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Skin Care Essentials from the Pantry

When I first started making my own natural skin care products, all of my ingredients came from the pantry.  Over the years I've branched out to more exotic oils, clays, butters, and milks.  I even grow my own herbs and flowers for my skin care products.

But those kitchen finds are still among my favorites.  They're inexpensive, easy, and I always have them on hand.

These are my top 5 go-to pantry ingredients, and how you can use them

1.  Oatmeal.  It's so versatile.  Blend uncooked oatmeal in the blender first, to make a nice smooth powder.  Then you're ready to add it to any handmade skin care creation.

Add it to your handmade soap (melt and pour or cold process).  Mix with water, herbal tea, or mashed fruit for a to-die-for oatmeal mask.

And you know those expensive oatmeal bath powders sold at the store?  (Aveeno and California Baby both offer versions.)  Forget buying them!  Pour your own oatmeal powder into bathwater to soothe itchy irritations, eczema, or heat rash.  Pennies for one treatment, and you don't get all the filler junk!

2.  Honey.  You can't have oatmeal without honey, right?  Honey is soothing, hydrating, cleansing, and helps strengthen the skin's protective layer.

Go ahead and mix honey and ground oatmeal together for an easy oat and honey mask.  Add several tablespoons honey plus 1/2 cup milk to warm bathwater.  Cleopatra is said to have bathed in milk and honey regularly.  

You can always go super simple -- massage honey directly onto the face, let set 20 minutes, then rinse off.  Your skin will look beautiful.   

3.  Yogurt.  With its healthy bacteria content, yogurt is good for you inside and out.

It helps strengthen the skin's acid mantle and, because it contains lactic acid, makes an amazing exfoliant.  Some studies even show it may be helpful in clearing acne.

Just rub a teaspoon or so directly on the skin.  Let set 5-10 minutes and rinse.  You can also add a bit of fresh fruit, if you're feeling fancy.

4.  Baking soda.  This makes the Best.  Scrub.  Ever.  Seriously, just add a pinch of baking soda to your regular facial cleanser.  You'll be amazed at how it softens your skin.

Baking soda also softens hard water, so add a handful to your bathwater.  (This is especially good for kids with eczema.)

And don't forget you can brush your teeth with it.  It leaves your teeth feeling super clean and white too.  My dentist always compliments me on how white my teeth are (she asks if I bleach them -- nope.)  And I drink coffee and tea all the time.  Baking soda is fabulous!

5.  Olive oil or coconut oil.  You can use these oils interchangeably, so just go with whatever you have on hand.

You can massage them into any dry areas for a highly emollient treatment.  I especially love them for dry cuticles and lips.  You can even use them on the face, for a nourishing night serum (don't do this if you're acne-prone, though).

But these are more than just great moisturizers.  Mix with sugar for a fabulous scrub.  Leave a bottle in your shower as a gentle, moisturizing shaving oil.

Olive oil and coconut oil is also great for your hair.  Warm and generously work into the hair.  Let set for an hour, then wash as normal.

I actually prefer to use as a leave-on treatment.  Just work a small dab into the hair, from the ends up.  (If it looks greasy, you've used too much.)  These oils strengthen the hair, fight frizz, and leave the hair super shiny and healthy.  You can do this every day!  It's especially perfect for dry or curly hair types.  

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