By Annemarie Conte
Facials are a great way to keep your skin glowing, but they can be pricey. We asked Louisa Macan-Graves, author of Hollywood Beauty Secrets: Remedies to the Rescue, and Elda Argenti, owner of the Plantogen skincare line, for their favorite make-at-home face masks crafted from common household ingredients.
For All Skin Types
Brighten: Cut a slice of ripe papaya and remove the seeds and pulp (save the pulp for a snack later-it's great for digestion). Rub the inside of the papaya peel on your cleansed face, focusing on lines around the mouth and eyes, crow's feet, thinning temples, neck and hands. Let it dry for 15 to 20 minutes, then rinse with tepid water. This mask can be done twice a week. "The enzymes in papaya exfoliate, repair sun damage, diminish age spots and smooth skin. Your skin will look brighter, with a more polished finish," says Macan-Graves.
Exfoliate: Combine 1 tsp honey and 1 tsp olive oil. Separately, prepare a packet of plain oatmeal, using less water than called for so it forms a thick paste. Next, add the honey and olive oil mixture to the cooked oatmeal. Apply as a scrub, gently rubbing it in small circles over your skin, avoiding the eye area. Rinse off with warm water and pat dry. This mask can be done twice weekly. "The oatmeal in this scrub exfoliates, while the honey and olive oil moisturize," says Argenti.
Cleanse: "Believe it or not, I love to cleanse with oil," says Argenti. For this facial, she combines 1 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt with 2 tsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp lemon oil (not to be confused with lemon juice; lemon oil is an essential oil that can be found at health food stores). The mixture should be a little bit runny but not easily poured out. Massage it over skin, then immediately wipe it off with a washcloth soaked in tepid water. This can be done daily. "You want to use good-quality oil and you'll be surprised at how clean your skin will feel," says Argenti. "You don't need a harsher product, even for skin with acne. Just be careful around the eye area…[the mixture] tends to be very sticky."
For Oil- and Blemish-Prone Skin
Lift & Tighten: Combine 2 Tbsp plain yogurt with 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (the juice of one lemon) and apply to your cleansed face and neck. Let it dry for 20 to 30 minutes. You'll feel the mask tighten on your face and neck, which creates a lifting and firming effect. Leave it on longer (up to one hour) for even more face-lifting effects. Once done, rinse with tepid water followed by a cool rinse. This mask can be done two to three times a week or whenever you need a face lift. "This instant face-lifting mask helps fade age-spots, acne scars and even helps keep blemishes and acne in check. It also gets rid of uneven-looking skin tone," says Macan-Graves.
Tone: This toning eye treatment helps to "de-puff, relax, refresh and energize your skin," says Argenti. "It's much more cooling than the traditional cucumber slices." After cleansing your skin, brew a cup of chamomile or green tea and allow it to cool. Then soak two clean, round makeup sponges in the tea and squeeze out any excess liquid. Place one on each of your eyes for 15 minutes. Do this daily. "You need to use an alcohol-free toner on your skin to cleanse and tighten pores. Alcohol is very detrimental, and tea works just as well," adds Argenti.
For Dry Skin
Soothe: Combine 2 Tbsp honey with 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Apply to your clean face and leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse with tepid water followed by a cool rinse. This can be done three times a week. "This mask heals, moisturizes and balances the pH of the skin," says Macan-Graves. "Honey is a humectant and natural antibiotic that heals and moisturizes. Apple cider vinegar helps balance the pH of skin and soothes damaged skin."
Moisturize: Macan-Graves recommends oatmeal and fennel to help moisturize dry skin. Grind 1 Tbsp oatmeal in a blender and set aside. Add 1 Tbsp fennel seeds to 1/2 cup boiling water to make a tea. Allow the seeds to steep for 10 minutes; strain the seeds and discard. Let it cool down to room temperature and then combine 1 Tbsp of the fennel tea with 1 Tbsp ground oatmeal and 1 Tbsp honey. Apply the mixture to your clean face and leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse with tepid water followed by a cool rinse. This mask can be done twice weekly.
Brighten: Combine 2 Tbsp sour cream with 2 Tbsp honey and 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Apply to your cleansed face and leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse with tepid water followed by a cool (not cold) rinse. This mask can be done twice a week. "This mask heals, exfoliates, brightens and moisturizes skin. It refines pores, fades acne marks and prevents blemishes from coming up," says Macan-Graves.