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Question: I’m interested in do-it-yourself, natural facial care. Where do I start?

Laura Seipp responds: Many common kitchen ingredients can be used for skin care. My “kitchen cupboard facial” consists of four steps that thoroughly cleanse, nourish and moisturize your skin -- all using ingredients that you probably have in your kitchen right now!

Before beginning, remove all makeup and tie or otherwise secure your hair completely away from your face. Start steeping the herbs for step two.

Step One: Cleanse For nice, gentle cleansing with a little bit of exfoliation, try oatmeal. Grind the oatmeal to a fine powder using your fingers or a mortar and pestle. Add water to make a smooth paste, and apply it to your face and neck using gentle circular motions. Remember not to be harsh with your skin, no matter what its condition. Remove with warm water.

Step Two: Steam Bring a quart or so of water to a boil in a non-metallic pan. Remove the pan from the heat, add two to four tablespoons of herbs and cover. Allow the herbs to steep in the covered pan for ten minutes. Then place a towel over your head and remove the lid from the pan, leaning over the pan with the towel creating a “tent” to keep the steam in. Raise a corner of the towel if necessary to release some steam and cool off.

If you have very sensitive skin (characterized by broken capillaries and/or red spots), you should avoid extremes of hot and cold. You may wish to try a warm compress instead. Steep the herbs as directed above and then allow the mixture to cool to the desired temperature. Soak a hand towel in the “tea,” wring it out and apply it to your face and neck.

What herbs are best for steaming your skin? For oily skin, try any combination of sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil and lemon peel. “Spicy” tea blends are also good for oily skin. Fennel and mints are good for dry and mature skin, while chamomile (use a couple of chamomile tea bags) is good for all skin types. Orange peel and roses (best if you happen to have organic rose petals) are good choices for sensitive skin. For my sensitive, mature skin, I like a combination of fennel, chamomile and orange peel. Plain steams with no herbs, or a steam with a little bit of green or rooibos tea, are other good options.

Step Three: Mask My absolute favorite mask is honey. Honey is a humectant (draws moisture to the skin), has antibacterial properties and will draw the blood to the surface of your skin and make your complexion absolutely glow. Simply apply a thin layer of honey to clean, dry (very important) skin; rinse off after 10 to 20 minutes. Make sure that your hair is securely tied away from your face; it’s surprising how easily honey rinses off of the skin – but not so with hair!

There are several vegan options for a quick kitchen cupboard facial mask. For dry skin, try banana or avocado pulp; banana or pineapple pulp for sensitive skin; and strawberry or papaya pulp for oily skin. To use these fruit masks, mash the fruit well, strain out as much liquid as possible and apply the pulp evenly to your skin. Lie down for 10 to 20 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Fruit masks do tend to be rather messy. You may wish to thicken the pulp up a bit with some ground oatmeal or cornmeal.

Step Four: Moisturize Olive oil is an excellent emollient for all skin types. Apply a few drops to moist skin and gently massage. After several minutes, remove any excess with a clean, soft cloth, adding a few more drops of oil if your skin still feels tight. Other oils that are also good for the skin that you might have in your kitchen include avocado and sesame (not toasted) oils for dry or mature skin; almond and sunflower oils for sensitive skin’ and safflower, canola and grape seed oils for oily skin. For extra nourishment, break open a vitamin E capsule or two and apply the oil to your face and neck.

With a few common kitchen ingredients, you can give yourself a wonderful, beneficial, completely natural facial. Done once a week, these facials can be a wonderful thing to do for your skin and your spirit. Omit the steam and mask for daily facial care. Enjoy!

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© Laura Seipp.


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