I started to see the dry patches clear up. Her head filled with thick, toffee-colored locks of hair, and I felt immense pride at my ability to take care of her. Amid my depression, it was one of my first glimpses of overwhelming joy.
Although my family has stayed healthy during this global pandemic, it’s been a definite challenge. Stress and fear are high, money has been tighter, and our time outside the house has been limited. But it has also crystallized the value of my homemade concoctions—they’ve become deeply bonding and essential rituals.
When my partner’s face is breaking out, (probably from using body soap as a face wash), I cut a stalk from our aloe vera plant and scrape the juice into a bowl and mix in some turmeric. We get comfortable on the couch so that I can lather the orange slime onto his face while we watch our favorite show. I’ve also taught him how to make my favorite avocado mask so that he can mix it up on his own and massage it onto it on my face when I’m the one that needs pampering.
My sister and I are trying to lighten our hair with limes and salt and beer like our aunt used to do when we were little, spending summers at her pool. She’d pour the mixture on our long, chocolate-colored hair, then lie us down on a towel for the sun to fry it to a lighter shade. We wanted bleached blond highlights a la Mary Kate, and Ashley in “Our Lips Are Sealed,” but we were satisfied enough with the slight amber glow that our tips achieved.
This summer, while my daughter napped, we drenched our hair in the citrusy beer mixture from our childhood, slathered on some sunscreen, and sprawled ourselves out in the sun—side by side. I’m not saying it’s particularly good for our hair follicles, but the relaxation and comfort these moments bring me are worth it.
My cat, Luis Miguel, also gets in on the hair action. He is the most handsome, most orange boy you will ever meet. However, his beauty is not totally innate—after a good hair brushing, I use some of the beer mixture on him, washing it off after a few minutes on his coat.
Last year, at a farmers market in the outskirts of Austin, I found myself at a beekeeper’s stall buying way too much beeswax. I wanted to make my own candles, but the beeswax ended up sitting in a dark corner of my pantry for months.
Now that we’re trying to make our household a “greener” one, I’ve been looking for ways to reduce the plastic and packaging that comes in and out of the house. So the beeswax has been revamped into lotion bars.
My daughter is almost two now, and I place the ingredients on the kitchen table where I can sit down while she stands between my legs to help. She stirs with a wooden spoon, uses the dropper to mix in oils, and I help her pour the mixture into the molds. Sometimes we decorate the mixture with flower petals, and the result is a lovely golden bar that instantly softens when it glides on the skin.
My daughter’s routine is now lining up more and more with mine, so we sometimes take our nighttime bath together in the big tub. After we’ve dried off, we sit in our towels and moisturize. She has her own little lotion bar, which we molded into a small almond shape that she can easily grasp onto. As I slowly drag my adult-sized lotion bar around my back, up and down both legs, and onto my knees and shoulders, my daughter attends to each movement, and she carefully does the same.