As families sit down at the table Thursday to give thanks for a bountiful feast, we can also give thanks for the bounty of California, where the harvest is diverse and year-round.
And — more thanks — many of California's abundant crops and natural resources provide more than just good nutrition: They can help in the pursuit of beauty too.
Grapes — anti-aging
"Grapes are naturally rich in antioxidants, so they offer incredible health-protective benefits whether eaten or applied topically," says Dr. Howard Murad, a dermatologist and associate clinical professor of medicine at UCLA. "The skins of the grapes contain flavonoids, a type of antioxidants that protect cells against free-radical damage, reduce inflammation and help prevent skin damage." Resveratrol, found in grape skins, is also touted as an anti-aging ingredient, and grape seeds and grape seed extracts are rich in flavonoids and vitamin E and can be the base of a terrific body scrub.
The Grapeseed Co. Custom Vinotherapy Mask To-Go Box, $24. Red & White Organic Wine Bar gift set featuring full-sized harvest crush Syrah and summer crisp Chardonnay organic wine bar soap, $20, or try the Spa'vignon Blanc Wine Bar organic soap for $7.95. http://www.thegrapeseedcompany.com
Citrus — uplifting, detoxifying and clarifying
Citrus is known for its uplifting, happy scents. Products with lemons can also be clarifying, brightening and sanitizing. Lemon was heralded as a freckle-fader in the 1970s, but cosmetic chemist Rebecca James Gadberry says citrus applied topically can irritate the skin. So, celebrate your inner lemon-lover, but just make sure the product is right for your skin type.
The Nirvana massage at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills — ingredients include the hotel's Pacific Grove oil bursting with Southern California citrus such as lemon, grapefruit and clementine, $175. http://www.peninsula.com/Beverly_Hills
Malibu Lemon Blossom spray perfume. $22. http://www.sephora.com
Olives — moisturizing
Olives are good for your skin — especially if you're undergoing or have undergone chemotherapy, says Dr. Ava T. Shamban, a Southern California dermatologist who has many chemotherapy patients. "Olive oil is a terrific moisturizer — it has omega-9 and antioxidants including vitamin E and phenols," Shamban says. "People going through chemotherapy treatments want to avoid unnatural products because of concerns about toxicity from ingredients formulated in a lab."
Avocados — moisturizing
"Avocados are wonderful! They have vitamins E, K, B and C, folate, niacin, riboflavin and more," Shamban says "The question is how much of those nutrients gets into the skin. Avocados are high in lipids and penetrate skin better than water-based products. I do know that my chemotherapy patients feel better after the use of an avocado face mask and olive oil on their body."
For a home treatment, mix one-half cup avocado with one-fourth cup honey to moisturize dry skin or mix half an avocado with an egg white and a teaspoon of lemon juice and wear for 20 minutes if your skin is on the oily side.
Lavender — relaxing
Lucky for us, lavender fields thrive in California. An aromatherapy staple, lavender is said to relax and calm mind and body.
Napa Valley Bath Co. Sacred Bath gift set including Organic bath tea, Pink Himalayan and Lavender bath salts and Organic Lavender bath milk, $37. A Napa Valley Farm Gift Set including Organic Lavender Hydrosol, Napa Valley Organic essential oil, Napa Valley Organic Lavender Bundle and local olive oil, $72. http://www.sholiveoil.com/store
Strawberry — antioxidant
Get sweet. Besides tasting good, the berries are full of Vitamin C, have antioxidant properties and can provide a rich color in natural cosmetics.
Roses — anti-inflammatory and astringent
They're not just for Valentine's Day. Rose oil contains natural antioxidants and chemical compounds that have astringent, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Rose products are sometimes recommended for dry or sensitive skin, and the aroma can be a natural mood-lifter.
Minerals and mud — good for skin
"Minerals in these therapeutic baths, including sodium bicarbonate and calcium, increase circulation in the body to help remove waste and bring oxygen to the cells — a recipe for fresh, glowing and healthy skin. In addition, if the bath is hot, the higher temperatures encourage sweating, even in the water, which can help to flush out toxins," Murad says. "Mud baths can be a relaxing and indulgent experience. But in addition to being a natural spa treatment, mud that is used therapeutically often contains sulfur, chloride, fluoride and other naturally occurring chemicals, which help clear and detoxify the complexion."
To use at home: Glen Ivy Take-Home mud mask, $14, and Glen Ivy Grotto Mask, $14. http://www.glenivy.com/store
The ocean — stress-buster
"I am a huge believer in the connection between how you look and how you feel. Time spent watching the ocean has long been recognized as an effective stress-busting meditation. It's the kind of emotional self-care that really does help improve not only skin health but also your overall health," Murad says. "To boost the effect, your marine meditation should be part of an inclusive health lifestyle that also includes topical skin care and internal nutritional care. This three-pronged approach protects and promotes the integrity of cells throughout your body, and that's why it helps you to look and feel as young and healthy as possible."
Spa Montage in Laguna Beach touts the fragrant organic elements of its Southern California environment: eucalyptus, lavender, rose petals, orange blossoms, lemons, limes and mustard seeds, plus it has a whole roster of ocean-inspired therapies, including a recommended morning walk on the beach and underwater Thalasso massage, $135. http://www.spamontage.com/lagunabeach
Figs — a unisex scent
California leads the nation in the production not only of grapes, avocados, flowers, olives and strawberries but also in artichokes, dairy, dates, peaches, pears, pistachios, walnuts, kiwifruit, almonds, persimmons, plums and mouth-watering figs. Figs are delightful for their unisex scent — and are delicious to eat.
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