Pampering From The Pantry

August 9, 2012 Updated: August 15, 2012
The kitchen holds a treasure trove of skin loving ingredients. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com)
The kitchen holds a treasure trove of skin loving ingredients. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com)

It may not be the first place you reach for your beauty needs—but it can be your standby in a pinch. Look no farther than your kitchen.

You have stocked your kitchen with loads of items that can feed and nourish your skin, costing a fraction of what department stores charge—and they are a natural alternative, too.

Here is a list of some skin care treasures that can be a treat for you whether ingested, applied topically, or both.

As with all foods, test a small amount first to make sure you’re not allergic to it.

Avocados

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Avocado helps maintain healthy skin so mash it up and rub it in! (bigtim/Photos.com)

Rich in vitamins A, B, D, and E, avocados help maintain healthy skin. Mash some up and put directly on your face, on your heels, or on any other dry spots.

Avocado oil, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids, can be used on cuticles and is a great moisturizer.

Throw the pit into a food processor, mix in a little water, and use the mixture to slough off dead skin and brighten the face.

Almonds, Nuts, and Seeds

To prevent wrinkles, eat more foods that contain linoleic acid, says the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Walnuts, flaxseeds, and flaxseed oil contain rich sources of this acid.

Ground nuts can be mixed with other ingredients to exfoliate the skin. Dr. Frank Lipman offers this natural facial scrub recipe on his website (www.drfranklipman.com):

  1. 1/2 tablespoon almonds
  2. 1/4 teaspoon honey
  3. 1/4 teaspoon soy milk
  4. 1/8 teaspoon green tea

Make a paste with the almonds in a food processor. (Do not make butter; stop when the almonds are ground before they go to creamy butter.) Add additional ingredients, pulse a few times, and remove from processor. Will keep in refrigerator for 3–5 days.

High in skin-loving vitamin E, almonds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, and peanut butter also make a great snack. Grab a handful between meals, and while supporting your skin from within, you will stave off the need to binge on sugary alternatives.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is one of my all-time favorite multiuse skin treats. The scent alone transports you to a tropical island! It is a natural antioxidant, naturally antimicrobial, antifungal, antibacterial, and soothing. No wonder so many companies are starting to use it in their product ingredients.

Use raw, virgin, unrefined, and organic coconut oil for hair, on nails, as a body moisturizer, and as a makeup remover.

You can also use coconut oil for frying. Dr. Joseph Mercola, founder and director of www.mercola.com, says it’s the only oil stable enough to withstand the heat of cooking.

Lemons

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Lemons lighten and brighten the skin from the inside out. (Craig McKay/Photos.com)

Lemon squeezed into the hair may help combat dandruff and is known to bleach hair.

Lemons lighten and brighten the skin, fight infection, and are high in antioxidants. Mixed with warm water as a drink every morning, lemon juice helps detoxify the liver and clear the digestive system. Rub lemon juice over the body and watch dark spots fade and blackheads diminish.

Baking Soda

PH neutral, baking soda acts as a physical exfoliant, removing dead skin cells without disturbing the acid mantle of your skin. Mix one teaspoon with any cleanser, massage in gentle circular motions over face, and rinse thoroughly.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Raw, unfiltered, and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar boasts a rich source of minerals (particularly potassium), vitamins, enzymes, and amino acids. Taken internally, it helps promote weight loss, prevent fatigue, and treat many different ailments, according to Bruce Berkowsky, author of “Dr. Berkowsky’s At-Home Health And Beauty Spa” on the website www.naturalhealthscience.com.

The list of the vinegar’s external uses is also quite impressive. According to Dr. Berkowsky, apple cider vinegar has been used to treat “athlete’s foot; bleeding wounds; burns; corns; calluses, cuts and abrasions; dandruff; foot odor; hair loss; Herpes simplex infection; insect bites and stings; muscle soreness; poison ivy or poison oak rash; shingles; sunburn; ‘swimmer’s ear;’ varicose veins.”

Add healthy body and shine to hair with a cup of water and one-half tablespoon raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Use as a toner by diluting with two parts water.

Olive Oil

Cold-pressed olive oil contains oleic acid to soften the skin, and vitamin E to improve the elasticity of the skin. Mix with sugar to exfoliate skin on the face or mix with salt to remove dead skin cells from legs, arms, and other body parts. Rub over skin to help heal stretch marks too.

Cucumbers

Most of us have seen photos of two cucumber slices covering the eyes of someone relaxing at a spa. The two key ingredients in cucumbers—ascorbic acid and caffeic acid—prevent water retention, which is why they are often used for swollen eyes, burns, and dermatitis.

Cucumbers have the same pH as the skin, so they help restore the skin’s protective and natural acid mantle.

The blog www.yourorganicgardeningblog.com offers this simple recipe:

  1. 5 fresh mint leaves
  2. 1/4 medium cucumber
  3. 1 large egg white

Place the mint in a food processor or blender and give it one short burst to chop. Peel and seed the cucumber. Add it to the mint in the processor or blender and puree. Beat the egg white separately until it stands in stiff peaks. Fold it very gently into the puréed cucumber mixture.

Apply evenly to the face and neck and leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse with water and pat dry.

Honey

An antioxidant that is also antimicrobial, raw honey can absorb and retain moisture and can be mixed with other ingredients. Try some easy DIY recipes like this one from Rona Berg, author of “Fast Beauty: 1000 Quick Fixes”:

“For lustrous, silky, healthy hair and scalp, simply combine 1/2 cup honey and 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup olive oil. Massage scalp with this conditioner, then put on a shower cap for 30 minutes. Shampoo and rinse as usual. Good for hair revitalizing.”

Yogurt

Yogurt is another all-around beauty multi-tasker.

On www.organicauthority.com, Kirsten Hudson lists five ways that plain, organic yogurt keeps skin glowing and gorgeous when applied topically.

Full of protein, calcium, vitamin D, and probiotics, yogurt moisturizes, fights acne, prevents premature aging, relieves sunburn, and reduces discoloration (when mixed with lemon juice).

The lactic acid is a natural alpha hydroxy acid that helps smooth and exfoliate skin.

Oatmeal

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Raw oats helps combat dry skin. (Elena Elisseeva/Photos.com)

Soak in a tub of raw oats (not the steel-cut kind) to combat dry skin.

“In very dry skin, the topmost layer of cells (called the barrier) isn’t intact, so moisture can seep out,” says Diane Madfes, M.D., clinical instructor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City in an article for www.lifescript.com.

Pour one or two cups under the tap of running warm bath water. It works thanks to the lipids and proteins in oatmeal that replenish the skin barrier and decrease water loss, according to Dr. Madfes. (Remember Aveeno colloidal oatmeal baths for relieving the chicken pox?)

Turn your kitchen items into a veritable spa experience any time you want. At the very least, you will have a good time tasting the leftovers.

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