In the book “Food Rules,” Michael Pollan writes, “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food,” and honestly, it’s advice well suited for any number of our modern habits. Take personal care. The last few generations have seen such a deluge of synthetic ingredients in our beauty products – things that wreak havoc on our health and that of the planet. Not to mention all of the packaging, waste, transportation requirements and other assorted collateral damage that comes along with modern merchandise. So why not wind back the clocks to simpler times and heed the advice of the women who paved the way before us? It’s time to roll up the sleeves and embrace your inner granny.
1. Eat yourself beautiful
This is one of those things that sound too good to be true … but most skincare experts seem to agree with the grandmotherly directive to eat for beauty: what you eat is crucial when it comes to the look of your skin. “I tell my patients that what they put in their mouths is as important as the products they apply on their skin,” Dr. Jessica Wu, dermatologist and author of Feed Your Face tells Forbes. “Foods get digested and broken down into vitamins, minerals and amino acids that your body can use to build healthy skin. If you crash diet or eat highly processed foods, your skin won’t be as strong and supple as it could be. For example, if you don’t eat enough protein, you are depriving your skin of the amino acids that go into making collagen (which makes your skin strong) and elastic tissue (which makes it supple).”Those on the “eat for your skin” bandwagon suggest eating fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors, plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids (sardines, chia seeds, flaxseed, walnuts), vitamin C (bell peppers, strawberries, citrus fruits, kale and broccoli) and vitamins A and E (almond butter, swiss chard, wheat germ, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots and cantaloupe).
2. Put a hat on it
How simple is this? Wear a hat. Protect your hair and face from sun and wind without having to slather on a lot of extra sunscreen (although you should always use sunscreen, too, says grandma).
3. Give your hands a hand
The 20th century saw a lot of women wearing gloves – from the ubiquitous dish gloves donned by decades of housewives to gloves for gardening and glamour gloves. And what a boon to hands that was; our hands are tools and sometimes it’s easy to neglect them, but putting some effort into protecting them will pay off when it comes to their more youthful appearance as you age. So, embrace gloves. Another smart tip when it comes to hands is one my grandmother taught me: Treat your hands like your face. When applying facial moisturizer, get your hands too – same goes with sunscreen.
4. Treat your face with food
Legend has it that Cleopatra owed at least some of her beauty to bathing in milk and honey. And while the practice would seem scandalously wasteful now, the idea of using small dabs of foodstuffs for cleansing and treatment is not a bad idea. While some may bemoan the idea of using food in any other way than feeding people who are hungry, the benefits of avoiding the deleterious effects of modern products can work to balance things out in the big picture. So: Oatmeal mask? Yogurt facial? Almond and brown sugar exfoliant? Yum.
5. Curl your hair with rags
In a world of blow-outs and perms and all kinds of gadgets to manipulate our hair, it’s hard to imagine what generations of women did before electronic appliances to style their locks into submission. Well, welcome to the world of rag curls. This nifty method of creating long ringlet-y curls requires no heat and the curls have enduring oomph. Watch this tutorial.
6. Soothe your eyes with things from the kitchen
Your grandmother did not spend $100 on a small vial of miracle potion to relieve her eyes of dark circles and puffiness. Rather, she likely went to the kitchen and tried one of the old-school folk remedies that women have been using for ages. Try shredding raw potato and using it, squeezed out and chilled, as a poultice under your eyes. Also try slices of cold cucumber or chilled dampened tea bags, aloe vera and even cold spoons – no food – can work.
7. Don’t beat your brows
Many a grandma recommends a light touch when it comes to thinning the brows, and with good reason. With enough plucking or waxing, your brows may stop growing because of damage to the follicles. While this may not seem like the end of the world in your youth, eyebrows naturally thin as you age and it may be prudent to hold on to what you’ve got while you can.
8. Practice flower power
People have been employing flowers in beauty formulas for thousands of years, and while not every grandmother has necessarily foraged in her garden for petal remedies, it nonetheless feels like a solid granny habit to embrace. There is something undeniably lovely about plucking posies from the outdoors and creating concoctions that rely on the properties of flowers rather than a mix of chemicals stirred up in a lab. Good places to start? DIY Rose and chamomile face scrub and lavender deodorant. So very granny!
And the bonuses, because no good grandma advice would be complete without a few extra nuggets: Drink plenty of water, get plenty of fresh air, take a walk, and don’t forget to smile.