and knees before that time. We must pay attention to all of our body, including the inconsequential parts, and not wait for pain or sickness to bring them to our awareness. We need to study our body, notice changes, and most of all love our body. “Nobody will love your body more than you do. That’s your body,” my mother emphasized. She was right. I needed to claim my body and take full responsibility for its well-being.
Benefits of exfoliating ingredients:
Pineapple is high in vitamin C. It is an excellent source of antioxidants.
Olive Oil is also rich in antioxidants. It contains monounsaturated fats, which help to prevent wrinkles.
Buy Good Skin-care Products
Invest in good skin-care products that are reputable and dermatologically tested.
Though my mother cooked up some of her own beauty treatments, she still invested in monthly facials at a store called the “Beauty Spot”. There she met Esmeralda, who turned her on to the Clinique line of skin-care products, then later in life, Lancôme, which she has used the past 30 years. She would replenish her face during the day with Lancôme’s day cream and restore it at the end of the day with night cream. To purchase these products was a sacrifice she made for herself over the years, considering her meager salary. Now she was not only enjoying the rewards of her sacrifices but also the garden of her soul, which was eternally blooming.
Protect Your Skin from the Sun
Wear sunscreen every day and when going outdoors.
Mum kept a garden. She grew flowers—hibiscus, bougainvillea, orchids, yellow bell, and jasmine. Her broadbrim straw hat protected her skin from the harsh rays of the sun. She always warned that the sun was not good for the skin: “You must put on a sunscreen whether the sun is shining or not.” Truthfully, her warning sounded more like the ones she gave my sisters and me about boys when we started dating. But I knew life could be harsh like the sun’s scorching rays and a blessing like those same rays of warmth on a chilly day. Health is fragile: handle with care. I can determine the quality of life I have by how I care for my body.
More Than Skin-Deep
It’s what you do with the gift of health that matters.
My mum’s cup was full, and it was running over like a garden container spilling over with its vine-like flowers. She was not ignorant of the fact that good skin care involved putting nutritious food and drinking adequate water as well. She did these things as best she could along with getting regular exercise in her garden. She was not shallow, realizing that life was more than the body. It was also about having the energy and the health to touch the lives of others and adding beauty to her world.
May I plant seeds of kindness and goodness
May I provide shade for the weary and the sun-scorched
May I grow and flourish where I’m planted
Remove the weeds of unforgiveness and pride
And may I grow with uplifted hands in the direction of the Sun forever.
- To age healthily, make the time for self-care.
- Claim your body and take full responsibility for its well-being.
- Health is fragile: handle it with care. Determine the quality of life you have by how you care for your body.
- Pay attention not only to the condition of your body but also your soul.