Beauty products are all around us. Spotting them just requires a shift in perspective: Coffee grounds were just compost bin scraps before someone imagined them into an exfoliant! Snail mucus was just snail mucus before one very courageous person risked it all for their hotness! With just a bit of scrappiness, you too can turn your grocer into a beauty emporium. You’ll be adding more whole foods to your day, even if it’s not in the way the USDA intended.
Use olive oil while washing natural hair brushes
I picked up this trick from Michelle Phan in college when I was moonlighting as the world’s worst makeup artist: A brush cleaner made with EVOO and dish soap. The oil conditions the bristles while the dish soap deep cleans. Simple, pimple. I’ve also been known to dab a bit of olive oil into the bristly ends of my hair in moments of despair. Works like a charm!
Use chamomile tea to calm skin
One of my buddies from college is a first-generation Greek American, and with that, he comes brimming with rustic remedies from his family’s roots in Kalamata. Usually, they strike me as odd: He once disclosed that he conditioned his hair with lemon juice and olive oil, prompting me to change his name in my phone to “Salad Head.” Another time, he told me that his uncle sprained his ankle as a child and was treated with a sliced onion wrapped with a bandage over his ankle. Legend goes: It healed overnight. His uncle then sprained his ankle again in adulthood, remembering this vegetal remedy but substituting garlic due to some sort of onion shortage. (Presumably because of an uptick in hibachi volcanos?) He awoke the next morning with third-degree burns.
Anyway, he told me his mom would spray brewed chamomile tea on his diaper rash for its calming and antiseptic properties. Adorable! Since then, I’ve repurposed this hack for dermatitis, various heat rashes, or groin chafing.
Respect manuka honey
Emily Ferber has previously written a 388-word ode to this honey (made by tea tree-eating bees) chronicling an obsession that I can only describe as “downright spooky.”
Do a yogurt mask
Bacteria-fighting zinc and exfoliating lactic acid make yogurt a very nourishing Sunday afternoon mask. Add it to a powdered clay mask for gentler detoxing during dry months. If you don’t have access to mud at home, store-bought is fine.
Make your own pore strips
Did you know that if you mix a 1:1 ratio of warm milk and unflavored gelatin you can make your own blackhead mask? It’s true. Just wait until it’s cool enough, smear it on your nose, and peel off when it’s dry. It’s pretty darn effective and costs pennies on the dollar, which makes up for the fact that this concoction smells flat out terrible. Cuidado.
Treat your scalp
A kicky acid can be used to create an inhospitable environment for the fungi that live on our scalp and cause dandruff. Start by diluting some ACV. I put two tablespoons into a 10 oz spray bottle and, after shampooing, mist my scalp with the concoction, letting it sit for the length of time it takes me to listen to Thank U, Next. Rinse, condition, and for Pete Davidson’s sake, don’t get any into your eyes.
Everyone knows ginger is great for nausea. I’ve been known to utilize it if and when I get motion sick from getting caught in stop-and-go traffic or from shaking a salad too hard. I’ll brew a quick bag of ginger tea or, in moments of hopelessness, suck on a coin of fresh ginger. This root is also high in zinc and antibacterial. Could you swab a peeled knot of ginger on a zit as a natural mom-blog spot treatment? Sure. Just make sure to do a patch test first.
Pretend you’re making guacamole. Mash up the avocado with a fork, adding a squeeze of lemon. (This will offer light acid exfoliation that’s too severe for your face but up to the task for your hounds.) Instead of folding in onions and tomatoes, you’ll add your dry, winter-ravaged feet. Divide the mixture in half between two large ziplock bags, and wear them on your hooves (taping them at the ankle), effectively making DIY Baby Foot booties. Wear them around for like, half an hour, letting the fatty omega-3s do their thing. Rinse the guacamole off in the shower. Admire what feet look like without a fine layer of ash.
Take an oat bath
Oatmeal fixes nearly everything. It’s calming, anti-inflammatory, and contains cleansing saponins—which is like nature’s Cetaphil. My mom used to give me oatmeal baths growing up because of the rampant full-body eczema on my infant body and even now, the idea sends me into a sentimental, comforting tizzy. (Hi, mom!) It’s easy to recreate this at home: First, remove your pantyhose. (If you’re a bank robber, you may keep them on to obscure your identity.) Cut the foot region off the hose and set aside. Crush plain oats in a food processor, blender, coffee grinder, or mortar. Stuff a fist-sized scoop of them into the foot of your nylons and tie off with a sturdy knot. Draw a bath and steep your oats as you would a tea bag. Immerse yourself in the milky water like the naughty, crusty scone you are."
Photo via ITG