When you think of relaxing treatments, the first thing you are likely to think of is a face mask and cucumber slices over eyelids. However, the world of alternative treatments is so much bigger than that – there are many everyday products which can be used as part of your beauty regime. Not only do these cost significantly less than manufactured beauty products, you can be safe in the knowledge that you know exactly what is going onto and into your body, which is especially useful for people with sensitive skin. Ivana Knezevic, a cosmetic chemist and the owner of i2 by Ivana K, has some very helpful tips on skincare. Gina Rafkind is founder of VedaSun, as well as a professional hair stylist and aromatherapist. She offers her knowledge on natural hair remedies.
1. Beer – Let’s start with possibly one of the most unusual solutions and the wonderful effects beer can have on your hair! Gina says: “Using beer as a hair rinse adds body and shine to the hair. I believe that it is all the sugar and protein in beer that gives hair the incredible shine and fullness.” Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones swears by it to maintain her glossy locks, although she admits to smelling like a beer barrel for a while afterwards. To make like Catherine, just rinse your hair with one can of warm, flat beer once a month, or whenever your hair looks dry and dull. Rinse hair thoroughly with warm water, et voilà, bouncy shiny hair. Different people recommend mixing oils with the beer to make it smell nicer, but plain beer seems to work just as well – just make sure you don’t try this before a night out, even if it is to the pub!
2. Salt – Another hair remedy is salt water directly from the sea. This helps you to achieve sexy beach curls, so next time you’re beside the seaside, why not take a bit of it home with you? Or if you don’t fancy a trip to the beach, simply dissolve a couple of teaspoons of sea salt into two cups of water, pour into a spray bottle and you’re ready to go. Spray onto wet hair, scrunching with your fingers as you go, and allow to air dry (blow-drying will ruin the effect). Products are now being released which contain salt water to attain this effect, so why not achieve the look in a way that is better for both you and your purse? Gina advises: “Add 6-8 drops of lavender essential oil to give your mist a nice scent. If your hair is really straight, mist your hair with the sea salt, braid it and allow to dry. Then undo the braids, use a little more mist and your fingers to arrange hair into that sexy, wavy look.”
3. Lemon juice – This can be used to lighten blonde hair when combined with a session of sitting in the sun – which I’m sure you won’t be moaning about! As with the other tips, this one is very simple: rinse hair with lemon juice and sit in the sun for a while. The longer you leave it in the sun, the lighter your hair will get, but make sure you don’t get a burnt scalp – a red, flaky scalp is not attractive and very painful too. Generally, to maintain the colour you should repeat this process every 2/3 weeks. Gina recommends mixing two parts water with one part conditioner and one part fresh lemon juice. She says: “I used to always use lemon juice in the summer to give me highlights and it worked great. I took the liquid to the beach in a spray bottle and misted my hair with it. This concoction not only conditioned my hair in the sun, but gave me beautiful highlights that were just a shade lighter than my natural hair colour.”
4. Sea salt and Sugar – Now to move onto skin exfoliators. There are many combinations you can use, but a couple of the most simple are sea salt and sugar mixed with water. Ivana says: “Both salt and sugar are commonly used as exfoliators with excellent results. They absorb different impurities on the skin, and like all exfoliators, the skin is left silky smooth. What’s more is the fact that they are natural and part of every household.” Sea salt is not recommended for facial use, as it is a little too abrasive, but sugar works very well to fight off spots and remove dead cells from the skin’s surface which can make it appear dull. To use the sea salt option, open pores by immersing your body in warm water and apply the solution liberally. Rinse with warm water and be warned that the bath can feel very gritty afterwards as the salt sinks to the bottom! Apply a warm flannel to your face before gently applying the sugar solution, as this will help to open your pores so the scrub can deeply cleanse and exfoliate. Rinse with warm water afterwards.
5. Honey – This is another everyday food which comes with many beauty benefits – most surprisingly as a cellulite buster. Ivana says: “Honey is widely used and revered as a panacea. It is a great national treasure because of what it contains: natural sugars, trace elements, vitamins and numerous biologically active compounds.” According to managecellulite.com, “90% of post-adolescent women go on to develop cellulite at some time during their life” no matter how skinny they are. Many of the products which claim to combat cellulite are very expensive, so why not try honey? Cover the area with honey and press against it with clean, dry hands, pulling them away gently. Aim to repeat this twice a week for 5-10 minutes, but be aware that bruising and redness can occur if you are not careful. In addition, adding honey to your bath water will ensure that your skin feels luxuriously smooth and smells gorgeous. “Honey in bath water should be delightful” says Ivana. “In addition, although it may require large amounts of honey, covering dry areas with a thin layer of honey and waiting 10-15 minutes before the bath may improve results tremendously.”
6. Olive oil – Italians are known for having beautiful, glowing skin and hair, so what is their secret? Olive oil – not only can it benefit you from the inside out, but also from the outside in! “It is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and fatty acids which make it a wonderful nourishing conditioner for scalp, hair, skin and nails,” says Gina. Firstly, if you have a dry scalp, try massaging olive oil onto your head, and leave for 10 minutes. Gina says: “Try mixing an ounce of olive oil with this blend of essential oils: six drops of lavender, four drops of lemon and two drops of rosemary. You can even use a little of this blend to massage onto your scalp before going to bed, then shampoo the next day.” To remove it, rub shampoo into your hair thoroughly without water and then rinse with warm water. It is important to make sure that the olive oil and water do not come into contact with each other, because your hair will become very hard to wash otherwise. Similarly, to make eyelashes appear healthier and shinier, gently apply olive oil, either with your fingers or with a clean eyebrow brush. To soften cuticles, rub a small amount of oil onto your nails and push back your cuticles. You can also use it as a moisturiser: rubbing it into wet skin is best. Gina also uses olive oil to remove make-up: “Wet your face and massage it with oil. Then take a cotton pad moistened with warm water to remove the oil. Remember to be gentle with your skin, especially around the eye area.”
7. Plain Yogurt – Not only a yummy food – it also has fantastic antibiotic properties, which means that it can kill off the bacteria of blemishes on skin. Ivana explains: “There are many reasons why yogurt is good for the skin: B vitamins, lactic acid, zinc, enzymes, protein, active bacterial culture… And it can be helpful with different skin types, from acneic to tired, dull skin.” Combined with honey it can be used as a facemask to cleanse, soften and soothe. Apply to your face and rinse with warm water after 10-15 minutes. As it is a great moisturiser, you can also use it for your hands and body, but make sure you rinse it off!
Natural products are interchangeable which makes them even more accessible and cheap than manufactured ones. Obviously, it is unlikely that you will cease to use any man-made products, but it is nice to know that there are things that you can make quickly, cheaply and easily by yourself. Also, it means that you are more aware of the properties nature provides us with – after all, manufactured properties came from something natural in the beginning!
Enjoy your new knowledge of natural beauty!
For more information on Ivana’s skincare products, check out www.i2byivanak.com.
You can learn more about what Gina Rafkind does at www.whatsyourmudyoga.com/ – ‘A gathering place of inspiration for those on the empowering and challenging journey of Self discovery.’
Tess MacPherson is a talented journalism student from the UK that has generously provided us with this article, supplemented with quotes from our ANB Website experts, Ivana Knezevic & Gina Rafkind.
This article has previously been featured (minus the quotes) on sensitivefoodies.com.