If you're the type who doesn't just enjoy eating food, but likes smearing it on your skin and rubbing it in your hair, there are plenty of beauty-product companies to oblige you. Fall seems to be their favorite time of year, when they flood the market with products that will leave you smelling like oatmeal with blueberries, cinnamon-sprinkled popcorn, cranberry-pomegranate jam, ginger tea with honey or, best of all, pumpkin pie.
All of the products we've chosen to feature contain real food ingredients, no nasty chemical simulations found in the products of popular mall stores that shall remain nameless but may contain a lot of the letter "B." Here are some of our top picks, as well as some recipes for fall food-based skincare items you can make at home. (Dudes, you might want to skip to the next story.)
"Honey has anti-aging properties, and naturally cleans and moisturizes skin," says Los Angeles aesthetician Gina Mari, who incorporates natural substances like honey and pumpkin into her treatments.
Probably the most over-the-top way to experience the skin benefits of honey is the Honey Dream at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills, in which your entire body is doused in honey, then massaged. It's Winnie-the-Pooh's ultimate fantasy.
"Honey is naturally antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, germicidal, antibiotic, antiseptic, anti-irritant, anti-inflammatory, and an antioxidant," says Derek Hofmann, director of the spa. "It is immune-boosting to the body and when applied to the skin, has the same benefit, helping to reduce skin infections and aiding in acne prevention. Honey is also a humectant, naturally binding atmospheric moisture, so acts to help hydrate the skin." It also "smells delicious!" (Of course, there is nothing to stop you from trying this at home, except for your tolerance level for sticky towels.)
Honey has long been used to beautify hair as well. LUSH offers a Fair Trade Honey Shampoo made from Zambian Fair Trade honey. Honey naturally cleans and softens the hair, according to LUSH product specialist Erica Vega. Florence, Italy-based Santa Maria Novella sells a honey hair mask that leaves your hair smelling as if you'd spent the morning with your head in a hive.
"Oatmeal is a great exfoliant -- it removes dirt, cleans pores and leaves skin smooth," Mari says. "It is also moisturizing, soothes irritated skin, reduces redness and is great for treating acne." She recommends the Barr Co. oatmeal soap, which contains milk, oatmeal, vanilla and vetiver.
Local skincare line Arcona makes an exfoliant called Golden Grain Gommage that contains oatmeal and lemon extracts. "Oatmeal has an excellent sluffing action, helping to cleanse and soften, and dissolve dead skin," says Chanel Jenae, Arcona's co-owner, head aesthetician and chief product developer. Swiss skincare line Alchimie Forever has a mask that contains oats as well as blueberries, if you feel like rubbing your breakfast on your face.
LUSH offers a molasses-scented Porridge body soap loaded with oats as well as fresh organic orange juice.
LUSH also has a cormeal-based exfoliating facial cleanser called Let The Good Times Roll "inspired by the delight and comfort of popcorn." It's a blend of polenta (Italian cornmeal), corn oil and maize flour. "A touch of warming cinnamon adds a stimulating effect to the skin and a snuggly scent," Vega says. If you are tempted to eat it, LUSH recommends you make these cookies instead.
"Pomegranate is antioxidant, anti-aging, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. It promotes cell regeneration and proper circulation," according to Mari.
Skincare maven June Jacobs, who happens to love Thanksgiving, offers a Cranberry-Pomegranate Moisture Masque. "Pomegranate extract provides age-defying ellagic acid, known for antioxidant energy, soothing and rejuvenating powers, and unique protective effects on the skin," she says.
Greek skincare line Korres has a whole slew of products infused with pomegranate, including a mattifying treatment, a toner, a balancing cream, a primer, a cleansing scrub and a lip glaze and butter. According to Korres, the pomegranate is a "superfruit" that is a rich source of tannins, anthocyanins and vitamins A, C & E. The fruit contains three times the antioxidant powers of red wine or green tea and has powerful astringent properties.
Cranberry is one of the favorite ingredients of Jacobs. She uses it in her body balm (along with goji berry, pomegranate and green, red and white tea) and her creamy cranberry cleanser.
"Cranberry is rich in polyphenols and vitamin C. Polyphenols are strong antioxidants, protecting against photoaging, while vitamin C helps to stimulate collagen synthesis," she says.
Cranberry oil is also a key ingredient in Erno Laszlo Transphuse Eye Refiner, used to increase elasticity for younger-looking skin around the eyes.
"Essential fatty acids are 'essential' for us because our body does not produce them. Cranberry seed oil, an important component in our Transphuse Eye Refiner, is rich in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, providing anti-inflammatory benefits and improving overall function of the skin," says Laura Filancia, director of The Institute, Erno Laszlo in New York.
Alchimie Forever's Excimer cleanser combines cranberry and papaya extract to exfoliate the skin mechanically and enzymatically. Arcona offers a Cranberry Gommage, a Cranberry Firming Gel and a Cranberry Toner.
"Cranberry has anti-fungal properties can help heal skin conditions like acne, dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis," Mari says.
It's that time of year when pumpkin seems to crop up in every form -- butter, ice cream, toaster pastries, ravioli, yogurt, pudding, lattes. Every beauty product purveyor has glommed on to pumpkin too, from Cindy Crawford's $52 pumpkin serum to Trader Joe's $4.99 Pumpkin Body Butter.
"Pumpkin is rich in lutein, alpha and beta carotene, B vitamins and vitamin C," Jacobs says. "The biggest benefit to beta carotene is that it is a powerful source for generating vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the skin against photoaging and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Vitamin Bs are your energy vitamins, required for all cellular processes. Vitamin C plays a role in collagen synthesis, helping to firm the skin. Pumpkin also forms a flexible film on the skin, delivering and locking in moisture."
Her line's pumpkin products include Perfect Pumpkin Enzyme Polish and Perfect Pumpkin Peeling Enzyme Masque. Purity of Elements also offers a yummy Pumpkin Perfecter Enzyme Mask. Meaningful Beauty Glowing Serum by Cindy Crawford uses pumpkin extract to encourage cell renewal. Peter Thomas Roth offers a pumpkin-rich dermal resurfacer called Clinical Peel & Reveal. Arcona has a pumpkin body lotion that envelopes you in a subtle cinnamony pumpkin-pie cloud.
But if you're more of a do-it-yourselfer, just for Squid Ink readers, Mari has whipped up three fall-food-friendly skincare recipes that you can make at home.
Pumpkin Face Mask
From: Gina Mari
Makes: 1 mask
1 tbsp cooked or canned pumpkin
1/2 tsp honey
1 tsp milk or whipping cream
1 tsp jojoba or almond oil (canola oil will work, too)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1. Combine ingredients and apply to a clean face with soft circular motions. Be sure to avoid the delicate eye area.
2. Leave on for 10-15 minutes.
3. Rinse with warm water, pat dry, and apply your favorite moisturizer.
The pumpkin mask eliminates dead skin cells and softens skin without causing any irritation (and smells like pumpkin pie). Honey replenishes collagen, jojoba or almond oil moisturizes, ginger draws out toxins while cinnamon improves circulation--all essential for skin health.
Pumpkin, Sugar and Spice Body Scrub
From: Gina Mari
Makes: 1 cup
1/2 cup cooked or canned pumpkin, pureed
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1. Combine ingredients in a bowl.
2. Apply the mixture with a damp washcloth in a tub or shower. Start with your feet and work your way up, avoiding your face.
3. Scrub gently using circular motions.
4. Rinse with warm water and pat dry.
Homemade Anti-Aging Cranberry Facial Mask
From: Gina Mari
Makes: 1 mask
¼ teaspoon green clay
1 teaspoon plain yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup of fresh cranberries, pureed
¼ cup cranberry juice
1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
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2. Apply to clean skin and leave on for 10 minutes.
3. Wash off with lukewarm water and follow with moisturizer.
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