Let’s face it, the cosmetics aisle can feel pretty overwhelming: It’s hard enough having to choose from hundreds of products (Facial cleanser or scrub? Lip gloss or balm?), but add to that the list of harmful ingredients to look out for and it’s enough to make you forgo the entire ordeal altogether.
Which might be for the best, depending on what products you use: “Your skin absorbs up to 60 percent of what you put on it,” says Stephanie Tourles, a holistic aesthetician in Orland, Maine, and author of Organic Body Care Recipes. “So if you use pure, natural ingredients, you’re guaranteed to avoid applying anything toxic to your body.” Here are some DIY beauty tricks that’ll have you sittin’ pretty in no time.
You want: Strong hair and smooth skin
Try: Jojoba Oil
While not technically an oil, this liquid wax—derived from the seed of the jojoba shrub—offers your body plenty of natural benefits. Craving strong, luscious locks? To help stimulate hair growth, heat 3 to 5 teaspoons of the jojoba oil in the microwave until warm (just a few seconds), massage it onto a dry scalp for 5 minutes, and leave on under a shower cap overnight before washing with a sulfate-free shampoo the next morning. It also makes a great moisturizer, says Tourles, and it can be used on dry and oily skin. “Jojoba oil penetrates the pores really well, and it works in conjunction with your own skin to help balance oil production, so it can be used on all skin types.” Immediately after cleansing, while your face is still moist, apply ½ teaspoon to face, neck, and chest, as you would your regular moisturizer.
You want: A facial cleanser and makeup remover in one
Try: Coconut Oil
If you’re searching for a foam-free facial cleanser that won’t dry out your skin, a tub of extra-virgin unrefined coconut oil should do the trick, says Tourles. Combine 2 teaspoons each of coconut oil and extra-virgin olive oil (rub the coconut oil between your palms frst, since it takes on a solid form when it’s cold), massage over the entire face for about a minute, then rinse of with a warm washcloth every night before bed. This not only removes makeup, it cleanses and softens the skin, as well. Feel a pimple coming on at just the thought of all that oil? Give it a shot anyway, says Tourles, since it has antibacterial properties that can help heal acne. “The saying ‘Like removes like’ can be applied here as well,” she says. “Coconut oil actually helps break down and wash away the excess oil on the surface of oily skin.”
You want: Glossy lips and strong nails
Try: Castor Oil
“This oil is almost always the first ingredient in commercial lipsticks,” says Tourles. “It has really good sticking and staying ability—it’s very moisturizing, very shiny, and it holds color well.” She recommends using it as an inexpensive alternative to lip gloss—it adds shine and will hold for hours. Another easy way to get the most out of a bottle of castor oil: Nail care. “Massage one drop on each fngernail every night before bed,” says Tourles. “It stimulates circulation to the nail bed, which means more blood and nutrients fow underneath, enhancing growth and making nails harder and shinier.”
You want: Shiny hair and balanced skin
Try: Apple Cider Vinegar
If there’s one item to keep in your home remedies arsenal, it’s this one. Whether you’re looking to clean your kitchen, clear up a sore throat, or whip up a tasty salad dressing, there isn’t much apple cider vinegar (ACV) can’t do, including tackling hair and skin care. To naturally detangle and remove residue, Tourles recommends adding ¼ cup of raw ACV to a quart of water and pouring all over your hair as an after-shampoo rinse—it balances your hair’s natural pH by removing buildup from shampoo and styling products, and tightens the cuticle scales that cover and protect the hair shaft, leaving your tresses shiny and smooth. (Note: The vinegar smell will disappear eventually, but not until your hair is completely dry, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time before leaving the house). You can also use the above recipe to make a face toner. Like hair, skin is also naturally acidic, so ACV helps to restore its natural pH balance, leaving skin right where it should be—not too oily and not too dry; Tourles suggests simply swiping with a cotton swab on your face and neck after cleansing.
You want: A glowing complexion and super-soft lips
Try: Raw Honey
Don’t be afraid of slathering this sticky stuff all over your face—it’s actually very hydrating, says Tourles. After cleansing, pull your hair back. Put a tablespoon of honey in a small custard cup or glass jar, then dip your fingers in and tap the honey all over your face and neck until they’re covered (avoiding the eyes). This technique is invigorating for the skin, since “all of the tapping enhances your blood circulation,” says Tourles. Recline for 15 to 20 minutes; you’ll notice your face becoming very warm, but it shouldn’t be uncomfortable. Rinse off the honey with warm water and a washcloth. “Honey is a humectant, it draws water from the air and absorbs it into the surface of your skin, so you’ll get a plump, pinky glow.” Bonus: Raw honey also makes for a great hydrator for chapped lips, especially during the winter months. Simply apply a dab with your finger several times a day for smooth (and tasty!) lips.
Have any at-home beauty tips to share? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below, or tweet us at @KiwiMagazine.