Beauty recipes: Gwyneth Paltrow’s ultimate smoothie recipe, which costs… HOW MUCH?

Gwyneth Paltrow… she of the ‘conscious uncoupling’ and vaginal douching fame. I met her in New York at the BlogHer conference and was taken aback at how chilled she really is as a person. No, she doesn’t frown when you put a slab of chocolate cake on your plate. And neither will she snatch that glass of full-sugar Coke out of your hands and give you a whack on the head simultaneously. You live your life, she will live hers… and both can co-exist across the table.

What she will do is try and create recipes that will make living healthier a little bit easier for us mere mortals. And tell you stories about her father that will make sure not a single eye in the room remains tear-free (watch out for the video at the end of this post).

Then, right as you are just about already falling in love with her chilled out, humorous, slightly whacky charm, she will put out a set of beauty products so pure that you may be tempted to eat them. If you want to eat a combo of sweet iris and linseed extract. I don’t. Let them stay on my face, thank you so much. But bottomline: She will lead by example and draw you into living cleaner and healthier, which one has to admit, is not necessarily a bad thing. Right?

gwyneth smoothieAnd just when all that has happened, and you are irrevocably in love with the human phenomenon called Gwyneth Paltrow, comes a DIY smoothie recipe that costs… wait for it… US$230 at first glance.

But then look a little further and you’ll realise that’s not really true. So many of the ingredients can easily be made at home for a couple of dollars (like almond milk and almond butter), while other are pantry staples (think coconut oil and sea salt). Yet others, such as ashwagandha, are easy to find for cheap in Indian shops. That leaves us with things like vanilla mushroom protein powder, cordyceps and moon dust, which cost about US$40 each but shall last you through several months. Because you only need a pinch or a small spoon’s worth.

So, it’s not really US$230 for ONE smoothie. Not even close. Actually, it will cost you about US$8 each (Vanity Fair has done a pretty good breakdown here). Which is not cheap but it’s not roughly the same as drinking a lawn mower’s monthly salary in the green goopiness of one glass. In fact, it’s much less than what you would pay for a drink at Jamba Juice. Or most other green juices and smoothies at most other places.

Really, it’s like buying a television set for US$1500 and then claiming you spend US$1500 on entertainment every single day that you watch the television. Nope. It just does not compute.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s morning smoothie

Ingredients
1 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 teaspoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons vanilla mushroom protein powder
1 teaspoon maca
1 teaspoon ashwagandha
1 teaspoon ho shou wu
1 teaspoon cordyceps
1 teaspoon moon dust of choice: Action Dust to soothe overworked muscles, Beauty Dust for a glowy complexion and healthy hair, Brain Dust to combat mental fogginess, Goodnight Dust when sleep has been evasive, Sex Dust, for, you know, and Spirit Dust to get that extrasensory perception going
pinch Himalayan sea salt
pinch vanilla powder (optional)

Method
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blitz to blend

What do you think of Gwyneth Paltrow’s ultimate smoothie?

Beauty DIY: Rose recipes that pack a potent skincare punch

Today, my thoughts keep wandering back to roses… I have no idea why! Maybe it’s the Absolis by Patyka Damask Rose Toning Lotion that landed on my table in the morning. Or the fresh batch of rose water I made last evening… the lush fragrance is still wafting through my rooms. Or the Lancôme Absolue L’extract Regenerating Ultimate Elixir that I have been road testing.

Whatever the reason, roses are everywhere in the beauty world right now. And these fragrant flowers are doing far more than just charmingly perfuming our products: their delicate petals are also chockfull with antioxidants, which help heal skin and reduce inflammation. Plus, they have superb antiseptic and antibacterial properties, making them ideal for a number of skin problems.

In fact, roses were a prominent element of traditional Indian, Chinese, Persian, Arabian, Egyptian, Greek and Roman medicine before making their way to European apothecaries. Which set me thinking: wouldn’t it be amazing if we could harness the therapeutic properties of this precious plant right at the source? Make its beauty benefits even more potent by adding fresh roses to the mix?

So, to help you enjoy a little petal power, here is a bouquet of rose-based lotions, potions and scents. And since roses are said to banish melancholy, I hope these beauty recipes also help to chase away the mid-week blues for you!

First, some tips

  • Use the freshest flowers you can find – ideally, they should be picked on the same day.
  • Where the recipe calls for rose water, you can buy it from the market (look for organic versions) or make it yourself with these easy recipes.
  • Look for organic or pesticide-free blooms since these will be applied to your skin.

Rose petal body polish

How-to: Gently rinse 1 cup rose petals to remove dust. Grind the petals as finely as possible, using mortar and pestle. Mix the ground rose petals with 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1/4 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup 1/4 cup buttermilk powder1 teaspoon cornmeal and 3-5 drops of rose absolute oil. Pour everything into a food processor and process until you have a fine mixture. Add just enough olive oil to create a paste when you want to use the scrub. Store remaining mixture in a lidded container.

The science: Roses boost the body’s circulation, while simultaneously purifying the blood by flushing out wastes and toxins.

Floral bath soak

How-to: Mix together 3 cups Himalayan pink salt3 cups Epsom salts, 1 cup baking soda, 2 cups rose petals, a few drops of glycerin and 1/2 teaspoon rose absolute oil. Add the blend to a warm bath, then slip into the tub and relax for 10-15 minutes in fragrant bliss.

The science: Rose petals are a staple in Ayurvedic medicine to calm, clear and soothe both mind and body.

Rose & almond body oil

How-to: You’ll need 1 cup of rose petals (2-3 roses) and 1 cup of almond oil (rich in vitamins E and D, yay!). Put the petals in a jar, crush them up a bit with a wooden spoon and pour in the oil. Let the mixture sit for 1 week, then strain and use. This feels so good right out of the shower and smells delish!

The science: Rose oils help reduce swollen spots or redness on your skin. Its calming properties can also help sooth rosecea and eczema.

Refreshing rose toner

How-to: Mix together 1 cup rose water, 6 drops of glycerin and 3/4 cup witch hazel. Pour into a sterilized bottle. To use, moisten a cotton pad with the rose toner and swipe all over your face after cleansing.

The science: As a natural astringent, roses help tighten pores and restore suppleness for a glowy complexion. Unlike conventional alcohol-based toners, this leaves skin feeling smooth, not dried out. Plus, the addition of glycerin and witch hazel make this recipe astringent and hydrating.

Fresh rose face mask

How-to: Mix together one teaspoon of honey, 6-8 rose petals, two teaspoons rose water and one teaspoon plain yogurt; stir till you have a smooth paste. Apply this on your face and neck and wait for 10-15 minutes, then rinse with warm water. Skin will feel super-hydrated and shall recover its lost nutrients.

The science: The natural oils found in roses help lock moisture into the skin, keeping it silky smooth. They are especially good for sensitive skin because the sugars in rose petals soothe the complexion.

Deep cleansing rose face mask

How-to: Mix 3 tablespoons of rose water with 1 tablespoon of plain yogurt and 2 tablespoons of oat flour. Apply this paste for about 20 minutes and then wash it off with lukewarm water. Your skin will be deep cleansed and feel super-supple.

The science: The naturally antibacterial rose water is great for treating acne and acne-prone skin. Plus, the sugars found in rose petals add to their soothing effect, helping calm down troubled complexions.

Rose renewing moisturizer

How-to: Pour 2 cups of rose water in a small mixing bowl. Then break 2 vitamin E capsules and squeeze their contents into the bowl. Add 4 teaspoons each of olive oil, honey, coconut oil and rose water. Mix well and transfer to a container that has a lid. Refrigerate when not in use.

The science: Roses contain high amounts of vitamin C – a powerful antioxidant that can help strengthen skin cells and regenerate skin tissue. It also helps protect skin cells from sun damage other environmental toxins, thereby preventing premature ageing.

Rose petals hand cream

How-to: Mix 1/3 cup glycerin and 2/3 cup rose water. Store in cool dry place.

The science: Rose oils are not only incredibly moisturizing, they also help stimulate circulation in the skin while simultaneously tackling thread veins and broken capillaries.

Smoothing & plumping rose lip balm

How-to: Well rinsed and lightly blotted rose petals ground with beeswax can heal dry lips. Keep in a small covered tin to apply easily throughout the day. The darker the color of the rose, the darker your lips will become.

The science: Roses contain high levels of vitamin C, oils and proteins, which help keep skin soft and moisturized. Plus, it has retinol (vitamin A), which treats lines, wrinkles and other visible signs of aging.

No-sweat rose tea

How-to: Combine 4 cups boiling water, 1 teaspoon dried hops1 teaspoon stinging nettle, 1 teaspoon fresh rose petals, 1 teaspoon dried strawberry leaves1 teaspoon walnut leaves and 3 tablespoons dried sage leaves. Cover and steep for an hour. Strain and sweeten with honey if desired. Besides being aromatic and calming, this tea can also reduce excessive perspiration.

The science: Rose oils inhibit water loss from the skin and lower the concentration of cortisol (a stress hormone) in the body.

What are your secret recipes – or product picks – for these pretty petals?

Why Japanese women don’t get zits

Have you ever seen a Japanese woman with less than flawless skin? I haven’t. That’s why, on my last trip to metropolitan Tokyo and rustic Wakayama, I hunted down Japan’s top beauty secrets, most of which depend on traditional ingredients that are easily available across the globe.

japanese-beauty-secrets

  • Togarashi, or ‘chili pepper foot bath’ is the perfect wake-up call for your feet. Pour hot water in a bowl and add some dried red chilies. Soak feet for about 10 minutes, then pat dry and moisturise. Perfect for warming up your feet and stimulating circulation!
  • Want flawless skin? A Japanese grandmother introduced me to the beauty wonders of rice bran. It’s rich in the B-complex vitamins, which stimulate circulation. Grind to powder consistency and mix with water – the milky paste is massaged onto the face as a scrub or mask.
  • Beauty, Bran, Geisha, Japan, Japanese, Nightingale droppings, rice, Sake, Skin, Skincare, Uguisu no fun

    Sake: A potent anti-ager

    Rice, in fact, is inherent to this culture. More than 3,000 years back, a Japanese monk discovered that the elderly workers in a Sake brewery had wrinkled faces but baby smooth hands. Since then Geishas have reveled in the decadent luxury of bathing in pure Sake, rich in minerals and amino acids, for anti-ageing and detoxification. Add a cup to a hot bath to savour the benefits, or use as a hand or foot soak.

  • Looking for something more exotic? Try nightingale droppings (known as Uguisu-no-fun), which are loaded with skin lightening enzymes. Geishas would collect and sun-dry them, then mix with water to form a face pack. You can buy them in little pouches at a local Japanese store. The store versions are usually UV-sterilised, sun dried and ground into a fine white powder. As for the ugh! factor – I won’t deny it exists but the smell is more musky than poopy, so if you can get past the mental roadblock to using what is basically bird poop, this 200-year-old beauty secret is perfect for banishing excess pigmentation, while its high urea content acts as both moisturiser and exfoliator.

Beauty DIY: The face mask that’s like a juice cleanse for your skin

There is a reason the humble carrot is figuring so prominently in many skincare products nowadays – the crunchy orange power food is loaded with beta-carotene, or pro-vitamin A, which is often referred to as the “beauty vitamin” because of its importance in maintaining the skin’s health. Add in its potent anti-oxidant, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory qualities and you have a one-stop kitchen wonder that helps clear away dead cells, hydrates the complexion, prevents premature ageing (bye bye fine lines, sagging skin and wrinkles) and sweeps away all kinds of hyper pigmentation, blemishes and their accompanying scars.

In short, carrots make the perfect base for a face mask that will reset your skin to its original sparkling, dewy self by negating the effects of pollution, sun damage, junk food, late nights and (at least in my case!) occasional bouts of pure skincare laziness.

And they’re cheap as pennies.

Combine these power vegetables with a little kaolin (or any other natural clay, like Fuller’s Earth), which will suck the excess greasiness and accumulated grime out of oily skin; or beauty mayonnaise to add a dose of much needed hydration for dry complexions, and you have a winning reset-your-skin-to-factory-settings face mask.

Game?

Carrot-y face mask for dry skin

You will need: 1/2 cup grated carrots, 3 teaspoons mayonnaise

How to: Mix together the carrots and mayonnaise, then spread the paste on clean skin and leave on for 15 minutes. Finally, rinse clean with plain water.

Carrot-y face mask for oily skin

You will need: 1/2 cup fresh carrot juice, 1/2 cup white kaolin clay (or any natural clay)

How to: Mix together the carrot juice and clay until you get a smooth paste. Spread this paste on clean skin and let it sit for 20 minutes. Finally, rinse well with warm water.

Have you ever tried a carrot-based skincare treatment? Do share