7 Beautifying Baking Ingredients
As some of you might know, I have a bit of a history with cake and beauty. I've always been a total girl's girl--you know, hooked on dresses, lip gloss, fancy skin cream and the like. I've also always been obsessed with baked goods (what gave that away?). So, in light of wanting to make these two passions my career, by the time I was 26, I decided to marry my fascination for cake with my love for all things girly together in one sweet flurry--I created a collection of bath and body products made from high quality "baking" ingredients, blended and whipped together in the same way we would make sweet frostings or batters. It took about a year researching ingredients and recipes, and of course serious concocting in the kitchen, but finally the initial line of "cakey" lotions, suds and scrubs was born. After a year of studying and working with of the best natural oils and butters on the market, I learned that we can achieve the most gloriously gorgeous skin using just a handful of these chemical-free, all-natural ingredients. And even though I left the company in the hands of my business partner several years later, my love for gorgeous skin and hair lives on--I continue to smother my skin in the very same ingredients we use to bake our beloved cakes and confections--they're just too good and always in my pantry. Besides, us baking junkies cannot live on baked goods alone, right? We all love our skin and hair to feel nourished, youthful and glowing (you know, for those days we actually leave the kitchen). So let's talk beauty, baby: *As with anything that you're applying to your skin, you'll want to do a little patch test, before using all over your face or body, particularly if you have sensitive skin. HONEY Aside from its divine taste and texture, honey is said to have countless health benefits and medicinal uses, a lot of which have to do with its anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties, among others. Honey seems to be a heal-all, including working as a treatment for cuts, wounds, sore throats, hangovers, energy-boosting and many more. But honey also boasts several beauty benefits. It is known for its soothing properties and for being a natural humectant (naturally attracts and retains moisture), so needless to say it's a sweet addition to any beauty routine. Here are some (of many) ways I like to use honey in my beauty routine:
- Mixing a squeeze of honey with coconut oil or shea butter for a sweet-as-can-be body moisturizer.
- Adding a few generous squeezes of honey (about 1/2 to 1 cup) to warm bath water for a luxurious bath (I have to admit, I do feel slightly Cleopatra-esque doing this, but I think we all need to feel that way whenever possible.) It feels incredibly silky and leaves the skin smooth as can be.
- Squeezing a teaspoon of honey into your palm and mixing with my shampoo in shower for taming my rather processed, tangly, curly hair prior to conditioning.
SUGAR So it's true, sugar isn't necessarily the most magical ingredient for the inside of our bodies--we know this. (Which is why we all keep our sugar intake to a minimum, right? Right. Ahem.) But, sugar is a fabulous beauty ingredient. It's also helpful that it's likely always in your cupboard, ready and waiting to beautify the baker (that's you). One of the main benefits of sugar (when used on the skin) is that it contains glycolic acid (Alpha hydroxy acid). Glycolic acid penetrates the skin easily, and is said to reduce wrinkles and remedy hyper-pigmentation (along with many other skin conditions). With its ability to "peel away" dead skin cells, it is a natural exfoliant, revealing the healthy, live cells beneath which gives our skin that vibrancy and glow we all yearn for. The sugar granules themselves are also an exfoliant and are a great way to bind other skin-saving oils (eg. olive oil) to create the ultimate natural skin product. (It's also handy that sugar acts as a natural preservative, giving our homemade beauty products a longer shelf life.) You can use any type of sugar in your beauty routine, but just note that the finer the sugar granule, the gentler the exfoliation. You can use it on its own, but I find it's easier to combine with some olive oil, coconut oil or other beautifying base-oils, such as sweet almond oil or jojoba oil (these are found at health food shops or online). From finest to most coarse, I use brown sugar, caster sugar (aka superfine sugar), granulated sugar, or raw sugar (aka turbinado sugar). You can, though, use any kind of sugar you may have or come across. Just remember that if you are using on your face, I would stick to brown sugar or caster sugar and apply in small, gentle circles before rinsing thoroughly. For your body, any of the sugars would work well--I use turbinado mixed with some lavender white sugar (and oils) for my body scrubs, and apply 3 times per week (the sugar dissolves down the shower drain). I don't, however, recommend using a sugar scrub in the tub--the granules tend to sink to the bottom and can aggravate your, um, parts. Let us stick to the sink or shower for our exfoliating adventures. EGGS With their protein-richness and nutrients, it's not a surprise that eggs can make a nourishing and natural beauty ingredient. Both egg whites and egg yolks can be used in at-home beauty care, both for nourishing facial and hair treatments. While I have to admit that I don't feel particularly comfortable rubbing raw eggs on my face, but I have been known to smother my rather large, frequently coloured and potentially dry hair in whole eggs for a rich boost of moisture and shine. There are many egg-based hair treatment recipes out there, but I like to keep it simple--break an egg (or in my land of big-hair, 2 eggs) into a bowl and whisk (scrambled eggs, anyone?). Get into the shower and work the mixture into dry hair from root to ends. Leave on for 10 minutes before rinsing with COOL water, not hot water, or you will end up with cooked eggy bits in your mane, and that's never good. Once completely rinsed, shampoo and condition as usual.
COCONUT OIL Let's just call this the sweet-miracle ingredient. I keep a big jar of this stuff in my kitchen and bathroom at all times--it's readily available at grocery stores, health food stores, online, etc. (try Trader Joe's Organic Virgin Coconut Oil) and I use it often. At only about 50 cents per ounce (or less if you buy in bulk), it's hard to find a reason not to. The actual health benefits of coconut oil are seemingly endless: When used in cooking and baking, it has been scientifically linked to such things as weight loss, increased energy and lower blood cholesterol levels, just to name a few. If that's not enough of a reason to start buying it by the truckload, let's talk about how it can make us even more dazzling. Back in my body-lotion-making days, I couldn't get enough of coconut oil in my formulas--it's so rich and creamy and leaves the loveliest sheen to the skin. (And no chemicals. Imagine?) You can use coconut oil straight out of the jar as a nourishing and effective makeup remover, body moisturizer (it's a bit greasy for a face moisturizer though), massage oil, deep hair treatment, hair-styling cream to ease frizz and add sheen, lip balm and more. Here are just a few of the ways I love to use coconut oil in my beauty routine:
- Placing a small amount of the oil on a cotton round to remove my eye makeup. I love how easily it takes off even the blackest of mascaras, and moisturizes that sensitive eye area all the while (just don't get it in your eyes).
- Adding a scoop to homemade brown sugar body scrub (see below) used every few days in the shower. The coconut oil adds extra richness and leaves a gorgeous sheen (soap, albeit very necessary, is super-drying, so this is a fabulous skin-quench to apply after you use shower suds of any kind).
- Using directly out of the jar post-shower as a full body moisturizer, rubbing it into nails as well for a cuticle treatment and nourishment (you can also try adding a bit of honey and rubbing together before massaging into skin--sweet decadence!).
- Using as a once-per-week deep hair treatment by massaging into hair (starting a few inches below roots working through to ends), leaving on for 10 minutes and then applying shampoo, washing and rinsing in the shower (don't rinse before adding shampoo, or it will remain greasy for days).
- Applying to lips as a decadent lip balm, nails as a nail and cuticle balm and feet as a foot cream. (I also love using it on my dry hands, but because it does have a light greasiness to it, so you just want to be sure to really work it in.)
- Using an olive-oil based sugar scrub in the shower (you can also include the coconut oil mentioned above, among other ingredients in this list.) for a decadent and nourishing skin treatment.
- Applying all over body for a skin-sheen and hit of moisture.
- Applying a few drops to a cotton round to removing makeup (and as with commercial makeup remover, you just don't want to get it in your eyes).
- Working into hands, feet, heels and elbows (or any other dry patches or areas of skin) for and instant treatment, either on its own or mixed with honey.
- Filling a small dish with olive oil and soaking nails for a few moments to soften cuticles for a mini at-home manicure (soak for a few minutes and then gently push the cuticles down prior to painting your nails).
- Adding a few tablespoons of olive oil to warm bath water for moisture and lighter layer of sheen.
- Use a chunk of raw cocoa butter as a massage bar, which in turn becomes an rich and nourishing moisturizer.
- Apply to lips as a decadent (and yummy-smelling) lip balm.
- Rub into nails for an effective nail treatment and natural shine.
- Melt 1 part cocoa butter and 1 part coconut oil over a double boiler until melted, remove from heat and add a squeeze of honey and stir until combined. pour into a glass jar and let cool. Use on dry skin or all over body for a sweet and decadent body butter.
- For a quick and super-affordable dry shampoo, use a clean, medium-sized make up brush dipped in baking soda (with excess tapped off) and blot along your oily roots. Leave on for about a minute and then shake hair with your hands to distribute and rid of any excess. The baking soda will absorb all of the grease and leave your hair feeling ready for (yet) another day.
- Create an effective, natural face cleanser by mixing 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water, and apply to damp skin in a gentle, circular motion. Rinse well with lukewarm water and pat dry. This is gentle enough to use several days per week, particularly in the summer when our skin generates more oil.
- Sprinkle some baking soda onto the regular amount of toothpaste on your brush, and brush your teeth as usual for a homemade tooth whitener.
Decadent Brown Sugar Body Scrub
- 2 cups turbinado (raw sugar (or 1 1/2 cups turbinado plus 1/2 cup lavender sugar, if you have it))
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- In a wide-mouthed glass jar, add all of the ingredients and stir to combine. Keep lid on jar between uses.
- Apply to body in a circular motion and rinse. Use up to three times per week.
In a pinch, you can use straight turbinado sugar and olive oil--it will still be a decadent exfoliation and nourishing treatment for your skin!
- Rosie Alyea