The best beauty fixes come from the most surprising places. Beer for your hair, anyone?
Many of today’s top spa treatments take their cues from old-fashioned home remedies, and there’s science to back up the ingredients’ effectiveness. Take a look at our favorites.
This nut oil makes a great hand moisturizer. With a light texture and loads of vitamin E, almond oil quickly penetrates dry skin and protects hands and nails from environmental damage.
Rub 1 teaspoon of oil into hands and cuticles. Wrap each hand in a small towel, and allow the oil to penetrate for at least 5 minutes. Wipe the excess oil off hands, but don't rinse them; any remaining oil will be absorbed over the next few minutes. Follow with a rich hand cream.
Use this soothing beverage to make a calming compress. A natural anti-inflammatory, chamomile reduces redness and puffiness around the eyes. It also soothes irritated complexions. Soak a clean washcloth in cool chamomile tea steeped to a golden yellow and apply to the skin as a compress. (To treat puffy eyes only, roll the washcloth to create an eye pillow.) Rest the compress on your skin for at least 10 minutes before rinsing and drying.
The high vitamin C levels in kiwi fight free-radical damage and even out skin texture. When scrubbed on the face, the seeds act as tiny exfoliators, leaving skin smooth. Peel and slice a ripe kiwi, then mash the flesh thoroughly with a fork. With circular motions, work the kiwi paste onto a damp, clean complexion, avoiding the eye and lip areas. After 30 to 60 seconds of scrubbing, rinse skin with warm water and pat dry.
Rich in vitamin E and fatty acids, olive oil is a Mediterranean-inspired favorite for moisturizing brittle and overstyled hair. Before showering, comb several tablespoons of "light" olive oil (it will say so on the label) through hair, working from roots to ends. Cover hair with a shower cap. After showering for 5 to 7 minutes, remove the cap. Shampoo, rinse, and condition as usual. Hair will feel super soft.
This thick dairy product makes a moisturizing mask and gentle exfoliant, since its lactic acid (an alpha-hydroxy acid) helps speed cell turnover, brightening dull complexions. Natural fats restore skin's moisture. Using your fingers, smooth 1 to 2 tablespoons of cool, full-fat sour cream in a thin layer over your clean face and neck, avoiding the eye and lip areas. Wait 7 to 10 minutes, then remove the mask with a wet washcloth. Splash skin with warm water and pat dry.
The lactic acid in milk serves as a gentle skin exfoliant, while its natural fat content acts as a body moisturizer. Add a gallon of whole milk to a tubful of warm water and soak. It's a great alternative to sugar and salt scrubs, which may be too abrasive for people who suffer from eczema, psoriasis, or sensitive skin. If you prefer a fragranced bath, add 10 to 20 drops of an essential oil, such as lavender.
The high acidity of apple-cider vinegar makes skin inhospitable to blemish-causing bacteria. Place a handful of parsley (a skin-clarifying herb) into a French press and cover it with 1/2 cup of boiling water. Steep for 10 minutes, then plunge and let the liquid cool. Transfer to a spray bottle along with a splash of vinegar and four drops of tea tree oil (an antiseptic), shake well, and spritz on a freshly cleansed face. Store the spray bottle in the fridge.
Avocado oil's abundant fatty acids help balance skin's moisture levels, and the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E protect skin from further damage. Combine equal parts avocado oil and evening-primrose oil (which supports collagen synthesis with its gamma linoleic acid) in a sealable bottle and shake to blend. Massage five or six drops into clean skin, and then cover your face with a warm washcloth for a minute to help the oils sink in.
Yeast and hops help to swell the hair shaft and plump the cuticle, adding volume. The acidity of the beer helps remove built-up product residue. In the shower, after you've shampooed, pour a bottle of beer over your hair. Rinse briefly with fresh water (the idea is to avoid the Eau de Barfly effect while retaining the beer's body-boosting benefits). A rich beer with a high yeast content works best. (Read: No light beer.)
Eggs' high protein content helps improve hair's resilience and luster. Whisk together 1 egg, 2 tablespoons coconut oil (rich in moisturizing fats), and 2 tablespoons sesame oil. Apply the mixture to dry hair and wrap a hot, moist towel around your head. Relax for 5 to 10 minutes. Without wetting hair first, work in a handful of shampoo, then rinse and condition your hair.
Rich in oil, walnuts make for extra-gentle sloughing. Blend 1/4 cup shelled walnuts, 1/2 cup olive oil (for extra emollients), and a tablespoon of honey (to seal moisture into your skin) in a food processor set on a slow speed, creating a fine-particle scrub. Standing in the shower (if you're scrubbing your feet) or over a sink (if it's for your hands), work the mixture thoroughly over your skin for a couple of minutes. Rinse with warm water.
The fruit acid loosens dead skin cells. Cut a fresh orange in half and squeeze the juice of one half into a bowl. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup olive oil and then blend into a moisture-rich scrub. Next, rub the exposed side of the other half of the orange over knees, elbows, heels, and any other dry spots. Last, rub in the sugar mixture to slough off dead skin. Rinse with warm water and pat skin dry.
Soothing and anti-inflammatory, oatmeal contains beta glucan, a soluble fiber that creates a thin, moisture-retaining film on the surface of the skin. Place a handful of whole oats in a clean washcloth and use a rubber band to secure it. Next, immerse it in a sinkful of warm water and squeeze the bag four or five times. Once the water is cloudy, splash it on your face and then air-dry. (If you must towel dry, pat as gently as possible.)