The Homemade Spa

DO YOU PANIC when you have to buy a new moisturizer? Have
security cameras captured you wandering the drugstore aisles,
shiftless, trying to make sense of the bewildering array? Oily
skin. Dry skin. Sensitive. Combination
. . . You didn’t know
your face required a chemistry degree!

And when the season throws wintry cold and stuffy heat into the
mix, treating one problem often contributes to another. First your
cleanser dries you out, and then your moisturizer makes you break
out. Could the culprit be all of those mysterious (and potentially
toxic) methyls, ethyls, and propyls that you can’t even pronounce,
let alone identify? Time to simplify.

Everything your skin needs for proper health can be found in
your kitchen. The rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t eat it, rule it
out. People have been rubbing on comestibles for centuries. It’s a
natural, gentle, effective way to get that spa-day shine — and
whatever you don’t use, bottle up and give away. Everyone needs a
little pampering at this time of year.

There are a few basic rules when it comes to skin care: Remove
dirt and surface oil, but don’t strip away all your natural
hydration. Moisturize, but don’t clog pores. Exfoliate to remove
dead cells, but not so much that your skin becomes irritated. With
that in mind, delve into the following edibles, which can be used
on all types of skin.

Dry Skin Succulents

Olive oil is a powerful moisturizer that
doesn’t clog pores. It’s particularly good for hands, feet, and
lips, but use it wherever you are dry or chapped. Get the best
quality you can — extra virgin contains the most skin-protecting
antioxidants, and a little goes a long way.

Honey, although it can be pricey, is a natural
antiseptic that heals and hydrates. In addition to producing a
healthy glow, it inhibits infection and reduces inflammation. Dark
is better than light, and the raw (unprocessed) kind is best of

Salt helps to open pores, exfoliates dead skin
cells, and discourages bacteria. Coarse kosher salt makes a great
scrub; for soaking, use sea salt, which dissolves more easily.

Oily Skin Astringents

Apple cider vinegar invigorates and tones,
restores natural acid balance, and promotes healthy circulation.
Vinegar also helps to dissolve excess oil and to eliminate dead
skin, including dandruff.

Lemon juice contains citric acid, which
exfoliates and promotes the growth of healthy new cells. It also
has a mild bleaching effect that fades scars and evens out skin
tone (avoid it if you don’t want to lighten your complexion). Use
fresh juice; the bottled kind often contains sulfites, which can
cause allergic reactions.

Garlic is a natural astringent and antibiotic
that helps your body heal. Applying it directly to skin may sting a
little; try diluting a chopped clove in water instead.

Sensitive Skin Solutions

Baking soda will clean anything, and your skin
is no exception. It absorbs oil, exfoliates, tightens pores, and
draws out toxins, but it leaves your face feeling soft and smooth,
not tight and dry. Add half a cup to the bath with a few cups of
sea salt.

Cucumber soothes sensitive skin in the same way
it cools the palate after a spicy meal. Place a slice on each
eyelid for five minutes to refresh tired or puffy eyes.

Yogurt is a balm for irritation and encourages
your skin to produce moisture. It contains mild lactic acid, which
smoothes and helps to restore proper pH balance. Use the plain
stuff — cream-top whole milk for dry skin, low or nonfat for the
oilier variety.

Recipes for Her

1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, apple cider vinegar (oilier skin), or
plain yogurt (drier skin)
1/2 teaspoon water (1 teaspoon if using yogurt)

In a small bowl, add water to baking soda, then add lemon juice,
vinegar, or yogurt and stir; the mixture will foam up. Wet face and
gently massage in mixture, then rinse well with lukewarm water.

2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons honey

Combine salt and honey in small bowl and use in the shower or
bath to exfoliate and cleanse rough or dull skin. This smoother
rinses away easily and leaves a pleasant honey scent.

1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup peeled, chopped cucumber

Mix yogurt and cucumber with food processor or blender. Apply to
face and leave on for five minutes, then rinse with cool water.
This mask soothes the skin and takes care of blotchiness and
irritation. It will stay fresh in the fridge for three to four

3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine salt and olive oil in a small bowl and apply in rotating
circles to damp skin wherever it’s chapped or dry. This scrub
treats scaly winter feet and makes ashy knees and elbows velvety
soft. Careful, though — the oil will make your tub slippery!

Recipes for Him

1/2 cup vodka fragrant blend, sweet or spicy
1/2 cup mineral water

Sweet blend:
1 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
2-inch piece vanilla bean, cut in half

Spicy blend:
2 bay leaves, broken
15 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns

Add spices to vodka and steep in covered glass jar for at least
one week (the longer it steeps, the stronger it will smell). Strain
liquid and dilute with mineral water. Splash on after shaving —
the alcohol acts as a toner, astringent, and antiseptic, and a
subtle scent will linger on the skin.

3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine salt, honey, and olive oil in small bowl, then mix in
black pepper and vanilla. This scrubs away rough or dull skin from
head to toe and leaves a scent that’s a little bit spicy, a little
bit sweet.

Reprinted from the inventive how-to magazine ReadyMade
(Nov./Dec. 2004). Subscriptions: $27.95/yr. (6 issues) from Box
469172, Escondido, CA 92046;

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