In medicine, as in fashion, sometimes what’s old becomes new again. And food has been used for beauty purposes for thousands of years . . .
- In the 16th century B.C., high-ranking Egyptians only appeared in public when wearing perfectly curled or braided wigs of human hair, held in place with honey. And it’s thought that many years later the Egyptian queen Cleopatra bathed in sour milk, which contains lactic acid and milk proteins that loosen and soften dead skin.
- The ancient Greek physician Galen wrote that ladies could lighten their complexion by mixing a substance from seagull nests with honey and spreading it on the face. To make a cleanser, he instructed women to combine chickpea flour and wheat.
- The Roman poet Ovid writes about using a facial mask made of Libyan barley and honey to fight wrinkles.
- Herbalists in ancient China during the Han dynasty (circa 200 B.C.) recommended taking a powder composed of tangerine peel, white melon seeds and peach blossoms three times a day for paler skin.
If centuries of experience don’t convince you, maybe more recent research will. Scientists are regularly discovering the true power of natural, topical botanicals, and skin care manufacturers are racing to incorporate ingredients like green tea, shiitake mushroom extract and soy into increasingly eco-friendly products. This new trends proves that skin care doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy or even high-tech to be effective. In fact, you can find some of the purest (and certainly cheapest) skin-care ingredients right in your kitchen!
For Younger-Looking Skin
Pomegranate extract contains a high levels of polyphenol antioxidants including ellagic acid, as well as anti-inflammatory potential, so it makes a great anti-aging ingredient for sensitive skin. Look for it in Korres Pomegranate Balancing Moisturizer or Weleda Pomegranate Regenerating Hand Cream.
Rosemary which contains several antioxidants including carnosic acid, has also been shown to fight the MMP enzymes that break down collagen and elastin after sun exposure. Try Clinique Youth Surge Night Age Decelerating Night Moisturizer or Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate.
For Dark Patches and Discoloration
Soy is one of the most studied food-derived ingredients in skin care, so you can find it in a large number of over-the-counter products. It’s particularly effective at correcting brown spots and improving overall skin tone. Since soy is also an anti-inflammatory, it’s a great option for people who have sensitive skin or rosacea in addition to blotchiness and discolouration. You can find soy in Fresh Soy Face Cream, Philosophy When Hope Is Not Enough and Aveeno Positively Radiant Anti-Wrinkle Cream.
For Sun Protection and Sunburn Relief
Green or white tea. Drinking green tea before heading outdoors can help ward off sun damage, but for extra protection look for skin-care products that contain green or white tea extract. If you’ve already spent too much time outdoors and you’re dreading the inevitable burn, you can lessen the pain and redness by taking care of your skin as soon as you come out of the sun. As soon as you get indoors, make a large jug of iced green or white tea. Drink a tall glass (or two) and soak a thin washcloth or dishcloth in the rest to use as a cool compress. Wring out and apply to the overexposed areas every hour to reduce pain, redness and blistering.
Berries. Cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and pomegranate seeds can help prevent wrinkles and premature aging caused by sun damage. If you’ve been caught out in the sun and want to lessen your risk of burning, apply a homemade soothing ointment of mashed ripe berries and cold yogurt the minute you get inside. The milk proteins will help soothe inflamed skin, the berries will fight DNA damage that leads to sunburn, and the cool temperature will shrink swelling.
For Dry Skin
Honey, which was used in the Middle Ages to treat infected wounds, has recently been shown to kill a variety of bacteria. It has also been shown to soothe burns and help them heal faster. If you have sensitive skin, a homemade honey mask is one of the most gentle treatments around. Whisk together avocado and honey until you get a smooth paste. Apply to clean skin and leave on for at least forty-five minutes. Rinse and pat dry. Your skin will feel soft but not squeaky clean since the treatment is meant to hydrate, not strip your skin of its natural oils.
Onion extract, found in Mederma gel, can be used to make a scar less obvious. Recent studies have indicated that raised, bumpy scars treated with onion extract become less painful, itchy and bumpy. One study in particular found that onion extract gel significantly improved redness, texture and the overall appearance of surgery related scarring.
Feed Your Face by Dr Jessica Wu is an easy-to-use, 28-day diet plan to help you solve skin conditions, including acne and eczema, as well as sunburn, wrinkles and rashes. Whether you’re sick of wasting your money on expensive products that just don’t work or you’ve tried every solution to an unwanted skin problem to no avail, Dr Wu’s straightforward advice gives you the power to change your skin. All you have to do is eat.
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