Photo by Juliane Huang

The Matador Life team test runs home-made beauty recipes. Candice tries to eat hers.

Would you call me crazy if I told you you can smooth your skin, clear your pores and soften your hair with only a few simple ingredients probably already found in your kitchen? Yogurt, honey, oatmeal and almonds. Yeah, you probably would. “That’s not beauty,” you might tell me. “That’s breakfast.”

You wouldn’t be the first.

Think of it this way: would you eat that honey almond mask you find at the pharmacy? What about the cucumber sugar scrub you just bought for thirty dollars or more at your local Body Products Galore Store? Then why would you put in on your skin?

And I’ve personally used each of these numerous times and have always been happier with the results than with any product I’ve bought.

Still not convinced? OK. To prove how beneficial these home-made products can be, I enlisted the help of the Matador Life team in testing out my favorite beauty concoctions.

All the ingredients necessary. Hungry yet?

Yogurt, Honey & Oatmeal Mask

Like it sounds. You mix plain yogurt, raw honey and rolled oatmeal together in a bowl until it’s a spreadable consistency. Put on your face and relax for about half an hour. Wash off. The oatmeal is best when slightly ground, but you still want a bit of texture to it.

This mixture is particularly good for dry and especially inflamed skin. Obviously this applies to slight inflammation. If you have a weeping rash, go to a doctor. This bit of breakfast cereal won’t help. If you have a bit of redness, though, oatmeal can soothe and smooth your skin. The yogurt tones and moisturizes while honey has gentle antibiotic properties.

The lovely Candice Walsh roped her roommate Renee into the process and had the following to say after applying this mask to her face.

Candice is ready to put oatmeal on her face.

It was ridiculously easy to make, more enjoyable with a teaspoon of honey to get started. A small amount of each is more than enough.

Renee — my roomie — and I spread it on our faces. The texture was weird for a facial, gritty, but the mixture was extremely cool and felt nice to apply. Both of us are redheads, so our skin has been through sheer hell with this Canadian winter. We’re very prone to dryness and irritation.

After 30 minutes, the facial starts to harden and become crusty, but not so that it becomes uncomfortable. Renee and I both agreed when we washed it off that our faces felt nice…really moisturized but without the greasiness.

You can modify this recipe to include finely ground almonds instead of oatmeal for a gentle scrub and extra moisturizing.

Avocado Skin Treatment For Dry Skin

As with all these treatments, they’re fantastically simple. Step one: Mash an avocado. Step two: Mix with a bit of plain yogurt and raw honey. Put on any body part you want to be more moist than it was before.

The inimitable Nick Rowlands roped his mother and brother into testing this mask. He provided us with ongoing commentary before and after they slathered this taco topping on various parts of their bodies.

Before:

Top: before; Bottom: after!

Nick: “OK. According to my editor, Leigh, this thing is great to put anywhere you want to feel more moist. How do you feel about that?”

Jamie: [Sniggers] “I’m all oily and greasy coz I’ve been working all day. Feel a bit of trepidation about putting avocado on my face because avocadoes are for eating. Not for putting on your face!”

Mum: “What a waste of a good avocado! I’m a bit apprehensive. I won’t like the gunginess of it.”

After:

Me: “So, how do you feel now?”

Mum: “I’m positively glowing, but it made my nose red.”

Jamie: “I’m gonna go home and watch the Sex and the City movie!”

Mum: “And I’m going to save some in a pot and do a face mask before Frances’ wedding.” [Frances is Nick’s sister. She’s getting married on Saturday.]

It concerns me, though, that anyone felt itchiness or tightness while wearing the mask. This should not happen with this or any other of these recipes. Also, it should not make your nose or any part of your face red. The ingredients are extremely gentle and if you feel any discomfort, wash it off immediately.

And of course, congratulations Frances and the Rowland family. I’m so glad my little avocado concoction could be part of the pre–wedding week. Oh, and Jamie, don’t blame my mask for your desire to watch Sex and the City. If you suddenly had the yen, that’s all you.

Herbal Facial Steam

This is my favorite. It’s relaxing and helps clean your face. Also, if you have a cold or allergies, it can help clear out your head a bit. You’ll find yourself sweating quite a bit with your head over the water. Again, nothing should hurt or burn.

Take any of the following plants, flowers or herbs:
Chamomile, mint, calendula, basil, rosemary, lavender. Whatever you use should be dried. Boil water and pour over the herb(s) of your choice. Tent a towel over your head and let the steam and herbs from the bowl comfortably wash over your face for about ten minutes.

Chamomile will help dry an oily face but also works for nervous tension. Rosemary is a bit more drying and will also help with acne. Basil is good for overall relaxation. Mint stimulates. Lavender is gentle, helps with just about anything from stress to insect bites to rashes to really anything. Calendula is antibacterial and helps clear out pores. Mullein can help clear your sinuses.

Photo by: Mel B.

Oil & Sugar Body Scrub

Take any oil you want. Almond, sesame, peanut, cocoa and olive oil are heavier and better for dry skin. Grapeseed or sunflower oil are good for more sensitive or oilier skins.

Fill a bowl with about one cup of sugar. Then slowly add oil, mixing with a chopstick until you have a consistency you like. Some people like it looser and oilier, but you want it so that most of the oil is mixed in and not floating around. You can also add ground herbs or essential oils to this.

This is great to use in the shower. You rub the scrub slowly over your skin in the shower, then rinse off when you’re done. Careful not to slip. It is after all, oil.

Deep Conditioning Hair Mask

Heating the mixture in a hot water bath.

Take one egg and about 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a heat safe dish. Mix together well. Then heat.

Heat a pot with about 1 inch of water. Put the dish in and let the mixture heat up very gently, mixing the entire time. When it starts to emulsify or look more thick and cohesive, take it off the heat. It should still be comfortable to touch with your bare hands. You can also heat it in the microwave. Heat for 2-3 seconds. See if it’s warm. If not, try another 2 seconds. It happens very quickly.

Too hot and the egg begins to scramble. If that happens, just keep scrambling and put it on some good bread with cheese and a dash of hot sauce.

Assuming you don’t overcook, the next step is to slather the stuff all over your hair. Cover hair in a plastic bag. Cover plastic bag with a towel and sit and relax. My hair is extremely thick and dry, so I find I can’t leave this on for long enough. The more the better. If your hair is thinner, more oily, try for 15-30 minutes.

The fabulous Juliane Huang slapped this eggy mixture on her long strong locks e-mailed the results at the end:

Juliane has egg in her hair.

The hair mask was very easy to do, and my hair is feeling super soft and silky right now– success! I had heard about this mask years ago, but never got around to trying it. Plus didn’t know specific instructions so got really interested when you told me about it.

It totally smells like egg, though. I suppose because the mixture was heated, it brought out the egg smell more? The smell disappeared after I washed it out.

End result– soft, silky, and not limp! that’s usually my problem with conditioners; they tend to weigh down my hair and make it really flat and limp. This mask doesn’t do that AND still conditions!

Some last notes: It’s better to use raw honey and ingredients that are as unprocessed as possible and don’t contain any ingredients other than itself. So no flavored oatmeals, sugared yogurts or salted nuts.

So there you have it. Cheap easy methods you can take directly from your kitchen.

Thank you to Candice, Juliane and the Rowlands for being such good sports and for teaching me the word gungi.

COMMUNITY CONNECTION

Learn more about herbal remedies and other simple methods of keeping yourself healthy and relaxed both on the road and at home in Matador’s Travel Heath section. For more information about potential herbs to use, check out 10 HerbsTo Use For Common Ailments.