Natural Skin Care, Straight From Your Kitchen

Sue Chung Health Guide November 09, 2007
  • I keep hearing about food ingredients in cosmetics. Do they work? If that's the case, will they work if I just apply them to my face?

     

    We are what we eat, as the old saying goes, and apparently our skin agrees. It may seem passé to rely on our mothers' at-home skin care recipes, but there's a reason why some skin recipes have lasted over time - they work. Some of the ingredients we bring into our bodies can also provide benefits when applied on the body as well.

     

    If we take a close look at cosmetics and skin care products, most rely on just a few primary ingredients. While many dermatologists and scientists dispute the true efficacy of some of these popular skin care ingredients, two of the most well-documented success stories are alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids (AHAs and BHAs). AHAs and BHAs have been proven to improve the texture of skin by encouraging exfoliation. And it just so happens that these acids show up in many natural food products.

     

    For the frugal or natural-living fans among us, it can be preferable to mix up a few kitchen staples and avoid the big costs and the presence of preservatives and additives.

     

    Here are a few key ingredients for home-made skin care success:

     

    Honey

     

    Honey's anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial properties made it an early and ancient home remedy for minor cuts and burns. When applied to the skin, it also acts as a humectant, attracting moisture to the surface of the skin. New studies even suggest that honey encourages skin's cell renewal process. Mix together one part honey, one part olive oil and one part vitamin E oil. Apply a thin layer as a mask and let sit for 10 minutes. Rinse well and dry off skin completely. Honey also makes a good hair conditioner for the more adventuresome. Mix a half-cup of honey with a quarter-cup of olive oil and work through hair. Cover with a shower cap for 30 minutes and then wash out.

     

    Oatmeal

    If any of you had chicken pox as a child and were made to sit through a bath of oatmeal, you have first-hand experience with oatmeal's skin-soothing properties. In fact, Aveeno devotes an entire line to sensitive skin that features oatmeal. To soften dry skin, try this recipe: Place a generous amount of dry oatmeal in a hand towel and tie with a rubber band. Next, soak it in a bowl of whole milk until the oatmeal softens. Use the makeshift sack in place of a loofah and soap.

     

    Strawberries

     

    Strawberries contain more vitamin C than the same weight in citrus fruits. In addition, they contain salicylic acid, a chemical exfoliant featured in many anti-acne products. These little berries can pack a powerful punch if you crush them with a few teaspoons of cornstarch and apply as a mask. Avoid if you have sensitive or dry skin.

     

    Yogurt

     

    Plain old yogurt contains lactic acid, a type of AHA. It features prominently in a number of luxury skin care lines, including Korres. Mix two tablespoons of yogurt with one tablespoon of dry oatmeal and one tablespoon of honey. Use as a gentle face scrub.

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    Tea bags

     

    The caffeine in tea can help reduce puffy eyes. In the morning, steep two tea bags (preferably green, since black tea can stain) and set aside until they cool down enough to touch. Place the pouches over eyes for a few minutes. Be forewarned: Caffeine gets absorbed through the skin easily and if you're not used to it, you may feel jittery.

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