Whether it’s soothing a sudden breakout or adding some much-needed luster to your hair, there are dozens of homemade remedies that require no trip to the pharmacy or beauty counter. And with the growing trend toward all-natural products, it can be hard to figure out which ones really work. I recently spoke with Rosita Arvigo, world-renowned Mayan healing instructor and author of “Rainforest Remedies,” to share some easy tips on how to take advantage of Mother Nature’s bounty for do-it-yourself Latin beauty remedies.
Issue #1: SKIN
Problem: A breakout or flare up.
Solution: Red hibiscus flower (flor de Jamaica) + pink and/or red roses.
This is one of the simplest and prettiest Latin home remedies that you can do yourself. It’s extremely popular in Mexico. All you need are two red hibiscus flowers, one red or pink rose and one cup of water. Squeeze and mash the flowers in the water until it gets to a nice reddish or pink color. This happens rather quickly. You then strain this mixture through a sieve or cheesecloth and pat it on the face. Let it air dry. Do this several times a day. (A good rule of thumb: Do it every time you go to the bathroom.) This mixture will last 24 hours unrefrigerated. (Any longer than that and it’ll start to ferment.) If you’d like it to last a little longer, put it in the fridge – it’ll last three days.
Why it Works: Hibiscus has mucilage, that thick, gluey substance much like lotion, and rose has a lot of tannic acid, which is an astringent. Together these work to calm and smooth the skin.
Bonus: Hibiscus flowers are very common in LA and other parts around the country, so it’s not hard to find. You can also buy the plant, put it in a pot and easily grow it yourself. When dried, red hibiscus is also edible and high in vitamin C and iron. Try it in a glass of champagne — makes a beautiful cocktail!
Issue #2: SKIN
Problem: Dull Complexion
Solution: Eat your (colorful) fruits and veggies!
Face it. If you really want to have a lasting gorgeous glow to your skin you have to achieve it from the inside out. And the way to do that is to eat your fruits and veggies. Keep in mind that the more color the fruit has, the better it is for your skin. You should also eat richly colored veggies like kale, collard greens, blue corn and black beans.
Why It Works: . Fruits like mango, papaya, oranges, pineapple, plums, peaches and blueberries are full of antioxidants, which delay the breakdown of tissue.
Bonus: Not only do these foods benefit your skin and overall health, but they taste so good.
Issue #3: HAIR
Problem: Falling hair; dry, dull hair.
Solution: Nopales (edible cactus).
Used for centuries, nopal has long been considered the best thing for hair health. The juice that comes from the slimy substance in the big fat cactus pad is similar to that of aloe vera. For this remedy, you need one hand-sized nopal. Make sure you remove the thorns first. If you’re getting nopal from the grocery store they often already have the spines removed. If not, you can scrape off the thorns with a knife. Next, grab a spoon to scoop out all that green goo inside the fleshy pad. Next, place all that salve in your hair. Make sure to rub it in good and get it all gooey — just like you would lather up shampoo. Wrap your head in a shower cap or scarf or towel and leave it on for about an hour. Rinse, shampoo and you’re all set.
Why it Works: The juices in the nopal seem to stimulate the scalp to improve blood supply, which in turn improves the root of the hair cell.
Bonus: Nopales are quite easy to find, especially at any neighborhood Latin market or farmers’ market. Nopales prevent hair from falling, improve hair growth and make hair shiny and lustrous. You can apply this to your hair once a week, depending on how severe your issue is. Nopales are also very tasty and a popular dish in Mexican cuisine (delicious!) and are easily grown in a pot.
Issue #4: MEMORY & MENTAL ALERTNESS
Problem: Foggy brain, mind fatigue.
Solution: Sage tea.
Not only is sage an aromatic herb that’s part of the mint family, but it also means “a profoundly wise person.” So it’s not surprising that this herb has been used for centuries in Latin cultures as a way to maintain mental acuity. To help boost your own brain power, try making sage tea. You need one heaping teaspoon of powdered sage (or a handful of fresh muddled sage) per one cup of boiling water. Make sure you steep the sage after the water has come to a boil and you’ve turned it off. (If you boil the sage the whole way through, you’ll lose the essential oil, which is the medicinal part.)
Why it Works: Sage stimulates blood supply to the brain – almost anyone who studies plants knows it’s good for health. Try having one cup three times a week. Some people drink it to help prevent the onset of Alzheimers.
Bonus: Lots of people grow sage and it’s easily found at any grocery store. If you don’t want to drink it, then you can simply include sage in dishes you make at home, such as soups, scrambled eggs, pasta, whatever. It’s all about making it easy.
Issue #5: MOOD
Problem: Moodiness, Depression
Solution: Get off your seat, move to the beat and feel the heat with salsa dancing.
Salsa is an upbeat dance style that not only gets you burning calories and improves cardiovascular fitness, but it’s also been shown to help lift your spirits. In some studies, salsa dancing has shown to be beneficial in improving the mood of those who suffer from symptoms of depression.
Why it Works: Unlike the treadmill or other cardio workouts, salsa dancing brings in an element of happiness (not to mention sexiness!) to each movement, incorporating the hips, the butt, the shoulders and smiling, which is known to de-stress the body and calm the heart. This sends a signal to the brain that you are in a good mood even when you think you’re not!
Bonus: Isn’t it obvious? You’re burning calories, releasing endorphins and maybe even learning a move or two that’ll add a little spice to your life.
More info: www.arvigotherapy.com