In this feature, Sonia Bainbridge: clean beauty campaigner and co-founder of the ethical, independent British beauty brand Raw Beauty Lab and creator of the 100% natural, no nasties, plant-powered, cruelty-free Vegan Collagen ‘drink for your skin’, shares a few of her favourite tips, tricks and ingredients that you can find in your pantry or local supermarket for a beauty pro treat.
Their vitamin C and phytonutrient filled insides make strawberries a delicious add-on to a beauty-boosting diet. Strawberries are rich in anthocyanins that neutralise free radicals and reduce inflammation in the skin, helping to protect collagen, while vitamin C helps to build new collagen peptides in the dermal layers of your skin.
Topically applying strawberries to your skin also has some valuable beauty benefits:
Strawberries have astringent properties helping them constrict blood vessels around the eyes to help reduce puffy eyes. Pop a couple of chilled strawberry slices in the morning over your eyes for a refreshingly quick beauty fix. They are also a great natural source of salicylic acid, making them the ideal ingredient for a gentle exfoliating mask. Mash strawberries with honey or yoghurt and apply on your skin for 15 minutes to clean out congested pores or mix a mashed strawberry with baking soda and gently brush over your teeth before rinsing for a homemade whitening gel!
Some research has shown that onions could help improve hair growth. Onions are rich in sulphur, a prime component of the protein keratin which makes up 95% of your hair strands.
Sulphur is vital for collagen production, which will help increase the number of skin cells on your scalp required for the proper function of a hair follicle. Onions also helps to reduce inflammation within blood vessels and causes them to dilate when applied topically to the scalp, increasing nutrient rich blood delivery to your hair follicles, strengthening your hair and reducing hair fall.
My home beauty hack is to apply the juice of an onion twice daily to your roots for two months to see the best results. You might not smell the most fragrant, but the benefit to your hair could be worth it!
If you ever feel bloated or gassy, take half a teaspoon of asafoetida, mix it with some water and gulp it down. Asafoetida is a gum from a variety of giant fennel and is commonly used in Indian cooking. It works by increasing the activity of digestive enzymes in your gut, which will help reduce bloating and increase the rate of absorption of nutrients from your diet. Asafoetida is also a potent anti-inflammatory and can help relieve inflammation in the gut and the skin through the gut skin axis, helping to protect collagen in the skin from degradation.
Natural raw honey has many benefits both when ingested and when applied topically. When ingested, honey has potent anti-inflammatory properties and is full of phytonutrients such as vitamin E and flavonoids. It also contains Vitamin C, the precursor required for collagen production. Honey is also an incredible source of trace elements like copper and zinc that are incredibly important for collagen production
When applied topically, it’s a natural anti-bacterial and is excellent for individuals suffering from acne. It is also a potent moisturiser as it is occlusive and is terrific to help repair your skin barrier and keep your skin hydrated. Hydrated skin can help to alleviate the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles because of its moisturising capabilities, bringing out your natural glow. Honey is also a great gentle exfoliant, and therefore honey masks can help brighten your complexion when used regularly.
Green tea is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory when ingested and can help protect against collagen degradation. Green tea also contains a powerful antioxidant called EGCG that helps fight against UV induced photodamage, which is one of the leading causes of collagen degradation and premature ageing. Topical application of the tea bags to your skin can help control sebum production for oily skin to prevent the occurrence of clogged pores. When applied to your eyes, the caffeine content can constrict blood vessels in the under-eye area to reduce darkness and puffiness around the eyes. Topical application of green tea to your scalp can also promote hair growth and reduce hair fall as EGCG increases the number of dermal papillae cells that form part of the hair follicle – strengthening the hair follicle.
Coconut oil is a fabulous natural alternative to breaking down eye and face make-up – but it’s important to follow up with a cleanser to ensure the oil and make-up is removed from the skin. As natural occlusive, it is the ideal moisturiser that you can apply directly onto damp skin to lock in moisture both on your face and body.
The Vitamin E and antioxidants in the oil can also help lighten any scars you may have on your face and body. It deeply hydrates your skin when topically applied, helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Mixing coconut oil with sugar can make a quick lip scrub to exfoliate your lips.
If you’ve run out of aloe vera gel to soothe your skin after spending time in the sun, covering burnt skin with coconut oil will help to reduce inflammation and help the skin heal by providing optimum environments for collagen production: i.e. hydration and without damaging free radicals (because of vitamin E and polyphenol antioxidants).
Coconut oil is also an excellent natural hair conditioning treatment you can use before or after you wash your hair. For a pre-wash treatment, massage hot coconut oil into your scalp to help stimulate blood flow to your hair follicles and cover with a hair cap for about an hour before washing it off. As a post shampoo conditioning treatment, wash your hair, apply sparsely through the ends of your hair to reduce frizz and maintain shine.