When it comes to skincare and hair care, I have got to be one of the greatest product junkies I know of. Having given a fair chance to drug store products as well as homemade ones, I must confess that when it comes to masks in particular, the ones you whip up at home win hands down. Yea, I know some of you might see them as messy and a hassle but believe me the results are well worth each icky drop that accumulates around your sink. Here are some of the masks that will give you an instant celebrity-like glow, without having to spend hundreds and thousands:
1. Egg White
If you want firm skin that does not sag, when you are well past your youthful years, the secret is to add this mask in your weekly regime early on. One of my acquaintances, a Lady in her 70’s, who can pass for 50 anytime, upon my insistence revealed that the only skincare regime, she swore by all these years, included this mask thrice a week. Her advice was not to overdo it, as too much of a good thing can be bad and can cause irritation. The protein in the egg whites, interact with the salts in your skin, giving it a tighter look and making your pores appear smaller. And it’s not just the elasticity that egg whites help maintain but also your skin tone. The enzyme lysozyme, in egg whites is said to be 20 times more potent than the skin lightener, kojic acid. Need I say more?
Lightly, beat an egg white.
Apply on cleansed face, evenly.
Keep it on, for 10 minutes or until dry.
Wash off, with cold water, pat dry.
2. Papaya Mask
Papayas are rich in L-ascorbic acid, beta carotene and lycopene. The L-ascorbic acid which is a potent form of vitamin C, has a bleaching effect on the skin, so is useful for removing tan and fading blemishes. Beta carotene and Lycopene are both ‘cartenoids’, that is they are converted to retinol by the body which, is the only ingredient scientifically known to reduce wrinkles. Though, Lycopene in contrast to beta carotene is much richer in antioxidants and has helps against sun damage and promotes collagen production.
1 tablespoon mashed papaya.
Using finger tips, spread evenly on cleansed face.
Let it stay on, for about 15 minutes.
Rinse with water, pat dry.
This one is effective, but not if you are looking for instant gratification. My experience, with aloe vera, is that it takes about a month of daily use to see some difference. Aloe vera, is known for its soothing, anti inflammatory and anti bacterial properties. It has more than 200 nutrients, including vitamin A, B, C and various minerals. A class of micro nutrients polyphenols present in the aloe plant can prevent and repair DNA damage, thus actively fighting against sun damage. Another antioxidant and moisture retaining agent present are the polysaccharides, which help in plumping the skin and regenerating cells. It best to keep a plant handy at home, you can get it from any nursery in your area.
Cut a small piece, from one of the leaves of an Aloe Vera plant, with a serrated knife.
Use the knife to cut off the spines, on the sides of the leaf.
Wash the piece thoroughly, now split open with the knife.
Apply the gel that comes out generously on face and neck.
Keep it on for about 20 minutes.
Rinse and pat dry.
4. Lemon and Milk/Honey
Lemon due to its high citric acid content is a good antibacterial and often incorporated in cleansers for this very reason. Meanwhile, the vitamin C in it can help lighten melasma, freckles and dark spots. Though pivotal to an even skin tone, the low ph 2-3 (as opposed to your skin’s ph 4.5), lemon can irritate and have a drying effect. Therefore, they are best used with a combination of either honey or milk. Milk is loaded with calcium, the B complex and alpha hydroxy acids. It can cleanse, soothe skin, shrink pores, remove dead cells and smooth out lines and wrinkles. However, if your skin is extremely dry, it might be a better idea to pair lemon with honey instead. Honey is intensely moisturizing, pure raw honey is a powerful antibacterial too, making it effective against acne. Its clarifying properties unclog pores. And the high amount of antioxidants will slow down the aging process.
Take 1 tablespoon honey or milk; squeeze half a lemon in it.
Use fingertips or a cotton ball to apply it on face and neck.
Allow it to stay on for about 10-15 minutes.
Rinse with lukewarm water, pat dry and enjoy baby soft skin.
You can find a ready-made powder by this name, at any Indian store or even order it from ebay. I usually buy the ‘Norangi’ brand. Alternatively, you can make your own version at home too, (1 tablespoon sandalwood powder, gram flour, almond meal and 1 teaspoon turmeric). Ubtan is an Indian paste traditionally used for brides, to give them glowing skin. There is no exfoliating mask in the market that even comes close to the natural goodness of ubtan. The vitamin E rich almond meal, nourishes and softens the skin, while vitamin C rich, anti-inflammatory turmeric removes tan and keeps any spots at bay. The anti bacterial sandalwood and gram flour deep cleanse and prevent clogged pores. Collectively, they team up to regenerate cells, encourage collagen production and delay any signs of aging.
Take 2 tablespoons Ubtan, add 1 tablespoon or as necessary, milk (if you have dry skin) or water (if you have oily skin). Mix enough liquid to form a thick spreadable paste.
Apply evenly on face and neck.
Let it stay on for 10-15 minutes
Rinse massaging, in circular motions with fingertips.
Pat dry, revealing a polished complexion
6. Egg yolk and Coffee Mask
Egg yolks are a powerhouse of nutrients. They contain vitamin A, D, E, K plus the B group of vitamin, not to forget zinc which is particularly helpful with acne. As the yolks contain essential fatty acids, they can work to moisturize and nourish the skin as well. Add to the yolky goodness, the antioxidant packed coffee grains and you have a winner on hand. More and more cosmetic companies, nowadays are touting the benefits of caffeine added in their skincare products. It constricts blood vessels and improves lymphatic drainage, thus improving the look of broken capillaries. Besides, the acid in the coffee can give some chemical exfoliation, slough off dead cells and result in a brighter complexion.
Separate the egg yolk from the white, using an egg separator, or one trick is to, break open an egg in a bowl, and use a large spoon to gently scoop out the yolk, carefully separating it from the white.
Next, add 1 tablespoon instant coffee to the yolk and beat them together.
Preferably use a brush to apply the mixture, as it can get messy.
Sit back and relax for about 10-12 minutes, avoid human interaction at all costs till you have this mask on, because chances are you might be mistaken for an alien, just joking (not).
Rinse, pat dry and the transformation you see from 10 minutes back, I promise, will be tremendous.