Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Homemade Skin care regimes that actually work... And some that don't.

We've all heard of them.
When we get a zit, an aunt or grandmother telling us an age old remedy to quick fix it.
Recently, I've tried a few homemade skin care treatments to see if they live up to expectations; or if they're being passed off as half truths and whole lies.

First up: Flour and Milk face mask

I'm not sure where I first heard this, but flour and milk are supposed to brighten your complexion.
I was hesitant to try this at all, due to the fact that paper mache paste is water and four...
And my hesitations weren't unjustified.
The idea is to mix 1 part flour to 2 or 3 parts milk, apply to face (or body) and allow to dry, or wait half an hour.  The mixture shouldn't be thick or cakey, and should apply smoothly to the skin.

After applying the mixture to my face, I was pleasantly surprised.  It was not only soothing, but cooling as well.  Watching tv, I started noticing my face feeling somewhat tight - but the mixture was not yet dry, nor was my 30 minute program over.  Long story short, by the end of my episode, most of my face was tight, and most of the mixture now dry... and I was feeling very much like paper mache. Not only did it hurt to make facial movements, as the mask cracked and pulled, but it also began to itch where parts were dry.  On top of the discomfort of the mask itself, it wasn't easy to get off.  I had to use an exfoliant, regular face wash, and ended up using a rough face cloth before it would actually come off, and even that was with effort.

This is definitely not a mask I'm likely to repeat.  I've heard of rice flour or rice paste and milk being another good mask, however after this experience I'm not likely to try that either.

White Vinegar

White vinegar is supposed to be a great skin cleanser, and even an astringent used to after traditional face wash to cut oils and just generally keep the skin clear.

This one actually turned out to work fairly well.  The acid in the vinegar kills bacteria, and will help cut sebum (oil), and removes dirt from pores.  If you have a few black heads, or pimples, it seems to zap them out immediately.

Applying this one is simple, dip a cotton ball in vinegar and apply all over face (I say steer clear of your eyes!).  Some say to allow to dry then wash off, others say to just leave it on.  The problem is, if you're using this straight from the bottle, it ends up burning.  Not just in sensation, but your skin will actually turn red and hurt for a while after.  Other options include diluting it 1 part vinegar to 10 parts water for an astringent, or a half and half cleanser.

Down side of this, is if you don't dilute it enough, your skin is going to hurt... and you're going to smell like a french fry until you wash it off.

Lemon Juice

This is one I grew up with.  I have very fair skin, and freckle during the summer.
I wasn't too keen on having the few dark freckles that would pop up after an entire summer in the sun, even if they looked "cute" with my red tinted hair.

In high school, I met a few goth girls who were obsessed with skin lightening.  Obviously, none of us were going to buy skin bleach to maintain our typical "goth pale skin" (unlike most of them, I didn't need to wear white face cream, as long as it wasn't summer, my skin was pale and freckle free); so each insisted on a skin bleach that was homemade and better than the next.  Most of them sounded silly or dangerous to me (one girl had said if you mixed regular clothing bleach with water and put it on your face, you would be paler faster), the only one that seemed to make any sense was lemon juice - after all, we'd used it to put streaks in our hair one year at camp.  Now, this method doesn't really bleach out your skin (and doesn't have the dramatic effects that it does in your hair), but it does lighten freckles a little; or at least enough that I didn't notice that I had a few that were so much darker than the others - they seemed to fade after a few applications and were gone until the next summer.

The problem with using lemon juice to lighten your skin, freckles or age spots? It does make your skin photosensitive - meaning that you could end up with more freckles or a burn if you don't wear sunscreen! If you've put on lemon juice that day, remember to slather on the spf as well.

Aloe Vera

Being a pale, red head (not a carrot top, but still red), you burn easily.  Most summers, I spend my time away from direct sunlight, and even then wearing 110 spf sunblock and re-applying frequently.  During the winter I usually drop down to a 30 or 40.  That being said, before finding the exact time between re-application, and before the higher spfs were available, I spent many hours with painful red skin, being burnt after less than half an hour in the sun.

Aloe practically saved me from trying to crawl out of my skin.  Not only does it cool the skin, but it has the added benefit of pain relief.  Another benefit is it brightens your skin and makes it look healthy.  You can slather on a layer of aloe before bed (I'd let it dry before hitting the pillow though, so you don't stick to it!) or even some on in the morning before running around in a pre-work haze.

More To Try

There's a list of home skin care treatments I haven't tried yet, but may soon!

- Chamomile Tea: Supposed to be good for skin irritations, sunburn and preventing acne
- Yogurt and honey mask: helps hydrate and nourish the skin
- oatmeal mask: exfoliant

I'll likely find and add more at a later date.

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