Saturday, April 9, 2011

Feed your face, literally

So last time we explored alternative household uses for pantry staples like baking soda and vinegar. Today we get pretty with homemade beauty products. (Don't worry guys, you can enjoy some of these, too ;) Again, I can't say enough about the Homemade book and for tips and ideas on how to make your own simple beauty products.

  • Foot scrub: Next time you're at the spa or drug store, take a peek at the ingredients of the fancy scrubs. There is usually a long list of scary-sound ingredients, along with things like salt and oil. Well, ditch the scary stuff and get ready for some happy tootsies. In a bowl, mix a few tablespoons of coarse salt (not the table kind) with a few tablespoons of olive oil. You can stop here and use it plain, or you can add in a few fresh strawberries. Mash up well with a fork until the scrub is more of less uniform (some chunks are ok). Moisten your feet and massage the scrub into your skin using a washcloth or a brush. Rinse off and dry with a towel. Be very careful if doing this in the shower as the oil will leave the floor slippery!
  • Milk bath: If you enjoy a good bath, try making up your own milk bath. Mix 1/3 cup powdered milk with 3 tablespoons of cornstarch and add to your bath as the water is running to help disperse it. The possibilities for scents here is endless.... you can use any essential oil or dried herbs/flowers you like, or even spices from the cupboard! A little bit of powdered cinnamon and some finely ground oatmeal can be heaven in the cold winter months!
  • Bath tea: Sold for top dollar at fancy boutiques and spas, you can make your own in endless varieties. If you have an herb or flower garden, go raid it. Rose petals, lavender, chamomile, rosemary... anything you enjoy the smell of can be added to a warm bath. You make a cheesecloth bag or can buy fill-able tea bags or a reusable mesh tea ball (don't use the same one you use for your tea ;) On an even more basic level, you can use herbal tea bags as well! Chamomile, mint, whatever floats your boat. Though a word of caution on ones like hibiscus or berry... they release a fair amount of color and may stain the tub.
  • Citrus body spray: In a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, place citrus peels (orange, lemon, grapefruit, clementine, etc) and 1/2 cup of vodka. The amount of citrus will determine the intensity of the scent, of course. Seal tightly and allow to steep for a week or so in a cool, dark place, giving it a good shake now and then. Strain into a spray bottle and dilute with a bit of water (distilled water will ensure a longer shelf life) until it has the intensity you like. Shake well before using and spritz on as needed!
  • Sugar scrub for dry skin: I have sensitive skin and find most of the apricot-type scrubs to be a bit too harsh. I tried this sugar scrub recently and absolutely love it. Simply mix 1 cup of sugar (white or brown) with 1/2 cup of oil (olive, almond, etc). You can add a scent such as a few drops of vanilla or almond extract, or an essential oil. Give it a good mix and store it in an air-tight container. Scoop out a small amount into your palms and massage onto wet skin (face, elbows, wherever you have dry skin) then rinse and dry. Again, if using this in the shower be careful as the oil will make things slippery. 
  • Hair thickening conditioner: Mash up half of a ripe avocado (better to be overripe here than under) in a bowl and add about 1/4 cup of coconut milk to form a thick gel. Apply the entire recipe to clean hair and comb through with your fingers, saturating the hair. Leave on for 10-15 minutes then rinse out for shinier, thicker, more luxurious hair. 
  • Shine booster for hair: Once again, vinegar to the rescue. You can use white vinegar, cider vinegar, or a fancier fruit-scented vinegar. Bring a measuring cup with a few tablespoons of vinegar into the shower with you. After shampooing, dilute the vinegar with a bit of water and then rinse through your hair. Do not use conditioner after, just the rinse. The vinegar will help remove build up on your hair from styling and shampoo, and will restore it's natural shine, as well as helping condition your scalp. And no, you won't smell like a pickle afterward.
  • Deep-cleansing facial: Mix 1 tablespoon finely ground oatmeal (give some rolled oats a quick spin in a coffee grinder or food processor) with 1 tablespoon plain yogurt and 1 teaspoon of honey. If the mix is too thick, you can thin it with a bit more yogurt until you get a spreadable consistency. Wash your face and pat dry, then apply the mix with your fingers or the back of a spoon. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then rinse with warm water and dry. Moisturize or tone as usual. 
  • Cooling astringent: All you need for this one? A cucumber. That's it. Great for summertime when your skin could use a cooling pick-me-up. Simply peel and seed a cuke and throw it in a blender or food processor. Take the resulting puree and apply to clean skin using your fingers or a cotton pad, then rinse off with cool water and dry. For an added cooling sensation, use the cuke straight out of the fridge. This makes quite a bit, so you can store leftovers in the fridge, but only for a few days at most. 
  • Peaches 'n cream face cream: Just like the name states, this uses 1 ripe peach and heavy cream. Peel and pit a ripe peach and put in a blender or food processor. Turn on and slowly add the cream, stopping to check the consistency, until it is smooth and spreadable. The thickness or thinness is up to your tastes. Store in a clean jar with a tight fitting lid in the fridge and apply by massaging into your skin as needed.
And there you have it! This isn't an exhaustive list, by any means, but it will get you started thinking outside the box. :) If you want to delve further, try the above-mentioned resources or do a quick Google search for DIY or homemade beauty products.

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