Coconut oil scalp treatment: The route to thick, long & shiny hair

When was the last time you gave your scalp a facial? Yes… you read right. I said when was the last time you gave your scalp a facial? Because, like our face, the scalp is also ‘skin’. And it needs just as much love and care. In fact, hair experts say a good scalp treatment is key to healthy, glossy, sleek strands. And it makes sense: like all other skin on our body, the scalp also needs to breathe. It needs oxygen, moisture and nutrients. And since our hair is rooted in the scalp, it is kind of important!

It seems our grandmothers understood this pretty well. I know mine did – she was regularly brewing up lotions and potions for the skin on top of her head and her hair looked super-gorgeous even at the age of 80. So, I am borrowing a page from her beauty diary – two luscious coconut oil scalp treatments that she would use at least once a month to make her hair thicker, longer and silkier. Both remove product build-up, loosen the hardened sebum (natural oil) that clogs hair follicles, bust dead skin cells and boost circulation.

Pick your scalp recipe

First, however, you need to choose your scalp treatment formula.

For dry, flaky, dandruff-prone or acne-ridden scalps, take 6 tablespoons of extra virgin, organic coconut oil, olive oil or jojoba oil (depending on your hair type). Mix with 3-4 drops of tea tree oil and 4-6 drops of rosemary oil.

On the other hand, if you have an oily scalp, tons of product buildup or hair that just generally feels lacklustre, mix 6 tablespoons of extra virgin, organic coconut oil with 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and 2 tablespoon of grapefruit juice.

How to apply the scalp treatment

Done? Good. Now, apply the chosen mixture to your scalp with a hair dye brush or cotton ball. Make small partings through the hair and work in 1-inch sections to make sure the mixture is evenly distributed. Then give your scalp a good massage (mothers, kind friends or loving significant others are priceless here), rubbing with your fingertips in a circular motion for 5-10 minutes. Let the mixture sit for another 20 minutes before washing off with your regular shampoo. Finish with a good conditioner.

Why does it work?

Easy right? And totally worth it, as your hair will attest. These ingredients are great for rebalancing the scalp’s oil and hydration levels, ridding it of toxins, calming down the sensitive skin and stimulating the follicles for hair growth, among other things. Neglecting your scalp, on the other hand, can result in hair damage and premature hair loss.

Which option do you choose?

Beauty DIY: The definitive guide to dealing with puffy eyes

Going through the day with puffy, itchy, irritated eyes is a pain… in every sense of the term. Besides being super-uncomfortable, puffy eyes are also something you don’t want to show to the world. Thankfully, natural remedies abound. And many of these healers can be readily found in the kitchen at home.

However, remember that all puffy eyes are not created equal. Causes run the gamut from a late night to allergies, hormones, weather or fluid retention due to excessive salt or alcohol. And the remedy needs to follow the underlying reason. So, first try and ID your problem, then choose the cure from these easy home treatments.

puffy eyes DIYThe I-need-sleep puffy eyes

Sleepless night? Cold water is the best bet. And it’s so simple that even your sleep-addled brain can manage: just rinse your face with several splashes of cold water. Or take a small bag filled with ice, wrap it in a washcloth and place it on your eyes. The chilled texture will help constrict blood vessels and lessen swelling. Repeat as necessary throughout the day until puffiness is gone.

PS: In a pinch, wrap a bag of frozen vegetables in a thin towel and place it over your eyes for 10 minutes. It will work just as well as the ice!

The outdoors puffy eyes

Witch hazel has tannic and gallic acids that are brilliant at reducing inflammation. Rosewater, on the other hand, is a cooling and aromatic astringent that contains both antiseptic and antibacterial properties. And using them is simple: soak cotton or wool pads in these astringents and leave pads on the eyes for 15-20 minutes.

The hangover or post-crying-binge puffy eyes

They’re a cliché for a reason: cucumber’s soothing qualities, astringent properties and high water content help put you on the fast track to brighter peepers. Lean your head back, rest a slice on each closed eye, and relax for 5-10 minutes to reap the de-puffing benefits.

puffy-eyes-DIY-2The allergy-ridden puffy eyes

If your eyes are puffy and itchy due to an allergic reaction, cold spoons will constrict the irritated blood vessels, while also reducing redness and swelling. Simply place 2 teaspoons in the refrigerator. When they are nice and chilled, lie down, close your eyes, and place one spoon (curved side down) on each eye. As the spoon warms, replace it with a cold one from the fridge.

Another option: the common potato. This has been a staple in European folk medicine for soothing allergy or illness-riddled peepers. The logic? Potatoes have astringent qualities. Plus, the high level of starch can have an anti-inflammatory effect. Peel a potato, then wash and dry it thoroughly. Grate it as fine as possible, place the pulp in a clean cloth and fold to make a poultice. Place the poultice on your eyelids for 15 minutes.

The I-overdosed-on-salt puffy eyes

A heaping portion of fries, Parma ham pizza and other salt-intense foods can cause puffy eyes. However, salt by itself does the eyes good. Mix 1/2 teaspoon salt in a glass of warm water; make sure the water is not too hot. Soak cotton balls or facial pads in this solution, lie down and apply them on your eyelids for a few minutes. Rest in this position for at least 10 minutes while keeping the pads in place. You’ll arise with deflated eyes.

The fluid-retention puffy eyes

Aloe vera’s antioxidant and vitamin E content make it excellent for improving blood circulation and flushing out excessive fluids from around the eye area. Simply apply aloe vera juice or gel under your eyes, making sure that it does not touch the inside of your peepers. Leave it on for the day.

puffy-eyesThe I-am-dehydrated puffy eyes

Water is again the saving grace here. But this time, you need to pour it down your throat. That’s because when body is dehydrated, it acts much like a camel, storing water for the long haul across the desert. Instead of a camel’s hump, you’ll develop water reserves around the eyes. By keeping yourself adequately hydrated, the body isn’t put into survival mode and won’t puff up in all the wrong places.

So, make sure you drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water day, and don’t substitute sodas, coffees, or sugary drinks as they are extremely dehydrating.

The hormonal puffy eyes

If, like me, your eyes puff up at that time of the month, look for nettle tea. It contains anti-irritants that soothe redness and inflammation. First, drink the tea. Then, lie down, close your eyes, and place a tea bag over each eye. Let cool until the bags are comfortably warm to the touch.

The ageing puffy eyes

The eye tissue becomes weaker with passing years, thereby leading to puffiness in this already-fragile area. The alpha-hydroxy-acids present in strawberries can make skin smoother and tighter. At the same time, they can also reduce under-eye puffiness and swelling. Keep a couple of strawberries in the refrigerator for half an hour. Then remove their tops and slice them into thick pieces. Now lie down and place the slices under the eyes for several minutes.

Do you often find yourself dealing with puffy eyes? How do you tackle them?

Is rice water Asia’s best kept beauty secret?

Next time you boil rice, think twice before tossing the water. Rice water is rich in beauty minerals and vitamins that make it fantastic for both skin and hair – a secret those flawless-skinned Japanese geishas have known for centuries. And it’s super-easy to make: simply boil some rice (preferably organic rice and boiled in distilled water), then pour the excess water in a lidded glass jar and store in the refrigerator. Once cooled, it will be a potent ingredient for crystal clear skin and super-shiny hair.

rice waterFlawless face

Wash your face, then soak a cotton pad in the rice water and apply it all over, as you would do with a toner.  Rice is rich in a complex of B vitamins called ‘inositol’ that helps promote cell growth, slows down the aging process and stimulates blood flow – the perfect recipe to tighten pores and bring a glow to the face. Besides this, rice water also has moisturising, antioxidant and UV-absorbing properties, along with an ability to bind to naturally occurring copper in the skin, thereby preventing the formation of melanin formation (hyper-pigmentation) and age spots.

Haute hair

After shampooing, work in some rice water into your hair. Leave it on for a few minutes, then rinse well. Rice proteins strengthen the hair shaft and fill in the cracks. The result? Ultra-smooth, seriously shiny hair.

Beauteous bod

The soothing nature of rice water makes it an effective remedy for rashes and other irritating or painful skin conditions. In a dermatological study at Brussels University, patients with atopic dermatitis (chronic inflammation of the skin) saw a 20% improvement after taking 15-minute baths filled with rice water twice a day.

Recipe for health

Drinking rice water is also extremely beneficial for overall health. It contains 8 essential amino acids, which form the building blocks for tissue and muscle regeneration. Rice water also provides energy due to high concentration of carbohydrates.

What do you do with your rice water? Will you be seeing it differently after reading this?

The (surprising!) beauty benefits of green tea

In my recent quest to nullify months years of junk food, ultra-late nights, fizzy drinks and buckets-full of coffee, I recently came across some surprising information on green tea. Seems that you don’t always have to actually drink the stuff to reap its benefits. Green tea also works superbly as a topical beauty ingredient, with skincare benefits that range from busting hormonal acne to warding off wrinkles and saggy skin.

No wonder then that every major beauty brand, right from Estee Lauder to L’Occitane, is rushing to include this potent plant in their formulations. But what if we can just get the benefits straight from the source? After all, green tea is one of the most easily accessible products almost anywhere in the world. I have been trying these ancient beauty recipes (most come from 2,000-years-old Chinese and Japanese books of medicine, where green tea is known as “green jade”) for a fortnight now and can personally vouch for their effectiveness. My skin has never recovered so fast before and is thriving in an anti-ageing, zero-acne, pollution-free sanctuary. 

green tea beauty benefits 2Green tea: Anti-acne face mask

What it does: Flushes out toxins from the skin, helps heal blemishes and soothes the complexion.

The science: Green tea contains catechins, which are anti-bacterial agents that suppress acne-causing bacteria and help regulate hormonal imbalances. It also possesses potent anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the redness and inflammation brought about by zits, thereby helping them heal sans the scars.

How to: Mix 1 tablespoon of powdered green tea with an egg white and 1 teaspoon of pure honey; whip everything together with a fork. Apply the mixture to your face and leave for about 30 minutes. Then rinse it off and apply a moisturizer.

Green tea: Anti-aging face mask

What it does: Stops the signs of premature aging – like loose skin, wrinkles, age spots and fine lines – while making the complexion more moist and supple.

The science: The EGCG compounds in green tea can actually reactivate skin cells that are dying due to poor lifestyle habits, exposure to sunlight and pollution. Plus, it contains high level of oligomeric proanthocyanidins – OPCs – some of the most powerful antioxidants known to scientists. These antioxidants help ward off premature aging by fighting free radicals and healing damaged cells. And that’s not all: OPCs also inhibit the enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, which are essential for skin’s strength and suppleness.

How to: Combine 3 tablespoons of full fat yogurt with 1 tablespoon of ground green tea leaves. Apply on the face for 20 minutes, then rinse well.

Green tea: Facial scrub

What it does: Removes dirt and impurities from your pores.

The science: The slightly abrasive texture of dry green tea leaves acts as a great exfoliator to banish dead skin cells and purge pollutants.

How to: Mix 1 tablespoon of dry ground green tea leaves with enough honey to make a thick paste. Apply this paste all over your face and leave it on the skin for 10-15 minutes. Then rub it off in circular motions with your fingertips, rinsing away the excess with warm water.

green-tea-beauty-2

Green tea: Facial steam

What it does: Moisturizes, relaxes muscles, plumps wrinkles, eliminates toxins, dislodges dirt from pores and boosts circulation.

The science: Green tea is rich in antioxidants and catechins, which are propelled into your pores by the action of steam, thereby detoxifying, cleansing, refreshing and hydrating the skin.

How to: Put 1/8 cup green tea, 1/4 cup dried organic lemon balm and 2 tablespoons dried organic peppermint (double the quantities if using fresh herbs) in a bowl. Pour boiling water over the mixture, immediately placing a towel or lid over the bowl so that the oils don’t escape. Place the bowl on a table and hold your face over it, covering your head and the bowl with a large towel to make sure that no steam can escape. Keep your eyes closed and breathe deeply to inhale the therapeutic properties of the herbs. Steam for 5-10 minutes, depending on your comfort factor.

Green tea: Toner

What it does: Soothes and calms the skin, reduces itching and inflammation, while simultaneously tackling cuts, scrapes and other blemishes.

The science: Green tea has substantial anti-inflammatory properties, which make it an ideal beauty ingredient for sensitive skins. Herbalists have used cooled it for years to reduce itching and inflammation, and as an emergency first aid treatment to ease bleeding from small cuts and grazes. People with skin conditions such as psoriasis, rosacea, and dandruff, which are caused by inflammation, may benefit the most.

How to: Steep 5 teaspoons of green tea and 1 teaspoon of mint leaves in a cup of boiling water. Let the infusion stand for at least 10 minutes, then strain and allow to cool completely before pouring the water into a glass container. Now you can either soak cotton pads in this concoction or pour it into a spray bottle, from which you spritz your face 2-3 times a day.

Green tea: Relaxing bath soak

What it does: Soothes the body and clears the mind, making it perfect for a pre-bedtime ritual.

The science: There is a reason green tea appears as a key note in so many perfumes. Its fragrance has therapeutic values which create a feeling of balance, inner peace and serenity.

How to: Put some green tea leaves in a coffee filter (or a muslin handkerchief), gather the top, and tie it with a string. Drop it into your warm bathwater and chill out!

Green tea: Eye compress

What it does: Eases tired, puffy eyes and busts dark circles.

The science: Green tea contains vitamin K, which is a proven ingredient in the battle against dark circles and puffy eyes.

How to: Chill a cup of green tea in the refrigerator. Dip 2 cotton balls in the cool tea and place them on your closed eyelids. Sit back and relax for 10-15 minutes. As an alternative, you can swap the cotton balls for chilled, used tea bags.

green tea 3Green tea: Sunburn soother

What it does: Green tea can help soothe and heal sunburnt skin if applied directly to affected areas.

The science: Several scientific studies have proven green tea’s ability to neutralize the damage done by exposure to UV rays. This is a result of its high concentration of tannic acid, theobromine, and polyphenols – all of which ease inflammation and repair sun-damaged skin.

How to: Prepare a pot of green tea and chill it in the refrigerator. Use a cloth to apply the liquid to sunburnt areas – avoid rubbing; use the cloth as you would a cold compress.

Green tea: Mighty mouth

What it does: Green tea is also known for its ability to prevent bad breath – and it has the added advantage of tasting good if swallowed inadvertently.

The science: The natural fluorides in green tea curb mouth odor and help prevent plaque-forming microbes from attaching to the teeth.

How to: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 4 tablespoons of green tea and allow them to infuse for at least 30 minutes. Then strain out the leaves and make a paste using this liquid and one teaspoon of baking soda. Use this paste to brush your teeth as usual.

Green tea: Strengthening hair rinse

What it does: Protects hair from pollution and harsh products, while making it strong and shiny.

The science: Not only does green tea help ailments such as dandruff and psoriasis by reducing inflammation, it also stimulates hair growth and softens the strands. This happens due to high levels of panthenol, vitamin E and vitamin C, which are all well established hair conditioners.

How to: Steep 3-4 green tea bags in 1 liter of boiling water for about an hour. Let it cool and use the liquid as a final rinse after you’ve shampooed and conditioned.