Growing up in India and the Middle East, my mother and relatives had a homemade remedy for every ailment, from medical conditions to a pesky pimple. I’ve taken the advice from Indian aunties and Bollywood stars to give you easy, budget-friendly ways to pamper your skin.
My mum taught me that no matter the problem, the answer almost always can be found in the kitchen. So before you head to the store for your next skin or hair care product, take a look in your pantry. Mother nature has blessed us with ingredients that are not only edible, but also perfect as homemade beauty treatments. Here are 5 ingredients with tried and tested beauty benefits, passed down from generation to generation.
As a child, I dreaded anything with turmeric, and to this day – I refuse to ingest the bitter spice unless it’s used on my skin. Indian brides have long used turmeric as a head-to-toe body scrub and face mask to brighten skin before their weddings. Turmeric is used as a skin exfoliant; it helps with inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, dry skin, psoriasis and eczema; it reduces pigmentation and evens out the skin tone; and it is also said to diminish wrinkles.
My skin still thanks my mum for giving me a haldi (turmeric) bath once a week. Below is the recipe for my mum’s turmeric scrub – it can get messy and may stain your clothes and sink, so I recommend keeping this one as part of a weekly routine and only applying a thin layer to your skin.
Mum’s DIY recipe
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon raw honey
1 teaspoon full-fat yogurt or coconut oil
Mix it all together and apply as a thin layer. Wait 20 minutes till it dries and wash off in the shower.
Sunday morning turmeric-raw honey-coconut oil face mask, with Henry trying to steal a few licks.
This is another ingredient growing in popularity in North America. Growing up, my fond memory of coconut oil was its use as a hair mask. Once a week, my mum would massage the oil into my hair roots and I usually kept it on for a day before rinsing it out.
I’ve now added using coconut oil as moisturizer for my skin due to its innate moisturizing and exfoliating properties. All you have to do is scoop out a chunk of coconut oil from the jar, warm it up by rubbing it in your palms, and then lather it on your body. You can use it as makeup remover by applying about a teaspoon on your skin, leaving it on for about two minutes and washing off with a mild cleanser. I even use it as an alternative to shaving cream.
To this day, I keep my Sunday coconut oil hair mask routine. For my thick, curly hair, the oil enhances my hair’s lubrication, making it easier to comb and manage, while increasing shine and preventing frizz. The oil is also great for damaged hair and preventing or treating dandruff. If you want to use it as a hair mask, just apply it to your hair and scalp and comb it through. You can let it soak in for an hour before washing it out with shampoo, but I recommend leaving it in overnight for a result of thick, shiny locks.
This fibre-packed grain is not just great for consumption; I also like to use it as an exfoliating agent and for dry skin. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help to treat dry skin, remove dead skin cells, and its mild pH can help cool down inflamed skin.
My DIY recipe
1 tablespoon dry ground oatmeal (too thick and it clogs your sink)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon raw honey
1 teaspoon coconut oil
Apply this scrub on your face and let it stay for 20 minutes. For best results, use the scrub at least twice a week.
My brother swears by any honey-based scrub, and the science backs it up. Honey, known for its moisturizing properties, can help with dry skin. Honey is also naturally antibacterial, which helps your skin fight off acne and keep fungal infections and other skin problems at bay.
You can play around with honey scrubs depending on your skin-type. For acne-prone skin, mix 1 teaspoon lemon, 1 tablespoon honey and 1 teaspoon baking soda. For dry skin, try mixing honey with avocado and almond oil. For sensitive skin, mix 2 teaspoons raw honey with 1 teaspoon aloe vera gel as aloe soothes inflammation and calms your skin.
I found that a honey and lemon juice mask worked wonders for my dark spots. My skin would feel smooth and soft right away, but it took a few applications to notice a real difference in scars and spots. Over several weeks I saw a striking difference in the appearance of my skin.
Growing up, my mum brought out curd/dahi (yogurt) when my stomach was upset, I had a cough, or my skin and scalp needed some moisturizing. Yogurt can easily be added to your skin care routine and mixed with other natural ingredients to create remedies for all problems. For beauty purposes, use plain, unflavored, unsweetened yogurt.
Yogurt is loaded with vitamins and minerals that nourish and revitalize dehydrated skin. When my skin looks dry or dull, I make a brightening face mask – recipe courtesy of my brother.
Brother’s DIY recipe
2 tablespoons yogurt
1 tablespoon coffee
1 teaspoon raw honey
The antioxidant properties in honey and yogurt freshens up my skin and makes it clearer and blemish free. Plus, coffee is a great skin stimulant and helps dislodge dead skin cells, reduces inflammation and helps improve blood circulation.
I get periods of dandruff throughout the year, and when it comes back, I apply my simple, easy and highly effective hair mask at least once a week. Yogurt has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that help fight and clear off dandruff; and lactic acid clears off excess dead cells and flakes on the scalp.
My DIY recipe
4 tablespoons yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 teaspoons dried fenugreek powder
Pinch of baking soda
Using these natural ingredients found in your kitchen as beauty products can prove beneficial in the long run when you avoid putting nasty chemicals from commercially manufactured products on your body. Plus, it’s a cheaper solution.
Got a natural beauty hack? Let me know in the comments.