Thursday, March 7, 2013

Peppermint Shower

I've always loved peppermint. It might have started with my grandma sharing her penchant for a variety of hard candy. My favorites were the Starlight pinwheels.

Luckily Grandma was a bigger fan of butterscotch and those strange Icy Mint blue candies, so I never had to arm wrestle her.

Then, about 15 years ago, I read an article in Runner's World magazine about peppermint essential oil as a natural pick-me-up. I really started to understand the benefits and many uses of peppermint in various forms. I immediately ran to my local natural health shop to buy a bottle of peppermint essential oil. I started grabbing the bottle for a quick inhale just before a run on those days when work was trying and/or I thought I was just a little too tired to run.

Veriditas Botanicals
This little trick worked every time; it got me out the door for a nice up-tempo run.

In retrospect, I should have remembered it was actually many years earlier (we're talking late 1970s/early 1980s) when I first learned about the aromatherapy benefits of peppermint. Remember these pens?
They are shaped like candy canes (duh!), with scented ink that smells like – you guessed it – peppermint. I found these at a drugstore a few years ago. The ones I had when I was a child had a cool green cap, rather than this boring old white one.

But you get the idea. I'd write with these as a kid and the smell would make me happy. Yes, I was easily amused. Still am.

In the ensuing years, and throughout my quest to find the best healthy products, I've found many products with peppermint oil in them. I reach for them whenever my body (or mind) needs them. As a life-long athlete, I've really grown to love the cooling effects of peppermint on the skin, along with it's mood-lifting scent.

The other night I was getting ready for a night out that was going to be part entertainment, part business. For a variety of reasons I was really stressing about the event.

I dug into my old bag of tricks and came up with the idea of having a shower full of natural mood enhancers.

I was astounded at the arsenal I had at my disposal. I guess I really like peppermint!

I started with Aura Cacia Reviving Peppermint Aromatherapy Shower Tablets. These are so simple to use, they're like Alka-Seltzer for your shower. Just rip open one of the individually-packaged mega tablets, place it on the floor of your shower and inhale the steam as the water hits the slowly-dissolving tablet. (They also come in Relaxing Lavender & Purifying Eucalyptus).

I'm a huge fan of Face Naturals products! One of my favorites within their line is Purify Facial Cleanser. This has to be, hands-down, my favorite all-purpose, non- exfoliating daily facial cleanser. A big part of my love affair with this particular cleanser is the peppermint scent. On mornings when I'm having trouble waking up, I wash my face as usual but I take the extra step of placing a steaming washcloth on my face, just after I washed, and I inhale the scent of peppermint. This quick extra step really wakes up the senses!

No matter how many great liquid soaps I have used, I've always also kept a basic bar soap handy in my shower. Dr. Bronner's Magic Peppermint Bar Soap is one of my current favorites.

Now to the all important shaving cream. Yes, I'm one of those who always shaves my legs. I'll definitely be writing a much longer post on my hunt for the perfect non-toxic shaving cream. But Avalon Organics Peppermint Moisturizing Cream Shave ranks pretty high on the list.

I discovered Beecology Natural Honey and Peppermint Body Wash on when I was researching non-toxic body washes. I was THRILLED to find a wash with peppermint, as I had been having trouble finding one. This did not disappoint.

On this all-important night, I decided to try one new product: Kiss My Face Peppermint Foot Scrub. It had a nice abrasive quality to exfoliate but also smelled good and smoothed out the skin all over my feet and ankles.

My second-to-last in-shower step was HelloMellow Empower Pink Himalayan Body Scrub. I'll wax poetic about my love of all things salt scrub- (and salt bath-) related in another post. Suffice it to say, this body scrub is amazing! And it smells as great as it works. Left my skin soft, smooth and smelling lovely!

After rinsing off the HelloMellow body scrub (but before drying off) I used some HelloMellow Empower Body Oil. This oil is thick but goes on nicely and disappears into the skin. There's no oily residue or slickness after. Just great moisture with a great smell!

After I was done with my shower, I was looking for one last hit of peppermint. Aha! Another Face Naturals product: Face Naturals 100% Pure Organic Peppermint Hydrosol. This great toner adds a little moisture back to the skin before I start with my serums and moisturizer.

And, no, I didn't smell like a big ol' candy cane after all of this. All of the products are mildly scented. I layered them on this particular evening because I was looking for the uplifting (and ongoing) aromatherapy benefits throughout my shower. I found them!

Next time I need an uplifting shower I might try all-citrus-based products, just for fun. Or if I'm hoping to mellow out after a long day, I'll choose lavender. And I'll be sure to write about it!

Lip Balm is one of the easiest ways to get your peppermint fix. I love lips balms - many different brands and "flavors." Here are some of my favorite peppermint-based balms:

Badger lip balm: Classic Lip Balm in Highland Mint and Cocoa Butter Lip Balm in Cool Mint)

Face Naturals (again!) has two: Organic Cool Mint Lip Balm and Organic Mint Chocolate Lip Balm

Aubrey Organics has one: Peppermint & Tea Tree Lip Balm

Earlier I mentioned my love for peppermint candy as a child. My tastes have evolved somewhat as an adult, here are some of my current favorites:

Vosges Peppermint Candy Cane — This bar is seasonal and can be difficult to find. (62% Cacao)

Chocolove XOXOX Peppermint in Dark Chocolate — At 55%, not quite as dark as I prefer, but delicious nonetheless.

Lake Champlain Signature Dark Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Bar (54%)
Newman's Own Organic Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cups — A healthier – and delicious – version of York Peppermint Patties.

The King's Cupboard Creme de Menthe Chocolate Sauce — This is a great sauce to heat up and eat with anything from the obvious - ice cream! - to fruit or whatever you prefer. I only wish this particular sauce was part of The King's Cupboard's Organic line.
Newman's Own Organic Peppermints — These are small breath mints that dissolve in your mouth. They come in the fun (and handy!) tin. And what Aries woman (that's me!) wouldn't love the big, beautiful ram on this tin?

Finally, the ultimate peppermint - candy canes. I found all natural, organic tru sweets Candy Canes at a local natural food store a few years ago and now I buy them once a year. Because they're more purple than red, they are perfect for hanging on the all-purple Christmas tree I've put up for the last 4 or 5 years. Bonus!