My 4 most unusual health and beauty practices

Temazcal exterior - My 4 most unusual health and beauty practices

The entrance to the Temazcal at Maroma Resort and Spa.

As a journalist, I’m trained to take a logical and analytical view of things. However, when it comes to my own well-being and appearance, I’ve occasionally taken a bit of a “hell, I’ll try it!” approach. The result is that over the years I’ve tried some fairly unusual health and beauty practices. Some of have worked out great, and others, well…not so much. So that you may benefit from my successful discoveries and avoid the duds, I’ve decided to share them. Read on for the 4 most unusual health and beauty practices I’ve tried:

Unusual health and beauty practices: #1 Oil pulling

Oil pulling oils - 4 most unusual health and beauty practices I've tried

Unrefined coconut or sesame oil and a toothbrush are all you need to try the Ayurvedic practice of oil pulling.

Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic (ancient Indian system of natural healing) practice involving swishing unrefined sunflower, sesame or coconut oil in the mouth for dental and other health benefits. I tried it first about a month ago and have since done it several times over the past two weeks.

While some claim the practice can cure a wide range of disorders, most are unproven. Then why did I try it? There’s much anecdotal evidence of its benefits for dental and gum health and one scientific study proving its efficacy in maintaining and improving oral health. (Certain bacteria in your mouth create plaque buildup and as the oil is swished around the mouth, bacteria stick to it and dissolve in the oil.)

While I take scrupulous care of my teeth, I’ve noticed recently they’re not as white as they used to be. Enter oil pulling. Following directions from a couple of reputable resources, each morning before eating anything I take a tablespoon of either organic virgin coconut or unrefined sesame oil and push and pull it through my teeth for 10 to 15 minutes without swallowing. At the end I spit it out in the toilet (so the oil doesn’t clog the sink) and brush my teeth thoroughly.

The first time I tried it I couldn’t wait to spit out the oil. But I’ve since gotten used to the sensation and now the time passes quickly. And on the days I do the pulling my breath feels fresh for hours afterward. But what really impressed me was at my recent dental appointment the hygienist asked if I had whitened my teeth (I hadn’t). So, I’m going to have my hand in the oil jar for some time to come.

While health experts, including Dr. Andrew Weil, have written that oil pulling is safe, it’s probably a good idea to consult your dental or health professional before trying it.

Unusual health and beauty practices: #2 Bleaching my already fairly light eyebrows

Gwen Stefani - My 4 most unusual beauty practices

Singer and fashion designer Gwen Stefani’s take on bleached brows.

Bleaching my brows was an idea inspired by the late, great makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin. It was the mid ’90s and thin brows were all the rage (if Kate Moss did it, we should all do it, right??).

In Aucoin’s coffee-table book The Art of Makeup, he wrote that one of the most flattering things women could do to their brows was lightening them. He advised applying cream bleach, leaving it on for one to 15 minutes depending on the desired lightness.

So out I went and bought some Jolen Creme Bleach. I think I left it on for about six minutes. And my brows were definitely lighter. As in almost invisible. When I see a photo of myself from that period, the cliché about not knowing whether to laugh or cry comes to mind. Picture a young woman with very short blonde hair, invisible brows and lips coated with M.A.C. Myth lipstick (a beige-pink shade). In short, I would have fit right in at a Trekkie convention or as an extra on V.

Unusual health and beauty practices: #3 Sitting in a Temazcal (Mayan sweat lodge)

Temazcal interior - My 4 most unusual health and beauty practices

Temazcal participants seated around heated volcanic rocks.

It’s not so surprising I wanted to try the Mayan version of a First Nations sweat lodge; it’s that I was willing to pay about $100 U.S. for it and managed to drag my very non-woo-woo husband along as well.

We were on vacation in the Mayan Riviera several years ago and had treated ourselves to a few nights at the swanky resort-spa Maroma. One of their spa offerings was a Temazcal session.

The Temazcal  at Maroma is a pyramid structure located right by the beach. The ceremony took place at dusk and began outside the structure with the Temazcal leader advising participants to face all four directions while explaining the significance of each in Mayan tradition.

Once inside, our group sat around heated volcanic rocks for two 25-minute sessions. The ceremony leader chanted, prepared herb-infused water, gave us fruit to eat and passed around mineral-rich mud for us to rub on our skin. What was it like? Hot, very, very HOT. (As the door of the small space is closed shut and covered with blankets to seal out light, I would say it’s only for the most intrepid of claustrophobes.)

I wasn’t surprised by the intense heat, but what I didn’t factor in was that I would see two visions in the rocks: a turtle and a cat. My very grounded husband also reported seeing a wolf. And, no, we weren’t drinking tequila beforehand. (Visions of animals are apparently a common experience in the chamber.)

I also didn’t consider that with my husband’s sunburned back, the Temazcal would be a bit of a torture chamber for him.

But after 50-minutes we were released and directed to jump into the Caribbean mere steps away to rinse off our mud-caked skin. A more refreshing dip I’ve never had. And afterward our skin was baby-soft and we felt exhilarated. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. But the next time, I think my husband will probably opt for the spa massage.

Unusual health and beauty practices: #4 Jumping on a trampoline in my living room

Rebounder - My 4 most unusual health and beauty practices

Jumping on a rebounder (mini-trampoline) is purported to help reduce cellulite.

While some women dream of receiving gifts of jewellery from their spouses, the present I coveted on my Christmas list last year was a mini-trampoline (rebounder).

As I’ve written about before, like many women, cellulite is one of my beauty banes. And when I read claims that the gravitational pull experienced when exercising on a rebounder stimulated the lymphatic system, which in turn could be helpful for cellulite, I “jumped” on board.

So frequently I’m on it for 20 minutes jumping, jogging, kicking, etc., all in the hope of smoothing the lumps. While I haven’t yet gotten rid of all the cellulite, at least I’m getting in some aerobic exercise (not to mention entertaining my neighbours in the condo opposite mine).

So that’s my list of unusual health and beauty practices. And, yes, there are more… But I didn’t want to completely scare you off.

If you’ve tried any peculiar practices in the name of health and beauty, I’d love to hear about them.



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Posted in Beauty dos and don'ts

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