Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tip Tuesday: DIY Beauty Solutions A-G

For a summary of Tip Tuesday, see here.  For reviews of diy beauty I've personally used, see here (or click on the "diy" tag at the bottom of this post).

There are many appealing things about diy natural beauty.  For one thing, you get to feel like a mad scientist, and who doesn't love that?  (If you don't, go away, this post is not for you.)  For another, you have control over exactly what you're putting on your skin, which means you can avoid ingredients you know irritate you, and don't have to worry about the negative effects from chemical additives.  This does not mean, however, that diy beauty is without its hazards, so please, use caution!

So, here is the first half of the many ingredients you can use in your beauty concoctions (though there are even more that I'm not covering here!), as well as what problem areas they address, and the major concerns to keep in mind regarding side effects and the like.  I hope this is helpful to you, and I welcome any diy suggestions of your own in the comments!  H(oney) through Y(ogurt) will be posted next week.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Used as: Toner, hair treatment
Good for: Acne-prone and/or oily skin
Bad for: Sensitive skin
ACV, as it's known in the biz, is used as a toner to restore the pH balance of skin and help combat acne.  I've never used it, but the intertubes say: it smells nasty, though the smell dissipates after application; you should mix it with water (start with a 1:8 ratio of ACV to water, then increase the amount over time); organic is generally gentler than conventional ACV; and tread with caution if you have sensitive skin.  If you pour it through your hair, it helps get rid of residue and build-up from hair products, though unless you want to smell like a salad, you should probably shower and wash your hair afterwards.

Used as: Mask, toner
Good for: Acne-prone, oily, and/or sensitive/red skin
Bad for: People who are allergic to aspirin
Aspirin, it is claimed, is a source of salicylic acid once it breaks down, though the Beauty Brains did a post about this and said the science isn't really there to back the claims up.  I've tried mixing aspirin in with a yogurt mask, and saw a decrease in redness and swelling, but that could have been due to the other ingredients in the mask.  To use, crush 4-6 uncoated aspirin tablets (uncoated can be hard to find, though health food-type stores often have them) and add a few drops of water to make a paste.  As a mask, you can either spread it over your face like that and let it sit until it dries, or you can mix it with yogurt or honey.  I prefer to do the latter, because the powder has a tendency to fall off as it dries, and mixing it with something else gets rid of that problem.  Some people swear by it as a toner, though when I tried it as such, I got really annoyed with the little pieces of aspirin that stuck to my face.  Do not use this if you have an allergy to aspirin (though I hope that would go without saying!).
Used as: Mask, hair treatment
Good for: Dry skin
Bad for: People who would rather eat guacamole than spread it on their face (this is me, btw)
Avocados have hella moisture in them and have long been used on hair and skin to help restore hydration.  Avocado oil is a frequent ingredient in skincare, but the fruit itself is also very moisturizing. Mash it and spread it on your face (or anywhere else that needs hydration) and let it sit for 20-30 minutes before rinsing off; you can also spread it in your hair as a pre-shampoo treatment, letting it sit for 30 minutes to an hour before showering, for lusciously moisturized and shiny locks.  I haven't used avocado myself, since I'd rather eat it (this is why I will never make masks with strawberries and raspberries, regardless of how helpful to skin they may be), but if you can get past that, let me know how it works for you!

Baking Soda
Used as: Mask, scrub
Good for: Acne-prone, oily, and/or dry and flaky skin
Bad for: Sensitive, easily irritated, and/or thin skin
Baking Soda is a magical multi-tasker.  I wrote a post about using it as a scrub here, but in short: it's great as a gentle physical exfoliator to clear out pores and remove dry skin.  Pour a little into your hand, add a few drops of water to make a paste, and apply to dry face with gentle circular motions.  You can also let it sit on your skin for a few minutes as a mask, but it has the same flaking and falling off problems as aspirin does, and when used that way it's less effective as an exfoliator.  Like all exfoliators, be careful of how often you use baking soda, as overuse can irritate skin and make it worse.  I recommend not using it more than once a week.

Used as: Mask
Good for: All skin types
Bad for: Monkeys, who you know would just eat the banana and call it a day
Bananas contain many vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to skin, and mix well with other ingredients, so can be easily customized to fit your skin's needs.  I haven't used a banana mask myself, in part because I just have a bad feeling that my skin would freak out, but others have used it without incident.  For dry skin, mix with honey, avocado, yogurt, etc. and apply as a mask, leaving on for 20-30 minutes.  For oily skin, mix with lemon, yogurt, sea salt, tea tree oil, etc. and apply as above.  You can also, apparently, rub the inside of a banana peel on your skin, which can help acne, psoriasis, and poison ivy.  It may also make you feel like a dorkus, but then again, if you're willing to do homemade skincare, you probably don't care (and you certainly shouldn't care, since you're saving money! whee!).

Used as: Mask, toner
Good for: All skin types, particularly acne-prone and oily types
Bad for: Me
Cucumber is my favorite vegetable (I don't care if it's actually a fruit, shut up), but it made me break out like crazy when I tried using it on my face.  *Sigh.*  Many people like it, though, and say it makes for a nice hydrating, anti-acne treatment, especially when used daily.  For a mask, grate a whole cucumber and apply to face (can be mixed with yogurt, honey, etc. if a different texture is desired).  To use as a toner, grate a bit of cucumber into a jar with water and let sit for a day or two so the cucumber juices meld with the water.  Keep in the refrigerator and use daily.

Egg White
Used as: Mask
Good for: Acne-prone and/or oily skin
Bad for: Dry skin
I've heard that egg whites are beneficial for fighting acne since I was in middle school and my mother wanted me to give it a try.  I was not about to put something so disgusting on my face, but I've since gotten over my squeamishness (or maybe I've just reached the point where I'm willing to try anything).  To use, lightly whip an egg yolk in a small bowl and apply to clean, dry skin with a concealer or foundation brush (you will never get the egg white all the way out and the brush will be forever more crunchy, so make sure you have a brush you can dedicate to this purpose!).  Let sit until it dries, about 5 minutes, then rinse off with warm water.  You can cover the bowl and stick it in the fridge and use the same egg white for a few days.  I haven't noticed any marvelous improvement with my skin using egg whites, but I've also not really given it enough time to do its thing (I usually get annoyed after 2 or 3 days).  It's supposed to clear out and tighten pores and absorb oil.  I'll have to give it a try again sometime, but if you've used it, what did you think?

Egg Yolk
Used as: Mask
Good for: All skin types
Bad for: People who don't like wearing yellow goop on their face
Egg yolks are a great source of nutrients and moisture, so this is nice to use after an egg white mask to rebalance skin, or on its own if you have dry skin.  I use the same concealer/foundation brush for applying both egg masks (I got a two-pack from Ecotools on Amazon and actually use the other one for concealer), and I find that egg yolk washes out easier than egg white does, so it's usually less crunchy if I do both masks than just egg white (completely irrelevant to this post, but I suffer from severe word vomit/verbosity).

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Used as: Moisturizer
Good for: All skin types, particularly dry skin
Bad for: People who don't want to smell like Italian food
EVOO, like baking soda, is a miracle multi-tasker.  I've used it during the super-dry winters in the northeast as my moisturizer when my normal one isn't cutting it, and it works great at keeping the flakies away.  I apply with a cotton ball, let it sit for a few minutes, then lightly rub the unused side of the cotton ball over my face to absorb any major excess oil.  EVOO is also great as a makeup remover, as well as a base for scrubs (mix in sugar or salt and gently scrub face) and hair treatment (put in hair an hour before showering).

Green Tea
Used as: Toner
Good for: Acne-prone and/or oily skin
Bad for: Me
This is another treatment that didn't work as well for me as I'd hoped (well, it didn't work, then it did, then it didn't, at which point I just threw in the towel), but which should, in theory, be beneficial to people with my skin type.  You can either rub a used green tea bag over your face (make sure it's not scalding hot, though) as a toner, or you can steep some green tea and store it in the fridge to use as a toner.  It should combine well with sea salt, lemon, ACV, cucumber, and other toner-type ingredients.

So, which of these have you used?  How did they work for you?  Stay tuned for part two, coming next Tuesday :-)
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