Ask any nutritionist and they’ll tell you whole, unprocessed ingredients are the building blocks of a healthy recipe.
The same can be said of beauty products.
Like processed foods, some of the most popular commercial body lotions, scrubs and cleansers contain dozens of additives – and offer questionable benefits. They are, however, backed by large corporations with hefty advertising budgets, leading us to believe that an intriguing scent and flashy packaging mean a better product.
Those who look past the high price tags and inflated promises will find that simple ingredients and products – some of which have been flying under the radar for decades – offer as good or better results for a fraction of the price.
As we’re all spending more time at home and perhaps getting back to basics, consider giving some of these classics a try.
Chances are, you’ve never used witch hazel as an astringent. Changes are, your grandmother has. Made from the leaves and bark of Hamamelis virginiana, a type of shrub native to North America, witch hazel is typically used as a toner that can be applied to a washable cotton round and swiped across the face. Those who suffer from inflammation-related issues such as acne, eczema or psoriasis appreciate witch hazel’s anti-inflammatory properties. T.N. Dickinson’s and Thayers are two popular brands of witch hazel toner, and a 12 ounce bottle be purchased online or at drug stores for less than $10.
Rose water is another tried-and-true beauty product that serves as a calming toner for irritated or inflamed skin. It’s been used as a beauty tool in the Middle East for centuries, and appreciated stateside for decades for its soothing scent and properties. A 3.4-ounce bottle of rose water (you can even make your own by boiling rose petals and water on the stovetop) like this one by Alteya Organics is surprisingly affordable, and can be found at Whole Foods and other natural food stores for around $9.
For quite some time, coconut oil has been having a moment as a high-heat alternative to olive oil for cooking. It’s also long been known as a popular replacement for high-priced body lotions. Though it might feel awkward to slather your body with the same oil you use in the kitchen, buy yourself an extra jar for the bathroom and get over it. The melting point of coconut oil is 76 degrees, which means it comes out of the jar as a solid and quickly liquifies on the skin. Because this is a pure oil with the tendency to feel greasy, most people use coconut oil as a moisturizer right before bed. Rub it into wet skin, then gently pat away the beaded water with a bath towel. Choose unrefined coconut oil for a light coconut scent. A 15-ounce jar of Spectrum brand organic, unrefined coconut oil sells for around $6 on Amazon.
On a trip to Hawaii several years ago, I bought a $30 body scrub made with coffee grounds. It smelled great and left my skin smooth and soft. Once it was gone, I decided to recreate the scrub using ingredients I had at home. It couldn’t have been easier – or cheaper. The internet is full of DIY scrub recipes. This one from the Edgy Veg uses ground coffee, coconut oil, salt, sugar, and – if you want – a few drops of essential oil. Other recipes use ground oats, honey, and other common kitchen ingredients.
While these simple body care products cost far less than their department store counterparts, many people take their natural self-care routine a step farther. Some swear rinsing the face with just water in the morning leaves natural oils in place for a healthy glow and avoids the irritation some soaps and lotions may cause.
It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
Witch hazel image by AntiMartina
Rose water image by ALLEKO