After the long Northeast winter and this year’s chilly and hesitant spring, the arrival of the bright, expansive energy of early summer feels like a golden nectar. Schedules soften, we feel a sun-warmed sense of ease, and the season’s fruits and flowers invite us to pause and savor. By summer’s end, we glow with the vibrant energy of the season, and we feel ready to take on whatever lies ahead.
In my work, I am often asked for my thoughts on the most important part of a healthy skincare routine. We all want to know what we can do to look and feel our best, but people are often surprised to hear that one of the very best ways to support healthy skin is get to get plenty of rest and to reduce and mitigate our exposure to stress. As our largest organ, and the gateway between our inner and outer worlds, the skin sends us important messages about finding balance in our overall health. Good rest gives our bodies, skin and spirit a chance to recover from the day, and we both look and feel our best when we give ourselves plenty of restorative downtime and make choices that help us get enough good quality sleep. In the midst of our busy days, time for rest and rejuvenation can so easily be overlooked in favor of seemingly more pressing projects and deadlines, but we can use the feeling of spaciousness that summer offers to help us make room in our lives for self-care rituals and healthy habits that we can carry with us through the rest of the year.
Even when the light lasts long into the evening, it’s still possible to cultivate a nourishing bedtime routine that will help you feel refreshed the next day. Sleep comes a little easier when we allow ourselves enough time to wind down before settling into bed. Turning off electronic devices helps quiet the mind, and a few moments with a good book, relaxing music or a few gentle stretches can help prepare our bodies and minds for sleep.
I love to sip a cup of herbal tea before bed, or take a few drops of an herbal tonic made with plants that help to support relaxation and a healthy sleep cycle, like passionflower, hops and California poppy. If I’ve had a stressful day and need extra help quieting my mind, I’ll turn to herbs like skullcap, tulsi and milky oats, which help support a healthy, calm nervous system.
As the weather warms and we work and play outside more, one of the best ways to stay healthy, glowing and full of energy is to drink enough water. I like to encourage myself to consume more liquids by garnishing my water with fresh herbs and fruit from the garden. Cucumber and mint is a cooling, refreshing combination. Rose petals (or a dash of rosewater) and chamomile are lovely together, and strawberries or raspberries are delicious paired with anise hyssop. The possibilities are as endless as the summer abundance in the our gardens and markets, and varying the flavor combinations keeps it interesting and inspires me to bring more of the season’s bounty into my daily routine.
I feel so healthy and beautiful (and I sleep deliciously well!) after a day of swimming in the sea. Though I can’t always make it to the ocean more than a few times each summer, I’ve found that a nightly evening bath with sea salts is a wonderful way to settle in before bedtime. Even in the heat of a New York City summer, 1-2 cups of sea salt dissolved into a lightly warm bath nourishes the skin and helps me relax and wind down from a long day of work or play. Adding a few flower petals (roses, chamomile and calendula are a few of my favorites) and a spoonful or two of local honey added to the bathwater can help to make an evening bath an even more beautiful ritual.
Taking a cue from the Ayuvedic tradition of abhyanga, a simple self-massage before bed with a little body oil both helps to calm the nervous system and to nourish the skin as it prepares to enter its natural repair cycle while you sleep. Apply a little oil all over, and gently massage beginning with long strokes on your extremities and circular motions on your torso moving toward the center of your body. Use a beautifully scented oil to help encourage the sweetest of dreams.
Sending you wishes for a restful, healthy and abundant summer–may the radiant glow of the season be yours, both inside and out!
Briar Winters grew up in Washington State where her early experiences out of doors and in the garden inspired a continuing desire to live in harmony with the earth. After a decade spent in the pastry kitchen in New York City, she felt called to take her skill in sourcing and creating with exquisite raw materials in a new direction, channeling the energy in her work towards supporting health and well-being in the world.
She believes that there is a real kinship between the apothecary and the kitchen. Much of her work with Marble & Milkweed is informed by her culinary work (especially the intense focus on working with beautiful, pure botanical materials), the alchemy of scent, as well as by years of self-guided research in plant-based skin care.
When she’s not at the studio, she can be found tending her community garden plot or walking in the city in search of inspiration.
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