Masks, scrubs, and hair treatments are great ways to de-stress and restore the natural glow of your hair and skin. But in addition to being expensive, commercial beauty products are a real drag on the environment with all their plastic tubes and foil packets—to say nothing of the potentially harmful chemicals inside. As part of our month-long focus on green living, we delved into proven tips and tricks for transforming everyday items into all-natural beauty boosters. Bonus: many of them may already be in your kitchen and medicine cabinet.
Chamomile tea highlights: Want to highlight your hair without breaking the bank? This gentle method is surprisingly effective. Just brew up a strong batch of chamomile tea, let it cool, and then rinse your hair with it after you shampoo and condition. The process is gradual, so you can stop after one application or go through a few rounds to slowly lighten things up.
Cornstarch dry shampoo: If you’re going a day or two between hair washes, a bit of dry shampoo can help absorb oil and freshen up your roots. But there’s no need to drop $20 on a bottle: cornstarch works just as well. Shake it on, and comb through. (If you have darker hair, you can add cocoa powder so it doesn’t end up tinting your hair gray.) You can also add 1/4 cup cornstarch, 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol or vodka, and 1 cup water to a spritzer bottle to create a spray-on version. Add a drop of essential oil to make it scented.
Ginger for thicker eyebrows: Whether you’re naturally sparse in the eyebrow department or just accidentally overplucked, ginger can help your eyebrows grow in thicker and darker. After washing your face each night, rub a cut piece of ginger root on the area where you want the hair to grow. The ginger juice acts as a natural stimulant, bringing increased circulation to the area. (But it’s also a major irritant, so be very careful not to get it into your eyes!)
Aspirin mask for acne: Aspirin naturally contains salicylic acid, the active ingredient in many acne-fighting products. So if you’ve got an inflamed pimple, don’t bother hitting the drugstore: just crush up an aspirin with the back of a spoon, add a drop or two of water, and smooth the resulting paste directly on the spot (with freshly washed hands, of course). After five minutes, rinse it off. You should notice reduced swelling and inflammation within a few hours.
Almond oil as makeup remover: It seems counterintuitive to take off oily makeup with more oil, but when it comes to getting off even stubborn waterproof mascara, almond oil is surprisingly great. It won’t clog pores, either.
An oatmeal facial: This is a classic beauty trick for a reason: oatmeal is a natural humectant, which means it traps in moisturizing ingredients and allows your skin to better absorb them. Try mixing 1/2 cup each of oatmeal and full-fat plain yogurt, then letting it sit on your skin for 10-15 minutes before rinsing it off. Plain instant oatmeal works in a pinch, too: prepare it with water, let it cool, then smooth it on and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. It’s especially good for irritated and inflamed skin or heat rash.
What’s your favorite DIY beauty secret? Let us know in the comments.