Charcoal for skin

It may sound counteractive, but using charcoal to cleanse your skin is one of the oldest beauty tips in the world. The use of charcoal dates back centuries, when people in India and Egypt treated wounds with it. Later, it featured as a cleansing ingredient in places like Japan, as charcoal acts as a magnet to draw out and trap as much as 100 to 200 times its weight in impurities in your skin.

Most commonly found in beauty products, activated charcoal was created solely for medicinal purposes. Doctors initially used it to treat poison, gastrointestinal tract infections, bug bites and nausea. It also proved helpful during World War I, when activated charcoal was placed in gas masks to prevent soldiers from being poisoned by chemical exposure.

To create this, regular charcoal is heated with gas to make it expand, thus making it porous and more absorbent. Activated charcoal chemically binds other substances to its surface and compared to regular charcoal, can absorb thousands of times its own weight, so things like bacteria and dirt will be lifted, helping you achieve a smooth complexion.

In saying that, since activated charcoal does remove toxins, it is a great ingredient to take control of acne and improve skin health in general. It’s found in many products which help fight against acne, effectively healing pimples and preventing further breakouts.

Activated charcoal is also an anti-ageing ingredient, reducing inflammation and subsequently preventing premature ageing. It tightens pores and smooths the skin, calms irritation and leaves you with a toned complexion.

If you want to make your own face mask, mix one half or one whole activated charcoal capsule powder into a small spoonful of aloe vera gel. Add some water, a few drops of tea tree oil and a pinch of sea salt, until it becomes an even consistency. Apply to your skin and let dry, then wash off with water.

Why coconut oil is your skin’s best friend

Over the past few years, coconut oil has become popular in both the food and beauty worlds. While it’s a great cooking and baking ingredient, this oil is also perfect for your beauty routine, since it’s a natural product without any chemicals or additives. In tropical parts of the world, where coconuts are more common, using coconut oil on your body is an ancient practice, but for those of us who don’t live in those areas, we’re just getting the hang of this helpful oil now.

So why is it so beneficial for your beauty routine? Coconut oil contains good fats that provide us with energy and Vitamin E, which is essential to maintaining healthy and smooth skin. It also has the ability to penetrate your skin more than off-the-counter products because of the way it bonds with proteins in your body. Plus, there’s the added bonus of it being much more cost effective than handfuls of items you’d get from the beauty store.

Coconut oil is a perfect product for all your facial needs, starting as a moisturizer. Regular products contain a high amount of water, which initially makes you feel like your skin is moisturized, however when the water dries up, you’re left feeling tight and flaky again. Coconut oil, since it does contain plenty of saturated fats, provides deep moisture and helps strengthen tissue and remove dead cells on the skin’s surface. All you need to do is rub a small amount between your fingers and pat on to freshly washed skin, just as you would your normal moisturizer.

Coconut oil can also be used as a make-up remover, especially if you have a difficult time getting off waterproof mascara and eyeliner. Just dab a small amount on a cotton ball or cotton pad, and gently sweep off the make-up from your eyes, then rinse with warm water. The oil breaks down waxy make-up and gives you the added bonus of leaving your skin hydrated.

Speaking of taking off make-up, you can use coconut oil as a face wash and cleanser. Other products have a tendency to strip your skin of its natural oils, which in turn results in an overproduction of oil that can lead to acne and clogged pores. To make a cleanser, take a small amount of coconut oil and emulsify it between your fingers. Gently massage it into your skin in circular motions, until the impurities on your face are washed away, then pat your skin dry.

The list goes on for coconut oil uses, including lip balm, night cream, sunburn relief, and even a cheekbone highlighter to make a tired face look brighter. Just remember; a little goes a long way with coconut oil, so don’t go overboard with your new favourite product.

Sweet skincare: Beauty treats without the calories

Topping the list of most people’s New Year’s resolutions is to ditch the sugary snacks and swap them for healthy fruit and veg. But even if you’ve bid adieu to sweet treats in 2016, we have good news: you can use them in your skincare without putting on a single pound! Here we round up some of beauty’s most delicious ingredients that won’t affect your diet.

Chocolate

Why it’s good for you:

Dark chocolate is packed full of antioxidants, which fight free radicals. This even means it’s OK to eat it every now and again, but for those of you wanting to stay completely off the sweet stuff (we salute you!) it makes a great ingredient in beauty products.

How to use it:

You can make an at-home toning facemask by warming 50g of good-quality dark chocolate (at least 70 per cent cocoa) and adding to a blended mixture of banana and strawberries. Apply to your face and neck and relax for 20 minutes before washing off. We won’t judge you if you try and lick your face…

There are also tonnes of chocolate-scented products for beauty queens with a sweet tooth. We particularly love Christopher Courtney London’s rich Anti-Oxidant Chocolate Face Cream.

Honey

Why it’s good for you:

“For centuries honey has been one of nature’s best-kept beauty secrets,” CEW Award winning company Bee Good’s beekeeper, Simon Cavill, revealed to Cover Media. “Honey has so many benefits for the skin – in its purest form it’s suitable for all skin types and assists with perfecting, cleansing, and protecting the skin.”

How to use it:

Thanks to its antibacterial properties, honey can be applied to skin issues like acne in its purest form as a natural spot fighter. You can also mix it with coconut oil to make a gentle cleanser – simply rub in, avoiding the eyes, and wash off.

If you’re after honey-based products, look out for healing creams. For example, Calendulis Plus Cream uses Manuka honey to moisturize and help fight eczema and psoriasis.

Sugar

Why it’s good for you:

Sugar is a great base for homemade scrubs as it’s far gentler on skin than ready-made versions with abrasive beads. It’s also a natural humectant, which means it draws moisture into the skin, leaving it hydrated. It also contains glycolic acid, which promotes cell turnover, leaving you radiant.

How to use it:

As mentioned above, you can make your very own scrubs with sugar. Simply mix sugar and coconut oil in equal parts and apply to any rough areas, including the lips. Gently rub and wash off to reveal smoother skin.