We, as humans, are constantly striving for improvement. However, when companies are continuously developing creams and cleansers that boast their unique, new ingredients, it can be hard to keep up and know which product is right for you. What’s more, we put these on our faces without being able to even pronounce the majority of the ingredients, let alone comprehend what they are doing to the skin! For some, it’s an overwhelming feeling.

If you feel this way, it may be time to get back to basics. Cleansing the skin with natural, household ingredients – especially the delicious foods you already have in your kitchen – is such a simple way to approach skin care, stress-free. No synthetic ingredients, no processing, much less costly and guaranteed no animal testing.

If you’re like me, a main detail that draws you to do-it-yourself skin care is the independence and satisfaction that comes with discovering exactly what these natural ingredients can do for your skin.

Because spending loads of time looking into this would be just one more time-consuming thing to slap onto your “to do” list, I have done the research for you. Here are my top 10 recipes for homemade skin cleansing masks, including a description of why each ingredient will work wonders on your skin!

  1. Oat and honey

For this recipe, take 1/4 cup of any type of oat and cook it with enough water so that the mixture is not excessively runny. I find it easiest to use minute oats, adding boiling water until the desired consistency is reached (keeping in mind that it will take a minute or two for the oatmeal to fully absorb the water). Next, mix in a teaspoon of honey and apply directly to the face. Pro tip: putting this mixture on your face when it is still warm will up the soothing factor ten-fold!

Oatmeal itself is extremely soothing for the skin due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is a natural immune response triggered to protect the body from injury and infection. Despite good intentions, inflammation often involves pain, swelling, redness and discomfort. Applying oatmeal topically can help reduce those symptoms. Why else would oatmeal be known to alleviate rashes and eczema? Its gritty, yet soft texture also makes it the perfect exfoliant for sensitive skin.

Honey is the all-around perfect skin care staple. It is moisturizing and soothing, while also bringing antibacterial and antioxidant properties to the table. (More on antioxidants in the next recipe).

2. Cocoa and coconut oil (sugar optional)

Don’t confuse this yummy one for brownie mix! This mask has numerous perks, including exfoliation – if a small amount of white sugar is added.

Cocoa has two main ingredients of interest: antioxidants and caffeine. The term “antioxidant” is thrown around a lot nowadays and we know that it is good for us, but do we truly understand why? Antioxidants help defend the body from free radicals, the unstable molecules that damage the skin and lead to aging. Free radicals can be generated from the normal cellular functions of the body as well as exposure to irritants such as pollution and UV rays. Introducing antioxidants to the body through both diet and topical application essentially eliminates the presence of free radicals, helping to keep oxidative stress at bay.

Caffeine is useful for the same reason as drinking your morning coffee or tea, but in a different way. When applied on the skin, the anti-inflammatory properties help decrease the puffiness associated with under-eye circles.

The coconut oil is, as you can probably guess, the moisturizing portion of this mask. It is also antibacterial and anti-fungal!

Mix one part cocoa powder with one part coconut oil for a healing mask you won’t want to stop massaging into your skin. Just don’t forget to wash it off well afterwards, as acne prone skin can react negatively to the excess oil.

3. Berries and plain yogurt

Berries are full of antioxidants – which we already know to be superb for the skin. As well, berries contain acids such as salicylic acid and alpha hydroxy acid, which act as gentle exfoliants to remove dead and dry skin from the surface.

The yogurt is hydrating, contains lactic acid (another mild exfoliant), as well as calcium, protein and probiotics. The latter three ingredients can spark debate on their effectiveness when applied topically. Because most blood vessels are found lower in the dermis (and the top layer of your skin, the epidermis, contains mainly dying cells) nutrients such as calcium and protein may not be diffused efficiently into the dermis to be used by the body.

Whatever the case, I won’t be the one to scrap this recipe when it doubles as both a soothing mask and a delicious snack!

Mash up some berries (blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, whatever you have) and mix with a tablespoon of plain yogurt.

4. Avocado (salt optional)

Mash up half an avocado, mix in salt if you want some extra exfoliation and massage into the face.

The avocado’s high fat content renders it an excellent moisturizer. It is also rich in vitamins A, D and E, skin penetrable vitamins that are necessary for a healthy body. What’s more, it boosts collagen production, which is essential in slowing “elastosis”, the loss of elasticity that occurs as the skin ages.

5. Dilute apple cider vinegar

This one can be a little intimidating, but the benefits are extensive. Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with 1 part water and rub into the skin. Allow the solution to dry, then rinse off with cool water after 10 minutes. It can also be used, undiluted as a spot treatment for acne and age spots.

Apple cider vinegar is antibacterial and anti-fungal, ensuring a deep clean every time. It also contains alpha hydroxy acids, which exfoliate the skin, removing dead skin to reveal a healthy glow. Just be aware that this ingredient can be very drying and therefore those with dry skin would benefit from moisturizing post-treatment.

6. Lemon, cucumber and parsley

This brightening mask smells delicious and will make your skin feel extremely fresh. Puree 1/4 of a cucumber and mix it with the juice from half of a lemon (pulp is optional) and 1/2 teaspoon of fresh parsley.

The cucumber, a vegetable made up of 95% water, is extremely moisturizing and soothing. It also contains antioxidants and vitamins such as vitamin C. This is an essential nutrient in the production of collagen.

Lemon has lightening properties and acts as a gentle exfoliant due to its acidic nature. While its acidity can be harsh, the cucumber provides excellent support for the skin when using this mask, ensure that the skin remains moisturized.

Parsley has properties similar to cucumber and lemon. With more vitamin C, antioxidants and lightening properties, parsley tops of this mixture to ensure a refreshing mask that brightens the skin.

7. Egg

Little known fact: eggs are an extremely versatile ingredient for the skin. Dry skin? The yolk is moisturizing due to its high “healthy fat” content. Beat the yolk, apply to skin, then rinse off in 5-10 minutes. Oily skin? The egg white is known for its astringent properties. This results in the tightening of pores, lifting of the skin and removal of excess oil. Allow the white to dry on the face and then rinse with cool water. Combination skin? Use the whole egg and reap all the benefits!

8. Tea

For this mask, you can either brew tea and apply the cooled liquid to the face or grind up the leaves and add a little water to form a paste.

Depending what tea you have, your skin may be in for a variety of benefits. Green tea is full of antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties, whereas chamomile tea is antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory.

9. Baking soda

Baking soda – the holy grail of DIY. On top of removing odour from shoes and making the perfect fluffy pancake, baking soda is an exceptional exfoliant for the skin.

Simply add a little water to form a paste, then massage into the skin for a few minutes before rinsing off.

10. Red wine

Red wine is good for more than just your soul! It is full of antioxidants and is also an astringent (tightens skin and closes pores), resulting in both healthy and blowing skin when applied topically. This one should be applied in a similar fashion to the apple cider vinegar.

As you can see, there are many common foods that can double up as inexpensive, natural skin treatments. These foods (and so many more) can be used in any combination depending on your personal skin needs – the possibilities are endless!

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