The quest for perfect, glowing, healthy looking skin is something that the majority of women have been on for most of their adult lives. Unfortunately, those women who have perfectly supple, soft, wrinkle- and blemish-free, peaches & cream complexion are few and far between. Most of us have to invest effort into making our skin look great or at least presentable. Taking care of your skin is both an inside and outside job. One without the other will not do. The “inside jobs” entails having a healthy and balanced diet, hydrating your body, exercising and sleeping enough. When it comes to the “outside job”, the rule is very simple – cleanse, tone, moisturize, and occasionally exfoliate… Skincare specialists agree that these are the four things that make up an effective skincare routine which should be performed daily.
Unfortunately, having the effective skincare routine can cost a lot, sometimes even hundreds of dollars a month. Although top of the range skincare products look appealing and claim to be a miraculous solution for your tired skin, most of them contain quite a few harmful and even toxic chemicals which are cleverly camouflaged by fancy advertising and pretty packaging. These are chemicals like parabens which contain ingredients that are associated with breast cancer, synthetic colors which are also human carcinogens, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) which is a skin and eye irritant, and propylene-glycol that is usually used as skin-conditioning agent and known to cause dermatitis.
So, considering the cost and the possible harm of using commercial skincare products, why not try making your own DIY skincare products from the ingredients that you have in your pantry or fridge? They cost almost nothing compare to the skincare products in shops, you are in charge of choosing the ingredients, and the benefits of using pure, natural stuff on your skin are numerous.
Without further ado, here are our suggestions and recipes for making your own skincare products at home.
- For dry skin – ¼ cucumber, 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons of cooked oatmeal. Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl, wet your face with water, gently massage the skin with the mixture and rinse well. Oatmeal is famous for its skin soothing properties, yogurt is known for its hydrating features while cucumber is a great skin-softening agent.
- For oily skin – lemon is a crucial ingredient for oily skin cleansers since it absorbs excess oil and kills the bacteria that usually cause breakouts. The recipe is the following: mix half a cup of rolled oats, ¼ cup of lemon juice, ¼ cup of water and ½ tablespoon of honey. Massage onto skin for half a minute and rinse with warm water.
- For combination skin – this type of skin is the trickiest to take care of because you have to deal with two different issues – the oily zone (forehead, nose, chin) and the dry zone (cheeks). The following recipe is great because it is effective and you can freeze this cleanser for further use. Take a ripe tomato and blend it with 2 teaspoons of low-fat milk and 1 teaspoon of orange juice. Massage onto skin for about 5 minutes and wash with water.
- For sensitive skin – coconut oil is the best thing for sensitive skin and the key ingredient in the following recipe: mix 3 tablespoons of extra virgin, organic coconut oil with 1 teaspoon of honey, and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Make sure you mix all the ingredients really well and if the mixture hardens after a day or two, don’t worry. It will soften once you apply it to your skin. Just apply it to the face, rub it in a circular motion, leave it on for a minute and rinse.
- Witch hazel – this is the Holy Grail of toners and an excellent, inexpensive alternative to high priced commercial ones. A word of advice before you make witch hazel-based toner – if you have dry or sunburned skin, we suggest that you use a tea-based toner and avoid witch hazel. For the rest of you, here is the recipe – ¼ cup of alcohol-free witch hazel, ¼ cup of filtered water and 10 drops of pure rose oil. Mix all of the ingredients, shake well and use after cleansing routine.
- Chamomile – The tea-based toners are great for all skin types and are excellent for everyday use. Take 6 fluid ounces of freshly brewed chamomile tea (cooled down to room temperature, use dried chamomile flowers) and mix them with 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice and 2 teaspoons of vegetable glycerin (available in most health food stores). All tea-based toners should be stored in the refrigerator.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Although the smell of cider vinegar is off-putting (it does evaporate quickly though), the benefits are great. Apple cider vinegar is great for restoring skin’s natural pH and preventing breakouts. Mix ¼ cup of unfiltered apple cider vinegar, 1/3 of filtered water and 8 drops of orange oil (this is purely for scent).
- Coconut oil – we cannot praise coconut oil enough because it really is a gem among the skin-care ingredients (please, read GemFound’s article about the benefits of coconut oil). Just make sure that you get extra virgin, unrefined coconut oil. With coconut oil, a little goes a long way and you only need a small amount for your face. Don’t worry, it leaves no greasy residue since the skin absorbs it very quickly. It also dubs as a great makeup remover.
- Rose-hip oil – Supermodel Miranda Kerr is envied by the women around the world and her peers for her immaculate complexion. Her secret? Rose-hip oil! She uses it every night before she goes to bed and swears by it. Dermatologist Dr Ariel Ostad says that “rose-hip oil is packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids which may correct dark spots and hydrate dry skin. It may also be helpful for reducing scars and fine lines. It has skin rejuvenating properties like vitamin C and lycopene and is also good for sensitive skin types because it’s nongreasy and light on the skin.”
- Shea butter – Blemishes, itching, sunburns, skin wounds, eczema, wrinkles, skin allergies, insect bites, frost bites…. These are just some of the problems that shea butter is used for. Additionally, shea butter is highly moisturizing. For your own, home-made moisturizer whip 12 tablespoons of unrefined shea butter (although it looks grainy, it applies well to the skin), 4 tablespoons of jojoba oil and 5 drops of essential oil (like chamomile, carrot seed or lavender). Whip until you get the desired consistency.
- Baking soda – this is one of the cheapest and most widely available ingredient that is also incredibly effective in treating various skin conditions. Baking soda will remove blackheads, fight acne, and help exfoliate and leave skin incredibly soft. Just mix 2 teaspoons of baking soda with 1 teaspoon of tepid water until a very soft paste is formed. Massage into wet skin with your fingertips, leave it for 5 minutes to dry and then gently remove with warm water.
- Sugar – another exfoliation star and a great source of glycolic acid (effective in treating sun / age spots, skin discolorations, acne and blackheads). Just mix ½ cup of white or brown sugar with ¼ cup of olive, coconut or jojoba oil, and gently rub your skin with the mixture. Rinse generously with warm water. You can use this scrub on face, body and feet up to twice a week. If you have sensitive skin, we recommend you use brown instead of white sugar because it is less abrasive.
- Oatmeal – Colloidal oats helps smooth and comfort itchy, scratchy, and dry skin and are generally considered as a miracle moisturizer. One mixed with water, colloidal oatmeal forms a gooey paste that is chock full of skin-healing properties. They say that even the most perfect of complexions will shine after an oatmeal scrub. Just mix 1 teaspoon of colloidal oats with 1 tablespoon of quick-cooking oatmeal, add 1 tablespoon of honey and 2 teaspoons of tepid water. Mix well and gently scrub your face and neck.
Now and then, we recommend that you also try one of the DIY masks to round off your natural skincare routine. Before you apply any mask, make sure that your face is thoroughly cleaned. Also, apply a proper moisturizer to suit your skin type after each face mask. Here are four masks that we really liked, listed according to skin types:
- For dry skin – Avocado is one of those miracle fruits which benefits you inside and out. Quite a few Hollywood leading ladies claim that eating avocado a day helps their skin stay soft and supple because it contains a lot of oils. Take a half of very ripe, soft avocado, mash it in a bowl and stir in ¼ cup of honey. Apply to clean skin, leave it on for ten minutes, and take off with a wet washcloth.
- For oily / acne prone skin – Green clay mask works wonder for oily and acne prone skin. Clay quickly soaks up dirt and grease, while hydrating your face at the same time. You can buy green clay (also called bentonite clay) in health and natural food stores. Take 1 tablespoon of green clay mix it with 1 teaspoon of honey and add a few drops of warm water to make a consistent paste. Apply the mask on your face, leave it to dry and wash with warm water. The results will amaze you – your pores will be much smaller, the oily zones on your face will disappear and your skin will get a wonderful, healthy glow.
- For combination skin – Bananas are a great, quick and affordable solution for combination skin. They contain magnesium, potassium and folic acid which are all known for providing excellent hydration. Bananas are also full of antioxidants like Vitamin A, B and C. Additionally, they have soothing properties and stimulate production of collagen. All you need for this great mask is 1/3 of a banana, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon of honey and one teaspoon of full fat milk (do not use low fat milk). Warm milk in a saucepan, take it off the heat, allow it to cool and when the skin forms on the surface, scoop it up with a spoon. Mash the banana, add the egg, honey and the fat that you have scooped off the milk. Apply the mixture to your face, leave it on for 10 minutes and wash it off with warm water.
- For sensitive skin – Yogurt is highly recommended for chapped, sunburned, irritated and all around sensitive skin. Just mix 1 cup of natural yogurt and mix it with ½ a cup of oatmeal. Apply to the skin, leave it for 10 minutes and wash it off with warm water. If you have oily skin, you can add a few drops of lemon juice and if you have dry skin, just add a teaspoon of honey. Another great and quick recipe for a mask for sensitive skin contains good-old honey which is widely known for its mild antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Honey also regenerates tissue and stimulates the growth of new skin. For this mask you will need 1 egg white, 1 teaspoon of honey, 1 teaspoon of fresh organic yogurt and 1 teaspoon of cucumber juice (just grate a cucumber and squeeze the juice out of it). Beat the egg white until hard, and slowly add warm honey and yogurt. Mix well and then add cucumber juice. Apply the mask on clean face and leave it on for fifteen minutes until it dries. Rinse with warm water.