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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Homemade Beauty: My Favorite At-Home Tips and Tricks!

These are all tried and true and either passed down from my grandmother, somebody else's grandmother, or someone that will one day be a grandmother. The bottom line: they work. Some of them you may already know but maybe you've forgotten about and would like to try again!

Drying your nail polish quickly:
What you'll need: cold water, ice cubes, bowl or sink

They make everything under the sun in the form of a spray or top coat to put over your polish in attempt to dry it fast. Things like Essie "Good to Go", or the drugstore setting sprays. Personally, I don't like these products. Yes, they will help your nails to dry. They do what they claim to do. But they harden the polish so much that it makes it prone to heavy-duty chippage well before they should. I use ice water. Either I fill the sink with super cold water or dump a bunch of ice cubes in a bowl with water and dip my hands in for a good 3-4 minutes. Colder the better. This hardens the polish without putting a coat of glass-like substance over your nails that will mimic the effect of broken glass.

Aspirin Mask
What you'll need: Uncoated aspirin, warm water

The aspirin melting process in action
 Tried and true and a cult-classic homemade mask. Especially loved by those with acne issues but also good for oily skin and the occasional break out. Also has the added feature of being an exfoliator. So go get some non-coated plain old white aspirin. Take about 6 or so, depending on how big of a face you have, and mix with a few drops of warm water. This will create a grainy paste. The grain is what acts as an exfoliator. Spread it over your face, avoiding eye area and nostrils. Should you get some up your nose, it may burn or provoke a sneezing attack. At this point of application, do not worry about doing the circular motion thing to exfoliate. Simply spread the mask on and wait around 10 minutes. When you're ready to rinse, get a little water on your hands and then begin to gently rub in circular motions to get slough off some dead skin. Rinse and you're done. The Salicylic Acid in Aspirin is what is in most acne medications. Hence being good for acne-prone skin. It leaves your face feeling smoothe too. Try not to do it more than 1x per week or leave on more than 10 minutes. Its Aspirin for crying out loud. Also can be used as spot treatment for individual blemishes. I've known people that will hold an aspirin on their blemish for 10 minutes in attempt to dry it up.

Homemade Moisturizers:
What you'll need: A fully stocked pantry

Here are some useful household items that make good moisturizers or eye creams, the oils can be used in bath water as well. Which can be messy but if you clean your bath tub it shouldn't be a problem.

Honey: for face. Honey is supposed to hydrate the face and give back the glow to dull or dry skin. You can mix it with your aspirin mask to kill two birds with one stone or by itself.

Olive Oil: Can be used to remove eye make-up but I prefer a water-based eye makeup remover. Can be used under the eyes for a very hydrating eye cream (oil). Also great for hair. But takes a good couple of washings and some warm water to get it all out. Add eggs and you're in business for some shiny hair. Sophie Loren is said to have used this her entire life on her face at night. She has amazing skin for her age. Personally, I'd love to do this same thing but I can't wake up to a face full of blemishes in the name of beauty. That kind of defeats the purpose of good-looking skin.

Almond Oil: Great hydrator for bath water or under eye area as well. Almonds are a rich source of Vitamin E. I usually pick up all of my oils at stores like Whole Foods. So many to choose from!

Crisco Vegetable Shortening: I've always loved the texture and appearance of this stuff. Especially good on the legs if you have super dry skin. But can be very greasy so if you are nursing dry skin back to health then put this on and throw on a tight fitting pair of pants like leggings or something that will keep that moisture close to the skin. Also good on feet. Put on a nice fuzzy warm pair of socks and grease up your feet overnight. If you can stand it. I hate socks during sleep.

Olive Oil and Sugar Exfoliator: I mentioned this in one of my other posts. You can make your own exfoliator with these two products. You don't need a ton of Olive Oil but enough to make a paste that is not too thick or hard to work with. Just use your own judgment here, there really isn't a wrong way to do it. Great for lips too. If Olive Oil bothers you in the lip area then use a more appealing oil or just anything at all that will moisten the sugar to make it easy to spread.

Glitter Nail Polish Remover:
What you'll need: nail polish remover, aluminum foil, cotton balls

This one is awesome. And has been coming in handy lately with all of these gorgeous OPI glitter polishes as of late! I've been loving the Katy Perry Teenage Dream on my toes. I usually just use glittery polish on my toes and do not carry it over to the nails. I'm 32 and this seems a tad juvenile. Unless you're painting just the ring finger with glitter and the rest of the nails a normal color. Then its kind of cute. Anyway, anyone who has ever used three coats of glitter polish and a top coat knows that its next to impossible to remove. Even with a lot of muscle power and determined attitude it still presents a big challenge. Try this. It works. Get a good amount of polish remover on a cotton ball. You may be able to split the cotton ball in half and use one for every two toes. Press it against the nail and wrap foil around the toe to hold the cotton ball still. Do this for each toe. After about 10 minutes when you remove the cotton ball and foil, the polish is gone. You may need to clean up some glittery remnants but the majority has disappeared like magic. No rubbing and muscle straining necessary. There are YouTube videos that demonstrate it if you're really really dense.

Unclog your pores:
What you'll need: Large bowl, boiling water, towel

Have you ever put your head over the pot of boiling water thats on the stove getting ready for your spaghetti to be dumped in? I do this if I remember to so that I can steam my face. I think my mom taught me this one because I distinctly remember doing this on my kitchen table. Get some boiling water, whether it be from the stove or microwaved, put it in a large bowl, put a towel over your head and put your face over the bowl for around 10-15 minutes. Not IN the bowl, OVER the bowl. Close enough that you can really feel the steam but be careful you don't get too close and risk burning yourself. The towel acts to keep the steam contained in the small area between the water and your face. I recommend doing this before you have cleansed your face and before you do the rest of your usual skin care routine. The steam will cause your pores to open up and this remove the debris and toxins in the skin. This process is a cleansing one in itself. The best time to apply a face mask is after you've steamed your face. It's also safe enough to do 2x per week. Depending on your skin characteristics, you can add other ingredients to the boiling water. If you have acne-prone skin, try adding thyme, peppermint, or lemon. For sensitive skin you can use chamomile or lime. And if your skin is fairly normal, try lavender or rosemary. Quite possibly the easiest at-home skin care treatment thats ever existed.

Lemon Juice Face Toner:
What you'll need: Lemon juice (fresh is preferred by not necessity), cotton balls, water.
You can use diluted lemon juice as a toner (astringent). Usually applied after cleansing, a toner is generally used to cleanse and shrink the pores. I've read a gazillion reviews from those that are totally in favor of this method. I don't know if you remember this but there was an episode of The Brady Bunch where Jan hated her freckles and tried to remove them using lemon juice. But it didn't work. There is actually some truth to this method but lemon juice cannot be relied on to totally remove freckles or other spots similar in shade. But I have heard from several people that over time, it does have a lightening effect. Those with acne scars, age spots, sun spots, and freckles have said to have noticed that their spots were getting lighter after long-time use of lemon juice. But remember to dilute! Straight lemon juice can burn and be very harsh on the skin. Those with dry skin already may want to try this method on a limited basis. Those with oily skin may want to do it both morning and night. I know of one lady who washes skips the lemon juice at night but cleanses and does her regular skin care routine. Not wanting to fully cleanse her face again in the morning but still wanting to remove oil and get a fresh feeling, she uses the diluted lemon juice and then follows with her moisturizer and whatever else she uses. I thought this was a good idea. Sometimes we don't need to do a whole cleansing routine in the morning. How dirty could we have gotten overnight? Well, I mean on a night when we are just sleeping and not out getting wild. However, we do sweat sometimes over night and release oils. That being said, we still want a clean face without over drying with cleansers and toner in the morning. Especially for those like myself who have dry skin. This is where lemon juice toner may do the trick. If you want more info and other uses and opinions, check out the reviews on the best and most trusted beauty site I know:

What you'll need: Distilled vinegar, refrigerated preferred or Noxema

I prefer the vinegar route. Vinegar is one amazing substance. And my grandmother's answer to everything. Oh just put a little vinegar on it and you'll be fine! Vinegar does smell terrible but if you have a bad sunburn and are in desperate need of relief, you will suffer through it. Cold vinegar is best in this case and can be applied directly to the sunburn (or tanning bed burn for some) with cotton balls. The temperature itself provides at least a little bit of relief. The vinegar is used to take the soreness out of the burn. I've had some awful sunburns in my life. Whether it be from the tanning bed in my younger days when I was way too confident in my assumptions that I would not burn in a mere 10 minutes if I don't even feel hot in the bed. Wrong. But my worst experience ever came about a month after delivering my first daughter. I was feeling miserable, fat, ugly, pasty white, and hormonal. I wanted my body and my sanity back. Neither of those was achievable at that very moment so in an attempt to feel even the slightest bit attractive, I went to the tanning bed. Since I usually tan pretty easily and these beds were kind of old in appearance, I went for the full 10 minutes. I then went and got a pedicure which all but stripped the flesh right off my feet when I put them in that tub of hot bubbling water. Since my feet were recently burned alive in the tanning bed, the feeling of the hot hot water was absolutely painful and totally void of any relaxation usually associated with a pedicure. Long story short my head to toe full body burn complete with blisters on my chest took forever to heal. But vinegar helped tremendously. And aloe. That was the last time I assumed anything about myself. Noxema works well if you don't have vinegar. My guess is most people have vinegar and you make a concious effort to buy Noxema. Noxema has that great tingling effect that will soothe the burn and I've heard it causes the burn to turn into a tan faster. I don't know if that is true.

Puffy Eye Prevention:
What you'll need: Two pillows, frozen vegetables

If you have puffy eyes, the easiest thing is to take a bag of your frozen veggies out of the freezer and apply to your eyes for 10 minutes. Or cooled cucumber slices. But one that I didn't know about? Propping yourself up more when you sleep by using two pillows in a less "laying down" positon. Gravity fights fluid retention. Fluid retention is the enemy. Especially on nights when alcohol is involved the night before, your eyes may be puffy in the morning. I think on nights like this though, you won't do the two pillow trick as much as you will just pass out in an extra flattened sleep position. And if you're just dying to spend money, go buy that Garnier Anti-Puff Eye Roller. I hear good things.

Makeup Primer:
What you'll need: Monistat Chafing Relief Powder-Gel

That's right. That is not a typo. This is the stuff that people use on their vaginas.What, you're not making the vagina-face connection?! People actually use and like this stuff as primer before their makeup application. Personally, I haven't tried it because I have sensitive skin and don't like to take chances. Don't take my word for it. There are over 500 reviews for this stuff with a success rate of 75% that will repurchase the product for this intention. Trust me, that is a very very good rating. When you get that many people reviewing a product, you are bound to get a very mixed group of opinions. But a 75% repurchase rating out of 500 reviews is better than a 100% repurchase rating out of 50 reviews. Read for yourself, I know you're curious:

Blister prevention:
What you'll need: Vaseline

I don't know if this is considered a beauty remedy but blisters are ugly and we generally want beautiful feet so I guess if you bend it that way I start to see the validity of my including this on my list. If you rub vaseline on the areas of your feet that are prone to blistering, i.e. the back of the ankle, it will prevent your skin from rubbing up and down against the shoe and causing a blister. The vaseline will have no damaging effects on the shoe, I promise. However, if your shoes are 2 sizes too small, as in the case of a certain favorite pair of Chanel pumps that I own, no amount of Vaseline is going to provide a strong enough barrier between the skin and that delicious Italian leather. This tip is for a more realistic shoe wearing practice where one doesn't have to suffer tremendously in the name of the perfect shoe.

Streaky Self-Tanning Applications: The at-home fix for this at-home mess.
What you'll need: Lemon juice, cotton balls, or baking soda and washcloth

Here we go again with the lemon juice. I told ya, its handy. Citric Acid is a natural lightener as well as exfoliator and will help to slough off the freshly and overly tanned skin cells. This time you don't dilute. You soak your cotton balls in 100% lemon juice. If you don't have this product handy, rub baking soda in circular motions on the streaky parts and it will have the same effect. I suggest dampening the baking soda a little bit or applying it directly to a washcloth or baby wipe so that it is easier to work into the skin. My personal tip for avoiding streaky self-tans? Mix your self-tanning product (if its a lotion or gel formula) with equal parts of moisturizer. This will for one make it easier to blend. Hydrated and slightly moist skin is also easier to work with in the first place. When you apply tanner directly to dry skin, you have instant patchiness and a streak prone foundation. Mixing the two lotions will give you a more natural self-tanning appearance. Which in itself is kind of an oxymoron. But if done the right way, it doesn't have to be.

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