Categories
General Recipes

How to Look, Feel and Smell Like a Schockolade Scheherazade

Dearest readers, I have missed you. Because I’ve been gone so long, I decided, even before I sat by my laptop, that today’s post ought to have something to do with chocolate. Given my general obsession with the stuff, it seems appropriate. “But which specific chocolate-related adventure shall I write about first?” I wondered. After all, since my last post, I’ve made three new kinds of truffles, baked a new type of cake and discovered a new chocolate store. After thinking about it for a long while, I decided to write a DIY guide to a delicious chocolate themed facial.

You see, the other day I was sitting on the couch bemoaning the fact that I hadn’t had a facial in a while. I love going to day-spas, where one can get massages and facials, sit in a sauna, jump into a cold plunge pool and/or relax in a hammam (turkish bath), amongst other heavenly activities. But being a poor grad student (who is trying to get her doctorate in something non-chocolate related) (not that this has anything to do with my story), I can hardly ever afford to go to a nice day spa, or even, for that matter an ugly, dingy one. So I decided I was going to give myself a spa-treatment at home. It felt so wonderful and the process was so relaxing and easy, that I thought I’d share it with you.

Sidebar: I have avoided writing about ‘beauty stuff’ on this blog so far, partly because I think beauty is a loaded and complicated issue. I write about ‘silly’ things here, silly things that I am oddly passionate about; this isn’t a blog about how to save the world after all, unlike my 400 page dissertation which is (about saving the world I mean) (I should have said “which will be about saving the world'” instead, that would have been clearer, because I don’t mean that my dissertation ‘is”, although, I wish it  were ‘is’ because that means it would be all written…god I hope neither my supervisor, nor a grammarian is reading this!). The real problem is that I write in superlatives, with a great deal of energy and well, I don’t think I’d come across like I had a lukewarm take on any issue. So if I write about some cream that I believe will prevent me from getting wrinkles, or about how one could lose weight, I’d feel like I was endorsing a pre-occupation with these concerns. This would cause me to clarify my position and present feminist critiques of contemporary and perhaps even older conceptions of beauty. I might even feel tempted to refer to post-colonial critiques of the same. I do worry about wrinkles and things on and off, but I don’t obsess and more importantly, I don’t want this blog to be about those sorts of things, things I don’t want to be worrying about I mean.

This post however, fits squarely within the mandate I have defined for this blog, it’s weird, it makes me happy and/or it involves chocolate.

Disclaimer: Now bear in mind, I am no skin care expert. This entire blog post is based on internet research and years of going to spas; I’ve had absolutely no training as an esthetician or dermatologist.

Now that I’ve got those clarifications out of the way, let’s get to my yummy spa afternoon:

I think a facial has three important stages, exfoliation, a treatment mask and then of course hydration.

Step 1: Exfoliation

Ingredients: Green or black tea from a used tea-bag and yoghurt for the face scrub. Also, wine, chocolate and a good book as accompaniments in the bath.

Method: I think the best way to steam your face and open up your pores at home is to draw a bath and sit in it. So that’s what I did: I drew myself a nice warm bath with lavender perfumed epsom salt, and settled into the tub with a good book, a bar of delicious dark chocolate and a glass of wine. After about 20 minutes, I very gently and carefully scrubbed my face with a mixture of tea and yoghurt. I got the tea out of a bag I’d used earlier to brew up a cup of tea. This is important because I find that fresh tea is too rough on my skin, whereas tea that has absorbed moisture is less like sandpaper. It’s a great scrub because the caffeine gives me a little kick. It might do nothing for habitual chain coffee drinkers though.

Green or Black tea face scrubStep II: Treatment Mask:

Ingredients: 1 tablespoon of organic cocoa powder, about a teaspoon of honey (make sure it’s organic, raw and un-pasteurized), the juice of a strawberry and a lot of self control. (For strawberry juice, mash up a strawberry with a spoon and then get the juice out of the pulp with a strainer. You could also process a strawberry or two in a mixer or food processor and add the juicy pulp to the mask.)

Method: I mixed the above ingredients. I recommend using as much honey as you need to get the consistency you’d like.

Chocolate face treatment maskNext I applied this paste to my face and then, I spent the next 20 minutes trying NOT to lick it off.

Image from catworld.com, available at: http://www.cat-world.com.au/chocolate-poisoning-in-cats

To relax and distract myself from the chocolate, I gave myself a massage with my homemade delicious cocoa butter body butter, the recipe for which you will find here.

Step 3: Hydration

The final step was washing the mask off and applying some toner and moisturizer.

I felt and smelt pretty good for the rest of the day 🙂

Categories
Chocolate General Recipes

Cocoa Body Butter that Will Make you Swoon!

Today, I am going to be writing about food without writing about food. “How”, you ask, “is this possible?” Read on my aspiring domestic goddesses and gods and you will see!

In a previous post (a recipe for chocolate brazil-nut butter), I raved about The Body Shop’s brazil-nut body butter. While this is my favourite flavour, a close second, is their cocoa butter body butter. Despite how much I love this product though, the truth is that I’ve always wanted a body-butter that was even more, well cocoa-ey. (By now, if you’ve been reading one or two of my blog-posts, you know that I am definitely not a “less is more” type of person; more is definitely better in my book!) In the past, I’ve made my own body and face oils, having been inspired and coached by an old friend of mine, Ralph, who now practices naturopathy and Ayurveda in South Germany. So the concept of making my own skin-products isn’t entirely new to me; I’ve just never gotten around to it.

Then, in December last year, before I pushed off to India for the holidays, I had friends over for dinner, and one of them mentioned making her own lip balm. This got me thinking, and I resolved to make my own body butter someday. And then, I promptly tucked away said resolve somewhere in the back of my mind and forgot all about it. What with packing, flying to India and having wildly inappropriate dance parties with my insane family (and by this I mean my parents, Aunts, and Uncles happily prancing about to bollywood dance music with us young’un’s), I just didn’t have the chance to give it a go.

And then today, I woke up with a rather inexplicable craving for homemade body butter. It may have something to do with an email I got yesterday from The Body Shop asking me to “Indulge in Chocomania: it’s Sinfully Good and Totally Guilt Free”. Guilt free? Really? Not when I am spending what is literally my entire week’s entertainment budget on lotions and potions that smell like the food I would be buying if I had any money left!

So I went out exploring in my neighborhood and bought some pure shea butter and cocoa butter. And then, I made my own, deliciously decadent body butter and I am not exaggerating in the least when I say that the smell, texture, and look of it had me giggling, smiling and babbling excitedly.

The first whiff of it was absolute, pure delight. Try it and you’ll see what I mean!

Equipment:

A double boiler or a microwave

Hand-held mixer or whisk

One medium bowl and one large, deep bowl

Jars to put the body butter in

Ingredients:

(All the ingredients I used were organic)

100 ml pure Cocoa butter

50 ml pure Shea butter

2 tbsp Vitamin E oil (at least 2000o IU)

3 tbsp Sweet Almond Oil

1/4 to 1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence or Vanilla Oil

1 Tbsp Mineral Water

Method:

You can buy cocoa butter in the form of “chips”, or in a jar. If you buy it in a jar, you might have to place the jar in warm water for a bit, just to soften it up a bit, before you take it out. I placed both the shea butter and cocoa butter jars in a bowl of warm water in the sink for about 5 minutes.

Now measure out the cocoa butter and shea butter into the medium bowl and place it in the microwave. I would heat it on a very low setting (time defrost) for about 20 seconds at a time, checking on it periodically. You want the butters all melted and looking like this:

It’s important to do this carefully as you don’t want to overheat the butters. Once the butter-mixture is nice and melted, stir it a bit and place it in the freezer for 5 minutes to cool down. Then, add the sweet almond oil and vitamin e oil, stir and put the mixture back in the freezer for another 5 minutes or so, until the mixture has firmed up. Once firm, take it out, add a tablespoon of water and using the hand held mixer or whisk, beat the mixture.

At this stage in the process, I was taking in the wonderful smell when I realized the only thing that would make this smell better would be vanilla essense. Since I bake a lot, I had some lying about, and so I added 1/4 tsp to the mixture and whipped it up into a wonderful, light, creamy and delicious smelling mixture 🙂 When I smelt it, I felt it needed some more vanilla, so I added another quarter teaspoon. On a side-note, I would have used vanilla oil if I had some around because vanilla extract has alcohol (which dries the skin). However, if you don’t have any lying about, I am sure the essence is fine, since you’re using such a small quantity of it.

When you feel it’s suitably fluffy and you’re happy with the texture, scoop the mixture into clean, dry jars!

And there it is, your very own, delicious body butter that will have you smelling like something you want to eat. I am not sure why I want to smell like something I’d eat, I just do! It makes me wildly happy and if this sounds like the sort of thing that makes YOU cheerful, go ahead and give it a go- it’s easy!