Beauty in the Kitchen

Beauty has been a passion of mine for many years, but I have recently turned my attention to streamlining my routine and choosing more natural products… or as natural as my super-sensitive skin will allow.  I must carefully balance this new-found, potentially disastrous search for a new skincare routine with a wee bit of consideration for my budget.  Ah the joys of being an adult.

It just so happens that there are some amazing, natural items that we all have in our kitchens which will help me achieve my two goals above.  And my finds aren’t just limited to skincare: there are some great ingredients that can be used for hair care, too!  If we were speaking in person about this, my tone would be incredibly high at this point (my pitch tends to increase in direct correlation to my level of excitement).

Here are some quick, easy, natural, and effective uses for some of the most common kitchen staples we all have on hand:

  • Olive oil
    • Eye makeup remover: I do not own eye makeup remover.  I certainly understand the importance of removing every speck of flaky mascara at the end of the day, but I have always been too cheap to buy it.  Enter olive oil!  Not only are you able to remove all traces of mascara and shadow, but you also condition your eyelashes and hydrate your under-eyes.  And lets face it: it is a little bit cool to look like Ke$ha’s raccoon cousin before you wipe everything away.  How to use: pour about a quarter-size dollop into your palms and gently rub onto tightly-shut eyes.  This is key, otherwise your vision will be blurry for a little while.  Little tip: use your ring finger, as it cannot apply as much pressure as your index and middle fingers.  Once all mascara has been wiped off of your lashes, you’re ready to gently tissue-away the residue.  Finish by washing your face well.
    • Pre-shampoo treatment: Olive oil is a great hair conditioner, but can get a little messy if you apply straight to your strands on a regular day.  How to use: apply a quarter-size puddle to dry hair before getting in the shower, but only from your ears down (more than that and you’ll end up a greasy monkey – ha!).  This will protect the ends, which are typically drier and in more need of conditioning, from your shampoo.  Shampoo and condition as normal.  Note that you don’t need to concentrate on shampooing the ends; any suds that wash down from your roots will be enough to remove the oil.
  •  Honey
    • Pimple treatment: Ah, honey, how I love you.  So moisturizing.  So antibacterial.  So antiseptic.  So… cheap!  Wee!  … Sorry.   I have stopped using a clay mask on any breakouts and simply pat a bit directly on a breakout, cover with a tiny bandaid, and literally sleep on it.  Using honey helps me avoid any flaky dryness that usually goes hand-in-hand with most harsher acne treatments.  Healing is much faster when I use honey.
    • Lip exfoliator: In this example, honey is more of the base for an exfoliator instead of the main ingredient.  My cousin, Janet, recently asked me for advice on how to soothe and treat super-chapped lips and this is what I recommended.  How to use: mix some white sugar and honey until you have a paste that is as thick or thin as you want, then rub onto your lips in circular motions before removing with a washcloth soaked in warm water.  More sugar means more scrubbing power.  And if you ingest any, it tastes delicious.  I would know.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Does anyone own clarifying shampoo?  Sigh, I thought not.  I don’t think I’ve given my friends this lesson yet… note to self.  Most of us use products that are not “rinse clean”, i.e. they contain some form of silicone or other form of coating that will create build-up on your strands (but are super-effective in smoothing, plumping, or otherwise styling your hair).  Every once and awhile it is important to use a clarifying product that will remove this build-up.  The problem is, the majority of these items contain harsh chemicals that strip the hair not only of the baddies, but also your natural hair oils that are critical for protection (not to mention any pricey colour that we’ve paid good money for!).  Apple cider vinegar (ACV) will give you shiny, clean hair without damage.  How to use: simply mix 1/3 cup of ACV with 4 cups of water.  After shampooing and conditioning normally, pour mixture over hair as a final rinse.  Please be careful with the mixture and frequency of the rinse: ACV may dry out hair if used too much.  I would aim for once a month at this ratio; if you use less ACV, you could use more frequently.
  • Corn starch: Saving possibly the best for last!  I have been extolling the virtues of corn starch to anyone who will listen.  Dry shampoos are really useful for limiting the frequency of shampooing, which is essential for good hair health (see stripping of healthy hair oils in ACV section above).  These products have become really popular lately for this reason; many of the drugstore brands have jumped on the luxury brand bandwagon, such as Tresemme, got2b, and Dove.  You’ll notice that most of the drugstore and luxury brands list some sort of starch as one of the main ingredients (see here, here, here, and here).  Hmm.  Starch, you say?  Like… corn starch?  I once read in one of my beauty magazines to try a little corn starch to soak up “second day” oils and started using it as my dry shampoo.  I put it in a spare spice jar for easy access (helps me avoid the cloud of dust exploding in my kitchen every time I open the box).  How to use: sprinkle some corn starch directly onto a natural-bristle brush and combo through hair, concentrating on roots.  Always start with a small amount and work up… I once noticed that my part was completely white after going overboard with the sprinkling.  Ay yi yi.  Note that I am a blond and am able to use the starkly white corn starch; this may not work as well for brunettes.  I apologize for this hair-colour restrictive tip!

I hope that you enjoyed this beauty tour through your kitchen.  We all know I did!

– Jess


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