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Who says you need to book a pricey appointment at a fancy spa to reap skin, hair and relaxation rewards?
With a little know-how, a simple trip to your kitchen pantry and a little raiding of your own spice rack can lead you on the path to DIY beauty euphoria. From lip plumpers to hair lighteners to facial cleansers, here are nine easy ways to put your herbs and spices to work. Cooking with them later? Optional.
Cayenne pepper: Expensive, not to mention painful injections? Please. For a natural lip plumper, simply add a pinch of this hot chili pepper to your lipgloss – or a small tub of Vaseline – and watch your pout go from barely there to Angelina Jolie. That tingling sensation? It’s your lips swelling – so just remember, a little goes a long way.
Fennel seeds: This antioxidant-rich spice is great for calming puffiness and decreasing redness, making it the perfect ingredient to add to a DIY facial mask. Make a tea, steeping a tablespoon of fennel seeds in four to five ounces of boiling water. After 10 to 15 minutes, strain the seeds and cool. Then add in a tablespoon or so of ground oats, along with a few squeezes of honey, mix it all up and apply as a mask, leaving it on for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse with warm water and smile at all that money you just saved.
Cloves and ginger: If you’re looking to revive dry, dull skin with a body scrub, cloves, a nutrient-dense spice, and ginger, chock full of therapeutic properties, will not only smell intoxicating, but will leave you feeling silky smooth, as well. For an easy, invigorating scrub, grab a Tupperware or other waterproof container and mix up three or four tablespoons of ground coffee, a tablespoon each of ground cloves and ground ginger and half a cup or so of coarse sea salt. Then just bring the combo into the bath or shower, add a little water to get it to a scrub consistency and apply to areas that could use a little extra love (hello, feet, knees and elbows!).
Rosemary: The fragrant, woody herb has anti-inflammatory properties. Steep a tablespoon of dried rosemary leaf in two cups of water for about 10 minutes. Let it cool, and then apply with a cotton ball as an astringent toner.
Sage: If you like to go sockless, stinky feet may be an issue. But no need to invest in store-bought odor eaters or treatments. Just mix equal parts dried sage and baking soda and sprinkle it into your shoes at night for shoes that don’t smell.
Basil: Oily skin? Blemishes you’d like to eradicate? Here’s a quick fix: Add about three tablespoons crushed basil leaves to a cup of boiling water and let it sit until the water cools to room temp. Strain the basil, and use the mix as a daily toner. So easy and so cheap!
Cinnamon: This go-to spice has a slew of uses, but we’re definitely trying it as an all-natural hair-lightener next. Combine a couple tablespoons cinnamon and honey with a tablespoon of olive oil and up to half a cup of water (depending on your hair length). Then slather it on your dry hair (you’re gonna want a towel for this), twist it into a bun, wrap it a towel and go watch True Detective for an hour. Then, shampoo and condition and look for a subtle change in color.
Tumeric: It might sound weird that yellow-tinged Tumeric can help brighten your smile, but go ahead and grin – the Indian spice is actually known to fight stains and can whiten teeth. All you do is sprinkle a bit on your toothpaste and brush. You also can whip up a little paste using ground Tumeric and water, applying it with a toothbrush before your usual toothpaste (note: using two separate toothbrushes is a good idea here).
Thyme: All those expensive acne treatments causing you to break out even more? Reach for that bottle of thyme sitting in your pantry. Mix a tablespoon of dried thyme with three or four tablespoons of witch hazel in a small sterilized jar, shake it up, let it rest for a half hour or so, and you’ve got a natural toner that will help keep those pores unclogged.