Beauty: Kitchen Cupboard Beauty Products
No, this has nothing to do with times being tough. These beauty product alternatives may be filthy cheap, yes, but the main point is that they’re better than the regular carcinogenic chemical-filled gunge that so many of us are used to purchasing.
Most of us consider ourselves to be reasonably healthy. If you don’t smoke or drink and mostly eat food that doesn’t come in a styrofoam carton, you’re pretty much labelled a healthy person, and no one could blame you for not thinking otherwise.
What we put into our bodies may be at the forefront of our minds but what we need to look for are the hidden toxins that we put on our body without a second thought on a daily basis. Read the ingredients list on your shampoo, conditioner, face wash, toner, moisturiser, hand cream, foot cream, eye cream, toothpaste, hair spray, etc etc. 60% – 80% of these unpronounceable chemicals are being absorbed through your skin and into your bloodstream every day. We non-smokers aren’t so smug now.
Of course, many companies are cashing in on the general public’s new-found awareness of unhealthy ingredients. Many so-called organic beauty product companies pride themselves on their products containing natural ingredients. Yes, their products do contain some natural ingredients but what the blurb doesn’t mention is that these natural ingredients are being used alongside equally unnatural and potentially harmful chemicals such as propylene glycol (also found in wallpaper stripper, anti-freeze and paint, linked to skin irritation, and, in larger doses, liver and kidney failure), sodium as a lather agent in shampoo (which has nothing to do with the actual cleaning of the hair) and methylparaben (high levels of which are commonly found in breast tumours) among many, many others.
Realistically, we can’t cut every single potentially harmful ingredient out of our lives. I myself still use regular make-up as it would be far too costly to replace an entire make up collection with organic substitutes However, when a 100% natural (and cheaper) alternative to skincare and hygiene is available, there is no reason not to at least give it a go, especially if the result will be the same or better than its poisonous counterpart. In respect of this, allow me to present to you the hidden beauty products lurking in your kitchen cupboard, waiting for their moment of glory.
♥ Bicarbonate of Soda
A natural brightener with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, bicarb is the holy grail of natural beauty products.
Work a handful into your scalp and hair in the shower, gradually adding more water before rinsing, as a shampoo alternative. Your hair will have never felt so squeaky clean and dandruff will be well taken care of, too.
The reason bicarb is so good as a shampoo alternative is because unlike regular shampoo, it doesn’t leave behind a film of silicone to trick you into thinking you have soft hair. The softness you’re feeling when you run your hand through your hair post-shampoo is the silicone slowly suffocating your hair, rendering it incapable of absorbing nourishing oils from your scalp. The longer this goes on, the drier your hair feels, so you use more and more supposedly nourishing hair products which only suffocate it more. Bicarb will purge your hair of all these residues, leaving it free to absorb scalp oils and become truly softer and more nourished. You will also notice you can go far longer between washes (it must be mentioned that you should let your hair go greasy for a couple days when possible, as your scalp oils are the best oils for your hair). I personally have been using bicarb instead of shampoo for the last 5 months and my hair feels and looks thicker and healthier than ever before.
Bicarb also makes for a great toothpaste alternative. It’s abrasive enough to remove stains without damaging tooth enamel, will significantly whiten your teeth over time and your sink drains will thank you, too. Just dip a wet toothbrush into a glass of the white stuff and brush as normal. It doesn’t taste the best and you won’t get that minty toothpaste foam but at least it won’t set into a stubborn white stain if you drool on your top.
♥ Cider Vinegar
Diluted with an equal part of water, apple cider vinegar is the only conditioner you need. It’s simple, really: the vinegar closes the cuticle of the hair shaft (the smoother the hair shaft, the shinier the hair) which leaves hair naturally soft and shiny, especially if used over time. Just pour about half a teacupful of the mixture over your scalp and hair after washing in the shower, leave for a few minutes and rinse off. You won’t smell like a bag of Tayto if you rinse properly.
♥ Olive Oil
After a long day’s work (well, 9 to 5) I want to be able to remove my makeup and cleanse my face in one fell swoop.
Simply wet your face with warm water and massage about a tablespoonful of olive oil in, working in circular motions to encourage blood flow to the surface of the skin. You can work this right over your eyes to remove even the most waterproof of mascara. Then simply wet a facecloth in hot water and wipe everything away.
Please don’t be put off this oil cleansing method if you have oily skin. This is suitable for all skin types and the use of oil as a cleanser actually regulates the natural oil production in your skin resulting in less oily skin. As for dry skin, it will inevitably soften and soothe those flaky patches.
You can also use olive oil as a hair mask (now that your hair is free to absorb it thanks to good old bicarb) by applying a couple palmfuls root to tip, wrapping your hair up in a warm towel and leaving it to absorb for a few hours. You will need to resist the urge to reach for a generic shampoo in order to wash the oil out but persevere with the bicarb and hot water and it will wash out. The hassle is completely worth the nourishment and softness that your hair will get out of it.
♥ Coconut oil
Face & Body
Simply the world’s best moisturiser. The reason this is more suited to the face and body than olive oil is that it sinks in faster, and nobody likes pulling jeans up oily legs or a disco ball face. The oil itself is solid at room temperature but melts at body temperature. It can be quite dense in its solid state but a quick whip with an electric beater will transform it into a gloriously spreadable cream that is a luxurious, natural treat to slather over yourself after a hot shower.
♥ Sugar/Sea Salt
Mix equal parts of sugar and honey to make a tasty, effective face, hand and lip exfoliant. Dry skin sufferers will be ever thankful for this simple mix which leaves the face and dry, scaly hands ready to soak up moisturising goodness. For face and hands, simply work into wet skin in circular motions before rinsing off and moisturising. For dry lips, apply the mixture to the lips and work in with a dry toothbrush. Rinse off and moisturise with a natural lip balm such as Burt’s Bees, or coconut oil.
A great body exfoliant is equal parts sea salt and olive oil. The salt is great for stimulating blood flow and lifting off dead skin cells while the olive oil softens and nourishes the skin. Simply work a handful of salt mixed with enough olive oil to make a spreadable paste into the skin in the shower and rinse off as normal.
Used as a face mask, raw honey will brighten up the skin, keep acne under control and leave skin feeling incredibly soft as well as soothe any redness. Spread the fanciest honey you can afford (raw is best – farmers’ markets are ideal for this) over clean, dampened skin and leave for at least 10 minutes before rinsing off with warm water. This can be done every day for about 2 weeks for beginners, then dropped down to about twice a week. You really will notice a difference.
♥ Porridge Oats
If you suffer from dry, tight, cracked skin, simply fill a muslin cloth with a large handful of porridge oats and drop into a hot bath. The oats soothe sore, red skin and leave it feel softer and ready for moisturising. It’s important to note that you really shouldn’t sprinkle loose porridge oats into your bath – unless you want to provide your plumber with free breakfast.
Alright, I saved the most boring one for last but drinking 2 litres of water a day is so important. Not only from a health point of view (yeah, yeah we all need our organs to function at optimum level) but from a beauty point of view. No foundation or concealer can mimic the effects of naturally glowing skin and no matter what condition your skin is in at this moment, it will significantly improve if you chug back daily.