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When Kimberly Parry arrives at the bustling Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, her face breaks into an enormous grin. Not because she spots one of the many celebrities -- including most of the big chefs in town -- who frequent this famous weekly fresh food fair, but because she is surrounded by fragrant batches of just-harvested lavender, pyramids of bright autumn apples and giant pumpkins. For this natural-beauty entrepreneur who creates exclusive spa treatments from indigenous plants for such hotels as The Four Season’s Biltmore in Montecito and the Montage in Laguna Beach, the farmer’s market is a virtual laboratory.
Parry has been making her own natural beauty potions since she was a teenager and so, for her, a mound of avocados bring to mind a rich, hydrating face mask. A bag of rose-petal potpourri could be a perfect bath-time exfoliant. As she stands amid the crowds of produce shoppers, Parry grabs handfuls of straight-from-the-fields sage, rosemary, mint and lavender. “This will make a great beauty tonic,” she explains. “And you can even use two ways.”
Her recipe? Steep a bundle of the herbs in five glasses of boiling water and then let it cool for an hour. Pour four cups into the bath and then drink the last cup of the concoction while luxuriating in the tub. The mint cools you on hot days. Rosemary helps skin cells repair and heal. Sage flushes out toxins. And lavender, with its heavenly fragrance, soothes and calms. “It’s beauty from the inside out,” says Parry.
Of course, women around the world have known for centuries that many flowers, roots, nuts and fruits cannot only heal you but make you beautiful as well.
British beauty maven Liz Earle, creator of Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare, is always in search of intriguing beauty cures. While traveling in Essaouira, Morocco, she noticed that the local Berber women had preternaturally smooth and supple skin. “I was struck by that amazing skin because they live in such a fierce climate,” says Earle. She soon discovered their secret: They gather nuts from the argan tree, which only grows in Essaouira, extract the oil by hand, and then lavish it onto their skin, hair and nails. Earle bought two bottles of the oil from a Moroccan woman’s cooperative and, once back in the U.K., had the liquid analyzed at one her labs. “The oil proved to be remarkably high in antioxidant vitamin E, which speeds up the healing of wounds, stimulates skin-cell regeneration and boosts moisture levels in the skin,” she notes. Argan oil is now a major ingredient of her Superskin Concentrate, a facial moisturizer.
“The gifts are all around us,” says Parry, whose certified-organic bath, beauty and baby line contains such naturally nutritive ingredients as chamomile, geranium, comfrey root and oranges. “We understand that eating fresh fruits and nuts nourishes our body from the inside. Well, it does the same when we use it on the outside.” So the next time you hit the farmer’s market, pick up a little something extra with your groceries: the ingredients to make your own beauty potions. With Parry’s favorite DIY recipes, all you’ll need is a kitchen and the willingness to get a little messy.
Parry's Favorite DIY Recipes:
• Fresh Citrus Face and Body Scrub
• Pumpkin Puree Exfoliating Facial Mask
• Natural Facial Moisturizer (to follow Pumpkin Puree Mask)
• Autumn Bath Soak
• Grapefruit and Rice Starch Skin Brightener
Would you ever shop the farmer's market for beauty potions? Chime in below!