Ever wondered what your complexion might look like if you had the income to get a facial in a fancy spa or salon every week or two?
Well, wonder no more. And keep putting away those pennies for other fun things because there’s no need to fork over serious wads of cash for beauty treatments.
The good news is you can give yourself a foo-foo facial right in your own kitchen. All-natural masks, steams and wrinkle-treatments are as close as your produce drawer, or perhaps your local grocery store.
You can create a spa experience all by yourself, but it’s fun to gather a few girlfriends together for an afternoon or evening of facial pampering. It could be just like a potluck: Jane brings the papaya, Ellen brings the honey, Susan could bring the eggs – you get the idea.
Maybe someone could bring the fixings for cosmopolitans?
At the end of your session, no matter what your skin type, you will emerge glowing, refreshed – and feeling like one of those movie stars or uptown society ladies who regularly visit facial salons.
And you’ll have the added benefit of having enjoyed a fun few hours with your favorite gal pals. But of course kitchen facials can benefit complexions of any gender. Far be it from me to discriminate – bring on the guys too.
Natural Facial Steams
A steam will open up the pores and it’s an ideal way to kick off a facial pampering session. In fact, regular steaming (about once per week) prevents a dull-looking complexion and opens you up to renewed radiance. Just like the simple hydrotherapy facial described last week, steaming increases circulation to the area, creating that healthy glow.
One note: although steaming works great for oily, normal and dry skin types – if your facial skin is quite sensitive, perhaps with spider veins, the heat might be too much. In that case, skip the steam step and go for the sensitive-skin treating masks.
Once you get in the groove of mixing up herbal face steams, you can simply grab whatever appropriate herbs you have on hand. Different herbs and flowers lend themselves to different skin types. Try these recipes to get started and jump off from there.
You can mix your face steam up in any quantity and store in a jar with a tight-fitting lid or a Ziploc bag. Use about a handful of herbal mixture per steam. These recipes use dried herbs, but if you have some fresh ingredients, you could use those too.
1) Basic steam for normal skin
2 parts calendula flowers
2 parts comfrey leaf
2 parts chamomile
1 part raspberry leaf (or strawberry leaf)
1 part roses
1 part lavender
2) Oily Skin Pore-Opener
2 parts comfrey leaf
2 parts calendula flower
1 part yarrow flower
1 part sage
1 part peppermint
3) Dry Skin Moisturizing Steam
2 parts comfrey leaf
2 parts calendula flower
1 part orange peel
1 part elder flower
1 part roses
Add a teaspoon of vegetable oil (almond or avocado oils are great) to your steam pot.
How to Steam
Start with a clean face – wash with the natural facial scrub described in part one of this skin care series, or your favorite natural cleanser.
You’ll need a big pot, your face steam mix, and a nice big towel. Bring a couple of quarts of water to a boil in the pot, then sprinkle in your herb mixture (after turning off the heat.) Let the herb mixture steep for a few minutes. Bring the pot over to a table, (you might want to lay a towel down first so the hot pot doesn’t burn the finish).
Sit down in a chair, drape the towel over your head and the pot. Simply lift up the lid to allow the steam to escape and bathe your entire face. You can raise or lower your head to keep the heat level right for you. It’s best not to put your face too close to the hot steam as you don’t want to burn and traumatize your skin – that would totally defeat your purpose! You can also lift up a corner of the towel a little to let in some cooler air.
But the point is to let that herbal water heat up your face, breaking a sweat and allowing the healing, soothing action to penetrate your pores.
Stay sweating under that towel for 5-10 minutes, then splash your face with tepid or cool water. Follow with one of the food-based masks described below, and finish up with your favorite moisturizer. (Recipes for homemade face creams coming soon.)
The Honey Solution
Okay – so earlier when I told you to start with a clean face? Well, here’s a unique idea for a natural face cleanser: Honey. That’s it. Just the sweet, sticky stuff right on your face.
I fell in love with Betty’s crunch right away, and although we were late to join the party, my daughter and I got right on the daily honey-washing routine – and we’re loving the results. It’s so easy. Just rub about half a teaspoon of honey between your hands and apply to your face. Be sure to get your hair out of the way though because honey in the hair is one way to make you hate natural face cleansers.
Honey won’t remove your makeup (although Betty’s got a fix for that too.) But honey will work wonders on skin of all types. It is a natural humectant and brings more fresh blood to the surface of the skin. If a daily honey wash just isn’t for you, you could still follow your facial steam with a honey mask.
Just apply the honey to your dry face and massage in gently. Let it sit for several minutes before rinsing thoroughly. Surprisingly, it washes off easily – but be sure to get it all off.
One of Betty’s most recent posts details a honey pat to get rid of blackheads.
I LOVE Crunchy Betty now, and I hope to provide complementary information to her wealth of crunchy tips. Be sure to come back after you get crunched over there.
Of course CB is the go-to source for food on your face (that’s part of the name of the blog after all). And if you’re cool with getting a little sticky for the sake of beauty, here’s a few classic edible tips beyond the old cucumbers on the eyes standby. Mix and match any of these ideas for your home spa treatment after your steam.
4) Cucumber De-Puffer
Actually, cucumbers really are a tried and true remedy for puffy eyes. I’m not knocking it – in fact if you’re creating a full-on spa experience I suggest cutting up a cuke into very thin slices after your face has steamed. Lay three or four slices on each eye and lay down for a few minutes to de-puff.
5) Potato Bags The Bags
If bags under the eyes are your particular nemesis, try a potato instead! Just follow same plan as for cucumber as outlined above. Give each eye a spritz with water before laying the potato slices over your lids.
Of course, no amount of cucumbers or potato treatments can completely counteract the effects of too little sleep. Rest is the great healer and beautifier – always!
6) Eggy Anti-Wrinkle Mask
Hating the look of those fine lines around the eyes known oh-so-pleasantly as “crow’s feet?” Try some egg on your face! Egg whites are known to plump up and firm wrinkled skin. Just beat the white part of one egg until just before it starts to form soft peaks. Dab the mixture around the eyes and along the cheekbone and outer eye area. Let it sit for about 10 minutes. Then spritz the whole area with water and use a cotton ball dipped in water to remove the mask.
7) The Papaya Enzyme Treatment
Here’s a food tip that can clear up blemishes and brighten dull-looking complexion while you are steaming. Start with a soft, ripe papaya (it helps if you live in Hawaii, but this still works even if you hail from a more temperate part of the world – you just won’t be a locavore I guess.) Mash the fruit into a big mushy mess.
Have your facial steam all ready to go and then apply the papaya mush to your entire face, keeping it out of your eyes. Then, proceed with the facial steam while the papaya is glopped onto your face. (Don’t worry about it dripping into the pot – it’s all part of the big messy process.) This works like an enzyme treatment to blast those blemishes.
If this all sounds a bit too drippy (leaning over a pot with fruit pulp on your face) papaya also works well as a post-steam mask. Just lie down with the fruit on your face for about 20 minutes and let the enzymes take their effect. You could add a tablespoon or so of fresh pineapple juice to the papaya mush to multiply the enzymes and brighten a dull-looking complexion. (Again, residing in a tropical location might make this whole treatment a little more doable.)
Beware though – pineapple and papaya could possibly irritate sensitive skin. Best to try another mask (not an enzyme treatment) if you fit into the sensitive skin category.
8) Brewer’s Yeast Mask
Oily or normal skin can get a perk from brewer’s yeast. Combine a tablespoon of the yeast powder with a tablespoon of milk or water. Slap on face for about 5 minutes, then rinse with cool water. Follow with moisturizer. This brings a nice glow to the skin.
9) Peachy Keen Moisturizer
Dry, sensitive skin? Try peaches and cream. Take a half of a peeled, mashed, ripe peach and mix with a tablespoon of heavy cream (I think half and half or milk could still work). Stir until smooth. Apply the sweet-smelling mix to your face and neck and lie down for about a half hour.
It could get a little messy, so try wrapping a towel around your hair to soak up any dripping excess. This treatment is incredibly moisturizing, is an olefactory delight, and makes you feel fresh as a peach. (You can save the other peach half for a yummy treat to eat – perhaps mixed with more cream?)
10) Avocado Dry Skin Mask
Avocado is another tried and true delicacy for dry skin. And it’s even better when mixed with buttermilk. Just take about a quarter of a ripe avo, mash it with a little buttermilk and slather it on your face and throat area, using upward strokes. Wait about a half hour before rinsing it off and then revel in your velvety soft cheeks.
Bonus: you could make a bigger batch and make a conditioning hair mask with this. Smooth the avocado glop through your locks. Let it do its magic for the half hour then rinse it out with water. Afterward, shampoo as usual.
These are just a few ideas for edible facial treats. The possibilities are of course endless. In addition to Crunchy Betty, there are many excellent books where you can find face food recipes, and a boatload of natural beauty care treatments.
And while we’re talking food, I can’t sign off without a reminder about actually eating these whole foods if you’re striving for healthy, glowing skin. Kind of a no-brainer – but its human nature that we need constant reminding. If you want that natural glow, remember to emphasize fresh vegetables and fruits (of all colors) and whole grains. Healthy fats such as nuts, seeds and avocados will supply needed oils, and organic and free-range meats are always a healthier choice.
Have you ever enjoyed a home facial or spa treatment with foods, herbs or other natural ingredients? Tell us your story in the comment section.
This is the third in a series of Natural Skin Care posts. Read about how to make a simple, herbal face scrub in part one, and about creating a healthy complexion from the inside out in part two. Lots more easy facial care recipes in part four.
How To Make Fabulous Face Cream Or Lotion is the final installment.