The Best Kitchen Cosmetics
For generations, ladies (and lately metrosexuals) have turned to the larder and icebox for pampering palliatives for their faces, hair and skin. Sure, everyone has heard of using cider vinegar for just about everything, or getting an "instant facelift" from egg whites. People have tried cucumbers on their eyes to reduce puffiness after a wild weekend... but a paste of meat tenderizer? They may have squeezed lemons into theri tresses... but vodka and lemons? At least it's not too bad if a little of it runs into your mouth.
In the dark-tan ages, some of us used olive oil or even Crisco as suntan oil. I've yet to hear of anyone using squid ink for eyeliner, but Victorian women tried to enlarge their breasts by bathing in strawberries. Who knew that with some parsley, sage, rosemary and a little time, you could heal blemishes and soothe insect bites (parsley); treat abrasions and darken your hair (sage); tone your skin, condition your hair and stimulate hair growth (rosemary). Oh, and thyme, the age-old antiseptic, is often added to toothpastes, mouthwashes and bath products.
The Jell-O-as-hair-color craze gave new meaning to the phrase "strawberry blonde" and now you can be a blueberry blonde, raspberry blonde or boysenberry blonde and (temporarily) dye your poodle to match. If salons are giving milk manicures and pumpkin pedicures, can the prune wrinkle cream be far behind?
Here are some down-home spa and beauty treatments from the kitchen, some of which are distinctly unappetizing, if not downright kooky, but all of which are food for thought.
Soak damaged hair in 1/4 cup heated safflower oil, followed by a shampoo and a final rinse of beer.
To condition hair, try a hair mask of avocado, cider vinegar, egg yolk and olive oil.
Try a tea treatment of cooled chamomile to lighten fair hair or lend auburn highlights to brown hair; hibiscus tea to add strawberry highlights to blond, medium brown or auburn hair; or a brew of walnut shell "tea" to richen brunette or black hair.
For oily skin:
Grind oatmeal and farina together in a blender. Scrub your face with the resulting powder.
Make a 10-minute mask from a paste of one yeast packet mixed with warm water.
If you're absolutely not expecting company, cover your face with a layer of thinly sliced potatoes for seven minutes.
For dry skin:
Try a mask of one egg yolk with a teaspoon of honey.
Smear your skin with any fatty-acid, cold-pressed, polyunsaturated vegetable oil (safflower, cottonseed, peanut).
Leave the buttermilk out overnight and make a 15-minute mask from the cream that rises to the top.
Fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is: To soften your skin, plop two Alka Seltzer in the tub water.
Make a slushy paste of sea salt and water, sit on the edge of your tub and scrub from shoulders to feet, then relax in the bath.
Make a bathtub boil-in bag of double cheesecloth or knotted pantyhose. Fill it with green tea for a general tonic or chamomile to soothe skin and help you sleep.
To visit the land of milk and honey, add one of these concoctions to your bath:
1 cup buttermilk, 2 tablespoons wheat germ oil and 10 drops of lemon oil, 2 cups milk, 2 tablespoons almond oil and 2 teaspoons almond extract, 1/4 cup honey
Whatever the smell, kitchen cosmetics have this going for them: They cost a fraction of designer beauty treatments, and you really know what's in them.
BTW: When it comes to toughening those talons, that unflavored gelatin thing is a myth.