Beauty recipe: The apple hair mask (it makes hair all smooth & shiny!)

A German friend suggested this new (actually old – they’ve been using it in Germany for some 12,000 years!) beauty recipe for hair that’s lost its mojo and seems totally dry and dull (MINE!). I took it for a road test this week and after ages had hair that actually seemed bouncy and healthy and pretty… not easy, let me tell you, for strands that have been colored and straightened into total lifelessness over many, many years of negligent adventurous behaviour.

The reason it works?

Apples contain an ingredient called pyrus malus, which is a terrific hair conditioner. In fact, pyrus malus is used as a conditioning agent in many hair products.

Apple cider vinegar, at the same time, helps balance hair’s pH levels, while simultaneously removing all gunk and product buildup. It also helps close the hair cuticle. The result is a smoother surface, which reflects more light, making hair shinier and easy to manage.

How to proceed

1. Peel, core and grate 1-2 large apples.

2. Combine this pulp with 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon corn flour; mix well.

3. Work this mixture into dry, unwashed hair and leave it on for 30 minutes.

4. Rinse off the hair mask with tepid water.

5. Wash your hair as usual.

Anyone going to try the apple hair mask? Got another beauty recipe or DIY beauty treatment that you’ve tried and loved? Tell me about it in the comments below and maybe I’ll use it for this blog (with all credits to you, of course)!

From Brazil to you: DIY beauty recipes for glossy, glow-y, super flawless skin (no waxing required!)

Alessandra Ambrosia, Adriana Lima, Isabeli Fontana, Isabel Goulart, Barbara Fialho, Lais Ribeiro, Daniela Braga… when almost every second Victoria’s Secret model turns out to be Brazilian, you know the country is on to something.

So, it’s not surprising that I spent much of the Rio Olympics trying to figure out the secret behind a whole nation’s worth of glossy, glow-y, flawless women both on and off the stage.

Seriously, what is it about these Brasileñas? How do they manage to look so effortlessly beautiful? Those taut limbs, that glossy skin, the sexily tousled hair… they must be spending hours at the spa, right? Wrong.

These gals take their skincare way too seriously to be content with once-in-a-while spa visits. Beauty is a way of life. Turns out they are doing it every day, all the time: By the beach, at work, while prepping for bed. Seriously, ALL the time.

This has made Brazil the third largest beauty market in the world after the USA and Japan. One of the biggest lures for beauty brands is the treasure trove of ingredients found in the country’s lush vegetation, making it no surprise that the rest of the beauty world is following where Brazil leads. Subsequently, many breakthrough beauty rituals have been developed here, some of which you may love already, and others you need to know about… like sand. And carrot juice. And sea salt.

And then shhhhhhhh… I am off to put these glorious beauty tips in action. You?

A photo posted by Adriana Lima (@adrianalima) on

Brazilian beauty secret #1: Sand

Yup, that’s it. Plain and simple sand. Used as a foot and body scrub right on the beach! Don’t be so shocked: massaging sand into the skin stimulates circulation, thereby busting toxins, breaking up fat tissue and chasing away cellulite. It’s also a terrific exfoliator that gets rid of dead skin. To be 100% Brazilian, simply grab a handful of sand and rub into damp skin in gentle, circular motions (as you would with a body scrub). For a more spa version, mix 1 cup of dry sand with 1/4 cup of olive oil and 5 drops of almond oil. Use this as a body scrub that both exfoliates and moisturises the skin.

Brazilian beauty secret #2: Carrot juice

These women have complexions so glowingly gorgeous that the Brazilian tan has become the hottest catwalk and celeb trend worldwide. But Brasileñas are also super sunscreen-savvy and you won’t find them baking in the sun sans some foolproof skin protection. So how does this reconcile with those tans of gold? The answer lies in carrot juice. Carrots, you see, are packed with beta-carotene, which is super-good at promoting a tan and giving skin a natural glow. Plan for at least 2 glasses of carrot juice a day and don’t forget the sunscreen.

Brazilian beauty secret #3: Açaí berries

Even as fashionistas and health-savvy celebs are increasingly swapping their cappuccino for superfood packed smoothies across the globe, beauty juices (or sucos in the native lingo) have been away of life for Brazilians forever. The most powerful (and popular) ingredient? Açaí berries. These pulpy berries areloaded with antioxidants that neutralise environmental damage and help you ditch signs of ageing like wrinkles, age spots and fine lines. For a truly Brazilian power smoothie (called batida de tai or açaí smoothie), take 2 cups of açaí juice (or 2/3 cup of dried açaí berries), 1 cup plain yogurt, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 banana and 3 tablespoons oatmeal. Blend, slurp, be a goddess !

Brazilian beauty secret #4: Babassu oil

With half of Brazil being home to the Amazon, this country is ripe with skin and health boosting plants. And increasingly, global beauty brands are reaping them for their products, including Kiehl’s Açaí Damage Repairing Skincare, Aveda’s Uruk makeup and MAC’s semi precious stone laced Mineralize collection. True Brasileñas, however, believe in going straight to the pure, unadulterated source, with simple ingredients like babassu oil (also known as cusi oil). This clear vegetable oil is terrific at nourishing the skin and regulating sebum (skin’s natural oils) sans greasiness. Simply do as the Brazilians: Rub a dollop of babassu oil straight into your skin to keep it soft and hydrated through the day.

Brazilian beauty secret #5: Cupuaçu

Cupuaçu (coo-poo-ah-SOO) is another hot favourite with the golden limbed. This fruit is super-rich in flavonoids – in fact, it has two flavonoids that can’t be found anywhere else on earth. Cupuaçu also has five fatty acids, including a powerful Omega-3, which dramatically improve skins tone and texture. So, this chocolatey-vanilla tasting fruit packs a solid 1-2 punch by both fighting environmental damage and improving skin quality. And it’s available fresh or frozen in many speciality stores around the world. When you find it, try this easy smoothie recipe: Mix 1 cup of cupuaçu pulp, 2 tablespoons chopped lemongrass leaves, 2 tablespoons honey and 2 cups cold milk in a blender. Blend on high, then strain out the floating solids. Drink chilled. PS: Also look for cupuaçu butter in health stores. It feels smooth and decadent, has a deliciously sweet aroma and helps lock in moisture for super-silky, supermodel skin.

Brazilian beauty secret #6: Sea water

Sea water gives you more than just sexy beach hair. It actually coats your strands with 26 minerals that make them ultra-soft and create oodles of natural volume, sans the need for any chemicals. It also adds loads of texture, making it easier to hold a style (hello curls and tousled waves!). No sea insight? Pour 1 cup plain water, a tablespoon of coconut oil, a tablespoon of sea salt and a tablespoon of hair gel into a spray bottle. Shake and spritz through your hair. Channel Adriana Lima. Voila!

A photo posted by Lais Ribeiro (@laisribeiro) on

Brazilian beauty secret #7: Sea salt

I would have never believed this one without actually seeing it in action: Sea salt actually helps heal acne, cold sores and minor wounds. That’s because sea salt is a strong antiseptic and if you can take the sting, this simple DIY recipe will clear up those blemishes: Mix 1 tablespoon sea salt with tap water; apply as a paste on the spots.

Brazilian beauty secret #8: Seaweed

The sea has even more in store: Seaweed is a potent combo of vitamins and minerals that are easily absorbed as this gelatinous substance’s unique molecular structure is very close to that of human skin. This makes seaweed a terrific ingredient to help purify, firm up, nourish and rehydrate the skin. It also slows down ageing and boosts cell generation, all while improving skin texture and tone. Plus, it makes tresses super shiny and stimulates blood circulation to promote hair growth. Enough for you? Then take 1 cup seaweed, 1 ripe avocado, 1 tablespoon plain yogurt and 1 tablespoon olive oil; blend apply to hair and/or face for 20 minutes.

Have you tried any of these ingredients in your beauty rituals? What’s the key beauty ingredient in YOUR culture?

Chillies and vodka… for longer, stronger hair?

jalapeno hairWould you dare to try this hair mask? Mexican fashionistas swear by its hair raising benefits! And it’s simple – chop one jalapeño pepper into tiny pieces and place in a small ceramic bowl. Pour half a cup of vodka over the peppers and let soak for several days. Then strain out the jalapeños and rub a small amount of this tonic into the scalp every night for longer, stronger and shinier strands.

Why does this work? Jalapeños stimulate the scalp and boost circulation, thereby encouraging new hair growth.

Vodka, in the meantime, cleanses the scalp, removes product build-up and stimulates the growth of healthy tresses. It also de-frizzes and closes the hair cuticle by lowering its pH level.

What other miracle recipes do you have for me? Drink a little vodka every night, while flipping through my Kindle?

Pssst… your scalp needs exfoliation as well!

We scrub our bodies smooth with sugar and salt, take rotating brushes to our faces and buff our feet to silky softness… but what about the skin on top of our head? Yes, the scalp is skin. And while you give it a seeing-to every time you shampoo, it needs a little extra love.

scalp-exfoliation1Why you need to exfoliate your scalp

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!

Exfoliating provides all the same benefits for your hair and scalp as it does for your face: it helps remove product build up from hair spray, gels and pomades that can clog hair follicles and weigh down the strands. It also removes dead cells and treats scalp acne (gross but it exists!). Plus, the extra stimulation helps boost circulation, which increases hair growth.

And if you have dandruff, a scalp scrub can help eliminate flakes. Neglecting your scalp, on the other hand, can result in hair damage and premature hair loss.

How to exfoliate your scalp

You can try at-home scalp exfoliants, such as Kiehl’s Deep Micro-Exfoliating Scalp Treatment and L’oreal Serie Expert Soft Peel Lipidine Cleansing Exfoliating Scalp Treatment.

Or mix up your own: blend 3 tablespoons of sugar with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and few drops of an essential oil like tea tree, jasmine or lavender. Wet your scalp and then massage it in gentle, circular movements with this mixture for a couple of minutes. Shampoo and condition your hair normally.

If you don’t shampoo frequently, use a lot of hair styling products or have oily hair, exfoliate every other week. Otherwise, you just need to do it once a month to maintain a healthy scalp and glossy strands.

Have you ever tried a scalp exfoliation? Would you prefer an off-the-shelf treatment or a make-your-own brew?