If you’re struggling to justify the high prices of many beauty products, here’s a solution: Check your kitchen.
That’s right — you’d be surprised at the number of foods you can use as beauty products, and how much money you can save.
I first became interested in using alternative beauty products when I thought about the harsh chemicals in many creams, masks and scrubs. Replacing those products with fresh foods and items I’d normally throw away has been great for my skin, hair — and wallet.
Ready to get creative with the contents of your pantry? Here are my five favorite foods to use as beauty products.
Instead of tossing leftover avocado skins in the trash or compost, flip them inside-out and rub the avocado on your face for a quick dose of antioxidants and vitamin E.
If you have an overripe avocado, or half left over from a recipe, mix it with coffee grounds, honey, apple cider vinegar and little bit of lemon juice for an insanely hydrating facial mask. I won’t lie, it feels a little weird on your face, but once it’s washed away your skin will thank you!
Here’s the recipe I like; I didn’t have any oats, so I substituted coffee grounds. Granulated sugar also makes a great exfoliant if you’re not a coffee drinker.
While avocados can be expensive depending on where you live, you’d likely toss the skins otherwise, so the first method is free.
Many face masks cost $10 to $25, depending on the brand.
2. Coffee Grounds
Coffee grounds make an excellent natural exfoliant. They also contain caffeine even after they’ve been used, which helps makes the skin appear smoother and helps lessen puffy and dark under-eye circles.
I recommend using finer grounds like espresso on delicate skin, such as your face and neck, while the coarser grounds are more suited for the rest of your body.
Use them on their own or as part of a face mask, or try my favorite strategy: mixing them in with my face wash. Since caffeine can be dehydrating, be sure to moisturize afterwards. I recommend coconut oil — see number five!
Coffee grounds would otherwise have gone in the trash or compost, so they’re free if you’re already making your morning cup of joe.
Face and body scrubs cost between $3 and $15 per tube at Walgreens. Plus, many scrubs contain plastic beads that are wreaking havoc on ocean habitats, so there’s an environmental cost to consider.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Is there anything ACV can’t do? It works as shampoo, a balm for insect stings and a topical antibiotic, antifungal and antiviral agent. Or there’s my favorite use: ACV makes an excellent toner.
A lot of store-bought toners contain alcohol, which dries out skin, but vinegar is gentler and helps skin find a balance between dry and oily. You can use ACV on its own, but I like to add a few extra ingredients, and my skin has never been happier.
I know ACV has a strong and not necessarily pleasant smell, but it goes away after a few minutes, I promise!
Here’s what you’ll need for ACV toner:
- ACV: It should be raw, organic, unfiltered and unpasteurized. The vinegar “mother,” that cloudy stuff floating in the bottle, contains the enzymes and bacteria that make ACV so beneficial.
- Green tea: Brew an extra-strong cup. This tea contains antioxidants and caffeine, which help draw out impurities, shrink pores and give skin a healthy glow.
- Witch hazel: It’s a natural astringent that helps keep acne at bay by reducing inflammation.
- Rose water: It works as a makeup remover, softens dry skin and has natural antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
- Lavender Essential Oil: This oil is soothing, and it’s great for minor burns, bug bites or to reduce itching and swelling. It also helps relieve dry skin.
- Rosemary Essential Oil: This oil has antimicrobial and antiseptic qualities that help fight eczema and acne.
Combine 1 part ACV, 1 part green tea, a quarter part witch hazel, a quarter part rose water and a few drops of the essential oils — they’re strong and you don’t need a lot. You can also experiment with different essential oils to see which ones work best for you.
A word of caution: If you haven’t used ACV on your skin before, test it on a small patch of skin first to see how your skin reacts.
One 16 oz. bottle of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar is $4.09 at my local grocery store, or $3.81 on Amazon.
Many toners at my local drug store cost $10 to $20 for an eight-ounce bottle.
Raw honey (it has to be raw!) has antimicrobial properties and contains antioxidants, which makes it great for your skin. It has a lightening effect, so you can use it to lighten hair and reduce the appearance of scarring.
Honey’s hydrating and soothing properties make it a perfect addition to face masks, like the avocado one above.
I love using a mixture of honey, brown sugar and a little bit of lemon juice to make an exfoliating, moisturizing and delicious scrub for my lips. Just apply, rub gently in small circles to get rid of dead skin, rinse and apply your favorite lip balm afterward.
A 22-ounce jar of raw honey is $12 on Amazon.
5. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is amazing and, except for ACV, I would say it’s the most versatile food-slash-beauty product.
Use coconut oil to hydrate and defrizz your hair, freshen your breath, moisturize your face and body, shave, smooth your lips, and even, mildly, protect you from the sun. I’ve read it can be anywhere from SPF 3 to 8, though you’ll also want to use other sun protection methods.
When I was backpacking in Argentina for three months, I used coconut oil for everything. Now that I’m back in sunny (and humid) Florida, I use it mostly as moisturizer and mild sun block on my body and face, and to help tame my hair.
Here’s a detailed look at how much you can save by replacing beauty products with coconut oil. The author saves more than $360 per year!
Your Turn: Have you replaced any beauty products with these foods? Did I miss one of your favorite ones? Share your experience in the comments!
Disclosure: We have a serious Taco Bell addiction around here. The affiliate links in this post help us order off the dollar menu. Thanks for your support!
Alexandra Melligon loves to find new and creative ways to save money while also reducing waste and helping the environment. Through experimentation, experience and hours of Googling she has gained quite a bit of knowledge about natural remedies and homemade beauty products.