Feed Your Face
What's the new superstar ingredient in your beauty products? It may be spinach. The antioxidant-packed green and a host of other fruit and veggie extracts (cherries! cucumbers! carrots!) are this spring's It ingredients, increasingly replacing synthetic additives. No surprise, considering that 79 percent of shoppers are seeking out natural products, according to NPD, a market research group. In addition, many women are creating their own beauty goodies in the kitchen. "Patients constantly tell me about recipes they make in lieu of buying products," says Jeanine Downie, MD, a dermatologist in Montclair, New Jersey. It's great for cutting back on chemicals and costs. Just steer clear of foods you're allergic to, which "could trigger the same symptoms as eating them," says Dr. Downie. Try these concoctions, products, and tips to get pretty — pure and simple.
Brighten Locks with a Tea Treatment
Soak your strands for high-wattage shine and rich color, whatever your hue.
What You Need
2 tea bags (chamomile, a golden mix for blondes; rooibos, a rich orange for redheads; or black tea, dark for brunettes)
2 cups water
1. Once a week — or whenever you feel you could use a shine boost — steep tea bags in boiling water for 10 minutes. Let the liquid cool to room temperature. (In a rush? Refrigerate it.)
2. Pour the mixture over wet, just-washed hair, rubbing it through the way you would shampoo.
3. Leave the rinse on for 10 minutes; wash and condition to seal in the silky, glossy results.
"Tea lowers the pH of hair, closing the cuticle for extra shine, softness, and manageability," says Philip Pelusi, owner of Tela Design Studio in New York City. Tea's natural pigments can also neutralize brassiness for more flattering color.
Berry Skin Scrub
Energize a sallow complexion with this berry-sweet skin scrub.
What You Need
3 medium-size strawberries
1 tablespoon honey
1. Stem strawberries, cut into small pieces, then mash against the sides of a bowl with a spoon until softened.
2. Fold in honey and gently mix until it's evenly distributed among berries.
3. Using small circles, continuously massage the mixture into your face for 3 minutes; rinse with warm water.
Gentle enough for sensitive skin types, "the natural fruit enzymes in strawberries slough the dull top layer of skin," says Jolanta Smusz, an aesthetician at Devachan Salon and Departure Lounge in New York City. It's also ideal for dry and oily skin: The honey hydrates parched patches, while the two-ingredient combo produces a mild antiseptic that can help head off breakouts.
Finger Food Manicure
Who needs lacquer? Neaten nails with juicy "finger food" instead.
What You Need
5 grapes (red ones are packed with more antioxidants than green)
1 tablespoon sugar
1. Slice grapes in half widthwise.
2. Dip the fleshy side into the sugar and use it to massage the skin around each nail (one halved grape per finger) for about 30 seconds each.
3. Brush away excess sugar with a soft towel and rub a dot of grapeseed oil or hand cream onto hands and cuticles.
"The sugar crystals remove dead skin and hangnails, and the gentle fruit acids help exfoliate remaining raggedness," says Regine Berthelot, head aesthetician at New York City's Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa, where signature manicures begin with this treatment. In addition, the oil and cream offer the instant shine of a top coat.
Treat Your Feet
Get toe-tally smooth in just two steps with this deflaker.
What You Need
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 tablespoon mashed banana
1. Stir cornmeal and banana together until evenly blended. The mix should have the consistency of wet sand.
2. Massage the paste all over feet, working it into calluses for about 30 seconds, or until skin feels smooth.
"Cornmeal exfoliates roughness and has antifungal properties, while the banana softens skin," says Kim D'Amato, owner of Priti, an organic spa in New York City.
Tame Frizzy Hair
Take control of dry strands with this nourishing hair calmer.
What You Need
1. Mash banana and avocado together, then comb the mixture through dry hair, which absorbs more nutrients than wet.
2. Cover hair with a plastic cap (the heat it creates increases penetration) and leave on hair for 10 minutes; rinse clean with cool water.
"Bananas are full of potassium, and avocados are packed with moisturizing fatty acids — two things that soften hair instantly," says Alex Safar of Salon Acote in Boston, who advises using this treatment every other week.
UV Damage Repairing Mask
Rescue sun-stricken skin with a potent antioxidant-rich mask.
What You Need
1 tablespoon plain yogurt
1. Mash blueberries with a spoon (you can also run them through a food processor), then add yogurt.
2. Spread the mask all over your face; remove with water after 15 minutes.
Blueberries are packed with vitamins C and E, which repair and moisturize skin plus fend off fine lines caused by the sun," says Cox. Yogurt's lactic acid helps exfoliate the UV-damaged layers of the epidermis.
5 Snacks with Beautiful Benefits
Beat your biggest beauty challenges with these tasty, healthy snacks.
FOR: Pearly Whites
EAT: 1 cup low-fat yogurt. It offers half your daily need of enamel-building calcium and has tooth-strengthening phosphorous, says Lisa Drayer, RD, author of The Beauty Diet.
FOR: Fewer Wrinkles
EAT: 1 cup kiwi. It has more wrinkle-fighting vitamin C than a cup of orange segments — 220 percent of your daily value, says Allison Tannis, author of Feed Your Skin, Starve Your Wrinkles.
FOR: Soft Skin
EAT: 1 cup baked sweet potatoes. Its hue comes from beta-carotene (it has about as much as a carrot), which is converted into skin-softening vitamin A in the body, Tannis says.
FOR: Glossy Hair
EAT: 1/4 cup walnuts. These nuts are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which keep the scalp flake-free, as well as copper, a mineral that naturally helps strands shine, says Drayer.
FOR: A Dewy Glow
EAT: 1 cup hot cocoa. Sip this to get twice the amount of antioxidant flavanols as you would from a glass of red wine, Drayer says. They increase blood flow to the skin for added radiance.
Bottled Beauty: All-Natural Treatments You Can Buy
When there's no time to DIY, try these good-as-fresh premixed prettiers:
- Wash your hair happy with Nature's Gate Asian Pear and Red Tea Color Protecting Shampoo ($7.99, natures-gate.com), free of pigment-stripping sulfates.
- Soften skin sans irritation with Verikira Naturals Spicy Citrus Walnut Body Scrub ($36, verikira.com), made with aloe.
- Like a milk bath without the mess, Jergens Naturals Soothe Daily Moisturizer ($8.49, drugstores) hydrates and evens out skin tone with yogurt and soy.
- Blueberries and cherries in Renee Rouleau Triple Berry Smoothing Peel ($85, reneerouleau.com) boost radiance.
- Invigorating essential oils in Burt's Bees Fabulously Fresh Peppermint and Rosemary Body Wash ($7.99, burtsbees.com) are an ideal a.m. wake-up call.