I’ve been coming up with creative, unconventional ways of “beautifying” myself for as long as I can remember. By age 11 I was a professional Barbie beautician and by 14 my arms were as hair free as a dolphin (masking tape, not wax). I can’t say that I’m an entirely all-natural, organic, vegan kind of girl, the kind whose only beauty products consist of organic lemons and gluten-free rainbows, but I have become something of a beauty hack guru over many years of using myself as a beauty guinea pig.
Even though I have an assortment of overpriced beauty products to choose from, I also keep things like organic honey and baking soda on my shower ledge. The advantage to being schizo when it comes to my range of beauty treatments is that I have seen (and experienced) that a $2 item from the grocery store can sometimes work better than an $80 face wash from the department store. In fact, I have found that sometimes the best and most effective beauty treatments are those not found on any beauty aisle.
These simple products are cheap, natural, and varied in their benefits, but most importantly – they work!
Read on to learn my absolute best, most life-changing beauty hacks:
ESSENTIAL INGREDIENT #1: LEMON
A. Drink it up. You’re kidding yourself if you think beauty does not come from the inside out. Start your day off right with a cup of hot water (filtered, and not scalding) and lemon (preferably organic – easy to come by). Every day.
Why? Well for starters, it aids digestion, helps shed pounds, forestalls food cravings, clears skin, and gets things moving (if you know what I mean). Your body has just fasted for (ideally) 7+ hours and is now ready to absorb the first thing you put in it. Lemons help digestion and flush out toxins due to their chemical composition.
If you don’t believe me, just ask Miranda Kerr, Lauren Conrad, and Jennifer Aniston, all who allegedly start their day off with this simple elixir!
B. Exfoliate with nature. When life gives you lemons, make an exfoliator! This may sound kinda weird, but it works. The skin of the lemon and ascorbic acid of the juice act as an exfoliator. Just slice a lemon in half, rub in circular motions anywhere you can reach, rinse and feel how silky smooth your skin feels.
C. Natural skin lightener. Apply lemons to freckles and dark patches and watch them gradually lighten up. You can either squeeze lemon juice into a bottle and spray it onto the skin, apply it using a cotton ball, or rub the lemon directly on target areas. Just be sure to use sunblock on the areas you’ve treated, or the dark spots will return.
D. Fight pesky pimples and oily skin. Vitamin C is an ascorbic acid, which is a natural astringent with antioxidant properties, making it a great spot treatment. Just remember that lemon should never be on skin in the exposed sun, as it may make skin more sensitive to the sun’s rays.
E. Do-it-all mask. Since lemon has drying properties (good for pimples – bad for long-term), combine it with some moisturizing honey and apply as a face mask. Honey is chock-full of vitamins and minerals and has antibacterial properties as well. It may sound like a sticky mess, but it will glide right off with warm water. Mix these two natural powerhouses together, leave on skin for 10 minutes, and rinse off for a face as smooth as a baby’s bottom.
MORE: Eating for Beauty
ESSENTIAL INGREDIENT #2: COCONUT MILK
Coconut milk, the liquid extracted from grated coconut (not to be confused with the water inside the coconut shell) has beauty properties even the best chemist can’t recreate. They say Cleopatra used to bathe in coconut milk, and once you use it, you’ll understand why.
A. Your new favorite conditioner. It smells like coconuts, and that’s awesome all on its own. Beyond the fragrant fun, coconut milk is a source of protein, which makes for strong hair. Use just as you would your normal conditioner. For extra softness, leave it on for a few extra minutes (the longer the better) and rinse.
B. Stimulates hair growth. The hair wonders of coconut milk do not stop at its conditioning properties. This ‘milk’ has been shown to stimulate hair follicles and aid in natural growth.
Just massage a bit of coconut milk into scalp for three to five minutes (you’ll feel a cooling sensation, which is normal). Leave it in for 20 minutes and shampoo as usual.
C. Soothes skin. Coconut milk heals almost any skin ailment – irritated, sunburned, or just plain dry. It cleanses pores by removing dirt and excess sebum. Rich in fatty acids, it has a soothing and moisturizing effect on skin as well, especially necessary in the winter months.
While you shower and lather up your hair, apply some coconut milk on your cleansed skin and rinse it off once you’re done with your hair routine.
This works on all skin, but it is especially calming for skin conditions, including the self-afflicted sunburn and dry, weather-triggered psoriasis and eczema.
To take it up a notch, mix coconut milk with sugar and any essential oil, and scrub all over body. Dare you not to keep touching yourself after this.
ESSENTIAL INGREDIENT #3: BAKING SODA
Guys. The sheer amount of use you get from a $0.99 box of baking soda is mind-boggling. Boggles.my.mind. Why would anyone NOT be obsessed with baking soda? Okay, I’ll shut up, just here’s a list …. just …read it.
A. Scrubs. I stash a box in the mirror next to the shower. If you need a good exfoliation, simply mix it with any moisturizing agent on hand (honey, coconut oil, etc.), and bam, silky smooth, perfectly scrubbed skin
B. Deodorant. Most deodorants use aluminum as the active ingredient, which clogs the pores with metal, literally – needless to say this cannot be good for your precious freshly shaved pits. Instead, combine 3 tablespoons of baking soda, a drop of water, and 3-5 drops of essential oil to glue it together, and dab on (don’t rub, as that can irritate). This will keep you dry and effectively neutralize odors.
C. Clarifying Shampoo. Add 1 tablespoon to your usual shampoo (or just use with water for a more intense cleanse) to get rid of excess product buildup and residue.
D. Make-up Brush Cleanser. Mix 1 teaspoon baking soda with 1 cup water. Soak brushes, rinse, let air dry. Voila, clean as a whistle.
E. Teeth Whitener. Sprinkle on top of your toothpaste, mix with peppermint oil or just water, and brush. Be sure to brush extra softly. Baking soda leaves your teeth sparkly smooth and white, just do not use more than once or twice a week.
F. Mouthwash. Mouthwash is weird, it burns, and I just have mixed feelings about it. Mix 1 teaspoon baking soda (optional: 3 drops peppermint or eucalyptus oil) in a glass of water. Swish it around and neutralize that uninvited bacteria camping out in-between your teeth.
G. Mani/Pedi. So this friend of mine (just kidding, I’m talking about myself) leaves nail polish on too long and her nails turn a funky yellow. Mix baking soda and a bit of peroxide, scrub it on, and say goodbye to creepy-looking nails.
H. Clean Brushes and Combs. Keep hair healthy and stop depositing the same oil and gunk from yesterday on your fresh hair today! Soak brushes and combs in warm water with 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Rinse and let air dry.
I. Self-Tanner Clean Up. Did sunless tanner leave you looking like an Oompa Loompa? Have no fear, Baking Soda is here! Moisten baking soda on a washcloth, rub down the afflicted area in a circular motion, rinse.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re just as crazy as I am about a deal, I urge you to check out more uses.
ESSENTIAL INGREDIENT #4:COCONUT OIL
So, the same friend who lets her nails get yellow may or may not have been feeling a little silly and wrote a poem professing her love of coconut oil.
Coconut oil, without you…
My skin would be very dry.
For, I slather you on my skin no matter why.
In winter you quench my parched epidermis,
In summer you shield me from the sun’s surface… (It’s naturally SPF4, for real)
After a night out,
When all I want to do it sleep,
I look in the mirror and almost weep.
My eyes are black, and I’m too lazy to shower,
Worry no more that I don’t have the power:
I wipe my face with your oily cream,
And lo and behold I’m sparkly clean. (Make-up remover)
Coconut oil – what can’t you do?
Really truly, I love you.
Point is, coconut oil can be used for…
Make-up remover (eyes especially)
Body lotion (slather on entire body after shower)
Sun protection (for very light protection)
Cuticle oil (also makes manis last longer)
Under eye cream
Dandruff treatment (rub into scalp)
Combine my two loves and mix with baking soda for deodorant (see above).
What do you think of these hacks? Tell us in comments (and feel free to share your best hacks, I’m always looking for more!)