Think of winter and visions of rosy cheeks come to mind.
Stoke the wood stove and you know all too well that those pink cheeks mean more than crisp days and mittens – they’re also a sign that winter is on its way with chapped faces, dry skin and lobster-claw hands.
While Maine’s long, cold season can strip our skin of moisture and force us into hibernation, it also offers opportunities to indulge our senses, explore new beauty options and – believe it or not – prepare for warmer weather.
Start with ?your head
“When we’re in the season of darkness we want light, a lightness of being, something uplifting,” says Carolyn Mix, co-owner with Darcy Doniger of 2 Note Botanical Perfumery on Exchange Street in Portland.
Not to mention scents that will transport us – at least mentally – to a place that’s warm and inviting. The partners blend their own perfumes, lotions, candles, sprays and other products on site with plant essences and other natural ingredients.
Mix and Doniger don’t call themselves aromatherapists; their focus is the aesthetic of scents.
“It’s our art form,” says Mix.
That said, she’s a firm believer that scents will lift your spirits when winter arrives with invigorating citrus, warming spices or florals that bring back summer memories.
“A lot of people here in the Northeast are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder, and so I get a lot of folks coming in this time of year, (who ask) what can I do to energize, what kind of scent will uplift me and give me that positive outlook?”
“Citrus is definitely at the top of the list,” says Mix. “I call it sunshine in a bottle – essences like blood orange, sweet orange, mandarin, clementine, lemon, lime, orange blossom.”
Mix says these scents tend to induce motivation and an overall positive feeling. The shop’s Italian clementine collection, coming soon, is always a hit in winter.
“People obviously struggle with cold, so you want scents that are more ‘blanket’ and have deeper notes,” she says. Scents that combine ingredients such as cocoa and vanilla or maybe cardamom and ginger are perfect antidotes, she adds, while cinnamon has a “wonderful warming essence. “
“Simple Gifts,” 2 Note’s newest collection, combines cardamom, ginger and blood orange for the warming, comforting essences plus a little sunlight.
If you’re feeling sluggish, Mix says, peppermint and rosemary are wonderful scents for “getting your focus on.” Eucalyptus “is really enlightening, invigorating and great for overall energy and pep.”
And if you’re longing for a little summer, consider florals.
“People tend to say, ‘I don’t like florals,’” says Mix, “but it’s hard to beat a real flower.” “Toujours,” a scent she designed around Valentine’s Day, combines the warmth of chocolate with deep florals – Turkish rose, jasmine and orange blosson.
“You will feel happy wearing it,” she promises.
Take care ?of your face
Erinn Swift and Christina Sterling, aestheticians at the Akari MediSpa on Middle Street in Portland, say winter months offer opportunities to address problems caused by months in the sun and prepare for next summer.
“Now is the perfect time to exfoliate and use anti-aging products because you’re in the sun less, the days are shorter,” according to Swift. While Retin-A exfoliation products can be used in the summer, people who aren’t vigilant about using sunscreen may be more prone to sunburns.
Sterling says two Akari procedures, the microdermabrasion facial and Obagi radiance peel, will not only stimulate new collagen growth, but also provide a better base to moisturize skin.
Microdermabrasion resurfaces the skin by sloughing off epidermis and stimulating production of collagen, which results in a younger-looking complexion. Collagen production tends to thin as we age, which creates looser-looking skin.
Akari’s Obagi radiance peel will improve the look and texture of skin in a matter of minutes, Sterling says. It not only exfoliates skin but targets sun damage and brown spots and provides an instant glow while it tightens the skin.
Respect ?your toes
Finally, don’t forget your toes. If you kept them under wraps all summer because your toenails look discolored, chalky or thick, you may be suffering from nail fungus.
Dr. Christopher Toth, a podiatric surgeon from Kennebunk, says winter can be the best time to take care of the problem.
Toth is one of few doctors in Northern New England trained in a new laser technique that kills the fungus. PinPointe laser treatments kills fungi with light that penetrates the nail without causing damage.
Results from the series of treatment usually are visible within three to nine months -– just in time to show off your toes when boot season ends.