by Lynn Kerrigan
Foods and Recipes that Enhance Beauty
Most women (and even men) crave flawless skin and a shining head of hair for optimal beauty. Though it may only be skin deep, appearance has always been an important factor in attracting a mate or even snagging a job. Trouble is, many skin and hair care products cost as much as a dinner at your favorite neighborhood café and many contain chemicals we can't pronounce, let alone identify.
It's no surprise that comely looking skin is often dubbed "peaches and cream." Or that you can make your hair silky soft using a jar of mayonnaise. Certain foods not only nourish the body; they have the bonus of being effective, all-natural beauty products that you can whip-up yourself for significant savings.
Take honey for instance. Honey is a natural humectant that attracts and retains moisture. Our skin's ability to stay moist is an important factor for keeping it soft, supple and elastic. Skin loses the ability to retain water as it ages and is exposed to environmental stresses and chemical agents. That's when the dreaded wrinkles start popping up. Honey's natural hydrating properties make it ideal for use in moisturizing products. It's not only a beauty food though— it's also known to have natural antioxidant properties that further protect the skin from the damage of UV rays and aids in skin rejuvenation.
According to Janice Cox, author of Natural Beauty at Home, "Honey's antimicrobial properties make it useful for the treatment of minor acne flare-ups. Also, unlike some acne treatments, honey doesn't dry the skin." Honey is antimicrobial for many reasons, including its high sugar content, which limits the amount of water available to grow bacteria; its high acidity (low pH); and its low protein content, which deprives bacteria of nitrogen needed for growth.
Honey's prospects in skin care are looking even sweeter; research is currently underway to develop a process using honey to create alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). AHAs are an important ingredient in many skin creams and moisturizers because they help exfoliate the skin, which increases skin cell renewal and gives skin a younger, more vibrant look. Current exfoliation products can cause skin irritation, so honey's natural moisturizing ability makes it perfect for AHA products.
In celebration of National Honey Month, why not try a few of the following beauty treatments courtesy of the National Honey Board?
Smooth My Skin Honey Conditioner
Mix 1-teaspoon honey with 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice. Rub into hands, elbows, heels and anywhere skin feels dry and rough. Leave on 10 minutes; rinse off.
Shine My Hair Honey Treatment
Stir 1 teaspoon honey into 4 cups (1 quart) warm water. (Add a squeeze of lemon if desired.) After shampooing, pour mixture through hair. Do not rinse out. Dry as normal.
A Honey of a Hair Conditioner
Mix 1/2 cup honey with 1/4-cup olive oil. (Use 2 tablespoons oil for normal to oily hair.) Using a small amount at a time, work mixture through hair until coated. Cover hair with a shower cap; leave on 30 minutes. Remove shower cap; shampoo well and rinse. Dry as usual.
Soothing Honey Skin Clarifier (for minor acne flare-ups)
Mix 1/2 cup warm water with 1/4-teaspoon salt.
Using a cotton ball, apply directly to blemish. Maintain pressure with cotton ball for several minutes, to soften blemish. Using a cotton swab, dab honey on blemish; leave on 10 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.
Sweet Almond Skin Cleanser
Mix 1 tablespoon honey with 2 tablespoons finely ground almonds and 1/2-teaspoon lemon juice.
Rub gently onto face. Rinse with warm water.
Honey-Apple Facial Toner
In a blender, purée 1 tablespoon honey with a peeled, cored apple.
Smooth over face. Leave on 15 minutes. Rinse with cool water.
Firming Facial Mask
Whisk together 1 tablespoon honey, 1 egg white, 1 teaspoon glycerin (available at drug and beauty stores) and enough flour to form a paste.
Smooth over face and throat. Leave on 10 minutes. Rinse off with warm water.
Skin Softening Bath
Add 1/4 cup honey to bath water for a fragrant, silky bath.
Dry Skin Facial Mask
Mash 1 banana & mix it into 1/4 cup honey.
Smooth the mask on your face and neck and leave it in for 15 minutes. Add a little bit of warm water and work the mixture over your face then rinse with cool water.
Beauty in a (Grocery) Bag...
- Oily Skin Oatmeal Facial Mask
- Grapefruit Rough Skin Smoother
- Castor Oil Brown Spot Treatment
- Mayonnaise Silken Hair Conditioner
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Lynn Kerrigan, the culinary sleuth is editor and publisher of Food Writer, an industry trade newsletter. She regrets she cannot fulfill recipe requests but welcomes any other mail including comments, tips and suggestions. Contact her at [email-address-removed].
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This page created September 2000
Copyright © 1998-2001, Lynn Kerrigan. No portion of this article may be reproduced for publication without express, written permission of the author.
This page modified February 2007