You cleanse, you exfoliate, you tone, you moisturize. You never leave the house without sunscreen, and you have your favorite aesthetician on speed-dial. But despite your best efforts, sometimes your skin needs a little something extra. Dryness, clogged pores, breakouts, fine lines… Whatever it is, there’s a mask for that.
Many high-quality over-the-counter masks cost upwards of $100. But for just a few bucks, you can quickly whip up your own rich, all-natural masks—and you probably have the ingredients in your kitchen right now. Below is an array of 100% natural DIY face masks (and a tip for all-natural cleansing), courtesy of Jennifer Haley, an LA-based 500 RYT yoga instructor. Haley studied ayurveda at Rishikesh Yog Peeth in Rishikesh, India, and has been collecting and trying out recipes for years. So skip the cosmetics counter and head to the kitchen for a serving of homemade beauty goodness.
Moisturizing Yogurt Mask
In the winter, this mask works wonders on dry, cracked or chapped skin. In the summer, it’s great for relieving sunburn. Yogurt has high amounts of lactic acids, which have been shown to refine pores and to gently cleanse and exfoliate. They also stimulate collagen production, which helps keep skin firm and elastic. Honey is a humectant, meaning it retains water, so it helps keep skin soft and moisturized.
– 1 tbsp natural yogurt (low-fat or nonfat Greek) at room temperature
– 1 tsp raw organic honey (you can soften it in the microwave)
Mix ingredients then apply to face. Leave on for 10-15 minutes then rinse with a warm washcloth.
Egg White Mask
Egg whites are loaded with protein, which nourishes and tightens the skin and diminishes fine lines. Cleopatra herself is said to have used egg-based masks.
– 2 egg whites, separated from the yolk and placed in a bowl
– 2 tbsp plain yogurt
Mix ingredients and apply liberally to face using an upward motion. Leave on for 15-20 minutes then rinse with a warm washcloth.
Cocoa Espresso Mask
The caffeine in the cocoa and coffee helps reduce under-eye puffiness; together they brighten the skin and fight dullness.
– 4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (you can even use Hershey’s!)
– 4 tbsp finely ground espresso or coffee beans
– 8 tbsp dairy product. You can use whole milk, heavy cream, yogurt, almond milk, soy, or coconut milk. If you prefer a thicker paste, use less dairy. Substitute ingredients to suit your needs: If you love egg-based masks, replace the dairy element with egg; if your skin is dehydrated, replace the dairy with an oil like olive or extra virgin coconut oil. (If you opt for oil, halve the amount or the mixture will be too runny.)
– 2 tbsp honey (if you have dry skin) or lemon juice (if you have oily skin)
Mix ingredients together and apply to face. Leave on for 10-15 minutes then rinse with warm water and a washcloth.
The Miracle Mask: Honey, Cinnamon and Nutmeg
This mask—Haley’s favorite—contains cinnamon, an antiseptic that rids the skin of bacteria, helping to prevent pimples. It also increases blood circulation in the skin, giving the face a healthy glow. Nutmeg exfoliates the skin, preventing blemishes, while honey’s humectant properties make it a sweet moisturizer. Honey is also an anti-bacterial that helps to prevent acne. (Tip: If you have any mixture leftover, add it to your tea for an extra kick!)
– 2-3 tbsp raw organic honey
– 1 tsp cinnamon
– 1 tsp nutmeg
Mix ingredients together and apply to face. Leave on for 10-20 minutes then rinse with warm water.
Best known as the spice that makes curry yellow, turmeric has long been used on the skin due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It can help fight everything from rosacea and eczema to acne. Traditionally, Indian brides have also used it as a skin brightener.
– 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
– 2 tbsp flour
– a few drops of honey
– for oily skin: 1/4 cup plain yogurt and few drops of lemon juice
– for dry skin: 2 tbsp coconut oil, sweet almond oil or olive oil
Mix the turmeric and flour. If you have oily skin, add lemon juice and stir; slowly mix in the yogurt until the paste is creamy; adjust the amount of yogurt to your liking. If you have dry skin, add the oil slowly and stir to create a paste; add more oil for extra creaminess. Apply to face and neck. Leave on for 15-20 minutes, then rinse off the mask with a wet, warm washcloth. (Warning: Turmeric can temporarily stain fair skin, and it will stain fabric.)
Full of antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients, blueberries have a host of beneficial properties; they can prevent acne by normalizing the skin’s oil levels, and they can diminish fine lines. Lemon acts as a natural skin brightener, while aloe vera soothes the skin and honey helps it retain moisture.
– ½ tbsp organic blueberries, pureed
– 1 seedless grape, pureed
– ½ tsp lemon juice
– ½ tbsp honey, melted
– 1 tbsp aloe vera gel
Puree the blueberries, grape and lemon juice, then mix in the honey and aloe vera gel. Apply to face and neck. Leave on for 5-10 minutes then rinse with warm water and a washcloth. (Warning: Blueberries stain.)
Carrot Anti-Stress Mask
When you stress out, your heart beats faster and you breathe more heavily, both of which lead to dehydration—and dehydration wreaks havoc on the skin. This mask is a triple-threat: It uses baking soda as a mild exfoliant, the vitamin C in carrot juice to pump up collagen production, and honey to moisturize.
– 2 tbsp honey
– 1 tsp fresh carrot juice
– 1/2 tsp baking soda
Mix ingredients together and apply to face. Leave on for 20 minutes then wash with warm water. Afterward, use rose or coconut water as a toner.
Natural Oil Cleanser
Instead of using a harsh synthetic facial cleanser, try using oil, which is a natural antibacterial as well as a moisturizer. You can use coconut, olive or whatever oil you prefer. Simply massage the oil into your skin and let it sit for a minute. Then steam the face using a hot, wet washcloth, drawing out the oil, dirt and built-up sebum. A hint of oil should remain on the skin when you’re done, leaving the face soft and moisturized.
For more about oils as facial treatments, Haley recommends the book “Ayurveda: The Science of life” by Vasant Lad.