UNITED STATES—Nowadays, we have options. We can choose which trending restaurant to visit for dinner, and go for dessert or drinks afterward—or both. We can turn on the TV and browse the endless lists of shows and movies. We can peruse reviews to determine which bestselling novel to read next. We can try swatches of different lipsticks and narrow them down to one selection.
Having options is certainly a blessing, but I find it can also be overwhelming. What if I make the wrong choice? What if I choose the wrong restaurant, movie, or book and regret having wasted my time? What if the lipstick I decided on is absolutely the wrong shade of red? What if the cupcake recipe I selected from a cookbook fails, and I’m stuck with rock-hard cakes? What if I chose the wrong major in college and realize it 20 years down the line?
Hypothetical questions aside, one area I always have trouble making a decision in is skin care. Many products promise desirable results, such as smoother, wrinkle-free skin and more even skin tone. They are targeted toward specific audiences, such as those with specific skin types, or those in a certain age group. But there are just so many options, which leave me feeling overwhelmed and confused.
For starters, my skin is dry and sensitive, but many products are meant for either dry or sensitive skin—not both, meaning I have to choose which issue I’d rather improve. Then there are the ingredients; my dermatologist recommended I use moisturizers containing glycerin, but some of the top products I’ve found don’t include glycerin. Not to mention the toners, serums, treatments, night creams, and masks. What do I use for which purpose, and when? Is it realistic to purchase an item in every category, when there’s always a chance my skin will react badly?
Recently, I noticed some of the popular sheet masks contain simple ingredients such as rice, egg whites, citrus fruits, and honey. I remembered the times in college my roommates and I experimented with homemade face masks, dripping honey and oatmeal all over the place, or trying to keep cucumber slices stuck to our cheeks. I’ve decided to go back to the basics, which can likely be found in everyone’s kitchen, and see how they can help the skin.
Yogurt and Honey
Yogurt and honey—sounds like a breakfast, right? This combination can double as a face mask. Because I’ve had dry skin my entire life, I’m always drawn to moisturizing products, and these seem to fit the bill. Yogurt contains lactic acid, which acts as an exfoliant, and calcium and vitamin A, which help regenerate healthy skin cells. It’s believed to have soothing and plumping properties and may help clear up blemishes and discoloration. Honey retains moisture, making the skin appear smoother and firmer. It also has antibacterial properties, which can help heal dry or chapped skin.
For a simple face mask via But First, Coffee, one tablespoon of plain yogurt is combined with one tablespoon of honey. The mixture is applied on the skin and washed off after 10 to 15 minutes, leaving soft, glowing skin.
Avocado, Banana, and Olive Oil
Avocados have been praised for their healthy fats and nutrients; let’s see how they can help the skin. These fruits are hydrating, as can be noted by their creamy texture, and contain potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin E, which work toward healing dry skin. Bananas are naturally moisturizing as well, as they are packed with vitamin A for healing and brightening dull skin. Finally, olive oil contains omega fatty acids and antioxidants such as polyphenols and phytosterols, which reduce skin damage. Olive oil is also believed to be anti-inflammatory and anti-aging.
According to Freebie Finding Mom, equal parts avocado and banana can be combined with one tablespoon of olive oil for a moisturizing mask. The mixture is allowed to rest on the face for 10 to 15 minutes and cleaned off with a damp towel.
Cucumber and Oatmeal
I love to snack on cucumber slices, so it’s good to know they can serve other purposes. Cucumbers are cooling and hydrating, and have anti-inflammatory properties that reduce redness. They provide soothing relief for sensitive skin, which is why so many lotions contain cucumber as an ingredient. Oatmeal has similar benefits, in that it retains moisture and contains flavonoids, phenols, and polyphenols that act as anti-inflammatories. Oatmeal is often used to help people with eczema or dry skin.
This mask from Everything Pretty involves blending half a cup of oatmeal and half a cucumber into a thick paste. The mixture sits on the face for 15 minutes and is rinsed off with cool water.
Turmeric and Lemon
Turmeric has been promoted as a wonderful spice for a variety of health benefits. It contains anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antioxidant properties that help smooth the skin and lighten blemishes. Lemon juice, which is high in vitamin C, has alpha hydroxy acids that remove oil and dead skin cells. It can even out the skin tone and reduce the appearance of scars, and its antibacterial properties are helpful for acne.
This mask from The Glowing Fridge contains turmeric, manuka honey, ground oats, and a squeeze of lemon juice. The mixture is applied to a clean face and left for 15 to 20 minutes, before being rinsed off with warm water. The turmeric may leave a yellow tint but can easily be washed off with a few more rinses.
I’ve noticed many pore treatments on the market these days contain egg whites. They help tighten pores, reducing the surplus of sebum, and firm the skin to help diminish the appearance of wrinkles. The potassium in egg whites also helps the skin retain moisture.
The Health Extremist recommends using organic eggs to make face masks. The egg white is separated from the yolk, applied to the face, and allowed to dry for at least 15 minutes, after which it is rinsed off with warm water.
This is possibly one of the easiest face treatments, as it only involves green tea bags. The antioxidants in the tea help fight aging, and the tannins constrict blood vessels and reduce puffiness under the eyes.
Green tea bags are steeped in boiled water for about a minute, then removed. The excess water is squeezed out, and the bags are chilled in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes. One tea bag is placed over each eye for 10 minutes, resulting in reduced puffiness.
As someone who suffers from sensitive skin and is frequently looking for ways to save money, it’s great to know that I can turn to the contents of my pantry to make face masks at home. Coming up with different combinations to target different issues seems like a fun activity as well. Of course, it’s always important consult one’s doctor before moving forward with any homemade treatments!