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Tuesday 6 November 2012

Pumpkin-spiced beauty recipes

‘Tis the season of the pumpkin. They are being carved up for Halloween and soon they’ll make their way into decadent desserts and soothing stews. However, while pumpkins look, smell and taste delicious, they’re even more effective as a natural skin care ingredient. This autumnal icon is high in many nutrients that are as good for the outside of your body as they are for the inside.

Vitamin A (retinol): Acts as a potent cleanser and antioxidant that arrests free radicals, which damage skin cells. As a bonus, it soothes and softens all skin types, even sensitive ones.

Vitamin C: Another powerful antioxidant, this vitamin preserves the health of skin cells.

Vitamin E: This is also an active antioxidant that works as a powerful healer and skin soothing element.

Potassium: Regulates the water content in cells and thus applying it on your skin remedies water retention that causes unwanted puffiness.

Zinc: Helps soothe irritated skin.

Alpha-hydroxy acids: Gently exfoliate dead skin cells, draw out impurities and revitalise the skin.

The synergy of all of these nutrients means that pumpkins are a natural and healthy way to care for your skin, including tackling premature aging, sun spots, clogged pores, and a dull, uneven complexion. So, here are six simple pumpkin-based skincare recipes that will do wonders for your epidermis.

But first… how to make the pumpkin puree

Most of these recipes ask for pumpkin puree and here’s an easy way to make this essential beauty ingredient:
  1. Slice open the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds.
  2. Cut the pumpkin into large (approximately 2 inch) cubes.
  3. Throw the cubes into your biggest cooking pot and cover with water like you would potatoes. For a beauty recipe, you don’t need to add any seasonings – in this case, the plainer the better.
  4. Boil, covered, for at least an hour but check at the 30 minute mark. You want the pumpkin pieces to be fork-tender.
  5. Once cooked, remove the pieces from the pot. Drop a few pieces at a time (with the peel) in a blender. Add some water from the pot for extra liquid. Blend to an even consistency. Let the orangey puree cool to room temperature before applying it to your skin.

As a shortcut, you can resort to canned pumpkin puree but fresh is always best.

Pumpkin facial scrub

½ cup pumpkin pureed
3 tablespoons organic sugar
½ teaspoon pumpkin seed oil

Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and mix together to make a thick paste. Apply it on your face and gently scrub using circular motions. Rinse off after 2 minutes with lukewarm water.

Pumpkin Pie Face Mask

2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon honey (preferably raw or organic)
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon powder
Optional: ¼ teaspoon heavy whipping cream (for dry skin)
Optional: ¼ teaspoon cranberry juice or raw apple cider vinegar (for oily skin)

First, combine the pumpkin puree, honey and cinnamon powder in a small bowl. Then, if you want, add the cream, cranberry juice or apple cider vinegar depending on your skin type. Blend the mixture into a smooth paste and apply a thin layer of it onto your face, avoiding the eye area. After 15 minutes, wash off with lukewarm water and pat dry. The pumpkin and cinnamon invigorate and exfoliate, while the honey acts as a humectant.

Sweet pumpkin body scrub

¼ cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup brown sugar

Combine both the ingredients in a small bowl. Apply the mixture to your body using a damp cloth. Scrub using circular motions and wash off with warm water. The enzymes in this simple sugar scrub will slough dead winter skin right off your body.

Pumpkin latte body masque

2 tablespoons strong coffee
2 tablespoons cream or milk
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional)
2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup sugar (raw sugar works especially well)

Blend everything, except the sugar, in a bowl. Add the sugar and blend very gently. (If this mix seems too dry and crumbly, add a bit more pumpkin; if it seems too runny, add more sugar.) Apply the masque all over your body and leave on for 15-20 minutes to allow all the nutrients to soak into your skin, then rinse well. Pumpkins and coffee are both high in antioxidants, while the caffeine also helps tighten and firm skin naturally. Sugar is great at exfoliating, and the spices make it smell great!

Pumpkin body butter

½ cup pumpkin puree
½ cup solids from a can of coconut milk (coconut crème at the top of the can)
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all the ingredients. Apply to skin, massaging gently. After 15 minutes, rinse with warm water.

Pumpkin pedicure

½ cup pureed pumpkin
1 egg
½ teaspoon honey

Combine all the ingredients and blend together. Apply the mixture to your feet and calves. Wrap your feet in plastic bags and leave for 15 minutes before rinsing off with lukewarm water. This simple pedicure will keep your feet super-soft.

Pumpkin hair mask

½ cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup natural plain yogurt
2 tablespoons honey

Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Apply the mask through your entire hair (all the way from the roots to the tips). Put on a shower cap and leave for 30 minutes. Rinse well with lukewarm water; style as usual. An excellent conditioner for dry hair, this recipe will make your hair shiny and soft.

Have you ever tried a pumpkin peel or mask? Plan to try one? Do tell.

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