What we wouldn’t do for beauty. From the beginning of time, women have gone to great lengths to moisturize, exfoliate, condition and rejuvenate their skin and hair in an effort to look their best. In ancient days, natural remedies were at times unsavory, such as dipping the hair in camel urine to make it soft and shiny, or rubbing crushed bugs on the lips to make them moist and pleasingly red. Cleopatra, it’s said, used a paste of crocodile dung and donkey’s milk to keep her skin looking lovely.
If the above natural beauty remedies leave you feeling just a wee bit woozy, take heart. There are many others to try that aren’t quite as off-putting, won’t cost you the triple digit figure of a high-end spa treatment or an online visit to Sephora – and are highly effective. And you need go no further than your kitchen to find the ingredients.
The advantage to using kitchen ingredients? It’s simple, said Alexandra Catalano, certified health coach and founder of Eat Cute, a company devoted to holistic nutrition and wellness. “What’s going to give you all the minerals, vitamins and enzymes of a cucumber? An actual cucumber,” she explained. “These foods have been used for thousands of years to heal and nourish our bodies.”
Going back to what’s natural and organic is not only one of the best ways to give your body what it needs, said Alexandra, but, “When you make these remedies at home, you know exactly what you’re putting into them.”
This is particularly important when you realize that the long list of ingredients on the back of your favorite lab-concocted cucumber eye cream often includes chemicals that research is proving to be carcinogenic, toxic to the reproductive system and disruptive of hormones – not to mention some that are harmful to plants and wildlife.
While there are dozens of wonderful kitchen cupboard beauty products, here are five that are worth stocking up on :
With lactose enzymes and probiotics, yogurt is the multi-duty workhorse of your beauty regime. It deep cleans and moisturizes the skin, helps to prevent premature aging and relieves acne, skin discoloration and sunburn.
How to use: For best results, use cold, plain, full-fat organic yogurt; Greek style has the nicest texture. Use straight from the tub to clean and invigorate your skin by applying, allowing it to set for 10 minutes, then rinsing with warm water. Or try this yogurt cuticle treatment from Andrew Ordon, MD, FACS, co-host of The Doctors.
Yogurt/Citrus Cuticle Treatment
Vitamin E or olive oil
1 cup full fat, plain yogurt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Directions: Place yogurt in the freezer to get it nice and chilled. Then cut grapefruit in half horizontally so that its triangle sections are exposed; remove any seeds. Apply a drop of vitamin E or olive oil to each cuticle. Then submerge your nails into the flesh of the grapefruit, one finger per section, for two to three minutes.
Rinse your hands completely of grapefruit juice. Cover one index finger with a small cloth and use light pressure to push small sections of the cuticle back on each finger of one hand. Repeat with other hand.
Place nails in the yogurt for five to 10 minutes then sprinkle with one teaspoon of cinnamon. Rinse your hands in warm water.
With its natural acidity, the lemon is a natural astringent, making it an excellent skin cleanser and toner. It also works on skin discolorations and adds luster to the hair.
How to use: Because of its acidity, lemon juice should always be diluted. Use 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice in 2 cups of water as an anti-dandruff treatment, or dilute ¼ cup lemon juice in ¾ cup of water and apply to the hair, sitting in the sun for 20 minutes, then rinsing out, for a natural highlighter. For an “on the spot” acne treatment, try this recipe from Dr. Ordon:
Easy Care Acne Treatment
A squeeze of lemon juice
Directions: Make a paste with a little Brewer’s yeast, lemon juice and a few drops of water. Apply to the affected area and let dry for 10 minutes. Cover with a Band-aid.
Unless you’re allergic to it, honey is one of the most effective foods to add to your beauty regimen. A natural moisturizer and anti-inflammatory, it contains antioxidants and minerals to nourish even the
most sensitive skin.
How to use: Honey can be used straight from the bottle (buy only 100 percent honey as other honey products may contain fructose corn syrup). Add ¼ cup to your bath water to hydrate your skin, or apply it to your face, allow it to dry and rinse off. Or beef it up a little by adding other ingredients. One to try is from Dr. Ordon, who is also a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, “It was The Doctors TV show that got me into ‘do it yourself’ at home beauty skin care,” said Dr Ordon. “We have top aestheticians with their tips on the show.”
Honey/Avocado Moisturizer (for wrinkles)
3 tablespoons fresh cream
1 tablespoon honey
Directions: Place all ingredients into a blender and puree into a smooth cream. Apply to skin and let it remain on for at least one hour. Rinse off with warm water.
Whole grain oatmeal is not only one of the healthiest breakfast foods there is, but when used externally, it can help to exfoliate, soften and soothe the skin. It relieves minor irritations like itchiness or sunburn and can actually help to heal acne.
How to use: Use rolled oats rather than quick cooking or instant oatmeal. Cooked and cooled breakfast oats can be applied to the face as an acne treatment; simply pat on the affected areas, wait for 10 minutes and rinse off. You can also try this honey oatmeal mask recipe from Ole Henriksen, founder of OLEHENRIKSEN beauty products, which are available at Sephora and at the OLEHENRIKSEN Face/Body Spa on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.
Ole’s DIY Honey Oatmeal Mask
1 teaspoon plain yogurt
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon finely ground oatmeal
1 vitamin A capsule
1 vitamin E capsule
5 drops lavender essential oil
Directions: Create a smooth paste with the aforementioned ingredients. Apply to clean skin. Leave on for 20-30 minutes and rinse. Best used once a week to calm, purify and nourish the skin.
Naturally antibacterial and anti-fungal, coconut oil is an excellent skin moisturizer. It’s an ideal hair conditioner, too, as it penetrates the hair better than other oils. And it smells heavenly!
How to use: It’s best to use raw, preferably organic, virgin coconut oil. Use straight from the jar for a hand moisturizer or as a shaving cream. Or apply a quarter-sized dollop to the hair, cover with a shower cap, and leave on overnight, shampooing out in the morning. For a delicious body scrub, try this recipe from Alexandry Catalano:
Cute Sugar Plum Body Scrub
1 Tbs coconut oil
2 Tbs raw brown sugar
Directions: Mix ingredients in a bowl, and apply to the skin in a soft circular motion for two minutes. Rinse and pat dry.
Story by Linda Hepler; Top photo by Jason Black