Homemade skin food

Homemade skin food

Everyone wants to take care of their skin. But face creams and skin products can be expensive. Is there a frugal and easy way to maintain your skin's health?

In some cases you need look no farther than your grocery-store produce section for some effective home remedies.

When exposed to weather, the face can develop a red inflammation on the cheeks and chin, as well as other areas of the body. This can be solved with an easy banana mask.

Peel and blend one banana and apply the resulting mush to patches of dry skin, especially the face. By leaving it on for about five minutes, your pores will soak up the banana's potassium, an electrolyte often missing from our diets because it's lost from food that's been canned.

Potassium helps the nervous system transmit messages and regulates the contraction of muscles. This banana mask not only will heal redness and dryness, but also will strengthen thin skin under the eyes and return your skin to its regular texture.

Dry everywhere? Try an oatmeal soak.

The next time you take a bath, infuse it with some oatmeal. Create a tea bag out of an old pair of pantyhose by cutting off one of the legs. Fill the foot with a cup of colloidal (ground) oatmeal and a tablespoon of baking soda. Tie your tea bag over your bath's faucet and run a bath through the bag. Without irritating your skin, the oatmeal will strip your epidermis of the shriveled, dead skin cells that are the reason behind any itchiness you feel. Remember to pat yourself dry. Rubbing with a towel can irritate open pores.

Dr. Suzan Obagi, director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Cosmetic Surgery and Skin Health Center, said applying vitamins to your skin also can help.

"Sometimes, the skin needs a topical application of vitamins," she said.

She cannot recommend vitamin C enough. The ascorbic acid in vitamin C protects the body against pollutants like bacteria, and it aids in healthy skin-cell development and tissue repair. It may even prevent minor bruising.

Repair and treat your blemished skin with your own homemade vitamin C applesauce mask. Quarter and puree an apple. Add one teaspoon each of both lemon juice and lime juice. Add one teaspoon of wheat germ. For a pleasant aroma, add a pinch of cinnamon, sage or peppermint. Mix these ingredients in a blender and apply as a mask, washing the face with warm water after several minutes.

The citric acid from the lemon and lime juices provides antioxidants and a natural astringent. It will also reduce the size and intensity of a pimple. The apple has iron and calcium, vitamins A, B and C and contains malic acid, which helps the skin absorb vitamins. The wheat germ gently exfoliates the skin.

For a lower-maintenance approach, use an orange. Being careful to avoid the eyes, apply an orange slice to the face and let the juice dry. This will clean out areas with blackheads and breakouts. Afterward, pat your face dry with a damp, warm cloth.

And to zap a blemish overnight, a dab of toothpaste or honey will annihilate any bacteria buildup.

And take your fish oil, Obagi said. "Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids and lipids, which will help naturally moisturize the skin and comes in soft gel supplements."

Kara Voorhees is a writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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