Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tip Tuesday: DIY Beauty Solutions H-Y (Plus a bonus C)

For a summary of Tip Tuesday, see here.  For part one of diy beauty tips, see here.  And for a video of bunnies wiggling their noses, see here.

Used as: Cleanser, mask, scrub
Good for: Everyone
Bad for: People who don't like stickiness
I've already done a couple of posts on the wonders of honey, so I'll keep this brief.  Honey is great.  You can use normal honey, raw honey (opaque and light yellow in color), or Manuka honey (full of super nutrients, with a price tag to match).  I've used normal and raw, and prefer the latter because it's less sticky, but both work well.  You can put it on dry skin as a mask or cleanser, or use it on wet skin as a quick cleansing treatment.  Honey combines well with yogurt and aspirin in masks, and with sugar as a scrub.  The possibilities are many, and the results are great––it's moisturizing, anti-bacterial, and it smells and tastes nommy!

Jojoba Oil
Used as: Moisturizer, hair treatment
Good for: Everyone
Bad for: No one
Jojoba (apparently pronounced hə'hoʊbə, who knew) oil is very similar in composition to the sebum and oil produced by your skin, so it can help convince oily skin to stop producing so much oil by making it think there's enough already (I have yet to try this, so cannot vouch for it, but am intrigued!), and its moisturizing properties make it good for normal and dry skin, too.  It's also great for moisturizing hair and reducing frizzies.  You only need a leetle beet, no more than a few drops, which is good because it can apparently be expensive.  It should be available at natural food and health stores, and if you've ever used it, I'd love your input!

Clay (I know, this isn't in alphabetical order, I'm sorry––I was going to just do Kaolin clay, which would go under "K", but after further research I've decided to cover several kinds of clay, but I didn't want to retroactively insert it in the previous post, so...here it is)
Used as: Mask
Good for: Depending on the type of clay, either all skin types or only oily
Bad for: Dry skin (some types of clay)
Clay masks are a favorite treatment of mine, because clay absorbs excess oil and draws impurities and toxins out of the skin (or, less skepticism-inducingly, cleanses pores).  There are a lot of clay masks available on the market, and I would suggest starting there, just because they're easier (and, in the short-term, often cheaper); I'll give some suggestions for masks, including clay masks, in this week's Recommendation Thursday.  For diy masks, though, here are the general choices:
Kaolin clay: This is also known as white clay, and is used frequently in mattifying powders (Mattify! ULTRA lists it as one of the ingredients) because it absorbs up to 5x its weight in liquid and it is the gentlest readily-available clay.  It has a lot of beneficial minerals in it, too, so it's great for skincare.
French green clay: As the name would suggest, this clay is green, and has high amounts of volcanic matter, decomposed plants, and minerals.  It's recommended for combination/oily skin only.
Bentonite clay: This clay is primarily volcanic ash (weird!) and can be used on all skin types.  It swells upon contact with water (supposedly; I've never used the dry stuff) and is thus good for drawing out impurities.
Moroccan red clay: The only clay of these that is recommended for dry and scaly skin over oily skin, it exfoliates and restores moisture.  I've never used red clay, but may give it a try if my skin gets dry (something that happened in the winter in Philadelphia, but in Oregon it rains all winter, so it seems less likely to be a problem!).
Fuller's Earth: This is a mineral clay that is used frequently in the auto industry to soak up oil spills.  If you're wanting to use it on your face, though, don't just buy any old industrial stuff, because in order to be safe for skin, it has to be mixed with other things, so be sure to buy ones designed for use in skincare.  Fuller's Earth, when properly used, can help with acne, and can lighten skin as well (as in lightening acne scars and hyperpigmentation, I think).

Depending on your skin type, you can mix the dry powder with different liquids for appropriate benefits; for dry skin, mix with heavy oils and creams like honey, jojoba, olive, and sesame oils, etc.; for normal skin, combine with whole milk or lighter oils like grapeseed; for oily skin, water and witch hazel work well.

Used as: Toner
Good for: Oily and/or acne-prone skin
Bad for: Sensitive skin, people who are allergic to citrus
Citrus has a lot of acids and anti-oxidants that make it good for helping control oil and acne and lightening post-acne marks.  You can use it by itself or with other toner-type liquids (green tea, sea salt, tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar, etc.) as a toner or mix it with other things (honey, yogurt, aloe vera [shit, I should have included that in DIY A-G!  Future post, I suppose], olive oil, clay, etc.) in a mask.   Beware that it does tend to sting if used in heavier concentrations, so whenever I put on lemon juice (I just got a little bottle of it from the grocery store, but you can juice the lemons yourself if you're feeling domestic) I only leave it on for ~10 minutes before washing it off, and I always put on either a soothing yogurt mask or heavy moisturizer right afterwards.  If you choose to mix it in with other toner stuff, you should be able to leave it on all day/night, but I've yet to do that because I keep my toner in my bathroom, and the lemon juice needs to be refrigerated.  Stay away if you have dry skin, or use in very diluted quantities, because it can sting.

Used as: Mask
Good for: All skin types, especially dry
Bad for: People who don't like looking like they've got infant vomit spread on their face (I'm sorry, but you should know what you're getting into)
I like using oatmeal in my yogurt masks, because it helps the other ingredients stick together better and the moisturizing and exfoliating properties of ground oatmeal are always welcome.  I just grind a handful in a coffee grinder and mix it in with yogurt, but you could also mix it with clay, or even just make a batch of oatmeal and spread it on your face.  Make sure you get plain oatmeal for this, though––save the apple cinnamon stuff for your belly.  It's super-cheap in bulk at grocery stores, and lasts a long time properly stored.  The one thing to beware of, though, is that it looks disgusting on, so make sure only people who will love you no matter what see you when you're wearing it.  It's also a pain to get off; I lay a wet washcloth on my face to steam it loose, and have to wipe, rinse, and repeat several times before it's all gone (and if you get any in your hair, don't even bother trying to get it out).

Sea Salt
Used as: Toner, scrub
Good for: Oily and/or acne-prone skin
Bad for: Really dry skin
I swear by sea salt.  Yes, I still break out like mad, but that's mostly my own fault for trying different products (particularly cleansers).  I put somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 a teaspoon of sea salt (with no additives to prevent clumping, because I didn't want to risk having a bad reaction to them) in a 6 oz jar, add water, and use it day and night, applying with a cotton ball.  It helps keep the incidence of blackheads down, cuts down on my oil production, and speeds up the healing of blemishes.  Sea salt has lots of beneficial minerals and doodads, since it's less refined than table salt, but you can use the latter, too (presumably with less dramatic results).  You can also combine sea salt with other toner types for a custom blend, though as I mentioned above, I don't do that, since I keep my toner in un-refrigerated glory next to my sink (because I'm too lazy to go downstairs every morning and night, if we're being honest).  You can also use salt as a scrub when mixed with honey or oils, or water if you use larger-grained salt.

Used as: Scrub
Good for: All skin types
Bad for: Houses with ant problems
Sugar is the first-choice option for at-home scrubs, though I'll admit I've never used it.  You can vary the strength of the scrub by what kind of sugar you use, though I think most people just use normal white sugar.  Mixing it with honey is the usual route, though you do have to be careful to wash the sink/bath out after if you have ant problems.

Tea Tree Oil
Used as: Toner, spot treatment
Good for: Acne-prone and/or oily skin
Bad for: People who don't like the smell
Tea tree oil is an antimicrobial, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial oil from the tea tree, native to Australia.  It's been proven to work as well as benzoyl peroxide at controlling acne in the long-term (study summary here), with fewer side effects.  You can mix it with water to make a toner (and with lemon juice, sea salt, etc. if you so desire) or apply it with a q-tip as a spot treatment.  I'm not crazy about the smell, but it's not too terrible to deal with, and some people like it.  Tea tree oil is also apparently great for the treatment of head lice (who knew?).  You only need a tiny bit, so it's generally sold in small quantities; you can find it for pretty cheap at Whole Foods and Amazon (~$5).

Used as: Mask, spot treatment
Good for: All skin types
Bad for: People who don't have an Indian market or grocery nearby
There are two kinds of turmeric, a spice from India.  The most common type is used in cooking, and can also be used in skincare, though it stains like mad.  Kasturi (kasthuri) turmeric isn't edible, so it's much harder to find, but it also doesn't stain skin (I'm not sure about sinks/cloth) and has the same skincare benefits as normal turmeric.  I've never used any kind of turmeric, but will keep my eyes peeled for kasturi turmeric the next time I find myself in an Indian grocery.  Turmeric is a superhero kind of spice; it can help reduce wrinkles, combat acne, brighten skin and even out pigmentation, exfoliate dead skin, treat poison ivy and eczema (thanks to its antiseptic and antibacterial properties) and balance skin's oil levels.  Mix it with yogurt or milk for an all-over mask, add chickpea or rice flour to make a nice exfoliator, or combine it with a bit of lemon and use as a spot treatment for acne.  Regardless of which kind of turmeric you use, apply and remove with care, because it does stain, and is impossible to get out––old t-shirts and towels are definitely the way to go.

Witch Hazel
Used as: Toner
Good for: All skin types, particularly acne-prone and/or oily skin
Bad for: Very sensitive skin
Witch hazel astringent is made from the leaves/stem of witch hazel (shocking, right?) and is readily available at drugstores.  It's anti-bacterial and soothing and therefore good for acne, oily skin, and the treatment of skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.  This is definitely on my to-try list, because it's cheap, easily found, versatile, and unlikely to break me out (though, knowing me, it may still!).  Like the other toner ingredients, it can be combined and mixed as desired.

Used as: Mask
Good for: All skin types
Bad for: No one.  Seriously.  Everyone should use this.
Yogurt is chock-full of awesomeness.  It has lactic acid which is an alpha-hydroxy and helps exfoliate skin, minimize wrinkles, and clear pores, and it has many probiotics which help balance the skin and speed up the healing of skin conditions like eczema and acne.  Plain yogurt with active cultures works by far the best, so it's worth the higher price and trouble to find (health food stores are the most reliable place to look, though larger grocery stores may carry it, too).  Full-fat yogurt works best for dry skin, and low-fat varieties are better for oily skin, though I don't pay much attention to that and just use whatever's in our fridge.  You can strain the yogurt to make it thicker, more like a Greek yogurt in consistency, using a cheesecloth, which makes it easier to use on its own as a mask.  I usually mix yogurt with ground oatmeal, lemon, honey, tea tree oil, and/or aspirin to maximize my skincare returns, since yogurt is great combined with other things.

Phewf!  That was a lot of information.  Let me know which things you've used and what you thought, and if there are any other diy beauty ingredients you're particularly fond of!
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