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Off-Grid Beauty: 5 All-Natural Face Masks

all-natural face mask

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Nature has everything we need to keep us healthy on the inside and beautiful on the outside. In spite of what the cosmetic industry may have us believe, we really don’t need all those artificial substances to make our skin look radiant, especially when we have safer and more effective alternatives.

Most commercial skin products are a concoction of chemicals, even when they claim to be organic. As a matter of fact, “organic” is a much-abused marketing word today and the industry is not regulated as it should be to fully protect the consumer. Some products may contain some active natural ingredients like Aloe vera or berry extracts. But smothered by all the solvents, emulsifiers, surfactants, and what not, they may not have any of the goodness they claim to have. Add to that all the chemical preservatives, artificial colors and fragrances added to make the product attractive and increase its shelf life.

Read the labels on your cosmetic products. You will come across impossibly long chemical names like Polyethylene glycol, Sodium lauryl sulfate, Isopropyl alcohol, Diethanolamine, etc. Just check the ingredients in your car wash, oven cleaner and anti-freeze. Chances are you will find at least a few of these chemical names there, too. The truth is that these are petroleum derivatives originally isolated for specific industrial purposes. They may have extraordinary oil-cutting properties and penetrative power. But what exactly are they up to, sneaking into our skin care products?

Skin is a living tissue

Skin is not anything close to metal and paint work on a car! Skin needs to breathe and carry out all the metabolic functions such as secretion of oils and elimination of waste. Some of the chemicals in the products that we liberally apply on our face work by stripping away the natural oils in the skin. Others clog the skin pores, disrupting the primary functions of the skin. But we do need some cleansers to rid our skin of all the dirt and grime we gather from the polluted air.

Take control of beauty treatments with homemade products that use safe, nourishing ingredients

The product companies assure us that these chemical cleansers are safe enough in the concentrations present in commercial face masks. We may be lulled into believing that they are safe because they have passed extensive testing on animals, morbid as the idea is. But that is far from the truth. According to Dr. Samuel Epstein of the University of Illinois, these chemicals may cause anything from liver and kidney damage to cancers. We may be applying the products on our skin for only a short while, but similar to transdermal drug delivery systems such as nicotine patches, these chemicals can enter our bodies through our skin.

Is there an alternative?

Turning to nature is the only solution. What’s good for your insides is also good for your skin. The antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables have several mild natural acids that gently cut through the grease and grime and clean out the skin pores. Oils in plant and animal products moisturize the skin while natural astringents tighten the skin guard against the entry of dirt and germs.

Here are some natural face masks to make and use:

1. Deep Cleansing Clay Face Mask

Clay has a long history as a skin cleanser. It draws toxins from the deep pores of the skin along with skin oils, leaving it squeaky clean. Not any clay will do for a face mask though. Fine, aseptic, clay is obtained from hot springs (Napa Valley in California), sea beds (the Dead Sea) or volcanic lakes.

Clay is very abrasive, so it is important to use fine clay on the tender skin of your face. Avoid rubbing in the clay; it has a natural tendency to draw out moisture to the surface that will naturally provide deep cleansing.

You need:

  • Green clay – 3 tablespoons
  • Milk – just enough to make a thin paste
  • Geranium oil – 1 drop

To prepare and use:

  1. Mix all together to make a thin, easy-to spread paste.
  2. Apply on the face and the neck; allow it to dry completely.
  3. Wash it off with cold water.

Those with very sensitive skin can use kaolin clay instead.

2. Rejuvenating Face Mask

Yogurt is the most accessible probiotic food. Besides keeping you healthy internally, yogurt can make you look great, too. The active ingredients in yogurt include calcium, zinc and B-complex vitamins. Calcium is as essential for skin as it is for our bones and teeth. The top layers of skin have a higher concentration of calcium to aid the continuous process of skin renewal. Zinc is also important for new cell growth. Lactic acid can facilitate exfoliation. The beneficial microorganisms and B-complex vitamins contribute to skin health by edging out acne-causing germs.

You need:

  • Plain yogurt – 2 tablespoons
  • Oats – 2 tablespoons
  • Mint leaves – 4

To prepare and use:

  1. Blend together into a fine paste.
  2. Apply it on the face with a gentle circular motion. Keep it on for 15-20 minutes. Wash it off for a skin smelling and feeling fresh.

3. Clarifying Face Mask

Papaya has an enzyme called papain which acts on proteins. It can remove layers of scar tissue and blemishes. Ripe papaya is gentler than green papaya which has a higher concentration of papain.

You need:

  • Ripe papaya – 1/2 cup
  • Apple cider vinegar- 2 tablespoons
  • Corn flour – 2 tablespoons

To prepare and use:

  1. Blend all the items together to a smooth paste.
  2. Apply on the face and leave it on for 15 minutes.
  3. Wash off.

4. Nourishing Face Mask

Eggs are a wholesome food and excellent for your skin. Use the whole egg for normal skin and if your skin is too dry, skip the egg white; use only the egg yolk. For oily skin, discard the yolk instead.

You need:

  • Whole organic egg/egg white/egg yolk – 1
  • Lemon juice – 1 tablespoon
  • Organic coconut oil – ½ teaspoon (optional)

To prepare and use:

  1. Beat the whole egg/egg white/egg yolk with lemon juice until uniformly mixed.
  2. Stir in the coconut oil (optional). The coconut oil adds a soft feel to the skin.
  3. Apply on the face and allow it to dry. Wash off with water.

5. Soothing Aloe vera-cucumber face mask

Aloe vera is known for its moisturizing and soothing natural gel. Traditionally used as a healing balm for burns, this hydrating gel can heal damage due to sunburn, allergies and acne. Honey contains antibacterial properties and is loaded with free-radical fighting antioxidants. Phytochemicals in cucumbers help tighten collagen.

You need:

  • Aloe vera leaves – 2
  • Cucumber slices – 10
  • Raw local honey – 2 tablespoons

To prepare and use:

  1. Peel the skin on the flatter (top) side of aloe leaf with a sharp knife.
  2. Scoop out the gel-like substance with a spoon.
  3. Grind it with the cucumber slices and honey.
  4. Transfer the homogeneous mixture to a clean jar. It can be stored for a week in the refrigerator.
  5. Apply it evenly on the face and keep it on for 15 minutes.
  6. Wash off with cold water. This is a non-irritating mild mask that can be used on a daily basis.

Caution: Always apply a little of the prepared face mask on a patch of tender skin elsewhere before applying on the face. Even hypoallergenic ingredients like Aloe vera can cause reactions in some people.

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