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.
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.
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: 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: 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: 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.
I have a pathological dislike of pain. Which is why my legs get shaved rather than waxed. And which is why they are usually sporting horrid-looking nicks, cuts and super-dry skin that no amount of Bliss Naked Body Butter or L’Occitane Ultra Rich Body Cream is able to transform into skirt-skimmingingly glowy gorgeousness!
Then I ran into a college friend who now lives in Russia and has legs like butter… no exaggeration. And being a great buddy, she bestowed upon me this Russian shaving oil recipe that’s been around for a few hundred years and apparently gives ultra-sexy skin every single time!
Plus, it’s super-simple: Pour 3 tablespoons of almond oil in a bowl. Add half a tablespoon each of wheat germ oil, canola oil and sesame oil then stir till everything is all mixed up. Slather onto legs and shave. Simple, right? And this has a long shelf life so you can make a larger batch and store in a pretty bottle (the pretty bottle won’t make it more efficient – it’s just my personal commandment). As for the razor – dunk it into a shot glass of vodka (this is Russian, remember?) for a couple of hours and it shall come out all clean and fresh, sans any oily traces!
I have tried this thrice and my legs are definitely looking much better. This week, I might even bare them in this thigh-skimming floaty chiffon-silk dress from Leaves of Grass. What do you think? Good for a chilled-out Sunday champagne brunch? Or should I keep it more chic and monochromatic with the Alice by Temperley number on the right? I need your help here!
Having beautiful, glowing, flawless skin is not always about rigorous dermatological treatments or expensive products. Sometimes, simple goes a longer way and every skincare pro I’ve ever spoken to has sworn by at least a couple of kitchen shelf DIYs they call upon in their own life. Some of these secret rituals are merely curious, while others are downright bizarre. But they are all underlined by serious doses of skincare science and the experts promise they perform miracles. So, here you go!
1. Do shots… with chlorophyll: Don’t really relish those green juices and salads seem too much of a bother? Just stock up on liquid chlorophyll. This most essential of plant nutrients detoxifies the body, oxygenates the skin, boosts tissue repair, steps up digestion and restores our acid-alkaline ratio to keep the complexion clean, healthy and glowing from the inside out. Added bonus: It works fast and tastes like mint.
2. Order the guac: Or just go straight for the avocados, which are loaded with healthy fats and phytonutrients that nourish skin from the inside out and bring back your glow.
3. Bring on the beer: Beer isn’t just good for your hair, it’s also a powerful skin ally. All those B vitamins, hops, saccharides and yeast help dissolve dead cells, balance pH levels and bust acne-causing bacteria. Simply mix together half a cup of beer with one egg white and slather on your face. Let the mask dry for 20 minutes, then rinse off with warm water. Now say hello to radiant, fresh skin.
4. Freeze up: Late night? Crying bout? Sun scorched? Beauty pros always keep a few sheet of aluminium foil in the freezer. Simply take one of the chilled sheets and put them on your face for a few minutes to de-puff, tighten pores and bring back the glow.
5. Eye it: If it’s your eyes that need the de-puffing and redness relief, pop some eye cream in the icebox and apply to lids for turbo-charged results.
6. Tea time: Skin more irritated than puffy? Chill some green tea bags and gently press them onto the inflamed areas – the antioxidants will soothe a sore complexion.
7. Tropical treat: Another refrigerated treat for your skin? Pineapple juice. Freeze some fresh pineapple juice and then rub this “ice cube” over clean skin. Let the liquid dry on your face for 5-10 minutes, then rinse away with plain water. Pineapple’s natural enzymes exfoliate, improve hydration and boost elasticity. Hello, luminous skin!
8. Dairy goodness: Swap the hot water with freshly boiled milk while steaming your face for the ultimate skin detox. Simply boil the milk, pour into a bowl and let the vapours float over your face as you lean in under a towel. Milk is full of lactic acid, which will decongest the pores, leaving your skin beautifully clear.
9. Hydrate NOW: Dewy, glowing skin equals hydrated skin and when you’re sorely lacking in the latter department, whip together an egg yolk and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Apply a generous layer of this mixture all over your face and leave on for 20 minutes before rinsing off with lukewarm water.
10. Acne Rx: Need to bring down the redness and inflammation of a pimple right NOW? Dab a bit of Visine on the blemish. This won’t make your pimple smaller, but it will definitely look less obvious for a few hours.
11. Scrub-a-dub: To banish dry, cracked heels, mix a handful of sea salt with enough almond oil to make a thick paste. Use this to exfoliate your feet and toes; say hello to smooth, sandal-ready summer feet!
12. Thigh high: For legs that tend to rub or chafe in summer, apply deodorant to the insides of your thighs… this sounds weird but it works!
What’s the strangest beauty tip you’ve ever heard? And how did it work out for you?