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Pantry pampering with pumpkin and ginger {DIY skin & hair treatments}

Pantry-pampering-Little Eco Footprints

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-pantry-pampering-recipes-Little Eco Footprints

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-pantry-pampering-recipes-Little eco footprints

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? 

Five other uses for my 'Homemade moisturising body bar'


One of my most shared posts is my 'Homemade moisturising body bar recipe'. Have you tried it? It's good. 

I thought I'd share five other ways I use this body bar: 

#1.  As a barrier to prevent henna dying my skin, when dying my hair with henna. I apply it along my hairline. It works a treat and is petrochemical free, unlike Vaseline.

#2.  As a lip balm. I've put a little in an old lip balm tub. It's delicious and nourishing. 

#3.  As a face moisturiser on cold winter evenings or really cold days. I put a small amount (about the size of an pea) in the palm of my hand, rub my hands together until it melts and then smooth my hands over my face. 

#4.  To protect hands while gardening. It also makes hands and nails easier to clean afterwards. 

#5.  As a hair wax to calm frizzy and dry hair. I melt a small amount in the palm of my hand, like when using it as a face moisturiser, and then brush my hands through my hair. 

I'm hitting the road today. I'm off to run workshops on the management and identification of native vegetation in Scone and Deniliquin. Little Eco is having a holiday at my Mums for two weeks while I'm travelling. I'm missing her already, but on the other hand I'm bouncing with excitement at the idea of two weeks doing something I absolutely love and not having to look after a husband or child. Two weeks of just being just me. 

I hope you find a few moments to be 'just you' too. 

Quiet time pantry pampering

Wearing honey and banana face mask

Little Eco and I are embracing pantry pampering. We recently enjoyed a honey and banana face mask. We mixed a mashed banana with honey, then jumped in the bath and slathered it all over our face. The vitamins in bananas are known to improve complexion and even smooth wrinkles (perhaps I should wear this mask more often!) and when combined with honey hydrates your skin. 

Skin benefits aside, our pantry pampering moments are more about time together than the beauty benefits.

I've discovered that pantry pampering is a great way to calm Little Eco down and trick her into quiet time. I'll head to the kitchen and grab a handful of oats for a nourishing porridge bath, or some honey and yoghurt for a moisturising face mask, or whip up a banana milkshake hair mask. Thirty minutes later, and after lots of giggles about putting food on our face, she's calm and relaxed. 

Are you a fan of pantry pampering? Whats your favourite way of tricking kids into quiet time?

I'm enjoying Maria Hannaford's free natural beauty guide. Its full of loads of pantry pampering inspiration, like using tahini as a face mask for dry skin. It's free if you sign up for Econest's friday newsletter

How to detox and simplify your personal care {and a natural deodorant giveaway}

Over the past few years I’ve detoxed and simplified my personal care. I wash my face with honey, moisturise my face with a locally made natural cream, wash and moisturise my body with Almond oil, use a natural deodorant, dye my hair with henna, use diluted liquid castile soap in a foaming pump as a hand wash, and no longer use shampoo or conditioner. Every now and then, if my hair or skin is extra dry, i'll use a moisturising body bar and treat myself to some pantry pampering.

Wondering why? Watch the Story of Cosmetics:

All you have to do is change one product at a time

Initially, when I decided to switch to safer more sustainable options, I was overwhelmed. There were toxic chemicals in so much of what I used. How do I know what to use instead?

I've since decided to take it slowly. Each time something runs out I replace it with a safer more sustainable alternative. Make-up lasts me so long that I'm still using a lipstick that likely contains lead and a foundation that is probably full of nasties.

How to choose safer more sustainable alternatives

1. Firstly, I consider whether there's something in my pantry that I can use. I figure that if it's safe enough to eat, slathering it all over my skin and hair won't hurt either. Hence the washing my face with honey and using bicarb and vinegar to wash my hair. I love pantry pampering, or as Crunchy Betty puts it, 'putting food on my face'.

2. I then consider making something myself with ingredients I know and trust. I've found both New Directions and Aussie Soap Supplies are geat sources for natural ingredients.The web provides an endless source of recipes. Simply google whatever you need. For example, 'natural + face wash + recipe' or 'natural + hair + conditioner + recipe'.

3. If the pantry or hand-making doesn't deliver, I then consider purchasing a commercial 'natural' and safe product. This is where I find it can get confusing. There's the embodied energy of the product, it's packaging and it's transport to consider. The confusion increases when you consider words like 'natural' and 'organic'. Unfortunately, these words don't mean a product is safe or environmentally friendly.

As described by Nicile Brijlsma in Healthy Home Healthy Family, 'natural' is a loose term that is defined as 'derived from a natural substance'. Think about it - asbestos, uranium and all of the heavy metals - all of which can kill you, are naturally found in the earth. The term 'derived from' is equally misleading as it usually indicates that the product is synthetically made. For example, 'Sodium Laureth Sulphate' (derived from coconut) is made by adding sulphuric acid to coconut. 'Organic' is just as bad. The cosmetics industry's definition of 'organic' is the same as the scientific definition which means 'any substance that contains a carbon atom'. Genuine organic products will be certified by a credible organisation.

With all this confusion I often resort to brands I think I can trust. You won't find these brands in your local supermarket, department store or chemist. Instead head to your local organic or health food store or an online store that specialises in natural and safe products.

Don't give up

Some changes took me a while to get used to, like using henna to dye my hair. At first I struggled to apply the grainy dark mud-like mix, and ended up with more on the floor than on my head. Now, after some practice, I manage to keep almost all of it on my head.


Other changes involved trying or considering a few products before finding something that suited me, like deodorant. At first I switched to a natural crystal deodorant. It was OK in winter, but not so great in summer. I'd considered making a batch of Angry Chicken's deodorant, as i'd heard good things about it, but hadn't gotten around to making a batch before I tried and fell in love with Weleda's wild rose deodorant. The downside is it's imported and hence comes with a comparatively large transport footprint, but it has plenty going for it to compensate. It doesn't contain any of the nasties typically found in deodorant (particularly Aluminium) and instead uses only pure essential oils and plant extracts. It's packaged in a reuseable glass bottle rather than plastic, it works, and it lasts for ages. I'm only onto my second bottle after using it for well over a year. 

Discount and Giveaway from Echolife Australia

I was recently contacted by Ecoholife Australia. In their words, Echolife..."stock a carefully hand-picked range of health products and skin care - we're basically biased towards all natural products that use organic and fair-trade ingredients wherever possible (we think it's the responsible thing to do - and we also like giving as much information as possible about every product we sell, because that's only fair!)."

That sounds fair to me. I've noticed they also offer free shipping for orders within Australia.

5 % discount

Echolife wanted to offer Little Eco Footprints readers a 5% reusable discount, valid on everything in their online store. To claim the discount simply enter 'eco footprints' (without the quote marks) on the shopping cart page or during checkout and 5% will be automatically taken off the total.  Contact Echolife if you have any problems with the discount code working. The code is valid for the whole of 2011 and not limited per person per use - so anyone can use it as much as they want.

The giveaway

I noticed Echolife sell the deodorant I use, so I cheekily asked if they'd be willing to offer my readers a deodorant giveaway. They agreed. So available to win is a bottle of Weleda Wild Rose Deodorant.You can smell just like me ;-)


To enter, simply decide upon a personal care product you need to detox, head on over to Echolife to see if they stock a kinder alternative, and head back here and leave a comment sharing your findings. Those of you reading this by email will need to head on over to the blog (by clicking on the title) to leave a comment.

One entry per person, please. Sorry, entries only open to those with Australian addresses.

Entries close midnight (Australian EST) Saturday 16th April. The winner will be chosen by Random Number Generator and announced here in this post by Monday 18th. I'll contact the winner directly by email. 

Comments closed.

Thank you for all your entires. The winner was comment number 38, by Congratularions Clare.

I wash my face with honey

I used to make Julie's lovely honey facial cleanser. Early last year I ran out and, while waiting to find the time to make another batch, I started washing my face with just honey.


I've used nothing but honey to wash my face since. I love that i'm washing my face with something thats simple, natural, package-free, renewable, frugal and I can totally see the benefits to my skin. In contrast to many of the toxic chemical ingredients typically found in commercial skin care products, honey is a natural renewable resource. I’m sticking to honey!

I simply place a little honey on a face washer – and wash, then rinse.

A friend mentioned that adding wheat germ to the honey makes a lovely face scrub. Wheat germ contains vitamin E and B and is apparently really nourishing – so I’ll definitely give it a go.

I'm collecting a few other honey pantry pampering recipies i'd like to try. On the 'try soon' list is wheat germ and honey body scrub, egg-white, honey and lemon juice facial mask, oatmeal and honey face mask, a honey hair mask, and definately this honey, wine and chocolate facial mask.

Go on, I dare you, wash your face with honey :-)