Trying to select the best product from an increasingly wide and bewildering range of possibilities on the cosmetic counters can be a daunting prospect, not to mention a costly one. So you might be relieved to discover that your own kitchen contains many fixes for common grooming problems – remedies which are simple, natural, and as accessible as your pantry or refrigerator. They won’t break the bank either!
• Dip a clean cloth into a bowl of cool milk and dab it on your skin. The coolness will help reduce the swelling, and the lactic acid has anti-inflammatory properties. Rinse off with water.
• Soak cotton wool in cold black tea and hold it on the affected areas for 15 minutes. The anti-inflammatory tannin helps reduce irritation and constricts the blood vessels. No need to rinse.
• Shake together in a small bottle equal quantities of coconut oil, olive oil and fresh mint leaf juice and apply the mixture to your skin. The oils contain fatty acids and vitamins to help with the healing process, and the mint juice reduces redness.
Shaving nicks and cuts
• Dabbing with a tissue will actually keep the cut open; rather hold an ice-cube against it to constrict the blood vessels and help slow the flow of blood.
• Lip ice or Vaseline applied to the wound provides a surface for the blood to clot on, and the waxy consistency encourages healing.
• Press gently but firmly on the skin around the cut with your fingers to stop the blood flow and allow the wound to dry out.
• A dab of toothpaste on the affected area will help; the detergents have degreasing and drying properties. Leave for 10 to 15 minutes then rinse with cold water to reduce inflammation.
• Bicarbonate of soda mixed into a paste with a little water is alkaline and helps to balance the pH of your skin; it also reduces visible redness. Egg white has a similar effect.
• Use an earbud to put a small amount of honey on the problem spot. Cover with tape or a plaster and leave overnight. It’ll kill the bacteria and accelerate healing.
• Gently rub your lips with slices of cucumber – the juice has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and promotes blood circulation in the skin.
• A mixture of small amounts of milk and honey makes an effective treatment, combining antibacterial and analgesic properties and promoting healing and regeneration.
• Apply a thin layer of cocoa butter or olive oil to provide a soothing, protective and nourishing barrier.
• Bicarbonate of soda obliterates odours rather than just masking them. Sprinkle a little on your hand, dip a damp toothbrush into it, and brush your teeth with the mixture. Or mix one teaspoon of bicarb with water and use as a gargle.
• Eat fresh raw carrots or celery or even a small piece of cheddar cheese to fight plaque and keep your breath fresh.
• Chew on aromatic whole spices like cloves, cardamom or fennel – their antimicrobial properties help with saliva production and the flushing away of harmful bacteria.
• Make an effective footbath by boiling a few teabags in 500ml of water for 15 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool, and soak your feet in it for half an hour every day. The tannic acid counteracts odour-producing bacteria.
• In the same way, you could use 2 tablespoons of Epsom salts in lukewarm water, or one part cider vinegar diluted in two parts water.
• Bicarbonate of soda absorbs and neutralises odours – dust a little directly on to your feet, or sprinkle a generous amount into your shoes and leave them overnight. Do shake the excess out before you put the shoes on again!
• Rub the white pith inside an orange peel across your teeth and then scrub them with a wet toothbrush to lift any debris. Don’t do this more often than once a fortnight as the acid in the peel could weaken the enamel of your teeth.
• Mix a heaped tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda with a few drops of hydrogen peroxide (you can buy this, with a two to three percent concentration, from your pharmacy). Brush your teeth with the mixture, rinse thoroughly, then brush with normal toothpaste. The hydrogen peroxide chemically breaks down bacterial coating on the teeth, and the abrasive bicarb helps remove plaque. Again, use with caution – you could damage your teeth if you use this more than twice a month.
So with just a little time and effort in your kitchen, you can address most of those niggly grooming challenges – and use the money you save, for something more exciting! Like a new lipstick for your lady friend.