Beauty is a $170-billion-per year industry [per GCI Magazine].   Unsurprisingly, a lot of those products are over-processed, over-priced, and downright unhealthy.  For example, the little microdermabrasion beads in scrubs are tiny bits of plastic that get through water filtration systems and kill birds and fish that ingest them [per Scientific American, 25 June 2013].  This is ridiculous when personal care can be easy and inexpensive… and healthy. As part of my savings goal, I’m trying to cut down on expensive beauty products (not that I use a lot anyway), so I went on a search of the best in beauty from head to toe. Hair Care There are lots of ways to save money on hair care.  Don’t color it or at least color it less often.  Wash less often; unless your hair is extremely greasy, you can wash every other day.  Other tips include:

  • Remove hair product residue with a 50/50 mixture of water and white vinegar (the vinegar smell fades as soon as it dries).
  • Combine one tablespoon of baking soda with two tablespoons of water and apply this paste to your hair thoroughly.  Rinse well.  This is better than a shampoo, minus the chemically-induced bubbles.
  • Knead a few tablespoons of olive oil into your hair and scalp, cover with a shower cap, and let set for thirty minutes.  Rinse or shampoo as usual for fully conditioned locks.

[Reference: The Daily Green]

Facial Care

  • Papain, found naturally in papaya, and bromelain, found in pineapple, both make excellent topicals to remove the dull look from skin.  WebMD has a papaya-pineapple mask on their site here.   Papaya also may help lessen the appearance of fine lines and dark spots.
  • Oatmeal, honey and yogurt are more than breakfast foods; they make great skincare, too.  For a once-a-week exfoliant, finely grind one cup of oatmeal and stir into a mixture of one cup of plain yogurt and two tablespoons of honey.  Mix thoroughly into a paste and apply to face, leaving on for 15 minutes.  Rinse with warm water and pat dry.  Don’t use before a beach day or after a sunburn.  [A variation on this recipe is available here.]
  • Add a little baking soda to your normal facial wash (or use it on its own with warm water) to boost the gentle cleaning [see here].
  • Make your own moisturizer, ala’ Crunchy Betty (I’m not even going to try to duplicate her genius here).
  • Use a dab of coconut oil around the eyes to reduce lines.

Your Teeth

You probably already know that you can brush with baking soda.  Want more of a smooth, toothpaste feel?  Mix the baking soda with coconut oil.  Want to whiten at the same time?  Once a week, crush in a fresh strawberry (just be sure to floss away the seeds afterwards).  The malic acid in the strawberry will act as a natural whitener.

Shaving

Shaving cream can be expensive and pretty unhealthy.  You can use plain coconut oil to shave with or you can try this recipe from Homemade Mommy (a little more complicated and expensive).

Your Feet

Feet take a lot of abuse.  If you want to baby yours and get rid of the dead skin, try a coffee rub:

  • 1 c ground coffee (wonder if you can make coffee and use the grounds?)
  • 1 c crushed strawberries
  • 3 tablespoons salt (sea or kosher)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix all ingredients together, rub over feet (get in a personal foot massage while you’re at it), and rinse.  Follow with a good moisturizer.

So, there you have it.  Give up your Suave, your Oil of Olay, and your Jergens.  Everything you and I need for beauty may be right in your kitchen.

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Proverbs 31:19

In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

It’s a sign of affluence that you don’t have to work hard.  Want something done?  Pay someone to do it.  Unfortunately, that’s not how we were created.

Genesis 2:15

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

From the very beginning, we were created to work and care for things.  We tend to forget that in our quest for the next technological marvel that will do the work for us.

A few examples:

  • It takes very little time or effort to wash most dishes if you do them immediately (or at least leave them to soak in water).  Better yet, you only need to have one full place-setting per person if you wash after each meal.  Instead, we buy multiple sets of dishes and silverware, fill the dishwasher to capacity, have to use heavy-duty cleansers because we don’t rinse, and waste far more water with each wash.
  • Having a “kitchen garden” is about as healthy as you can get.  You have your own produce, so it only has whatever pesticides and fertilizers you put on it.  Seeds and seedlings are relatively inexpensive.  The produce is fresh.  You can burn upwards of 272 calories per hour doing simple gardening.  Instead, however, we pay someone else to care for our highly fertilized, over-manicured lawns.  We buy produce from several continents away or used canned or frozen (although I’m a fan of frozen veggies as a secondary option) or we pay premium prices for organic.  Then we pay for gym membership so we can work off the calories from our poor diets.
  • Doing housework burns about 211 calories (more if you weigh more) per hour.  You use cleaners you’re comfortable with and your house is as clean as you make it.  Instead, we pay someone else to clean our house, they use heavy-duty industrial cleaners to get the job done faster, and then we work more hours so we can afford to pay for the housecleaner.

Per a recent Chinese study, a sedentary lifestyle is responsible for more deaths than smoking.  We’ve conquered a lot of the things that used to kill us when we were active, physical people: chicken pox, smallpox, and other diseases are nearly gone from our vocabulary.  Instead, we die of heart disease, diabetes, and not working.

The CDC recommends a minimum of 60 minutes of activity per day for a child and 2 hours 30 minutes per week for adults.  Sorry, but I think those numbers are way too low.  Study after study shows that sitting isn’t offset by a half-hour of activity.  Instead, you need activity (work) all day.  Then, at night, you need to not go home and plop yourself in front of the TV because you’re too exhausted to do anything else.

Here are some practical guidelines to help you not be a sedentary lifestyle statistic:

  • Look at any kind of work as a blessing, not a curse.  If you have to park further away from the grocery store, celebrate the extra couple of calories you’re burning.  Better yet, plan to park further away in the first place.  I currently bike 9 miles a day as part of my commute up to four days a week.  I consider this beneficial, since I get in a workout each of those days without doing anything extra.
  • Stand when you can, sit when you must.  If you are like the average American (or, worse, the average Southern California resident), you spend as much as 45 minutes a day average commuting.  That’s all sit-down time.  Then you get to a job where you work a minimum of an 8-hour day, sitting at a desk, even taking your lunch at your desk.  You may not be able to cut out your commute, but see if you can take a bus or train.  You save money, save gas, lower pollution, and you can stand up for at least part of the ride.  At work, make sure you get up and stretch or move around at least once an hour.  Take your breaks outside and use at least half your lunch for a healthy walk.  If you can, have a stand-up desk.
  • If you have to go home and watch TV, use it as impetus to exercise.  Stand up until the first commercial, then do a quick weight workout until the commercial ends.  Let yourself sit down for the next section (if you must), then go back to working out at the next commercial break.  If you don’t want to work out, at least stand, do housecleaning, or do weights from your seat.

Our bodies were made for work.  Don’t be surprised when it breaks down if you’re not using it properly.

 

Beauty tip:  If you’re doing a homemade pedicure, use the salicylic acid in Pepto Bismol to smooth rough patches.  Coat feet in a thin layer of Pepto and let set until dry, then soak or rinse thoroughly.  It also works as a face mask, unless you’re sensitive.  The product coats with a protective layer, keeping it fairly gentle; then the salicylic acid sloughs away dead skin cells, giving skin a glow and feet a fresh appearance.

Proverbs 31:18

She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.

A Proverbs 31 woman plans ahead; she’s not surprised (or at least not for long) by emergencies and unexpected events.  Turns out a beautiful woman plans ahead, too.

Planning ahead reduces stress.  Stress is one of the biggest destroyers of beauty and youth.  Planning ahead can’t remove stress entirely (and a complete lack of stress, ironically enough, is as unhealthy as too much), but it can cut it down immensely.

In my reading, I’m learning about T-cells (part of the immune system) and how they affect aging.  As we get older, we produce more memory T-cells, which remember the body’s responses to stress, infection, and invaders.  We simultaenously produce fewer naive T-cells, which enable us to attack new invaders.  Because of this, although our bodies still defend against known disease and infection, it has a harder time with each new one.  Stress acts in the same way, especially long-term, unrelenting stress, per the University of Chicago.

Planning ahead will keep stress managable.  If you plan your days (with room for adjustments), then you already know what you’ll be doing all day and surprises don’t hit as hard.  When you plan your menus, food choices are less stressful.  Likewise, if you plan for emergencies, you are better prepared to deal with it in a calm, not stressful, manners.

When you stress, your body goes through oxidative stress: the number of reactive free radicals produced by body processes such as  breathing or cellular functions exceeds the number of antioxidant  molecules capable of neutralizing the free radicals.  Over time, this damages the body.

The body itself produces antioxidants, provided it has enough manganese, copper, zinc, and other minerals to do so.  We can assist our body by eating foods rich in antioxidants (scientists generally concur that natural food sources are far more effective than supplements).  Foods like blueberries, pomegranates, walnuts, apples, spinach, sweet potatoes, green tea, almonds, and, yes, vices like coffee, red wine, and dark chocolate, are all rich in antioxidants.  Help your body out by eating these foods on a regular basis.

We can’t actually stop aging, nor can we truly reverse it, but we can do a lot of things to make aging go slowly.  The sooner you start, the better opportunity for it to take effect.

 

Here is a modified version of this recipe to get a huge antioxidant boost from a smoothie:

  • 8 oz almond milk (vanilla or plain)
  • 1/4 c dark chocolate powder/cocoa (not processed with alkali)
  • 1/2 c blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 banana, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 c leafy greens (spinach/ kale)
  • 1/4 c applesauce (unsweetened)
  • 2-3 ice cubes (optional)

Blend all ingredients together until smooth and serve.  Makes 1 large serving ~200 calories.

Proverbs 31:17

She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.

I really think, when it comes to beauty (or being obedient to God), we women forget this one the most often.  I know I did for a while.  As a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom with a part-time job that I took my kids to, I was always on the clock.  I volunteered extensively at church, wrote up curriculum, helped launch a homeschool group, and taught classes.  I also ran myself down, got bronchitis twice a year, and hovered just above a healthy weight range (only because my job was very active and I never sat down).

While married men tend to live longer than their single counterparts, married women tend to live shorter, less healthy lives than their single counterparts.  Being wife, mother, employee, housekeeper, etc. wears women down… and then they’re too busy to take care of themselves, too.

Proverbs calls for women to be strong for their tasks; you can’t do that if you’re always worn down and exhausted.  There are five small steps you can take right now:

  • Guard your sleep.  If you have a late night one night and can’t sleep in a bit the next day, make sure the next evening has nothing scheduled so you can get back on track.
  • Eat the majority of your meals sitting down at the table.  Yep, this is a hard one for me, too.  Do it anyway.  Instead of eating while you drive, eating while you get lunches ready, or skipping meals altogether (only to binge later on something unhealthy), take the extra fifteen minutes to sit down and eat with family.
  • Get a minimum of thirty minutes of physical activity each day.  Can’t make it to the gym?  Do a bodyweight workout in small increments (10 minutes here and there).  Take a walk at lunch.  Get up every hour or so at work and just stretch.  This is the bare minimum for health.
  • Foster relationships with girlfriends, but don’t say yes to everything.  It’s hard; the more friends you have, the more obligations you must meet.  Figure out a few close friends and try to always make their plans a priority; for everyone else, be willing to say no unless your schedule is empty.
  • Take time to relax, meditate, pray… for me it’s prayer.  If I take the time to slow down and pray, I relax.  If you find yourself falling asleep everytime you slow down, then maybe you’re not getting enough sleep.

You will be stuck with this body for the rest of your life; if you don’t take care of it, some of the damage is hard to repair.  Just take care of it from the beginning and make your job easier in the future.

Proverbs 31:16

She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

A Proverbs 31 woman is savvy, educated, and exercises self-control.  Where did I get all that?

She considers a field:  Sorry, all you impulse shoppers out there.  Self-control is not only Biblical (we need only look at Eve to see that), but it’s also beautiful.  Don’t believe me?  If you don’t practice self-control with food, you will probably gain weight.  Keep it up long enough and you end up obese.  If you don’t practice self-control with sleep (my big vice), you end up with big circles under your eyes and extra cortisol for belly fat).    Too much drinking gives you a beer belly, worn liver, toxicity, and split capillaries.  The list goes on.  Self-control is beautiful… and it may keep you younger.

The Proverbs woman is also educated.  I’m not talking about a college degree, although sometimes that helps.  I’m talking about taking the time to learn.

I really admire a woman for her intelligence, her personality. Beauty is not enough.
Roberto Cavalli
Men find intelligent women attractive, in spite of the stereotype of the dumb beauty winning men.  Beauty may catch a man’s eye, but intelligence captures his attention.
Out of her earnings, she plantss a vineyard.  Beauty is savvy.  It looks for the best way to do things, not always the easiest way.  Beauty sees long-term.  Courtney Cox and Jennifer Aniston, both known for defying their ages, both started taking care of themselves back when they were young beauties on Friends.
Intelligence also slows aging; the more we learn, the better we delay the onset of mental lapses, dementia, and Alzheimers.
Be controlled, savvy, and intelligent.  The beauty will follow.
Take good care of your hair.  Wash it less often unless it is severely oily; every other day is sufficient for many.  Space your coloring out, if you color your hair, and just use touch-ups.  Try unconventional conditioners like mayonnaise (egg and oil are good for your hair), olive oil, or coconut oil.  Bypass the hair dryer, curling irons, or hot rollers occasionally.  They may make you a little more beautiful today, but they damage your hair in the long run.

Proverbs 31:15

She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.

I really should check on what’s coming up the next day.  I did not go to bed at a reasonable (or even quasi-reasonable) hour last night and had a very hard time getting up this morning.  On the plus, my commute pretty much requires me to get up while it’s still dark, so at least I got that one right.

I know that sleep is very important to health, sanity, looking younger, even weight-loss.  I’m also aware that I don’t quite seem to need eight hours every night; about 6-7 and I’m doing great.  As soon as I drop below that, though, I rack up a sleep deficit that stays with me for days.  Last night I definitely dropped below that.

When you stay up too late, you’re tired the next morning, so you have a coffee (for me, it has to be drowned in chocolate) or a soda.  Then you need energy so you have a handful of candy or a donut.  By the time evening rolls around, you’re so hyped on sugar and caffeine that you can’t sleep.  Not only that, but you’ve added an extra 200-1000 calories with caffeinated beverages and comfort food.  Ouch.

Sleep also affects our hormones.  When you’re sleep-deprived, you produce more ghrelin… which in turn tells you to eat more and keeps energy up (and all this time I thought I was running on adrenaline… which may also be true).  Sleep-deprivation also causes you to produce lesser amounts of leptin, which tells you to stop eating.  So you feel the urge to eat more often and have less of an urge to stop eating.

This verse also says to provide for your family.  It doesn’t matter if your family includes a spouse and eleven children,  just your children, just a spouse, or just you… the responsibility to provide is still there.

Finally, she provides for her female servants… or her employees if you have them.  If you can’t provide for your employees, you shouldn’t have a business. 

All of this, though, requires going to bed on time (with everything done so you sleep well) and getting up early to get a start on the day.

 

There are tips from Harvard on how to maximize your healthy sleep here.

Proverbs 31:14

She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.

There is some illusion in today’s world that a good Christian woman doesn’t work.  While I happen to fall on the side of the fence that says that you should stay home with your children as long as you can, I also think you should have some means of productivity while you do it.

Hey, stop throwing things at the screen.

The Proverbs 31 woman worked.  She not only took care of her family and herself (we’ll get to that later), but she had some gainful form of employment.  You don’t get food from afar without a certain degree of commerce.

Whenever I see this verse, I think of Jacob sending his sons to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph.  In this instance, the men did the buying from afar, but it was often the woman’s job to do the food purchases.  A wise woman, planning ahead, could make or break the family budget with where she bought her food.  Even today, food plays a huge factor in the budget.  The expected monthly food budget for a family of four, according to the USDA, is between $548.00 and $629.10, depending on the age of the children on the thrifty plan.  It can go as high as $1244.30 for a family of four.  That’s more than some families’ rent.

Before you ask what a food budget has to do with beauty, I’ll explain: the more money you spend on food that isn’t healthy for you, the less money you can spend on your family, your healthy food, and yourself.  You don’t have to break the bank to do it.

When you buy organic, buy the dirty dozen.  For everything else, try to buy local (farmers’ markets or CSA- community supported agriculture- are a great buy) and try to cut out the eating out.  According to an Ally Bank poll, eating out each month costs between $72 (at the very low end) to $525 a month.  That’s as much as some families spend on groceries!

Take the time.  Make a menu each week.  Use the farmers’ markets and local produce.  Shop the sales.  Stick to your grocery list… and cut down one of your biggest budget items.  Maybe you can splurge on a new haircut in celebration.

 

The most neglected areas on a woman’s body are her neck, chest, and hands.  Use lotion with sunscreen on your neck as well as your face; generally your neck is exposed to whatever your face is.  Your neck is less likely to break-out with acne than your face, so use a heavier cream during the winter or whenever you’ve been exposed to the elements.  Don’t be a woman with a 30-year-old face and a 60-year-old neck.