All‑Natural Skin Care Secrets
For years it was enough for me that my skin care products did their jobs well. I didn’t give much thought to the ingredients my skin was absorbing. This shampoo will make my hair shiny and frizz-free? Yes, please! But one day, bored while deep conditioning my hair, I started reading the labels of my go-to products. I don’t recommend this reading material for many reasons, not least of which is the horror, when you discover, as I did, the primary ingredient in your exfoliator is polyethylene.
I was scrubbing my face with plastic.
And that wasn’t all. Almost every product contained methylparaben or propylparaben, which may or may not be linked to cancer (but really, who wants to risk it). And I couldn’t even pronounce the other multisyllabic chemicals that made up the rest of the ingredient lists.
I decided a change was in order.
I switched to some wonderful ayurvedic skin care brands, but quickly realized that using them regularly was going to be expensive. Luckily, there was a chemical-free, budget-friendly alternative right under my nose – and in my pantry. It may sound weird, but there are several foods that work even better on your face than they do in your stomach.
To me, oatmeal tastes like cardboard; I never eat it — but I love using it as a cleanser. Oats contain saponins, notable for their cleansing properties, and phenols, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Soak a small amount of oats in water for a few minutes, and, once softened, use the mixture to wash your face. I use regular Quaker Oats that I first grind to create a smooth paste. It can get messy, so use it in the shower (or be prepared to lean way over the sink).
Rose water is hydrating and soothing – a perfect combination for tired skin. If you’re up for a little kitchen experiment, it’s time-consuming but not that difficult to make on your own. I cheat a bit because I buy mine from a chemist, but it’s natural and chemical-free (yes, such brands do exist commercially, although very few). Whichever you choose, soak a cotton pad in rose water and dab it across your face;it will air-dry in a few minutes.
Olive oil isn’t just for drizzling over salads. It’s rich in vitamin E, which moisturises skin and protects against the sun, and in vitamin A, which keeps your skin smooth and delays the appearance of wrinkles. Take half a teaspoon of olive oil, rub it between your (clean) hands to warm it, and gently massage it into your face. Once a week, try this deep massage and really let the oil work its magic.
Bonus use: If you don’t like the smell of coconut oil, you can use can use olive oil in your hair instead. It’s less smelly and just as effective.
In addition to using oats as a face wash, you can use them once a week to exfoliate dead skin cells. Instead of letting the oats soften, use the oats and water mixture to wash your face while the oats are still firm. The roughness of the oats will act as an exfoliator, while the oats’ natural properties will continue to work their cleansing magic. I use unground oats for exfoliating, as they take longer to soften than ground oats.
Like olive oil, avocados are rich in vitamins A and E. All you need is a teaspoon or two of mashed, just-ripe avocado to smear across your face as a mask. Leave it on until it’s dry, then rinse off. I’ve tried many different facemasks (curd, multa ni mitti, honey) but I keep going back to avocados because the results are instantaneous. (The only downside is that this stuff does get in your hair, so I only use it when I need to shampoo, too.)
Bonus use: Use an avocado and olive oil mixture as a deep conditioning hair mask after a shampoo. Leave it in for 10 minutes and rinse off.
Before using any of these food items on your face, test a little bit on the inside of your elbow to ensure you’re not allergic to them. If you feel any tingling, burning or itching during use, wash your face immediately and consult your dermatologist.