DIY: Natural Beauty
Text: Lori Malone | Photography: TRR archive
Since the beginning of time humans have sought methods to enhance their beauty and correct their flaws. British archaeologists discovered evidence that Neanderthals were experimenting with cosmetics 50,000 years ago, finding lumps of a yellow foundation-type pigment, together with a red powder, which had been mixed with a reflective black material at known Neanderthal sites in south-east Spain.
Today, the quest for beauty has resulted in a billion-dollar cosmetic industry. Consumers have been inundated with expensive products that don’t always live up to their hype. In challenging economic times, these are usually the luxuries we forego. However, there is an affordable alternative. Over the last year, I have made a dramatic change in my diet, electing to consume organic and all-natural foods rather than processed and packaged foods. Not only did this change result in weight loss, lowered cholesterol and increased stamina, it also improved my skin’s appearance. I noticed less breakouts, firmer skin and a healthier glow.
As I began reading the labels on some of my skin care products, it occurred to me that the products I put on my face and skin should be as natural as the foods I consume. So I began researching natural alternatives. I expected to find a few cosmetic lines that employ green and organic standards, and I did.
However, I also found a plethora of home-made remedies that have been used with good results for centuries. Aesthetrician Narine Nikogosian’s book, ‘Return to Beauty,’ is fabulous resource that is chock-full of easy and affordable skin-care recipes derived from all-natural ingredients.
In many cases, these are the same recipes that high-end spas are charging a premium to administer. In fact, “all-natural” beauty treatments are a growing trend within the spa industry. The benefits of these treatments are remarkable and the low costs of whipping them up at home means everyone can afford to pamper themselves from time to time.
Beauty is an inside job. Diet, exercise and a good skin-care regime all contribute to our overall attractiveness. For those wanting to pamper themselves the natural way, here are some basic beauty enhancing ingredients and their benefits.
Soothing and anti-inflammatory, oatmeal contains beta glucans, a soluble fiber that creates a thin, moisture-retaining film on the surface of the skin.
Recommended use: Place a handful of whole oats in a clean washcloth and using a rubber band to secure it. Next, immerse it in a sink of warm water and squeeze the bag 4 or 5 times. Once the water is cloudy, splash it on your face and then air-dry. (If you must towel dry, pat as gently as possible.)
Avocado oil’s abundant fatty acids help balance skin’s moisture levels, and the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E protect skin from further damage.
Recommended use: Combine equal parts avocado oil and evening-primrose oil (which supports collagen synthesis with its gamma linoleic acid) in a sealable bottle and shake to blend. Massage 5 or 6 drops into clean skin, and then cover your face with a warm washcloth for a minute to help the oils sink in.
Rich in oil, walnuts make for extra-gentle sloughing.
Recommended use: Blend ¼ cup shelled walnuts, ½ cup olive oil (for extra emollients), and a tablespoon of honey (to seal moisture into your skin) in a food processor set on a slow speed, creating a fine-particle scrub. Standing in the shower (if you’re scrubbing your feet) or over a sink (if it’s for your hands), work the mixture thoroughly over your skin for a couple of minutes. Rinse with warm water.
The fruit acid loosens dead skin cells.
Recommended use: Cut a fresh orange in half and squeeze the juice of one half into a bowl. Add ¼ cup granulated sugar and ¼ cup olive oil and then blend into a moisture-rich scrub. Next, rub the exposed side of the other half of the orange over knees, elbows, heels, and any other dry spots. Last, rub in the sugar mixture to slough off dead skin. Rinse with warm water and pat skin dry.
The lactic acid in milk serves as a gentle skin exfoliant, while its natural fat content acts as a body moisturizer.
Recommended use: Add 1 gallon of whole milk to a tubful of warm water and soak. It’s a great alternative to sugar and salt scrubs, which may be too abrasive for people who suffer from eczema, psoriasis, or sensitive skin. If you prefer a fragranced bath, add 10 to 20 drops of an essential oil such as lavender.
The high protein content in eggs helps improve hair’s resilience and luster.
Recommended use: Wisk together 1 egg, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, rich in moisturizing fats, and 2 tablespoons sesame oil. Apply the mixture to dry hair and wrap a hot, moist towel around your head. Relax for 5 to 10 minutes. Without wetting hair first, work in a handful of shampoo, and then rinse and condition your hair.
Apple cider vinegar
The high acid content in apple cider vinegar makes skin inhospitable to blemish-causing bacteria.
Recommended use: Place a handful of parsley (a skin-clarifying herb) into a French press and cover it with ½cup of boiling water. Steep for 10 minutes, and then plunge and let the liquid cool. Transfer to a spray bottle along with a splash of vinegar and 4 drops of tea tree oil (an antiseptic), shake well and spritz on a freshly cleansed face. (Store the spray bottle in the fridge.)
Yeast and hops help to swell the hair shaft and plump the cuticle, adding volume. The acidity of the beer helps remove built-up product residue.
Recommended use: In the shower, after you’ve shampooed, pour a bottle of beer over your hair. Rinse briefly with fresh water. A rich beer with a high yeast content works best. Light beer is not recommended.
It is the cold, not the cucumber, that helps shrink the puffiness around the eye area by constricting blood vessels and thus reducing inflow of fluid into soft tissues.
Recommended use: Chill sliced cucumbers and place over eyes for 5-10 minutes or get the same results with a washcloth dipped in cold water.