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Splotchy, dull, and lifeless are three words you probably hope never describe your skin. But when hormones, dry weather, or sun damage come knocking at your door, this less than stellar vocabulary may be far too accurate.
The good news? The ingredients for a skin-saving treatment are probably sitting in your pantry right now.
Whether you need moisture, exfoliation, or help with toning — and whether you want results overnight, in a day, or in 10 days — there’s a home remedy for that. Try any of these 11 suggestions to get glowing skin ASAP.
You didn’t think we’d skip the H2O, did you? Your skin needs major hydration to stay dewy and clear, so stock up. It can be tough to stay hydrated in weather extremes, both hot and cold. Lug your water bottle with you everywhere, and keep sipping throughout the day.
How much water you need will depend on your size, the weather, and your activity level. While it’s up for debate how much water we really need on a daily basis, the Institute of Medicine suggests shooting for 9 to 13 cups a day.
You can get an idea of your hydration level by looking at your pee — an accurate indication of your water intake. If your pee is a light, straw-colored yellow, your hydration’s good to go. If it’s dark yellow or has a hint of brown, shart drinking stat.
We love coconut oil for so many reasons, one of which is that it makes us feel like we’re lathered in a piña colada! But this wonderfully natural ingredient actually has some serious benefits for the skin. Coconut oil can:
- help repair the skin’s outer barrier
- provide antibacterial protection
- reduce inflammation
- provide antioxidants
- promote healing
- slow skin aging
Coconut oil is best for normal to dry skin because it locks in moisture, replenishing skin hydration.
Application: You can use coconut oil on its own or add sugar, salt, or baking soda to make a scrub. If you’re using coconut oil alone, you can leave it on overnight or wash it off before bed. Scrubs can be rinsed off after 15 minutes or so. If you opt for a scrub, you only need to exfoliate two or three times a week unless you have oily skin.
Honey isn’t just for the bees or your cornbread. It protects and nourishes your skin, acting as a moisturizer and acne treatment. The key is to use raw, unpasteurized honey that still contains healthy bacteria.
The bacteria works with your natural immune system to reduce inflammation and irritation, as well as put a smackdown on the bacteria that cause acne. It can even help heal and lighten acne scars.
Honey’s benefits don’t stop there. It naturally exfoliates your skin, removing the dead skin cells that make your skin look dull.
A word of caution — if you have allergies to pollen, celery, or bee venom, test the honey on a small area of your skin first. You don’t want to have an allergic reaction once the honey’s covering your face.
Application: You can smooth honey right on your face or mix it with other ingredients for multiply the benefits. Try mixing 3 parts honey to 1 part cinnamon as an acne treatment. Leave it on for 8 to 10 minutes, then rinse it off.
Another option is to mix 1/2 a teaspoon of honey with 1 teaspoon each of baking soda and olive oil. The baking soda adds extra exfoliating power, while the olive oil brings extra moisture to the skin. Apply to your face and leave it on for 10 minutes before rinsing.
This brightly colored spice contains curcumin, which has natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. When applied to the skin, it can treat acne, heal injuries (including sun damage), and bring out your skin’s natural glow.
On the grosser but still helpful side of things, it can also be used to treat scabies, which are nasty microscopic mites that cause an uncomfortable rash.
Before rubbing turmeric on your face: a few things to think about. First, it can temporarily stain your skin a yellow-orangish color. Second, some people are allergic to turmeric. Test it on a small area of skin before applying it to sensitive facial skin.
Application: Keep it simple and mix up a paste that’s 1 part turmeric to 2 parts water. Simmer until it thickens, cool, and apply to skin. Or mix turmeric with other natural ingredients like honey. Try mixing 1 tablespoon honey with 1 teaspoon of turmeric. Apply to your face and leave it on for 15 minutes then rinse, and pat dry.
Baking soda soaks up odors, makes yummy baked treats, and is also a natural exfoliant that can give your skin a glowy boost (when used appropriately). You shed skin cells every day, but they won’t be able to linger with a consistent exfoliating routine.
Application: Mix baking soda with just enough water to create a paste and gently rub it onto your skin. You can also add baking soda to honey or olive oil for a moisturizing scrub.
Olive oil comes with the natural benefits of vitamins A, D, E, and K. Most of the time, when talking about skin benefits, we jump to vitamin E. That’s because it’s an antioxidant that protects the skin from the damage of free radicals.
Not to dive into too much chemistry, but free radicals have an unpaired electron that needs another electron to create balance. The free radicals try to get that electron from cells, killing them in the process. As you can imagine, death by free radical isn’t a good thing for your skin’s health.
In addition, researchers in a 2014 study found that eating vitamins E and K together helped clear acne. While using them on your skin isn’t quite the same, it’s hard to ignore the pros of letting your skin soak in extra vitamins.
Application: You can apply olive oil directly to your skin. However — and this is important — you’ll want to skip cheap olive oils, opting for natural or organic extra virgin olive oil. It’s purer and safer for your skin. You can also buy olive oil blends with lavender, almond, or grapeseed oils that are specifically designed as a skin treatment.
It doesn’t take much. A few drops will probably be enough to cover your face. You can also mix olive oil with other skin-healthy ingredients like honey or yogurt. However, if you’re prone to acne, skip olive oil as it can clog pores in some skin types.
Hey, most people have sunscreen in their home — therefore, we’re considering it a home remedy. And it’s so important for the long term health of your skin that it can’t be ignored.
Sunshine feels so good on the skin, but that doesn’t mean it’s always good for your skin. Part of keeping skin healthy is protecting it from UV damage. Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen, one that protects from both UVA and UVB rays, with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.
Just for reference, UVB rays cause sunburns, while UVA rays reach deep into the skin and cause damage that increases wrinkles. Hard pass.
Application: How you wear your sunscreen is almost more important than the type of sunscreen you wear.
- It takes about 2 tablespoons to cover your whole body. Make sure that you’re applying generously. Using too little sunscreen makes it less effective.
- Apply 15 to 30 minutes before going out into the sun.
- Reapply every 2 hours, sooner if you’re sweating or in the water.
- Don’t forget trouble spots like the part of your hair, the tips of your ears, and your neck.
Most of tea’s benefits come from drinking it, not putting it on your skin. However, tea bags are the perfect size for a cold or warm compress to reduce swelling or soothe the skin around the eyes.
Application: Soak 2 tea bags in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes, remove, and squeeze out the water. For a cold compress, put them in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes. Then, lay back, relax, and put the tea bags on your eyes for a soothing compress.
Tea bags can be used as a warm compress to relieve the symptoms of eye infections and other irritations. We’re talking warm compress, not hot, so be sure to check the tea bag’s temperature before applying it to your sensitive eye skin.
Aloe vera’s medicinal properties have been used for centuries. And chances are you’ve used aloe vera gel to soothe a sunburn a time or two. But is it worth adding aloe vera to your regular skin care routine, or should you just keep it on hand to calm an angry burn? (A worthy reason in and of itself.)
Aloe vera’s moisturizing ability can be used in place of face lotion. It’s packed with vitamins A and E, antioxidants, and healthy enzymes. Aloe vera quickly absorbs into the skin, so even those with oily skin can use it without getting breakouts.
This cool gel can also be used to treat a sunburn, frostbite, cuts, and cold sores, so it’s definitely worth storing in your medicine cabinet.
Application: If you own an aloe vera plant, you can cut open one of the leaves, squeeze out the fluids, and apply them directly to the skin. However, the easiest way to use it is to buy an over-the-counter (OTC) aloe vera gel.
Aloe vera is often mixed with other ingredients like calendula or echinacea for an added health boost. But make sure you get one that lists only pure and natural ingredients. Some bottles are loaded with fillers including parabens (ick). If you’re searching for pure aloe, the ingredient list should list just that and only that.
Yogurt’s silky smooth texture just screams, “Put me on your face!” If your yogurt hasn’t screamed at you lately, it’s time to rethink how you use this delicious snack. It acts as a natural moisturizer, and it’s easy to add other skin-healthy ingredients like honey, aloe vera, or turmeric.
You can try different yogurts until you find one you like. For example, Greek yogurt’s extra creamy texture is often easier to apply, especially if you’re adding extra ingredients. However, you should probably stick to plain, unflavored yogurt no matter the brand and type you choose.
Application: Use only as much yogurt as you need to cover your face, somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 cup. You can apply it directly to your face or add in a teaspoon or two of honey, olive oil, or turmeric for an added skin boost.
Our list wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t talk about what you put into your body along with what you put on it. The majority of your skin’s health actually comes down to what you eat. See #1 on our list.
We’ve talked about vitamins A, D, E, and K; antioxidants; and anti-inflammatory agents you can put on your skin. However, those same nutrients are even more powerful when you eat them as a part of a regular healthy diet.
Eating a balance of fruits, berries (they’re packed with antioxidants), and vegetables fuels your skin’s cells with the nutrients for a bright, glowing complexion.
And, remember those tea bags we told you could take down swelling? If you actually drink the tea, you’ll be getting a heavy dose of skin boosting nutrients, too. You’ll have less need of external skin helps if your internal needs are met.
To be clear, we’re not saying you should eat everything on our list. Give a heavy pass on the sunscreen, baking soda (unless it’s baked into something tasty), and aloe vera gel. Some things were never meant to enter the ole pie hole.
And speaking of things to avoid, there’s a lot of information floating around the web about what you should and shouldn’t put on your skin. While everyone’s skin is different, here are a few things to avoid as you’re creating a skin care routine.
- Avoid lots of time spent uncovered and unprotected in the sun. Sun damage can lead to uneven pigmentation, premature aging, and skin cancer. Screen up, cover-up, and remember to reapply.
- Watch out for lemon and other citrus fruits. Their high acidity is often used to treat acne. However, lemon and other citrus fruits contain a chemical called psoralen that makes the skin UV sensitive for several hours and severe burns can occur. Citrus can also cause blisters or pigmentation changes that last for months.
- Don’t overdo it. Using home or OTC skin remedies too often can irritate the skin, leading to breakouts, inflammation, or rashes. Most people only need to exfoliate once or twice a week unless you have oily skin. Wash your face in the morning, at night, and moisturize and apply sunscreen daily. Masks and extra washes are fun ways to boost your skin occasionally but shouldn’t become an everyday practice.
- Don’t ignore your skin type. Is your skin oily or dry? Is your t-zone (the forehead, nose, and chin) your problem area? Knowing your skin type can help you determine which types of skin treatments will work best. If you’re prone to breakouts, be careful of moisturizers that clog the pores like olive oil. If you’ve got t-zone or combination skin, you may need different treatments on your cheeks than you do on your forehead and nose.
- Hands off! Your hands carry dirt, bacteria, and oil that clog pores and lead to breakouts. Keep bacteria off by trying not touching your face and always washing your hands before applying any products to your skin.
- Watch out for toothpaste. This popular face treatment can cause breakouts or scarring if the toothpaste has the wrong ingredients!
- Go easy on the cinnamon. Cinnamon’s natural antibacterial properties can help treat acne. However, it can cause skin irritation and is a common allergen. Never put it on your face without first doing a patch test or mixing it with honey, yogurt, or another gentle ingredient.