Who says you have to spend a fortune on pricey organic beauty products to reap the benefits of nature’s best ingredients? Some of the finest all-natural beauty remedies can be whipped up at home using basic items you probably already have in your kitchen. To give you some ideas, we got beauty experts to share their favorite “recipes” for curing common skin and hair gripes using equally common pantry staples. So go whip open the cabinet doors, tally up what you’ve got in there and get cookin’—in a matter of minutes, you’ll look good enough to eat.
French fries may not be great for your thighs, but raw potatoes make for an excellent skin-brightening scrub, says Shobha Tummala, owner of the Shobha salons in New York City. Her trick is to mix equal parts grated raw potato and loose tea (cut open a tea bag, if need be) with 1/3 as much olive oil and slowly massage onto your face with your fingertips, using light circular motions. Then rinse with warm water. “Potatoes contain lanolin, which is moisturizing, and the dried tea leaves work as a natural medium to exfoliate the skin’s top layers,” Tummala says. “Your skin will be left with a natural glow.”
“Bananas are very soothing and moisturizing to the skin, so they make a great homemade mask,” says New York City makeup artist KimaraAhnert. Just mash up a nice ripe one and spread it all over your face. Leave on for a few minutes, then rinse with warm water. For added oomph, Boston dermatologist Ranella Hirsch, MD, likes to mix half a banana with 2 Tbsp full-fat sour cream and 1 Tbsp honey and leave the blend on for 15 minutes before rinsing and applying moisturizer. Bananas also work magic on parched hair; mash one together with half an avocado and leave on damp hair for at least 30 minutes as a deep treatment, suggests hairstylist Ryan Nickulas of New York City’s Ryan Darius Salon: “Wind your hair into a bun, throw on some sunglasses and lip gloss, and you can wear this out as a chic beach look while hydrating your hair at the same time—without anyone knowing it.”
3. Brown Sugar
Even though he sells his own line of skincare products, Hollywood spa owner Ole Henriksen still loves how brown sugar’s fine granules leave skin feeling warm, soothed and soft. Try his favorite make-at-home shower scrub: Mix about 2 ounces brown sugar and 2 ounces oil (he uses sesame, but olive would work too). To add aromatherapy benefits, buy an essential oil in a relaxing scent, like lavender, and add 15 drops to your scrub. Slowly massage the scrub into your body, starting at your toes and working all the way up.
4. Tea Bags
Got puffy bags under your eyes? Grab a different sort of bag as a quick cure—a tea bag (just not the decaffeinated kind). “Brew some tea using two bags, then let them cool and place them under your lids,” says New York dermatologist Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, MD, PhD. “The natural caffeine helps shrink blood vessels to visibly diminish puffiness.” Chilling the bags in the fridge for a bit will intensify the effects, since the cold also helps reduce swelling.
5. Kosher Salt
To give hair that great textured look it has after a day at the beach—even if you live nowhere near the shore—try this trick from Nickulas: Fill a spray bottle with about 3 ounces water and add 3 teaspoons kosher or sea salt and a couple squirts of any hair gel, then shake it up. “Spray it onto hair and scrunch to get that tousled beach look,” he says. The coarse salt clings to your strands and gives it sexy texture and volume.