Six natural beauty secrets

Photo: iStockphoto.com/chrisgramly
Tips to ditch the chemicals, save money, and get glowing—the natural way!

Body lotion after we shower. Facial moisturizer before bed. Whitening strips before the big presentation at work. These products have become a part of our daily routines, and we often use them without thinking about the chemicals they contain and our constant exposure to them. And the numbers may be higher than you think—a 2005 study conducted by the Environmental Working Group found that the average woman’s daily beauty regimen contains a shocking 168 chemical ingredients, while men encounter an average of 85. 

If your New Year’s resolution is to reduce the amount of chemicals in your life, read on for easy, inexpensive ways to replace your old personal care products with new, natural ones. 

Get glowing and remove makeup with grapeseed oil

Actress Emma Stone recently revealed she uses grapeseed oil as facial moisturizer for her allergy-prone skin, and the star is on to something! Grapeseed oil is suitable for a wide range of skins types—both those with acne-prone skin and those who are concerned about the appearance of aging will benefit from this antioxidant-packed oil.  It’s non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores, and it can also help prevent wrinkles that come with premature aging by blocking damaging free radicals. Three to four drops per application should be all you need, and you can apply with your fingers or using a cotton pad.         

This oil is also an effective eye makeup remover. It banishes mascara, eyeliner, and eye shadow—all while moisturizing the sensitive eye area.

Argan oil for silky, sleek locks – and more

Argan oil is the star ingredient in many popular hair serums right now, but you can cut out the chemicals and fillers used in many of these products by using this oil in its pure form. You’ll tame frizz and lock in moisture by adding a couple drops of this fatty-acid-rich oil to the ends of your hair. Apply while it is still damp; then dry and style as usual.       

If your hair is in need of more serious TLC, create a hair mask: heat the oil, apply it to the scalp and hair, and cover with a towel for several hours before shampooing and conditioning as usual. 

Even better: this oil doesn’t just benefit your mane. You can use it on your face and body as a moisturizer, and even on your nails to strengthen and nourish them. 

Tone your skin and zap zits with apple cider vinegar

Reduce redness, tone and exfoliate skin, and treat acne—all with a product found in your kitchen pantry! If it sounds too good to be true, meet the wonder product: apple cider vinegar (ACV). Containing malic and lactic acids, as well as antibacterial properties, this product helps return skin to normal pH when applied to the face and body, and can be applied up to twice per day when made into a toner.  Simply dilute two tablespoons of ACV with one cup of water, and apply to face using a cotton pad. You can store the unused portion in the fridge for up to one week.     

When purchasing apple cider vinegar, which is found at most grocery and health food stores, it is preferable to select one that is unpasteurized and contains “the mother,” which is healthy bacteria.  

Make your smile sparkle with strawberries

Many of us want a whiter smile, but are concerned about the chemicals in commercial whitening strips. Consider a healthy alternative: berries! Strawberries contain malic acid, which can help remove surface stains from teeth—safely and inexpensively.  

Mash a strawberry into a paste using a fork, and amp up the whitening power by blending in baking soda. Apply to teeth using a soft toothbrush, leave on for five minutes and then brush with toothpaste to remove the mixture. Note: both baking soda and the acid from fruit can be harsh on teeth, so do not use this mixture more than once per week. 

Fight flakes (and acne!) with an avocado face mask

Has winter got you feeling flaky? The answer to your dry skin may lie in your kitchen: an avocado face mask. The fruit is packed with hydrating healthy oils and unsaturated fats that will help moisturize even the most sensitive of skin. Mash half of one ripe avocado in a bowl, and mix in one tablespoon of honey. Apply to your face, leave on for ten-to-fifteen minutes and then gently wash off using lukewarm water.

If your problem is not dry skin but acne, skip the honey and mix in one egg white and one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, and apply the same as above. Both masks can be used once per week, and are a great way to avoid the preservatives and chemicals found in many drugstore products.     

To enhance your at-home spa experience, use two slices from a chilled cucumber, and place them over your eyes while the mask is applied to naturally reduce puffiness.

Pamper yourself with coconut oil body scrub

Coconut oil is perhaps the most versatile natural beauty product. Packed with vitamin E and fatty acids, it is an anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial super-oil that can be used for everything from dry hair to athlete’s foot. 

If you have sensitive skin or want to avoid the sodium laureth sulfate present in most body washes and scrubs, use coconut oil as a homemade body scrub that is as easy on your skin as it is on your wallet.  You will need just two to three simple ingredients: coconut oil, sugar, and (if desired) an essential oil, such as lavender. Using a ratio of two-part sugar to one-part coconut oil, warm the oil in the microwave and stir in the sugar and essential oil.

While you’re in the shower, swap your aerosol can of shaving cream for coconut oil and reap the silky skin benefits when shaving your legs. The oil hydrates skin and protects against nicks.      

When selecting coconut oil for use on the skin, pick an organic, virgin or extra-virgin, unrefined, and cold pressed version. 

 

Caitlin Richardson-HolmbergCaitlin Richardson-Holmberg is a graduate of the University of Waterloo. She is interested in finding natural secrets for health and beauty, and living a little lighter on Earth.