We all know that healthy, smooth skin is the best “canvas” for mineral makeup. With a myriad of skincare treatments and product lines available to achieve so-called perfection, most of us don’t look to the most obvious place… the kitchen!
One of the best ways to ensure beautiful, vibrant skin is to eat a healthy diet. Good fats, like those found in salmon and other oil-rich, cold-water fish; plenty of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries and dark, leafy greens; and at least eight glasses of filtered water each day will help you build the best and brightest of skin cells.
But did you know that you can contribute to your skin’s nutrition from the outside, too? That’s right, slathering healthy foods ON your face can be almost as beneficial as putting them IN your face! The next time you have a few minutes to spare and want to do something nice for your skin, wander into the kitchen and see what’s in the pantry and the fridge. Most kitchens are full of ingredients that offer very inexpensive ways for you to pamper yourself and make your skin a softer, more luminous canvas for your mineral makeup.
BRUSH IT OFF! One of the quickest ways to see softer skin is to exfoliate. Sloughing off stubborn dirt missed by your cleanser and built-up dead skin cells automatically gives you soft, glowing skin and takes no longer than washing your face! Our favorite exfoliation secret costs just pennies a box: baking soda ! Mix a small pile of baking soda with your regular facial cleanser until it takes on the consistence of frosting. Wash your face with the mixture, avoiding the eye area. Don’t forget your neck and décolleté! You’ll be amazed at how soft and smooth your skin will feel. And not only does baking soda exfoliate, it also helps regulate pH balance, keeping your skin healthy.
Other foods that exfoliate your skin include ground almonds, ground oatmeal , and ground flax seeds . Just whiz these around in your food processor until they resemble coarse flour. You can add any of these to your cleanser, like the baking soda, or you can mix them up in a mask with other ingredients. Sea salt and sugar are great exfoliants, too, but they’re both too harsh for delicate facial skin, so save these for use in body scrubs.
Speaking of body scrubs, they’re very easy to make! Pour your favorite oil into a jar of sea salt or sugar , add a few drops of a skin-friendly essential oil like lavender or rose , and you’re done! Olive oil, jojoba oil, hazelnut oil , or coconut oil just might be lurking in your pantry right now. All of them are wonderful for your skin. Sea salt, in addition to being a great exfoliator, includes minerals that purify and detoxify skin. Olive oil is an antioxidant moisturizer and has healing qualities that benefit skin with conditions like psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis. Jojoba oil is actually a liquid plant wax and is very much like the sebum (oils) made by human skin, so it is a wonderful natural moisturizer. Coconut oil has an entire laundry list of healing properties, including the ability to kill yeast infections on the skin. It is also antibacterial and antiviral.
SMOOTH IT! A myriad of moisturizers live in your kitchen! In addition to the oils already mentioned, milk, honey, bananas and avocados all fall into this category and make wonderful natural masks. Milk is soothing to itchy, dry or irritated skin. Honey makes skin soft and is also a natural antiseptic that is great for blemishes. (Spot-treat pimples with honey – raw honey is best – and leave it on overnight or as long as you can if you’re at home during the day.) The emollient flesh of the banana has tryptophan in it, which relaxes the skin, and makes homemade masks soft and creamy. (Tryptophan is the same ingredient in turkey that causes the post-Thanksgiving-dinner nap syndrome!) Avocados are full of good fats that nourish the skin and make it soft, smooth and supple.
TREAT IT! Oily skin is a problem for many people. The kitchen is a great place to find some help to fight the shine. Citrus juices are astringent. Add a teaspoon or two to other ingredients when making a mask to help clarify the skin. ( Lemon juice can also brighten dull or age-spotted skin.) Apple Cider Vinegar makes a great toner for an oily complexion. Add it to a mask or whisk it over your face with a cotton pad. Just be sure to rinse afterwards or you may smell like a salad all day!
For puffy eyes or inflamed skin, nothing works better than cucumber . Puree a bit of cucumber in a food processor and smooth it on red cheeks or lie down for 20 minutes with cucumber-soaked cotton pads over your puffy eyes. Aloe vera is also a skin-soothing, anti-inflammatory wonder that stops the fire of any low-grade burn, including sunburn. Buy it in gel or juice form at your local health food store and keep a bottle in the fridge at the ready. It’s a cool, refreshing healer.
Other treats for healthy skin include blueberries , which are full of antioxidants and vitamins, and eggs , that draw impurities out of the skin. The yolks also have antioxidant properties.
MIX IT! Now that you’re armed with a list of ingredients, pick a few that make sense for your skin issues and mash, stir and whip away! Smooth on your homemade mask and let it work for 20 minutes or until it dries, whichever comes first. (Some ingredients, such as bananas, never really dry, while eggs will dry and feel tight very quickly. This does not mean that one is working better than the other, just that the texture of each and how it behaves when exposed to air is different.) If you can lie down and relax while your mask is on, all the better. But even if you must run around the house doing laundry and picking up toys, no matter! You’re still treating your skin!
Because the mixtures you’ll be making are all-natural and have no preservative agents, only make enough for one use at a time and promptly discard any leftovers. You can always grind a big batch of almonds, oats or flax seeds, though and keep it in a jar in the freezer so it’s ready when you are!
And now that your skin is nourished from the outside, don’t forget to eat your salmon!