We all know nutrition is key to a healthy body, and it seems like there isn’t a day that goes by without a new superfood being touted as the next essential part of a balanced diet. We all know which foods are synonymous with eating well, as well as which to avoid. But there are many staples of our meals which we might not realise are good for us, and a few more that we could do with treating our bodies to more often.
Health & Beauty
The climate crisis continues to be at the forefront of public discussion, and many of us are combatting this by adopting a more sustainable way of living. Though you may be improving your recycling habits and avoiding single-use plastic, it’s easy to forget that your everyday health and beauty products may be harming the environment. As a result, commodities containing natural, environmentally-friendly ingredients are becoming more popular with consumers, which means there’s no excuse for sticking to unethical products.
To help you update your beauty regime in the name of sustainability, we’ve highlighted the most harmful ingredients and how you can avoid them.
Research has shown that 18 million tonnes of food end up in landfills each year in the UK, but this can easily be reduced by simply reusing our food scraps for other purposes. However, the good news is you can reuse your leftover food in a variety of ways, including make yourself look like a million dollars. So, not only will you be doing your bit for the environment. but you can also turn your kitchen cast-offs into all-natural, bespoke beauty and skincare products. Here’s how.
Besides being the nation’s favourite drink, tea can improve the appearance of your eyes in an affordable and natural way by reducing dark circles, puffiness and redness. So, if you’re tired of trying a seemingly endless stream of eyecare products that just don’t seem to work, chemical-free tea bags could be your new best friend.
You can use every type of tea bag, including black, white and herbal varieties, but the best teas to use for skincare are the ones with the highest amount of caffeine, which soothes puffy and swollen skin. Tea also contain antioxidants, with herbal lavender tea bags being particularly good at tackling dryness. Furthermore, the tannins in tea will also counter any swelling. All you need to do is squeeze all the water out of two tea bags, allowing them to cool completely, before placing them over your eyes, and, if dark circles are your nemesis, underneath as well.
Next time you’re about to throw away the filter from your morning coffee, why not keep hold of the leftover grounds? Coffee has a variety of skincare and haircare benefits, as it can stimulate blood flow, boost collagen levels and reduce the premature ageing of skin cells.
To make a facial scrub, you’ll need 6 tablespoons of finely ground coffee, 4 tablespoons of coconut oil— it’s a great moisturiser—and a few drops of tea tree oil. Combine these ingredients and store them in an airtight container, either at room temperature or, if you’d prefer a cooling sensation, in the fridge. When ready to use, a small portion can be gently buffed into your face in a circular motion, removing dead skin cells to reveal a fresh, healthy new complexion.
Caffeine-infused hair products are available to buy from drugstores but it’s easier—and cheaper—to make some yourself. All you have to do is mix some coffee grounds into your favourite conditioner and gently scrub your scalp for a few minutes. Expect smooth, shiny hair, while the caffeine in the coffee can also promote growth.
Not only is oatmeal the perfect winter breakfast, it can also double up as a product you can use on your skin and hair, so make use of the last few handfuls in your kitchen for your own DIY beauty products.
If you’re prone to acne, an oatmeal mask may reduce inflammation, as it contains zinc, which soaks up any excess oil that could trigger breakouts. Zinc is fundamental to skin health, but because our bodies don’t naturally produce it, we have to consume it through food and supplements. Oatmeal also contains saponin, a naturally cleansing compound ideal for removing blackheads and clearing pores. What’s more oatmeal boasts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help improve dry skin and remove dead cells.
Simply boil half a cup of oats in the same amount of water, let it cool, then stir to create a fine paste. Apply it to your skin and allow to sit for 20 minutes before washing off with warm water.
Oatmeal is also amazing for your hair, as it can treat dandruff, help fight hair loss, and acts as a natural moisturiser due to its nutrient content. When used as a hair mask in particular, oatmeal strengthens hair follicles helping make your hair stronger. To make this, you need to mix oatmeal, fresh milk and almond oil to make a paste, before putting it on your hair for 15-20 minutes. Rinse off with lukewarm water.
Bananas aren’t only one of your five-a-day, but excellent for your hair. The silica in the fruit encourages the synthesis of collagen, which can give your hair a much-needed boost in thickness, length and shine. A banana’s antimicrobial properties can also heal flaky, dry scalps. All you need is a few of those uneaten bananas that have been loitering in your kitchen for a while. For a conditioning mask, combine your ripe bananas with a small amount of honey, and apply to your hair for 10-15 minutes, focusing on your scalp and roots, before rinsing with lukewarm water.
Perhaps a food you wouldn’t have considered for your DIY beauty products, potatoes can improve skin health and help treat acne and other facial spots and blemishes. The vegetable can have positive effects on hair, improve dry skin and treat sunburn, too.
Potatoes are said to slow down the signs of ageing because of the antioxidants they contain, with vitamin C being particularly beneficial. As a result, you can use them to treat and prevent wrinkles—just peel and mash a few to create a paste, apply it to your face for 20 minutes, then rinse with cold water.
Spuds are also effective at removing the dark circles around your eyes. Simply peel a raw potato, slice it into large, even pieces. Then wrap them in a clean cloth and place the cloth under your eyes for 20 minutes. Afterwards, gently wash your eyes with warm water.
Avocados, although great on toast, are also fantastic for your hair and skin. The natural oils they contain can nourish, hydrate and soften. The most important thing to bear in mind is that your avocados must be inedible—the ones too mushy to use in a meal.
To make a face mask, simply mix half an avocado with yoghurt and organic honey, leave this mixture on your face for 15-20 minutes, then rinse it off with lukewarm water. The fruit contains lutein, a carotenoid which promotes the skin’s elasticity. Avocados also help keep skin smooth and boost its immunity against stress and other environmental factors.
If your avocados are too soft to eat, mash them up and apply to your hair. This nourishing mask is filled with biotin, which encourages your hair to shine, and vitamins B and E to protect against dryness and damage, essential to the health and growth of your hair.