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Natural beauty isin the (grocery) bag

Food / Cosmetic treatments

By Holly Ebel

life@postbulletin.com

Riddle: What does a shiny head of hair and potato salad have in common?

Answer: Mayonnaise.

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Before you say "yuck," consider this: Did you know that an egg mask can make your complexion glow? Or that avocados can be used as a facial? These foods, plus others in your pantry or refrigerator, have interesting cosmetic uses way beyond cooking.

Using food to enhance ones skin and hair is not a new concept. Since earliest civilization, the pulp, skins and juice of fruits, berries and vegetables have been used to brighten complexions, paint lips, soften skin and dye hair. Even today, there are those who use olive oil as a moisturizer, baking soda to brush teeth and cucumbers to treat puffy eyes.

While the following treatments might seem odd, they are natural, affordable and accessible.

• An oatmeal mask is apparently good for oily skin and acne. First, warm half a cup of water in the microwave. Stir in 1/4 cup instant, finely ground, oatmeal, 2 teaspoons honey and a few drops of milk. If the mixture seems soupy, add more oatmeal. Apply to your face, being careful not to get it in your eyes, and leave it on for at least 15 minutes. Rinse your face with cool water and pat dry.

• Mix one egg white with 3 tablespoons oatmeal to make a paste. Pat onto your face, leave for five minutes, then rinse off with water.

• Any Pepto-Bismol in the house? Instead of using it for indigestion, try this. Pour some into a small cup, then pat on your face with either your fingers or a brush. Apply one coat, let it dry, then apply another. Wait 10 minutes, then rinse it off. Your face will have a healthy glow.

• Before you throw out those peels from papaya, mango or apples, try rubbing the inner sides over your face. The enzymes stimulate the skin and work on minimizing wrinkles.

• Need help with cuticles on your feet and hands? Place half of a fresh pineapple slice, peeled and cored, on your hands and feet for 15 minutes. Rinse, dry and see the difference.

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• Mash and mix an avocado with a little mayo for a facial treatment. Leave it on 20 minutes, then rinse off. This same mixture can be rubbed into your hair as a conditioner. Leave it for 30 minutes, then rinse.

• Beer is also a popular hair conditioner. The yeast and hops help swell the hair shaft, adding volume. Shampoo as you would, then using a full bottle, not light, pour it over your head and swish it through. Rinse very well with water.

• Another conditioner that people have used is mayonnaise. Take a 1/2 cup and rub it into your hair. Cover your head with a shower cap and 30 minutes later, rinse and shampoo. You may have to shampoo more than once to get it all out.

• Are your eyes puffy and tired-looking? Slice a cucumber and chill a few pieces so they are very cold. Lie down and put the slices over your eyes. Leave them there for 10 minutes. This also works with used teabags.

• For stronger fingernails, mix one packet of Knox gelatin in a cup of water or juice and drink it several times a week. Within a few weeks, you will have beautiful, strong fingernails. Or soak your nails for five minutes everyday in warm olive oil.

So what do professionals in the beauty business have to say about these home-remedies?

Risa Flashner, a co-owner of the beauty boutique About Face Inc., and a make-up artist, is a little skeptical.

"I have customers who come in here and tell me about some of the things they do — like mixing egg and yogurt together and washing their hair with the mixture or putting it on their face, and I always say, if it works for you, great. I am however, more of a science person where treatments are concerned. I want proven results."

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Nonetheless, everyone involved in the beauty business agrees that probably the very best product comes right out of the faucet. Drink water, and lots of it, every day. If you drink at least six to eight glasses a day, within weeks your skin will appear more dewy and youthful.

Holly Ebel is a Rochester freelance writer.

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