Homemade beauty - make your own cosmetics
Cash-strapped after Christmas? Make your own affordable, all-natural cosmetics using the contents of your kitchen
January is a particularly taxing time financially. December has bled us dry of disposable income, and yet our post-Christmas selves require some serious beauty TLC. But what to do when you want and need that spa glow but can't afford it? The answer: head straight to the kitchen cupboard where you'll find what you need to sort out everything from a pallid complexion to dry, frizzy hair to flaky, dull, cellulite-laden skin.
Foods like fruit, dairy, and oils are packed with antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins and acids that really can sort out endless beauty conundrums. And because they're active ingredients, they act quicker. Read the labels of some top-branded creams and invariably their ingredients will include food products. They really are that beneficial.
The internet is awash with beauty potions using food ingredients. And I've trialled quite a few. However, before applying anything new to the skin, it's advised that you conduct a little patch test to make sure your concoction won't irritate the skin, particularly if you have very sensitive skin. Also, for best results use the product for its purpose immediately after you make the recipe. The ingredients you'll get the most out of are eggs, dark brown sugar, avocados, strawberries and a good quality coconut oil. Set aside an hour, pour a glass of wine, and enjoy the experience.
Dos and Don'ts
● Coconut oil works as a facial cleanser, moisturiser, lip balm and hair conditioner. It's even safe to use on baby's skin. Its benefits are said to be at optimum level when applied in liquid form.
● Even though drinking coffee is said to contribute to cellulite, you'll notice that it is an ingredient in some of the most expensive cellulite creams. It's recommended that you massage coffee granules into the affected area, or use a body brush to maximise intensity.
● People swear by aspirin, which contains beta-hydroxy acid, combined with honey, as a complexion refreshing mask.
● Use the contents of a cod liver oil tablet on nails every morning. It's great for strengthening.
● Even when I am not cash-starved, I make my own body scrub, by mixing brown sugar with oatmeal and coconut oil or olive oil, depending on which one I have. I also like to add a pinch of cinnamon as it's said to encourage bloodflow.
● Want your skin to look tighter and plumper? Apply an egg white to the face, allow to dry before rinsing.
● Despite popular opinion, toothpaste is not a good spot treatment.
● Avocados are incredible for softening skin and hair. Make sure they're very ripe and mixed with a good quality olive oil or coconut oil to make for easier application.
If you're looking to plump your lips without committing to some precarious procedure, then rub a chilli lightly along them.
How to Do an at-home Facial
A step-by-step guide
1. First cleanse the skin using a good quality olive oil and a squeeze of lime juice. Massage it into the skin for a minute. Remove using a clean, warm face cloth.
2. Next boil a saucepan of milk. Once it has come to the boil, take it off the heat and place your face over the saucepan, throwing a clean towel over your head to trap the steam. I try and do it for five minutes. The logic behind the process is that the steam opens your pores and the lactic acid in the milk decongests and purifies your skin.
3. It's important to close your pores post-steaming. Instead of using a toner, I simply rub an ice-cube over my face before applying my moisturiser (which can be coconut oil).
4. If you want to de-puff tired eyes, I soak cottons pads in cold milk, and leave them on my eyes for five minutes. I find milk far more effective than soaked cold teabags or cucumber slices - both of which are frequently bandied about as potential cures for tired peepers.
5. Next apply a face mask. I like to use a mixture of natural yoghurt, a tablespoon of good quality honey (antibacterial qualities) and mashed-up strawberries. Leave it on for 10 minutes. This isn't pleasant and is quite messy, but I promise it's worth it, as glowing, dewy, skin awaits.
At-Home Beauty Toolkit
Natural Bristle Body Brush, €9.75, Liz Earle, available from lizearle.com
Every woman should have one. I use it for working my exfoliant into my skin as well as for dry body brushing to reduce cellulite, aid circulation and stimulate the lymphatic system. The bristles are quite soft so they shouldn't irritate. Also, the long handle is great for getting at hard-to-reach places such as the back.
Oils of Life Twin Ball Facial Massager, €25.50, The Body Shop, available in stores nationwide
Facial massage is all the rage these days. This wondrous little device will bolster the benefits of your at-home facial. Massaged gently into the skin post cleansing, it helps to even skin tone, detoxify the skin, reduce puffiness and wrinkles and stimulate blood flow. The product comes with a guide so as to get the most from your massager.