Recipe to Refresh: DIY, Natural Skin Care
THE LONG, HARSH winter left us with much bigger problems than shoveling fatigue. We’re talking frizzy hair (ick), flaky skin (double ick) and scaly feet that clearly saw nothing but the inside of snow boots for months.
But since a full body fix-up at Le Fancy Spa costs as much as the city’s snow removal deficit, we suggest you try more wallet-friendly measures to welcome spring. For as little as the cost of lunch (and with ingredients picked up during a trip to Whole Foods), at-home treatments can turn your kitchenette into a decadent retreat. Even better: Because these DIY detoxifiers use natural ingredients — such as fresh fruit, coffee beans and even beer — you won’t be slathering scary-sounding chemicals on your skin.
This guinea pig gamely tried out more than a dozen at-home spa treatments and ended up with a few favorites. (And a few duds: Namely, using a urine-soaked cotton ball on pimples. It worked, but it’s as gross as it sounds.) So, open up your fridge and say spaaaaah.
BEER HAIR RINSE
» Why It Works: The nutrients in hops add strength and shine to hair.
» You’ve Been Warned: Don’t try this treatment before a big event — unless you want to smell like you work at the Big Hunt.
» You’ll Need:
– 1/4 cup water
– 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
– 1/4 cup beer (a hoppier beer, like an IPA, is ideal)
» What to Do: Mix together and use as a final rinse after conditioning, rinsing completely with warm water. Repeat every seven to 10 days.
Source: Brennan O’Farrell, stylist, Bang Salon and Spa (1519 15th St. NW, 202-588-5555)
AVOCADO FOOT SCRUB
» Why It Works: A ground avocado pit is abrasive enough to break down calluses, while the fruit’s rich flesh contains essential oils that nourish skin.
» You’ve Been Warned: This recipe takes time to prepare, but the results are worth it.
» What You’ll Need:
– 2 avocados (one for pit, and one ripe one for fruit)
– 1/4 cup cornmeal
– 1 tbsp sea salt
» What to Do: Dry out an avocado pit for a few days, then break it into several pieces with a hammer or cooking mallet. In a spice mill, coffee grinder or food processor, grind down the pit to make a gritty meal.
Scoop out second avocado and place skin aside. Mash the avocado fruit with the cornmeal, 1/4 cup of ground avocado pit and sea salt.
Gently massage the mixture into your feet in a circular motion, starting with the toes and working up to the ankles. Rinse with warm water.
Finally, take the inside of the avocado skin and rub the heel and any other callused areas. Your skin will look green at first (don’t worry, it won’t stain). Keep massaging for five to 10 minutes or until it no longer feels abrasive. Do not rinse off until your next shower.
Source: Angelika Kennedy, Skin Therapist, Blue Mercury (1619 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-462-1300)
LEMON HONEY MASK
» Why It Works: Lemon’s citric acid closes pores and keeps skin’s PH levels in check, while honey’s enzymes and nutrients add an antibacterial factor to zap zits and moisturize.
» You’ve been warned: There’s a serious sticky factor, so make sure your hair is tightly pulled back.
» What You’ll Need:
– 1 tbsp organic honey
– 1 fresh lemon
» What To Do: Squeeze the juice from the lemon and remove any seeds. Mix in honey and apply to damp face. Massage into skin for several minutes, then rinse with warm water.
Source: Sara Damelio, Skincando
» Why It Works: Most pricey cellulite treatments use caffeine to promote circulation, deep-cleanse pores and act as a diuretic by removing excess water from your dermis. Our version uses the same stimulators — but with ingredients usually reserved for your morning cup of joe.
» You’ve Been Warned: Like the store-bought potions, this isn’t a scientifically vetted treatment. But the stimulating massage should help soften skin and could smooth out fatty areas.
» You’ll Need:
– 1 cup fresh-ground coffee
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 1/2 cup salt
– 1/2 cup coconut oil
» What to Do: Mix all the ingredients. Massage into thighs, butt and other areas prone to, sigh, the cottage cheese effect for five minutes in a circular motion.
Rinse when finished. Repeat three to five times per week.
Source: “Eco Beauty: Scrubs, Rubs, Mask, and Bath Bombs for Your Friends” ($20, Ten Speed Press) by Lauren Cox with Janice Cox
CHOCOLATE FACE MASK
» Why It Works: Cocoa’s natural antioxidants help clear out skin stressors that can make skin look older.
» You’ve Been Warned: It smells so good you may want to eat the leftovers.
» You’ll Need:
– 1/3 cup natural cocoa powder (no sugar added)
– 2 tbsp heavy cream
– 2 tsp cottage cheese
– 3 tsp honey
» What to Do: Mix everything together in a large bowl.
Apply to dampened skin and leave on for 15 to 20 minutes.
Rinse with warm water. Can be used once a week.
BAKING SODA BLACKHEAD REMOVER
» Why It Works: This gentle, quick facial uses baking soda’s acid-neutralizing alkalinity and milk’s lactic acid to clear out pores and lightly exfoliate.
» You’ve Been Warned: After years of store-bought lotions and potions, this seemed almost too simple to work — but it did.
» You’ll Need:
– 1 tbsp baking soda
– 1/4 cup milk
» What to Do: Mix all the ingredients together. Rub into blackhead-prone areas using a soft makeup sponge. Rinse and repeat if needed.
Source: “Return to Beauty” ($25, Atria Books) by Narine Mikogosian
1) Body scrubs can get messy in the tub or shower. Place a plastic bag at the drain to catch what falls and avoid clogs.
2) Mix ingredients in a food processor or blender when possible to remove large clumps.
3) Use fresh, organic produce to ensure potions are pesticide-and preservative-free.
4) For a foot scrub, hop up on the kitchen counter and apply it in the sink. Any gunky debris will end up in the garbage disposal, making cleanup much easier.
Got five minutes and a stocked fridge? Try these easy remedies.
» De-Puff Eyes
Put two thick raw potato slices over eyes for 10 minutes. The potato’s potassium and vitamin C should zap under-eye circles.
» Smooth Dry Hands
Mix 1/4 tsp of olive oil and 1/4 tsp of sugar and massage into the backs of hands. The oil will soften skin, while the sugar will slough off dead, scaly cells.
» Exfoliate Sensitive Skin
Mix equal parts honey and brown sugar and use as a face or body scrub. Brown sugar is gentler than granulated sugar, making it suited to sensitive skin.
Written by Express contributor Megan Zatko Photo by Getty Images