Get gorgeous at home

Your kitchen may hold the secret to your beauty

Pick up a bottle of your favourite moisturiser and glance at the ingredients. Chances are, you will see a long list of chemicals with unpronounceable names. But who cares, you’re not eating the cream! You’re just applying it on your skin, and that can’t be bad, right?

Wrong.

The skin is the largest organ of our body, and it is porous. Anything applied to it gets absorbed into our bodies, and often finds its way into our bloodstream. Some chemicals are harmless, but others, regularly used in skin care products, are known carcinogens or endocrine disruptors. Certain manufacturers have substituted harmful chemicals with others, but how safe are these substitutes? No one knows. Glamorous ads and pretty packaging have us hooked, even though study after study has proved how infective many creams are.

If you want healthy, glowing skin (who doesn’t?) stop looking for miracles in a jar. Look for them in your kitchen instead. You’re sure to find the perfect natural substitute for almost every need.

Cleanser

Raw milk (preferably organic) makes a great cleanser. It is gentle and is a powerhouse of nutrients. These nutrients work effectively to remove oil and protein-based impurities and dead skin cells, in addition to moisturising and strengthening skin. Dip a small ball of cotton wool in a couple of teaspoons of raw milk, and swipe it around your face.

Curd and besan is an age-old remedy for cleansing and moisturising your face, and works especially well for those with problem-free skin.

If you have pimples, cleanse your face with a mixture of turmeric, lemon and honey. Apply, let dry, and wash off.

Scrub

“Powder a tablespoon of quick-cooking oats, and add it to a mixture of any cold-pressed oil and honey,” shares make-up guru Shveta Raju. “Wet your face and gently rub this mixture in, taking care not to be too rough. You could use this scrub all over your body, obliterating the need for harsh soaps.”

Toner

“Rosewater makes an excellent natural toner. Boil a quarter cup of rose petals in one cup or one-and-a-half cups of water. When it boils, reduce the flame and simmer until the rose petals have turned pale and the water is a lovely, pink shade. Turn off the gas and let it cool. If you have dry skin, you could add three drops of glycerin to the rosewater,” shares Shveta.

Moisturiser

“One of the best natural moisturisers is coconut oil. This can be found in most households. There are many pure, virgin, cold-pressed varieties now available in India, which I highly recommend for skin and hair,” says leading dermatologist, Dr Mukta Sachdeva. For daytime use, apply coconut oil, wipe off with a damp cotton ball after 10 minutes, and follow up with sunscreen. At night, cleanse your skin, apply the oil, and wash off in the morning. If you have oily skin, wash off before sleeping.

Problem skin? Reach for combinations of turmeric, honey, and lemon juice, all of which have antiseptic or anti-fungal properties.

Lemon juice helps remove pigmentation, even skin tone and brighten skin. But, it stings! Mix it with cucumber juice, and leave on for a minimum of 10 minutes before washing off. You will notice clearer skin almost instantly.

Body lotion

Did you know that bananas, papayas or avocados work great as skin softeners and moisturisers? Feed your skin the share. Mash an overripe fruit with a fork and spread it on your face, arms and legs and leave it on for a bit before going in for a shower. No overripe fruit? Just scrape out the remnants from the inner peel and apply on your face.

After a shower, take a few drops of almond oil, massage it between your palms and spread all over your damp skin. Pat dry. You will never need a store-bought body lotion again.

Hair conditioners

Bananas with coconut may sound more like a recipe for pina colada than a hair treatment, but that’s precisely what it is. Mash a banana, mix it with coconut oil and a little coconut milk to make a paste. Apply this to your hair and scalp, and cover with a shower cap. Leave on for half an hour and wash off.

For hair that shines, give it a final rinse with a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water. Use one tablespoon vinegar in a mug of water.

Cheers to beer! Apply this fabulous, fermented liquid to your hair after shampooing, let it sit for five minutes, and rinse off.

The latest treatments to fight frizz and smoothen hair, such as keratin or cysteine, are all protein based. Make a natural protein mask for your hair with a mixture of curd, whipped egg, and extra virgin olive oil. Apply this to your hair and leave on for half an hour, or longer, if you can stand the smell. Wash off with lukewarm to cool water. Make sure the water isn’t hot, or the eggs will start cooking!

Serum

Apply a few drops of olive or coconut oil between your palms, rub, and apply lightly to the ends of your hair to tame flyaways.

Dandruff busters

Apply a mixture of lemon juice and olive oil to your scalp. The acidic and astringent properties of lemon help rid the scalp of dandruff, while the olive oil will provide much-needed TLC. Wash off after 10 minutes.

Highlights

Lemon can also be used as a natural highlighter. Squeeze a lemon into a bowl, mix with honey, and apply to your hair in streaks. Brush through to remove any deposits and expose it to sunlight so the products can work their magic. Lemon is highly acidic and prolonged use can make hair brittle, but it is far gentler than bleach.

Stretchmark solution

A full body massage has a host of benefits, but few can make the time for it on a regular basis. What you can do instead is to massage your thighs, upper arms and belly regularly, with a mixture of coconut, olive and castor oils. These areas are the most prone to stretch marks, and regular massage will make the skin supple and able to withstand stretching, especially during pregnancy or weight gain. Start young!

Good skin care isn’t just about the products you apply to your skin. It is a function of your lifestyle. Here’s how you can do that:

  • Eat well-balanced meals, and ensure you get adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, especially Vitamin C.
  • Get yourself regularly dewormed.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking at least two litres of water daily.
  • Avoid junk food, quit smoking, and drink alcohol in moderation.
  • Move it! Exercise flushes your skin with oxygen and gives it a natural glow.

And finally, use your judgment. Eye creams are applied in such tiny quantities, over a minimal amount of skin, so feel free to use a good one. Invest in a sunscreen as it is difficult to make your own at home. In addition, creams containing retinol have been proven to be effective, so use them sparingly, at a later age, and combine with natural treatments to reduce your exposure to chemicals.

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