Sometimes the only thing store-bought cosmetics have on their DIY counterparts is fancy packaging, with a price tag to match. The kitchen is a mostly untapped source of prettying power at an affordable price. Plus, taking a pass on the drugstore's unguents and ointments is an act of saying no to petroleum products. Why not stick it to the Man, save valuable resources, and feel thrifty all at the same time by making these easy cosmetics out of what's already in your fridge and kitchen cupboards?
OLIVE OIL SHAVING LOTION
At Whole Foods, you can pay $6 for teeny-tiny bottles of shaving oil that work no better than a simple squirt of olive oil. Start your shave by thoroughly washing your face with warm water, then massage in the oil and shave as usual. No nicks, you end up with a nice soft face, and you don't end up smelling like your dad's aftershave. Works well on legs, too.
COCONUT MILK CONDITIONER
Rich and emollient, coconut milk is a well-known treatment for dry, damaged hair. For an intense (albeit drippy) treatment, apply up to an entire 13.66-ounce can of coconut milk to dry hair, wait one hour, then wash it out (or mix coconut milk with equal parts conditioner and use regularly). Bonus: You'll smell like coconut.
GARLIC FOR STRONG NAILS
TV's Dr. Oz touted this home brew on his show: Finely mince one clove of garlic and add to a container of clear nail polish. Let it age for about a week, then strain and paint nails with polish. Your nails will be nearly as strong as acrylic ones. They'll also smell like garlic.
AVOCADO FACE MASK
There's hardly a smooth, creamy ingredient in the kitchen that can't be turned into a mask that makes your skin glowing and soft. Avocado has the added advantage of vitamin E (the antiaging antioxidant) and vitamin C, said to stimulate collagen production and minimize fine lines. Just mash a half cup of avocado and apply it to your face. Wait 10 minutes, wash it off, and marvel.
OATMEAL LUXURY BATH
Your grandmother knew that the cure for any kind of skin disturbance (dryness, chapping, eczema, rashes) called for a colloidal oatmeal bath. Even if your skin isn't acting up, oatmeal's moisturizing power will make your skin feel silkier. Blend 1 cup of oatmeal (any kind) in a food processor, coffee grinder, or blender to a fine powder. You can then sprinkle it into a bath, or, to keep the tub tidy, put it in cheesecloth or a knotted sock to float in the water.
Rosemary has a great piney scent and makes a gentle conditioner that leaves hair soft and shiny. Steep 2 teaspoons of rosemary (fresh or dried) in 4 cups of water that you bring to a boil and take off the flame for 10 minutes. Strain out the rosemary and apply the infusion to your hair (no need to rinse). You can also use this to keep your dog's coat soft!
KOSHER SALT SCRUB
Sugar is a well-known scrub in spas, but why get sticky when you can just get smooth? For oily skin, combine 2 tablespoons of semi-coarse sea or kosher salt with the juice of half a lemon; for dry skin, combine 2 tablespoons of sea salt with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Use as a scrub in the shower.
BAKING SODA FOR BLACKHEADS
Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 2 to 3 teaspoons of water (enough to make a thick paste). Apply this to your nose, chin, or other areas where blackheads tend to lurk. The baking soda is a mild exfoliant, helping unclog pores to prevent future blackheads and wash away the ones you already have. It also helps to balance your skin's pH, making it look bright.
VINEGAR FOR SHINY HAIR
Vinegar removes dulling conditioners and other products from your hair as well or better than any so-called clarifying shampoo you can buy. Apply half a cup of vinegar (any kind), work it through your hair, and rinse well. Your hair will be very clean and shiny, and smell faintly tangy.
BEETS FOR BRIGHT LIPS
A freshly sliced raw beet, rubbed over your lips, gives your mouth a vivid red-violet color that lasts for hours. For a lip gloss you can store in a jar, melt 1/4 cup of beeswax, remove it from the heat, and add 1/4 cup of castor oil, 2 tablespoons of sesame oil (not the toasted kind), and as much beet juice—extracted using a juicer—as you like.
Want more tips on food-based cosmetics? Read this:
10 Cosmetic Uses for Everyday Foods
Photos by Christopher Rochelle / CHOW.com