Types of Facial Massage


For the longest time, many cultures have incorporated facial massage in their beauty routines a well as for medicinal purposes. Over the centuries, different parts of the world have tweaked and refined various types of massage, coming up with the most innovative routines with leanings towards their own cultures.

Facial Massage benefits include an instant face-lift without the gore, pain and down time that comes with surgery. Granted, the effects aren’t as long lasting; however, done regularly, women up and down the world can (and do!) reap the rewards of massage in that, as I’ve previously mentioned:

  • Facial massage can make skin look radiant and refreshed
  • It can make you look and feel rested
  • As the face has many nerves and pressure points, it can ease the pain brought about by headache and clear nasal passages
  • A good way to pamper yourself
  • Boost blood circulation and feed the skin, resulting in healthy skin
  • Improve and increase collagen production, resulting in younger looking skin

Some Common Types of Facial Massage

Acupressure works in the same fashion as acupuncture. It employs the application of pressure on acupressure points. Pressure is commonly applied by hand, although other devices can be used. The main facial pressure points that the massage focuses on are found in the inner edge of the eye orbits, the inner ends of the eyebrows, the temples, the area around the nostrils and just below your nose. Previous studies have shown this type of facial massage to be effective in relieving tension headache, blocked nasal passages and in some cases, nausea. However, there are suggestions that relief of the latter can sometimes be temporary due to a placebo effect.

Best for:

  • Stimulating circulation
  • Tightening skin
  • Reducing the appearance of wrinkles
  • Releasing Toxins
  • Reducing puffiness, the more regularly it’s done
  • Helping slough off dead skin cells
  • Increasing blood flow and oxygen to the skin’s surface

Shiatsu has Japanese origins and means ‘finger pressure’. Palms, thumbs and fingers, especially fingertips, are used in this method. Applied mainly to the scalp and face, by use of subtle but deep manipulation of the neck and shoulders. This method uses only organic products.

Best For:

  • Mental and physical relaxation
  • Gives a sense of restored well-being and balance
  • May release stress and tension
  • Gives a burst of energy
  • Improved circulation increases nutrients to skin
  • Improves facial muscle tone
  • Helps skin retain moisture better
  • Helps skin glow, making it smooth and looking younger

Manual Lymphatic Drainage- The lymphatic system is part of the blood circulatory system. The lymph flows through the lymphatic system and is very rich with white blood cells, which play a vital role in the immune system. The aim of this massage is to encourage the natural drainage of the lymphatic system and flow of waste from the tissues. Pressure is applied in a circular motion to stimulate the lymphatic flow.

Best For:

  • Boosting energy
  • Deep relaxation
  • Removing toxins
  • Boosts the body’s ability to heal itself
  • Can reduce puffiness
  • May lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles

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Eyebrow Threading


I like many women, love nicely shaped eyebrows. For the last month or so, however, I’ve not been able to get mine done, and my eyebrows have looked a right mess! My favourite method is threading and I’ve been blessed with having possibly one of the most skilled ‘threaders’. Meena really knows her way around eyebrows with that piece of cotton tightly tucked between her teeth! Sadly, since before Christmas, I’ve watched her descend into a very weird place, withdrawing into herself and avoiding her customers including ahem ahem…. me, one of her personal favourites!

But seriously, jokes aside; we do seem to have a connection and I know for a fact she appreciates my custom. On that basis, I think I can safely say we’re a little more than just service provider and customer. But, even I was shunted to the back burner, as my favourite beautician did all she could to avoid all contact. Today though, I was able to ambush her and get her to do my eyebrows, and I love them! The thing I like about Meena is that she really listens and does exactly what I like. I like mine a little thicker than average, and absolutely hate the thin look. Because they hadn’t been done in forever, I ended up with exactly the look I really like. This inspired me to write a little on eyebrow threading.

These days women are seriously spoilt for choice in terms of different methods of keeping their eyebrows nicely groomed. Besides threading, there’s waxing and tweezing. Those who can afford it, even opt for electrolysis for a more permanent solution. In Botswana, I’ve even heard of women using the good old razor! But my favourite option remains threading. –and many more women are following suit and choosing threading over other methods, and with good reason! Beauty salons across the world have also jumped on the bandwagon, and wherever you go in the world, there’s always a place where you can get your ‘brows threaded.

So What Is Eyebrow Threading?

Threading is an ancient technique that originates from the Middle East and Asia. The technician twists together pieces of cotton usually held between their teeth and fingers and moves at lightening speed to pull out the hairs trapped between them. Quite a task! For those concerned about hygiene, I’ve heard that in some parts of America, the cotton is looped around the neck instead. This I’ve never seen! Through this method, the technician is able to pull out several hairs at once. The resulting look is a clean, defined edge, as hair is pulled clean out from the follicle.

What Are The Benefits?

  • Completely natural
  • For those who use retinoids like Retin A, threading is safer than waxing as the latter can lead to skin darkening. Also, retinoids are known to thin skin, and with waxing, flesh can easily be torn!
  • It takes some getting used to when you first get it done, but once you get used to it, it’s less painful than tweezing and waxing
  • It’s usually cheaper than other methods like waxing
  • Slower re-growth; lasts anything between 2-4 weeks
  • Produces less irritation and redness
  • Hair doesn’t grow back thicker and darker
  • Doesn’t lead to ingrown hair
  • Can pick up and pull out the finest and shortest of hairs
  • Very precise and accurate, giving a ‘clean’ shape 

Now For The Disadvantage

Some people may think threading sounds too good to be true, and will want to know its drawbacks. I can honestly say that I don’t know of any. Ever since I first had it done many years ago, I’ve never looked back once. But a friend of mine will probably disagree. I took her to a beauty salon once to have hers done, as she liked mine so much. Much to the amusement of the other women at the salon, my friend unashamedly and dramatically howled the whole place down, claiming it was the most excruciating pain she’d ever experienced! Afterwards, she admitted she looked fabulous, but swore off it because of the ‘sheer pain’! So I guess you’d have to try it yourself to really gauge it.

Have you tried eyebrow threading? What are your thoughts on it? If you prefer a different method, what is it?

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Physical Sunscreen



It’s no secret that I’m a huge advocate of sunscreen. There’s never a day that goes by that I don’t lather the stuff on. Having said that, I do believe that not all sunscreens are “created equal”. There are two different kinds of sunscreen – chemical and physical, also known as mineral sunscreen.

My personal favourite sunscreen is of the physical variety, as opposed to the chemical variety. Physical sunscreen; also known as natural sunscreen, typically contains zinc oxide. The higher the zinc content the better; because zinc is a natural sunscreen, and thus protects skin better.

Reasons To Go With Natural Sunscreen

  • It doesn’t irritate skin or sting your eyes like the chemical versions do
  • Physical sunscreen can be very light and luxurious, compared to chemical sunscreen, which in my experience tends to be very greasy. A royal nightmare for someone like me with already oily skin
  • Chemical sunscreen ingredients—often with names ending in salate or -benzone—can give a better look and feel to skin-care products than physical sunscreens because they tend to sink into skin and dry clear. By contrast, physical sunscreen can sometimes leave a grey or white cast. Before you celebrate the virtues of chemical sunscreen however; there’s been some evidence that shows that the ingredients used in chemical sunscreens can affect hormones negatively.
  • Physical sunscreens are less likely to irritate and cause redness, making them better suited to sensitive skin.
  • Further proof of this is demonstrated by the addition of Zinc Oxide as the main ingredient to diaper rash cream. Some of you will have used diaper cream as a zit zapping solution in the past, I know I have and it works like magic! Plus all babies have the softest and smoothest bottoms!
  • It provides optimum protection
  • Physical sunscreens, which contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, can offer broad-spectrum coverage, and work immediately after application and are FDA approved. So there’s no need for you to apply 30 minutes before exposure, as is the case with chemical sunscreens!
  • Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are physical blockers. For those of you who for whatever reason, would rather stick with chemical sunscreens, look out for zinc oxide on the packaging, as it’s the only ingredient you need for excellent broad-spectrum protection.
  • Experts prefer zinc oxide over titanium dioxide because it provides protection against the entire spectrum of UVA and UVB rays

What’s There Not To Like?

In my experience, I’ve found that in as much as I love physical sunscreen, it can be a nightmare to find. Even when I was living in England, I had to move heaven and earth, searching for it. Now back in Botswana, trying to find physical sunscreen is even worse than trying to find a needle in a haystack….go figure! By comparison, it seems easy enough to find anywhere in America!

I’ve also observed that physical sunscreen can be pricier than the chemical versions. This obviously means it’s less accessible to some.

A lot of the chemical sunscreens I’ve used have been luxurious and easy to apply. However, not all physical sunscreens are like that. In fact, a huge number of them tend to leave a white or grey cast, not quite the look I’m going for. –especially with being darker skinned! This then means that applying make up can prove to be an uphill battle, or even an impossible task. So my one word of advise would be to be very careful when choosing your physical sunscreen.

I personally like the Obagi Nu Derm sun shield SPF 50 matte, which contains 10.4 per cent Zinc oxide. It’s very light and goes on matte, allowing makeup to go on smoothly and flawlessly. It’s widely available on Amazon and eBay, but sadly not on the high street.

Do you use a physical sunscreen? Any you’d recommend?

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Benefits of Body Massage


Today I’m feeling very lethargic and sluggish and could kill for a head to toe body massage. Because I work different shift patterns, from week to week, I always feel like I’m not getting adequate or even good quality sleep. This is especially difficult when I‘m on the morning shift, which runs from 3.30am-10am. I usually catch up on a little bit of sleep when I get in from work around 11.30am, and then make sure I’m in bed for around 9.30pm. But it’s just never enough to leave me feeling refreshed and alert. That’s why I wish I could afford to go for a nice, long massage. Each time I’ve been to a spa for a head to toe massage, whatever my complaints at the time, I always seem to walk away rejuvenated, fresher and re-energised!

Massage: An Overview

The practice of massage is said to go back thousands of years. Massage is described as the systematic manipulation of muscles in order to ‘normalise’ them. Massage therapists use long, smooth strokes, kneading and circular movements on superficial layers of muscle using massage lotion or oil. They mainly use their hands, but may also use their forearms, elbows or feet. A general body massage can last anything between 30-90 minutes.

There are many different types of massage, with the following being among the most popular across the world.

Examples of Popular Body Massage Techniques

Aromatherapy massage

The therapist massages essential oils into the skin to enhance the healing and relaxing effects of massage. Essential oils are believed to have a powerful effect on your mood.

Lymphatic massage

The therapist uses light, rhythmic strokes to improve the flow of lymph, which helps fight infection and disease throughout the body.

Reflexology This is a specialised form of massage, which uses thumb and finger techniques applied to the hands and feet. Reflexologists believe that these areas contain “reflex points” or direct connections to specific organs and structure throughout the body.

Shiatsu Gentle finger and hand pressure applied to specific points on the body to relieve pain and enhance the flow of energy through the body’s energy pathways.

Sports massage Often used on professional athletes and other active individuals, sports massage is believed to have the ability to enhance performance. It’s also believed to prevent and treat sports-related injuries. Tired or sore muscles are made to relax and soften through massage.

Swedish massage  A variety of strokes and pressure techniques are used to enhance the flow of blood to the heart, remove waste products from the tissues, stretch ligaments and tendons, and ease physical and emotional tension.

Benefits of Body Massage

Reduces Stress, Anxiety and Depression

Massage has been shown to reduce stress levels in most people. It may also help manage or reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Massage offers other benefits including better quality sleep, increased energy, better concentration and less fatigue. 

Pain Relief 

A full body massage can relieve pain and stiffness, as it relaxes the muscles. Full body massage may release endorphins, which not only act as pain relief, but also goes a long way to lifting your spirits and mood. Massage can sometimes help relieve migraine pain. A massage may help an athlete’s sore muscles after an aggressive workout or benefit a sports injury.

Increased Circulation

Massage can increase circulation by assisting oxygen and nutrients to reach tissues and organs, feeding them and giving them a new lease of life. Subsequently, massage may also help control blood pressure.

Immune System Function

A full body massage may boost your immune system’s functionality. It stimulates the lymphatic system and gets rid of toxins, which assists the immune system in protecting the body.

Skin Benefits

A full body massage helps buff away dead skin cells over the whole body, which leads to improved skin tone and suppleness. The improved blood flow benefits the appearance and health of the skin, making the ‘orange peel effect’ or cellulite appear smoother. Massage can also help tissue regeneration, which could help reduce the appearance of scars and stretch marks. The massage oils sometimes used during the massage also moisturize skin and offer other benefits to the skin.

  • *NB Always consult with your doctor before embarking on complementary therapy such as massage, especially if you have any serious conditions.

Do you enjoy massage? Do you have a favourite type of massage?

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Sun Protection: The Smart Way


Today the weather in Botswana is once again stiflingly hot. At a scorching 35 Degrees Celsius in Gaborone where I live, I feel for my family up North in Maun, where the temperature is a sweltering 40 Degrees Celsius. I thought we were done with the heat waves this summer before the winter starts to roll in around May, but apparently not! Just when I was on the verge of rubbing my hands gleefully and putting away my umbrella, I hear that it’s set to be even hotter next summer! Armed with this knowledge, it becomes glaringly obvious to me that I still need the sunscreen, sun hats, umbrella and everything else I need to protect myself from the dangers of the sun.

Interestingly, despite the increasingly well known dangers of prolonged sun exposure, a lot of us sometimes get lazy and let this knowledge fall by the way side. I often see people in this town wading through the sun completely unprotected, with no water bottle insight. What’s more, when questioned, a lot of them admit to not wearing any sunscreen at all! As if it needs repeating, if we carry on in this fashion, heat rash, sunburn, heatstroke, premature ageing and dehydration will be the very least of our worries because there are other more drastic risks to our skin like skin cancer to consider.

Please don’t put your skin at risk, and instead, choose to protect yourself from the sun by incorporating these tips into your daily skincare routine:

  • Apply sunscreen with at least SPF 20; read the packaging to ensure it offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays. If you go swimming, ensure your sunscreen is waterproof
  • Apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before you venture out to allow it to settle into your skin before exposure. A trick I’ve also heard of, which I’m not entirely sure about; is that you can also apply a thin layer of sunscreen before bed as this preps your skin to better absorb it when you apply it next day. This I’ve learnt, is particularly good for people with very fair skin
  • Look out for non-comedogenic sunscreen that won’t clog up your skin and cause breakouts. Today advances in beauty products offer a wide array of luxurious, light sunscreen formulations to choose from
  • Whether it’s sunny or cloudy, winter or summer; lather on your sunscreen!
  • When applying sunscreen, most people just focus on the face, as if it’s the only area they want to protect from the sun! Be careful not to miss your neck, the back of your hands, your chest and the tip of your nose and ears, which are all areas that get a lot of sun exposure but are often overlooked. The tops of your ears are areas to particularly keep an eye on because that’s where cancer tends to show up. In fact, the Skin Cancer Foundation has found that 80 % of skin cancer occurs around the head, neck and hand areas. The tops of your feet are another area to consider, if you choose to wear shoes that expose them
  • Reapply your sunscreen every few hours. For us ladies who wear makeup, this can be a challenge, that’s why I’m never without lightly tinted powder sunscreen. I personally believe very strongly that it’s the best thing since sliced bread!
  • Use sun-protecting lipstick or lip balm because lips can also do with protecting from the UV rays.
  • Unbeknownst to most people, women are most susceptible to sun damage the week before their menstrual cycle; so wear extra sunscreen and avoid aggressive face treatments that are likely to make your skin even more sensitive to UV rays during that time.
  • If you can, try to avoid being outside between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m, when the sun’s ultraviolet rays are at their most intense. If like me however, you have absolutely no choice; ensure you wear long sleeves and a hat with a wide brim, carry an umbrella with you at all times and don’t forget your sunscreen.
  • Some medicines such as tetracycline and diuretics as well as herbal ones like St John’s Wort are known to make skin sensitive to UV rays, so take extra care when you’re on them

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Exfoliation and Black Skin


Exfoliation is something that most women worth their ‘beauty salt’ incorporate into their weekly beauty regime. –and with good reason, too! Besides the instant gratification of soft, smooth skin, there are other reasons for liking exfoliation. These as I have discussed before, include improving blood flow to the surface of the skin, buffing away dry patches, even skin tone and make up going on and sitting better, among other things.

However, as stated in one of my previous articles on exfoliation, there is such a thing as over exfoliation and the wrong way to go about it. Sadly, many women aren’t aware of this; because as long as they’re exfoliating, they’re happy! Darker skinned women in particular, need to be very careful when it comes to exfoliation, as darker skin is easily traumatised. If skin is traumatised and inflamed, all the hard work you’ve put into your skin care can very easily be undone in a short of time, because this could lead to heavily uneven skin tone.

Things For Women of Colour Can Do With Knowing.

  • Over-exfoliation in dark skin is very likely to lead to skin aggravation and ultimately, patchy pigmentation (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation).
  • Overzealous exfoliation causes skin to look and feel irritated and/or damaged.
  • What’s more, being heavy handed with your exfoliation can also disrupt your skin’s natural equilibrium, leading to the over production of sebum, which then results in break outs.
  • Studies have shown black skin to have a more compact stratum corneum; the outer layer of the skin is thicker basically, and this is essentially the amount of dead skin cells. This could explain why some black women may feel their skin is tough enough to take any amount of trauma through use of harsh products.
  • That paired with the fact that black skin tends to have larger pores and higher sebum secretion than other skin types, means it’s important to keep the surface of the skin as clean as possible to guard against break outs. However, it also scars very easily and means black women need to find that happy medium, to avoid inadvertently causing more harm.
  • Asian skin also needs to be handled with extreme care, perhaps even more so, as it’s been found to have a weaker barrier function, making it more it sensitive to external chemical elements. For Asian skin, just as with black skin, over scrubbing will not do at all as it will almost certainly lead to further weakening of the skin barrier and ultimately, scarring it.
  • Generally speaking, exfoliating once a week should be more than enough. It’s worth noting that skin cell turnover takes 20-40 days to renew itself, so using an exfoliator once a week suffices.
  • Use of loofahs, scrubs or microdermabrasion can irritate the skin and increase the chance post-inflammatory pigmentation.
  • Exercise caution with exfoliators with jagged edges as they can cut into skin and cause inflammation and irritation.
  • Consider new age exfoliators that do not employ any amount of scrubbing that are fast becoming very popular, not only for their gentle nature, but for their cutting edge efficacy in bringing about fantastic results. These use a gentle peeling mechanism to break down and lift away dead skin cells. They often contain fruit acids and are kinder on skin. But even so, they should be used according to instructions because lest we forget, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing!

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