Self-isolation is the perfect time to start practising self-care. With more time on your hands, why not try some all-natural beauty treatments, using ingredients you probably already have in your fridge or cupboards?
Here are some expert recommendations to get you going.
Banishing dark circles
Beauty mogul Huda Kattan swears by sweet almond oil for banishing dark circles underneath the eyes. She suggests applying the oil all around your eye area before you go to sleep – it’ll not only benefit those dark circles, but also strengthen your lashes and brows. Just make sure it’s sweet almond oil, rather than the regular variety, as its anti-inflammatory properties will help reduce swelling and puffiness. Massage it in well – the motion will also help drain the area.
Kattan recommends soaking two cotton balls with almond oil, before placing them in the inner corner of your eyes and massaging outwards towards your temple. Repeat the motion over your brow line. If you are applying the oil overnight, leave it in. If you are doing it in the morning, remove residue with a cold compress, which will also help de-puff the area.
Tomatoes are another of Kattan’s go-to natural remedies for dark circles. Packed full of vitamin K, vitamin C, lycopene and antioxidants, they “are as good as it gets for your skin”, Kattan says. Crush a tomato into a bowl, making it as soft and mushy as possible, and then drain excess liquid so it forms a paste. Lie down, place the paste all over your eye area, and relax. A refrigerated tomato works best.
Natural face masks
Make-up artist Sharon Drugan suggests these simple face masks: mix half an avocado with a tablespoon of honey; mix one tablespoon of honey with one tablespoon of natural plain yoghurt and a dash of turmeric powder; or combine aloe vera gel with a pinch of turmeric and a splash of rose water. Leave the masks on for between 10 and 15 minutes.
Papaya is another favourite when it comes to natural face masks. Simply mash one or two teaspoons of ripe papaya and then apply to the face, leaving for 15 minutes before washing off with water. The enzymes present in the fruit will help remove dead skin cells, and this is a particularly effective solution for people with oily skin.
Karan Manek of Skin Gardens, an all-natural skincare brand that is gluten, parabens and sulfates-free, recommends the following natural scrub: combine a quarter cup of warm honey, two tablespoons of coconut oil and a quarter cup of brown sugar. Apply the scrub to your face with gentle circular motions for two to three minutes before washing it off, allowing the scrub to cleanse your pores.
But most importantly: “Hands, hands, hands! We cannot begin to stress how important it is to ensure your hands are always clean before touching your face," Manek says.
Easy lip scrubs
To keep your lips in tip-top shape, Drugan recommends that you create a natural scrub by mixing one tablespoon of brown sugar, one teaspoon of honey and a drop of vanilla essence. A more zingy option is to combine a teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice, a teaspoon of coconut oil and two teaspoons of sugar. Rub over your lips for a minute and then wash off.
Coconut oil is commonly used in India to keep luscious locks looking glossy. All you have to do is warm it slightly – either in the microwave or in a glass surrounded by hot water. Run the oil through your hair – until it is saturated but not too oily – and then let it sit overnight. Wash it out in the morning and it’ll immediately be smoother and silkier.
Kate Darling, founder and chief executive of That Hair Tho salon in Dubai's JLT, recommends a few other natural solutions for maintaining those luscious locks. "Some key ingredients we would recommend are: aloe vera, castor oil and avocado. Apply, leave on, Netflix and chill – the longer the better. This will help prevent any split ends until you are reunited with your hairstylist again."
Show your knees and elbows some love with the simplest of scrubs. Another trick that Kattan endorses is cutting a lemon in half and then sprinkling some sugar onto it. Pat the sugar down so it is slightly embedded into the lemon’s flesh, then rub this over your knees and elbows to keep them smooth and soft. The same process will work wonders on your T-Zone.
Dugan, meanwhile, suggests a body scrub made of one ripe banana, three tablespoons of sugar and some vanilla essence, which will smell delicious while it buffs your skin.
Strengthen your nails
A beauty trick that originated in the Dominican Republic could transform your nails. Garlic, which is naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, will stave off any nasty organisms that are contributing in making your nails brittle and weak. All you have to do is crush a clove of garlic and add it to a bottle of clear nail polish. Leave the garlic to settle for a week, shaking the bottle every once in a while. Then apply it to your nails, as a top coat, base coat, or both. If you are looking for a more immediate fix, rub some garlic directly on to your nails. There’s no one around to mind the smell.
Give your hands a break
If your hands are feeling a little dry from all that washing and sanitising, why not give them a soak, Cleopatra style? Heat two cups of milk to a comfortable temperature (make sure not to overheat) and then place in a bowl. Soak your hands for five to 10 minutes and then wash off. Fats in the milk will naturally moisturise and hydrate the skin, while calcium, vitamin A and vitamin E will nourish skin cells.
“Sleep is the ultimate natural beauty tip, so I often use lavender essential oils and fresh lavender at night,” reveals Sofia Tilbury, creative executive at Charlotte Tilbury. “Scent is so important for your mood, and the calming, soothing qualities of lavender oil are great for anxiety and stress. I love to add a few drops of lavender oil to my bath and I also have a sleep mask infused with lavender, which is great for resting and soothing tired eyes.”
Beauty starts on the inside
While all these natural remedies will help keep your skin soft, smooth and blemish-free, it’s no secret that great skin starts on the inside. Emma Sawko, co-founder of concept cafes Wild & The Moon and Comptoir 102, shares the tricks she uses to stay healthy on the inside and out.
“I drink loads of infused water – it’s perfect to take in all those essential nutrients while simply sipping away on some liquids. I also drink a full glass of water with one soup spoon of organic apple cider vinegar, which cleanses and purifies the organism. It's an immunity system booster. It's easy to make, we almost all have cider vinegar in our cupboards. A homemade remedy is always the best. I also take a daily shot with turmeric and lemon and water – lots of proteins and stimulating.
"And, of course, I wash my hands a hundred times per day and I use a lot of Ravintsara essential oil, well known for its powerful antiviral and natural antiseptic qualities. It is reputed to prevent viruses from spreading while strengthening the immune system."
And finally, she adds: “Being home is also a perfect time for a cosmetic detox, especially if you are used to make-up and conventional cosmetic products. The best food for my skin? My homemade scrub: acai powder and coconut oil. Glowy and healthy skin assured.”