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There’s an immense number of ideas for D.I.Y. beauty hacks that exist on the internet, though there’s also a large number of those ideas that have no substantial evidence of actually working.
Thanks to natural beauty experts Diana Osborne, founder of Toronto-based Hair Holistic Studio, and Michelle Villett, founder and editor of The Skincare Edit, we’ve separated fact from fiction when it comes to which natural beauty hacks work.
Below, Osborne, Villett and I discuss 11 of the most popular yet trivial summer beauty hacks, taking the guesswork out of the equation for you.
Hack no. 1: Applying a mixture of sugar, lemon and water to skin to slow hair growth
“Sugar, lemon and water are typically used as a paste for a hair removal technique called sugaring, which is similar to waxing. So, simply leaving these ingredients on your skin won't do anything for slowing down hair growth,” said Villett. “But, if you use them to sugar - pull hair out from the roots - they can lead to less hair growth over time.”
Hack no. 2: Soaking tea bags and placing them over patches of razor burn to help reduce the appearance of irritation
“Rubbing a soaked and cooled tea bag over razor burn is an inexpensive way to reduce redness and irritation, although you may need to repeat treatments over the course of a day or two to get results,” Villett said. “Tea, particularly black tea, is high in tannins, which are polyphenols with anti-inflammatory and astringent effects. There is a more effective product that I recommend called Tend Skin Solution, which is specifically formulated to combat irritation from all types of hair removal.
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Hack no. 3: Using coffee to create an all-natural bronzed look
“Just like it stains your teeth, coffee can be used to stain your skin as an alternative to self-tanner. The benefits are that it is all-natural, you don't have to wait for the colour to develop, it tends not to rub off on clothes, and it washes off with just soap and water,” said Villett. “There are various recipes available that use either brewed coffee or coffee grounds, however, the process can be messy and time-consuming. An easier way to get instant colour would be with a tinted body lotion or body bronzer such as Isle of Paradise Disco Tan Instant Wash-Off Body Bronzer.”
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Hack no. 4: Using coconut oil as a hair mask to help tame frizz
“This one is true, but with some guidelines. I would maintain that treatments made for hair will perform better, but using food grade coconut oil (as long as you’re not colouring your hair in the next couple weeks) isn’t too bad,” Osborne said. “Coconut oil may make some textures of hair feel better, but it could also be stopping your hair from absorbing anything else. It can buildup on hair strands and may impact how your hair colour turns out, so stop using it at least two weeks before. Hair is a delicate balance of moisture and protein, so I prefer targeted treatments to get the best results.”
Hack no. 5: Using baking soda to help remove self-tanner
“The active ingredient in self-tanner creates a stain by reacting with the amino acids in the top layer of your skin, made up of dead skin cells. If you make a mistake, exfoliating some of these dead skin cells off can help to fade the colour,” said Villett. “Baking soda is an inexpensive natural exfoliant that can achieve this, but since it is highly alkaline, I would be cautious about using it on your face. A mild alpha or beta-hydroxy acid treatment won't be as drying nor will it disrupt your skin's naturally acidic pH. You can also buy products specifically formulated to remove self-tanner, such as St. Tropez Remover Prep and Maintain Mousse.”
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Hack no. 6: Streaking hair with lemon juice to create highlights
“This will technically work, but do it carefully and don’t expect huge results. Using lemon juice to lighten hair works by making the sun’s ‘bleaching’ more powerful. The down side is that lemon juice is so acidic and can burn or cause damage, especially if you already have some highlights or your hair is fragile like some curly textures,” Osborne said. “If you must try, I recommend trying a little at a time and then using a really moisturizing treatment to try and repair any damage.”
Hack no. 7: Using aloe to hydrate the skin and treat acne
“Aloe vera is an excellent lightweight hydrator for those with normal to oily or acne-prone skin, especially during the summer months. As a humectant, it works by drawing in moisture from the environment to hydrate your skin. It's soothing, non-greasy and unlikely to clog pores,” said Villett. “For the face, I recommend looking for a product like Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel, which is free of alcohol and dyes. Aloe vera does have some antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, so it may offer a slight benefit for very mild cases of acne. However, using a beta-hydroxy acid like salicylic acid or betaine salicylate is going to be far more effective, since they penetrate deep into pores to prevent the clogging that leads to breakouts.”
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Hack no. 8: Spraying sea salt onto the hair to create waves
“This works! And it’s my favourite styling product,” Osborne admitted. “If you’ve been in the ocean, you know that tousled, wavy hair that comes after. It’s the best. Using a sea salt spray in damp hair and allowing it to air dry is a great way to get that. Salt can be drying for hair, so just make sure that you give it a break occasionally or apply a masque regularly.”
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Hack no. 9: Applying deodorant to the back of the neck to avoid sweating while blow drying hair or sitting outside
“If we’re talking about antiperspirant here, I would never recommend that on anyone, anywhere on their body,” Osborne said. “Our bodies detox through sweat, so it’s an important function for overall health. I would wear your hair up, cut it shorter so it’s off your neck, or embrace your natural texture and soak in the heat.”
Hack no. 10: Using a T-shirt to dry hair and reduce frizz
“Fantastic hack, especially for my curly-haired folks,” said Osborne. “A soft T-shirt is way easier on hair than the textured fabric of a towel that can rough up the hair cuticle and cause frizz.”
Hack no. 11: Using yogurt to create a scalp-mask for dryness and itchiness
“I don’t think this is harmful, but in my experience, you should get to the root problem,” Osborne suggested. “There could be a buildup of waxes or oils on the scalp that aren’t allowing it to breath, or a food allergy, or a scalp condition that is best treated by a professional. Eating yogurt filled with probiotics could actually help your overall gut health, which would then help your scalp health.”