In case you were considering running out to purchase some expensive beauty or body care item, let me suggest that you pause for a second. Take a moment to look around your kitchen first. I know, I know – it sounds kind of crazy but hear me out. Many of the most effective ingredients come from your kitchen anyway. Using multifunction products for cooking and food preparation as well as DIY beauty treatments is a fun, financially sensible way to enhance your beauty regimen without breaking the bank. Let me tell you what you need for a beauty pantry worth turning to, whenever you want to indulge your inner mixtress.
Baking soda – Baking soda is a kitchen essential and a household staple. It has incredible odor absorbing powers, so it’s a necessary item in your fridge as well as for your rugs or anywhere that can get smelly. It’s excellent as a paste/scrub to get things clean, and it’s such a great multi use beauty product. Try a little baking soda mixed with your favorite toothpaste for tooth whitening and mouth freshening action. Mix it with a little coconut oil as a facial cleanser. Use it as an all-natural deodorant if you’re into that sort of thing. Some people even use it as a mouth wash or add it to their bubble baths for skin softening and removing toxins.
Brown sugar – Brown sugar is my favorite kind, not just because D’Angelo wrote a sweet song about it – because it’s such a great multi use beauty pantry must have! Sure you can sweeten your tea with it, you can sprinkle it on your Wheaties, you can use it with garlic and onions to make some delicious Caribbean stewed chicken. And you can also mix it with your favorite oil for an absolutely divine DIY body scrub. I’ve used brown sugar scrubs from my scalp to the soles of my feet. It leaves my skin soft, smooth, and sweetly scented.
Olive oil – If one product could be called the ultimate beauty pantry staple, this would be it. Of course olive oil is amazing as a healthy oil for salad dressings, cooking, dipping delicious bread into and many other things, but it is also great for hair and skin and extremely easy to use. Olive oil is the staple ingredient in so many wonderful DIY beauty recipes. Try it as a pre-shampoo oil treatment, add a capful to your bubble bath, use it as a base for an at home sugar or salt scrub, or just massage it into your skin post shower on dry days.
Coconut oil – Right now the Western world is having a love affair with all things coconut, while folks from the islands are saying “see? We knew the whole time.” The coconut is incredible for many reasons, and coconut oil is primary amongst them. It’s a truly multi-use kitchen and beauty staple in a way that olive oil isn’t. You can use coconut oil on your cuticles, slather it on your skin or in your hair as a pre-shampoo treatment, and it’s a conditioner additive par excellence, or styling product. I recommend having separate jars for your bathroom and your kitchen, so you don’t wind up getting hair in the wrong jar.
Vinegar – White vinegar and apple cider vinegar are kitchen essentials for a variety of reasons – you can use them as cleaning agents, as health additives, and more. You can use vinegar to clean your floor or to give tangy life to your salad dressing. And quelle surprise, the liquid you make pickles with can also make your hair look amazing. Vinegar is long known as a remedy for dandruff, and adding a teaspoon to your conditioner can make your hair clean and shiny as it hasn’t been before.
Honey – Known and beloved as a sweetening agent and Winnie the Pooh’s favorite snack, honey is also one of the most amazing humectants for your skin and hair. I recommend trying a cinnamon honey mask to reduce acne and leave your skin glowing.
Sea salt – if you have dry, flaky feet look no further than your pantry for this beauty essential. Sea salt is the bomb for at home body scrubs, and if your skin is thick and not-too-sensitive, it can be great for all-over use. For those with more sensitive skin and tough feet, I recommend combining sea salt with a splash of olive or coconut oil and your favorite essential oil before sloughing that skin for your fall pedicure.
Contributing Editor, Patrice Grell Yursik is the creator of Afrobella.com, one of the first blogs to celebrate the beauty of natural hair and ladies of all skin tones and sizes. Affectionately called the Godmother of Brown Beauty Blogging, Patrice takes her readers inside unique beauty, fashion and cultural experiences.