By KIM GONZAGA/ecoRI News contributor
Psst. Your kitchen has a secret. You know it first and foremost as the place you go to prepare meals, brew your coffee, and store all of the ingredients to make delicious meals. But did you know that your kitchen is also an apothecary? Most of us have all the ingredients in our very own pantries to create amazing, simple, and truly nourishing skin care.
Take coffee, for example. Before you toss those precious grinds into the compost bin, set a couple of tablespoons aside, mix them into a paste with sugar and some extra virgin olive oil (or sunflower oil, or grapeseed oil), and you’ve got yourself a fantastic smelling facial scrub.
What about that single sweet potato sitting in your produce bowl that’s a little less than fresh? Give it a new job. Skin it, boil it, smash it, and combine it with olive oil and a pinch of ground flaxseed. Voilà. Natural anti-aging skin treatment.
Some at-home skin care recipes take only a minute or 2 to prepare. For instance, add 8 ounces of dried herbs to 16 ounces of oil, and allow them to steep in a glass jar on a sunny windowsill for a couple of weeks. Strain the herbs from the oil and you have a wonderful body oil that can be used as a moisturizer, as a treatment for your hair, or to administer massage. You can even take a portion of this, add either beeswax or soy wax, and create a simple but lovely hand salve, solid lotion, or knitting balm.
Many facial masks and body scrubs will keep in your refrigerator for quite some time (less time, if they contain dairy ingredients such as milk or yogurt), however, you are in charge of the amounts you make, so you can whip up a recipe in a quantity for one or two uses.
Another key benefit to at-home skin care is the fact that your skin will absorb fresh ingredients, ensuring that you receive the maximum nourishment from them. Pureed cucumbers, strawberries, blueberries, and asparagus are all wonderful additives to facial peels and masks, and they are chock full of vitamins.
Using local honey, produce, and dairy in your recipes helps to reduce your carbon footprint as well. Egg whites act as a marvelous skin tightener, and using local eggs supports your local farmer at the same time.
So don’t be afraid to start looking at your kitchen in a whole new way. There’s a lot more than meets the eye.
Kim Gonzaga is the owner of the Providence-based Stella Marie Soap Co.