Get ready for your post-quarantine close-up with a whole-food facial treatment

Amanda Rae
Food Matters
Spas remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but you can still practice spa-like self-care at home.
Getty Images/iStockphoto | iStockphoto

Money is tight. Spas remain closed as “nonessential” businesses. And we’ve all been sheltering in place since late March. I might bet my stimulus check that the majority of you readers have tried an at-home skincare facial since the coronavirus pandemic hit. (After all, the global sheet-mask market alone is projected to top $392 million in 2020.)

As we phase into post-quarantine life, now is time to freshen up your mug. The best part: it’s easy to whip together an anti-aging, rinse-off facial masque using foods likely already stocked in your kitchen. Combine a few of these ingredients into a thick paste, apply a thin layer to damp skin, and rinse off once dry, about 5 to 10 minutes. Now bask in a revitalized complexion — even if you’re required to slap a protective mask over it when out in public.


Dry, flaky, sensitive skin

As a girl, I found a one-cup Oster blender jar on my mother’s vanity with chunky, off-white powder: blitzed oatmeal. She still mixes a few teaspoons of homemade oat flour with water to gently cleanse and exfoliate her skin. Oatmeal contains saponins, or naturally occurring soap-like compounds, which lather, nourish and soothe without stripping skin’s natural oils, as well as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties (hence why oatmeal baths are a popular remedy for poison ivy and skin rashes).

While oatmeal helps to maintain hydration by forming a moisturizing layer on skin’s surface, adding honey, yogurt and lemon juice will create a powerhouse face pack. (Pulse whole oats in a clean coffee grinder or blender, and experiment with varying consistencies.) A steamy washcloth makes removal a snap.

Raw honey

Oily, blemished, dry, inflamed, sensitive skin

Antibacterial, antimicrobial, and humectant qualities, plus a gooey texture, make raw honey a potent and luxurious ingredient beneficial to all skin types. While raw honey has been shown to clear clogged pores (skip processed varieties, which may contain preservatives or additives), native New Zealand Manuka honey in particular has been studied as an anti-acne treatment more effective compared to traditional remedies.


Dry, inflamed, sensitive, damaged skin

Just as avocados are a rich source of monounsaturated fat as part of a healthy diet, the fruit’s creamy flesh is chock-full of essential vitamins and antioxidants shown to heal and rejuvenate skin. Highly absorbent avocado oil is deeply moisturizing and thought to protect against harmful ultraviolent radiation (in addition to physical sunblock, of course). What’s more, a 2013 study found that avocado oil’s fatty acids may help speed wound healing and fade scars.

Lemon juice

Dull, flaky, acne-prone skin

Natural fruit acids are the original chemical peels: lemon juice, rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, has been used for centuries as a speedy skin brightener. Citric acid, a type of alpha hydroxy acid, sloughs dead skin cells and may help dissipate scaly patches, eczema, psoriasis and even dandruff. Lemon juice’s high pH acts as an astringent to decrease oil production and potentially eliminate future breakouts. Since a common side effect is skin irritation, go slowly with a small amount, just a few drops to start. Lemon juice might tingle, but it should not burn. Similar to other post-resurfacing treatment protocol: stay out of the sun afterward.


Puffy, irritated, dry, sunburned skin

The classic image of an at-home facial: cooling cucumber coins over the eyes. The refreshing plant is tops for de-puffing delicate skin, and even better when grated or juiced for full-face application. Vitamin C and folic acid help to combat skin aging, and cucumber’s high water content helps to soothe redness and irritation, especially when combined with elements that lock in moisture (honey, oatmeal, yogurt, aloe vera).

Egg whites

Oily, blemish-prone, saggy skin

Frothy, whipped egg whites are a fast solution for sucking up oil and shrinking enlarged pores, lending an overall tightening effect. I combine honey (oil-free moisture) and lemon (brightening) with astringent egg whites to create an at-home “zombie” mask. Save the yolks for a boosted omelet, or use separately to nourish dry, flaky skin with protein, healthy fat, and vitamin A.

A final note: first-timers or folks with sensitive skin should perform a patch test (inner elbow, let sit an hour) before application to prevent possible full-face irritation.

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