When it comes to beauty needs, most of us go to a store and get something that’s neatly sealed, packed and labeled like a cure-in-a-bottle, which is paid for from the hundreds to the thousands. But are you getting the real deal? Before consumerism took hold of modern life, previous generations had their own beauty practices and remedies.
Bygone beauty rituals?
I remember as a grade school student, I’d catch my mom every other morning rubbing the gel-like juiceof gugoand her aloe vera plant directly on her scalp and hair. She told me it made her hair thicker, softer, shinier and dandruff-free—a technique she learned from her mother.
According to Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of health and longevity, you can wash away cloudy vision and relax the eyes by layering rose petals, cucumber slices or cilantro leaves over each closed eye while in savasanaor the resting pose in yoga. The ingredients are said to cool down and refresh the eyes. Beauty guru, author and makeup artist Bianca Valerio shares other ancient beauty secrets: "Cleopatra was known to have beautiful skin and this was often credited to milk. She would have baths in whole milk. Milk has lactic acid known to promote skin suppleness and elasticity, [while] Halle Berry has admitted to rubbing used coffee grounds on her butt and thighs during her shower and it has worked wonders for her famous curves.Caffeine is a natural diuretic and is commonly used to improve the appearance of cellulite."
Dermatologist AiveeAguilar-Teo, M.D.,says with caution, "There are many beauty recipes that can be found on the Internet nowadays. However... I strongly suggest concocting 'quick-use' formulas like masks, rather than moisturizers, serums and toners due to some bacterial and fungal issues surrounding inadequately preserved products." Without batting an eyelash, Valerio excitedly gives away some secrets of her own: "I have normal to dry skin. So after my regular cleansing with facial wash, before toner, I apply a coat of honey on my face and leave for at least 20 minutes. After rinsing, my skin is more supple and moistened. I do this about thrice weekly before bed.VCO [or virgin coconut oil] is amazing as a post-shower bath oil, if you don't mind the smell. To lock in moisture or the water beads on your skin, lightly pat your skin dry. Then, apply the coconut oil all over your face and body, including your feet."
One natural recipe Dr. Aguilar-Teoalways likes to share is the yogurt and turmeric facial mask. Simply mix three tablespoons of yogurt (unsweetened and unflavored) and three teaspoons of turmeric in a small bowl. Smear vigorously on the entire face and let it sit for eight to 10 minutes. "Yogurt is rich in probiotics that are proven to reduce skin irritation by fighting inflammation-causing bacteria. It reduces the proliferation of acne with its natural antiseptic properties. Yogurt’s natural acidity also helps exfoliate dulling dead skin cells to reveal a fresher and more glowing skin.Turmeric on the other hand is loaded with curcuminoids—a very potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent proven to reduce skin redness, irritation, inflammatory acne, and alleviate rashes and allergies," the doctor explains.
Valerio adds another favorite recipe, "If you suffer from bad body odor, rub half a calamansi or small lemon slice on clean, dry armpits. Leave for 30 minutes. Do this every day, before going to bed for one week or until the odor is gone. The acids in the fruit kill the odor-causing bacteria."
These recipes aren’t without scientific basis: Honey is known to be a natural humectant. According to ScienceDaily.com, "Research shows that bees make a protein that they add to the honey, called defensin-1, which could one day be used to treat burns and skin infections and to develop new drugs that could combat antibiotic-resistant infections." This shows how honey's antifungal and antibacterial properties take out impurities from the skin and reduce pimples and acne.Meanwhile, virgin coconut oil is well-known for its medical and aesthetic tried-and-tested wonders with its major active ingredients, caprylicacid, capricacid and lauricacid. "Japanese women have long favored the use of kojic acid and licorice for skin whitening. Scientists have found out that the component called glycyrrhizin of licorice is actually responsible for its noteworthy effects in skin whitening," elaborates Dr. Aguilar-Teo. Aloe vera works because of proteolitic enzymes that eradicate dead skin cells and push hair growth, while it's alkalizing content balances the hair's pH to a more ideal level.