Beauty products are the one thing that I waste my money on. Give me a hundred bucks and plop me in the nearest Duane Reade, and I’m happy as a pig in shit, wandering the aisles, Googling face cream comparisons, debating the merits of serums. I love beauty products for the breathless and inspirational lies they tell. This thing will shave years off your face. This other thing will erase dark spots and get rid of wrinkles.
Pat this into your delicate under eye area, ring finger only, to avoid tugging at the crepe-y skin. I love them for their promise of self-improvement, but I hate how expensive they are. This is why I have turned to the powerful hive mind of the internet, where I discovered the soft-lit, and earnest underbelly of natural, DIY beauty remedies. You see these things on Pinterest and Facebook, and while you may click and stockpile tabs, how often do you really try them? Does rubbing food on your face actually work? I was ready to do the work.
Here are nine natural, DIY, blogger-approved beauty remedies — plus one store-bought hippie solution — tried and tested by yours truly…
1. Charcoal Teeth Whitening
The Claim: Activated charcoal, the stuff that you find in Origins’ lovely and effective Clear Improvement face mask, is great at drawing out impurities and removing gunk from pores, the surface of your teeth, or whatever. It’s also the stuff that they give you at the hospital if you go in for alcohol poisoning. We have activated charcoal in capsules at my house. I have taken it only when extremely drunk, in the hopes that it would ward off whatever death hangover was coming for me the next day, but I noticed no real difference.
The Science: Activated charcoal is extremely porous. It absorbs toxins like a little sponge, which is why it’s used for removing toxins from the body.
The Verdict: My teeth tend towards the yellowish — I smoke, I drink a lot of coffee, I have been told I have weak enamel. This miracle cure is cheaper than Crest White Strips, and I already had this shit in my house.
I followed the instructions, emptying out a capsule into a shot glass, mixing it with some water and swishing it around in my mouth for five minutes. I rinsed, I spat, I rinsed again. I repeated this procedure for five minutes, until my mouth was no loner coated in a horrifying black paste. Afterwards, I bared my teeth in the mirror, and examined them, every single inch. Were they whiter? Maybe a hair. Did they feel squeaky clean, like almost too clean? Yes.
2. DIY Beach Spray
The Claim: Why spend $28 on a teensy bottle of Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray when you can whip this up in your own home, using stuff that you most likely have around the house?
The Science: Most surf spray products contain salt, alcohol, water, and fragrance. This mimics the glorious alchemy of going for a dip in the ocean and then napping for three hours on the beach.
The Verdict: I had most of the ingredients lying around the house, minus the alcohol, which I left out. My hair is tricky. Sometimes, I wake up like dis, tumbly and gorgeous and wavy and luxurious, with nary a tendril out of place. Other days, my hair looks as if I’ve fallen asleep on precisely half of it, and I require a bun. About once a month, I look like Shingy. I tried this salt spray on a day when my hair was cooperating with me, and to its credit, my hair was soft. The lack of alcohol meant that my hair wasn’t crunchy, only fluffy and tousled and glorious. The downside is that my hair didn’t stay beautiful. Despite the gel that’s included in the recipe, my hair fell flat halfway through the day, and I had to put it up into my requisite “I really need a haircut” topknot. Bummer.
3. Baking Soda Microdermabrasion
The Claim: This is the cheap and easy way to get tight, glowing, beautiful skin like the celebs. Skin that glows like a newborn baby’s. Skin that looks expensive.
The Science: Baking soda is a gentle, natural abrasive, and really, when you get microdermabrasion, all you’re doing is removing dead skin cells using chemicals. Baking soda is a chemical, it’s in your house, and if you want to reveal the glowing you that lurks under years of acne scars and forgetting to put on moisturizer at night, this is supposedly your best cheap bet.
The Verdict: I have an Oil Of Olay at-home microdermabrasion kit that comes with a fake Clarisonic brush, which I have used to great effect. I also have huge pores, especially on my nose, and a tendency to be lax with washing my face as often as I should. If this baking soda recipe was something that could work to take care of all my skin issues without dropping $15 to buy the exfoliant that goes with the kit, then I was game.
Making the paste was not a big deal, nor was rubbing it methodically into my skin for five minutes, although five minutes is a very long time to do just the one thing. I rinsed, I patted dry, I assessed my face close up. It felt smoother and the gross clogged pores around the sides of my nose cleared up. It was easy, it was cheap, and somehow, it worked. I’m a believer.
4. Oil Pulling
The Claim: Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic practice that has gained traction as of late thanks to earth goddess Shailene Woodley’s rise to fame. It’s simple. You swish about a tablespoon full of coconut oil in your mouth, and then spit it out after about 20 very long minutes. The promise is that the oil will pull toxins and other horrible things out of your mouth, clear up your skin, make you sleep better, and even fold your laundry. There’s really nothing it can’t do, they say.
The Science: Dubious. According to Jezebel, oil pulling works, but only because it’s just deep cleaning your mouth.
The Verdict: This scares me, only because there’s something really gross to me about putting a fucking tablespoon full of oil in my mouth and swishing it around. I’m impatient by nature, so even the act of holding mouthwash in my mouth for longer than 10 seconds is hell. But, for the sake of this article, and also my morbid curiosity, I gave it a shot.
At first, the half-solid clump of coconut oil in my mouth made me gag a little, but I stayed the course. The process itself isn’t that bad. After the oil solidifies, all I had to do was sit and swish, waiting for the timer I’d set on my phone to go off. I was expecting it to taste horrible, like coconut mixed with tooth decay, but really, it felt like I was swishing nothing, which was a pleasant surprise. After I spit it out, the oil was indeed “creamy” as promised, but my mouth was slicked with grease that required me to brush my teeth for a very, very long time. I also developed a low-grade headache, but I think that was a byproduct of swishing something in my mouth for so long.
5. Egg White, Honey & Lemon Juice Face Mask
The Claim: This mask purports to tighten, brighten and lighten the skin — all good things.
The Science: Lemon brightens and functions nicely as an astringent, while honey has anti-bacterial qualities. The egg whites serve to tighten your pores and are basically pure protein, which is good for your face.
The Verdict: This face mask was irrefutably gross to make, and the smell of the egg whites was a huge deterrent. Regardless, I soldiered on, whipping up the mixture and slathering it all over my face. The instructions recommended laying down, because the tightening properties supposedly work better when you’re supine, but I’ve never been one for rules, so I sat upright and watched two “So You Think You Can Dance” routines. The tightening is no joke. The glue-like mixture dried quickly, and I could feel my skin growing taut. When I looked in the mirror to rinse the mask off, I saw a stray strand of hair, trapped as if in amber on my face.
Once rinsed, my face was tight and smooth and shiny, but not in a bad face peel way. Everything just felt smoother, as if I had not spent most of my twenties trapped in a vicious cycle of excessive tanning and no sunscreen. It might have been my imagination, but the new freckle I discovered recently on the tip of my nose seemed diminished in color too.
6. Lemon Foot Exfoliant
The Claim: Rubbing half a fresh lemon on your rough spots will make them smoother “instantly.”
The Science: A lemon is a kind of alpha hydroxy acid, which will effectively eat away at the dead skin on your heels/elbows/knees and make them smooth and pure again.
The Verdict: My heels are embarrassing. I haven’t worn shoes other than sandals since early May, I go to dance class in bare feet, and I live in New York. These factors work together to create a terrifying carapace on my heels, cracked like an elephant’s hide, but tougher. I have a Ped-Egg that I use when I think of it, and I get pedicures occasionally, but for the most part, my feet just do what they want, when they want. The Ped-Egg, while effective, is also a disgusting way to get dead skin off your feet. While there is something deeply satisfying about rubbing what is basically a cheese grater over your heels, the thing is crafted in such a way that when you open it up to empty it out, dead skin shavings that resemble finely-grated Parmesan fly all over the place. It’s disgusting. A fresh lemon seemed like a more pleasant alternative I was excited to try.
I parked my butt on the edge of the tub, and took to my heels with half a lemon, scrubbing away, making horrifying foot-dirt lemonade in my tub. Once I rinsed, I was pleasantly surprised at how well this actually worked. My feet felt like they do after an inspired session in the shower with a pumice stone. I think with regular maintenance, this is a beauty hack that could make its way to my repertoire.
7. Gelatin & Milk DIY Pore Strip
The Claim: The mixture of powdered gelatin and warm milk creates a smoothing mask for “trouble areas,” unclogging pores and functioning like a DIY pore strip.
The Science: Gelatin dries into a film that is very similar to whatever magic is on a Biore pore strip, and the lactic acid in milk functions the same way as an alpha hydroxy acid does, exfoliating the surface of the skin, enhancing cell turnover and eating away at dead skin that clogs your pores.
The Verdict: I am majorly lactose intolerant, and milk, especially warm milk, grosses me out so much. I approached this with trepidation.
I was instructed to heat the milk for 20 seconds in the microwave, and whisk in a packet of gelatin, which I did, though I was not very pleased about it. The resulting mixture was the texture of semen and smelled like my days as a barista, but I gamely rubbed it on my nose and chin, and let it hang out until it dried. Once it was dry, I rubbed at it like I was removing a persnickety price tag, until it peeled off in a gluey sheet. I examined the refuse, looking for the same satisfying plugs that come out of my pores when I remove a pore strip, but didn’t really see anything. The mask was now the texture and stickiness of that glue they use to affix promotional material to the front of magazines — rubbery and sticky, adhering itself to every surface. I thought happy thoughts and rinsed it off in the sink, and then assessed my face. My pores looked smaller, my skin felt smoother. This worked, but I won’t be doing it again until winter. Rubbing warm milk on my face in August, in a bathroom without air conditioning, is not something I recommend.
8. Tea Tee Oil Dandruff Treatment
The Claim: Tea tree oil is a natural remedy for dandruff removal. It’s better than Head ’N’ Shoulders, better than T-Gel, and doesn’t make the rest of your hair feel like straw.
The Science: Tea tree oil is a powerful anti-fungal, and that’s what the cause of dandruff is — a fungus similar to yeast that causes skin cells to overproduce and then die, leading to flakes and general grossness.
The Verdict: I have dandruff. I hate it. I have a terrible habit of picking at my scalp which exacerbates the problem, but my dandruff is persistent. Regular dandruff shampoos work, but they make my hair feel like Barbie hair and they smell weird. Tea tree oil, when rubbed directly on the scalp, is supposed to combat all of these things. I procured some and tried it for about a week, rubbing a mixture of tea tree oil and coconut oil on my scalp, in an attempt to kill the fungus and also moisturize my shit. I am sad to say that this was only half-successful. The mixture felt great when applied, tingly and cool, which was a welcome relief in the muggy heat. After I applied the oils, I hung out for a while until I felt it had all soaked in. After about 20 minutes, I rinsed my hair thoroughly and went to bed. The next morning, the flakes had disappeared for the most part, but by the time I got home, they were back. Meh.
9. Egg Yolk & Olive Oil Hair Mask
The Claim: Olive oil is super moisturizing and eggs, once again, are pure protein — both things that are fantastic for restoring shine and strength and glory to your hair.
The Science: Olive oil is great for dry and damaged hair, and adding the extra shot of protein makes it that much better, right?
The Verdict: I could take better care of my hair. Only recently have I begun bringing a bottle of conditioner to the beach, and I have a bottle of Argan oil that I rub into the ends when they feel especially crisp. I bleached a large portion of my hair over the winter, and now that it’s growing out, the ends are not okay. I’m waiting for the end of summer to get a hair cut, but in the meantime, I would very much enjoy wearing my hair down. This mask was my Hail Mary.
Making the mixture was not unlike the time I attempted to make mayo at home, and I realize now that this is very similar to that recipe. Had I some mustard powder, some garlic, and some lemon juice, I could’ve made a delicious aioli. The smell wasn’t unpleasant, but it felt pretty wrong putting this in my hair. I concentrated on the ends, though the directions instructed me to apply from the scalp down. Once it was on, I put on a shower cap and made dinner. After copious rinses in the shower, I let my hair air dry and prayed for a miracle. The results were kind of amazing. My ends, though still a bit crisp, are noticeably tamer and slightly softer,the rest of my hair is not as prone to frizz, and it’s also shinier. Bonus: make a little extra and you’ll have some rustic mayonnaise left over for a sandwich!
10. Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil
The Claim: Squalane, which is an olive derived oil, is a natural moisturizer, and is especially good for acne prone or oily skin.
The Science: Good oil attracts the shitty oil that’s trapped in pores, cleaning them out. Squalane oil also apparently helps to restore elasticity to the skin.
The Verdict: I have always wanted to try the oil cleansing method, but have been fearful of the dreaded purging period, in which your pores reject all of the garbage that lives within, resulting in a million zits. However, something about the moisturizing potential of rubbing oil into my face was just too much for me to resist. This is admittedly not a hippie beauty remedy, but it’s the kind of thing that costs way more than I am willing to pay, and is made by a company that I assume caters mostly to older, fancy white ladies who do a lot of yoga and wear lots of linen. My skin is tricky, producing copious amounts of oil in the t-zone but not so much on the cheeks. I used the suggested three drops, and rubbed it in all over, while my face was still a tiny bit damp. To my surprise, it absorbed quickly and imparted a slight glow instead of the grease-fest I was expecting. The next morning, I didn’t feel the need to moisturize, and could’ve happily left the house without putting anything on my face. Success!
Original by Megan Reynolds