Want smooth skin, a radiant complexion, and healthy hair? It’s easy with these 25 simple and effective home treatments.
Looking your best is no accident. It is the natural result of a healthy lifestyle that includes eating wholesome foods, getting enough sleep and exercise, and treating your body’s special needs simply and naturally. We’ve heard about hundreds of skin and hair care treatments from around the world. Tips have ranged from the quick and easy (using cucumber slices to reduce undereye puffiness) to the questionable (scrubbing away body hair with a pumice stone) to the singularly unappealing (smearing one’s own ear wax onto chapped lips). Here, we’ve compiled the 25 sanest, simplest, and most effective techniques and natural treatments to enhance your natural beauty – from head to toe.
- The Ultimate Moisturizer
To keep your skin moist and supple, apply a body moisturizer after every bath or shower to seal the moisture into your skin and provide a barrier against dehydration. Some of the best natural emollients are cocoa butter and oils such as almond, apricot kernel, sesame, and olive. For the ultimate moisturizing (and sensual) experience, try an oil bath. This practice of reversing the bath-and-moisturizer routine is borrowed from African and Indian cultures. Smooth an oil – shea butter is traditionally African, sesame oil is typically Indian – all over your body and relax on a towel for a half hour or so. Then, with a loofah or a rough washcloth, gently scrub the oil away in a bath or shower.
- Fruity Skin Smoother
Do you have problems with extra-dry skin – like those little red bumps on the backs of your arms and legs? Called pilaris keratosis, they’re a harmless condition caused by an excessive buildup of skin cells around hair follicles. While you can’t get rid of the bumps permanently, you can make them smoother by using an exfoliator – a granular scrub or loofah, for example – every time you shower, and following up with a dose of an extra-rich moisturizer such as natural shea butter. To really zap those patches, add the power of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), which exfoliate through natural chemical action. Apply some sour milk, which contains lactic acid, or use the fruit acids present in fresh papaya or strawberries (grind the fruit in a food processor and add a bit of honey to form a paste). Leave the milk or fruit paste on your skin for ten minutes, then gently scrub it off in a warm shower, and finish with a moisturizer. The AHAs will gently dissolve layers of dead skin and reveal the fresh new skin beneath.
- Aftershave Soother
Shaving one’s legs or face will produce a hair-free surface, but it can leave behind bumpy, reddened skin. Anyone who wields a razor is susceptible to irritation, and when a shaved-off hair turns inward, a painful ingrown hair can result. The best advice: Use a loofah or other natural exfoliator before you shave to remove dead skin and to encourage hairs to grow out, not in. Follow your shave with a moisturizer: Try using pure aloe vera, which is very soothing to irritated skin and can help speed healing, or add about ten drops of tea tree oil, which has antiseptic and healing properties, to an ounce of unscented lotion or oil. Men or women can make a bracing aftershave lotion that will reduce irritation and inflammation and cool a razor’s burn: Mix one-half cup of rose water with two tablespoons of witch hazel and a few drops each of glycerin and peppermint oil.
- Sunburn Cooler
By now, everybody knows that one of the simplest ways to ensure skin health is to stay out of the sun. But what should you do if you do get a sunburn? Try applying a soothing poultice of grated cucumber to the red areas (cucumber can help heal burned or chapped skin). Or soak in a lukewarm bath with a cup of rolled oats tied into a small cheesecloth bag; the oats will soothe and soften your skin.
- Lemon Lightener
If years of past sun abuses have left you with visible sun damage – so-called age spots or freckles – you can lighten the discolored areas with a daily dab of pineapple or lemon juice, which acts as a mild bleach. Be careful not to rub (the juice can be irritating and can’t be expected to take away your beauty marks in only one session). Follow up with moisturizer.
- Ease Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are generally hereditary, and there’s not much you can do, short of surgery, to get rid of them completely. However, some natural remedies can help ease swelling and discomfort in enlarged blood vessels. Lie with your legs elevated for an hour every day and apply a compress of apple cider vinegar to problem spots (you also can massage your legs with the vinegar). Cider vinegar has astringent properties, which may help shrink distended veins. For a stronger astringent, add a drop or two of cypress oil to a cup of witch hazel. In addition, be sure to get plenty of exercise (preferably activities that don’t pound your legs, like cycling or swimming instead of running). Avoid standing for long periods, sitting with your legs crossed, or wearing tight clothing.
A SMOOTH, RADIANT COMPLEXION
- Soothe Puffy Eyes
For a sure-fire solution to can’t-quite-wake-up eyes, grate a few teaspoons of fresh cucumber and put it onto two cotton pads. Or, use two chamomile tea bags, steeped and cooled. Rest, eyes closed beneath the pads or tea bags, for fifteen to twenty minutes. Both help reduce swelling in the delicate area beneath your eyes.
- Shine-Reducing Toner
Bothered by a shiny nose or forehead? Oil glands are generally more plentiful in these areas than on the cheeks, creating the dreaded four-o’clock shine. To fight it, wipe your face with a homemade toner made with one peeled cucumber, a teaspoon of witch hazel, and a teaspoon of rose water, whipped together in a blender or food processor. Throughout the day, you also can dust your face with a little loose powder or silky, fine-ground arrowroot powder to take away the shine.
- Yogurt And Honey Wash
Even if you’ve left your teens far behind, you may be susceptible to adult acne and pimples. Dermatologists say people in their thirties can get even more pimples that the pre-prom set. Every day, clean your face with a yogurt and honey wash (add a few tablespoons of organic honey to a cup of natural yogurt); honey is a gentle cleanser and skin conditioner, and yogurt helps to smooth the skin as it cleans and exfoliates. To treat individual pimples, dab them with a bit of tea tree oil or with fresh garlic juice (better on evenings spent alone!). Both are antibacterial agents and will speed the healing of blemishes.
- Peppermint & Papaya Facial
Blackheads, those blocked pores that often appear on the nose, chin, and forehead, can be tough to get rid of, and dermatologists agree that it’s best to avoid trying to do so by squeezing. To help unclog blocked pores without damaging your skin, try a refreshing peppermint steam. Add a handful of fresh peppermint leaves, two tablespoons of dried peppermint, or a few drops of peppermint oil to a pan of boiling water. Drape a towel over your head and let the steam bathe your face – and unblock your pores – for a few minutes. Next, gently rub your face with the inside of a fresh papaya skin – it will slough away old, dead skin cells while conditioning your skin with vitamins A and C. Another effective natural treatment for blackheads is honey (mix it with equal parts of rolled oats and almond meal for some extra exfoliation). It’s drawing properties help pull out the oil and dirt that’s blocking your pores.
- Wrinkle Remedies
The appearance of fine lines can be lessened by the exfoliating effects of fruit acids. Mix up a paste of papaya and honey (add a tablespoon of organic honey to one-half cup of mashed fresh papaya), apply it to your face, and relax for ten minutes, then rinse with cool water. You can try other mashed fruits, like pineapple, apples, and grapes, as well; each can deliver the same exfoliating benefits. After removing the mask, follow up with a dose of moisturizer. Another natural wrinkle fighter is brewer’s yeast, which has been credited with boosting collagen production in the skin to help smooth out crow’s feet and laugh lines. Make a paste of brewer’s yeast and avocado oil (a proven wrinkle-fighting emollient), pat it onto your skin, and allow it to dry before rinsing.
A FRESH MOUTH
- Cinnamon Tooth Powder
For a change of pace from your usual toothpaste, try mixing a batch of homemade cinnamon tooth powder by blending a teaspoon of ground cinnamon with two teaspoons of baking soda. Or, use a bit of natural sea salt instead.
- Breath Fresheners
For a natural way to keep your breath smelling clean and appealing, add one of these remedies to your morning brushing routine: Rinse your mouth with diluted peppermint oil (add a drop or two to a glass of water). Or try munching on some fresh parsley leaves or anise seeds. You also can make a fragrant, breath-sweetening lavender gargle by steeping a handful of fresh lavender flowers (or one tablespoon of dried lavender) in a cup of boiling water for ten minutes; strain and gargle. Other herbs that make great breath-freshening gargles are allspice, clove, and eucalyptus. Use one tablespoon of the herb per cup of water.
- Healing Herbal Mouthwash
Painful canker sores can leave your whole mouth throbbing; gums also can get sore and swollen as a result of early gum disease (check with your dentist if your gums are chronically swollen or if they bleed easily). To speed the healing of gum tissues, rub sensitive areas with tea tree oil, an effective antiseptic and healing aid. Or, make a mouthwash by brewing a strong tea from antiseptic herbs like sage or thyme (use two tablespoons of herb per cup of water). You also can make an effective antiseptic mouthwash from goldenseal, but you should use a tincture rather than a tea (one drop per one-half cup of water), as this natural herb can stain your teeth.
- Lip Balm
To fight dry lips naturally, try this easy-to-make beeswax lip balm. In a small double boiler or in the microwave, melt a teaspoon of beeswax (a natural emulsifier) with three teaspoons of almond or apricot oil (both emollients). Stir well. If you like, you can add a few drops of peppermint oil for extra sensory appeal.
- Jojoba For Dandruff
Dandruff, which is characterized by an excessive sloughing of the scalp’s skin cells, can be caused by stress, dietary imbalances, and – surprise – overuse of harsh commercial dandruff shampoos. For an effective natural dandruff remedy, try massaging your scalp with some warm vegetable oil before shampooing. The oil will help soften and loosen dandruff flakes. Jojoba oil works especially well; it penetrates the scalp to deliver extra moisture without making your hair oily. You can add a few drops each of rosemary and eucalyptus oil for added sensory and curative powers (both have stimulant and astringent properties). For a different dandruff remedy, try massaging your scalp with apple juice – its natural fruit acids will help remove dandruff flakes. Follow up with shampoo and a rinse of apple cider vinegar diluted in warm water, which acts as an exfoliant and astringent.
- Rosemary Oil For Frizzies
Here’s a tip for managing frizzy or very thick hair: Rub a few drops of rosemary oil between your palms and apply the oil to your hair. It will condition your hair and weigh it down slightly, making it easier to control.
- Herbal Body Booster
If your tresses tend to be flat, an herbal rinse made with stinging nettles can boost volume (the nettles are slightly astringent). Mix four tablespoons of the dried herb with a cup of water and simmer for thirty minutes (or simmer for five minutes and allow the mixture to steep overnight). Strain, cool, and apply to clean, conditioned hair. Your hair will be noticeably fuller.
- Nourishment For Dry Hair
If your hair has a tendency to be dry or brittle, try this Native American solution: Wash it with pounded yucca root mixed with enough water to make a soapy paste. Yucca root lathers just like a soap or shampoo and will leave your hair lustrous. And, once a week, treat your hair to this deep conditioning treatment: Mash a ripe avocado with a squirt of lemon juice and the juice from one aloe leaf (or a tablespoon of commercially prepared aloe gel); massage the mixture into your hair, cover your head with plastic wrap, and relax for twenty minutes or so before washing the mask out of your hair.
- Essential Oil Shampoo
If oily hair is a problem for you, try a homemade essential oil shampoo (mix ten drops of juniper or cypress oil with a cup of mild, unscented shampoo). The oils act as astringents, counteracting an oily scalp and stimulating the scalp and the senses.
- Color Enhancers
If you’re finding your hair color less than inspiring, try giving it a natural color and shine boost with an herbal shampoo. Simmer the appropriate herbs for your hair color in a one-half cup of water for ten minutes, then strain, cool, and add to one-half cup of mild shampoo. Use two tablespoons of dried chamomile flowers if you’re a blonde, or one black tea bag, a tablespoon of dried rosemary, and a tablespoon of dried sage for darker hair. Note: The longer you steep the herbs, the deeper the color will be. Give your hair a final rinse of warm water mixed with a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar if you have darker hair, lemon juice if your hair is blond. This will smooth the hair’s cuticle, making it sleek and shiny.
HANDS AND FEET AND ALL THE REST
- A Soothing Soak
To smooth and soothe dry, rough skin and nails, soak your hands in a bit of warm vegetable or castor oil, and follow with this healing massage: Mix two boded, mashed potatoes with equal amounts of rose water and milk (enough to make a paste) and add two drops of glycerin. Rub on your hands for several minutes, then rinse. The texture of the mashed potatoes feels like, well… mashed potatoes, but trust us: Your hands will feel great afterwards. If potatoes don’t appeal to you, substitute a cup of cooked oatmeal.
- Healthy Nails
Do your fingernails tend to split? Dry nails can be revived with a soothing almond oil soak. For an extra measure of moisturizing and healing, you can add a few drops of healing sandalwood oil. If your nails are too soft, apply a bit of vitamin E (from a capsule) every day. Both of these remedies will do wonders for dry, ragged cuticles, too.
- Rough Skin Softener
Often forgotten underneath heavy layers of winter clothing, your feet, hands, knees, and elbows can end up with thickened, dry skin. You can soften these patches by rubbing them with the inside of a fresh avocado peel. Its slightly abrasive texture will smooth the bumps away, and the emollient avocado oil, which contains vitamins A, D, and E, will moisturize and condition the skin. (The inside of a fresh papaya skin will have the same effect.) Elbows can get especially dark and scaly after a long winter under wraps. Cut a lemon in half, squeeze out the extra juice, and stick one elbow into each half; sit with your elbows in the lemons for a few minutes, then rinse and moisturize.
- Sweet Feet
To keep your feet smelling fresh and feeling lively, soak them once a week in a warm, fragrant herbal bath. just add a handful of dried eucalyptus to a tub of warm water, or heat a pot of water with a few drops of pine or peppermint essential oil (diluted first in a tablespoon of witch hazel), and soak for fifteen minutes. To combat unsightly or painful calluses and corns, rub the affected areas gently with a pumice stone or a handful of sea salt, rinse, and slather with castor oil. Put on a pair of old socks right away, especially if you’re going to bed, because castor oil can stain clothing and bedding. To keep the skin on your feet smooth and healthy, treat yourself to a soothing and exfoliating foot massage. Mix a tablespoon of ripe avocado with two tablespoons of cornmeal; leave it on your feet for twenty minutes, then rinse.