by Clare Graham
In an age of hi-tech complicated beauty regimes, returning to nature is a welcome relief for both body and mind. Most natural beauty products can be made in the kitchen using the simplest ingredients, and are an appealing alternative to run-of-the mill shop-bought products. I decided that the fun way to test out some recipes was to have a beauty night with a few willing volunteers. I stocked up on treats, essential ingredients, a stack of recipes (plus some wine) and invited good friends Sabrina, Inga and Jeanie round to join in the fun.
Cleanliness is the first and most basic step in any beauty regime. A worthwhile cleanser should remove dirt and impurities from your skin, while being incredibly kind. After some wine for Dutch courage, we decided to try one of our simplest recipes, a milk and honey cleanser recipe from goldenblossomhoney.com. The cleanser was an equal mixture of buttermilk and warm honey, gently applied with cotton wool. Despite the stickiness of the honey, it felt pure and soothing, just as a good cleanser should. Inga was particularly impressed, preferring non-astringent cleansers. But would it be able to remove a ‘Saturday night face’? We doubt it.
Buoyed by more wine, the next step was to exfoliate. You can find a booty of natural scrubbers hiding in your cupboard – sugar, oatmeal, nuts, rock salt, to name but a few. All of them do the same thing – lifting dead skin cells leaving skin peachy and super smooth.
We tried a couple of recipes suggested by Drop Dead Gorgeous (Kim Erikson, Contemporary Books, 2002) a handy bible of natural alternatives. The first was a simple sugar scrub, combining brown sugar, avocado oil, rose oil and crushed vitamin C pills. It was slightly sloppy, but left our faces feeling incredibly soft. Next we tried our favourite concoction of the evening: rose almond scrub. Rich and creamy, almonds have a wonderfully soothing and moisturising effect. Mixed with rose petals, oatmeal, and rose oil, it looked more like something you’d find in your breakfast bowl than a face preparation. Despite getting some up her nose, Inga thought it was lovely. Faces aglow, we all heartily agreed with her.
Next on our trawl of recipes were some facemasks. By now, we were feeling braver than ever. Jeanie opted for an egg white mask, and Inga went for a ‘Green Goddess’ both from the same book Drop Dead Gorgeous, while Sabrina and I fancied a cooling yoghurt and mask. Jean’s mask had the most noticeable effect; making her skin feel tight, which she decided was exactly what it was meant to do. The yoghurt mask was perfect – blissfully soothing. Inga, however, had the baddie of the night. The Green Goddess, made mainly from avocados, was definitely moisturising, but far too rich. In fact, it made her delicate skin go blotchy the next day.
Turning our attention to the rest of our bodies, neglected feet were the next targets. Sabrina, tired after a long, long day in the office, went for our own version of Drop Dead Gorgeous peppermint foot recipe. Our ‘minty good foot scrub’ was a mixture of ground rock salt, peppermint and lavender oils and mint leaves. Inspired by now, I
Invented my own version, using grapefruit and lemon oils instead of the peppermint and mint leaves. Both felt sensational and made our feet zing with happiness. Effective body scrubs can be made in the same way. Rice, oatmeal and sugar, as suggested by websites care2.com, 2020site.org, and makeyourowncosmetics.com are as effective at making the body beautiful as anything you can buy.
We saved the strangest recipe until last. A number of sources such as www.rosewave.com highly recommend old-fashioned recipes including beer, egg and mayonnaise as a solution for luscious locks. Reluctantly, but feeling brave after all the other recipes we had tested, I decided to go for the eggs. Massaging two raw eggs into my hair was less than delightful, and rinsing in white wine vinegar afterwards was equally bad. Amazingly, once I had dried my hair, I discovered that the egg had made my hair gloriously soft, shiny and supple. I was even more pleased the next day when a friend complimented me on my hair. That said, you’d need an exceptionally strong stomach to wash your hair in egg first thing in the morning…
Our evening proved to be a success, and that homemade beauty recipes can easily replace shop bought potions. The time required was minimal, so a ‘no time’ excuse doesn’t wash (a bit like my egg shampoo). Once you get the hang of it, there are limitless variations to try and there’s no reason why you can’t customise recipes and improvise. And it’s good fun to boot. Before long, you’ll have your own range of bespoke organic beauty goodies.