Green Beauty Secrets from Your Kitchen

For all our heart-healthy jogging and raving about antioxidants and vitamins, we often start our days off in very physically, fiscally, and ecologically unhealthy ways.

According to a 2005 survey of 2,300 adults by the Environmental Working Group, the average woman encounters 168 chemicals a day in an effort to look beautiful (men are not exempt; the average male encounters 85 chemicals a day).

The problem with this is that regular use of these seemingly innocuous chemicals is that it builds up in our bodies. (The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t evaluate 90% of the 10,500 different chemicals used in personal care products.) These chemicals are stored in fat cells that may continue to harm the body years down the road. Parabens, for example, are called “gender-benders” for a reason, and have been shown to mimic estrogen, which has been attributed to increased breast cancer risk.

Expecting mothers can pass on these chemicals to unborn babies, creating in some cases testicular or vaginal abnormalities. Synthetic chemicals like parabens, diethanolamine (DEA), and phthalates, and other known endocrine disruptors exist more often than not in most store-bought beauty and healthcare products.

These chemicals—and the plastic microbeads in store-bought scrubs—wreak havoc on the environment, too. They pollute our landfills and therefore soil, water, our very farmed crops, and the animals of our ecosystem. In fact, microbeads don’t dissolve once they go down your shower drain—they pile up on the bottom of the ocean where confused fish eat them and, in enough amounts, die.

While not all home remedies are as effective as store-bought options, they’re at least worth trying. Items like olive oil, honey, baking soda, and apple cider vinegar can be cheaply bought at any grocery store, and all of these ingredients do wonders for various skin types.

Soft skin honey bath

Honey is the ancient (and modern) world’s miracle food: it’s antibacterial, humectants (retains moisture), and the only known food that doesn’t rot. Take two tsp of honey and a drop of pure essential oil (lavender is always a good choice) and dissolve into a cut of very hot water. Pour the mixture into your bath water and enjoy softer skin.

Natural exfoliation

Use oats, sea salt, or even a small amount of baking soda to slough away dead skin. Massage any of these ingredients with your usual facial cleanser very gentlyonto your face and rinse. Ocean creatures will quietly thank you for not using micro beads.

Honey mask

For those suffering from acne, honey is an unlikely helper to clearer skin. It’s antibacterial and retains enough moisture so the skin doesn’t produce more oil. Apply natural honey (manuka if you can) to your face and leave on for anywhere from five minutes to all night long, if you can keep it from dripping onto your pillow case.

Apple cider vinegar toner

While not as strong an antiseptic as store-bought toners, organic and unfiltered apple cider vinegar contains alpha-hydroxy acids, which helps dissolve oil and sebum that clog pores and encourages skin renewal. For a toner, dissolve one part ACV in one part distilled water or green tea.

Meanwhile, celebrity makeup artist and beauty expert Shalini Vadhera’s book, Passport to Beauty, shares with readers various tips and secrets she learned while trotting across the globe. Here are a paltry few:

  • For under eye circles, women in Spain apply thin slices of potatoes on their eyes for ten minutes. It lightens skin and fades dark circles.
  • For softer lips, Italians apply olive oil.
  • For ridding themselves of stretch marks, burns, weak nails, and damaged hair, women in various parts of Asia swear by white camellia nut oil.
  • For stronger, shinier hair, Indian women massage coconut oil into their hair and scalp weekly.

Heather is a freelance writer and the resident blogger for, an informational website offering tips about college scholarships and grants

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