Beauty products are the one thing that I waste my money on. Give me a hundred bucks and plop me in the nearest Duane Reade, and I’m happy as a pig in shit, wandering the aisles, Googling face cream comparisons, debating the merits of serums. I love beauty products for the breathless and inspirational lies they tell. This thing will shave years off your face. This other thing will erase dark spots and get rid of wrinkles. Pat this into your delicate under eye area, ring finger only, to avoid tugging at the crepe-y skin. I love them for their promise of self-improvement, but I hate how expensive they are. This is why I have turned to the powerful hive mind of the internet, where I discovered the soft-lit, and earnest underbelly of natural, DIY beauty remedies. You see these things on Pinterest and Facebook, and while you may click and stockpile tabs, how often do you really try them? Does rubbing food on your face actually work? I was ready to do the work. Here are nine natural, DIY, blogger-approved beauty remedies — plus one store-bought hippie solution — tried and tested by yours truly…
The Claim: Activated charcoal, the stuff that you find in Origins’ lovely and effective Clear Improvement face mask, is great at drawing out impurities and removing gunk from pores, the surface of your teeth, or whatever. It’s also the stuff that they give you at the hospital if you go in for alcohol poisoning. We have activated charcoal in capsules at my house. I have taken it only when extremely drunk, in the hopes that it would ward off whatever death hangover was coming for me the next day, but I noticed no real difference.
The Science: Activated charcoal is extremely porous. It absorbs toxins like a little sponge, which is why it’s used for removing toxins from the body.
The Verdict: My teeth tend towards the yellowish — I smoke, I drink a lot of coffee, I have been told I have weak enamel. This miracle cure is cheaper than Crest White Strips, and I already had this shit in my house.
I followed the instructions, emptying out a capsule into a shot glass, mixing it with some water and swishing it around in my mouth for five minutes. I rinsed, I spat, I rinsed again. I repeated this procedure for five minutes, until my mouth was no loner coated in a horrifying black paste. Afterwards, I bared my teeth in the mirror, and examined them, every single inch. Were they whiter? Maybe a hair. Did they feel squeaky clean, like almost too clean? Yes.
The Claim: Why spend $28 on a teensy bottle of Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray when you can whip this up in your own home, using stuff that you most likely have around the house?
The Science: Most surf spray products contain salt, alcohol, water, and fragrance. This mimics the glorious alchemy of going for a dip in the ocean and then napping for three hours on the beach.
The Verdict: I had most of the ingredients lying around the house, minus the alcohol, which I left out. My hair is tricky. Sometimes, I wake up like dis, tumbly and gorgeous and wavy and luxurious, with nary a tendril out of place. Other days, my hair looks as if I’ve fallen asleep on precisely half of it, and I require a bun. About once a month, I look like Shingy. I tried this salt spray on a day when my hair was cooperating with me, and to its credit, my hair was soft. The lack of alcohol meant that my hair wasn’t crunchy, only fluffy and tousled and glorious. The downside is that my hair didn’t stay beautiful. Despite the gel that’s included in the recipe, my hair fell flat halfway through the day, and I had to put it up into my requisite “I really need a haircut” topknot. Bummer.
The Claim: This is the cheap and easy way to get tight, glowing, beautiful skin like the celebs. Skin that glows like a newborn baby’s. Skin that looks expensive.
The Science: Baking soda is a gentle, natural abrasive, and really, when you get microdermabrasion, all you’re doing is removing dead skin cells using chemicals. Baking soda is a chemical, it’s in your house, and if you want to reveal the glowing you that lurks under years of acne scars and forgetting to put on moisturizer at night, this is supposedly your best cheap bet.
The Verdict: I have an Oil Of Olay at-home microdermabrasion kit that comes with a fake Clarisonic brush, which I have used to great effect. I also have huge pores, especially on my nose, and a tendency to be lax with washing my face as often as I should. If this baking soda recipe was something that could work to take care of all my skin issues without dropping $15 to buy the exfoliant that goes with the kit, then I was game.
Making the paste was not a big deal, nor was rubbing it methodically into my skin for five minutes, although five minutes is a very long time to do just the one thing. I rinsed, I patted dry, I assessed my face close up. It felt smoother and the gross clogged pores around the sides of my nose cleared up. It was easy, it was cheap, and somehow, it worked. I’m a believer.