The current financial climate continues to impact all aspects of our lives ranging from how much we pay for our homes each month to whether we can still afford our little beauty luxuries and nice evenings out. Gucci and Primark Belts are being tightened in every postcode, you can almost feel the collective intake of breathe and see blue faces everywhere as we struggle to exhale within the constraints of our slimmer bank balances. Shopping trips for me have turned into a mental battle with my uncooperative inner voice that in the past used to encourage my splurges. Now it seems to have grown a conscience and constantly whispers, “do you really need that” when I reach for my favourite Fresh Ocean Body Butter or Overnight Sensation Night Cream. Just the act of rummaging for my blackberry to book a relaxing treatment threatens to trigger the onset of hives. Well I’m sorry but the thought of doing my own seaweed body wrap at home is a step too far and a cling film accident waiting to happen.
So I advocate that we forget about denying ourselves the right to indulge in the fragrant lotions and potions we love. After all, what’s the alternative? Rough dry skin and limp hair? I don’t think so! Instead, let’s use this opportunity to explore the potential of obtaining additional benefits to our beauty regime from another key part of our day to day living. Let’s talk about what we eat.
There is an endless list of foods that are not only fantastic for our diet but also have great beauty benefits, I call these dual benefit foods. They consist primarily of fruits and vegetables but also include some cereals and even simple food seasoning.
Take the avocado for example, also known as the alligator pear. Don’t worry, this alternate name stems from its shape and the appearance of its green skin, not the potential effect of using it on yours. Not only is this wonderful fruit rich in B vitamins, vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, iron and magnesium that aids healthy body function, avocados are also great for conditioning the hair. Alternatively, to rehydrate the skin apply as a facial mask or use slices as a quick fix to reduce puffiness under the eyes.
Another fruit that is unassuming on the surface but underneath that yellow fitted jacket, packs a mighty punch is the banana. A great source of potassium, bananas help to regulate blood pressure. Aside from being a great pre work out snack, the minerals and antioxidants contained in the peel, when applied to the skin, can tighten the surface and temporarily reduce the appearance of wrinkles. As we strive to attain the appearance of eternal youth, it may be slightly disappointing that the banana peel cannot masquerade as Botox long term. However, it is also great for soothing mosquito bites and reducing bruising so certainly not just a one trick pony.
A bowl of porridge may seem like a bowl of boring breakfast cereal but don’t be deceived, it is the diva of all breakfasts. Oats are a wholegrain super food and a great source of dietary fibre including beta-glucans, which are proven to effectively lower cholesterol. Oats are also rich in Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin E, magnesium, potassium and calcium. Additionally, this breakfast diva also has anti-inflammatory properties, which when applied to the skin soothes and nourishes its layers. Oats are therefore one meal that you can get all over your face an not be mistaken for being a messy eater as they make brilliant facial masks and act as a gentle exfoliant.
Extra virgin olive oil is quite a contradiction. A fat that not only enhances the taste of any culinary dish but also does a life long special offer in fantastic health benefits too. Usually, fat that tastes good is never good for you. Olive oil has a high content of monounsaturated fatty acids that help control our bad cholesterol levels while raising the level of good cholesterol in our bodies. The oil is also rich in antioxidants, which are essential for keeping cancer causing free radicals at bay. So with all these internal benefits, it should come as no surprise that olive oil also has great external plus points too. It can be applied directly to the skin or used as part of a bath soak. In the summer months, there is no gentler way to exfoliate sun-burnt skin while still maintaining a healthy glow. What’s more, in the realm anti-aging, olive oil is king or should I say queen in the case of Jeanne Calment, a French woman who lived to be 122 years old and attributed her long life to having olive oil in her diet as well as using it on as a moisturiser for her skin.
In the realm of beauty and food the list could just go on. Coconut milk, cow’s milk, lemon, sea salt, turmeric, cucumber, honey, eggs are all examples of foods that either on their own or combined with other foods can benefit the body both from the inside and the outside.