Barley, honey, flowers, animal horns, and even snails: Since the days of ancient Egypt, women have been slathering their faces with everything from the mundane to the bizarre in pursuit of perfect skin. But the basics of masks and scrubs have remained mostly unchanged. Try your hand at our DIY varieties, and you'll enjoy more moisture, less oil, fewer lines, and brighter skin -- no digging in the garden required.
Sometimes the best cures are the least expected. In your skin's case, one of the most effective methods for cleaning pores is, well, more dirt. Gathered from volcanic ash, quarries, and seafloors around the world, cosmetic clay contains a host of skin-nourishing minerals, and its naturally absorbent properties help draw debris, dead skin cells, excess oils, and even toxins from pores. Used weekly, a clay mask (also called a mud mask) results in a smooth, supple, deeply clean complexion.
This brightening mask exfoliates and stimulates circulation in the face, resulting in a warm, rosy glow. Here's why it works: Unripe papaya contains natural alpha-hydroxy acids and high levels of papain, an enzyme that helps dissolve dead skin cells. Yogurt adds lactic acid (another alpha-hydroxy) and gives the mask a creamy texture, and honey helps skin retain moisture. When left on, the mask should tingle slightly; if you have sensitive skin or prefer a gentler exfoliation, use ripe papaya, which has less papain.
Thirsty, irritated winter skin clamors for extra attention. To give it the care it deserves, try a facial mask made with moisturizing avocado, inflammation-fighting cucumber, and mineral-rich green clay, which helps to deep-clean pores. A splash of lemon juice adds alpha-hydroxy acids to break down dead cells, and a quick chill in the fridge ensures that the mask will reduce redness and irritation. Even if the forecast holds nothing but cold, blustery days ahead, your skin's outlook will be perfectly clear.
Limit exfoliation to once a week until you know how your skin reacts. Then, you can use up to three times a week if your skin isn't showing signs of irritation.
1 cup ground oatmeal
1/2 cup dry lavender flowers, stripped of stalks
1/2 cup powdered milk (either whole or nonfat)
2 teaspoon cornmeal
Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl, massage into damp skin, and rinse with warm water. (Scrub will keep for six months.)
This chemical scrub dissolves the bonds that hold skin cells together, allowing them to slough off more easily.
2/3 cup fresh pineapple chunks (room temperature)
1/4 cup cold-pressed olive oil
1/4 cup fresh, clean parsley, chopped
Pulse pineapple in a blender, then add oil until almost smooth. Add parsley, and blend carefully so mask doesn't liquefy. Apply to skin and leave on for 15 minutes.
Whenever you use an orange, lemon, lime, or grapefruit, save the peel, which contains skin-rejuvenating essential oils. Citrus does double duty: The acid in the oil helps loosen the dead top layer of skin, and the ground-up peels slough it off.
1 tablespoon dried citrus peel, chopped and finely ground in a food processor
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon pure honey
1/4 cup vitamin E oil
2 tablespoons cornmeal
Mix the ingredients until well blended and massage on a damp face. Rinse well with warm water and finish with a splash of cold. Though the scrub's nicest when used fresh, you can store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to a week.
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