Today, the bag of paper recycling is pretty indicative of my mood. Two empty cereal boxes (breakfast), and an empty box of ladies ‘bathroom essentials’. Yup, bring on the crankies! Actually, I think I can say conclusively that I’m not all that bad about PMS, but even though I don’t break out emotionally, my face often does. I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk about skin care – although my routine doesn’t involve much, I wanted to share one of my favorite home-made face washes.
You probably already know how eating right (yeah, right) and keeping hydrated can help your skin be clear and radiant, and help your hair to shine, but did you know that food can be good on, as well as in, you?
You’d never guess how easily you can replace your drug-store facial scrubs with just a few ingredients from your pantry! Because the skin is the body’s largest organ, and can absorb all kinds of things from its surrounding environment – from the light of the sun, to the products you apply to it – it’s important to treat it with respect. Besides being economical, this guarantees that you’re giving your body only what it needs – 100% natural nutrients.
It took a while for this to occur to me, but in the search for beauty products that actually work I realized that if it’s having an apparent effect on my face, it’s also having a significant effect on my body. That becomes a kind of scary thought when you read the list of ingredients on most commercially available skin care products and find that many contain chemicals and synthetic ingredients you can’t even pronounce the name of.
With just a few simple ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen, you can make a facial wash or mask that:
Dries up oiliness while maintaining hydration
And smells fantastic
– Oh, and did I mention it tastes great on toast?
Here’s what you need:
#1: Raw Honey
Honey is both antiseptic and antibacterial, and has for many years been used both topically and internally for medical purposes. Honey is commonly used as a salve on open wounds, because when it comes into contact with body fluids it will slowly release hydrogen peroxide – this, in combination with its slight acidity, will kill bacteria and prevent infection. Honey also contains antioxidants, and is long believed to have many healing effects.
For making your facial wash or mask, it’s best to use raw honey. If the bottle doesn’t specify that it’s raw, or unfiltered, you’re probably getting pasteurized honey. Pasteurizing is a process of heating to a very high temperature to kill bacteria, which ensures that your honey won’t crystalize very quickly, but also that some of its goodness has been compromised. (Note that the honey in the photo above is not raw – raw honey will often be thicker, and more crystalized than processed honey.)
If you’re lucky enough to have active Manuka Honey from New Zealand that would work as well, but considering its cost it should probably be saved for more specific uses.
#2: Ground Cinnamon
There are several different varieties of cinnamon, including Saigon (or Vietnamese) Cinnamon, Indonesian Cinnamon, Cassia (or Chinese) Cinnamon, and Ceylon (also known as ‘True’ Cinnamon) from Sri Lanka. Here in the States, Cassia is what’s most commonly found on our shelves and in stores. Each genus has different attributes, but for our purposes whatever you have will work.
Cinnamon has long been used as medicine in folk lore, and the myth is backed more and more by modern research. Some studies have even shown certain strains to be effective against HIV, and in lab experiments cinnamon extracts have helped to treat Alzheimer’s.
While that probably doesn’t mean much for the topical application of store-bought cinnamon, we also know that it has an antiviral, therapeutic effect – not to mention, it turns our honey ‘wash’ into a ‘scrub’, by adding a gentle amount of exfoliation similar to expensive microdermabrasion products.
What is nutmeg, anyway? Is it a nut? It kind of looks like a nut.
Actually, it’s a seed. Nutmeg is the seed of a genus of tree called the Myristica – a species of Evergreen. The seed is small and round, and grows inside a ‘fruit’ much like the pit of a peach. The seed itself also has a thin covering called an aril. This aril is removed from the seed, and is, in fact, where another common holiday spice comes from – Mace.
Nutmeg has long been thought to have significant medicinal properties, though much of this thinking is probably due to its psychoactive effects. Nutmeg contains a hallucinogen which in high enough doses is toxic, and can cause convulsions, nausea, and dehydration. Although humans can’t generally get nutmeg poisoning from the amounts called for in culinary uses, other animals can often be more sensitive – for this reason it’s recommended that you don’t let the family pet have anything with nutmeg in it.
While nutmeg has no proven medical uses, it has long been used therapeutically to calm the mind and relax the body. Nutmeg oil has been used in aromatherapy to reduce headaches, clear the sinuses, and lighten a depressed mood. It is also thought to have antimicrobial properties.
In this facial scrub, the nutmeg helps to dilute the harsh cinnamon and keep the exfoliating light and gentle, as well as adding a depth to the soothing aroma. I recommend using whole nutmeg, grated fresh, but if you already have powdered that will work as well.
Once you have your ingredients, simply combine them in a jar or bottle.
1/4 cup Raw Honey
1.5 tsp. – 1.5 TBSP Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. – 2 tsp. Nutmeg
Why the huge variation in amounts? It all depends on what consistency you like. Using less cinnamon and nutmeg will keep the mixture fairly smooth and light, whereas more will make your wash more of a mask – a thick mud that can be applied gently with your fingertips and let set for 5-10 minutes before rinsing away.
I suggest starting with the lesser amounts, mixing with a spoon, and adjusting until you find the consistency that suits you best.
To use, take about 1 tsp. of scrub between your fingertips or in the palms of your hands and rub together to warm slightly. Then, apply to a dry face in gentle circular motions, avoiding the eye area, until evenly applied.
Optionally, let the scrub rest on your face for five or ten minutes. If you really want to pamper yourself, lick fingers clean while waiting.
Rinse face thoroughly with warm water. As the water dries, you may experience a slight tightening sensation. Moisturize as per your normal routine.
I like to apply the scrub just before showering, for easy rinsing.
Depending on your skin type, I suggest using the scrub only 2-3 times a week due to the exfoliation. On days in between, try washing with just honey!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Before using any new topical product, do a small test patch on a sensitive area of skin like the inside or your wrist. Let the product sit for several minutes before rinsing clean, then wait a few minutes more to be sure you don’t have any reaction to the ingredients before continuing.
Other household fixes for your routine:
For moisturizing, try this combo:
2oz. Jajoba oil (available at most health-food stores and online – a very light liquid wax that closely resembles human sebum, the oils produced by your skin. It’s quickly absorbed, and leaves little to no residue)
1-2 drops skin-safe essential oil of your choice – lavender, chamomile, rose… whatever you like.
Combine in a dropper bottle, and massage 2-3 drops into skin daily.
Baking soda toothpaste:
1/2 cup baking soda
1 drop peppermint extract, or flavor extract of your choice (optional)
water to desired consistency
Combine into a paste, and brush.
Coconut Oil hair treatment:
Before bed, try rubbing a palm full of coconut oil through your hair, roots to tip. In the morning, shower and wash hair as usual.
What other home-made beauty treatments do you know of? Feel free to share your routine in the comments!