I love pantry pampering. I wash my face with honey, soak in porridge and wash my hair with bi-carb soda. Every now and then I make a hair treatment or face mask with various combinations of egg, honey, olive oil, lemon, and yoghurt. Pumpkin and ginger are the latest additions to my list of favourite pantry pampering produce.
Pumpkin DIY skin-and-hair treatments
Thanks to a bumper pumpkin harvest, I have more pumpkins than I could ever eat. So I was thrilled to discover that it's a nourishing skin treatment.
Pumpkin is a popular ingredient in anti-wrinkle and hydrating creams - for a good reason. It is rich in vitamins, antioxidants and natural exfoliating agents.
It is particularly nourishing for sun-damaged and ageing skin.
For a delicious-smelling face mask, combine a few tablespoons of mashed cooked pumpkin with a raw egg, a tablespoon of honey and a good pinch of cinnamon. Apply the mixture to your face, avoiding the eye area. Wash off after 20 minutes.
Pumpkin is also great for soothing and softening dry, cracked hands and feet. The face mask recipe doubles as a foot-and-hand treatment. Smother your hands or feet and then wrap in a plastic bag.
An exfoliating pumpkin body and face scrub can be made by combining one cup of mashed pumpkin with ½ cup of brown sugar.
Pumpkin is also good for your hair. It's high in vitamin A (good for the scalp) and potassium (promotes hair growth). To make a moisturising hair mask, combine one cup of mashed pumpkin, two tablespoons of honey and ½ cup of yoghurt. Apply the mixture to damp hair and cover with plastic wrap (or an old shopping bag).Let it sit for 15 minutes and then wash out.
Ginger DIY soaks, scrubs and masks
Ginger tea is a well-known remedy for colds and flu - but you can also get the benefits of ginger by bathing in it. A ginger and Epsom salts bath is my favourite remedy for flu aches and chest congestion. I add two cups of Epsom salts and around two tablespoons of freshly grated ginger to a warm bath.
If the idea of bathing in ginger doesn't appeal, you can always try a detox mustard-and-ginger foot soak. Soak tired and aching feet in a bucket of very warm water with two tablespoons each of mustard powder (or freshly ground mustard seeds) and freshly grated ginger.
Ginger is also an antioxidant-rich skin treatment. It is anti-inflammatory and antiseptic so is particularly good for pimple-prone skin. You can make a facial cleanser by mixing freshly grated ginger with a little honey. Use this recipe as a nourishing face mask by leaving it on for around 20 minutes.
You can make a warming body scrub by combining ½ cup of brown sugar with ¼ cup of olive oil, one tablespoon of freshly grated ginger and the zest of one lemon.
Ginger is also great for dry and damaged hair and dandruff. Make a hair mask by mixing two tablespoons of freshly grated ginger with three tablespoons of olive oil and a dash of lemon juice. Massage into your scalp and hair and leave for at least 30 minutes before washing out.
So next time you want to pamper yourself, instead of visiting an expensive beauty parlour or spa, simply visit your pantry.
Originally published in the Newcastle Herald Monday 23rd June 2014.
What is your favourite pantry pampering recipe?