Pain is beauty, or so that horrible adage goes. But these days it seems more like money is beauty. With an endless barrage of expensive beauty products on the market, you could easily spend a whole paycheck on creams, salve, tinctures and tonics guaranteeing to erase every flaw.
But before you head to the store for your next product haul, why not raid your fridge first. Turns out many of the active ingredients in those expensive products come from foods we eat every day. Things like avocados, honey, and eggs have a veritable laundry list of uses –from hair masks, to face masks, to tasting great on toast (take that, Maybelline). Check out the list below to learn about natural versions of many common beauty products.
A great, natural, and cheap moisturizer is probably sitting in your fridge right now –milk! Milk, and other dairy products made from milk, are wonderful for your skin.
The alpha hydroxyl found in lactic acid shows up in many expensive creams and masks, but it also shows up in that sour cream you just bought at the grocery store. Alpha hydroxyl causes the cells of the epidermis to “unglue” from each other, allowing dead skin cells to easily slough off, plus the fat content in milk hydrates and replenishes. Some even claim it stimulates the production of collagen and elastin.
Use raw milk, sour cream, or greek yogurt as a mask, sit with it on for 15 minutes, rinse with cool water, and gently pat your face dry. Your skin will be super soft and have a healthy glow. Milk products are also great when you’ve gotten a little too much sun, as they calm and rehydrate your skin. And best of all, it’s great for those with sensitive skin –there are no chemical preservatives or other irritants.
Stop! Put that fancy-pants wrinkle treatment down! Never again do you have to pay $100 for 2 ounces of some mystery cream promising unbelievable results. Most of these creams contain resveratrol and idebenone, which help fight wrinkles and other signs of aging. Well, the small-but-mighty grape contains high amounts of both as well. Crush up some grapes and apply to wrinkle-prone areas, leave on for 15-20 minutes, then gently wash off (allow your skin to air dry. Areas like under the eyes are prone to wrinkles because the skin there is very delicate. Don’t make matters worse by rubbing it with a towel).
Bananas also make a great, anti-aging face mask. The high amounts of vitamin B prevents aging, vitamin E protects from free radicals and UV damage, and the potassium helps hydrate skin cells (bonus: you smell like delicious bananas when done).
Ditch those harsh toners full of who-knows-what, and try some apple cider vinegar instead.
Apple cider vinegar helps to restore a normal pH, meaning no more oily spots and dry patches at the same time (seriously, face? what is your deal?). It also dissolves dead skin cells, improves acne and scars, and shrinks pores. Make sure you get raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, as it contains extra awesome enzymes. Combine apple cider vinegar and water in a 1-to-2 ratio (adjust ratio as you see fit for different skin types), shake the bottle before use, and apply to a clean face with a cotton ball (avoid the eye area).
Ah, the incredible edible egg. Turns out, eggs are great for a bazillion reasons. Eating eggs often can help strengthen hair and nails and leave you with healthier tresses. But if you need an extra boost of shine, try an egg hair mask. The yolk, due to high levels of fats and proteins, is moisturizing, and the whites help remove unwanted oils due to bacteria-eating enzymes.
So you can easily whip up a mask perfectly suited to your hair needs. For normal hair, use the whole egg; use the whites if oil is the bane of your existence; and the yolk if you need extra moisture. Pour a half cup’s worth of whatever part of the egg you’re using and whisk until smooth. Apply to hair and scalp. Let sit for 20 minutes, then rinse and shampoo hair.
Ok, so here’s where things get real weird, but stay with me –garlic. Garlic is super healthy for you in general; it’s a great immune booster and many people swear by eating lots of garlic for a variety of health benefits.
So if you have a problem with acne, try upping your garlic intake. However, you can also use garlic topically to help fight breakouts. Garlic has anti-bacterial and anti-septic properties, as well as a drying agent, thiacremonon, which helps prevent clogged pores that lead to acne.
It also improves circulation, essential for healthy skin, and is chock full of vitamins and minerals. Be careful applying garlic directly to your skin. Though some people swear by it, it’s very harsh and can do more damage than good. Mash 2 or 3 garlic cloves and mix with a glass of water, then apply the mixture to problem spots with a cotton ball. You can also try mixing the garlic with honey, another great anti-bacterial all around health and beauty rockstar, and apply it that way.
Which of these treatments worked best for you? Do you have any other food-based beauty routines that you swear by? Let us know in the comments below!
Lauren is a New York based actor/singer/writer. She is a graduate of the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theater School Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University as well as the College of the Holy Cross. She’s a fan of beer, pasta, and academic establishments with unnecessarily long titles. Find her on stage, or online– she’s there often.