Looking for a DIY beauty remedy? Try these kitchen staples

Looking for a DIY beauty remedy? Try these kitchen staples

Want to try the latest in natural beauty? Well, look no further than your pantry. The food you eat nourishes, nurtures and heals the body, helping it to work to optimal efficiency. But everyday foods can also soothe and beautify the skin, hair and nails.

Oats, apple-cider vinegar, baking soda, raw sugar, coffee and almond milk are just a few staples that can be made into beauty products that are plentiful, affordable and natural.

The business of beauty is complex, with corporate giants and global companies vying for a share of the lucrative skin, haircare and cosmetics market. There is a bewildering array of lotions, powders, gels, ointments, botanicals, infusions, serums and capsules to choose from. Take a stroll into your local pharmacy or cosmetics store, check the ingredients list on some of the products — and chances are you’ll see natural ingredients like argon oil, honey and natural fruits included. In some cases there can also be a whole lot of synthetic additives, including emulsifiers, preservatives, thickeners, moisturisers, colours and fragrances.

True beauty comes from within, nourishing mind, body and spirit.

Many cosmetics and manufactured beauty products are touted as concealers, correctors and fixers. Some might argue that beauty in a store-bought jar is about covering up, not celebrating who you are, a unique and beautiful human. Honest beauty celebrates the human spirit: it honours individuality.

After all, true beauty radiates from those who are happy. It comes from within, nourishing mind, body and spirit. Have you ever met someone whose skin glows with vitality and good health? Natural beauty products enhance, they are subtle, nurturing and nourishing, allowing your inner beauty to shine.

Fortunately, there is an abundance of natural beauty products, sourced from mother earth, that are organic and pure. Let’s strip it bare, peel it back layer by layer, and go back to basics, with nutrient-rich foods for natural beauty.

Going natural for your beauty products is a simple step towards healthier living. In cultures all over the globe natural products have been used to beautify for centuries. In India, Hindu brides would rub their bodies with turmeric to make the skin glow. Ancient Chinese cultures used rice powder to whiten their faces. Grecian women used mulberries to stain their cheeks like rouge. Australian Indigenous cultures use clay paint that is sometimes mixed with animal fat to paint on and create body art.

8 pantry staples that are food for your skin

Powdered milk: whole milk evaporated into dry powder

Why we love it? Powdered milk contains lactic acid, which is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA). It’s a natural skin exfoliant. Basically, the chemical make-up of AHAs remove dead skin cells, prompting new regeneration underneath.

Experiment with different milk powders: try coconut for a fresh nutty aroma, or buttermilk which is a powerful exfoliator. Pop a cup of powdered milk into bathwater under a running tap to soften your skin. Throw in a handful of rose petals for the ultimate in indulgence. Or add a little powdered milk to a salt or sugar body scrub, mixing in a little avocado oil.

Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda): leavening agent used in baking and a natural cleaning product

Why we love it? It’s an organic beauty multitasker that’s cheap and plentiful.

This pantry staple makes a soothing additive to a foot bath to neutralise bacteria, if you have smelly tootsies! Bicarb and a little water mixed together also make a toothpaste to lighten your teeth and brighten your smile. Gently rubbing baking soda into your scalp followed by an apple-cider rinse (to balance out the pH) is a natural alternative to using shampoo.

Honey: this golden goodness is a gift from mother nature that’s delicious to eat and a sweet treat for your skin, too

Why we love it? It’s antibacterial, moisturising and anti-inflammatory.

Always try to use raw or manuka honey. It’s a natural humectant which means it preserves, or retains moisture, when applied to the skin. It’s also an emollient, a term derived from the Latin word mollire which means to soften. Try applying honey with mashed avocado as a face mask. To boost hair hydration, mix two tablespoons of honey with one cup of plain yoghurt and one teaspoon of unrefined virgin coconut oil. Apply to your hair, leave for 10 minutes, rinse thoroughly then shampoo and condition as normal. (From Homemade Beauty by Annie Strole.)

Oats: cereal grain that is consumed the world over by humans and livestock

Why we love it? Oats are low-allergenic, suitable for all skin types, and they contain plenty of saponins, a natural cleanser to help unclog the pores. Oats are low-irritant and anti-inflammatory, so they can help to soothe itchy skin. Soak oats in milk, mix to a paste and apply to the affected area, then rinse with warm water.

For a revitalising hand scrub, mix half a cup of oats and one cup of sea salt in a blender, place in a bowl and then add five to seven drops of lavender essential oil. (From Natural Beauty by Elizabeth TenHouten.)

Olive oil: the fat derived from the fruits of an olive tree that are used in cooking and cosmetics

Why we love it? It’s an antioxidant that’s rich in vitamins A, E, D and K. Be sure to use cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil on the skin. Extra-virgin means it’s from the first pressing so it’s higher in nutrients.

A teaspoon of olive oil on a cotton pad can be used to remove make-up. Gently warm a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and comb through your hair, washing after 20 minutes. Olive oil can be a little comedogenic (which means it has the potential to clog pores), so use sparingly on the skin.

Brown sugar: contains a thick dark syrup called molasses

Why we love it? Brown sugar’s grainy texture exfoliates, plus it’s high in vitamin B, which is an antioxidant that helps protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Mix a spoonful of brown sugar with honey as a facial scrub. Try this sweet lip scrub: grab a teaspoon of brown sugar and mix with a little almond or olive oil, and using a gentle circular motion, rub it on your lips.

Pink Himalayan salt: high in mineral deposits of calcium, potassium and magnesium

Why we love it? Salt is a natural exfoliator that also detoxifies.

Pour a couple of dessertspoons in your bath, add few drops of your favourite essential oil, sit back and relax and enjoy the soothing benefits. Make a fresh garden scrub by gathering fresh herbs and flowers from the garden, chop and mix with a little avocado oil and half a cup of salt. Use as a scrub to keep your skin smooth and supple.

Chia seeds: the edible seeds of Salvia hispanica, a flowering plant in the mint family

Why we love it? It’s high in omega 3, and the oils in chia seeds give your skin a hydration boost.

Chia seeds are a fabulous skin food. Simply mix honey and mashed strawberries together and add chia seeds for a soothing face mask. For a good all-round cleanser, mix one and a half tablespoons of rooibos tea with one tablespoon of chia seeds and let it stand for five minutes. Add four tablespoons of honey and three-quarters of a teaspoon of lemon juice. Wash your face with a 10-cent piece sized amount and rinse thoroughly. Keep refrigerated for up to two weeks. (From Natural Beauty Skin Care by Deborah Burns)

Be a kitchen beauty goddess

Making your own natural beauty products is inexpensive, and for the most part you’ll already have the ingredients you need right at your fingertips. Many natural beauty recipes are easy to make: you need only to mix, mash or melt them. Basic utensils are a mixing bowl made of plastic or glass, storage jars made from plastic or glass, pump or spray bottles, spatulas and drop dispensers.

Where possible choose organically grown products and remember: the fresher the better. It can be helpful before you begin experimenting with natural beauty products to purge your pantry of out-of-date foods.

If you’ve had a sleepless night and need a quick fix for puffy eyes, grab a cotton pad and dab a little coffee under your eyes.

Why not gather your friends and have a fun-filled day of experimenting with natural beauty products you make yourselves? Or have some quality “me time” and spend some relaxing mindful moments enjoying the process of gathering and mixing the ingredients you need.

Embrace the process and enjoy learning how the food that nourishes you internally can also beautify you externally. There will, of course, be a little trial and error as you customise and fine-tune the recipes to suit your skin and hair type.

If you have sensitive skin and are trying something on your skin that you haven’t tested before, always do a small patch test first. Discontinue use if you notice redness, swelling or itchiness.

5 reasons why you should DIY for natural beauty

1. It will cost you less — store-bought products can be far more expensive.
2. You can use products at their optimum freshness — no sitting on a store shelf for months (or longer).
3. You can unleash your creativity — and share your natural beauty bounty with family and friends.
4. Source organic products and you know your beauty products won’t contain chemicals, additives and preservatives.
5. You can experiment and tailor-make a product to suit you, your lifestyle, skin and hair — no one-size-fits-all beauty products.

Clean and green

When crafting your own natural beauty products hygiene is important, just as when you are handling food to cook and eat.

Always use sterilised jars, and clean implements thoroughly after each use. If you are storing beauty products you make, keep in mind that they won’t last long, usually only a week at the most, as they are preservative-free, so only make enough for what you need. Pop a label on the jar or dish, date it, and ditch it if it starts to change appearance or has a strange odour.

Simple DIY kitchen pantry beauty hacks

  • Add a handful of fresh parsley and mint to some boiling water, strain and pour the solution into a container. * Use as a facial spritzer for healthy glowing skin.
  • Grab a potato from the pantry and slice off two pieces. Spuds are a powerful and soothing anti-inflammatory.
  • Put your feet up, pop one on each eye for 20 minutes and practise a little mindful meditation while you rest.
  • Add a tablespoon of apple-cider vinegar to a cup of water for a natural conditioner that’s good for soothing an itchy scalp. After washing your hair in the shower, apply and rinse thoroughly.
  • If you’ve had a sleepless night and need a quick fix for puffy eyes, grab a cotton pad and dab a little coffee under your eyes.

Whisky face mask for normal skin

1 tbsp whisky
1 whole egg (organic free-range)
25g non-fat dry milk powder
Juice 1 lemon

Combine all the ingredients and store in the fridge. Spread over your face, avoiding the eye area. Allow to dry and remove with a wet face cloth. Recipe courtesy of Staying Young by Charmaine Yabsley.

French champagne hair rinse

The French add champagne to their haircare routine for soft shiny hair. It’s suitable for blondes and light brown hair.

1 cup camomile tea (steeped and cooled)
Juice 1 lemon
1 cup champagne

Mix all ingredients together. Rinse your hair in the mixture under the shower after shampooing and let your hair dry in the sun. (Recipe courtesy of Natural Beauty by Elizabeth TenHouten.)

Carrol Baker

Carrol Baker

Carrol Baker is an award-winning freelance journalist who is a passionate advocate of natural health and wellness. She writes for lifestyle and healthy-living magazines across Australia and internationally.

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