Kitchen Beauty: Which Foods Are Great for at Home Beauty Treatments?

We’ve all seen the pins on Pinterest — I even have an entire board of nothing but DIY at home beauty treatments — recipes to erase all our acne scars with cinnamon, hydrating masks with avocados or pumpkin, even claims that the baking powder we currently have in our kitchen cabinet is just as good as a professional microdermabrasion session

But, just because it is there on Pinterest, should you do it? Does it work? Or is it just a waste of a perfectly good avocado?


  • What the Beauty Experts Think 1 of 18

    Whenever I see that cinnamon face mask linked on Pinterest, I always wonder what a dermatologist would think of the at home remedy. Are they shaking their heads at our stupidity, or do they think we're on to something? What about the hair stylists who hear beauty tips about rinsing out your hair with shampoo? So, I asked!

    Here's what the experts had to say about the food items you'll find most often in the at home beauty treatment recipes. Some of their answers may surprise you!


    Images: phandcp, ninacoco, StateofIsrael, and rennes.i.

  • Avocados 2 of 18

    You might know them best for guacamole and a tasty addition to your sandwich or salad, but avocados are full of amazing things! Avocados are large berries with a single seed, and they're full of the "good" fats as well as being a good source of potassium, fiber, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C.

    "Avocados are rich in oleic acid and other essential fatty acids, making it a great moisturizer for both skin and hair," says Dr. Susan Bard of Vanguard Dermatology in New York City. Because of this, you'll find avocados frequently in recipes for hydrating masks. "It has also been shown to be beneficial in the wound healing process by decreasing inflammation and promoting increased collagen synthesis," Bard continues. "Avocados are also rich in vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants, such as vitamin A and E, which can help protect from environmental damage and combat aging. Beware, some people may develop a contact dermatitis to certain parts of the avocado, especially those with latex allergy."

    Stylist Louise Rusk from Mizu in Boston has an easy to follow recipe for a very hydrating treatment. She says to start with freshly washed hair, she prefers a simple organic shampoo before using a natural treatment. Then "mash an avocado with olive oil and honey to relieve dry dull hair, adding shine and moisture. Apply to clean damp hair wrap in a shower cap, and leave for a minimum of 30 minutes."

    Image: Muffet via Flickr

  • Bananas 3 of 18

    Bananas are really easy to include in at home beauty recipes because they're pretty much everywhere. They're cheap, always in season and they act as a great thickening for other ingredients. It turns out, there are lots of great reasons to use banana for your hair and skin.

    "Bananas contain vitamins A, B, C, E, potassium, zinc, iron and biotin. Vitamin C and zinc are both integral cofactors in collagen production. Vitamin E is an antioxidant which can protect from free radical damage and aging. Vitamin A promotes rapid skin turnover, improving acne and fine lines," says Dr. Susan Bard. "Bananas are also 74% water by weight and can help moisturize when applied topically. Take caution, bananas may induce a contact dermatitis in certain patients, especially those with a latex allergy." However, Dr. Soheil Simzar of Ava MD in Los Angeles says "Bananas have limited moisturizing effect for the skin, and may be a waste of time"

    However, the hair may have more benefits from bananas. Bananas are "rich in potassium, natural oils, carbohydrates and vitamins, all which help to soften the hair and protect its natural elasticity, preventing split ends and breakage," says Dr. Marina Peredo of Spatique Medical Spa in Smithtown, New York. "When combined with other ingredients to make a mask, bananas will condition damaged hair and make it feel super soft," says George Gonzalez.

    Dr. Marina Peredo has a super easy banana hair mask recipe. "Create a hydrating, healthy and chemical-free hair mask by adding honey and olive oil to bananas. Apply the mask to your hair, brush through, and let sit for 15 minutes. After rinsing, your hair will be soft and supple, visibly reducing the appearance of split ends."

    Image: rennes.i via Flickr

  • Beer 4 of 18

    I'm sure we've all heard the beauty advice of rinsing your hair with beer to add shine. But is there really anything to it, other than smelly hair? Most of the stylists and dermatologists that I talked to said that this advice really does work, if you can take the smell.

    "Beer contains antioxidants, protein and various nutrients, such as biotin which can improve the quality of hair. The yeast found in beer can improve acne by decreasing sebum production, fighting acne bacteria as well as balancing skin pH," says Dr. Susan Bard. "Drawbacks of using beer are the lingering odor and the alcohol in the product may potentially strip away oils leading to dryness of the hair and skin."

    The ingredients in beer seem to be made for the big, shiny hair that we all crave. "The alcohol in beer can act as a cleansing agent and a shine booster," says George Gonzalez, owner of George the Salon in Chicago. "The yeast in the beer actually blows up the cuticle in the hair to add body," adds Ashleigh Serdan owner of Ashtin Salon in Corona Del Mar, California.

    Image: via Flickr

  • Cinnamon 5 of 18

    "Cinnamon is a spice that brings blood to the surface of the skin, causing minor swelling and plumping, which can make fine lines less visible. Cinnamon can also help rid your face or back of acne by both drying out the skin and, again, bringing blood and oxygen to the skin surface," says Dr. James C. Marotta, a facial plastic surgeon on Long Island.

    "Cinnamon has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, due to eugenol and trans-cinnamic acid. It can also stimulate circulation at the site of application and potentially stimulate follicles improving hair growth," says Dr. Susan Bard.


    Despite these great benefits, "cinnamon is not recommended for skin application since some people can have an allergic reaction to it, causing redness, inflammation and dryness of the skin," warns Dr. Soheil Simzar. "Beware, cinnamon oil can cause an irritant or allergic contact dermatitis and can lighten hair with repeated use," adds Dr. Susan Bard.

    Dr. James C. Marotta agrees, "while a homemade cinnamon mask may provide slight benefits to the skin due to its nature, I would not recommend using over common skincare ingredients backed by clinical studies."

    So, while all of those homemade cinnamon masks on Pinterest that promise to erase any acne scars look like they're a great answer, you should probably avoid them.

    Image: Nomadic Lass via Flickr

  • Coconut Oil 6 of 18

    Coconut Oil is the new favorite oil of almost everyone, including hair stylists and dermatologists.

    "Coconut Oil is unlike most moisturizing agents because it has deep penetrating properties due to its fatty acids that provide intense moisture to the skin. It also helps strengthen underlying skin tissue and removes dead cells from the skin's surface," says Dr. Marina Peredo.

    "I love coconut oil in the hair! Whether leaving in overnight or for 20 minutes your hair will feel hydrated and bonus: smells like a beach vacation! The cuticle smooths out and I find the effect lasts for 5 days even with washing in-between - great for those living in a humid climate to fight frizzy hair," says stylist Andrea Claire.

    "If you are DIY-ing your hair color and find your ends are porous, add a little coconut oil before running your color into the ends. It will help even out your color application, but I stress a little too much will block the color completely," adds Andrea Claire.

    Image: Phú Thịnh Co via Flickr

  • Coffee 7 of 18

    Coffee has some great benefits for the skin! "Coffee grounds themselves can help exfoliate. The caffeine in the coffee improves circulation and can decrease puffiness and even reduce the appearance of cellulite," says Dr. Susan Bard.

    "Coffee is a very effective ingredient in topical products/scrubs because of its potent antioxidant and rejuvenating benefits. It has been shown to increase skin firmness and brightness and decrease fine lines and wrinkles," adds Dr. Palmer.

    You can look for coffee in skin care products, or DIY a treatment at home. "Take the granules into the shower and rub them onto your body, focusing on areas that need extra tightening. They also make a great exfoliating addition to any facial product," says Dr. Peredo.

    Image: torbus via Flickr

  • Honey 8 of 18

    "Known for its anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties, honey is great for acne and prevention of further breakouts, slows down the natural aging process, boosts a dull complexion, moisturizes, and clarifies the skin by opening the pores," says Dr. Peredo.

    "Honey is one of my favorite for rebuilding strength in the cuticle. It helps to retain moisture, is rich in vitamins and minerals and promotes hair growth," says celebrity stylist Holly Drakulic of Life Spa in Plymouth, near Minneapolis.

    A little extra honey added to any at home facial mask is helpful, but using honey in the hair is definitely more tricky. Louise Rusk recommends mixing honey with yogurt for added hydration and Holly Drakulic mixes honey with olive oil for easier application.

    Image: storebukkebruse via Flickr

  • Lemons 9 of 18

    Lemon and Lime juice are frequent additives to at home DIY beauty recipes, and who hasn't heard about lightening your hair with a little lemon juice and the sun?

    "Lemon juice is loaded with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), a potent antioxidant and a great exfoliator, which can help fight environmental damage and lighten spots," says Dr. Bard.

    "For an itchy scalp The acidity levels in lemons are great for getting rid of flakes on your scalp and loosens up your follicles to have less dandruff," notes Ashleigh Serdan.

    All of this sounds great, but you should be careful. "Lemon Juice can help lighten sun spots and decrease oily skin but very careful it needs to be thoroughly washed off before sun exposure because it can cause inflammation and blistering if you skin comes into contact with the sun while it has lemon juice on it. If this reaction occurs, the affected area becomes brown for many months," cautions Dr. Soheil Simzar.  This reaction is called Phytophotodermatitis, and has even been blamed for second degree burns.

    "If you are using lemon juice to lighten your hair, this is one instance it is always best to go to a salon for color. You cannot control what the end result will look like," says George Gonzalez.

    Image: Healing and Eating via Flickr

  • Mayonnaise 10 of 18

    Though most of us purchase our mayonnaise, it really is a combination of eggs, oil and an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar. Many of which are great for your hair, so it isn't surprising that there are a ton of great tips for using mayo on your locks. "While it is moisturizing, mayonnaise can often make hair feel very greasy and the smell can linger even after shampooing," warns George Gonzalez. To help avoid the greasy look, don't use straight mayo on your hair. There is a great mayonnaise hair mask recipe over at Hello Giggles, they even offer suggestions for additional ingredients to customize the mask for your hair's needs.

    Image: markhillary via Flickr

  • Oatmeal 11 of 18

    Doesn't it seem like oats are in every soothing or eczema skin care product on the market? There's a reason for that.

    "Oats contain avenanthramides, phenolic compounds which exert antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity making it very soothing to irritated skin," says Dr. Bard. "They also contain Vitamin B, Vitamin E, protein, fat, and minerals. Flavonoids in oats absorb UVA helping to protect against sun damage. Beta glucans in oats help pull and retain water, making it a great moisturizer."

    "Oatmeal is soothing and is particularly good for itchy skin or allergic type skin. Also helps with acne because it contains ‘saponins', which remove dirt from pores and are anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidants," adds Dr. Goldfaden.

    You can easily make your own oatmeal bath, and yes, it does work. "Oatmeal bath is helpful for dry itchy skin, which usually has a high pH. Oatmeal helps normalize this pH and lock in moisture," says Dr. Simzar.

    Oatmeal can also work wonders for your hair. There are two great ways to treat your hair with oatmeal.

    First, you can use oatmeal as a dry shampoo! "For oily and greasy hair, cornmeal or oatmeal is the best way to remove excess oils," says Stylist Ashleigh Serdan. "Sprinkle on the scalp with a pepper or salt shaker let it sit on the head for 10 minutes. Then brush it out completely."

    "Oatmeal can add moisture and repair dry damaged ends," says Stylist Louise Rusk. "Mix oatmeal with milk and honey, and heat it in the microwave to soften oats. Add the mixture to clean damp hair leave for 30 minutes before washing out."

    Image: phandcp via Flickr

  • Olive Oil 12 of 18

    "Olive oil contains numerous antioxidants which combat free radical injury. Oleic acid is a fatty acid which easily penetrates the skin imparting moisture as well as delivering those antioxidants," says Dr. Bard.

    "This is great to apply to dry skin as a moisturizer (especially for those who have a lot of skin allergies) or it can be applied to dry hair for added moisture and shine. It is also great as a nail and cuticle moisturizer. I also recommend it to patients with sensitive skin as a waterproof eye makeup remover when they experience irritation from other makeup removal products," says Dr Debbie Palmer, from Dermatology Associates of New York and founder of Replere Skin Care.

    Olive oil is great for the hair, because it "is rich in antioxidants and vitamins A and E which lock in moisture. Avoid direct contact with your scalp and roots as hair will feel very greasy. Concentrate on split ends and sections with more damage," says George Gonzalez. Stylist Patrice Vinci adds that olive oil is "not good for colored hair because it can make the color fade."

    Image: StateofIsrael via Flickr

  • Papaya 13 of 18

    Papaya is "a good source of Vitamin A and Papain," says Dr. Peredo. "Papaya helps to slough away dead skin cells which helps with skin discoloration, breaks down inactive proteins, and keeps the skin hydrated and smooth."

    Dr. Goldfaden explains further, "the enzyme Papain helps in wound healing and possibly burns. Papaya is anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic."

    Dr. Simzar has a super easy way to get the benefits of papaya. "The skin has alpha-hydroxy acid and leaving it on for 5 minutes can provide a light peel."

    Image: ninacoco via Flickr

  • Pumpkin 14 of 18

    "Pumpkin contains Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Zinc to help reduce inflammation and redness, treat damage caused by free radicals, and helps remove dead skin cells, promoting cellular production," says Dr. Marina Peredo.

    Pumpkin is also great for your hair. Pumpkin "restores shine and moisture to dry and damage strands. It is rich in Vitamin A,K and C and minerals such as zinc. It also provides another layer of protection from the sun," says stylist Ashleigh Serdan.

    Want to treat your hair with pumpkin at home? Louise Rusk has some great advice! "[Pumpkin is] great to repair dry, damaged, chemically compromised hair. Add olive oil to 1/2 cup of pumpkin and a tablespoon of honey apply to clean damp hair and leave for 30 minutes."

    Louise also has some great advice to make sure that treatment can work. "As with all natural at home treatments it is essential that you use a simple organic shampoo. Never use a shampoo and conditioner or something with waxy ingredients as they will seal the hair and prevent the goodness of your natural ingredients from penetrating the hair shaft."

    Image: Teo via Flickr

  • Sugar and Salt Scrubs 15 of 18

    We all known how easy it is to create an amazing salt or sugar scrub at home! Just add an oil and any other fragrant ingredients you want.

    My biggest advice when creating your own scrub is make sure the granule you are using, whether sugar or salt, is evenly shaped and sized. Large sharp shards of sea salt look like they'll hurt your skin because they will hurt your skin! One of my most memorable dermatology lectures from medical school included very up close images of the skin after scrubbing with a well known apricot scrub which has irregular and sharp granules. The skin had tears and cuts in it, not exactly the goal of gentle exfoliation. I went home from the lecture and threw out two tubes of the scrub. 

    "Salt/sugar granules are great for exfoliating dead skin cells and impurities. However, be careful not to over scrub skin as it can be irritating to sensitive or acne prone skin and can cause a flare," says Dr. Bard.

    "Brown Sugar is amazing as a body scrub and also for exfoliating dry, chapped lips. Many times when shooting on location models lips dry out so we always grab the brown sugar packets at the hotels to scuff and rejuvenate their lips," says stylist Andrea Claire in Singapore.



  • Tea 16 of 18

    "Tea contains polyphenols, such as catechins and flavonoids which impart it with anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial properties, which can soothe irritated skin and prevent infection of damaged skin," according to Dr. Bard.

    "The caffeine in certain teas can also help reduce puffiness by constricting blood vessels," adds Dr. Bard. You can take advantage of this by putting cool, wet tea bags on your undereye bags to help reduce their size. Usually about 10 minutes is all the time you'll need.

    Dr. Bard also cautions that "teas can impart a yellow/brown hue to skin and hair with prolonged exposure." You can take advantage of this for your hair. "If you use a mildly brewed tea and rinse this through your hair, it is great for blondes and serves as a gentle toner," suggests Stylist George Gonzalez.

    Image: anaulin via Flickr

  • Vinegar 17 of 18

    "Vinegar is full of acetic acid; and can strip build up from hair, and exfoliate skin," explains Dr. Bard. "Vinegar is a great way to give high shine to hair, although people will find that the odor can linger. Try fruit vinegars, like apple cider if you are looking to avoid odors," says stylist Yolanda Crowell from G20 Spa and Salon in Boston.

    Dr. Bard cautions that "like other acids excessive, use can lead to irritation and dryness."

    There are a ton of ways to use vinegar in your hair, though Apple Cider Vinegar is probably the best one to use purely based on smell. Here on Babble there's an amazing post on 10 ways to use Apple Cider Vinegar for hair. If you still can't take the smell there is an alternative. "One of my favorite haircare lines, Rene Furterer, produces a water and vinegar product that closes the hair cuticle and adds intense shine," suggests Patrice Vinci.


    Rene Furterer Fioravanti Clarify & Shine Rinse, $26


    Image: paulshannon via Flickr

  • Yogurt 18 of 18

    "Yogurt is full of lactic acid, zinc and other minerals and enzymes which work to hydrate the skin, ridding rough patches and dryness," explains Dr. Marina Peredo. "The lactic acid also helps to brighten dull skin and prevent premature aging. Zinc helps clear up acne, shrink pores, soothe skin and also has mild lightening properties to aid in skin discoloration and dark circles.

    Ashleigh Serdan says that yogurt is "ideal for dull hair, and is great for adding shine to the hair. It is known to reverse damaged hair! Plus, the milk fat from the yogurt moisturizes the hair."

    Image: ninacoco via Flickr


Read more from Christine on Babble and her blog, 15 Minute Beauty. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Article Posted 3 years Ago

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