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Style, Beauty

DIY Beauty Hacks

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Sophie Elkan

If we’re only allowed to leave the house for essentials, what does this mean for our skincare routines? I have been speaking with Kat Orman on her mid-morning BBC Oxford show, about some DIY beauty hacks to try from home.

As food is a precious commodity at present, I don’t want to encourage waste, so I’ve focused on by-products like leftover porridge, or even used coffee grounds: after you’ve satisfied your morning caffeine craving, scoop the used grounds out of the pot and dry them out overnight. Not only is caffeine a natural stimulant which can help get the blood flowing, but it is also wonderful at reducing inflammation, and the grounds are fantastic for sloughing off any dead skin cells and restoring radiance.

It’s well worth investing in coconut oil if you don’t have any knocking around. As it is solid at room temperature, it is the most versatile natural oil for beauty purposes. And, as it is non-greasy, it will easily absorb into the skin without leaving it feeling like you’ve been hanging out at the local chippy. However, it is slightly more comedogenic (can block the pores) than olive oil, so if spots or blemishes are an issue, go with olive or sunflower oil.

Scrub/Mask/Hot Cloth Cleanser

1 part coconut/olive oil to 1.5 parts coffee grounds, mixed together.

Optional: plus whatever you have lying around to add fragrance. I used rosewater but if you have any essential oils this would be even better. Do make sure they are pure and not mineral based and only use a teensy amount as essential oils need to be diluted if applied to the skin. If in any doubt, do a patch test first.

Mix your ingredients together and massage into the face in circular movements using upwards strokes. Take a little time here, as massage is ultimately relaxing and refreshing, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who could benefit from a little self-care at this time.

Once your face and neck have been attended to, your hands will probably be covered in the mixture, so give them a little love and massage thoroughly before rinsing off in warm water. They’ll be baby-soft afterwards, a perfect antidote to the necessary increase in washing. You can also give your elbows a quick scrub and they too will thank you for it.

Rinse off your face with warm water, or use a muslin/flannel* soaked in warm water and wrung out. Holding it firmly against the skin, draw it over the face to remove the grounds. This is particularly beneficial if you have added essential oils as the heat of the cloth will intensify the aroma and help you feel Zenlike.

NB. My husband, the gardener of the household, has hands like a wizened crone. He has been using this scrub daily, just on his hands and they are now smooth and supple and look about 100 years younger.

Plumping Lip Scrub

½ tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp olive oil

The micro-grains of ground cinnamon gently exfoliate the lip, but will also plump them up. This is because cinnamon is a mild irritant, and so will increase the blood flow to the area. With this in mind, you’ll need to take care as it can cause different extremes in different people. When my daughter and I tested these out (last weekend, we called it ‘Spa-turday’) my lips were gently plumped whereas hers were positively bee-stung – lush and full! Olive oil softens and helps out with the ‘slip’ and honey is a natural humectant, meaning it attracts moisture. That said, this is more of a scrub/plumper and lips are left feeling smooth but extra moisture could be wanted. A dab of coconut oil will add this in, and also give a little natural sheen.

Leftover Porridge Facemask

2 tbsp of still-warm but not hot cooked oatmeal

1 generous tsp of honey.

Mix together and apply to the skin. Be warned, it’s a fairly messy, sloppy process. Definitely keep hair off the face with a headband or grips. Wash off with warm water and skin should be soft and smooth.

*If you don’t have flannels for hot cloth cleansing, cut up an old towel or piece of muslin. The roughened texture is perfect for stimulating the skin and acts as a mild exfoliator in its own right.

Finally, check out the April issue of OX for hacks using lipbalm, and in the May issue I’ll be writing about the ultimate at-home facial, complete with advice how to give yourself a full, effective and rejuvenating facial workout.

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