“Homemade Beauty” for Pasadena Weekly

The secret to healthy beauty may be as close as your kitchen cabinet.

February 2009

Over recent years, “green” has become much more than a color. It is now a lifestyle. Words like “organic” and “natural” are used to boost the appeal of various foods and products, implying that the absence of chemicals and foreign ingredients, many of which are unpronounceable, is an asset to your health.

While organic food is often promoted, beauty products are equally important to the body. Pores absorb ingredients from the myriad of products that people—especially women—put on their skin or hair.

Opinions differ as to the effects of natural and more generic products, and sometimes crooked motives are behind those opinions, so it is important to do your homework.

A WebMD article claims, “Many women are going natural to avoid certain ingredients that research shows may be harmful. These include preservatives, such as parabens, and other ingredients including petrochemicals and phthalates, which some studies show can mimic the effects of hormones in the body or, at high levels, possibly increase the risk of cancer. While the Personal Care Products Council and other industry groups maintain these ingredients are safe, others, such as the Environmental Working Group, point to mounting evidence that consumers should avoid them.”

So what is a conscientious person in need of some beautifying to do? Avoid long, tedious hours of label-decoding and try making some of your own products at home. You will know exactly what is in them and– since many of the ingredients are edible–there will be less anxiety about their safety.

However, there is no guarantee that these homemade remedies will work better than less natural products.

“People need to educate themselves,” says Lisa Marie Potts, registered cosmetologist and spa supervisor at Pasadena’s Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa. “Some things, like rosemary, you have to be careful of. Although it has great qualities and is good for your skin, some people can be so sensitive to it that it can make them break out. Read about what a product is, what it does, and if it’s good for your skin type.”

Potts offers these homemade beauty remedies:

1. Olive Oil! “I used to live in Greece and they use a lot of olive oil,” says Potts. “I’d go to the beach and put olive oil all through my hair and French braid my hair. Then when I came home I’d shampoo it out and my hair was like silk.”

For a pedicure exfoliation, use equal parts rocky sea salt and regular salt and olive oil and exfoliate for rough heels. Use it gently to exfoliate the legs, knees and elbows.

Use warm olive oil for dry nails and cuticles and massage it into hands and elbows.

Add to a bath for moisture and a high level of antioxidants.

2. To reduce eye bulges and accentuate the white area of the eyeball, moisten two cotton pads in ice or very cold milk and put them on the eyelids. Replace them with new ones as soon as they get warm. Repeat for 15 minutes.

3. Remove dark, rough skin on the elbows, knees and heels by rubbing with half a lemon that has been soaked in salt. Leave it on the skin for a few moments then wash and apply a rich moisturizer.

4. Lemon whitens and hardens nails and removes the spots and odors left on hands from cooking. Rub your palms and the back of your hands and nails with half a lemon.

5. Give your feet a refreshing bath with lemon slices. It relaxes tired feet and reduces swelling.


Esthetician trainer Sylvia Palomino, Potts’ colleague at the Langham spa, offers the following all-natural recipes for a facial scrub and mask.

“Sylvia said she read [about] the oatmeal and honey somewhere over the years but we talked about adding yogurt because it’s cooling and has cleansing properties,” says Potts about the mask recipe. “You could also finish with a chilled chamomile tea toner on the face, [which] is something my grandmother taught me.”


2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice

Mix ingredients and gently scrub on face. Rinse and follow with the mask.


1. Measure equal parts uncooked oatmeal, honey and yogurt.

2. Mix ingredients and leave mask on for 15 minutes; then rinse off.


Steep chamomile tea and refrigerate. Dab cool tea on the face with a cotton ball.


Is all of this proof that when life hands you lemons, you can make a beauty remedy? Be sure to continue your beauty education by discussing your unique skin, hair and body needs with a trusted physician, dermatologist or spa technician.





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