Your skin can absorb antioxidants directly from fruits and vegetables. If you have a garden, it's time to realize you've been growing your own salon.
It's late summer, and your garden is bursting with fruits and vegetables that are full of vitamins and antioxidants. The problem is, you just can’t force yourself to eat any more of them. You’re sick of cucumbers and tomatoes, and you’ve had your fill of strawberries. Help!
You may not know it, but your skin has a higher concentration of antioxidants than anywhere in your body; this protects you from the effects of the sun. As you age, the amount of antioxidants decreases, so the same sun that helps your garden to burst with life now wreaks havoc on your skin. The good news is that your skin can absorb antioxidants directly from fruits and vegetables. Now is the time to realize that you have been growing your own salon.
You can create a full line of organic products for skin and hair, simply and cheaply from your garden’s bounty. It takes a little research on your part, but here are some basics to get you started, as well as simple recipes from Inger Genest, owner of MeMe Cosmetics (memecosmetics.net).
Cucumbers are famous skin-soothers—and for good reason. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) prevents water retention. Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) helps in the retention of moisture. The combination of these vitamins and other nutrients found in cucumbers makes a great moisturizer. Another powerful antioxidant in cucumbers, vitamin K, helps to remove the excess hemoglobin that results in dark circles under the eyes. Another nutrient, retinol (vitamin A), helps to control or reduce production of melanin, which causes dark spots on the skin. Cucumbers also have silica, a building block of collagen, which helps to reduce wrinkles. You can apply cucumber slices to your skin, add cucumber juice to your favorite lotion, and/or create this cucumber toner.
Cooling Cucumber Toner
- Grate a clean cucumber into a colander that is set over a bowl.
- Squeeze the grated cucumber to collect the juice.
- Measure the amount of cucumber juice.
- Add an equal amount of witch hazel or rose water to make the toner.
- Pour the toner into a sterilized glass jar or bottle.
- Splash or spray the toner onto clean skin, or use a cotton ball to apply.
- Store in the fridge. Keeps for up to 10 days.
Strawberries pack major vitamin C-punch—even more so than oranges—which destroys free radicals and is important in the production of collagen. Strawberries also contain alpha-hydroxy acids, which, when applied to the skin, help to break up the outer layer of dead skin. Alpha-hydroxy acids can help with acne by opening and clearing the pores. (Caution: These acids make skin more sun-sensitive, so it’s particularly important to wear sunscreen after using a strawberry product.) And strawberries contain vitamin A, vitamin E, folate, B1, potassium, and other nutrients that can help with puffiness and dark circles under the eyes.
Strawberry Face Mask
- Mash or puree 3 medium, fresh strawberries; set aside.
- Finely grind 4 tbsp. oatmeal.
- Whisk or blend 1 tsp. unsweetened plain yogurt, 1 tbsp. honey, and 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil until emulsified. Mix in prepared strawberries.
- Fold in ground oats.
- Apply mask to your face and neck, and wait 10 minutes. Rinse mask off with warm (not hot) water, pat dry, and apply a little facial moisturizer.
- Store remaining mask in a labeled and dated container in the fridge. Use within 5 days.
Tomatoes are full of lycopene. When applied to the skin, lycopene is converted into vitamin A, which helps to reduce scars and spots, reduces sun damage, and keeps skin smooth. The body also uses it to help control the production of excess oil. Tomatoes also have alpha-hydroxy acids, such as glycolic acid, that helps to clear pores and remove dead skin cells. The combination of nutrients in tomatoes helps to reduce acne or inflammation of the skin. You can take advantage of these properties simply by slicing a tomato and rubbing it over your face. Leave it on for 10 minutes and then rinse it off.
Easy Salt Scrub
This salt scrub can be made with a variety of fruits and vegetables to help your skin. Here are three basics:
- Prepare the fruit or vegetable of your choice as described below.
- Cucumbers: grate with a cheese grater. Measure the grated cucumber and juice.
- Tomatoes: puree.
- Strawberries: mash or puree; measure mashed berries and juice and note the amount of fruit/vegetable/juice you have. Place measured fruit/vegetable and any juice in a bowl.
- Add an equal part Epsom salts (or a mixture of Epsom and sea salt) to your fruit or vegetable.
- Fold in 1/4 part natural liquid soap.
- (Optional) Fold in fresh herbs, flowers, or essential oils (no more than 8 drops per cup of scrub).
- Store scrub in a wide-mouth jar. Because salt is a natural preservative, no refrigeration is needed.
- Use on any part of your body from the neck down, avoiding sensitive areas. Do not use on any open scrapes or scratches. Gently massage the scrub into your skin in circular motions. Rinse with warm water and follow with lotion or moisturizer, if needed. Use within 10 days.