There is no shortage of information about all-natural, organic health products and how good they are for us these days. If you’re anything like me, you’ve seen your fair share of green tea moisturizers and rose body butters, each of them costing about a month’s rent. In the midst of all these genius yet infuriating marketing ploys, it’s easy for us to forget that it’s the most simple, natural products that have the greatest effect. You don’t need to shell out hunks of cash for fancy essential oils and packaged clay masks in order to feel great and have glowing skin and shiny hair. Seriously, you don’t! So sign off that posh beauty product website and let’s get back to basics.
If there is a natural ingredient out there that does all sorts of good for your body when you eat it, chances are it has its positive benefits for your external body as well. It’s just that we rarely think to put things on our face that we put on our dinner plate. That’s why I’m here. To encourage you to get weird with what’s in your kitchen right now. And if it’s not in your kitchen, read on, because these ingredients pack a big punch of health for your beautiful bod.
Here are seven ingredients you should have in both your kitchen and your bathroom.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar could be your best friend, if you’d let it. It kills the nasty bacteria that builds up in your body, helps you digest your food, and soothes a sore throat. In 2006, a study showed that the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar can lower bad cholesterol levels. It even lowers your blood sugar, and prevents and fights diabetes.
For your beauty routine, apple cider vinegar is your go-to when you’re fighting an acne flare up. It softens and exfoliates your skin, and reduces the red spots on your face. If you need a quick stress reliever, draw a warm bath and add eight ounces of apple cider vinegar. Soak your sexy bum in there for 15 minutes for smooth skin that’s got balanced pH levels. This magical vinegar also works as a conditioner of sorts. Rinse your hair with diluted apple cider vinegar (a couple tablespoons per cup of water) after baking soda shampoo for shiny locks.
2. Coconut Oil
I’ll sing praises for coconut oil until the day I die. I use it for everything. I even use it as an eye makeup remover. But let’s start with how good it is to eat. Coconut oil is a short term medium-chain saturated fatty acid (MCFA), which is the healthiest fat out there. Our body reacts well to MCFAs. It metabolizes them in the liver and quickly turns them into energy instead of storing them as fat. A 2009 study proved that coconut oil aids in digestion and insulin production. It also boosts your metabolism and keeps your immune system healthy. Make sure you buy organic, cold-pressed, though!
Perhaps the most popular thing coconut oil is used for in the bathroom is a moisturizer. I use it every night and it’s really helped with my acne. You can use it as body lotion, a means for treating callouses on your feet, and all-natural shaving cream. Coconut oil even works as a lovely highlighter for your cheekbones. And like I said earlier, it makes a wonderful eye makeup remover that doesn’t burn if it accidentally slips into your eyes.
3. Baking Soda
For starters, let’s celebrate the fact that baking soda is dirt cheap, so there’s no excuse for not having piles of it at home. When you drink a glass of water with a small spoonful of baking soda in it, you’re giving your body a natural antacid, a mild antiseptic that kills parasites, and a boost of alkaline that balances out your pH levels.
As for the bathroom, baking soda has its many perks. You can use it as a natural deodorant if you don’t want to buy the stuff at the pharmacy that’s full of chemicals. Mix a pinch of it with warm water and rub it into your armpits. It functions as a great shampoo when mixed with warm water, as well as a natural face wash. Because of its antibacterial activity, baking soda even doubles as a toothpaste, fighting plague and deodorizing your teeth.
Ah, where do we begin with lemons? They can treat constipation and high blood pressure, strengthen your immune system and cleanse your stomach. Lemons are packed with vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, and folate. All good things. About two and a half years ago, I started drinking a warm water with fresh lemon juice every morning. I swear this one habit has contributed to the best skin I’ve ever had in my life.
The list of homemade beauty and spa products you can make yourself is endless. A lovely face mask can be made just out of fresh lemon juice and honey, and you can create a sugar scrub out of lemons and a few other common kitchen ingredients. Do you ever struggle with blackheads? (Don’t worry, sometimes I’m convinced my nose is just one big blackhead.) Squeeze some lemon juice, which has antibacterial properties, directly on those suckers and watch them disappear.
5. Greek Yogurt
I’m usually not an advocate for dairy, and I steer clear of it as much as I can because I’m a bit lactose intolerant, but all-natural Greek yogurt (organic is better!) has a lot of benefits that are worth a second look. It’s a potent probiotic that keeps your gut healthy and prevents yeast infections because of the healthy bacteria present in it. Greek yogurt is also really high in potassium, protein, and vitamin B12.
Due to its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, Greek yogurt is by your side in your war against acne. Rub a bit onto your acne prone areas and let it sit for half an hour before rinsing off. My favorite use of Greek yogurt is as a deep hair conditioner. I just slather some straight onto the ends of my hair, toss a shower cap on, and leave it for anywhere from a half hour to an hour. Rinse off with warm water for shiny, healthy strands. Finally, let’s not forget the delicious face masks that can be made with Greek yogurt. All you’ve got to do is apply a layer of it to your freshly washed face, and let it sit for 10 minutes. It will moisturize your skin and prevent wrinkles.
Protein, vitamin D, vitamin B6, iron, and copper are just several of the nutrients found in eggs. Eggs are also good for your heart, your bones, and even your brain development. Researchers at Harvard University in 2005 found that women who ate six eggs a week had a 44 percent lower risk of contracting breast cancer compared to the women who ate two or fewer eggs a week.
Mix up an egg with mashed avocado, banana, and olive oil for a hydrating hair mask. Or combine an egg with juice from a lemon and apply it to your face. Rinse it off shortly after to fight acne breakouts. It can also be combined with honey and coarse salt for a satisfying, exfoliating body scrub.
I was initially shocked to see the long list of health benefits of honey. I used to think it was just another sugary additive that would add to my waistline. In truth, honey can regulate blood sugar because of its low hypoglycemic index, and it can treat ulcers and other gastrointestinal disorders. It’s antibacterial and anti-fungal, so it can kill the mean bacteria in your gut. And as you probably already know, it can soothe an itchy, dry throat when you’re not feeling your best.
As a beauty use, honey is boss. It gives you healthier skin, hair, and nails, and it can mix with just about any of the above ingredients to create a decadent beauty concoction. For example, mix a tablespoon of honey with two tablespoons of coconut oil. Rub it into clean, dry skin in circular motions, and rinse off. This acts as a natural pore cleanser that zaps bacteria and reduces acne. You could use it all alone as well. Spread a scoop of raw honey on your just-washed face, and leave it on as a mask for 15 minutes. Rinse off for hydrated, glowing skin. Yummy.