There’s a pot of cocoa and cornstarch on my bathroom counter.
Next to it lies a large makeup brush.
That’s all I use to get fuller, more fabulous hair.
I sweep a towel over my shoulders to protect my clothes, then dip the makeup brush in the sweet-smelling powder. I tap it gently, then dust it over my dry roots.
I leave it for two minutes before brushing it out. As I look at my reflection, I can’t help but smile. Va voom volume (and a delectable scent) for pennies.
I only discovered this neat trick a few weeks ago, but I’m already hooked.
Thanks to the bathing-averse Victorians for the idea. They sprinkled arrowroot powder on their long tresses to absorb grease in between washes. They didn’t have any choice. Shampoo hadn’t been invented yet.
Shampoo marked its hundredth anniversary in 2014. Women styled their hair without it for, oh, about 30,000 years.
Just look at historical portraits of women. All that fabulous hair! How did they do it? They didn’t have an entire shop aisle dedicated to haircare products.
What they did have was a kitchen stocked with versatile food products. Vinegar. Egg yolks. Rosemary. Black tea.
Your kitchen is the ideal place to look for beauty products that nourish your hair, skin and body.
If you care about what you put in your mouth, then you should be equally careful about what you put on your skin and hair.
That nutritional rule of thumb—don’t buy any food if you can’t pronounce everything in its list of ingredients—can also apply to beauty products.
You need a chemistry degree to understand the active and inactive ingredients on the label of most beauty products. Can you confidently state that you know what they’re doing to your body?
Many chemicals in personal care products are known to be toxic but are still used anyway. That’s the word from the Environmental Working Group, whose Skin Deep cosmetics database rates more than 64,000 products for safety.
One solution is to refuse to put anything on your skin that you couldn’t eat.
Which means the kitchen, not the pharmacy, is the go-to place for all your beauty needs.
Homemade beauty products like my volume booster are making a comeback, but they still have something of an image problem.
Why would you make your own dry hair shampoo or face mask when the marketing for this product or that one is so compelling?
It’s hard to resist glorious images of beautiful women. You want to look like the woman in the ad. The promise is so compelling. Just hand over your money, use the product, and you’ll look just like this.
If a product pledges to make us look more beautiful, we believe it does. It’s the placebo effect. Good advertising makes us believe a product works as promised, regardless of whether it actually does.
If you can’t get the same result as the woman in the ad, then you’re inclined to believe it’s YOUR fault. You’re not applying it correctly. You missed a step. It’s you, not the product.
The more we pay for a product, the more likely we are to believe it works.
Dr. David R. Hamilton recently wrote about the placebo effect in over-the-counter pain medication. If you pay more for a drug, you’ll report it works better for you than the generic version. It’s all in the mind, but the mind matters.
So that’s why I’m not biting my lip in anticipation that my cocoa-and-cornstarch trick will become a worldwide hair styling phenomenon.
If you ask yourself which would be more likely to give you beautiful hair: spraying your hair with a $20 product in a stylish aerosol can, or dusting your hair with a concoction you whipped up in the kitchen…
There’s no contest. The stylish aerosol wins hands-down.
Homemade beauty products have three strikes against them:
- They don’t cost the earth,
- They’re not marketed, and
- They’re not as convenient.
But here’s the thing…
When my daughter reaches an age where she’ll be reaching for her first beauty products, I want her to keep that gorgeous body of hers as pristine as the day she was born.
I remember what it was like being a teenager. Breathing in clouds of Aqua Net. Feeling my scalp sting as my mother permed my hair. I didn’t want a pristine body back then; I just wanted chemical beauty.
I can’t go back and live my teen years over again, but I can start being the role model my daughter needs to see. A role model for natural beauty. The kind of beauty women have modeled from the beginning of time.
And that cocoa and cornstarch mixture?
It’s just equal parts cocoa to cornstarch. Skip the cocoa if your hair is light or blonde. Add a drop of your favorite essential oil if you like.
Kitchen beauty, unlike the commercial kind, is completely customizable.