I asked you guys this week on Instagram if you could see my Nordic beauty secret in my photo from camp:
I decided that I wanted to focus on Scandinavian beauty secrets because if you can’t tell from my last name: I’m married to quite the Finn man. My grandfather was Norwegian and Swedish. Also where I live is the second largest Finnish population outside of Finland.
The first Secret won’t come a surprise to anyone in my city, Thunder Bay, where you have all shouted at my pic: Sauna!
Sauna’s aren’t only original to Scandinavian heritage, many other cultures throughout history have used steam baths or dry heat baths to help their people feel better. But saunas are most well known from Finland. One of the first written descriptions of the Finnish Sauna was in 1112 and still are a major part of almost every Finnish home. And here at home, many homes have them and many more of our camps (cottages to those from not Northwest Ontario) have them too.
A sauna is a dry heat room lined with cedar or redwood with a stove inside where you heat up rocks (either wood stove outside that heats the rocks inside, or a electric stove under the rocks inside). You splash water on the rocks to create steam. The best temperature to get into a sauna is 80 Celsius to 100 Celsius. Because it can get really hot, those with heart conditions, pregnancy, vascular disorders should consult with their doctor first.
Saunas help maintain clear, healthy skin. Increased blood flow promotes cellular growth and development by bringing important nutrients to subcutaneous and surface tissue. While taking a Sauna, blood flow to the skin increases to as high as 50-70% of cardiac output (normal is 5-10%). Sauna heat relaxes facial tension, skin pores are opened, and heat stimulates the epidermis, thus increasing circulation. Vasodilation (expansion of blood vessels) brings essential fluids to the surface, enhancing collagen production, to maintain skin elasticity and a wrinkle-free complexion.
Other Many Benefits:
- Soothes and relaxes tired muscles. Athletes use Saunas to improve their range of motion and to help loosen tight muscles after a hard workout.
- Helps to relieve mental fatigue. When your body is relaxed your mind feels better and you feel better. The Sauna promotes a wonderful sense of well being.
- Relieves tension and stress. You will feel rejuvenated and have increased energy levels. The Sauna helps many get a more restful sleep.
- Provides a cardiovascular workout–helps condition the heart. Finnish researchers have reported that the regular use of Saunas helps maintain the blood vessels. Vessels become elastic and pliable longer due to regular dilation and contraction from the process of heating and cooling the body repeatedly. The heart rate increases in the Sauna creating a demand for more oxygen, which in turn burns calories and provides a mild workout for the heart.
- Increases metabolic rate. Regular Sauna usage helps speed up the metabolism in a way similar to exercise.
- Improves circulation. Blood vessel dilation brings blood closer to the surface of the skin and, as blood vessels expand to accommodate increased blood flow, circulation in the extremities improves.
- Provides temporary relief for arthritic pain. Heat therapy benefits joint and muscle pain and helps with range of motion.
- Promotes healing and releases natural pain killers. Beta Endorphins and Norepinephrines are released as the body’s natural pain killers temporarily raise the body’s pain threshold.
- Increases resistance to illness. The Finnish Medical Society, Duodecim, has conducted tests that show a 30% less chance of getting a cold when Saunas are taken regularly. Saunas have even been shown to help in preventing a cold from getting worse. Sauna heat puts the body into an artificial fever state (hyperthermia). Fever is part of the body’s natural healing process. This “fake fever” stimulates the immune system resulting in an increased production of disease fighting white blood cells and antibodies.
- Sweat out toxins and impurities from the body. Perspiration induced by a Sauna opens the body’s pores and naturally expels impurities and toxins from the body. There are many detoxification programs that use the Sauna daily to rid the body of chemicals. The Sauna has been used to sweat out nicotine, pesticides, and other toxins. Because of this it can also help your kidney function.
- Relieves allergies and sinus congestion. Steam inhalation is excellent for relieving throat irritations and helping the inflammation of upper respiratory mucous membranes. You can also add eucalyptus or mint oil to the steam to help you breathe.
- Reduces pain from sunburn. Heat from the Sauna soothes sunburned skin as blood rushes to the surface to aid in healing.
The SWEDISH beauty secret: Hudsalve.
Used in the military in the 1950’s it was used to protect the skin from frost bite and to cover wounds. But it also was a quick aid for lots of different things that you can still use today:
- dry lips and skin (hands, feet, and elbows)
- help heal shaving nicks
- soothe dog paws
- ward off mosquitoes
- protect wounds
- can be used to condition leather boots
- even grease weapons
Hudsalve’s contents include: Peanut Oil, Beeswax, Alcohol, Sorbic Acid (preservative), Vitamin E (tocopherol), Beef Tallow, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Coconut Oil), Vanillin, Ascorbyl Palmitate/Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Citric Acid.
As you can see tons of nourishing oils, smells like vanilla (vainllin is actually which smells like vanilla but is combined with eugenol which has anti-spectic properties.) and, vitamins that are for healing the skin.
Diet of Fish, Berries , Vegetables
This is another common practice here at home. Many of us eat whole grains, rye bread, hard tack, brown bread (my father in law, one of the most Finn men you’ll meet, has hard tack with almost every meal).
My summers when I was a kid was picking wild raspberries, redcurrants, blueberries and strawberries. I still will eat a entire pack of berries in one sitting. These berries are super rich in anti-oxidants and because North Western Ontario is so much like Finland, we have the same climate and similar forests with the same wild vegetation.
We also do a lot of fishing (not me personally, I actually don’t like fish very much) but the collective we of NWO’s and Scandinavian peoples do. Fish oil is packed with nutrients that go straight to your skin and hair. In Nordic countries, fish is frequently eaten raw or cured (pickling and smoking) which retains all the goodness. Current guidance is to eat two portions of fish a week (2 x 140g), one of which should be oily.
Scientists from the institute of public health and clinical nutrition at the University of Eastern Finland have found that a diet rich in fish, vegetables, whole grains and berries may actually be more beneficial to Northern Europeans.
and the magic diet ingredient is: Rapeseed Oil
We call it canola oil here but it has just six per cent unhealthy saturated fat content, compared with 14 per cent in olive oil and more than 50 per cent in butter. They use it instead of vegetable oils, coconut oil or olive oils for cooking.
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